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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
Jun082016

In Which We Miss Chantal Almost Every 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.

Hi,

I recently completed my first year of college. In April I met a girl we will call Chantal for anonymity's sake. We really clicked but were only together about six weeks before the end of term. Chantal is going home to California for the summer, whereas I will be in London, so we won't see each other until the fall. We're both sad about that, but it's only a couple of months.

It would seem weird to be exclusive and we haven't really talked about what we expect. I don't want it to come across like I am taking things so seriously. I sense that I will be asked whether or not I've hooked up with anyone in the UK when August rolls around. Should I just not pursue anything and tell Chantal as much, or see what happens? If I do connect with someone else, should I tell Chantal?

Brett M.

Brett,

Usually it would be nice to talk things over with Chantal, but there are two possible reasons she has not brought this up to you. The first is that she has someone she will be seeing over the summer so it would be pretty dumb to say you couldn't pursue anyone. The second is that she realizes making demands on another person after a short period might not come off well.

The important thing to remember is that whatever does happen will come out unless you start thinking from day one that this is something you want to conceal from her. Don't start up with, "I met someone but nothing happened," this is a long dark road with you impaled on a spike at the end of it.

But why even bother lying? It's time-consuming, confusing, and unnecessary in this situation. If you meet someone, fantastic. Tell Chantal you made a connection but you have a superior one with her. She'll be gratified that she isn't your girlfriend by default. 

Hi,

Last March I had a brief relationship with a co-worker, who I will call Sam. The relationship ended when Sam was transferred to another part of the company - it's about an two hours drive away. I never heard that it was because another employee found out about us, and transfers are frequent. 

I miss Sam a lot, and I have thought about asking for a transfer or leaving my job so that this would not be an obstacle to us being together. When I talk to him about it, he is mostly focused on the repercussions for his career. He does say he wants to be together, but it seems impossible right now. Can you suggest any course of action?

Nadine A.

Dear Nadine,

A man is a beautiful thing. He smells of musk and Raisinets, and he always has a kind word for a tourniquet or bedfellow. A hour is not too far to conduct any relationship, but two can make it rather difficult on both of you. 

The facts seem to be these, though: if you did not tell someone about your relationship, then it is quite possible Sam did, which means he may not exactly want this relationship as much as it seems. It's a great cop-out, and we can add to the fact that if he wanted to see you on a regular basis, he probably would.

It can be tricky to get out of a work relationship, and Sam most likely felt trapped. This is through no fault of your own, but the fact that you are still pursuing this even when he has been transferred indicates the momentum in the relationship is entirely on your side.

Let me tell you a story. A man (Joseph Cotten) loved a woman (Ginger Rogers). When he found out that she had to serve three years in prison for murdering her boss when the man tried to drunkenly r her, he was like, "I will wait for you my darling." He was there outside the prison when she got out, and they had three wonderful children together, two of them addressed by their peers and parents as "Monsignor."

Instead of Joseph Cotten, who was also a war hero in this particular instance, you have targeted a mid-level functionary at your organization who has a lot of excuses that he can't be with you. He sounds like Scar from The Lion King, and while Scar's phallus was shaped like a can of tuna, Scar also had some pretty attractive qualities. Every single person in the universe can be the love of your life. Sam doesn't want to be. 

You can probably turn this around. Cut off all contact with Sam and start dating someone named Davidson LeGrue. Problem partially solved.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Still Getting Used To Being On My Own" - Tom Odell (mp3)

 

Tuesday
Jun072016

In Which We Were Supposed To Do This Together 

Needs A Certain Something

by ELEANOR MORROW

Feed the Beast
creator Clyde Phillips
AMC

There is a scene in the first episode of the new AMC series Feed the Beast that typifies Clyde Phillips' writing style completely. Tommy (David Schwimmer) shows up at a group meeting where they workshop his grief over the death of his wife Rie. The group's leader asks Pilar (Lorenza Izzo) to stand in for Tommy's wife in a role-playing exercise. "I miss you," Tommy explains to this woman he has just met. "I need you. We were supposed to raise our son together. We were supposed to open a restaurant together. I love you. You're like a phantom limb." Pilar listens with a look on her face like she just won the lottery. In Phillips' vision of the world on shows like Dexter and Nurse Jackie, the deepest pain imaginable also brings the most unlikely pleasure.

This paradigm is exemplified by Tommy's best friend, recent parolee and gifted chef Dion (Jim Burgess). Burgess is the central performer on Feed the Beast, and to be completely honest the show would be quite drab without him. Fortunately, Burgess needed a role exactly like this one and he found it. Not only is he the most gorgeous, irresistible creature ever to saunter into a room and slice a leg of lamb, Burgess's performance as the cocaine-addled Dion naturally projects a non-physical threat to any established order. Just looking at him is dangerous.

Feed the Beast creator Clyde Phillips rarely concerns himself with deep, emotional connections, seeming to favor the abcesses constructed by various forms of sociopathic or antisocial behavior. The person Tommy Moran cares about the most is his son T.J., but that cannot help feel like a stand-in for his dead wife. Because of his grief, every relationship that follows can exist only on a surface level.

But that is entertaining enough for television — if Dion were not such a deceitful person, he would never have ended up in jail, where he became popular by cooking for the guards. His talent at cooking, and by extension, shaping his personality around his gift, is what makes him attractive to others. If God did not bless him in this way, he would simply be a piece of shit.

Dion owes money to a mafioso named Patrick Woichik (Michael Gladis), fresh off his disappointingly flimsy run as Paul Kinsey on Mad Men. Gladis tries to imbue the role with all the menace he can muster, but at his core he seems nothing like a Bronx mobster. It is not that Gladis is the wrong age or type for the part; it is more that the role of paper-thin villain with a funny nickname does not really suit his particular set of skills. Vicious men are usually at least one other thing, if not two.

I understand trying to cast against type and not reinforce certain Italian-American stereotypes, since Feed the Beast pretends to set itself in a Greek community. But the decision hurts the show by trying to offer something that is different but still ultimately the same.

Dion and Tommy decide to open a Greek restaurant in the Bronx by reclaiming money owed to Tommy by his racist, wheelchair-bound father, Aidan (familiar character actor John Doman). Tommy's father is something of a drain on the show as well. It is difficult enough to constantly re-experience one painful backstory in the case of Tommy's wife — but to have a second, peripheral tragedy that consumes him distracts from both.

The Danish series Feed the Beast bases itself on had a larger cast of characters surrounding their protagonist, and I applaud the move to a darker feel and shorter focus. These two male antagonists unfortunately seem muted and a bit powerless in comparison to our heroes, and end up detracting instead of adding to the milieu. Even with these criticisms in mind, I don't fully understand the reviews Feed the Beast has received, which are overall rather horrid for a show of this pedigree. For me, watching Schwimmer's foray into drama opposite the insanely charismatic Burgess would be enough for several seasons. There is no arguing that there is something missing from the story being told, however.

I think the main mistake is with Burgess' character, since he must carry the show. Giving him career success to reclaim is a marvelous start and we want to see him overcome his issues, but having him win the love of a family and a woman would make him even more sympathetic. Instead he fucks his beautiful lawyer and Tommy's son already seems to like him for no reason. No one can or should succeed at being that much of a misanthrope.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan. You can find an archive of her writing in these pages here.

"Be Careful Where You Park Your Car" - Cat's Eyes (mp3)

 

Monday
Jun062016

In Which We Refuse Sansa Stark's Offer For Dinner and Drinks

Grey Jeans

by DICK CHENEY

You might think that Sansa Stark waffling around the North, screaming "House Stark still lives!" and then administering dirty looks to the rest of the cast is wretched television, but it is something of a relief after X-Men: Apocalypse. I was recently forced to view this period drama in theaters because of my wife Lynne, who demands we view every James McAvoy joint as soon as possible. "You never know when it'll happen," she explained to me, stuffing kettle corn into mouth, "the instant where you will see Professor Xavier's dick."

That moment seemed to approach during a scene where Professor Xavier wheels himself into Jean Grey/Sansa Stark's room one night. She has already made a ton of odd markings on the walls with her mind, some of which looked like splooge. But Professor Xavier isn't the type to play around with his students, and he was wisely a lot more interested in Rose Byrne.

Jean Grey was always played by a very beautiful woman with tons of innate pathos. It is a very difficult thing to pretend to suffer, and as she was enslaved, raped and tortured throughout her run on Game of Thrones, Sansa Stark always looked only mildly inconvenienced, as if she were holding in a breath she could release when the scene is over.

To be completely honest, both of the female leads in X-Men: Apocalypse are quite homely, and it is a chore to sit through a movie where everyone spends half their screen time musing about what a legendary beauty Jennifer Lawrence is. There are even posters worshipping her, and other young mutants explain how they want to be exactly like her. It's so forced, especially since the one thing a shapeshifter is unlikely to be known for are the dimensions of her real face.

The villain in all of this is Oscar Isaac, who is 5'2" soaking wet. They dress him up to look just like the Emperor at first, although he eventually puts on all his armor and becomes slightly more forboding, if still a tiny collection of powers. Enlisted in his cause is Olivia Munn, whose skills in the Stanislavsky Method are best expressed during periods of absolute silence. Fortunately she has like six lines in the entire movie and she does her relatively easy job of making Sansa Stark seem young and lovely in comparison.

Thrones was only mildly more entertaining this week. There really isn't much left in the North. Even Lyanna, the young Queen of Bear Island, was incredibly bored by the sibling duo, so much so that that illiterate fuck Ser Davos had to step in and show off his proficiency at speaking the language of children. "You're really brave and smart!" he crowed as Lyanna consulted her male advisers about what kind of bald dunce was paying her such mediocre compliments. Normally when young women are told they are fierce, it can come across as somewhat patronizing. But Ser Davos has that way about him. He can talk almost anyone into an early grave.

The story involving the return of Sandor Clegane was incredibly predictable and featured him chopping wood for a good ten minutes of the episode. Clegane's path of redemption would have to take him back to kill Brienne, or maybe that is only what I hope will happen. For the most part, the only thing that I felt was sadness Deadwood did not go on for at least eight seasons.

This episode seemed a bit scattered, strung together by the magnificent sets the show badly needed in years past but could never get the funding for. Reusing Stannis Baratheon's camp above Winterfell was a funny touch, and the sight of Riverrun and Braavos almost made me feel like I actually was living in another place and time. Just as quickly we were whisked away to some other venue, where I had to start getting that damp feeling all over again.

X-Men: Apocalypse suffers from much the same problem of disjointment. I understand on Game of Thrones the point of having such a large and diverse cast (except racially) is that discrete stories and motivations eventually interact with one another, but damn they take their time. All the stars of X-Men: Apocalypse spend most of the film completely separated. McAvoy has absolutely no one to play off of except Beast, the dullest mutant in history, while Michael Fassbender spends most of running time whining about all the people he has killed and working in a foundry like some anonymous doofus. 


Things will at least come together on Thrones for a greater reason than Oscar Isaac living out his disturbed fantasies of being a giant. Arya will make her way to Riverrun, since it makes all the geographic sense in the world, where she can hopefully execute Jamie Lannister. There was not a lot of stress involved in watching her get stabbed, since they have all but promised never to kill her, but it will be good to see what waiting arms she falls into. Knowing my luck, it'll be either Iain Glen or Jennifer Lawrence. 

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

 "Darling" - Albin Lee Meldau (mp3)