Mix Tape Monday: The Apology Mix

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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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Why I Don’t Leave Negative Reviews

Pictured: The Internet

Pictured: The Internet

I have friends that leave reviews constantly.  Liked the restaurant we ate at? Write a review on Yelp.  Hated the movie we saw?   A full rant is up on Facebook that night.

The phrase “Everyone’s a Critic” has never been truer.  Between Amazon and Yelp and, I dunno, MoviePoopShoot, everyone can tell you exactly what they think about everything.   Especially when we hate something.  Then we cannot shut up about it.

Me, I’m opting out.  I am no longer leaving bad reviews.

For me, writing a bad review is bossy.  It’s saying, “I’ve decided, in my infinite wisdom, that no one else should like this book/bar/movie/album because it did not please me.”  But tastes are subjective, and people have every right in the whole world to enjoy Ready Player One or The Force Awakens, even if I didn’t.

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What The Heck Is #RecordSaturday?

I love sharing music with people.  It compliments both my generous and my bossy nature (“Seriously, you’ll like this Steely Dan song, I swear….”) and for years, it’s what propelled my love of making mix tapes.  To be able to give someone a song that reminds you of them is a profound gesture, a portable party, a way of saying “You Are Rad.”

So I created RecordSaturday as a group listening party, since my 900 friends on Twitter probably can’t fit in my apartment.  I live-tweet an album from my collection (@libbycudmore) every Saturday night at 8 p.m., with stories about my personal connection to the album, cool record facts and a theme — I shared pictures of my best girlfriends with Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual for Galentine’s Day, and a Star Wars theme alongside Men At Work’s Business As Usual.

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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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….And Introducing Valerie

Valerie with Book

Valerie is my good luck charm.  She has been at every reading I’ve ever given; either in my pocket or on the podium right next to me.  If I’m in a play, I carry her onstage in my purse.  She was with me when I walked across the stage to collect my MFA, tied into the sleeve of my graduation gown.  Nothing goes wrong when Valerie’s around.  I carried her on my wedding day and even brought her on my honeymoon!

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The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For….

The Big Rewind is OUT!  Buy it at your local bookstore! Buy it on Amazon!  Buy it at Barnes & Noble!  Buy one for yourself, and another for someone you respect and admire!

Packed The House at the Green Toad Bookstore!

Packed The House at the Green Toad Bookstore!

And if you love it, spread the word.  If you don’t, well, here’s hoping you find something ELSE you love and can talk that up instead!

The Big Rewind Cover

How To Be a Real Writer

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Pretty sure this is the only blog where you’ll find writing tips via ROADHOUSE references

If you really want to piss me off, you can say the following phrase.  “Oh, I’m a real writer.”  At the very least, I’ll text everyone I know about what a goon you are, or I might sub-tweet you.  Maybe I’ll laugh in your face, or maybe I’ll go completely Patrick Swayze and rip your throat out, leaving your corpse on the floor of the coffee shop as a warning to others.

“Real” writers.  I heard that phrase a LOT in grad school.  I went to a grad program with a commercial fiction as well as a literary fiction program, and there was occasional contention between the two.  “Oh, I would never write for the pulps” (Yes, she actually said “pulps.” What is this, 1932?  Dial down the gaudy patter, ya loopy dame.)  “Oh, I write real fiction, but maybe I’ll write a sci-fi novel sometime!” (like it’s so easy, anyone can just slum it).  And it’s not just lit fic people.  I heard the “real writer” bullshit from people in my own workshops, who thought they were better that everyone else there because of some arbitrary metric, a goal post only they could kick the ball through.

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Book Swag and Temptation

I love writer swag.  Notebooks, fancy pens, tote bags, stickers with book quotes on them.  I drool over The Writer‘s monthly Take Note column, listing all the things I could buy to make myself a better writer.  If I sling my typewriter tote bag over my shoulder, people will know that I labor over the craft each perfect sentence in my masterpiece.  If I wear my NaNoWriMo t-shirt, people will see that I am capable of writing a novel in 30 days.  They will see me with my expensive pen and my leather-bound notebook at the coffee shop and murmur, “Yes, there is a real writer, you can tell she is very serious because she has a a scarf with books on it.”

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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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In Defense of Canned Cranberry Sauce

cannedMy sister Laura is hosting her first-ever Thanksgiving dinner today, in her awesome new house, and we discussed what all we were to bring, I reminded her of the two most essential pieces of a Cudmore Family Thanksgiving: Brown & Serve rolls, and canned cranberry sauce.

My understanding and celebration of the Thanksgiving dinner is based entirely on how my grandmother, Cora Cudmore, made it for my sisters, my dad and I.  My parents were divorced, so we had an early dinner with my grandma and then went for a second, later dinner at my grandmother Rivkah’s house.  I was usually still full, so I just had dessert.

But oh, the classic American spread Grandma put forth!  It was like something out of a vintage Good Housekeeping.  We started with Chicken in Biskit crackers on a fancy silver tray, with port wine cheese spread and olives, which I never ate because olives are gross.  She pulled out her good dishes for the holidays, a brown and tan set that she got every piece of — including the gravy boat and pitcher — with grocery store stamps.  As a kid, I thought those dishes were ugly, but now I would give away every beautiful pot and pan and gadget in my kitchen to see them on the table again.

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