The people’s tenor

There’s a big fuss going on about Paul Potts, who recently won the reality tv show “Britain’s got Talent”. Potts is a stout cellphone salesman with bad teeth who overwhelmed audiences with his rendition of “Nessun dorma,â€? the tenor aria from Puccini’s “Turandot.â€? (Orlando Opera is staging Turandot next spring!)

NYT culture reporter Dan Watkins writes about the phenomenon, and notes that high-brow critics have been less than kind, calling him “strained,â€? “uncontrolled,â€? “stubby,â€? “lumpy,â€? “constipatedâ€? and “bog-standard.â€? But Simon Cowell sure likes him.

for Beatles fans

An interesting article that plants a 40 year perspective on the iconic release at the height of the 60’s:

Everything you know about Sgt. Pepper’s is wrong. – By Jody Rosen – Slate Magazine

If Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band doesn’t have a concept, it does have a theme. It’s a record about England in the midst of whirling change, a humorous, sympathetic chronicle of an old culture convulsed by the shock of the new—by new music and new mores, by rising hemlines and lengthening hair and crumbling caste systems. In short, it’s a record about the transformations that the Beatles themselves, more than anyone else, were galvanizing.


turtleI’ve been keeping an eye out for a good deal on a used kayak for a few months now. I wanted to get a 1-person sit-on-top version suitable for playing in the waves at the beach, and paddling off shore on calm days with a fishing rod. Coincidentally, friend Harold was also looking for a used ‘yak, but he wanted a small 1-person sit-inside type for recreational paddling at his new mountain property in north Georgia. We’d both lamented the hot aftermarket for used kayaks; used boats were rare, and they were never priced much less than new.

This weekend was a rare saturday morning that found me at home instead of out on my flats boat. Following some links on a fishing discussion list led me to and I thought to cruise over to the boat listings at Whoa, check it out: some lady selling two kayaks, a sit-on-top and a sit-in, she just posted the night prior, and her asking price was super reasonable. I called and texted Harold, and in 60 minutes we were on our way to go check them out.

I paid $150Each boat was exactly what we were seeking. A quick stop by a cash machine, and by 11am Harold got his, and I got mine. We didn’t even bother to quible or bargain over the price. The seller had to call back 4 other inquiries and cancel their appointments to come see. We were first.

Sunday. Gina and a girlfriend and I headed to the beach. It was a beautiful calm morning. Absolutely exquisite blue sky, an emerald green ocean, with feeding fish jumping and breaking the surface periodically. The fish were always out of casting range, but not for long. After a short paddle to get acclimated, I got my fishing rod and headed out. Not too long after, I landed a healthy 18″ spanish mackerel. I would have kept it if I had any kind of a fish box on board, but I let him swim off.

The yak was in the water almost the whole time we were there. The girls had fun in the small surf with it, and I went out for a 3rd paddle and went way out to where the water started turning blue. I encountered a full grown sea turtle feeding on the surface. I had this moment just bobbing alone in the light chop later in the morning that was pure contentment. Just this one trip and I’ve already got my money’s worth.

Sorry, no pictures (we’ve misplaced my water camera – bummer) This photo here is the exact model and coloration of the yak that I got. Its a 9’6″ Pelican Viper. Note to self: it was great fun, but next time rig up a rod holder, take along a fish box, and wear a PFD!


I’ve worked up to a regular routine of running 3X a week for a total of 15 miles or so. I read that to train and prepare for long distances you need to start tackling a ‘long run’ on a regular basis to build up endurance and get your body accustomed to the unique stresses and strains of the sustained effort that it takes to run for hours at a time. One way to read this is that the endurance training doesn’t even begin until after you’ve run for at least an hour. ugh. Thank goodness for podcasts and Ira Glass.

So I’ve begun to work on my long game, and I’m tackling it outdoors instead of on the treadmill. This morning I set out at 4:45a and targeted an 80 minute run; I headed out for 40 minutes in one direction, then turned and headed back. I finished feeling pretty strong, the morning temperature helped, and I paced myself well. I could have run for another 10 minutes I’m sure. When I measured my distance on gmaps pedometer it was exactly 7 miles. A new benchmark for me!

surfs up, 1969

I dug into my closet and found the set of photos that my Honolulu pals mailed to me just after we left the islands. Jeff had borrowed a fancy Nikonos diving camera and shot a roll on one of my last days out in the offshore break, one sunny day in 1969. The Nikonos had a single wide angle lens, suited for scuba use, so most of the shots appear way off in the distance. But one photo was closer than most, and I requested a custom enlargement seen above. Thats me, carving a nice 5′ section, with Koko head in the background. More photos, including a couple of me posing with my longboard, in the brief slideshow below, from this flickr photoset.:

Father’s day surfing

P1010636I had a great father’s day at the beach with Linda and Gina. I’ve got this short board from the 70’s that I found a garage sale a few years ago. It had a broken nose, with a crappy glass repair job. I chipped off the glass and replaced it with duct tape, and its holding up fine.

When I was younger, age 14, I surfed in my Honolulu neighborhood at least 4 times a week for the year prior to our move to the mainland, and I was pretty competent.

Memory’s a funny thing, but I have extremely vivid recollection of two very specific waves I caught at that age. One was on the long board when I was just starting out, and I was on the lip of a 6-7 footer, on my feet, staring down at the drop, and I was certain I was doomed to tumble to the bottom and take a beating. But I didn’t; I fell down the face of that wave, but kept my footing, leaned my weight back to keep the nose out of the trough, and pulled the board under control (and at extremely high speed) back up to the middle of the face going left and shot through to the channel about 20 yards away, all the while whooping and hollering!!. That ride was a turning point 1969 surf posein my surfing development.

The second ride was on my radical new short board (this was 1969), and it was a little smaller wave, but breaking perfectly to the right like something out of Endless Summer. I carved that wave from the top to the bottom several times in a row, tracing an S curve for at least 8 permutations. I can still remember the vertigo, the salt spray, the sunshine, the exhilaration, the tide levels, the exact look and feel of those two waves. And I remember well the quarter mile paddle it took to get out to our little known spot at the edge of the reef where the Pacific swells rose out of the blue ocean and crashed for us kids. [google aerial of location]

But here in Florida in my 50’s, I found that I really can’t stand and ride. My short board is a little squirrelly, the waves are so brief, and I do not have the balance. So I still ride waves, but I’ve given up trying to stand. I’ll get to my knees most of the time, and it looks pretty lame, but I have fun and I don’t care.

Gina’s gotten pretty good at wave selection and position with the boogie board. She can even paddle into a wave without pushing off the bottom, and she knows to aim for the pocket and how to get maximum speed out of a ride. We spent a couple of hours at Playalinda beach yesterday out in the water. As the tide retreated, the waves began to break on the third outside sandbar. And they were breaking bigger and bigger and more consistently as we watched. So late in the afternoon, we decided to paddle out and try them. It was quite a bit further than it appeared from the beach. And I was beat. My arms ached, my abs were complaining, and it took effort to hold my head up while paddling. I figured I was good for one wave. Champion rower and Ms. upper-body-strength Gina was doing much better, although it was a little scary being so far from shore. Even though we were over the sandbar, it was still too deep to stand, and it was hard to keep our bearings between the sets and get positioned in the right place. But we eventually did get into position. The next big set, Gina paddled into a fine wave and disappeared from my view. The waves were breaking for about 25 yards or so and she rode it out into the deep trough between the sandbar and the beach. I caught the next one, and truth to tell, I was too pooped to even get to my knees, or attempt anything fancy. But it was a big fast wave, and I rode it in to catch up with Gina. We turned and paddled back in to the beach, riding again across the 2nd sandbar, and then wading across the first bar until we were back on land.

That evening we had dinner with the P’s and recounted the days activities. It was SOOOOOOOOOOO TOUGH out there!!!!

Check back; vintage picture coming soon.

more on imogen heap

I pulled jury duty today, and am posting from a computer lounge in the Orange County courthouse waiting area —

I listened to more Imogen Heap via musicmatch streaming, and one of her better known songs is the heavily vocoded tune Hide and Seek, that was featured in a recent SNL digital short making fun of TV technique in the O.C.,  

As a man (Hader) writes a letter to his sister, he is shot by his friend (Samberg), leading to a series of overly-dramatic, slow-motion shootings set to “Hide & Seek” by Imogen Heap, including their roommate (Shia LaBeouf), the sister (Wiig), and two police officers (Sudeikis, Armisen). The short satirizes the final scene of The O.C.s second-season finale.  The short was originally unofficially known as “Dear Sister” on YouTube when it was first uploaded.   (from wikipedia)

The SNL piece (below) spawned numerous emulations and parodies in web viral fashion:

Rocks oldest joke

Fun article in the WSJ, from 2005 I think, about the concert phenomonen. Its happened to Makeshift in performance, and we’ve contemplated trying to learn the phish acappella version. Its sort of the rock and roll version of the old cliche of asking for “Melancholy Baby”, which we DO sing BTW.

Yelling “Freebird!” has been a rock cliché for years, guaranteed to elicit laughs from drunks and scorn from music fans who have long since tired of the joke.