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Alex Carnevale
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Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
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Senior Editor
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 (208)

Thursday
Apr282016

In Which Martha Hanson Strays From The Path

Clark?

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg

Who among us hasn't wanted to give Martha a tight little punch in the chest? On The Americans, everyone gets a receipt for what they've done.

The notion of karma was invented in 1938 by a Ukranian tailor who emigrated to Sand Hill, NJ. His given name was Terence Hordiyenko, and he came to this country seeking a brighter future for his two daughters, Enid and Caroline. Enid was a soft girl who did not really fit into her new country. The younger Caroline fit in well, and joined others in mocking her younger sister. But her sister invented a process for stitching dresses more quickly, and Caroline never married. Still her father, who was called T-Bone by his friends, loved Caroline more than Enid. On his death bed he turned his unwanted daughter away, and God made his first appearance in New Jersey. God said, "Because you did not love both of your daughters, I have decided not to call you T-Bone in the hereafter." T-Bone was saddened by this, but he understood.

If you sleep with another person's betrothed, who knows what they will call you in the afterlife.

It bothers me sometimes that we have forgotten what Stan Beeman did. He cheated on his wife with a KGB agent. Why is that never brought up? Agent Gaad should have simply explained that he was playing "the long game" with Martha. "Playing the long game" is a fantastic excuse that I use whenever I don't want to do laundry, make borscht for dinner, or watch whatever is left of Broad City.

Even the most disturbing partnerships are in fact partnerships. A weird sexual tension perverts every relationship of its kind: friendships are rarely so entwined. Without their parents it is only natural that Paige feels a closeness with Henry that goes beyond the strictures of traditional brother-sister behavior. Her metaphoric pouring into his cup made me think of Tijuana. It was there, also in 1938, that remorse was defined as a philosophical concept.

But now the year is 1983. Stan Beeman is maybe the worst FBI agent in the office besides his direct boss. They have Martha, I mean they really have her, and Stan is channeling visions of himself lying down with Martha and then torturing her in some flophouse on Martin Luther King Boulevard. You see, if Stan was in a similar situation, the only thing he could think to do was kill himself. And the irony is, of course, that he is in that exact situation.

Elizabeth shows up at Rock Creek Park. We never see the gun in her pocket, and why even bother? Maybe it's a needle filled with poison, or a picture of herself in coitus with Clark Westerfeld. Either would be just as effective in stopping the beating of Martha's heart. Clark knows his mark better than anyone, and even if she needed the story of him joining her in Moscow, she'd lose faith at another lie.

It seems clear Martha will not be making it to Moscow, which is a damn shame. The show was better off with her comic relief. I don't really see how she is useful to Russia anymore, and if she was smarter she probably could have got something by lying to the FBI and explaining she was blackmailed into cooperating.

She could have told them about Clark, and Frank Langella, and maybe the rat in the fridge would have bought her a house in the Hamptons. She could tell them phone numbers, places, dates, the particulars of the Kama Sutra. How Clark fucked her, loved her, and left her. Even if they didn't believe her, she would have still been an American.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

Previously on the Americans

Young and Foolish - Episode Six

It's Enough Paige - Episode Five

Birdwatching in Winter - Episode Four

Makeup - Episode Three

Church Garb - Episode Two

Son of a Preacher Man - Episode One

"Magnificent Time" - Travis (mp3)

Friday
Apr082016

In Which We Will Not Beg Keri Russell To Stay

Birdwatching in Winter

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg
 

Betrayal!

A man, enthusiastic for a new life! He stands on the precipice of the old, peeling back his woman's blanket from her face! He is more uncomfortable than comfortable, he is more imperceptive than perceptive, he is more un-American than you know what! His bowling improves over long years! Where at first he used the bumper system, until he abandoned it because it was the worst possible metaphor for his life! His son works a joystick at both ends!

Move effortlessly backwards in time from the decision of a divorce, recalling each moment that led to the separation! For Stan Beeman life seems more peripatetic in reverse! When he was poring over the various lozenges and sarcophages of his co-worker, he feels both the thrill of the deceit and the astonishment of delving into a life more consummated than his own! In America, there are always further levels of knowing, passions unknown to the Russian people, who stop at the first orgasm, certain that life could not possibly improve from the state that it is in!

Stan Beeman's real other half, the Russian one, skulks and towers through a shit park to save the one he loves! But the way he loves her! Annet Mahendru, in discussing the illogical fate of Nina Sergeeva, whispered to some reporter that she missed her character! They must have been really tired of having her on set! I have heard of the Stanislavsky method, but never such a fine implementation as in this case! You have probably heard of David Mamet's method of acting! The only thing he tells the performers is to speak the dialogue, the less inflection the better! The only thing he was ever in love with was his ideas!

That is what I think when I see that poor scientist who cared for Elizabeth and Philip like he was their best friend! It is very good to have a friend, especially when you are sick! It turned out that Elizabeth simply had a nasty reaction to antibiotics! They really can make you nauseous! She took it well, all things considered! Life is very precious, especially American, Caucasian life! There must be a respite from the world, and there is something about knowing you are in a house, okay, and pretty soon no one is going to be living there except for the molecules, and in time they will be gone, too!

I am so tired of you, Paige! I am so exhausted by your need for attention! One of the things I dislike most about you is how you let the phone drop to your shoulder when a call becomes too emotional! How is the other person on the end of the line supposed to sense this! You know perfectly well there was no Skype in the 1980s! Sometimes it makes me upset when I think that Paige is alive somewhere, a lot older than me, and way more jaded about everything! When Demi Lovato comes on the radio she probably screams or fondles her gorgeous crucifix necklace! I don't know what the word bespoke means in almost any context!

Sometimes I feel like I am inside Nina's dream! On one level it is weird that she had kind of a brother thing going on with that Jewish guy! I mean, do you really have time to friendzone someone while you are living in a prison cell! She keeps a red diary there! She betrayed plenty of men, except the last one she ever knew! Her betrayals of women were only secondary, and there is something both sexist and progressive about that, and about The Americans in general! That is a terrible feeling: when you think you are taking a step forward, but quite possibly you are mistaken and it is a step back!

A step back from what, you ask, sipping chardonnay with your pinkie finger extended slightly in the ether, like sideways rain! You could be moving onto something great! It could be a substantial improvement over what you left behind, or the person who left you behind! Martha's sad dinner speech was the echo of this idea! You'll never truly know until what happens, happens! The future could also be worse, and the part of the brain dedicated to knowing such things is like the appendix, in that it became vestigial over time, but once this organ had a great purpose!

Trust me!

Do you understand?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"The Wizard" - M83 (mp3)

Friday
Apr012016

In Which We See Everyone In The World As A Lawyer

Makeup

by ALEX CARNEVALE

The Americans
creator Joe Weisberg

I don't know why anyone would enjoy Epcot, as though walking around in a circle were traveling the world. I don't know why anyone would travel the world either. Confronted with the possibility of returning to her native Russia, Sister Keri demurs, informing her husband that she could not imagine losing all they've built in Washington D.C.

What was she talking about? The only friends she has are the minority characters she swindles or blackmails into betraying their country. She targets niche groups because they are not as beholden to their own national identity. Eventually she will be smoking a peace pipe with a lovely Sioux man named Papa Candle Holder, and informing him that his family is so charming, but "I don't want to talk about my problems."

It has been scientifically proven that people identify better with those they take pity on. Elizabeth, all gussied in makeup that reminds one of the fourth place victor of Miss America, works that angle completely. The easiest way to define a person is by discovering what job they think every person in the world is, at their core, performing. Elizabeth thinks that everyone is a salesman.

Philip thinks that everyone in the world is a psychotherapist. He's really bearing his heart to pretty much anyone. His tete-a-tete with Paige in her room featured him working his daughter like an asset. Since he usually murders his assets, this was some cold-blooded stuff. I wonder sometimes what happened to the people he developed as sources of information. Presumably there is an American analogue to what Nina Seergeva is going through.

Nina sees everyone in the world as a bureaucrat. Her fantasy of seeing Stan again was very weird, considering I never thought she actually felt anything for the jacked-up, pockmarked fiend of an FBI agent. I imagine Nina is going to be returned to the American theater of events pretty soon, because there is only so long we can read Russian subtitles and view her grim little smile.

Paige sees everyone in the world as a travel agent. Her hilarious comments about how Pastor Tim's wife can't keep her mouth shut represent good progress for the character. I guess she might be cut out to be a spy after all, and Pastor Tim is probably ripe to be co-opted as well. It seemed ridiculously naive that he would believe that spies would give him time to think things over, but I mean the guy does have a gossipy wife so how great is his judgement overall?

Philip's story about how he can imagine Stan in a motel never seeing his son did not really seem reasonable either. Of all the options he has for himself, Philip can't leave Elizabeth — being a father and husband is too ingrained in what he is. I suppose he could take Martha and move operations to a sleepy hamlet, where we could get the spinoff we deserve. Otherwise I'm tited of Philip crying wolf about wanting to pull out, since the show would be over.

Philip Jennings talks to all the women in his life the same way. He chooses his words so carefully; it is entirely unlike how he interacts with men, with whom he is always straightforward. At first he positions himself as a listener with women, painting his face with a knowing smile or a frown, either of which reflects their expression completely. Then, he subtly shifts the conversation to where he is carrying the greater share of the load. They are left with the illusion of an interchange, when in reality he is the only one who has spoken.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"When They Really Get To Know You They Will Run" - Pedro the Lion (mp3)

"The Fleecing" - Pedro the Lion (mp3)