Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bitching about Flugtag

Today was the corporate-sponsored Flugtag (Flying Day) and I trudged down to watch people fling their homemade flying machines into the lake. The basic premise is not much more complicated than that. People form a team with their friends, build a vehicle of some kind, throw it off a landing and watch it break nearly instantly and plunge into the chilly depths of Lake Michigan. Their device can have no engine, it must be human-powered, so one or more members of the team generally ride or follow their creation into the water. The debris is collected, some sort of arbitrary judging is scored, and then the next team takes their turn. I'm not certain what the judges purpose could have been, as all the attempts were measured in distance as well.

I had thought it might be a cool place to wander a bit and get some pictures of the flying machines, but I was mistaken. When I arrived, the main area for viewing the crafts had been closed, and the throng of us were herded to the beach just north of the activity. I walked south as far as I could go, but never once even caught a glimpse of the actual staging area, or any of the crafts that the assembled teams had spent so much time on. Instead, we had a jumbo screen and a network of inescapable speakers to bring us the inane and apparently limitless chatter from whoever was functioning as the emcee, and several of the "judges," most of whom seemed content to use the name of the team for a weak pun or sexual innuendo.

So it was all the fun of watching something on television, except in a crowd. And I was hungry. They had closed down the little food vendors along the beach, and I stood forlornly next to what would, on another day, be an ice cream stand. I surmised that the refreshments were likely available only inside the now closed-off main area, so the several thousand of us outside of that area were on our own.

Within about three team's worth of activity, I realized it was like watching something I didn't particularly want to watch, except in public, and with no other channels. Two of the teams, for instance—pretty close to one another in the lineup—had been inspired by the aerodynamic charms of the locomotive. In each instance the team had chosen "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne as their theme song.

I cannot imagine what had made it so crowded, save for this being one of the last nice weekends that can accurately be called summer, and our first day without rain for a few, with rain resuming tomorrow with the remains of yet another hurricane arriving in our area with its spent fury and thick blankets of rain.

Still, once I fled the crowded beach, it was a nice afternoon to be out and about in Chicago. I'm still kinda sad I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the weird "aircraft" from my vantage. I had thought I might post a few, and bank a few for some Phoctober fun.


Taffiny said...

I often find myself having that degree of fun.

I went to a Night in _____ a few years back, an event I had heard mention of for years, and one I had often been stuck in traffic caused by. So I thought I should check out what all the fuss was about. I sat there thinking "This is it? This can't be it? Is this really it?" I couldn't believe I had ever thought I was missing out on anything by not going.

I was watching a future techno show the other day, and apparently someday we will be able to surf the web via our contact lenses, thus be able to change our personal viewing channel at will/whim. (that said I would rather just leave something I wasn't enjoying and have a nice walk as you did, than have words and screens pressed right up against my eyeballs)

Taffiny said...

Oh so that is how you do the new system

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

YAY Phoctober! Can't wait.

Sooooo.... now you are a beach bum? Fantastic. Wish you could have gotten closer to the flying fishes. Would have been a great photo opp.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

The Moon Topples said...

Taffiny: What if we do not wear contact lenses? Will I be able to watch things on my glasses?

Scarlett: It would have been some nice photo-making, I suspect, but the barricades and throngs of bodies prevented it. Perhaps I should get a Moon Topples press pass?

Taffiny said...

Oh I imagine everyone will be wearing contact lenses by then, so they can instantly telescope this and that, shade out the sun's rays, and have ever changing eye colors with starburst effect according to mood. But if some people (like you, or perhaps even you yourself) still insist on wearing glasses, I suppose they will make glasses with the same features, plus satellite radio, direct access to watching whatever they have Tivo-ed, and of course the ever popular and controversial x-ray vision. (plus the bonus of little cameras mounted on the sides, so you can see what is behind you).

(though I do believe all this will add up to us bumping into things, because we couldn't see what was actually there)

Oh my bad. Next reply will be shorter.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


If you get a MT press pass, do we all get one as well, if we participate in Phoctober?

I'm waiting for that, you know. Sort of patiently.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore