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Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
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Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Brittany Julious
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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 alex carnevale (162)

Thursday
Mar052015

In Which Sharon Horgan Seduces An American Man

Laying On Its Side

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Catastrophe
creators Sharon Horgan & Rob Delaney


Carrie Fisher is almost unrecognizable in the new BBC sitcom Catastrophe. She appears with her dog on the phone with her son Rob Norris (Rob Delaney), advising him not to marry the British woman he has accidentally impregnated.


Accidentally may be a strong word. There must be a subconscious reason that Rob doesn't use a condom when he has sex with Sharon Morris (Sharon Delaney). Instead of encouraging her to abort the pregnancy, he decides to move to London. We get a sense of the city on Catastrophe. It is a friendly and unfriendly place for an American, and we can see why Rob would not want to live there. He suggests they move to Boston, where his job is, and Sharon laughs in his face.

Horgan is a beautiful and subtle Irish comedian, and she is far and away the star of Catastrophe. "I want to be a choice," she tells her sudden love interest, and it is attractive in a pathetic kind of way. Sharon's brusque personality has, in the past, made her hard to love by anyone except her elementary school students. In the show's only predictable scene, her pregnancy causes her to vomit in front of her pledges, but for the most part descriptions of her gas are relegated to accentuating the couple's sex life.

Horgan is stunning, but Catastrophe works so well because of its surrounding cast. Fisher is brilliant feuding with Horgan as Rob's mawm Mia, and Ashley Jensen plays her friend Fran with an unearthly aplomb. The show's best character is Fran's husband Chris (Mark Bonnar), whose love for his wife is almost but never transcended by his irresistible style.

With such terrible role models, it is a surprise that against the advice of all the people in their life, Horgan and Delaney plan to turn a weeklong hookup into a marriage and a family.


Rob Delaney, a long-time standup, writes Catastrophe with Horgan, and his own battle with alcoholism is the subtle backdrop of the show's story. Delaney is still finding his way as a believable actor, but his timing with Horgan is already great, and the bristly former party animal he plays feels fresh and new as a character.

Delaney uses his brow and mouth to accentuate most of his jokes, which is a little broad for this style of comedy, but his ministrations are so likable the hammy stuff kind of works. During a conference call with his old advertising partners where he has to crouch in the bathroom for privacy, accentuating how much larger he is than virtually everything in England.

Everything on Catastrophe comes from the mind of Horgan and Delaney, and you can tell immediately that this project is not the work of a room of writers. The dilemmas of Catastrophe are completely believable. Nothing is sugarcoated, whether it be Horgan's pregnancy or Delaney's shitbrain friends. When Horgan goes to meet up with an old boyfriend the show even becomes painful and disturbing, without losing any of its signature voice.

Catastrophe allows us to see couples in relationships as they really are, and not as a glamored over loyalty like that of a dog that you see on other comedies. This simple but completely original honesty makes Catastrophe the best comedy on television. (Amazon will be bringing over the BBC show to America this spring.) At a time when everyone else is making jokes about our last differences, Horgan and Delaney have revealed at length that we are all the same, and miserable.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Electric Current" - Lower Dens (mp3)

"Your Heart Still Beating" - Lower Dens (mp3)


Thursday
Feb262015

In Which We Name Our Detective After The Painter

David Simon's Afterbirth

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Bosch
creators Eric Overmyer & Michael Connelly


Were you potentially interested in a show that is a lot like The Wire, but you know, not? Amazon Studios' ten episode series Bosch, based on the character from Michael Connelly's mediocre novels, gruffly enters the scene. A white man made us and shall save us.

The highest art made from the lowest original source material is a ticklish subject. I guess the right answer would be Wes Anderson's The Fantastic Mr. Fox? This rarely comes up; truly bad books are rarely made into magnificent anything. Bosch is nowhere near magnificent, but simply through Eric Overmyer's involvement, it becomes a major improvement on the novels about the too often fictionalized Los Angeles area.


Hieronymous Bosch (Lost's Titus Welliver) is one hell of a homicide detective. I mean, he allows a serial killer to nearly escape from his clutches, spends two months trying to solve a decades old cold case for no reason, causes a suicide and two other deaths, shoots an unarmed man who he says is a killer, and consumates a relationship with a junior officer in his department (Annie Wershing). Besides that, the man is a damn genius.

Bosch is also a terrible father. His ex-wife is a retired FBI profiler who lives in Las Vegas and competes against whales in high stakes poker. Her new husband is every bit the father Bosch does not want to be, because our detective has "cases." He actually only has one case for most of Bosch, and it takes him forever to solve it. Vegas is only a few hours away, but he never goes there.


Bosch's superior is Deputy Chief Irvin Irving (Lance Reddick), who is basically reprising his exact role from Overmyer's The Wire for no reason I can discern. Reddick's low voice is his signature. Emoting and bringing vibracy to an underwritten scene is not really his signature. There is one moment where Reddick talks to a prosecutor while both sit in cars that happens on all of Overmyer's shows, because it is the kind of thing that occurs in real life, and Overmyer loves stuff like that. But here the tête-à-auto accomplishes the opposite effect it makes everything seem fake.

The thing that was actually good about The Wire was not the writing or the performances both varied greatly in quality. What made the show different was that every scene had consequences, unfolding the butterfly effect through bleak streets and inside quiet homes.


Bosch's house, which he supposedly bought from the proceeds of a movie adapted from one of his cases, is completely open to the world. Massive windows look out on the metropolis below. (Bosch's daughter has never even been there.) His girlfriend is not invited to this inner sanctum at any time, but she shows up unexpectedly and Bosch begrudgingly invites her in. What would she want to do with this monster?

In order to make someone so devastatingly banal sympathetic, Connelly has created a detailed backstory that involves Bosch's mother being a prostitute who was murdered, and him being raised in an abusive Catholic orphanage. It turns out the serial murderer (Jason Gedrick) came through that same orphanage, where a dark room with a soiled mattress isolated the most disrespectful boys.


Because we see no actual evidence of how this impacts who Bosch is, the context feels fake. Everything around Bosch is actually more fascinating and vibrant than he is: a lesbian police captain (Amy Aquino) with a child, a repressed homosexual serial killer, Bosch's divorced African-American partner (The Wire's brilliant Jamie Hector), his rookie love interest who has her growing pains, his sympathetic but hard-nosed ex-wife (24's Sarah Clarke). All these characters get plenty of screen time, as Overmyer smartly emphasizes the ensemble.

But the focus is too often on Bosch himself. Welliver tries his best to imbue the thankless role with a brusque charm, but he fails partly because he is never given anything to do. He has one costume change in the entire run of the show. (He takes his shirt off once to have sex.) He never moves quickly or decides something at once from all appearances the only thing he is any good at is drinking and smoking.

Nobody watched Treme, even though it was the best musical by far that has ever been created. It was also hard to follow without detailed notes. Overmyer takes Bosch in a much simpler direction: instead of a thousand storylines, we get one procedural stretched over an entire season of episodes. The plotline of Bosch would have been wrapped up in mere minutes by any other detective. I understand the idea of following a single character over the expense of a large group makes television easier to follow and understand, but airing as it is on Amazon Prime, Bosch did not need to appeal to that audience.

As long as Bosch waited to become a show, and as much as it cost Connelly personally to buy the rights back from Paramount, did we really need another white cop who doesn't follow the rules, unless he is portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Lovit" - Marian Hill (mp3)

"Wasted" - Marian Hill (mp3)

The new album from Marian Hill is entitled Sway and it was released on February 17th.

Monday
Feb162015

In Which We Consider The Cold Oppressive And Troubling

No Winter Sun

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Fortitude
creator Simon Donald

Fortitude begins when Henry (non-Dumbledore mode Michael Gambon), a photographer of polar bears, witnesses a man being mauled by one of the creatures. He takes out a distance rifle and instead of putting the polar bear down, shoots the man in the head. The town's chief of police Dan Anderssen (Richard Dormer) is present for this moment, and he waves Gambon away from the grisly scene.


This gets Gambon, who is the smartest drunk in this freezing Arctic town, thinking. If the sheriff is content to cover up one crime in Fortitude, might he be plotting another Moreover, why was the sheriff even there? Days later, a man (Christopher Eccleston) working as a top government research scientist is killed with a potato peeler.

Fortitude does not make anything look like fun, least of all murder. There are no montages of good, solid police work, no glamorous depictions of the administration of violence. Everything on the show occurs at the periphery, builds up to the possibility of the thing and nothing more. Low Winter Sun creator Simon Donald is more focused on what comes after violence and trauma shake the world.

Fortitude airs in the U.S. on a channel you may not be familiar with, Pivot. The show is likely to be variously intelligible to American viewers given that not only are half the lines on the show grumbled, there are a wide range of accents on display: Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, American and British. These disparate vocals make it appear that everyone on the show is talking in a kind of mixed-up code, and Fortitude indeed contains many subtle references that reward repeat viewing.

Keeping track of these details requires notetaking. Because of the cold clime, many adults in the community of Fortitude have loose arrangements with their spouses. Keeping track of the various quasi-infidelities becomes a kind of spectator sport. Most disturbed by the lies of her police officer husband is Fortitude's mayor Hildur (The Killing's marvelous Sofie Gråbøl), who plans to open a magnificent hotel in Fortitude - if she received the right permissions from the now deceased scientist.

Gråbøl's weirdly sinister machinations make her an unusual villain, and yet Fortitude makes it easy to sympathize with her as well. Why should she halt the development of a magnificent resort that will bring money into her impoverished town just because the carcass of some ancient animal was found by people living in nicer houses than hers? The class struggle hidden behind supposedly scientific institutions and ideals has never been explored so uniquely before in any medium.

Eugene Morton (Stanley Tucci) is the man sent from the mainland to work out this mess. He brags his way all through Fortitude, boasting of his detective skills. The show is deeply hampered by it being impossible to identify with Tucci's detective in any way. Tucci is the anti-Idris Elba here, more closely resembling a human skeleton than a personable individual. His only vice is coffee, and it is the most boring vice there is. This colorless, thankless role is the only thing that mars a captivating drama.

The show's real star is Irish actor Dormer, who looks decades older than his actual age in Fortitude. He is the only individual person on the show that seems to realize who and what he is. Out on the glacier, he makes scenes of walking and moving through the desolate place a kind of quiet rampage; he alone appears as frustrated by his surroundings as anyone would be. He is able to exist because he does not adapt.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Blackbirds" - Gretchen Peters (mp3)

"Pretty Things" - Gretchen Peters (mp3)