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Alex Carnevale
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Mia Nguyen
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Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

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
Aug122013

In Which We Only Give Away Money To Kickstarters For Smart Watches

Any Way That You Want Him

by DICK CHENEY

Breaking Bad
creator Vince Gilligan

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has recently been exposed for the first time. Some of the people that he knows know some of the things he did, other people know others of the things he did, one or two people know a few of the things he did.

it's called a garage beard and it is fantastic

No one knows everything, but Walt's brother-in-the-law could now list the vast majority of Walter White's murders, but he could not possibly detail them all. "If that's true," Walter tells Hank as the last episodes of AMC's Breaking Bad unfold, "if you don't know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly." He obviously has not seen Hank on Under the Dome.

sic the child on him Walt, protect yr family
For some reason it is far more disappointing to watch the protagonist of Breaking Bad lie than it is to watch him kill someone. Each moment he used deadly violence as a means of communication, we know in our hearts that Walt had no other choice. Even when he poisoned a child with the byproduct of a rare plant, he had a moral ground from which to operate. Did you ever read Kissinger's autobiography? It wasn't full of apologies.

staring away from someone and looking mad is an entire class at Juillard
His ex-partner Jesse Pinkman stands on no such firmament. Watching him redistribute his wealth made me physically ill, just as I become sick to my stomach from the Nazi references in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Giving away your money to make yourself feel better about things you have done is fiction's second oldest cliche after Leonardo DiCaprio talking very quickly in a loud voice.

never get seafood at the Dog House, you will regret your choice

The sad thing about Jesse Pinkman's current existence is that it's about a million times more exciting than mine. He hung out with his friends, and went to pick up some hot dogs. That sounded fantastic. Then he gave a bum $10,000. If you really want to give money to people who deserve it, flush it down the toilet, because whoever makes that disappear is a magician who deserves to be compensated. Or go on Bandcamp with some earplugs.

Aaron Paul's acting has been reduced to its most basic component. His skull ensconced in skin now looks like Mr. Potato Head, and his eyes, as usual, do about 90 percent of the work:

that was voyager

His only morality is that he does not obey the rules of others, which is a very good morality indeed. Paul's general approach to playing the character of Jesse Pinkman has never bothered me before now, but the constant eye rolling, the peripatetic motions of his tongue and mouth and the staring as a substitute for meaningful response to stimuli does not scream spin-off to me. I was really hoping this would all end with Jesse turning into the new Sam from Cheers but that hope dims every time he tries to expose or apologize for his past. If Ted Danson can walk around with his hairline, so can you Aaron.

jeez walt just shave your head and pretend you have cancer, we've all done it

The number three cliche in scriptwriting is of course showing the end before the beginning. With his ginger hair growing in and his live free or die apparel, Future Walt resembles a tea party adherent who has been infected with Simon Pegg's DNA. His trunk full of guns holds no interest for us, since shooting people has never been Walt's metier.

did not personally find Leaves of Grass all that affecting

Presumably Future Walt has been given leave by Hank to flee. The people Future Walt is now running from are more likely to be his old partners than the law.

This hokey past/present set-up has taken some of the juice out of the season until now. Walt has returned to Albuquerque to reclaim his secret poison, and we are meant to wonder who exactly will be his target. Lydia seems too obvious, and her definition of business casual too restrictive to perish in such a scenario.

lydia your sense of style was unencumbered by the birth of your child and I respect that immensely

More likely he finally has to put Jesse out of his bliss. Even Mr. Pinkman has never fathomed Walt's ways completely. In not-so-subtle fashion he tries to get Walt to convince him that Mike is alive somewhere, that the only friend he made in this sordid business was not also consumed by it. Walt composes himself on Jesse's couch, thinking in his head that it is time for one more good lie before he tells the truth.

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

Walt never saw a bong before this moment, he was shocked by this device

"Any Way That You Want Me (Troggs cover)" - Spiritualized (mp3)

"I Think I'm In Love" - Spiritualized (mp3)

Friday
Aug092013

In Which We Were Not Even Hungry

Hours Alone

by HOLLI CARRELL

I moved to New York City because there was nothing to do but move to New York City. A girl like me from Utah romanticizes about this sort of thing when she’s fifteen — sees herself smoking off a fire escape somewhere artistic, like the West Village, with nothing else but a punchbowl and a wad of cash in her back pocket. I hadn’t been to New York in six years — since I was seventeen and staying in Midtown with my mother, hailing cabs to Ellen’s Stardust, and venturing no further than 59th street. My mantra: If it isn’t going to work out in New York it isn’t going to work out anywhere.

I agree to sublet my childhood best friend’s apartment in Washington Heights. I pay for three months up front because she says it will be “just right” and I’m all for easy acclimation. She and her husband and their three-month baby are boarding the party plane to Brooklyn. Their apartment is filled to overflow with U-haul boxes that feel like Greco-Roman ruins of the cardboard variety. When I arrive, we go grocery shopping. I haven’t had anything to eat since the Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich in Denver, when I wasn’t even hungry, just wanting to fill myself full after traveling with so much lightness. I’ve sold everything except the suitcase with me; a crate of journals back home underneath my parents' stairs.

My hosts weave me through the neighborhood, drawing my attention to the best cheap pizza, a cluster of aging Dominican men playing dominoes, a dead pigeon in the gutter. I’m surprised by the amount of trash on the street. “Don’t go east of Broadway,” my friend tells me, pointing. “I mean you can, but it’s probably not a good idea.” We pass a Bodega owner yelling at a schoolboy. I can’t understand his Spanish or the rest of the noise suddenly against me on the sidewalk, bottlenecking. I’ve noticed we’re the only Caucasians on the block and I feel guilty for noticing, but also disoriented — sticky with humidity and neighborhood eyes. I knew it would be like this but not like this. I feel certain everyone hates me on sight for spreading my flavor of white gentrification. I enclose my futon bed in a pillaring crescent wall of boxes that night. I don’t sleep, but keep my eyes shut tight.

My friends depart for Brooklyn and I sweep up the moving dust accumulating to the floor and blackening my feet. I am glad they are gone with their shared togetherness. I leave the neighborhood early — while sidewalk vendors lazily unload fruit crates from vans — and litter downtown cafes with crisp resumes I have kept pressed in a green folder from college.

I sit on benches along Central Park West in the afternoon, eating bagels and consuming paper cups full of sludgy convenience coffee — the burnt the better. I like to sit in Washington Square Park with my headphones on but no music playing; listening to student’s quarrels and the combined amplification of the living. I stay where things are easier until sunset, and then ride the A-train home past 168th. I try to not hate myself for my discomfort; for knowing, at any given moment, the dominating demographic of my fellow car passengers; for being raised in a whitewashed Anglo-dominant environment.

I get hired at a trendy coffee shop in SoHo. The manager tells me to dress cool. My co-workers are interesting and creative but far too familiar. I realize I am content sunbathing in the landscape of my solitude, feeding for days off random interactions with strangers: a shop owner telling me he likes my haircut; a homeless woman on the platform who stares into my eyes and smiles. I keep carrying around my navy blue trench coat, some adult security blanket, even though it’s nearly June.

My parents call often, worried. This is what this is all about I want to say. I came to the city to be alone, to dig! I recognize the hilarity — sandwiching yourself between eight million others for desolation — all the while anticipating a hand on your shoulder in the subway, steadying.

My one bedroom apartment is too large for the zero furniture I own and the vast, echoing tumor-like chamber of nullity I feel spreading on occasion from pole to pole in my body. In the evening, I turn off the lights and with a cup of wine in my hand, dance to Otis Redding’s "Lonely and Blue" — the outside street lamp bathing holy orange light through the white sheet drapes. Below my apartment is a pumping gym. Men stand outside in ripped t-shirts watching younger versions of themselves across the street, calling to teenaged women reclined in windowsills. I’m lucky if I average five hours of sleep a night — especially on the weekends, when the block DJ hooks up his stuff and blasts merengue at volumes I didn’t know possible; when the building’s little boys play soccer in the lobby, designating either end of each wall as goalposts.

Some mornings as I lay awake, everything lifts and I feel gloriously present, listening to the constant array of thumps as if each beat were my very own heartbeat, a reminder against the wall of my chest: You’re here; We’re here; You’re here; We’re here. Connected.

On the first terrifically suffocating evening of the summer, I open my screenless window and am visited by a German cockroach two inches long, plodding across my hardwood. I’m unable to squash it, send it down the toilet, or throw it out the window (where it might land on an innocent neck) so I trap it in a Tupperware container and punch holes in the plastic for ventilation. I resolve to buy a glass aquarium at a bric-a-brac store the next morning, pave the bottom with leaves and my leftover dinner scraps. I can make it work for the both of us.

When I wake up the poor creature is curled on its back: shrunken, dead. I can only think to leave the apartment.

At the front door, I intersect paths with an elderly Dominican woman who I’ve gathered, in passing, is my neighbor. She wears a long burgundy skirt and holds a sack of laundry and a bushel of roses. Stacks of golden bracelets circumnavigate her wrists. Her face is disarmingly alert and for the first time in two months she turns, looks at me, and speaks. I have no idea what she’s saying. She laughs, places a finger to her lips, hands me a rose only partially wilted, then leaves. I re-enter my apartment, put the flower in water, flush the cockroach, and stare in the mirror. Only time can arrange my expression.

Holli Carrell is a contributor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find her website here.

Photographs by the author.

"You Can't Be Told" - Valerie June (mp3)

"Wanna Be on your Mind" - Valerie June (mp3)

Thursday
Aug082013

In Which We Can Only Imagine The Decay

by Sarah K. Flora

Body Acceptance

by SARAH WAMBOLD

Embalming is no secret. Information about the process is available through a simple google search. There are plenty of tumblrs and blogs by morticians that answer questions about the process. It’s interesting only because people just don’t want to know and most embalmers don’t want to tell. So embalming becomes like a secret or maybe more like gossip being repeated incorrectly in suspect tones.

I had to tell a woman about embalming once. I had to get on my high horse because if I didn’t she would have thought she knew more than me. She didn’t. She didn’t even have a license! Why did she think she knew more? Because she saw someone who was embalmed once. That was all she was bringing to this rodeo! I couldn’t believe it.

She started off by saying that the body, which happened to be that of her mother’s, had to be embalmed or else she couldn’t see it.

“Impossible,” I said. “Why wouldn’t you have been able to see it?”

“Because,” she said, “it was too dead. The mortician had to make it look alive first. We can’t see things that are too dead.”

I thought about that for a moment. I thought about where she would have gotten that thought. She would have gotten that thought from the mortician who thought they were protecting her from seeing something she did not want to see. Her mother, dead. So they showed her mother full of chemicals and with make-up on. Nostalgic, I thought about when I used to prepare bodies with formaldehyde. I loved the praise, through tears and disbelief that I would inevitably get from the family.

“She looked nice,” the woman said.

“They usually do,” I replied.

“Do you know how to embalm?” the woman asked me.

Of course I do. I was always really good at science in school and my embalming professor kept my final term paper to use as an example for the following class. It was about embalming a radioactive body. It was so flawless he thought I had copied it from someone else. But then I reminded him of all those times in lab when I would dig through the fascia on the neck of a donated dead person and pull up the carotid artery and a vein faster than anyone else. He had to close his eyes and search deep in his brain to find that image of me, standing over the body, pulling apart tissue with two small silver hooks. When I was done, he would say “Looks good!” and smile. He opened his eyes when he remembered this.

by Sarah K. Flora

“I was the best embalmer in my class and also during my apprenticeship,” I told the woman, “I’ve embalmed over 1000 bodies. I used to love it. But I don’t love it anymore.”

“Why? Did you have to embalm someone you knew?” The woman asked.

“No,” I replied, though that happens. But that’s not why I don’t love it.

I don’t love it because something happens in the embalming room that I can’t see. The chemicals don’t just get into the dead body; they get into my body, too. And they get in the ground if the body gets buried. No one sees it, but it happens.

I used to think that no matter what, the trauma or disease or old age that killed the body should be reformed into a perfect-looking death. How could you possibly show a mother her sons face with a bullet hole in it? You clean up the face and wound and use clothing and pillows to position his head correctly. When she sees him, you hold her hand through the whole thing. You don’t say he will look perfect again.

I want to help dead bodies be acceptable again. I want to start a campaign on behalf of the dead body who wants to show its true colors. Even if it is purple and greenish or red and pink. I want the dead to have the visibility they once did in our culture, when they were invited in people’s lives and the living stood around touching the dead so it didn’t feel so rejected because it was not perfect. I wish we weren’t so judgmental about looks in our society, so much so that we will put an embalmed dead body behind glass as an example of a perfect death, while the other, less perfect deaths slink away, afraid they are scaring everyone.

I told the woman there are no rules about dead bodies, we just imagine there are. As you can see, when we get worked up about imagination, we force it into fact. Instead, we should just try to look at what is in front of us.

Sarah Wambold is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Austin. You can find her twitter here. She last wrote in these pages about CK One. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

Paintings by Sarah K. Flora.

"Sandy" - Nancy Wilson (mp3)

"Wise Up" - Aimee Mann (mp3)

Picture of Aimee Mann