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Alex Carnevale

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl

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 Find A Hero More Engaging Than Lizzie Borden



While waiting for Game of Thrones to come back so I can dash off 1000-word essays about how the lack of subtlety in the performance of Daenerys Targaryen irks both me and my wife for completely different reasons, I have been watching a lot of bad television. I have also been preparing some reaction gifs for when Littlefinger and Lady Stoneheart consummate a most delicious union.

Outside of Game of Thrones, where Arya Stark prepares for the day when she can let a man run her life, heroines are hard to come by. Not even the Lifetime network is capable of creating a sympathetic one, although they give it the old college try in the new series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.

"I should redo my kitchen."

Ricci is deeply experienced at acting wacky and crazy, and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles takes advantage of this by showing her killing her father and stepfather in flashback a lot. Jonathan Banks is also involved, and what remains of Cole Hauser's career — he really should have been nicer to Vin Diesel on the set of Pitch Black.

Borden has a few fun lines scaring the local children, but I guess the real secret is that she isn't all that out of her mind — it's the world that surrounds her that is. This means she is deeply familiar with the work of Sheryl Sandberg. As incredibly unfun as The Lizzie Borden Chronicles is to watch, at least one person is enjoying herself.

"The part of Lizzie Borden's more conservative sister" attracted hundreds to an open casting call.

I was on the ground floor of the feminist revolution. I co-wrote Patricia Arquette's speech at the Oscars, and I also personally knew Elizabeth Cady Stanton. We loved to watch Matlock together and eat what she called crisps, which I later learned were fried lentil beans. I once parked Gloria Steinem's car - the inside smelled like wet paint and chromosomes.

If you look at so many shows on television, a new female archetype has emerged. It is capable, confident well-rounded woman who talks sense and gives peace of mind to the swirling winds of change that surrounds her. Jimmy McGill's love interest on Better Call Saul, Gillian Anderson in The Fall, Mireille Enos in The Killing, the woman playing the zombie detective, any female character that Matthew Weiner writes, every single role ever portrayed by Anna Gunn or Blake Lively...

can't help but feel that Jon Snow would have been right for this all important role

Actually, I will now retract all the awful things I ever said about Blake Lively. If The Age of Adaline is successful, think of all the wonderful roles Blake Lively will be associated with in the years to follow: Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Bradley Manning, the Chelsea Handler biopic. Sure, it's a little late to become a movie star — I believe Blake is 43 or thereabouts — but she has so many of the things we have to come to expect in our leading ladies. Charm, and vivaciousness, a low ask, and the capacity for "amicable silence."

We will need strong, feminine women like Blake in the time to come, because all our heroes have died (Clint Eastwood has been dead for over eight years) or desiccated into this:

This is not even his final form.

But what am I saying... Harrison Ford is still definitely a person, and Blake Lively can only carry his career to new heights. Blake's husband's career has crashed and burned after he unwittingly accepted a bizarre role where he played Helen Mirren's love interest. It will be up to Blake Lively to carry the financial end of things in the relationship until the inevitable sequel to The Proposal materializes when Sandra Bullock enters her 60s and needs to provide for her kids.

Two friends often sit together this way, in Sodom.

You see Adaline has looked "29" for a long time, and she can't let anyone know about this awful secret, because I guess they might get jealous? Then she bumps into a "charismatic" philanthropist whose dad is played by whatever is left of Harrison Ford.

About half of the women in Hollywood passed on The Age of Adaline, although it might have been good luck for the producers as both Katherine Heigl and Natalie Portman lack the charm that Blake Lively last captivated audiences with in...um...OK, Katherine Heigl would have been fantastic, but her aging would have made The Age of Adaline a bit nonsensical.

After 100 years, pretty much everyone is going to try a three-way.

Apparently heroines can only actually exist in the past. The real stories of the women doing things other than living a long time are being swept under the rug. I don't know how Suki Waterhouse put up with Bradley Cooper for that long. Who is lining up to tell her story? Harrison Ford's agent is too busy torpedoing his client's career by letting him being viewed onscreen as Father Time to get this important project off the ground.

Women are capable, more than capable, of having other virtues. They are not just crazy or modest, ageless or aged, Jewish or gentile. They possess other, more subtle aspects to them that are apparently not evident to a diseased Hollywood afraid to cast a woman as anything other than a young starlet or a senior citizen. The 50s were a wonderful time for me — it's when I started my first blog.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Lilacs" - Hannah Cohen (mp3)



In Which Our Mind Already Feels Considerably Sharper

painting by Roxann Poppe Leibenhaut

My Life As An Object


It was as stupid a piece of advice as I ever received when someone told me to do what I love.

You know those old cartoons where the eyelashes of women are so carefully managed they appear to twinkle, extend and shine? That is what I felt like in the world.

Seeing anyone more than once was either too often or not enough.


I did not want to give her something to do. I knew that if she did well at anything writing, fashion, her relationships with friends and it went sour, it could come back on me. I might be blamed for it. When I told this to my therapist, a grim look came over his face. He said, "That is not very loving."

We argued a lot. I have heard that is not a good sign. We constantly went back and forth about sleeping arrangements. She was not comfortable at rest. She was lactose intolerant, but always drank milk in her coffee. It took her a month for her to say that she sometimes left our bed out of embarrassment. I bought her a dairy free creamer but she never used it.


In Portland the shapes of the others changed, becoming more ethereal. I could stand on one corner and see something completely desirable, so much so that I felt like crossing the street, but never did. There is a politeness that restricts me from making a fool out of myself, and it constitutes a retaining wall impervious to anything except for lust and coincidence.

Waking leaves me in this same body again. So many have taken it in, pressed against it for one reason or another. Even if the number were only a few, the sensation it gives me now is inexhaustible.

Everyone that I know is thinking of another place to be other than the one they are.


She had moved in with me on a Friday with the thought we'd have the entire weekend to ourselves. She only took the drug when she was alone, and she did not use at all until I came home from work on Monday. She was watching Adventure Time with a glassy smile. Under the influence of the drug her features became more refined, her body assumed an enticing flow. Of course she was more detached, I had to keep telling myself. Watching her, it felt like one part bled into another.

To write of this when I had not lived before with someone in this way still strikes me as bracingly familiar.


I read Susan's story, and it seemed like a nightmare and heaven in equal parts. She makes a kind of sense, but only a kind, like seven slices out of a pizza. I read Tropic of Cancer and felt like a scarecrow. In these last months I have learned to accept the wandering mindset, even let it infect me for a time. But I cannot imagine, even for a moment, their fantasies.

The words which trigger the onset of understanding are all the first ones I learned, and the last.


The last time I saw her she met me after a salon appointment. The fact that when her hair was viewed from the correct angle it substantially improved her countenance only added to the trauma. She looked bored. But then she said, "How's work?" and for a gripping second I thought that something more important hinged on the small talk.

After that, I knew the only reason she had come was because she did not know how to tell me no. She said, "Can you ask your mother something for me?" A moment later, she received a phone call from her friend. I never did find out what it was she wanted.


When I talk to someone on the internet, I try not to construe them as a virtual, a computer program designed to respond to me and only me. I am shocked all I say will not be remembered.

I drove from Omaha to Austin with a wedding present in my backseat. I went from San Jose to San Diego; even up close the cars seemed like ants. Sensing the presence of another hinted at a prelude to intimacy, but in fact the reverse was true, or as true.

Do you like the poetry of Dr. Williams? Do you think that any of it is a lie?


The drug would put her to sleep. I will not say what it was, not out of respect for her, but for myself. Whether that is loving or not, I don't truly know.


In New York things speed up or slow down completely. Now, in the darkness, the others sit or stand. I can make nothing of strangers and to try to know them is a losing battle. I want them to know me, not the other way around. It's easier.

Whatever I did, I take it back.

When I go online, there is a reminder written in ink on my hand, twisted into a circle, but many-sided. The green icon, percolating like water on a stove. To step faster, per diem, and allow the change to render itself completely. Available.


Two months before she left, when things felt like they had reached some kind of pleasant equilibrium, I bought a kitten. I know that's a dumb fucking thing to do. My therapist told me that I did not do this for her at all, but for myself as a reaction to the change.

She would use in the morning and fall asleep. By the time I walked in the door she was happy to see me. She wanted nothing more than for it to be the weekend. I came home one night and she'd prepared dinner, a task she had never shown interest in before. 


In San Francisco, where even the wind blows mild in comparison, someone once told me that the way you could tell between a human and an automaton was the manner in which they held a book. I asked the man who said this what would happen if books disappeared and he said, "Do you have a Kindle?"

Running in place. Everybody does it. I hate that word, everybody.


My therapist told me that there is nothing wrong with a personality shift if it is conscious. The only unintended personality shift that is positive comes from conditioning, whether it be in a military setting or a prison.

The cat died the third week we had her. First she went blind, and then she died. 


My mind feels sharper and I know that I am myself more educated, due to an increase of neurons firing in the brain. On one level I find this invigorating, filling me with the thought I have changed and the process by which others notice will, at the end of any given moment, start to begin.

When I do carry a book, I struggle to figure out how I should hold it.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the moon.

"Can You Blame Me?" - Matt & Kim (mp3)

"Hoodie On" - Matt & Kim (mp3)



In Which We Cover Ourselves In A Glorious Sheen

A Flytrap But For Happiness


On a cold day in early March, during work hours, the Lincoln Park conservatory is mostly empty. Its few visitors pause in the palm house, where it's warm. We shed scarves and sweaters and tie up our hair. We're covered in a glorious sheen of sweat. 

"Are you getting dripped on?" I ask my friend. She's burying her face in a plant at toe level. Her laughter comes through a veil of humidity. I'm lightheaded from sudden muscle relaxation and birthday breakfast mimosas, champagne with a drop of orange juice. Everything's so lush and slow, it's seductive. It smells sexy in here. 

I wonder:

Do flowers smell different to different people? 

Why are the undersides of so many leaves purple? 

Why is that man talking so loudly on his cell phone? 

How old are these koi? 

Mimosa pudica, sensitive plant: Where have I seen that name before?

Mimosa — obviously, we giggled it while my friend fried bacon and stirred a chocolate gravy for biscuits out of a can. I poured champagne into tilted mason jar goblets. We were up early because we went to see the sunrise, read Mary Oliver on the banks of Lake Michigan and watch Chicago twinkling on the horizon. I was drunk before 9 a.m., because I turned 27 and Chicago turned 178.

Pudica sounds dirty, like pute, a word we shouted at girls we didn't like in French high school. I'm telling my friend about this article I read in the New Yorker about plant consciousness, and when I go to email her the link, l see this: 

Mimosa pudica, also called "sensitive plant," is that rare plant species with a behavior so speedy and visible that animals can observe it; the Venus flytrap is another. When the fernlike leaves of the mimosa are touched, they instantly fold up, presumably to frighten insects. 


In a hot bath oolong unfurls its fists, relaxes into the steam. The second cup is best. After three, the leaves' liquor weakens. I sip even the sediment. I wear a green sweater. Everything's growing. My razor is rusted. My windows yawn, jaws cracking.

Conservatory: The interior of a tea salon in a dicey neighborhood in Marseilles, France. Monsieur Kim, its owner, employed his stepdaughter to whisper to patrons about green, black, and white varieties while chocolate tarts heated in a concealed microwave. The tarts were the only thing manufactured about the place, and even they probably came from some neighborhood patisserie. M. Kim brought tea back from trips to China and Japan, which he then stored in giant tins behind the counter. We'd come in twice, three times a week to sit in the dark basement of his shop, hung with gauzy drapes, and we'd sip tea and get high on incense. I was new to tea and drowned cubes of sugar in it. We ordered teas with fancy names: In the Mood for Love, Imperial Jasmine, Thousand and One Nights. 

We invited boys, but they didn't come. Just as well. It was a place for teenage girls and people in love. It was a sacred space that, like us, would have crumbled if criticized. Here we talked about the boys who — we were convinced — just needed more time to steep. We fell asleep on each other's shoulders after the caffeine wore off and the sugar dipped low. We waited for our futures to brew. 

The store shuttered not long after I left France, and I lost the heart to visit its gated front on subsequent visits. Were we the ones keeping it alive? Where do teenage girls in Marseilles go now to eat microwaved chocolate tarts and drink Imperial Jasmine and sigh about boys?

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording. You can subscribe to her Tinyletters here.


"Another Night On Mars" - The Maine (mp3)

"English Girls" - The Maine (mp3)