The greatest of all time?
The greatest of all time?

Fine wine: The voice of Joe Turpel!

Did he, a few short months ago, deliver the greatest call in sporting history?

Sporting history is littered with amazing calls by equally amazing broadcasters. Vin Scully describing the last batter of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, “He is one out away from the promised land, and Harvey Kuenn is comin’ up. … So Harvey Kuenn is batting for Bob Hendley. The time on the scoreboard is 9:44. The date, September the ninth, 1965, and Koufax working on veteran Harvey Kuenn. Sandy into his windup and the pitch … a fastball for a strike. He has struck out, by the way, five consecutive batters, and that’s gone unnoticed…”

Bill King describing an Oakland Raider fumble, “The ball flipped forward is loose! A wild scramble, two seconds on the clock. … Casper grabbing the ball … it is ruled a fumble … Casper has recovered in the end zone! The Oakland Raiders have scored on the most zany, unbelievable, absolutely impossible dream of a play! Madden is on the field. He wants to know if it’s real. They said yes, get your big butt out of here! He does! There’s nothing real in the world anymore!”

Vin Scully, again, describing “The Catch,” “Montana … looking … looking … throwing in the end zone … Clark caught it! Dwight Clark! (Crowd noise for 29 full seconds)It’s a madhouse at Candlestick”

Chick Hearn drawling, “This one’s in the refrigerator, the door’s closed, the light’s are out, the butter’s getting hard and the jello is jiggling…” near the end of every Los Angeles Laker win.

I could go on all day! But do you want to know a call that gets finer and finer every time I hear it, and I’ve heard it many many times recently? Joe Turpel describing the Mick Fanning shark incident of ’15! The cool calm in his voice, his refusal to get rattled, and that initial priceless description, “As we look at Fanning on the rankings. Oooh we can see a little splash…”

I’ve written about his work that day once before, right after the incident, likening his use of “Mick gets back on the ski to reset” to Edward R. Murrow’s “Good night, and good luck.” But these things take time to enter the historical pantheon and, months later, I think it is very clear that Joe Turpel delivered the greatest call in sporting history. And it is the front half, the initial sentence, that soars. The “oooh” so delicate, air sucking slightly in, placing the word “little” before “splash.” I mean, seriously, does a call get any better than that? Does it? I have to say no. I have to say Joe’s calm juxtaposed against the very clear enormity of what was happening on screen makes it the greatest of all time.

Turn your speakers loud. I dare you to disagree

Mick: “About listening to my stomach.”

The most popular surfer in the world takes a stand against sex trafficking!

Here’s a serious question…has Michael Eugene Fanning usurped Kelly Slater’s “most-popular-surfer-in-the-world” throne this year? First there was the shark play, then helping a young child overcome cancer and now? He is lending his voice to stop sex trafficking.

Mick is an ambassador for Project Sparta, a gym that pledges 100% of fees toward bashing the sex slave industry. “It’s a scary trade…” he says “…No one really talks about it and we’re losing girls, and young boys, into a world we never know about.”

The fact that he has become the go to for wonderful charities bodes well for the White Lightening brand. He moves the people! He thrills! And, of course, there will always be that shark incident. The news report, detailing his miraculous escape from the jaws of curiosity, began with it which prompted Mick to say that he listens to his stomach these days and gets out of the water when feeling uneasy. He also said he likes to surf with lots and lots and lots and lots of people.

“I’m not worried about the crowds, I tell ya. The more the merrier!”

Embracing all-comers will only continue to enhance Mick’s status and so again I ask, is Mick Fanning more popular, worldwide/across all-platforms, than Kelly Slater?

John C Reilly John John Florence Blake Kueny
“You know what gets my dick hard? Helping out my friends.” John C Reilly, narrator of View from a Blue Moon, with the relentlessly fantastic surfer-filmed duo John John Florence and Mr Blake Vincent Kueny.

“Is John John Florence gay?”

And other funny keyword searches that land you right here… 

One of the fascinating parts of operating a website is watching the behaviour of your readers. Who are you? Where are you from? What are your personal kinks?

In the print game, no one knows, knew.

The closest I ever came to identifying who read the jams of whatever mag I was editing was via those surveys we stuck in the mags and from focus groups that’d cost 20 gees and yield nothing.

Readers in focus groups do this very human thing where they say what the think elevates ‘em in the eye of the other participants or sub-consciously say what they think you want to hear. And, besides, who knows what their true motivations and likes are?

The problem, as any student of human behaviour would explain, is that surveys are filled out by people who like filling out surveys or ‘cause they want to win whatever trinket you had as an incentive.

Readers in focus groups do this very human thing where they say what they think elevates ‘em in the eye of the other participants or sub-consciously say what they think you want to hear. And, besides, who knows what their true motivations and likes are?

Your electronic movements, however, are beautiful to watch.

For those unfamiliar with Google Analytics, it’s an application that tracks website traffic. More than that, it allows publishers to see how many readers are on the site, what country they’re from, the electronic device they’re accessing your site from, what story they’re reading, where they came from and where they go after you.

And, tellingly, what keyword searches got ‘em there.

It’s become a game between Chas Smith and me to send each other funny keyword searches as they come up, briefly, on the Google Analytics dashboard.

Like this. Is true? asked Chas. We laugh because it couldn’t be more absurd!

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Who taps these words in? Man with Bear fetish?

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.22.53 pm This is a complex equation.

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Is that you Peter Taras?

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Drowning fantasies?

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Healthy young man with beach-y fantasies?

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 7.57.27 am Most of us.

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Lovely Latinas!

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Angry South African man?

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 7.20.25 pm A lover of nostalgia?

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A Kolohe Andino fan! For life! (Maybe me!)
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Reliable medical advice for advanced cancers?

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Do the secret kinks of man make you laugh?

What keyword searches lurk in the recesses of your web history?

Slater & the murder of Amy Gellert

The champ remembers the childhood pal killed in a still unresolved murder… 

You might’ve read here a couple of days ago, a little editorialising about Kelly Slater’s hot fingers on Instagram on Twitter. It seems like it only takes the slightest provocation to send the Champ into an electronic rage, replying to nobodies as if their opinion actually matters. This, is typical.

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But Kelly is a man of substance, of complex emotions, and he mixes his petty online wars with thoughtful, and often moving, posts. A few minutes ago, we see Kelly at six years old, in a class photo. His caption reads:

“1st grade class when I was about 6 or 7 years old (2nd from R). Funny to look back at old shots and remember us as kids. Still close with a few of these little humans. Most of this class went from Kindergarten to graduation together. Far left in blue was a friend named #AmyGellert who was sadly murdered in our hometown in a still #UnsolvedMystery in the early 90’s. Her parents were also attacked yet lived thru it. There was a show recently dedicated to reopening her case and finding any potential info about her story. One of her brothers now works for @patagonia and another was my best surf buddy in high school then became a military guy and was injured at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan and now works in some sort of secret service work, I think. It would be a real blessing if her case were ever solved. Google her name and read about the case. Amy was a good egg. We all miss her.”

Amy Gellert was stabbed to death in 1994 by a masked man with a gun and a knife after she found him in her parent’s home. The details of this unsolved murder are ghastly but if you want to read about it, you might as well click here. 

Or watch a 43-minute documentary on the case here. 

It always surprises me, and perhaps it shouldn’t by now, how many unsolved murders just disappear into nothingness through the passage of time. Detectives retire, people with useful information never offered die, others forget.

And yet the horror of these events never truly disappears, even as the killers still walk among us.

Inspiring or....not?
Inspiring or....not?

Honesty: “Papa, turn this crap off!”

The WSL serves up lukewarm Sunday mush.

It is early Sunday early afternoon and I am in Portland, Oregon with my gorgeous family. Sunday is, of course, a sporting/entertainment/family day on television and, being in Portland, the television is on because it is raining outside.

My two-year-old daughter needs a nap but I am channel surfing for a minute before serving her an organic goat’s milk bottle and turning off the lights. I pause on football and she says, “No, papa. I want to watch a girl thing.” I pause on Kurt Russell’s masterful Big Trouble in Little China and she makes me stay until its conclusion because, “Big kids don’t get scared of it.”

I pause on the Portugal contest which is airing on ABC’s World of X and I forgot they did this. It is a cut for network package detailing the highlights, per round, with expert WSL analysis from your favorite commentating team and Olympic-style cut away interstitials featuring Tiago Pires and some other Portuguese surfer. My daughter says, angrily, “Papa, turn this crap off!”

And is she ever right. I am, for better/worse richer/poorer a fan of competitive surfing but watching Mick Fanning’s hunchbacked approach floating a slo-mo 2-foot piece of Portuguese beachbreak is awful television. It is supremely awful when compared to the National Football League. But it is equally awful compared to Kurt Russell’s award-winning Big Trouble in Little China. It is awful compared to the women’s ice-skating we watched together earlier in the day. It is awful compared to the Chevy Chase franchise Vacation remake we watched last night. It is awful compared to anything and everything because that Portuguese contest was a) lame and b) whatever.

So why did the WSL agree to showcase garbage contests with junk waves on a national platform? Do the powers believe that it is compelling enough to stand alongside ratings juggernauts (NFL, Big Trouble in Little China) and look brilliant?

I’m afraid my two-year-old’s unbiased impression is proper and correct. Powerful surfing in amazing waves, like Pipeline, draws gasps and wins hearts. Hunchbacked surfing in dribble is confusing, at best i.e. crap.