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Surfing Trivia 


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Where did the oft-used surfing term "kook" come from, anyway? The following is taken from the Kooks Museum, with permission from the author:


Note on the origin of the word "kook": a visitor to this museum (a surfer of the non-web variety) maintains that "kook" is of Hawaiian origin, and that the beatniks got it from the surfing culture:


It's fairly well-known in the older segment of the surfing community that "kook" is Hawaiian in origin (orig. spelling "kukai" (?)). It means "shit" (n.); hence the derogatory connotations. California surfers brought the term back from the Islands in the 30's and 40's. Example: At San Onofre (along with Malibu, one of the original surf spots in So. Cal.), there was a small canyon above the surfing beach that was named "Kukai Canyon." It was where everyone went to defecate in those pre-outhouse days. The surfers used the term "kook" to refer to newbie surfers lacking any surfing skill whatsoever. Since there was some cultural interaction between the Beats and the surfers in the 50's (e.g. the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World for a fictional portrayal), this would explain the transition of the term to your working definition. However, it's possible that "kook as crackpot" and "kook as inexperienced surfer" are two entirely separate and independent uses of the word. I'd be interested to find out if the two are indeed related.


And what of "cowabunga"? The following is from The Learning Kingdom's Cool Word of the Day for April 3, 2000:


cowabunga [interj. kou-uh-BUNG-guh]


This slang word almost always appears with an exclamation mark. It's an expression of amazement at something really great that has happened. Example: "Cowabunga! What a great wave that was!"


The example relates to one of the ways this word was used in the 1960s, by surfers celebrating good rides on the waves. Today, the word has been taken up and popularized by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson, the popular cartoon character.


The word's history began with a character on the old Howdy Doody Show, a children's TV show that aired from 1947 until 1960. One of the characters on the show was Chief Thunderthud, an indian chief who began every line with the nonsense syllable "kawa." When things went well, he said "Kawagoopa!" If things went poorly, he said "Kawabonga!"


And "Eddie Would Go"? The following is taken from "Legendary surfer recalled by those who knew him best" (Wanda A. Adams, Honolulu Advertiser, Dec. 1, 2002):


Eddie Aikau biographer Stuart Coleman says there are two stories as to how the "Eddie Would Go" slogan and bumper sticker came about. One is that those three blunt words were used by a supervisor of the city lifeguards in describing Aikau's willingness to perform rescues in conditions that would intimidate anyone else. The other is that famed big-wave rider Mark Foo muttered the phrase, putting the cap on a heated discussion of whether Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Memorial Surf Contest should be held on a day when the waves were so monstrous even big-wave riders were hesitant to paddle out.


You didn't think that was interesting, did you? If you're a trivia buff or just bored, check out the Land O' Useless Facts or try the Totally Trivia Search Engine. Or, sample some of The Straight Dope and see chaos theory in practice with the Random Factoid.


In Australia, usual Boxing Day activities include surfing. Christmas comes in the middle of summer. (Taken from UselessKnowledge.)


The following surfing tidbits are from The Encyclopedia FunTrivia, reprinted with permission:


The first official world surfing championships were held at Manly, Sydney, in 1964 and won by an Australian, Bernard "Midget" Farrelly.


A surfboard is slower than a boogie board. The boogie board has an unlimited hull speed. The surfboard is limited.


The first life-saving club in the world was founded in Australia, on Bondi Beach, Sydney, on 6-2-1906. It has since saved the lives of many surfers.


Cymophobia is the fear of waves or wave-like motions.


Hmm . . . wonder if there's a name for the fear of big North Shore waves :-). But a phobia is an irrational or inappropriate fear, and since huge North Shore waves are truly life-threatening would such a fear be phobic? Wow, guess i'm bored.


Had enough? If you want more surfing trivia you can get on the Magic Surfbus.


By the way, where are the best beaches in the United States? That depends on whom you ask, and according to The Best Beaches in the USA several of the finest can be found in Hawaii. (Duh.)


What's "parapraxis"? According to the Grandiloquent Dictionary, it's "[a] lapse of memory or a slip of the tongue, usually revealing a hidden thought." In the book, Freud for Beginners, "parapraxis is the official term for the famous ‘Freudian slip.' It refers to slips of the tongue, pen or memory, which occur in normal life. Errors are symbolic of unconscious attitudes and wishes." (See also, "Bush Commits Parapraxis" and The Freudian Slip, Answers.com: parapraxis.)