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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

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 ellen copperfield (53)


In Which Everyone Is Entitled To Madonna's Opinion

Girl Material


Madonna's mother was also named Madonna. She thought her mother looked kinda like Anne Sexton, sort of like Mary Magdalene. Her mother thought jeans were the sign of the devil; she was a devout French Catholic who married a second generation Italian.

Her mother died of breast cancer because she worked as an x-ray technician and they didn't know how to protect her from radiation.

beach jogging w/ sean penn

She never shaved her armpits, not even after she became a cheerleader. She encouraged a poor schlub named Russell to remove her virginity. She said, "Are we going to do it or not? Do it!" The expression on her face was halfway between a grimace and a frown.

Her dance teacher said, "Madonna was a blank page, believe me, and she wanted desperately to be filled in." He took her to the gay clubs he frequented, one of which used to be Al Capone's hideaway for cheating on his wife. He would tell her she was beautiful. She went on a diet of all popcorn because he sadistically weighed his students before class and would scream if they were over 115 lbs. For christ's sake, she was only a child.

At the University of Michigan, she was poor, barely able to make her rent. She shoplifted what she could not buy: cosmetics, food. She rationalized this by saying she would pay it back one day, balance the ledgers when she became rich.

After she divorced Sean Penn, she dated JFK Jr. for three months. Jackie Onassis refused to meet her. She told her friends that the son fucked "like a nine year old."

her first nude portfolio

Finished with college, she moved from Ann Arbor to Hell's Kitchen. She essentially looked something like this:

She worked at Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King. She posed nude. She was raped by a heavyset man on the roof of a tenement. She dropped dance, she could not concentrate on it. She started dating a guitarist. She played a dominatrix in a movie; getting raped onscreen was part of the role. She was seeing many men. She was twenty-three years old.

Her dance teacher died of AIDS in 1990.

Sean Penn saw "Like a Virgin" on television. At the time, he was dating Elizabeth McGovern. He quickly forgot about her and with his buddy James Foley, went down to the "Material Girl" set a few blocks from Foley's apartment.

She knew she wanted to be famous, everything was directed towards that. Her boyfriends bought her lingerie, tried to get her to cook. She was not interested. After sex, she would turn over and ask, "What do you like best about me?"

When she hit the club with her backup dancers, they'd hone in on the best looking guys, and crumple their numbers as they walked away. After True Blue came out, Andy Warhol called her. She told him she didn't just want to talk and have her ideas taken. He said, "That's very smart."

dancing with 13 year old chris finch on a british tour

A three pack-a-day smoker, Jacqueline Onassis died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1994.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the western canon. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

her wedding to penn"Borderline" - The Flaming Lips (mp3)

"Live to Tell" - Bill Frisell (mp3)

"Like a Prayer" - Tori Amos (mp3)

"Oh Father" - Sia (mp3)

"Like A Virgin" - Teenage Fanclub (mp3)

"Ray of Light" - Natasha Bedingfield (mp3)



In Which It's Called The Western Canon For A Reason

The Classics


When I started my current job, the first days were much like this, but then circumstances improved. I owe it all to my boss, who is nothing like those individuals you've heard about who masturbate on their employees. This person is, however, deeply embedded in her industry. Since I am a liberal arts major, we don't care about any of the same things, but I have learned a lot from her.

What follows are her reviews of books I asked if I should read.

Jane Eyre

"Too long. Can we cut forty pages and eliminate the age difference?"


"You tell someone you read this, if you must. You never read it."

The Great Gatsby

"Horrendous. Why was he so into that woman? Did she have a great singing voice?"

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

"If you told me that he tracked down all the people in these photographs afterwards and murdered them, I would 100 percent believe you."

Oepidus Rex

"Seems forced."


"V. long and whiny."

Wise Blood

"If I read authors who used the n-word, I would have to read books by 50 Cent and Kingsley Amis, and I do not care to."

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


The Catcher in the Rye

"Did you ever see the all-black version of Glengarry Glen Ross. Of course you didn't."

To Kill A Mockingbird

"Can we lose the courtroom scene?"


"A bit condescending and interminable."

Watership Down

"Hop just came out, so no bunnies. Instead of rabbits, could they be kittens, who, as they age, develop slight English accents and early onset menopause?"

The Sound and the Fury


Angels in America

"Not sure what they were going for here, but the target was in L.A. and the arrow was in New York."

Mrs. Dalloway

"The 19th century was entirely devoid of black people, or maybe it just felt that way. Could we lose the last hundred pages?"

The Secret History

"They got high and killed someone? Big deal. Didn't that also happen in E.T.?"

Portnoy's Complaint

"Completely made irrelevant by the existence of the text message."

The Liars' Club

"Could she drink a little less?"

Infinite Jest

"Could we lose the last 800 pages?"

The Fountainhead

"If you're going to blow up a building you designed, at least make sure someone's in it."

The Brothers Karamazov

"One of the brothers was way out of line, can't remember which one. The one that looked like Rutger Hauer."

The Sorrows of Young Werther

"I don't think people care about Germans. People care about real people."

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. She last wrote in these pages about the films of Tom Hanks.

Faulkner on This Recording Timeline:

1897: Faulkner born.

1950: Faulkner receives Nobel Prize.

1982: Will Hubbard born.

2009: Faulkner named No. 1 writer of all time.

2009: Joseph Blotner weighs in.

2009: Eleanor Morrow on The Long, Hot Summer.

2010: Potentially abrasive but verifiably true article about William Faulkner published.

2011: Cursivism published.

2017: Faulkner reappears somewhere in Southern Virginia and asks for whatever liquor you have in the house.

2020: Faulkner makes his debut on Dancing With the Stars.

2044: Alex Balk becomes president of the United States.

How and Why To Write

This Recording explores the possibilities...

Part One (Joyce Carol Oates, Gene Wolfe, Philip Levine, Thomas Pynchon, Gertrude Stein, Eudora Welty, Don DeLillo, Anton Chekhov, Mavis Gallant, Stanley Elkin)

Part Two (James Baldwin, Henry Miller, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Margaret Atwood, Gertrude Stein, Vladimir Nabokov)

Part Three (W. Somerset Maugham, Langston Hughes, Marguerite Duras, George Orwell, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Robert Creeley, John Steinbeck)

Part Four (Flannery O'Connor, Charles Baxter, Joan Didion, William Butler Yeats, Lyn Hejinian, Jean Cocteau, Francine du Plessix Gray, Roberto Bolano)

joyce carol oates

"Midnight Coward" - Stars (mp3)

"Barricade" - Stars (mp3)

"Personal (Caroline)" - Stars (mp3)

The Bedroom Demos, the latest release by Stars, came out on June 7, and you can purchase it here.

harold bloom on the toilette


In Which If It Wasn't Hard Everyone Would Do It

The Bonfire of the Bosom Buddy


I was watching The Polar Express last week and trying to recover the spirit of Christmas for some muffins I was planning when it occurred to me: doesn't that train conductor remind me of something ineffable and someone specific?

My aunt told me it was Tom Hanks, and I was like, "they modeled the conductor after a producer on Big Love?" She explained that Hanks was the owner of a long and storied Hollywood career, while her daschund Leopold stared at me unforgivingly for my ignorance. I spent this past weekend watching all of this old-timey actor's moving pictures, and I have summarized the plots of these films so you can easily find what interests you.


A man has sex with a mermaid and feels somewhat bad about it. The mermaid's father frowns upon the match because it conflicted with the IPO of his underwater company.

The Money Pit

A home restoration project goes south when a man realizes his wife is Shelley Long.

Bachelor Party

A famous football player insists that protection is for Ravens while attempting sex. The woman mishears "Ravens" as "cravens", freaks out, and ends up majoring in communications. Todd Phillips is passed out nearby and gets the idea for The Hangover.


Two white police officers pay tribute to a long-running television series by visiting Santa Claus at the North Pole. Santa tells them to come back when they're animated.


A man shrinks to the size of a gumdrop to become a boy again and lives inside a huge piano with all his friends. Older women are constantly intuiting he's more advanced sexually than he professes. To return to full size, he is forced to rape a gypsy woman.


A comedian is infected with AIDS by Denzel Washington.

Turner and Hooch

A man and an anti-semitic dog fight crime.

The 'Burbs

You may be more familiar with a recent remake of The 'Burbs, Saw IV.

Joe Versus the Volcano

A pet detective finally marries his true love (Courteney Cox) and decides that Meg Ryan is likelier to have a successful big screen career. He struggles to find a way to break off the engagement before deciding to burn his penis off in an active volcano.

The Bonfire of the Vanities

A journalist with no imagination finds it easier to make things up than interview any more astronauts than he has to. He uses a revolutionary technique to clone himself. He names the clone Malcolm Gladwell.

A League of Their Own

An alcoholic womanizer leads a baseball team of women to greatness and inadvertently creates a popular daytime television program. A text card at the end of the film specifies that they would have achieved nothing without a male manager.

Sleepless in Seattle

A woman facebooks a guy and he ends up taking it way farther than it ever has to go. She falls in love with his eight-year old by accident and they go live on a cute houseboat for the rest of their lives.


The two main people in a gay man's life are Antonio Banderas and Denzel Washington, and he's still unhappy as a clam for no discernible reason. Andrew Sullivan cameos as "another guy with HIV."

Forrest Gump

The thinly disguised life story of Joe Biden. He has a sexual relationship with Robin Wright Penn and everyone has some misgivings that she took advantage of him. Biden emphasizes the fact that he rides Amtrak in his speeches because he is unable to pilot an automobile.

Apollo 13

A bunch of guys head into space, reassuring their wives with platitudes like, "We won't fuck up in space," and "It's space, what could go wrong?" and "Kevin Bacon's coming with us to space, this will be hilars." These predictions prove largely inaccurate.

That Thing You Do!

The true story of Simon Cowell's rise to public prominence related for the first time.

Saving Private Ryan

Despite the fact that Jews are dying by the millions in camps across Europe, it ends up being a lot more important for everybody's peace of mind that one goy be rescued by a squadron of morons.

You've Got Mail

A man flirts with a woman on the internet; she is somehow not disgusted by the fact it takes 20 minutes for him to type one instant message into AIM. He misunderstands "Shop Around the Corner" for a sexual euphemism, she apologizes for the miscommunication. Not only does he not accept her apology, he puts her out of business and cuts off her airway with the skin folds from his degraded neck. The funeral is a lovely affair, and each of the eulogies emphasize the dangers of misrepresenting yourself on AIM.

The Green Mile

A magical, physically imposing black man heals people with his touch, so the white prison guards murder him, but not before he cures all their urinary tract infections. It turns out that the black man had the spirit of a white guy (Rob Schneider) inside him all along.

Cast Away

High on cocaine, Robert Zemeckis has an idea that later becomes Lost; a plane crashes on an island and only the boring characters survive.

Road to Perdition

Two playwrights debate the existential nature of life over dinner one evening. Hot topic: 'what does the word perdition mean?'

Catch Me If You Can

Christopher Walken has a son, and - shock, surprise! - it doesn't turn out all that well. The son becomes a pilot and figures prominently in the September 11th terrorist attacks on America. He ends up dating Molly McAleer, probably.

The Terminal

A man who jerks off into people's luggage is apprehended and forced to copulate with Catherine Zeta-Jones while Michael Douglas looks on approvingly.

The Ladykillers

A brother-brother writer-director team misfires with their latest film and decides to nab an Oscar by utilizing the foolproof method of having Tommy Lee Jones do the movie's voiceover.

The Polar Express

A shocking expose of how the Japanese kill 500 of Santa's dwarves each year in front of a live studio audience in the Arctic.

The Da Vinci Code

Dr. Robert Langdon is infected with HIV by Denzel Washington.

Charlie Wilson's War

Mike Nichols' 100 minute logic proof that Elaine May had all the talent.

Angels and Demons

Dr. Robert Langdon gives up treasure hunting and retires to a tropical island with Audrey Tautou, Emily Blunt, and Denzel Washington.

Ellen Copperfield is a contributor to This Recording. She tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about how to politely dump someone.

"Down by the River" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Philadelphia" - Neil Young (mp3)

"Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" - Neil Young (mp3)

"The Losing End (When You're On)" - Neil Young (mp3)