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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

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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Entries in advice (160)


In Which We Tell The World When It Is On Fire

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.


I recently broke up with my boyfriend of eight months. He had never shown the slightest bit of craziness during the relationship, but in the wake of the breakup he has been sure to hang out with all our friends, some of whom were my friends long before we were a couple, and tell them “his side of the story.” This narrative recounts how I broke his heart and was generally a dick to him for “giving up on the relationship.”

The reality is that he was extremely controlling, including planning tons of activities, dates and appointments for us that grew to become excessive. He’s a very social person and it’s easy for him to do damage control, but I feel incredibly upset that I am being turned into the bad guy here. What can I do?

Erin D.

Dear Erin,

The best thing to do when someone lies about you is to tell an even bigger lie. Who cares if the rumors you spread about this ex-boyfriend are even true? It’s not like he is going to sue you for slander, unless you are in the UK, when this kind of truth-free talk is actually punishable by law.

Maybe it is best to just slightly spin the truth in order to stay in a legally viable position. Make sure everyone knows how controlling he was, and that he insisted on selecting your tampons during your cycle, and he called these devices “tampys” and gave you a big grin when he said it. What a disgusting asshole.

Actually, the truth sounds pretty bad in your case. Stick to the truth for many reasons, because you deserve it.


My girlfriend Mary has been struggling to meet new people after we moved to Denver. Since then, she has met a bunch of young women who enjoy rock climbing together. I thought I would appreciate the fact that she has found a hobby and people to enjoy it with, but there are a few issues I have with this. The first is that some of the "expeditions" she is going on seem rather dangerous, and people in her group have broken wrists and sprained elbows. Since our health insurance is a bit shaky at the moment, this seems especially concerning.

The second issue that I have with the rock climbing is that it sometimes involves going away for long weekends. I have tried to attempt rock climbing with Mary, but I apparently do not have the greatest balance and I immediately felt a strong sense of vertigo. I want her to have fun with her friends, and it's not like I don't spent a great deal of time with her to begin with, but it is a bit angsty to be missing her for a few days once or occasionally twice a month. Should I just get over it?

Leslie S.

Dear Leslie,

No one wants to be in a position where they are hoping someone they love takes a hard, but non-fatal fall so that they have to give up their hobby. I have a lot of hobbies — none involve ascending to great heights, except, you know, mentally and emotionally.

It sounds like Mary was an undercover adrenaline junkie, and you have awakened her addiction. Much like inserting a needle into the arm of a heroin addict, there is no going back or reversing this. Take advantage of this free time by developing your own hobby, e.g. eSports or reading. Then you can be doing your hobby while she is doing her hobby.

If you end up having to pay a hospital bill, I would bail.

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


In Which We Take A Lesson Out To Dinner

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.


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.



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.




In Which We Forget An Important Ingredient

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.


My friend Davia broke up with her last boyfriend over two years ago. (He cheated on her with prostitutes.) Since then, she has compared every new possible mate with him, and usually found the new prospect unfavorable. She finds the littlest things to fixate on in order to dismiss me — they don't text her enough, they text her too much, they use emojis, she doesn't like their smell (ok that's possibly valid). Often she says she they don't share the same values, although I am a loss as to what that means since Davia doesn't seem to have extraordinary values, and I say that as a friend. She is a good person though, and I want her to find happiness. Is there any way I can snap her out of this funk?

Ellen C.


Often men and women will think of reasons to reject potential mates that don't necessarily strike at the core of why they are not pursuing the relationship. The fact that it has been two years of this on Davia's part, however, indicates a greater problem. It is not simply that she is not finding anyone that she likes well enough to get serious, it is that she is in no position to have a committed relationship with someone to begin with.

For some people, cheating is a deeply troubling act that strikes at the core of how they value themselves and the opposite sex. This might come across as sexist, but I'm going to say it anyway. The reasons men cheat are sometimes, but not always, different from the reasons women cheat. I tend to have more sympathy for women who cheat on their partners. Maybe this is fucking stupid, but it's what I feel inside.

If this guy was really stepping out just for sex, maybe Davia has some problems thinking she is decent in the bedroom. You can alleviate some of her concerns for her. Ask what her particular techniques are. What school of sex did she study at? Does she know all the most sensitive and erogenous zones on a man's body? What about a woman's body? Getting over whatever hangup is holding her back should end the nitpicking.


I have been trying without success to meet people on various online sites. I think I'm an attractive guy, but I tend to stumble when I'm introducing myself and who I am. I just end up saying a "hi" or a "hello I'm Evan" since I can't think of anything better. More often than not I get no response. How can I get better at initiating these troubling conversations?

Evan S.

Dear Evan,

It's not my job to tell you what specifically you should say to meet women. Maybe the type of woman you should be with is the kind who responds to a simple "Hello." She hears your cry in the dark and she reaches out for the echo of how boring you are.

Don't be discouraged by the lack of replies. The fact that you are not receiving any replies is a warning sign you need to change things up, but think of all the possible reasons a woman is not replying to your message:

- she gets a million messages

- she's not even single and likes the idea of getting messages from strange

- she forgot to delete her account

- she's deeply bored by the fact you are the seven hundreth person she has seen on top of an elephant. Like, why would we care that you rode an elephant or touched a snake? Get over yourself.

- she matched with you by accident

- she's upset with you and has chosen the silent treatment as her delicate revenge

With that said, a bare hello is never going to get the job done. When you're writing something, throw out an introduction that can't help but make her reply, and she'll reply. Comedy is usually best, so hire ghostwriters. I'm not paid enough for that.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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