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Alex Carnevale

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose

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 Try Not To Make This More Than It Was

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 friend Sheila is getting married in January to a guy she met on an online dating website. I haven't spent much time with them as a couple, but from what I have seen they get along really well and he's a genuinely nice person who cares a lot about Sheila. With that said, I have only socialized with both of them a handful of times.

Sheila recently approached me and confessed a number of hesitations about the wedding. She is worried that she and her fiancee don't have enough in common, and wonders if she is moving a bit too fast. I told her it was just cold feet, but she wants to talk to me about it again soon and I feel like I need a better answer for her. Do I blindly push her towards the altar or give credence to her concerns?

Teresa T.

Dear Teresa,

I remember when I used to date online; like half my dates informed me with a straight face that they were taking improv classes.

Marriage is a serious commitment, but moreso for a man than a woman, because Halle Berry is one of only twenty-five women in the entire country to pay child support. But seriously, Sheila can always get an annulment, unless she actually believes the death do us part bullshit.

If she doesn't marry him, the relationship is pretty much over. There js no coming back from that, even if you explain to the groom that "you just need more time." Eminem was married once, and he seemed happier single. Some people are just afraid to be alone I guess.

I would lie to your friend and tell her everything will be fine. If it does work out, you will be the heroine who encouraged Sheila at her darkest moment. And if it doesn't work out, you can be damn sure she will blame him and not you.


My daughter recently became pregnant by her longtime boyfriend, Anthony. They decided that they should get married and had a bridal shower, bachelor party and a lovely wedding. The expense to our family was considerable, and even more so because my husband recently had to take a lower-paying job.

Last month I found out from my daughter that her and Anthony had not actually gotten legally married in this ceremony. When I confronted her about this lie, she blew me off and told me that "marriage means different things to different people." Am I right to be upset?

Louisa F.

Dear Louisa,

No. The American Wedding Industry exists to take money from vulnerable, naive individuals such as yourself. Did you know that in some cultures, such as those of the Incans, a married couple was required to administer blow jobs to everyone who showed up at their nuptials? A gift bag was also provided.

You gave a gift of your own free will. If it was conditional on something, you should not have given it. If it bothers you that much, ask for your money back. You won't get it, but everyone will know you're an insanely gullible person whose devotion to cultural norms will only be eradicated through shock therapy or divorce.

Lately, people have been asking me a lot, "How do I know when it is the right time to marry my partner?" The answer is twofold:

1) when you can't imagine life without them

2) you ask them if they want to watch Scorpion, and they say, "What's that?" or "No"

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.


"Whispers" - Tina Dico (mp3)

"You Don't Step Into Now" - Tina Dico (mp3)


In Which Laura Riding Was As Unbelievable In Day As Early Dawn

This is the first in a series.

An Indicated Other


Some people do not read poems because it embarrasses them to try to be as serious as the reading of poems demands.

After an affair with the poet Allen Tate, Laura Riding had made all the enemies in New York that she could stomach. Tate himself called her both "frighteningly intense" and "all right from the neck down." She moved to England at the age of twenty-five to avoid all these people.

"At the close of 1925," she wrote later, "after a period of uncertainty, I went abroad to live. I had found my American fellow-poets more concerned with making individualistic play upon the composition-habitudes of poetic tradition than with what concerned me: how to strike a personal accent in poetry that would be at once an authentic truth-compulsion, of universal force."

Born Laura Reichenthal, the only writing she carried with her would become her first manuscript, The Close Chaplet.

Robert Graves had been appointed, thanks to T.E. Lawrence, Professor of English Literature at the Royal Egyptian University in Cairo. He took Riding with his wife Nancy and their children to this new campus, housed in an unattractive area of the city and built industrially by a Belgian company.

Graves' marriage was already in trouble before Laura Riding ever set sail. She was thought of by Graves' family and friends as a nanny, and at first, Graves noted more than once, "things were wonderful." The man of the family benefitted from Riding's presence in all ways sexual and intellectual; the woman of the house found Laura a wonderful confidant who told her that men were idiots, none moreso than her husband. The children finally had the attention they required from three semi-doting adults.

Riding got along better with Nancy Graves than with her children. Nancy even loved the following lines, penned by her "intelligent nanny":

Mothering innocents to monsters
Not of fertility but fascination
In women.

They left because Graves was broke, a hospital had mistreated his son and caused the boy to lose hearing in one ear, and everyone hated Cairo. In order to solve the most easily fixable of these problems, T.E. Lawrence sent his friend a copy of his latest unpublished book, instructing him to sell it after reading.

In Riding he had met someone important, and having no other feasible role for her to enter in his life, he started to worship her. The two started writing together once the family moved to Islip. In Notting Hill Nancy agreed to an arrangement that would give her an Islip home all to herself and the children, and leave Graves and Riding to work peacefully in Notting Hill. Nancy was no innocent wallflower. She considered this development evidence of her "dis-marriage," and she could think of no person more likely to reform her husband than Laura Riding.

Graves' family eventually received news of the real situation, and were incensed when they learned that he would be spending Christmas with Riding alone in Vienna. They called the Jewish-American woman their son/brother was in love with "a German poet" and went to Austria to chaperone the affair. In order to ameliorate the situation, Robert Graves wrote to his father, who was to write in his own diary that he received "a really wonderful letter from Robert about the strange Trinity of friendship and love between him, Nancy and Laura"!

If his romantic life was in good order, Graves still had major money problems. He installed his wife more cheaply on a houseboat called the Ringrose, where she was acutely uncomfortable. Riding was the key in making everything all right. Her enthusiasm for work pushed them all forward, and if anyone was now the man of the house, it was Laura.

It was T.E. Lawrence, however, who saved the Trinity again. This time, he encouraged a London publisher to come out with a hagiography of him, entitled Lawrence and the Arabs, suitable for young boys. For the job Graves received £500, no small sum.

Things could not go on like this forever, and Laura sometimes chafed at gossip about her controlling nature and impact on Graves. The two started a press in order to expedite the publication of their own writing, and whenever her role in things was diminished by Graves' misogynist buddies, she lashed out. Later she would write

I am an indicated other.
Witness this common presence
Intelligible to the common mind.

One of Graves' friends would call Riding "a disagreeably self-centered person with a hard discontented face." Others were even less charitable. If his associates outwardly expressed any of this disatisfaction with his mistress, he would quickly excommunicate them. Robert Graves loved Laura passionately, but something was not quite right. He wrote, "I knew something absolutely frightful was going to happen, even though everything was fine at the time. I just knew."

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. Tune in for the second part of the Laura Riding story on Thursday.


This posture and this manner suit
Not that I have an ease in them
But that I have horror
And so stand well upright -
Lest, should I sit and, flesh-conversing, eat,
I choke upon a piece of my tongue-meat.

"Save Me" - Royksopp (mp3)

"I Had This Thing" - Royksopp (mp3)


In Which John Wick Loses His Best Friend

Super Cereal


John Wick
dir. Chad Stahelski
119 minutes

John Wick's wife Ellen Wick gives him a surprising gift after she dies. She makes sure that he can't travel or go out for any longer than a few hours by sending him an untrained beagle puppy. It is his first dog, and he names her Daisy "of course."

Because he doesn't know any better, he lets the puppy go on the bed and the furniture. I mean, he doesn't even crate train the thing, that is how clueless he is with dogs. He tells the dog he will get her some kibble, but he never actually does it; one gets the sense he's too cool for the vagaries of a pet store. Over time you get the sense that as his wife's illness worsened, she began to resent her husband's superior health. The first meal he gives the dog is cereal for fuck's sake.

I did the same thing to my german shepherd when he got into my quinoa.

Involved in these events is Theon Greyjoy. For some reason he kills John Wick's dog, earning the disapproval of Tina Fey's sleazy ex-boyfriend Dennis from 30 Rock, who plays the consigliere to a powerful crime lord that once employed Wick. "I once saw him kill three men in a bar with a Pilsner," explains Theon Greyjoy's father, the mob boss named Viggo (Michael Nyqvist).

I really wish I could have seen Keanu perform Hamlet, which he did in Manitoba. The gifs that came from that performance would have been astonishing. He almost shaved his head for the part, but he never does anything completely bald, much like how I never do anything completely with hair.

At least someone knows how to write for Theon Greyjoy.

"I keep asking why her," John Wick tells everyone, although he has killed a lot of people, so it seems like an odd question. Director Chad Stahelski rarely commits the cardinal sin of photographing the right, weird side of Keanu Reeves' face.

Wick has a series of restrained scenes with character actors after that. He moves into a New York hotel called the Continental. Everyone notices how John Wick has changed. His eyebrows, for example, are not as robust as they once were. During his downtime Keanu watches short iPhone movies he has recorded of his wife. She's like, "What are you looking at?" and he's like "You."

The Hannukah scene was unexpected but appreciated.

These scenes are a considerable relief because there is only one other woman in John Wick besides his wife, a female assassin named Perkins (Adrienne Palicki). Even though he has killed over 100 people looking for the guy who killed his dog, he lets her live.

But back to John Wick's eyebrows - they have that smoothed back look, like he's been in prison for too long and when he got out, he took the opportunity to dye them. Keanu Reeves is now 50 years old, do you really think that jet black is the natural color of his brows? He should look at maybe knitting them into a greasy weave?

A bunch of men execute her for daring to be a female hitman. This movie was sexist as fuck you guys ._.

It would be prudent to take the idea of a revenge movie in which the person seeking revenge has no visible emotions or enmity to its inevitable extreme. In John Wick 2 the puppy can come back and seek revenge on Theon Greyjoy/Reek, biting unceremoniously at the place where Theon's genitalia used to be. This would probably be a great deal more entertaining than John Wick, kind of like how the second Homeward Bound was better because Sinbad played a vaguely racist-looking dog.

At the end of John Wick the titular character, who we can presume is a homophobe because he has no gay friends, is reunited with a slightly different dog. Sure, it's not the beagle that his wife choose for him as her dying wish, but one bad dog is the same as another. "Let's go home," he says to the dog, by which time everyone else presumably left the theater to avoid watching any more of this piece of shit.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He has a lower rating than John Wick on Metacritic, which is a fucking travesty.

"Why didn't I take the blue pill?" etc

"Together" - London Bridges (mp3)

"My Heart" - London Bridges (mp3)