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Published on December 4th, 2012 | by William Franklin

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The Top 10 New Things to try in 2014

The new year is nearly here and provided we’re not all steaming piles of ash for whatever the ‘it’ reason conspiracy theorists are panicking about this time, now is as good a time as any to make some plans. Not resolutions, unlike the planet, they’re always doomed; we’re talking about amusing ways to pass the time that don’t involve a few pints at the local and two box set seasons of Breaking Bad. So here are a the top 10 new things to try in 2013

1. Go Jet-Packing – Florida.

What? I didn’t say they’d be, you know, easy. When someone invented a jetpack that actually works in the traditional sense of keeping a normal-size human airborne for more than thirty seconds rather than six-feet under forever by not working on the pipe-bomb-backpack engineering schematics, we of the nerdy persuasion were certain that flying cars were surely next and all our dreams of pretending to be Judge Dredd on the daily commute were fulfillable. We were wrong. They’re still not here. But if you’re interested in pretending to be Bond for an afternoon in Key West then TripAdvisor would say go do it.

The Jetlev R200 system, pioneered by Canadian Raymond Li works by pumping up seawater through a tube and shooting it back out with enough force to keep the rider a few metres above the surface, which might be disappointing until you realise how stupidly dangerous the alternative would be.

Like any adventurous activity, it looks like righteous fun from a distance but is actually pretty punishing. Humans aren’t really accustomed, biologically speaking, to flight, so expect a fairly rigorous learning curve but if you need a bit more time to get used to the contraption, you could always buy one for less than 10,000 U.S. It’d sure liven up fishing trips.

2. Learn how to shoot guns – Budapest

You’d think a true gun nut wouldn’t have much interest in the Top Gun tour because they already have a stockpile of small arms in their mother’s nuke-proof basement and know exactly how to use them all. Which does beg the question: why does this even exist?

The answer is, if you just want to try firing a machine gun for an afternoon, you can. There are dozens of places in the US alone that’ll let you loose in their firing range after four hours of health and safety lecturing, but where’s the fun in that? If you’re really into self-preservation then why do you want to even be in the same airless room as a deadly weapon? Guns aren’t safe. That’s basically the whole point.

If you’re near the Orlando area, then everyone’s dream of arming their children could be a reality for you, because the Florida branch of Top Gun Tours offers a special version of the ‘Try Shooting’ event for youngsters aged 10 to 13 called Mini Marksman. Now that’s wish fulfilment.

3. Celebrate Easter with artillery at Rouketopolemos – Vrontados, Greece

Every year the Panagia Erithiani and Agios Markos churches in Vrontados celebrate the resurrection of Christ in a time-honoured fashion — by opening fire on each other with rockets. That’s what Rouketopolemos literally means: ‘rocket war’. The locals claim it’s been going on since the Ottoman era and it took them until 1889 to stop using actual cannons. These days, the churches are only firing homemade fireworks over the 400 metre valley separating the two with the goal of hitting the opponent’s belltower. But every time they both claim to have won just so they can do it again next year. Whatever you might think of Orthodox Christianity, this isn’t exactly orthodox behaviour.

4. Watch the Spanish Mutilate a Dead Goose – Spain

In case that photo isn’t perfectly clear, that’s a guy dangling from a wire by a dead goose’s neck. Every September during the San Antolin Festival held in the town of Lekeitio in the Basque, the local youths queue up for Antzar Eguna. That’s ‘Goose day’ of course. No-one knows why, but the place still holds it, as a kind of ‘who can hold onto a dead goose’s neck hardest’ competition.

The goose is attached to that wire and the wire extends all the way across the town harbour, suspended a few feet above the surface. The young men then take turns holding onto the goose while the rest of the village jerks and flings the wire into the air in an attempt to remove the guy. The winner is determined as the person who after parting company with the goose, is still holding its head.

5. Visit Songdo, the newest city in the world. – S.Korea

I’m going to show you two photos, one of which is of the new Smart City, Songdo, International Business District and the other is a still from sci-fi, utopian romp Ultraviolet with Milla Jovovich. I’ll give you a few seconds to make your guess before I release the hounds.

Yep. They’re both Songdo. Sorry for dragging that laborious gimmick out. And I released the hounds anyway.

Songdo (which means ‘city of pines’) IBD is the most expensive urban undertaking in history. The ten year project that will shortly be drawing to a close is estimated at anywhere between $30 and $40 billion to cover 1500 acres, 40 miles west of Seoul. It’s designed to be a commuter haven of waterfront residential and business areas but I swear fully a fifth or so of the city is taken up by a golf course. So if that’s your thing, or strolling through New York’s Central Park without the hassle of it being in New York then the first hotel to open in the IBD, the Sheraton Incheon can put you up in five star luxury for less than hundred pounds a night.

And if you’re not keen to even leave your chair you can explore young Songdo with this interactive map. Which is actually pretty damn neat.

6.Watch the newest sport in the world – Philadelphia

New sports are usually named as lazy portmanteaus of the two or more real ones they’re just aping by people who don’t know what portmanteau means. The name of Kronum, the world’s newest sport, seems to have been chosen on the basis that it’s one of those rare breeds of word that don’t sound any more Satanic when spelt backwards.

What it actually is, is a mystery to me. I can tell you that it was invented in 2008 by someone called Gibson who  wanted to combine elements of football (that’s our kind), basketball, handball and rugby into glorious display of running, jumping, battling feats of physical prowess an- gragh [pant]. I’m getting out of breath just, huh, typing about it. Anyway, you can, huh-huh, watch the league matches next year at Philly or pick it, huh, up at one of the few colleges that are starting to offer it.

7. The lamest sport in the world – Florida

When I feel threatened my first instinct is to cast a Magic Missile and if that fails then my second is to drink until the nasty thing goes away. ,And even I think the ‘real’ quidditch tournaments are spectacles of absolute, virginal tragedy.

After much deliberation, the International Quidditch Association (yes, that’s apparently a thing) announced the 6th Annual Quidditch World Cup is on for 2013 is taking place in Kissimme, Florida. Presumably because that’s what all the participants were begging at the time and the council misheard them. You can visit the the website in the link above and read about this wonderfully crafted sport and even download its rulebook (Its available in England and Italian)

8. Punish your tastebuds – Texas

Deep-fried bubblegum. Does the very thought of such a wondrous foodstuff set your mouth watering and your heart fluttering? Well that link actually works so, it’s all yours I guess, better you than me. But if I catch you bad-mouthing my risotto or teriyaki chicken I’m going to have you vivisectioned.

9. Live without technology – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Some hotels on the tropical, Jack Sparrow was ‘ere islands offer a ‘digital detox’, a cute way of saying that, upon arrival, like untrusting parents they will seize all your bastions of modern life: phones, laptops, tablets, pacemakers and so forth in order than you can have a relaxing time away from all th- wait, I can’t even get Twitter?

10. Do NOT go into space. Really. Go do literally anything else. Anywhere

Astronauts used to be the head boys of the grammar school of the human race. Used to be. Now, you don’t have to be at the peak of physical and mental perfection to go intcause Richard Branson and a few others thought it would be funny to let rotund, rich idiots cross the final frontier.

I refuse to suggest you plan to take an interstellar commercial flight into the black nothingness of our galaxy not because you’ve been able to for a while, but because space is boring. I’ll say it again: space is boring and it would take at the damned least the discovery of intelligent, extraterrestrial life that either tastes delicious or considers stripping a cornerstone of its culture to change my mind.

Virgin, among other enterprising aeronautical companies, will continue to offer two and a half hour flights into the great unknown. But in the same time (obviously, not counting the time it would take you to get to New Mexico, where the shuttles launch from) you could watch two and a half episodes of ’24′ and see exponentially more interesting things, such as Keifer Sutherland sobbing and lingering shots of the desolate, urban expanse of L.A. For an actual fraction of the price.

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William Franklin



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