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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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Thursday
Apr232009

In Which Mitch Hedberg Draws His Hair Back From His Eyes

Mitch All Together

by MELANIE STRONG

I have a vest. If I had my arms cut off, it'd be a jacket.

Watching Mitch Hedberg on stage, with his sunglasses, his hair over his eyes, and his jaunty and well-timed delivery, I realized for the first time what a true comedian could be.

It was at that moment, seeing him on youtube in a short clip, that my love of comedians crystallized. The brain of a true comedian, I thought, held so much mystery for me. The way in which a person can connect so many seemingly mundane things into each tiny piece of word art inspires awe.

A good comedian will, of course, make it look easy. But a great comedian, like Hedberg, will make the comic notion he is proposing seem like something you should have known. It evokes a wonder, a respect and a sort of jealousy at his higher power in observation and synthesis.

I saw a lady on T.V. She was born without arms. Literally, she was born with her hands attached to her shoulders... and that was sad, but then they said, "Lola does not know the meaning of the word 'can't.'" And that to me was kinda worse... in a way... ya know? Not only does she not have arms, but she doesn't understand simple contractions. It's very simple Lola, you just take two words, you put them together, then you take out the middle letters, you put a comma in there and you raise it up!

Hedberg was no natural comedian. Working in the industry for years, Mitch suffered from extreme stage fright. As a result of this, his sunglasses and shaggy hair would remain staples in his routine. His observational one-liners and unique delivery, an inspiration, it seems, from Steven Wright, earned him a loyal cult following.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the quality of his material, it took a few years for him to accumulate the components of the act he became so well known for. His delivery, a strange mix of southern gentleman, Mexican stereotype and autistic child, took years to perfect as well.

Mitch died of a drug overdose in 2005. His widow, Lynn Shawcroft, continues to uphold his legacy. An excerpt of a message from her, on his site:

Everything around me is touched by him. How often do you find that moments and situations will draw you to one of his jokes? I hear his voice in my mind and he never stops inspiring me.

It's true. Once you hear Hedberg, you never forget it. If you consume mass quantities, over a short period of time (as I am wont to do), you will find yourself imitating his speech mannerisms. Thereafter, no joke is quite as funny unless it contains at least two awkwardly placed pauses.

A simple walk to the grocery store will remind you of a joke that he delivered and you will find yourself laughing in line, while the cashier eyes you suspiciously.

Imagine being killed by a bow and arrow. That would suck. An arrow killed you, they would never solve the crime. "Look at that dead guy. Let's go that way."

I think Bigfoot is blurry, that's the problem. It's not the photographer's fault. Bigfoot is blurry, and that's extra scary to me. There's a large out of focus monster roaming the countryside. Look out, he's fuzzy, let's get out of here.

Melanie Strong is the senior contributor to This Recording. Here is where she hides.

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"Hotels and Beds"— Mitch Hedberg (mp3)

"Three Easy Payments" — Mitch Hedberg (mp3)

"The Dufrenes" — Mitch Hedberg (mp3)

"Saved by the Buoyancy of Citrus" — Mitch Hedberg (mp3)

You know they call corn-on-the-cob 'corn-on-the-cob' right? But that's how it comes out of the ground, man. They should call that 'corn.' They should call every other version 'corn-off-the-cob.' It's not like if you cut off my arm you would call my arm 'Mitch.' But then reattach it and call it 'Mitch-all-together!'

 

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Wednesday
Apr222009

In Which We Are Not Related To The Next American Idol Adam Lambert

Camptown Races

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Saying that American Idol sucks is nothing new. It's not that it sucks. It's not that it hasn't produced a solid winner since season four's Carrie Underwood, and that nobody has even come close to matching the American Dream come true talents of Kelly Clarkson. Its suckiness is part of its entertainment value. It is often a train wreck, and that can make for compelling television. But most of the singing sucks. Most reality television sucks. That which doesn't is generally maligned.

But on Logo, RuPaul's Drag Race has done the ultimate in redeeming camp by rescuing that most oft-maligned television genre, "reality," from the trash bin it's been slowly crawling out of. Drag Race demonstrates that reality tv has not only entertainment value, it can be a completely uncynical exercise in positivity. Idol is supposed to be like that, about the triumph of the human spirit [as Susan Boyle showed Simon elsewhere], but it still just comes across like a karaoke contest with product plugs.

Idol contestant Adam Lambert in drag

What's weird is that I love Drag Race for all the reasons I find Idol embarrassing. Both are about Camp with a capitol C, but where Drag Race wears these references proudly, Idol is cloaked in Simon Cowell's agitated straight guy's laddish homophobia. The constant digs at Ryan Seacrest's sexuality, calling him a "sausage dog" et al, seem at odds with the show's sensibility, which is otherwise very gay-friendly and generally styled like a bad seventies variety show. [To be fair Simon also hates (pretend hates?) women]

more fansecrets at Fan Secrets

Yet Simon seems as enamored of Adam Lambert as the rest of the judging panel. And still I hate him. No, it is not because my last name is Lambert. It is hard for me to explain because it is hard for me to understand. Why do I hate Adam Lambert, so campy and flamboyant, so utterly musical theater in every way, but love the contestants on Drag Race, who are actually drag queens? I really have no idea.

I think it's because I hate his patented "sing the song the opposite of however it's originally sung" thing that seems to trick the judges. It can't be because I hate flamboyance and camp, because I love a video of Cher singing in a giant shoe as much as the next Jesus Christ Superstar enthusiast. Maybe it's his faux-modesty. His stupid outfits. His cheesiness. His shrieking voice. 

Who do I like? Why Allison Iraheta of course. The scrappy No Doubt singing teen with the Manic Panic'd hair. Yet I know that she is destined for failure, and that Adam Lambert is going to win. Certainly he is better than some of the other male contestants. Danny Gokey makes my vagina retract inward in horror. Kris is cute but otherwise sucks at life. Matt is infinitely forgettable. Anoop can actually sing but happens to have come to the show at a time it trends towards rock and not so much to the boyband type singers of yore. 

I loved Scott MacIntyre until I found out he was just pretending to be blind, like Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Arrested Development. Speaking of Arrested Development, the new Fox animated show from Mitchell Hurwitz called Sit Down Shut Up sucks. It really sucks. It reminded me of late nights on Comedy Central when nothing was playing but reruns of Duckman.

Since I know Adam Lambert is going to win, I have started trying to get used to it. I think he just embodies several things that evoke strong reactions in me: Los Angeles 80s hair metal, musical theater showmanship, MySpace hair, cabaret, guyliner.

My roommate Jess thinks I am just mad because he has my last name, and will soon become the most famous Lambert since Christopher Lambert, the Highlander. Maybe she is right. If there's anything that can make me like Adam Lambert, it's knowing that he starred in the musical version of The Ten Commandments as Joshua opposite Val Kilmer as Moses. He might be growing on me. 

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


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"The Tracks of My Tears" — Adam Lambert (mp3)

"Black or White" — Adam Lambert (mp3)

"Mad World" — Adam Lambert (mp3)

Wednesday
Apr222009

In Which We Gossip Girl About Some Nation States

Blair Waldorf is Pakistan

by CLAIRE HOWORTH

When Blair Waldorf got up to her old tricks in Monday's episode of Gossip Girl, we were overwhelmed by a sense of déjà vu. Who else is so dubious but likable? Why else do we cross our fingers that evil will subside, good will prevail, and most bystanders will scrape by unscathed?

Our mind wandered as Kristen Bell’s young-Demi husk concluded another Monday evening of Upper East Side misanthropy. Occasionally despotic, with wavering allegiances… James Taub in the Times Magazine, Jane Perlez every day… Somewhere deep in our psyche, the hottest television show metamorphosed into the hottest geopolitical topic… Could it be…?

Yes, Blair Waldorf is Pakistan.

Make no mistake—she is not Pakistani. The woman is an entire complex country unto herself, as alternately scorching as the Thar desert and frigid as the Pamir mountains. Ambitious and upwardly mobile like her neighbors (China, Afghanistan, India), she claws tenaciously to better her station, at almost any cost. And everything has its price.

You can’t quite understand her, try as you might. She can be completely endearing (Zulfikar, Benazir), she can do the right thing (Soviet-Afghan War), and yes, she’s shown signs of loyal abilities, if not out & out loyalty, and however minimal (member of the U.N. and Organization of the Islamic Conference, but refuses nuclear disarmament). When Blair reclaimed her throne as queen of the Met steps last season, it was her Musharraf moment—a coup instilling order and regimented control among that little Weird Sister trifecta, the Taliban of Constance Billiard.

But we sense there is danger lurking under all those pretty headbands, something troubled. Eschewing Nate Archibald in favor of the dark side of Chuck Bass? Even if she seems momentarily aligned with benevolence, it was a ridding of the Bhuttos, over & over again. Blackmailing Vanessa? Nawaz Sharif.

The question is, will Blair’s fundamentally torn nature be good or bad in the end? Only time will tell!

XOXO…

Claire Howorth is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find more of her writing over at Vanity Fair.

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"Explosante Fixe" — Stereolab (mp3)

"Arrows" — Vampire Weekend (mp3)

"Sleep All Summer" — The National (mp3)