Ten things to do over summer

Today is my last day of work until mid-January, and while I’ve been looking forward to some down-time, now that it’s almost here I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to fill it. Sure, catch-ups with expat friends where we talk through their ambivalent feelings about Sydney are fun, and there’s plenty of TV I need to watch (Breaking Bad is top of the list). But that will still leave dozens of hours to fill.

Here’s my summer to-do list. See how many you can get through over your own break!

1) Become a cricket commentator

Do you love the cricket? Would you be watching it with mates anyway , and exchanging quips as you do so? Well, then why not broadcast your banter over the internet as an alternative live commentary?

Well, perhaps because it’d be technically difficult (wrong) and because it would take up an extremely large amount of time (correct) and because, well, who’d listen (a good question, but you never know! Even though you can probably make a pretty good guess.)

I know some guys who actually do this. They call themselves TippyTappy Sports, and except on the rare occasions when their ordinary lives intervene, they’ve been calling the whole of the Test series. You can ring them up, too – I did once, because they were wondering if anybody at all was listening and I wanted to . We talked for a good ten minutes, and you can’t do that on the ABC coverage, where the only person who’s allowed to bang on about amusing random stuff is Kerry O’Keeffe.

Next Test match, you can listen to their (NSFW) commentary, or you can start your own. If you do start your own, perhaps you can call up each other’s live call?

It doesn’t have to be the cricket. You can live commentate anything that’s on TV, or just bang on about anything at all. If I was in high school now, I bet you anything my nerdy friends and would be trying to set up our own “hilarious” internet radio station over summer.

Just a quick legal note: I don’t know whether you need broadcasting rights to do this, but I’m assuming it’s legal to do what Roy and HG used to do with State of Origin?

2) Learn how to make ice-cream

Ice-cream is delicious, and apparently not all that difficult to make – if you have an ice-cream maker. My gelato-obsessed friend tells me it’s all about making sure it freezes slowly while being churned so there aren’t ice crystals. There’s nothing better than ice-cream in summer, with the possible exception of frozen yoghurt. And if you make it yourself, you can finally have that strange, decadent combo you thought up. Here’s mine: an Iced Vo-vo ice-cream, with jam, coconut, chunks of biscuit and whatever that pink icing stuff is. In fact, that’s settled it – I’m buying one myself.

3) Dye your hair

I did this one summer at university using a product called Sun-In which made it a hideous tint of rusty orange. I thought that displaying such a devil-may-care attitude to my appearance would help me get a girlfriend – this approach, I later learned, is known as ‘peacocking’. In my case, it didn’t help at all, but it was still fun. Probably best to get the professionals to do it, if you care at all about being attractive.

4) Invent a meme

At the moment, roughly 85% of all internet traffic is devoted to memes. The word “meme”, as originally conceived by Richard Dawkins”, means an “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. It was a genuinely brilliant insight about the way concepts spread somewhat like living organisms.

Whereas on the internet, it means a quirky picture with a caption in white capital letters with black borders, in the font Impact. I don’t know why. Ask the internet.

Once upon a time, only designated “comedians” were allowed to be funny in the public sphere. But nowadays, thanks to the “social media” which everybody thinks are so important but exist predominantly to give human civilisation a way to simultaneously waste its time on the same stuff, anybody can create a meme that goes “viral” around the “world wide web” and makes you “internet famous”. You don’t even need Photoshop – just head to MemeGenerator and it’ll do it for you.

Here are some possible subjects for memes:

  • The Hobbit – probably the talking point of summer 2012/3. Be sure to complain about how you don’t like the 3D and high-resolution and 48 frames per second screening, that’ll be entertaining for everyone! Here’s Gollum to get you started. Make sure to use the term “Precioussss” about something that is in no way precious!
  • New Year’s Fireworks – maybe contrast the joyous optimism of the new year with, I don’t know, asylum seekers or something?
  • Justin Bieber – unlike him, making fun of him hasn’t aged a bit!

And look, I made a meme about the kind of people who make memes:


5) Start a blog

You know how you’ve always wanted to start a blog to express yourself? Keep a journal of all the cool stuff you’re up to? Record your innermost thoughts? This could be the summer to do it! You’ll almost certainly have abandoned it by mid-February, but don’t let me dissuade you that this early stage! I certainly won’t mention that 95% of blogs are apparently abandoned.

If you haven’t time for a proper blog, why not start a Tumblr? My friend recently made one where he captions photos of the royal family, and he’s somehow managing to keep it up. In fact, having done hundreds, he’s arguably too devoted to it.

6) Go tenpin bowling

How long is it since you’ve been? Remember how in high school it was quite expensive, and you could only play a game or two? Well now that you’re a grown up, your budget probably extends to as many games as you can stand until your fingers get sore! There are few better feelings in the world than a strike.

7) Organise and backup your photos

This is a practical yet boring suggestion. People whose homes have been destroyed by fires often nominate the destruction of their family photos as the most devastating loss. In the digital era, there’s no excuse. Don’t just back up to a hard disk – back them up online to Flickr or Picasa or iCloud or Dropbox or Sugarsync or anything really just do it now yes right now and I mean immediately while you think of it or you’ll forget. Ideally, group them all properly first, but that’s not as important as backing up.

So, where’s the fun bit in all this? Looking at the photos. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t bothered to do so since taking them, imagining that someday in the future you’ll have time to enjoy them. Guess what? This summer could be that time!

8) Create a new you

After 35 years of being the same person, I’m getting a little bored with myself. So I’m considering adopting a new identity during the summer. Not all of the time, but for the odd night out here or there. He will be called Enrique, and he will be from wherever in Latin America the person I’m talking to seems least likely to have visited. He will have a Spanish accent and yet be strangely unable to speak Spanish. He will dress in dapper suits and panama hats, wear a rose in his lapel and very much enjoy talking to strangers in nightclubs and being the life and soul of any party. He will call women Senorita or Señora and bow deeply. In other words, he’ll be as unlike me as humanly possible.

If anybody I know busts me, or discovers that Enrique cannot in fact speak Spanish, my plan for avoiding people concluding I’ve grown entirely deranged is to say that I’m preparing for a role, and that my acting coach advised me not to drop character. I haven’t yet figured out what to say when they point out that I’m not an actor.

9) Record a critically acclaimed indie album

Do what Bon Iver did and lock yourself away in a cabin and let the genius pour out of you! If it’s there. If not, you’ll have wasted your summer. But at least you’ll have an album! That you’ll never play to anybody.

While being lauded as a musical genius isn’t all that easy, it’s certainly simple to make an album nowadays. GarageBand is free on Macs and cheap to buy for iPad or iPhones, and there are lots of other options like Reason and Acid. Or, if you want something that’s easy and don’t mind if the results make shopping-centre muzak sound interesting, you could resort to Microsoft’s hilariously bad SongSmith. (Click on that link. You won’t be disappointed.)

10) Come up with your own list like this one

I’ll probably have done everything on this list after about a week, so I’ll need more suggestions – if you have any ideas, please put them into the comments! And have an excellent summer, everybody.