Friday, May 12, 2017

HOW TO MAKE A MIX/PLAYLIST


Some of my old mixes from back in the day.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

I've been making mix tapes since high school in the early 80s when my best friend spent a year in New Zealand. It kept going in colllege for high school friends, then it kept up when college buddies went their separate ways As friends got older and had families, it became my go-to New Year present, as it is a way to show you value your friends while spending minimal cash & not obligating them to buy you anything after spending all their money on presents for family members.

I've gone from tape to CD to online playlists, although I still do CDs for presents so people have something tangible. In the old days, when my only computer was a TRS-80 model 100, I went to Kinko's with some art to copy and cut up and the song list hand-written in large type to reduce to fit a cassette case. Now I have DiscLabel software for that, or I can just upload songs and screenshots to 8tracks.

One thing hasn't changed, though, are certain rules I have more making a good mix, based on years of experience and trial and error.

RULES FOR MAKING A GOOD MIX:
  • Pick your mix type first. Mixes can be personal (geared to one person) or public. Other main organizational principals are - time period, genre, mood, subject of song, season, region, and mixes inspired by other media (usually a book or movie). To have a good mix, start with an appealing organizational principle.
  • Variety is key. Back in my college DJ days, I learned the rule of three. DJs typically play 3 or 4 songs and then tell you what songs they play. Of course, with mixes you don't have to take breaks, but it's still a good principle to group similar songs and then change it up a bit every 3-4 songs. Ideally, I try to have some connection from every song to the next from the beginning to the end, whether it's type of vocals, genre, time period, mood, both are cover versions, etc., but if it's a case of connections vs variety, variety always wins. Even if you are doing a mix that is all punk or metal, you have to mix it up with subgenres, types of vocals, eras, a bit harder or softer, more or less poppy, etc. More than one song by the same person or group should be avoided in most cases. Basically, a mix that is all the same is a boring one.
  • Know your audience. If you are making a private mix for one person, you need to keep their preferences in mind. For example, one person told me they hate female vocalists who sound like little kids, so no MIA. Conversely, if you feel pretty sure someone already has the song, no need to add it to their mix, unless it's a case of a song that reminds you of a certain special time or event. For a public mix online, swearing in a song will limit when people can listen. I sometimes have swearing in my public 8tracks mixes, but label them "NSFW" in case people I know would be offended. Also, good to avoid too much audible swearing for a party mix or anything that might be listened to by children.
  • Don't be too obvious. If you are doing a Minnesota mix, you may want to consider that everyone who wants to own the music of Bob Dylan or Prince probably already has it. If you are including a famous artist, at least find a more obscure track. For me, a mix has two purposes - to entertain by creating a mood, and to inform the listener of music they don't already know about. That doesn't mean you have to be a expert. For example, I have a "Bollywood & Bhangra" mix, but I'm not an expert on the genres by any means. However, it's my most listened-to mix on 8tracks, possibly because the genre is not well-represented on the service, so it fills a niche.
With the rise of services like Spotify & YouTube Red, the barriers to creating a playlist are pretty small. No more lying on the floor waiting to stop the cassette player and start it again. You don't even have to own the music. That special feeling of having someone "like" your mix can be yours with these tips.





Tuesday, February 21, 2017

PLEASE CONSIDER WATCHING THE 100


I meant to do this before the 4th season started, but oh well...


Post-apocalyptic media has had a field day lately, which I couldn't be happier about. Where else can you depict issues such as resource allocation, the nature of leadership, environmental devastation, the consequences of war, etc, AND have people in face paint fighting each other with kung fu and bizarre weapons?

When I found out we finally would have a straight, non-zombie post-apoc show (I tried The Tribe, but it was just too low-budget for me), I was was a little excited, but my expectations were low, since it was on the CW, the network to watch white teens get mopey about their crushes on (even their superheroes spend way to much time mooning). 

Parenthetical rant time:

When will TV creators of action/detective/fantasy/science fiction shows realize that less is more with romance? Especially when stakes are high - it just makes the characters seem to have really bad priorities. There's a reason why "Romantic Plot Tumor" is a trope. Just give us a little and we can use our own imaginations - look at the fans of X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tumblr is full of people shipping the hell out of The 100 characters based on a handful of small scenes, which is the way it should be - not the creators boring us with what starts to seem like fanfic of their own characters. 

Yes, there is love and sex on The 100, but these teens are spending too much time making hard decisions with no easy answers and trying to survive to do much mooning. Just give it a few episodes, as some of the younger actors aren't so good in the beginning and it just seems like a Lord of the Flies update. It gets interesting when the teens find out earth isn't as uninhabited as it might seem and what the consequences of that are. 

The 100 is also pretty non-stereotypical as far as depiction of race, gender and GLB characters. No show has more young women in leadership roles. And it's nice for us older people that, although mature characters are ultimately supporting the younger ones, they have their own complexities and are not just there to support or thwart the youth. 

Anyway, you can check out the first 3 seasons on Netflix.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

JFRO'S 2016





Although a lot of sucky things happened in 2016, I'm going to focus on the good stuff.

Format once again ripped off shamelessly from the Librarian in Black:  

Books -- Swing Time, You, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1940s, Frog Music

Comics -- Patience, The Flowers of Evil, Ooku

Movies -- Arrival, Dr. Strange, Green Room, The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened, Captain America: Civil War, Zootopia, The Big Short, Crimson Peak, Deadpool, Amy, The Man From Nowhere

TV Shows -- Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Better Call Saul, Bojack Horseman, Mr. Robot, True Detective, Archer, The Americans, The 100, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn 9-9, Broad City, The Expanse, RuPaul's Drag Race, Powers, Orange Is the New Black, unREAL, Billions, Penny Dreadful, The Walking Dead, Person of Interest, Orphan Black, The Path, The Knick, Veep, High Maintenance, The Magicians, Portlandia, Divorce, Insecure, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce

Albums --Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends: The Art of Murder, Various: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Flavor Crystals: The Shiver of the Flavor Crystals, Wo Fat: Midnight Cometh, Truckfighters: V, Scorpion Child: Acid Roulette, M83: Junk, Isaak: Sermonize, Droids Attack: Sci-Fi or Die, The Vaccines: English Graffiti, All Them Witches: Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, Beastmaker: Lusus Naturae, Windhand: Grief's Infernal Flower, The Sword: High Country, Ruby the Hatchet: Valley of the Snake, Royal Headache: High, Moonbow: Volto Del Demone, Hills: Frid, Fuzz: II, Baroness: Purple


Songs --Duo RAW: "Beat My Face", White Lies: "Death", RuPaul: "The Realness", Jidenna: "Long Live the Chief", Agnez Mo: "Boy Magnet", Bonnie McKee: "Bombastic", Charles Bradley: "Changes", The Oh Sees: "Poor Queen" 

Apps --Flickr, Artstudio, Tumblr, 8Tracks, Instant Buttons, Instacart, Door Dash, Yahoo! Video Guide, myTuner Pro, Lyrically, Amazon Prime Music, IFTTT

Devices --iMac, Apple TV 4, Freedompop iPhone, Universal Laser Systems laser engraver, Afinia 3-D printer, Cameo Silhouette, Brother Project Runway sewing machine

Events --Convergence, trip to San Francisco/Ukiah, Anime Detour, ToshoCon, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends/Buildings at the Hexagon, Irvine Park photowalk, Ramsey After Dark: Victorian Secrets, William Kentridge: The Refusal of Time at SFMOMA, Musée Mécanique.

Items of clothing --Flower wrap dress, faux leather bomber jacket, gray hooded shirt, spats

Games --Plants Vs Zombies 2, Candy Crush: Soda, Tetris Blitz, Interface Zero, TimeZero, Sushi Go!, Tsuro, Feng Shui 2, Misspent Youth

Web sites --Great Cosplay, AV Club, TV Tropes, Paging Dr. Nerdlove, The Obelisk, Good Show Sir

Twitter Twerps ---@HeerJeet, @JosephScrimshaw, @SwiftOnSecurity, @loather, @LeVostreGC, @KyloR3n

YouTubers -- Screen Junkies, Afterbuzz TV, Diamanda Hagan, Vaginal Fantasy, Hey Qween, Kevin Smith, Adult Wednesday Addams, Willam Belli, MovieBob

Materials - Adhesive felt, LED strips

Boyfriend --In a surprise upset, JSeux wins!