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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

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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In Which Why Does It Feel Like My Feet Can't Leave The Ground

Onwards and Upwards


Breaking Bad
creator Vince Gilligan

It was about halfway into the series finale of Breaking Bad when I started thinking about a conversation I once had with Gordon Libby. He was like, "I'm really tired of everyone on television being a criminal I can't empathize with." I just looked at him and sipped a mai tai. These fucking people.

You know the type of individual who goes around saying, "I don't know why everyone is so into Breaking Bad, why are they always saying I should watch it; I am content with Vuillard's The Stevedores and the complex moral cinema of Eric Rohmer..." I forgive this sort of person everything, because it is the American way to use your own ingenuity to make yourself look better, feel better, seem better.

is this the AARP? You...wield too much political power, sir.Throughout this last episode, all of the people Walt met told him, "You look like hell." The irony was that he never looked better; as a criminal mastermind the stress lines looked like they were about to split his face. Standing in front of his wife as God intended, he looked super beautiful and charismatic.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think they knew Walt very well, at least not how I knew him.

There's only one day left in Subway's $5 dollar footlong promotion, Skyler. I must be going.
The most emotional scene from last night's Breaking Bad finale was Walt's conversation with his wife, because he lied to her. He said he cooked meth because it made him feel alive. This was complete and utter bullshit, a master class in telling her what she wanted to hear. In the final analysis, Walt was able to forgive these people who did nothing but profit from his own acumen.

I don't know what Walt did that was supposed to be so bad. I guess people think cooking a drug for others to enjoy is wrong. I don't where they learned this. Everyone he killed, he had a damn good reason to do so, especially Mike. That fuck Mike.

no one knew how to hibernate quite like this woman

Simple things you could learn in any basic chemistry course. We don't have any of that ingenuity, it's all fabricated in factories across an ocean. That's where things are made, at great cost but with great benefits for those who risk it. Every day Flynn went to school, Lewis drove him. I never found out why it's dangerous to drive a car with only one foot, there wasn't some shit-for-a-head AMC half shaven twitter handle to explain it to me then after the show was over.

as unhappy as every other unpaid intern

For years Walt and Jesse never had sex, or had sex so infrequently they never mentioned to it anyone. Watching Walt stroll around Gretchen and Elliott's palatial estate, it reminds you what a monk he really is. As the poet said, "I have sacrificed everything, including sex and woman, or lost them, to this attempt to acquire complete concentration."

Watching the scarred Jesse Pinkman sail into the sunset, I couldn't help but think of all that was given him. He had no purpose in life; now he feels happier than any man who ever lived.

shocked there wasn't a last visit to marie, at least send a gift basket, maybe some prunes and a reminder she's a shoplifter
Entitlement festers and grows. Gretchen and Elliott only lock a part of their house. Fear is divided routinely by windowpanes, support beams. Cutting something up reduces its power, of course. The simple shattered presence of a man they know is enough to frighten them. Can you imagine these people storming the beaches of Normandy? (As a side note, I found the character of Elliott to be bracingly anti-Semitic and I have written a letter to Vince Gilligan strongly expressing my disapproval of this meme.)

gretchen, you lie to charlie rose and this is what happens, ask his interns
And it's easy to survive a gunshot wound, especially if you're pretty sure one might be coming. A spin-off would just ruin this.

We could have forgiven almost any choice that Walter White made, because we knew it was up to him and not ourselves. This is a teaching moment, because children are not taught a theory of forgiveness, they are taught a theory of punishment. Forgiveness faded from the whorl roughly the same time that AOL merged with Time Warner. It re-emerged for me the first time I killed a dictator I could only see on a video screen. Monsters deserve death, but only some crimes make a person one, not all. (Like Walt, the last person I forgave was myself.)

dividing lines GET IT
I have to admit I did instruct people to watch Breaking Bad, and when I did so, I managed a certain unctuous tone in my voice. The tone of voice I used to tell them to view this experience was identical to Todd's admonition to his progenitor - "You shouldn't have come back here, Mr. White" - in every way but one: my admonition was sincere.

I do not expect people to always do what I ask, but they do need to know that I ask it for a good reason. It is because I love them and I want them to be happy.

This tone of voice was also meant to convey that by following through with my request, they would attain something divine for themselves, provided they fast forwarded past all the office scenes where Skyler flirted with Ted. (Those were gross.) When I watched Breaking Bad, I thought of those individuals I told, and whether they were thinking what I was as I watched, or thinking of me at all. Sometimes, but only sometimes, I miss her.

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 the fourth season of Downton Abbey

"UFO" - One Eskimo (mp3)

"Alvar" - Goldfrapp (mp3)


In Which The Amber Shapes Of Sunset Dance On The Wall

by Raimonds Staprans

How To Be Kind To Yourself


Closing up the lake house after a weekend is like tucking a child into bed. Perishables are taken out of the fridge and lined up on the counter to be claimed by parting guests, tossed in a grocery bag in the back seat of a car alongside sandals and dirty beach towels. Blinds lowered over yawning windows, closed like sleepy lids. Run the dishwasher. Sliding doors pulled shut against the cooling evening, locked. Lights extinguished, except the one over the kitchen sink which will stay on until we come back. Summer has been put to sleep. 

by Raimonds Staprans

This weekend, it was cloudy and almost too cold to be on the lake. As the boat cut through the blue waves the wind rushed up against me and took my breath away. There was nothing to do but to lean into it, to look into the glass of the sky and predict what the next months will be like. Hibernation. A little wine by the fire and a stack of books. 

My summer was fat, spilling over its own edges with a sort of frenetic hilarity. I flowed happily, from one party to the next, one drink to the next, with a sense underneath that I was overflowing. Tired circles. Thighs softening. One day, sucking in a soft tummy to button my pants.

by Raimonds Staprans

Beneath my joy I’ve always lived a bit like an ascetic, bread to bread. I like this simplicity because I know at all times what’s going in and what’s coming out, what I’ve consumed and what I’ve created. I’ve been an emotional explorer but in everything else I’ve been monastic. Closed. Shut up young, beautiful, to pray and wait and pray some more.

But I felt — this summer, at least — that I should bathe in the wine of youth. That you can be kind to yourself in small snatches between the times you’re tuckering yourself out, by eating an apple, by slowly sipping a glass of water in meditation. It’s not much. I’ve felt guilty for my lack of discipline, for my propensity to excess.

by Raimonds Staprans

Now is not the time for settling. We’ll be old and tired soon. When our summer’s gone, we can shut the doors against what’s loud, confused, chaotic. We can settle into our foundations with a creak of contentment; we’ve seen what we meant to see. We can rest, simple.

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. She last wrote in these pages about her summer. She tumbls here and twitters here.

"Heart of Gold (original dean street demo)" - Birdy (mp3)

"Light Me Up (kid harpoon demo)" - Birdy (mp3)

The new album from Birdy, The Fire Within, was released in the UK on September 23rd.



In Which We Answer At The Penultimate Second

Trivial Pursuit


I recently sat down and viewed the final three nights of The Million Second Quiz, an NBC game show endeavor that took place over ten nights and involved a complex web of rules. Contestants sat in an outdoor "money chair" near the Lincoln Tunnel, racking up winnings as challengers attempted to unseat them. Audience members could play along with an official app, and if they got enough points playing the virtual game, they could "line jump," skipping the show's tryouts and heading straight onto the in-person show in New York.

There were other regulations involved but they were so baroque that I could drink a single glass of wine (Château Diana, $6.99 at Duane Reade, really more of a bottle of tangy juice than anything else) and the rules were gone from my mind forever.

Quiz was the live television blur that I'm sure we're all accustomed to now. Dramatic music. Repeated claims that this was the most revolutionary television show to exist, ever. You could play from home. You could watch the action 23 hours a day online. Ryan Seacrest hosted, of course. Paul Telegdy, NBC's president of reality and late-night programming, described the voyeuristic nature of Quiz as "Orwellian," as if that were a desirable thing. According to celebritynetworth.com, Ryan Seacrest has amassed 240 million dollars, much of it from exhorting audience members to get excited about things. He is a professional exhorter.

Million Second Quiz was, of course, not very good. It was a live, boring failure. Its app crashed the first night, its rules were too confusing. One NBC exec admitted to not understanding how to play. Contestants appeared anxiously blank or under the influence of benzodiazepenes. The questions themselves were horrifying, an E! network Trivial Pursuit. One question was about what kind of accessory a “Birkin” was; the money-seat contestant confidently answered that it was a kind of open-toed sandal, and looked weirdly nonplussed when it was announced that he was wrong.

Basically, the show made me nostalgic for another game show: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? That show was, for a short period of time in 1999 and 2000, my earth, moon and stars. Maybe I loved it so much because I was nine and didn't know any better. Maybe I loved it because it was on five nights a week, my second tier babysitter; if omnipresence makes something Orwellian, then Regis Philbin was the best Big Brother a girl could ever ask for.

Would I hate Millionaire if I watched it now? Would I hate it the way I hated the cheesy, Minority Report, glass-and-neon-digital-numbers aesthetic of Million Second Quiz? I don't know. Sure, my taste hadn't evolved, but I think I loved Millionaire at the time not for the decor and the cheesy sweeping music and the way the lights dimmed at the beginning of each new question, but because I knew that everyone else was watching it. It was absolutely crushing the ratings. It was getting 30 million viewers a night. Those numbers are insane now. Quiz could barely break five million.

Maybe I hated Million Second Quiz because I somehow knew that no one was watching, even before looking up the ratings. I could sense that it was abandoned. The exhorting was for naught.

Before it was over, I tried ‘playing along’ on the app game. It’d be unfair to judge the show without testing out their full immersion tactic, right? The questions tread usual early-round territory: well-known paintings, well-known musicians, well-known puns. I totally trounced my competitor, an avatar named JasonK. I really just handed him his ass. And there was no glory in it. No glory in the same way there’s no glory in saying something mean about someone on Reddit or in the YouTube comments. There was no human connection, and no stern moderator, no Regis to ask me if my answer was final. On Millionaire, Regis was gravity. Regis was finality. Regis was Knowledge Personified. A lack of Regis meant the stakes were nonexistent.

And there was no glory because JasonK and I were two schmos in a sea of schmos watching and doing better things than us. JasonK and I were doing this Regis-less thing that NBC told us was super-radical and revolutionary, even though all the apps and the real-time livestreaming and the miles and miles of Seacrest smiles didn’t make up for the fact that giving a shit about primetime network game shows is not something that 30 million people do anymore. JasonK and I were alone. The winner got $2.6 million. What is the name of Kim Kardashian’s cat?

Molly O'Brien is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about The Bling Ring. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Friends For Ever More" - Steve Mason (mp3)

"From Hate We Hope" - Steve Mason (mp3)