March 20, 2010

Sharks: Terrorists of the deep


Last night, I was back at my increasingly regular haunt, 92YTribeca, for his month's edition of Kevin Geeks Out, which I've covered in these virtual pages before. (The monkey quiz was awesome, by the way, though the guy in the gorilla suit came in last place, despite being the only one to ID "Monkey Gone to Heaven" played at half speed.)

This newest edition was Kevin Geeks Out About Sharks, a subject I've never had any particular interest in. I must confess—seriously—I don't like Jaws. Just never did it for me (though I have specific memories of being freaked out by Jaws 2 as a seven- or eight-year-old). And the bulk of the evening was focused on the massive pop-culture ripples caused by Jaws's massive Spielbergian success; I saw a lot of scenes from a lot of crappy shark movies, nearly all of them ridiculously amusing. Kevin broke the last 35 years of shark cinema into three eras: the golden age was the flood of stupid films trying to cash in; the silver age included sanctioned sequels and spin-offs; and the bronze age is all about CGI sharks, nearly all of which look worse than the robot used in the urtext. I can't believe how cheesy this is:



I didn't do a quiz at the show (though I'll be back for another Kevin Geeks Out event in the months ahead; I'm trying to sell him on Kevin Geeks Out About the Presidents, but I'll be shocked if he goes for it). One trivial element about sharks I find interesting is that there's serious debate about the etymology of the word: a popular theory is that shark is derived from a Mayan word for the animal, xoc. Whereas others argue that shark meaning a cheat/swindler came first, and the animal was named after it due to its rapaciousness. Regardless, it's a relatively young word; sailors pretty much used dog fish or other obscure terminology until about 400 years ago.

And here's one clip that went unshown at last night's event, combining sharks with one my my greatest pop-culture obsessions. This is what it's all about:

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