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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 eleanor morrow (46)


In Which It Is More Difficult Than You Think

Orange Blossoms


Fort Tilden
dir. Sarah-Violet Bliss
95 minutes

"The criminal mind always sets its own traps," a man screams at Allie (Claire McNulty) as she peels off the down a Brooklyn street on a bike after hitting a child. Her friend Harper (Bridey Elliott) is even worse, hitting up her greasy ex-boyfriend for drugs and writing a check for iced coffee. They live in the most magnificent New York apartment I have ever seen:

Sarah-Violet Bliss, a writer for Netflix's Wet Hot American Summer series, is like an even meaner Nicole Holofcener. Her satire of her peers is savage — at first it seems like there is nothing redemptive in Fort Tilden. Bliss' debut film takes place in an area of New York City where everyone wants to live: children, families, dogs. Fort Tilden makes it look like an unrelenting nightmare of posturing and whining, persistently disgusting gentrification.

In one scene the two women are shopping in a thrift store when they see a small Asian teenager stealing their bikes. Instead of stopping him or trying to intervene, they just observe him pedaling away. A woman behind them in line wonders aloud, "That boy just took your bikes, and all you did was watch him do it." Things are immaterial to a certain type of person, captured effortlessly in Bliss' writing. They can be replaced. Everything can.

White people are especially disgusting, Bliss argues in her satire, and they are incapable of ever understanding their privilege. Their power comes from their ignorance of what power is. Any attempt at recognizing the racism of cultural norms just transitions into appropriation. This goes for underrepresented minorities themselves as well. "You have to let these people do what they are going to do," Allie ironically explains to Harper at one point. "You just have to take punches."

It emerges that the origin of Harper's casual lifestyle is her father's imperialist Indian business. He takes advantage of his position in the country and sends her money to continue her lifestyle. "It's not my fault that I am his daughter," she explains after being thrown out of a cab by a Indian immigrant. Fort Tilden's attempt at constructing real drama to underlie Bliss' brilliant one-liners is disturbingly insightful, making me wish that she would shelve some of the wackier Broad City-esque humor and make something that reaches even deeper than the story of two shallow Brooklynites.

As Allie, McNulty projects a saucy innocence that you would expect of a blonde girl about to be sent to Liberia by the Peace Corps. Bridey Elliott (daughter of comedian Chris Elliott) carries Fort Tilden with a retinue of facial expressions that express every conceivable emotion as the girls try to make their way to a beach date with two guys they met at a party the night before. 

After these two find a quartet of stranded kittens, they begin to argue over which one of them posted a picture on the internet. The fight escalates, and one of the women says that the other isn't an artist. This is the worst thing one person can conceivably convey to another at this time in our lives.

By the end of Fort Tilden there is actually some disappointment. This sadness comes not from the massively entertaining and humorous film constructed by an exciting new voice who spent too much time watching Broad City. The real let down of Fort Tilden is the world that is being satirized. There is not really much to it, and the movie culminates like the sad, disturbing end of a wet dream.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"I Got That Feeling Once Again" - The Memories (mp3)

"Love To Break Your Heart" - The Memories (mp3)


In Which We Harken Back To A More Disturbing Epoch

Aging Well


Another Period
creators Natasha Leggero & Riki Lindhome

Once in a generation a television series comes along which obliterates everything that came before it. M.A.S.H. Seinfeld. Firefly. The character of the Jewish butler Mr. Peepers (Michael Ian Black) in Natasha Legero and Riki Lindhome's triumphant new series set in turn-of-the-century Newport, Rhode Island has never before been attempted, and it probably never will be again.

The ever-young Ian Black, 43, is an actor who has bounced from project to project without being taken seriously as a dramatic fulcrum. In Another Period, his essential Jewishness at first seems suppressed, only observable below the surface. He is invisible as a Hebrew to the member of the wealthy family he has so dutifully served for most of his life.

The Commodore (David Koechner) enlists Mr. Peepers to keep his secret: he is bringing his mistress (Christina Hendricks) onto the family's staff, both to create easy access for his selfish, cheating trysts, and to ensure that she does not get restless waiting for him to separate from his morphine addicted wife Dodo (Paget Brewster).

Making Paget Brewster look dowdy is the work of some various makeup, but Hendricks keeps things chaste as well. This leaves the real attention to two of the Bellacourt daughters, Another Period creators Leggero and Lindholm.

Lillian (a vampish yet subtle Leggero) is in an unhappy marriage to a gay man named Albert (David Wain). In Another Period's second episode, she plans to tell the police he has abused her in order to win a divorce. Her plan goes awry when they don't take spousal abuse seriously, and she is forced to confront the issue with her husband. He demands financial compensation for their separation — he will pretend to be dead so that she can remarry. In return, he gets to occupy a cute little house with his boyfriend Victor (Brian Huskey), who is married to Lillian's sister Beatrice (Riki Lindhome).

On the surface, you would think would all be played for laughs. There are moments of humor in Another Period, but there is also a deep pathos in the desperation the Bellacourt sisters feel, first because they are completely unhappy in their marriages, and secondly because the sexist society they inhabit seeks to keep them illiterate and insincere. Their sister Hortense (an unrecognizable Lauren Ash) is a suffragette who doesn't realize her sisters exemplify the downtrodden female status every bit as much as she does.

The Bellacourts demand that their children reproduce in a timely manner, and so Lillian and Beatrice are regularly forced into semi-consensual sex but their homosexual husbands. Albert accomplishes his goal in the manner of a sneeze, masturbating into his wife's vagina while covering her face with a napkin. Victor sucks on the finger of a nearby manservant to achieve orgasm.

In order to rationalize what essentially amounts to an imprisonment, the Bellacourt sisters take out their anger on the servant class. Mr. Peepers consciously avoids the venom of his betters, but the new house maid is the victim of Beatrice and Lillian time and again. Lillian names Hendricks' mistress character Chair, and the nickname sticks.

There is no greater respect for women among the underclass. Chair is constantly harassed and abused by another member of the staff. No one steps in or comes to her aid, not even the patriarch of the house. There is a much deeper realism here than we find in English versions of the same.

Another Period never avoids depicting life as it actually was at this time: dark, nasty and downright Dickensian. Dickens made his first trip to America in 1842, when he was only 30 years old. He complained the whole time he was there, of people like the members of the Bellacourt family. Another Period answers the question of why that might be.

The show's explicit scenes of rape and abuse are unlike any other to make it basic cable. In addition, no show on television has ever confronted the issue of incest head-on the way that Another Period does. Pushed to an irrational extreme by abuse and neglect, Beatrice finds herself falling in love with her brother Frederick. The two engage in disturbingly childish pastimes, like allowing a servant to pull them in a small boat across the grounds of the Bellacourt estate, and consummating unprotected brother-sister sex.

Ian Black's Mr. Peepers navigates this environment as an ethnic minority in plain sight, patching together the various strands of the family into a cohesive whole. What initially seems like a parody of Downton Abbey's Carson becomes something far greater. Carson was just a white man beset by ill fortune to become some asshole's manservant. In his explosively concealed Judaism, Ian Black is something far greater.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

"Blue Flower (live)" - Mazzy Star (mp3)


In Which We Remain Engaged For Six Years

About the Last Few Nights


Marry Me
creator David Caspe

Odd couple romances drive society to exceed its norms and boundaries, bringing the joy of love to unexpected, dark places. In the background of David Caspe's new NBC comedy Marry Me is one such arrangement, a love story that recalls Belle and the beast, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, or Minnie Driver and anyone.

Gil (John Gemberling) is a divorced hair-plug salesman who looks like a sheep with only its head unshorn. Dennah (Sarah Wright Olsen) is a leggy blonde fresh off portraying the nuanced role of Jerry's daughter on Parks & Recreation. She is always clad in a romper; he is always wearing a two-tone sweatshirt. One appears to have nothing to do with the other: yet because each has flaws, they must accept each other.

In contrast, the central relationship at the core of Marry Me, embodied by Ken Marino and comedian Casey Wilson, already feels completely neutered. Six years into things, there are not a lot of surprises for us to uncover, except that Annie is a "drama queen" and Jake has a penis. It is hard to believe that a connection this mediocre is supposedly based on the true life coming together of Wilson and writer David Caspe, except the penis part!

Caspe sets Marry Me in Chicago, the city where all romance goes to die. About Last Night, the Chicago romance between Demi Moore and Rob Lowe, did not end well as I recall, The Break-Up was gross and depressing, and no one was actually happy in Happy Endings, especially not Elisha Cuthbert, who was forced into a two way with a guy who owned a food truck.

The men of Chicago are the drizzling shits. Reduced to such a meager collection of candidates, even a leggy blonde like Dennah has to learn how to settle, which is basically the message of Marry Me: if you don't lower your expectations and fall in love with basically whoever is around, you will end up alone.

Wilson's impressively rehearsed histrionics have carried over from Happy Endings, and at times she seems to be playing an abridged version of the character. None of her friends on the show seem like the actual people such a charismatic individual would attract. Wilson is essentially too good for everyone in the entire city of Chicago, and it would have been amazing to start Marry Me with the tension filled Mexican vacation the couple finds themselves returning from in the series' opening scene.

Kay (Tymberlee Hill) has the unforgiving role of the token black and the token gay; in order to set up her character, she admits to Annie that she peed in her friend's clothes hamper. There is also no world where Ken Marino's mother (JoBeth Williams) is blonde.

When Jake moves in with Annie after six long years of separate apartments, she starts to feel crowded and moves her liquor cabinet, drapes and collectibles into her car, giving her the space she needs. It seems like a bad sign that she finds Jake in a set of boxer briefs revolting, but this is glossed over. How can you lead the story to the conclusion that its central characters aren't right for each other when the show is called Marry Me?

Marry Me really should have been about a leggy blonde fresh off fake-dating Rob Lowe who meets a schlumpy guy and decides that love is destined to take an unexpected, more rotund form. A concept episode surrounding their intensely unlikely intercourse is sure to outdo M'Lady in youtube views. When he reaches out a grizzled, foodstained paw to stroke her manicured hand, she will not shudder.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Manhattan.