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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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Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
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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 (158)

Friday
Jul252014

In Which Amy Schumer Obliterates Her Own Vanity

Impossibly Amy!

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Amy Schumer's face is a bit too bulbous in certain regions, resembling a squirrel with nuts saved up for winter. Her comedy is mostly self-deprecating when it comes to her appearance. She makes jabs at herself about her weight, her voice, her profligate sexuality basically anything that is not her hair or navel.

Amy is primarily a Jewish woman. Since Jewish women are not so often blonde, Amy passes for a shiksa at first glance. When the unsuspecting goy realizes he is not dealing with one of his own kind, he instinctively rebels against this momentary betrayal. This explains any and all venom against Ms. Schumer on the internet, except from the wives of the married men she has been with. When they told her they loved her, she told them that they loved their wives.

It is possible that Jesus could return to us, but not in the form He took the first time? It is, isn't it?


In one of her sketches, Amy Schumer returns to her domicile and finds her boyfriend wearing clown makeup. She accepts his explanation that he was wearing the makeup as a surprise for her, even though it seems very obvious her boyfriend is hiding a clown woman in their bedroom. The joke is that Amy forgives things that she should not.

In another sketch, Amy's friend and writer on the show, Tig, has cancer. When she asks Amy to run in a 5K supporting cancer research, Amy keeps finding excuses that would prevent her from participating. The joke is that Amy is an insensitive boss and human being. We all know that's not true!

In another sketch, Amy is on a date with a man who is telling her about his experience on 9/11. After she orders her sandwich, Amy remarks of the woman who took her order, "She's cute" after thinking about it for several seconds. The joke is that Amy is so self-centered that she pays compliments to people outside their hearing, I think. Amy finds it very difficult to concentrate during her date's story. Later, she directs him to be quiet while she attempts to Shazam a song playing in the restaurant.

Melissa McCarthy is a lot less conventionally attractive than Amy, but it is still revolting how she is used as a punchline for her weight, and how Chuck Lorre wrote a whole TV show about how the only man she could find would be a guy the size of a house who she met at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. (This is actually the horribly offensive plot of Mike & Molly.)

Amy's self-deprecating schtick more closely resembles Tina Fey's. Listening to Fey put herself down over the course of season after season of 30 Rock became exhausting, then ridiculous as the actress who portrayed Liz Lemon turned into a sex symbol. There is a deep uncomfortability with sex at the heart of Tina's act in general. It is the reason why her stylings translated so terribly to the movies, where our revulsion and disbelief at how much she claims to have eaten is not nearly as desirable or sympathetic over the course of two hours.

Tempting as it may be to film Amy getting dumped by Bradley Cooper and go on a road trip with her best pal (one of Judd Apatow's daughters, most likely) there are only a select few people who mankind is willing to pay to watch denigrate themselves for our amusement, and the list grows every time Mary Kate or Ashley Olsen replicates via simple mitosis. In her new movie with Apatow, Trainwreck, Amy wrote her own role as a woman who tries to "get over her self-sabotaging ways."

Amy's putdowns of herself are fresher and more biting (and at the same time Joan Rivers-ancient) when she refers to her own promiscuity. Amy recently whispered to James McAvoy on the Tonight Show that she has been known to use too much teeth during oral sex. He seemed vaguely disgusted and semi-turned on. When he stood up he was 5'1" max and Amy did not appear to be interested any longer.

In another sketch, Lisa Lampanelli sings a really awkward and dated song about her breasts being unusual.

In another sketch, Amy portrays a therapist counseling a group of troubled husbands. Each of the men advocates severe violence as a solution to their marital problems. Amy attempts to dissuade them from such a drastic course. At the conclusion of the sketch, Amy's Australian boyfriend enters the room to complain that he has been waiting for too long. The men suggest ways she might kill this man.

In another sketch, Amy expresses her frustration about how terrible her mother is at using any basic technology. In another sketch she and Parker Posey complain to a waiter who does not understand their dietary needs.

Some critics have taken issue with Amy's many bon mots about her vaunted promiscuity. Offstage, Amy makes it clear that while she is far from sexually inexperienced, she does not treat relationships in any kind of frivolous way. Even on her show, Amy shows herself as vulnerable and committed when her partner seems to require the opposite. This seems like an impossible woman to tear your eyes away from for more than a second, let alone cheat on.

It sort of bothers me that no matter how disgusting a male comedian is, no one accuses him of betraying his gender or political movement because he makes a joke about his balls.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"On My Own" - Kodakid (mp3)

"Goin' Out West" - Kodakid (mp3)


Thursday
Jul032014

In Which We Burrow Under Scarlett's Skin

Scarlett Inside Of Scarlett

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Under the Skin
dir. Jonathan Glazer

108 minutes

Under the Skin uses a lot of non-actors from the Scotland in which its Stranger in a Strange Land-story is set, filming by a hidden camera on the dashboard of a van. None of them imagine that Scarlett Johansson is anything but a confused American, and a very poor driver. In their thick Scottish accents you can barely make out what they are saying even if you knew what driving directions they were conveying to her. The joke is that they are both aliens to each other.

In this third film by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) Scarlett is supposed to be an alien, though. Despite the fact that her exaggerated features and pin-up body have made her look inhuman in comparison to her fellow actors for almost a decade, Under the Skin tones back that otherworldiness throughout.

Instead, it is supposed to be Ms. Johansson's awkward, mannered gestures that suggest she is not from Earth. This succeeds about as well as you would expect while a swirling, faux-Kubrickian cinematography tries to obscur Scarlett's utterly human sexual presence.

Scarlett is not the only alien in Scotland. There is also a motorcycle-riding alien is who is a bit suspicious of the positive inroads Scarlett seems to be making in the Edinburgh comunity. Like Scarlett, this speedier iteration murders human beings for their carapaces, seeming to find as much pleasure in his own shell as he does in dissecting theirs. In Under the Skin, death is not the end for the bodies the aliens discover and appropriate for themselves.

Scarlett eventually meets up with a creature as bizarre as herself a man with severe facial bloating and scarring. She tells the elephant man that he has wonderful hands, although it unclear why she would offer such a compliment. The music becomes seriously wacky as they touch and the elephant man shows her his dick. Taking the joy out of watching Scarlett Johanssen walk backwards nude is an impressive achievement.

For some unknown reason the grotesque man's plight affects her, even though it is hard to believe she has any concept of beauty, despite being extremely humanoid in her actual form:

In the film's opening scene, she delicately picks an ant off a body she stripped for its clothes. None of her human movements come across as the slightest bit unnatural, and this last gesture seems almost too familiar. Like the rest of Under the Skin's symbols, the ant parallel is so facile it doesn't really hold up under interrogation. Whatever point the film is making about how real people react to a beautiful woman is subsumed by how staged it feels that Scarlett is involved. The thing you really need to keep in mind is this: Scarlett is not one of us, and she never will be.

Disoriented by encounters with human beings where they don't want to kill her or put her on the cover of their magazine, Scarlett attempts to approximate humanity by eating cake and sampling physical love. Further disturbed, she flees into the woods where rapists live. One particularly goofy criminal tries to have his way with her. He screams, "Black Widow!!!" and attempts to enjoy the horrific act, but he only ends up tearing her skin as she flees. Frightened by her actual shape, he douses her with kerosene and burns her body.

By that point we are somewhat tired of looking at Scarlett, as the director clearly enjoys her form more than is healthy. To make Scarlett's body such a centerpiece betrays a love of that voluptuous shape. In Under the Skin each individuated part of her body always seems to be pleasantly extruding in every direction. Unfortunately, there is nothing subtle or transcendant about her physicality; the only advantage it offers is constant presence.

This makes it very difficult for her to carry off the role of an alien, especially since that curvy physique is so familiar to us anyway. It is not supposed to be fun to watch her, so when it is, we feel uneasy. That effect, at least, is unique.

Under the Skin does the best it can to distract from this unsettling contradiction Glazer's manipulative camera tricks are satisfying at first, but exhausting taken in total. It is a serious achievement that we want so badly to avert our eyes from this situation, creating a moral dilemma for ourselves that rarely exists in cinema. Under the Skin's anguished unfolding, stepping on a thin line between pain and wonder, exemplifies the reason it is rare.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"Still Madly Crazy" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

"The Opposite of Me" - Robin Thicke (mp3)

Wednesday
May142014

In Which We Get Pretty Used To Being With Gwyneth

The Clocks Represented Soy Gelato

by ALEX CARNEVALE

There is a point near the end of the new Coldplay album Ghost Stories where Chris Martin compares his relationship to the mother of his children with the flight of a flock of birds. Like the coordinated journey of such creatures, Gwyneth must fly away in something like a migratory pattern. The implication is that the bearded Englishman hopes that his goop will return.

So fly on
Ride through
Maybe one day I'll fly next to you


What exactly was the problem that led to the conscious uncoupling? Ghost Stories cites several complaints that Martin had with his soon-to-be ex-wife:

- She did not enjoy watching television with him, i.e.  "Late night watching TV/Used to be you here beside me/Is there someone there to reach me?/Or someone there to find me?"

- Sometimes he waited for her call, but she never called, so it was impossible to masturbate without hearing the sound of her voice.

- Despite his elaborate plan to convince Gwyneth that British come had certain restorative autoimmune properties not present in the American editions, she preferred smoked fennel and an orange scented millet.

- She was more interested in other guys at times, especially ones whose albums were not as whiny/complainy, or included musicians playing instruments.


It is difficult to see what Gwyneth saw in this creature from the beginning. On the surface Martin appeared to be the equivalent of a broken jack-in-the-box: sometimes he would write a semi-decent song, the rest of the time he would just pout about wristwatches and fixing ww (white women). Martin is now completely done with ww, having selected a girlfriend ten years his wife's junior, half-Asian model Alexa Chung.

"I wish you could have let me know," Martin "sings" on the Timbaland produced "True Love." Could he not just read her blog?

Other lyrics are even more depraved and pathetic. In "Another's Arms," when he is not kvetching about not having Gwyneth there when he is watching telly, he sings, "Got to put yourself into me," which has to raise some eyebrows. I guess he means a finger or a strap-on? As usual, Martin's vocals are half spoken and half sung except when he reaches into a falsetto for a couplet about how Gwyneth refuses to do some sexual act he grew accustomed to during the recording of Parachutes.

I guess he hopes to make Gwyneth jealous by dating this woman, although he probably could have accomplished much the same effect by cozying up to a human-sized stick of celery and licking it lasciviously at intervals.

It is a virtual certainty, based on some of the subtle references in Ghost Stories, that Gwyneth has what can be charitably described as a unique set of sexual needs. Blowjobs are of course out of the question; "You want to see the mother of your children with a dick in her mouth?" she reportedly once screamed at L.A. hotspot Navarro. Handjobs were more of a grey area, since they usually do leave the other hand free for web browsing.

As subtly described in Ghost Stories' finest track, "Ink", Martin felt he got a tattoo that said "together through life," but instead Gwyneth's changing needs interfered with their coupling. For some reason, Martin explained in a recent radio interview, she demanded that every single door in their home become a 'sliding door.'

When she would emerge through each transparent entryway, she would get this super-disappointed look on her face implying that she was upset by the reality of her life: two adorable children and a husband who cannot sing and constantly demands oral.

The now fractured family spent a sedate Mother's Day at the Paltrow family compound. Even after writing an entire album about how sad he is that Gwyneth prefers to make guys dress up like Richie Tenenbaum and invite her into their fort for some salty seitan snacks and a bottle of gluten-free Riesling, he still has to see this woman on a frequent basis. At times he puts the new album on in the car for his whole family to listen, turning his day-to-day life into a neverending awkward conversation about how "Daddy and Mommy still love you very much."

"Daddy?" their son Lozenge would ask in an extremely grating voice, "Was it really necessary to tell Mommy that her chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. reminds you of the chemistry between Angelina Jolie and the woman who does her makeup?"

Chris Martin answered his child the only way he could, "Iron Man 2 sucked hard," he told the boy. "But your mom never sucked at all."

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"True Love" - Coldplay (mp3)

"O" - Coldplay (mp3)

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