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I’m a sucker for memes of the “how much of this stuff have you done?” category. They simultaneously appeal to my sense of adventure and excitement while also revulsing the part of me that despises any attempt to apply formulaic cliches to said adventure/excitement, i.e. they invariably say things like “Visited Paris” when there are probably a dozen cities better than Paris. They are also American-centric, often peppered with corny sentiment, and every variation will include something utterly ridiculous – my personal favourite on this particular list being #168. Annotation was clearly in order.

01. Bought everyone in the pub a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins (“Hey Mitch, wanna come snorkelling?” / “Nah, don’t feel like it today.” (later) “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME”)
03. Climbed a mountain (only 1095 metres)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree (our primary school teachers made us do this if we wasted paper)
10. Done a striptease
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (GREATEST OF ALL METROPOLI)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (Sydney has the most beautifully epic storms)
14. Stayed up all night long, and watch the sun rise (I saw it get grey outside… couldn’t actually see the sun)
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Touched an iceberg (First example of something the list-writer had done and therefore included, despite the fact that nobody ever does it. Or thinks about doing it. Ever)
20. Slept under the stars (I’ve slept outdoors, but in a bunker)
21. Changed a baby’s diaper
22. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
23. Watched a meteor shower (just one, the McNaught comet)
24. Gotten drunk on champagne
25. Given more than you can afford to charity
26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment (who hasn’t?)
28. Had a food fight
29. Bet on a winning horse
30. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
31. Asked out a stranger
32. Had a snowball fight
33. Photocopied your bottom on the office photocopier
34. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
35. Held a lamb
36. Enacted a favorite fantasy
37. Taken a midnight skinny dip
38. Taken an ice cold bath (WHY)
39. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar (oh for god’s sake)
40. Seen a total eclipse (Well I didn’t see it, but I was in it. I was 12 years old an easily impressionable to all the horror stories about not looking at an eclipse or you’ll get your eyes burned out)
41. Ridden a roller coaster
42. Hit a home run
43. Fit three weeks miraculously into three days (…what?)
44. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking (why not just call this “been drunk?”)
45. Adopted an accent for an entire day
46. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
47. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
48. Had two hard drives for your computer
49. Visited all 50 states
50. Loved your job for all accounts
51. Taken care of someone who was shit faced
52. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
53. Had amazing friends
54. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
55. Watched wild whales
56. Stolen a sign
57. Backpacked in Europe (Europe is at the bottom of my priority list)
58. Taken a road-trip (if Radiohead ever GET THEIR SODDING ARSES DOWN HERE)
59. Rock climbing (does a plastic wall resembling a rock count?)
60. Lied to foreign government’s official in that country to avoid notice
61. Midnight walk on the beach
62. Sky diving
63. Visited Ireland (one day)
64. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
65. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
66. Visited Japan
67. Bench pressed your own weight (easily, since I weigh just shy of 60 kilos)
68. Milked a cow
69. Alphabetized your records (I only own one CD, so it’s alphabetized by default)
70. Pretended to be a superhero
71. Sung karaoke
72. Lounged around in bed all day (All the time!)
73. Posed nude in front of strangers
74. Scuba diving (whole sad story there)
75. Got it on to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye
76. Kissed in the rain
77. Played in the mud
78. Played in the rain
79. Gone to a drive-in theatre (for the cinematic masterpiece that was “The Wedding Planner”)
80. Done something you should regret, but don’t regret it (No, because if I don’t regret it, then by default I shouldn’t. What else determines the regretability of an action but my own opinion?)
81. Visited the Great Wall of China
82. Discovered that someone who’s not supposed to have known about your blog has discovered your blog
83. Dropped Windows in favour of something better
84. Started a business
85. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
86. Toured ancient sites
87. Taken a martial arts class
88. Sword fought for the honour of a woman (no, because I am not a 17th century aristocrat)
89. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
90. Gotten married
91. Been in a movie
92. Crashed a party
93. Loved someone you shouldn’t have
94. Kissed someone so passionately it made them dizzy
95. Gotten divorced
96. Had sex at the office
97. Gone without food for 5 days
98. Made cookies from scratch
99. Won first prize in a costume contest
100. Ridden a gondola in Venice
101. Gotten a tattoo
102. Found that the texture of some materials can turn you on
103. Rafted the Snake River (never even heard of it)
104. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
105. Got flowers for no reason
106. Masturbated in a public place
107. Got so drunk you don’t remember anything (close enough)
108. Been addicted to some form of illegal drug
109. Performed on stage
110. Been to Las Vegas
111. Recorded music
112. Eaten shark
113. Had a one-night stand
114. Gone to Thailand
115. Seen Siouxsie live
116. Bought a house
117. Been in a combat zone
118. Buried one/both of your parents
119. Shaved or waxed your pubic hair off
120. Been on a cruise ship
121. Spoken more than one language fluently
122. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
123. Bounced a check
124. Performed in Rocky Horror
125. Read – and understood – your credit report
126. Raised children
127. Recently bought and played with a favourite childhood toy
128. Followed your favourite band/singer on tour
129. Created and named your own constellation of stars
130. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
131. Found out something significant that your ancestors did (authors and mathematicians for the most part)
132. Called or written your Member of Congress
132a. Had them write back
133. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
134. … more than once?
135. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
136. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
137. Had an abortion or your female partner did
138. Had plastic surgery
139. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived (and how!)
140. Wrote articles for a large publication
141. Lost over 100 pounds
142. Held someone while they were having a flashback
143. Piloted an airplane
144. Petted a stingray
145. Broken someone’s heart
146. Helped an animal give birth
147. Been fired or laid off from a job
148. Won money on a TV game show
149. Broken a bone (see #139)
150. Killed a human being (heavy, man)
151. Gone on an African photo safari
152. Ridden a motorcycle
153. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100mph (I have in kph, though, you fucking cavemen)
154. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
155. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
156. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
157. Ridden a horse
158. Had major surgery (when I was a toddler, apparently)
159. Had sex on a moving train
160. Had a snake as a pet
161. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
162. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
163. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours (given my wacky sleep cycle, this has probably happened at some point or another)
164. Visited more foreign countries than US states (not hard since I’ve never been there)
165. Visited all 7 continents
166. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
167. Eaten kangaroo meat (somehow, no)
168. Fallen in love at an ancient Mayan burial ground (OH FOR GOD’S SAKES)
169. Been a sperm or egg donor
170. Eaten sushi (again: somehow, no)
171. Had your picture in the newspaper
172. Had 2 (or more) healthy romantic relationships for over a year in your lifetime
173. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
174. Gotten someone fired for their actions
175. Gone back to school
176. Parasailed
177. Changed your name
178. Petted a cockroach (inadvertantly)
179. Eaten fried green tomatoes
180. Read The Iliad
181. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read (all the time)
182. Dined in a restaurant and stolen silverware, plates, cups because your apartment needed them
183. … and gotten 86’ed from the restaurant because you did it so many times, they figured out it was you
184. Taught yourself art from scratch
185. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
186. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt (as minor as it was)
187. Skipped all your school reunions (haven’t had any yet)
188. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
189. Been elected to public office
190. Written your own computer language
191. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
192. Had to put someone you love into hospice care (now i feel kind of bad about it, but we really weren’t close)
193. Built your own PC from parts
194. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
195. Had a booth at a street fair
196. Dyed your hair
197. Been a DJ
198. Found out someone was going to dump you via LiveJournal
199. Written your own role playing game
200. Been arrested

At count, 48 of 200, or roughly a quarter. Not bad for a 19-year old. Because of course I must bring this list to the core of my existence and not rest until it has been satisified!

It’s that time of again – the limbo period between Christmas and New Year’s, where the year is pretty much over but not quite and everyone stands around looking at their watches and coughing loudly to try and hint it out of the room. Eventually it trudges through the doorway with one last forlorn look over the shoulder, and disappears into the mist outside.

Let’s recap what I thought of movies, books and music in 2007. Note that this only includes what I actually saw/heard/read. I’m sure there were far better movies than Transformers, but I didn’t see them, so yeah.

FILMS

10. Superbad
Not nearly as funny as everyone thought (minus the anomaly of Anchorman, most comedy films of this decade are terrible), but still worth watching.

9. Transformers
I was never a fan of the franchise as a kid, so I went into this without the astronomical expectations everyone else seemed to have, and I was pleasantly surprised. Shia LeBeouf is a great leadman with an excellent sense of humour, and the CGI and cinematography was top notch. Even an arrogant left-winger like me had an enormous boner for American military might during most of the battle scenes, although it did get a little too much towards the end (no way we can beat the Decepticons without THE AIR FORCE!)

8. Sunshine
Once you get over the oddly anachronistic basis for the plot (throwing a bomb into the sun in order to “reboot” it, on par with The Core for bad science and not something I expect from British cinema) this is an eerie and haunting psychological thriller, despite losing its way towards the end. It also had the most chilling line of any movie I saw this year, which I now present completely out of context:
Capa: “Trey is dead. There are only four crew members.”
Icarus: “Negative. Five crew members.”
Capa: “Icarus… who is the fifth crew member?”
Icarus: “Unknown.”
Capa: “Where is the fifth crew member?”
Icarus: “In the observation room.”

7. Hot Fuzz
I was going to just upload my .gif of Simon Pegg kicking an old woman in the face, but it’s too big for imageshack, so I’ll leave it at this: pretty good, better than Shaun of the Dead, still suffers from “not funny enough” like most other comedies of this decade.

6. 28 Weeks Later.
The “Aliens” to 28 Days Later’s “Alien”, i.e. it is an awesome action movie sequel to an awesome horror movie. It did lose something in the transition from low-budget to high-budget, but outside of the dubious helicopter-slicing-up-bodies scene, it managed to avoid most of the Hollywood cliches. And the conclusion is excellent. Once you realise the full implications of the final scene (using the concepts established in the first movie), you realise just how superbly chilling it is.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Yes, I know that both Pirates sequels became bloated, swollen monstrosities with no coherent plot whatsoever, but they’re still great fun. After about the fifteenth or sixteenth doublecross, I stopped trying to keep track of the story entirely and just focused on enjoying the glorious Caribbean visuals.

4. Apocalypto
Mel Gibson may be a crazy anti-Semitic son of a bitch, but he sure does make exciting movies. The sudden, unexpected arrival of the Conquistadores at the end capped it off perfectly.

3. The Simpsons Movie.
Oh, if only this had been made ten years ago.

I rewatched it on DVD in November and realised that for the previous four months I’d been judging it as the movie I wanted it to be, not the movie it is. Which is to say, a movie that’s not all that funny. There are maybe ten or twelve really hilarious moments. Any given episode from the mid 90s contains more comedy. But on its own merits, it’s still a great movie, and the plot was truly epic.

Also, to all those people bitching that it was “basically just an extended episode”: Yeah, it was. Was exactly were you expecting?

2. Pan’s Labyrinth
Much like Donnie Darko, my love for this film relies heavily on its terrifying imagery. I’m aware that there are far greater things about this masterpiece of fantasy and reality, but personally, the Pale Man’s brief appearance was the highlight of the film.

1. No Country For Old Men
This is the last movie I saw in 2007 (on the 28th of December, to be precise), and it juuuust edged into first place ahead of Pan’s Labyrinth, the first movie I saw in 2007, creating a satisfying circular motion. Better men than me have extolled its brilliance, from Tommy Lee Jones’ casual opening narration set over a backdrop of cloud-scudded Texan landscapes, to the unusually quiet ending that resulted in everyone in my cinema exiting with their conversations in hushed tones. So I won’t try. Suffice to say that it contains the most suspenseful scenes you will ever see on the screen.

MUSIC

Fuck objectivity.

10. Nude, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
9. House of Cards, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
8. Videotape, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
7. 15 Steps, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
6. Bodysnatchers, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
5. Faust Arp, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
4. Jigsaw Falling Into Place, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
3. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
2. All I Need, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
1. Reckoner, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).

Honourable mention: Gotye’s album Like Drawing Blood, which came out in 2006 but which I only recently heard. Download a song called “Night Drive”, it’s totally awesome.

BOOKS

10. Bloom, by Wil McCarthy
Science fiction, set in a world where Earth (and the rest of the inner solar system) has been overrun by grey goo and humanity clings to life in the asteroid belt and Jupiter’s moons. A little too realistic and depressing for my liking.

9. Skybreaker, by Kenneth Oppel
An enjoyable but unremarkable young adult swashbuckling airship lark.

8. Between Planets, by Robert Heinlein
My first Heinlein novel, which I enjoyed immensely. I know it’s always been my dream to be a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant on Venus.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
She wrapped it up pretty well I guess. Snape being a triple agent was fairly obvious from the Half-Blood Prince, though. And, like every other reader on the planet, I loathed the utterly corny postscript which begged me to invest emotionally in Harry’s cardboard cut-out children (no go).

6. The Ophiuchi Hotline, by John Varley
Another Earthless science fiction jaunt. This time, the human race has been evicted from Earth by a species of almost godlike aliens, who do so for the benefit of the three “intelligent” species on Earth: orcas, dolphins and humpback whales.

5. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars were a little overwhelming for me at times, since I like my science fiction soft, but you have to admire the unimaginably epic scale of them, and Robinson does occassionally manage some beautiful prose.

Michel’s ashes, up in a balloon over the Hellas Sea. They saved a pinch for return to Provence.

After a thousand words and two hundred years, a character’s death can be truly moving.

4. The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut
Objectively, this is probably better than any book on the list, but I didn’t find it to be particularly noteworthy. I had no idea that Vonnegut’s style was so casually satirical – akin to Pratchett, in fact – and spent most of the book regaining my bearings. At least I got that out of the way; now I can read Slaughterhouse Five knowing what to expect.

3. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip Jose Farmer
A very original concept for a book, in which the entirety of humanity, from the earliest cavemen to the point where humanity went extinct (2008, apparently, so get ready) is resurrected along the banks of one enormous river valley. Mountains on either side are impenetrable, and the river goes as deep as anyone has ever been able to swim. People who die are resurrected again somewhere else along the river. The book follows Richard Francis Burton in his travels as he attempts to discover who or what is behind the ressurection. Farmer’s writing style is as vanilla-bland as every other sci-fi writer from the mid-20th century, but the concept is intriguing and I’m excited to read the next book.

2. The Golden Globe, by John Varley
Set loosely in the same “world” as the Ophiuchi Hotline, but Varley’s prose has improved immensely over the decades (this is from ’98; the OH was written in the 70’s.) While the OH had the same dull, dry delivery that all old science fiction seems to share, the Golden Globe is a lively first-person adventure narrated by Sparky Valentine, an optimistic, wisecracking actor-slash-conman making his way from Pluto to Luna to take part in an upcoming production of King Lear. Along the way, Valentine is hunted by an unstoppable agent of a violent crime sydnicate that he crossed, culminating in a superbly executed confrontation in a hotel orbiting Uranus. Highly recommended.

1. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
A re-read, but I first read the series in the ninth grade, and I don’t think I quite appreciated the religious issues discussed the first time around. They’re still a completely awesome fantasy adventure, but they’re also probably the most important agnostic works of our era. Yes, even better than the rantings of Richard Dawkins, who acts as though he personally invented atheism and continues to give the rest of us a reputation for arrogance. Anyway, I’ll probably go catch the Golden Compass soon to see how much of a clusterfuck they made of it.

________________________________________

So overall, there were some damn good movies, Radiohead released a new album and I didn’t read nearly enough books. Perhaps next year I’ll take up the 50 Book Challenge. Scratch that; starting Tuesday, I’m definitely taking up the 50 Book Challenge.

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