Obsessed with River Monsters

Damn you, work! Why can’t you pay me to watch this show?! You know you’ve got a problem when you need to turn in work at 5:00AM, but can’t stop watching an overnight marathon.

Unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you’re familiar with the Animal Planet show River Monsters. This is the show in which host, Jeremy Wade, biologist, extreme angler and professional badass, risks his life and limb in some of the most dangerous fresh waters of the world. Why dangerous?

Here’s a small sample…

What the?!?!?

I wasn’t quite sure why I’m obsessed with this show because I hate fishing. I know for most people it’s relaxing, but to me it’s a chore and I hate having to touch bait or worse, the fish. Weird, freaky, slimy, toothy, disgusting things! But when he does it…

I guess what’s really fascinating isn’t the catch itself, since we have the internet to satiate our appetite for freaks, but it’s the process of the hunt that keeps me from going back to work. And I do mean the hunt. I.E. He travels the world and speaks to locals on the horrifying and often slightly exaggerated stories of creatures in the world’s rivers and lakes and narrows down the list of potential suspects that fit the bill. The thrill of catching suspects isn’t bad either.

And then of course, there’s the Monster catch itself.

Someone once said, conflict is basically long stretches of mind numbing boredom punctuated by sheer terror. Fishing, oddly, is just like conflict.

When I read Old Man and the Sea by Hemmingway as a kid, I admit, I didn’t totally grasp what the big fuss was about. I mean, it was a nice story of perseverance and nostalgia and all, but like most of Hemmingway’s works, I felt it was just a celebration of grit. But it turns out I missed the point entirely; the story wasn’t about the catch itself, it’s the experience of catching: The reflection on past catches, the struggle, the joy, the sense of loss, the fear, the delirium. The fish almost didn’t matter.

Jeremy IS Santiago — at 56, I don’t think he’d appreciate being compared to an old man – and every episode is a tiny reenactment of the book. And like I did with the Old Man, we think it’s all about the Monster but it really isn’t. The Monster is a fascinating exclamation point to a riveting sentence.

There’s another mini marathon of several episodes tonight. I have a ton of work to get done, but I have to watch it!

The infamous Goliath Tigerfish of the Congo river. I remember seeing a poster for River Monsters in the subway a while back and all I could think of was watching this show.

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