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Alex Carnevale

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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 alison lohman (2)


In Which We Have Chosen Another Dog

Pet Abuser


Downward Dog
creator Samm Hodges & Michael Killen

Every person has a certain frustration about the way the world operates. The tragedy is that each person can never be convinced that their special objection to these goings on is anything less than a predictable malady, akin to the common cold. Convinced her struggles are her own, Nan (Alison Lohman) decides to share her awful life with a dog, a mutt named Martin she rescued. (Martin is voiced by Downward Dog creator Samm Hodges.)

Amy Schumer once had a great sketch about people who constantly mentioned the dogs they rescue. Well, it wasn't so much a great sketch as a painfully obvious joke repeated several times, but it certainly was reflective of something in the culture. Downward Dog has missed out on that, whatever it was, and completely unironically presents the story of a woman who abuses her dog as if she is the hero.

Nan (is she named after bread?) never takes her dog on walks. She allows him to go on all her furniture, and she frequently punishes him by confined him to a small space and telling him that he is bad, even though he is just enacting behavior she has permitted. She allows him to sleep in her bed, which is completely disgusting. You see, dogs often roll around on the ground, where bacteria collects, and to drag those molecules into your sleeping quarters is just asking for various infections.

Obviously she never even read the internet to find out the first thing about what is involved in taking care of a dog. She leaves Martin in alone in the house, with no way of going to the bathroom, for upwards of ten to fifteen hours. This is completely unkind and also terribly unhealthy for the dog's long term health. Martin's on Downward Dog is not even marginally better than when he was at the animal shelter.

Things are even worse when it comes to the rest of Nan's life. In one scene in Downward Dog, she wears a Metallica t-shirt. I was unsure if this was ironically or not, but it came across as completely sincere. She never actually listens to any rock music. Maybe she did before she discovered she did not enjoy it, or before she met her boyfriend (Lucas Neff) who suspect that this woman is a total fake and leaves without saying anything. When he is around, at least he interacts with her dog, the only temporary reprieve of enjoyment or play Martin ever experiences.

Nan works in the marketing department of a clothing company called Crate + Bow, where she articulates her aim as wanting to "change the world." She never gets involved in politics, even though the actual real-life wife of Samm Hodges, much like every woman I know, spends every waking hour posting and e-mailing anti-Trump material. But to actually articulate the passion of real women in Downward Dog would be angering too much of ABC's prospective audience, so they don't do it. Artists should never be such complete cowards.

The Pittsburgh-set Downward Dog is quite an extensive guide for how to be an awful human being. Nan's boss at work is a guy named Kevin (Barry Rothbart). He is openly sexist, and Nan's friend Jenn (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) even references that she has complained about his behavior to HR. I guess nothing came from that. In one scene, the two invade their boss's private office, which is completely inappropriate, and find a white-board with his ideas. From this list Nan derives a diorama which does seem to feature a dress or maybe just a mannequin:

As bad as the diorama is, it is the only thing of any interest this awful person creates. After Martin tears up the diorama, Nan goes with her original idea. Her plan to advertise the various wares of the clothing company she works for is to put a big mirror in front of all their stores that reflects what the customers are currently wearing. The text on the mirror will say, "Look how beautiful you are." Her boss is furious at this, but some corporate overlord witnesses the presentation and is like, "This could work. It's just inauthentic enough to make absolutely no sense." Even that crazy woman who ran J. Crew would have told Nan she was straight garbage.

At first Nan thinks she is fired. Nan is so full of hate after her boss' reaction that she decides to take her considerable anger out on her pet. I loathe people who take their feelings out on others. She does this to Martin:

You know who can't handle their own feelings? Children, but their have an excuse for this behavior. Children want to seem cool by wearing a particular piece of clothing. Children think that a mirror is a good way to advertise a product. Children think every single person is beautiful because they simply haven't seen enough people to know what being beautiful actually means, or that it has meaning at all. A child, a cruel, evil child, might treat a dog this way. A human being never could.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


In Which We Are Underneath The Ground, Hoping To Grab Your Feet

Hell Is Other Loan Officers


For me, hell is being a loan officer at a California bank. For others, it's a delicate heaven, and Justin Long is a trained psychologist and also your boyfriend, and his mother wants him to marry a lawyer, and you're not good enough. Sam Raimi's incredible return to the horror genre takes this basic dismaying premise and makes things so much worse I was begging for sweet relief.

'i sense that you are juno's understudy...does this word 'juno' mean anything to you?'I have never been particularly good with horror films. A book can be put down; you can't see it, anyway. A light can be turned on in a dark closet. A grizzled old man who brushed against you accidentally on a crowded train can be reported to the police. But a film - that is a different story altogether. The only way to get around the diegesis, in this case, is to realize that the only thing that lurks in those shadows is death, and death is not really all that scary - in fact after watching an episode of Nurse Jackie, it's a welcome revelation.

Sam Raimi and his older brother Ivan have gotten around this by creating a series of hells, all of which exist in the real world, and have to be dealt with. There is actually something in all those shadows, there's no Macguffin making it all happen, no trick ending waiting. There's just eternal damnation, and running from it as fast as you possibly can.

sup?Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is in the pickle I described, and she has to think of a way out of it. She's a bright, well-meaning young person, the kind of woman that under other circumstances you'd like to know or even impregnate, but not these particular circumstances, no. Her face is perfect for Raimi's purposes - even in quiet confidence it betrays an inner fear. Replacing Ellen Page, Lohman is a dead ringer for the androgynous young person, and she's as talented an actress.

go ask obama, I'm totally sure he'll write you a checkAfter denying a disgusting Gypsy woman another extension on her mortgage to impress her boss (David Paymer), she gets cursed with an object that marks her as fodder for a demon called Lamia. Demons! They just don't understand fiscal responsibility. The fact that Raimi turns this into a joke is hilarious, but there is also a major truth underneath this well-timed setup.

The banks were blamed for targeting the weak, for okaying loans that couldn't possibly be repaid. Little condemnation has come in for those who couldn't make their payments. Probably there is blame on both sides, and since the government bailed out only one of those sides, I'm not even sure who to be sympathetic to. That is where we are in American life - there are no winners, just different levels of losers in hock to a federal government that has no idea when to stop spending.

Thankfully it is in Drag Me to Hell that Judgment comes, Raimi-style. It doesn't matter who you are: if you have a button on your shirt, you're going underneath the ground where Hell is.

this happens at every single seance i go to

In order to avoid this fate, Christine gets barfed on, she kills animals, she throws up, she bleeds out, she tries anything to get herself uncursed. And as funny as this all should be, it's seriously frightening to know it's not in her head. She's a dead woman, but she won't die -- she'll live on in Hell.

By the end of the film she's trying to find a reason to justify condemning someone else to her fate, even wanting to bop off her sniveling Asian coworker before thinking better of it. The decision she comes to, and the ending the film spirals toward in the 99 minutes it holds you I won't spoil here, but it is more exciting than anything else that will hit theaters this summer.

lamia also nabbed david carradine recentlyWhat makes Raimi such a masterful director? When he's taking himself seriously instead of delivering another hammy Spiderman sequel, he is the best at stringing together action and humor, a relentlessly eye for how things should pile on top of each other to create something surprising and funny, but wholly real.

With Spiderman, he took a series of increasingly nonsensical scripts, and made a film completely foreign to them out of their mediocre dialogue and situations. He turned the superhero genre into comedy, and in doing so made all other like movies over-serious and dull. As in Spiderman, everything here holds a demonic menace: a messy psychologist's office, a medium's goat, the button on Christine's shirt. The next day, you can't even look at a doorknob without imagining yourself going through it full bore. There is no one better in the genre, and we can hope he finds reason to come back to horror again after Drag Me To Hell.

The film's had some moderate success at the box office, and while it is devoid of big stars, I think I have some idea why audiences didn't exactly flock in droves. It's pretty much the September 11th movie all over again. We have no desire to relive these horrors when worse is befalling us every day, in the seeming safety of what was America. We won't be safe again, not here. We will tear each other apart even if big banks lend more and people are able, again, to buy beyond their means. Once you've been cursed, you can't go back.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here.

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