Sunday, February 25, 2007

gonna go to heaven in a split pea shell: sad times tape

Lest the intimations of my last few blog postings slipped by you, I've been in a weird and un-posi mood for most of February; you always know February will do that to you, but then it happens anyway, and what are you supposed to do about it? Make WUSS MIXTAPE 2K7 over the course of several no good very bad days, employing a few of the total parents-core records I found in my basement. I would post the mix itself except it has a few transitions I'm not thrilled by and, more importantly, it's on a tape (90 min)

tara jane o'neil-"the poisoned mine"
jackson c. frank-"yellow walls"
fleetwood mac-"woman of a thousand years"
fred neil-"i've got a secret (didn't we shake sugaree)"
judee sill-"the phoenix"
laura nyro-"save the country"
jackson browne-"our lady of the well"
the byrds-"tulsa county blues"
the incredible string band-"womankind"
carla sciaky-"and i a fairytale lady"
spires that in the sunset rise-"a little for a lot"
p.g. six-"go your way"

caetano veloso-"o leaozhino" (sp)
jackson c. frank-"blues run the game"
paul simon-"everything put together falls apart"
ida-"so long"
gene clark-"for a spanish guitar"
asa irons and swaan miller-"untitled"(?)
bert jansch-"rambling's gonna be the death of me"
lal waterson-"fine horseman"
retsin-"your own bar"
emmylou harris-"sorrow in the wind"
neil young + crazy horse-"through my sails"


Like I said, I don't stand by this whole thing--the particular Laura Nyro song's a sore thumb (I had listened to New York Tendababy like 5 times the day I taped that part and just kind of wanted to put her in though she doesn't really go). There's about 7:30 left on side 2 and I haven't decided what to put there yet. "In My Hour of Darkness" by Gram Parsons and "Attic of My Life" by the G. Dead are both distinct possibilities.

Anyway, if any readers who aren't completely appalled by the direction my musical taste has taken would like a slightly improved version of this on tape, if you're feeling the way I am, I'll gladly make one up for you.
If you're the downloading type, though, I really strongly advocate you make room for this particular Fleetwood Mac/Fred Neil/Judee Sill sequence in your life and, most of all, this Byrds song. It's from their generally mediocre LP "Ballad of Easy Rider" and, although it was written by some random other person, represents late-era Byrds at their most capable; it's short, has a pretty immaculate Clarence White solo and some nice fiddle accompaniment, really simple harmonies, and basically just breaks your heart--like, the lyrics couldn't be more straightforward, which makes them all the more sad.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

eurotrash movie theme songs

So, I saw Bertolucci's Before the Revolution at F.Forum today; it was great, rang true, and I think I'd have a lot more to say about it had I not sat in the very front row and consequently devote a lot of my movie-watching time picking whether to watch subtitles or movie. It did, however, have two fantastic pop songs, sung by Gino Paoli and arranged by Ennio Morricone. I recalled suddenly that after seeing another mid-60s Italian movie with a beast of a theme song that I'd decided to get into '60s europop, although it took me a second to remember the exact song that made such a deep impression: Adriano Celentano's "Furore," theme for Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (the song starts about 20 seconds in)

Although not European, the music for Seijun Suzuki's gangster movies slay, and also represent the same sketchy, dark lounge kind of vibe. I've had the theme for Tokyo Drifter stuck in my head for months.

More than a little more insane, but still amazing, is the theme for Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown, also featured on Ben's blog recently:

While I'm talking about favorite '60s movie theme songs, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this universally beloved Chantal Goya hit. The trailer we see here for the reissue of Masculin feminin, moreover, sells this movie better than just about any other trailer I've seen.

Unfortunately, the actual Before the Revolution songs don't seem readily accessible on the internet, so here's a different Gino Paoli song; although not as good as the ones in the movie, it's his biggest hit prior to his attempted suicide via, uh, gunshot to the heart, and was arranged by Morricone--note the weird martial snare drum.

Another pick of mine comes from a film I foolishly omitted in my short list of fave the ever-awesome, sadly limited subgenre of "non-musical movies with songs on the soundtracks that narrate the movie's events." The vox on this song are truly atrocious! Starts about :30 in.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Play It As It Lays

Few movies do justice to really intense friendships between adults; maybe after I drink my coffee I'll think of one, but movies seem to leave being friends mainly to teenagers and kids and then the twists and turns of love and family and, you know, "life" once you're actually an adult. Woody Allen, come to think of it, depicts friendship really well. But seldom do deep, affectionate 100%-just-being-friends relationships appear on movie screen.
That's a striking aspect of the 1972 film version of Joan Didion's novel Play It As It Lays, which they showed at Walter Reade yesterday. Tuesday Weld as Mar-eye-ah, the main character, and Anthony Perkins (the very same) as her only real friend, the fast-talking bi film producer B.Z., have truly remarkable, affecting friend-chemistry. Both incredibly damaged people, both realizes the other's the only person who has a shot at understanding what happens in their own heads--and that, in fact, the other person DOESN'T really get it, but in whom else could they trust? There are some super scenes of them hanging out--one where they walk arm-in-arm along the beach at sunset and it's a complete twist on the usual on-the-beach-at-sunset scene, since B.Z.'s gay and suicidal and Maria's cracking up, but they joke and laugh honestly and believably. Both actors play their part really well, too; Tuesday Weld has a breathy spaciness entirely apt for the novel's charachter and Perkins surprises, looking fantastic (every dude I know should dress like this dude; would that there were pictures on the internet) while imbuing B.Z. with alternating layers of slickness and honesty. At one point, after a jovial get-together, Weld asks him if he ever gets tired of trying to please everyone. Unexpectedly, Perkins's expression completely changes and he says yes, in a moment that could've played out like a total cliche but having occurred between these two particular people, hits really hard.
A lot of the negative reviews of the film criticize its oh-so-'70s style; admittedly, some of the quick, flashy cutting meant to mirror Maria's disturbance doesn't really work (some of us nowadays also might find Maria's post-abortion trauma, as presented here and in the book, "problematic"). Some of it, however, brings out aspects of the novel that wouldn't otherwise be presented in the film. Didion, as always, is concerned with place--like, geography, environment, etc.--and how it affects and undresses one's psyche (sorry for the excursion into ignorance!); the movie can only show this via stuff like quick cutting through different sequences of highway signs, or pulling way up into the sky to show the knotted L.A. freeway or the Nevada desert. It also has the nice washed-out 1970s-CA color scheme of browns and light blues that I can't get enough of.
So, yes, I'm all in favor of a critical revival of this business, though I could see how Maria's escalating loopiness could grate on a viewer instead of moving her (note that just about all of my favorite books are about alcoholic women who lose it, and that seeing a fair cinematic treatment of one such lady was an especial treat for me). Considering this movie also hasn't been shown in probably 25 years, the print Lincoln Center got was really nice and clean.

ps. Now I really want to watch The Swimmer, another depiction of a rich person going batty also directed by Frank Perry, which stars everyone's favorite chin, Burt Lancaster, and adapts a short story by one of my high school faves, John Cheever.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Making ponchos a threat again

Film Forum's about 2/3 way through the Morricone retrospective; I still cannot spell Morricone confidently without looking it up, and I missed a few movies I intended to see (apparently The Burglars was the series's sleeper hit!). I plan to go to 1-3 of these jams next week, but since I neglected to follow through with my thoughts on th e Woody Allen retro, here's what I saw so far.

Elio Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion got thumbs-ups from reputable sources, but mercy! An overblown, prurient critique of the hypocrisy of the police state sees Gian Maria Volonte playing essentially the same schizo part he does in For a Few Dollars More, widening his eyes and enunciating more breathily as he gets more and more in a tizzy. Volonte's unnamed police chief character murders his lover, a woman obsessed with tabloid-fodder sex crimes (this would've worked well as a giallo plot, come to think of it), in part because she rejected him and in part to prove to himself that, in his new capacity, he's entirely above suspicion. Devoid of the subtlety that could give it an impact beyond "whoa, authority's fucked," it has some really nice set-pieces, especially those set in the cavernous warehouse that holds all the police's surveillance files, and a nice Bunuel-y part when Volonte's coworkers eat snax at his house and slap him a bunch.

The Big Gundown (d. Sergio Sollima) has a severely awesome score, stars Lee Van Cleef AND Tomas Milian, involves a chase through a cane field, and, in a rare feat for a spaghetti western, has a mild degree of character development and--shut up!--A PLOT that sees Van Cleef tracking bandito mexicano Milian through the Southwest and into Mexico at the behest of a rich man and out of his personal obsession to seeing the law carried out. He finds his assumptions challenged, and Milian a tougher, more complex quarry than expected. Granted, the film takes some detours so as to include a remote mountain ranch run by a kinky woman and a team of sadists, but the genre pretty much demands such things. OH MY GOD, I almost forgot about the PROTO-NAZI AUSTRIAN GUNMAN WHO PLAYS "FUR ELISE."

Death Rides a Horse d. Giulio Petroni has dreamboat John Phillip Law and Lee Van Cleef seeking revenge against the same band of outlaws, dreamboat JPL because they butchered his family and Van Cleef because they set him up and sent him to jail for fifteen years. If Clint had revenge rather than monetary motive in For a Few Dollars More, it would be this movie (Van Cleef's in tough-love father-figure mode). Aside from sick gunplay, I particularly like the movie's red-tinted old-fashioned flashback moments, experienced whenever dreamboat JPL sees a signature tattoo/earring/whatever of one of the dudes he's after; the humor is pretty cute, too.

Along with Corbucci's The Great Silence this double feature (I'd seen Death... before) comprised my two favorite non-Leone Westerns. Speaking of which

I'd forgotten how Clint "finds" the poncho near the end of this movie after he give a dying soldier his duster for a blanket and dons it just in time. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is probably one of my top-3 all time movies. I recognize Once Upon a Time in the West as superior, certainly plot-wise, as a critique of Westerns and a damn fine Western itself, and perhaps even stylistically, but I love this movie fiercely. The only commentary on a situation not directly relating to his own well-being Clint gives in this movie comes as he surveys the battle at the bridge, when he, you know, squints a little and says to Eli Wallach, "I never saw so many men wasted so bad." And you think, WASTE, what do you know about WASTE Mr. Blondie, having spent the previous, like, 6 hours of this "loose trilogy" gunning down nobodies and getting the shit kicked out of you and dragged through deserts so you can dump some bags of gold coins onto your horse and trot off, presumably to bury in the sand somewhere since you seem to wear only the clothes and bear the weapons you remove from corpses? More, probably, than you do.
This movie has no plot; just as greed empties its characters of anything besides greed, this film's excesses obviate its narrative thrust. It'll replicate the rush of finding a gold watch on a dead soldier for you, but its central character will barely speak ("shoot, don't talk").
If I ever have a kid, I will seriously consider giving it the middle name "Angel-Eyes."

Monday, February 12, 2007

spinach fiesta week 2k7

I'm not a great cook or even a good one; I eat at odd hours in my home at the ends of the earth, and thus, 98-percent of the time I make food just for myself so I have little impetus to attempt ambitious kitchen feats. But I love cooking really straightforward things; I require the confirmation only chopping some vegetables and tossing them in a pot or pan can give me to assure myself that yes, a day has passed.
Cooking for oneself also depends on your meals sort of tag-teaming ingredients, or else your fridge fills with half-cans of tomatos and shriveled mushrooms from dinners past, waiting in vain while you eat the stews and sauces composed of their peers.
When I bought 2 pkgs of bagged spinach for the price of one at Fine Fare a week ago, I promised myself this would not happen to these leaves. Spinach is my favorite vegetable! This is what I did when confronted by an incredible amount of spinach, homework, cold weather, and my new partially-employed lifestyle.

1) Spinach in miso soup-broth with tofu, broccoli, seaweed, mushrooms, and soba noodles
-I'm sure what I call "miso soup" would horrify anyone who actually knows what miso soup is, but this concoction (flavored with some ginger, garlic, and cock sauce) is quick, nourishing, and you know what, I think it's pretty tasty. 2 meals.

2) Spinach with roasted chickpeas, pinenuts, raisins, capers, and tomato over couscous
-A slight variation on the chickpea/tomatogunk/olive/whatever coucous I usually make, this sparkled thanks to Didi Emmons's excellent hint to stick the chickpeas in the oven for half an hour, giving them a slightly crispy exterior and a rich, nutty flavor. The real recipe calls for hazelnuts, but who has those lying around? This seemed not only delicious but totally not unhealthy! The highlight of the week. 3 meals.

3)Spinach in tofu scramble
-Redeploying the tofu, mushrooms, and some broccoli from the soup and adding some red pepper, I adapted the Post-Punk Kitchen's t-scramble recipe, so far the best such recipe I've found. It came out super and a good thing about tofu scramble as opposed to real scramble--you can have it as leftovers and it's a-ok. At some point this week I got some nice farmer's market bread which went nicely with this biz. 2 meals.

4) Spinach in salad with random bits of stuff from the fridge
-A wise cartoon character once said, "You don't make friends with salad," an assertion upheld by this totally mediocre "I'm tired and hungry" effort. I improvised an ok tahini dressing but made about half as much as I needed. Also, I got this can of adzuki beans in a state of incredible confusion at a health food store that didn't have what I wanted (tempeh) and was particularly unenthused about them. Definitely the culinary low point of the week.

5) Spinach with tempeh and red peppers in peanut sauce over rice
-Frying the tempeh till it was browned on both sides--not to mention using a recipe for the sauce to get the coconut milk/peanut butter proportion just right (2x as much c-milk to pb, they say, fancy that!)--really made this a great dinner and lunch. 2 meals.

6)Spinach with adzuki beans, broccoli, and seaweed
So, I had some adzuki beans left over the shitty salad, broccoli left from the soup, and the last remaining spinach. Consulting recipes for adzuki beans advised me to use either seaweed, a sweet sauce, or both so I whipped up a (sweet)miso/mustard/ginger sauce. The resulting meal tasted amazingly and uncannily like bar-b-que sauce. Okay! I dunno if I'd make this again, but definitely "something new," interesting, totally edible, and filling. 2 meals.

-All I have left over (besides tomorrow's lunch of #6) is some rice and some canned tomato goop! Model efficiency!
-Excepting the chickpeas, every one of these dishes employed what is now confirmed at the world's #1 condiment:

Thanks, Huy Fong Foods.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

pedal steel guitar and peanut butter are humankind's greatest achievements

Here I am in my room, listening to the scratchy copy of Some Girls my roommate found among big stack of slightly rodent-nibbled lps in our basement. When little talya! sat around the neutral-brick house in Symmes Twp. Ohio, staring at the wall or attempting to watch more than the permitted hour of TV or winding up her brother for no reason, Mom would say "seems like you're at loose ends" and suggest homework, a book, or playing outside. These days, seems like I'm at some pretty loose ends. Today I didn't rent a movie because I was ashamed to be seen in Kim's again. Questions--would I do more homework if I had a printer? Should I get the satiny Valentine's Day edition Air Force Ones?

Shock Corridor

NYMPHOS! Every Samuel Fuller movie I see's more off-the-wall than the one before. After Walkabout, this is the most please-write-a-college-essay-about-me movie I've seen in a while. Some B-actor plays a reporter who goes undercover to win the Pulitzer Prize (as if you win the Pulitzer Prize the way you win a Scout badge or something) in an asylum where every crazy person's psychosis embodies some 1950/60s anxiety, manifesting occasionally onscreen, shockingly, as grainy color newsreel footage (now what does this say about our MINDS and the CINEMA, kids?). We learn: sex will make you crazy; don't go undercover in an insane asylum; Constance Towers, the actress who was the "protagonist" in The Naked Kiss, does possibly the least hot striptease in movies.

Murmur of the Heart

Or, would you hit it with your mom if she were this hot? Or, eat your hearts out, Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. The entire look--color processing, shot framing--and breezy>serious mood of The Squid and the Whale may have been jacked wholesale from this movie, one of the most American French movies I've ever seen, and the precocious yet immature, willfully inappropriate behavior of say, Max from Rushmore may have first been embodied here, in cute, sexually inexhaustible fifteen-year-old Laurent. A little overlong, but delightfully strange.

Blood and Black Lace

I read an essay recently by a woman defending her love of the "Emmanuelle" movies saying yeah, they're degrading and stupid, but if men can love degrading, stupid movies with men beating and killing each other or killing girls in aesthetically pleasing ways, why can't I indulge in the soft-focus girl-on-girl fantasy world of Emmanuelle? I thought about this when I was watching Blood and Black Lace. I have a higher tolerance for "cult" movies than some aesthetes I know, but motherfuck, this movie was bad. What weirded me about about it most, I think, was the total absence of narrative perspective--nothing drove the movie's events. You see a pretty girl, you follow her, she gets killed. Cut back to the investigation of a previous murder, or the fashion house where the movie's events are centered, you see another girl, you follow her, she gets killed. Most movies like this at least have the investigation to give the story a form, or you kind of side with a potential/future victim, at least for a while, but not here. At some point, you find out who's doing the killing and why, you don't care, they kill some more people, whatever. Even the violence lacks the art or artfullness of other, similar movies, lacking even the classy leather-gloved hand that figures in most gialli. I don't usually wear this hat when taking in popular art forms (witness the album I'm enjoying), particularly not proto-slasher movies, but really, this wasn't scary, thrilling, beautiful, or "interesting;" it was just girls getting murdered. How novel.


A pretty whatever melodrama with Ms. Bette Davis as an 1850s New Orleans belle too hotheaded for Henry Fonda, who--after being shamed by her public wearing of a red dress--hightails it up North where he marries some wack bitch whom he brings back down South. Chagrin! Absurd political dialogue, duels, lots of darkies kowtowing to their kindly masters and mistresses, and a ridiculous recreation of a yellow fever epidemic ensue.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Regular Lovers

I saw this a couple weeks ago at Cinema Village on one of the coldest days so far; I've thought about it ever since, I think. Lately I write here about things--Graceland, Hana-bi, now this movie--that I can't quite unwind, things I feel strongly ambiguous about, and let me just say this sensation would probably mirror the way I experience my own life lately, if I ever thought about things besides movies.

Regular Lovers ostensibly takes Paris '68 as its subject, but really, it's just a movie about growing up like any other, albeit a three hour long movie with the look and feel of a movie that could've been made in 1974 rather than 2004. Our "heroes" grow frustrated with the working classes' unwillingness to obey the theoretical constructs they have learned in school; they do drugs; they slowly and regularly become increasingly open about their bourgeois futures; they do drugs; they sleep with each other, do drugs, and talk. It is as pathetic when one man freaks out on acid as when another ditches his friends for not being revolutionary enough, as unsurprising when a woman decides to get married as when her friend decides to leave her poet-lover for America.

In sum, it is as though you--assuming you belong to roughly the same milieu as I, reader, over-educated, bourgeois (yep, twice in 2 paragraphs), vaguely "arty" like your boss would ask you to make centerpieces for the winter brunch because you look arty and you've got other friends who hang stuff in galleries, far-left and confused--watched a movie of kids you know hanging out for 3 hours. You'd space out. In some shots they would seem unrecognizable, in others jaw-droppingly attractive and in still others completely uninteresting-looking. It'd be funny at times, more frequently painful, and you'd be able to ascertain the larger scheme of things impelling them towards their silly childish actions while knowing that if you were them, you'd do the same selfish things. That's what this movie is like, except maybe edited a lot better.

The friend with whom I saw this movie found it epically self-indulgent and hated that whenever Garrel shows someone, he frames the shots, particularly close-ups, so that things you think should be in the frame are cut off, and you rarely see an entire face or head; this kid further noted that everyone wears the same clothes for the entire movie and that the main girl and main boy wear near-identical outfits. These are all true statements, all valid complaints to have. The Onion, I think, objected to the way that the impact of the events at the film's beginning on its characters--Garrel stages a reenactment of the riots, complete with the seeming importance and ultimate futility of doing things like tipping a car over and, later, complaining that the police climbed over a barricade that the rioters had spent a lot of time building, those pigs--is "locked in Garrel's head," too implicit to be understood. I'd say--I think the absence of perceptible effect speaks volumes (as they say) but I'm not sure.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

let's get reclusive!

I have not left my house since coming home on Sunday at about 5pm, so about 2 days ago. It's cold outside, goddammit, and after spending all of the fall and winter so far with minimal heat in my room, I applied myself to the radiator valve and now I, talya!, am cooking with gas, and only wearing 1 sweater. In addition to cooking constantly (yesterday: spinach w. roasted chickpeas/pinenuts/raisins+couscous, also cookies; tonight, possibly some tofu+spinach pilaf or maybe curried spinach-potato soup, spinach being 2pkgs for price of 1 at Fine Fare this week)reading some books, and doing minimal hw, I watched some videofilms.

Ordinary People d. Robert Redford

I found a video of this in the living room and have sort of been curious about it, since these '70s family dramas were in weird hipster vogue a year or 2 ago and I wondered if the people who brought, say, the first Steeleye Span LP to my attention have similarly good taste in movies. Kind of? The mom character, as played by Mary Tyler Moore, was comic book-caliber bitchy--like, you see that she's all repressed and truly grieving for her dead son and completely incapable and unwilling to understand her living, damaged son, but she is SO MEAN and SO COLD; you think the film will somehow complicate her character and it never does, while Donald Sutherland as the dad only becomes increasingly sympathetic. Both MTM and Sutherland do a bang-up acting job with what they're given, although Timothy Hutton's wavering from almost-normal kid to stultified crazy-person don't particularly convince. The film has a really nice look, though, all muted and autumnal colors, warm yet oddly impersonal. Random personal anecdote: I once took a creative writing class taught by the sister of Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Timothy Hutton's girl, a lady who went on to write a novel about a woman who has issues about having a famous sister. Uh-huh.

Fat kitty, what are you eating on the floor of my room?

Hana-bi ("Fireworks") d. Takeshi Kitano

Good lord, what a strange movie, driven almost entirely by editing, which I guess all movies are, but few really grab your attention and shake you by the shoulders and scream "WATCH THE EDITING!" like Hana-bi. So, I also started watching the Feuillade Les Vampires serial, and at one point in the first episode you really see the camera move for the first time, as it slooowly tracks a black-clad bandit across the roof of a building and down a drainpipe, and it is completely nails-in-mouth thrilling. The moments when the camera moves in this film have a similar, jarring effect--a couple times, Kitano pulls back way up into the sky and descends onto the action and although you know what will or has happened, you're gripped. The plot, though, the plot is WEIRD, the characters are WEIRD, and the strange mingling of tones (depression/rage/charming Chaplinesque slapstick with Kitano's wife who's seemingly regressed to childhood) may or may not work.

Imitation of Life d. Douglas Sirk

100% BANANAS. Sirk lets no one off the hook--even the seemingly perfect man-friend has flaws and even loyal black Annie has weird motives and shortcomings--and employs every absurd costume and over-the-top symbol at his disposal. Highlights include Sara-Jane's bad-girl behavior and Mahalia Jackson's showstopping song at the movie's end, followed by the shots of every single black person in "New York" showing up to the funeral of some random lady who happened to be in the employ of a famous person. All in all, though, after watching the three big-name Sirk melodramas, I'd rank this third, with All That Heaven Allows 1 and Written On the Wind 2.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

we believe in a land of love or, top 5 mixtapes

A while back I organized a tape swap; although I made my tape ('60s and '70s country-rock, folk-rock, and folk, 60 minutes) right away, I dillydallied in sending it out for all sorts of reasons. My loss, because once I got my act together I got an instant all-time-top-5-tapes tape from Ben H. which I've spent the last few days enjoying. It's one side krautrock and one side reggae (highlights: Cluster & Eno on first side, Junior Murvin on second), which basically makes for the greatest soundtrack to a contemplative, spaced-out subway ride. Also, Ben included the Black Uhuru song "I Love King Selassie," which I last heard played by the DJ who did her show just after my 6-8am Tuesdays show my freshman year of college and have had quasi-stuck in my head ever since. Isn't that the best? Like, for years I had a vivid memory of a song from a terrible movie trailer but all I could remember was "I Want You," and then in some random person's apartment discovered it was in fact, "I Want You" by Elvis Costello (one of my favorite ever lines: "since when were you so generous and inarticulate?")

Phew, that was longwinded. Here are the other 4 mixtapes that I can't listen to enough.

1-Golnar's summer 2k5 tape--Dangerhouse and KBD-heavy, with some other fun-time modern-day punk gems. PLUS she goes there and puts on "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg." Wow, is this tape key.
2-"Shivaun" from the internet's Discount mixtape--This almost doesn't count, because it's all Discount (that's right), but it's drawn from all sorts of albums/comps/7"s. A few years ago I posted something about this band's "Love, Billy" ep on a message board and she responded by pretty much demanding to make me this tape. Good call on her part; this would have changed my life if I'd received it when I was 13, and now all I can do is listen to it when I feel 13-year-old-like emotions coming on. Take a breath, and grab a hold of yourself.
3-"Brandon Z."'s WBAR tape swap summer 2k3 tape--I don't know this person, but I got his tape of garage, mod, early rock 'n' roll, and the like in a swap. This tape introduced me to Dead Moon, so I owe it a big one, and is in general, really well-selected and well put-together. If you don't have one, I recommend adding a garage mixtape to your collection; it works both for commutes and for "I'm on the way to a party!" situations.
4. Merran's post-punk and New Wave tape--I asked her to make this to introduce me to this type of music, which I don't listen to all that much, and this tape is pretty much a textbook "how to make an introductory mixtape" tape, including Gang of Four songs and random one-off 7" bands alike.

All these tapes, moreover, have at least one or two jams so catchy they threaten your sanity--Voice of Progess "Mini Busdriver" on Ben's; I forget whose "I Keep Your Cunt in My Freezer" on Golnar's, which is actually a life-ruining thing to get stuck in your head; the Muddy Waters "Hand Jive" song on Brandon's; too many to pick on the Discount; and this fucking Go-Betweens song about Lee Remick on Merran's.

Runners up, btw, are Ned and Judd's fantastic "rap mixes."

This post was just a reflection on these tapes but feel free to respond either with "great tapes of your life" or with an offer to trade with me. Now that I know how much it costs to mail a cassette ($.87 first-class), I can shoot 'em off like anything.