2013, We Hardly Knew Ye: The Year in Review

It must have been love, but it’s over now. Here is my own personal list of awards and mentions for the year that has just passed.

MOVIES

According to ratings I gave on Rotten Tomatoes, my Top 10 films of 2013 (in no particular order) would be:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Life of Pi

Django Unchained

The Master (very long and very boring- my type of film)

Flight

Zero Dark Thirty

The Place Beyond The Pines

Star Trek Into Darkness

Stoker (Watch it)

Before Midnight

Based on this, I’m gonna have to give film of the year to Django Unchained. No, I haven’t seen Gravity yet.

Guilty Pleasure of the year: Dredd

Best Movie of the Year that was concerned with the Apocalypse: Pacific Rim

Best White House Gets Taken Over By Terrorists Movie of the Year: Olympus Has Fallen

Best non-2013 Movie of the Year: Mulligans

Disappointments of the year:

The Great Gatsby (Carey, you’re better than this)

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (This has the narrative fluency of half an episode of Lost. Calling it a movie is false advertising)

MUSIC

Song of the Year: If you asked me another time it might be different, but at the moment it’s Hannah Hunt by Vampire Weekend.

Here’s a Spotify playlist of the music I listened to a lot in 2013 (although the songs are not necessarily from this year)

My musical achievement of the year: Embedding that playlist in this blogpost.

Performance of the year:  Romania in the Eurovison.

As close as you can get on live family TV to having a dress made out of naked men.

VIDEO GAMES

Game of the Year: GTAV

Achievement of the year (and not just with regards to video games): Achieving 100% completion of GTAV in 13 days.

Disappointment of the year (and not just with regards to video games): Actually only achieving 98.9% completion in GTAV as a result of a glitch in the game that won’t let me enter the stripclub so I can seduce a stripper and bring her home with me. I wrote to Rockstar Games, they say they fixed the problem, but that I will have to delete my files and start over if I want to get 100%. I hate them now.

SPORTS

Game of the Year: That Confederations Cup game that James Gandolfini died in the middle of, changing the Twitter narrative dramatically. I can’t remember who was playing, but it was end-to-end stuff. Japan were involved.

Sports Disappointment of the Year: Turning on the last five minutes of Ireland v New Zealand (rugby), only to see Ireland lose with the last kick of the game.

Player of the Year: Arjen Robben

The tortures that the gods put him through in that Champions League final before finally allowing him to score beggar belief.

Pass of the Year: That inch-perfect through ball I played to Jose in the Prater, setting him up for the goal that would end the game, due to the sun setting and us wanting to go home. You all remember it.

MISCELLANY

Meme of the year: The Harlem Shake

I could watch these videos for hours.

App of the Year: Vine

This is actually very closely related to the Harlem Shake above. Video sharing hasn’t taken off online as usually people are very fond of themselves and upload videos that are far too long. Both the Harlem Shake and Vine constrain the videos to just a few seconds, meaning any upload has to be carefully thought out.

Holy Mass of the Year: Christmas Eve, Loughnavelley

Father O’ Connor knows how to work an altar.

Bad Taste Moment of the Year: That US swimmer that swam from Florida to Cuba. Everyone in America thought she was great, but seriously, how many Cubans die every year trying to make the reverse journey?

Person of the Year: Edward Snowden

It’s easy to be cynical, but until he came out, politicians didn’t have to answer questions on this stuff.

Idiot of the Year: Jacob Zuma

He is very lucky that the sign language guy took all the heat from the Mandela funeral. In reality, Zuma was the one who organised possibly the Worst Funeral in History, attempting to gain international prominence through lecturing half the major world leaders as a captive audience. It should be put into law that Zuma’s own funeral should be held in a football stadium.

The Miley Cyrus Award for News That We Really Shouldn’t Have Cared About: Rob Ford

A local politician in Canada smokes crack, great. The Miley Cyrus thing was actually more relevant to all our lives than this, which should highlight the insignificance of the Rob Ford narrative.

The “Old Man Award” for Youth Culture Item of the Year That I Don’t Understand: Twerking

I have read Wikipedia articles, watched instructional videos and even asked people in their early 20’s, but still I just don’t have a clue

The ‘So Close’ Award: Me betting on the wrong pope

I reasoned that they had to pick someone from the New World, and none is more safe than an Argentine with an Italian name. Unfortunately, I put my tenner on Leonardo Sandri, and not Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

The “Instant Classic Anecdotal Ice-Breaker” Award: When I went to Bulgaria and waited on the shore with my girlfriend while her dad caught crabs in a lake near the Macedonian border.

The “It Felt Like A Good Idea At The Time” Award: When I went to the shop to buy a map of the world, and instead came back with a book of maps from the fictional world of Game of Thrones.

Bender of the Year: The weekend of the Eurovision

On the Friday I was out all night, then hosted a Eurovision drinking game party the next evening. Sunday was the end of the football season so we went out to the pub to watch Arsenal reach the Champions League, followed by a Pub Quiz in Charlie P’s. I was hungover until July.

Biggest Regret of the Year: Hiring Bulgarian gypsies to help me move apartments.

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On that note, I shall take my leave. I hope everyone had a great 2013, and also that 2014 be even better. Thanks for reading, and feel free to challenge any of my awards on Facebook or below.

How To Steal Christmas

Recently my attention was drawn to an ingenious deviant of Christmas party game, known as a White Elephant Gift Exchange. In a similar vein to a Secret Santa format (party variant), all guests bring a gift to the party, and then each guest individually (by way of assigning numbers and drawing lots) gets to open one gift that he/she can choose from the pile of other gifts.  The guests agree beforehand to respect certain budgetary (and sometimes thematic) criteria. The novelty arises in that when it is a guests turn to open a present, he or she also has the option to simply take a present that has already been opened instead. Yes, you get to steal presents from people who have already opened theirs. If you like the look of something that has been opened, you can simply bide your time and wait for your turn in order to steal it. Once you steal someone’s gift, they have the option of either opening another package or stealing someone else’s (they cannot immediately steal back ‘their’ gift that you have just stolen, but this can occur later). Thus this chain of treachery, jealousy and confusion continues until the last gift is opened and no more stealing is possible. In ending up with the best gift of all, a White Elephant Gift Exchange offers the distinct possibility of fulfilling the childhood dream of actually winning Christmas. This post will go some way to explaining my thoughts on how to achieve this. As always, I assume the worst in human nature.

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From a theoretical perspective, there are two considerations, ranked as follows:

1)      The quality of the gift you leave the party with.

2)      Your enjoyment in watching other guests steal each other’s presents.

Since it is a game, a lot of the fun is in taking part, yet really the most important part of any game will be in the winning. In this case, winning would involve getting a present that you really like, or (if you are a particularly spiteful person), getting the best present available, regardless of whether you actually wanted it or not. In any case, the behaviour of other guests is also a consideration and it would be preferable from an entertainment point of view for there to be as much skulduggery as possible, and preferably without affecting your pursuit of your desired Christmas gift.

So, with these two goals in mind, a strategy is needed in order to maximise the potential to achieve both. Again, looking at the game from a theoretical view, there are two ways in which an individual can affect the game from the outset:

  • Before the game: Choice of present you bring.
  • During the game when your number is drawn: whether to unwrap, or steal.

An overlooked strategy for success in winning Christmas during a white elephant game is our personal choice of present brought to the table. Remember this can occur long before the game, and therefore there are no excuses for overlooking the importance. The obvious strategy here would be to buy something shite or embarrassing, wrap it up, and bring it along. Someone opens it on the night, wow they are embarrassed, there is laughter for 30 seconds, the game moves on to the next person. No one will steal your shite present from the person who opened it, and you have not really added to the game. Nor will you have furthered your aim of winning Christmas.

I would argue here that an optimal strategy is buying (within the specified game rules) an exceptional present, one that takes into account the preferences of those in attendance, with the knowledge that most would want it. This scenario would guarantee multiple steals, and ensure tension throughout the remainder of the game. Not only that, but if done well, it could distract the majority of guests from following and possibly curbing your pursuit of a desired present. Let them fight over your trinket, while you covertly manoeuvre your way to glory. Therefore it is apparent that plenty can be done before the game begins to ensure a rich bounty come the end of a  white elephant exchange.

This manoeuvring is easier said than done however. The game can be won and lost through poor decision making when it comes to your turn. Choosing to unwrap a gift will yield one of two outcomes: a good gift, or a bad one. If it is a good one, it will be stolen almost immediately. If it is a bad one, you will be stuck with it forever. My recommendation here would be to steal the best available unwrapped present at the time, even if you do not want it. The rationale would be that even if you do not want it, someone will, and will steal it from you eventually. When this occurs you will get to choose again, possibly from a greater selection of unwrapped presents, and just possibly there will be something available that you really want. The point here is that if you steal, people are more likely to steal from you, and if this occurs, you will get to choose more often. With patience, you will get to the gift that your heart desires.

Luck does enter the game at various points. The order in which guests take their turn to receive a present is completely random, and it really does not pay to be drawn early, as there will not be many stealable gifts to choose from, and the eyes of the guests will be around you, resolving to steal anything of even remote quality. Of course, this will just lead to more opportunities or you to observe the possessions of all around you, and plunder the best. The strategy I have laid out here will not win you friends, nor earn you invites for next year’s party. All it can give you is the chance for victory, on this most holy of occasions.  Only with such a strategy can one hope to tame the white elephant. Only with such a strategy can one have the chance to win Christmas, once and for all.