Monday, June 30, 2008
Summertime and one's thoughts turn to water recreation. Heading for the beach? A lake, or even a river? Then stay away from cable TV and in particular, such hair-raising channels as Discovery, National Geographic and History.
The old days of nature-TV where an avuncular host would respectfully peer through the grass at one of God's sublime creatures while gently beckoning you forward to share the majesty are gone. Now, only Animals Disgorged From Hell get all the good airtime, and that includes demons of the watery deep.
Oh, and I'm not talking about sharks, that old bugbear of the seas and sweeps. Sharks -- and their spawn, Shark Week, Shark Month and so on -- have jumped the proverbial (non-lethal) shark. Hell, you can swim with sharks for fun at tourist resorts. Nope, I'm talking about heretofore unknown, undocumented or possibly covered-up threats.
That's right -- have you seen Killer Jellyfish? Or Giant Squid: Caught on Camera? Are you up on the Secret Killers of Monterey Bay? (Those, for the woefully uninformed, are "transient killer whales." As opposed to, say, a stable killer whale with a home, family and a pretty good job down at the plant.) Laugh all you want at silly-looking walruses, but you do not want a close encounter with a Toothed Titan.
And speaking of teeth, anybody near the mid-Atlantic waterways should heed Fishzilla, the go-to television freak-out about Chinese snakehead fish, who not only have nasty sharp teeth, but also "walk" on land, leap into boats uninvited, ignore traffic signals and commit who knows how many other criminal acts.
The fear-mongers over at Monster Quest cast a wide net across species but at least two episodes of the popular History Channel series probe the liquid depths for horror. "America's Loch Ness Monster" might be lurking in Lake Champlain in upstate New York. The "Giant Fish" episode tracked ... yes ... giant fish, from super-sized (but elusive) lake trout in northern Canada to a reconstructed mondo-muskie in Minnesota to the gargantuan catfish of the Amazon that eat small boys unlucky enough to stray from rural villages.
And even if somehow, all the combined brainiacs of TLC, Discovery and The Military Channel could remove all the deadly fish from our waters, there are still Monster Waves to contend with.
It almost smells like an organized conspiracy to get people just to stay indoors -- and watch more TV.