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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious

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 Hate None Of The Things That You Hate

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.


My girlfriend is hinting that she wants me to propose, but I am not financially or emotionally ready for such a big decision. If it matters, we have been together for three years. We are otherwise happy, and I do see her as my wife one day, but now is not the right time for me.

Artis L.

Dear Artis,

Is prison too dire a punishment? Back in medieval times, a woman could be stoned for hinting on social media that she might enjoy a long term committment. But it is awful to have someone love you, unless that someone is Ariana Grande; then it is just artistically inspirational.

There is no perfect time for an engagement. Conversely there it is always the perfect time for a very long engagement. Put yourself in her shoes: would she rather tell the world - "we broke off our engagement, it wasn't quite right" or "he never proposed to me because I am a worthless bag of trash that Mayor De Blasio won't even pick up because he's terrible at running a city"? I may have gotten a bit off topic there, but my point is still completely solid. The former sounds like something that happened to Helen Bonham Carter in Majorca, the latter sounds like a typical week in the life of Shannyn Sossamon.

You can always get out of an engagement, but a woman will remember that you did not want her forever.


My boyfriend Wesley and I have been dating for about six months. Recently he has explained that he has preferences for the kind of makeup he wants me to be wearing. He says that he likes bright red lipstick and a lot of blush - not a style I usually embody. Part of me doesn't see the harm and wants to please Wesley, and another part of me is a bit weirded out by this sudden declaration. What should I do?

Alexis T.

Dear Maxi,


It seems like your boyfriend doesn't want to confess on his most recent discovery. It probably involves three words: NARS Orgasm collection. According to The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book club, the NARS blush in orgasm is a dream and matches every skin tone. It's bright without being too red. Yes, it makes your face look like you have had sex for days on end. Maybe this is what he is referring to. If not, we can trace his trajectory of his last shopping experience.

It probably involved a bored sales associate from Sephora mongering him with samples. Most likely untrue, but it could happen. He most likely walked around the mall entranced by the brightness of the orgasm blush that he had to go back. Again, most likely untrue. Shopping mall experiences vary from person to person.

You'll have to stumble on clues. Depending on your living situation with him, you can check white towels for any blush or lipstick residue. You still have time. Make-up is just an enhancer and you don't have to wear it all the time. Next time, you're repurchasing your stock bring him along. He'll probably know a thing or two.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Alligator" - Lone Wolf (mp3)

"Crimes" - Lone Wolf (mp3)



In Which We Surface For Air In The Near Future



Night comes early here, so quickly that everyone I know gets up with the sun, except for her.

The restaurant serves any kind of seafood the fishermen bring in. The owner is from a country where they eat everything. I won't say the name of it because I don't want to offend the people who live there. Maybe it is okay to eat all that exists in the world.

Chris, she is a vegetarian. Her father is a stonemason. He builds chimneys, including the one in the house where we live. If he thinks one of his clients isn't going to complete payment on their chimney, he puts a plane of glass in at the top of the chimney, beneath the cowl. He removes it when they pay for the work. On occasion some cheapskate's house will fill with smoke, and he will call Chris' father in a panic. Dropping a stone through the glass always fixes that particular problem.

The first few times I told my friends about this practice, I laughed. Now I think it says something about Chris' father that is not entirely humorous, and perhaps describes a quality of Chris as well. The chimney is repaired, but something has to be broken to get it that way.

Having a fire every night is in some places considered a luxury, but it is more of a necessity here. There was no fireplace in the house I grew up in. We built a fire in a pit when it wasn't raining, which was not very often.

Chris never had to deal with this kind of stuff. For one thing, her father made a fine living. When she was 15, Chris' mother came back into her life. She was dreadfully apologetic about missing the first fifteen years, but as Chris put it, "not much had happened to that point anyway." With the entrance of Chris' mother Darlena into her life came the appearance of another central figure: Darlena's new husband Roger la Barclet.

I knew of Senor Barclet, as he asked everyone to call him, before I knew he was Chris' stepfather. He had run for mayor a couple of times without much success. I don't think he ever expected to win, but it was a good way to promote his business - he owned four or five fish taco stands set up along the beach.

Senor Barclet's father was a fisherman, just like my father's father. But they were nothing alike. Neither were Senor Barclet and my father, god rest his soul. My father never went beyond the third form, while Senor Barclet studied business at the Universite. Senor Barclet always had a mischievous look on his face, like he was in possession of that ineffable quality which distinguished him from the collective: élan.

Once Senor Barclet was in Chris' life, things began to change for her. She had lived modestly with her father: now she could afford clothes, jewelry, makeup and hair products most people around here only dreamed of. And once her stepfather got to seeing that I was never going to leave Chris for any reason other than if she asked nicely (and maybe even then), he treated me like a member of his family.

I was not into accepting gifts, but I'm not so stupid I can't appreciate kindness. Predictably, Chris' father did not like Senor Barclet. Eventually, he got to hating him so bad that he broke into his ex-wife's house and threw him around. That's when Senor Barclet came around the restaurant and asked me if I would do something about it.

I told Senor Barclet that I respected him a lot, and that Christina's father was a bit of a pill. But maybe he didn't want to take the matter that far. He pretended to consider what I had said, but I could tell he was just thinking of a way to get me to do it.

Like a lot of cowards, he planned to accomplish his aims by indirect means. You see there is this kind of pufferfish we served in the restaurant. Mostly it was to VIPs. If you ate it fresh, you would probably die unless you got to a hospital quick enough, and even then it would be touch and go. But if you took out the liver of the pufferfish, you could eat it easily and the meal, some of our customers said, was quite tasty. Possibly their sense were heightened by the fear. I really wouldn't know. I never could stand the taste of fish after working in that kitchen.

Instead of putting Senor Barclet off, I smiled and nodded. I told Chris all about it. This is what she said, "I sympathize with Senor Barclet. He will never be happy as long as my father is around." By then I thought I had figured out a whole way around the situation, but I wasn't sure yet if Chris would go for it. We had rough sex and she smoked her e-cigarette. I could see that something was floating around in her mind.

She said, "I know what you are thinking."

"I doubt that."

"Pssh," Chris said, fumbling on her bra. "I know you better than you know yourself."

Our house was pretty tiny, but Chris kept it spotless. She also cleaned her mother's house, because her mother allowed her the use of her car if she did. Most people didn't have cars in town, so this was a real treat.

It was a red hatchback, and I used it to drive to the restaurant. We were closed on account of a very local holiday. The town's namesake had perished on a beach somewhere, trying to greet the natives. Instead of accepting the conquistador with open arms, they cut him down.

Things could get out of hand if you retaliated, and I think Senor Barclet saw that. It was better to simply strike the final blow, or have someone strike it for you. I guess Christina figured if a rock fell through a chimney on her father, it would pretty much put him of commission. It wouldn't kill him, but it might stop him from killing Senor Barclet, who she liked better than both of her parents.

At the restaurant I rounded up a few pufferfish and removed the livers. The fish smelled pretty good once I cooked them, and I even had a bite. I drove the car back to Senor Barclet's house and Darlene was in the driveway, shoveling the feces of her dog into a little pit. She accomplished this chore in high heels, but it was nothing I wasn't used to. She called me over.

"Hi Darlene," she said.

"Hi," I said.

"Chris isn't here." 

"Making dinner," I said. "Senor asked me to bring these over first." She laid the shovel demurely at her feet and thanked me. The way she thanked me let me know that she knew what she had in that tupperware. I took one last glance at the house she and the Senor shared. So many rooms.

Chris and I got married at a small chapel. She's known the priest since she was a kid building sandcastles. He had all the paperwork he needed, and said he would file it at town hall in the morning.

It is difficult for us to live without our parents.

Hector LeGrande is a contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New Jersey. He last wrote in these pages about a place to hide.

Paintings by Aline Feldman.

"The Way It's Always Been" - Brandon Flowers (mp3)

"Can't Deny My Love" - Brandon Flowers (mp3)


In Which We Hesitate To Move Against The Lord Commander

Dear Sam


Samwell Tarly gets letters.

hey Sam,

I heard you haven't made a move with Gilly yet. You should probably tell her that she excels at lots of things, like washing floors and cleaning up after her incest baby. Women always love a hot compliment, as well as Once Upon A Time. They want to feel like girls again.

P.S. You're a big bag of shit.

Allison in Moat Cailin

such a mediocre face to wake up to  hey Sam,

Boy, you're really getting a lot of mileage out of that one white walker you killed. Even Bran killed a white walker; this is not an accomplishment years later. You can find obsidian at any depth. You look ridiculous.

P.S. Your dad is fantastic.

Nina from the Iron Islands

the dragons are extremely upset they don't get wireless in the dungeon

hey Sam,

Blow me.

hey Sam,

Things really suck in Mereen since they took away the fighting pits. The only thing to do now is cower inside from the local dragon and draw pictures of our queen arranged among sconces. We think she is a really wonderful queen though.

P.S. Stop coddling that girl with the greyscale.

Greg from Hogwarts

"Master Aemon, this one is from a guy in the Citadel who says he misses you. How do I make Gilly love me?"

Approval from Stannis Baratheon is the most serious commendation Samwell has received since Jon Snow told him he was his third best friend, after Mance and the little boy who serves him his lunch.

Somehow J. Snow has arranged it so that he is making a long, arduous trip north with another ginger wildling. Funny how that happens. Fortunately, Stannis is enthralled by Jon Snow's newfound charisma and above-average likeability in polling. He stares at the guy like Bradley Cooper looks at his date at the Met Gala.

I think Jon said Stannis about fifty times in this episode. "Stannis is giving me ships, boyyyyys!"

The most exciting part of last night's episode found Tyrion and Ser Jorah Mormont taking an ill-advised cruise through the doom of Valyria. This environmental catastrophe probably indicates Valyria was at one time Central Europe, since it is filled with sketchy guys looking to steal your gondola. Mormont's fear of pirates was perhaps misplaced; what would they want with a dwarf and the biggest downer since Robb Stark's annoying common-born wife?

Performing CPR on Tyrion's mouth could not have been pleasant.

In the North, Roose Bolton has obviously not learned that remember when is the lowest form of conversation. The guy is incredibly low key and never so much as tortures a woman, but he's humblebragging about sexual violence from 20 years ago? How about a flashback?

Before that we got a lengthy introduction to Ramsay's annoying girlfriend, the one who thinks biting someone's lip makes her more than the kennel chief's daughter. She is only going to end up becoming another notch in Sansa Stark's belt, which irritates me. Like, have Sansa kill Ramsay herself. Don't set up a catfight, that's just annoying.

Damn these people for leading us to expect the return of Sansa's direwolf.

Ramsay has all the subtlety of Aemon Targaryen's blind sexual advances on Jon Snow. He just goes around snarling, informing everyone nastily about what he wants. I can't enjoy broad characters like that. He reminds me of Matlock. I really hope Stannis makes him marry Lady Greyscale or serve as the Onion Knight's secretary/treasurer.

They have a lot to discuss regarding their bad taste in men. I believe Sansa's direwolf was named

It seems like nothing really happens on Game of Thrones anymore. I understand that keeping up the pace of one major character character dying each episode wasn't realistic. I don't give two shits about some guy who looks roughly the same as I do in the mirror (with hair) perishing in Diagon Alley. He was probably going to pass from natural causes very soon in any case. Ser Barristan Selmy should not have been fighting anything except a cold.

I hope she stroked the place where Grey Worm's balls were in the deleted scenes.

Perpetuating the weird romance between Grey Worm and Dany's slave only reminded me how little love is on Game of Thrones. Not one single person besides that eunuch is in love. Everyone I know in the real world is actively in love; in the case of Donald Rumsfeld, love with three remarkably different women. But no one on Thrones can find this happiness at all. If I was David Benioff's boyfriend, I would be deeply afraid.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Something Must Change" - Novella (mp3)

"Sentences" - Novella (mp3)