This Recording


In Which It Ends Not With A Whimper But With A Bang
March 20, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Top Ten Battlestar Galactica Moments

by Jessica Gold Haralson

And so it frakking ends.

Seven years after Ronald Moore and David Eick transmogrified a cheesy late ’70s space opera into a naturalistic speculative-fiction masterpiece, Battlestar Galactica ends with a bang — literally — on tonight’s series finale, “Daybreak Part Two.”

We’re crying into our octagonal beer steins and wringing our replica Starbuck dog tags in despair, but we’re happy that a show that wrestled international terrorism, torture, identity, and every-ism under the sun existed in our lifetime. With that in mind, here’s a tribute to the best moments of this four-season opus.

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The show is so complex (a robot-caused nuclear war, followed by deep space chase, followed by a corrupt election and a robot-human hybrid-God-baby, followed by an Iraq-like invasion followed by finding Earth a post-apocalyptic wasteland) that it’s hard to lay out its genius in a listicle. But frak it, we’ll try, in a way comprehensible to fanboys and the sci-fi shy alike. So say we all.

10. Secret Agent Boomer: Number Eight Shoots Adama The twelve (or maybe thirteen?) models of humanoid Cylons look like humans, act like humans, talk like humans — are genetically identical to humans. And some are programmed to think they’re human so they can shoot the military leader of the remaining humans at a critical moment. Our jaw was on the floor at this whammy of a season one finale. (Little did we know that compared to Season Two’s, Boomer’s Cylon-icity would look like a game of pattycakes.)

9. Chief Becomes The Man He Wants to Be“We’re Cylons,” Galen Tyrol – a.k.a. the Chief – says at season three’s end, to three members of the Final Five revealed as Cylons. “And we have been from the start.”

But does Galen turn to robot-mode, abandoning humanity forever? Frak no. And that’s why we love him. “We have to be the people we want to be,” he says. And as Season Four progresses, what were once moral quandaries become ethical convictions etched in stone, principles for a better way. He knows he’s a Cylon. But he’s going to keep being Galen Frakkin’ Tyrol.

Galen’s name is identical to that of a famous Renaissance physician who clearly mapped out human anatomy in a rational manner. I believe this to be no coincidence.

As Galactica’s chief repairman — and a literal machine himself — Galen’s journey has a special meaning. After figuratively dissecting himself, he doesn’t let biology determine his destiny. He’s a Cylon, but he’s also an ex-husband, a father, a Chief. He is finally the man he always wanted to be.

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8. Cylon-Invaded New Caprica: Flipping the 9/11 ScriptThe creators of Battlestar Galactica were recently part of a United Nations panel (yes, you read that right) about the show’s grappling with “real-world” issues. One year after the newly elected President Gaius Baltar takes his people to their “New Caprica,” a group of Cylons show up to imprison the humans: in order to “win” their love. “This is the only way,” say the invaders. “We want peace and harmony — on our terms.”

Sound familiar? It should. When the Cylons nuked the human’s world, Caprica, the echoes of Al-Qaeda and 9/11 were obvious. Yet by acting as invaders and captors and turning the humans into insurgents doing anything to escape invasion, the show asks us to identify the Cylons — the enemy! — as Americans. “New Caprica” may as well be New Iraq.

BSG‘s ethical shades of gray are remarkable. The Cylons really, truly believe that imprisoning the humans will “free” them — that they can somehow create freedom from the top-down. And they sound reasonable when they say so. But once you hear from the horrified humans, it’s clear that occupation is no answer, making you question the viability of America’s real world colonies.

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7. Earth Was a Lie: What the Frak Now?Guided by a vision from their holy Book of Pythia, the thirty-thousand odd remaining survivors Roslin to a vague promise of their original home: Earth. The final episode of Season Four’s first part — “Sometimes A Great Notion” — showed the ecstatic crew waiting to meet their new old homeworld.

Ron Moore has said the show provides the characters with “everything they want,” but in the worst possible way. This moment was no exception. The survivors found Earth — as a post-apocalyptic, nuked-out wasteland. Just like Caprica. “Earth,” Roslin says, with the same grit as if she were cursing their Cylon attackers.

Everything you want. In the worst possible way.

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6. Starbuck’s ReturnGandalf the Grey becomes Gandalf the White, BSG-style.

After we witnessed the death of Kara Thrace via explosion in the latter part of season three, she shows up for the season finale in a newly minted Raptor, to the strains of “All Along the Watchtower,” saying she found Earth and would take everyone there.

Mind. Blown.

(Oh, and later? She finds her own dead body on the nuked out planet Earth. Frakkin’ Hell.)

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5. The Ghost Pirate Saul Tigh: “We’re the Devil’s Men”

We’re the devil’s men, spreading death and destruction wherever we go.

– Saul Tigh

If “Cylon-occupied New Caprica” is a direct Iraq parallel, Saul Tigh is the leader of the band of insurgents. He commands his faithful to commit suicide bombings against Cylons — an act considered horrendous in our world. Here in New Caprica Tigh’s reasoning makes perfect sense.

If you were imprisoned by unjust rulers with no options, no freedom, no escape, what would you do? Are there moral justifications for terrorism? What is “right” when it comes to fighting for freedom? Instead of drawing old lines in the sand, Battlestar nukes them, redraws them, turns them into circles, and changes the sand’s color entirely. What other program has shown the ambiguities so clearly?

4. Adama Rescues Everyone Off Frakkin’ New Caprica

Before his ship FTL-jumps in a blaze of fire into the atmosphere to save the New Capricans, then-Admiral Adama says this to his pilots:

This is the Admiral. You’ve heard the news, you know the mission. You should also know there is only one way that this mission ends: and that’s with the successful rescue of our people, off of New Caprica. Look around you. Take a good look at the men and women that stand next to you. Remember their faces, for one day you will tell your children and your grandchildren that you served with such men and women as the universe has never seen. And together, you’ll accomplish the feat that will be told and retold down through the ages, and find immortality as only the gods once knew. I’m proud to serve with you. Good hunting.

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3. Ellen Tigh is the 5th Cylon

Who’d expect that Saul Tigh’s drunkard floozy of a wife — affectionately titled “Lady MacTigh” by fans — would turn out to be the fifth Final Fiver and the original architect of eight Cylon models? We sure didn’t.

We’re not surprised that the Tighs have been married for two thousand years. Despite their drunken caterwauling and Ellen’s cheating and Tigh’s rampant alcoholism, those two have the best love story on the whole damn show. Scratch the surface and BSG is a typical episode of Jerry Springer. With robots.

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2. Lee Adama Breaks It Down: “We’re a Gang on the Run”

This case, this case is built on emotion, on anger, bitterness, but most of all it’s built on shame. It’s about the shame of what we did to ourselves back on that planet. It’s about the guilt of those of us who ran away, who ran away. And we are trying to dump all of that guilt and all that shame onto one man, and then flush him out the airlock, and just hope that that gets rid of it all. So that we can live with ourselves. But that won’t work. That won’t work. That’s not justice, not to me. Not to me.

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After Gaius Baltar signed a death warrant on New Caprica — at gunpoint — the civilians wanted his head once they had escaped occupation. And heck, they’ve got a point. But despite hating Gaius’ guts, Lee points out that the vestiges of their civilization are gone — and if Gaius gets the axe, so should everyone else.

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“We’re not the human race, we’re a gang on the run,” argues Lee in a surprisingly passionate defense of a Saddam-esque Baltar. The younger Adama points out that Laura Roslin rigged an election, that Boomer’s twin Athena is forgiven despite, you know, attempting to murder Bill Adama, that everyone’s doing what they need to do to get by. To survive. And that sometimes results in terrible acts that would land any person a death sentence in easy times. But these aren’t easy times — this is survival.

Gaius walks free, then turns into metaphorical Jesus, then writes a Hitler-like manifesto titled My Triumphs, My Mistakes. Oh, show.

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1. Adama’s Final Call to Arms: Taking a Stand, Choosing to Fight

After Helo’s daughter Hera is kidnapped by Boomer for dissection by the evil Cylons (as opposed to the good Cylons – Season Four has those), Commander Adama appears to have lost the will to fight in last week’s “Daybreak, Part One.” He orders the decommissioning of a crumbled Galactica, which seems unrelated.

In this show, however, everything is related. And packing up his boxes, Adama realizes that he’s giving up. That his years of survival, of leading his flock, of looking for a home — will crumble away like Galactica’s hull if he doesn’t take a stand.

And so he draws a line in the ship’s bay and calls a volunteer mission to rescue Hera. To take back a child. To stand up to the Cylons once and for all. This wouldn’t seem special on such a drama-filled show: but it is, because the fleet is no longer running, escaping, and avoiding – they’re going to take the Cylons on, mano a mano.

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In Season Two, a defiant Boomer is asked why the Cylons nuked Caprica. She answers to the effect of, “Why should humanity survive?” No one ever offered a convincing answer.

But this? This is convincing. This is the evidence of humanity’s crowning triumph: the urge to do what’s right, to rescue a child, even if it means losing the fleet, even if there is no personal gain, even if nothing comes of it. To have the courage to speak truth to power and refuse to accept victimization. To stand up and fight. To refuse cowardice and seek the face of the enemy. I have never been prouder of this show’s characters.

We’ll find out if the fleet survives on tonight’s finale. I hope they do. But if not, I will have no doubt that humanity ended with a triumphant bang — not a whimper. That rallying cry is more than I could ever ask for from series television.

Jessica Gold Haralson is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. She tumbles here.

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“Faking the Books (Dntel remix)” – Lali Puna (mp3)

“Alienation (Alias remix)” – Lali Puna (mp3)

“Grin and Bear It (To Roccoco Rot remix)” – Lali Puna (mp3)

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In Which We Join The Dharma Initiative
March 19, 2009, 7:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Crank Dat Lost

by Dick Cheney

Winston Churchill tried to spend most of each day in bed. He took his meals there, read the newspaper there. He was a man like any other. Getting name-checked on last night’s Lost was the finest moment of his life after death.

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Never trust a man who thinks reading is a waste of time: Jack Shepard clearly isn’t aware of how common illiteracy is among island populations when he chastises LaFleur for reading appears to be a biography of Merce Cunningham. Come on, Jack. You’re against reading?

For example: I have heard Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is functionally illiterate. What other reason would he have for not knowing that he gave AIG a blank check to compensate the executives that destroyed their company? Meanwhile, things are better in Iraq than ever. Vindication baby, one time.

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Our leaders can be called a strange bunch. When I first met George W. Bush, he was a snotty undergraduate at Yale. He called all his male friends ‘cowboys’ and he called all the girls “puppies.” There was little evidence of the man he would become. Who knew that someday he would ask Vladimir Putin to kill a thirty rack of Milwaukee’s Best with him? The world is a strange place; I shot and killed a guy and nothing came of it, for example.

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Cool and calculating, James LaFleur is more Winston Churchill than George W. Bush. He’s made the strongest move in the book: he forced one chick to watch him get with another. Although this did not work in the seminal Ryan Reynolds film Just Friends, it did indeed work in the seminal Ryan Reynolds film Definitely Maybe. In either case, we have so much to learn from Mr. Reynolds.

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Doug Feith dropped by the other day, and he asked me why it was that women responded so much better to him when he was getting regular action. Did they subconsciously know they had to go out of their way to take him from another? Soon enough, he was able to demonstrate this principle. (We were in a Cracker Barrel and the waitress was practically gargling his testes at the table.)

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Since my name recognition among loose waitresses at chain restaurants is better than Doug Feith’s, getting ass outside of my marriage is difficult. LaFleur has a similar conundrum.

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If he starts fucking around on Juliet with Kate, he’s going to start a shitstorm with a former doctor doing janitorial work, and sporting a kewt little flash of gray. Is it really Sawyer’s fault that women are drawn to his khaki Head of Security jumpsuit?

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never trust an asian billionaire

Making yourself the center of the action ensures complications. Ben got an oar to his head after he found Sun a way back to her husband.

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the tasty little treat behind sun needs a bigger role

Women want to be around exciting men, but once things get too exciting, they bail and take up with Seth Rogen’s character from every single one of his movies.


Note: I am waiting for someone to do a YouTube remix of Sun cracking Benry over the head with “Crank Dat” as the soundtrack. Don’t let me down internet.

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Ben and Sun made tromping through the woods reminded me of the two dogs in Homeward Bound. But back to our hard talk about LaFleur the leader and the two women that cherish his long con.

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hold meeeee

Here’s my advice, guy: raw, sweat-laden charisma can only take you so far. The second you start showing a woman you’re actually a person, you’ll be watching her cozy up to some d-bag named Kurt who’s super-into moe. and dumped his girlfriend to take yours. Whoa, sorry. I had a bad experience and now everytime I meet someone named Kurt I want to scratch his eyes out. Meow. You know.

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bitch you don’t want to fuck with me

LaFleur has to decide between two very different pieces of tangy woman. Kate provides the thrill of ex-convict baby-abandoning intercourse – she wants a new fetus in her stomach so bad you’re likely to catch her poking holes in your Dharma-brand Magnum condoms.

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girl you ain’t nothing but a slut to me

With Kate, the foreplay is awkward. She’s used to having guys never say a bad word to her in the sack, and as a result, she’s strange and salty-tasting. Her skin is worse than you can imagine up close; on the other hand, her vagina is shaped like a perfect circle. She still loves to run.

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Juliet provides the thrill of ex-doctor baby-delivering intercourse. She’s openly admitted to wanting a child as well, but she’s already told you she’s on the pill, so no worries until you wake up in a cold sweat one night and realize that the pill might not have been invented yet.

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She’s like all doctor types in bed – quiet, thorough, devoted and onstage. Scientists never quite let go: you can always see the analytical part of their brain turning and turning as they guzzle your swizzle stick. Juliet’s vagina is shaped like a question mark, lending credence to the theory she may indeed be Mysterion.

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How to decide? I think it’s way too soon to dismiss Horace Goodspeed’s betch from the equation. With her lazy attitude and proven fertility, she could make this a three way race. Her post-pregnancy hormones are still going high, and she’s clearly the kind of woman who is invested in her own pleasure, the mere fact of which is a turn-on to the male of the species.

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She’s a dark horse in this competition, kind of like American Idol’s Megan Corkrey. Fortunately when you bang Amy, you don’t have to look at a godawful tattoo descending down her right arm. Due to natural childbirth, Amy’s vagina is now shaped like a capital O. I guess what I’m saying here is I like Oklahoma to win it all.

Dick Cheney, the former vice president, is the senior contributor to This Recording. He previously discussed Jason Mesnick-Sawyer LaFleur concordance here.

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“Everything Reminds Me Of You” – Emmy the Great (mp3)

“Bad Things Coming, We Are Safe” – Emmy the Great (mp3)

“Hold Onto What You Own (for Colin)” – Emmy the Great (mp3)

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In Which It’s Just Like Today But With More Enemies
March 18, 2009, 10:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

from his second collection of short stories, I Would Have Saved Them If I Could

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In the Fifties

by Leonard Michaels

In the fifties I learned to drive a car. I was frequently in love. I had more friends than now.

When Khrushchev denounced Stalin my roommate shit blood, turned yellow, and lost most of his hair.

I attended the lectures of the excellent E.B. Burgum until Senator McCarthy ended his tenure. I imagined N.Y.U. would burn. Miserable students, drifting in the halls, looked at one another.

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In less than a month, working day and night, I wrote a bad novel.

I went to school—N.Y.U., Michigan, Berkeley—much of the time.

I had witty, giddy conversation, four or five nights a week, in a homosexual bar in Ann Arbor.

I read literary reviews the way people suck candy.

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Personal relationships were more important to me than anything else.

I had a fight with a powerful fat man who fell on my face and was immovable.

I had personal relationships with football players, Jazz musicians, ass-bandits, nymphomaniacs, non-specialized degenerates, and numerous Jewish premedical students.

I had personal relationships with thirty-five rhesus monkeys in an experiment on monkey addiction to morphine. Thy knew me as one who shot reeking crap out of cages with a hose.

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With four other students I lived in the home of chiropractor named Leo.

I met a man in Detroit who owned a submachine gun; he claimed to have hit Dutch Schultz. I saw a gangster movie that disproved his claim.

I knew two girls who had brains, talent, health, good looks, plenty to eat, and hanged themselves.

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I heard of parties in Ann Arbor where everyone made it with everyone else, including the cat.

I knew card sharks and con men. I liked marginal types because they seemed original and aristocratic, living for an ideal or obliged to live in it. Ordinary types seem fundamentally unserious. These distinctions belong to the romantic fop. I didn’t think that way too much.

I worked for an evil vanity publisher in Manhattan.

I worked in a fish packing plant in Massachusetts, on the line with a sincere Jewish poet from Harvard and three lesbians; one was beautiful, one grim; both loved the other, who was intelligent. I loved her, too. I dreamed of violating her purity. They taked among themselves, in creepy whispers, always about Jung. In a dark corner, away from our line, old Portuguese men slit fish into open flaps, flicking out the bones. I could only see their eyes and knives. I’d arrive early every morning to dash in and out until the stench became bearable. After work I’d go to bed and pluck fish scales out of my skin.

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I was a teaching assistant in two English departments. I graded thousands of freshman themes. One began like, “Karl Marx, for that was his name…” Another began like this: “In Jonathan Swift‘s famous letter to the Pope…” I wrote edifying comments in the margins. Later I began to scribble “Awkward” beside everything, even spelling errors.

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I got A’s and F’s as a graduate student. A professor of English said my attitude wasn’t professional. He said that he always read a “good book” after dinner.

A girl from Indiana said this of me on a teacher-evaluation form: “It is bad enough to go to English class at eight in the morning, but to be instructed by a shabby man is horrible.”

I made enemies on the East Coast, the West Coast, and in the Middle West. All now dead, sick, or out of luck.

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I was arrested, photographed, and fingerprinted. In a soundproof room two detectives lectured me on the American way of life, and I was charged with the crime of nothing. A New York cop told me that detectives were called “defectives.”

I had an automobile accident. I did the mambo. I had urethritis and mononucleosis.

In Ann Arbor, a few years before the advent of Malcolm X, a lot of my friends were black. After Malcolm X, almost all my friends were white. They admired John F. Kennedy.

In the fifties, I smoked marijuana, hash, and opium. Once I drank absinthe. Once I swallowed twenty glycerine caps of peyote. The social effects of “drugs,” unless sexual, always seemed tedious. But I liked people who inclined the drug way. Especially if they didn’t proselytize. I listened to long conversations about the phenomenological weirdness of familiar reality and the great spiritual questions this entailed—for example, “Do you think Wallace Stevens is a head?”

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I witnessed an abortion.

I was godless, but I thought the fashion of intellectual religiosity more despicable. I wished that I could live in a culture rather than study life among the cultured.

I drove a Chevy Bel Air eighty-five miles per hour on a two-lane blacktop. It was nighttime. Intermittent thick white fog made the headlights feeble and diffuse. Four others in the car sat with the strict silent rectitude of catatonics. If one of them didn’t admit to being frightened, we were dead. A Cadillac, doing a hundred miles per hour, passed us and was obliterated in the fog. I slowed down.

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I drank Old Fashioneds in the apartment of my friend Julian. We talked about Worringer and Spengler. We gossiped about friends. Then we left to meet our dates. There was more drinking. We all climbed trees, crawled in the street, and went to a church. Julian walked into an elm, smashed his glasses, vomited on a lawn, and returned home to memorize Anglo-Saxon grammatical forms. I ended on my knees, vomiting into a toilet bowl, repeatedly flushing the water to hide my noises. Later I phoned New York so that I could listen to the voices of my parents, their Yiddish, their English, their logics.

I knew a professor of English who wrote impassioned sonnets in honor of Henry Ford.

I played freshman varsity basketball at N.Y.U. and received a dollar an hour for practice sessions and double that for games. It was called “meal money.” I played badly, too psychological, too worried about not studying, too short. If pushed or elbowed during a practice game, I was ready to kill. The coach liked my attitude. In his day, he said, practice ended when there was blood on the boards. I ran back and forth, in urgent sneakers, through my freshman year. Near the end I came down with pleurisy, quit basketball, started smoking more.

I took classes in comparative anatomy and chemistry. I took classes in old English, Middle English, and modern literature. I took classes and classes.

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I fired a twelve-gauge shotgun down the hallway of a railroad flat into a couch pillow.

My roommate bought the shotgun because of his gambling debts. He expected murderous thugs to come for him. I’d wake in the middle of the night listening for a knock, a cough, a footstep, wondering how to identify myself as not him when they broke through out door.

My roommate was an expensively dressed kid from a Chicago suburb. Though very intelligent, he suffered in school. He suffered with girls though he was handsome and witty. He suffered with boys though he was heterosexual. He slept on three mattresses and used a sun lamp all winter. He bathed, oiled and perfumed his body daily. He wanted soft, sweet joys in every part, but when some whore asked if he’d like to be beaten with a garrison belt, he said yes. He suffered with food, eating from morning to night, loading his pockets with fried pumpkin seeds when he left for class, smearing caviar paste on his filet mignons, eating himself into a monumental face of eating because he was eating. Then he killed himself.

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A lot of young, gifted people I knew in the fifties killed themselves. Only a few of them continue walking around.

I wrote literary essays in the turgid, tumescent manner of darkest Blackmur.

NYC from Jersey, 1950.

I used to think that someday I would write a fictional version of my stupid life in the fifties.

I was a waiter at a Catskill hotel. The captain of the waiters ordered us to dance with the female guests who appeared in the casino without escorts and, as much as possible, fuck them. A professional tummler walked the ground. Whenever he saw a group of people merely chatting, he thrust in quickly and created a tumult.

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I heard the Budapest String quartet, Dylan Thomas, Lester Young, and Billie Holiday together, and I saw Pearl Primus dance, in a Village nightclub, in a space two yards square, accompanied by an African drummer about seventy years old. His hands moved in spasms of mathematical complexity at invisible speed. People left their tables to press close to Primus and see the expression in her face, the sweat, the muscles, the way her naked feet seized and released the floor.

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Eventually I had friends in New York, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Berkeley & Los Angeles.

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jack kerouac

I did the cha-cha, wearing a tux, at a New Year’s party in Hollywood, and sat at a table with Steve McQueen. He’d become famous in a TV series about a cowboy with a rifle. He said he didn’t know which he liked best, acting or driving a racing car. I thought he was a silly person and then realized he thought I was. I met a few other famous people who said something. One night, in a yellow Porsche, I circle Manhattan with Jack Kerouac. He recited passages, perfectly remembered from his book reviews, to the sky. His manner was ironical, sweet, and depressing.

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I had a friend named Chicky who drove his chopped, blocked, stripped, dual-exhaust Ford convertible, while vomiting out the fly window, into a telephone pole. He survived, lit a match to see if the engine was all right, and it blew up in his face. I saw him in the hospital. Through his bandages he said that ever since high school he’d been trying to kill himself. Because his girlfriend wasn’t good-looking enough. He was crying and laughing while he pleaded with me to believe that he had really been trying to kill himself because his girlfriend wasn’t good-looking enough. I told him that I was going out with a certain girl and he told me that had fucked her once but it didn’t matter because I could take her away and live somewhere else. He was a Sicilian kid with a face like Caravaggio’s angels of debauch. He’d been educated by priests and nuns. When his hair grew back and his face healed, his mind healed. He broke up with his girlfriend. he wasn’t nearly as narcissistic as other men I knew in the fifties.

I knew one who, before picking up his dates, ironed his dollar bills and powdered his testicles. And another who referred to women as “cockless wonders” and used only their family names—for example, “I’m going to meet Goldberg, the cockless wonder.” Many women thought he was extremely attractive and became his sexual slaves. Men didn’t like him.

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I had a friend who was dragged down a courthouse stairway, in San Francisco, by her hair. She’d wanted to attend the House Un-American hearings. The next morning I crossed the Bay Bridge to join my first protest demonstration. I felt frightened and embarrassed. I was bitter about what had happened to her and the others she’d been with. I expected to see thirty or forty people lke me, carrying hysterical placards around the courthouse until the cops bludgeoned us into the pavement. About two thousand people were there. I marched beside a little kid who had a bag of marbles to throw under the hoofs of the horse cops. His mother kept saying, “Not yet, not yet.” We marched all day. That was the end of the fifties.

Leonard Michaels died in 2003. He was one of the most talented writers of the short story in the form’s history. He also wrote novels, including The Men’s Club, a brilliant satire, and Sylvia, about his first wife, Sylvia Bloch.

THINGS REALLY WERE BETTER THEN

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“Artificial Fire” – Eleni Mandell (mp3)

“Personal” – Eleni Mandell (mp3)

“Needle and Thread” – Eleni Mandell (mp3)

eleni mandell website

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In Which This Recording Is Your Favorite Romantic Comedy
March 15, 2009, 1:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We Peaked On The Phone

by Molly Lambert

Since Alex is spearheading a movement to review bad forgotten romantic comedies that are several years out of date, and since This Recording is always on a quest to understand why Hollywood has such a hard time making a decent romantic comedy, or any kind of decent romance for that matter, unless it stars The Joker and Bubble Boy as cowgays, and since often a bad film can tell you much more about the mechanics of success than a good one I have taken it upon myself to review Cameron Crowe’s 2005 film Elizabethtown.

Bubble Boy: The Original WALL*E

It’s a little stupifying that a silent comedy about robots packed more emotion than any of the talky rom-coms that might somewhat better mirror actual life. Also, I had dumb bone to pick with the fact that WALL*E is a junky Bender robot and his love interest is a sleek sexy iPod thing. Can we say “out of your league”?

“It’s kinda like Knocked Up, but with robots”

I know it’s a throwback to Chaplin in The Little Tramp. In his films sometimes actually fell in love with girls whose economic station was the same as his own, like in City Lights. In real life, he was kind of a sex addict with a thing for much younger girls.

“I’m sorry Charlie. I”m just not that into you.”

I don’t think ephebophilia is a direct criteria for genius, but certainly a lot of the greatest directors (and artists, musicians, etc.) have also had some of the most fucked up sex lives. There’s definitely not no connection between wanting to play god with a camera and thinking it’s a great idea to marry your dead wife’s twenty year old sister (that would be Peter Bogdanovich)

Deadpan: good for comedy, bad for marriage

Buster Keaton married a nurse from a psychiatric hospital he stayed in. Some of my favorite directors are pederasts (Roman Polanski, Woody Allen). Even if Hitchcock never cheated once on Mrs. Hitchcock, you do not look at that guy’s canon and go “now there is a dude with a healthy set of sexual standards for women.”

“Do you think you could act more icy and removed?”

You could chalk all this up to an “appetite for life” if you think that’s a worthy excuse for deviant behavior by geniuses, (it is not). An inability to follow The Golden Rule may satisfy in the short term but inevitably causes existential horror and terminal aloneness in the long. The common thread here is that all of these dudes are enormously narcissistic Falstaffian personalities.

Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire: “I swallowed your cum!

For these directors, their appetite for sex is an outgrowth of their appetite for acclaim, for drink and illicit substances, for foodstuffs. Orson Welles’s daily dinner during Citizen Kane included a whole pineapple, triple pistachio ice-cream and a full bottle of scotch. (Yum.) These directors are great, perhaps, precisely because they are such Caligulan figures, such Nietzschean Supermen.

“God that’s hilar Lloyd. You are so dull. Let’s make out.”

You would never say that about Cameron Crowe. No, Cameron Crowe espouses a gentler, more insidious, shall we say more emosogynist approach to women. He wants to be both earnest and cool, populist and a cult favorite, a nice guy and a golden god of sex. If he were a band he’d be Coldplay. And when you look back at his work, it seems clear that this has always been his deal.

Alex’s fave actress Kate Hudson preps to eat yr soul

Crowe’s ambition to be a great American director reached a frothy boil in Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, and then collapsed like a sad soufflé in his two tremendous misfires of followups, (science fiction abortion) Vanilla Sky and Elizabethtown. Like Jersey Girl, Crowe’s Elizabethtown is a film about failure that is itself a complete failure, which in its total ineptitude becomes an interesting relic of half-formed ideas and attempts.

Elizabethtown and Jersey Girl both begin with the protagonist’s career collapsing in on itself. In Jersey Girl, it is a misguided assessment of Will Smith’s bankability that sets off Affleck’s downward spiral. In Elizabethtown, the horrifically miscast Orlando Bloom takes the blame for a failed shoe launch at a Nike-like company headed by Alec Baldwin, one of the few bright spots.

Orlando Bloom is spectacularly wrong for the part of Crowe’s loserly everyman, and word on the street was that he filled in at the last minute for first two choices Jimmy Fallon and Ashton Kutcher, who both proved themselves (unsurprisingly, one might say) unable to act whatsoever in a dramatic context.

Because tiny Englishman Bloom is so miscast as Kentuckian industrial designer Drew Baylor, he adds a strange transparent quality to the film. His performance is so perfunctory and passive as to become invisible, which makes Elizabethtown seem at times like a first-person-shooter rom-com. In being so very bland, he draws attention to the central problem of Crowe’s films.

Cameron Crowe’s male main characters are always ciphers. Expressing a minimum of personality and a maximum burden of expectation, they seek out the company of a female who will somehow justify them and their existence. They often start the film embroiled in a relationship with an unstable Slutty Girl with a catch phrase, Kelly Preston in Jerry Maguire’s “Never stop fucking me!“, Jessica Biel’s “It was real, and it was great, and it was really great”, Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky‘s “I swallowed your cum!

“I enjoy sex and have a personality, and so I must be destroyed”

After summarily dumping the Slutty Girl, they get to quickly plunge into a tremblingly meaningful relationship with the wispy, sometimes wayward, yet basically devoid of any bad moods or qualities whatsoever Good Girl (Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane, Renee Zellweger’s Dorothy, Penelope Cruz’s Sofia, Ione Skye’s Diane Court) who teaches them how to live/appreciate life.

“I have no personality or life, and I’ve never even seen a penis!”

The legacy of Say Anything, in which a totally boring guy decides he should date the most popular (and also boring, but smoking hot) girl in school in order to somehow justify his own medioctrity, can be seen at its most full blown in Zach Braff’s Garden State. Other perpetrators are Wes Anderson, who generally throws the “foreign girl” wrench into the mix, Kevin Smith, who adds lots of homosocial gay subtext, and parts of Judd Apatow’s oeuvre.

“Just making you a multi-volume scrapbook and mix CDs”

In Elizabethtown, all the gimmicks that worked so well in Almost Famous are trotted out only to flop around like dying fish. There are long sequences set to music that are meant to evoke emotion, and instead only evoke the cognitive dissonance of having the soundtrack and what you are seeing onscreen not match up at all with what you are actually feeling. It is truly bizarre.

The worst part of the film (and that is saying a lot) is Susan Sarandon’s eulogy for her dead husband, which she delivers to a packed house of mourners. During her speech, the crowd seems to experience a cathartic release of laughter which turns into tears of joy for the whole mad business of living. And yet, nothing Sarandon says is remotely funny, touching, or true.

Watching the funeral guests collapsing in fits of tear-stained laughter as she tells a totally bizarre but never humorous anecdote about a neighbor’s erection, Elizabethtown becomes like Brecht or Godard. The spectator feels utterly divorced from what the characters in the film seem to be experiencing given that they are witnessing the same exact onscreen events that you are.

Take it from me, I love you!

The same effect occurs throughout, as in its two overlong mix-tapey montages which are meant to demonstrate Drew falling in love with Claire, Kirsten’s Dunst’s “kooky” good girl, a flight attendant he met on the way there. We know they’re falling in love because the soundtrack and editing tells us so, but it doesn’t reflect any real feelings we get from the dull characters or choppy contextless dialogue. Josh Schwartz’s TV shows also do this.

acting out Bob Dylan covers in alternate virtual realities is the height of spontaneous romance am I rite?

Crowe’s fetish for quirky stewardesses seemed less weird somehow when Zooey Deschanel played one in Almost Famous. Here it feels forced, patently unreal, faker than Dunst’s Southern accent. The implausible dream girl naturally has no life of her own, preferring to spend her time bonding in late night gab seshes with Bloom like a sugared up preteen who just got her first cell phone.

an entire generation of Cinderellas and no glass slipper.

When she’s not showing up suddenly to encourage our incredibly passive hero with broad blank platitudes about life, she is making him creepy scrapbooks and ten volume mix-tapes to take on his road-trip through the South back to his home. She is in no way an actual human She is merely a collection of quotes and clothes and half-baked Amélie quirks. She could be a blogger persona.

“OMG NO WAI! That’s MY favorite band too!”

In short, Crowe’s girls are not so much people as they are a fantasy every-girl who will be utterly consumed in The Nice Guy’s problems without ever presenting any conflicts of her own. They exist solely to validate his existence, and in actual life they just plain don’t exist. They are as real as a Real Doll. A harmless male fantasy that is not really harmless at all, just as harmful as encouraging women to think that someday their prince will come.

Lloyd Dobler = The Original Trenchcoat Mafia

In Say Anything, the best moments (besides Jeremy Piven’s) all belong to Lili Taylor’s character, Lloyd’s jilted misanthrope of a female best friend who wants to spend the graduation party singing all the songs she wrote about her ex. In some alternate better movie, she’d get involved with John Cusack’s character instead of the bland, charismaless Diane Court.

Corey Flood = The Female Duckie

Elizabethtown also contains the seedling of a better unmade movie, one that would be about the hometown best friend character played by Paul Schneider (of disputably emosogynist classic All The Real Girls) and his father, played by Rufus-sirer/songsmith/Apatow rep player Loudon Wainwright III.

Paul Schneider: All The Real Sideburns

The relationship between these two characters, Loudon’s insistence to his son that one cannot be both parent and friend to one’s kids and Schneider’s attempts to prove him wrong by acting as peer to his own young child, provides the few sparks that the movie manages to generate. One wishes the film were about them, instead of Bloom and Dunst, whose dialogue and soundtrack-propelled no-mance are like reading a Tumblr feed.

Some Inane Inspirational Quotes From “Claire”

“Men see things in a box, and women see them in a round room.”

“I’m hard to remember, but I’m impossible to forget.”

“I want you to get into the deep beautiful melancholy of everything that’s happened.”

“I’m completely cool with anything you want to say or not say.”

“I mean everybody’s got to take a road trip, at least once in their lives. Just you and some music.”

“Sadness is easier because it’s surrender. I say make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”

“Some music needs air. Roll down your window.”

Claire Colburn: I think I’ve been asleep most of my life.
Drew Baylor: Me too.

Drew Baylor: I see you right there. I see you right there.
Claire Colburn: There you are.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls here.

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“Snowy Atlas Mountains” – Fionn Regan (mp3)

“Put A Penny in the Slot” – Fionn Regan (mp3)

“The Cowshed” – Fionn Regan (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING:

The Romantic Comedy Of Equals

Annie Hall Is About Saudade

The Battle Of The Sexies



In Which We Keep Our Secret Diary In A P.O. Box in Dubuque
March 13, 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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Harry Potter Has An Inexpensive Outlet for His Sexuality

by Eleanor Morrow

Secret Diary of a Call Girl
creator Lucy Prebble

Being a star in England is sort of like being a mobster in New Jersey – your influence ranges far and wide, but it ends at the Holland Tunnel. In the case of Billie Piper, that notoriety takes her as far as the Chunnel.

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Yet the one-time pop singer chose a fairly gratifying career trajectory. Once she began acting in earnest she starred in the remake of the long-running science fiction program Doctor Who. The only thing more baffling than people enjoying Doctor Who was the inexplicable popularity in the same quarters of Heroes.

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Then she went from scifi babe to taking her clothes off every week on Showtime. It would be like if the telepath from Star Trek: The Next Generation did DVDA. (Did she?)

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The show in question is Secret Diary of a Call Girl. It airs on Showtime in “The States” as Europeans term our country, because otherwise no one would be able to understand their pronunciation of United. Sorry! I think the wounds from the whole taxation without representation thing are still a bit raw.

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Nevertheless, this is an export that is much appreciated. Belle/Hannah is a lady of the night. She used to have a very well-mannered female pimp who still calls her from time to time. She also keeps a journal, which I can’t think is a good idea for any reason. In one episode, she was even approached by a reporter — as if not cooperating with one would actually bury the story of her banging a married politician! Things are so much chiller in London — the weather, for example.

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Then she struck out on her own, and through the course of the show she’s gotten herself into plenty of sticky situations. Although you never get to see whatever it is that comes out of men’s penises when they’re excited, you do get to see quite a bit of Billie Piper. She reminds me of your too promiscuous college roommate, or she reminds you of your mother. Neither is a flattering comparison.

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As with any person’s naked self, this begins to grow a bit boring after awhile. Belle is always sexing herself up in some new way. She really makes sex for money a colorful affair, kind of like a detective getting all the interesting cases. And yet, the rest of the time, she’s seemingly normal, usually crowing about just how normal she is except for her job.

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Then she meets Alex. She introduces herself to him in a hotel bar thinking that he is a trick she’s supposed to bang. Her forward-thinking approach works well on the young doctor, before she opens the envelope of cash he’s given her and realizes its his passport and identification for a job interview.

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He asks her for her number, and she relents. They have an awkward first date and before long they are a regular couple. The handsome young doc and his Belle. Soon enough, it begins to haunt her. She must tell him. She must tell him. She must tell him.

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In the season’s climactic moment, Alex walked in on her having sex with a paraplegic. Instead of recognizing the nobility of finding your girlfriend engaged in such an act, he freaked out a lot. He calls Belle a whore, as if she had been unaware of what she was. He is disgusted by her.

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I’m not sure I could ever be reconciled to a person who behaves like Alex did, and I’m sure Belle should know better. Worse than being a prostitute it seems, is disapproving of them. It’s a one-two punch that might not make these two the perfect couple, but hey, they’re trying.

Eleanor Morrow is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. She last wrote in these pages about another Showtime series, The United States of Tara.

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“Ready, Able” – Grizzly Bear (mp3)

“I Live With You” – Grizzly Bear (mp3)

“Two Weeks” – Grizzly Bear (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Games without frontiers.

You need to stop it now.

The age of the avant-garde.

harriet2



In Which We Are Watching What Happened To Us
March 10, 2009, 8:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

watchmen

It Was So Real There For Awhile

by Alex Carnevale

Watchmen

dir. Zack Snyder

American history begins in 1776, predated slightly by the discovery of barbarism. Most cultures bask in their refinement and sophistication. Americans have a love-hate affair with the idea of being brutes. Since we are ignorant of other history not our own, we tend to think of ourselves as more powerful and destructive than we really were.

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This is the attitude of Alan Moore. He is never named in the 2 hours and 43 minutes that comprises Zack Snyder’s film version of his graphic novel, but he is in every scene.

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To the British-born Moore, as to many others of his generation, the governmental excesses of the Cold War era (specifically U.S. excesses) were just another example of how nasty and cold we could be to those who stood in our way.

The man who is murdering all the superheroes of the World War II – Vietnam period in Watchmen shares this perception. It is rare you have a film that sympathizes to some extent with its primary villain. And that is just the beginning of the things Alan Moore did that made Watchmen the finest superhero comic of all time.

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Snyder has resisted altering any of the original’s details, and his is a devoted portrait of a time and place in alternate American history. In this version of reality, we have won World War II and Vietnam by the virtue of these superbeings fighting in our stead, and now, in the 1980s, we have turned on those to who we owe so much. No director has had so much fun with the World Trade Center towers since Oliver Stone.

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Rorschach getting his grub on

The personages of Watchmen are what burn brightest. Individual issues of the comic tended to focus on the detailed origin stories of each member of the drama, and how they got to whatever miserable post-heroic existence we found them in. Moore used a narrator, Rorschach, whose origins are maliciously recalled with great zest in the film version. With two separate unreliable narrations, Watchmen likely made Richard Roeper pee his pants and call his mommy.

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Even more scandalous to our modern superhero sensibilities is the raping, killing behavior of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s The Comedian. He’s not even a villain, and he’s about a hundred times worse than Heath Ledger’s castrated Joker. He is splendid in the role and he gets even more attention than he did in the graphic novel. The Comedian is Hunter S. Thompson and George Patton all rolled into one.

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carla gugino before the worst make-up job of the modern era

Also buoyed by the limitations of film is Malin Ackerman’s Silk Spectre. Her rounded ass and high breasts invade every scene, though she’s more Anna Faris than Michelle Pfeiffer. At the very least she didn’t have to endure the production team’s horrific attempt at age makeup, as Carla Gugino did as Malin’s mother. Ackerman is no great beauty, but her old school body does have a certain timelessness, and you have to admire the actress who will get naked in a movie where she’s half-nude the rest of the time.

not having exposed thighs is one of the major tenets of firefighting

Then there’s Dr. Manhattan. Turned into an all powerful blue superbeing by the vagaries of modern science, Dr. Manhattan is a literal Deus Ex Machina, and the most enjoyable God in comics since Galactus. Most of the New York City audience viewing Watchmen spend most of the time staring at Billy Crudup’s blue, special effects addled schlong. Better to focus on that then the maudlin dialogue. We’re missing the small moments of Manhattan’s life, but then, something had to go from the original.

never go back to a defraction chamber to get your watch, never

A large portion of the film focuses on the history of the characters, subsuming the simple murder mystery of the present. The trick is old hat, but Alan Moore’s level of detail gives it new life. For those of us who already knew these characters as well as we did ourselves, the implosion of Billy Crudup into Dr. Manhattan is like the E! True Hollywood Story reenactment of something that really occurred.

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There’s so much going on in the mise-en-scène of Watchmen that’s hard to keep track. Director Zack Snyder was more than keen on replicating some of the most compelling images of the graphic novel (I suggested a few here); and there are four or five easter eggs in every frame. For the trained eye, the rewatch value is through the roof, but when A.O. Scott doesn’t understand something, he gets grumpy.

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We owe the majority of the film’s criticisms to its terrible ending. They probably should have changed it from the comic book, because the rote destruction of major metropolises is now a serious cliché. That no one saves the day in Watchmen is not its only innovation, but that smart plot point gets lost in the exchange of dramatic exclamations.

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Also wondrously out of place is a long sequence in which Silk Spectre and Nite Owl uses the Archimedes for firefighting and a post-rescue bang on the ship. This is a comic book excursion that puts aside the plot for the greater glory of giving the film some action. Snyder was of course damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. As it is, we may as well be watching the stop-motion comic they released before the film.

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The violence, Snyder’s addition to the milieu, is beautiful and attention-grabbing. As terrible as 300 was, its director’s passion for bones splitting creatively impressed where the dialogue and story did not. This is the only thing that makes it a Zack Snyder movie, and while it’s fun to watch, there’s a problem.

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Here every snap of femur is well-wrought — the only issue I have with the proclivity for the slo-mo violence is that when the film gets quiet and serious (and it is overly so when Dr. Manhattan brings his girlfriend to Mars), you want to laugh. Violence is just as beautiful as the surface of another planet, but in a work of art it’s no easy thing to put the two next to each other, and let the audience appreciate both.

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This was the problem that kept Watchmen from the silver screen — not its deep complexity of vision or helter-skelter plot. The major challenge is tone.

Watchmen is both comedy and drama. Not only that: it is melodrama, it is serious art, it is slapstick comedy, it is irony and juxtaposition, it is superhero shtick and superhero opera. In one sense it is the funniest movie of its kind, and yet you cannot imagine a superhero movie taking itself this seriously since the depressing, boring The Dark Knight. Nothing so brightly colored has been this dark since Dick Tracy, from which Watchmen the movie takes much.

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For all the critics who bash Watchmen, they’re missing the point. To them Alan Moore is just another superhero creator, with the same old origin stories colliding into a happy-ish ending. But for those of us whose brainflow was reversed by the complexity of Watchmen, this translation is our version of the good old days. We are watching heroes of a genre they invented, not characters in a made-up story. To those who already know the story, this version is a nostalgia rollercoaster.

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Strangely, the Cold War has gone from a dark period of government distrust to a soaring period of moral clarity, where we could nobly be destroyed by a great evil instead of tearing ourselves apart.

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Moore’s ideas about the future and the past were what made Watchmen so exciting, and if you don’t already know the story, you’ll spend most of the film’s 203 minutes figuring out who is who. (Better to read the comic first, in this case.) Beyond mere understanding are some wonderful futurist visions of what we might have become. The blunt lack of charm in the Nixon character obscures the more deft takes.

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We see Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian winning the war in Vietnam; protesters calling for a return of the police to the streets; superheroes forcing each other into non-consensual sex, screwing up press conferences and causing collateral damage. In so many ways, still, this is not what our idealized heroes do.

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Ours is a savage history, the British writer tells us, but we can be equally sure it is not the only history. We are today in a period of time in which no great number of losses on the battlefield is sustained, when fewer people go hungry than ever before, when the majority of human rights violations are seen before the world. We have already accomplished the ending of Watchmen, and we are still unhappy with the result. It sounded good in theory, but in practice it was two naked blue dudes tag-teaming us.

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If a man from any century before the old twentieth saw how far we have come, he would wonder at the majesty of what his fellow beings have accomplished. Is it so quickly that we forget? Watchmen, on the page and on the screen, is the crucial reminder of what it took to get us here.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He lives in Manhattan. He tumbles here.

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“You and I” – Jeff Buckley (mp3)

“I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby” – Jeff Buckley (mp3)

“New Year’s Prayer” – Jeff Buckley (mp3)

“Opened Once” – Jeff Buckley (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

The best superhero comics ever.

Me and M. Night.

The sequel shall be called Moonshade.

watchmen-babies



In Which We Have Had It With Those Little Versions of Ourselves
March 9, 2009, 11:21 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

from an issue of Granta magazine in the mid-1990s

The Case Against Babies

by Joy Williams

Babies, babies, babies. There’s a plague of babies. Too many rabbits or elephants or mustangs or swans brings out the myxomatosis, the culling guns, the sterility drugs, the scientific brigade of egg smashers. Other species can ‘strain their environments’ or ‘overrun their range’ or clash with their human ‘neighbours’, but human babies are always welcome at life’s banquet. Welcome, Welcome, Welcome–Live Long and Consume! You can’t draw the line when it comes to babies because . . . where are you going to draw the line?

Consider having none or one and be sure to stop after two the organization Zero Population Growth suggests politely. Can barely hear them what with all the babies squalling. Hundreds of them popping out every minute. Ninety-seven million of them each year. While legions of other biological life forms go extinct (or, in the creepy phrase of ecologists, ‘wink out’), human life bustles self-importantly on. Those babies just keep coming! They’ve gone way beyond being ‘God’s gift’; they’ve become entitlements. Everyone’s having babies, even women who can’t have babies, particularly women who can’t have babies–they’re the ones who sweep fashionably along the corridors of consumerism with their double-wide strollers, stuffed with twins and triplets. (Women push those things with the effrontery of someone piloting a bulldozer, which strollers uncannily bring to mind.)

When you see twins or triplets do you think awahhh or owhoo or that’s sort of cool, that’s unusual, or do you think that woman dropped a wad on in vitro fertilization, twenty-five, thirty thousand dollars at least . . . ?

The human race hardly needs to be more fertile, but fertility clinics are booming. The new millionaires are the hot-shot fertility doctors who serve anxious gottahavababy women, techno-shamans who have become the most important aspect of the baby process, giving women what they want: BABIES. (It used to be a mystery what women wanted, but no more . . . Nietzsche was right . . . ) Ironically–though it is far from being the only irony in this baby craze–women think of themselves as being successful, personally fulfilled when they have a baby, even if it takes a battery of men in white smocks and lots of hormones and drugs and needles and dishes and mixing and inserting and implanting to make it so. Having a baby means individual completion for a woman. What do boys have to do to be men? Sleep with a woman. Kill something. Yes, killing something, some luckless deer, duck, bear, pretty much anything large-ish in the animal kingdom, or even another man, appropriate in times of war, has ushered many a lad into manhood. But what’s a woman to do? She gets to want to have a baby.

While much effort has been expended in Third World countries educating women into a range of options which does not limit their role merely to bearing children, well-off, educated and indulged American women are clamouring for babies, babies, BABIES to complete their status. They’ve had it all and now they want a baby. And women over thirty-five want them NOW. They’re the ones who opt for the aggressive fertility route, they’re impatient, they’re sick of being laissez-faire about this. Sex seems such a laborious way to go about it. At this point they don’t want to endure all that intercourse over and over and maybe get no baby. What a waste of time! And time’s awasting. A life with no child would be a life perfecting hedonism a forty-something infertile woman said, now the proud owner of pricey twins. Even women who have the grace to submit to fate can sound wistful. It’s not so much that I wish that I had children now, a travel writer said, but that I wish I had had them. I hate to fail at anything. Women are supposed to wish and want and not fail. (Lesbians want to have babies too and when lesbians have babies watch out! They lay names on them like Wolf.)

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The eighties were a decade when it was kind of unusual to have a baby. Oh, the lower classes still had them with more or less gusto, but professionals did not. Having a baby was indeed so quaintly rebellious and remarkable that a publishing niche was developed for men writing about babies, their baby, their baby’s first year in which every single day was recorded (he slept through the night . . . he didn’t sleep through the night . . . ). The writers would marvel over the size of their infant’s scrotum; give advice on how to tip the obstetrician (not a case of booze, a clock from Tiffany’s is nicer); and bemusedly admit that their baby exhibited intelligent behaviour like rolling over, laughing and showing fascination with the TV screen far earlier than normal children. Aside from the talk about the poopie and the rashes and the cat’s psychological decline, these books frequently contained a passage, an overheard bit of Mommy-to-Baby monologue along these lines: I love you so much I don’t ever want you to have teeth or stand up or walk or go on dates or get married. I want you to stay right here with me and be my baby . . . Babies are one thing. Human beings are another. We have way too many human beings. Almost everyone knows this.

Adoption was an eighties thing. People flying to Chile, all over the globe, God knows where, returning triumphantly with their BABY. It was difficult, adventurous, expensive and generous. It was trendy then. People were into adopting bunches of babies in all different flavours and colours (Korean, Chinese, part-Indian–part-Indian was very popular; Guatemalan–Guatemalan babies are way cute). Adoption was a fad, just like the Cabbage Patch dolls which fed the fad to tens of thousands of pre-pubescent girl consumers.

Now it is absolutely necessary to digress for a moment and provide an account of this marketing phenomenon. These fatuous-faced soft-sculpture dolls were immensely popular in the eighties. The gimmick was that these dolls were ‘born’; you couldn’t just buy the damn things–if you wanted one you had to ‘adopt’ it. Today they are still being born and adopted, although at a slower rate, in Babyland General Hospital, a former medical clinic right on the fast-food and car-dealership strip in the otherwise unexceptional north Georgia town of Cleveland.

There are several rooms at Babyland General. One of them is devoted to the premies (all snug in their little gowns, each in its own spiffy incubator) and another is devoted to the cabbage patch itself, a suggestive mound with a fake tree on it from which several times a day comes the announcement CABBAGE IN LABOUR! A few demented moments later, a woman in full nurse regalia appears from a door in the tree holding a brand-new Cabbage Patch Kid by the feet and giving it a little whack on the bottom. All around her in the fertile patch are happy little soft heads among the cabbages. Each one of these things costs $175, and you have to sign papers promising to care for it and treasure it forever. There are some cheesy dolls in boxes that you wouldn’t have to adopt, but children don’t want those–they want to sign on the line, want the documentation, the papers. The dolls are all supposed to be different but they certainly look identical. They’ve got tiny ears, big eyes, a pinched rictus of a mouth and lumpy little arms and legs. The colours of the cloth vary for racial verisimilitude, but their expressions are the same. They’re glad to be here and they expect everything.

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But these are just dolls, of course. The real adopted babies who rode the wave of fashion into many hiply caring homes are children now, an entirely different kettle of fish, and though they may be providing (just as they were supposed to) great joy, they are not darling babies anymore. A baby is not really a child; a baby is a BABY, a cuddleball, representative of virility, wombrismo and humankind’s unquenchable wish to outfox Death.

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Adoptive parents must feel a little out of it these days, so dreadfully dated in the nineties. Adoption–how foolishly sweet. It’s so Benetton, so kind of naive. With adopted babies, you just don’t know, it’s too much of a crap shoot. Oh, they told you that the father was an English major at Yale and that the mother was a brilliant mathematician and harpsichordist who was just not quite ready to juggle career and child, but what are you going to think when the baby turns into a kid who rather than showing any talent whatsoever is trying to drown the dog and set national parks on fire? Adoptive parents do their best, of course, at least as far as their liberal genes allow; they look into the baby’s background, they don’t want just any old baby (even going to the dog and cat pound you’d want to pick and choose, right?); they want a pleasant, healthy one, someone who will appreciate the benefits of a nice environment and respond to a nurturing and attentive home. They steer away (I mean, one has to be realistic, one can’t save the world) from the crack and smack babies, the physically and mentally handicapped babies, the HIV and foetal-alcoholic syndrome babies.

Genes matter, more and more, and adoption is just too . . . where’s the connection? Not a single DNA strand to call your own. Adoption signifies you didn’t do everything you could; you were too cheap or shy or lacked the imagination to go the energetic fertility route which, when successful, would come with the assurance that some part of the Baby or Babies would be a continuation of you, or at the very least your companion, loved one, partner, whatever.

I once prevented a waitress from taking away my martini glass which had a tiny bit of martini remaining in it, and she snarled, Oh, the precious liquid, before slamming it back down on the table. It’s true that I probably imagined that there was more martini in the glass than there actually was (what on earth could have happened to it all?) but the precious liquid remark brings unpleasantly to mind the reverent regard in which so many people hold themselves. Those eggs, that sperm, oh precious, precious stuff!

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There was a terrible fright among humankind recently when some scientists suggested that an abundance of synthetic chemicals was causing lower sperm counts in human males–awful, awful, awful–but this proves not to be the case; sperm counts are holding steady and are even on the rise in New York. Los Angeles males don’t fare as well (do they drink more water than beer?), nor do the Chinese who, to add insult to insult, are further found to have smaller testicles, a finding which will undoubtedly result in even more wildlife mutilation in the quest for aphrodisiacs. Synthetic chemicals do ‘adversely affect’ the reproductive capabilities of non-human animals (fish, birds), but this is considered relatively unimportant. It’s human sperm that’s held in high regard and in this overpopulated age it’s become more valuable–good sperm that is, from intelligent, athletic men who don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, have AIDS or a history of homicide–because this overpopulated age is also the donor age. Donor sperm, donor womb, donor eggs. Think of all the eggs that are lost to menstruation every month.

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Baby’s lineage can be a little complicated in this one big worldwebby family. With the help of drugs like Clomid and Perganol there are an awful lot of eggs out there these days-all being harvested by those rich and clever, clever doctors in a ‘simple procedure’ and nailed with bull’s-eye accuracy by a spermatozoon. One then gets to ‘choose’ among the resulting cell clumps (or the doctor gets to choose, he’s the one who knows about these things), and a number of them (for optimum success) are inserted into the womb, sometimes the mother’s womb and sometimes not. These fertilized eggs, unsurprisingly, often result in multiple possibilities, which can be decreased by ‘selective reduction’. They’re not calendar babies yet, they’re embryos, and it is at this point, the multiple possibility point, that the mother-to-be often gets a little overly ecstatic, even greedy, thinking ahead perhaps to the day when they’re not babies any longer, the day when they’ll be able to amuse themselves by themselves like a litter of kittens or something–if there’s a bunch of them all at once there’ll be no need to go through that harrowing process of finding appropriate playmates for them. She starts to think Nannies probably don’t charge that much more for three than for two or heaven knows we’ve got enough money or we wouldn’t have gotten into all this in the first place. And many women at the multiple-possibility point, after having gone through pretty much all the meddling and hubris that biomedical technology has come up with, say demurely, I don’t want to play God (I DON’T WANT TO PLAY GOD?) or It would be grotesque to snuff one out to improve the odds for the others or Whatever will be will be.

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So triplets happen, and even quads and quints (network television is still interested in quints). And as soon as the multiples, or even the less prestigious single baby, are old enough to toddle into daycare, they’re responsibly taught the importance of their one and only Earth, taught the 3Rs–Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Too many people (which is frequently considered undesirable–gimme my space!) is caused by too many people (it’s only logical) but it’s mean to blame the babies, you can’t blame the babies, they’re innocent. Those poor bean counters at the United Nations Population Fund say that at current growth rates, the world will double its population in forty years. Overpopulation poses the greatest threat to all life on earth, but most organizations concerned with this problem don’t like to limit their suggestions to the most obvious one–DON’T HAVE A BABY!–because it sounds so negative. Instead, they provide additional, more positive tips for easing the pressures on our reeling environment such as car pooling or tree planting. (A portion of the proceeds from that adorable bestselling BABIES calendar goes to the Arbor Day Foundation for the planting of trees.)

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Some would have it that not having a baby is disallowing a human life, horribly inappropriate in this world of rights. Everyone has rights; the unborn have rights; it follows that the unconceived have rights. (Think of all those babies pissed off at the fact that they haven’t even been thought of yet.) Women have the right to have babies (we’ve fought so hard for this), and women who can’t have babies have an even bigger right to have them. These rights should be independent of marital or economic status, or age. (Fifty- and sixty-something moms tend to name their babies after the gynaecologist.) The reproduction industry wants fertility treatments to be available to anyone and says that it wouldn’t all be so expensive if those recalcitrant insurance companies and government agencies like Medicare and Medicaid weren’t so cost-conscious and discriminatory and would just cough up the money.

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It’s not as though you have to take out a permit to have a baby, be licensed or anything. What about the rights of a poor, elderly, feminist cancer patient who is handicapped in some way (her car has one of those stickers . . . ) who wants to assert her right to independent motherhood and feels entitled to both artificial insemination into a gestational ‘hostess’ and the right to sex selection as a basis for abortion should the foetus turn out to be male when she wants a female? Huh? What about her? Or what about the fifteen-year-old of the near future who kind of wants to have her baby even though it means she’ll be stuck with a kid all through high school and won’t be able to go out with her friends any more who discovers through the wonders of amniocentesis and DNA analysis that the baby is going to turn out fat, and the fifteen-year-old just can’t deal with fat and shouldn’t have to . . . ? Out goes the baby with the bathwater.

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But these scenarios are involved merely with messy political or ethical issues, the problematical, somewhat gross by-products of technological and marketing advances. Let the philosophers and professional ethicists drone on and let the baby business boom. Let the courts figure it out. Each day brings another more pressing problem. Implanted with their weak-cervixed daughter’s eggs and their son-in-law’s sperm, women become pregnant with their own grandchildren; frozen embryos are inadvertently thawed; eggs are pirated; eggs are harvested from aborted foetuses; divorced couples battle over the fate of cryopreserved material. ‘We have to have better regulation of the genetic product–eggs, sperm and embryos–so we can legally determine who owns what,’ a professor of law and medicine at a California university says plaintively. (Physicians tend to oppose more regulation however, claiming that it would ‘impede research’.)

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While high-tech nations are refining their options eugenically and quibbling litigiously, the inhabitants of low-tech countries are just having babies. The fastest growth in human numbers in all history is going to take place in a single generation, an increase of almost five billion people (all of whom started out as babies). Ninety-seven per cent of the surge is going to take place in developing countries, with Africa alone accounting for thirty-five per cent of it (the poorer the country, the higher the birth rate, that’s just the way it is). These babies are begotten in more ‘traditional’, doubtless less desperate ways, and although they are not considered as fashion statements, they’re probably loved just as much as upper-class western babies (or that singular one-per-family Chinese boy baby) and are even considered productive assets when they get a little older and can labour for the common good of their large families by exploiting more and more, scarcer and scarcer resources.

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The argument that western countries with their wealth and relatively low birth rate do not fuel the population crisis is, of course, fallacious. France, as national policy, urges its citizens to procreate, giving lots of subsidies and perks to those French who make more French. The US population is growing faster than that of eighteen other industrialized nations and, in terms of energy consumption, when an American couple stops spawning at two babies, it’s the same as an average East Indian couple stopping at sixty-six, or an Ethiopian couple drawing the line at one thousand.

Yet we burble along, procreating, and in the process suffocating thousands of other species with our selfishness. We’re in a baby glut, yet it’s as if we’ve just discovered babies, or invented them. Reproduction is sexy. Assisted reproduction is cool. The announcement that a movie star is going to have a baby is met with breathless wonder. A BABY! Old men on their third marriage regard their new babies with ‘awe’ and crow about the ‘ultimate experience’ of parenting. Bruce Springsteen found ‘salvation’ with the birth of his son. When in doubt, have a baby. When you’ve tried it all, champagne, cocaine, try a baby. Pop icons who trudged through a decade of adulation and high living confess upon motherhood, This Baby Saved My Life. Bill Gates, zillionaire founder of Microsoft, is going to have (this is so wonderful) a BABY. News commentators are already speculating: will fatherhood take away his edge, his drive; will it diminish his will to succeed, to succeed, to succeed? National Public Radio recently interviewed other high-powered CEO dads as to that ghastly possibility.

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It’s as though, all together, in the waning years of this dying century, we collectively opened the Door of our Home and instead of seeing a friend standing there in some sweet spring twilight, someone we had invited over for drinks and dinner and a lovely civilized chat, there was Death, with those creepy little black seeds of his for planting in the garden. And along with Death we got a glimpse of ecological collapse and the coming anarchy of an over-peopled planet. And we all, in denial of this unwelcome vision, decided to slam the door and retreat to our toys and make babies–those heirs, those hopes, those products of our species’ selfishness, sentimentality and global death wish.

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“Tony Hart’s Revenge Theme” – Halves (mp3)

“Burial on a Windfarm” – Halves (mp3)

“Take Exact Revenge” – Halves (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Celebrity Couples Presage The Apocalypse

We Remake Every Movie Using Nicholas Cage As The Lead

Herbie: The Car That Fucked A Girl

BB Winston Churchill Reads TR



In Which We Are Given The Use Of Our Father’s Lincoln Logs
March 8, 2009, 11:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Minor Changes to a Formula

by Will Hubbard

Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling
The Museum of Modern Art, sixth floor
West lot, exterior, first floor

The children build them first. Shaved pine, notched and sanded, “interesting playthings typifying the Spirit of America.” On my grandmother’s rug, amid incessant sneezing, I was given the use of my father’s Lincoln Logs.

Cabins were boring, a castle or highway was more to the point; but only so much can be done with right angles, and after all, “the more logs a child has, the more things can be built.” If the pieces don’t fit together, they must be balanced upon one another. Imagination leads to instability, danger, and eventually a pile of rubble and a smile.

Older and richer, we turn toward customizability. The offer is familiar, communes of gently curving asphalt, white trim and light-hued siding. In being each one slightly different from the next, they achieve a paradoxically heightened, gross uniformity. Shallow matches of form and function parade as taste, suggesting that minor changes to a formula might satisfy the entire range of human needs.

Ipods were all exactly the same, no two iPhones will ever be. Which experience is more pleasurable?

And what if your house really did come in a box? I imagine long-stay travel, emergency housing, ephemeral communities in fields of hip-high, autumn-gold grass. How much variation could be found in the box, and could there be peace-of-mind—or better yet, release-of-mind—in your adult set of Lincoln Logs?

I wonder, too, if we are educating a citizenry that actually possesses the intuition, motivation, and time to discern what they could actually need in a dwelling? Doesn’t part of our joy in buying anything derive from the very notion that it’s just like the object other strangers are putting into their homes, into their mouths and heads? A remote though strangely intimate bond is created by the marketing of identical objects and ideas.

Frank Lloyd Wright got it right, of course. His American System-Built Houses were pre-cut in the factory; construction was assembly, pure and simple. And yet four drawings of these structures reveal little aesthetic uniformity—each has its particular elegance, and seems fitted to its site rather than to the drowsy whims of its financiers.

The poet and builder Robert Kocik once said something very interesting to me about his trade: that if it was very difficult to construct a dwelling, it would be very difficult to live there.

Sadly, it’s raining when I walk out to tour the Saran Wrap house. I am allowed to seek a moment’s calm shelter among its aluminum stilts, and the drops make no sound as they kiss the plastic windows above. I ask the guards, as though they’re real-estate agents, if I can take a quick look inside. They laugh to each other; they say “no way”. They say it is because of what might be tracked in on the soles of my feet.

Will Hubbard is the contributing editor to This Recording. This is his tumblr.

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“Queen of the World” – Ida Marie (mp3)

“See Me Through” – Ida Marie (mp3)

“Oh My God” – Ida Marie (mp3)

“I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” – Ida Marie (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Did you read Tyler’s piece?

It made our whole deployment!

Evil jellyfish attack.



In Which The City Has Ceased Its Singing
March 6, 2009, 11:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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City Sleeps

by Alex Carnevale

New York’s been gray for months, and citizens grow concerned. It was spring for a day, but that day was forgotten. I came out of the L Train in Bedford yesterday, and five people in consecutive order came to ask me where to go. Lucy set up a sign that said ‘Information’. In order to deter this, I am considering some kind of jewelry, perhaps a necklace that says, “Thug” or “BroKilla” or “MollyLambert.Tumblr.Com.”

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When Danish came to New York, I went out to JFK to meet him, lest he become seamlessly absorbed into the greater Queens’ area’s Pakistani community. He was upset when I asked him if we should become doctors like in Scrubs.

An airport bathroom attendant screamed at a German woman for not flushing her loose stools, and we just laughed and used the word tumblr inappropriately (as an adjective). Danish did New York the right way. But this was before the crash.

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I realize now that I took my hectoring of Wall Street’s zombie finest not seriously enough. It used to be fun to yank on squares’ ties knowing they had no real recourse, but now that desperate expression already adorns their faces. There is no joy in this place.

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New York’s affability belies its most prominent characteristic. It is the mood ring of cities. When I came here in the summer women were flushed in the heat, admiring themselves and wearing Adidas tennis shoes and considering taking up the harp.

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Here was a fine place, the bright avenues announced. It is where those of meager means can bang, blackmail, or whisper sweet “I love you’s” all the way to the top. At one time, in this place, a man could commandeer a sizable fortune simply by giving George Steinbrenner’s daughter a particularly strong orgasm.

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For every town there is a team, and the Yankees are the bloated winsome echoes of a more flush economic age. New York will rid itself of them, but it will take time. Though this city is a chameleon in its wherewithal, its colors change slowly, and when it’s beige it strongly resembles a penis. Above all there is a whispering, New York doesn’t belong to you. You’re not from here.

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Over time, there is a familiarity. Everyone native to this place is such an unremitting asshole, your barest niceties are charm in comparison. Last week I took a cab home from Brooklyn, a rare luxury I afforded myself because I believe we’ll be eating each other’s brains for sustenance before the decade is out. An immigrant cab driver railed incomprehensibly, and then clearly asked, “you must think I’m an incredible leftist.” I didn’t know just what to say.

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In such a state, outmoded and extreme ideologies start looking rather reasonable. They are heard daily here, because nothing seems terribly real. Stores are closing so rapidly there is not even time to go out of business. In fact, there is no going out of business — there is just business, and the absence of it.

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The history isn’t good — not only did all empires crash, but all successful states lost their power and economic influence eventually. They knew hundreds of years ago that economic power was more important than any other kind of power, but we seem to have forgotten it in our latest loan from China. We are too indebted to defend ourselves, if it came to it, and the people who make the policies seem to think that raising more money for the government coffers is the answer. The Soviet Union felt much the same way.

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third avenue car barn

I spoke to an economist friend about the city’s problems. “We don’t make anything,” he said. “We don’t produce anything. We’re a service economy, and no one can afford the services.” What happens after that? I asked. “Anarchy,” he said. “Basically, Gaza. If only we had something to rail against except ourselves, as Arab peoples do. What a relief that must be!”

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That we’re already this far on the pathetic continuum is cause for some concern. But New York acts like it is a place apart from time immemorial. Everything here is beholden to a belief system that no longer applies. New York was America first, a Dutch loosening of the Puritan tie, and it will also be America last. When there is nothing of any substance around it, it will become a museum to excess. A small town can divest itself of the past, wipe the slate. But a city remains.

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

“River” – James Taylor (mp3)

“Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow” – Brad Mehldau (mp3)

“Free Man in Paris” – Sufjan Stevens (mp3)

“Dreamland” – Caetano Veloso (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Sophie’s Choice is meow.

I don’t know where we are all going to.

So many reasons why.



In Which Sawyer And That Douche From The Bachelor Are Always Choosing The Right Girl At The Wrong Time
March 5, 2009, 9:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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One Is Perfect Where The Other Falters

by Dick Cheney

Lost

executive producers Carlton Cuse & Damon Lindelof

Choosing between two women is what God put man on this earth for, and it is what Jacob put Sawyer LaFleur on this island for. And who can’t sympathize with the plight of our handsome, beneficent rehabbed con man leader?

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how do I love thee until kate gets back to the island? let me count the ways

I mean, two women desire the ripeness of his savory island cock. That’s absolutely terrible. How long has it been since the hedges were trimmed on that bush? Nevermind.

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jason and his true master: abc’s reality tv guru

Bachelor emeritus Jason Mesnick was presented with a similar dilemma this week. He proposed to Melissa, a super hot sales rep. Then they spent six atrocious weeks together where she acted like a possessive biatch and generally ruined his life. He retreated back to ABC’s clutches, where, like Gollum begging for the one ring, he asked for his preshush Molly back.

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melissa: you were borderline down syndrome, but we still wanted jason to stay with you out of some silly obligation to the outdated concept of marriage

Molly was a little bug-eyed, and a lot retarded. She made a book about the story of her and Jason’s love, which straddled the insanity of The Shining and the affectionate nature of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. When he put her in her limo after dumping her, she told him, “You’re making a huge mistake.”

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women give Jason strength

He then launched into what I refer to as the Jason Mesnick face, which is a little like the Peyton Manning face but with more crying and you jerk your head back suddenly as if you were epileptic, or just regretful. He thought he wanted no tan lines, but he learned that actually wasn’t as important as is commonly believed.

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“this should end well”

Every man comes to a fork in the road sometime, unless he’s the fabulously lucky Bill Hendrickson. Don’t think my path to chening Lynne was such an easy decision. I had another limber hottie on retainer, but there was just something about the glow in Lynne’s eyes when I described my dream of making billions from mining the natural resources of invaded sovereignties. It was like a lightbulb was going on in Lynne’s vagina.

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could it be any more obvious her IQ is in the 70-80 range?

Similar situation for Sawyer, and Jason Mesnick. No matter how much you try to quench your thirst with a conventionally hot-looking obstetrician who devotedly snuggles against the deepest fibres of your chest hair, you’re always wondering what kind of pussy might get time-transported thousands of miles to the deserted island you’re on.

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“hey sawyer, your daughter is now the new bachelorette–that’s what you wanted me to do in the real world, right?”

In one of my favorite books, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, the main character — Shadow — is released from prison only to find out his wife is dead. He attends her funeral, and later in his hotel room, he finds her sitting on the edge of his bed. He has the briefest of hopes until he tastes her tongue. Smoky, salty, full of bile and vomit; still dead.

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jack’s in a suit, she’s in a wife beater

When Sawyer sees Kate for the first time after three years, his heart leaps. He’s been funning the jungle scientists and jacking off while he watches young Charlotte frolic in the sunlight. But when he finally goes to her, and figures out that she gave up Aaron, and has been doing Jack (but just in the butt so she can remain what is referred to in canon as a Sawyervirgin). Her mouth will no doubt taste just as bad.

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As creepy as it was seeing Elizabeth Mitchell be so hopelessly devoted to the master of the long con, you wish they hadn’t set it up and paid it off in the same hour. Why on earth did the blonde-blonde pairing have to wait until the very episode of Kate’s return?

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internists were such morons in 1974

By the way, it’s not wholly true that when two blondes reproduce the child always looks like Ryan Seacrest. That’s a filthy old wives’ tale that was last invoked during the marriage of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid. (Though it did limit the output of their coupling to an only child, as one might have hoped.)

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Lost has so far not let us enjoy the primary fun of time travel. We didn’t even get to hear Juliet speculate on all the tremendous things she could do if she took the submarine to Tahiti and went back into the real world.

To get a proper handle on how awesome and/or depressing it would be, I recommend my homeboy Ken Grimwood’s classic time travel novel, Replay, in which the same thing happens, but instead of getting married and setting up a cute house in a weird island cult, the protagonist decides to win gajillions betting on the Dodgers sweeping the World Series.

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So far the show has avoided the number one cliché of time travel, what is referred to in the trade as ‘I am my own grandpa‘ syndrome. Still, Sawyer is Aaron and this predictable twist is on its way as surely as a Daniel Faraday-Sayid-Hurley facial hair love triangle will envelop the remaining castaways.

Finally, though, the castaways are going to need some mechanism to return to their own time. We know that Daniel Faraday never quite accomplishes the feat, since he’s planning on seducing a preteen Charlotte.

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My remaining question is this: whatever happened to the rest of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815? The show has always had a perilously hard time keeping track, and maybe Richard Alpert’s salvo on the beach killed Rose and Bernard? At this moment the only chance such a couple would have to retire would be washing up in an island paradise after a plane crash.

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In fact, it really hasn’t hit anyone how good their fortune is just yet. Even if they are unable to alter the timeline except in ways they already have, the money they have in their pocket hasn’t been reduced in value by a certain Democratic president from the Midwest yet. And hell, Gennifer Flowers hasn’t even warranted an entry in wikipedia yet, and our new Keanu Reeves has yet to make the centerpiece of his presidency a balding, overweight conservative talk show host who is far richer than Obama will ever be. And you thought my administration was inept and unfocused!

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Let’s face it: everything is better in 1974. No jackasses are talking on cell phones while they’re in public bathrooms and confusing the hell out of you, the name A-Rod is purely a part of plumbing terminology, and you really don’t have to choose between your hot but possibly anoxeric wife (Elizabeth Mitchell’s sternum appears to want to burst Alien-style out of her body) and your definitely anoxeric runaway. You can just let them work it out between themselves.

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Hopefully the show’s writers will solve Sawyer’s tender conundrum several seasons from now by flashing several thousands years forward in the future to a massive stone statue of both women going down on the Long Con.

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leave any woman who forces you to wear that shirt, LaFleur

Yes, the most important island secret ever, if you go by Entertainment Weekly‘s fanboy coverage of the show, is what the four-toed statue that Sayid and Sun glimpsed on their mini-island cruise so many seasons ago. It looks like it’s the foot of Anubis, the jackal god of the dead. In that case, can they see their way to bringing back Michelle Rodriguez? Her sex with Sawyer was the best sex with Sawyer.

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Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He will never tell you where exactly he lives.

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“Cover the Windows and All the Walls” – Grouper (mp3)

“Down to the Ocean” – Grouper (mp3)

“Follow In Our Dreams” – Grouper (mp3)

“Heart Current” – Grouper (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Cheney, week two.

Cheney, week four.

Cheney, week six.

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In Which We Sit On A Pale Pink Marshmallow
March 3, 2009, 9:03 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

UNITED STATES OF TARA

Dissociative Identity Disorder

by Eleanor Morrow

United States of Tara
creator Diablo Cody

Let’s face facts: the pro-life lobby had a bunch of stripper-era Diablo Cody photos and they forced her to write Juno lest Ramesh Ponnuru publish the illict photos in his secret Republican porn webblog.

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diablo and steven…they have obviously at least eskimo-kissed

There was every reason to expect United States of Tara to exist along those same lines. Every character in the pilot was a whining composite of Ellen Page’s quirky yet optimistic preteen. They all talked in the same overwrought California lingo — at first, it’s annoying, but then you start to miss that level of sophistication in other shows. After the pilot, where Tara’s most irritating alter took the stage, it’s been all uphill from there.

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tara and her sister charmaine

Without the fanfare accorded her earlier project, the Steven Spielberg produced Tara has quietly become one of the most entertaining shows on television, largely for the reason that it explores territory that serial television has never before touched.

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marshmallow’s fellow cream puff

Ironically it now seems like Tara’s predicament has taken a crucial backseat to her brilliant surrounding cast. Start with Tara’s less well-liked sister, Charmaine. Rosemarie Dewitt deserves the Oscar that Kate Winslet stole through Nazi sex. Last episode she had her off-center boobs corrected surgically while Tara’s alter Buck ministered to her every need. He even conditioned her ends. It was the most brilliant, touching television since Tony Soprano’s first panic attack.

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Tara’s children are equally gut-busting. Brie Larson is damn near perfect as Tara’s daughter, and while the show flirted with teenage rebellion storyline for her, it soon found more amusement in teaching her gay brother how to get guys and making out with her geeky boss from Barnaby’s (a transcendent Nate Corddry). This show is so well cast it doesn’t even have time for Patton Oswalt- Rosemarie DeWitt sex jokes.

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Tara’s youngest is Marshall, an uptight high school feglia who’s more adorable than Ellen Page and her bare stomach combined. Marshall’s cannily seducing another youth by playing hard-to-get and damn if it isn’t working, Marshmallow. His participation in a Xtian Hellhouse performance was funnier than all seven seasons of Two and a Half Men.

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You just don’t see this stuff on television, and yet the Kansas-set show isn’t looking to surprise all the time. Like Gus Van Zant and Harmony Kormine’s depictions of the lives of young America, Tara is at its most shocking when it bares the humanity and decency of people you wouldn’t expect it from. Like mothers, for example.

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“you don’t think you did sarah jessica parker in a past life, do you?”

This is perhaps best done with Tara’s husband, Aidan on Sex in the City, the groom in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, John Corbett. It would be so easy to paint him as the saint or the pure straight men to all the crazy people his wife contains, but there’s something understandable about every moral conundrum he faces. We can barely live even if we are ourselves alone, says Max’s face as Tara moves seamlessly into one of her alters.

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she’ll probably win an emmy for this show after it’s canceled

In a recent episode, Tara’s parents came to Overland Park intending to take the children away. Instead, Tara’s newest alter — a poncho gnome that pissed on things — made her father think his lack of bladder control was proof he was no longer equipped to raise children. Tara looks like a better parent put in that kind of perspective, but her failings towards her children are obvious. She gets a light hand from the show’s writers, because no one could sympathize properly with someone they believe to be a bad mother.

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I think people have a hard time empathizing with Toni Collette’s Tara, even though she is doing the acting equivalent of the five minute mile every week. It’s easy to pull a Winslet and flop your tatas around for giggles, but Collette’s range is so breathtaking it really is fun to watch, even if most struggle to connect with Tara’s level of mental illness. As difficult as it is for the person with the illness, there’s something exciting about it for her family and friends. In the end, there’s always another Tara to feel bonded to.

Eleanor Morrow is a contributor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She is a writer living in New York.

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“A Daisy Through Concrete” – Eels (mp3)

“I Like Birds” – Eels (mp3)

“Something Is Sacred” – Eels (mp3)

“Estate Sale” – Eels (mp3)

UNITED STATES OF TARA

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

What can you say now.

Robots in disguise.

Where he would live.

d5



In Which We Tell You What Can You Say Now
February 28, 2009, 11:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The New York Review of Hooks

by Alex Carnevale

Here’s some research I did:

Me: what albums should I review that I’m not reviewing?
Danish: http://tumbledore.tumblr.com/post/77816250/these-are-the-2009-album-releases-ive-acquired
Me: TLDR

We haven’t spoken since. As the world collapses around you, do you really need a soundtrack?

“The Death of Me” – City and Colour (mp3)

“Body in the Box” – City and Colour (mp3)

Throaty singer-songwriter pablum…with a harmonica! At first you’re asking yourself what you’ve done to deserve this. If Elliott Smith never existed, what would have become of male angst? Answer: it probably would have stuck to Langston Hughes poems. Sometimes Dallas Green (the city and the color GET IT? GET IT?) sounds like a parody of a college music station, and other times he sounds like Justin Vernon if he never got dumped by that betch Emma. Standout track: none.

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emma?

Was there ever an outing of Emma? Are we sad or happy that she dumped Bon? How was the sex? Did he sing during sex? Was she like, if you don’t score above an 8.0 on Pitchfork I’m never going down on you again? I guess I’ll have to wait for a tell-all biography, I’m too lazy to do anything else but send the Aubrey O’Day Playboy spread to all my closest friends.

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Why has this woman not guest starred on Nip/Tuck yet? She also seems so down to earth. I really hope we see more of her, possibly in Penthouse or The Paris Review. Either way I want to be present for what’s sure to be a tumultuous emotional journey. I can only hope Gavin Rossdale and this chick get engaged down the road. She would also be fantastic as the rumored fifth friend in the Sex in the City sequel.

There was this weird equating in Sex and the City: The Movie of Miranda’s paramour Steve’s infidelity with Mr. Big not showing up at Carrie’s wedding. No-showing a wedding is way worse than getting your business on with some Brooklyn hottie. For one you’re just having a little fun down at Union Pool, and in the other you’re coming up empty on the biggest day of Sarah Jessica Parker’s life. I feel I will regret saying this, but it is true.

LeBron and Dwight Howard doing half-court shots is the second greatest YouTube experience of my week. It comes on the heels of a Kevin Garnett commercial for NBA TV that inspires me everyday.

There is no amount of times I will watch this commercial and not sob. Whoever put this together deserves an honor higher than whatever crap Danny Boyle movie won Best Picture.

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“Daniel” – Bat for Lashes (mp3)

“Moon and Moon” – Bat for Lashes (mp3)

“Peace of Mind” – Bat for Lashes (mp3)

Scott Walker and Yeasayer pitch in but this is a more confident album than anything she’s ever done, and it’s more fun, too.

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You guys haven’t been watching The Bachelor? Last week the talky-friend type got dumped, and in this case we were able to enjoy it all the more because the woman dumped, Jillian, is (a) Canadian and (b) an interior designer. She never stopped talking, and when the most annoying bachelor since Charlie O’Connell showed his vagina in front of a live studio audience on The Bachelor Tells All is telling you to hit the road…you’ve hit rock bottom. When it came time for the tearful limousine ride, Jillian openly wondered in her distinctive accent whether or not she was too independent for this d-bag, while the viewing audience wondered why exactly she was pronouncing aboot like that. Also, when you are a small man, and this d-bag is a  small man, do not let yourself be photographed in New Zealand unless in fact you are a member of Flight of the Conchords.

John MacLean’s new album is happy sounding dance music, sounding like it’s from every other decade than the one it’s in. Where LCD Soundsystem is on some level desperate and cynical sounding, MacLean brings Puritan New England to the dance floor and ends up making something both familiar and new, as on the utterly addictive single, “The Simple Life.” Like in James Murphy songs, vocals appear and disappear. This would probably be a James Murphy album if it wasn’t for all the optimism. The Puritans made this world so they can try to save it, too. “Now you’re gone,” croons Nancy Whang, and you come back again.

“Accusations” – The Juan MacLean (mp3)

“Happy House” – The Juan MacLean (mp3)

“The Future Will Come” – The Juan MacLean (mp3)

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“Printemps” – Coeur de Pirate (mp3)

“Berceuse” – Coeur de Pirate (mp3)

“Francis” – Coeur de Pirate (mp3)

The hot version of Madeleine Peyroux is 18 year old singer-songwriter Beatrice Martin. It will surely not be long before she’s winehousing herself all over the place, and probably ending Johnny Depp’s marriage and ruining the emotional lives of his children.

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“Head Rolls Off” – Frightened Rabbit (mp3)

“Keep Yourself Warm” – Frightened Rabbit (mp3)

“Who’d You Kill Now?” – Frightened Rabbit (mp3)

This is a live recording of the 13th best album of last year. Frightened Rabbit has the best covers in the business, and unlike most of these bands they are an excellent live act. Excessive production is just flat out unnecessary.

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You can bet the record would never have been mixed like this before Justin Vernon was born into the world. This is pop and dance music masquerading as goth-folk. On her blog she talks about being strong and resisting covering Joni Mitchell but she has the voice for it. Crooning “life seems so empty” on “Heart Paper Lover” is half-laughable. “Ghosts and Lovers” deserves an upbeat dance remix, but it’s pretty good on its own. There is nothing more enjoyable than a depressing album, but I don’t know that she sounds all that sad. Pop music is for everyone to enjoy. With that said this is probably the most enjoyable release of the year so far.

“Brittle, Crushed, And Torn” – Marissa Nadler (mp3)

“Little Hells” – Marissa Nadler (mp3)

“Ghosts and Lovers” – Marissa Nadler (mp3)

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“Ring Ring” – Sleigh Bells (mp3)

“Holly” – Sleigh Bells (mp3)

“Infinity Guitars” – Sleigh Bells (mp3)

DJs and tattooed female vocalists are the third best invention of the past 20 years, topped only by the George Foreman grill and erotic Twilight fan fiction. Brooklyn-based duo Sleigh Bells everyone. “Ring Ring” is my mother’s favorite song of the year.

“The King Must Die” – Elton John (mp3)

“Sixty Years On” – Elton John (mp3)

“Your Song” – Elton John (mp3)

This talented young singer-songwriter has exploded on the scene with his debut self-titled album. Sers though, the idea that EJ once played backing vocals blows my mind. I just want to do it all over again with Elton. That’s my real problem with him being gay and in committed relationship. If he was straight he’d have divorced several times by now and he would need to keep recording better albums to pay off his exes. The world would have been better served if Elton had just rehabbed that sexual preference. God damn it.

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“Yoko Ono” – Ben Lee (mp3)

“Bad Poetry” – Ben Lee (mp3)

I don’t know what shocks me more, that Ben Lee is now married to Ione Skye or that he’s recorded four albums since I last seriously listened to him.  Lee is more well known in his native Australia, but he was known to me in 1998 for writing hot love songs for Claire Danes and appearing suspiciously like what I imagine a weevil looks like. Lee’s always been a good pop songwriter – “Cigarettes Will Kill You” and “Nothing Much Happens” are both minor classics – and The Rebirth of Venus is either terrible or brilliant, and sometimes both. “Rise Up” is the perfect Lee song and that does wonders for the album. Plus the b-sides includes Lee covering a song “Ben Lee” by the Ataris about how much he sucks. The Ataris compare him (unfavorably) to Bob Dylan, but he’s more like a poor man’s Billy Joel. That’s no slam, and this album is definitely better than anything Baz Luhrmann has ever done.

I’m a little offended you haven’t already bought CapGun. It’s inappropriate, frankly. Do you know how hard it is to get Dick Cheney to write for my website? I had to make Lambert eat ramen noodles for over a month. Things are tight, even for blogs. I need your help to keep This Recording going, or else I’m going to curl up in a little ball and probably take Danish down with me. Please buy our third issue, it has already appreciated $7.4 percent. And you haven’t even bought it yet. At these prices, who can say no?

CapGun features the finest poetry in the land, prose from the most inventive new writers around, plus Will hand-letterpressed the covers. Well I guess more properly he managed a small, illicit sweatshop that hand-letterpressed the covers, but either way, it’s a significant outlay, and I’d like to thank Will for doing that. Please buy the third issue.

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“Heartbreaker” – MSTRKRFT ft. John Legend (mp3)

“Vuvuvu” – MSTRKRFT (mp3)

“Fist of God” – MSTRKRFT (mp3)

Pronounced Masterkraft, there are a lot of great dance songs here. It’s not a Justice album, but then what is except Cross? John Legend and Lil Mo stay ubiquitous, and other rappers make appearances. Young people and Danish will no doubt enjoy this music, and if I took ecstasy, I’m sure I would too. Unfortunately I am drifting towards the stage in my life where I can barely stay patient for the endings of movies (I just go to wikipedia and read what happens) let alone the ends of six minute long house music tracks. “1000 Cigarettes” is a hot track though.

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I e-mailed Danish because I don’t understand this band, but I do like their cover done in blue Bic.

Basically what everyone’s been saying (and I agree) is that it’s no Source Tags and Codes but it’s a lot better than their last two albums (possibly due to the fact that they’re no longer on Interscope). It walks a fine line between dramatic and melodramatic, not really sure what the single is/would be.

“Halcyon Days”  – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead (mp3)

“Fields of Coal”  – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead (mp3)

“Luna Park” – …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead (mp3)

“We Build Then We Break” – The Fray (mp3)

“Ungodly Hour” – The Fray (mp3)

I didn’t really understand how a person as attractive as Patrick Dempsey could be depressed, and then this four-piece outfit from Denver explained how to save my life. Would that Grey’s Anatomy were just a compilation of Ellen Pompeo taking her bra off to different songs by this talented pop band. They have truly filled the role Coldplay was born to play of recording the same song to a slightly different tempo so people can be soothed in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices. This is an underrated skill — like women who are easily fulfilled sexually, The Fray are the great unappreciated champions of this depressing time in American life.

“Heartswarm” – Swan Lake (mp3)

“Spanish Gold, 2044″ – Swan Lake (mp3)

Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see. Sometimes the snow comes down in June, sometimes the sun goes ’round the moon. Just when I thought our chance had passed, you go and save the best for last.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He lives in Manhattan, and he tumbls here.

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

The best of William Faulkner.

A little less conversation.

Ambiguity is so attractive to the young.

pirate



In Which We Are All Really Half a Man
February 27, 2009, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

TWO AND A HALF MEN

Molloy and Malone

by Alex Carnevale

Quietly and unobtrusively, like an elephant tiptoeing through a church, the No. 1 comedy in television is a show about which you’ll never hear critics crow. Highbrows phonies disdain the laugh-tracked adventures of philanderer Charlie Harper, his chiropractor brother Alan Harper and Alan’s son Jacob. For most of its audience, Two and a Half Men is a bunch of belly laughs from a bygone era where sexual innuendo and wry put-downs were enough to entertain a generation.

TWO AND A HALF MEN

charlie and his nephew jake

But there is something deeper and more disturbing going on in Mssr. Harper’s shiny Santa Monica beach house, more Paradise Lost than The King of Queens. With a bare minimum of sets, props, and actors, the milieu emerges comfortably from knowing banter between familiars. Much of it is cheerful babbling between likeable fops, but there’s just as many vicious insults and moments of utter darkness. Without it, there would be little reason to watch the lives of spoiled whites.

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The show is really about Alan Harper, played by veteran sitcommer Jon Cryer. After his wife kicks him out of the house he spend years working to own, he moves in with his brother to create the latest version of Neil Simon’s battle of opposites. Alan is a desperate weasel, with an attitude towards sex that would push most men to abandon the idea of not paying for it. He loves being a father, but he’s not a very good one. And, burdened with alimony payments, he depends on his brother for most things.

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On the surface, it’s a game setup. Alan is fastidious and repressed where his brother is loose and free. Each has something to learn from one another.

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But they never do. On most shows, months pass, things are learned, life goes on. On Two and a Half Men, upwards of ten years has passed, with Alan’s son Jake turning from a cute kid to a pudgy preteen to a slim, handsome teenager to prove it. And yet even he has learned barely more manners than he began the show with. Though he has lost the pudginess that typified his character, neither his uncle or his father have noticed. For them, he is forever eight.

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As a result, a strange Beckettian tone has taken over the proceedings. Many of the episodes have similar plots, and yet the characters learn nothing. It is the furthest thing from the expectations of traditional drama, and yet it happens again and again.

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Charlie Harper is a boozer, and in one episode he even learns the word for what he really is: misogynist. He has to look it up in the dictionary, granted, but at least he is permitted to know what he is.

He’s taken the brief vagaries of a career in jingle-writing, and turned it into an existence that most men with a pulse should envy. If a beautiful woman walks and talks, Charlie Harper can wriggle his way into dumping her at some point down the road after the novelty of sex with her has faded into the bother of a relationship. He is constantly vacillating between two essentially male state of minds — the moments before sex, when a man will do anything to have it; and those moments after sex, where no matter the place, the woman, or the future you have with her, the man wishes she was still and lifeless between thousands of pounds of seawater and fresh air.

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Between the bars, he has been given a chance to remedy the error of his ways. His first real chance came with a storyline that had him cozying up to his real-life squeeze, Denise Richards. You can wager a guess as to how that ended, although to be fair it was a good deal better than it did in real life.

Next was ballet dancer Mia. No woman was more reluctant to agree to Charlie’s advances; as a result winning her was even more special a prize. And yet at the final moment of embrace, Mia demanded he cut loose his brother on the world so that they could make a life together — and he refused. What could be a zanier version of ourselves?

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Charlie at least has the barest reason not to want to change his life — it’s pretty great, even if the hangovers are dissipating a lot slower than they used to. But his brother navigates, in many ways, the same worn path. And yet he manages to choose even more disastrously than Charlie Sheen. This is a feat indeed.

Alan Harper’s last two serious girlfriends were castoffs from the freight train that is the Charlie Harper experience. The first was the lush, brilliantly opaque 22-year old, Kandi, whose limber body and less-than-limber mind took Charlie mere seconds to tire of. Alan was endlessly entranced by Kandi’s willingness to pursue intercourse with him, and he even married her. Divorce predictably came shortly after.

Next was Alan’s chirpy receptionist, a small little sprite who charmed her way in and out of his brother’s pants. She then “chose” Alan, and things were going on quite swimmingly until he ate a pot brownie and hooked up with her mother (Carol Kane). You see, these characters resist change in every form it offers itself. It reminds them suspiciously of their mother, who also wanted to change them, and is portrayed by Holland Taylor.

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The gifts of modernity are empty to these two brothers. They never use the internet – Charlie is once amused to find there’s a defamatory website about his exploits with the fairer sex, but that’s all. Sometimes they watch television – Alan sipping wine and sampling his brother’s private jacuzzi plasma while he’s off on his latest conquest.

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There is nothing of these two lives we would want, and yet they exist all the same. Like two sons of God, Alan and Charlie carry on completely differently, and yet neither is satisfied. No matter what we do, this riddle of a show tells us, we are doomed to be dissatisfied. When we are closest to our own idea of happiness is when we are farthest from it. Such creatures, humans, can never truly be balanced, lest they make up a fiction they can enjoy better than the pitter-patter of time coming to claim where they live, up against the ocean.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He lives in Manhattan, and tumbls here.

TWO AND A HALF MEN

“The Magpie” – Bishop Allen (mp3)

“The Lion and the Teacup” – Bishop Allen (mp3)

“The Ancient Commonsense of Things” – Bishop Allen (mp3)

bishop-allen

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

We taxied out in a storm.

Aren’t you here tonight?

This is love.

april_bowlby-3



In Which Transformers Allow Us To Account For Our Current Economic Fate
February 25, 2009, 10:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

American Manufacturing in Disguise

by Alex Carnevale

When we look back at the achievements of this lost decade, film students will, in their infinite stupidity, miss the finest contribution of the aughts. There has never been a more subversive piece of art than Michael Bay’s Transformers, and with the collapse of industry that marks each day’s evening news, there may never be again.

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On its surface, Transformers is the same product tie-in pablum we’ve all been forced to endure since Star Wars made a fortune’s worth of dubloons in secondary markets. And yet the tale that was told is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. On its surface we have the long war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, now staged on the battleground of Earth.

The version of the Mythos in the film is this: Shia LaBoeuf’s granddad finds the Decepticon Megatron ensconsed in ice at the Artic Circle. Clad in black, Megatron resembles a Satan, or at the very least a Dark One. It never occurs to Admiral Witwicky that he has unearthed a hero in the ice.

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Bred in the combat pits of Cybertron, Megatron was raised for fierceness. Essentially, he was a slave for the Autobot hierachy and was pitted against other monsters for the amusement of the Autobots. It is easy enough to see the prodigious hand of American imperialism here, when the powers-that-be were content to let so-called lesser nations fight amongst each other. Instability was profitable: it limited rebellion and it made for good business for those who supplied the weapons.

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Once Megatron became too strong for the prevailing Autobot hierachy, they saw the strength of the being they’d created and began his long exile. Megatron is vulnerable, neutralized in a government facility when Michael Bay’s film begins, and the Autobots are free and clear.

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The prevailing assumption lent to the viewer is that the Autobots are the fighters of freedom. The film then gives the audience more than a few clues that the Autobots aren’t all they seem to be. History is written by the victors, and the Autobots were the victors in the Great War, a conflict that led to the Pax Cybertronia. Under the terms of this pact, the Deceptions became second-class citizens, and little was told to a young transformer about what had happened in the past.

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Our American heroes start in Revolutionary War days, and so on from there. It is clouded so that our people barely remember the real history of what happened. Yes, the states had more than a right to demand freedom from taxation. But to tell the story in that fashion omits the slave labor on which this country was built. Without the value of that labor, America would never have been wealthy enough or strong enough to fight the King. Instead of freeing its black citizens, as Great Britain did, it turned its back on the very people to which it owed its victory.

The current irony is that we are being taxed more strenuously than ever — the very charge we levied on our colonial predecessors.

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And so on, to the present, where automakers salvage billions from the taxpaying public. And for what, exactly? To keep their Autobot machines pumping vile toxins into our atmosphere, and gas confined to a racket between America’s power, perched on the back of the subjugation of Arab peoples in every oil rich nation? Instead of criticizing this country, it is easier to blame Israel, as if they were the ones who led to this state of affairs. They’re a victim of colonial power, not an agent of it.

Chief ally to the American military is Optimus Prime and his coalition of autobots. They are expertly trained to appeal to human emotions – shiny colors and cute noises emanate from our hero’s favorite destructive robot, Bumblebee.

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The fact is, humans will believe anything. Does anyone hear Megatron out? He desires the AllSpark for the power it possesses to return him to his homeworld. Is it any wonder he doesn’t want his slavers accompaying him on the trip home?

I said the film was subversive, and it is. The portrait of the American military collaborating with the Autobots is of a deeply flawed, entirely helpless organization in which vindictiveness triumphs over caution, and John Turturro’s skepticism towards the prevailing Autobot view of things loses out over the machinations of a hormonally charged loser who wants respect from extraterrestrials as a means of seducing an underage teen. Such intercourse would be statuatory rape, but thirst for sex wins out over wariness.

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We know the automakers want nothing good for us. Their executives fly around in private jets and congressmen pretend to be chagrined. It is the chaos that the Decepticons can provide that is what we need so badly, if only our vapid president would stop granting wishes like a genie in town hall meetings and see that we need a far larger change than he called for. Anyone who buys an American car is a bigger fool than a president who bails out American carmakers. In America, business is only charity if it’s big business.

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All great civilizations perish on the backs of their own excess. “X is suffering,” cries this way of thinking. “We must solve for X no matter the cost.” The Decepticons posed a threat to a way of life on the all-metal planet, so they were banished and destroyed.

We have no need for American industry or the military as it exists. Our military strength grows still larger, to fight no enemy we can see. What should we be more afraid of? Thousands of Americans dead in the wake of mad men crashing planes into our Autobot superstructures, or the resulting war against nothing and no one that cripples the finances of the people this output was supposed to protect?

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Instead of propping up companies we no longer have need for, let us have them die an appropriate death. Our new president is in hock to these fools. He cannot break free of them any more than George W. Bush could write his own name.

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The planet Cybertron did not belong to the Autobots any more than it did to the Decepticons. In the resulting battle, “won” by the Autobots, the means of rebuilding Cybertron was destroyed by the Autobots’ human ally. Great job – better to destroy a homeworld than lose the battle. Soon we will hear “they are just machines” and the instruments of prejudice will be once again America’s, to use or put down as they like.

War contrives a reason for existing. We must fight to go on. But if the fight destroys us, too? We might be better thrown into the Laurentian Abyss, or the deepest point in the world, Challenger Deep and frozen even colder, even deader than Decepticons. Perhaps theirs is the better fate.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He tumbles here.

“City of Lies” – Padded Cell (mp3)

“Savage Skulls” – Padded Cell (mp3)

“Faces of the Forest” – Padded Cell (mp3)


PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Smells return of what you ask.

We’re the best you’ve ever had.

Make it work please.

trans13



In Which We Wish You Had Believed Us
February 19, 2009, 9:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

post-rape-kate

And You Said You Wanted To Go Back To The Island

by Dick Cheney

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Life is full of important questions. Jack Shephard is the biggest control freak I know, so he has to take on the vast majority of life’s crucial queries. For example — if an Arab of indeterminate origin passes along his condolences before you board a flight with him to Guam, do you alert the authorities, or at the very least Benry Gale? Also, if you have sex with distraught Kate after she’s abandoned Aaron to a well-meaning Los Angeles-area Jewish family, it’s rape, right?

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I can’t start throwing stones in glass Dharma stations. Let’s be honest: rape is a small price to pay. This is the island we’re talking about. It is coveted, and to get something that great, like intercourse with a hot doctor, you have to pay a price.

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pre-rape kate

A pendulum traverses the continents — we presume of this world, but we don’t know for sure. “The island is moving,” Faraday’s hot mother tells them. Uh, yeah. The entire earth is moving, old lady. It’s called orbit, you daft witch.

Eloise Hawking’s secret plan to get them back on the island includes “taking a flight” and “packing a nice pair of shoes.” This is what my grandmother told me every time I visited her at the home, and yet I didn’t act all weird like it was fate. RIP Grandma Chene-ster.

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Of course, Mama Faraday is by no measure the wackest bitch to occupy Lynne and mine’s television on a typical Wednesday night. That honor goes to American Idol‘s Tatiana, whose dreams of fame and stardom with her patented “international” renditions of songs we’ve all heard before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tatiana was also the name of the whore tiger who attacked some people at the San Francisco Zoo a couple of years ago. I believe my boss pardoned the tiger, but not the atrociousness of this blabbering wannabe. See ya, betch.

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saving all my love for this crazy betch

Still, Tatiana is way better than Danny Gokey who is (a) 28 and (b) using his wife who passed away for cash purposes, much like George Constanza did on Seinfeld when he showed one photo of Susan to models in the meat-packing district to elicit their sympathies. Also, who the fuck sings “Hero”? He’s lucky Chris Brown isn’t his boyfriend. He’s also lucky he didn’t pick Jack Shephard’s bed to sleep in. NO MEANS NO JACK.

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As Jack is giving Kate a capital R and then pouring her orange juice and coffee (together?!?) before leaving to steal his grandfather’s shoes and kiss Locke’s bald head in his coffin, we can’t help but feel sympathetic. Has one man ever had to handle so much?

lot21

it is traditional to make the lady a post-rape breakfast jack

Give the guy something to do with himself, and he’s clean-shaven and purposeful. Give him a reason to doubt and he’s whimpering “Jeremy Bentham stole my mojo” in an Austin Powers accent and Benry is holding him as he whines, “It’s not your fault” in a even gayer version of that classic scene that ruined Good Will Hunting.

bit

you’re just so facking special Will

It took a man with real balls to write something this perverse and wrong. Actually, it took two big men to write this episode: executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. (Although, to be fair, even Michelle Rodriguez is one bang away from getting an exec producer credit on this show. The opening titles now run into the half-hour mark.)

Does it make you feel tough to ruin Evangeline Lilly’s career, guys? It wasn’t enough that she dated a hobbit, now she’s just another statistic in Joe Torre’s Safe at Home Fountation? For shame.

lost2

J/K Carlton, we know you’re a Red Sox fan. The real reason they needed the honchos to write this one is that their devious plan to get the Oceanic Six back to the island proper was to break out the rarely used Ocho Ex Machina, wherein eight implausible plot threads are glossed over because the guy who is supposed to keep track of continuity is too busy being interviewed by The New York Times and fucking the continuity chick on Life on Mars.

Maybe Carlton and Damon can record a cryptic podcast with hints for subplots that will later appear in the show as coy literary references. Wow, Ben’s reading Ulysses. Is he majoring in English at Hampshire College at the tender age of 48, or did leaving the island simply sprout a vagina in his pants?

ulysss

wait a second bro — is benry gale actually james joyce? that would totally explain Finnegan’s Wake

Hey assholes, do you really think we’re just going to sit back and accept that your show has more loopholes then Obama’s Retarded Bailout ’09?

lot81

One of the messageboards I lurk on had the following point:

I don’t think you can buy 78 seats on a flight and insist that the airline keep them open. I thought the rule was that if a passenger doesn’t check in 10 minutes before take-off, the airline can give the seat away. I can see Hurley booking 1 or 2 extra seats because of his size, but not 78.

That is what you are questioning?!? People like this are out there, and a chimpanzee that just wanted some ass gets shot to death. Go sit in the dunce chair, internet user. God I hate what this nation has become when I stopped controlling it for just a single month.

lost1111

clearly Good Will Hunting was more seminal than we thought

Let’s focus on what we do know. We now know that it’s Hurley’s voice repeating the numbers from the radio tower to the Frenchies, years after/before he strangely heard his lucky ones muttered on the frequency.

lost5

this is the bare minimum, i hope you toned up since you had jin’s baby sun

We now know that Jin has slept with nearly every woman in the Dharma Initiative, and when Sun gets ahold of his ass, he’s going to have a lot of ‘splaining to do!

lotttt1

We now know that Locke is destined to come back to life as a druid. He is the one who built Stonehenge; another mystery solved! They’re in the Bermuda Triangle! Locke is a Decepticon! Michael Bay is helming Lost‘s season finale! Shock! Surprise! Rape!

jesus’ wounds feel like a pussy, true story. it’s in the bible

The hits just keep on coming. Ben r’s Penny, Jack r’s Kate. Eloise Hawking watches Locke kill himself after he gets in a last bang with the chick who escorts Sayid to the flight of doom. Eloise is pretty much Thomas the Apostle. In fact, due to time travel, she is the original Thomas the Apostle. And Locke is actually Jesus. Shit, now that the show is up against American Idol, how else are they going to appeal to the Christian demographic? That jackass Danny is a church choir teacher? We have Jesus.

Dick Cheney, the former vice president of the United States, is the senior contributor to This Recording. His location can only be reached through Al Ajira flights.

hell yes i put my finger in her asshole, what do you think?

THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS, NONE LEFT ALIVE

neokkk

“Red Tide” – Neko Case (mp3)

“Prison Girls” – Neko Case (mp3)

lot11

“Don’t Forget Me” – Neko Case (mp3)

“The Pharoahs” – Neko Case (mp3)

THE PAPER SAID SEVENTY FIVE

Cheney’s Lost so far:

Observing your favorite betch covered in your own afterbirth is even worse. The only thing harder to get out of your mind is the image of Hugo Reyes in an orange jumpsuit.

breaking-up-today

Lynne wheeled me in front of the television for last week’s two hour premiere of Lost. I was more confused than Larry Summers at a wedding shower, or Rahm Emanuel if his penis accidentally got inside a woman.

lineeeeus

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

We came from the mountain.

Georgia puts a book down her pants.

From clay to stone.

narnia

the lamp post




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