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Alex Carnevale

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Mia Nguyen

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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 mel gibson (2)


In Which She Doesn't Believe In Modern Love

Who Loves You


You know what, guys? I first addressed the evils of the NYT's Modern Love column three years ago. But the essay series continues its reign of terror, and the editors are not even kind enough to tip your chair back and wake you up out of the third-level inception nightmare that is an essay titled, "I Fell For A Man Who Wore an Electronic Ankle Bracelet."

That is why we are revisiting this today.

It’s also worth noting, that important science people say devastating solar storms could put the planet in peril as soon as 2013. Dare to think: What if all that’s left for Wall-E to find of our civilization is a What Women Want DVD and this vast collection of pandering one-dimensional essays? We would look so terrible! My therapist says I care too much about what other people think. And my life coach says that "my therapist said" jokes are totally overdone. I just feel really lost sometimes, you know? Pls consider the last three sentences my Modern Love pitch.

How A Series of Horrible Essays Taught Me All I Need To Know About Modern Love And Made Me Crawl Into A Bucket of Fried Chicken Left On The Roadside

I have this fantasy where I get the Sunday Times. After sleeping in until 10 or so, I begin the last weekend day in my sun-filled living room curled up on the couch by the huge bay windows, cuddling close to my fiance who has just given me the greatest orgasm of my life. He used to be a sociopathic rapist with a trust fund and I, a staunch feminist who preferred to date non-rapists. But you know what? We learned to compromise. That is what love is all about.

And now, cuddling close on the couch together, the clock shows it's nearly 11, and we're so intelligent we've almost completed the entire crossword. "12 letter name, philosopher, wrote On Women..." he reads aloud. We sit thinking, curling our fingers together.

"Schopenhauer!" I scream. He looks at me admiringly. "How did you ever get to be so beautiful but so brilliant too?" he gushes. "I didn't know they made women like you! I would never have been raping all those years if I knew someone like you was out there." My lower class roommate Marmsies walks in on our cuddling, and exclaims in her slightly Cuban accent, "My Momma always says when you got somethin' good, you gots to hold onto it!" My fiance turns to me, looking soulfully into my eyes, "That Cuban girl is right....Marry me now."

Does this sound like something you have or may want someday?

Then you probably love Modern Love, and maybe you should be a Modern Love writer!

I'd like to outline the fairly simple formula of a Modern Love column to make it easier for you to find this elusive brand of love and then write about it for a prestigious paper! First, it's very important to be an educated, upper middle class female. Actually don't bother trying to find modern love if you're not. You can leave subtle hints of your elitist qualifications by describing how you picked up your New Yorker copies scattered throughout his apartment after he broke your heart, or you can casually mention "pre-nups", "Ph.D's", "foie gras", "Park Slope", or "Schopenhauer" at any point during the course of your essay. All of these methods have worked beautifully in the past.

Gloria Steinem, Wilma Scott Heide & Betty FreidanSometimes a great twist on this element is how your educated position set you up to fail at love. For example in my FAVORITE column ever, "Changing My Feminist Mind, One Man at a Time" the author demonstrates how her superb intelligence and thorough understanding of feminism actually inhibited true love. Someone get this girl a book deal! She is a 19th wave feminist!

I read, re-read, and underlined "Backlash," "The Beauty Myth" and "The Feminine Mystique." I grew enraged by what I learned. Enraged, and utterly confused. Who was keeping women down? Men. But who were just so cute that I couldn't sleep at night for thinking and writing and obsessing about them? You guessed it, the self-same.

Then I went off to an all-women's college, Smith, where I didn't see a whole lot of men. I joined the campus women's group and studied up on gender issues. My rage toward men in general grew ever stronger, as did my desire to meet that one specific man who could make my dreams come true.

It also helps, once you've established your superb white upper class affiliations to dabble with some lower classes. You see, they're not as smart as you, thus they are not constricted by their own intelligence. They can teach you how to love purely and intensely, to rid yourself of the shackles of the Ivy League pedigree. Find a poor musician, like this week's columnist did, one who will kind of embarrass you, but who will play Damaged by Primal Scream, and tell you “This song makes me love you so much I want to die." So romantsies! Also, if you can manage to date a rapist serving time in prison you get like, a billion trillion bonus points. That is way modern love.

Lower class people are also very important in the Modern Love story arc to help bring you to your senses. When you're sobbing on some bus, after collecting your smart person materials from your ex-boyfriend's house, make sure that some guy with a "West Indian accent" lightly jokes with you, "Aw, that fool must be crazy to give up a nice young thang like yourself!" Let these people be the voice of sensibility. Let them guide you to your ultimate catharsis. You can even dedicate your entire essay to these characters like in "How My Plumber Turned Water Into Wine" (but remember the focus should still be on you and the shackles of your upper class life). I mean, this week's author comes to her senses thanks to a tenant in a flophouse!

So there I was, a girl with a university education, a glowing résumé, a loving family, and all the other annoying characteristics of a charmed life, writhing on the urine-stained floor of a flophouse. And I was making such a scene that the tenant from the next room, a hulking man in torn boxers, emerged from his den, pointed a shaming finger at me and shouted, “Girl, you need to get your mind right."

Once a poor tenant in a urine-soaked flophouse admonishes you for being crazy you can finally say, "If this dirty dude thinks I'm being crazy, then I must be being too crazy!" and begin the process of love's recovery. Brush the urine right off you. Go to the 'Bucks, grab yourself your usual Grande Skim Latte. Sit and listen to Norah Jones while sipping your steamy drink and process what just happened, though don't come to any conclusions that could, you know, subvert the patriarchy. This experience you've just had — this is modern love — and you should write about it so that I can barf up my Sunday brunch and not put on any winter weight. 

Lauren Bans is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She last wrote in these pages about the best TV dubs of all time. She blogs here and you can find her website here.

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In Which Everything Thinks That It Goes Away With Age

You Are Such A Charming Older Person


Nancy Meyers' new film It's Complicated begins with the most remarkable of conceits - a woman meets Alec Baldwin at an orgy. Known for her extraordinary skill at deflecting attention from the aging necks of Hollywood's finest, Meyers' second film, What Women Want, reimagined a decrepit oldster as a sex symbol who for some reason wished to press his wrinkles up against Helen Hunt's forehead.

I reminded someone recently about how much money Grumpy Old Men made, just before reflecting on how much I'd like to bathe in that money. Well, What Women Want is the most lucrative film ever made by a woman before Twilight.

Like Rob Schneider's classic The Stapler (seen below) the wacky uninspired Freaky Friday-esque premise of What Women Want explained part of its success. The magnificent Marisa Tomei's Italian sexuality was a key peripheral component, but the gimmick certainly helped.

Yet just as crucial a reason for What Women Want's success was glorifying the essentially horrifying presences of Mssrs Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. These two partially mutated ad executives were truly the most unappealing people in film until Andrew Bulgaski movies. And yet Meyers was able to resurrect them as likeable fops that got ruined by that week's dry cleaning.

Much hay has been made about how men age more lucratively than women do on the screen, but thankfully technology has leveled the field. Everyone except for Keira Knightley and Morgan Freeman looks absolutely horrible up close in Blu-Ray. Haven't you wondered why Brittany Murphy's been laying low lately? Our secretary of state looks like she spent the last two months in the Sudan.

Meryl Streep is the charming protagonist of It's Complicated. In other roles she's rarely permitted to depict what she actually is - a woman with an earthy sexuality and flirtatious demeanor. In contrast, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, and Jim Krasinski are only able to portray themselves or characters perilously close to themselves. Even though Krasinski was playing a character other than Jim Halpert, he still looked at the camera at the conclusion of every scene.

The key to Meyers' success is that she is better than anyone else at creating characters very close to how we imagine famous movie stars would act if they had slightly different occupations and personalities. (Otherwise instead of a debonair, Diane-Keaton loving Jack Nicholson, we'd see the Roman-Polanski enabling, abusive alcoholic Jack Nicholson). This is a particularly difficult straddling act in the case of the repulsive Alec Baldwin. In It's Complicated he plays a former minister with a passion for blondes who charms Streep's character into committing a deadly murder. Martin plays his Rain-Man autistic savant brother.

Wouldn't this actually be an amazing plot for a film with the title It's Complicated? Although I have watched the preview for It's Complicated over seventeen times, I can make no actual sense of the plot. In this way it resembles the most misogynistic film of the '00s, Meyers' Something's Gotta Give. The previous record holder for most generic film title prominently featured the crumbling carapace of Jack Nicholson lurched his body on top of Diane Keaton's torso. This is the same Keaton character who says no thanks to Keanu Reeves' face and penis in her life and fancies herself a famous playwright named Erica. Somehow this is more believable than Rain Man meets Before the Devil Knows You're Dead?

Casting directors go through slumps just like baseball hitters. Nobody has the balls to tell someone to dye their hair or insert Botox. Sometimes wrinkles have a good day. Other times, they add to the savagery of the intercourse. Usually they just gross me out.

clint's last scene alive, R.I.P.Maybe we will learn to appreciate age the way we have death. I'm proud of the way America has honored the filmmaking efforts of Clint Eastwood, who passed away at some point during Unforgiven. His movies about how other white people are racist both move and disturb my childlike sense of wonder.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbls here and twitters here.

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