Saturday, October 2, 2021

Bee's Birthday Gifts: A History, with Links

In 2011, I started a number of things. Very few of them are still ongoing. Here's one thing that is: Every year, for my birthday, I make a gift and put it on the Internet. I used to track these through Twitter threads, but I can't do that anymore because my brain won't let me tweet. It won't let me talk much, either, outside of the kind I have to do to keep a job. It's bad.

So: Instead, I'm posting this in order to document what I've done in the past, with an eye toward 2021's release and maybe even future ones.

2011: 23 (a poem)

The gifts began in 2011 when I recorded a poem I had written and put it on the Internet. Here is a video of that. I think it's very bad. It's about how I was convinced I was going to die that year because of numerology and some other shit that's really cringeworthy.

2012: Celebrity-Mapping: Valentine's Are Over (an album)

From 2009-2012, I would spend Valentine's Day chopping up pop songs in Audacity and speaking over them. Each year I produced, wrote, recorded and released an EP. As I was doing the 2012 EP, my computer was dying, and I knew it was going to be the last one. So that year, for my birthday, I took what I thought at the time was my best work, put it into an album format, and released it.

Four years later, I started another Valentine's Day tradition, this one focused more on the incredibly talented friends I somehow have than on me making dogshit solo. I'd highly recommend skipping this record and heading over to the Fuck the Polis! bandcamp and listening to anything off any of the records subtitled A Valentine's Day Compilation.

2013: Not 23 (a song)

A song I worked on, on and off, for a couple years and finished on my 25th birthday. I think it might still be the single best song I've ever written, but that's my taste I guess.

2014: The Haunting at HKE (a game)

In 2014, I played a now long-defunct mobile game called Hello Kitty Kawaii Towns with some friends. I ended up making a tumblr out of our self-described Hell Towns, and documented some of my own ideas in story form.

By the time my birthday came around, we had mostly stopped playing. I picked up Twine and turned our goofy explorations into a story about ghosts, rent, and Hello Kitty. You can play that if you'd like.

2015:  Play Space (& 3 Years in Film) (a game and a book)

My first 3D game; you walk around in a ballpit in space. An A Truly Blonde Child-ish track plays and balls click. You can see the moon. A roof falls in with chess pieces on it. I still visit this every once in a while, and for whatever reason I still find it peaceful. I made it in PlayCanvas, which I may or may not have used to be able to sneak some time in from the job I had at the time. I don't know, I still like it.

I also put together some of my favorite reviews I wrote for the year-end wrap ups I used to do on this blog and laid it out in a PDF I called 3 Years in Film.

2016: CoSCAD (a game)

I wrote most of CoSCAD (which stands for "Communist Society of Critics After Dinner," I don't know if that ever made it into the text) on a road trip back from Fantastic Arcade in a notebook. The goal was to create a library of texts from this society set 100 years after a successful Communist revolution in North America. The core characters were kind of revisionists, interested in prehistorical (e.g. capitalist) art and its relations, however tangential, to the revolution.

I only got one story in. The files are all gone, so there's no further way to update it. But you can still play it. To do so: use the WASD keys to walk up to the book on the table. Make sure to click in the lower right to get the game to full screen. The right arrow key will open the book/flip the pages forward, left will flip them back. The story's kinda trash, because I was trying to do worldbuilding and narrative through the voice of far-future academics in a wildly different society & mode of production that were revisionists. It was ambitious, at least.

Thanks as always to Jamie for the art.

2017: These Crowns (a dance)

I think this is fucking unwatchable, but other people seem to find it cute. I fell so, so deeply in love with Kesha's 2017 comeback album (after being stifled by Dr. Luke's abusive ass for years) Rainbow that year (and I continue to love it, honestly). I've also lowkey wanted to use this tradition as an excuse to film something since, I don't know, probably about the beginning. Setting up the two-camera (laptop & phone) angles was fun, editing them together was... not.

The choreography & execution are terrible, because I do not know how to dance much less plan one out. It was a fun experiment, I guess, and when I'm glad I can't commit to any form of expression or lane of interest I'm glad I can point to this and say "fuck you, as long as I'm breathing I will continue to make whatever and everything."

2018: Reading Games: A Personal Critical Canon (a podcast, now defunct)

Sometime in 2017 or 2018, I made a tweet with an image that said "1 like = 1 of my favorite pieces of videogame criticism" over a background of Ness surrounded by Mr. Saturns. For my birthday in 2018, I wrote some long pieces about some of the things I linked in that thread with the hope of turning the 44 pieces or so I had listed into a limited, solo podcast. My birthday gift that year was to release the first 3 episodes all at once.

Those episodes cover articles by Winter Lake, Liz Ryerson, and Austin Walker; I went on to highlight articles by Emlie Reed (from the still-missed Arcade Review), Aevee Bee, GameFAQS, and Zolani Stewart. I haven't listened in some years, and the Twitter thread I was basing it off of was lost to the sands of time (read: tweetdelete), so it's never coming back, but I'm happy I tried.

2019: BBBS (an album)

Over most of 2013, me and my A Truly Blonde Child bandmate watched Xena: Warrior Princess. In January of 2014, we dropped a record that's one of the only things I'm genuinely proud of as a musician: Xena Season 1 EP. In 2015 we teamed up again to record/write/produce/release an EP on the 4th of July called Let Freedom Ring. That one's less good but it has a few moments. It only took four and a half years for us to make another thing.

You can check the liner notes on Bandcamp for a longer thing about this record. It's definitely an A Truly Blonde Child record, but one that I did most of the work on (the Bonus track is all me, and is the music for the Island Demeter podcast; I think I did everything on Brain and Blood also, but I'm not positive). As a result it's nowhere near as good as Xena, but hey. By now you're certainly aware that a good end product isn't exactly the goal here.

2020: 32 (a poem)

For my tenth entry in the birthday series, and when my age was the same two numbers that I started with flipped, I decided to write a response poem. A bookend, of a sort, with the poem from 2011. It had been a long time since I stopped writing poetry; I had come out as trans & nonbinary; the pandemic was just really starting to settle in as a thing I was going to be navigating as a retail worker; etc., etc.

It's been about a year since I did this, but I think I liked it at the time and don't have any particularly bad/embarrassing memories of things in it. Which is definitely a first for a poem by me.


2021: Welcome to the City, My New Friend (a game)

 I made a roleplaying game about making friends in a city! This year has been bad.


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