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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

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 Crossed The Little Water To Get There

Mind Absorption


James Agee read Ulysses in the summer of 1933. He almost immediately abandoned a writing project that had consumed him for the previous three years. "Joyce I think sees all sides and present them more consistently, clearly, and simultaneously than even Shakespeare," he cooed in wonderment.

In the wake of Ulysses, a humbled Agee focused on his journalism.

He had failed at putting together an epic poem titled John Carter, so he immediately went to Tennessee on assignment, interviewed some poor people, and began writing a story about them. This was routine in those days, it was basically one of the twelve steps. After the story appeared his boss, Fortune editor Henry Luce, told him to go to Harvard Business School.


Agee did not go, but Joyce was still left behind. He read Ulysses again and then once more before never touching it again, holding it at bay like someone staring at the sun.

He described his work at Fortune like this: "It varies with me from a sort of hard masochistic liking to direct nausea at the sight of this symbol $, and this % and this biggest and this some blank - billion...But in the long run, I suspect the fault, dear Fortune, is in me: that I hate any job on earth, as a job and hindrance and semi-suicide."

He did consider taking his own life, sometimes standing on the sill of a skyscraper, looking over at whatever it was that lay below. The temptation was there, how could it not be?

Agee then began Proust, for he felt it was now time. It did not take. "He is very clearly one of the greatest people I've read any of," he wrote his friend. "But I shan't read him now. Even the little I've read convinces me that once you got going in him he wd absorb your mind and thinking for months or even a few years. Which is not at all good when you feel somewhere near ready to write." Instead he read Interpretation of Dreams and some Dashiell Hammett mysteries to pass the time.

The Fortune article that would begin his work on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was suggested by editor Ralph Ingersoll. Agee accepted the time away from New York gratefully. He could not decide between two women, so went on with both, or wandered Greenwich Village's jazz clubs.

The manuscript he began writing, when I first read it in college, seemed appropriately serious. Poverty is the one subject about which it is useless to joke, but Agee seemed to turn that notion itself on his head. Rereading the book now, I realize I was entirely mistaken - Agee was completely serious as he waxed poetic about rural life. It is disappointing how much he misunderstood Ulysses.

Agee's writing at the time remained too lyrical for his subjects. They could not live up to his ideas about them. The writing pretended not to take itself entirely seriously, but the reality was that the author was never constance of the distance between himself and his subjects. This was his interpretation of Joyce, a way of asking how to be. His idol/peer called out in anguish and joy, and Agee only heard part of the cry.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


In Which We Will Appreciate Your Honesty

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.


It's been almost four months with my new boyfriend Steven. Every time I try to quantify or talk seriously about our relationship, which is rarely, Steven feeds me this stuff about how it is best to take things day by day and not put labels on it. In the meantime, he has introduced me to his friends and some family (not his parents) and we spend a lot of time together on a daily basis.

I really don't understand why he is so uncomfortable with labels. My family lives farther away and while I would love for them to meet Steven, I hesitate to mention this to him because of his attitude towards talking about the idea of us. What do you think I should do?

Althea R.


Normally I would say that Steven's actions speak louder than words, but the more I thought about that expression, the more like garbage it really sounds. If he really cares about you, he should either articulate that in whatever form you desire it, or articulate why he is unable to articulate it.

The reason Steven is not OK with talking about things is because he has some essential reservation about you. The reason he introduced you to his friends and family is to see if that reservation disappears or if his feelings change. In the meantime, he is basically using you until he finds something better. In order to gain the upper hand, simply tell him that while you've enjoyed being with him, you're interested in something more serious. If he doesn't immediately reassure you, you have your answer.


I have a problem. I had already been in a relationship with my girlfriend Tess for about a year when an ex, Ana, moved back to New York. We had already been really close when she was transferred to London for her job. Initially I did not tell Ana about Tess, but it all came out once she got back to the city. I said that I didn't want to break up with Tess, so she suggested not telling her that we were having sex.

I know I should have said now and ended things with one of them, but I didn't. It has been six months of being with these two women, and it is the happiest I have ever been in my life romantically. Things have gotten so much better with each of them than they ever were when I was in a relationship with one alone. Normally if I am focused on one person I get a little bit clingy, but having both of these wonderful women in my life makes things with Tess a lot better, and screwing around with Ana is about a hundred times more exciting than it was when we were exclusive.

I honestly believe I could conceal this from Tess for a long time, and since she says she is happy, I don't see how it is really hurting our relationship. I'm tempted to simply keep this up for as long as it can, and if it all blows up, it will have been worth it.

Dave D.


Dear Dave,

I'm glad you're happy, but if you need the idea of "screwing around" to enhance your main relationship, there is either something deeply wrong with that relationship, or something deeply wrong with you. I would say that at the conclusion of this effort you are probably going to be left alone, but since Ana seems interested in being with you no matter the circumstances, maybe you will still have her. You won't ever have her respect, or her full attention, and you will have hurt someone you claim to care about in the process, but you might still have her.

It is hard being with one person, but if you want your best chance at actual, verifiable happiness, end things with Tess and try them out with Ana on a full-time basis. If you only broke up because she left the country and she's now back on a more permanent basis and you couldn't resist her, it sounds like you really care for her. If things don't work out, Tess may still be there as a viable option, and you won't ever have to deal with the detonation of her anger that is likely coming when she eventually finds out that you're a piece of shit.


I have been seeing a girl named Shanda for a few months. I met her through a friend of a friend. Shanda is very focused on taking things slowly when it comes to the physical side of our relationship. It seems to be having the effect of making me want her all the more, but at some point the lack of sex does seem frustrating. I really like her, but this is starting to feel like a waste of time. Should I just bail?

Arlin B.


A few months is extreme unless she is a religious person and maybe just doesn't want to tell you that she has no plans to be with you.

If you are a man, it is best to have sex as quickly as possible. You will know if you are compatible, and feel more connected. If you are a woman, it is best to wait a bit. If a guy can't wait a few weeks to be with you, he is most probably human garbage. Any longer than that, and she most likely does not want to have sex with you in general.

I would take a hard pass, but make sure she knows exactly why you are ending things.



I am running into a problem in my relationship with a guy I will call William. William has a group of friends from his college that he spends a lot of time with. This in itself is no problem; I also enjoy being with my girlfriends although our activities and outings aren't as focused on drugs and alcohol.

The issue is the astonishing amount of discussion between us about each other's lives. Did you see that episode of The Mindy Project when Peter Prentice pretended the plotlines of Grey's Anatomy were his real life at the hospital in order to make his wife think he was still working? Well, the incredible amount of storylines revolving around these people usually concerns the most mundane shit posturing as intense drama. There is no drama, but I am having to hear about it a lot more than I have ever wanted to hear about anything.

Any suggestions for bringing this annoying practice to an end?

Ally K.

Dear Ally,

Some people talk out of nervousness, or just to fill the pauses between the penetration. While on six or seven various types of drugs, Benicio Del Toro once talked for ten straight days without stopping. You can bet all of it was not super-interesting.

If your boyfriend is this much of a chatterbox, maybe you can emphasize to him that, "Isn't it great when you're close enough to someone not to talk all the time?" This is grade-A bullshit, but William doesn't sound very intelligent, so you can probably get away with it.

If this doesn't work, attempt to create an actual schism between William and his friends. Best practice is to claim one of them hit on you.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Stand Against The Music Of Time

Another Country


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
dir. James Gunn
136 minutes

Kurt Russell's first scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is this creepy flashback of him and his young girlfriend where the camera barely glimpses his face. Since he is supposed to be twenty years old during these scenes, and is in all actuality a ripe 66, director James Gunn papers over his face with some hot CGI. The fact that he did not all have the courtesy to do this for Sylvester Stallone as well seems deliberately mean and perhaps even anti-Italian.

Stallone portrays a ship captain named Stakar. He is absolutely tiny, like morsel-sized, and he only really has one scene. Unfortunately, I was unable to recognize a single word he slurred in any of his dialogue, so this review will remain incomplete until the movie comes out on Blu-Ray or Gunn updates the special effects for a theatrical rerelease forty years from now when they seem vague and corny. Right now they seem vibrant and fun, but as we know, time turns everything into molten shit.

The plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 concerns Russell finding his son Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and taking him to the planet he has created, called Ego. As a result, Star spends the entire movie completely gullible in his Papa's thrall and never really goes anywhere. Pratt is deemphasized in favor of the real protagonist, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a CGI animal, who is briefly imprisoned before attempting a rescue mission. Rocket's internal dilemma is that he has the sense he may be nothing but a little asshole.

It is sort of sad to see Gunn hamstrung with the general shittiness of this cast and material. He is a bravura director, whose swirling, colorful style for these films is extremely sophisticated, and should fit the diaphonous galaxies on display. The art direction in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. ranges from awe-inspiring to dogshit, and the general atmosphere of the planet Ego comes across as a bit too familiar. Gunn papers over this lack of visual depth with stunning movement and accomplished cinematography.

Pratt looks absolutely huge physically, and he should have a lot to bite into on an emotional level with his father as the antagonist. This is the most disappointing of his recent roles from that perspective. Harrison Ford was never great at communicating sorrow or indecision either, but his directors and writers knew how to give him purposeful, active characters that played to his abilities. When Pratt is in motion, he is like a high-speed train, but stalled his considerable bulk is too close to the impact of his larger colleague, Drax (Dave Bautista).

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is ostensibly a comedy, and the film is at its most amusing when the various members of the starfaring team are playing off one another. Unfortunately Gunn decides to split them up for most of the film, and the resulting pairings do not work so well. The flirting between Quill and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is given a higher priority than the latter's more interesting plotline with her sister Nebula (the preternaturally talented Karen Gillian). Gamora never asks Quill for advice or details the vagaries of her situation, which is a lot more complex than anything her boyfriend is going through.

Instead of analyzing these deeper issues, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 spends way too much time having the characters laugh at each other's jokes. It starts to become seriously forced around the time a space pirate named Taserface has his name mocked for ten straight minutes. It is a very strange bit that reeks of body-shaming, and it would have made a nice DVD extra if it weren't for the fact that Rocket is not given anyone else to crack on.

This is a minor quibble, however, when the film's completely awful soundtrack manages to ruin most of the extended action sequences. Through careful analysis, I can inform you that outside of a single song by Fleetwood Mac, every single piece of music used in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an unending horror on the ears. I understand that this gimmick was meant to offer something to spice up the lack of cohesion in the original film, but transplanting it to another feature-length audio mess was easily the worst decision Gunn made on this project.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.