Blogs

maurice's picture

Monthly Caption of the Week Contest

This is this month's "Caption of the Week Contest". Yes, yes, I know - monthly, weekly. Don't blame me, I only post this stuff, I don't make it up. Take that up with the management (and, good luck with that).

Based on the observations that a) it's been pretty slow around here lately and, as web monkey, I don't have much to do; and b) there are some great pictures in our Foto Gallery, the management has decided that some of the pics need captions. The captions need not be directly related to what actually was happening in the picture. No, the purpose is to think of re-interpretations, much like a revisionist historian.

Of course, no disrespect is meant to those in the picture. Think of yourselves as actors in a performance; you are only playing the part of the character. If you met Jim Carrey or Jeff Daniels, you wouldn't be expecting the characters they played from Dumb and Dumber. Sadly, however, there's little chance that you will win an Oscar, Emmy, Tony or Golden Globe for your appearance.

Here's this month's picture. Put your entry for the Monthly Caption of the Week in the comments below.

caption of the week contest 1

From here

Being a webmonkey isn't so bad. At least I'm not windsurfing.

arrogantj's picture

Windsurfing Needs a Better Soundtrack

Look at MeIs this what windsurfing music sounds like?

For many, if not about all, of us, music is an essential part of our lives. It forms part of our identity (are you rock, soul, CW, jazz, etc?). It defines stages in our lives, from Barney to Bieber to Beck to Bach. It forms a filter in which we see the world - that's the very notion of a film or TV soundtrack - to musically define what's onscreen. Many of our favorite movies and TV shows are memorable as much by their music as their action or dialogue.

It seems that we all have our own soundtrack, too. In the ancient days, you would have to whistle or sing your own but, now, our soundtrack is in our ear buds or car stereo as we play our favorite playlist, Pandora channel or satellite station.

Part of my personal soundtrack: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives - Sister Surround

Surfers have it good. The Beach Boys, almost fifty years ago, penned some of the defining surf songs that are still so recognizable that young kids know them today. This is something that baby boomers, like myself, take for granted. When I was young, I could never have as easily recognized and identified with a song by Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw, in their own day the equal of Brian Wilson. Of course, young groms have their own surf music but the Beach Boys' songs still do the sport justice.

The Beach Boys - Surfin' USA


Ev'rybody has fun
fun
fun
winsurfin' fun.

Back in the formative days of windsurfing, a Dutch group, the Surfers, came out with a hit, "Windsurfing." It's easy to sit here, thirty-five years later and to judge, but remember, this was a time of ABBA, Saturday Night Fever and the waning days of disco. Among the top songs of the year were ones by Andy Gibb, Debbie Boone and Exile. (There was good music, too, just not always at the top of the charts.) But, if we must judge, here it is:

The Surfers - Windsurfing

Well, that probably inspired you to grab your shortboard, huh? No? Of course, not. Shortboarding would definitely mess up that finely coifed hair. It does prompt one thought: Remember kids, what you think is cool today, may look a bit strange in 35 years. Trust us on that one.

To show you the time warp from that song to today, here is an extended video of the same song, this time sung live with windsurfers in the background pushing the freestyle envelope of the day.

Did you see the extreme freestyle move in the background at a blazing 0.2 mph?

We'll pause for a moment while you collect your breath.

This is Why Only the Lonely Windsurf

In 1987, Bruce Springsteen said of Roy Orbison, who was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "but, most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison." Orbison was so cool, that the other Traveling Wilburys, including Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Tom Petty, were in awe of him. In case we're being too subtle, he was beyond cool even for those who were beyond cool. In 1989, his last recorded album was released after his death the previous year. It went platinum. One of the songs was "Windsurfer":

Roy Orbison - Windsurfer

I should have mentioned that Springsteen also said of Orbison:
"With his Coke-bottle black glasses, his 3-octave range, he seemed to take joy sticking his knife deep into the hot belly of your teenage insecurities."

Windsurfer
Windsurfer
All he wanted was
To ride out on the wind

Windsurfer
To be one of the guys
And to look good in her eyes

He practiced in his dreams
Trying to catch the waves
Most of the time he sailed alone

Endless summer days
Flying in the sun
He'd ride and wait for the wind
To take him home

Windsurfer, Windsurfer, Windsurfer, Windsurfer

He said, "Let's sail away together"
She told him, "No, no, never, no"
Wind, windsurfer

It was early one morning
On a lovely beach
He left a message
And he wrote it in the sand

Why do we always go for
Something out of reach?
Nobody ever really understands

Windsurfer
All he wanted to do
Was outrun the sun

Windsurfer
To take her in his arm
When the lonely day was done

Windsurfer, Windsurfer

Great message, Roy. "No, no, never, no" at the end of a lonely day.

Well, if the lyrics don't kill you, maybe the music itself will. Warren Miller was a noted ski film maker who began to film that new sport, windsurfing. His films would always have great footage, thoughtful narration and, cliched 1980's hair metal guitar solos. I'm not sure which is more painful, the music or watching the top pros at the time struggle with moves the best teenagers all over the world can do easily.

Warren Miller- Big Air Windsurfing

Moving to modern times, the Japanese web site, Kuma Movie, throws up some pretty neat videos. I've really enjoyed some that they've done with the freestyling greats of Bonaire. Here's one of some very impressive women in Bonaire:

Kuma Movie: Girls in Bonaire

It about killed you didn't it- everything that's wrong with breathless, Japanese teenage pop star music. No matter who interesting or attractive the windsurfing/windsurfers are, by about three minutes into the video, you are ready to murder Hello Kitty and dispose of the body in an old windsurf board bag on the shores of Lake Lanier.

Sure, a lot of windsurfing videos have really nice soundtracks. If it weren't for a Hot Sails Maui vid featuring Porcupine Tree, I would have never gotten into their music so much. But, it's going to take a lot of good vids to get the now congealed mess of a teenage Japanese pop star singing with a Dutch accent:

And when the evening comes and the sun goes down
Surferboys and girls coming from miles around
'Cause we're gonna have a real party tonight

Talkin' bout surfin'
surfin'
windsurfin'... giggle, giggle


Edit: Original source flash file: http://www.dropshots.com/photos/180568/20070613/155453.flv

Porcupine Tree begins about 1:05 into the video but start from the beginning - the on screen comments are amusing. Original on Maui Surf Report

Got to go now, I just clicked on my Porcupine Tree play list and wondering if the NWS will get Saturday's forecast right.

More stuff:

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

arrogantj's picture

Cr@p We've Been Told Part 2


I've been pondering the windsurfing world post Windsurfing Mag and have come to the conclusion that if it didn't die on its own, it would have been "put down". That's not a comment on the editorial staff and what they were doing. It's not even a comment on the transition from physical to digital content. Rather that windsurfing itself has changed.

Tdinosaurhere's an old proverb that says, "When your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails." Its corollary is, "When a camel drinks water, he doesn't use a straw"

No, wait, that's another article I'm working on. How about this: "When you see someone holding a hammer, you aren't expecting this."

Let's take a look at some windsurfing pics. When you see each of these, you have a reasonably good idea of what is happening in the picture.

wave sailing

"Oh, that's someone sailing down a wave."

wave jump

"A jump! Wow, that's really high."

Dacron Jumps the Shark

That 80s ShowFor years, that was enough. In fact, windsurfing was considered quite photogenic and the marketing world used classic windsurfing stock images quite often. According to Madison Avenue, we still are using classic Dacron sails.

Things began to come unglued when Jaws was conquered. We saw plenty of pics. That wave certainly is big. Really big. But what the pics could never show and you never realized until you saw a video/movie of it was it wasn't just the size of the wave but the speed. It didn't jack up like a lazy South Carolina musher but like a dozen freight trains at full throttle going downhill pulling a hundred coal cars and maybe a caboose. (I like to lay my similes on thick and heavy). Once you start watching video of windsurfing at Jaws you realize how much of it is in slow-mo so you can actually comprehend what's going on. Coincidentally, at about the same time, windsurfing freestyle burst on the scene - something else that is difficult to "picture" (pun intended) without a video.

This is the issue with depicting windsurfing's cutting edge. It's complexity can't be captured by an image or even a series of images. Below are some images which are screen captures from videos. Clicking on the image will open the video in a new window so you can see what really is happening.

You think it's going to be a nice little wave jump off that maybe five foot face and then... Wait, what? How many did he just do? Rider: Steven Van Broeckhoven

P Koster
Is it going to be a cutback or floater on that wave? Rider: Philip Köster

That's a ... I dunno

How about this move, ah, couple of moves, wait, what was all that? Rider: Steven Van Broeckhoven

Sometimes a picture is worth 100,000,000,000 words
Hubble Ultra Deep Field

We must admit that every once in a while, there is a pic so complete video is not required. But it's the topic for someone else's blog.

This is the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field Image. Each dot of light is a galaxy averaging 100 billion (100,000,000,000) stars each. Full size (18mb 6200x6200)

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

arrogantj's picture

Cr@p We've Been Told

Much has been made of the passing of Windsurfing Magazine and many associate it with the state of windsurfing itself. However, the state of printed media and windsurfing are not necessarily correlated. Many pastimes, like windsurfing, go through a life cycle that looks like this:

  • The intrepid few give it a go
  • It catches the eye and imagination of the general population who rush to the next big thing
  • Money - sponsorship - floods in to attract the eyeballs of the new participants
  • Competition becomes the most visible vehicle for sponsors and manufacturers (if it's fast, it must be good)
  • Equipment tends to be optimized for competitive use rather than recreational - at least the most advertised and visible
  • Beginners and even intermediates find much of what's new and available to be unsuitable and find it difficult to progress or even maintain their enthusiasm
  • An economic downturn or "next new thing" siphons off some of the early adapters who have the attention spans of hamsters
  • Sponsors because of growth flat-lining or retrenching because of inevitable economic cycles reduce or end the flow of money and look for the next new big thing
  • As the number of marginal participants decreases, someone, somewhere will say "Our beloved activity is dying."
  • Manufacturers realize the error of their ways and refocus on the recreational user participation settles on a long term equilibrium

You thought I was talking about windsurfing? How about mountain biking which went through this process as has just about any other sport of the last thirty or forty years: tennis, golf, inline skating, surfing. Professional mountain bikers could score a new Jeep for winning a race twenty years ago. A recession and changes in buyer habits and sponsorship dollars later, they might have gotten a set of new wheels - bike wheels. Manufacturers had flooded the market with wannabe downhill racers bought by the thousands at Walmart, Target, Toys R Us. You'd see a full-suspension bike (done cheaply, they are quite heavy, it takes serious money to make them light) bouncing down the local bike path. When sales slowed, manufacturers woke up and refocused on the hybrid which are both more comfortable and suitable for the riding 90% of cyclists do.

What's all this have to do with Windsurfing?

Our club ceased publication of a paper newsletter ten years ago. It simply became too expensive in time and money. Each copy cost almost a dollar to print and mail and the writing, printing and mailing took more time than most of us could offer. At the same time, our web site began to offer more ways for members to interact - forums, photo gallery. It didn't make sense to take club members money and invest the time in something that could be done for free. It wasn't that we lacked for members.

Jeff Henderson of Hot Sails Maui recently posted this on his forums: Print is slow, expensive, and takes way more work than on-line. They killed their kite board magazine as well, and they had good advertising in that. It is not windsurfing that is the problem.

Today, Encyclopedia Britannica announced that they will cease publication on paper. Instead, they will concentrate on their online version. Does this mean reading has gone out of style? Are books dead? Judging by the prodigious amounts of book my wife reads on her Kindle, I'd say no way. Just as we've moved from stone tablets to papyrus rolls and then paper books, we are moving to a method that enables distribution more efficiently.

What about the bike industry? Two interesting things have been happening in the last several years:

  • A rediscovery of classic steel bikes. Old ones are fetching double and triple of what the cost a few years ago and new ones are being produced in amounts not seen since the advent of inexpensive aluminum bikes in the early 1990's. Steel, mated with proper tires, provides a pleasant ride and evokes the reasons people have ridden for over a century. Certainly, these bikes are 5-7 lbs heavier than high-end race bikes but riders find that it really doesn't matter nor do they care.
  • The carbon super bike. A significant number of amateur, middle-aged riders are plunking down from $5-10,000 for a professional level race bike. Some of these folks are well-to-do and some are hanging their bikes on backs of cars not worth much more than their bike. I see riders on the Silver Comet Trail whose handlebars cost more than some of my beloved classics.

Cycles aren't just rise and fall. For the truly enjoyable sport, there is the rediscovery phase when young and old realize what the appeal always was. Also, while new windsurfing equipment may seem expensive, there are plenty of other sports where people drop a fair amount of money when buyers perceive that they are buying new, better technology they are more than willing to step up with plastic in hand.

I'll miss Windsurfing - the magazine. Now, I think there's a new freestyle video on Youtube I want to watch so if you'll excuse me...

--- The Arrogant Jerk: Crabby and irritable since 1998.

Pages