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Alex Carnevale

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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 Our Story Takes A Tame Turn In The Second Volume

The Admirable Work 

Although Vladimir Nabokov was the precise master of the letter and one of the great letter writers in all of literature, he was often at his most humorous in short replies, even to people he didn't know very well. Here are some of the best of those messages and telegrams.

with Vera in Switzerland in 1966December 31th, 1956


Dear Mr. Greene,

From various friends I keep receiving heart-warming reports on your kindness to my books. This is New Year's Eve, and I feel I would like to talk to you.

My poor Lolita is having a rough time. The pity is that if I had made her a boy, or a cow, or a bicylce, Philistines might never have flinched. On the other hand, Olympia Press informs me that amateurs (amateurs!) are disappointed with the turn my story takes in the second volume, and do not buy it. I have been sent copies of the article, in which, about a year ago, a Mr. Gordon with your witty assistance made such a fool of himself. It would seem, however, that a clean vulgar mind makes Gordon's wonderfully strong, for my French agent tells me that the book (the English original) is now banned by governmental decree in France. She says: "La réponse de James Gordon à l'article de M. Graham Greene à indigne certains puritains et...c'est le Gouvernement anglais qui à demande au Ministre de l'Intérieur (of France) de prendre cette décision."

This is an extraordinary situation. I could patter on like this till next year. Wishing you a very happy New one, I remain

Vladimir Nabokov

Greene had named Lolita one of the best books of 1955.

March 24th, 1957


Dear Schorer,

I shall be glad to make my contribution to the D.H. Lawrence Fellowship Fund, although, between you and me, I dislike Lawrence as a writer and detest Taos, where, in 1954, I had the misfortune of establishing my headquarters when collecting butterflies in the N. Mexico mountains.

I would like you to know how much I appreciated your eyespot on Pnin's underwing.

Véra and I remember with pleasure our meetings with you and your wife in Cambridge.

Sincerely yours,

Vladimir Nabokov

January 16th, 1961 


I have interrupted my literary labors to compose this instructive little jingle:

In Italy, for his own good,

A wolf must wear a Riding Hood

Please bear this in mind.



The Nabokovs were concerned with their son's romantic misadventures in Italy.

October 9th, 1965



The president had undergone surgery.

this illustration by nabokov appeared in the letters section of playboyJanuary 14th, 1967


Dear Mr. Hefner and Mr. Spectorsky,

I want to thank you warmly for the many kindnesses - the good wishes, the beautiful cigarette box, the album in which I was pleased to find myself represented, and the 500 doll. bonus. I apologize for being so late with my thanks and my own New Year wishes of happiness and prosperity for yourselves and for Playboy. I was submerged in work some of which had to be finished by Christmas but was not.

I always enjoy reading Playboy, and the latest issue was especially entertaining and informative.

Cordially yours,

Vladimir Nabokov

February 1967

to: Encounter

I welcome Freud's "Woodrow Wilson" not only because of its comic appeal, which is great, but because that surely must be the last rusty nail in the Viennese Quack's coffin.

Vladimir Nabokov

November 11th, 1967


Dear Paper,

For obvious reasons I refuse to tell you, in answer to your questionnaire, what brand of cigarettes my cousin smokes, nor can I divulge my "choice of shipping methods", or the price of my wristwatch. However: I like you very much, and here are four suggested improvements that would increase my affection.

1. Splash U.S. successes with a little more enthusiasm.

2. Reestablish the Monday stock exchange tables for the past week.

3. Consign, at once and for keeps, Mrs. Sawyer to a mental asylum (this will give everybody more elbow room)

4. Cut out the pop art (Chag et al) and replace it by a Book Review page once a week.

Faithfully yours,

Old Reader

Vladimir Nabokov

March 17th, 1965



The above was a holograph sent to his wife Véra on their fiftieth anniversary. It was inscribed on a 2" x 4" section cut from a checked index card, perhaps attached to a present, and illustrated with a beautiful iridescent butterfly. It reads, "Here we are at last, my darling."

You can find more of VD on TR here.

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"The Motion Makes Me Last" - Eluvium (mp3)

"In Culmination" - Eluvium (mp3)

"Leaves Eclipse the Light" - Eluvium (mp3)


In Which He Is Now The John Lennon of Domain Names

The Man Who Could Not Usually Be Silenced



Season Six

I heard last week's episode was focused on Kate. I was on Fox News during the original airing. I drunk gchatted some peeps later that night after a case of Buffalo Trace and a prostitute named Susquehanna. The only one up at 4 am is Charles Krauthammer, and after busting his chops for being in a wheelchair like Locke and Magic Johnson for a week in the late 1990s, I asked him if Kate ran from her problems for the entire episode. He typed "lol" and then excused himself to empty his bedpan.

Charles Krauthammer jokes aren't how I made my reputation - Lost recaps with read-between-the-lines political coverage are. Let's face it - I could write a more coherent argument than Glenn Greenwald just by using the frontal lobe of my brain.

I guess I'm just caught up in the critics of my evil deeds, like New Locke, a.k.a. the Man in the Black. The writers of Lost asked themselves, "Would it be cool if we created a NEW major antagonist of the series in the final season of its existence?" They answered yes, and recast Locke as the villain in the saint's body. At least the Borg had a shiny-looking cube.

It's difficult to enjoy the inspiring story of Locke getting fired for cause when I have nightmarish flashbacks to Sawyer showing Kate the gay wedding ring he bought for Juliet in last week's episode. This week, Sawyer pretended that never happened, while still cracking wise by drinking himself to death in his underwear.

In the meantime, New Locke found a boy in the woods who looks like young Jacob. Revolutions have been started from less, I think this is basically how the careers of Charles Manson and Bob Dole began. Everywhere I go people ask me how I got my start in politics. "I was in the jungle," I tell them. "I ran out of food and water. I saw Satan, and sold him my soul. Now I've come to take yours." And I then bring out these creepy fake teeth that I have to replace the lack of my not having real teeth anymore and scream like Chunk in The Goonies.

I really don't understand what happened to Lost. You have these iconic characters, and yet all you can find to do with them is go to some weird cave on the side of the island and look at "candidates" for the island's savior. That may be how the Democratic Party chooses gubernatorial candidates, but it's a far cry from a political process.

Lost is trying to move back towards the simple pleasures of its first season. Although this current one has suddenly vaunted itself into the competition of suck, the first season was actually incredibly slow and deliberate about what it hoped to accomplish. The larger vision of the island that was developed in the ensuing seasons is totally obliterated by the character-based stories the show wants to return to.

Now that we've found out Hurley is Rose's boss, I have come up with some other ways the cast can be suprisingly connected with each other in parallel Los Angeles:

- Claire makes a young mother faux pas and asks Walt to babysit for Aaron

- Sun gives Charlie a massage complete with happy ending

- Boone appears in a not-very-well-received adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction

how was there no 'bueller' joke associated with this flashforward?- Kate sells her revolutionary book concept, Eat Pray Run

- Shannon explains the concept of thetans to Sayid before he joins Scientology

- Juliet commits the classic screwup by transferring Miles' domain name to a big corporation without notifying him and then lying about it

Seeing John Locke teach his fiancee about how there are no miracles recalled the brilliant lessons of George Bluth. Every time Katey Segal's face gets in my face, I can't get what she did to John Ritter out of my mind. Who knew that Married with Children would spawn three successful careers, one major eating disorder, and one complete failure? Speaking of weird casting, putting regulars from Lost on every other failure of an ABC show is wrong in so many ways. If they try to recast Michael Emerson as one of the guys with the girl in the pizza place, I'm going to have to commit an unrelated murder on whoever thinks Better Off Ted is funny.

harold and richard, get off this show and head to white castle guysThe only show I can really watch and enjoy besides Lost is of course Archer, where H. Jon Benjamin is doing a virtual clinic in how awesome he is at voice acting.

So far Aisha Tyler and Jessica Walter are underwritten and annoying, but it's comforting to find a show that's honest about its objectification of women instead of just putting Evangeline Lilly in a wife-beater for the better part of five seasons.

"wait a second - does the doc have a higher number because he's kewter than me?"The parallel universe Los Angeles is likely to ensure what we should already know by now - even in this wonky version of the future, the names written on the wall of the Man-in-Black's masturbation cave were headed for the island even if Oceanic Flight 815 never crashed at all.

You're probably wondering why I've been in the news lately. It's partly because I saw Sarah Palin reading off her hand and wanted to make the save, and partly because if k.d. lang is confident enough to look like that in public, so am I.

A young tumblr's story has recently inspired me to speak out. The man who created pitchfork.tumblr.com had it stolen away from him. Tumbledore's fight to become the Yoko Ono of domain names has already embarrassed one really insecure tumblr "director of outreach." Her outreach is about as effective as Ari Fleischer was at hiding my more profanity-laced e-mails, and her memoirs about this incident on a rival website leave something to be desired. A lot of hurt feelings hopefully won't mar the fact that my favorite blog in the world is located on tumblr, and also my second favorite. Never hire an oversharer to do what an undersharer can do just as well.

you hurt the feelings of a beautiful young tumblr in the prime of his tumbling. all he wanted was to post pics and songs for uWe now all tenderly await meaghano's memoir about her customer experience with tumbledore, replete with a raunchy sex scene where she dry humps a printed out e-mail. With a little luck this can turn into something Don King can really get behind.  Hopefully I will read about meaghano and tumbledore's 2012 nuptials in an elaborate NYT wedding profile where instead of them posing together, their websites pose for a series of photos. The initial enmity between the two melted over a series of e-mails and meet-ups at Pinkberry. The two quickly found they shared a grudging respect for Choire Sicha, and neither knew how to pronounce his first name.

tumbledore claims nothing! it is you who have to answer for your sins!!!Young tumbledore demonstrates a devil-may-care attitude that Sawyer would do well to follow. At the very least he won't have to do awkward rope ladder stunts with a former paraplegic and he can focus on having heart-to-hearts with Richard about how new Locke wants to kill his friends. The island's jungle has turned into more of a sausagefest than Gawker.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location. He is marketing a line of "Free Tumbledore" tee-shirts that you will be excited to hear about in the coming daze. You can read his review of the Lost premiere here.

"Killing the Ghost" - Matthew Ryan (mp3)

"Jane I Still Feel The Same" - Matthew Ryan (mp3)

"They Were Wrong" - Matthew Ryan (mp3)

Ryan's incredible new album, Dear Lover, comes out this week.


In Which Big Love Takes A Gamble And Loses Itself In The Process

Don't Tell Your Dad


Big Love

Season 4

The new opening credits of HBO’s Mormon polygamist zonk out, Big Love, signaled a new tack with a terrible visual metaphor: the shows adult leads falling perilously into the dark infinite, unable to grasp hands. Swathed in a mess of blowing semi-formal wear they emoted hard at the viewer scrunching their brows. The previous three seasons opened with Beach Boys and pairs skating, the three wives switching off with their shared husband.

Gone are those days and the connection! The center will not hold! Said the metaphor. The credits, unfortunately didn’t give us any warning season four is quickly gaining momentum, with each episode, headed straight for overplotted hot mess, filled with yelling characters that don’t even relish hating, you just regular hate.

The dramatic tension of the show’s previous seasons revolved mostly around keeping their dozen-deep polygamist love hive in the burbs secret from the judging eyes straight world and/or fending off the persecuting creepiness of the gnarly compound sect Nicki and Bill both came from. Now that Nicki’s murderous prophet daddy done got killed, they’re bumping the tension up by making every character on the show, save for Margene’s newborn and Bills mom’s parrots have explosive secret problems that blow up at the rate of five a show.

These are kept from easy resolution or redress by Bill insisting “Not now!” anytime someone tries to speak to him, or misunderstand his motives, or demand an explanation of his out of control prophetic-maniacal bullshit. That person, invariably furrows their brow and stomps away, and/or moves out. Once the reveal comes out, there is the part where Bill squinches his face and says “Why didn’t you tell me?”, sometimes in a mad way, though sometimes in a empathetic good TV dad way. Once that happens, everyone starts yelling at each other to get over it.

The characters' problems are infinitely spinning out into quick resolutions, with most every twist hinging on “don’t tell Dad!”—very Brady Bunch of them. Don’t tell dad about the Native American meth head's baby you are harboring, or your weird feelings since yr unplanned preggo miscarriage or your secret non-Mormon wedding! Don’t tell your dad that his third wife has glanced upon your boner, Ben, though you only liked it when she wasn’t flirting back! Oh wait, too late, your religious zealot little sister, (that impossible to look at brace-faced pubescent ginger—a 2.0 new season replacement who is a ringer for Darla from Finding Nemo), Teeny, spilled the beans for ya!

This season’s had more use of “reveals” than a month of the Pitchfork news page: Barb has been secretly wishing to be regular Mormon, she ran over a meth head on the res, that she hates her job and her dramatic Mormon homelife is still on the burner.

Nicki revealed a secret teen daughter who was re-revealed to her by her creepy rapey-vibe fingernail-less first husband, JJ, she told Margene she might not love Bill, let it be know she still has sexy feelings for her old boss, that maybe she doesn’t believe in her faith, that she doesn’t believe her dad was the prophet, that third wife Margene is making $9,000 secret dollars a month on a then still-secret home shopping network. She may still secretly be on the pill and pretending to “try” to get preggo and that she too, loathes her dramatic Mormon homelife is in slow reveal. She also sometimes hides her secret teen daughter in birdseed box in the yard, but that not a real secret. 

Margene has revealed she meant to kiss her husband’s teen son, that she has feelings for him, that she lied about and let him lie about it (she cries in a plush mascot animal suit and runs off at this disclosure), that she has been making megabucks hawking bracelets on TV and not sharing them, the vastness of her sexual needs, and she also lies in a fake reveal to the viewers of her program about being a single mom. She did not disclose that she has seen Ben naked and also glanced at his boner when he was reaching the hot cocoa for her (needless TMI for any parent, surely).

Ben pretended to be in Idaho when he was hiding from his dad, and then told everyone his dad threw him out, even though all Bill suggested was that it was best he leave for a while, a while not being stipulated, and could have been a night or 45 minutes. During the course of the aftermath of that, Ben stomped angrily out of many rooms, including into a bathroom and out of an auditorium. Everyone yells WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME YOU SECRETLY CAST BEN OUT OF THE HOUSE?!, but not in unison. They take turns.

Bill, mainly, has only one and a half -–well, maybe two--secrets, aside from being a polygamist (as well as a now fake regular Mormon), and that’s that about 36 years ago, in his lost boy days, he beat a clerk for some Walkmans—which he revealed in a political debate and then walked off stage. His confession also sort of implied that did a bit of hustling in the park back in his day, which should be enough to keep him from being elected to Senate, but apparently, this batch of Republican voting Mormons were moved by his tenderoni display of humanity.

And still, no one is doing any boning except for the teen daughter who went from being awesome and college bound to having a throbbing desire to get married and procreate at 19.  She is now moving to Idaho, which seems like a fitting punishment.

Half a season down, half to go! Will the show reclaim its watchability OR will it continue to descend into a show where no one is getting laid, everyone is yelling and you hate everyone, including the children that don’t have any lines?

Jessica Hopper is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago and the author of The Girls' Guide To Rocking. She last wrote for This Recording about Lars Von Trier's Antichrist

"Move On" - Lali Puna (mp3)

"That Day" - Lali Puna (mp3)

"Hostile to Me" - Lali Puna (mp3)