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Alex Carnevale

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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 (157)


In Which We Find This Troubling To Contemplate At All

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.


One of my good friends just found out she's having a baby. I'm happy for her and genuinely excited that she and her partner are going to be parents. But I feel like my friend is changing so quickly! We used to make fun of women who posted pictures of their "baby bump" and we promised each other we'd never be so silly. Now she's doing all that stuff, and I don't know whether to bring it up with her or see if it's just a phase. 

Jean C.

Dear Jean,

It depends. Do you think parenthood is just a phase? 

Sorry, your friend's life — and her friendship with you  will never be the same. All you can do now is show up to her inevitable shower(s) with pastel-colored bags full of tiny, expensive clothing that her mewling, drooling offspring will outgrow immediately and hope for the best.

By which I mean, be supportive. We all make promises about what we'll never do, say, or like that we grow up to break. For example, I said I'd never use the word "offspring" again, but here we are. Telling your friend that you're disappointed in who she's becoming will basically ensure that you'll attend the funeral of your friendship instead of your friend's blessed event.


I met Tim in fall of 2009. Outside of the few times when he was drinking our relationship has always been relaxed and comfortable. Tim doesn't really drink very much, probably because when he does drink, he drinks far beyond the point of excess, and frequently doesn't remember his activity at all.

Let me emphasize that Tim does not get violent when he drinks this much. He generally becomes useless to anyone, fumbles around and can barely take care of himself, which means that me or his friends have to exhaustingly take care of him for the rest of the night.

I'd be lying if I said how I view Tim wasn't affected by these times, but I still consider him my partner and friend. How can I help him without ruining the relationship?

Lauren M.

Dear Lauren,

Everybody has flaws except for young Joan Didion. She should have been preserved in amber. Here are some things that ultimately ended my relationships:

1. Whenever he wore a suit, he would yell, "Zoot suit riot! Throw back a bottle of beer!" Fucking idiot.

2. He asked me where recycled plastic went. When I responded, "A recycling plant," he giggled like it was a joke.

3. He chased pigeons like a poodle.

4. During sex he would get super embarrassed if he sweat at all. Then he would apologize, roll off me and check his e-mail.

5. His sister was named Veronica Toolings. Just no.

6. He would put his hands on my face every time we kissed. When I asked him why he did it, he said because Ryan Gosling did. We didn't break up because of this, but it was still pretty weird. We broke up because he moved to Brazil.

7. If we went to the movies, he bought three boxes of candy. He would save one for later that night.

8. He killed a guy. It was self-defense, but it still worried me at times.

See? Tim is not so bad after all. He most likely has a severe allergy to alcohol that means he will not be a functioning alcoholic, which is way worse than someone who can't hold his liquor. If you really want to make him better, try to get him to take some other drug that is fun when he goes out that will replace alcohol, like mushrooms or arsenic.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"That Point When" - My Brightest Diamond (mp3)

"Whoever You Are" - My Brightest Diamond (mp3)


In Which We Discover This Is Onerous To Convey

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.


We have all heard the maxim, "Once a cheater, always a cheater." I have been dating my boyfriend David for over a year. Early on in our relationship, when we were not exclusive, he explained that he had also been seeing another girl, who we will call Serena. He told me that he was going to break it off with her and that was that.

Recently he told me he had plans to meet up with Serena again, and reassured me that it was only in a friendly context. Initially I had no problem with this, but my curiosity led me into a google rabbit hole and I viewed Serena's online presence in its entirety. She is a very, very attractive presence, in a lot of ways that I am not. For example, she has long blonde hair and a tiny waist.

When I brought this up to David, he again told me there was nothing to it and said all the right things. He offered to cancel, but I said it was OK. Now I am kind of worried though. Objectively I don't believe he ever cheated on me, but I can't help having that feeling in the back of my mind. What should I do?

Denise F.

Dear Denise,

If your relationship was strong and committed, the reappearance of Serena should not have a negative impact on what you share with your beau. If it was strong and committed, she would just be a faceless woman that was once a part of his past and now is not.

Speaking to the situation at hand though, you have two options: You can demand to be there when he meets up with her. You can make your presence known. You can publicly establish the boundaries to her. But all that does is shine a negative light on you. It makes you seem paranoid. If I was Serena, I would think that there’s something wrong within the relationship. And there’s no point in giving this other woman the upper hand by showing your cards of insecurity.

Instead, the best option is to ask David the nature of his past relationship. Was Serena just a woman he was dating casually at the same time he began to date you? What defines casually? And how long were they together? You can ask these questions in a to-the-point manner. It might seem confrontational (because it is), but it is better than worrying yourself over something that you ultimately can’t control. Be honest with how this makes you feel to him. Get it all out in the open, ask for honesty in his response, and trust that the strength of your relationship will provide a sufficient enough answer.


I am a 20 year college graduate who takes medication for my bipolar disorder. When I inform my dates of my condition or that I take regular medication, they do not react very well. Usually in their eyes I see a fight or flight response reminiscent of a young doe. When is the right time and manner in which to bring up my condition?

Nathan R.


Dear Nathan,

There is no set time when it might be appropriate to share sensitive information, but you will probably know when it’s right. Usually the other person will have shown you that it is okay to say these things, normally by sharing their own stories. This could be on the second date or in the second month.  Dating allows both people to test the waters. As the relationship grows, so should each person’s trust in the other. If you pull somebody into the deep end with you right away, you won’t know if they’re up to it. They haven’t earned your trust yet, and you haven’t earned theirs. Start small, like with a bowl of pistachios.   

It’s also possible that you are dating people who aren’t ready to be in real relationships. If you’re still rebuffed even when you’ve waited until it’s natural or necessary to share, then move on and don’t blame yourself. They are the ones who need to grow up.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

"Asleep in the Deep" - Mastodon (mp3)

"Ember City" - Mastodon (mp3)


In Which We Find This Impossible To Make You Understand

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.


My girlfriend Marilyn is a charismatic, loving and caring person. She does one thing that has grown to bother me over time. Whenever she is walking around the city, examining various buildings, she says one thing over and over again, "Who lives here?" with a quizzical tone.

I don't know if she genuinely wonders who is living in the domiciles, or if she just thinks it's a funny thing to say. I've told her in a nice way that she might want to give "Who lives here?" a rest for awhile, but she just thinks it's a wonderful inside joke between us. How can I make her stop uttering these words?

Randolph B.

Dear Randolph,

"Who lives here?" seems a perfectly reasonable thing to say. Your girlfriend harbors a wonderful curiosity about the world and its denizens, and you may never find her ilk again.

Still, even the most introspective and important questions can get a bit grating if repeated often enough. In order to get her to stop asking, each time that she poses the question offer an intricate analysis of the residents' socio-economic levels, day-to-day rituals, grocery shopping lists, possible medications and television viewing habits. Become accustomed to uttering the phrase, "Nielsen viewing patterns tell us..."

After a few times, she will never ask "Who lives here?" again. Did you know most sociologists are divorced?


My daughter recently became pregnant by her longtime boyfriend, Anthony. They decided that they should get married and had a bridal shower, bachelor party and a lovely wedding. The expense to our family was considerable, and even more so because my husband recently had to take a lower-paying job.

Last month I found out from my daughter that her and Anthony had not actually gotten legally married in this ceremony. When I confronted her about this lie, she blew me off and told me that "marriage means different things to different people." Am I right to be upset?

Louise F.

Dear Louise,

No. The American Wedding Industry exists to take money from vulnerable, naive individuals such as yourself. Did you know that in some cultures, such as those of the Incans, a married couple was required to administer blow jobs to everyone who showed up at their nuptials? A gift bag was also provided.

You gave a gift of your own free will. If it was conditional on something, you should not have given it. If it bothers you that much, ask for your money back. You won't get it, but everyone will know you're an insanely gullible person whose devotion to cultural norms will only be eradicated through shock therapy or divorce.


I recently got into a very bad argument with my fiance Steven. In the wake of it, I have asked a lot of different people for advice about the argument in terms of who was wrong and who was right, and I feel like I still don't know the right answer.

Most things are great with Steven, but one issue keeps coming up again and again with us, and that is his relationship with his mother. I try to understand how close he is with her, but I just feel he doesn't put me first at times. Things came to a head when she had one of her many doctor's appointments and he had to drive three hours so he would be there to take her.

While a serious medical issue is one thing, Steven's mother Dorothy seems to be a bit of a hypochrodriac. She is nearly always developing a new ailment, and I can't help but feel she does it to get attention from him, her husband David and even me at times. When I brought this up to Steven finally, he admitted that it might be true, but that his mom did have health issues and suggested she is understandably wanting to feel better.

I don't know how to deal with this and not come across as the bad guy or overly controlling GF. Help.

Melanie T.

Dear Melanie,

Deconstructing the relationship between a boy and his mother is always difficult. Keep in mind, he literally emerged from her uterus. "Well," you might say, "this was long ago." No, it was not. It feels like just yesterday he was in the womb, deriving nutrients from the quinoa she was eating during her pregnancy.

Telling a man to change that relationship is never going to accomplish your goal. You need to subtly tarnish her in his eyes. Does she have any racist or politically incorrect views you can bring to his attention? Perhaps she fears men who wear hoodies, or foolishly purchased an Xbox One? Any anachronistic behavior makes her look like a crazy loon who needs her son too much.

It's important to get a handle on this soon, Melanie. No one wants a Norma/Norman Bates type situation.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.