Editor’s Note: Escape to Chicago

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Many of you reading out there might not know this, but before I found my weird psychic connection with Alexius I spent the majority of my life in the Chicago area. One of the Windy City’s many nicknames–besides “The Windy City”–is the City with the Big Shoulders. Chicago puts those shoulders to wonderful use distorting nearby Indiana’s time zone structure, but its muscularity and beauty are magnetic.

I currently live in a rural area of Southwestern Ontario when I’m not at college. While I don’t believe in a Panacea that’s going to solve all of my problems, I think my personality would be significantly improved if I lived here. Ever since moving out of the United States, I’ve missed precious little, and I never thought I would miss American cities. Nightly local news in Chicago was a sickening sideshow featuring senseless gun murders, failing public schools, poverty-stricken neighbourhoods and the occasional criminal governor. Nevertheless, and I say this as someone not predisposed to romance, I caught Chicago Fever. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be terminal, a chronic illness affecting the remotest parts of my brain.

Luckily, however, I’m going to be spending the next four days there. I’ll be giving brief daily reports if possible, giving Alexius a bit of a rest. The cultural focus will still be there. I’ll have some reading materials and a probable visit to the Art Institute to write about. I’m looking forward to posting!

Short Post: Music for Winter (And A Blog Stoppage for Exams)

It is now the last day of November. For the time I spent on Earth, I had a tradition of making a winter mix CD. I chose the coldest, most placid and beautiful music I could find, organized the songs along a chosen theme, and give it to someone I knew.

I thought I would revive that tradition this year and speak a bit to how I think a mix CD should be made.

First Guideline: Choose a Theme Before You Start Curating

When I write stories, I rarely have a plot or even a general idea in mind before starting. Writing is almost equivalent to thinking in such instances. I can hardly judge an idea in my head until it’s been written down.

Contrarily, when creating a mix CD or playlist I need a framework into which the songs can fit. My winter playlist is a rather long one at over an hour, so I have three separate concepts that flow into one larger one. The general idea is that I want the playlist/CD to tell a story about the theme I’ve chosen. The one I’ve made this year, for instance, chronicles the passage of the entire season of winter. In previous lists, I’ve focused on Christmas music, dreams of summer, a cold walk, and the frigid unpleasantness of February. 

Second Guideline: Articulate the Purpose of the CD or Playlist

Whether in handmade liner notes or a brief private note, I would make sure that you have thoughtfully articulated the theme of the mix CD and reflected both on the song selection and your sequencing decisions. This does not need to be arduous or academic, but it helps me immensely when trying to take others’ work and recontextualize it into a playlist or mix CD.

Third Guideline: Come Up with a Title:

Assigning a title to anything I’ve created is a major pain, but I find that it’s worth it. If you want to give the mix as a gift, it enhances the packaging and presentation. It also helps in conversation. Instead of talking about “the mix CD I gave you last Christmas at the party, you know the one.” you can speak of Winter Nights or War Memorial Christmas or whatever nonsensical title you come up with. If it’s sensical, then more power to you.

Editor’s Note:

With Alexius’ excellent recommendations out of the way, I would like to conclude this note with sad tidings: I’ll be taking two weeks off of the blog to commemorate/mourn the coming of exams. I have a considerable amount of academic writing to be done in the next two weeks, and focusing on that will allow me to remain sane while still getting my work done. I will be developing ideas for the blog, but there will be no posts unless I think of something urgent. Thank you very much and have a wonderful fortnight.