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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 I Have Been A Prince Man All My Life

the iTunes playlist: Zach Galifianakis

Here are Zach Galifianakis's favorite songs from iTunes.

"Zero and Blind Terry" - Bruce Springsteen (mp3)

This is one of the great stories from the Boss that has always made me cry. I grew up on Springsteen, and he shaped my taste early on.

"Where I'm From" - Digable Planets (mp3)

This Planets song isn't where I'm from personally. But their grooves make tires inflate.

"7/4 (Shoreline)" - Broken Social Scene (mp3)

I can't stop listening to this record. I only wish it was a double album. I saw Eddie Vedder in New York, and he played a part in Walk Hard. My greatest rock 'n' roll moment.

"Paul's Song" - M.Ward (mp3)

This is my favorite Eminem song. He does a cameo in Funny People that is hilarious. This song is about his guilt over working too much.

"Cursed Sleep" - Bonnie Prince Billy (mp3)

This gentleman is a friend of mine, and to me he's the modern Bob Dylan. The two of us made a video for Kanye West a couple of years ago.

"At Dawn" - My Morning Jacket (mp3)

I first heard this song in a small record store in Wilmington, N.C. years ago. I went to a show of theirs years ago where there were about 17 people in the audience. They were so inspiring to me. Later on, I got to sing with them at the end of a four-hour set they did outside of Nashville in front of 20,000 people in a downpour of Southern rain.

"You're Gonna Make me Lonesome When You Go" - Madeleine Peyroux

Best Dylan cover I have ever heard.

"Broke" - Modest Mouse (mp3)

I am convinced these guys can sing about Styrofoam coolers and make it poetic and beautiful. My dream is to write an album for them one day.

"Emily -  Joanna Newsom (mp3)

I don't have many favorite harpists, but Miss Newsom is that. She is more than that, of course. Her words in this song make me forget about pain, even though it might be about pain.

"Song to Woody" - Bob Dylan (mp3)

A great American poet singing about another great American poet.

"Pussy" - Brazilian Girls (mp3)

I have watched the video version of this song around 100 times. A must-see and must-listen. I feel this group should be the next big thing, but they may be too smart to be that.

"King Leer" - Morrissey (mp3)

I feel that Morrissey has always been misunderstood by his sad fanbase. His lyrics are so flippant, and anyone who can tastefully sing, "I crept up behind you with a homeless chihuahua, you cooed for an hour, you handed him back and said, 'You'll never guess, I'm bored now'" is a genius in my book. Of course my book doesn't have many pages.

"Waiting On a Friend (Rolling Stones cover)" - Pearl Jam (mp3)

Simply love this song for the content and the great sax playing, especially toward the end.

"New Partner" - Palace Music

My first introduction to Will Oldham. One of the best love songs ever to be vomited out of this singer.

"How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" - Prince

I have been a Prince man all my life. This is one of his underproduced songs: raw Prince just singing his horny heart out.

"Human of the Year" - Regina Spektor (mp3)

Cliche is coming. Her range is so remarkable. I think Regina is one of the most underrated singers out there today. 'All mankind is now your brothers.' I'm not sure what this song is about, but I love music that is open for you to make up you own mind.

"Rock Box" - Run-DMC (mp3)

I was in Greece when I first heard this song, and I listen to it almost weekly. It was the first rap song I had heard outside of Kurtis Blow.

"I Don't Know What It Is" - Rufus Wainwright (mp3)

There was a time in my life where this song got me out of some emotional holes. I own all o his albums. Rufus is proudly gay, and I am a straight man. He makes me want to be gay. I don't know what it is. I have performed this song many times, singing into a pencil or whatever, while wearing nothing but underwear and sweat. There, I said it. All true.

"Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur" - Sigur Ros (mp3)

I stood right next to the stage at a music festival while this dream-like group spoke to me in a language that is usually reserved for mystical goats and the unspoken elements in life that make you believe that all matter is to be considered a thing of splendid delight and throwback-heart clockwork. They make you wonder at the often-broken human machine, which can, from time to time, be a locomotion of all desired emotion.

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In Which We Make The Film Fantastic

You can find the first part of the Orson Welles journey here.

Orson Welles v. Hollywood

PETER BOGDANOVICH: You like Pasolini?

ORSON WELLES: Terribly bright and gifted. Crazy mixed-up kid, maybe — but on a very superior level. I mean Pasolini the poet, spoiled Christian, and Marxist ideologue. There's nothing mixed up about him on a movie set. Real authority and a wonderfully free way with the machinery.

PB: Do you remember Marco the Magnificent?

OW: Belgrade in the deep winter of — what was it?

PB: Sixty-four.

OW: A great year. The producer was the man who inspired Catch-22, Raoul Levy. According to Raoul Levy, yes, he was the original Yossarian. Fascinating type — you had to like him.

PB: Didn't he commit suicide?

OW: Well, he threatened to in front of Norm Geves' house and the gun went off. The Marco Polo film was sort of a suicide, too. He made that picture twice: The first time, with Alain Delon, he went broke and almost shut down the Yugoslavian film industry in the process. Then he got some more money together and made it all over again with Horst Buchholz. In both versions he had no script at all. Most of us just made it up as we went along. I did write a long scene for Omar Sharif, though. He was standing around looking gloomy because he'd been forced to be in that thing by Spiegel, to work out his contract from Lawrence of Arabia.

So I borrowed a typewriter and did what little I could. Tony Quinn came to town with his own private writer. He played Kubla Kahn, who, it turned out in Tony's authoritative version, was kindly, brave, benevolent, good, handsome, and irresistible to women. There was no grace or virtue which was not written into that character. And then he played it like Charlie Chan.

PB: At one point it was announced that you were going to direct The Bible for Dino De Laurentiis, thought it always seemed a little unlikely.

OW: Well, at first it was going to be Fellini and Bresson and myself — all three of us. Then, for a moment, Dino tried to persuade me to do the whole picture. Well, I couldn't really imagine doing the Garden of Eden, just for a start. And really, I didn't want to be responsible for the whole picture. So I got some kind of golden handshake for the script I'd done for the Abraham and Jacob sequences, and that was that. Bresson and Fellini weren't so lucky — they're still suing him, I think.

PB: Did you actually work with Bresson or Fellini preparing the picture?

OW: Well, we were photographed together. Repeatedly.

OW: I'd decided to throw a party for all the little Hollywood grandees from the old days who'd been friends and whom I hadn't seen in so long, having been in Europe for almost ten years, to show that I still remembered my friends — Sam Goldwyn and Jack Warner and all those kinds of people. And I was late. I'd been shooting Touch of Evil and I thought, "I won't take time to remove this terrible, enormous makeup that took forever to put on" — padded stomach and back, sixty pounds of it, and horrible old-age stuff. When I came into my house, before I had a chance to explain that I had to get upstairs and take my makeup off, all these people came up and said, "Hi Orson! Gee, you're looking great!"

PB: What happened when you first got back to Hollywood?

OW: Nothing; that was the trouble. I had really a very unhappy time — the worst — getting no work. I went a year with almost nothing, just sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. And then I got a couple of jobs: The Long, Hot Summer, which I hated making — I've seldom been as unhappy in a picture; and imagine Man in the Shadow, a Jeff Chandler Western and a true deep-dyed B. He was a terribly nice, sad fellow whom I liked very much, but that was really hitting the bottom, you know, playing the head of a big ranch. And then came Touch of Evil and a tremendous high point — I thought I had it made and was going to stay and do a whole series of pictures with Universal.

PB: Didn't you do some television while you waiting around?

OW: Yes, I did a pilot for DesiluThe Fountain of Youth which they couldn't sell.

grant withington's shot-by-shot remake of The Fountain of Youth

PB: But it was later sold as a special and won the Peabody Award in 1958. It's really the best television show I've ever seen — created for the medium, as you said. I especially like what you did with the ticking of the clock all the way through. And didn't you do another pilot around that time?

OW: Yes, and I did a half-hour thing about Dumas called Camille, the Naked Lady and the Musketeers.

PB: For Desilu?

OW: I made it for myself. I spent my own money. I wanted to do a series of half-hour portraits of people. This was just me telling the story of the three Dumas, with pictures of them and drawings by me. In a purely narrative form, but quite visual in spite of that. Nobody would have any part of it. I thought I could sell it — syndication or something. Not a chance; nobody would look at it. I don't know what's ever happened to that, I wish I could find it.

At that dinner party I mentioned earlier, I showed them these two shorts — and Sam Goldwyn walked out of the first one and said, "I didn't come here to see a lot of shorts." I don't know what possessed him that night.

Then I spent a fortune — I wanted to do thirty-six weeks on the life of Churchill — which was later done with Richard Burton narrating. I must have spent $12,000 on research and things like that, and the tax people wouldn't let me deduct it. They said, "What did you do? You didn't sell it. You say you worked in your home — that's what every movie star says."

PB: What was Martin Ritt like directing The Long, Hot Summer?

OW: Well, he's the one who said to me, "I want you to relate to those windows," and I said, "Marty, you mean you want me to look at them?" But I enjoyed very much working with Joanne Woodward — we had nice scenes together — and with Angela Lansbury. I love her. But I wasn't very happy, although the picture was an enormous success. That's the one where the critic for the New York Times wrote, "Orson Welles, believe it or not, was quite good."

PB: Did you know Faulkner yourself?

OW: Yes. That movie, of course, had nothing to do with the book The Hamlet. It was largely an imitation of Tennessee Williams, using the name Faulkner. But I knew Faulkner pretty well.

with daughter Chris

PB: What kind of man was he?

OW: I don't really know — I never saw him anything but wildly drunk through the years. He must have been sober to produce that great body of work.

PB: You like his writing?

OW: Not as much as other people do, but I admire him, yes. I prefer the others - his rivals of that generation — Fitzgerald, I'm very fond of Hemingway, and I'm a great fan of a very underrated American writer, John O'Hara.

PB: What do you think of Fitzgerald's Hollywood novel, The Last Tycoon?

OW: It always seemed to me to be a great failure of a book by a great writer.

PB: Well, it wasn't finished.

OW: But even what's there — I don't think he understood Hollywood for a minute. I don't think he knew what he was talking about.

PB: You wrote a good article for Esquire around that time about the death of Hollywood.

OW: I remember that the editor felt he had to write a little thing in his column, that after all, Hollywood had treated me well.

PB: An apologia.

OW: Yes. I've never complained about Hollywood, but I'm not really one of the outstanding beneficiaries of the system.

PB: That must be one of the great understatements of —

OW: Nor did I think my article was very bitter about it. It seemed to me that his comments were totally unnecessary.

Some excerpts from Orson's piece, Twilight in the Smog, published in Esquire, March 1959:

It was Fred Allen who said in his fair-minded way that "California is a wonderful place if you're an orange." I guess what Fred was actually referring to was the general region of Los Angeles, or, as it's called, Greater Los Angeles (greater than what?). Like so many of us, this was the part of the state he knew best and liked the least.

Anyway, as the citrus people are first to admit, smog has taken the fun out of life even for the oranges...

According to the map, Hollywood is a district attached but not belonging to the City of Los Angeles. But this is not strictly accurate: Los Angeles — though huge, populous and rich — has never quite made it as a city. It remains a loose and sprawling confederation of suburbs and shopping centers. As for downtown Los Angeles, it's about as metropolitan as Des Moines or Schenectady...

There has never been a real metropolis that did not begin with a market place. Hollywood is a way station on a highway. Drive as far as you like in any direction: wherever you find yourself, it looks exactly like the road to an airport. Any road to any airport...

Is Hollywood's famous sun really setting? There is certainly a hint of twilight in the smog and lately, over the old movie capital there has fallen a grey-flannel shadow. Television is moving inexorably westward. Emptying the movie theaters across the land, it fills the movie studios. Another industry is building quite another town; and already, rising out of the gaudy ruins of screenland, we behold a new, drab, curiously solemn brand of the old foolishness.

There must always be a strong element of the absurd in the operation of a dream factory, but now there's less to laugh at and even less to like. The feverish gaiety has gone, a certain brassy vitality drained away. TV, after all, is a branch of the advertising business and Hollywood behaves increasingly like an annex of Madison Avenue.

Television — live, taped or on film — is still limited by the language barrier, while by nature and economics moving pictures are multi-lingual. Making them has always been an international affair. Directors, writer, producers, and above all, the stars come to Hollywood from all over the world and their pictures are addressed to a world public. The town's new industry threatens its traditional cosmopolitanism and substitutes a strong national flavor. This could not be otherwise since our television exists for the sole purpose of selling American products to American consumers.

With the biggest of the big film studios limping along on economy programs administered by skeleton staffs, the gold-rush atmosphere which once was Hollywood's own dizzy branch of charm is just a memory.

In its golden age — in the first years of  the movie boom — the mood and manner were indeed much like that of a gold rush. There was the frenzy and buccaneering hurly-burly of an earlier California: the vast fortunes found in a day and squandered in a night; the same cheerful violence and cutthroat anarchy. All of that Western turbulence has been silenced now.

You can find the previous entry in this series here.

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"High and Dry" - Amanda Palmer (mp3)

"No Surprises" - Amanda Palmer (mp3)

"Fake Plastic Trees" - Amanda Palmer (mp3)


In Which We Are Transformed By Translation

Volatility, 'Folk,' Sexual Landscapes: Notes on Translating Anonymous Lyrics From Medieval Spain



It's the future that we see, unconsciously, as strangely set in stone; a painted paradise or no paradise. The past is wildly volatile. As teenagers, we remember desperate childhoods; by the time we reach middle age, our parents were saints. We are at various moments bitterly ashamed and bitterly proud of origins.

This dynamism is central to the translator's challenge. It isn't just word meanings that change, but the context, the implied listener, the notion of self, every level at which literature functions. The 'folk' fragment once seen as serving to inspire Lope de Vega may later be considered devalued by his use of it.

The translator who had been prepared to crack one code and replace it with another had better be aware that he or she is riding a wave. The notions of fidelity and music remain constant, but each age fabricates them and projects them onto the past, like a lover reading eternal truths in the loved one's nervous tics.

At the beginning of the new millennium, the translator's job is especially exciting. Never has the text seemed so polymorphous.

Mikhail Bakhtin has shown us how the act of reading is itself transformative, a probing of the self that leads away from the known rather than towards it. To read is to dissolve the I in an entranced dialogue, to manufacture strangeness not familiarity.

The translator's clumsy mediation has special weight for American poetry. Our tradition is omnivorous and wildly opportunistic - in Louis Simpson's words, "a shark that can digest a shoe." We invent our own rules in a vast continent of abolished tongues. We're ersatz enough to be profoundly transformed by problematic translations - Pound, Waley, Rexroth's renditions of fabricated "originals." One thinks - sometimes with trembling - of Walter Benjamin's insight that "of all the literary forms [translation] is the one charged with the special mission of watching over the maturing process of the original language and the birth pangs of its own."


The anonymous lyrics rendered here are taken from sources including Lirica Espanola de Tipo Popular and La Cancion Tradicional de la Edad de Oro. They are - in the original - gorgeous poems. Though couched in "everyday speech" they construct - almost in proportion to their simplicity - wildly tricky psychic landscapes where the light always changes.

The Spanish 'folk' lyrics begins in the ninth century, when Mocaddam de Cabra added the colloquial jarya or jarcha in mozarabe - a patois of Castillian and Arabic - to give the classical Arabic moaxaja "salt, amber, and spice."

From the beginning, meaning flashed in the tension between public and private languages - each of which implied a different speaker, a different audience. From the beginning, 'folk' wavered between authenticity and artifice, cherished by sophisticates who felt themselves safe from what Louis Simpson called "the poor man's nerve tic of irony."

The most ancient work has often come to us most recently, and changed our views of our heritage. In 1949, Samuel Stern discovered a trove of ninth-to-twelfth century Sephardic songs.

In the latter middle ages, 'folk' poetry developed dialectically. Attracted to a perceived candor and exoticism, the court appropriated its images in wildly mannerized games of psychic doubling, where courtier played shepherd (for a beautiful comment on gender and pastoralism in Spanish poetry, see the contemporary work of Giannina Braschi.) But in Galicia, 'folk' was a reaction against stylization.

'Folk' poetry was informed by the religious lexicon, and in return lent it preternatural directness. Saint John of the Cross's brother, Francisco de Yepes, reported an ecstatic trance in which angels appeared singing popular melodies.

Finally, in the age of Lope de Vega, consciously manipulated 'folk' set-pieces - notably the seguidilla - ended the immense variety and informality of the 'folk' lyrics. Childhood was tidied up and the past represented as 'formal.'


These poems share a charged and emblematic landscape: the sea, the pines, the stag, the fountain, the fawn, the heron. The cast is restricted: the unhappily married woman, the lover, the mother. Inevitably, to our culture, they speak of a sexual code, threads in a maze of repression.

Many of these poems are alive with the voices of women, under the influence of the chansons de toile, the chansons de femme, the Frauenlied of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuris. In the Iberian penisula, these became the Castillian cantar de doncella and the Galician cantar d'amigo.

But gender is dynamic, constantly positing not just a new voice but a new audience. The troubadours idealized the belle amie, but reduced her to a haughty heroine, overdetermined by the poet's aggressive submission. Soon the poet's laments were really meant for posterity, not for the paramour.

Power loves to escape into its opposite, and may inhabit a serving girl's voice as easily as a shepherd's. The 'millstone' poem offered here is a fragment of a woman's colloquial voice, but it partakes of medieval male assumptions about sexuality familiar to us from the Wife of Bath's Tale.

Monologue implies dialogue; dialogue turns oblique. A girl complaining to her mother may be playing an elaborate game, talking to safe ears, but secretly intending to be overheard by a servant who will report back to her lover; a woman confiding secrets to a fawn or dove could be hoping 'the breeze' will carry her words to their intended, forbidden destination.

The point may be the flouting of a set of laws that are invisible to us - too distant or too close. Or the play of voice and silence may be orchestrated by a male author arranging a panoply of characters to embody and charm his own terrors.

This is the polyvalence we read of in Judith Butler: "'Sex' is an ideal construct which is forcibly materialized through time. It is not a simple fact or static ondition of the body but a process but which regulatory norms materialize 'sex' and achieve this materialization through a forcible reiteration of these norms. That this reiteration is necessary is a sign that materialization is never quite complete, that bodies never quite comply with the norms by which their materialization is impelled."

In this world of crooked mirrors, where the anonymous voice from the other side of history may be our own desire whispering to us, the translator learns a deep respect for 'anonymous' - the bluntest and most devious signatory to the human text.

The last word is Walter Benjamin's, though its ambition is far beyond the scope of this work: "translation instead of resembling the meaning of the original, must lovingly and in detail incorporate the original's mode of signification, thus making both the original and the translation recognizable as fragments of a greater language, just as fragments are part of a vessel."

Anonymous Lyrics from Medieval Spain

translated from the Spanish by D. Nurkse


Look down from your shame,
windowless face -
pour me a jug of thirst
because I'm dying of water.


I'm the little dark one,
the dark one.

They say darkness
is caused by sin
- you can't find that in me
and never will.

I am the rose without thorn
that Solomon praised:
nigra sum sed fermosa,
I shall be renowned.

I am the burning bush,
blazing and never singed,
untouched by the fire
that consumes others.


The rose knows
whose hand to rest in.


That girl was sighing
and not for me
(that much I understood).


If you leave at dawn,
hush, love, step lightly,
don't wake the nightingale.


I thought you were a miller, love,
but you're a millstone.

Husband, I know you're happy
when the priest sends you gifts,
but heaven knows
which of us they're meant for:
though he's generous to you
he tastes better to me
since you're a millstone.

Once you start, you'll argue
through lunch and supper-
later, when your mood shifts,
you grind all night long:
I bite my tongue, long-suffering,
and soothe your rough edge
since you're a millstone.

When it comes to my freedom,
you aspire to nobility
and set me conversing
with people of quality -
thanks to such skills
you'll become a great lord
but you're a millstone.


The shepherd is new
and wanders in a love-daze.
If he's careless and dozes
who'll guard the cattle?

Tell me, little shepherd,
so polite and well-groomed,
whose were those cows
grazing by the river?
- Yours, my lady.
The sighs are mine.

If he's careless and sleeps,
who'll guard the cattle?


I won't sleep, mother,
when day breaks.
My lord Abu-l-Qasim
has the same face as dawn.

Dennis Nurkse is one of the country's most distinguished poets and translators. These poems appeared in a 2002 issue of The Literary Review.

"North American Field Song" - The Innocence Mission (mp3)

"God Is Love" - The Innocence Mission (mp3)

"Rhode Island" - The Innocence Mission (mp3)