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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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Robert Altman Week

Friday
Feb122010

In Which We Learn From Experience

Ways To Say No Thank You Sir

by ALMIE ROSE

It’s no secret that I like older men. But I’m not going to be receptive to just any older guy. I can swing Bobby Kennedy, not Bobcat Goldthwait. I’m talking to you, creepy man at Barnes & Noble in Union Square who thought he was impressing me by telling me he was friends with some guy in the new Doors.

September 1984The new Doors? Really? If you look old enough to be my dad and you’re going to hit on me, then there really needs to be something to back it up. A few days ago a friend of mine and I were at a party where we were bombarded by an older guy who pulled all the stops, from bragging about his model ex-wife to gushing over his kids, saying that having children was “like having beautiful dogs.” He got points for candor and even more for creativity, but that’s all he got.

Here are some great lines to use when creepy older men invade your space. Because sometimes saying, “No thanks, I have to go” isn’t fun enough.

“Where were you when the Berlin Wall came down?”

“I guess John Mayer is the Leonard Cohen of my time.”

“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”

“Gosh I graduated college so long ago. I still used a Razr! The iPhone hadn’t come out yet.”

“Where were you when that famous moon thing happened?”

“I can’t imagine not living with the Internet. How did you do it? How did you get anywhere without Google Maps?”

“You look familiar, are you friends with my mom on Facebook?”

“Were you around to see Gone with the Wind in theaters? That must have been so cool!”

“I never really got into Nirvana, they were a little before my time.”

“Was Ulysses S. Grant as badass as he seems in the history books?”

“I remember when I found out John Lennon died. I was so sad. Of course by then he had already been dead for, like, a really long time, but it still hurt, you know?”

“Maybe I’m weird but I just love older music, like U2. It’s just so different than anything that’s around today.”

“What was Ra the Sun God like?”

“That’s so awesome that you text, I had to teach my dad and I still don’t think he gets it.”

“Wow, you have a teenaged son? That’s so cool! I’m not even old enough to have a ten year old!”

“I love old movies, like Pretty Woman.”

“I can’t believe Green Day is still around.”

“What’s a Jeff Beck?”

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. You can find her blog here, and she twitters here.

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"Red River" - Rocky Votolato (mp3)

"Eyes Like Static" - Rocky Votolato (mp3)

"Where We Started" - Rocky Votolato (mp3)

 

Thursday
Feb112010

In Which John Mayer Is A Douchebag For Possibly The Last Time

One Joke Over The Line

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Trying to explain privilege to some people can sort of be like trying to explain the Matrix to somebody who is in the Matrix. They're like "whaaa?" because it has literally never occurred to them that their mode of being might differ from other (non-white, non-male, non-straight) people's experiences of the world. Nobody likes to be condescended to. That's why the number one killer of love is contempt, and why I used a Matrix reference instead of something more snobby and indirect. 

That's why people like John Mayer, who can't help but be contemptuous of everyone else for not being as totally awesome as they are, don't generally find love. There's an intersection between narcissism and misogyny that ends up with bachelors like Jack Nicholson and Alec Baldwin, who both repeatedly fantasize in interviews about falling in love and getting married again, oblivious to why that's not gonna happen. 

Hilarious profoundly sexist made up words like mansplaining and mantrums do sort of get at some real issues. Kanye West had a burgeoning alcohol problem to blame for his VMAs mantrum. Does John Mayer have a cocaine problem? Or just regular run of the mill blogger mental issues? I mean I've been interviewed a couple times, but not in person, and I can imagine saying some easy to quote out of context shit if actually tape recorded. I doubt I could possibly be this offensive or entertaining.

Even more so than Lady Gaga, John Mayer's life is performance art. And for years now it has been the performance of an incredibly insecure and simultaneously incredibly arrogant guy. Funny, mean, and obliviously defensive. John Mayer's whole interview schtick is a sustained act of attempted mansplaining. He just cannot say anything nice without backstabbing somebody in the process.

Mayer's well aware that he has perennial foot in mouth disease. He has tried to channel it into comedy, and then gets mad at the audience for not 'getting' his jokes and making him mansplain them. The Kumail Nanjiani thing is profoundly cringeable. White guys just don't get to make racist jokes. I don't care what VICE told you in 2001. Try that shit around some brown skinned people (DON'T). 

Saying that the concept of a white artist like John Mayer having a "hood pass" is racist is not racist, dropping the n bomb is a never particularly good idea. Saying that your dick is a white supremacist (specifically David Duke) is where I draw the line, in terms of empathy. Gabby Sidibe should step on his balls in high heels. 

Ever the normie, John Mayer's taste in women runs to the blonde and Aryan. Of course he wants to bone Taylor Swift. Honestly we all know he should because the guy who takes that girl's virginity is already doomed and this way we'd probably get some rad songs out of it about princes stabbing princesses to death with unicorn tusks.

Of course Jessica Simpson was his sexual ideal, she's built like a porn star and programmed to shut up on command by her scary preacher dad. Then there were those blind items about how John Mayer encouraged her not to talk during their relationship by telling her that she looked prettiest with her mouth closed (YIKES).

Kanye and John Mayer both made incredibly personal, one might say oversharey, breakup albums. Divisive albums, especially for such popular mainstream favorites. Kanye's autotune bullshit was a screen to hide behind so he could be vulnerable.

"I am human and I need to be loved, just like anybody else does"

Likewise John Mayer talks mad shit about Jennifer Aniston on Battle Studies and outs her as a wine drunk, but also pines for her in a creepily authentic way. He tells Playboy they broke up because "one of the most significant differences between us was that I was tweeting." He also says Jen "wishes it would go back to 1998" (YOWCH). 

FLASHING...LIGHTS...LIGHTS...LIGHTS

Both the Kanye and John Mayer albums are such pure expressions of post-breakup angst, oscillating wildly between sadness and fuck youism. There's a lot of regret and saudade strung up in both. Neither one is Blood On The Tracks or anything (or Sea Change or last year's Two Suns) but they're interesting artifacts at the least.

Mayer suggests that if you find "Daughters" and "Your Body Is A Wonderland" condescending, you're not going to be "into" him. But what are both those songs if not incredibly condescending to women? Girls become lovers who turn into mothers? What the fuck are you talking about? He even made a television pilot that is expressly just him being a (hilariously) condescending dick to his fans. I hope Jennifer Aniston is laughing on Gerry Butler's dick right now in Cabo.

"You guys into the Animal Collective? I'm more of a Deakin man myself"

The whole thing about John Mayer is that he acts far too cool for somebody who makes the kind of music he makes. His persona suggests an indie culture snob, somebody who wouldn't be caught dead listening to John Mayer. But he is a populist and I contrarian (I can relate). He thinks liking mainstream Billboard charts music is revolutionary, whereas your modern actual music snob knows this is just one part of your balanced eclectic diet. We'd all hate him more if he tried to hip us to Grizzly Bear or Beach House or something.

My suggestion is that John Mayer spend the long weekend snowed in with Wanda Sykes so that he may emerge somewhat more knowledgeable about race, gender, orientation, and being fucking clever. I'm sure Wanda also knows ways to make women cum that John Mayer has never heard of.

I'm not saying Jessica Simpson fakes orgasms, but would you really be surprised? My other solution is that John Mayer and Kanye make a sex tape together. 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She tumbls and twitters.

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Wednesday
Feb102010

In Which We Struggle To Get Over This Blue Crush

We're Losing You

by LIZ COLVILLE

There is a scene early on in Blue Crush when Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Kate Bosworth’s friend and bossy surfing coach, Eden, is shown close up with a piece of food on her face. “You know you’re just as good as her,” she tells Bosworth’s character, Anne Marie, who is gazing enviously across a gas station at a pro surfer filling up two jet skis. Anne Marie, dozy, eyes vacant, is supposedly having a reverie about her future as a pro surfer as another friend, Lena, rattles off names of exotic surfing destinations frequented by pros. It may be Bosworth’s most convincing facial expression in the film. But the moment is ruined because Rodriguez has a Twinkie crumb on her face and nobody on set bothered to fix it.

Break me off a piece of that (wave)Blue Crush is a flimsy story atop big, beautiful waves. It’s filled with moments like this––interpersonal scenes that look as if they were filmed in one or two takes––scenes featuring poor improvisations that remind me of girls laughing extra hard at a private joke for the purpose of excluding others. These scenes are alternated with breathtakingly convincing slo-mo surfing scenes featuring Bosworth's face CG'd onto the body of pro surfer Rochelle Ballard.

As this and the DVD extras would suggest, the director, John Stockwell (whose preceding directing credit is the Kirsten Dunst movie Crazy/Beautiful), only cares about surfing. The extras reveal that much time was spent gathering the footage, and the film should be respected for it—most of it actually took place in the ocean, which means we even get to see Anne Marie and friends try to balance on the same beginner longboard and pretend they’ve been surfing for years.

The script for Blue Crush is based on a 1998 story by Susan Orlean published in Outside Magazine. That story, about the lives of young female surfers in Maui, begins like this: “The Maui surfer girls love each other's hair. It is awesome hair, long and bleached by the sun, and it falls over their shoulders straight, like water, or in squiggles, like seaweed, or in waves.”

This visual, and many more in Orlean's story, are strange and enticing. But this kind of vignette is rare in Blue Crush, which is set on Oahu. It is not so rare in its trailer, where distant events in the movie, some of which didn't make the final cut or were re-shot, are melded into a short, enviable narrative of rebellion and adventure in paradise. We are led to believe that Blue Crush is a flight of fancy framed around a professional competition that will be deferred until the last moment because Bosworth's character needs it to, or rather, because Hollywood needs it to. The film sits in an uncomfortable and often numbing purgatory between real life and fiction. Choosing one would have been fine.

Abandoned by her mother, Anne Marie is on the edge of her teenage years and funds her lifestyle by working as a hotel maid. The lifestyle is no party: she is training for a grueling test on a world stage: the Pipe Masters. Here’s where reality sweeps in. The training amounts to a groundhog day of physical exertion and early nights. Anyone who's done a marathon or other such competition, or knows someone who has, knows that the training is often worthy of gloating.

But there is no joy or pride in Bosworth's approach, and little in the filmmaker’s. In fact, Kate Bosworth is such a reserved actress that we are made to feel her character has no passion for the sport at all. So Anne Marie is mostly mechanical and distant. (Perhaps this is the right characterization for someone used to this kind of grind.) It comes as no surprise that she gingerly, then forcefully, latches on to a pro footballer named Matt, seemingly modeled after Tom Brady, to distract her from the task at hand, which is life-threatening rides inside story-high waves.

Michelle Rodriguez's Eden, on the other hand, has enough energy to carry the movie, if only the football player hadn’t carried off Anne Marie. She delivers lines with an unflappable, unrehearsed gusto, as if she prepared for the role by shadowing the girls in Orlean's story. Then again, she plays similar roles in other films – The Fast and the Furious, Girlfight and Avatar. Rodriguez conducts herself like she walked off the street onto a movie set with a can-do attitude because someone was a man short, then decided to make a career out of it. She is without self-consciousness or affectation, to the point that she risks being continually typecast as herself.

“If you just would’ve committed you could’ve made that wave!” Eden says to Anne Marie and the group after the dramatic first surfing sequence of the film, when Anne Marie tumbles down a wave and is sucked inside it in a fear-induced reenactment of the “near-drowning incident” she keeps having nightmares about. At the beginning of the film, it's suggested that this psychological battle – in the accident, she hit her head on a reef and subsequently shied away from the competitive circuit for a few years – is the only thing standing in Anne Marie's way.

But standing just a foot away from Eden as she laments her lack of progress––the competition is five days away – Anne Marie isn’t listening. She’s under a showerhead, eyes closed, brooding, perhaps dreaming of a way to escape the banality set up just scenes ago: recurring nightmare, early-morning jog, surf, eat, work, surf, eat, repeat. Anne Marie doesn’t possess the same avidity as Eden for "making" the big waves, it seems, but Eden doesn’t have the talent, so she keeps pushing her friend toward the dream.

Meanwhile, we are continually being reminded that Anne Marie is hot. Going up to meet the footballer in his hotel room, she takes the back stairway of the hotel, where a middle-aged man shyly gazes after her as she ascends the stairs in a short skirt. Earlier on, at a party where she goes to retrieve her tween-age sister from certain intoxication, her ex-boyfriend and his best friend, who are local surfers, at different points try to grab her, thrilled that she's actually there, as opposed to home sleeping. She’s given up a hard-partying lifestyle for surfing, and her sister has taken her place. Eventually, Anne Marie lets her be, but she stays awake worrying until little sis comes home.

Soon enough, Anne Marie has traded in makeshift mothering and early nights for Matt’s hotel bed. As their courtship dully progresses, we marvel at how Matt can be so pleasantly dorky as to get away with being manipulative. He puffs up Anne Marie's surfing talent, then completely marginalizes it, paying her and her friends generously for surfing lessons and doing so in advance because “I just don't want to lose you.” Anne Marie bristles a little – “Are you trying to buy me?” – before giving in.

Matt's allure lasts about the length of the film's minute-long hot tub scene, where they consummate their lust after perhaps three days, or 25 minutes of the film. But in that scene, and in the rest of the movie, Matt and everything he does is only intriguing because it’s shiny with wealth: in the case of the hot tub scene, the room’s mood lighting, the bumping bass of the stereo, the steam rising off the water and the lushness surrounding it all conspire to win over Anne Marie. This is not a hot tub on, say, The Real World or Blind Date. So the couple manages to make a hot tub not gross. But they barely manage to make themselves look sexy, let alone interested in each other enough to justify temporarily derailing Anne Marie’s goal.

After a few days of honeymooning, which includes flaking out on Coach Eden (the only person interested in keeping this film on track), getting Matt beaten up by locals, and getting massages, it finally comes to Anne Marie that she’s been leaving her ambition to rot. But the realization barely comes through. She’s crouched in the shallow waters of a hotel's artificial-looking beach, having run away from an elaborate dinner for the football players after their snobby wives insulted her. When Matt asks her what she wants out of the fling––a valid question, considering its brevity – she ponders. Only her head comes above the surface, like a periscope peeking out to see if it's safe to start acting. She rattles off her wishes, and, as if negating the last hour of the film, none of them has to do with him. She sounds lost, but it's not clear why, because there's never been any question that she’ll go through with the competition the next morning. Vaguely, she asks Matt “what to do.” He tells her to “be the girl I met on the beach…the girl who’d never ask a guy what to do.”

Her reaction is one of blankness, followed by a flicker of disgust. The film cuts straight to the competition: a long, dramatic, if predictable final scene than couldn't have come soon enough, but that image of Anne Marie's regretful face remains, seemingly an acknowledgement that she didn’t just ask a guy what to do – she let him ruin an entire film.

Liz Colville is a contributor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She blogs here and she tumbls here.

"Faculty of Fear" - Lightspeed Champion (mp3)

"There's Nothing Underwater" - Lightspeed Champion (mp3)

"I Don't Want To Wake Up Alone" - Lightspeed Champion (mp3)

Life is Sweet! Nice To Meet You comes out in the U.S. on February 16th.

w/ lauren bacall