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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious

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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In Which We Note The Time

A Feminist Timeline


Had I the mind to do it, I would dedicate the following to Susan Sontag. Or perhaps to Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, or really to any of the women represented here. What is wonderful about them is not that they stand alone in history - although many of them deserve to - but that they stand together, that each one leans in some small way on the last. No matter what their intentions, the passing of time and Wikipedia have allowed us to pretend, at least for today, that these women were all trying to say the same thing.

1458 BC – Queen Hatshepsut dies

1330 BC – Nefertiti dies

610 BC – Sappho born

69 BC – Cleopatra born

29 – Livia Drusilla dies

246 – Empress Helena of Constantinople born

350 – Hypatia of Alexandria born

705 – Wu Zetian, the only female ruler in the history of China, dies

1098 – Hildegard of Bingen born

1137 – Eleanor of Aquitaine disagrees with her husband Louis VII over the correct pronunciation of “vase”

1253 – Clare of Assisi dies

1303 – Bridget of Sweden born

1347 – Catherine of Siena born

1381 – Catherine of Vadstena dies

1388 – Juliana Berners born

1416 – Julian of Norwich dies 

1432 – A year after her execution, Joan of Arc returns to earth as an alien endowed with a vagina dentata

1438 – Margery Kempe completes her autobiography, arguably the first to be written in the English language

1559 – Realdo Colombo, an Italian professor of anatomy, discovers and names the clitoris, describing it as "the love or sweetness of Venus"

1564 – Elizabeth I finds a gray hair

1607 – Pocahontas saves John Smith’s life

1630 – Ann Bradstreet, New England's first published poet, lands on American soil

1651 – Juana Ines de la Cruz, self-taught scholar and one of the earliest literary figures in Mexico, born

1729 – Catherine the Great born

1786 – Jane Austen’s needlework meme goes viral at boarding school

1789 – French women propose that a decree be added to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ensuring, among other things: the right of all to wear pants, the end of degrading soldiers by having them wear women's clothing, and the equality of the sexes in French grammar

1792 – Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women published

1793 – Marie Antoinette executed

1820 – Susan B. Anthony born

1840 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton castrates a bald eagle

1843 – Margaret Fuller becomes the first woman allowed in the library at Harvard

1855 – Florence Nightingale’s primitive Jell-O shots vastly improve conditions in the Crimea

1867 – Marie Curie born

1880 – Helen Keller born

1884 – Eleanor Roosevelt born

1899 – Kate Chopin and Willa Cather stage a pagan fertility dance somewhere in the American South

1901 – Queen Victoria dies

1908Simone de Beauvoir born

1910 – Virginia Woolf dresses as an Abyssinian royal, beard included, to gain access to the Royal Navy’s flagship

1913 – Rosa Parks born

1916 – Margaret Sanger opens the first U.S. birth control clinic in Brooklyn, NY

1920 – The 19th Amendment of the US Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law

1925 – Margaret Thatcher born

1928 – Amelia Earhart embarks on her first transatlantic flight

1931 – Jane Addams becomes the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize

1936 – The government rules that birth control information is no longer obscene

1942 – Ms. Sanger’s American Birth Control League becomes Planned Parenthood

1943 – Rosie the Riveter born

1954 – Angela Merkel born

1958 – bell hooks skips an important grammar lesson to picket outside her segregated elementary school

1960 – The FDA approves the pill

1963 – Sylvia Plath goes domestic: mixes up a pie crust, sets her oven to preheat

1963 – Gloria Steinem lands a job as a Playboy Bunny

1963 - Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, orbits the earth 48 times

1966 – Betty Friedan founds the National Organization for Women

1969 – California is the first state to approve a divorce on the basis of “mutual consent”

1973Roe vs. Wade establishes a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion

1976 – The state of Nebraska becomes the first to condemn marital rape

1976 - Shirley Temple serves as the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States

1979 – Hermione Granger born

1992 – Camille Paglia bares pierced nipples at a Madonna concert

1994 - Oprah freezes briefly during her morning show, later attributing the attack to a "disturbance in the force"

1995 - Octavia Butler becomes the first science fiction writer to win the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant

2000 – Mattel widens Barbie's waist

2004 – January Jones mimes the “pow-pow” motion of a handgun while staring down at an 8-year-old girl who cut her in line at a hot dog stand

2007 – Construction begins in Chicago on Jeanne Gang’s 82-story skyscraper “Aqua”, the tallest building in the world to be designed by a woman

2009 – Zooey Deschanel outquirks Phoebe Buffay

2011 – HelloGiggles.com founded

2013 – Meryl Streep plays Hillary Clinton, Bathsheba, Ann Bradstreet, Yoko Ono, herself, Amelia Earhart, and Laura Ingalls Wilder in various films

2015 - Roughly 75% of Tumblr's content is devoted to complaints about misogyny in sitcoms

2027 - Scientists concur that Jennifer Lawrence was composed entirely of a clay-like substance

Kara VanderBijl is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. You can find her website here. She last wrote in these pages about relics. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"In Love" - Carly Simon (mp3)

"Let the River Run" - Carly Simon (mp3)


In Which The Wind Takes It In A Particular Direction



She opened the door to the office and found he had a light persuasion, like the surface of a leaf. Saw him again on the esplanade where he was flying a white, six fingered kite with text on it. She greeted him and took hold of the kite for a moment.

Part of the flying dragon had run up against a railing by the bait shop. He began to mend it and said, "Cook came here as well." She nodded.

"Most people know that story," he said. "He wanted to go as far as it was possible to go." He gave her a little look and asked her to hold part of the tail.

He told her that he recognized her from his father's workplace, and apologized for not knowing her when she greeted him. She said that it was all right and he reached into a cooler and handed her a square tin. She read the text on the kite. In Japanese it read, "FAST MAN." He said, "I'd like to know more about him. He was a white man?"

She nodded and told a brief anecdote that ended when the explorer was bitten on the neck by a rattlesnake. He shuddered and told her he was afraid of snakes, pressing down the latch of the cooler and taking out a sandwich for himself.

"I don't like to watch other people eat," she said. "It reminds me of a wake."

He asked how old she was. She told him, and he put the rest of the sandwich in the case. For a moment her heart , but then he moved his hand to his pocket, and he was suddenly staring more consistently in her direction. She explained where he fit in her metaphor of the leaf and he touched his finger to his lips.

He bought her a wide pair of sunglasses after he saw her squinting. They had already planned to sit outside. The bank was the nicest building in town. Half of a parade trundled down the sidewalk, maripeths ate long sandwiches filled with buffalo meat. A labrador caught a frisbee in his mouth.

She took him out of his pants in the bathroom of the coffee shop and his head tilted towards the ceiling. Presumably something else, some other world could be found up there, and while she briefly managed him with her left hand she allowed herself to try to see what it was. When he shuddered she was certain he was going to climax, but at a certain point he guided her head to his level and indicated she should stop.

While he cleaned himself up she opened the tin he had given her. There was wood glue, string and a seashell shaped like a question mark.

In the street, a gaggle of teenagers dressed as parrots danced in complicated choreography. She did not entirely hear what he said next, but it was not completely unexpected. She pretended to be listening. "Sometimes," she said, "I can't tell whether what I am looking at is a diamond or a square turned on its side."

Karen Estralle is a writer living in Oregon. This is her first appearance in these pages.


In Which We Cower At His Androgynous Face

Don't Touch Me


Jack Reacher
dir. Christopher McQuarrie
130 minutes

Tom Cruise does not touch anyone in Jack Reacher. He punches or kicks them if the occasion calls for it. For a mere moment he may press against his own arm or leg. Once, but only once and just for as long as it takes him to flash a smile, he grabs a woman and pulls her to a window. Then he instantly lets go. Most of all, he never strokes his own face, keeping his arms constantly slack, as if the plastic surgery that keeps him looking younger than his considerable years might suddenly fade away were he to draw his hands above his waist.

There is a philosophy in writing that it is important to be inclusive of all of the senses. There is a philosophy in Jack Reacher that it is important to focus on none except sight.

Reacher befriends a Pittsburgh lawyer named Helen (Rosamund Pike) who is defending an army sniper accused of killing five women and a man with a rifle. Her father is the district attorney. For some reason her dad informs his daughter that trying to defend this man is career suicide, because a defense lawyer taking a high profile case has never managed to do anything but harm her career.

The scenes between father (a whimperingly bad Richard Jenkins) and daughter are distinguished by the certainty that the two could not possibly by related, looking completely different as they do, and the fact that they, too, never touch.

Reacher does not drive his own car; sometimes he demands the cars of people whose arms or wrists he has broken. His attitude towards men is that he treats them like boys, perhaps as a preemptive measure to paint them with that brush before they have a chance to do the same to him. His attitude towards women is that of a white knight who must patronizingly protect every female he encounters. He calls any woman younger than him a girl, and any woman his age Helen.

To be fair, there are only two living women in Jack Reacher. Alive or dead, the determinative aspect of the women present here is that they are utterly helpless. After realizing she is the target of a dangerous conspiracy, Helen walks down a long hallway alone before she is tasered by a black man in an elevator. She is whisked away like Princess Peach; only the man who cannot touch her can find her.

tom mapother with director christopher mcquarrie

What happened to McQuarrie, the writer of The Usual Suspects, is what happened to his psychotic directing partner in that enterprise: Hollywood, impressed by the pair's (relative) ingenuity, commanded them to make an increasingly dull series of superhero films which make money abroad relative to their modest budgets. As if to throw off the yoke, McQuarrie pads Jack Reacher's score with moody, nostalgic music more along the lines of something you'd hear while accidentally tuning into TCM. There is also an extended silent car chase that is just unconventional enough to not be satisfying in either a new or traditional fashion.

But then Tom Cruise would feel familiar in any environ. Near the end of Jack Reacher Robert Duvall makes a cameo as the owner of a gun range where you can fire exploding rounds hundreds of yards at distance targets. It is a completely expected surprise, and Duvall is playing line-for-line the same character he played in Lonesome Dove for some reason. Like Cruise, that too was a carbon copy of several roles he played before. McQuarrie has always had a passion for giving his characters a particular flaw, with a rule that there is only one such malfunction per character, and it is referred to constantly.

Jack Reacher's most compelling character is a police officer named Emerson (David Oyelowo). He gets the film's seductive opening moments, the best part of its ridiculously long running time, before Reacher himself enters the picture. Later we are meant to wonder at length as to whether Emerson ordered the code red. (He did.) When Helen asks him why he did what he did, he tells her that he did not have a choice. Werner Herzog, portraying a survivor of a Siberian work camp turned underwritten criminal, forced him.

Steven Spielberg was the first choice for the role but he dropped out to make a movie about a heroic rabbit who fought in Vietnam.

Despite its stunt casting and completely ridiculous plot, the humor in Jack Reacher is completely non-ironic. You would think this would come as a relief, but actually the jokes revolve around a singular concept: younger, larger men underestimate the penchant for violence of an ancient midget. When you consider these moments more closely, they do not make sense at all. In more than one scene Reacher has a weapon trained on him and the individual holding it decides not to pull the trigger or swing the bat. The subtle suggestion is that Reacher gets by more so on his own good fortune than any innate ability.

For an investigator, Reacher is remarkably lacking. No one uses an iPhone or a computer for any reason in Jack Reacher. Even legal documents are laboriously printed out in the same fashion as they were decades ago. In Tom Cruise's world, Adobe Acrobat was never even invented.

In the film's final scene Reacher drives his car backwards down a hill, slumped down in the driver's seat, as bullets surround him. Waiting in a nearby office is Helen. For some reason her starkly pale legs are unadorned, out of focus, tantalizingly at the edge of every frame. All else is darkness, the primacy of her sexuality is overwhelming. Evildoers and virtuous ones alike are neither repulsed or attracted to her. They ignore her presence as children on a playground stop themselves from examining the sun too long.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan. He tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"For Once" - Ra Ra Riot (mp3)

"Binary Mind" - Ra Ra Riot (mp3)