As I was flipping through television channels last night in a desperate attempt to put my feet up and possibly see my ankles once again, I happened to catch this show on the Travel Channel and couldn't believe my eyes:

Sand Blasters 2007: The Extreme Sand Sculpting Championship

Now I am aware that there are people o
ut there who are really into sand sculpting and I've even seen some pretty cool competitions and some amazing sand sculptors in the past when I lived on the West Coast. How anyone can devote the necessary time in life, practicing to get good enough to create something like this:

out of sand is beyond me. I never even had the patience to devote a scant couple of hours a day to practicing the violin. But I can appreciate the artistry, at least.

This competition, however, brings a whole new twist to the ummmmmm... what is the word here?... Art?... Sport?... Event?... Maybe I'll just go with Competition.

From the Travel Channel webs
This popular event is back and brings a new level of competition to Travel Channel. Paired off into teams of two, 16 of the world's best sand sculptors descend on picturesque Pacific Beach in San Diego, California, for the chance to win their share of $15,000 in prize money. But there's one big twist -- Explosions!

Over the course of this intense two-day competition, five of the eight sculptures will be randomly selected for complete destruction by a Hollywood pyrotechnics crew. The unlucky blast victims then have the remaining time to create another world-class sculpture in order to contend for the title of Sand Blaster Champion.
Basically, eight teams have two days to create a sculpture from the giant block of sand provided them. But every so often throughout the competition a horn sounds, everyone runs for cover and one masterpiece explodes due to pre-planted pyrotechnics paraphernalia hidden away in the original block of sand. The unlucky owners of the pile-o-exploded-sand must then start again from scratch.

Teams also purposely build elements into their sand castles so as to inflict the greatest amount of damage on the sand castles of those nearby should theirs be one of the ones randomly selected to blow. Super slo-mo replays give commentators the chance to discuss the awesomeness factor of each explosion and describe in great detail which part of the sculpture went first and how far sand was blasted across the playing field.

They also pontificate on the "emotion" of the piece and whether the conceptual idea was simply "too edgy for the judges". As if someone judging a sand sculpting contest isn't already teetering precariously on the brink of normalcy.

After all the awards are given and prize money is handed out, they blow up the rest of the sand castles just for fun. I sat, unwillingly riveted to the tube through the entire program. I can't say I'm a better person for it, but it's opened my eyes to a whole new counter-culture.

I'd say I've seen it all now, but I know I'm just one ESPN Channel Xtreme Sports program away from being disproved on that statement.
And it really didn't have to stop... it just kept on going. And so castles made of sand slip into the sea, Eventually.
(Name that tune.)