🎵 The song for this post is Jackson Parodi's cover of You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), originally by Dead or Alive. 🎵
I had a birthday party last week; I'm really happy with how it went. Here's a recap, mostly of the final game, which I got positive feedback on.
Back in the dissociation days, I only made sure to do one thing on my birthday: get a milkshake.
They're delicious! They're available! It's very hard to fuck up. I didn't allow myself a whole lot of joy, and the few times I'd eat milkshakes in the year I'd think about the calories, or how fast I drank it. But not on my birthday! I gave myself permission to drink and enjoy a milkshake like a normal person. My favorite, if I could find it, was the Häagen-Dazs dulce de leche milkshake. A choice for kings.
Breaks from tradition
I spent 2017 and 2018 at Burning Man, which always goes over my birthday. Suddenly the "always available, impossible to fuck up" ritual got fucked up. 2019 I forgot what I did, and 2020 Karen did an Amado-like gift and got everyone to send me photos of them getting milkshakes. But in 2021 I was living with a house of people who supported and celebrated me. I designed a day I loved and invited people to come with me on it:
- Showers, ramen
- Read a play together
- "Narrative milkshake" party
- Jazz sharing
The "narrative milkshake" requires some explanation: I went to a grocery store and got a ton of milkshake-making ingredients.
Then we played a game: we put a bunch of prompts in a hat, then interpreted the prompt as a milkshake. Here are a few:
There were a bunch of others, and some I didn't take pictures of. This year I did a similar game.
The day I designed was similar, if smaller in scope:
- Read a play together
- Eat some food
- Music sharing with "taste pairings"
We read The Illusion, an adaptation by Tony Kushner (famous for Angels in America) of Pierre Corneille's seventeenth-century comedy, L'Illusion Comique. I adapted it in college for "radio" as a final project for a studio production class and remembered it being sweet and comical. I remembered correctly! It was — to use my favorite theatre praise — a rollicking good time, I forgot how amazing some of the wordplay is.
As for the music and taste pairings, here's what was on the invite:
A "show and tell" with songs and taste pairings. You bring at least one song you want to share and (optionally, but encouraged) a taste for the group to pair with listening to your selection.
Saurya, upon hearing this: "So, like: Pickleback and Nickelback? Everyone does a pickleback, I say 'time for some Nickelback!' Then I actually play Creed."
- Your favorite Saturday morning cartoon's theme song, with a spoon of sugary breakfast cereal
- Deviled eggs with "Devil Went Down to Georgia" 👺
- Some Spanish red wine with your favorite flamenco 🌹
- A pinch of flour with your least favorite song from a musical, then we all have to sing along dry-mouthed.
So here were the pairings I submitted:
I wanted a chiptune in here. I struggled with whether to include "real" chiptune (made on real hardware, or taken from a real game) or "made to sound like chiptune" (stuff like Chipzel, or Jake Kaufman). I opted for real, and while I would have loved to do the Silver Surfer NES theme, I couldn't find it on its own on my music services, so I did the title screen for Pictionary. This song… goes offensively hard. "Are you ready for some motherfucking Pictionary?!"
What makes chiptune sound like that is the waveforms: the shape of the sound waves are restricted to being triangle waves or square waves (play with some waveforms here if you're curious). So the taste pairing was… triangles and squares: Ghirardelli chocolate squares, and another set of chocolates that were cut diagonally to form triangles.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
I absolutely love this song. I got asked by a date a year ago what my theme song was, and I think it's this (for my 20's at least). It's sweet, it's beautiful, it's sad and a bit longing, it's strong. It's got bite but isn't trying to chew you. You can close your eyes and feel along with it, you can watch it from a distance.
The taste pairing: the song has a lot of imagery related to birds and flying. And when I think of freedom, the symbol that comes to mind is the resplendent quetzal: the national bird of Guatemala, what the currency is named after, and on its flag. Quetzals die in captivity. Additionally, they're that distinctive green shade.
So for the shade of green and the strange, powerful flavor the song hits, we did a spoonful of absinthe.
Dreams Go By
My dad and I had a conversation in high school: I found this song incredibly sad (failing to reach one's dreams) and he found it a perfectly cheerful song (falling in love and raising kids is a beautiful life, actually). I still struggle with it: the idea of watching your dreams go by and "just" living contentedly is a tough one for me. But I want it? When I'm asked by friends and therapists what I'd like most, it's "to feel peace." And looking back at a life I've lived with someone I love, waiting for grandkids to visit… how does it get better than that?
So this song sticks with me. I cheated on the taste pairing: it was a game instead. I had everyone write a dream they had onto a slip of paper. We put the papers in a hat, then we all drew random dreams. You'd get to know a random, anonymous partygoer's dream, a little secret you can keep. And you know someone sees yours. Then we destroy the papers, and let the Dreams Go By.
Someone at my party knew (before any of you reading it here) that I'd love to be a lead actor in a motion picture. It's unlikely to happen with the choices I've made and the ones I'm likely to make. But I still dream about it sometimes. Someone who came to my party wants to live in a Victorian mansion by the water.
We did, in fact, do a Pickleback and Nickelback. It was the worst pickelback I've ever had (I didn't have enough shot glasses, so we used jar lids). The Nickelback was pretty good actually.
Saurya, capitalizing on the internet meme of Cbat being the only song a certain dude could fuck to, paired it with durian, which not only tastes interesting, but is believed by some to increase sexual performance. So Cbat was paired with durian as "weird aphrodisiacs."
There were more! And I still have a ton of absinthe if you want to stop by and try some.
Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to join my mailing list, drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄