Make Me a Mixtape

Hey Buddy: Win this Bearded Brian Bobblehead!

…and win this limited edition Brian Wilson bobblehead!

First off, let me thank Jimmy Chew for talking me into this year’s The Giant Race half marathon. And even after I said I’d run it, his incessant “have you registered yet?” reminders ensured that I got a bib number before it sold out.

Of course, it’s been a good long while since I’ve run any kind of marathon, full or half, and getting my legs up to speed has been a drag (especially since my old marathon training team has either moved to the east coast; given up running shoes for a bicycle; or just opted for the most sane alternative to running which is, simply, not running).

When training alone, scintillating conversation needs to be replaced with music. The iPod Shuffle figured to be a great running buddy: it’s lightweight, clips to my shorts, and holds two gigs of tunes. What really sold me was the way it could auto-fill itself from your iTunes library, guaranteeing an exciting randomized playlist and miles of “guess the artist” fun.

I went from thinking this was a clever little device, to thinking it was stupid, to thinking it was cleverly sadistic in the span of three runs. Granted, it’s been pulling from over 35,000 songs, but this miniature robot prankster somehow manages to jumble in as many forgotten spoken word tracks, bluegrass banjo disasters, and instrumental lullabies that it can find on my hard drive. Instead of having fun being surprised by a song and wondering, “who sings this again?” I yank out my earbuds wondering (sometimes audibly, which can be embarrassing if there are other runners about), “what the hell is this and why was it on my computer?”

Left to its own devices, THIS device tries to make me run off a bridge.

Yes, I know, I can also fill the Shuffle with whatever I want. Which seems to be what it wants me to do, to spare itself the trouble. It’s like a little kid who breaks dishes so he doesn’t have to wash them. Well, you win, Shuffle. You don’t have to do the dishes.

I don’t want to completely take away the fun of a randomized surprise playlist, however, and that’s where the idea for the first Institute of Idle Time contest comes from.  I want you to make me a mixtape, a playlist, that I’ll drop into Shuffle’s flash memory and save for the big run on August 27th. When the race starts, I’ll start the shuffle, and if your song is playing when I cross the finish line, you win a limited edition Brian Wilson World Series Champion bobblehead. It’s pretty cool, and currently unavailable just about anywhere but eBay and this here website.

Send one song selection to and I’ll add it to the playlist. I’ll announce the winner (and winning finish-line song) on the evening of Saturday, August 27th.

Some fineprint:

  • Songs should be energetic and appropriately charged for running. I reserve the right to skip any song that is making me want to stop moving. Easy there, Bon Iver. Go back and wait for the “Help Me Cure My Insomnia Mixtape” contest.
  • Songs need to be five minutes or less. It would be a very clever idea to recommend LCD Soundsystem’s “45:33,” but that wouldn’t be fair.
  • I’m taking the first 40 song requests, and after that the contest is locked.
  • I’ll probably be padding out the playlist with some songs of my own choosing, but if one of my picks is the last thing I’m listening to, I’ll award the prize to the most recent reader-nominated song that comes up in the shuffle.
  • If your song choice is obscure and I don’t have it, and it can’t be tracked down via all the usual outlets (iTunes, emusic, etc.), you may have to send it to me. After securing all the appropriate permissions, of course.
  • If someone already recommended your pick, I’ll email you back for a second choice.
  • If the prize needs to be shipped, winner is responsible for shipping costs.

Good luck!

One thought on “Make Me a Mixtape”

  1. “Easy there, Bon Iver. Go back and wait for the “Help Me Cure My Insomnia Mixtape” contest.”


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