My last monthly challenge of 2020 has always been a question mark. Intentionally left open for new ideas that revealed themselves throughout the year. Nearing the end of November though, still hadn’t really had it figured out.
Then one day my friend Jesse texted me out of the blue. He’d been thinking about me, and took a peek at Six Foot Giraffe, which turned into him catching up on my entire year. He let me know how it was really cool what I was doing and how he was excited for whatever my December challenge would be. I told him I still had no idea what it was though, and then he suggested something brilliant.
So that’s how this one came to be. I love video games, always have. The medium sits at the intersection of so many interests I’m passionate about. Storytelling, visual art, technology. Thing is, I really don’t play very often at all. I try to stay productive, and playing video games as you can imagine, isn’t exactly conducive to productivity. The way Jesse framed it though, felt like more than just an indulgence, and that was easy for me to get behind.
I played 3 games for the month, all made by independent developers. The first was called Untitled Goose Game. You play as a goose wreaking comedic havoc on a small and quaint english town. Totally ridiculous, totally fun. It was largely developed by just 3 people. The second was Kentucky Route Zero. A kinda off-beat, point-and-click, absolutely visually stunning interactive novel. The game took 10 years to make, and also developed mostly by only 3 people. I loved it. The last was Darq, a puzzle-platformer made almost entirely by a single person.
I had fun with it and truthfully Jesse was right, it was well deserved after a solid year of focus. Seeing what just a few people, or even just a single person is capable of in game development has been inspiring, but simultaneously daunting. I honestly don’t know that I’ll be able see it through, but I know I have to try. It helps knowing it’s possible if I work hard enough, and want it bad enough. Guess time will sort if those two boxes get checked off or not.
You’ve Got to Walk by the Bedquilt Ramblers. One of the many beautiful and haunting songs composed for Kentucky Route Zero that caught my ear.
I challenged myself to track everything I ate for all of March. I wanted to get a better idea of what was going in the tank. Calories, nutrients, all that. Figured it’d be an easy one. Wow was I wrong.
Plenty of apps out there help you log what you’re eating and I started using one straight away. Learned pretty quick though, if I wanted accurate measurements, I’d have to do some actual measuring. Who’d have thought? That meant weighing food and preparing every single meal from scratch. That was way beyond what I mentally signed up for, and not really something I was interested in doing. So I quit.
I logged my best guesses of what I was eating, but they were just guesses. It wasn’t working, and I didn’t want to waste the month. So after just a few days I switched gears and took on about as unrelated a challenge I could think of. Learning to play the ukulele.
Alexis got me a ukulele for Christmas a few years back, and it’s hung on my wall untouched ever since. Always wanted to learn it, so figured I’d give it go. I know how to play a guitar, so there’s familiarity there, but it’s still a different instrument. If it were the same, I’d be able to play it the day I got it. I spent around 15 minutes every day watching and playing along with tutorials. Chord shapes, strumming rhythms, and a few songs. Some days even an hour would slip by while I played.
There’s still a lot to learn, but it’s pretty cool to think that just a few weeks ago my ukulele was just wall decoration, but today it’s another outlet for happiness. This one was a lot of fun for me, and I’m so glad I did it. Sure as hell beats weighing chicken breast seven days a week.
Some ukulele playing by yours truly.
A.A. Bondy at the Zebulon in Los Angeles with Alexis. He doesn’t play often, but I see him any chance I get. He hung around after the set, which I’d never seen him do. Walked straight over to meet him. I had to. Said I’d been to every show he’s played in LA since 2010, and that I really appreciated him. He thanked me, said that he appreciates that, and shook my hand. Fun to think that after 9 years of listening to him, he’s listened back.
Oh The Vampyre by A.A. Bondy.
Drew turned 35, so we hit the Vegas strip for Halloween weekend. The bravest, or maybe the dumbest among us, were up till 7am draining glasses, spinning wheels and shooting dice. I love that town, but hell, anything more than 48 hours just might kill me. Not in our 20’s anymore, but we can still pretend.
Got to see Blink-182 play while we were there, and oddly enough, Ludacris too. Some fun ones from those coming of age years.
Damn It by Blink-182. Used to play this one on loop as a kid.
By leaps and bounds, the closest to stage I’ve ever been at the Hollywood Bowl. For perspective, there were over 17,000 people behind us. Daughter, Local Natives, and The National. Three bands I’d easily see play on their own, shared the stage to make one of the most memorable nights of my life, and I got to share with some of my best people. All thanks to this guy
Past Lives by Local Natives
My older brother would listen to Tom Petty all the time when we were growing up, because he’s got good taste in music. I listened because all younger brothers aspire to be as cool as their big brothers. Sad to see him go, thankful he was here.
Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
Ten years ago, I wrote the code and made the very first doodles for Six Foot Giraffe. It was done over two weeks on my college winter break, sitting in my old bedroom of my parents South Florida home.
Just like anyone else, I connect particular songs and albums to particular moments or periods of my time, and that specific period ten years ago connects to Continuum by John Mayer. The album was on loop as I worked through the day and night.
I’m the type that plays a song or album on repeat until I can hardly stand it anymore. The years have tested and proved Continuum to be one of my favorite albums. It was a funny feeling seeing him live a few weeks ago. I guess ten years ago, working in that bedroom and playing those songs on repeat, I wouldn’t have thought I’d hear them live, in California, next to my Fiancé, and later writing about it on Six Foot Giraffe.
Slow Dancing In A Burning Room by John Mayer.
Taken at the LA State Historic Park during FYF, a two day music festival during Labor Day weekend. Givers played my favorite set of both days. It’s so inspiring to see and hear such talent. I remember standing there feeling like I needed to be somewhere else. Creating something of my own. Not just watching. But I truly enjoyed the set, and even more so the company. So I’m glad I wasn’t.
But still, I want to create more. I want to inspire.
They were playing Atlantic when I took this and they dedicated it to their lost friend Eddie. It was heartfelt. This girl’s voice could move a mountain.
Atlantic by Givers.