Thursday, August 30, 2012

Board Jenga...

No ideas where this image is from, but I got it in an email today from my buddys at Brisbane Boardriders.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's not wise to drop in on a wookie...

My friend pointed this poster out to me in a a Brisbane shopping centre the other day. It was sitting in the window of a picture-framing store. Ah, pop culture. How I love you.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
[R2-D2 and Chewbacca are playing the holographic game aboard the Millennium Falcon]
Chewbacca: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgh! 
C-3PO: He made a fair move. Screaming about it can't help you. 
Han Solo: Let him have it. It's not wise to upset a Wookiee. 
C-3PO: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid. 
Han Solo: That's 'cause droids don't pull people's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that. 
Chewbacca: Grrf. 
C-3PO: I see your point, sir.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Blue Hour

I have been following Brian Ferry's blog, The Blue Hour, for some time now. I turn to his images in the middle of a busy day, or when I'm feeling stuck indoors. They're green and warm and cosy, and there is something calm about them - a quality that I don't naturally possess and need to locate elsewhere! These few really struck me this evening, so I was stoked when Brian gave me the okay to re-post them here.

You can see more at The Blue Hour, but I recommend looking through his portfolio as well.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A request

Hello out there,

Can someone please organise some nice swell in Noosa for this coming weekend? I'll be up there for the weekend and I've been looking at the forecast which is pretty uninspiring/frustrating, so if someone could change it, that would be great. Nothing major - I'm not asking for all-time conditions or anything - just some nice little waves to play around on.

Oh, and sunshine.

Sincere thanks in advance,

Rebecca Jane Olive

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Women's bodies in the news.

(Alternative title; 'Oh Yeah. Sexism! I'd forgotten about that...': Reload)

There have been a number of stories involving women's bodies circulating in the news over the last 24 hours, and most of them are fairly upsetting. Two in particular have sparked controversy, which is frustrating, because these statements aren't 'controversial' - they're wrong. And sexist. And damaging. And scary.

The first concerns the comments of Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin. Let's see what all the fuss is about (via BrisbaneTimes);
Republicans have moved quickly to distance themselves from Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Missouri, after his comments that women's bodies can prevent them from getting pregnant from "legitimate" rape, obviating the need for an abortion.
"Legitimate" rape prevents pregnancy? Um, what? Like, what? I'm assuming this has something to do with Todd Akin being a staunch and unwavering (ie. fundamentalist) believer in God, but my friends who are Christian would never go about saying things like this, because they can reconcile their faith with that thing called, 'science'. And anyway didn't the new testament preach values like compassion? Because this doesn't really seem to connect with that line of thinking. Incredibly, although Mitt Romney did eventually say that Akin's words were "inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong", initially he merely said that he did not agree with Akin's views. Yeah, no. Because they are not "views", they are untruths - dangerous, terrifying, ignorant, misogynistic untruths. Because his comments aren't "legitimate". The Republican party should revoke their endorsement of his candidature. Immediately. 

This focus on rape leads disturbingly well into the next troubling comments from a politician (and I'm limiting myself to two), where British MP George Galloway said that the rape claims against Julian Assange had no basis, because having sex with a sleeping woman does not constitute rape (again, via BrisbaneTimes);

"Woman A met Julian Assange, invited him back to her flat, gave him dinner, went to bed with him, had consensual sex with him, claims that she woke up to him having sex with her again. This is something which can happen, you know. I mean, not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion."
Yeah sure it can happen, if it's consensual. But holy shit! This does not mean that if I've had consensual sex with a guy and go to sleep near him, that he can "insert" himself into me any time he wants. This is completely outrageous, and, I'm guessing, would not necessarily be Galloway's opinion if he was ever to become the insertee*. He should lose his job. Immediately. 

Here's the thing, Akin and Galloway, if you want to have sex with someone, you need to make sure they consent to it. Every time. And if they say 'yes', but look or act uncomfortable or unresponsive or terrified, you stop. You stop because physical responses and body language are a powerful and real form of communication. You stop because it is the right thing to do. 

I know it shouldn't, but it continues to astound me that people are still saying this kind of stuff about rape and women's bodies. The worst bit is that with people like this - like Akin and Galloway - their opinions and statements actually do have impacts and power over others, over what is deemed acceptable for others. For women. It's terrifying.

*Having said that, I have no idea of Galloway's sexual preferences and behaviour and am making a massive assumption about both, and am willing to admit that I could be wrong.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hello Friend...

My friend, Ollie Nicholson, has just returned from a year or so living in south america. He is a prolific and clever photographer, so in order to share his beautiful images he has organised a tumblr that trickles them to us, one at a time. The site is called Hello Friend... and you should check it out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gray Malin - The beach from above

How I think about the beach is so often in terms of ruggedness, being alone, wind-swept open spaces and risk. These associations reflect the beach I grew up on, which so many people shunned in preference of the more glamorous and user-friendly beaches in town. As a teenager, I could go down to the beach and be the only person for, literally, kilometres. That's rarely the case any longer, but that was what it could be like.

These days, my time on the beach - on the sand - is quite limited. Beaches have become places I cross to get to the surf. I spend enough time in the harsh Australian sun, so I rarely linger pre- or post-surf in an effort to minimise any further exposure. I no longer own a beach umbrella, large, soft towels to lay on, or minuscule bikinis for sun-bathing. I no longer partake in beach culture outside of its connections to actually going surfing, which is kind of weird, when you think about it. Surfing has become my main experience of the coastal culture, which is separate to those who spend their hours on the sand and paddling in the shallows of the sea.

But beaches are not like that for everyone. Often they are much busier and more populated places, coloured with umbrellas, towels, buckets and spades, resorts and masses of bodies. The beach for them is defined by the shore, rather than the waves and the surf.

This was all highlighted for me by these aerial photographs by Gray Malin (check out his website and blog for more images). For me, they tell a number of stories about coastal culture, about the ways our uses of the beach are broadly common across societies, about the way that the ocean, sand and rocks can be so similar in a global sense, but different in terms of our intimate relationships to colour, texture, geography and form. That is, these beaches are equally so similar and distinct from each other. Years of travel, looking at photos, watching films and reading magazines helped me recognise the coastlines by their differences, which surprised me a bit. But then, Malin's aerial perspective also added a common humanity to those differences, tying the places together in a way that is quite lovely, and which makes me feel small.

 Coogee Beach

Two Mile Hollow - East Hamptons

 Hamptons surfers

 Sea Kayaks - Malibu

 Nude beach - San Francisco

 Rio de Janeiro

 Saint Tropez

 Saint Tropez

 Venice Beach

Manhattan Beach

 Caribbean resort

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

El Mar, Mi Alma (The Sea, My Soul)

Yesterday afternoon, I took myself along to see El Mar, Mi Alma, a film I have been hearing about for some time now.

El Mar, Mi Alma from Rebel Waltz Films on Vimeo.

From the El Mar, Mi Alma, website;
With a long and diverse coastline Chile is a country not only shaped by its geography; the sea occupies a mystical and poetic conscious and unconscious place within the cultural fabris of the nation. The film is a visual tone poem, a blend of images and music featuring cinematic surfing sequences, coastal landscapes, insightful commentary and the movements of the cast on a unique surfing journey. With environmental themes and political undercurrent, the film paints a picture of Chile's beauty and association with the sea, centered around the intimate act of surfing.
It was funny to read that this film is a 'visual poem' in the 'About' from the website this morning, because as I watched it that was the thing that kept popping into my head. There was no clear narrative or plot, rather the film tells a story about the relationships various people, locals and visitors, have to places, and the ways that those relationships play out in terms of what we can know and do. These things are important in how we go about our day, in how we understand our surroundings, and in how we make decisions about the ways we engage with the world - our behaviour, our choices, our impacts.

Perhaps all that sounds like some kind of hippy bullshit, but I don't think it is. I've always had a very strong relationship to the beaches around my home. I love walking along the sand, swimming in the water, catching waves. When I go to the beach and find discarded bottles, chip packets and other kinds of rubbish, it's upsetting. I feel as though it's been a one-way relationship where whoever left those things took no time to look around them and appreciate where they were, nor to consider that this place was special, if not to them, then to other. Some indigenous australian kids I met a while ago understand this as 'caring for country', where you take responsibility for the well-being of places, whether they are yours or not. This explanation makes sense to me, and I use it to motivate me to take responsibility for collecting the bottles left on the beach, as well as the rubbish left in more urban spaces - like my university campus. Of course, this film is refers to more than collecting litter. It's about environmental, social and cultural issues that, if you really think about them, feel overwhelming. But it's also about how lucky we are to be able to take part in the ocean in such a fun and intimate way.

Watching this film made me think about a conversation I had a couple of years ago, where I was asked what my favourite kinds of books are. Like, if you had to describe your overall genre, what is it? Mine was books about landscapes, country, coast, and the relationships people have to these places. El Mar, Mi Alma moves slowly and if you are looking for excitement or a film to get you pumped, then this is not the one. But for someone like me, who takes great pleasure in landscapes, light and colour, the slow-pace was welcome and I was happy to sit back and take it in. The soundtrack is gorgeous, the images lovely, and the surfing felt 'real', which I know is an odd thing to say. This is not a film that deserves harsh treatment or heavy critique - it's too sincere for that - and if you are looking for a way to get lost for an hour, then I encourage you to go along.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Brisbane is for surfers*

In the more than four years that I have lived in Brisbane, I have never once overheard a conversation between strangers that was about surfing. But this morning, at the inner-city markets, I was stood next to two women at the 'I Love Sprouts' stall who were chatting about the surf (Note: I was waiting for coffee at the stall next door. Not for sprouts. Not that I have anything against sprouts [except alfalfa, ugh], I'm just saying that I wasn't buying them is all). The conversation went on and on - they were talking about water temperature and what wetsuits they were wearing and waves and all the things that I never fail to overhear in conversations when I'm by the coast. But in Brisbane! This was an oddity.

And then there's the sky from Thursday. 


I think the city is might be trying to make a subtle suggestion...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Casual sexism

Sometimes I read an online story about women and surfing that is so stupid and pointless and obviously sexist that I don't point it out or talk about it, because to highlight it only brings it traffic. But this morning I read one that is even more irritating than usual, because it's written by a woman and published on a website that situates itself as being for 'thinking surfers' and as promoting diversity.*

So the sexist story?

This morning I clicked on a link to The Inertia, which was promoting an article called 'Shit Surfer Girls Say'. This article was one of four highlighted in their regular bulk-email promotion, so the editor (or someone) had chosen it to be included. I guess they had decided it would draw traffic to their site (which is why I don't usually re-post this stuff). The article was a suggested script for one of those 'Shit _ Say' videos that were so popular following the 'Shit Girls Say' ones, which were, by the way hilarious. The original was hilarious because it was clever, respectful and astute. It wasn't about putting women down, but about laughing with them.

Funny, right? The second episode is funny too. It's funny to me because the guy isn't dressed in drag, he actually looks and carries himself like a woman. It's funny because the script doesn't play on stupid and overdone stereotypes about women and relationships, sex and their bodies. It's funny to me because girls I know really do love hummus. Girls I know do compulsively eat all the chips. Girls I know do say things that are contradictory. Girls I know do rummage through their handbag a lot. Girls I know do say "I had such a good sleep". And when I say 'girls I know', I am totally including myself in there.

However, the suggested script for 'Shit Surfer Girls Say', by Shelby Stranger, is not funny. It's not funny, because I have never heard any of my female friends who surf say any of those things. My friends have never said, 'That lifeguard was so hot. You should've gotten stuck in a rip', nor 'Does my wetsuit make me look fat?' They have most certainly never said, 'You should get a mermaid tattoo on your ankle. I wish I was a mermaid.' In fact, the only one on the list that I have heard someone say is, 'Is my mascara running? Do I have raccoon eyes?' and that was me, when I used to surf straight after finishing work and didn't take my makeup off before racing into the water. Sure, girls who surf talk about sex and dudes and other women and their own bodies - of course they do - but this script is not funny, astute, nor clever, and didn't make me feel as though Shelby Stranger was laughing with women who surf, but was getting cheap laughs by laughing at them. Like some cliched male-fantasy version of what women might say. And that's the most irritating bit of all: that a woman wrote this. Because none of my male friends would have written this. Because I honestly don't think that The Inertia would have published this if it had been written by a guy. No way!

And I realise that some websites use stories like this to generate traffic (and I realise I have now responded exactly the way they wanted me to, by generating further links to their site), but that's not really a good enough reason for promoting it. The Inertia publishes many good stories by and about women (and men) that discuss experiences women who surf have, topics they're interested in, and advocating against sexism. But when they publish trite, unfunny articles like the one discussed here, the editors of this site aren't actually behaving in the ways they advocate for other surfers to.

*Although maybe it 'used to'. I just went to the site to re-read their 'about' section', but now it's cut right back and doesn't make any mention about this, so the site might have changed their focus. Also, they no longer have that tagline about being for 'thinking surfers' anywhere obvious.

Monday, August 06, 2012

How I wish I looked on a dance floor

As it plays, try to imagine how many times I have watched this clip since my friend, Katie, sent it to me...

Friday, August 03, 2012

'First Point'

So I was recently made aware of this film, 'First Point', by Richard Phillips and Taylor Steele.

(You can find more and varied clips here at Richard Phillips's vimeo channel.)

The director labels the film 'surf noir' in that it pushes against the usually upbeat and positive vibe of most surf films - an interesting idea. The film also stars Lindsay Lohan, who is something of a muse for Phillips. But beyond that, and despite my attempts at finding more information, there is little I understand about this film - I don't know what it's trying to do or say. And while I in no way think that art always has to say something, I really like work that does. I like it when art makes me think, and unfortunately, the celebrity-induced preconceptions I have around Lohan are ultimately distracting. Maybe that's the point? Maybe I'm getting confused and this film is actually about celebrity. Some of the first links that are offered through a google search are interviews at Huffington Post, Harper's Bazaar and this site called The Rising Hollywood, so you can see where the main intrigue and audience has come from. I also read a little piece at a website called Hype Beast, where commenters are more interested in Lohan as Lohan,  - her history, whether they would have sex with her or not (!), what they would like to do to her, her relationship with drugs - rather than any 'message' the film is trying to make. Only one comment, which is my favourite, engages with anything outside of 'Lindsay Lohan':

These movies make me more interested in the chick that surfs in the clips...

The 'chick that surfs in the clips' is Kassia Meador, which, despite her headless state, I found pretty easy to pick due to Meador's own celebrity as a woman and a longboarder in a growing number of surf films. Through her popularity with surf film makers, I'm familiar with her impressive style, her approach to waves, her body-shape. Even headless, Kassia Meador was as instantly recognisable to me as Lohan, which in this case is a kind of interesting parallel if what this film is about is celebrity.*

Ha. Maybe it did make me think after all!

*It's also embarrassing.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Seeing a mirage

Yesterday, I was walking home across the William Jolly Bridge from West End to Paddington. The bridge spans the Brisbane River, linking the north and south banks and walking across it gives lovely views of the city skyline, the Gallery of Modern Art and back across the green hills to the west. It was very late afternoon and rush-hour traffic meant that cars were moving slowly. As I crossed the bridge I thought about the new/old car I'm picking up on the weekend. It's a hatchback, so I was imagining how my longboard is going to look strapped to the roof! Could be amusing.

As I neared the north end of the bridge, I looked at the road cutting underneath me. Immediately I noticed a small, white car with a single-fin log in a home-made cover on the roof. I'm used to seeing boards on cars in my small home-town, but the sight of a log on any car in Brisbane - let alone a familiar white Mirage - always stands out. I recognised the board-cover immediately - Huon!

The traffic was stopped at a light, so I ran to the edge of the bridge, draping myself over the hand-rail and waving wildly. Huon stuck his smiling face out the window, Buddy! We laughed and yelled at each other, but unsurprisingly, bridge-to-traffic conversations over the sound of a thousand car engines aren't that easy.

Seeing a surfboard on a car in the city here always makes me smile, but coming unexpectedly upon my friend driving about with a log on the roof - as naturally as though he was at the beach - really made my day!