Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Try typing "50 things to do before you die" into Google, and you open up a whole world of inanity.

At least half of the items on these lists could be lumped together under the heading, "Release tons of carbon into the atmosphere, erode fragile environments and trample over native cultures by visiting a whole bunch of 'exotic' places just because some vapid list told you you had to". Yep, that's right... stomp around Machu Picchu, snap souvenirs off the Great Barrier Reef, do your bit to erode the pyramids, clutter up the streets in Pamplona and haul your fat arse up the side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You wild-living legend you.

Another quarter could be lumped together under the heading, "Piss off some animal which is just trying to get along with its life". Because it's, like, so vitally important that you annoy dolphins, irritate whales, harangue the great apes and test the patience of sharks.

And most of the rest would be covered by, "Do something that is six kinds of stupid just because someone did it once in a famous movie, song or TV show". Let's face it, this is the only reason why someone would travel down Route 66, ride a Vespa around Rome, sing in the rain, hang about the front of Tiffany's scoffing a bagel, or drive too fast down a hill in San Francisco. If you must do something just because a song told you to, be a little bit original and go stab a woman named Delilah. Go on; Tom Jones and I dare you.

If you still think that these lists have some sort of merit, may I offer this list from my own experience, which I hope will put you off doing anything more dramatic than regrouting your bathroom tiles.

5 Things To Do Before You Die That I Have Done, And Which Didn't Suddenly Grant Meaning To My Life

Swim with dolphins
Dolphins are not mystical. Dolphins are not life-affirming. They are fine creatures, as creatures go, but undeserving of the massive fuss that surrounds them. Listen up, people! Just because dolphins' mouths curl up slightly at the sides doesn't mean that they're happy! It means that they hinge more effectively! Quit anthropomorphising them, dammit!

See the Aurora Borealis
Almost all of these dimwitted lists come from people in the northern hemisphere, so it's not surprising that they assume that the Northern Lights are the only lights in town. There is, however, a little thing called the Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights - exactly the same phenomenon, only in the southern hemisphere. I saw them once back in the 90s. They were pretty cool, but only because you don't see them every day. A good sunset is far cooler.

Climb a mountain
Pike's Peak, December 2000. Drove to the top in a Chrysler Voyager. Saw a marmot.

Visit Paris
Well, I passed through Paris on my way elsewhere. While there I temporarily lost my passport in Charles de Gaulle airport, only to discover that I'd left it on the counter at Baskin Robbins. True story.

Drive a luxury sports car
I once drove a friend's Mercedes Benz 280SLK convertible, which cost more than my house. He told me it suited me and that I should buy one. I told him to shut the hell up.

If you've done anything on a 50 Things list and want to warn the rest of us off doing it, let us know in comments. If it stops just one more person from banging on about the magic of Uluru, it'll be worth it.


Blogger an9ie said...

Perhaps it's because I'm just bone lazy, but the item "Climb [insert mountain or highest point of whatever here]" doesn't appeal to me at all unless I get there by funicular, cable car, train, plane or helicopter (or perhaps on a donkey or some sherpa's shoulders to avoid creating more carbon emissions).

I once climbed to Bluff Knoll, which is the highest peak in SW Western Australia (at a measley 1095m above sea level) and nearly walked off the edge in a pea-soup fog, because my travelling companion abandoned me in a race to the top (the guide said you could do it in 4 hours and it was 3 hours 55 minutes or something). It was only some passers-by shouting, "Where are you going?" at me that prevented me from falling off. Bleah.

And Paris was fun, but, you know, the Eiffel tower is a lot smaller than you think it is!

11:03 AM  
Blogger an9ie said...

Also forgot to mention that I actually wouldn't mind seeing the Aurora Borealis/Australia, if only so I can understand what all those people on magic mushrooms and DMT are going on about (without actually having to harm my brain - precious braaaa-iiin).

11:08 AM  
Blogger Iris Flavia said...

I saw Taj Mahal at sunset. Went in that darn restaurant, had a meal and got sick from it.

Ride a Harley down an open road. We do that often and everytime we´re back safely I´m happy. Once she exploded under my friend!

Eat a cheeseburger in paradise - does Mc Donald´s in Alice count after long way? But the Pizza at Pizza Hut tasted more like paradise, better do that!

Paris... smells like old cheese in every corner (ok, that was over 15 years ago...)

4:12 PM  
Blogger emawkc said...

The last thing I hope to do before I die? Have a good dinner with my wife, son and daughter in a diner in New Jersey, watching people come and go listening to Journey on the juke box, eating onion rings and wai

11:54 PM  
Blogger John said...

Before I die, I want to stand on the lead singer out of Creed's head whilst wearing golf shoes.

Also, you know those Make-A-Wish foundations? What if you won the opportunity to be granted a wish, and you said you wanted to hunt Jar Jar Binks down with a Kalashnikov? They'd have to arrange it somehow, wouldn't they? Or an Ewok.

8:36 PM  

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