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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

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 kara vanderbijl (82)


In Which We Cover Ourselves In A Glorious Sheen

A Flytrap But For Happiness


On a cold day in early March, during work hours, the Lincoln Park conservatory is mostly empty. Its few visitors pause in the palm house, where it's warm. We shed scarves and sweaters and tie up our hair. We're covered in a glorious sheen of sweat. 

"Are you getting dripped on?" I ask my friend. She's burying her face in a plant at toe level. Her laughter comes through a veil of humidity. I'm lightheaded from sudden muscle relaxation and birthday breakfast mimosas, champagne with a drop of orange juice. Everything's so lush and slow, it's seductive. It smells sexy in here. 

I wonder:

Do flowers smell different to different people? 

Why are the undersides of so many leaves purple? 

Why is that man talking so loudly on his cell phone? 

How old are these koi? 

Mimosa pudica, sensitive plant: Where have I seen that name before?

Mimosa — obviously, we giggled it while my friend fried bacon and stirred a chocolate gravy for biscuits out of a can. I poured champagne into tilted mason jar goblets. We were up early because we went to see the sunrise, read Mary Oliver on the banks of Lake Michigan and watch Chicago twinkling on the horizon. I was drunk before 9 a.m., because I turned 27 and Chicago turned 178.

Pudica sounds dirty, like pute, a word we shouted at girls we didn't like in French high school. I'm telling my friend about this article I read in the New Yorker about plant consciousness, and when I go to email her the link, l see this: 

Mimosa pudica, also called "sensitive plant," is that rare plant species with a behavior so speedy and visible that animals can observe it; the Venus flytrap is another. When the fernlike leaves of the mimosa are touched, they instantly fold up, presumably to frighten insects. 


In a hot bath oolong unfurls its fists, relaxes into the steam. The second cup is best. After three, the leaves' liquor weakens. I sip even the sediment. I wear a green sweater. Everything's growing. My razor is rusted. My windows yawn, jaws cracking.

Conservatory: The interior of a tea salon in a dicey neighborhood in Marseilles, France. Monsieur Kim, its owner, employed his stepdaughter to whisper to patrons about green, black, and white varieties while chocolate tarts heated in a concealed microwave. The tarts were the only thing manufactured about the place, and even they probably came from some neighborhood patisserie. M. Kim brought tea back from trips to China and Japan, which he then stored in giant tins behind the counter. We'd come in twice, three times a week to sit in the dark basement of his shop, hung with gauzy drapes, and we'd sip tea and get high on incense. I was new to tea and drowned cubes of sugar in it. We ordered teas with fancy names: In the Mood for Love, Imperial Jasmine, Thousand and One Nights. 

We invited boys, but they didn't come. Just as well. It was a place for teenage girls and people in love. It was a sacred space that, like us, would have crumbled if criticized. Here we talked about the boys who — we were convinced — just needed more time to steep. We fell asleep on each other's shoulders after the caffeine wore off and the sugar dipped low. We waited for our futures to brew. 

The store shuttered not long after I left France, and I lost the heart to visit its gated front on subsequent visits. Were we the ones keeping it alive? Where do teenage girls in Marseilles go now to eat microwaved chocolate tarts and drink Imperial Jasmine and sigh about boys?

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording. You can subscribe to her Tinyletters here.


"Another Night On Mars" - The Maine (mp3)

"English Girls" - The Maine (mp3)


In Which There Are Times He Resembles A Penny Loafer

Color Me Grey


The Fall
creator Alan Cubitt

When Jamie Dornan isn’t murdering brunettes in Belfast, he’s busy slinging Dakota Johnson over his knee to spank her. Now that BBC’s The Fall has been renewed for a third season, in which he’ll (presumably) pick up the role of serial killer Paul Spector, Dornan will likely continue his spree as one of the most disturbing televised turn-ons. It isn’t much of a surprise: with his breathy brogue, Dornan could resemble a penny loafer and still drop every pair of panties west of the Atlantic. What is ironic, however, is the fact that his serial killer, Paul Spector, is ten times sexier than his billionaire sadist, Christian Grey. Whether that says more about Dornan’s abilities, Fifty Shades of Grey, or human desire, I’m not sure.

The Fall, created by Allan Cubitt, follows Spector as he commits a string of murders around Belfast, and focuses on the local police force, led by Detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), as they attempt to catch him.  

As far as crime dramas go, The Fall doesn’t offer much novelty. The narrative zeroes in on both the killer and the detectives pursuing him, which is refreshing, but hardly new — remember Dexter?  The Fall pounds the point home yet again that nobody’s innocent. Detectives stalk Spector in much the same way that Spector stalks his female victims. Spector’s young daughter Olivia and his wife lie to the police. Spector is just as capable of accomplishing positive things (raising children, helping a woman escape her abusive spouse) as the detectives are capable of doing negative things (becoming media informants, beating up women). We get it: everybody’s terrible!  

Thankfully, the series doesn’t spend too much time on this theme. It’s more concerned with the gritty present, not its characters’ tragic pasts, and this lends a sort of clinical agnosticism to its moral judgments, not to mention its characterization. Since Spector’s — not to mention the detectives’ — motives are cloudy, we can only judge them by their actions. And this is where The Fall really shines. 

Take Detective Stella Gibson, for example. We know almost nothing about her except that she’s from London, she’s competent, and, like her spiritual predecessor, Dana Scully, she’s logical to the extreme. The problem? She’s also attractive. Her boss, Jim (John Lynch), can barely control himself around her, even though their affair ended years ago. When she leaves a button undone on her blouse during a press conference, it’s all anybody can talk about — not the fact that she’s the one who answers all the questions with poise. After a one-night stand with a colleague who happens to be married — and later gets killed — Gibson gains a reputation as a loose woman who doesn’t respect conventions like marriage or professional distance.  

This is the uneasy truce men have made with women: they won’t question your professional prowess, as long as you shed it (along with your clothes) once they visit your hotel room. If not, they’ll get sullen — or predictably, violent.  

Paul Spector kills successful women for reasons that The Fall’s first two seasons only begin to untangle. But it’s not a stretch to imagine that Spector shares a similar history with Jamie Dornan’s other character, Christian Grey, whose “dark side” involves silk ties and a riding crop.

Sure, there’s a huge, and perhaps categorical, difference between those who like it rough and those who rough women up, but the stories are the same: they ask us to look into the character’s past to decipher why he has become like this, what has brought him to this point — so that we can empathize, perhaps forgive, and in poor, spanked Dakota Johnson’s case, even love the perpetrator.  

At one point in The Fall, Spector breaks into Detective Gibson’s hotel room and steals her journal. Although its contents aren’t revealed in any great detail to viewers, Spector later taunts Stella about what she has written concerning her father, hinting at a dysfunctional relationship.

He means to prove that he’s not the only one with twisted sexual desires, but instead, he reveals a tragic point: in Stella’s case, nobody will forgive. Nobody will empathize. Nobody will love. A man’s past justifies his end; a woman’s condemns hers.  

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording.

"Mona Lisa" - Goodbyemotel (mp3)


In Which The Snow Could Be Covering The Hole

Midwestern Dates


5 minutes: Pay $14.95 for an Illinois fishing license

3 minutes: Put on old jeans, two shirts, a sweatshirt, socks from the Army/Navy surplus store, snow boots, down-filled coat, hat, and fleece-lined mittens

7 minutes: Load the sled with the necessities, e.g., beer, whiskey, an empty plastic bucket, an auger, a skimmer, two poles, two plastic condiment containers filled with wood shavings and maggots, a sonar scope, a heater named—no joke—"portable buddy"

15 minutes: Drag sled across frozen lake towards the best fishing spot, into the wind, trying not to slip

~2 minutes: Reach the other huts, realize I'm the only other woman on the ice 

1 minute: Screw the auger into the ice until a deep scent, reminiscent of summer, pokes through the freeze and water bubbles through the hole 

1 minute: Repeat

1 minute: Skim slushy lake water off the surface, stare deep into the murky hole

20 minutes: Attempt to raise the collapsible shelter in 20-30 mph gusts

3 minutes: Sit inside the shelter, freezing, while Jens attempts to tie down the back flaps

2 minutes: Scream when the wind catches the shelter through the open door and drags the whole thing three yards across the ice with me in it

2 minutes: Watch as Jens slips and slides after the fish bucket and a single glove that have blown away 

10 minutes: Figure out how to fortify the shelter against the wind with a series of disconnected metal poles and no instruction manual

1 minute: Breathe gas as the portable buddy kindles to life

30 seconds: Stab a maggot with a hook

30 seconds: Drop the line into the hole and watch the bait flicker green on the sonar scope

20 minutes: Wait for fish 

2 minutes: Laugh when Fleetwood Mac starts playing on Pandora. "It's like they know," I explain to Jens. 

30 minutes: Wait for fish

5 minutes: Have to pee, pull down pants, squat over the hole, feel like the most ridiculous being that has ever walked the planet

30 minutes: Wait for fish

3 minutes: Hear a conversation —

"Don't walk through the snow, you'll break your fucking leg." 

"It's not as slippery!" 

"The snow could be covering a 10 inch hole, you idiot." 

2 minutes: Study the intricate patterns crystallizing inside the strata of the ice 

3 minutes: Freak out, briefly, about the fact that all however many hundreds of pounds of us are sitting on eight inches of ice above twenty feet of water

1 minute: Marvel

20 minutes: Drink a beer that's so cold it makes my teeth hurt

5 minutes: Squat over the hole again

2 minutes: Attempt to tickle Jens through five layers of clothing

2 hours: Wait for fish

10 minutes: Insult fish

30 minutes: Wait for fish

5 minutes: Decide to call it a day

25 minutes: Pack it all up, slip-slide across the lake back the house hand-in-hand

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording. You can subscribe to Hors Sujet here.

Paintings by Katherine Bradford.

"Sail" - Awolnation (mp3)