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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 We Lack The Confidence We Try To Project

The Last Week Before Normalcy


My boyfriend is thirty. He is also kind of my best friend's boyfriend. He and I kiss, but they talk. They get each other. We sleep in the same bed, the three of us. Clothed and usually there is no need for blankets because his apartment is so warm. If I sleep in the middle I touch both of them. If he sleeps in the middle he and I cuddle while her and his feet touch.

On Monday, Liora and I dropped acid. This was the second day of our three-way relationship, as far as it was no longer three friends and morphed into this specific triangle. Michael watched over us and smoked pot. Liora drove his car, and being in the car made me taste blood. They made jokes that sometimes would have made me laugh — dark, horrible, images wonderfully absurd — and I hallucinated vividly our deaths in a violent, crushing car accident.

Snakes hissed out of Michael's eyes.

Michael and I were in bed with the blankets as a tent and we were kissing and talking. I said I felt more relaxed than was usual. He said he couldn't relax because he was thinking about lust. And intelligence, and curiosity, and love. I had nothing to say. He's a rather fantastic writer, which I find intimidating. Michael is always intimidating, with his constant watching and psychoanalysis. He is, however, pretty cute.

Liora and Michael have conversations I wish I could be a part of. Then sometimes they talk about his friend who she likes and then our comfortable situation seems strange. On other occasions, they talk so calmly about sadness and hurt that I get sad. We all do it. It hurts more to hear them. When we were on acid they made my world dark. She, wobbly and uneven; he, deep purples and blues. They are probably more sensible than I am.

In the bed in the studio, where the window faces east and our lives centred in those few days, I was often snug between the two. This was especially odd since Liora and I rarely touch. This was especially common since Michael and I rest well together. At other moments, when I took on all our sadnesses, I curled at the bottom with the soft blanket his grandmother made.

Michael turned 31 in August. He is a Leo. I turned 20 in July. I am a Cancer. Michael thought I was a Leo when we met, but now he notes that I am terribly guarded, and lack the confidence I try to project. Liora turns 21 in June. She is a Gemini. In the Chinese calendar, we go Dragon-Snake-Horse, which is the same order as our Western signs.

The bed was full of our books. All readers, often for hours flipping pages and tiptoeing the spaces outside the bed. One was the Love Signs. A towering dance of imagination and fact in our everyday.

Geminis and Leos are supposed to be very compatible. They are supposed to have engaging conversations and positive adventurousness. Theirs is not a pairing of jealousy. Cancers and Leos are supposed to have tumult in their relationships, with a great risk of one crushing the other's ego and joy. Either that, or the Cancer will learn from the Leo, give the lion the spotlight, and be encouraging and comforting. We learned these things.

Michael says things that resonate, but he thinks too much. His inner life is his primary, thus he not only thinks too much, but looks like he is thinking about Life even when sitting in McDonald's with drunk girls two thirds his age who spend that time berating him loudly. He decides courses of action with minimal input from myself or Liora, but she is better at ignoring him completely.

Liora makes me laugh more when she and I are alone, and Michael makes me sad more when he and I are alone. They both make me laugh.

When Liora had to leave, we picked Michael up to go to the bus. In his car. We went to the mall so she could get a video game and I went to buy her food. Michael told us that in five years, we'd be older than him, since he refuses to age. He is infuriating; telling me that two years ago he was cooler than I was. It is petty but I am angry.

Well, of course you were. I was in high school (twelfth grade, come on) and not particularly cool at that. You were living in the world, starting a career, and done a good deal of interesting education. Really, Michael? You feel it necessary to say this to me?

His car has a steering wheel lock. It is a challenge.

When Liora left, he gave her a big, long hug. He prides himself on his hugs.

The second time I hugged Michael, he made me put my head to the right, rather than the left of his head. That way our hearts would line up. He was right that time, and I will remember this rule for every next goodbye.

When Liora left, she and I pounded fists and gave each other awkward waves. We made fun of him for his hugging and because ours is always from the heart, yo. We said yo. Then Michael and I went for lunch at the English pub and had beer and sandwiches.

Michael wanted to get high with Liora, since she gets paranoid when she smokes pot, and he thought he could fix that. She did eventually. It turned out OK. She still gets paranoid. With me, he wanted to smoke pot and watch Pulp Fiction, whether I was high or not.

So on my last night in town, I sent him a text:

Let's go out with a bang.

We picked up the movie and bought strange and horrible looking snacks. This is a favourite thing of mine. We tried to eat them later, and they were in fact strange and horrible tasting. Rainbow licorice dispenses with everything good about licorice, except the name, in case you wondered.

On Michael's countertop were 5 bobby pins from my head and various occasions, laid out ceremoniously parallel one another next to a raspberry button as its full stop.

I think we all think about creativity in different ways, and with varying seriousness.

So, we went to Michael's apartment, and he made himself some food. I realized I had no wine, and since we were celebrating, this needed remedy. Off on a journey to the liquor store, with my funny shift dress and loose bun. He told me that the men at the movie store had been watching me, that:

If they could undress any woman in the store, not knowing her personality, in most places, they would pick you.
I doubt that's true. Do you watch Flight of the Conchords?
Damn. That reminded me of this song, The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room, and now I can't make a joke about it because you won't get it. But it's all like, if you were on the street, depending on the street, you'd definitely probably be in the top three.
He told me then that I was like a pretty French girl home in Saskatchewan.

He smoked his pipe and I drank my wine (whose label featured a wire bicycle) and we watched Pulp Fiction.

When Uma ODs snorting heroin, I saw myself thrashing and I heard a quiet scream disembodied but it was me and the unconscious feels a nightmare. I came to clawing his leg, and he acted like that was the most normal, sensible thing I could have done.

I slept for two hours that night, and we didn't finish Pulp Fiction. Christopher Walken's face onscreen watched us for hours while we talked until the sun was high outside, and at sunrise I suggested turning the movie back on. He said, I like this, and continued on. I made him let me listen to his piano. Michael records everything he ever plays, and says what they will be about prior to playing, so he can order his thoughts. He showed me the cassette called Victoria.

Liora went back a couple days later and went to a movie with he and another friend. She said she might date him, and I said that would probably be good.

When we sleep, it is after the sun has turned the sky blue. Sometimes we wake during the day. Sometimes Michael has work to do and sets an alarm that he turns off too many times before getting out of bed. Those days he comes back to nap with whomever is there still napping. Sometimes we sleep almost solidly until five in the evening. Sometimes there are naps throughout the day and night, and we have a perfect ignorance of time.

There was a nearly imperceptible rift when I left the city. I sent letters, and he sent one with a typewritten poem. The poem was about Halloween a year prior, when Liora and I first encountered Michael. He was dressed as Bob Dylan but didn't know the words. It was the only sign I ever got of what he thought of us.

Years later, he will still be thirty.

All of Michael's clocks are wrong.

Victoria Martinez is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Montreal. This is her first appearance in these pages. You can find her website here and her twitter here. You can visit our mobile site at our mobile site.

"Don't Be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed" - múm (mp3)

"We Have A Map Of The Piano" - múm (mp3)


In Which We Have Little Time For You On Our Special Day

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


In September I am planning on marrying my boyfriend of four years, Darren. Recently the wedding preparations have begun in earnest and while I don't have any hesitation about my decision to get married (I hate the expression tie the knot, it is gross), I am a bit worried about how many people seem to be involved in the ceremony. Both of our parents are contributing financially to the event, and understandably they both expect to be a part of the process.

The wedding already seems like it will have to be much larger than I ever imagined it - over 100 people! - and the amount of money and time that is going into one day is starting to bother me. Should I just suck up my feelings or should I try to do something about it?

Jamie P.

Dear Jamie,

Many weddings and genocides share a common trait - they both involve over 100 people. I have attended many weddings in my time, and the only one I really truly enjoyed the bride got incredibly drunk and slept through most of the reception. Basically, as a bride, you are allowed several common expressions that will curtail a lot of this chicanery without coming off as a party pooper:

- "I always imagined a small wedding."

- someone suggests inviting Aunt Helen. "Didn't Aunt Helen once say ADHD was caused by grapefruit juice? She is not welcome on my special day."

- "Whose wedding is this?"

- "Darren and I need to talk that over."

- "Whose special day is this?"

- "Aunt Helen once thought my Armenian friend was a terrorist."

- "They had that at the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise nups. Remind me how that special day worked out."

- "You're not my mother."

- "You might be my mother, but this is not your special day."

- "I need to talk that over with Aunt Helen."

Above all, lie, prevaricate and postpone any decision you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable with. No one ever looks back on a bride's behavior before a wedding and says, "She was just so indecisive, Shelia!" It's just par for the course.


A friend of mine, Andrea, recently split with her boyfriend, Steven, of a year. (We all live in Park Slope.) They have stayed on good terms and he sometimes says hi to us both if he sees us, and once he caught a mouse in her apartment with his bare hands when I was there at a screening of The Prince of Tides.

Needless to say I was extremely turned on by this event and I would like to see more of Steven. You asked me why they broke up: it was a mutual thing but I think the main deciding factor was that she felt a bit too domesticated by the relationship and wanted to go out more.

I feel weird asking Andrea's permission to pursue things with Steven, and I'm worried he will feel weird too if he hears I have asked, or even if I suggest hanging out together in general. What's the best way to approach this?

Megan P.

Dear Megan,

If he's still running the pest control game at his ex's apartment, Steve doesn't seem like the most headstrong fellow. Nor would I ever be able to fully divest myself of the notion that the hands stroking my body had touched a mouse's corpse, although I believe that is more my problem than yours.

What you need to do is get Steven to ask Andrea for her permission. That could be a bit farfetched on both their parts, but it will only happen if you can get alone time with Steven on some other pretext. Tell him an endangered condor accidentally flew into your apartment, and you would like him to remand it to a local animal shelter equipped to deal with large birds. Or maybe he knows Spanish and can teach it to you.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Every Age" - Jose Gonzales (mp3)

"What Will" - Jose Gonzales (mp3)


In Which We Prefer The Dim Lighting Of The Torkelsons

Serious Youth


I discovered The Torkelsons where I discovered everything I loved in the nineties - the Disney Channel. Of the two children's networks popular at the time, it was the only one worth watching. Nickelodeon seemed seedy and excessively juvenile. Even at the tender age of seven, I found youth, and the programs that accompany it, a little embarrassing. Neon colored game shows like Wild and Crazy Kids and Double Dare never appealed to me. I preferred dim lighting and convoluted plots. For whatever reason, I thought tears were more sophisticated than laughter. The Torkelsons had a little of both, so I gave it a shot.

I saw myself in Dorothy Jane, the show's 14-year-old protagonist, who describes herself as “a woman trapped in a child's shell.” Unlike the rest of her family she is sensitive and literate. While her hillbilly mom and gaggle of siblings make asses of themselves downstairs, she holes up in her attic bedroom. Sprawled on a window seat, she reads poetry, learns French, and laments the loss of her father, who abandoned the family to work on an oil rig. I guess he spends his money on booze and strippers, because the Torkelsons are dead broke. A washing machine is repossessed in the pilot episode. The children wear clothes made of curtains and dish rags. For a few extra bucks, Mama Torkelson lets a stranger live in the basement. Boarder Hodges is a Mr. Rogers type, but he has the eyes of a murderer. You can never be too careful. Especially when there are kids involved.

Nothing irrevocably terrible happens to the Torkelsons. Most of their struggles are just momentarily embarrassing. The most iconic episode, according to the three other people besides myself who watched the show, is called “The Cotillion.” It centers around Dorothy Jane's first high school dance. She finds a dress at a thrift store that is perfect aside from an ink stain on the left hip.

Thanks to her mom's sewing abilities, they are able to conceal it with a silk rose. Things are going well until Dreama, the class bitch, recognizes the dress as one she used to own. To prove it, she yanks the rose off the fabric to reveal its imperfection. Dorothy Jane is horrified but smart enough to realize this reflects badly on Dreama, not her. Plus, she's probably a little clairvoyant and knows that in ten years it will be cool to shop at Goodwill.

In addition to her remarkable ability to detect bullshit and predict fashion trends, Dorothy Jane has good taste and big dreams. She is also a little horny. Michael Landes plays the object of her affection, Riley Roberts. The casting is great. With his floppy hair and well-shined Doc Martins he's the ultimate 90s babe.

When he moves next door it's a wonder Dorothy Jane doesn't hump him at once. Rather than act on her desires, she talks about them to the Man on the Moon, a secular stand in for God. “Man on the Moon,” she says in broad daylight, “He's four years older than me and out of reach. The rest of my life will be unending sadness.” The girl is prone to hyperbole. In another episode she doesn’t get a scholarship to study abroad and decides she’ll live in Pyramid Corners, Oklahoma for the rest of her “pitiful existence.” As a reluctant Texan, I could totally relate.

Landes' character never falls for Dorothy Jane because he is an idiot. She possesses all of the traits I covet: curly hair, intelligence, an attractive sort of melancholy. She's the type who goes largely unnoticed in high school but thrives in college when she discovers cigarettes and Derrida. Though the series only documents her failed attempts at romance, I imagine she grows up to have many interesting lovers. Someone like Ben Gibbard would totally dig her.

The Torkelsons existed in its original incarnation for 20 episodes at which point it was re-branded as Almost Home and lost my interest. In the second season, two of Dorothy Jane’s siblings, Steven Floyd and Ruth Ann, disappear without explanation. Mama Torkelson moves the remainder of the family to Seattle where she takes a job nannying Brittany Murphy (R.I.P.). The scenery is better and money is not so tight. It was all a little too hopeful for me, so I switched to Dawson's Creek. Thanks to YouTube, most episodes of The Torkelsons are available for free online. I have attempted to get several friends interested in the show and failed miserably. “It's like Roseanne but not as funny,” one said. Maybe. But who's looking for funny anyway?

Elizabeth Barbee is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Dallas. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about a convincing French woman.