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Alex Carnevale
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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
Apr082013

In Which We Enter The Mind Of A Cheetah

I'd marry the dog

Shut Your Mouth Bran

by DICK CHENEY

Thrones. Making a character seem real is a lot different than making him or her compelling. There are only so many character archetypes, so many personality traits that can believably inhabit one person in one world. That's why writers fall back on clichés, both because they do the work of telling us about themselves on their own, and because some are infallibly true to life, like the megalomaniacal, power-hungry bald man. Here are all the archetypes in Thrones so far:

  • the impatient, juvenile boy king
  • the inspiring disabled person
  • the sociopathic moneylender
  • the innocent token bride
  • the black guy who died first
  • actually there's only one black guy and he's a sailor
  • why can't they cast Malcolm Jamal-Warner, he could have been a solid sellsword
  • Sir Jorah Mormont should have been played by Tyler Perry
  • You know nothing Jon Snow

it's not a first date if there's no crossbow fondling involvedSome of the show can't live up to the complexity of the books, but King Joffrey is far improved from the source literature. Telling your moms, "This is one of the most boring conversations I have ever had," is risky in the best of circumstances. I believe Chelsea Clinton's face looks as it does because she tendered a similar remark to her own progenitor. You really shouldn't mess with Cersei, even if you are her sweet incest baby. She has more balls in her balls than most balls. (She has no balls, she's just really cool and smart!)

"Sometimes I just feel like murdering some innocents my lord...do you ever perchance feel similarly?"

Joffrey's affection for Margaery Tyrell is puzzling at best. His own empathy always fails him, a central theme of this Thronesing. I always thought of the Tyrells as the Jews of the Seven Kingdoms, with Highgarden commanded by a secret matriarchy redolent of Golda Meir. I once saw a stage show about that woman's life; by the end I was thrashing myself so generously you would have thought I was Benjamin Netanyahu at a particularly erotic Hannukah celebration.

this is the most kowtowing anyone's done for a woman since BO complimented that attorney general

Tyrion's pathetically emotional scene with his whore girlfriend really went too far over the top. Maybe his dad was right, what kind of (little) person is willing to put someone he cares about in jeopardy just for a blow job? This weekend Lynne and I sat down to finally watch Hope Springs. There's a scene where Meryl Streep gives a teeth mark BJ to Tommy Lee Jones in a movie theater that was more believable than this. Yeah, some jaded prostitute is going to get really mad if a lion complimented Sansa Stark's looks. Not even teenagers act this silly.

Speaking of not acting his age...

bran fleeing like a coward...you have my permission to die bud

Bran seriously needs to grow up. I mean whining all the time to your servants has its appeal, don't get me wrong. The only thing less interesting than hearing about some little lord's fever dream is having to watch Theon Greyjoy do virtually anything. Bran, originally I thought your "brother" Jon Snow was the worst, primarily because he is not actually your brother (spoilers for things George has yet to write), but also because he's unable to play a spy and he got the fucking pox. Who does that?

I approached barbra streisand once in the same posture and it did not work out half as well

But no, it turns out Bran is the fucking worst. Bran, shut up about your dreams. Shut your stupid face about your dreams. Your mother bores me, your father's dead, your sister is in Israel, your other sister is so much better than you it hurts me to think about it, your other brother is in love with a do-gooder nurse, and I seriously hope you turn into a wolf and drown.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Imprisonment has done Jaime Lannister no favors whatsoever. His penis has shrunken from its all time high of seventeen inches, as when he copulated with his sister and produced a son in a lovely tunic with a passion for sadomaschism. His penis now claims a length of a mere thirteen inches, yet its girth has remained relatively unchanged since Robert Baratheon instructed him to slaughter the Mad King. The vicissitudes of penis reshaping and all of that.

Jaime's playful fight with Brienne of Tarth didn't give me as many halfsies as I was anticipating, but that was more due to the fact that it is completely immoral to swordfight an opponent whose hands are cuffed together. Still, I doubt that would hold back any decent swordsman. (The real life experience I rely on to make such judgments largely occurred at urinals in the greater Maryland area.) Jaime and Brienne actually make a cool team, but we need to get to the grudging respect aspect of their interplay more quickly. One note, however beautiful, becomes dull if it's played for too long.

off to deposit the one ring in the fires of mordor

Jojen and Meera Reed are among the best characters in the series. This is not because their dialogue is overwrought, clichéd bullshit about what fucking do-gooders they are. The swamp people were one of GRRM's finest inventions, possessing both the mystical and historical knowledge that other houses in the area lack while also being renowned for their loyalty and moral agility. Their knowledge of the events of Robert's Rebellion may prove crucial. Imagine me slowly sliding my eyeglasses up on my nose with one hand as I say this, and with the other making a gesture that indicates masturbation.

God I hate you Bran.

In the North, Jon Snow's acting has not gotten better the further south the wilding army has traveled. It's absolute hell when Jon and his girlfriend Samwell Tarly are separated. I mean would Tolkien have split up Frodo and his Sam? Of course not. I'd never thought the day would come when I would be praising Elijah Wood's acting. Then again, rest assured that's not going to happen. Is there any way Andrew Garfield can realize he was meant to be the real Jon Snow, or is he too busy covering Emma Stone's face with a paper bag? Do it, recast Jon Snow. It's not working out. His skeptical face is too retarded, there's only one worse actor in all of the Seven Kingdoms:

"my lady my lady my lady my lady glurg glurg glurg"

Robb Stark's problems are our problems, sort of. At least he didn't face tongue some pretentious nurse in the books. The Westerlings were a lovely people. Honestly, Robb Stark reminds me of the leaders who appeased Hitler (can't remember names, was Martin Luther involved?), or the bleeding hearts who think that it's important to be tough, but turn their nose up at the sight of the mildest violence in the name of their cause. Either sign up to be a king, or go home. Margaret Thatcher would have laughed in Catherine Stark's face. Too soon? Excuse me while I go collect my tears for her in a ceramic cup.

props to joffrey for holding onto that direwolf skin

My love for Arya knows no bounds. GRRM always tells the story of how his wife demanded he never kill the poor girl off, which I'm sure ensures her death in the series' final book, A Shit On Stannis. (I actually had to check whether or not Stannis was still alive in canon, that's how boring the guy is.) Hopefully one day, via an elaborate flashback sequence, we will meet the charming mother who sired a gay, a prissy adulterer and a hog-shaped excuse for a king. Children haven't gotten that disappointing since Phil found out his only son tortured a rabbit on Modern Family. (You don't need to google this, it hasn't happened yet.)

the beginning of a rewarding friendship

Despite the fact that my PSN name is arya43, I have to admit I have gotten a little sick of the brave androgynous fighter act. Watching the Hound betray her to the Brothers without Borders Without Banners or Doctors was difficult. I never respected those guys, or anyone who thinks they're trying to save the countryside. Like really, tons of poor people in America could eat if you just put oil wells off the California coast. I said this to a guy at a gas station the other day and he was absolutely flabbergasted. GRRM's obsession with keeping Arya a little girl is typical, but listen, they have to grow up some time. I was surprised as you when I read that Selena Gomez killed a guy when she was like, twelve.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location. All of these things actually happened. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here, and his recapitulation of last week's episode here.

"The River" - Zero Absolu (mp3)

"The Olive Tree" - Zero Absolu (mp3)

 

Saturday
Apr062013

In Which We Attempt To Stop Ourselves From Weeping

Morning Star

by KATE NURSAS

She explained she had brought her boyfriend, Davidson Legrange, to see her family on some minor holiday.

He wore a handmade shirt with the letter 'P' on it. Her mother asked him what it meant. "It refers to Plato," he said, and she saw her mother almost imperceptibly grimace. Later her cousins, all decked out in Raiders jerseys, got wind of the fact that Davidson Legrange had written a poem for her.

She found him in her father's garage, tapping on a toy piano that no longer could produce any discernible noise other than a soft G. He had not yet begun to cry, holding his hands in his hands.

The poem began,

Night falls.
Stars manage to bow,
I see you in the light
or out of it.

You know
you should just let your
hair grow.

It went on like this, mostly about his feelings for her or himself, replete with so many broken metaphors it made her a little dizzy when she had read it the day before. She did not know if the purpose of the poem was praise or advice, but the more she thought it about, the nearer she was to the conclusion that this distinction eluded her fairly often.

While her family cut up cakes, he begged her to drive him to Home Depot. His broken Schwinn sat in the back of her truck. She watched him try to fix it outside a Dunkin' Donuts. Across from them, at a picnic table, an officiously dressed up family of four mildly ate bagel sandwiches. Their voices, low and steady, sounded like worship in the cool night.

When she pointed them out to Davidson Legrange, he shuddered, recalling her mother. It is one thing, she thought, to love the women who gave you life and another completely to be reminded of her when you really did not want to be. The faithful family joined hands around the table and let out a sigh. She reflexively put her hand on his boater.

Another part of the poem read

A lighthouse
tumbles into the ocean.

A man stands on his heels
or falls to his knees
in supplication. Your hand touches my face.

She had looked up from his notebook and told him she thought using the word 'tumbles' was inappropriate. "It's nothing wrong with the word itself." She went on: "It's the association it has with a popular website." She has suspected at first this would make Davidson Legrange angry or chagrined, but he had kind of grunted and put an index finger to his temple. Then his face softened and he nodded. She supposed that meant he felt he was the one wandering through the lighthouse, the person this was all happening to. At that thought she herself had made a face.

The moon bristled and ascended over the Dunkin' Donuts. It did not surprise her that he could fix his own bike. He had said to her more than once before that he did not understand the idea of starting something and not seeing it through to its completion. At the time had been clearly referring to a mentorship program with underprivileged youth he had joined as an undergraduate. In time she had begun to wonder if it applied to her as well.

When they returned to her parents' house, everyone was watching the game in a drunken fugue. At halftime Davidson Legrange read his poem when her cousins demanded it, brushing his bangs back from his face and periodically looking at the sky. He never met her eyes. It was not that the poem was unkind to him or to her. It was that it existed at all.

Back at their apartment in the city he kept opening and closing the refrigerator, or drawing circles on his mousepad. She knew saying something was probably going to lead to unkindness on her part, so she suppressed it. She did not think he had ever been willfully cruel, or she hoped she had not been.

The end of the poem read,

A maelstorm. A haunted, caloric cavern.
Where I stand thinking of you forever.
Your embrace.

She watched him at the desk from her sid of the bed, always about to say what she was going to have to say. His back was to her, and her mouth felt dry.

Once in a book by an author she used to admire, she read that a woman would tell you something on her own time, when she was ready for it, or not at all. This, she still believed, was not only sexist, but completely without even the slightest grain of truth that such generalizations usually possessed.

To her, both sexes seemed remarkably transparent. Even if someone she knew did not come out and explain their difficulties, it took no great insight to uncover the truth. As soon as this idea entered her mind, she knew that it was not about the world, held only as far from her as the top of the lighthouse might be from the ocean below in order to guide those who passed, but about Davidson Legrange.

Tears on a fucking mousepad. Jesus.

Kate Nursas is a writer living in Chicago. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"40 Times A Day" - Jil Is Lucky (mp3)

"Dead Star" - Jil Is Lucky (mp3)

Friday
Apr052013

In Which We Send Them To You In Baskets

by jeff blackPros and Cons of Cairo

by HEATHER MCROBIE

PRO: The elevators, I’ve always thought, are like how H.G. Wells imagined time machines. So rickety, so brassy, buttons like old saxophones and levers like The Future. The way the past imagined the future. I know logically it’s because I don’t live in Cairo. When I lived in Amman the elevator just signified nuisance, especially after that time it broke down, 3:30 p.m. in late summer, in an air-conditionless purgatory and my useless fists hitting at the door. It felt like a sign of my uselessness in those years, that I’d be using my energy punching things while obsolete engineering suspended me between two actual places. 

Cairo elevators, as a novelty, are the opposite of purgatory  you are in the past and future together, up and down all at once and with such handsome structure for the journey. When the doors close the stutter noise is so elegant, like the machinery is speaking a second language it learned at a school where uniforms were compulsory. You get in and your companion is a neighbour still smoking indoors or someone coming to fix something else inside the building or just your daydreaming. If the elevator is going up, your daydreaming is that you are Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, except instead of chocolate you are being given the gift of an evening. If the elevator is going down, your daydreaming is that you are plunging, like Jacques Cousteau, in a complicated apparatus whose confines are a small price to pay for the endless expanse it buys you, to explore — a sea, a city. In this Jacques Cousteau daydream Cairo is a coral reef wide as the side of Australia, street corners covered in star-fish. Elevators are the second-best thing made out of iron in this city. The first best thing is bed-frames.

CON: In a taxi, this is not in any of the many views I respect The Way To The Airport.

PRO: The stray cats have never forgotten that they were once worshipped. Like many people on the periphery of my life, I get the tingling sense that they are biding their time  that they know their turn will come again. They have never gotten into the elevator with me, the way they did with my friend. Instead they get me just outside the door, tail-up and too-clever and insistent. When I lived in another Middle Eastern city, the rule I had with my housemate was that a cat had to follow me all the way home  cross the threshold like a bride  and then I’d be allowed to keep it.

Here both I and the cats are too proud to make the necessary moves, and instead share lunch and afternoons as I take cigarette breaks too often between my solitary report-writing. But since I do not have a companion or rule-making housemate here, I indulge them in my afternoon-daydream literary allusions. I talk about Colette’s cats, and T.S Eliot’s. And the other Eliot. My favourite George Eliot novel is the unshowy, graceful Daniel Deronda, a wrought iron elevator of a novel if ever there was one. But even in her maturity Eliot gives in to the literary clemency that cats inspire. The house cat in Daniel Deronda, the opulently-named Hafiz, offsets the handsomeness of the human characters, a single pure indulgence. In breaks from my work I talk to the creatures on the doorstep about which works of contemporary literature would have been improved by the presence of cats. The unanimous verdict we reach is ‘all of them’.

CON: In a taxi, I think of all the people who may have opinions on the act  perhaps doctors or bureaucrats.

PRO: Some of my friends here laugh and others roll their eyes when I tell them that I have come up with the name the ‘Ikhwan Ice-cream Van’. It is the truck that goes round in the run-up to the December constitutional referendum, telling the neighbourhood during the lull of the afternoon that “the people demand the implementation of shari’a”. This is a reworking of the Tahrir Square cry that “the people demand the overthrow of the regime”. Like a bad 2012 remix. The ‘Ikhwan Ice-cream Van’ truck drives up and down the streets with its loudspeakers and its lack of tact. The neighbourhood replies with children running around in groups of five or six, the voices of soap operas tentacling out of windows, and the dissenting mewling of the cats. I love this neighbourhood; it is the first time I have stayed here. It is also the first time I have been here since the revolution. I love it even when, living-alone and lost in my thoughts, I hear things in the night that make me hold the edges of anything I can touch. I should probably state here that the Muslim Brotherhood did not  as far as I am aware and according to my sources  hand out any ice-cream to Egyptian citizens in the run-up to the December constitutional referendum. 

CON: In a taxi, I curse  of all things  my fingernails.

PRO:  My landlady lives in the same apartment building, some floors directly above. With the complications since Morsi’s decree in November and the referendum in December, prices of things have warped, the economy buckled like scrap metal. As it gets colder, the price of staying warm goes up. I know this from the newspapers and from friends but still my landlady tells me I need to stay warm, she has a spare electric heater. From high up in her apartment, she lowers it down to me in a basket, making a pulley system which we also later use for me to send paperwork up to her. The basket dangles past my window. The basket makes me think idly about Moses. This makes me think idly about scrolls. I unwrap the packaging of the sweets I’ve bought like they’re sacred. I lie back into the blank-page of the iron-framed bed. In text and in reality, it is one of the best afternoons the world has given me. I dream that everything I have to write will be sent to me from baskets, from stone tablets, or via elevators. Delivered to my door as certain as a cat.

CON: In a taxi, I make prayers I don’t believe and no-one else believes and even if they did believe they would say it was too late anyway. 

PRO: I met you at the church at just the time you said  the traffic mushed all over the bridge couldn’t keep me. Evening was falling in great chunks like stubborn shop-front shutters: a section of sky, and then another, and then another, dimmed itself in turn. Cafés are opening now like oysters or like flowers or like scrolls. Café after café unfolds. The streets are thick with people and also some roadblocks and also some cats. I tell you about my research and all the things I didn’t write properly. I tell you about all the places I haven’t seen or should have seen more properly. In general my way of looking is  all there is still to do, to be done. This is early-evening thinking. You look like early evening too, lashes falling. You look like Moses baskets falling from the sky, the way your eyebrows shoot up when you are explaining something. You wave your hands around like palm trees. You laugh like copper or brass. We go into one café where I take photos and you laugh at me. We go to another one where I’m really feeling all these things so then you don’t laugh at me. When we walk back out and into the thick of the street the church makes a noise like pearls or the sea or something and I don’t want to leave. I explain to you about coral reefs and cats and Costeau diving-suits and the Moses baskets and all the everything-all-at-once that I love. At least, I try to explain things.

CON: In a taxi, weighed against all of that, is the inconvenience of bodies.

Heather McRobie is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Oxford. She last wrote in these pages about Leonard Cohen and Montreal. She twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Hero" - Family of the Year (mp3)

"In the End" - Family of the Year (mp3)