welcome to 2009: here are some things to do before i die!

well, the New Year is here and once again we’ve found our trusty house of hate update synced up with a holiday (hence the delay); this New Year has already brought our hero janklow a run-in with a dog twice his size and having part of his car explode, though on closer inspection the latter was simply parts of it falling off and SOUNDING like it was exploding. frankly, i think this makes about 13 Januarys in a row that have completely sucked beyond recognition. i’m going to petition someone to replace it with “Smarch,” though with that comes that lousy Smarch weather. with the combination of all these “good times” with the requisite holiday alcohol, i’m not sure i have a great theme for the week. so i’m going to steal one from a movie! yet again!

the Bucket List, i hear it's cute
remember when Nicholson and Freeman were good, respected actors? remember when they weren’t forcing grins in order to make that last dollar and cent before they died? so do i

this all started when i managed to sober up and visit with my favorite person ever (the grandmother) on New Year’s Day; she was sewing and watching what turned out to be this terrible movie called “the Bucket List.” you may have heard of it: it featured Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman and is supposedly the story of two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket.” yes, despite the fact that my grandmother said it was a “cute” film, it’s as terrible as it sounds. and she calls everything “cute” anyway: oh, what a cute pitcher! oh, what a cute cat! oh, what a cute outbreak of the Ebola virus! (actually, i WOULD call the Ebola virus cute, but a cat? ridiculous!)

ANYWAY, this film basically brought three things to mind:

01. how well can we relate to the concept behind the movie when having a main character be a billionaire is a necessary plot point? i get that one of those dudes was a “blue-collar guy,” but still… it’s an empty feeling i’ve got here.
02. Rob Morrow’s a doctor in this movie? remember when he had, like, an actual career? Northern Exposure was huge! he was the co-lead in Quiz Show, which was actually a solid movie! and then… nothing. years later, he’s the lead in fucking Numb3rs, you know, that show where math solves all the crimes? terrible! anyway, i feel bad for him.
03. i should make an update about “13 things i’d like to do before i die” or something like that.

and now, here’s the update in which we list 13 THINGS IT WOULD BE AWESOME TO DO BEFORE I DIE:

riding elephants
oh, come on, did anyone thinking that elephants weren’t going to make it onto this list at some point? get real

13. visit Belgium
the concept: having once been to Wales (it was not without its charms, which included excellent Welsh peoples and, uh, a close proximity to deposits of coal), that would make the next heritage-based trip on my list “visiting Belgium.” not only can i visit WWI- and WWII-themed graveyards in memory of my forefathers who journeyed there to “kill Germans” (and who brought back souvenirs of such things), but i can also see where my mass-murdering relatives hailed from! i guess the common thread there is that all the Belgians in my family wanted to kill SOMEONE? oh well.
chances of getting it done: good (85% chance). old man Zippy and i have legitimately discussed it as a trip; we’d just like to figure out who would be speaking the foreign languages at these Belgians who might have the audacity to not speak English in their home nation.

12. ride an elephant
the concept: uh… ride on an elephant? elephants are awesome (i think i was ranting out how they’re deserving of all my money recently) even if they ARE god’s last attempt to make a monster; people often charge kids money to ride on them; and, well, why shouldn’t i have at least as much fun as some stupid kids? they don’t even have JOBS.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). i have totally already ridden on elephants on several non-consecutive occasions, and it was as awesome as you might expect. no regrets at all!

11. learn to dance for Flannigan’s Ball
the concept: well, as i understand it, it basically goes like this: i spend six long months in Quincy, six long months in which i do nothing at all… except for learning to dance for Flannigan’s Ball. this would seem to have to have the advantages of me learning to dance (as i can’t do that now) as well as those of me drinking with presumably Irish people (Faheys, Bradys, McAuliffes, Daleys).
chances of getting it done: not bloody likely (0% chance). it actually turns out that this is a fictional ball in a Dropkick Murphys song. bummer! and it makes me wary of achieving my related goal of drinking sake on a Suzuki in Osaka Bay, because i’m pretty sure THAT happened in a song as well. oh well, at least i HAVE had sake before.

10. become a published author
the concept: sure, it’s great to have an English degree (the most useful degree EVER) and all, but if you REALLY want to be accepted in the high society of the 1800s, you need to get something published. and there’s nothing i want more than that kind of acceptance!
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). now, for the record, vanity presses and/or anything else you essentially self-publish do NOT count towards this goal, but i CAN say that i got a piece of poetry published in my alma mater’s literary magazine back in my college days. while this might sound completely lame and feminine… hey, fuck you, #10 on the list is crossed off!

the HK P7
saving space on the internet in 2009 by totally reusing this photo from an earlier update

09. become a contestant on the Gong Show
the concept: the Gong Show was a variety program started by Chuck Barris in 1976 in which amateur acts would perform for celebrity judges and receive “gongs” from a large gong if they were particularly bad. which, given my skills, i WILL be.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). because i just remembered: i WAS a contestant on the Gong Show back in 1977! i played a giant harmonica while wearing a two-man pair of overalls! i got more gongs than that break-dancing robot that caught fire! no… wait… that was a bit on the Simpsons and it wasn’t my real life at all. let me downgrade this one to no chance (0% chance), mostly because that show hasn’t aired since 1989 and i have yet to develop a time machine.

08. develop a working time machine
the concept: it’s a machine… that travels through time… and takes you with it! also, for me to consider it working, it can’t require you to be shot through time naked like in those Terminator movies which, if they have taught me anything, taught me this: traveling through time makes you stupid and weak! how else could a killer robot fail to take out a 100-pound girl?
chances of getting it done: boy, i bet you saw THIS joke entry coming after the Gong Show one, right? well, it’s still no chance (0% chance), because it’s not like i suddenly became a super-intelligent physicist between the two entries. still, we’ve got to get to work on this thing, because it’s not like i’m going to get any closer to “resolving origin” without a time machine.

07. purchase the greatest firearm of all time: the H&K P7
the concept: pretty self-explanatory. while i have many firearms, the P7 is a notoriously excellent-but-terribly-expensive one; i’d love to add one to my collection, but the price makes it difficult to justify when you consider that you’re basically paying a notable mark-up for the brand name. that being said, the P7 is distinctive enough to make it about more than that… but still.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance). i recently (fall 2008) purchased one of these handguns after i got quite a good deal on a used one, and it is every bit as excellent as you might expect. but in fairness, before this my goal was “purchase a Springfield M1A,” that being the most realistically daunting firearm purchase i could think of… and i accomplished that. so i guess this one should actually reset to “purchase the most expensive firearm i want and don’t own yet,” which right now would be a S&W M29 in that Taxi Driver vein, for which the chances are good (75% chance).

06. win a fistfight (or, i guess, any form of unarmed combat)
the concept: well, basically, beat someone in a fight. if there’s two things i’ve learned from Chuck Palahnuik’s fiction, they’re a) that you can’t really know yourself if you’ve never been in a fight, and b) if Palahnuik really thinks he’s a “minimalist,” then he totally has NO idea what that word means.
chances of getting it done: excellent (100% chance); i once got in a fight with a kid in, of all states, Utah. and since after some punches and choking, he ran away in defeat, i’m claiming the victory here; after all, it’s not like he’s about to contradict me. and thus ends the entire saga of my fighting career. unless you count grappling matches at work versus fat boys, which i personally don’t.

fighting leopards
oh, come on, you perverts, it’s not THAT kind of cat fight

05. see the Oakland Raiders win the Super Bowl
the concept: there’s this football team that i root for called the Oakland Raiders and it would be awesome to see them claim victory in the championship game that the NFL calls the Super Bowl. wait… why are you laughing?
chances of getting it done: well, this actually sort of depends on what you mean by “see the Oakland Raiders win the Super Bowl.” i HAVE been alive for two of their three Super Bowl wins (1980 and 1983), i have seen the games in question on tape and i am fairly certain i watched the latter on television as a very young lad, which would mean i HAVE achieved this goal (100% chance). however, i have to admit that when i was that little, while i loved my Raiders, i didn’t really appreciate the sport on an adult level… which would mean i haven’t done this yet, but probably will one day (85% chance). i’m not saying it’ll be any time soon… but when it happens, i WILL be alive for it. the amount of preservatives i consume will ensure it!

04. fight a leopard in hand-to-hand combat
the concept: well, this entry is inspired by Carl Ethan Akeley, a naturalist who was once attacked by a leopard (losing his rifle in the process) and managed to grapple with it, subdue it, and strangle it to death. this was, admittedly, in 1896 when men were men, but he DID also survive an elephant attack in the next century, which mostly just proves that god didn’t like him but wasn’t able to finish the job quickly.
chances of getting it done: not good (13% chance). this is due to a combination of factors: the difficulty of getting to Africa and getting out in “leopard country” (not conveniently located near “flavor country,” sadly) AND then besting one in hand-to-hand combat. let’s face it, i’m 152 pounds of balsa wood and feathers and a fearsome wild cat would probably eat my lunch AND drink my milkshake. but maybe if i practice on some ocelots to start…

03. see the thousands of glittering stars in the sky over Pleiku
the concept: i have a soft spot for Vietnam, notwithstanding any wars that may or may not have ensued there that may or may not have gotten some relatives of mine tortured to death. we’re over all that; water under the bridge. anyway, if you’re going to visit some foreign nation, it’d better be scenic, and that’s about as scenic as it gets.
chances of getting it done: not good (13% chance). the major problem with me and Vietnam ever getting together is not about ideology but about geography; it’s WAY the fuck over there, it requires a plane to get there, and if there’s two things i hate, it’s planes and fucking planes. oh, and heights, which might have something to do with that “hating planes” thing. still, i suppose i could start with Belgium and work my way up to the massive flight to Asia?

02. learn to speak a foreign language
the concept: not only is learning a second (or third or whatever) language a good way to broaden your horizons and interact with new and interesting cultures, but they tell me that if you learn a good one, you can TOTALLY score with the ladies! wait a minute… i don’t care about that! but it WOULD be good to know when foreigners are cursing me out.
chances of getting it done: so not good (7% chance). i’ve tried to learn one before (French), but that was an epic failure and i can at best recall some of the vocabulary; currently my employer (the government) seems to be encouraging me to try again, but all the languages i find actually interesting (Welsh, Russian, Arabic) aren’t spoken by any friends and family of mine. and you need that refreshing in order to keep the language skills. well, okay, my father sort of speaks Russian, but he always claims he can’t anymore and he NEVER calls me a capitalist dog. so sad. also, and more relevantly, i suck at languages.

packing pomegranates
question: how jealous am i of these dudes with their ready access to a giant pile of pomegranates? answer: VERY

01. pick a pomegranate off a tree in Kandahar and eat it
the concept: it’s pretty well-known around here that i am obsessed with the pomegranate: my home is filled with pomegranate juices and various things that smell like them (soaps and candles and the like); they’re well-regarded by Abrahamic faiths (Jews are blessed with their presence, Muslims eat them in paradise, Christians think they’re alright); and as a youth i think i heard the phrase “don’t take any wooden pomegranates” a lot. and it’s pretty well-known that Kandahar is the home of the world’s finest pomegranates: medium-sweet, ruby-red… and oh so savory.
chances of getting it done: downright terrible (1% chance). forgetting that i hate to fly, let’s NOT forget that Kandahar lies in the heart of “Taliban and opium country.” not that i have anything against opium or its related products, but i DO have something against having mujaheddin who don’t love Westerners cutting my head off: it’s simply not worth it for even the best fruit ever. still… i dare to dream a little sometimes (only when it’s late and i have been drinking, you know, times like that) and it can stay at 1%.

so that’s the list! well, 5 out of 13 isn’t bad, even if it IS cheating to include things i’ve done on a recently-compiled list. meh, whatever.

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