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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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Entries in aaron sorkin (3)


In Which It Is Not The Most Beautiful Word In The World

Night Film: A Review


Night Film
by Marisha Pessl
624 pp.

Witness the novel as a madcap scavenger hunt, a magpie’s nest, a Chinese puzzle box with selected pieces missing, a video game in 3D unfolding in 2D dimension… It is a novel that speaks exuberantly — like a mash-up of Sorkin characters talking at once with great purpose and urgency. And Pessl herself, the author as tripmaster, hovers at its center, a slender figure with candy-hued hair melting softly down her shoulders like an L.A. sunset, the lilting kind that dissolves slowly as Sara Bareilles “Love Story” floats over the final credits. The characters are archetypes for the ages, a masquerade puppet show, a revolving door of doomed or romantic figures that shimmer for a moment — or sometimes, for that moment only, blot out all stars, snuff out all light — and then disappear, leaving only a whiff of something achingly human in their wake. 

And the narrative itself? A cipher, a sewer, a cut & sew spectacle of metaphor and IMDB facts and alternative radio references. The tics and tricks that make the cool kids tick.  In fact, you might have lost your virginity on just this sort of fractal fun-filled quilt. Not unlike Scott McGrath, our hero, our dear, disgraced ace investigative reporter for whom everything is at stake. Everything, including the love, the universe, Perry Street and more.

But, after all this, is it possible to remember what life itself, what narrative experience—which, after all, is nothing if not a scintillating synecdoche for the crystalline container of life itself — was like before you clicked through to that 624th page, one mind-melting sentence at a time?

Well. Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”


Let’s start at the beginning, although that’s not where Scott McGrath — a fine man, doomed by his own crack instincts to keep itching a scratch that just won’t crust — would begin, nor where Cordova — the shadowy auteur, “a myth, a monster, a mortal man” — would probably begin either. But we’ll begin there, because the beginning has a way of creeping up on you, like dandruff off that inescapable party guest who spends the whole evening soft-shoeing at your heels.

Everyone has an adverb story; whether they like it or not.

Maybe your roommate used three in a sentence, got an C on her essay, and never used one again. Maybe your boyfriend made you a DIY Valentine’s card full of fervid adverbial expressions, and you never talked to him again.

Remember what Steven King and Elmore Leonard have to say about the use of adverbs and adjectives? Adverbs, my assNight Film asks you to ponder the question: what it is like to be sucked you into a vortex of adverbs and similes and adjectives and syntactical constructions so twisted and tortured as to resemble Duchamp’s staircase no. 2?

There are lessons here. There are traps, which Pessl, our nimble tripmaster, has left visible for our own contemplation and, perhaps — if we can stare long enough without the light — even our eventual education.

Oh yes… Yes! (“The most beautiful word in the world.”) This is what it is really like to step into the darkness, to dive deep into a churning southern sea where “no mermaids sing,” where ye olde rules of good writing are just murky runes, spindrift on the wind, Navajo sand paintings drifting on a salty sea…

Clearly, your humble reviewer should have held off her fourth Scotch.

ms. pesslIt’s possible that Pessl considered presenting the book with no narrative at all, that, instead, she had the brilliant light-bulb-flash of the idea to tell the story as merely a mixed media collection of clippings from sources as varied as newspaper obituaries, blog posts, twitter feeds, text message exchanges, online messages boards — a veritable potpourri of materials as rich and varied as the detritus of modern life itself. It would be up the reader to the string the story together based on the clues contained between the twin wings of Random House pasteboard.  One can imagine Pessl’s conversation with her agent, the legendary Binky Urban.
Transcript of Phone Conversation –
Author Marisha Pessl
Agent Amanda “Binky” Urban
May 11, 2011. 11: 06 - 11: 11 P.M.

There is a long silence. Her voice is older, a little I’ll-take-Manhattan-grande-dame, with an undertow of New Jersey.

BU:     You know the book is dying.

Agent “Binky” is sighing strangely, apparently having regrets about this conversation.

BU:     Do you remember that I rejected you about 90 times before you were declared a wunderkind by the New York literati?

MP:     Yes.

BU:     There was nothing I could say. They sat, they read, they highlighted. They found you clever. The Times put your first book on their list of best books of 2006. You remember this? Or am I repeating things that you ought to already know?

MP:     Please refresh my memory, Binky. You know how I love it when you explain this inscrutable industry to me. You always reveal new layers, unspool underpasses to new dimensions.

BU:     James Wood thought he had vanquished hysterical lyricism to its lair with his review of White Teeth in the New Republic. He thought he had bearded the dragon and restored the old order of things.

A pause.

BU:     But he never reckoned on you.
MP:     So you liked the antepenultimate, penultimate, ultimate endings that I sent you?
BU:     They were a signal to me to break out of my lockjaw, real or imagined. Marisha—
MP:     That’s thrilling, Binky! That’s exactly the reaction I wanted! Listen, I want to run an idea by you.
BU:     What kind of idea? What, like a real estate investment idea or a narrative idea?
     Binky, what you said before is so true. The book is dead. There’s a revolution happening. It’s spot on. So here’s what we do. We give’em the Pessl special.
BU:     The Pessl special?
     The Pessl special is like a one-two punch.
BU:     Marisha?
MP:     What?
BU:     There’s something you do to metaphor.
MP:     Oh…

I wait for her to elaborate, but there is only silence.

MP:     Thanks, Binky. You don’t know how much that means to me. Now what did you want to talk to me about.
BU:     Stay the course.

The line goes dead.


Let us marvel at Pessl’s knowledge of pop culture; her love affair with noir tropes; her fondness for pastiche and palimpsest and parataxis; her lusty way with comma, italic, em dash, and (oh, that old favorite), the ellipsis … It’s a stormy orgy with which she gifts us. We sink, we sail, we swim into the darkness.

And, “just when you think you've hit rock bottom, you realize you're on another trapdoor.”

Then finally, with a hiss and a plash and a mermaid moan, the tripmaster finally brings this party back to the harbor, you are left with the sense of something unrequited. All goes black, and you are alone with the noise, the fierce and frantic static which you now realize — perhaps for the very first time — is only absence. Only nothingness. Only tricks that mask the blinding emptiness. 

And Binky Urban's quiet breathing. Nothing more.

Shahirah Majumdar is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Lorrie Moore.



In Which Joan Didion And John Gregory Dunne Write Together

In Hollywood


We’ve written twenty-three books between us and movies financed nineteen out of the twenty-three.

John Gregory Dunne, The Paris Review, 1996 

When he was done, the executive asked the writer, “Do you know what the monster is?” The writer shook his head. The executive said, “It’s our money.”

–John Gregory Dunne, Monster, 1997 

The millennium is here, the era of “fewer and better” motion pictures, and what have we? We have fewer pictures, but not necessarily better pictures. Ask Hollywood why, and Hollywood resorts to murmuring about the monster. It has been, they say, impossible to work “honestly” in Hollywood.

Joan Didion, I Can’t Get That Monster Out Of My Mind, 1964

Scriptwriting partners Joan Didion and her late husband John Gregory Dunne had a code for when it was time to cut their losses with a production company and fly the coop. In meetings, while negotiating the terms of a script, if Joan and John sensed the beginnings of disaster — studio dawdling, uneven notes, nonplussed silence — one would look at the other and say, White Christmas. Their choice of words, however, had little to do with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, with treetops glistening or sleigh bells in the snow. Instead, it relates to Vietnam. As Dunne explains in Monster, his 1997 account of Hollywood’s pecking order detailing the eight-year, twenty-seven-draft saga of Up Close and Personal, Joan and John’s code was a nod to the Fall of Saigon. In April of 1975, “White Christmas” was played by army disc jockeys on the Armed Forces Radio Network as a secret signal to the remaining Americans that “the war was over, bail out.” 

John shares this anecdote a quarter of the way through his two hundred page book as part of an epiphany he and Joan have days before his aortic valve replacement surgery in 1991. To a degree, their penchant for weighing a project’s cost imitates Dunne’s expedient writing style. Bottom line? Utility leverages storytelling. Luckily, his reserve of keenly culled nuggets on Hollywood types, like Didion’s and his brother Dominick’s (perhaps the most imbued by celebrity) is never scarce. For every six or so tailored sentences, one diverges and is often marvelous. Hollywood hobnobbing, near spurious hooey.  

For instance, at a breakfast meeting with Scott Rudin, the producer detailed to John and Joan a visit he took to Michael Jackson’s Neverland with director Barry Sonnenfeld. Michael was late, en route but still in the air. And so, Rudin kicked back, enjoying the Ranch’s amusement park and zoo. He and Sonnenfeld were invited to stay for lunch and were seated at a table set with expensive linen. They were served ham and cheese sandwiches under silver domes on expensive china which they “washed down with Pepsi-Cola,” as Michael was the company’s spokesperson. For dessert? Bite-sized Snickers in a silver bowl.  

Similarly absurd was Dunne’s account of Sunny von Bülow’s room in the Pavilion at Columbia-Presbyterian where John coincidently was recovering. Every afternoon a high tea was served “while a cocktail pianist in black tie played such the dansant favorites as “Send in the Clowns,” and “Isn’t it Romantic?”” 

As a quick aside, Sunny had been comatose for close to ten years at this point and her husband, Claus, had been twice accused of attempting to kill her. Incidentally, Dominick had covered the second trial for Vanity Fair, having only written for the magazine once before — a March 1984 piece entitled “Justice” chronicling the trial of his daughter’s killer. Like his sister-in-law, who zeroes in on diagnostic if not sometimes distracting ritz (in Blue Nights, the red soles on her daughter’s wedding day Louboutin’s that showed when Quintana “kneeled at the altar” or Madeleine-type episodes brought on by Saks or the St. Regis) Dominick too, never missed an occasion to mention Sunny von Bülow’s embroidered Porthault sheets.  

Despite the Hollywood mixing, Monster is in many ways the ultimate articulation of Dunne’s pragmatic writing style and accordingly, the writer’s and any writer’s inherent nearness to the idea of End. After all, in it he admits that the central reason he and Joan agreed to write Up Close and Personal in 1988 was due in large part to Dunne’s health. Earlier that year John had suffered his first collapse while speed walking in Central Park. “When I regained consciousness, I was stretched out in the middle of the road rising behind the Metropolitan Museum, a stream of joggers detouring past without looking or stopping, as if I were a piece of roadkill,” he writes. Heart surgery was inevitable and as doctors’ visits, tests, and hospital bills were soon to pile — a “very expensive gig” — the WGA’s health insurance became crucial. The deal was closed.  

Later in the book, in a rare moment of self-reflection Dunne describes the replacement valve’s clicking sound and how it signified “reassuring proof [he] was still alive.” This newer, louder heartbeat, so to speak, appealed to John’s mortality. So much so that Monster itself is structured around Dunne’s many hospital visits, often yielding for more thoughtful bits as if the narrative, like John, had been ordered to meter the pace.  

Even Joan, whose voice is rarely heard in Monster, has her say with respect to John’s condition. One evening, a couple years after John’s surgery while dining at Chinois in Santa Monica, a certain Michael Eisner, who too had had a similar operation, expressed to Dunne that his bypass surgery was in truth “more serious” than John’s. Didion, maddened, immediately shouted, “It was not!” "[She’d] never been an easy fit in the role of the little woman."

The clicking sound of John’s valve resonated with Quintana too who, entertained by the sound, began calling her father the Tin Man. While throughout Monster many friends and colleagues fall ill or die—of old age, of a sudden heart attack, of complications from AIDS, of unhealthy sped up lifestyles—there is an indistinct quality to that last image as both John and Quintana have since died. As though John was writing from his prophetic gut, from that sense of congenital doom and loss that writers are born with, of which his wife described in her 1966 essay “On Keeping a Notebook.” Perhaps it is Dunne’s use of “reassuring proof,” like a child who despite being promised something, commands an actual “Promise.” Or maybe it’s him and her, father and daughter, paired in a single moment, attune to each person’s inherent rhythm. Or maybe it’s simply this reader’s willingness to let the image go there. Either way, the “clicking” abides. It greets the page and far outlasts it. 

It was John Foreman, a friend and producer, and former Princeton classmate, who first approached Joan and John about writing a screenplay based on Golden Girl, Alanna Nash’s biography of the network correspondent, Jessica Savitch. Five years prior, Savitch had died in a car accident. Martin Fischbein, president of the New York Post, was also in the car. At this point, John and Joan had already written the screenplays for The Panic in Needle Park, Play it as it Lays, A Star is Born, and True Confessions. At this point, they were still incapable of “good meetings,” meaning, they could not schmooze or quicken deals. They were not ‘package’ material and certainly understood that screenwriters occupied an “inferior position on the food chain,” or as Jack Warner (of the Brothers) once said, were thought of as “Schmucks with Underwoods.” But they liked Nash’s book and were ready to proceed with Disney. Or so they thought. 

With Disney comes the Kingdom. And with the Kingdom comes the fairy tale. But Jessica Savitch’s story was no fairy tale because in the fairy tale the princess never dies. She is however made over.  

Savitch was a woman whose news reporting inexperience was outdone by her ambition. Impelled by some inner fidget, she restlessly wanted more. Her strive had presence, prompting collateral excess. As Dunne describes, she had “an overactive libido, a sexual ambivalence, a tenuous hold on the truth, a taste for controlled substances, a longtime abusive Svengali relationship, and a certain mental instability.” In Disney’s eyes, her “ugly duckling turned golden girl” story possessed too much ugly. Interracial love affairs, cocaine, a gay husband who eventually hung himself, and abortions, were all embargoed narratives. The stuff of Didion and Dunne. A couple who no matter what city they visited, made sure to stop at its courthouse.  

Having come off the success of Pretty Woman, Disney wanted a similarly Cinderella setup. As Dunne puts it, they wanted a Pretty TV Reporter. That is, they wanted a Rodeo Drive sequence, in which instead of swapping sky-high over the knee boots for a polka-dotted polo dress, Michelle Pfeiffer as Tally Atwater would lose her perm and pink blazer for more beige, more poise, and ultimately, the guidance, respect, and love of her news channel director. His name would be Warren Justice — “an appropriately classless first name” — and the role would go to Robert Redford. Near the end of Monster, Dunne fondly remembers one evening when while watching Three Days of the Condor on cable, Redford called him to discuss his character in Up Close. There he was, code name Condor, on Dunne’s television. And there he was too, on the other end of Dunne’s phone. For John, “he was, when all was said and done, Robert Redford.” At a glance, infinite.  

But returning to Up Close, where within the first seven minutes of the movie, Pfeiffer clumsily spills the contents of her purse everywhere. Redford, forever wearing a collared shirt, bends down to help her clean up one tube of lipstick, a loose tampon, some change, and a crumpled dollar bill. Nickels, dimes, no Money, and a pair of female things. Pfeiffer is crestfallen, and in her boss’ eyes, nothing but nerves and legs. Within the first ten minutes, he asks her, “Do you always wear that much make-up?” Later he offers her a job as the weatherperson in which she wears oversized clown glasses and a goofy yellow rain jacket and hat. 

An early draft of Up Close was given to Mike Nichols who responded with the “graciously noncommittal comment” that his marriage to ABC’s Diane Sawyer created an unfitting atmosphere for any project about TV news. While Joan and John never mentioned this detail to Nichols, Diane Sawyer’s first on air experience at a channel in Louisville, Kentucky, was what inspired Tally Atwater’s debut.  

A few years past and not much came of Didion and Dunne’s original Up Close script. In those in between years, Joan worked on her Central Park Jogger piece for The New York Review of Books and John finished Playland. They had meetings with Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer detailed in a section titled, “Bully Boys,” began writing a script in which they called Michael Crichton for advice on string theory, and endeavored incorporating with Elaine May and Peter Feibleman as a rewriting team and company, only agreeing to work on productions that had already began shooting. No more first drafts, no more free meetings or readings; “the meter would start running the moment the screenplay arrived.” 

Then Scott Rudin rolled in. Monster is dedicated to him, along with director, Jon Avnet and in memory of John Foreman. Rudin did as Rudin does: he got the movie made. He was “the bully boy’s bully boy.” But most importantly he offered Dunne the most producer-ly advice ever. When asked by Dunne what he thought the movie was really about, Rudin, forever skewed to money and éclat, answered, “It’s about two movie stars.” 

Which briefly brings to mind Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama The Newsroom. Rudin is an executive producer on the show and one cannot help but wonder if he gave Sorkin similar advice. The show, much like Up Close is less about the news and more about the dopey hearts of those involved. Basically, it too is centered on two or more “movie stars.” The newsroom is their stage and so far, their love entanglements are its crux. Everything else is merely crosstalk. Women with alliterative names in silk shirts flail their arms, stutter, shriek, and may as well be spilling the contents of their purses everywhere. Meanwhile, the men speak in sports metaphors, are romantic dolts, and threaten to congratulate their female coworkers for having gumption and good ideas. Music swells, smug smirks are protracted. Sorkin, forever the guy who writes soap operas about guys on their soapboxes.  

While Rudin did push for more romance in Up Close, reminding Joan and John that it was a love story after all — to “deliver the moment, deliver the moment” — John was adamant about one thing. He told Rudin, “I don’t do love.” Thing is, composer Diane Warren and Céline Dion sure do. Avnet hired both and the song “Because You Loved Me” came to be. Number one in the United States for six weeks, its music video featured Céline in a makeshift control room performing with burning credo as clips of Pfeiffer and Redford, punch-drunk and sweet for each other, fade in and out. Today, sixteen years later, clips of Emily Mortimer and Jeff Daniels’s Mac and Will could comfortably replace those of Tally and Warren.

While an appraisal of Sorkin, Dunne and Didion, all in one breath, is slightly offhand, it does invite a closer look. In October 2011, A.O. Scott did exactly that for his review of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, which was co-written by Sorkin. In it, Scott opens by referencing Didion’s 1988 New York Review of Books piece on the presidential election entitled, “Insider Baseball,” published mere months before she and John agreed to write Up Close. “The process” as she explains and as Scott quotes, is “not about ‘the democratic process’ or the general mechanism affording the citizens of a state a voice in its affairs, but the reverse: a mechanism seen as so specialized that access to it is correctly limited to its own professionals.” As Scott spells out: narratives that function as “durable forms that cater to this appetite for exclusive knowledge, inviting the reader or viewer to learn something about how the professionals do it and to feel vicariously, like one of them.” 

Sorkin’s breakneck dialogue deals with characters, mainly men, who run countries, television networks, professional sports teams, who invent algorithms in order to make friends and humiliate girls. As Scott points out, these characters are all, by some means, a performance of Didion’s sentiment. They claim “specialized” speak, when inevitably the tensions return to sex and money, and winning. Proximity to transparency, to insider-y yackety-yak, assumes entrance. And yet, as Didion reminds, “what strikes one most vividly about such a campaign is precisely its remoteness from the actual life of the country.” Her remarks about the electoral process could be applied to Sorkin’s Zuckerberg, to Will McAvoy, President Bartlet and Billy Beane: “These are people who speak of the process as an end in itself, connected only nominally, and vestigially, to the electorate and its possible concerns.” All that walking, all that talking.  

Interesting then to examine Dunne’s Monster, which in many ways is the ultimate insider’s look into Hollywood’s process. Written from the vantage point of someone who was involved from the very start, from meetings to rewrites, rewrites to more meetings. From the Beverly Hills Hotel where Nora Ephron, who was staying across the hall, volunteered business advice or to Tony Richardson’s Bonjour Tristesse-type St. Tropez hamlet — Le Nid du Duc — where his daughter, the late Natasha ‘Tasha’ Richardson was once a chain-smoking teenager who wore a micro miniskirt and as Didion writes in Blue Nights, “devised the fables, wrote the romance.” Or back in LA, a few years later, for the funeral of Tasha’s father and a gathering of friends in his Hills home — the Kings Road house that once belonged to Linda Lovelace. The list of trivia goes on and on. Who, what, when, where, why, how, Hollywood!  

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion were deeply embedded in the “private idiosyncrasies of very public people.” As Dunne affirms, he was simply there — “the reporter’s justification for what he does.” Surely, Sorkin could sniff out his next script there too. Didion and Dunne’s ‘White Christmas,’ an elucidation of what A.O. Scott terms the “half-secret language…a body of artisanal lore.” 

It was recently announced that Didion would be penning a script with Todd Field. Todd Field who wrote and directed In the Bedroom and Little Children, and who in Nicole Holofcener’s 1996 Walking and Talking, proposes to Anne Heche’s character by hiding the ring in her round birth control pack.

As a filmmaker, his movies look like worlds Didion might mine: tortured, grieving parents in one, and the crepuscular, discontented mood of middle-class suburbia in the other. Both films are literary. Both films portend menace, as if from the opening credits, somebody has a hunch. Both are carefully constructed — quiet and sustained like a yawn. Both are all whites, pale blues, and greens, with freckled, sun kissed skin. In both films, light filters through windows no matter how melancholic the scene. Even each poster’s plain serif font: exactly bookish. Precisely Joan. And yet, no matter how ideal the pairing of Field and Didion, Dunne tolls — that “clicking” sound, sounds. Her all white office; his wood-paneled office. His, hers.  His first draft and her reworking of it. “The version the studio sees is essentially our third draft,” Dunne told George Plimpton. He went on to share that he and Joan, before beginning any script, would watch Graham Greene and Carol Reed’s The Third Man. “The best collaboration between writer and director I can think of.” 

Monster, despite little emotional bulk is nostalgic by nature. Eight years, twenty-seven drafts, and two presidential elections later, John wrote it as though summoning memories at a table of close friends, far into the night, long after dessert was served and more drinks were poured, at that delirious hour when leftovers are pulled out of the fridge, unwrapped, and eaten without plates. One gets the sense he could have written twice as much. One gets the sense his memory was trained to pocket stories, not for sentimental reasons, but because he knew what he was seeing, others would savor. His account is entirely generous, if not a little boastful. His last words, “We also had a good time,” belong sincerely to Joan.  

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about Mariel Hemingway.

"Leaving Pieces" - Triste L'Hiver (mp3)

"Spiral Blue" - Triste L'Hiver (mp3)


In Which We Eagerly Await Aaron Sorkin's Friend Request

Cinematic Typing


The Social Network

Dir. David Fincher 

Wr. Aaron Sorkin

I took to social media immediately, because the two things I love most in the world are socializing and media. Alex Carnevale asked me to write a column about it for the Brown Daily Herald, where I was writing a pop culture column under his editorship after he asked me during one of the breaks in our (insane) playwriting workshop if I'd ever thought about writing a column (I hadn't). I was the first person I knew to join Friendster. My piece essentially went "What the fuck is this? So weird right?"

As a media nerd I resent hierarchies of media, which is why I always thought it was lame that people who "didn't even own a TV" readily jumped on the internet, as if one screen is more intelligent than another. I didn't always feel this way. After we graduated, Alex had to court me into writing on the internet. I thought I was going to do it the old fashioned print magazine way, a bridge that later gave out anyway.

Content is content (is content). Sure you are clicking through links and participating more, but on some level you are here to be passively entertained, to consume things that are being presented, and no kind of entertainment is better than any other kind. The enjoyment I get from reading Moby Dick is related to the enjoyment I get watching cute cat videos on the internet, albeit not identical. It activates the same regions.

The basic human reaction to being rejected is "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO THE FUCK I AM?" It hardly matters if you aren't notable yet. This leads to phase 2: "I'LL SHOW THEM," where the donuts are made. Your own personal donuts may be in the realm of business, music, art. Wherever you pursue acheivement. Say donuts again (donuts).

The idea that romantic rejection spurs all creativity/achievement is a tale as old as Philip Roth (is this phrase catching on as a meme yet, this is my second usage attempt). Lady Gaga's whole creation myth involves being dumped by a hair metal bartender and deciding to make him pay by getting so fucking famous. And then she did, and now they are dating again, and he's not even hot/clearly using her.

If people could sue when they got dumped, they would. Friendships are actually exactly like romantic relationships. They are even more romantic ofttimes, because there is no sexual commitment involved. But like regular romantic relationships they involve emotional intimacy, bouts of jealousy, and occasionally a violent breakup.

Everyone has noticed how much more productive they are when working through some neurotic shit. On the most basic level all of Justin Timberlake's achievements since 'N Sync are him working through getting cheated on by Ms. Britney Spears in front of the whole world. Way to DHV, Brit Brit. Justin has always seemed like a bit of a Zuckerberg, he has a lot of the arrogant socially incompetent preternaturally gifted geek to him.

This was Fincher's best gay love story since Fight Club. This one was actually a gay love triangle, with Justin Timberlake as the charismatic fuck-up that seduces you out of your stable if somewhat boring by now real relationship. Do you think Justin and Sorkin tried to snort the stunt coke? I thought the denouement was rushed.

It's funny that people think of Fincher as such a macho director because of Se7en when he also directed the Madonna videos for "Vogue" and "Express Yourself"! He is just a genius, and if anything it was his transition from stylized fashion pop music videos to gritty violent films that first demonstrated his brilliance and versatility. 

However he couldn't rescue time travel romance, the unfortunate, universally terrible genre that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button falls into (not really sticking up for The Panic Room either). The Social Network is not David Fincher's Citizen Kane, because David Fincher's Citizen Kane is the "Vogue" video. Twenty years later it is still the definitive music video, a pure distillation of form, content, and style.

Despite the appearance of mythical internet startup groupies (the thing about interns is true though), The Social Network was not particularly sexy. Trent Reznor's soundtrack was the hottest thing about it. Not that Fincher can't do sexy. His videos for George Michael's Freedom '90 and Billy Idol's Rock The Cradle Of Love basically spurred me into puberty (also you can literally see the 80s turn into the 90s).

Actually the sexiest parts of The Social Network were the super fast cross-cuts, and they totally reminded me of the instrumental breakdown in Freedom '90 and the accompanying video part with all the fast cross-cuts. The coldness makes sense though, as it is what makes Mark Zuckerberg undateable and hard to sympathize with.

Eduardo Saverin radiates some warmth at least, and it gives him a likability and good naturedness that Zuckerberg deeply envies. Andrew Garfield will make a good Spiderman probably, if I gave a fuck about superhero movies. I will say that I went to one Alpha Epsilon Pi party at Brown and it was exactly like that. Fincher made Harvard look beautiful beyond belief and stirred up all my old New England fantasies

Sorkin has said that "workplace as alternative family" is one of his biggest themes, while admitting that he finds collaboration impossible. Personally I have never had a writing partner because I don't even begin to understand how that would work. A writers' room? Sure. I could cede total control to be part of a group. But could I give half? Could I compromise on some of my ideas in order to allow for another person's ideas that objectively might be equally valuable? There's no fucking way in hell.

There is a reason there are so few co-directors, and why they are generally siblings or married. I recognize that we live in such a male-oriented society that even I still sort of conceive of the artistic process as pumping my dick into something repeatedly. Did anyone believe Paul Thomas Anderson when he said that the "I have a competition in me" speech from There Will Be Blood wasn't about him personally? I sure didn't!

David Fincher is notoriously meticulous, and his movies of late have been especially meticulous. Zodiac is my favorite Fincher film, one of my favorite films ever. There is obviously something very OCD/code-writer/Zuckerberg about the image of David Fincher putting Jake Gyllenhaal through hundreds and hundreds of takes with no explanation (he was just trying to knock the actory quality out of Gyllenhaal's acting).

Alex Carnevale is Jesse Eisenberg, I am Andrew Garfield, and Will Hubbard is Justin Timberlake. I kid, I am just saying that because Will is always buying me apple martinis. Justin should only play douchebags. He has found his calling. 

Actually Justin Timberlake should please stop acting, although he was certainly the best here he has ever been, and much better than in Alpha Dog. But I need him to make new music way more than I need him to be acting.

If you think California is all guacamole and margaritas and five-foot bongs and zip-lines into pools, you are totally right. Did they just reuse the sets from Alpha Dog for those party scenes? I wish Alpha Dog were more widely seen so I could make more specific jokes about it. I am sure it costs ten cents for a used copy.

The internet has taught me that people are radically transparent even when they try not to be. It is a way to channel your id directly, sometimes dangerously, and everyone's id is going "I'M THE BEST LOOK AT ME I'M THE BEST" and then also simultaneously "OH GOD FUCK I AM THE WORST" as an extension of the same thing. Namely that people are fucking fragile, even the accomplished ones. Especially the accomplished ones, who are looking over their shoulders for the next horse. 

Mark Zuckerberg called his ex-girlfriend a bitch on livejournal, and now David Fincher has called him a bitch in front of the whole world. Nobody has ever called me a bitch on the internet to my knowledge (please do not fill me in if I am wrong), but I feel terrible for anyone that goes through the process of seeing themselves slandered anonymously. Jesse Eisenberg is way hotter than the real Mark Zuckerberg (faceMASH!)

I know exactly what drives me so nuts about Sorkin. That he is possibly the only other person in the universe who talks as much or as fast as I do. I take his whole life and career as a personal neg. He likes redheads and mushrooms and people who talk too much! Do you know what his personal hidden inhaler is? That he graduated from Syracuse with a degree in musical theater and spent the 80s as a struggling actor.

I always resented Sorkin's reputation as the male writer who writes great female characters, because they are mostly just snappy, and it reminds me of how disgusting it is that we feel the need to congratulate male writers just for writing female characters that are anything more than objects. Just imagine a condescending voice saying "and they write such realistic male characters!" Last thoughts: Literally every time they said "Saverin" I heard the beginning of "Venus In Furs" in my head.

You know what had the most unrealistic male characters? Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, but that is because cokehead television writers are not people, they are monsters. Also note to Aaron Sorkin: everyone knows Jewish girls don't want guys that look like Hitler, they want guys that look like the Winklevoss twins, i.e. Aryan supermen. Hitler's whole issue was that he looked like a Jew. DUH. And when I pay more attention to my blog than I do to my cat she lights a trash can on fire.


When you make things virtually, of course it doesn't feel real. In case you were wondering This Recording has no office and our masthead is basically that business card that says "I'M A FUCKING CEO." I have been waiting for a magical meeting with bay area angel investors since our inception (INCEPTION) and I got over that idea and recognized it as completely ridiculous probably two years into our run on wordpress

Who does Aaron Sorkin consider his competition? He is the last and only of his totally outdated category, kind of like Jonathan Franzen. Here's a paradigm shift, I'M YOUR COMPETITION BROS. And I am winning every day that I write on the internet instead of in a notebook or on a sentimental typewriter or a computer with a USB plugged in and then snipped off. I may not be able to sell my cred yet, but it sure rules is that I can build it without the old networking channels here in an artistic meritocracy.

Some more disclosures: My own inner Zuckerberg went off on Alex for failing to post this yesterday, but it was an honest glitch. The internet's biggest joke is that it is a well-oiled machine just because it is technological. Even though the post was already done and ready last night I have been tweaking it all day obsessively, rearranging words and turning sentences over for no reason other than to please myself more.

The first DVD I ever rented (want to buy a Tower Video?) was "Fight Club." I was home alone for the weekend because I made myself a drink and that was the first time I ever got drunk alone (also the last?). It was also the first time I was ever attracted to Brad Pitt (again: Aryan supermen) and the first director's commentary I heard. What really freaks people out/draws them in about the web is how it blurs the lines between our inner and outer selves to an unprecedented extent. But hell I'm a writer, that's all I do!

Molly Lambert is the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of the new novel Freedom and the inventor of Facebook. She made a billion dollars in the time it took to write this. She is the CEO of your dick and the owner of your soul. She also tumbls and twitters


"The Gentle Hum of Anxiety" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)

"On We March" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)

"Eventually We Find Our Way" - Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (mp3)