Dear 43 Things Users,

10 years after introducing 43 Things to the world, we have decided we have met our last goal: completing the incredible experience that has been 43 Things. Please join us in giving one last cheer to all the folks who have shared their goals with the world, as well as all the people who have worked at The Robot Co-op to build this incredible website. We won a Webby Award, published a book, and brought happiness to a lot of people.

Starting today, 43 Things users can export their goals and entries from the site. Starting August 15, we will make the site “read only”. 43 Things users will still be able to view the site and export their content, but we won’t be taking any new content from users. We hope to leave the site up for folks to see and download their content until the end of the year. Ending on New Year’s Eve takes us full circle.

It has been a long ride (one of our original goals was to "build a company that lasts at least 2 years” - we beat that one!) While we wish the site could live on, it has suffered from a number of challenges - changes in how people use the site, the advertising industry, and how search engines view the site. We wish the outcome was different – but we’ve always been realistic about when our goals are met and when they aren't.

As of today, you will be able to download your goals and entries. See more about that on the FAQ page. Thanks for 10 great years of goal-setting and achieving.

- The Robots.

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tales of marriage, sex, death, and other humiliations
By Michael Ian (Schwartz) Black

Photo I took from a Stella performance at Baltimore’s Ottobar on April 14, 2003

You may know him as “that guy” from many, MANY, many roles. The State, Stella, Ed, hand puppet guy, I Love the 70s/80s/90s, bit parts on Reno 911, Johnny Blue Jeans on VIVA VARIETY!, the trial run “tryout” to replace Craig Kilborn for host of the Late Late Show…, Michael & Michael Have Issues (brilliant!), and, most recently, as smarmy guy in Expedia commercials, etc etc etc… I could go on… but I won’t.

I know him as a dude I’ve followed for awhile. I have seen his solo standup and also his touring with Stella a handful of times and his performances in Soundtracks Live! at the UCB Theater in NYC for Pretty in Pink (perfection as Blaine… and I think also he was in Fast Times… but maybe not because I don’t recall who he played…and I tend to have TOTAL RECALL). I’ve met him at various comedy events (nothing memorable). And yeah, in person, he’s funny, handsome, charming, jewish, thin, kinda quiet … all those things we love in any given man. And I (sadly, snobbily—blame the WASP in me) did not read his first book about Custom Vans, though I believe I did read all his McSweeney’s shit. Anyway, short story long, I am a FAN, though not a RABID fan of MIB’s (To further explore what I mean by RABID FAN, see my defunct but still functional fan site Wet Hot Michael Showalter )

Anyhow, unlike the mediocrely titled Custom Van essay book, this book appealed to me straightaway. Mostly because I have heard its titular phrase my whole life: ‘YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT…’ My whole career, pretty much every past relationship and all throughout my current relationship; that’s pretty much how you can sum it all up. I also liked that the cover titillatingly used an Oxford comma to advertise that it was about sex, death, and humiliation; that, coupled with the photograph of MIB on a park bench, glazed eyes staring into the nothingness just to the right of my shoulder in the bookstore, and I was sold. Sold because these are all things I am keenly interested in: the relationship, sex and humiliation stuff and also the staring off somewhere at nothing. Being and Nothingness; those are my main interests. (And books—trifecta here.)

So, yep, I was excited to read this.

I started it that night when I got home (a surprise spring rain shower drenched me in three block walk home from the bookstore). I took a bath and then read almost all of it in there and then in bed after. I even had sex while reading it. A bit private to share, but I didn’t feel like stopping because I was engrossed, so I just let him do whatever. Sig Other didn’t give a shit, he just did his thang and I did mine (which was reading and moaning just a little.)

I finished it at the gym the next day, where they already think I am insane, so it didn’t matter that I was falling off the elliptical laughing. Though the trainers were alarmed when I started bawling over a dying dog anecdote because they thought my crying was due to pain/heart attack. Yimes. But we straightened it out. I was fine; the dog was not.

So, this makes for the fourth “comedy” book which I have read in my life (not counting New Yorker cartoon books as I think I have “read” all of those); the list is thus: The Woody Allen Chicken Feathers book (too lazy to walk into my library and get the actual name), Rock This! by Chris Rock and Seinlanguage by…yeah you know. Everyone read that book. I do like the Chris Rock book a lot (favorite all-time bathroom read and re-read) but You’re Not Doing It Right is my new favorite! Wheee! I give it 2 thumbs up. Or however one rates comedy-anecdote-essay-type books. 4 3/4 out of 5 hearty belly laughs, let’s say. Plus some tissues for the sad doggy part. All in all, fulfilling and what one would expect from MIB. No complaints here. He’s a terrific writer, when it comes down to it. (Can’t read any book that isn’t well-written mechanically speaking. Just does not compute.)

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not like fuuuuuuuuuunnnny. In fact it’s pretty effing dark and scary and honest and truthful and bare. And mostly painful at times. Because it’s life. And life is full of pain and hate and boredom and narcissists who, because they are in your life, would tell you life is otherwise. But that’s what makes it so great and so funny—its honesty. And that’s funny and brilliant. Michael Ian Black is a real ass nigga, and, being from Baltimore, I don’t know how else to put it but that… and I mean it in the most respectful way possible.

here’s a sampling of some resonant passages I underlined: (reprinted without permission)

p160 … {on couples therapy}
“So there we are, week after week… telling a stranger all the things we struggle to say to each other. It helps. The girl I love is in there, buried under to-do lists and anxiety, but she’s in there. The boy she loves is there, too, overwhelmed and not understanding how he will keep this life going for the people that he loves, but he is there. Sometimes when we leave… I feel like I have just stepped out of one of those fancy showers that shoots water at you from a thousand different directions. I feel clean and hopeful and a little aroused.
“Sometimes our good feelings carry over the entire week. But sometimes we start screaming at each other again as soon as we get home. That’s just the way it goes with is. One step forward, ninety-two steps back.”

p.207 … {on becoming a BMW guy}
“When we get back to the dealership the saleswoman asks me what i think. I return to my Car Guy stance, murmuring something noncommittal. I tell her I’ll think about it and get back to her. But there’s no question in my mind; I’m buying that car. How do i reconcile my conflicting emotions about the automobile? That’s easy: in any conflict between idealism and shininess, shininess wins.
“Deciding to buy the car is like getting into a hot bath after subjecting myself to the cold for as long as I could stand it. For years, I’ve identified myself as somebody who lives outside the demands of commerce; I became that perpetually teenage artist dancing on taxicab roofs. But what I never realized until this moment, is that not only am I currently a demographic, I always was one. The iconoclast is as well defined demographic as the yuppie and the soccer mom and the redneck. We are all demographics. Even guys like me to do everything in our power to self-identify as “different”; in fact, the BMW 328xi is specifically marketed to people who think of themselves exactly this way.
Marketers have thought of everything. They knew I would want this car before I even knew. Which is to say, they know me better than i know myself. Some people might find that creepy. I find it comforting. Because not only do they know me, they like me. They like all of us here in the BMW showroom, all of us craving the aggressive, masculine, deeply meaningful lifestyle embodied by these automobiles with their taut steering. They know us because their only mission in life is to satisfy these deep American cravings that resonate across the vastness of our culture like whale songs.
“They are the people who created the itch and scratch of AMerican life. And as much as I resisted it, I have to admit, there was something kind of wonderful about succumbing to the temptation, of buying admittance to a club whose badge is the blue and white propeller hood ornament on our delicious Bavarian automobiles.” 2 years ago

petrnotail80. The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

Jessica Anya Blau

Picked up because author teaches at Goucher and of course I liked the title. And the novel does live up to the titular promise. Summer of ‘76 in SoCal: skinny girls getting tan, surfer boys getting laid, sex, doobage, camping, religion, Chumash, plenty of embarassing nudity, along with some anxiety and obsessiveness. Powered through it during 1.5 cardio sessions at the gym + 1 long bath.

“Imagination, at the time, was Jamie’s greatest problem—her parents had taken to hiding The Los Angeles Times so as not to feed her the fuel on which her neurosis ran.”

“Everywhere Jamie went, she imagined death first and humiliation second.” 2 years ago

petrnotail79. A Fairy Tale of New York

J.P. Donleavy
(second reading)

The Bronx-born, Brooklyn-raised, Trinity educated, Cornelius Christian’s wife dies en route via steamship from Ireland to New York. He then takes a job at the funeral parlor that interned his wife as a way to pay off his massive debt there but also to learn the trade. Christian meets a string of women, most notably the insanely rich Fanny Sourpuss, wife of one of his late clients. He then basically punches and drinks and fucks his way through New York City for about year. A quite delightful, quite sadly funny read.

“When you find
A friend
Who is good and true
Fuck him
He fucks

“This whole massive country. One vast incitement to the appetite. One monstrous insult to the delicate spirit.”

“I don’t have a degree. O.k. Maybe I was too distracted by human nature in college. I got disappointed in human nature as well and gave it up because I found it too much like my own.”

“All the colors get dark when the light goes away. And you wonder.
How grey
Is black
When black
Is grey”

“The word ‘marry’ closed doors all over my brain.”

“I don’t know we live in trying times. Where there used to be wilderness and god’s natural wonders, now we enjoy hamburger joints, gas stations, utility poles and used car lots. Everywhere they’re tearing down the old elegance.”

“Thought I would become. And now. It’s time to be. And I’m not.” 2 years ago

petrnotail78. Dear Everybody

Michael Kimball

A man whose mentally ill brother commits suicide collects the letters his brother wrote to everyone before he took his life. Instead of one long suicide note, he wrote letters to everybody in his life, start to finish. His brother gathers them chronologically with conversations and articles and documents, trying to learn more about his life.

This book kept me up at night, troubled, and I sobbed like a child at the end, though you know the killing is coming from day one. 2 years ago

petrnotail77. The Extra Man

Jonathan Ames

A quel destin inconnu se dirige-t-elle...
To what unknown destiny is she directing herself?... I always say that when I see a beautiful woman. What will happen to her? Where is she going? Where has she come from?” 2 years ago

petrnotail76. I Pass Like the Night

Jonathan Ames 2 years ago

petrnotail75. The Help

Kathryn Stockett

Liked it. 3 years ago

petrnotail74. My Less Than Secret Life

Articles, Fiction, Journalism, Essays by Ames

“There’s also religion and intoxicants and good restaurants for solace and consolation, but nothing beats hiding under a comforter with someone you adore, holding on to their ass like a life preserver, and waiting for the world and the day to come to an end.”

“I don’t like to be a bad influence. It’s bad enough that I have influence over myself.”

“It’s very hard to be a ballsy writer when you can’t afford to live anywhere.” 3 years ago

petrnotail73. Cold Spring Harbor

Richard Yates

I’ve yet to meet a Yates book I didn’t like. 3 years ago

petrnotail72. Exes and Ohs

Shallon Lester.

Passingly amusing. 3 years ago

petrnotail71. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Michael Chabon

His first novel.

“I was a fool for a girl with a dainty lexicon.”

“Never say that love is like anything… It isn’t.”

“Absence makes the heart grow fronds.”

”...Had forgotten how much I enjoyed lying across the backseat of a car with my hair out one window and my feet out the other, watching the phone poles pass, listening to music, the engine, the wind passing over the car.”

“Whom the gods would destroy they first make pasta.” 3 years ago

petrnotail70. Wonder Boys

Michael Chabon

Loved the movie, so I thought I’d try the book and wasn’t disappointed.

“I knew that I shouldn’t have, but I did it all the same; and there you have my epitaph, or one of them, because my grave is going to require a monument inscribed on all four sides with rueful mottoes, in small characters, set close together.”

“Writers, unlike most people, tell their best lies when they are alone.”

“Some of them…just told lies. Others wove plots out of the gnarls and elf knots of their lives and then followed them through to resolution.” 3 years ago

petrnotail69. Wake Up, Sir!

Jonathan Ames

Alcoholic young writer and his personal valet, Jeeves, have zany adventures; hilarity happens.

“But I guess we all like to know other people’s secrets so that we can live with our own.”

“But I need more than twelve steps. For what ails one, I require that whole staircase in Rome.”

“In one’s quest to continually divide the world, I think one can safely say that the world is divided between those who pursue breakfast and those who don’t.” 3 years ago

petrnotail68. Last Night at the Lobster

By Stewart O’Nan

Chronicles the last day of business at a Red Lobster in Connecticut one snowy December. While I was intrigued by the premise and mostly enjoyed the book, I felt the pages were dripping with condescension. Seemed like the author thought he was some better man for lowering himself to the level of these mere plebes who work at a chain restaurant in the no-nothing suburbs. You can kind of picture the intelligentsia reading it, chuckling to themselves, “People really live this way?!” Anyway, that and the writing being a little too simile-ridden slash look how clever I am, brought me out of the story a bit. Otherwise recommended. 3 years ago

petrnotail67. Us

By Michael Kimball

Devastatingly sad, bare and raw and compels one forward. I cried a lot. And inside my copy, an inscription from the author, from when I heard him read. 3 years ago

petrnotail66. That Darcy, That Dancer, That Gentleman

The final Donleavy novel I had yet to read. And now it’s done. I felt myself taking it slowly and then racing to/through the end.

“O dear, in sometimes truing to avoid the present and take a broad outlook into the far distant future, one has suddenly to face up to the facts of life. Among them being caught in marriage.
It does
Much more than rather
One’s spirits.”

“The worst thing about any horror while it’s happening is that you don’t think it’s ever going to end.”

“When one starts forgetting the names of all the men who have fucked one, one surely then has fucked too many.” -Miss Felicity Veronica Durrow-Mountmellon

“One must look at the world in the cold light of day. And if one does, one finds everyone scheming and up to crafty tricks.”

“God this really is the decline and fall of the once mighty estate of Andromeda Park, And at this very moment I am doing what so many of my ilk have done. Drink champagne and bash on regardless.”

“How does one subdue this awful randiness constantly welling up in one. It does seem so prone to most impolitely fuck up my future.”

“Amazing how just as one is in despair of carrying on, suddenly just a few encouraging words or pairs of memorable tits dancing in front of one’s hungry eyes give me a new resolve to continue the battle.”

“But no wonder they say rest in peace. Even though there don’t appear to be many ways of gracefully dying. Living life is no bowl of sweet ripe cherries immersed in whipped cream.”

“Tea time somehow always allows one to take a certain stock of matters in a sensibly calm manner.”

“Do please shut up, dear boy, although you may not realize it sucking cocks, although it may be devoid of ardour at times, is an artistic endeavor fully requiring just as much concentration as any other dedication in the fine arts.” -Lois

“Dear me the acrimony one can accrue in marriage makes one take another sip of sherry.”

“Deep in every woman’s heart is a whore, or deep in every whore’s heart is a woman.”

“Lolly isn’t of course everything as we know dear boy, it’s simply that hardly anything else matters if you don’t have it.” -Rashers

“Learned fools are the biggest fools.” -Mr. Arland

“Betrayal, for all its usual sudden abruptness, is also usually best preceeded by a long period of loyalty, during which, as it were, one ethically builds up an equity of trust in the relationship which is then discharged in one awful surprise to the usually awfully disappointed victim.” -Rashers 3 years ago

Zooey 5 years ago

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