Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You Jellin'?

Finally, after months of cold, windy, gray weather, and weeks and weeks of nasty red tide, we turned a corner last week. Heat, sunshine, and beautiful blue water.

So, of course, every jellyfish in the Pacific decided to come ruin the party.

Yesterday was like nothing I'd ever seen. Dark brown spots, looking deceptively like kelp, could be seen dotting the face of every wave that broke. Between 6th St. and the pier there were literally hundreds of jellyfish drifting through the lineup.

I paddled out at around 3 PM. I'd spent the morning and afternoon on the bayside in Newport, letting my 2 year old run loose and wear himself out. I mostly just wanted to get wet, but it was kind of fun semi-blown-out conditions, with waist high peaks here and there. Plus, it was just so warm and pretty...a great day for just floating around.

I guess the jellyfish thought so too.

At first I thought it was just a couple of them I kept seeing over and over again. But then when the first set wave closed out over a few hundred feet, and you could see them dotting the entire face, that's when I wigged a bit. I was like a paranoid shark phobic floating over a school of great whites - feet in the air, quick pathetic dog paddles, head whipping back and forth, eyes bugged.

There's one right next to me...yow!...there's another one!

I couldn't even concentrate on the waves. And when it came time to duckdive I started doing these pathetic little push-thrus, images coursing through my mind of surfacing with a massive jellyfish splashed across my face like that nasty creature in Alien.

I tried to reassure myself that they were just small brown jellies...nothing like the big nasty ones you find at Sea World, or, Australia for that matter. So on my third wave, which was actually pretty fun, I'm skimming along, brown shapes appearing here and there out of the corners of my eye, and go sliding right past a huge clear jellyfish with purple stripes. It had to be 10 inches in diameter, with the full on train of jiggly jelly tentacles, and those crazy purple stripes.

Um, DONE.

Straightened out. Grabbed my rails. Bellyboarded straight through the masses of fools playing in the water. Got the fuck OUT.

You know that when there are so many jellyfish in the water that there are DIFFERENT FUCKING TYPES floating around, it's time to rack the board and go eat a corndog at the Orange County Fair.

The Colonel says, "Fried zucchini, please."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Force Quit

Dwindling swell, accompanied by continuing crappy weather and morning winds.

Kind of an anticlimactic way to kick off this new era of freedom.

Today, though, the weather was finally nice. The sun came out, the wind never really made an appearance, and even though it was small and kind of backed-off, mushy, and high-tide all day, I had a great session.

A buddy stopped by on his way to see his new chick in LA, we grabbed the bikes, and trunked it leashless on the Northside for 2 hours. Glassy little peaks, warm(er) water - prolly 66 degrees - and hot sand on the beach. Not to mention more tramp stamps than I've ever seen in one afternoon. Plus I finally fixed the hole on the underside of my Sauritch hybrid, which rides like a fish but with better turns off the bottom (thank you Solarez, the lazy man's ding repair kit).

BTW, for the geeks out there, I am posting today's blog for the first time ever on a Mac. After 10 years as a venomous Mac hater (I started out on Macs when they introduced the damn things - R.I.P. Apple IIe - but rebelled in the mid-90's when they turned into unstable pieces of shit). I turned in my corporate-issued IBM laptop yesterday, walked into the Apple store and walked out $3600 poorer, but with a new 15" PowerBook G4 with a 1.67 Mhz processor, 1 gig of RAM, 100 gigs of storage, and all kinds of bells and whistles, including Final Cut and a drive that rips and burns DVDs.

Video clips for Charlie Don't Surf? Let's raise a Pacifico to that.

Anyhow, that was the good news. The bad news is that a lot of the compatibility issues between Mac stuff and PC stuff still exists and in less than an hour I managed to wipe my iPod clean of all music, corrupt my Seagate external hard drive with 10 years of backed-up data on it (including all of my music which took me MONTHS to rip), and strip all the contact info out of my phone courtesy of a very confused Bluetooth connection.

I'm staying positive though. The iPod needed to be reformatted for OS X anyway, the hard drive probably needed to be re-formatted or replaced anyway (and I'm optimistic some nice data recovery folks can retrieve the majority of the data), and 90% of my phone contacts were saved to the SIM card.

Plus it's warm, there's a swell on the way, and as soon as this homegrown troubleshooting gets too much, I'm going surfing.

The Colonel says, "Think different."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

3rd Tour of Duty Begins

Holy shit.

Just realized it was exactly a year ago that I started this blog.

Okay, so 40-some-odd-posts in 365 days doesn't exactly make this a legit web log. But I'd say some of my rants and ramblings go a bit beyond the usual "how many cigarettes I smoked today" Bridget Jones' Diary crap, so I'm gonna award The Colonel a few extra points and call it even.

What's really scary is that after two years we're still in Huntington Beach. We'll have to talk about that at some point.

Anyhow, here's to another summer, another year in Surf City. And here's to another year of, well, whatever this is.

The Colonel says, "At ease."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Back in the Groove

Surfing. It's like riding a bike - you never forget.

Yeah, well, I saw my 17-year old cousin get back on a bike after 4 years of being driven everywhere by her parents, and while she could technically ride the thing, it wasn't pretty.

That's how my last three sessions - my first back-to-back-to-back paddles since probably April - have been. Technically I can paddle out, catch waves, stand up and ride them. But after three months of meetings, conference calls, hotel rooms, room service, and countless hours stuffed in American Eagle commuter jets (even in seat 11A, which is the money seat), I'm a shadow of even the not-so-impressive-surfer I was last Spring.

Like Phil Lynott used to sing (Irish half-black lead singer for Thin Lizzy, with an afro, mustache and a single dangling earring...pure 70's style, cool as shit), I'm fighting my way back. But it's ugly.

You can gauge how ugly by just how quickly your style deteriorates. Surfers love to talk about style and who's got it and who doesn't, but one thing they never talk about it is how a good style requires a fairly high level of fitness.

Case in point: I've always prided myself on the fact that, while I'm no shredder, I don't flail and I don't flap. I paddle smooth, with wide, clean strokes, keep my feet together (or up, crossed in an X), and try to stay low, knees bent, when I'm up.

But after getting caught inside yesterday for 10 minutes on my log, I noticed something once I finally got back out. My legs wanted to separate and dangle off the sides of the tail, my hands kept slapping the surface as I paddled, and while I couldn't see it, I knew my face was beet-red. The antithesis of style and MO of every newbie kook in the water.

That's when I realized - style isn't just some genetic talent for looking good - like high cheekbones or great hair. It's a learned ability that takes significant physical exertion.

The human body wants to slouch. It wants to spread its legs and dangle them off the sides, because that's what gravity wants. It wants to semi-dog paddle with 90 degree bent elbows because that requires the least effort. It wants to bend at the waist. It wants to fall backwards off the tail instead of grabbing the rails and doing the stylish belly flop. And it wants to ditch the board and swim under instead of pushing a six foot flotation device underwater like some sort of extreme pushup.

To be stylish, you gotta be in shape.

Anyhow, so that's the plan over the next few months - get back in shape and put some style back in my surf. Trade the Admiral's Club card for a couple of new boards and some WD-40 on the bike chain. No more steak and martinis at the Brazen Head. Instead, fruit and veggies from the farmer's market. Bottom line: less Homer, more Laird (okay, I'll take Mick Lowe at this point, but a man's gotta have dreams), less cockroach-style, more soul carves.

Speaking of soul carves, I picked up a copy of Sprout yesterday (along with some Solarez, which is another story). I missed it when it played in HB, which happens a lot when you have two little kids, but had heard it was good. Plus, Ray Barbee, skater and musician and a friend of a friend, contributes a few songs to the soundtrack, which I also heard was good. Anyhow, right on both counts. Great flick, great soundtrack. It deserves a more in-depth review than that, but maybe tomorrow.

I'm tired and there's a swell picking up tonight.

The Colonel says, "Stylishly at ease."

Monday, July 11, 2005

Get a Job

I did it.

I quit my job and put the "gone surfin'" sign on the door.

I'm Corky Carroll. I'm unemployed. I'm a sunglass rep. I'm a beach-muthafuckin'-bum.

Here's how it happened:

Not long after my last post in late April, I had "the talk" with my bosses up in SF.

"We're not getting enough out of you. We need you to handle a few more accounts. We need you to step up."

"Um, okay. Sure."

And lo and behold the next thing I knew 2 months had gone by, my bags were permanently packed, I practically had my own room at the Fairmont in SF, my surfboards were covered in dust, and my kids were calling the handyman, "Dad".

NOT what I had in mind when I took this gig.

So I did it. Last week, after much deliberation with my wife and some very candid, very scary evaluations of our finances, I pulled the trigger. I walked into my office at 111 Sutter St. in downtown San Francisco, and placed one copy of my resignation letter on the desk of the Managing Partner, one copy on the desk of the Executive Creative Director, and one copy on the desk of his counterpart, the Creative Director (why he doesn't get the big "E" in front of his title, I don't know).

And on this Friday I will officially enter the ranks of the unemployed.

I'm going to surf. I'm going to write. I'm going to play with my kids until my back gives out. I'm going to make dinner with my wife. I'm going to watch movies. I'm going to read books. And at some point, I'm going to explore every crazy business venture and harebrained idea I've tabled over the past 10 years.

Watch out, pier rats. There's a fat, unemployed, 32-year old back in the water. He's slow, he's out of shape, but he's got two new boards on the way and he's got a shitload of free time.

The Colonel says, "Surf's up, Corky."