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This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Monday
Sep172012

In Which Gentlemen Remain Gentlemen For Some Reason

Long Long Ago

by DICK CHENEY

Downton Abbey
creator Julian Fellowes

Boardwalk Empire
creator Terence Winter

Downton Abbey returned last night. Not in America, because that would demand that American television executives had some idea of what people in their native country wanted to watch. Instead, on HBO, we were treated to a solid hour of Terence Winter's effort to prove he deserves some credit for The Sopranos. He achieved the opposite result, since it is now obvious to everyone that the only parts on The Sopranos he was responsible for were the boring ones, like when Tony was stuck in a dream for the entire fucking episode.

Judi Dench doing an American accent would have been lol but wtv

Here are some facts. If you plastered Shirley MacLaine's face on every billboard and bus in this country, they would have had roughly the same anticipation for her debut on Downton Abbey that I have been walking around with since 2012 began. I don't want to think about my country anymore; it simply makes me depressed. I want to think about when another country was slowly being torn apart by an elitism that would give way to an even more destructive socialism, not my own.

I'm a little tired of Margaret being suprised by everything. You're married to Nucky,
wipe that look of shock off your face lady

If you just watch Boardwalk Empire as a series of soundless still frames, it's one of the best shows on television. If you actually have to watch the pallid colors and characters weave and intersect, killing and destroying each other whenever they aren't at rest, it's a great deal more exhausting.

Taking screenshots of Boardwalk Empire is a lot more fun than actually enduring it. "Gentlemen remain gentlemen only when they must," Gretchen Mol croons. Do you know what this means? It's not that I don't think I'm capable of figuring it out, but why should I have to?

he wasn't the only one nodding off last night

When you kill off a bunch of characters on your television program, and one of them is not Gretchen Mol, you have some serious questions to answer. For example: how excited should you be about watching an entire season of men in badly fitted suits exchange packages of money and liquor?

Trying to find a place for your empathy to reside in this ethical morass is difficult. I would compare it to some current political situation, but that would slow down the number of rhetorical questions I plan to unfurl in this revue like so many overly clothed women. I have mailed them to Terence Winter in an envelope that included my head shot.

I was perfect for the part of Remus

Most of the Boardwalk Empire premiere takes place at a New Year's party at the home of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi). It's a completely transparent effort to save on costs.

It's now easier to list what Boardwalk Empire isn't; it's the only possible way of figuring out what it is. Boardwalk Empire is not a satire or a parody. It's certainly not science fiction, except when it criticizes doctors of the period for not knowing much about prenatal care. It's not horror, fantasy, or pulp. It's not exciting, interesting or fun. It's not something you should try to enjoy, any more than, really, you should take pleasure in watching Italian men executing gentiles and Jews alike as if it were mere sport.

the sun never comes up in South Jersey

The show's primary new antagonist is Gyp Rossetti (Bobby Cannavale). Even he looks like he'd rather be anywhere else than in Tabor Heights, NJ, where there is next to no natural light. After he is refused a shipment of rum from Nucky Thompson, he gives his new dog to Nucky's wife. The promise of the dog's head showing up in someone's bed is practically implied.

Meanwhile, the only domestic drama we can really feel invested in is the relationship between the one-eyed saint who used to carry Jimmy Darmody's water and Darmody's mother (Gretchen Mol). Remember her? I was going to say, "Remember her before she was hideous," but after a quick google search, I realize that was never the case.

"Rounders" was pure shit in retrospect

British people just have a lot more practice at idealizing their own history. There were slaves in England; you just never hear about them. There was a Men in Black style mass forgetting at some Beatles concert in the 1960s and since then the topic magically never comes up.

I mean, who cares that the entire continent of Europe is willing to fill their eyes and ears with sand when it comes to the threat of Islamic fascism? (Rhetorical.) Look at this!!!

I always thought that Lavinia was a bit of a whore

When Sybil came back to Downton Abbey, I jumped up and down and clapped. The only time I did that on Boardwalk Empire was the end because I was so glad it was over. I'm considering a back tattoo that reads, "THERE'S A NEW FOOTMAN IN THE HOUSE."

The new Sybil casually brings up contemporary novels like Swann's Way in conversations about her riding horse. When someone mentions liking Theodore Dreiser she giggles and licks her lips. If she wasn't a gentile, she could be Leon Trotsky's mother. If my daughter ran off with a Marxist, I would have killed Karl Marx. If he wasn't alive at that point, I would have directed my anger at Aaron Sorkin.

the new Sybil is really into Rage Against the Machine

With that said, watching the magisterial Downton return to normal after the changes wrought by the first World War is strange. It's hard to savor the importance of weddings and arrivals when so many more important things were lost in that miasma of death. You almost want them to fast forward to the next war where we find a middle-aged Sybil and Mary shepherding Jews into a potential abbatoir below their sitting rooms.

For those in other countries, especially the U.K., the ups and downs of class warfare never completely lost their luster/lustre. Seeing them in their environment is pleasing to us; like watching through the plate glass in an aquarium. Part of the reason Boardwalk Empire has been more successful abroad than here is that it hurts so much more to be witness to our own foibles.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is the former vice president of the United States and a writer living in an undisclosed location. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about The Mindy Project.

"I heard Mary was giving it away, so I thought, why not get a piece?"

"The Undertaker's Daughter" - Seamus Fogarty (mp3)

"The Wind" - Seamus Fogarty (mp3)

The latest album from Seamus Fogarty is entitled God Damn You Mountain.

Arnold Rothstein, you beautiful little man

Saturday
Sep152012

In Which It Should Be Aggressive And Titillating

Experience the finest moments of our Saturday fiction series at your leisure.

Yom Kippur

by MARK ARTURO

 

Dear Ms. Armstrong,

Please find the attached manuscript for your consideration. I'm of two minds on the title. The first is that the novel should be called something aggressive and titillating, along the lines of its tensions.

The second is the title should be maudlin and ceremonial, so as not to imply too plainly what comes ahead.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.

David Larkin


Dear Mr. Larkin,

Thank you for sending along your novel "Loose Change." Norton has purchased an option to publish the work under that title. Congratulations are in order. You should receive the relevant documents by postal mail shortly, and a check for the advance we discussed.

We did feel that "Death Cum" was a provocative and possibly interesting title, but our editor at Norton preferred the other, and ultimately I saw no reason not to accommodate her wishes.

There is one change to the text the publisher requested. They asked that the phrase "demon pussy" on page 27 be changed to "demon vagina." (There's a cross promotional opportunity with Urban Outfitters.)

Warm regards and pleased to be working with you,

Ellen Armstrong

 

Dear Ms. Armstrong,

I have yet to receive the check you mentioned. Sometimes it's difficult to get mail here. The postman is extremely envious. You won't be surprised to learn he also fancies himself a writer. Two days ago he hit my car with the bumper on his truck. I think I may be afraid of him.

Great news about "Loose Change." I have sent my latest work, "The Fasting of the Jews" via UPS. I'm eager to receive your notes and thoughts about it.

Next time you're in Seattle I look forward to meeting you in person.

David Larkin

 

Dear Mr. Larkin,

We received your manuscript "The Fasting of the Jews." Norton is thrilled by how prolific you are. The editor I am in contact with there wants to release three novels by you in the next financial year. Is this feasible?

Our only concern is about the title for this sequel (?). There are no Jews and no fasting in the novel. Pls explain? Norton has pushed for "Looser Change."

UPS is fine, but be aware that sometimes they deliver their mail to the USPS under their Innovations banner. It might be returned to you via your jealous mailman. Ha!

So pleased to be working with you.

Ellen Armstrong


Dear Ms. Armstrong,

Please let this be your notice that the title "Looser Change" is not acceptable to me.

"The Fasting of the Jews" was not called such lightly. I am planning a proper sequel to "Loose Change" (credit goes to you for the original's success), which is to be titled "Godfather Clause." It is in part a reimagining of the making of The Godfather if Al Pacino were a woman... the other part is a murder mystery.

I continue to worry about my postal worker. I drove to his house (he lives only a few blocks away), and he has several plants in his garden from which toxins could easily be derived.

David Larkin


Dear Mr. Larkin,

We completely understand your preference about the title of "The Fasting of the Jews." We're prepared to go with it, but after the novel is translated for Arab countries, we'll be titling the release there "Windows 8 for Dummies." The international market can be difficult to understand.

I was incredibly thrilled to receive "Godfather Clause." It is your best work yet.

I'll be in Seattle a week from Thursday. Hoping to say hi and drop off the contracts for "Godfather Clause."

Ellen Armstrong

 

Dear Ms. Armstrong,

I regret I was unable to enjoy the pleasure of your company during your trip to Seattle. I am currently confined to my small (but pleasant) house. My mailman waits outside, either in my lawn or the street it faces. Yesterday I believed I saw him leave, but today when I opened the front door I could hear him in the back. I closed and locked it, and shook for hours afterwards. You cannot even imagine the damage to my new BMW.

He leaves endive, charchavinah and other bitter herbs at the end of my driveway. It may be better not to meet, at least at my home.

Hopefully you can FedEx the documents so that we can be assured they will not fall in his hands. I look forward to speaking with you when this is all over.

David Larkin

 

Dear Mr. Larkin,

When I left the restaurant in the hotel, I found I was angry, which doesn't happen very often, I can assure you. You're a valued client. I don't want to trade on your good nature, and I'm sure you would not want to trade on mine.

I placed the documents in your mailbox myself. Again, I offer my congratulations on your third published work in the past nine months.

Ellen Armstrong

 

Dear Ms. Armstrong,

I am the real David Larkin, the true author of "Loose Change." Whatever arrangements you seem to have made with my mailman after he wrote you under my name are unfortunate. Identify theft is a serious crime. But on to new business.

I have completed a followup to "Loose Change" which I have titled "Authorial Intent." Would you consider shopping the ms around to publishers?

I have decided to go by the pen name Mark Arturo.

You know in your heart who this is.

Mark Arturo is a writer living in Seattle.


Friday
Sep142012

In Which We Want It More Than We Can Conceive

Woman on Blanket by Ana Lieberman 2012

Not Lust

by DAYNA EVANS

In the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, we were sitting at the bar, ordering rounds of sushi. I was drunk from two beers and an overdose of sunshine.

“I don’t think there’s anything sexier than a girl riding a guy,” I said. “I don’t care if a guy can’t come that way. I like it.”

“What do you mean a guy can’t come that way?" Tony replied. "He can. Oh, he can."

There were three of us. Me, a girlfriend, and a guy friend, Tony, who I had been sleeping with regularly since I moved to Los Angeles a month or two before.

“I just think it’s rare.”

“And what’s with a guy eating you out for, like, hours when you first meet them? That’s too intimate. Relax.”

“Too intimate?” Tony reacted somberly. “Yes,” we both responded.

“It’s going to take a while before I feel comfortable enough for you to have your face down there. And it’s kind of pointless,” my friend said. “I don’t get off on it. Hardly.”

“But I love eating pussy.”

I laughed. “Of course you do.”

My friend rolled her eyes. “You guys both need to shut up. At the end of this conversation, we’re going to split up and you’ll get to act all this shit out. Not exactly fair.”

I smiled and held on to the counter of the sushi bar. Tony just laughed, then whispered “Yeeee-ahhh.” I took a roll of tuna and popped it into my mouth, realizing how much the taste of the cold fish made me want to leave immediately and do exactly as we'd said. The conversation had covered each of our sexual preferences in inordinate detail, which would be followed by another conversation later that night about guys that can’t find your clitoris. All the fish, sex and primer, however, did nothing for me as I climbed into bed with Tony later.

“I’m super tired,” I said.

“All right, we can just go to sleep.”

I already was.

+

When I was living in a Muslim country, I couldn’t have sex at all and I would joke to my friends at home that I was now celibate, or that I’d joined a convent. They didn’t exactly believe me that I couldn’t have sex, as there were men everywhere, and I did end up having sex with a very stoic French man whom I had been lusting after for three days. We only had sex once and the remainder of the year that I was away, I tried to get him to have sex with me almost weekly because I knew that he was my only outlet for what I thought about constantly. It is true that when something is taken away, you want it more than you can conceive.

When we had sex, though, I was beside myself with how weird it was. Here I was, two months into an experience where I had sworn that I’d be celibate and I had given in to a guy with a lot of chest hair and a Joy Division tattoo. He was undeniably foxy, and the accent was a turn-on, but I don’t think the sex was that great. I was nervous. I was living in a weird place. And I didn’t know how to do the walk of shame with a head scarf.

While I was away, and after the French sex, I got an e-mail from a friend who was staying in Hawaii about the raunchy and ethereal sex she’d had in a cave off of a cliff. I immediately told all of my friends what she had told me because when you are deprived of sex, other people’s gossip about sex is almost hauntingly interesting. It turns you on. And though this woman is one of my closest friends in the world, I thought about her having sex with this guy as if it were porn.

+

“When we first met, he asked me things like, ‘Do you eat figs?’ and ‘Have you ever watched porn?’ I thought that was really charming,” she said.

“Do you?”

“What?”

“Do you watch porn?” I asked.

“Well, yeah.” It was a delayed yeah, and she laughed nervously through it. We had never really talked about sex much before, with the exception of how we both needed to masturbate to fall asleep, at least three or four times a week in my case.

“Weird, me too.”

“Yeah I think basically most girls do, but no one really talks about it.”

“I don’t know if most girls do. I didn’t start watching porn until I broke up with my boyfriend and didn’t know how to make myself come without watching it. Is that weird?”

“I don’t think so,” she said. “It was funny that he asked me. It made me like him more.”

The conversation turned, as it usually does, to more tame subjects. Romance. Hand-holding. Boyfriends. Girlfriends. And all I could think about all night was my friend watching porn, me watching porn, and not knowing why that was so weird just because we were girls.

+

In college, I was in what I now casually define as a “girl gang.” It was me, another straight girl, and two lesbians. We had other periphery friends but we mostly dominated New York as a quartet of drunken sloppiness and bitch fights. The two lesbian friends did and still do give me and the fourth girl a lot of street cred. We all fancied ourselves to be pretty fierce in college, which was absurd because I am meeker than most ottomans.

The straight girl and I never talked about sex. Ever.

Once, we were dancing at a bar and she was wearing a skin-tight dress and bright magenta lipstick with her long fucking hair and perfectly alluring front-bangs and I thought to myself, “Damn, if I were a guy, I’d be trying to get this girl in bed from the minute I saw her.” We danced all night, even doing that dance from Clueless that Cher and Ty do at the infamous “Rollin’ with My Homies” party. It was a time I thought we were fierce.

But when I thought about her and guys, I couldn’t imagine sex. Though she did tell me once, drunkenly, that she "loved dick." At the time I thought that was pretty crude. I think I still do.

+

I went to visit a man in California whom I’d been on and off in love with for years. When my friend texted me to ask if everything was going okay, I responded “SEXCATION.”

He had an STD and couldn’t come with a condom on.

+

I was dropping off a friend at her house on a Saturday night, right before I was to go over to Tony's to have sex. He wasn't my boyfriend. I had another friend in the front seat and I had barely known either of these girls for two months. Just barely two months.

“Is his area maintained?”

“What do you mean?”

“Like, what does it look like down there? Is it grubby or clean?”

“I don’t know, I don’t pay attention,” I said. “What should it look like?”

“Well his hair is curly, so I imagine it’s a mess down there.”

In better days, I would have remembered to say the carpet matches the curtains, but I was befuddled by how I had just met both girls and we were talking about my non-boyfriend's pubic hair as if it were a brunch menu. That means they were imagining me sucking on his dick, which I was now doing. Not sucking on his dick. Imagining it. He was uncircumcised, so I said so.

“Oh shit, really? Is that gross for you?”

“I don’t think so. It’s just a penis.”

Every time I thought about uncircumcised penises, I tried to remember if it was that Jewish men were uncircumcised or circumcised. I’d never taken the time to remember that detail because I didn’t really get what difference it made.

Thoughtful Date Nikki Katsikas 2010

+

The same friend whose new boyfriend had asked her if she watched porn on their first date made her come while going down on her on his first try. When she told me, I was shocked.

“Wait, no.”

“Yeah, I know.” She made the coyest smile. “I guess that’s why I started to date him.”

“How is that even possible? I’ve never even had one guy who I was dating for years make that happen for me.” The term “make that happen for me” was my shyest way of saying what I thought was gross until I had actually garnered pleasure from it.

“He’s a good guy. We clicked.”

+

Three of us went to a party. Me, a girlfriend, and Tony. Tony and I had decided to stop sleeping together because, as he put it, I’d “caught feelings,” as if they were something you could catch, like pneumonia. Regardless, we were trying to be friends, which I saw right through the minute I showed up at his apartment and changed my shirt in front of him. He raised his eyebrows.

“Oh you gonna wear that one with your bra showing?”

“So?”

“Is that how it is?”

“I’m a liberated woman.” My friend reapplied her lipstick.

We got high and went to the party. I got drunk on vodka, which I never drink, out of a Styrofoam cup, which felt environmentally ignorant. Me. My girlfriend. Former flame. And a gay man who was wearing all white as if he’d just painted a house. His bottoms were sweatpants.

“This guy I used to hook up with told me the most disturbing thing the other day on gchat,” I began. “He said he can’t have sex more than three times with someone if it isn’t love sex. Three times!”

“Yeah, so?” Sweatpants said.

“I mean, come on, dude. It’s just sex. Why get so involved?”

"I think it's sad that you feel that way.” I turned to Tony.

“We have sex all the time and it’s not love sex.”

He laughed.

“It doesn’t have to be. Sex is a carnal, physical desire.”

“Yeah, she’s on some carnal shit. You’re talking about something else,” Tony said.

“No, I mean I can’t have sex with a person more than three times if I can’t have a conversation with them about something. That’s pathetic.” Sweatpants said, then rolled his eyes.

“Sex feels good. The same way that eating a donut feels good. Or running three miles feels good. If you sleep with the same person more than three times, you probably think it feels good with them. So why stop doing it just because you need some intellectual fucking stimulation?” I was gesturing.

Later that night, Tony told my girlfriend that he lusted after her endlessly and wanted to take her home. I drove home in a rage, then cry-yelled over the phone to him about how he should only want to sleep with me.

In that talk, sex felt really complicated despite how an hour earlier I was simplifying it to nothing. We don’t date anymore and I don't think about him really, but I do think about the sex.

Dayna Evans is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She last wrote in these pages about the grey room. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She tumbls here.

The Birds and the Bees Gigi Chen 2012

"Always Half-Strange" - Angel Olsen (mp3)

"The Waiting" - Angel Olsen (mp3)

Angel Olsen's most recent album is entitled Half Way Home.