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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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Wednesday
May182011

In Which You Should Probably Dump Your Respective Boyfriends

Plz Advise

by MOLLY MCALEER 

Plz Advise is an advice column. You can e-mail me questions about almost anything, but don’t like, take out a loan against your 401k or murder anyone based on anything I say. I'm not a doctor, duh. E-mail your questions to plzadviseme@gmail.com and keep them under 150 words.

Molls,

My only goal for the past decade was writing, 3 unpublished novels. Adversely, things like kids and marriage were the last thing on my mind. My relationship of 3-years is now an issue. I love my girlfriend and can see marrying her, having kids, but what’s holding me back is money and time. If I had kids my time would be gone. We live together and balancing my alone time/writing and being a good companion is already very difficult. Writing makes me happy. I know this 100 percent. I could devote all my days to this. But I can’t currently. Can I have both? Would I regret ending a relationship with a woman I love because I wouldn’t have the time to be what she wants? Or would I be resentful of the family that takes all my time and means, keeping me from the thing I know makes me happy?

Trevor

Wow. That's so weird that the thought of serious relationship was the last thing on your mind when it was the only palpable thing you've had. Pretty weird. Might be a book idea in there somewhere for you. Maybe just a character. I don't know, I've never tried to write a book.

Stop being a fucking donkey. Why are you punishing this woman because you can't concentrate on your crybaby art? You willingly entertained a relationship for a pretty long period of time and have probably enjoyed most of it, yet you blame her for your inability to get your work done? Gross, man.

You have three options:

1) Dump the girlfriend and finish ONE of your three books. Take it seriously. Finish it and submit it to publishers. If you’re rejected, look into private investors or Kickstarter. You don’t get your entire 20s or 30s to sit back and work on novels at night while you drop your resume into a well of irrelevance while simultaneously blaming your choices on another person,

2) Go to a fucking coffee shop and work there. Tell your girlfriend that you need to work and that you hope you guys can share your success one day and that you appreciate her support. If she's already stuck it out for three years, she should understand,

3) Realize that, while writing makes you the most happy and you’re all Letters to a Young Poet about it, you can't get it done. Hurt to read? Then go back to options one and two and figure it out from there.

Molls,

I've recently started seeing a guy who I have been friends with for a long time. Our relationship has a great dynamic: he's very easygoing and fun and very caring. However, there is one problem. He seems to not be completely over his ex, or maybe the idea of his ex. They broke up a year ago and it was a pretty bad breakup. It hadn't started bothering me until recently when we decided to start getting serious. He'll drop her name in conversation randomly or fixate on something that bothered him about her. He doesn't seem to be AWARE of it, which makes it even worse. I'd like to think I'm cool about it by not ever calling him out on it or making a big deal because I figure that's something he'll eventually get over it, but I sometimes wonder if I'm just in denial about it. It's more annoying than worrisome and I'm wondering what I can do to not let this bother me so much.

Lindsay

It genuinely saddens me to let you know that he's not over her and that you should dump him.

Molls,

So there's this guy. He hooked up thrice (nothing serious) with a friend of mine, but it never took off and ended amicably. Recently she introduced us and I think there could be something there. However, I can't stop feeling uneasy about their past history, particularly given she mentions it jokingly a lot. I've asked her if she’d be bothered if I pursued it and she's said no. He seems great and I've had it a bit rough the past two years and I feel like I deserve to try my hand at happiness within the dating scene having finally reached a place where I'm ready to BUT: Does this make me a bad friend if I do, despite her blessing? Will knowing they hook up ever not cause me pangs? Am I being a head case?

Ash

That'd be a big no and two maybes.

If your friend said to go for it, then that's what you should feel free to do. You may want to consider that it sounds like she's not over it, but it's her job to be honest with you about her feelings.  I've had this happen to me before and I wound up realizing that my friend was uncomfortable talking about her feelings with me because she was insecure and generally resented me and that the dude sucked and was not for me. That's worst-case scenario, but it'll still free you of two people that you probably don’t want around.

Just go out with this dude as friends and figure out how you feel. Go mad slow. Hang out with him and see what happens between you and how your friend reacts. Maybe you'll want to vomit any time you think about him penetrating your homegirl, maybe you'll find out he’s not as cool as you thought he was, or maybe you'll hear from her that she’s secretly in love with him and couldn't be brought to tell you. There's also a chance that none of this will matter and you two will hit it off.

As of right now, you're not working with enough information to make a decision and as you said, you deserve to have some fun with a guy. Save your worrying and ask me what I think in a few months when it turns out this dude is a heroin addict and you ask him to watch your cat for the weekend and you come home and all your expensive shit is stolen and you ask your friend where this maniac came from and she's like, "Oh, yeah. I knew him during a pretty wild time in my life. Sorry."

Molly McAleer is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She twitters here. You can find her website here. She is the co-founder of Hello Giggles.

Photographs by Jennifer Nies.

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"I Wanna Fuck You" - Akon ft. Snoop Dogg (mp3)

"Upside Down"  - NOMO & Shawn Lee (ft. Natalie Bergman) (mp3)

"Blame Game" - Kanye West (mp3)

All The Advice That's Fit To Post On The Internet

Plz Advise #1: Guidelines for Twitter Romance

Plz Advise #2: Everytime You Go Away

Plz Advise #3: How to Make Friends And Influence Bloggers

Plz Advise #4: More Of A Bro Than You Thought

Plz Advise #5: Martini Time

Plz Advise #6: A General Lack of Self-Awareness

Plz Advise #7: Dump Your Boyfriends

Plz Advise #8: Advice To Keep Close At Hand

NOMO swims

Tuesday
May172011

In Which We Move From One Part Of Brooklyn To Another

Heirlooms

by EMMA BARRIE

I have a desk I found on the street. I carried it up three flights of stairs by myself. I have six records, but no record player. I bought them because they were colorful or had funny album art (a guy in a beret pretending to make out with a baguette) and I thought I'd hang them on my wall. I did, and my living room looked like a dorm room. So now I just have records — with titles like "Bread, Love and Cha Cha Cha" — which I've never actually heard. I have 3D glasses I saved from when I saw Toy Story 3 in 3D. I popped out the lenses, so now I can use them to look goofy or hip whenever I want.

I have an old watch that used to belong to my grandfather that I took in to get the battery replaced. The man laughed at me and told me I just had to wind it every morning. Now it's a thing I look at when I want to remember how young and inexperienced I am. I have nine journals and notebooks, most of which are a quarter of the way full (or less), all of which have neat handwriting for the first few pages and then messy handwriting thereafter.

I own a lot of books with colorful spines, nothing with drab colors, signifying my lack of classics and my abundance of modern lady fiction. I still have note cards with my name in cursive on the front that acted as thank-you notes for bat mitzvah presents, 11 years ago. I promised all my relatives I’d put their money, or silver Tiffany's heart necklaces, or binoculars capable of night vision "to good use!" I have boat shoes I've never worn because they make me look like a Nantucket mom. I have a pocket book from when I tried to be a real lady, and a leather uncle-wallet from when I succumbed to being a little boyish. I have a guitar I play every third Thursday of every fourth month when I’ve had a few margaritas (only "Landslide" and alternate versions of "Landslide" I wrote myself). I have two scratch tickets that are technically worth $13 if I could figure out where to collect my winnings.

I have a sweater vest that doesn’t look good with anything else I own, as is often the case with sweater vests. But I refuse to give it away because I’m convinced that someday I will own the right undergarment. I have a replica "Dundie" trophy given to me by a gray-haired-really-goofy-looked-like-he-should-be-doing-magic-tricks customer from my salad days of barista-ing after I told him I loved The Office. I tried to give him a free coffee in exchange and he said, "No, then I’d feel weird. It just is what it is."

I have a box of incense from when I thought I was that person. I have two still cameras from when I thought I was THAT person. I have body lotion I bought in France over a year ago that I still use, but it’s just Nivea (German-owned, Duane Reade-sold). I have a lot of things I thought would be cute but as it turns out, I don't have the head for: headbands, handkerchiefs, beanies with earflaps.

I have two pairs of headphones from when I thought good sound was a thing that mattered to me, and a mug that says, "#1 Father" from sweaty August days spent in the village, smirking at ironic thrift store mugs sold on street corners. I have a wall calendar with photographs of flowers and italicized inspirational quotes I worry visitors will think I’m serious about (e.g. "Cut the 'im' out of impossible.") I have a Blade Runner DVD from when I tried to get a guy to like me and I have a Father of the Bride 2 DVD from when I was just being honest with myself. I have approximately 8-12 backpacks and tote bags that I switch depending on outfit, occasion, or if one somehow collected a heap of gold glitter at the bottom and I don't want to get it on my uncle-wallet. I have a non-working flip phone and its archaic Duplo-looking charger.

I have a pair of black Converse from high school on the tongue of which my then seventeen year-old boyfriend wrote, "I love you" in Sharpie. I have a shirt claiming that I helped orient college freshmen and a few sweatshirts claiming I went to colleges I only visited. I have a lot of those socks that make it look like I'm not wearing socks, and two foreign Netflix DVDs from one year ago I have never watched nor exchanged. But it's important that you know they’re foreign.

I have a nightstand that my stepfather went out and bought me on my first day of college while I sat on my bare plasticy dorm bed and watched one roommate hang her "I Love Lucy" poster and another roommate scotch tape her Weezer concert tickets to the wall. I have a lot of pennies and nickels in a mug that says "Happy Birthday!" in a fun party-font, as if it was scribbled by the strings of balloons, over a picture of my then nine year-old brother and a five year-old me. I’m not sure who the recipient was, or what parent forced us to get it for what other parent or grandparent. But somehow it made its way back to me.

I have a stuffed lamb I pretend is a forever childhood thing, but really my mom sent it to me a year ago. I have two quilts from Urban Outfitters that I pretend I just can’t remember where I bought. (Family heirlooms?) I have a replica mix CD of the one made in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (though his was a cassette). I downloaded each song one at a time on Limewire, on my turquoise transparent iMac. I burned the CD with my much coveted and finally obtained attachable turquoise-to-match CD burner. I have a lot of letters from people I don't talk to anymore, telling me they will always love me. I imagine showing them to my children when they question my past, or ask if I had a life before they were born.

I pack it all up.

Emma Barrie is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and twitters here, and you find more of her work here. She last wrote in these pages about her grandmother.

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"A Treatease Dedicated to the Avian Airess From North East Nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer)" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)

"The King's New Clothes Were Made By His Own Hands" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)

"Youology" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)

"Free Press and Curl" - Shabazz Palaces (mp3)

Monday
May162011

In Which We Utilize A Metric Of Vulnerability

Swatting It Away

by ARIANNA STERN

Bridesmaids
dir. Paul Feig
125 minutes

Annie (Kristen Wiig) is having casual sex with a rough-yet-clumsy partner (a totes ridic Jon Hamm). Even before he says the handful of mean-spirited things that define him, the audience is asked to dislike Hamm's character because he's inconsiderate in bed. He ignores Annie’s repeated pleas to slow down and her anguished facial expressions. Vilifying a man who wouldn't even try to please a woman: It's not that other filmmakers do the opposite, it's just that it's a point they might not think to make.

Bridesmaids follows Annie, a 30-something single woman with a dull job. Her childhood best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), gets engaged and asks Annie to be the maid of honor. A rivalry develops between Annie and Helen (Rose Byrne), a new friend of Lillian’s, as the two compete for maid-of-honor status. Meanwhile, the other aspects of Annie's life fall apart, from her shitty retail job to her callous friend-with-benefits to her budding romance with a friendly cop.

Bridesmaids offers the audience well-rounded reasons to like some of its women characters: They’re funny, perceptive, good friends. But with two of its major characters, the film uses a metric of vulnerability to endear or distance the characters from the audience. I never found Annie to be especially likeable. She fucked up her best friend’s bridal plans, time and again, in ways that could have been avoided. In that way, she’s a little like Anne Hathaway’s character in Rachel Getting Married, except she gives everyone food poisoning.

“You're like the maid of dishonor,” says Annie's unassuming cop manfriend when they meet for drinks. He says that because Annie had such a huge, drug-induced panic attack that the bridesmaids' plane had to land early. In a somewhat cliché scene about airplane anxiety, Annie takes a pill with alcohol to calm her nerves. Instead, she starts hallucinating and accosts the airline personnel, spotting "a colonial woman" on the wing. A lot of people don't love flying – myself included – but for your best friend, wouldn’t you keep your shit together a little more?

Still, it's a very funny movie, and one that doesn’t underestimate the talents of its mostly-female cast. In contrast to the manic trailers, Bridesmaids has a mix of comedic styles that blends slapsticky physicality, potty humor, and clever dialogue. "Just swat it away," says Lillian on the topic of unwanted blow job propositions. In that early scene, Lillian and Annie talk about sex and relationships in a candid, caring way. Their friendship seems loving, mature, and real – satisfyingly devoid of competition. I wish every film had a friendship like this. I wish every woman did.

Over the course of the film, Annie has temper tantrum after temper tantrum, including once instance where she snaps at her cop crush, "This was a mistake." To make us like the character, Bridesmaids shows us that Annie's going through a lot – she loses her baking business, then her retail job. Her closest friendship is in danger, she has little money, and sustains few romantic prospects.

Annie has some redeeming qualities – namely, her sense of humor and her sincerity – but the film focuses more on her misfortunes than her personality. The development of Annie's character reminded me of Rachel Simmons' suggestion that relatability for female characters is based on pity. Is it a coincidence that the script underwent heavy editing by Apatow and other seasoned Hollywood dudes?

apatow & feig

Annie and Helen (the antagonist) first meet at Lillian’s engagement party, an elegant and expensive-looking affair that betrays the wealth of Lillian's fiancé. Helen is married to his brother, who also makes a considerable sum of money. These details are relevant because of the girl-on-girl jealousy that Bridesmaids tries to inspire. The first shot of Helen has a stylized, slow-motion effect that highlights her neat curls and expensive dress. Some version of this villain appears in every movie targeted at women. She looks immaculate, and is therefore suspect. She’s mannered, invulnerable, and intimidating – "too perfect," in other words.

When the time to raise toasts arises, Annie and Helen compete for closeness with Lillian, culminating in a sing-off. The scene exhibits a hallmark Apatovian quality where situations seem to be as awkward as possible, and then the characters somehow make them more uncomfortable by doing exactly the wrong thing.

I had trouble hating Helen based on her invulnerability. (In the scene where the bridesmaids get food poisoning, she is the only one who doesn't.) While Helen says rude things (on an airplane: "there's more of a sense of community in coach") and assumes that everyone can afford what she can, she never does anything truly cruel. Lillian seems to have a good head on her shoulders, and likely wouldn't remain friends with a mean-spirited sadist.

At the end of the film, when Helen breaks down in tears about her loneliness, the audience is finally supposed to pity-like her. As in all the ways that Bridesmaids tries to manipulate you into liking or disliking someone, Helen’s transformation feels contrived. In an otherwise bold film, this pity-based likability seems stodgy and conventional, making the two major character arcs feel oddly unresolved.

Arianna Stern is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Chicago. She last wrote in these pages about The Smashing Pumpkins. She tumbls here.

"Mira You're Free With Me" - Carol Bui (mp3)

"Baladi" - Carol Bui (mp3)

"Before We're Vaporized" - Carol Bui (mp3)

Carol's new album, Red Ship, is available now.