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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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Friday
Dec162011

In Which We Experience The Finest Sound Of 2011

The 50 Best Songs of 2011

by DANISH AZIZ

From the audio animated gif of "Is This Power" (is that a YTMND?) to the viral video villainy of Kreayshawn/Rebecca Black/Lana Del Rey, 2011 was nothing if not meme-orable. The list presented below is guaranteed to be 50 of the 300 best songs of the past twelve months. Many of the songs were featured on our best of the half year list, but we've tried to adjust the rankings to give some shine to songs that haven't already been featured, so take these rankings as seriously as you should.

1 "Is This Power" - The Field (mp3)

2 "The Morning" - The Weeknd (mp3)

3 "How I Roll" - Britney Spears (mp3)

4 “I’m On One”- DJ Khaled f. Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne (mp3)

5 "It's Not Real" - Dead Gaze (mp3)

Araab Muzik

6 "Make It Happen" - Araab Muzik (mp3)

7 "Motivation" - Kelly Rowland (mp3)

8 "Anteroom" - EMA (mp3)

9 "Last Night At The Jetty" - Panda Bear  (mp3)

10 "Le Troublant Acid" - KZA (mp3)

11 "212" - Azealia Banks (mp3)

12 "Getting Me Down" - Blawan (mp3)

13 "Everything Goes My Way" - Metronomy (mp3)

14 "Ghetto" - The Dream (mp3)

15 "Neon" - Dark Sky (mp3)

16 "Gentle Persuasion" - Doug Hream Blunt (mp3)

17 "Ten Years"- Shocking Pinks (mp3)

18 "Out Getting Ribs" - Zoo Kid (mp3)

19 "Stolen Dog" - Burial (mp3)

20 "Ego" - Four Tet, Burial, and Thom Yorke (mp3)

21 “Zan with That Lean” - Soulja Boy (mp3)

22 "Headlines" - Drake (mp3)

23 "Twerk It" - LDFD (mp3)

24 "Yardman Riddim" - Balistiq Beats (mp3)

Nurses

25 "Fever Dreams" - Nurses (mp3)

26 "Gucci Gucci" - Kreayshawn (mp3)

27 "I Got AIDS"- Lil B (mp3)

28 "Der Tanz der Gluehwuermchen" - Dominik Eulberg (mp3)

29 "Tell Me (Kingdom Edit)" -  Jacques Greene (mp3)

30 "Mindkilla" - Gang Gang Dance (mp3)

31 "Another Naive Individual Glorifying Greed and Encouraging Racism" - Big Krit (mp3)

32 "Vanessa" - Grimes (mp3)

33 "Powa" - Tune-Yards (mp3)

34 "Guitar Solo"- Danny Brown (mp3)

35 "I'm God" (instrumental) - Clams Casino (mp3)

36 "I'll Take Care of U (Special DJ version)- Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx (mp3)

toro y moi

37 "Still Sound"- Toro y Moi (mp3)

38 "Swerve the Reeping of All That Is Worthwhile" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)

39 "Hope" - Munchi (mp3)

40 "Every Minute Alone" - WhoMadeWho (mp3)

41 “On My Level” ft. Too Short - Wiz Khalifa (mp3)

42 "Chrysalis Records" ft. Trust - Egyptrixx (mp3)

43 “Slime” - Sleeping Bag (mp3)

44 "High Together" - Siriusmo (mp3)

45 "Battle for Middle You" - Julio Bashmore (mp3)

46 "You Always Start It" - xxxy (mp3)

47 "Survive It" - Ghostpoet (mp3)

48 "Songs for Women" - Frank Ocean (mp3)

49 "Hey Muma" - Cam'ron & Vado (U.N) (mp3)

50 "The Breaks" - Planningtorock (mp3)

Danish Aziz is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in Portland. You can find his best songs of 2010 here. He tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the best singles of the half-year.

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Thursday
Dec152011

In Which Tomorrow Elapses In A Year

Charades

by KARA VANDERBIJL

There is a stretch of the blue line train route that rushes out of the tunnel after Belmont Ave and balances precariously between the branches of Interstates 90 and 94. The platform, while completely immobile, seems to shift to and fro underfoot. Cars rush past deafeningly, and even if it is not windy, it is all you can do to stay upright.

Once a week I find myself standing on this island, huddled below the heat lamps. There is rarely anybody else on the platform. There are only cars, blowing in and out of the city, and half-empty trains lurching down the track. I have never gone further down the line than this stop and it feels like the very edge of the world.

It is the loneliest place in the city.

*

I rarely remember my dreams, but this morning I woke up in a cold sweat with the memory of being chased by a starving tiger. I also remember waking myself up from that dream right before the feline sunk its teeth into my face, afraid to leave my bed for a drink of water in case it was lying in wait. Then, in those moments between 4:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. I dreamt again, this time of cockroaches crawling underneath all of our sofa cushions because we had left a few crumbs out on the coffee table. It was so very detailed that I remember the distinct crunch every time we gingerly sat down to watch television.

*

I’d like to believe that, much like the infamous “Carolyn Keene”, Harold Bloom is really just a pseudonym for a group of individuals who did not have enough talent to make it big on their own but were able, somehow, to attach themselves to some greater ideal, one that sleep and nutrition-deprived college students would later cite extensively in their papers.

*

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I would not spend my money on eating out unless I had specifically made plans to eat out with someone else. So far, it has been a great decision for me.

Today, though, I have an apple and chicken noodle soup with me for lunch. The chicken noodle soup isn’t really soup anymore because much of the broth evaporated or else the noodles soaked it all up, and all I can think about is some sort of sandwich smothered in tomatoes and pesto and melted mozzarella.

*

Coworker: Do you know, I thought this the first time I met you, you look a lot like—

Me: Shosanna Dreyfus?

Coworker: Yes!

Me: You're the 18th person to tell me that.

Coworker: You've been counting?

*

Peruse the shelves of your local drugstore to find an opaque bottle of castor oil; fill the bottom of a clear glass vial with this slow, thick substance. Then, cover it with twice the amount of either olive or jojoba oil (olive is by far the more economical choice, and works just as well). Finally, add a few drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils. Shake well. At dusk pour a quarter-sized amount into your palm and rub your hands together gently to warm the mixture. Smooth it into your face beginning at the temples. Breathe deeply; the lavender and rosemary soothe away anxiety and smell like the south of France. Let the oil rest on your face for a few minutes and then douse a clean cloth in warm (not hot!) water. Gently apply the cloth to your face, not wiping the oil away as much as letting the warmth coax it out; do not hesitate to leave a bit in your skin.

Repeat the ritual every other night, alternating with a simple warm-water cleansing. After repeated use your skin will glow naturally. You will never need to buy cleanser, make-up remover, or moisturizer again.

*

Do you ever grow weary of your own perspective? — of the mistakes you fall into, the biases you lean towards simply because you are only ever looking out your own eyes?

For many years my mother would switch around all the furniture in our living room once a month. While it was still in her possession, she would even move her piano around the room on its wheels and we would help by picking up the bench with its wobbly legs and placing it reverently behind the instrument. Other things — cushions, picture frames, side tables — moved around the room as if in some sort of dance. Christmas afforded Mom the opportunity to change everything around so as to open up the appropriate space for our tree; at the arrival of summer, our kitchen table moved closer to the doors of the terrace so we could dine al fresco. All this she did primarily by herself although my father helped her when she needed to move a large cabinet.

We responded with an incredulous “Again!” each time it happened, although it was secretly delightful to discover our living room all over again. The furniture seemed new, cool to the touch; for a brief disorienting evening it seemed as if we were guests in our own home.

What belongs to you has very little to do with whether or not you spend money or time on it. I am discovering more and more that for most things in my life, I feel the same level of attachment that I do for historical monuments or other tourist attractions. They belong to me in the same way that they belong to the rest of the world, and they are not more mine than anybody else’s.

“They are just things,” my parents taught me, when we moved from place to place and left more and more in our wake. But I have begun to find it difficult to escape from this mindset even in relation to people and experiences. I do not know if this is the epitome of unwellness or if it is mature; I remember crying for a pretty calico cat that my father took back to the pound because she could not accompany us on our move, but the years that separate me from that child also spunkily create distance between me and loved ones in airports as if there were no thread of feeling between us.

I do not think I will stay here forever. I have high hopes of finding a place that I will make mine or settle into. Realistically, though, I have barely been living in my current apartment for four months and I am already considering other neighborhoods and various methods of paying for heat. I quell the growing restlessness by moving pictures around, by planning to create a new reading nook, by sitting in different corners of the room. Searching out apartments in neighborhoods closer to the lake, I feel guilty and excited at the same time.

Removing yourself from any place or thing feels like a betrayal at first, and then the wounds close and the guilt only flares up in rainy weather. After I threw a penny into the Fontana di Trevi, I knew I would eventually return to Rome. When I do it will not be returning home or to some ideal of a fixed state; it will be a revisiting of what once flourished and then crumbled. We are better off different than we were yesterday.

*

Sneaking into meetings late with trays of mini pastries and fruit, meetings to which I am not invited but come to bearing food, is most embarrassing. The projector casts a blue glow on my mess of curls and I feel suddenly as if I am seven feet tall and enormous, that my hips are in the way of everything. My hands begin to shake; the platters rattle, the mini pastries fall out of their semi-perfect arrangements. I have no need to be sorry because it is the person delivering the pastries who is at fault, but I feel all eyes on me, accusingly, anyways.

Before leaving Los Angeles I went to the FIDM end-of-the-year fashion show with a friend and agonized for a few minutes beforehand about what to wear.

“Remember,” my roommate said kindly, “this is not about you.”

*

I'm really glad my mother taught me nail polish remover will remove candle wax from various surfaces, because otherwise I’d be in trouble right about now.

*

At the escalator I am taken aback by a stranger's bold greeting. My fingers brush my own coiffure, wondering if the gentle twists at the nape of my neck or the abundance of bobby pins suggest mornings spent in stark Baptist sanctuaries, the smell of stale coffee, the air whispering with the sound of paper bulletins filled with song sheets, empty envelopes for the offering plate. I contemplate waving back; imagine jumping the last two feet that separate us to catch up. She might promise to call later in the evening, to discuss casserole options for an upcoming potluck. A thousand lives whizz by on the tracks.

I feel unbearably weary. Some of it is good weariness; the weight of love, of trust complicit with the most satisfying of friendships. Some of it is the weariness of crying myself to sleep because I could not write something I wanted to write well. The last cobwebs of thought before slumber remind me, You can write something, but sometimes, you are not supposed to.

You can live one way, but sometimes, you are not supposed to.

*

Before I woke up, I had moved into a studio apartment approximately the size of an airplane lavatory that smelled like a dingy roadside motel. The bed and the small expanse of counter were plastic; the floor was linoleum. I thought to myself, “Good, this will be easy to clean.” I brought with me a tiny all-black cat with a white face and boots. We spent three days there together before I realized I had not fed him nor provided a litter box. He looked at me disdainfully, made a move to bolt whenever I opened the door. We sat together in complete darkness as there were no lights save for his luminous green eyes. Nobody else came.

*

There is a yellow orchid on my back porch.

Every Wednesday I nestle three ice cubes into the soil and rotate the pot ever so slightly to the right so that the plant will grow evenly in the sunlight. When I get home from work and it is droopy and unhappy I turn the hot water on in my shower and set it just outside the curtain, on the edge of the sink, until my little bathroom is so full of steam that all I can see are the bright yellow flowers and the little hard green buds trying to open.

They bloom at night.

Why can I not trust that this other person does not hurt me on purpose? And even if they do, that they are full of good intentions towards me? And even if they’re not, that I cannot expect them to be? Forgiveness (and love) have a lot to do with trust in the other’s spirit, in their desire to do good by you even when it doesn’t always happen.

My father keeps telling me that you have not forgiven someone until you have done something good for them. And I am full of words and sweet intentions but there is little good left in my hands.

*

In an early morning dream, I asked a friend which of my items of clothing looked worst on me. She unabashedly criticized all the pants I have with lower waistlines. “They give you a muffin top.” She went on to tell me that the look was so offensive that Hugh Jackman had complained.

I was so embarrassed I had to wake myself up and try on all of my pants to make sure it wasn’t true.

*

Verizon has inexplicably locked me out of my voicemail, because apparently none of the dozens of number combinations I have attempted in the past few weeks work. I seem to remember using my birthday month and day as the password. Now I have ten unheard voice messages and absolutely no way to get ahold of them.

Perhaps the problem lies with me, in my inability to remember a combination of letters or numbers that will somehow crack the code to my life. However, I’d like to believe that there is not enough room for human error in this system. People keep telling me to write my passwords down somewhere, and I keep asking, “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?”

It’s not a good enough secret if you have to write it down.

*

Over the next fortnight I attempt an experiment in which I withdraw twenty dollars at the beginning of each week, and spend only that amount on myself.

A foggy Saturday morning I spend praying on the brown line; nothing is quite so easy as having faith on an elevated train. My headphones run like beads through my fingers. I find myself wishing for the simplicity of a command. Not praying the rosary or anything coherent, but moaning to any divinity who will listen, I receive miraculous signs: Sedgwick is next, doors open on the right at Sedgwick. Standing passengers, please do not lean against the doors.

I notice a proclivity in my relationships towards people born in June. Summer birthdays end in fireworks at the beach. I break two glasses at work and throw the pieces over my shoulder into the trash can. When I notice superstition curling up around the radiators at night or in the tea leaves at the bottom of a cup, I rinse it out with the truths I am most uncertain about.

When you lose someone close to you, most people assume that you want to be left alone, when that is generally the last thing you want. I find that I am not sure how to ask for help, so I carry all my groceries alone.

I'm making note of the already-sweltering heat at 7:30 a.m., the way the perspiration gathers on my abdomen underneath my dress, the way the ice melts in my tea before I walk two blocks, how the cup sweats and drips onto dusty toes, the heaviness of the air which makes every whisper seem like a shout and every shout foggy, how my curls double into more curls with each half-mile, how Tom Skilling promises this will be the hottest day Chicago has seen in six years.

I am making careful note of these things so that I will remember them in February.

*

We swam to the surface. Immediately in front of us was a rocky shoreline decorated with people in evening wear. The sun was going down in the background. I wanted to dive down immediately to retrieve the bicycles (they had been pulled into the soft, mucky sand at the bottom) but you insisted that we reach the shore. A few men at a table, garbed in tuxedos, played cards and looked on as you dragged yourself out of the water. There was a strange moment of recognition that is particularly fuzzy. I think you started running away from them, and I dove under water so that it would seem as if I had never been there. They saw me, however, and began shooting a machine gun after me. I got hit twice in both legs, but the bullet holes were only the size of freckles. I kept swimming. My bicycle was floating past, and I grabbed it. I wondered how I would manage to get it out of the water without help. When I surfaced, I was next to the beach, but it resembled the ledge of a pool. I rested my cheek against it, exhausted, but you were there, and helped me pull the bicycle out of the water. Blood was running down my legs. The holes were near my ankles, perfectly aligned like bug bites. I woke up on my back with all the covers off. I spoke to you for a moment before I realized I was alone.

Today I saw a woman sacrifice her sunglasses for a place on the train. Closing doors knocked them out of her hand as she squeezed into the last available spot, and they landed with a clatter on the platform. We stared. “Oh shit,” she said. “Oh shit!” She made a move as if to jump out of the train. I saw her debate, behind the silver half-circles of her eye make-up, sweaty hands pushing back blonde strands of hair.

There was only a moment during which she might have stepped off the train to retrieve them, but as it was, the doors closed right as she reached the end of her debate. “Oh, well,” she laughed breathlessly. I imagined her walking in the Loop without sunglasses, ducking behind buildings, a slim wrist thrown up for shade.

And what of the glasses? Are they like the mittens abandoned in January that mysteriously melt with the snow? Will somebody kick them into the tracks, steal them, throw them away?

*

I could love anybody in an airport for their foreign tongue, for their smart trench coat.

*

Down the street from my office a man leaves his blinds open. His desk is consistently messy. I tally up the damage when I walk past, before I cross the railroad tracks: one untouched glass of water with speckles of dust floating in it, three pens with chewed lids. What most intrigues me is the giant box of raisins that sometimes rests on the edge of his desk but now, oddly, on the windowsill. Not many people eat raisins because they love them. Some, like myself, put them in their morning bowl of oatmeal because there is something about raisins and milk. Some hate them but eat them because intestinal traffic is slow. I wonder which kind he is. Why has he moved the box from his desk to the windowsill? Did he eat too many and make himself sick? Did their uselessness cause him to exile them in a fit of righteous constipation?

*

To describe the process of barring someone from our lives, we call it “cutting out” or “cutting off”. The violence of this, as well as the idea that we can disregard a person — exclude them, remove them like we might remove a limb — does not ring true. You could not cut off your finger and not miss it. Subtly, the phantom remains. Rather it is like diving into the deep waters of yourself, and pulling someone out. There is beauty and darkness and truth at the bottom of this river; there is also fear, and there might be a monster or two. You say, come back to this appealing light. Here, the water is not so heavy. Here you can tread, disregard the profundity pulling at your feet. Remain at the surface where you are safe, where I can curl away from you to the places you no longer wish to visit.

*

How is that I can walk ten miles most Saturdays at a fast pace, and come home feeling on top of the world, but as soon as I run half a mile I feel like dying?

Kara VanderBijl is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. You can find her website here. She twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about the spirit animal. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

Photographs by the author.

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"Nantes" - Beirut (mp3)

"My Night with the Prostitute From Marseilles" - Beirut (mp3)

"East Harlem" - Beirut (mp3)


Wednesday
Dec142011

In Which We Advance Technology Far Beyond Our Own Capacities

What We Know

by MARTIN MULKEEN

Sneakers
dir. Phil Alden Robinson
126 minutes

To provide the formula of this ‘real virtual,’ let me refer to a recent paradoxical statement by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. I think that this statement was an important contribution to contemporary American philosophical debate. This happened in March 2003 just before the war on Iraq, where Rumsfeld elaborated the relationship between known and unknown. First he said there are ‘known knowns.’ There are things we know that we know. Like, we knew at that point that Saddam was the president of Iraq. Ok, everything clear. Then he went on: there are ‘known unknowns.’ There are things that we know that we don’t know. The idea was, for example, we know that we don’t know how many weapons of mass destruction Saddam has. Okay, now we know he had none, doesn’t matter, at that point it appeared like this. Then there is the ‘unknown unknown.’ Things we don’t know that we don’t know. Things which are so foreign, so unimaginable that we even don’t know that we don’t know. For example Maybe Saddam had some unimaginable, totally unexpected weapon. And here unfortunately, Rumsfeld stopped. Because I think he should have gone on, making the next step to the fourth category. The fourth valuation which is missing which is not the ‘known unknowns’ but the ‘unknown knowns.’ Things we don’t know we know them. We know them. They are part of our identity. They determine our activity. But we don’t know that we know them.

- Slavoj Žižek, The Reality of the Virtual

If you love him, if you really love him, then just keep on loving him. And never let him know that you know what he thinks you don’t know you know, you know?

- Robert Redford as Martin Bishop in Sneakers

Sneakers opens with the exterior of an academic building of a presumably prestigious east coast university in 1969. Snow flurries fall as short, puzzling non sequiturs rearrange themselves to spell out the names of the film’s cast. Inside the building, two students, Marty and Cosmo, are hacking into bank accounts and wantonly redistributing wealth on an early model personal computer. They take from the Republican Party and give to the Black Panthers. They transfer the entirety of Richard Nixon’s personal checking account to the “National Association of Legalized Marijuana.”

“Power to the people, Marty,” says Cosmo, raising a fist — ostensibly in solidarity, but privately in personal triumph. He has just conned his partner into going out for pizza in the snow.

Before I go any further I should note: Sneakers is about a man named Martin from San Francisco. I am a man named Martin from San Francisco.

I usually omit this bit of information when discussing Sneakers with someone who hasn’t seen it. It makes it something of a tough sell, like a scout hawking his own son to the big leagues — an unsavory cocktail of narcissism and nepotism. But hear me out! The cast of Sneakers is a murderer’s row of dramatic and comedic talent. Robert Redford. Ben Kingsley. Sidney Poitier. Dan Aykroyd. David Strathaim. River Phoenix. Mary McDonnell. James Earl Jones. The guy who played Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day! The list goes on and on.

I remember liking Sneakers the first time I saw it in theaters, when I was young enough that being “from” somewhere was something like Žižek’s “unknown known.” At that point I hadn’t really met anyone who wasn’t from San Francisco.

Hearing my name in the film hastened the process by which the script became a shared language among friends: “Give me the box, Marty,” was William’s way of calling dibs on whatever remained of my sandwich at the end of lunch. “I leave message here on service but you do not call” (in a falsetto female Russian accent) if Gabe wasn’t answering his landline. “I don’t expect other people to understand this but I do expect you to understand this!” when debating related rates problems in calculus. “Pain? Try prison.”

Sneakers is one of the only movies from the 90s about computers that isn’t as obsolete as the hardware on the screen. Unlike other tech movies from that era, it hasn’t been relegated to pure cult or camp. Yes, all the ancient computers in Sneakers have glowing green letters on them, but the script presciently side-stepped the bawdy operating system visuals to which many of its contemporaries succumbed. It didn’t make the mistake of supplanting technology for plot. Sneakers is a caper narrative in which a mathematician’s code-breaking tool — “the black box” — falls into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, more topical films like The Net exploited the trendiness of the avatars and chat rooms.

Sure, if Sneakers were remade today, the black box would probably just be “in the cloud,” encrypted by a code that only the black box could break. But the beauty of the film’s black box being a piece of hardware is that it operates under the physical logic of a matryoshka doll. It begins as an answering machine on the mathematician’s desk. Later, Martin plucks the valuable contents from it, leaving Cosmo with just the shell of an answering machine. This makes Cosmo (Ben Kingsley) so mad that all he can do is yell “Maaaaaaartyyyyyy!” from his Silicon Valley rooftop as he and his ponytail are enveloped in a swirling Michael Bay-style 360-degree shot. His friend has screwed him again!

Even when Marty hands over the box to the FBI, he saves the essential core chip, the piece that can crack any code and redirect airplanes, or take money from someone’s bank account. And because he holds on to the smallest little Russian doll in the set of nesting black box dolls, the United Negro College fund posts record gains thanks to some large anonymous donations. We have come full circle.

At this point you’re wondering: is it on Netflix instant? Well, no. But I’m sure it could be soon! That’s a “known unknown,” the question of when or if Sneakers will be on Netflix instant. Just like bank account numbers in the film. We know they exist. We just don’t know them. The unknown unknowns are the bank security weaknesses — banks don’t know if they have them or what they are.

Sneakers is chock full of unknown knowns. Namely, anagrams. A turnip cures Elvis: Universal Pictures. Fort Red Border: Robert Redford. Setec Astronomy: TOO MANY SECRETS. The black box is the descrambler of the wildly complex anagrams that make up the internet. It is the ultimate descrambler of unknown knowns. I’ve always thought Scrabble should release a special Sneakers edition featuring Braille letters that would be housed in a small hollow black answering machine, instead of that slate gray plastic sleeve. Which brings me to another very important point: Sneakers foretold the marriage of scrabble and the internet long before Words With Friends.

But my favorite scene doesn’t feature any memorable lines or anagram rearrangement suspense. It’s when Martin gets dumped by his kidnappers from a car on Russian Hill at dawn. He collects himself and begins walking, hands in his trench coat pockets. He has just endured a brutal evening of cheap shots, blindfolds, and car trunks, but for the first time in the past 12 hours, he actually knows where he is. And so does the viewer, because Redford has been conveniently deposited onto the pavement at an intersection where we can recognize Alcatraz to the north and Coit Tower to the east. He has placed himself, but what is his name? Is it Martin Brice or Martin Bishop? Is anywhere safe anymore?

I know what you’re thinking. And I would love to lend you the DVD. I will lend you the DVD, as soon as I find it or get a new one. See, a couple weeks ago I lost it. This DVD was one of the first things I ever bought on Amazon. In the past decade I’ve taken it everywhere with me, played it in a hundred DVD players and at least four laptops in half a dozen countries. It passed through so many hands that it slowly shed its housing, like the Black Box itself. The original DVD plastic snap case? Gone. Its replacement, a repurposed plastic sleeve plucked from an old Case Logic CD binder? Gone. When it went missing it was just a loose disc wading between receipts and gum wrappers in my shoulder bag, so scratched up it was barely useful as a reflective surface. And now my computer doesn’t even have a CD drive anymore. But I’m sure it’ll show up. At this point the location of the DVD is something like an unknown known, you know?

Martin Mulkeen is a contributor to This Recording. This is his first appearance in these pages. He is a writer living in Brooklyn. He twitters here.

"VCR (the xx cover)" - The Antlers (mp3)

"The Waiting" - Tom Petty & Eddie Vedder (mp3)

"Mighty Rivers" - Kyle Minogue (mp3)

Telephone As Large As A Casserole:

The Cinema of the 1990s

Elena Schilder on American Beauty

Elizabeth Gumport on Wild Things

Molly O'Brien on Pulp Fiction

Hanson O'Haver on Airheads

Alex Carnevale on Indecent Proposal

Emma Barrie on While You Were Sleeping

Jessica Ferri on The Devil's Advocate

Durga Chew-Bose on Titanic

Molly Lambert on Basic Instinct

Alex Carnevale on Singles