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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Durga Chew-Bose
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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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Wednesday
Oct012014

In Which We Give You The Consultation Of Your Lifetime

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.

Hi,

I have been friends with a guy I will call Alan for a few years. We both play music but never play together (different styles); still we have kept up with each other over the years.

We have good chemistry when hanging out one-on-one, and I've always enjoyed it whenever that happens. Alan's made it clear that he would be open to something more, but I am concerned that things might get competitive with both of us sharing similar goals. The few times that it has come up, arguments have tended to ensue. Am I right to be wary of conflict?

Bess M.

Dear Bess,

No happy relationship was ever described by the words, "we fight a lot about about melodies." With that said, ground rules for a relationship can accomplish a lot, just as the security of a prenup can assuage the mind of the more financially sucessful party.

Here are some ground rules to keep in mind considering your situation:

1) What kind of music does he play? House? Cool.

2) What are his thoughts on Savage Garden? Neutral. Cool.

3) How well does he know the lyrics to "Girlfriend in a Coma"?

4) Did he seem really low-key and collected when he found out that Thom Yorke unexpectedly released an album? Great.

That should do it. Tread carefully.

Hi,

I go out with a group of friends who always order wine at every meal. At first I didn't mind not being the only one drinking, but our dinnertime conversations are becoming progressively sloppier and it makes the evening something of an ordeal. 

Is there any way to improve these circumstances without coming off as a killjoy?

Maureen A.

Dear Maureen,

Wine, or sad juice as it is called through the greater Pennsylvania area, was created for Europeans who have less problems and anxieties than Americans. Wine is highly addictive: some experts believe it is even more compulsive than cocaine.

Your friends are therefore ensconced in the saucy, grapey grip that won't let go. The only way to free them from their urges is to take things even more thoroughly in the messed up direction, until the entire group can barely wake up the next morning. Next time y'all meet up at dinner, you can meekly ask for a dry evening. It will be that day that each of your liquored-up friends will understand one of life's most important lessons: sobriety can, at times, be as exciting as chardonnay.

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

"Maid Lamenting" - Sam Amidon (mp3)

"Your Lone Journey" - Sam Amidon (mp3)

 

Tuesday
Sep302014

In Which We Believe That God Has Spoken Directly To Ron Perlman

His Left Hand

by DICK CHENEY

Ron Perlman's goatee looks like a hand covering his mouth. He is left handed, so it is his left hand that he raises in a public fountain where the police find him, speaking in tongues. In the opening scene of Hand of God, his pert body receives enlightenment from his God, a traditional beginning to many Bible stories. Executive producer Marc Forster's Amazon pilot purports to make fun of this tale. Hand of God is a roundly pessimistic take on this inspiring yarn.

You see, Perlman's character is from Texas, which means he is probably a bad person. Ron's wrinkles portray a judge named Pernell who used to give everyone maximum sentences - before God spoke to him. 

I was recently told by someone that Barack Obama is an atheist, which I have to admit surprised me. If someone made me president, I'd be sure think God wanted good things for me, and was probably planning for me to enter into a long term relationship with a woman completely different from my wife in every way, say, a prime minister of another country.

Dana Delany plays Ron's wife. They are rarely in the same frame together, because it is really hard to believe the two are a couple. Ron has sex with an African-American prostitute in his judge's chambers, but then he thinks better of this act. He's been enlightened, and having sex with a woman for money is wrong. The woman has to hear her client say, "I think we should just talk from now on." Ron seems sad to do it, but he can't cheat on his wife anymore.

European artists like Forster are obsessed with Westerns, which was kind of a sideways version of the south. Now they've turned their back on people like Pernell. Unfortunately, I can think of no redeeming quality of such a person, either. Perlman's character degrades everything around him in pursuit of God's wishes, which does not seem so terrible in theory, but is in practice devastating.

Pernell's daughter marries a Jewish woman who wants to take him off life support after he tries to kill himself, after watching his wife raped by a police officer. (This is what Forster thinks law-abiding citizens of America do with their time.) Pernell disobeys her wishes and keeps his son alive, believing the young man can communicate with him, using the power of the Lord, who the rapist is.

Pernell's fellow churchgoers include men and women of color. Pernell finds he relates to them better than the other people in his life, who have only a cursory connection to the Lord. 

That people who believe in God go against his principles is not a contradiction in terms. Ron turns ugliness into its own farcial weaponry on those who understimate him. Whatever gruff charm he has left is kind of like the final snarl of a working hound. 

Austin, TX makes for a flaccid setting, probably because the show is not shot there and because Forster knows nothing of whatever charm might be had in the city. Hand of God does not know whether to condemn belief or consider it a cause roughly on the same level as justice. It is as mixed up as its protagonist.

As bad as the Amazon-funded Hand of God is, it should have been a lot campier, with Perlman in gothic robes and a subplot about Dana Delany's addiction to drugs. Camp really needs to come back; where is Wayne Koestenbaum when we actually need him for once?

This past week was saved by a female performance that will echo through the eons. Kristin Connelly's performance as the wife of Harry Houdini had to be seen to be believed. I invited a lot of my friends over to watch this woman. She was incandescent:

This is what she wore right when the doctor tells her Houdini isn't going to make it. I mean the costume design on this thing was the most moving part of the magician's journey. There's also a moment where she screams at Houdini, why did I marry a Jew? The entire story is quite dramatic. It's weird that Kristen Connolly and Ellie Kemper are two different people, and not twins.

There's a really odd scene in Houdini where Houdini kisses his mother on the lips. It turns out to be the smooch of death, because I guess she died when he went on tour in Europe. The History Channel really brought it this time. I wonder if there was actually a newspaper that said this:

The paper would probably looks authentic, were it not for the motto, "All the News That's Fit To Print." I guess the inaccuracy would be forgivable, I mean William Randolph Hearst was not that big of a dick, and Aladdin was actually a wonderfully effective thief.

Kristen Connolly's effortless line readings were the highlight of this ten-cent production, but Adrien Brody was not terrible himself. His hair was electric, and he made Houdini seem very condescending and obsessive. The actors who played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife were also excellent:

Campy biopics haven't been this impressive since the Celine Dion biopic with Joe Pantaliano. If you have a chance, treat yourself to that gem. I think the TV Guide network airs it every Kwanzaa.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. Visit our mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"Holloway (Hey Love)" - Wildcat! Wildcat! (mp3)

"Garden Greys" - Wildcat! Wildcat! (mp3)

Monday
Sep292014

In Which Her Mistake Was Waiting Six Episodes

Resemblances

by KARA VANDERBIJL

Just like that, it’s time to bid adieu to Outlander -- at least until April, when the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s beloved novel will return to screens with its first season’s final eight episodes. Seriously, whoever created mid-season breaks needs to be taken out and flogged. While that’s happening, let’s take a look at a few things we’ve learned from the show over the past eight weeks:

1

Explaining this story to people who haven’t heard of it never gets easier. Eventually the only solution is to dish up a healthy serving of black pudding, sit them in front of the telly, and make them watch it.

2

Or else pass them a copy of Gabaldon’s book and watch them fall into spasms of delight when they realize there are SEVEN MORE IN THE SERIES.

3

Speaking of spasms, if a group of ancient stones starts whispering to you, your vacation is not going well and you need to leave.

4

Should you get sucked into the past via the aforementioned stones, don’t fret: your life is about to get a whole lot more exciting.

5

People pay good money to have experiences like yours, Claire. Haven’t you heard of living museums?

6

Just think: if you travel back to the past, you start a never-ending cycle wherein you never really cease to exist.

7

Don’t trust Redcoats.

8

If the captain of the Redcoats, who looks suspiciously like the husband you left behind in the future, starts confessing his sadism to you, this is not your cue to let your guard down.

9

This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey.

10

But it is a romance, so look alive, Claire!

11

When you have a completely unexplained but intense attraction to a perfect redhead who calls you by a cute nickname and wears a kilt, you need to do what God intended and jump his bones immediately. Don’t wait six episodes.

12

Then again, seven is the perfect number, isn’t it?

13

The wedding is pivotal, and not just because of its consummation. Every decision thereafter involves another person. Claire cannot escape through the stones anymore without facing the consequences. There are consequences, there is loss, on both sides now.

14

Outlander as a portrait of female desire.

15

Then again…

16

If you are a woman in the 18th century, you will narrowly escape rape in pretty much every episode.

17

By the end I wouldn’t have been surprised if Claire had just rolled her eyes and hiked up her skirts. “Let’s just get this over with.”

18

All in all, it has always been a drag to be a woman.

19

But that’s okay, because Jamie exists.

20

Behind every good woman is a well-written male character.

21

There are few greater male characters than ones who are written into existence by women who are obviously in love with them.

22

If you don’t believe me, read the books.

23

Scars are sexy.

24

Do NOT fuck with anybody whose last name is Randall.

25

If your name is Frank Randall, you’re boring but we still feel sorry for you. We’re sorry you’re boring. Somehow, despite being boring, you manage to be important, which probably wasn’t easy for Diana Gabaldon and certainly isn’t for Tobias Menzies, who plays you. He’s doing a great job, though.

26

Frank, your theme song is Fleetwood Mac’s “Secondhand News.”

27

Obviously casting Menzies as both Frank and his ancestor, Black Jack Randall, was a key move, if only because it gets us thinking about family resemblances, which aren’t just skin deep. Violence, abandonment, detachment, psychopathy… couldn’t they also be inherited?

28

The following things look comfortable: sheepskins, kilts, cloaks, Highland grass, those cozy knit caps all the guys seem to wear, not having to wear any panties under your skirts (!)

29

The following things do not look comfortable: corsets, any of the chairs, that weird roll thing Claire has to strap around her middle to make her ass look bigger underneath her skirts, saddles, putting a knife inside your boot, being flogged, wigs, those strips of cloth men had to tie around their necks for whatever reason, not having to wear any panties under your skirts

30

Everything else aside, ripping open a bodice seems pretty satisfying.

31

There are a lot of ancient euphemisms for sex and all of them are wonderful but they’re used in such distasteful situations that it’s hard to imagine asking anyone to grind your corn and have it sound even remotely inviting.

32

None of the food looks good.

33

Books aren’t just for smarts; they’re also for tickling the deep, abiding parts in all of us that want to fall in love. That want adventure, and risk, and a good, hot, long roll in the hay discarding 18th-century clothes. That want men who wear their kilts and scars with pride.

34

Romance is the only genre.

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording.