Tag Archives: Beaches

Life is Best Experienced Live and Not on Tivo

A few years back, or maybe even a decade or so back, there was an advertising slogan by the Memorex Company that asked consumers to decide whether it was live, or Memorex.

The implication being that the quality of recorded material using the company’s products was so good as to render the consumer unable to determine whether or not it was a recording or a live performance that was being listened to.

This slogan popped into my head last week when I had the opportunity to attend a live streaming of the recording of one of my favorite radio shows, “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”  I had attended a taping of the show before but this one was part of a live streaming event to movie theaters across the world.  As I had enjoyed my previous chance to watch the show being made I jumped at the chance to take part again.

Ticket for a live radio show. Photo R Anderson

Ticket for a live radio show.
Photo R Anderson

Early on in the broadcast the host made a joke about the people tuned in to watch the live recording of the show being foolish for paying to see something that they could hear for free a few days later.

While this is technically true there is so much more that can be experienced during a live broadcast. You can see behind the curtain and see how the sausage is made so to speak.

And yes, I still tuned in Saturday morning to hear the differences in the recording compared to what I had seen a few nights earlier. There were subtle changes that had I not been there for the live portion I would have missed altogether.

The same is true for most anything in life. With very few exceptions it is better to experience things live.

I would much rather sit on a beach and hear the waves and feel the wind of my face than to experience the same beach on television.

Television cannot do this justice. Photo R Anderson

Television cannot do this justice.
Photo R Anderson

Even the best surround sound system cannot replicate the sounds of the shore. And of course there is no way to replicate the feel of the wind and the smells of the beach from the comfort of one’s own home regardless of how high one cranks up the fan or how much suntan lotion they apply. And those air fresheners that promise to smell like the sea, they all fall short in capturing the true smells of the shore.

Of course during seaweed season in Galveston it might be best to experience from afar as the shore line smells anything but intoxicating but like I said there are always exceptions.

The same goes for sporting events. Being live at the venue is simply better.

While television can provide certain angles that might not be available from every seat at a ballpark or stadium,  it cannot replicate the in person experience. Even though I wish there was a mute feature for some of the annoying fans that seem to gravitate towards me I would not trade the in person ballpark experience for a diet of televised games alone.

Very little tops a day at the Ballpark. Photo R. Anderson

Very little tops a day at the Ballpark.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course, televised games serve a good purpose so I don’t want to come across as being anti-televised sports. When I am unable to attend a game, or my team is playing in a stadium on the road, I enjoy having the game on as background noise as I go about my nightly routines.

But were money no object, you can rest assured I would attend every game in person as opposed to watching it on television.

A few years back Tivo and other digital recorders popped up to allow people to record live broadcasts and view them at a later time of their choosing that was more suitable. To this day I do not own a DVR, nor do I ever plan to have one. It is the same reason that I do not watch tape delayed Olympic coverage, if something is going on live I want to see it as it is happening and not wait.

Even near triple digit temperatures cannot dampen the Ballpark feel. Photo R. Anderson

Even near triple digit temperatures cannot dampen the Ballpark feel.
Photo R. Anderson

It also seems impractical in this day and age that I could avoid spoilers about the outcomes of games if I were to try to watch them at a later time.

Music is another area that is simply better live.  I have followed Green Day since college and have all of their albums, including some of their live albums from concerts in Japan and England.

Despite listening to these songs countless times, it was not until I saw them live and in person that I truly could appreciate their music. To this day that is one of the best concerts I have attended and provided a frame of reference and a week-long ringing in my ears that I would not have had without the in person look.

As a reporter my job is to attend the events and report back the experience so that readers can get the feeling of being there. Using words and images the best writers can put the reader right in the middle of the action. There are various techniques and writing styles employed by journalists but they all center on informing the reader and making them feel like they are there experiencing the event.

May all of your views be beachfront views. Photo R Anderson

May all of your views be beachfront views.
Photo R Anderson

I have been very fortunate in my career to be in the middle of a lot of action that were it not for being a journalist I would not have experienced. But for those non journalists out there I say, as Ferris Bueller would say Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So get out there and experience as much as you can live and you will see that with all due respect to Memorex a recorded and taped delayed life just can’t compete with one that heightens all of the senses.

And if you ever get the chance to see Green Day in concert by all means do it, just don’t forget the ear plugs.

Now if you’ll excuse me it is time to get out from in front of the computer screen and see what live event I can find next.

Copyright 2013 R Anderson

Trip Advisor Confirms What Most Already Know, Florida Has Nice Beaches

Each year various publications rank the best beaches from around the country, and around the globe.   These rankings each use various criteria including cleanliness of the water and the sand.

The view walking onto Pensacola Beach.  The beach was ranked 22nd in the 2013 Trip Advisor Traveler's Choice Poll. Photo R. Anderson

The view walking onto Pensacola Beach. The beach was ranked 22nd in the 2013 Trip Advisor Traveler’s Choice Poll.
Photo R. Anderson

While these rankings are totally subjective and often are largely compiled from visitor opinion, they are nonetheless often fun to read.

As someone who has been to more than his fair share of beaches, I enjoy seeing how many of the beaches on the list I have been to.  It also helps me plan the next beaches that are worth a visit.

For me, a good beach needs to have clear water that allows me to see the bottom, ample varieties of sea shells, and clean seaweed free sand.

Sorry Texas but once again you have been left out of both Trip Advisor’s and my list. I remember the first time I went to Galveston to see the beach after moving to Texas. Proximity to the Gulf had been one of the main selling points that had made a move to Texas palatable so I was very anxious to see the beach upon my arrival.  However, instead of being greeted by clear water and white sand like I remember from my trips to the other side of the Gulf of Mexico, I was met by seaweed, cloudy water and dark brown sand.  It was nothing like the Gulf I remembered. It is quite possible that I even shed a tear thinking that this was going to be the closest beach I lived to for awhile.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Galveston for many reasons. I love the history that surrounds it with the Strand and the Victorian homes. I love going to the annual Mardi Gras parades on the seawall. I love the fact that there is a retro style miniature golf course right out of the sixties with a view of the water. Just don’t expect to find me swimming in the water. For that, I prefer the beaches of Florida and according to Trip Advisor’s 2013 Traveler’s Choice Beaches Awards I am not alone.  Of the top 25 beaches on the list, nine are in Florida.

So let’s take a more in depth look at the four beaches on the list that I have been fortunate enough to dip my toes in the water at.

Canaveral National Seashore ranked 23rd on Trip Advisor's 2013  Traveler's Choice list.  While not a factor in this year's ranking one key feature of the beach used to be the proximity to the Space Shuttle launch pads. Photo R. Anderson

Canaveral National Seashore ranked 23rd on Trip Advisor’s 2013 Traveler’s Choice list. While not a factor in this year’s ranking one key feature of the beach used to be the proximity to the Space Shuttle launch pads. Photo R. Anderson

Our first stop takes us to Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville which comes in at Number 23.

Located next to the Kennedy Space Center, this beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida provides ample dunes and natural wonders to explore.  Another key feature is the lack of high rises and other commercial buildings.

During the Space Shuttle era visitors to the beach were often treated to the site of the Space Shuttle on the launch pad. Most of the shuttle pad structure has been torn down and replaced with new facilities that will one day carry new rockets into orbit. When that day comes one can rest assured that the Canaveral National Seashore will still be there greeting visitors as it has for generations. Just be sure to take along some mosquito spray if you do go as the insects like to attack along the dune line.

Pensacola Beach boosts ample amounts of clear water and pure white sand.  The sea shells and sand dollars are also plentiful. Photo R. Anderson

Pensacola Beach boosts ample amounts of clear water and pure white sand. The sea shells and sand dollars are also plentiful.
Photo R. Anderson

Coming in at number 22 is Pensacola Beach which is nestled between Santa Rosa Island and Fort Pickens beaches up near the border that Florida shares with Alabama.

Ironically, I did not discover this particular beach until I moved to Texas.  At just over eight hours away from my house it serves as the perfect road trip destination for those long weekends when I just need to leave Texas and get a taste of Florida.

After the BP oil spill a few years back there was concern regarding whether the beaches would become polluted with oil and tar balls. Thanks to proactive response and around the clock monitoring, Pensacola Beach still boasts crystal clear water and sugar sand for miles and miles.

Sunset at St. Pete Beach.  Photo R Anderson

Sunset at St. Pete Beach.
Photo R Anderson

The next stop on our journey across Florida takes us to St. Pete Beach, which comes in at number 15.

Much like Pensacola Beach I discovered St. Pete Beach after I had moved away.  I had been to numerous other beaches in and around that part of the Gulf but for whatever reason I had never ventured there.

There are several beaches in and around St. Petersburg that make the top 25 including Clearwater Beach, Fort DeSoto Beach and Sarasota.  All of these beaches offer the same clear water and miles of sand. The only variables are the amounts of commercial buildings that surround them.

Personally I tend to prefer a more natural beach with less hotels and restaurants nearby but I realize that sometimes it can be nice to have a room with a view so there is certainly a time and place for hotels on the beach.

Dunes at Fort Pickens Beach. Photo R Anderson

Dunes at Fort Pickens Beach.
Photo R Anderson

Our final stop on our best beaches in America, that I have been to tour, is the Gulf Islands National Seashore that comes in at number 3 on the list.

Located just down the road from Pensacola Beach, the Gulf Islands National Seashore includes unbelievable dunes and miles of unobstructed views of the Gulf and Pensacola Bay.

While technically not part of the beach, the area also includes historic military forts that can be toured through either a self paced or guided manner. 

So there you have it, four great Florida travel destinations.  If that doesn’t have you itching for some sand between your toes I don’t know what will.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it may be time for a road trip east. Happy snorkeling, shelling, or fishing to one and all.

 Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

Beach, Sand Beach

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s master spy James Bond’s debut on the silver screen. As part of the celebration there have been countless ceremonies and other specials to commemorate the event.

From Daniel Craig “parachuting” into the London Olympic Games with the Queen, to the planned tribute later this month at the Academy Awards, it is hard to argue that this is the year of Bond, James Bond.  With all of these activities and the DVD release of Skyfall tomorrow it seemed like a perfect time to focus on 007.

Some of the 23 James Bond movies. Photo by R. Anderson

Some of the 23 James Bond movies.
Photo by R. Anderson

Now, it would be easy to try and rank the men who have played James Bond on film. From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, and everyone in between, most people when asked have a favorite.  One common theory of Bond relativity is that a person’s favorite portrayal tends to coincide with whoever was Bond the first time that they watched.  For me, my first exposure to Bond occurred during the Roger Moore era.

Looking back now the Roger Moore movies were some of the campiest in the franchise. That is in no way speaking ill of them and in fact Sir Roger Moore himself as stated that he was in on the joke and wanted to play Bond in a campy manner with a wink and a nod to the audience.

In many ways Sean Connery and Daniel Craig portray a Bond that is truer to the source material than the Roger Moore installment.  Don’t get me wrong I enjoy Connery’s and Craig’s portrayals, but for whatever reason I still tend to picture Bond as Roger Moore.  I do not hold the same affinity for Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton.  I enjoy other films that Brosnan and Dalton are in but just do not care for them as Bond.  Timothy Dalton seemed to be trying too hard and Pierce Brosnan seemed like he wasn’t trying hard enough during their stints in the tuxedo. The final of the six men to play Bond, George Lazenby, gets an incomplete grade.  I thought that his turn as Bond was pleasant enough but it is hard to say with only one movie to go by.

After the list of favorite Bond actor is decided the next logical step that fans are likely to take is picking their favorite Bond girl.  In the early films one knew that there would be two Bond girls; the one that was the first to fall into the arms of Bond and the second more complex one.

It was a well known fact that, much like the person wearing the red shirt on the away team for the original Star Trek, the first Bond girl in each film would surely meet her demise in some cruel fashion shortly after exclaiming the phrase, “oh, James.”  The second Bond girl could be a baddy that was turned good by the power of Bond persuasion or someone else that we were led to believe won the heart of of James and would be seen in some sort of embrace as the credits rolled.  So, debate amongst yourselves and pick your favorite Bond girl. For me, that title goes to Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green in 2006’s Casino Royale.

One could also set up a list of best cars, gadgets, or villains.  There really is no end to the amount of debate that one can give to the subject.  This is one of the many reasons for the lasting appeal of James Bond.

But for our purposes let us focus on the beaches of Bond.  The mood for the appeal of the sea and the role exotic locations would play in the franchise was set early on in 1962’s Dr. No.  Ask anyone who has seen the movie and odds are they will recall Ursula Andress emerging from the ocean in her white bikini with a dagger strapped to her hip as the waves rushed onto the shore. So pivotal was that moment in the franchise years later the producers tried to recreate it with Halle Berry in Die Another Day. And since this is a new era for Bond the fans were given the chance to see Daniel Craig emerge from the surf in much the same way in Casino Royale.

Part of the recurrence of beaches in Bond movies goes back to the source material and Ian Fleming himself.  When Fleming was writing the novels that would inspire the film franchise he had a vacation home called Goldeneye in Jamaica.  This proximity to the tropical environment came through as  three of Fleming’s thirteen James Bond novels,  “Live and Let Die”, “Doctor No” and “The Man with the Golden Gun” have Jamaican settings.

Some of Ian Fleming's books. Photo R. Anderson

Some of Ian Fleming’s books.
Photo R. Anderson

Other beaches would follow in the films after Dr. No‘s Jamaican holiday.  In no particular order are several memorable beaches of bond.  Khao Phing Kan, Thailand in The Man With the Golden Gun, Holywell Bay, Cornwall, England, in Die Another Day, Praia do Guincho, near Cascais, Portugal, from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and One and Only Ocean Club, Bahamas from Casino Royale.

While the movies allowed the viewer to see the beaches the books allowed one to picture the beaches in their mind as they read along.  Arguments can be made either way regarding which is better as the debate over books versus films has raged on for decades if not longer.  For me I tend to prefer picturing things in my mind first and seeing them second.  But few can argue that the beaches of the films are truly spectacular and add to the visual story that is trying to be told.

And back to that first beach from Dr. No; you know the one that started it all.  It has of course been renamed James Bond Beach. No word on whether the sand is best shaken or stirred when it gets stuck in one’s swim trunks.  Now if you’ll excuse me I think it is time to update the passport and fly out to see some of these beaches in person.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson