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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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Ethan Peterson

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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 hard to say (145)


In Which We Come Back From The Dead Partly Alive

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.


An ex-boyfriend of mine who I will call Eamon recently became single after a relationship he was in that lasted just over a year. I still think about Eamon a lot but my girlfriends have encouraged me to put the past behind me and suggested that if I approach him now, he will just be on the rebound.

The reason Eamon and I broke up in the first place was mainly due to fighting. I was far less mature and I think I could communicate a lot better now after a couple of years in therapy.

Is there any good way to handle this or should I just forget about it?

Priya D.

Dear Priya,

Forcing a man backwards is a tricky situation, so it's a good thing you asked us about this before doing something stupid like messaging him on facebook and saying, "I see u not w/ur gurl anymore, sup?" That would have been tragic for so many reasons.

The best course of action you can possibly pursue here is to get Eamon involved in your life for some peripheral reason. You need his "help" with something. Depending on what his job is, there is no end to the kind of fake advice you can fake solicit from a man. After he "helps" you, thank him profusely and promise him dinner or a nice bottle of wine or something. He will get the hint after that if he is interested. It will give you a chance to suss out his feelings as well.

There is no such thing as a rebound relationship; only a woman insufficiently interesting to demand real commitment.


Is there any way to permanently change the destructive behavior of someone you love?

I really want to spend the rest of my life with my girlfriend, who I will call Marjorie. But when I think about the next forty or so years of my life spent with her being ten minutes to a half an hour late every time we plan to meet, I want to throw myself off the Empire State building. I realize the problem may be partly in myself as well. Even when I try to show up the same amount of late so that we will arrive somewhere at the same time, I inevitably am there substantially before her arrival.

If I could fix this one thing, everything would be perfect, I swear.

Marc J.

Dear Marc,

Can you train a person as if they were a dog? Absolutely: but a dog will never resent you for the instruction, she will just give you soft kisses and ask for a treat. It is more likely that a human being might cock their head askew and ask what is so wrong it should be fixed in such a fashion.

As with any bad behavior, it is better to catch this early. If you are not there a half hour after you said you would be, Marjorie would never have learned it is OK to be this late with someone.

You should probably find out if she does this with other people or if it is just you whose time she has no respect for.

Now that the behavior is so thoroughly ingrained, she is never going to change it consciously. You can try no-showing a few times and see where it gets you. When she asks you where you went, just say that you figured she forgot and went home. Or you decided to do something else. She won't get upset — how can she? It is so obvious that this is all her fault, for being ten minutes late.


Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Have Definitely Come To Love Susan

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.


I have been dating my girlfriend Susan for over a year and I can't shake the feeling that something isn't quite right. Don't get me wrong - we get along great and have so much in common. At times she feels like she is a part of my family because she gets along with my sisters and parents so damn well.

We did have a weird incident where she accused me of cheating. I know she has trust issues but it completely was not true at all and she jumped to conclusions about some texts I had received. Essentially, an ex was texting me and I could have just deleting what was written but I forgot. Susan made it sound like there was still some reason I had it on my phone, when there wasn't.

It is not so much that which bothers me as the fact that maybe there could be someone out there better even though I definitely love Susan. What is wrong with me?

David P.

Dear David,

There comes a time in every man's life when he thinks, I would do anything to be with this woman forever because the prospect of finding someone new sounds like the drizzling shits to me. You are obviously not at that stage yet.

It is best to do something to test your appreciation of Susan without dumping her and ending up regretting it. A few women will allow you to couple with them again after such an event, but most can never bear the sight of your face again.

Things that you can do to evaluate the depths of your love include taking a trip by yourself someone for reasons. How often do you think of Susan? How often do you think of her as God made her? How often do you think of Hillary Clinton's e-mails? How often do you think that masturbating is wrong and effectively punishable by a trip to hell?

The answers, respectively, are not much, a few times, frequently, and from time to time.


My new boyfriend Keith is a great guy. He is very well-read, though and never lets you forget it. When he met my mom, he talked about Spenser for like fifteen minutes. Books are kind of his passion; often when we're together he will read quietly for long periods. Sometimes this isn't so bad - it's better than hearing about Spenser, for example. But I'm starting to wonder if he maybe needs someone who shares his hobby. I like to read, but am I wrong to think this is extreme?

Jana S.

Dear Jana,

One person's dream is usually someone else's nightmare. Bradley Cooper talks about the theater all the time, a fact his previous girlfriend found dreadful and a situation which I assume was the thinspiration for your question.

In High Fidelity, Nick Hornby whined for upwards of thirty pages... wait, sorry I'm talking about a book. There was a movie, too. John Cusack was upset because his girlfriend, who weirdly never was in another movie after that, didn't share his same hobbies. The odd part of it was his only discernible hobby was listening to music, which can be done conveniently during other activities, like protests against the police or masturbation.

It seems like if Keith takes the humblebragging too far in front of other people, there is a subtle way to reel him back in. Try these words, "Keith, wasn't Spenser a murderer? No? I thought I read that. I refuse to read the words of murderers. Are you sad Marco Polo was canceled, or did you think it looked as fucking stupid as I did?" Problem solved.

As for the actual reading itself, just read the internet while he is doing this or watch Rachel Maddow.


Is total silence during an orgasm normal? It's not a very gratifying absence of sound to hear.

Alexis T.

Dear Alexis,

I have heard a variety of noises which sufficiently signify for orgasms. Here are some of the best and some of the worst.

Excellent: barking, meowing, reciting the Star Spangled Banner

Mediocre: singing, talking like Chappie, whistling

Pretty Bad: humming, whistling songs, doing that annoying heart-pounding thing from The Wolf of Wall Street

Horrendous: silence, talking about the perils of taxation, death

Encourage your partner to make all noises he wants. Most people learn to be quiet when they masturbate so as not to alert others to what they are doing, and bad habits stick around longer than good ones. 

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.


In Which We Run And Swim And Jog The Whole Time

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.


Things were going very well, I thought, between my boyfriend Charles and myself. Even though we have been together for six months, he feels that it is too soon to meet any of my family. The reason, as he explains it, is that he grew too attached to the family of his ex-girlfriend and when she dumped him it was like losing his entire life. He says he wants to take things slow.

I think this is probably bullshit but I wanted to check.

Anna C.


Meeting the family is an important time in any young boy's life. For a man, however, it is no big deal.

This entire sob story may well be true, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a story. It sounds like Charles had quite a positive experience with the last family he met, and we can presume he has no such strong familial bonds of his own. It is indeed inappropriate for a family to become too close to their in-law before he is properly made their in-law. You can tell Charles this.

Not wanting to meet your family is a major red flag: it signals he is probably going to dump you and doesn't want the extra guilt of knowing the people who sired you before he does so. I would just end things now.


A friend of mine who I will call Nancy absolutely refuses to return any of my calls or texts. We did have an argument over her current boyfriend, but we have been friends for over ten years and it has never gotten this bad.

Even though the argument Nancy and I had was not my fault in any way, and she was the one who I asked my opinion, I regret giving it. I don't like conflict and I want to resolve this. How can I get her to listen?

Gillian R.

Dear Gillian,

Some people are very stubborn, far more stubborn than you or I could ever be. They realize they are vulnerable if they open themselves up the slightest bit, so the only solution is to ward off the doorway to that soft inner part. If you can't get through the door, you're unable to access what's inside. I spent around thirty seconds crafting this metaphor, but I think it gets the job done quite well. The door represents...nevermind.

In the context of a dismantled romantic relationship, just showing up somewhere is pretty creepy, although it definitely can work. In the context of your friendship, it is not nearly as threatening so you should probably just do it that way.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

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