Thursday, August 28, 2008

August, Aileens, Al and Andrew

Like being pinned down by a wave, force feeding on sand, it was when my head started throbbing that I figured I'd been holding my breath too long. Quite possibly, after gawping at the tow in surfing shenanigans off the West Coast of Ireland in the clip below, you'll come up gasping too.

Several months ago, I interviewed Al Mennie for this blog and, with my penchant for glib word play, had to resist the temptation to describe him as a "turbo charger". To say that he attacks a wave is a bit like describing the landings at Iwo Jima as a day at the beach. His mate Mr.Cotton rather rocks too.

As with many athletes near the top of their game, Al's easy-going onshore demeanour belies his feral and focused approach to hunting down bigger and bigger waves. To paraphrase the accompanying sound track from Static-X (and excuse my French), I think he wants to "f***ing break it".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Surfing Sells Everything...

...including "girdles" from way back in the days when Mad Men ruled and wives mainly cooked. Would those hold in a beer belly? They may be out of fashion but I feel a strange stirring in my Speedos...

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cheap Flip Flops For Beach Bums

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Whilst I favour TEVA's for scrambling over rock pools and KEEN footwear for trails and hikes, the good old flip flop is a firm favourite for this Beach Bum and many other rubber tramps. The story goes that the flip flop (referred to as "thongs" Down Under or "Jandals" in Kiwi-land - a contraction of Japanese sandals) was inspired by the traditional woven soled zōri from Japan.

This simple shoe's popularity has been exploited by the evil REEF empire (I'm obstinately - and probably quite pointlessly - mounting a personal campaign to highlight their shameless sexploitative marketing tactics) who have managed to hoodwink thousands of us into believing that you need to pay over the odds for a shoe. Rip-off REEF, is what I say.

Sure you have to pay for quality, but many of REEF's flip flops have a price point so high that outlets should throw in a sticker marked "sucker" to stamp on your forehead as you exit the shop. And there are top drawer brands for those with cash to spare. The word is Rainbow Sandals are a cool alternative, and though their web site is as homespun as REEF's is slick, I'm impressed by the fact that the founder, Jay "Sparky" Longley, has resisted the temptation to sell the company to REEF. Respect dude - for presumably the REEF'sters have been dangling all sorts of carrots in from of him, quite possibly including the bottoms of the models whose anonymous bums they love to display.

Anyway, seeing as my old flip flops were frayed and fried beyond repair, I thought I'd pop into Bojangles on the main drag in Perranporth for some sole. I came away with the pair pictured above for the princely sum of £4.99 - a bargain, and Beach Bum loves a bargain. They're supplied by Urban Beach - a company just across the border in Devon - so I can claim to be supporting local businesses x2. There's fine flip flops at competitive prices here if you prefer to order on-line.

Mind you, perhaps this clobber should come with a health warning. When Jimmy Buffet sang "I blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top; Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home", he was hinting at some of the downsides of open style footwear. Recent scare stories would have you believe that wearing a flip flop should come with a health warning. If they don't give you ankle sprain and fallen arches, then you'll get skin cancer or, like the claims of this person - a nasty rash. To hell with it, I'll keep wearing them - a style choice you won't catch me flip flopping on.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bitchy Beach Volleyball in Beijing

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Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins signals* to her partner at a recent event

They've been busing in Chinese spectators to fill out the stands at many of the Olympic events that remain - worryingly for the sponsors - spectator free. As expected, drawing a crowd for the ladies Beach Volleyball match between Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins & Cristine "Saka" Santanna of Georgia with Natalia Uryadova and Alexandra Shiryaeva from Russia was a cinch - for all the right and wrong reasons.

The games have a long history of throwing up matches with competitors facing off from countries at each other's throats (think Russia and Hungary's tussle in the pool at the Water Polo semi-final in 1956) so perhaps it was a surprise to see the girls step under the net and hug each other before play began.

The twist here is that Martins and Santanna (the names are a bit of a giveaway) were both born and bred in Brazil and encouraged paid to take up Georgian citizenship to advance the sport's cause there a couple of years ago. Well, England has a cricket captain who's South African and when it comes to sport, some competitors will swap their passport faster than David Blaine can slip a card up his sleeve, if it means more opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

lab_image_volleyball04 The good natured start soured shortly after the Russians lost, sulking to reporters that they hadn't lost to Georgia but Brazil. Further comments suggesting that their opponents would struggle to name the President of their adopted nation appeared to rankle Santanna and Martins who have adopted Georgian names for their team. Santanna is "Saka" and Martins is "Rtvelo". Together Saka Rtvelo are the Georgian words for, you guessed it, Brazil. I'm kidding, I meant Georgia.

* Does my bum look big in this?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Caught Crabs...

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...at Walberswick. But relax - as you will have gathered, I'm not talking about Phthirus pubis (which, coincidentally, Sea Nymph has to treat in her professional capacity), I'm referring to Carcinus maenas or other variants of the common shore crab.

With all the hoo-ha surrounding the Olympic Games, I feel beholden to fly the flag for what must be considered one of the more important sporting events that is taking place closer to home. Last weekend saw the British Open Crabbing Championships take place at Walberswick in Suffolk and frankly, I would have entered just to get the T Shirt.

Unfortunately, circumstances (builders demanding sanitary ware specifications - don't go there please!) dictated that Team Bum had to cry off this event and other beach related activities we had scheduled.

Hunting for crabs along the shoreline has been, and remains, a particular pleasure for me ever since I can remember. And crab meat is up there with caviar as far as I'm concerned. As a child at Sand End, a strip of beach near Ballywalter on the Ards peninsula, my cousins and I would gather buckets of red and green crabs for gladiatorial style contests in sand-walled approximations of arenas. Their claws held out defiantly, shells scuttled and crackled, wrestling on the strand, as we pitted red versus green. Of course, these days, I just take pleasure in whittling out a specimen, screened by seaweed, from beneath a barnacled retreat, and then returning it from whence it came.

I mark it as a singularly important parenting achievements then, that my Nippers 1 to 3 are as happy to spend hours crabbing as they would be plugged into a games console ( if left to their own wicked ways). Nipper 1 was particularly dismissive of the catch pictured above and demanded that his recent trophy was displayed for all to see. Not bad, but you have much to learn young master.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New REEF Web Site - Same Old Asses

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I'm sure this image of Esther Baxter will be offensive to a few sensitive souls, irritating for some and pin-up poster material for others. No prizes this time for guessing which category I fall into. Now I've no idea if Esther can surf but she sure can dance. I've seen the video. The effort I put into researching a post - honestly, it's can be so demanding. The thing is, however you perceive the image above, it is recognisably Esther. Possibly it's something to do with being able to see her face.

Well, the other day I was scanning through an email from a surf related feed that I subscribe to. "Big" news in the junior playground of corporate surfdom - REEF have launched a "new"webshite. As regular readers will know, I've had a beef with REEF over their marketing tactics for a while now. (REEF is a subsidiary brand - along with many others like Wrangler, VANS and North Face - of the behemoth that is VF Corporation.) Call it sexploitation or just lazy marketing but selling surf wear, sandals and board shorts off of the backsides of faceless models "grinds my gears", as my bro-in-law likes to say.

Was it naive then to expect that their new website might have moved some way away from total objectification of the female form and perhaps shown the faces of the models whose bottoms have graced their advertising for so many years?

Well, as you can see, when you're signed up by one of the world's largest clothing manufacturers as a "REEF girl "you can call yourself Lila, Janie or Alice but you could be a transsexual with a todger - as long as that ass looks good, you will sell - and be sold.