Thursday, March 29, 2007

Random Jukebox

In The Dice Man, novelist Luke Reinhart proposed making all of your decisions by rolling a dice. That’s clearly nuts. Using a jukebox to make all your decisions is a far more practical proposition.

Choose a random number (it will vary depending on what kind of jukebox you’re planning to use, but it will probably be four digits). Go to a bar, preferably one that has a jukebox. If you have to visit a few bars in order to find one, it’s only polite to have a drink in each. Once you have your jukebox, feed in your buck and key in your number. The song that comes up will be your guide for the following day.

Rolling Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’? You could take it literally and try to tame a horse. You could take a ride on a carousel. Or you could refuse to go away from somewhere: it’s your call. Joe Cocker doesn’t provide a lot of room for interpretation with his ‘Leave Your Hat On’, but it’s up to you which hat you choose. Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ may inspire you to give trophies to some of your more outstanding colleagues, friends and family members. Warrant’s ‘She’s my Cherry Pie’ is a clear invitation to take the day off and work on your pie recipe (if you need a ‘cool drink of water’ while working, go right ahead).

Repeat daily until you run out of songs, or until you select NWA’s ‘F*** the Police’.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Scavenger hunt

You know how it is: you’re in a new city, head buried in a map, trying to find the entrance to the subway, the public bathroom, the shop where they sell those shoes you saw on ‘Sex & the City’, and the Museum of Dental Hygiene. And while you’re busy looking, you keep stumbling over other, far more interesting things that you never even knew existed: a tiny store selling teacups from around the world, a fountain in the shape of a giraffe, someone drawing copies of Tintoretto on the pavement, a coffee shop specialising in cupcakes.

Until you get out there, you never know what you might find. But you need a reason to get out there. So (if it’s good enough for pirates, it’s good enough for you) send yourself on a treasure hunt.

Making your own list – particularly if you can impose it on others – is part of the fun, but to get you started here are some suggestions for things to find: a person who looks like their pet, an equation, something that belongs underwater, a fictitious animal, foreign money, some food that could hurt you. You can document them with photographs, drawings, descriptions or whatever takes your fancy. For variations, set yourself a list of tasks as well (sing on stage with a band you’re not a part of, pretend you’re in an Olympic event while queuing at the supermarket…). Have your friends join in, compare results and give prizes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Recipe for disaster

Ah, remember the night we sat on the Piazza Navona, sipping limoncello as the stars came out over the Panthenon? Or that little café, perched above the Danube, where you spilled your Zwack Unicum on my linen pantsuit? Tequila and a donkey show in Tijuana; a refreshing Kingfisher when we reached Everest base camp: so many traveling memories are brought on (and wiped out by) the taste of the local brew.
Some countries have a magic touch when it comes to distilling liquor; others just ferment whatever they find buried up the back of the shed under some burlap sacks. But whether glorious or vile, the thrill of tasting exotic booze is one of the highlights of travel.

The good news is, a little thing called 'international trade' means you can now gamble your liver and your eyesight in the comfort of your very own home. Even your local liquor store is bound to harbour at least one dubious spirit, beer or wine of unidentifiable lineage. Stores like Trader Joe’s or Dan Murphy's have a plethora. So here’s what you do: invite your closest friends to your place for a cocktail party. Everyone has to bring a bottle. More importantly, everyone has to bring a bottle of something foreign that they’ve never tasted before (if they can’t even figure out what it is, so much the better). Then, mix and match at your discretion (and remember, you can’t have too much water. Seriously. Drink up).

Ah, remember the night we put Vilmos Nectar in the blender with that beef-scented, orange stuff from Tanzania? No, neither do I…

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

How about that local sports team?

Does your suburb have a sporting team? How about your local school? Find out when they’re playing their next game and what their name and colors are. Get some of your braver friends together, dress up in team colours and go to the game. If you’re feeling extra keen, or really want to enjoy the experience, make up some cheers to egg the team on. If you happen to have a soft toy representing the team’s mascot, why not bring that along too? The main thing is enthusiastic participation: you may be the only people there, watching some ten-year-olds play field hockey or some university students playing a casual game of flag football, but you should treat it like the Super Bowl or the AFL grand final.

If you can (and if their dads won’t beat you up), get the players’ autographs at the end of the game.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Art gallery stories

Does your town have an art museum? A small gallery? How about a shop that sells prints and won’t kick you out if you hang around with a notepad and pen?

Take a few friends to the gallery and sit yourselves down in front of one of the pictures. Give yourselves a time – say, 15 minutes – and write a story each about what is happening in the picture. When you’re done, read each others’ stories. How different were your interpretations? If you enjoy the process, choose another picture and do it again.

If you’re feeling extra keen, grab postcards of the artworks (or print them out from the Internet) and compile them, along with the stories, into a little book for each of your friends.