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Alex Carnevale
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Kara VanderBijl
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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 (163)

Tuesday
Mar312015

In Which Laurence Olivier Leaves His Wife For Vivien Leigh

Misunderstandings

by ALEX CARNEVALE

1937. Laurence Olivier was very displeased with his marriage, so he began to look elsewhere. He registered in hotels with Vivien Leigh as Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Kerr. (Leigh was herself in an unhappy, sexless marriage with an older man she had met at 18.) When Vivien got out of the bathtub the first time Laurence ever saw her nude, she said simply, "Now I'll show you how I do it."

While he performed in Henry V, the two couples stayed in the same hotel so his fucks were more accessible. He planned a home in Chelsea where he and Leigh could live together. The two exchanged affection onstage as Hamlet and Ophelia, in full view of their spouses. "This welding closeness tripped the obvious decision, and two marriages were severed," Olivier later wrote. Vivien would not be able to divorce her husband  Herbert Holman until years afterwards.

wedding photo from Olivier's unhappy first marriage

As soon as they were openly together, Olivier changed his will, giving Vivien the lion's share of his estate. To his ex-wife Jill Esmond and Leigh he wrote, "It is my most earnest wish that my wife and Vivien shall live in friendliness and harmony of spirit both forgiving and forgetting any possible bitterness that may perhaps be between them."

Olivier hated vacations, but that first year with Vivien he took two; one in Italy and one in France. While they were on the Riviera, Laurence was offered Wuthering Heights. They quarreled over the role that Vivien would get; she wanted the larger part of Cathy but William Wyler insisted Merle Oberon would play that part.

They shot Wuthering Heights in Los Angeles, and Wyler and Olivier just could not get along. The main conflict was over the amount of overacting Olivier was intent on doing as Heathcliff. (Wyler just wanted Olivier to be himself, and was undoubtedly correct in his appraisal.) "We argued and argued and I must say he didn't argue very brilliantly," Olivier wrote Leigh. "I suspect he must have good instinct with no brains."

Things went no better between Laurence and his leading lady Merle Oberon, who accused him of spitting on her in close-ups.

Laurence Olivier missed Vivien terribly, especially sailing from England to New York.

Olivier refused to take cabin 69, thinking she might disapprove, and spent most of the trip drunk. "I love thinking of you when water is rushing past my face," he wrote her. "I always used to find a cold sponge very soothing at Capri - do you remember? Great comfort in thoughts of you while in water. I must have a pre-natal wish, somewhere, to be your child." Ew.


Los Angeles wasn't much better for Olivier's loneliness. "My dearest little darling passionate supreme love - I am with you, and round you, and in you all the time, my treasure." Eventually, Vivien made her way to him. "HOW GLORIOUS. WILL MAKE ARRANGEMENT FOR EIGHT HEAVENLY DAYS," he telegraphed. "I AM SO HAPPY. SHOULD DIE WITHOUT YOU ANY LONGER. DELICIOUS LOVE." He later added "I DIE TILL YOU COME."

Olivier in drag for "The Taming of the Shrew"

Vivien's reasons for the trip were far more logical. When Hamish Hamilton asked why she was going, she explained, "Partly because Larry's there, and partly because I intend to get the part of Scarlett O'Hara."

For the Oscar-winning role Vivien received only $25,000, and was under David O. Selznick's thumb for the next seven years. This incensed Olivier, who hated the slimy producer long before this. When Olivier brought his doubts to Selznick, the bastard told him, "Larry, don't be a shit twice."

with Marilyn Monroe, who he loathed

Leigh and Olivier were far from happy to be in America. "In fact," she told her soon to be ex-husband, "I do not think there is anything nice about America except the football, and the politeness of men in garages." But when Wuthering Heights came out, Olivier was an instant star in the country. Olivier appealed to both men and women in a deeply sexual way.

He quickly learned that this approval could vanish in an instant after he tried to star in his own Romeo and Juliet with Leigh in New York. The audience could barely hear his girlfriend, and Olivier as a brooding Romeo was a bit old for the part. The reviews were savage.

note to Vivien about doing his hair

Olivier lost $96,000 on Romeo and Juliet, and could not wait to get home to England. Unfortunately, he picked an awkward time to flop: France was fading, and English children were making the trip West to America for safety. When Olivier and Leigh landed in Bristol, they were in the middle of an air raid and the plane nearly went down.

Wanting to aid the war effort, Olivier enlisted in the Royal Air Force. Instead of bunking with the cadets, he and Leigh lived in a bungalow near the base, which she furnished with paintings and a few Indian rugs from their place in London. "I've always thought that my performance as a naval officer was the best bit of character work I've ever done," Olivier lied.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Moon Never Rises" - Calexico (mp3)

"Woodshed Waltz" - Calexico (mp3)

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.