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: 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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Lament

In times of sickness and trauma, my first instinct is always to watch cop/detective shows.  I don’t know when this urge started, but there was this sense that no matter what evil or illness existed in the world, Jerry Orbach or Shane Vendrell or Elliot Stabler or Michael Westen would fix it.  Especially if I was home sick — if someone was robbed in the first few minutes of Law and Order, I knew that, even if I fell asleep, when I woke up, Sam Waterston would make it all okay.  After I broke up with Aaron, my boyfriend of six years, I watched SVU in my friend Jim & Ian’s room because Det. Benson was a comforting presence.  And three nights before my wedding, I was up at 2 a.m. watching The Shield because I was nervous and Dutch Wagenbach always makes me feel safe when things were stressful and scary.

But today’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, and last week’s at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, not to mention the near-constant stream of fatal shootings by police, generally against black men, it’s hard to watch cop shows — especially The Shield (sorry Shane, Dutch, Lem and Ronnie*) — and root for the Men With The Guns.

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Idiot Box: Love In the Time of Rockets

Love in the Time of Rockets

James always had roses and photographs.  I always had schemes and costumes.  We drew maps, swapped clothes and identity, names like the backs of trading cards.  Always one more to catch, another to lose.  He fed the carp in the garden pond; I let the cat inside when it rained.  No man I’ve ever known had eyes as hopelessly big as his.  No woman he ever knew wore skirts as impossibly short as mine.

There are not words for love when hearts are made of silk and helium.  These days we drink tea from cups with broken handles and sing songs we forgot the words to.  For fun, we put on our wedding clothes one last time.  His smile is warmer than any Oklahoma heat wave. 

No one ever wanted us to win, but in whispers and rumor we got a happy ending no one ever predicted.  Roll credits, closing theme.  We’ll meet in again in the next episode.

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Idiot Box: ‘Turning Japanese’

Turning Japanese

I was a girl you splashed with water.  He spoke only in signs and subtitles.  We kissed on his bed under a blue and pink horizon of cigarette smoke.  Outside his window there were fireflies.  Inside his walls there were infomercials.  I carried a sword too big for my fragile hands, he drifted aimlessly in space, always out of gas, always out of luck. 

In our cartoon world, we can pull costumes out of back pockets.  In the ordinary world, all the roses he gave me were already half-black. On a melting sidewalk I intertwined our names like DNA.  He only called at 2 a.m. when The Boss couldn’t hear. 

The cat still says his name aloud.  I only have the red half of our locket.  I hold the summer’s last firefly in my hand outstretched.  Really, I say.  Really, it was nothing.

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Idiot Box: ‘Hand Grenade’

Hand Grenade

In the month of bones I wear red galoshes for black-market Theraflu; we heard they took it off the market because junkies use it to break bad.  On your side of town, you gather up single-serve soup cups and treat us both to the tissues with lotion in them.  You wear your leather jacket over plaid pajama pants.  There’s melted snow on your halo curls & fever flush in your pale cheeks.

I start the kettle.  You work the microwave.  We make room for two under one old blanket; your radiance wards off my chills.  We sniffle between kisses, swill honey poison, take bets on who Jerry Orbach & Sam Watterson will convict.  You win; I let you slide your damp hand up under my tee-shirt.  I haven’t worn a bra in days.

When the cold meds and Law and Order stop working, we switch to red wine & The Shield.  You are Vic Mackey & I am Shane Vendrell.  I will love you, follow you, kill for you.  You don’t even have to ask.

Is it season five already?  Your cell phone rings.  You answer to a giddy girl whose loud voice I have never heard before.  You put on your jacket, but you’ll stop at home to change before she opens her legs to heal you.  At the door, you become Lem.  I am still Shane.

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Idiot Box: ‘Except the Cops’

Except the Cops

I am not the first mystery you will ever solve.  An old Chandler novel, an unsigned note, page numbers circled in a telephone sequence.  These are the clues you use to track me down.  We have never met before you call evening L.A. time; it’s midnight here when you start to read.

By day you are Marlowe in a hundred dollar suit, fistful of manila folders, mouth creased long from frowning at crime scenes with heavy hands on skinny hips.  At night, you do not try to close me.  You just read & hang up when the chapter is through. Outside your window stray cats sing.  This you ignore. 

For 52 nights there’s a different crime in your voice.  Robbery and murder, rapes and lost dogs.  You do not need to unload all your grief on a stranger.  Chandler’s words are therapy enough for both of us.

On night 53, there is no goodbye.  You hang up, go out to your car, put your head in your hands, & weep.

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Idiot Box: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Michael Westen’

What We Talk About When We Talk About Michael Westen

You are only a handful of dress shirts, but you are a different man each time you wear them.  Walk, accent, tie or no tie.  It’s only when you’re stripped bare that I recognize you at all.  These days, you’re naked less and less often until I have forgotten all but entirely what you look like.

Florida heat has scorched our brains in a way mint and rum cannot fix.  We drink anyways.  My CIA contact says I should let the ghost of you go, but yogurt won’t ransom my heart back from Brennen. 

Ours is not a solution of bullets or gasoline.  We cannot be fixed with a quick wit or a fast car, a doctored cell phone and a stockpile of C4.  You’re lying low with fake papers in hand; even if I could catch up to you, I can’t say I’m sorry in any language you might speak.  Call your mother.  Maybe she knows what to do.

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Idiot Box: ‘Pay the Ferryman’

I’ve never been much of a poet.  I thought I was, until I took a poetry class in college, taught by a Vietnam Vet who was never any less than 20 minutes late to class and realized, “Nope, I suck at this.”  I have since burned/recycled every poem I have ever written.  No need to thank me.

But after I finished the first draft of The Big Rewind, I woke up one morning with curious sentences bouncing around in my skull.  I had been reading But Our Princess is in Another Castle, by B.J. Best, which restructured the way I was creating narrative as I functioned throughout the day.  Even as I processed simple tasks, I was filtering them through winding, vivid poetics.  And when I sat down to write, I would come back an hour later and have no recollection of constructing a sentence, a whole paragraph.

(It was fucking AWESOME.)

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Jem is a Bitch

In a weird fit of Nostalgia For Things I Barely Remember Existing (I get these sometimes), I went back and watched JEM on Netflix.  I didn’t get very far because I am a Grown-Ass Lady with Things To Do, like losing at computer chess or fretting about wedding plans.

But in re-watching the pilot, I realized two things:

1) Jem is an elitist shrew — when the Misfits are introduced, before they even say anything to her, she looks at their clothes and shrieks “Get that trash out of my father’s office!”  Bitch, you don’t know what these girls are about!  Way to support other women in an incredibly competitive and often misogynistic business just because you don’t like the way they dress.

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