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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Brittany Julious
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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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Monday
Oct062014

In Which You Better Start Thinking Of Ways To Make It Up To Him

A Lively Marriage

by DICK CHENEY

The Mindy Project
creator Mindy Kaling

I miss Cliff. Ever since Mindy finally consummated the mediocre sexual attraction between her fellow gynecologist Daniel (Chris Messina), The Mindy Project has turned into a show about a relationship.

In a recent episode of The Mindy Project, a major plot point concerned Mindy's boyfriend's talents at cunnilingus, and her telling all the other characters about it. Not only does this make me look bad in my relationship, but I am pretty tired of some asshole being redeemable simply because he is good at giving head (I'm looking at you Michael Caine).

It's so important to emphasize how good the sex is, because the chemistry that Mindy and Daniel share is largely based on how good his dancing is. He does a short dance in every episode, and usually punctuates it by thrusting his pelvis in a lewd manner. Eventually people had to tell Fred Astaire to stop doing this, and Fred Astaire was a lot better dancer than Mindy's boyfriend.

What you and every other man did to Chloe Sevigny is unforgivable.

Many shows torpedoed once their long-single protagonists found love, since it is never actually interesting for other people to hear how satisfied you are by your partner. An emotional time was had by all when Ross made love to Rachel in that planetarium; however I once had the job of cleaning a planetarium at a Wyoming-based history museum and it is nowhere you would want to spread a blanket on.

Ross (David Schwimmer) had a much better thing going with this British woman, Emily. Emily (I'm assuming her last name was Bronte?) was very needy and suspicious of Rachel, but considering the situation I guess she had a right to be. Once Rachel and Ross became a very boring couple they moved into an apartment together. I hated the color scheme of this apartment, and all my memories are of Ross complaining there. Eventually they started doing a Joey and Rachel storyline which did not make much sense, and Pheobe married Paul Rudd, which made all the sense in the world for everyone except Paul Rudd.

At least Friends had a variety of eligible men that Rachel could potentially end of the rainbow with.  It must be weird to have a baby on a TV show but not in real life.

Sadly, his nascent sexual attraction to his sister Monica would never be consummated in quite this fashion.

The men in Mindy's life are all extremely terrible. Danny let his mother disrespect Mindy at an excessively long brunch, and even briefly let his mother think that Ms. Kaling was his cleaning lady. He is constantly looking for things to complain about when he comes to his girlfriend, and should he even suffer the slightest indignity, he tells Mindy, "You better start thinking of ways to make it up to me." She accepts this for some reason.

Mindy's other colleagues regularly cheat on their girlfriends, sometimes even with each other. There should be a lot of options for an attractive single gynecologist, but instead she has to get with a police officer who is twenty years older than her (Tim Daly)? Despite his offensive accent, Tim Daly was by far the most handsome of these men; Danny's lips look like they are permanently sealed in a frown.

I still don't understand why it was such a big deal to talk to a guy while in a pool.

I'm still mad about what they did to Cliff, though. He was a suave lawyer one second, the next he was singing a Sarah McLachlan song for an entire episode, and projecting a creepy vibe never present in the original Cliff.

It's not even like you can bring another man into Mindy's life at this point to complicate things. She will just look flightly after lusting after Castellano for so long and bragging about how good he is at oral, and Daniel would never tolerate an actual competition for the love of a good woman. I'm starting to worry if it is going to be another year of romanticizing a union that never should have happened.

Blake Lively has no chance of pulling that dress off or eating anything but baby food without assistance.

It really chars my balls that Ryan Reynolds was taken, and even now has a baby on the way with that blonde older woman he's been seeing. If it weren't for Blake Lively, he would be getting all of Matthew McConaughey's roles, but who can stand to hear him relating tales about how Blake is absolutely "hangry as all get out when she's on a cleanse" or his innocent general questions about her, like, "Do you guys think it's common for a grown woman to say 'chomp chomp' when she bites into a carrot?"?

I'm sorry, but Danny Castellano is an asshole for not giving Mindy space in his closet, or telling her that she can't tell her friends about his proficency with his mouth. A relationship is only actually fun for the people in it.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Avalon" - The Alarms (mp3)

"Famous Kids" - The Alarms (mp3)

Friday
Oct032014

In Which We Know Exactly What We Want To Put Down

Blown Up

In 1962 the cadets at West Point were visited by a strange impresario who turned out to be a well-known writer. He visited several West Point courses in literature and held a press conference afterwards in which he took questions.

Mr. Faulkner, now that you have completed your question-and-answer session with the West Point cadets, what are your impressions?

I am surprised and pleasantly astonished at the things I've found that I didn't expect to find here. I had the layman's notion this was a stiff, regimented place where robots move to numbers, and I've found it's a little different since I've been here this time.

Didn't you think they seemed very responsive in their questions?

I don't know whether I had a selected parade of them, but what I have found here was a - well forward of what I've found at the other schools I have seen. They were in top gear and they knew they would need to be in top gear and they were. I don't mean racing or running ends, but they were in top gear. In Princeton and Virginia there is something a little sloppy which is not here.

Are you advocating a military background, sir?

I'm inclined to think that a military background wouldn't hurt anybody.

I am interested in and was surprised by the cadet reaction to your comment, "If a spirit of nationalism gets into literature, it stops being literature." What made their reaction rather surprising was the fact that their predecessors from this institution, in certain cases, behave as though they think nationalism is a great virtue. Apparently the present student body doesn't.

Well, they didn't believe nationalism was a great virtue while they were here. It's only after they got out that they became Edwin Walkers - years after here.

About the young people today compared to your life when you were a youth, do you feel that there's any significant difference?

No.

Do you despair of juvenile delinquency?

No. There are just more juveniles than there were in my time; they are not more delinquent.

One of the questions asked was about the younger generation's feeling of getting blown up and whether that feeling had changed since you commented on it when you made your address on winning the Nobel Prize.

Well, I still feel that people wonder when I'm going to be blown up, but I still think that ain't very important.

You've advised getting down out of the ivory tower and into the marketplace. In moving about the marketplace these days, what distresses you most about contemporary life?

You'll have to explain that. I don't know exactly what you mean.

Just generally about contemporary life. Or perhaps what do you despair of most in contemporary life, in moving about the marketplace?

I don't despair any of it.

What delights you most?

What I like best is fox hunting.

Do you find as a writer who has by all means "arrived" that you read as much as you used to?

No.

What do you read now?

I read the books that I knew and loved when I was twenty-one years old.

Can you tell us some of them?

Yes, I go back to the people, not the books - but the people. I like Sarah Gamp - she's one of my favorite people - and Don Quixote. I read in and out of the Old Testament every year. Shakespeare - I have a portable Shakespeare I'm never too far from.

Is this a form of criticism of contemporary writers or writing?

No, it's the glands. The mind has slowed down a little and it don't like new things. It likes the old things just like the old man wants his old shoes, his old pipe. He don't want a new one - the new one's better, he realizes that, but he don't want. He wants the old one.

And you're simply not interested in contemporary literature, is that it?

Not enough to keep up with it. When somebody says, "Here's something you ought to read," I read it. And quite often it's good.

Do you think there are any "up and coming" writers?

What do you mean by "up and coming" ones?

Well, are there any good young ones?

I'm sure there are, that they are still writing. They still must be writing, in Russia and behind all the bamboo and iron curtains.

In our country?

I'm sure there are, yes.

Are there any you would recommend?

Not until I've read what they write, and I haven't read a - I can't think of a contemporary book I have read in the last, well, since Salinger's Catcher in the Rye.

Did you enjoy that?

Yes, it was a good book. It was a tragic story of a young man that tried to enter the human race and every time he tried it, it wasn't there. It was a very sad and tragic story.

I would like to know who your favorite author is.

Well, that's a question that really don't make much sense to a writer, because the writer is not concerned with who wrote, but what he wrote. To me, anyway, the character, the book is the thing, and who wrote it is not important; and the people that I know and love are Don Quixote, and Sarah Gamp and some of Conrad's people, a lot of Dickens' people, Balzac's people, but not Balzac especially because I think some of Balzac's writing is bad writing. Some of Conrad's writing is bad writing, but some of Conrad's people that he created are marvelous and endured.

Was The Reivers something that you had wanted to write for a long time?

Only the story of the human heart in conflict. Until you have written a perfect one and cut your throat, you keep on trying to write that story.

It's very funny!

I think so too. It's one of the funniest books I ever read.

Did you have a good time doing it?

Yes, delightful. I wish I hadn't written it so I could do it again.

Mr. Faulkner, do you especially like the scene where they were caught on the road and had to be pulled out by the two mules?

Yes, ma'am.

Do you find that writing gets any easier as time goes on? Your writing?

I can't answer that question. If you know what you want to say, it's easy to put it down, so I don't know how to answer your question. You mean does it get easy to know what to say? No! No easier, no harder. Some days you know exactly what you want to put down, and you put it down - other days you don't.

1962

"I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love Tonight" - Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker (mp3)

"Let No Man Steal Your Thyme" - Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker (mp3)

Thursday
Oct022014

In Which We Translate John Ashbery From The Original

Positively the Last

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Collected French Translations
by John Ashbery
editors Rosanne Wasserman & Eugene Richie

Once or twice a year I get an e-mail asking me what I admire about John Ashbery.

Max Jacob was a prose poet who died in a concentration camp. He abdicated his Judaism, which meant that no Jew would claim him. He resented his homosexuality, which meant that no gay would. And he was a gay Jew, which meant the Catholicism he chose after being visited on a rainy night in 1909 by Jesus Christ would never bring up his name. He is the sort of figure who disappears from history because he has no people.

In his other French translations, collected for the first time in a volume edited by Rosanne Wasserman and Eugene Richie, John Ashbery fields a dutiful fidelity to the text. With Max Jacob something seems different, off  the surrealist poet and his scribe are equally reflective. There is a sympathy here. When two lenses mirror each other, you get something like this:


Surrealism as a whole was filled with junksters and cretins. Jacob was just another unhappy young man in a place and time that attracted poets like "the cushions of the night commode." Ashbery stood out among his trendy friends with his studiousness and capacity for self-awareness. He could see his friends for what they were as well as what they weren't; a rare gift in any collective.

As a pre-teen, Ashbery kept his private writings in French so that his parents could not read them. For his sixteenth birthday, they gave him a French dictionary, so it seems Mom and Dad were out to lunch.

Any translator takes on work for money alone, and Ashbery's versions of prose poems by André Breton and Paul Éluard are intensely restrained, and even resonate as semi-critical at times: translation as light parody. There is a similar lack of an expansive quality in his replications of Rimbaud, who seems childish and simple in Ashbery's grasp. Illuminations was a lot worse than I remember it.

Reading this stuff always pushes me back to Ashbery's poetry in English. Prose iterations were never his forte, and his novel with James Schuyler, A Nest of Ninnies, is a complete mess. The form of the line that he mastered in long and short form was always his calling.

There is an occasional feeling when reading the translated verse of Ashbery's friend Pierre Martory that one gets in Ashbery all the time: that of existence beyond the poem. In Ashbery, the world is always present as a functioning, breathing abstraction that drives all his transparent creativity. Coming back to other poets after that is such a dreadful disappointment.


Ashbery has never not chosen the right verb, and because action is somewhat rare here, the mere sounding of a bell or echo of the same is enough to rattle the cages.

In his brilliant book of poetics, Advice to a Young Poet, Max Jacob writes that "in poetry the precise value of the word only has value when the precision is exaggerated." Jacob is making a surrealist joke, but it is lost on us now. The thrill of chaos for its own sake died during the first World War. "Art is a game," Jacob continues. "Too bad for anyone who makes it a duty."

Reading Ashbery's work for hire, you do wish he had maybe taken his job a bit less diligently. Same for Lydia Davis with Proust. They both felt they owed something to the masters they translated, but think of what new masterpieces we would have if they had reworked things to their own satisfaction. Something like this, perhaps:

In a way this kind of writing brushes away all other efforts. Sentiment absorbs cynicism. The man's songs exude arrogance in everything except the way they announce themselves. I wonder what they thought, when they first read Hamlet, pretty much that everything else was shit? Who would bother writing after that?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. Experience our mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Spotless Mind" - Jhene Aiko (mp3)

"To Love & Die" - Jhene Aiko ft. Cocaine 80s (mp3)