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Editor-in-Chief
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 (210)

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)

Tuesday
Mar292016

In Which We Pretend To Be Andy Warhol Or The New York Dolls

Factory Living

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Vinyl
creators Mick Jagger, Terence Winter, Rich Cohen & Martin Scorsese

The massive list of producers on Vinyl reads like a bad joke: a Brit, a Jew, an Italian and an Irishman walk into a bar... A lot of people were involved in making Vinyl, probably hundreds, many of them very talented. The two-hour pilot alone cost $18 million. There is a person of every possible race and ethnicity in HBO's Vinyl, except Asian. (Didn't you know there were no Asians in New York in the 1970s, at least none involved in the music industry in any significant way?)

Let's talk about the music, since Vinyl plays a lot of songs. Figure that the people behind this show don't sit around watching tons of television to know that half the stuff they play has been in every generic movie released in the last fifty years. The music alternates between wonderful and terrible, but the worst part of the aural situation is this: no one seems to care very much how is it made. We never see anyone writing songs or tuning instruments.

Instead of focusing on creative individuals, Vinyl concerns itself with Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale). When he is lucid, which is not often, Richie occasionally (this is rare) might say something semi-intelligent. In Vinyl, we live for these moments, since witnessing him destroy himself with cocaine and alcohol, and hurting the feelings of all New York's not-Asians is pretty hard to watch after awhile.

Richie is Italian, and he relied on his former secretary Andrea Zito (Annie Parisse) in so many ways. They slept together when he told his wife Devon (Olivia Wilde) that he would be working late. He kept a white woman at home and an Italian woman in the city in a reverse-Tony Soprano situation. This ethnic switcheroo is never explicitly explained, and I sometimes think it must be like watching aliens from space for people in other places to view Vinyl. Then again no one watches the show anyway so does it really matter?

Despite the fact that Richie is a complete asshole to everyone except his kids and his employee Jamie Vine (Juno Temple), he has to murder a guy in self-defense and he spends most of Vinyl's episodes whining and crying about this. The man he killed to protect himself was a dirtbag who owned some radio stations. The guy had no wife, no children, and no one who cared if he lived or died outside of the prostitutes who depended on him for their living. His company and family are falling apart, and all Richie Finestra can think about is this piece of shit.

It makes no sense whatsoever, but then maybe treating Vinyl as an actual series with characters who might have positive and negative qualities is giving it too much credit. It is more about an overwhelming sense of style which never coheres or agrees upon itself, and so becomes ugly. This period in American life was a great deal more disgusting than either the 1920s or the 1990s, the focus of Terence Winter's previous series. The colors all clash, the outfits are ghastly, and there was no antibacterial solution in all of New York.

Winter's writing has always been among the very best on television, and he has a few artistic crutches which make it into everything he works on. He loves showing people by themselves, following them even after the scene he is writing would traditionally end. He focuses so intently on every moment having something at stake that he makes anything he constructs into a thriller of sorts. This works a lot better in noir, because people can live or die based on events. On Vinyl it just means we have to care about who gets a record deal.

When Finestra first meets his wife, he has sex with her in the bathroom of the Factory. He puts his hand around Devon's neck to choke her a bit. She slaps him but seems to enjoy his sense of play. I hate to say it, but Olivia Wilde is about as plausible in this role as it was when Whoopi Goldberg put on a nun's habit.

But even if she did seem like the kind of person who would be a Connecticut housewife, the sheer number of fakes on Vinyl makes the entire show seem a comedy sketch. I guess using actual footage of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop would have completely changed what they were going for, but no one wants to watch actors play these people and lip synch their songs. There is a reason Milli Vanilli did not have a lasting career in the business.

This is essentially the conundrum: making Vinyl fun would make these people seem like heroes glorifying excess and theft from the musicians. Without those guitarists and vocalists, there would be no great sums of money to pay for the ample suppy of cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs. So instead Vinyl is utterly depressing to watch and be a part of; every single person on the show is permanently unhappy and completely ashamed of their lives, which is not only terrible to witness, but not really realistic when you think about it.

Worse than being immersed in the darkness of these pagans, however, is the fact that Vinyl is completely out of date. Period pieces needs to comment on contemporary times, but Vinyl has nothing to say about who we are now, since whatever authenticity was present in this period evaporates by reconstructing it. The only possible conclusion is that the 1970s was as fake as the modern concept of celebrity, which is not really something we need told to us by an expensive television program.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

"You're Gonna Get Love" - Keren Ann (mp3)

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