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Alex Carnevale

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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 We Begin To Vacation At Our Leisure

Family Vacation



× The time will never be right for a family vacation.


× It’s been years, nearer to a decade, since the last one.


× Somehow, plans for one are hatched.


× By way of Reply All, one family member will threaten to withdraw from the trip.


× It will happen more than once.


× Compromises are remarkably easy.


× Keep in mind, the art of bargaining with empty threats can often appear like a compromise.


× Once the tickets are booked, doubts about a family vacation are directly proportionate to an increasing yet delicate sense of anticipation.


× This type of anticipation is expressed through practical (but thoughtful) text messages.


× Some examples include: “thinkin of buying one of those 360 degree spinner wheel suitcases. thoughts?” Or, “Have you seen how hot it’s gonna be!?”


× Or (attached with a picture of your passport and approved travel visa) the words: “I win.”


× Bottom line: “The youngest” will never grow out of wanting to be “first.”


× Family vacations provoke immediate regression.


× Reverting to childhood habits is embarrassingly easy.


× For instance, you will pack little, expecting to borrow shampoo, toothpaste, and mosquito repellent from your parents.


× Clothes, from your older brother.


× Coveting an older sibling’s t-shirts is an irrefutable fact of life.


× Book choice, on the other hand, requires much deliberation.


× Tip! Pack one re-read. Two brand new books (your choice). And one recommendation/gift (someone else’s choice.)


×Also suggested: print and pack a few longreads that you’ve recently read and enjoyed and want to share with your family.


× On the way to the airport, you’re unexpectedly charmed by the idea of this trip.

× Following a series of delayed flights, bad food, and interrupted sleep, spotting your parent’s face at the airport in Mumbai, shouting your name from a crowd, feels like a hallucination.


× A hallucination immediately made real by comments on how tired you look.


× Or how thin your face has become.


× Or how your jacket sleeve has a hole.


× It takes a couple days, give or take, for parents to adjust to being around their kids who are no longer kids.


× Stuff gets said that isn’t meant to hurt.


× More often than not a parent forgets that you exist in a world where you work and pay rent, and get angry and sad, and have your heart broken and mended, broken and mended.


× Still, that initial hug will briefly dissolve all that currently feels unwieldy in your life.


× You will spend the rest of the vacation dodging all topics related to what is feeling unwieldy in your life.



× Avoid deflecting to your sibling’s life.


× Just dodge.


× Dodge. Dodge. Dodge.


× Until that one afternoon, a very sunny one where your skin feels warmed from within and everyone is off doing his or her thing, and you suddenly feel compelled to put down your book and talk to someone.


× Less the actual conversation, but the desire to speak candidly and kindly, is the vacation’s sweet spot.


× Similar examples: Drinks at the hotel bar with your brother on your father’s tab. A wedding reception at the hotel keeps you both distracted enough to not get on each other’s nerves.


× Or, watching as a parent delights in a snack he or she hasn’t delighted in in years.


× Better yet; if you find the snack particular gross.


× And a personal favorite: The four of you walking in a narrow line. (The market was too crowded and loud to walk and talk side by side.)


× Inevitably, when a family is forced to walk in a line, the eldest member always appears the youngest.


× At a spice plantation, biting into a peppercorn and burning your tongue, you are more present than you have been in a very long time.


× Parents look older the more present one feels.


× But their happiness looks freer too.


× E-mailing a friend frequently — as frequently as possible that is — is essential.


× But just one friend.


× Choose someone who won’t expect elaborate details about the trip, but a continued conversation from before you left.


× E-mails concerning the vacation, unless funny, are rarely enjoyable to read or to write.


× Choose a friend who you’ve recently felt emotionally near to.


× One that your parents do not know or have the knowledge to ask about.


× These emails will feel secret and with ten hours separating the two of you, your good mornings will be her good nights. Her insomnia will feel like company.


× She will be, for the next two weeks, that side of you which is witness to yourself. An orbit.


× Long car rides through windy mountaintop roads in Kerala will make you devastatingly nauseous.


× Nausea is the most regressive sensation, ever. All you want is parents, and luckily, they are there!


× Offering to sit in the middle is both a literal and figurative way of hoping to take up the least amount of space.



× Missing an ex when travelling with family is expected.


× Missing an ex’s body, especially when sleeping in hotel sheets, will feel cruel and comforting, both.


× An “I miss you” e-mail will be sent and regretted.


× Nostalgia becomes unusually relevant on family vacations.


× One morning, late in the trip, a big fight will push someone to his or her limit.


× Your stepmom will walk away from breakfast having not eaten a bite.


× Do not follow her.


× Irritability levels are higher than usual when one isn’t accustomed to eating three meals a day with a father, a brother, and a stepmother.


× It’s to be expected.


× Out of the blue, hugging your brother seems vital.


× He does not hug back.


× It looks like this.


× You will spot and study other families also vacationing.


× All fathers have Beckett legs.


× Grown-up siblings speak in a code they themselves are trying to decipher.


× Everyone dresses down and wears hats.



× Other families seem quieter than yours. Laugh louder sure, but are by some means quieter.


× If you’re not someone who naps, don’t be surprised if you do on a family vacation.


× Activities are tiring.


× Tours are exhausting.


× So rarely do you do or attend things that aren’t urgently interesting to you. 


× Parents enjoy the company of their adult children, remembering them as babies.


× Adult children are suddenly moved to sit very close to their parents.


× Or to knock on their hotel room doors for no reason.


× To sit on the edge of their bed and watch as your stepmother chooses from a very tiny box, which earrings she will wear.


× Vacation photographs:


× Hope for a good one.


× Anticipate terrible ones.


× On the last day, take slow and steadied bites at breakfast. Have seconds.


× Read a newspaper.


× Go for a walk with your brother.


× After a long journey home, it’s cold in New York and nobody is there to greet you.


× But you turn your phone’s data on again and a slew of text messages pop up.


× Pop. Pop. Pop.


× Text your roommate: “Shady’s back.”


× In the cab ride home, you send a quick email to your family. “Landed! Love you.”


× You send another one: “Home first!”

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about The Mindy Project.

"Anthophobia" - The Love Language (mp3)

"Horophones" - The Love Language (mp3)



In Which She Is A 19th Wave Feminist

Who Loves You


You know what, guys? I first addressed the evils of the NYT's Modern Love column years ago. But the essay series continues its reign of terror, and the editors are not even kind enough to tip your chair back and wake you up out of the third-level inception nightmare that is an essay titled, "I Fell For A Man Who Wore an Electronic Ankle Bracelet."

That is why we are revisiting this today.

It’s also worth noting, that important science people say devastating solar storms could put the planet in peril as soon as 2013. Dare to think: What if all that’s left for Wall-E to find of our civilization is a What Women Want DVD and this vast collection of pandering one-dimensional essays? We would look so terrible! My therapist says I care too much about what other people think. And my life coach says that "my therapist said" jokes are totally overdone. I just feel really lost sometimes, you know? Pls consider the last three sentences my Modern Love pitch.

How A Series of Horrible Essays Taught Me All I Need To Know About Modern Love And Made Me Crawl Into A Bucket of Fried Chicken Left On The Roadside

I have this fantasy where I get the Sunday Times. After sleeping in until 10 or so, I begin the last weekend day in my sun-filled living room curled up on the couch by the huge bay windows, cuddling close to my fiance who has just given me the greatest orgasm of my life. He used to be a sociopathic rapist with a trust fund and I, a staunch feminist who preferred to date non-rapists. But you know what? We learned to compromise. That is what love is all about.

And now, cuddling close on the couch together, the clock shows it's nearly 11, and we're so intelligent we've almost completed the entire crossword. "12 letter name, philosopher, wrote On Women..." he reads aloud. We sit thinking, curling our fingers together.

"Schopenhauer!" I scream. He looks at me admiringly. "How did you ever get to be so beautiful but so brilliant too?" he gushes. "I didn't know they made women like you! I would never have been raping all those years if I knew someone like you was out there." My lower class roommate Marmsies walks in on our cuddling, and exclaims in her slightly Cuban accent, "My Momma always says when you got somethin' good, you gots to hold onto it!" My fiance turns to me, looking soulfully into my eyes, "That Cuban girl is right....Marry me now."

Does this sound like something you have or may want someday?

Then you probably love Modern Love, and maybe you should be a Modern Love writer!

I'd like to outline the fairly simple formula of a Modern Love column to make it easier for you to find this elusive brand of love and then write about it for a prestigious paper! First, it's very important to be an educated, upper middle class female. Actually don't bother trying to find modern love if you're not. You can leave subtle hints of your elitist qualifications by describing how you picked up your New Yorker copies scattered throughout his apartment after he broke your heart, or you can casually mention "pre-nups", "Ph.D's", "foie gras", "Park Slope", or "Schopenhauer" at any point during the course of your essay. All of these methods have worked beautifully in the past.

Gloria Steinem, Wilma Scott Heide & Betty FreidanSometimes a great twist on this element is how your educated position set you up to fail at love. For example in my FAVORITE column ever, "Changing My Feminist Mind, One Man at a Time" the author demonstrates how her superb intelligence and thorough understanding of feminism actually inhibited true love. Someone get this girl a book deal! She is a 19th wave feminist!

I read, re-read, and underlined "Backlash," "The Beauty Myth" and "The Feminine Mystique." I grew enraged by what I learned. Enraged, and utterly confused. Who was keeping women down? Men. But who were just so cute that I couldn't sleep at night for thinking and writing and obsessing about them? You guessed it, the self-same.

Then I went off to an all-women's college, Smith, where I didn't see a whole lot of men. I joined the campus women's group and studied up on gender issues. My rage toward men in general grew ever stronger, as did my desire to meet that one specific man who could make my dreams come true.

It also helps, once you've established your superb white upper class affiliations to dabble with some lower classes. You see, they're not as smart as you, thus they are not constricted by their own intelligence. They can teach you how to love purely and intensely, to rid yourself of the shackles of the Ivy League pedigree. Find a poor musician, like this week's columnist did, one who will kind of embarrass you, but who will play Damaged by Primal Scream, and tell you “This song makes me love you so much I want to die." So romantsies! Also, if you can manage to date a rapist serving time in prison you get like, a billion trillion bonus points. That is way modern love.

Lower class people are also very important in the Modern Love story arc to help bring you to your senses. When you're sobbing on some bus, after collecting your smart person materials from your ex-boyfriend's house, make sure that some guy with a "West Indian accent" lightly jokes with you, "Aw, that fool must be crazy to give up a nice young thang like yourself!" Let these people be the voice of sensibility. Let them guide you to your ultimate catharsis. You can even dedicate your entire essay to these characters like in "How My Plumber Turned Water Into Wine" (but remember the focus should still be on you and the shackles of your upper class life). I mean, this week's author comes to her senses thanks to a tenant in a flophouse!

So there I was, a girl with a university education, a glowing résumé, a loving family, and all the other annoying characteristics of a charmed life, writhing on the urine-stained floor of a flophouse. And I was making such a scene that the tenant from the next room, a hulking man in torn boxers, emerged from his den, pointed a shaming finger at me and shouted, “Girl, you need to get your mind right."

Once a poor tenant in a urine-soaked flophouse admonishes you for being crazy you can finally say, "If this dirty dude thinks I'm being crazy, then I must be being too crazy!" and begin the process of love's recovery. Brush the urine right off you. Go to the 'Bucks, grab yourself your usual Grande Skim Latte. Sit and listen to Norah Jones while sipping your steamy drink and process what just happened, though don't come to any conclusions that could, you know, subvert the patriarchy. This experience you've just had — this is modern love — and you should write about it so that I can barf up my Sunday brunch and not put on any winter weight. 

Lauren Bans is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find her website here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She twitters here. You can find an archive of her writing at GQ here. She last wrote in these pages about Modern Romance.

digg delicious reddit stumble "Razor Face" - Elton John (mp3)

"True Love Will Find You In The End" - Spiritualized (mp3)



In Which We Examine The Label On The Bottle

Very Polished

Side Effects  
dir. Steven Soderbergh
106 min.

When my therapist suggested looking into medication to control my anxiety, I simply said, “OK, I’ll think about it”  and I never did anything more. I did not tell her, “OK, and by the way tomorrow I’m going to go see a movie about anti-depressants and murder."

Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh’s supposedly last film prior to retiring now that he claims “movies don’t matter any more,” tells a murder mystery we have seen before but wrapped in contemporary Manhattan, insider trading, and plenty of brand name prescription drugs at least one person in your building has touched before, such as Zoloft, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Adderall, etc.

But this is not a movie about prescription drugs. It is a movie about doing anything for yourself: ridding your life of what seems to drag it down, seducing the person you truly love, and conspiring in the most tangled of ways to achieve enemy and lover number one, money.

And yet,it could easily be said too that Side Effects is really a film about editing. A metaphor for human behavior, of course, but even more so what is and is not shown to audiences. The reveal that seems to continually unravel and uncover itself for the last 45 minutes or so isn’t mainly a short-story kind of statement, a byte of dialogue that turns on your aha consciousness. It is a montage of what you didn’t see happening earlier, the scenes you did not ever think of because  well, why would you?

A screenplay’s pages are the most precious real estate a writer has, so filling up on words and actions un-absolutely-necessary is a bad move. But then Soderbergh shows you exactly these scenes, albeit few, working backwards to show you the spaces that you had been watching, but were unaware of, like having turned your back on the party guests for a moment to pour some more wine.

This short part in the plot’s twist does much to make you think twice about everything you did and did not witness onscreen. It’s a creative catalyst for helping understand what really happened, for helping distinguish between the placebo of the plot and the truly affected. But the ending, a morsel of smart layers, is not enough to hide some of the unintentional flaws that seeped through Scott Z. Burns' script.

Before Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) welcomes home her newly-released-from-jail husband, Martin (Channing Tatum) after a four-year stint from insider trading, she thanks her design-firm boss (Polly Draper) for understanding. The exchange feels modern, short words but sympathetic. I become aware of how close the camera is, particularly on Emily. For the rest of the film, it is largely shot in close-ups that can quickly be disorienting. Upon reflection, it is almost an obsessive character study of Emily.

When Martin and Emily try to have sex for the first time, his heavy breathing feels uncomfortably too loud in the darkness, and when he apologizes to Emily afterwards, I feel he is apologizing to me. Later when they have actual sex thanks to Ablixa in Emily’s life, her face is hidden the entire time from her hair, and after climaxing she abruptly falls off Martin and out of the camera’s focus.

Depressed and lost with trying to restore her life, Emily tries to crash her car, ending up with a concussion in the ER (looking somehow very well put-together and not at all as if she had been in an airbag-deployed car accident) and a visit from the floor psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathon Banks (Jude Law). He softly asks if she tried to hurt herself, and rather than making her stay in the hospital for evaluation, agrees to her pleas to have her come to his office for regular appointments. She had seen a doctor in Greenwich, CT in the same manner since “that structure really helps with hopelessness,” she tells him. I already feel like she might be clued in to too much, but maybe it’s Mara’s calculated performance — the excited young wife when Martin is released, the poised woman at a fancy dinner, the catatonic body unable to respond to the everyday stimuli warranted by someone not feeling crushed by depression. She may always remain mysterious, whether she is alone or with Martin or Banks, but she remains so consistent that it just becomes who Emily Taylor is.

Back in their polished apartment, Martin and his mother (Ann Dowd) can’t believe Emily is going through depression again. The dialogue is flat, and Martin’s frustration feels weak. After she is given her first prescription, Emily starts to exhibit a lack of focus and a concerning demeanor. At work one day she rushes to the bathroom suddenly, and turns to vomit in a stall as her J.Crew-catalogue-esque boss walks in. Regarding Emily in her stall, the boss folds her arms and goes, “Aww.” I didn’t know people gave that sort of response to situations like these. Later, upon learning of the whole murder ordeal, this same nameless boss tells Banks, “God, it’s so tragic.” She sounds like an annoying teenager.

After she murders her husband while sleepwalking on the newest drug Ablixa, the case blows up the news as well as Dr. Banks’ practice – yet he mercilessly works on trying to figure out what happened that Emily cannot remember. Dr. Banks is the epitome of your perfect hero: charming, understanding, intelligent, and good-looking. This gentleman version of law and order is perfectly pulled off by Law, in a seamless transition from his role as the politely sterile Karenin, channeling professional drive and concern in the same accented-breath as when he is making the moves on his new wife Deirdre (Vinessa Shaw). He works when he doesn’t have to. He buys flowers for Deirdre and teaches his new stepson about dreams. He never once regards Emily in a predatorial or sexual way. He turns the other cheek when he is questioned by his partners, by the FBI. His biggest flaw is that he has none.

Deirdre, on the other hand, is frustrated while looking for a job, and openly does not seem to fully respect the nature of her husband’s profession – that sometimes patients require emergencies, such as when a teary Emily finds the two having coffee and desperately needs to talk to Jonathon about another suicide attempt. All the while Deirdre gives her a baffling and disdainful look, more shock than sympathy. Deirdre’s dialogue overall is the bare minimum of her functioning emotions, terse and pointless.

After the murder, Martin’s nameless mother goes to visit Emily where she is detained. When Emily gratefully, although flatly, says she thought her in-law would never want to see her again, Martin’s mother simply gushes in a confused state about how she doesn’t understand this could happen when all the people in the commercials are so happy, they’re all getting better. I laugh out loud in the movie theater at her earnest pleas. Doesn’t she know commercials use scripts and actors?

Meanwhile, Emily’s Greenwich-based doctor from four years ago, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is roped into the whole mess with repeatedly seeing Emily despite Banks being her new doctor. Siebert is the one who introduced Ablixa to Banks, and who has trusty insider juice on Emily (like her unmentioned miscarriage from four years ago). When she first meets Banks, she remarks that it’s a good thing Emily is seeing a man for a doctor. I immediately conclude that Emily was hot for doctor  but Siebert simply alludes it to the whole “daddy issues” thing. This is mentioned later in the film again, but we never actually learn anything at all about Emily’s “daddy issues.” Whenever Siebert is around Banks, I feel like she is oozing visible pheromones from her come-hither smirk, but it is a guarded professionalism that the successful psychiatrist employs, courtesy of Zeta-Jones’ soft-spoken compassion and, when necessary, portrayal of an unhinged negotiator.

There is a lot we don’t learn about, but by the time the film concludes (to some sort of upbeat exotic music that seems horribly placed for a dismally depressing last image), you’ve learned more than you realize. Just remember: drugs are not the answer here.

Shelby Shaw is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and artist living in Chicago. She last wrote in these pages about moving the mundane. She tumbls here and twitters here.

"Rest Your Head" - Bat for Lashes (mp3)

"A Wall" - Bat for Lashes (mp3)