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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 molly lambert (100)

Wednesday
Jan122011

In Which I Was So Much Older Then I'm Younger Than That Now

The Typing Cure (Or: Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens)

by MOLLY LAMBERT 

The internet is a glory hole for feelings. It is fundamentally changing the way human beings express themselves to each other. Email has made letter writing more commonplace than ever, but there is also instant messaging, facebook, twitter, tumblr. The deep human need to talk about what is going on inside you has endless outlets, and every boring day at the office is also a potential virtual Cassavetes film.  

People create a divide between their real selves and their internet selves. Everyone is always surprised to be treated in real life the way they present themselves on the internet. My favorite English teacher from junior high, the one who told me I should be/am a writer, would always say "we become what we think other people think we are," and then Tess and I would argue about whether we believed that or not (She did, I didn't. I might now!) and then we'd talk about if the teacher was hot or not (She did. I didn't. I still don't. He was ginger!), and whether a person could become attractive through sheer force of their personality. He was a really great English teacher and he let me play a Steely Dan song in class once because it had an allusion to The Odyssey.

I passed notes to Tess during passing periods because text messaging didn't exist. Some people had pagers, but I'm fairly sure you could only send numerical pages. We pretended that other people could tell we felt like Robert Plant and Jimmy Page when we were hanging out together and that anyone who couldn't best to RAMBLE ON

We drew lots of little cartoons and wrote lists of things we liked, what songs we were listening to a lot and what boys we had crushes on, how much we hated school and what we should try to do that weekend. Tess once described our first meeting as being like a spotlight coming on, and that is how I think of all important first meetings and memorable events and other moments in Na'vi. The goal of life is to find all the people in the world where you can really understand each other when you express yourself. 

The internet makes people act drunk. Because the internet doesn't feel real, people disregard almost everything they do there. Because of this, they let their guard down a lot in a way that rarely happens in real life, except with a lot of alcohol. Nobody talks about it in real life, because the internet fourth wall largely stands, but people are getting weirder and looser about it. If it was the fifties when we started IMing, it is definitely now the sixties. We are firmly on the road towards nineteen seventies key parties (truth or dare videochat orgies? Paging Rachael Bedard for dungeonmaster.)

The most intimate thing you can do in an email is not sign it.

Sometimes not signing an email is actually the least intimate thing you can do. As with anything else, it is entirely based on the individual circumstances.

Gchat is checkers. Texting is chess. Twitter is Scrabble. Email is Monopoly.

People say things online they should tell a licensed therapist. Usually something deeply fascinating that reminds you that you are not a licensed therapist and shouldn't just dole out advice like you have any fucking idea what you are talking about. Not like I even think licensed therapists have any idea what they are talking about either, and really they just listen, and the internet always listens. Mostly it feels good to tell. 

I have gone through long spells where I didn't feel like writing anything, and I usually get out of them by writing something on the internet. Because of this "not real" feeling, it is much easier to write something and post it and not feel like it now lives in a library where you can be permanently judged by it. Because yes, you could still go back in and move some words around, or even delete it if you felt like it. But it's an illusion, because the internet is every bit as much of a library as a real library. 

Being freed from the tyranny of the physical sheet of blank paper allows you to take useful risks you might not take in ink or a Microsoft Word document, the same way people will try new things on vacation. You are freed from the tyranny of the idea that what you are doing is ever permanent, freed from context and the idea of yourself in the context of a continuing permanent self, from the illusion of any permanent self.

It is why we're so obsessed with journals and letters at This Recording. People write differently for a theoretical audience of everyone than they write for specific people and themselves, but the internet splits the difference. It is the most intimate least intimate thing. Sometimes (much of the time) people overshare, it's par for the course. 

Autobiographies are often not that interesting because they tell you how a person wants people to see them, like a facebook page; the illusion of no insecurities or certain insecurities emphasized to disguise the lack of discussion of embarrassing actual insecurities. Journals tell you how that person really sees themselves. 

Online presence isn't correlated with real life presence. Some people make great albums but have no live show. Some of the best live performers can't figure out how to translate that energy back into great albums. The record of a thing is never going to replicate the thing itself, it can only reflect it back and remind you of the experience.

In real life we are always surprised when we say something that is different than the way we actually feel and people believe us, because being looked at makes you feel emotionally transparent. On the internet there is the ability to go into sudden death, to switch topics abruptly in a way that is not socially acceptable in real life, and then discuss it in a way that would never be sanctioned in a face to face conversation.

For whatever thought experiment reason people are tremendously likely to tell you the actual truth online if you ask them something flat out. This is also known as real talk. I try to avoid doing this too much because sometimes you go over the line and wish you hadn't or if it's an actually important thing you feel like it deserves better than virtual resolution. Real talk is much more intense in real life because being looked at during anything heightens the experience in a way the virtual can never approach.

You learn a lot about people from their internet presences, but very little about their actual selves. Mostly you learn about how people present themselves and how they desire to be perceived. Internet personas usually go too far towards self-aggrandizement or self-deprecation. As with everything else on the internet and in real life, it is based around exaggerating certain truths and totally omitting others. Citizen Zuckerberg is a genius for allowing you to untag yourself from unflattering photos.

Smileys do soften me. I also always go "really?" that a person my age is using one, and then I do smile because they're so funny. So they kind of do work exactly the way they are supposed to. I use them to soften really ridiculous statements, especially when I am asking for something I am not sure I can get. The closest thing we have to tonal indicators in straight text are : D and sarcasm italics. There is no shame in using them. Maybe slight shame. But it's a funny kind of shame and will you loan me ten bucks : D

I stopped enjoying talking on the phone when I started to really enjoy IM. I probably enjoy instant messaging because I am a primarily word based person and I like being able to self-edit, but probably also because I am ADD and get distracted by everything when I'm on the phone. Alex says he now has to turn all the lights off to talk on the phone. He is The Night Caller. Facebook chat is the lowest form of communication. 

In high school Tess and I chilled on the phone for hours after-school playing songs that we synced up together and reading the sex scenes aloud from books like Forever and The Godfather. It was like being in a car on a roadtrip together. When I talk about sismance I am often thinking of Tess. I have never once tried to make out with her, although we've spent a lot of time in beds together over the years and I get a really strong urge to scream that James Blunt song "You're Beautiful" at her sometimes.

I will never forget the time in ninth grade that we played truth or dare in Tess's bed while our friend was fingering our other friend under the blanket and we both had no clue except that our friend started talking kind of weirdly while she told a story.   

When people bring up something I wrote on the internet in real life positively, sometimes I get Taylor Swift surprise face and then I worry like it might seem dishonest, but I'm really just as excited every single time. When people bring up something I wrote in real life or online and are negative, a little dark gray lightning cloud suddenly appears over my head to electrocute you like in Mario Kart.

Texting is the weirdest thing ever invented. If the new Scream movie doesn't open with a text message that says "Hello Sidney" it is advance dead to me. 

I usually stop thinking about a thing the second I click post. I put all this energy into it, obsessing over it and changing sentences and rearranging words until the last possible second, and then I click post, and it is like letting go of a balloon. Sometimes I write a thing and click post and still can't stop thinking about it afterwards, and I just get deeper into obsessing and thinking and end up writing about it even more.

You genuinely forget that anyone can read the internet. You forget that when you write something somebody can read it, and that if they can read it they might possibly remember it ever. It is a perfect demonstration of mind-body splitting.

I recently reread all my old Mad Men reviews going back to the pilot and it was like hearing my past self give my present self advice. My present self does not understand how my past self obtained these insights into my present self and it felt like a science fiction short story to think about. It felt as close to reading my writing from the perspective of somebody who is not me as I have ever come. Super fucking weird.  

Rereading This Recording on wordpress I barely remembered anything I wrote. It made me feel insanely nostalgic to realize I have a permanent record of a time period I never had any interest in commemorating while it was happening, because I was pretty certain that it sucked more than anything since junior high. And now when I read the record of it knowing full well that it sucked and was often painful, it all just seems too wonderful. We danced like nobody was watching and loved like we'd never been hurt.

Tess and I still talk every single day. We were discussing Blue Valentine, and why it is that people always seem so excited for movies that are about relationships falling apart, which is a thing you would think nobody would want to relive. She said people like to realize that the experiences during which they have the most intensely isolating feelings possible are all universal experiences, laughably adherent to key clichés. 

There is a kind of distanced admiration of your terrible feelings, where you end up romanticizing the worst feelings you ever had from your current more neutral point of view. It is comforting to realize that you got over it, that you don't feel that exact way anymore, that even though it felt like you might die a bunch of times you never did.

There is also a distanced admiration for your best feelings, for personal triumphs and ecstatic experiences, times you really felt understood, so that they can remain the benchmarks for the highest and lowest points of your feelings. If we are interested in pushing the highs higher, naturally we might also sometimes want to push the lows as low as possible, even though it is perverse to want to feel bad. Maybe it is because it seems like there is a point at which one naturally and inevitably becomes the other.  

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She's on twitter and runs GIF PARTYJPG CLUB, and Google Image Search.

"Waterloo Sunset" - The Kinks (mp3)

"Lola" - The Kinks (mp3)

"All Day and All of the Night" - The Kinks (mp3)

Monday
Jan102011

In Which We Upgrade And Or Totally Ruin Your Next Social Gathering 

Black Swan: The Party Game

by MOLLY LAMBERT with contributions from TESS LYNCH and SARAH JOHNSON

In case you haven't seen Black Swan, reading this reveals and ruin nothing. The party game is simple; all things can be paired up and divided into white swans and black swans. White swans have technique but black swans have essential style. The white swan is the brain, the black swan is the crotch. Not every facemash splits this way but it sure wasn't hard to come up with like a billion of these in ten minutes with friends.

As with Fuck Marry Kill, the thing about this game is that it becomes dangerous as soon as you start directing it to people's personal black swans, which inevitably always happens. Drunk people have a tendency to be more honest than they really intended to. As soon as you start talking about people in the room at the party you are fucked.

But aren't all parlor games kind of dangerous/purposely meant to encourage relational transgressions? Isn't that also why people drink? God knows spin the bottle is built for destruction. It's easy to be the black swan that pushes other people into playing. Who wants to go to a party where nothing happens? What, you never rolled before?

White Swan/Black Swan

Madonna/Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry/Chrissie Hynde

Diana Ross/Donna Summer

Michael Jackson/Prince

Prince/Rick James

Luke Skywalker/Han Solo

Judd Apatow/Adam Sandler

Jackie O/Marilyn Monroe

Seth Rogen/Jason Segel

Jonah Hill/Danny McBride

Elvis/Little Richard (original black swan queen)

Joe Strummer/Joey Ramone

Belinda Carlisle/Cyndi Lauper

Emmylou Harris/Linda Ronstadt

Rachel Weisz/Marion Cotillard

George Clooney/Jon Hamm

the 60s/the 70s

Conan/Letterman

Thomas Pynchon/Kurt Vonnegut

Dreamworks/Pixar

Beatles/Stones

Coke/Pepsi

Steven Spielberg/Joe Dante

Joni Mitchell/Carly Simon

American Idol/X Factor

Betty/Veronica

Debbie Gibson/Tiffany

Lily Allen/Katy Perry

Drake/Lil Wayne

Taylor Swift/Miley Cyrus

Selena Gomez/Demi Lovato

Gwyneth Paltrow/Winona Ryder

Blair Waldorf/Serena van der Woodsen

Jack Kerouac/Neal Cassady

John Mayer (musician)/John Mayer (celebrity)

Adam Trask/Charles Trask

Fitzgerald/Hemingway

Kathleen Hanna/Courtney Love

David Bowie/Iggy Pop

John Cale/Lou Reed

Mick/Keef

Superman/Batman

black and white/color

Dakota Fanning/Taylor Momsen

David Byrne/Bryan Ferry

Philip Glass/Brian Eno

Sean Penn/Robert Downey Jr.

Brad Pitt/Johnny Depp

Oprah/Martha Stewart

Paul/John

sight/sound

2Pac/Makaveli

The OC/Gossip Girl

Elton John/Jeff Lynne

TRL Xtina/TRL Britney

TRL Britney/Pink Wig Britney

Gaga/Robyn

Fat Joe/Big Pun

Green Day/Blink 182

David Foster Wallace/Jonathan Franzen

Bernard Malamud/Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow/Philip Roth

John Cheever/John Updike

Steve Martin/Chevy Chase

Dan Ackroyd/Bill Murray

Bill Murray/Andy Kaufman

Lindsey Buckingham/Don Henley

Robert Redford/Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty/Jack Nicholson

Gregory Peck/Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando/James Dean

The Graduate/Carnal Knowledge

Thoureau/Emerson

Emerson/Whitman

Pacino/De Niro

John Malkovich/Christopher Walken

Emilio Estevez/Charlie Sheen

Meryl Streep/Susan Sarandon

 

Angela Chase/Rayanne Graff

Townes Van Zandt/John Prine

Godfather/Godfather II

Freaks And Geeks/Undeclared

Loudon Wainwright III/Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon/Tom Petty

Harry Nilsson/Randy Newman

Eric Clapton/George Harrison

Tyra Banks/Naomi Campbell

the 90s/the 00s

showers/baths

Harvest/On The Beach

Rumours/Tusk

Tina Fey/Amy Poehler

Leonardo DiCaprio/Matt Damon

Matt Damon/Ben Affleck

Priscilla Presley/Ann Margaret

Betty Draper/whoever Don Draper is banging 

Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn

David Gordon Green/Jody Hill  

David O. Russell/Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson/Coen Brothers

Christopher Nolan/Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky/David Fincher  

Madonna/Young Madonna

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She tumbls here and twitters here.

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"The Passenger" - Iggy Pop (mp3)

"China Girl" - David Bowie (mp3)

"Under Pressure" - Queen ft. David Bowie (mp3)


Wednesday
Jan052011

In Which You Have To Be Free, You Have To Be An Individual

Emotionally I Am In Deep Trouble

by MOLLY LAMBERT

Husbands (1970)

dir. John Cassavetes

You never felt the camera. You didn't know where the camera was. Only when he picked up the handheld camera, and then you knew you were being taken care of. He really made love to you. He really knew how to use a handheld.

- Ben Gazzara 

In real life the screaming monologue is unusual, but it's the centerpiece of an actor's repertoire. Most interactions are less obvious. People generally put on more of a big dumb show the less they actually care, and less of a show when they care the most. Genuine reaction flares in the eyes but then most people try to cap it, because feelings like jealousy, anger and sadness are associated with embarrassment and weakness. 

John Cassavetes' movies are so good because they don't point at themselves. That's how they go so deep without tipping into pretentiousness or kitsch. The emotional moments feel real because they are subtle, and most emotional moments are subtle.

Husbands explores the conflict between personal selfishness and the desire to connect. The blocking is clumsy and realistic. Watching the three characters continually reassemble themselves in the frame is fascinating. The action always feels like it just occurs. All of the sequences feel like they are in real time, and it is as excruciating to watch uncomfortable events unfold as it is pleasant to watch the long bits of improvised physical nonsense. Cassavetes goes especially extra hard on himself.

Most of the movie is closeups, a dialogue of glances between the three best friends. It's a love story about male friendships and the ways men display affection for each other. Some critics argue that male romantic friendship is the founding trope of American literature, back to Huck and Tom (Gatsby and Nick, Ishmael and Queequeg). 

Male friendship fascinates me because it's not a thing I can observe firsthand without changing the dynamic. Although god knows I try. What I love about ensemble casts is that they replicate how romantic a whole friend group can be. I am so fucking bored of bromances. How hard is it to write a conversation between a man and a woman that resembles anything that happens in real life? I have conversations with men every day. 

Black Swan's shortcut around writing realistic female characters was surrealistic female characters. What do women talk about alone together? What does anyone talk about? Stupid bullshit trying to make each other laugh. Songs we've been listening to a lot. Sometimes we gossip, but if I've learned anything in life it's that men gossip the most.

Husbands is so great, so rueful. It reminds me of my other favorite 1970s borderline misogynist depending on your personal feelings about whether it's a critique (I think they both definitely are) film Carnal Knowledge. I'd throw Shampoo in there. They romanticize masculinity from a standpoint of extreme cynicism. Can you romanticize a subject and critique it simultaneously? I'm not sure there's any other way to do either. 

I don't believe that men are naturally worse than women. I worry a little that men might think that. They underestimate their goodness and our badness. Women are definitely not more moral or responsible at all. The most moralistic responsible people I know are all men. Men have more opportunities to abuse power, but I don't believe that women wouldn't abuse it in exactly the same ways. Ask Madonna's twenty year old boyfriend what he thinks. People with power use it to subjugate those without.

Obviously I wish there were more media depictions of how romantic female friendships are (we're working on it). I don't mean romantic like Black Swan, I mean romantic in the road-trip sense. Sismance is still a pretty small genre. Things depicting women are usually about female rivalry. Female rivalry as a media trope is way overrepresented and female friendship is super fucking underrepresented. 

That is what women really love about Sex And The City. Did they ever even want to fuck the same guy once? Isn't it crazy that they maybe didn't do that plotline during the whole run of the show? When they fought, it was always over something regarding the friendship, usually Carrie semi-accidentally being an insensitive jerk. Definitely those kinds of conflicts are more common in real life than cut a bitch catfights. 

I really like Mary McCarthy's novel The Group about a group of female friends from college, because I have a tight-knit group of female friends from college that I love more than anything, and I am totally curious about how people fucked in the thirties. 

I can't really put into words how much I love my friends. I wouldn't even know where to start. Husbands goes without dialogue for long stretches and just relies on the characters interacting with each other, demonstrating their deep devotion to one another in the most indirect ways. It is frustrating and occasionally transcendent.

I realize this post isn't really very much about Husbands, but I can't possibly improve on Husbands. I never have too much to say about things I just love, and I am always seeking things that will make me want to stop talking. I guess my articles are never really about the thing they're supposed to be about, and I improvise. There is a four and a half hour version I would like to see that Ben Gazzara says is his favorite cut. 

Cassavetes initially cut Husbands around Ben Gazzara, then made other cuts where he and Peter Falk were the principal lead, before ending up with the final cut where they are all represented equally. Thinking about your own life from the point of view of your closest friends will make you go blind. It's hard enough just being yourself.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She's on twitter and runs GIF PARTYJPG CLUB, and Google Image Search. You're sensitive? You can't even vomit.

"Ohio" - The Black Keys (mp3)

"Act Nice and Gentle (Kinks cover)" - The Black Keys (mp3)

"Tighten Up" - The Black Keys (mp3)


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