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Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

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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Wednesday
Jul152009

In Which Wes Anderson Breaks Down His Perfect Mixtape For You Guys

the iTunes playlist: Wes Anderson

It is verifiably true that white people love Wes Anderson movies, they also love Wes Anderson. This midgety little auteur has come a long way since his magnificent debut feature, Bottle Rocket. Here is a brief guide to the cinema of Wes Anderson before we hand it over to him to discuss his musical taste.

Bottle Rocket, 1996: genius-level debut, cinematography and plot aren't all there, Luke Wilson's Orientalism plot a little racist, but Owen makes himself a supastar and that's all you can really ask for, B+

Rushmore, 1999: critics initially balked at its overlong third act, no movie has ever been more in love with itself, Schwartzman deserved best actor, like most Anderson movies it grows on you like a fungus, there will never be another, A+

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The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001: so bizarre and sprawling it's hard to digest, has the spirit of six different movies, another botched third act, and yet there's so much to love, from buckley to danny glover's performance, to owen wilson's arc, to luke wilson's suicide attempt, a classic, A

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004: love letter to Jacques Cousteau, Murray is again terrific, long-lost son plot is a half-baked, pregnant Cate turns us on, total male perspective a la Darjeeling, best plot consistency, best set design, there's too much to savor here, watch it again and see what I mean, A-

The Darjeeling Limited, 2007: Smaller canvas, Adrien Brody is terrible, Schwartzman adds nothing, you can't even watch Owen, setting and Orientalism are off-putting, great Angelica performance in cameo, meandering at times, worst script so far, an entertaining enough misstep, don't watch Hotel Chevalier if you value your life, C+

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from here:

O: Do you ever hear a song and think, “I have to have that in a movie?”

WA: Yeah, I do all the time.

O: What’s an example of that, a case where a song actually made it in?

WA: Every single song that’s in Rushmore.

"The Longest Time" - Billy Joel (mp3)

My brothers and I would perform this song in the family living room to great effect. Thankfully, there were no cameras running.

"When I Live My Dream" - David Bowie (mp3)

In its original version.

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life aquatic script

What finally sparked the making of this movie after 14 years of it staying in your head?

I wrote a little short story when I was in college. It wasn't even a short story, it was like one paragraph that was just a description of this one character and Anjelica's character and the ship, The Belafonte, and just the setting. So, I had that but I didn't mean for it to be a movie. I was just trying to write a story and it never really got any further. It was actually Owen Wilson who kept bringing it up from time-to-time over the years and kept reminding me about it and got me into thinking about it some more. I remember one day on The Royal Tenenbaums seeing Anjelica and Bill Murray on the set together. All they had together was about 30 seconds but I felt there was a great rapport between the two of them that would be worth exploring.

"Summer Day" - Coconut Records ft. Zooey Deschanel (mp3)

Classic Coconut Records. A beautiful duet.

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"The First Cut Is The Deepest" - Buva (mp3)

We were very lucky to be able to use two great Cat Stevens songs in Rushmore. Here is a particular favorite of Randy Poster's (music supervisor on The Darjeeling Limited) from early in Stevens' career.

"Dishes" - Pulp (mp3)

Jarvis Cocker is in my mind one of the most original voices and creative thinkers in these parts. He is not Jesus, but he has the same initials.

"Tive Razao" - Seu Jorge

Until Seu Jorge releases his next record, we have to be happy with what we can find on iTunes. This is one of his best.

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"Gates of Steel (live Devo cover)" - Yo La Tengo (mp3)

Mark Mothersbaugh has created all the original music for my movies. This is one of my favorite Devo songs.

"Alec Eiffel" - The Pixies (mp3)

I believe this song is about an architect.

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"The Well and the Lighthouse" - Arcade Fire (mp3)

I have jumped on the bandwagon.

"Rally" - Phoenix

While I have a known affinity for the music of the British Invasion, Phoenix makes a very strong argument for the oncoming French one.

"Yeah!" - Horace Silver

There is a cue in Bottle Rocket that Mark Mothersbaugh wrote called 'No Jazz' (this was an edict from the studio). Horace Silver argues for the other side.

"Sweet Thing" - Van Morrison

From one of the most enduring albums of recorded music, this song always overwhelms me. How many times I played it when I should have been doing my homework...

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"Ceremony" - New Order (mp3)

We almost used this in The Life Aquatic, and sometimes when the wind is full I wish we did.

Anderson's next film is The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

wes8.jpg

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You can find Ellen Page's iTunes playlist here.

Wednesday
Jul152009

In Which Batman and Superman Die More Impressively Than Usual

Death of an Idea

by MARCO SPARKS

He speaks in your voice, American, and there’s a shine in his eye that’s halfway hopeful.

—Don Delillo, Underworld

One of our favorite sons of the comic book world, Captain America, is dead, betrayed by the woman he loves after surrendering to the forces of governmental control he fought against in a civil war of super heroes just to promote peace in a country that needs their figurehead to show them stability and the courage to go on.

That's one of the nerdiest sentences ever birthed into the world, but even the mainstream media got involved in reporting how Captain America died on the steps of some fine institution of American Justice.

This is huge news for both the geeks and cultural theorists who share an interest in the sequential art medium, which dates back to Greek friezes, Roman columns advertising the nearest orgy, Egyptian hieroglyphs, and even the cave art of the earliest humans. Present in the beginnings of storytelling and the creation of lasting myths, comics are still such an important part of our continuing American mythemes.

But the point remains, Captain America is dead, replaced in the role by his former sidekick, a nastier, deadlier incarnation. A man for our times? Perhaps so we were lead to believe, though Steve Rogers, the original Captain America is already slowly making his return, Billy Pilgrim-style.

Meanwhile, over at Marvel's Distinguished Competition, we still have what is arguably America's other best known comic book son: Superman.

Superman's constantly updated but never fully changed origin has all the things we Americans want out of our modern day myths: alien apocalypses, rocketships, messianic infants with Christ-like or at least Moses-like potential, orphans, childless farmer couples, and someone of a tiny stature who can lift a car over their head to the shock and awe of others.

The Man Of Steel is probably the most quintessentially American hero, the immigrant who comes to our shores and not only achieves the American dream, but embodies it. And yet, he's such a cookie cutter boy scout, a 'my way or the highway' douchebag. Is it really possible that all his stories haven't been told yet? And as far as his villains are concerned, how many different colors can there be in the Kryptonite spectrum?

Millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, despite having a fortune handed to him by the death of his parents (and what is more American than that?), is the ultimate self made man. I would say that any version of Batman, except the ridiculous Adam West one, is a mythic figure we need in this time or any other.

A guy dressed in black leather, a cape, and pointy ears, running over the rooftops of our American Gotham and doling out fear and punishment to the criminals that are unlucky enough to be found by him? That's awesome. But most importantly, the caped crusader is a man who's crafted his fully human body into a weapon, with his brain perhaps being the biggest muscle he can flex. That's the kind of super hero I want my kids going crazy over when it comes to merchandising.

There's just one catch, though. The Dark Knight, though in the middle of a successful movie relaunch (and you have to love that while no American or anyone born outside the British Isles will ever play James Bond or Doctor Who or any of Albion's other favorite creatures, we yanks have no problem absorbing a chameleon-like Welshman into the fold to play one of our modern pop culture Gods), is dead.

He sacrificed himself to save nothing so small as the entire multiverse itself from a threat so serious and so campy that it actually calls itself Darkseid (even when it still wears that old wonderful Jack Kirby super villain kilts and thigh high boots).

It happened recently in Final Crisis, third in a trilogy of universe and continuity smashing event miniseries (though usually used as fix it measures by DC comics to fix where stories have gone wrong), written by Grant Morrison, who may be just as insane as he is both brilliant and Scottish, and with art by J.G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, and Doug Mahnke. The idea is not a totally shocking one since DC did kill off Superman in the 90s and even broke Batman's back around the same time, forcing him to be replaced in the role, and just like those ventures, Bruce Wayne will eventually be back in the role (once he, in a story too long to share here, defeats the timestream to return to the present, Lost-style).

But for now the myth gets a facelift, and is reborn as something relevant and viable to our day and age. Batman's original sidekick, child trapeze artist Dick Grayson, who was the little bird in "Batman and Robin" before becoming his own hero called Nightwing, will inhabit the cowl and black leather. And the illegitimate son of Wayne, a snot nosed and possibly murderous kid wonderfully named Damian, will become the new Robin. Even in the world of super heroes, nepotism is king. This Recording's own Dick Cheney can tell you better than anyone: it's either about who you know, who you're related to, or who you're fucking.


The super spandex American dream is taking a breather and we're living in the age of replacement heroes. The morality playbook of the old comics creators who created American myth on the cavewalls by firelight has changed, no longer focusing on the trendsetters and trailblazers, but on those pick up the torch in their steed, the analogues trying to keep the world safe until the originals return. But the message is still hopeful...

No matter how dark it may get, as they say, the fire does not go out.

Marco Sparks is a contributor to This Recording. He blogs here, and tumbls here.

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"Vaccine" - Mew (mp3)

"Hawaii" - Mew (mp3)

"Tricks" - Mew (mp3)

 

Tuesday
Jul142009

In Which Molly Young Recalls A Seminal Moment From Her Youth

Inflatable

by MOLLY YOUNG

A seminal moment in my youth (pronounce it "yoot") centered around a set of inflatable tulips. Tulips made of beach ball material, weighted at bottom to stand upright when inflated from a nozzle at the base. Tulips from the dEliA*s room decor supplement that arrived one day with the catalog — a poster-sized insert that could be unfolded to reveal model bedrooms made of purchasable components.

The money for the tulips must have been saved-up allowance. I didn't have the skills to generate income in 5th or 6th grade like some kids do. It's not that I wasn't clever enough to come up with schemes; I just didn't connect the scheming with the pleasures of spending money, so there was little motivation to sell cookies or walk dogs.

The tulips cost $20 for a set of four, I believe. Plus $4.95 shipping and handling. In the dEliA*S catalog they were displayed in a room conceptualized to look like a suburban neighborhood: there was a picket fence, astroturf, and lots of sherbet-colored bedding. Kids have a mind for objects. They will often zero in on desirable or interesting objects and focus on these to the explosion of the overall environment. Remember the lily pads in Frogger, the molasses cattails in Candyland, the battleship playing piece in Monopoly? Everyone will have his own memories of object fetish, whether the source be TV, videogame, illustration or movie. The tulips fell into this category.

It was an age of clothing catalogs. dEliA*s was number one, followed by Alloy, MoXie Girl and others that advertised in the back of Seventeen. Receiving a free catalog felt almost like a gift, and I subscribed to every one. Ordering an item involved saving up money and then appealing to Dad to let me use his credit card and repay him in cash. "And the name on the card?" a salesperson inevitably asked when I called to place an order. "David Klein," I said. "It's my dad." There was always a small worry that this would ring suspicious and I'd be barred from ordering.

I ordered the tulips from the suburban-concept model bedroom. The tulips arrived 7 to 10 days later in an envelope, not a box. Very disappointing. Insensibly (but understandably) I'd imagined them being shipped already inflated, as they were in the picture. They had a great plasticky smell: the smell of newness. A smell richer than my dad's Land's End cashmere sweaters. Here, in these vinyl tulips, was luxury. I could not have cared less for real tulips — there was a city park a few blocks away filled with flowers. Flowers were everywhere.

I brought the tulips to my room and blew them up. Our house faced west and my room received afternoon light; the blinds were white and wooden and did not approximate but suggested picket fencing. The carpet was blue, not astroturf, but close enough. Lined up beneath the windows, the tulips satisfied every hope invested in them.

It would be interesting, here, to find a way of quantifying past excitement. Or experiencing it in a way more vivid than recollection. At any rate, I stayed in my room a long time to be near the tulips, and when I went down to dinner it produced the unexpectedly greater thrill of allowing a return to the tulips, a kind of manufactured surprise when I opened the door to find them standing there.

It can't have been the first time I found satisfaction in tinkering with my environment, but this is how I remember it. Acquisitions followed: an inflatable chair (uncongenial), a yellow faux-fur bedspread with denim lining (still have it), sherbet-colored sheets from dEliA*s. The tulips are gone. Like most crucial tokens of childhood, their importance is understood only in hindsight. Having enjoyed them so intensely for a year or two, it was inevitable that they be discarded with equal vigor. A Goodwill store around the corner from our house made it particularly easy to shed unwanted items, and off they went. I wonder if my parents even remember them.

Molly Young is the senior contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here.

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"Holding Out For A Hero" - Doveman (mp3)

"Let's Hear It For The Boy" - Doveman (mp3)

"Dancing in the Sheets" - Doveman (mp3)

"I'm Free (Heaven Helps The Man)" - Doveman (mp3)

"Somebody's Eyes" - Doveman (mp3)

"The Girl Gets Around" - Doveman (mp3)

"Never" - Doveman (mp3)