On Day Planners and Chaos

I spent 20 minutes staring at the DIY day planner display at the craft store yesterday.

20. Minutes.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of papercraft. So you would think the DIY Day Planner trend would be right up my alley…but instead, like most things, it just gave me an anxiety attack and a sad feeling.

I like Day Planners. My dad, ever adorably practical, gets each of us girls one every year and I, with my millions of appointments, deadlines and other nonsense, find it very useful…(for the first three months, before I leave it on the counter and forget about its existence). So I, still in this post-book cloud of alternating relief and stress, floated towards the aisle, like a moth towards a bug zapper.

After 20 minutes, I was sad and confused.

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New Notebook: Arche/SuperCola

Introducing Arche/SuperCola!

Introducing Arche/SuperCola!

Time for a new notebook!

I can’t believe how fast I went through Lucca.  This new WIP (working title: The Lords of Yesterday) has me scrawling scenes even more than I did in the early days of The Big Rewind.  It’s a much different book for me, so I’m letting myself play with POV and scene variation, as well as a TON of beautiful collage work.  I’ve really gone kinda crazy, and I regret nothing.

Lucca was experimental in paper usage and texture.  The map pages were pretty, but writing on them proved useless, so they ended up being collage pages.  The parchment was a nice surface and added color, but tended to smudge with the big fat gooey ink pen I use because my hands are basically claws now.  I don’t think I’d do the origami paper on the spine again.  It looked pretty, but took up valuable page space.

My original intent was to make a double-sided journal, like an old pulp novel–on one side, Crime Writing, flip it over, General Work.  But I’ve still got about half of Mona left, so the pages would end up being wasted.  I needed a new notebook, and I needed one fast, so I put what I had on hand to good use.

Arche/SuperCola is very basic in design, but represents the finest of all my techniques combined — multiple paper types, end pages, French stitch and metal accouterments.  I had bought the hinges for another project, but they proved to be merely decorative and basically non-functioning.

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Mix Tape Monday: The (Unrequited) Crush Mix

Portlandia Mix Tape

Welcome Back to Mix Tape Monday, the blog series that celebrates the lost art of mix-tape making.  Today is Part II of our “Crush Mix” series, the Unrequited Crush!

Now, there are two types of Unrequited Crush Mix.  The first is made up entirely of Smiths songs like “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” and is made for moping around because boo-hoo, your crush doesn’t notice you.

This is not that mix.

Rather, this is one that celebrates the unrequited love as a love that cannot ever be, but is still fun to have.  It’s the kind of crush that makes you happy and tingly because you know it can never be consummated, which is how it can remain so perfect.  This is a mix solely for you to listen to when you are feeling dreamy and excitable and giddy in love, so go crazy.

This mix is called the Grey Chalk Playlist (2014) and it’s fairly brief.

Fan Mail

Because I made this one for my TV-crush, I open it with a sound clip from one of his shows so I can hear his sexy, sexy voice.  It, ah, sets the mood.

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Mix Tape Monday: Worst Song On A Mix?

Billy Joel Sux

Welcome back to Mix Tape Monday, the blog series that doesn’t care that no one owns a boombox anymore.  Last week, while setting my radio alarm, I heard Billy Joel’s “Only The Good Die Young.”  And it suddenly occurred to me EXACTLY how much of a dick Billy Joel was being to this girl.  Virginia has clearly said no to the sex, (which, given that it’s Billy Joel, is probably a good plan) and instead of being like “well, okay, I respect your decision to do what you feel is right with your body,” he proceeds to insult her by shaming her faith.  “Don’t let me wait/you Catholic girls start much too late/sooner or later it comes down to fate/I might as well be the one.”

I seriously fucking hate this guy.

I seriously fucking hate this guy.

Translation: Your needs and values are meaningless because I want sex, and eventually you’re going to give it up to someone, so you might as well fuck me.  There’s no mention of love, or even that they’re dating.  He wants to bone her, she said no, and he’s negging on her.  This is not a romantic song, and Billy Joel has once again shown that he is a horndog douche.

I tweeted this, and my friend Emily replied that a boy had actually put this on a mix for her, despite her not even being Catholic.  He used a mix tape for evil!  That’s just wrong.

So I ask…what was the worst song anyone has ever put on a mix for you?  Bad in sound or intention or both?

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Mixtape Monday: The Crush Mix

Say-Anything1

Welcome back to Mix Tape Monday, the blog series that celebrates all things mix-related.  Today we’re talking about the whole reason Mix Tapes were invented–The Crush Mix.

You know the drill.  You’re so head-over-heels in love with someone that every song you hear reminds you of them.  You savor the music that played on the radio when they happened to glance your way, convinced it was destiny that that song came on at that exact moment. But you don’t know if they’re feeling the same, so you test the waters with a tape that could be plutonic…but really, your heart is bleeding through every single lyric. The Crush Mix is meant to be listened to on headphones, alone and in one go, so plan your lyrics and transitions accordingly.  Sound clips are not advised here.

There are two types of Crush Mixes–the hopeful and the unrequited.  Today, we’ll be looking at the first, using a mix I titled Songs For Your Future Front Office (2005).  I’m not going to tell you who I made it for, but if you’re out there, Darling Recipient, feel free to identify yourself.  Obviously, this one went unrequited, but it was still fun to make, and I still think fondly of the recipient.  Let’s get started!

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Mix Tape Monday: The Apology Mix

parks-and-rec-how-a-bill-becomes-a-law-cool-times-summer-jamz-mix-614x341

There’s a lot more to making a mix than just throwing a bunch of songs onto a Spotify playlist or a CD.  It’s about creating a mood or emphasizing an emotion, playing to a theme or singing what you can’t speak aloud.  You don’t make someone a mix unless they’re really important.

So I have a new feature here on the blog–MIX TAPE MONDAY.  I’ll dissect mixes I’ve made for other people, and maybe even a few people have made for me, to dissect what works.  A note before we begin: we’ll use the term “Mix Tape” as a general term here, because “Mix CD” or “Playlist” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The Big Rewind CoverUp first, we have the APOLOGY MIX.  I’ve made a few of these in my day, but this one, titled The All Or Nothing Days (2014) is especially poignant because it was made for my friend Jason.  The epic fight we had, which lead to seven years of silence between us, was part of the inspiration for The Big Rewind, and the first thing we did when we reconnected (thanks to our awesome friend Corey, seriously, she rules and I owe her my whole life.) was make each other mixes.  I would be lying if I said I hadn’t planned a lot of this mix ahead of time, and I was glad I finally had a chance to use it.

A quick word about Jason: He was my mix tape protege, and has taken the art form to a new level.  He can pick songs and clips that are so precise, so devastatingly perfect, that it borders on sadistic.  He has made several of my all-time favorite mixes, including She Doesn’t Think My Tractor’s Sexy Anymore (2005) which should be in some sort of mix CD museum for it’s sheer brilliance.

The Apology Mix is meant to be listened to on headphones.  It’s a close, intimate type of mix, so make sure each of your messages comes through loud and clear.  You won’t around to explain the meaning of each song, so be precise in your choices.

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NEW NOTEBOOK: Lucca

LuccaChrono Trigger’s Lucca was the first video game character I could really connect with.  She had big glasses, for starters, and she was smart and bookish, plus she wore sweeeeeeet boots.  And Crono’s ignoring of all of these great qualities in favor of busty blonde bimbo princess Marle was a good lesson for my late teens/early 20s: some basic bitch with a high ponytail and a tube top will always get the man you want*. (Eponine was a great tutor for this lesson as well).  My happiest snow days were spent playing that game on the TV in my mom’s bedroom, where I could surround myself with pillows and play in (relative) solitude.

I got on a Chrono Trigger kick awhile back; buying up old issues of Nintendo Power and reading the Boss Fight Books entry on the game.  I even played the unofficial sequel, Crimson Echoes, which was good until the stupid ending left Lucca behind to clean up idiot Marle’s mess because she’s a shit-for-brains queen. (and also I had a weird Marle glitch; serves the hussy right). Time travel is my favorite sci-fi concept, as evidenced by my great affection for Back to the Futureand I have always loved the look of skeleton keys and old clocks, of maps and worn paper.

It was time for a new notebook.

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You Don’t Control My Life, Buzzfeed

kyle12 a.m. last night found me on my couch, eating fun-sized boxes of Milk Duds and playing Lunar: Silver Star Story on the PS2 Heather left for me after we filmed the book trailer for Amber Benson’s Witches of Echo Park.  I couldn’t sleep, partially because I come from a long line of insomniacs and partially because my husband has a cold, so he was snoring and carrying on.  I was strangely happy in this moment, wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, having taken control of my insomnia rather than freaking out, like I normally do.

About a week ago, I decided, in my ongoing quest to become a super-productive human with an awesome house who writes a novel every single morning, I started doing Buzzfeed’s “Morning Person Challenge.”  Now I’m generally a pretty decent morning person; by 7 a.m. I have my coffee and am writing at my desk/kitchen table, but I occasionally get in these fits where I decide that my life could somehow be more awesome/pretty/productive and then throw everything into disarray and then break down crying.  There’s a Basic Bitch inside me trying to fight her way out, like a demon.

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The Night Belongs to Mona

As I mentioned in my last post, my crime writing notebook, Gail, is nearly full.  She had an interesting life; early character sketches became Stella and Miles in “Narc” (forthcoming in The Big Click) and “Rough Night in Little Toke” (featured in Hanzai Japan,) as well as the home for the starts of three possible novels.

Mona was an exercise in desperation and failed plans.  Initially I had planned to build her signatures out of grey-tone sketch paper, but with space running out in Gail and no time to get to a store that would have a selection of paper for me to feel and test, I went with the normal sketch paper I had on hand.  I had intended to use a French stitch, but the instructions I had in one of my books were vague at best, and by the time I had my paper punched, surprise, I realized I had to have five holes, not four as I had originally thought.  Coptic it is!

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Steely Dan, New Notebooks, and Other Dark Sarcasm

Let me start by saying that I’m listening to a lot of Steely Dan as I write this, so if it comes off as rambling, dark and sarcastic, I apologize.  Every time I put on a Steely Dan record, I find myself thinking why am I not spending every minute of every day listening to Steely Dan?  Becker/Fagen are to my 30s as Morrissey/Marr were to my 20s, a constant, reassuring soundtrack.  Every time I listen to an album, I discover something new to love about a song I’ve heard a thousand times before. (How could I forget about “Caves of Altamira?”  Was “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” always this brilliant?).

Matthew & I saw our third Dan show at the Beacon on Wednesday; last time we saw them play Gaucho in full and when they played “Josie” I thought my heart would explode.  The first time we saw them, they busted out “The Second Arrangement.”  And I’ve seen Donald Fagen play with the Dukes of September Rhythm Review, as well as seeing fellow Dukes Boz Scaggs & Michael McDonald on their own tours.  (Also, I am kind of in love with Donald Fagen and wish he would write a charmingly sleazy song about me, more “Slinky Thing” than “Cousin Dupree.”)

But Wednesday night, they opened with “Black Cow” (one of my favorites) and played “FM,” which made me so insanely happy that I screamed.  They played “Josie” too, and “Peg,” and “Black Friday.”  If they had played “What a Shame About Me,” I might have died of happiness.

In addition to the show, Matthew and I took a few days to work on some writing.  The way I’ve been barreling through notebook pages, I’m on Dutch’s last signature, and he’ll only last another week, at most.  And Gail, hale and hearty as she is, is nearing the end of her line, with only a signature left before she’s retired to the bookshelf.

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