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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 hard to say (170)

Wednesday
Dec102014

In Which We Play Dumb Or A Role

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,

My boyfriend Tim wants to start roleplaying. I think we've always had a very satisfying sex life, and I think that dressing up would embarrass me - and that I wouldn't be able to get in the mood. How do I tell him thanks, but no?

Elena A.

Dear Elena,

Very few people want to actually dress up and portray characters or archetypes in the bedroom, although it was the foundational aspect of Andrew Sullivan's sex life in the 1990-2000 period. Usually someone will bring up this concept for a different reason.

"Roleplaying" is a way to introduce advanced sexual concepts under the guise of play. These concepts can include S&M fantasies, visions of being the host of Meet the Press, or you calling your boyfriend (Tim? WTF is he in third grade) something paternal/paternalistic or more rarely, maternal/maternalistic. Roleplaying doesn't always involve actual dressing up.

It's best to just cut to the chase and ask your boyfriend what he wants you to call him during sex. If he answers, "Sergey Brin," leave the country.

 

Hi,

This started eight months ago when I met a guy who I will call Jeff online. We really hit it off and we were talking quite frequently despite living in different cities. Eventually we decided that I should come and visit him. Our first meeting was great and just seemed like a continuation of our online communication.

Jeff makes references to past relationships, although since we were just getting to know each other, I did not wish to pry. After that weekend, Jeff confessed that he was divorced and that he was not interested in getting married again. I asked him what he was interested in and he said that he wasn't sure, that he had done the long distance thing before and wasn't very successful at it. At the same time he expressed a desire to keep seeing me.

In the intervening months, I have tried to be more protective of our feelings. Jeff has come to my city to visit me and for the most part we have a great time with very little meta-relationship talk, as he seemed to request. Am I right to be taking this at his pace, or should I just bail?

Andrea R.

Dear Andrea,

Learning all about someone from the person themselves leaves many blind spots open, Andrea. You need a third party who can give you a better view of Jeff. See if you can make up a reason to have a conversation with one of his friends: maybe a buddy is an industry peripheral to yours, and you can claim you are only looking for some general advice.

With that said, you can't necessarily assume there is any foul play involved. Men will say a lot of things; just because he's not considering marriage now doesn't mean the idea is permanently dead to him. Even lemmings have to be coaxed into heading for a cliff, but once they build up some momentum, death is a sweet release.

Demanding a commitment is the surest way not to get one. Make sure Jeff knows you are exploring other options and he will quickly ask you not to be if he cares that much. If he doesn't ask, then you know he doesn't care.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

"The Disease" - Angels and Airwaves (mp3)

Wednesday
Dec032014

In Which We Reconsider The Niceties Of Today

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,

Aaron has been dating my friend Katy for just short of two years. She loves him dearly and sees a future for them together. They are both in their late twenties. Recently, Aaron told me in confidence that his Italian-born parents want him to take a long trip to Italy and "find a wife there." I guess this is something of a tradition. He has had some great experiences with his family in Italy and he confessed that it is something he has considered. 

I recently observed someone ask Aaron whether he had a girlfriend, and he said yes, "She is really nice." This struck me as true but also a bit underwhelming. Do I tell Katy any of this, and how do I advise Aaron?

Priya C.

Dear Priya,

That's how someone would describe material possessions, like a soft pashmina or an adopted pug, not a significant other. There's definitely a lack of passion in his cadence and demeanor. According to his missteps, the red flags line up perfectly. One, he doesn't love Katy enough and is already resorting to flying out to Italy. Two, a part of him still wants to please his parents to fill a void (i.e. parents never got him the Yorkshire terrier he wanted on his 5th birthday). 

When we were younger, my parents knew my brothers and I weren't going to have traditional marriages. Not every parent is going to let their child run into the wild to figure their own romantic endeavors. They fully accepted the upcoming cultural and generational shifts. Marriage is just the cherry on top for them. I rolled merrily along with my life and didn't expect anything of it until I met a girl in college who had an arranged marriage. She fell in love with him as time went on, but it was an unusual and fortunate circumstance not everyone is so lucky to have. 

Aaron should fully accept the full responsibility of what is to come. If he is percolating the idea of flying to Italy quite heavily then he should tell how Katy how he really feels about her. More importantly, ask him if Katy is his soulmate, or if the timing is right, "his soulsies."

Hi,

I was recently talking with my boyfriend about 9/11. He explained that he had been a freshman in college when the attack occurred, and described some of the things that happened at his Ivy League school during the attack - people crying, others screaming in shock and trying to reach their loved ones. Unfortunately all I could think about as he was telling this story is how I was in fourth grade when this happened. Before this anecdote, our age difference did not seem so important, but now I can't get it out of my mind. What should I do?

Martha S.

Dear Martha,

You are correct in stating that anyone who was in college during 9/11 is old, perhaps too old for you. In order to verify your hypothesis, here are some indications that your partner (#loveofyourlife) may just not be the right age.

- He was in graduate school during the Second World War.

- He thinks that penicillin is a "miracle life-saving drug" and defends it for hours whenever you rag on it.

- He wanted to name your cat Clementine or Archibald.

- His drug dealer asked him if he ever watched Fawlty Towers, and his response was anything except, "What the fuck are you talking about?"

- He soothes his feet by washing them in a water basin with Lucille Ball's face and torso on it. -

He asks you if that "upstart nation" Israel is going to be around for good.

Age isn't important, but not having the right opinions about things like John Cleese and Israel could come back to bite you in the ass later on IMO.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

 

"Accidental Song" - The Magic Numbers (mp3)

"Better Than Him" - The Magic Numbers (mp3)

Wednesday
Nov262014

In Which We Consider This Problematic To Discuss With You

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,
 

My boyfriend recently updated his iPhone, and a lot of his settings were reset in the process. One of these settings is the 'Read Receipt' option for text messages. Now I can see when he has read my text messages and how quickly he responds after he receives the emojis in question.

This is driving me completely crazy. Why does he sometimes wait an hour to respond to a simple question - for example, "Did you pick up the tickets?" What is the purpose of making me wait to find out the answer? Is it unethical for me to be profiting/suffering from this information without telling him?

Daisy L.

Dear Daisy,

First of all, your boyfriend is eventually going to figure out that he committed this magnificent technology faux pas. When it does, you want to be prepared with a semi-plausible answer, such as, "Oh, everyone has their read receipt on! Who cares when you answer a text?" If he buys this, you are well within your rights to judge him for being a moron. If he doesn't, move on to the next most useful excuse: "What? You had read receipt on? I thought only people over 50 didn't turn it off? Idiot."

Secondly, it is probably best not to inform him that you have secretly been seething about this since iOS 8. There's a bunch of reasons he doesn't respond in a timely fashion.

1. He doesn't care enough.

2. He's with another woman, probably an NYU grad named Cheyenne.

3. He's fumbling with all the Christmas gifts he's purchased for you and your mom and he can't reach his phone.

4. Since he doesn't know how to use read receipt, he probably is afraid of using his iPhone lest he accidentally dick pic a family member.

5. You're overwhelming him with your neediness.

These possibilities have one thing in common: you should pick a more tech-savvy partner next time.

Hi,

My friend Judy Liederschmidt recently split up with her boyfriend of five years. They went around the world together and took lots of photos in exotic places, such as Bali, the Alps, Papua. New Guinea and Mindy Kaling's birthplace.

These photos are very prominently displayed in the home they used to share, and everytime I go to see Judy Liederschmidt, who is not dealing with this situation all that well, I feel like her ex is staring a hole in my gullet. He cheated on her and it doesn't seem healthy for her to be reminded of it at all times.

How can I broach this subject with her and what do I say?

Frederick R.

Dear Frederick,

You have a few options, each with its own drawbacks.

The first of these strategeries involves heavily complimenting her appearance in a way that conveys the idea that these photos are an outdated, disgusting version of her and she requires new snaps to convey the current state of her gorgeous repose.

Failing that, find a friend who is purportedly single and bring him over to her house. She will probably hide the photos before the young man's arrival, but they may reappear upon the suitor's departure.

At this point, it would be time for full measures. Has she read John Berger's Ways of Seeing?

JK, although someone once gave us that book and said it changed his life.

No, instead you have to pretend it is you who has a problem letting go of someone. Be casually having a thing where you throw romantic letters and trinkets into a fire for some reason  it doesn't have to be the possessions of a love interest, it can be anyone in your life. Heck, it could even be Judy Liederschmidt if she doesn't straighten her fucking shit out.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

 

"Are You The Matador?" - Black Whales (mp3)

"Red Fantastic" - Black Whales (mp3)