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Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail)

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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Monday
Jun012009

In Which Birds Flying High You Know How She Feels

Tough-Looking Female

by ELISABETH REINKORDT

The portentous opening shots of trains in Wendy & Lucy leave no doubt exactly where Wendy Carroll (Michelle Williams) is headed, but the hour and twenty minutes we spend with her over the few days she spends in an unnamed Oregon town are no less entrancing.

(Un)necessary brief plot synopsis: A 20-something woman named Wendy is en route from Indiana with her dog Lucy in search of seasonal cannery work in Alaska. She's got short hair, wears a blue hoodie, western shirt & cut-off corduroy shorts, drives an '88 Honda Accord, and it breaks down in a town in Oregon. This is one of a few things that do not go well and leave a major dent in the sum at the bottom of the page in the meticulously kept notebook in which she tracks her dwindling finances.


Oh, the beauty of film! Shot on Super-16, Wendy & Lucy is full of impeccable colors, especially in forest scenes, gorgeously done night scenes full of all the grain that results from an optical blow-up to 35mm, and depth of field simply not possible on video.

As Lucy (played by Reichardt's dog) makes friends with a group of crust-punk types around a bonfire and Wendy follows to retrieve her, Reichardt's camera seems to become perspectival, focussing from face to face as if Wendy is gauging trustworthiness.

It is the fact that this is a female eye (lens) tracing the path of the female protagonist's eye that makes this scene work; were the camera to float away from the person speaking (a drifter played by Will Oldham) to other faces around the bonfire -- including lingering shots on the only other and very tough-looking female of the group -- without the distinct sense that we are engaged in the self-aware nature of Wendy's position as a solo female traveler, this would appear a sloppily edited sequence. In a far more dramatic echoing of the sense in this scene later in the film, I began to think that I had never seen such material shot in that manner before.

There are simply so few women making films that it is hard to make a compelling case that the gaze of the female director is different, but this film makes solid strides in that direction.

Furthering its minimalism, the film eschews a score, opting instead for a repeated theme -- composed by Oldham and played slighlty amplified -- of Wendy humming. The overt pathos of dramatic orchestral elements would ruin the pain we feel, slowly & experientially, for Wendy's predicament. Reichardt lets moments happen. Birds fly by, high in the air, and it is clear from the focus-pulling that this was a shot taken because it just happened. It is downright beautiful.


Reichardt is a gifted, principled director. (The full text of a fantastic interview done by Slant Magazine is worth the read.) A professor at Bard College, she gives solid pushback when the interviewers begin asking questions about how her filmmaking might change with the onset of "success."


Slant: You've talked before about wanting to continue working at these sensationally low-budget levels. Isn't that something filmmakers tend to say and then disregard once they meet with a certain level of success?

KR: Well, what's your definition of success? I find that to be a fucking annoying question, I have to say.

Slant: Why is that?

KR: This constant implication that success has one picture is so limited—and talk about American! I'm constantly asked this, as if teaching is some loser profession, or an uninteresting place to be. I've been out in L.A. for five days with my film, just doing stuff that I've never done before, press junkets and stuff, and I'm like—this is it? This is what everybody thinks is the most special fucking thing on the planet? Are you kidding me? It melts your brain. It's really hard to stay small, actually. That I've been able to make these last two films without anybody paying any fucking attention and just go off and have complete artistic freedom—what are you gonna trade that for? What do you consider success, since you're asking me that question?

Slant: I think I was just suggesting that if you were to raise more, you'd probably spend it wisely. There's no discernable difference between the scale of your films and a Woody Allen film, but he can spend 20 million and the money buys access to more filmmaking tools and sought-after actors and so forth.

KR: Give me an example of a woman who can do that.

Slant: A woman who can insist on creative control and still raise 20 million?

KR: Yes.

Slant: I can't name any, but I have a reason why I can't.

KR: I have a reason too—there aren't any! Okay, forget about 20 million. Name a woman at the level of Gus Van Sant or Todd Haynes. Give me a female example of that.

Slant: Allison Anders. In 1996. I can't think of any on the spot, but in that category I know there are some.

KR: And she wasn't getting 20 million, by the way. She was living off a grant. Please. The idea that we're struggling to think of one that might have existed at some point—maybe that's why that question pisses me off. I'll also say that I can't think of a woman who has this benefit either: Lars von Trier and Terrence Malick can put out films and not have to go out and talk about them. If I want to think about what real success would be, it would be to be able to make a film without anyone breathing down my back and then not have to go out and talk about the film after you've gone to great lengths in your film to not over-explain everything. To not have to go out, that would be true success, but then you're just screwing over your distributor or your investors.

Amen.

Elisabeth Reinkordt is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a filmmaker living in Nebraska, and she writes here.

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"It's Always Sunday Around Here" - Lacrosse (mp3)

"We Are Kids" - Lacrosse (mp3)

"Song in the Morning" - Lacrosse (mp3) highly recommended

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Sunday
May312009

In Which We Decipher The Consequences of Lady Detecting

Lady Detectives of the 2009 Period

by ALEX CARNEVALE

There has never really been a series like The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, and I doubt there will be in the ensuing years. Perhaps the show will be of such interest to Africa that it will be profitable, but it seems unlikely that such a Western take on life there would work artistically. Really, the show is for the English speaking world, and no matter where it is actually filmed or written, it is a show about how the West views Africa.

That's not a bad thing. It is better we address our perceptions of other races and people directly; it is a hell of a lot better than excluding them or relegating them to sidekick, ancillary roles.

Africa is a terrific setting to disabuse people of such notions, because it explodes our American perceptions of what 'black' is, and shows us a range of characters, some good, some bad. Sure, the stereotypes still flow, but their effect is deadened among such variety.

Botswana was the setting of Alexander McCall Smith's mediocre series of books upon which the movie-length pilot, directed by the deceased legend Anthony Minghella, and the ensuing series is based. But as bleh as the books were, there was always the opportunity for more. The characters and setting offer a multitude of possible stories, whose ultimate resolutions could offer real surprise in their outcomes.

Unfortunately the series isn't as devoted in tweaking our perceptions of the mystery genre as it might be, but that's OK. The real draw are the deep characters and relationships that are unique both to Africa and the West.

Start with the show's protagonist Precious, portrayed by Jill Scott.

The erstwhile R&B singer has never looked better. She's one of the hottest women on television, and since her character Precious is single, the romantic interplay on the show is one of its most exciting elements. Camryn Manheim and Christina Hendricks just get raped on office floors for their trouble, but the fearless Precious should be able to have a much more exciting (and safe) sex life through the course of this show.

The premise is very simple, since the show's creators obviously felt the Botswana setting was enough to get the show's viewers acclimated to. Precious' inspiration, her dear old Daddy, passes away and gives her a substantial number of cows that she sells to move to the city and open a private detective agency.

Her backstory prominently features being raped by her ex-husband and losing her child, so she doesn't exactly escape the curse of the Big Boned, but she's strong as hell.

Precious' morals are a little differently constructed than the majority of TV protagonists. She sometimes lets bad people off the hook and squashes others like bugs without much difference in  their respective moral culpability. It is what substitutes for a different way of thinking in a strange place.

The difficult climate and openness to invaders has turned the beginnings of human civilization into a hard place with a unknown future.You can't help feeling that this is how the West views Africa - constantly unable to decide whether it is best closely monitored or left alone.

Bush gave more money to Africa than Clinton, and we can suspect that our current president, having ancestry in the region, may cause still more money to be spent. Whether this is good or bad is hard to know, but the memories of our inaction in the Sudan still make all people of conscience tremble. Leading intellectuals on both sides of the aisle had trouble calling for action in the dual genocidal cleansing grounds of Kosovo and the Sudan, and while you can respect their lack of appetite to send American troops into places they don't fully understand, it was our moral obligation and duty to prevent the slaughter of innocents.

jill scott & anthony minghellaAlthough this choice is now behind us, it's unlikely that we will not be forced to face it again. It is interesting to watch this show, slanted as it is, and think of what might have been worth saving, and what a more powerful interventionist agenda could have accomplished. The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency is a rough allegory for the potential success of such policy-making.

The Botswana of The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency is in some ways modern and prosperous, but in other ways it lacks a rule of law we take for granted here in the States. Coming from a decrepit small village to the busier metropolis, Precious sticks out like a round thumb. She finds herself hiring the number one graduate of the local secretarial school, puts off the sloppy advances of a local mechanic, and generally makes her way in the world.

The world is Botswana, a Democratic republic with a strong government whose behavior with respect to the local diamond industry has been a model for other nations with similar resources. Still, for the Western observer, Botswana is a stark place, more brush and dirt, landlocked and dry to the touch. They call everyone by sweet familiars, and they bake in the heat. It is no wonder that life here was harder for its residents, warm as it is.

The cars, the dress, and the landscape is more familiar than foreign. It is Africa remade as the United States of the 1960s, in fact: a hilarious gay friend, an old, rattling car, a floral printed shirt. It is difficult to fashion a mystery in the post-information age, but information in the Botswana (of this show at least) is harder to come by.

Parts of the show are conventional, even boringly so, but other parts offer a freshness of vision. There is a simple delight in watching a mechanic's mischievous employees dance around before singing him Happy Birthday, or the agency's youngest employee, Wellington, scampering around to hand out fliers. It is a part of the message: that it is about living together, or dying alone.

Botswana is a nice model, and a safer place than most in the third world. The challenges that less fortunate peoples face in Africa are numerous, and the problems of disease and malnutrition in the people, and disease and corruption in the government loom large. Ultimately, this is a place in the world where we can make a difference by helping citizens rather than government. And that is sort of the point of any well-meaning detective agency, isn't it?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbles it all here.

"Atlantis to Interzone (Black Sessions version)" - Klaxons (mp3)

"The Bouncer (Black Sessions version)" - Klaxons (mp3)

"Two Receivers (Black Sessions version)" - Klaxons (mp3)

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Sunday
May312009

In Which This Is One Way To Stay Alone

How To Be Single

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Gems culled from the comments on this Jezebel post:

Don't show me your hair plug scars on a first date.

Don't tell me how many girls you fucked on your job as night manager at a hotel.

Do not ask my friend who has an artificial eye, and it's somewhat obvious, "What the hell is wrong with your eye?"

Do not say, "I kind of hate feminists."

A moonlit walk on the promenade is not the time to share your thoughts on the Holocaust being a hoax. In fact, there is no time for that ever ever ever.

Don't tell me you shave your chest and legs because "I'm a serious cyclist" and then have me feel your stubble.

Do not tell me, within five minutes of meeting me at a party, that you get 4 times as large when aroused.

Don't say, "I know women like it when men are forward. I want to take you home and fuck you." when I'm obviously not interested.

Do not tell me that you share a bed with your ex-girlfriend, whom you live with, and that your current girlfriend doesn't know.

Do not come up to me in a bookstore and tell me I have beautiful feet and you would like to photograph them.

Do not start reading the newspaper during the first date.

When hitting on someone of a different race, it's really fucking inappropriate to insist that sleeping together is really our duty, because the mixed babies would be so beautiful.

Do not ask me to tell you about my "hot lesbian encounters" when you find out I went to a women's college.

Do not say "Can I kiss you?" at all. It's creepy and it should be pretty obvious if it's okay. If you try and it's not okay I will dodge, no harm done.

Do not tell me what works on Katie. As in, "I don't know why you're not coming, it takes like two minutes with Katie."

When curious about my ethicity, do not phrase the question as "So what are you?"

Don't sit at a table full of hot women and after 5 shots of Patrón announce that you like single mothers because they're "grateful"

Do not assume because I smile and am nice to you in the workplace that I would be amenable to you accosting me in the hallway and trying to make-out. I WILL kick you in the shins AND tell our boss.

Don't tell me you never see your wife anymore.

Don't try to get me to have sex with you because you're a 22 year old virgin. Or at least, don't give me that reason.

Don't ask if my friend is hot every time I mention a friend.

At a work conference, don't show up at my hotel room door in the middle of the night with a Coleman lunch cooler full of Bud Light and ask if I want to "talk."

And absolutely under no circumstances, when I say you look familiar, do you reply you must have met me when you liked black girls.

Do not wait a full 24 hours to tell me the condom broke. Tick tock, buddy!

Don't tell me you fantasized about killing your brother as a child

Do not invite me up for a drink (while I'm waiting for a cab) and, after I tell you we aren't going to have sex, say "Oh, that isn't really how I do things."

Don't talk to me for forty minutes and then ask if my friend is single.

Do not tell me how much you miss your ex-girlfriend, but you're ready to move on with whomever because you want to be married within a year.

Don't ask me if it's a weave (it isn't). Don't insist I'm lying and ask to inspect my scalp as proof. When you discover it's really my hair, don't tell me I must be mixed to "be so dark with such good hair." In fact, don't ever use the term "good hair."

Don't ever bring me to your parents' house on the first date, where your mom will tell me that I'm going to be a great girlfriend, and then make me trudge the snow in non-snow appropriate shoes through an apple orchard to meet your father.

Do not tell me after spending the night making out that I was drunk enough that you could have raped me.

Don't tell me I could make a lot of money stripping and then rock back on your heels and smile proudly at me like you just gave me a huge compliment.

Don't tell me you usually don't date girls like me but "what the hell"

Do not invite me back to your apartment and then try to slow dance with me to Lady In Red

Don't tell me over beers that you're looking for a "cuddle buddy". Especially don't then tell me it's not about sex, you really just like to cuddle.

If we are at a party don't say, "You look really good, if I didn't just break up with you I'd hit on you."

Don't call your ex-girlfriend to tell her that you've "got a stone fox now" and "you're over her for real this time", then hang up, start crying, collect yourself, and spend the rest of the evening rhapsodizing about how wonderful she was. I can't imagine why she would dump a gem like you.

Don't ask to take a picture of me so you can put it in your blog. The answer is no.

After telling me you're a plastic surgeon, refrain from telling me my button nose is cute but I "should really lengthen it to sex up my face." and offer your services.

It won't work for you to say to me and another friend of mine, who is pretty but overweight, "I wish I could put your head on her body."

"You really look Jewish," is not a good pick up line regardless of whether I am or am not.

Don't inform me, while we are naked in your bed, that your usual "moves" won't work because I'm bigger than the other girls you've fucked.

Don't practically beg me to go to a wedding with you three months down the road on our first date. Desperate and creepy.

When I'm holding my newborn baby, don't talk about how much you love the taste of breast milk--especially when you're married to my good friend.

Don't ever say, "GIRL DRAMA!" when I'm telling you about a problem I'm having with a female friend.

Don't tell me, a tall blonde woman of northern European descent, that you are really, really into Asian woman and are on lots of websites catering to such.

Don't say, "everyone always thinks I'm gay".

Don't complain at length that your dog shits all over your house because you can't figure out how to train it, and then ask me back to your place.

Don't troll Craigslist looking for someone to have a threesome with, find someone, and give her MY NAME AND NUMBER without even telling me! I got a call last week from some woman who said my bf told her we were looking to have a threesome. I was like WTF?

Don't say "You look like a model from the side, but from the front you have birthing hips."

Don't attempt to have sex with me while pretending I'm someone else. Yes, I can tell.

Please, please do not tell the girl working at the bagel shop (me), "I hope you fuck better than you make that sandwich." Secondly, it's not a sandwich, its a bagel. Fuck.

Don't wake me up in the youth hostel to let me know I can circumsize you with my Swiss Army knife if I'd screw you afterwards.

Don't offer to share a cab home and then say there is something important for me to see in your apartment and then have it turn out that it's actually your friend's apartment and you just live in a weird, closet-type area and then try to read me a bunch of bad, depressing poetry when I'm trying to leave while telling me that you "wrote it about me and didn't even know it" and then leave a bird skeleton in a tin box outside my apartment several days later with a note: thinking of you.

Don't tell me you love me, commit to a monogamous relationship, have a discussion about not using condoms, pay for birth control pills, and then let me find out that during the ENTIRE duration of our relationship you've been fucking random men, women and trannies from craigslist (literally anyone who would have sex with you) and then coming home and having unprotected sex with me.

Don't suggest the possibility of us giving each other enemas someday soon.

Do not tell my friends when you meet them how you are going to get me pregnant. When we have sex do not tell me you are trying to get me pregnant and it's okay because your mom will raise it

Don't tell me that your baby momma is only giving you drama because she's having "dick withdrawals", 'cuz chances are, you're still fucking her.

When in the middle of a fun, flirty conversation, don't lean in and say, "it's ok, I like small tits!"

Don't show up to our first date an hour late because you had to take a shower before you came here because you were helping a friend move, then wait a minute before admitting it was actually your ex-wife. Then wait ANOTHER minute and admit she's not actually your ex-wife yet.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls here.

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"Smiling At Strangers On Trains" - Frank Turner (mp3)

"The Outdoor Type" - Frank Turner (mp3)

"The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" - Frank Turner (mp3) highly recommended

"Imperfect Tense" - Frank Turner (mp3)