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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

All Mixed Up

To kick things off, there’s a new steaming heap of verbiage over at Bugs & Cranks:

More Envelopes, Please — Handing out meaningless preseason hardware to a handful of Braves

Now back to the circus.

I recently rediscovered a joy that I haven’t experienced in almost twenty years. I’m not talking about Hardball on the C64, sleeping through trig class, or staring longingly at Kathy Ireland SI swimsuit pics.

I’m talking about making kick-ass mix tapes.

That’s right, mix tapes. Or, in modern terms, mix CDs. The technology may have changed, but I’m still a master of the art form. I’m convinced it was my ‘Valentines’ Love Tunes 1991′ cassette that convinced my wife to eventually marry me.

(I sucked her in with ‘Something So Strong’, and sealed the deal with ‘I’ll Be You’ by the Replacements. By the time she got to ‘Love Shack’, it was all over. She never had a chance.)

“You’d have nerds dating supermodels, mathletes going steady with cheerleaders, cats and dogs living together; it’d be chaos.”

Of course, I had to destroy my ‘love mix’ creations a while back. I’m already happily married, and that kind of power in the wrong hands could be devastating. A guy could land any girl he wanted. You’d have nerds dating supermodels, mathletes going steady with cheerleaders, cats and dogs living together; it’d be chaos. So I burned the tapes — all except the one I loaned to Lyle Lovett. The bastard never did return that copy.

These days, I concentrate on finding the essence of a band. And I have to admit, the old bands from back in the day are more fun to play around with. Sure, I’ve got nine old R.E.M. CDs — but which twenty songs or so are really the crux of their career? The One I Love? Driver 8? So. Central Rain? And how many of those songs could I stand to hear again, after having them played non-stop on the radio for a decade? These are the questions I’m struggling to answer.

So far, I’ve finished mixes for two bands — Pearl Jam and INXS. For each one, I’ve carefully selected a handful of songs from their repertoire and painstakingly ordered them to provide the optimal transitions between tunes, taking into account tempo, instrumentation, and thematic content. Each CD is stuffed with as many songs as humanly possible, calculated nearly down to the millisecond at which the burning software would balk at too much data. Naturally, the mixes kick major ass.

I assume they do, anyway. I keep them in the car, put the player on repeat, and cue up one of the three songs on each that hasn’t been done to death already.

(Hey, I said I make kick-ass mixes. I never said I wanted to listen to them. That’s not what an artiste does, you know. How many rock stars listen to their own stuff? How many prize-winning authors read their own books? How many famous actors watch their own movies?

No, no — besides the porn stars. You know what I meant. Perv.)

These ‘essential’ mixes work out pretty well, though. Instead of keeping three Everclear CDs in the car, for instance, I can consolidate the good stuff and save some space. Instead of lugging around umpteen old U2 albums, I can take the two good songs off of each and stash the originals in a closet somewhere. Instead of swapping out my two Hole CDs, I can… well, I can burn them, deny I ever bought them, and hope no one reads that I’ve actually voluntarily listened to Courtney Love sing. I guess mix tapes can’t solve all my problems.

So, I’ll be working on those over the next few weeks — and who knows, might have a few original CDs to sell. Or burn. Or claim belong to my wife, and why would you think that Tori Amos CD was mine in the first place, you bastard, I’ll take you outside to settle this if I have to.

But rest assured there’ll be no Crowded House mix CD. They’re from the right era, I’ve got a few of their discs, and lord knows a few of the tracks are filler. But too many of their songs qualify as ‘romantic’. With their sappy lyrics and my mixing mastery, we’d have another ‘Valentine’s Day 1991’ all over again. And I’m still recovering from the last one.

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One Response to “All Mixed Up”

  1. Jenny says:

    Yeah, I do my mix tapes in moods. You know, “dance mix”, “rocking mix”, “date music”, “music to kill yourself by” (poor grammar ignored), etc.

    I’m currently working on my “guilty pleasures mix”… you know, all those songs you really love, but would never in a million years want to admit to. The disc you save for when you’re driving cross country, have hit Kansas, and are assured of seeing no other souls. Mine includes a range from disco tunes like “I Will Survive” and “Groove is in the Heart” to late 80’s lite-rap like Young MC’s “Busta Move” and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” (remember Will Smith in his pre-Oscar worthy actor days?). But I can at least safely say that it includes no Kenny Rogers or John Tesh.

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