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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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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 jeff goldblum (3)


In Which No One Ever Missed Will Smith This Much

Alien Queen Blues


Independence Day: Resurgence
dir. Roland Emmerich
120 minutes

You know what Independence Day needed, when you really think about it? Charlotte Gainsbourg. Sure, Char might be a little young to play Jeff Goldblum's love interest. Then again she is eleven years older than his wife so what am I saying.

You know what Independence Day needed more than Char, when you really think about it? A Hemsworth, any Hemsworth will do. Chris would have been ideal but since he was busy Roland Emmerich settled for his second choice, Liam. Liam is in a committed relationship with Bill Pullman's daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe). The pair haven't moved in together yet, but you feel the moment is coming. Although Patricia is of course a trained fighter space pilot, she retired before Independence Day: Resurgence begins to take care of her Da.

Don't worry though, because right after Vivica A. Fox dies falling off a building, a female fighter pilot from China named Rain (Angelababy) emerges to capture the all important international market. Women are quite powerful from the shadows, as the casting of Sela Ward as the president of these United States indisputably proves. "There will be no peace," she screams as she is murdered by aliens halfway through this impressively wretched movie.

Independence Day: Resurgence features a cast as a massive as Gosford Park. This is a shame because the actual plot has tons of potential. A devious queen alien plans to milk Earth of its sensational molten core. Do you ever just drive around and think, wow, below me thousands of miles beneath the Earth's crust is something infinitely more valuable than Maika Monroe's mediocre acting abilities?

A lot of stuff is dated in this movie. There's no sex or love except one guy who has a crush on the Chinese girl. (He disappears shortly thereafter confessing his crush and she refuses to kiss him later on.) Generic alien-type aliens are no longer sufficient to inspire fear or wonder. Just looking at Charlotte Gainsbourg's neck generates more apprehension than all the special effects in Independence Day: Resurgence combined.

In order to battle the queen alien, Jeff Goldblum discovers this sphere on the moon. White tendrils emerge from the object, incensing the queen for whom it acts like a kind of beacon. She puts on a very cute suit of armor and heads to where Jeff is, so she can presumably lecture him about an obsession with younger women. The sphere learns English and explains it originates from another alien species opposed to the queen.

Eventually Liam Hemsworth sort of forgets about Maika Monroe, suggesting she may not have been affectionate enough for his tastes. He starts flirting with Will Smith's sexy son from the first movie. Young W.S. isn't quite the pilot that his father was. Near the end of the movie Maika strips down to a tank top and everyone is happy, even though her dad died. Earth is saved, and Will Smith is just a guy in a painting in the White House.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


In Which We Hang Out With Our Friends From College

Where White People Come Together With Other White People


The Big Chill

dir. Lawrence Kasdan

105 minutes

The cinema of the the world we were born into holds a strange fascination, unless you were born the year American Beauty came out. When The Big Chill arrived in theaters in autumn of 1983, director John Sayles was made very angry, since the film seemed to be basically a revamp of his Return of the Secaucus 7. Why anyone would claim the idea of a reunion of college friends as their own invention is beyond me; and thanks to various technological vagaries, we are now never parted from those we supposed we loved.

Alex (Kevin Costner) is the kind of adult that was never around when I was a kid. Suicidal, angsty, even angry, and totally irresponsible. He took a hard-earned education/drug binge from the University of Michigan and did not turn it into very much – his scientific career flamed out, he tried manual labor, and he was eventually forced to depend on the kindness of his friend Harold (Kevin Kline). Harold did the opposite of Alex: he focused on a sporting goods business in South Carolina and purchased a lovely house for himself and his college sweetheart Sarah (Glenn Close). Five years before I was born, Sarah slept with Alex, probably as some sort of karmic punishment for her husband's success. He forgave her.

Still wanting to help the man who had fucked his wife, Harold let him in a company secret: he was about to sell his sporting goods company to a larger chain (say, Dick's, or the Sports Authority, if either existed in the early 80s). With the expectation of this money in hand, Alex and his girlfriend (Meg Tilly) purchased a cabin nearby his college friends, where he could try to be happy, since it is what they required of him. Not so graciously, he slit his wrists rather than succumb to this act of charity.

That is where The Big Chill begins, and its opening montage is the first of 16,000 in recorded history set to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Alex's friends across the country hear of his passing and come to mourn him, and have a party with their fellow Michigan alums at Kline and Close's mansion. The funeral itself is never the act of mourning, what follows is.

My college advisor went everywhere with her Alaskan malamute, whom I called Sandy. (For some reason she never told me the creature's name. This was probably wise, since it might have come when I called.) She blithely informed me that I would never believe what all the people I knew at school would become, and she was right, because I can't believe it. Neither can the graduates of the University of Michigan.

Student protests over some teensy tuition increases made waves across Europe recently. It was a laugh for Americans, because we cannot imagine anything as content as an American college student. The University of Michigan in the 1960s, according to Lawrence Kasdan, was a very hopeful and idealistic liberal sort of place, and everyone in The Big Chill is extremely upset about how jaded, adult, and in some cases, parental, they have become.

Meg (Mary Kay Place) thought she would use a degree in law to help the accused; instead she finds them as disgusting as her last twenty of years of unsuccessful dating. In a Tina Fey-esque take on middle age, she requires a child more than a successful career now that she is in possession of the latter. Michael (Jeff Goldblum) abandoned his ideals to become a reporter for People. His time spent teaching the youth of Harlem was so revolting he jumped into a more commercial life without a second thought.

None of the people I knew at college were like this. They were the children of the adults in The Big Chill, and they had to lay in the bed their parents made. Now AARP-age, the men and women Kasdan imagined are dedicated to ensuring that their grandchildren will have no bed to lay in at all. The cavalier attitude towards insider trading, the amorality, narcissism, and lack of concern for others is evidenced by that generation's love of entitlements. It may be the thing they really do love, because money is the only thing they feel they truly deserve.

As the never married singles in the group, Goldblum's Michael and William Hurt's Nick are particularly perfect representations of this sort of callousness, and they have the two most entertaining parts in the movie. (The Big Chill had the best casting of any comedy until Flirting With Disaster.) Karen (JoBeth Williams) is especially radiant as the only other married member of this clique. She married her husband Richard because she knew he wasn't the sort of man who would cheat on her, and despite three beautiful children, she is unhappy. Richard, meanwhile, is astounded by the entire group: "They're nothing like you described all these years!"

In the film's best scene, Richard – the only stranger at the party – tells Nick why their friend Alex killed himself. Not surprisingly, Dick is an advertising executive. He informs them that "there's some asshole at work you have to kowtow to, and you find yourself doing things you thought you'd never do. But you try and minimize that stuff; be the best person you can be. But you set your priorities. And that's the way life is. I wonder if your friend Alex knew that. One thing's for sure, he couldn't live with it. I know I shouldn't talk, you guys knew him. But the thing is... no one ever said it would be fun. At least... no one ever said it to me." Waaaaah.

William Hurt tries very hard to steal The Big Chill as Nick, a drug-addled psychologist who for some reason became impotent in Vietnam. Like Frasier, he hosted a psychology talk show on Pacific northwest radio and advised people on their problems until he became so overcome with guilt he absconded from the gig. When he is pulled over in his Porsche by a local South Carolina cop and abuses the cop verbally, Kline turns on his friend, telling him that the cop had prevented robberies at his store and was a good man. The implication is clear: they're on our side now.

Pauline Kael called The Big Chill shallow, overcontrolled and contrived. She saw the characters as spoiled and perhaps more than a little unlikeable, but my generation holds the opposite view. The attitudes of the characters of The Big Chill are perilously relevant, because they haven't really dated at all. They just grew older and became more self-righteous – they lecture us from op-ed pages, they lost their money to Bernard Madoff, they took out an ad complaining that the Grammys didn't pay enough attention to Justin Bieber. They inherited the world.

There is actually something quite wonderful about these people, of having friends who know you even after so many years have passed. It is not that this generation was full of those who didn't know how to do the right thing, or idealists who couldn't live up to the sacred cows of their youth. Kael said that The Big Chill would be "hated by anyone who believes himself to have been a revolutionary or a deeply committed radical during his student demonstration days." The entitled attitude that the men and women of The Big Chill demonstrate is a natural consequence of those days, not a contradiction of them. When we expect to receive something, and do not it receive it, we think of something else to expect.

What the people you know will turn into is the eternal open question. The world that the University of Michigan ejaculated these hopeful young people into does not resemble ours today. Then the fullness of America's service economy in no way foretold economic collapse, whereas we have paid for the sins of our predecessors. If a company is bankrupt, it can no longer compensate its employees; if a person is morally bankrupt, he might want to think of killing himself before depending on the kindness of others. It's the right thing to do.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. He tumbls here and twitters here. He last wrote in these pages about the HBO series Big Love. You can find an archive of his writing here.

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"You Can't Always Get What You Want (Soulwax remix)" - The Rolling Stones (mp3)

"You Can't Always Get What You Want" - Locomotives (mp3)

"Waiting for the Day" - George Michael (mp3)


In Which We Learn From Experience

Ways To Say No Thank You Sir


It’s no secret that I like older men. But I’m not going to be receptive to just any older guy. I can swing Bobby Kennedy, not Bobcat Goldthwait. I’m talking to you, creepy man at Barnes & Noble in Union Square who thought he was impressing me by telling me he was friends with some guy in the new Doors.

September 1984The new Doors? Really? If you look old enough to be my dad and you’re going to hit on me, then there really needs to be something to back it up. A few days ago a friend of mine and I were at a party where we were bombarded by an older guy who pulled all the stops, from bragging about his model ex-wife to gushing over his kids, saying that having children was “like having beautiful dogs.” He got points for candor and even more for creativity, but that’s all he got.

Here are some great lines to use when creepy older men invade your space. Because sometimes saying, “No thanks, I have to go” isn’t fun enough.

“Where were you when the Berlin Wall came down?”

“I guess John Mayer is the Leonard Cohen of my time.”

“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”

“Gosh I graduated college so long ago. I still used a Razr! The iPhone hadn’t come out yet.”

“Where were you when that famous moon thing happened?”

“I can’t imagine not living with the Internet. How did you do it? How did you get anywhere without Google Maps?”

“You look familiar, are you friends with my mom on Facebook?”

“Were you around to see Gone with the Wind in theaters? That must have been so cool!”

“I never really got into Nirvana, they were a little before my time.”

“Was Ulysses S. Grant as badass as he seems in the history books?”

“I remember when I found out John Lennon died. I was so sad. Of course by then he had already been dead for, like, a really long time, but it still hurt, you know?”

“Maybe I’m weird but I just love older music, like U2. It’s just so different than anything that’s around today.”

“What was Ra the Sun God like?”

“That’s so awesome that you text, I had to teach my dad and I still don’t think he gets it.”

“Wow, you have a teenaged son? That’s so cool! I’m not even old enough to have a ten year old!”

“I love old movies, like Pretty Woman.”

“I can’t believe Green Day is still around.”

“What’s a Jeff Beck?”

Almie Rose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. You can find her blog here, and she twitters here.

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