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There is probably no greater declaration of love than to make somebody a mixed tape. It's one of those totally irrational things you do when you have butterflies in your tummy. You spend hours, sometimes days to cobble together the perfect mix of songs to express your feelings to that somebody special. Every song is carefully hand picked, listened to, often repeatedly to ensure that its emotional content is satisfying and it will communicate the appropriate message. Personally, I think giving somebody a mix tape is the equivalent of walking into their living room and pissing on their stereo, in order to mark your territory, but fuck it, it is still awesome fun.

I am the undeniable king of making a mix tape. It's not only because of my fine ear for music, but also my intense understanding of the of the emotional needs of the person I am creating this piece of art for. Shit, I've made tapes that I ended up loving more than the person it was intended for.

The sad fact is that your effort does not always ensure success with your prospective romantic partner, but at all times should you be proud of the work you created, so that perhaps in 50 years time the person finds it in a box marked "Dorks who tried to impress me", listens to it, and fondly reminisces to that time when she told your ugly ass to go bleed in a ditch. That's the sign of a great mixtape: Nostalgia. But, to achieve that ultimite pinnacle of the mixed tape artistry, you have to learn the basic rules of the craft:

1. The medium
The age of digital technology destroyed some of the romance of the mix tape. All of sudden we have cheap shiney disks(CD's) and music that exists only in digital format(MP3's). Using a playlist editor on a normal home computer, you can make an entire mix in a matter on minutes. Once your playlist is made, you insert a blank CD into the computer CD tray and burn the music onto it through the use of laser technology. Like most things in the age of information, the process is cold and calculated. No sweat is put into it. No warmth. No love. And it isn't even a tape.

If you really want to impress somebody, use a high grade 60 minute cassette. None of that cheap ass shit you buy on sidewalks, and stick to 60 minutes, it's a classic and you don't come off as being too forward. It must be an expensive tape, keep in mind that the memories on it must last a lifetime.

A tape means effort. It means that you spent a good couple of hours out of your busy schedule thinking about that person, and that person alone. And that is how hearts are won.

2. Choice of music
Without any doubt, this is the most important part of the endeavour. I have heard some god-awful tapes in my life. The music has to establish the mood. The music must say things that you are not yet ready to say in person. And no, Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" is not what I mean, even if you do want to fuck him or her like an animal. The most common mistake in choice of music is when somebody tries to insert humour into the tape. Songs like "Ha ha ha, you've got cancer" are funny, I admit, but has no place on a mix tape. Save humour for another time. Swap the potatoes in the microwave with her cat when she's not watching for instance. Or hide his penis under the couch. But keep humour off the tape! Love is not a joke. It is a serious emotion and should be treated as such.

The music should be intimate, sexy, sassy, and it should express your feelings in a subtle and gentle manner. Also put in variety. Nobody likes a mixed tape with 60 minutes of Scandanavian Yodelling classics. A little bit of everything should be added onto the recipe. If you have some idea of the person's music taste, use it to your advantage. Perhaps put their favourite song on there. It establishes a bond. And if you know the person is not exactly a fan of a certain genre, don't try to change them by putting on your favourite satanic death metal song on there. Stick to the genres they enjoy, after all, it will be their cassette soon. If your love-interest is into techno or trance, fuck the tape and go get a whore because you're getting desperate and you're about to make a mistake that could haunt you for the rest of your miserable life.

Just keep in mind these 7 words at all times: Subtlety, Variety, I might be getting some. Memorize them and let them guide you through the process.

3. An inner sleeve
Not making an appropriate inner sleeve for the tape is honestly the dumbest thing you can do. Imagine spending hours baking the perfect cake and then not putting on any icing. The inner sleeve is what is going to make or break you. An inner sleeve gives the tape an identity. Without it, it is just another cassette that lies unlistened to in an old shoe box for years until the maid finally takes it and tapes Barry Manilow's greatest hits over it for her walkman. The hand made inner sleeve transforms this cassette into an object of endearment, something to be treasured.

Again, technology makes the creation of a sleeve easy, but I recommend that it be handmade. Nothing screams affection more than good old scissors and glue.

There, follow these 3 simple rules and you can't go wrong. You have created the ultimate proclamation of love. The cassette you used, the music you added and the sleeve you crafted is now ready for delivery into the hands of the one you are smitten with. After that you simply wait and daydream of frolicking amongst the first flowers of spring under the cloudless blue sky, now and then stealing an innocent kiss with the one made for you, all because of the perfect mix tape.

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