After Reading This, You’ll Never Go In The Water Again!

Recommended Sanderwich: Please read this post with a tuna melt, made with dolphin friendly tuna, because we all respect the sea and the creatures that live in her. I like mine with a bit of finely chopped red onion for extra stink.

I love shark films. I love them all, but I particularly love bad shark films. The original Jaws released in 1975 and directed by Steven Spielberg is a good, tense horror movie. Thus, is way down on my list of preferred shark movies. On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, Jaws has an extremely high 98% rating, whilst Jaws 4 as an extremely rare 0%, drawing a good line from best to worst films through a single franchise. Maybe one of the reasons I love shark films is because they are cathartic in the way that the Final Destination franchise is – the viewer gets to laugh at death, diminishing the ever looming grim reaper to a laughable fool. Also, sharks are not a real threat in our lives, not something we have to worry about on a daily basis. Sharks are killed by people thirteen million times more often than people are killed by sharks. So just remember, they’re much more scared of you than you are of them.

My personal favourites are Jaws 4: The Revenge and Deep Blue Sea. These films fall into a category I’ve termed ‘brainy sharks’. In Deep Blue Sea there is some plot explanation for why the sharks have gotten smart. In Deep Blue Sea mad scientist Dr Susan McAlester is genetically engineering those bad boys to be brainier because she’s harvesting their shark brains to cure Alzheimer’s. They get so brainy, they hatch an escape plan, systematically attacking the electric fences, and using one of their victim’s bodies as a battering ram to smash a window. Cheeky monsters! The plot of Jaws 4 is a little bit more far-fetched. So, the exact same shark that eats Sheriff Brody and Ellen Brody’s son Sean in New England follows Ellen to Barbados to open up a can of bite-ass on her and her other son. This shark has a vendetta against the Brody family. Sheriff Brody is dead at this point in the franchise. And obviously it’s a different shark from the first three films because those sharks are ALL DEAD. I like to imagine that this shark is the progeny of the original Jaws shark, hell bent on avenging his father, in the style of a Greek tragedy or the Mafia. Ellen’s other son, Michael, is a marine biologist, so conveniently, he can’t just not go in the water, like you or I wouldn’t if a great white happened to take a disliking to us. Also, there’s a scene where they go banana boating, and Michael Caine is in it. I can’t sell this film to you any more. “You were only suppose to blow the bloody fins off”! Or, if you want a real Michael Caine quotation on the subject:

“I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific”

To get the utmost enjoyment from a shark film, you must watch it on the side of the shark. It is easiest to do this if the characters in the film are really annoying. If you want an easy route into getting into this way of thinking whilst watching a shark film, watch Open Water, a film about a couple who get left behind in the sea after a scuba diving trip. By the end of that film any sane viewer is positively willing those sharks to get pretty bite-y on that annoying couple. Die already!

In most shark films, sharks are portrayed as dead-eyed psychopaths, nature’s killing machines, and there’s absolutely no reasoning with them (not even the brainy ones). I, however, have developed another perspective through which to view shark films. To understand this perspective, we must yet again hark back to Classical Philosophy. In the Pheado, Plato talks about his belief in reincarnation, or metempyschosis, as the Greeks would have it. This is the theory that after death your eternal soul is reborn in another living thing. Plato reckons that it depends how well you did in this life, as to what you will come back as in the next life. If you’re a bad man you can be reborn as a woman [sic], a wolf, or maybe a shark…? Plato gets a bit murky on how you can be a good wolf or shark. I don’t think he can extend morality to the animal kingdom. Therefore, being a ‘good’ shark can only relate to how sharkey you are, or how many shark goals you achieve. To partake in the form of shark, to be a good shark, you must have to be pretty bite-y. And if you’re a good shark, are you a human in the next life? I could have been a great white last time. I am shark, hear me roar. (For a roaring shark watch Jaws 3, the one with the CGI shark). This way of viewing a shark film helps us to be on the shark’s side. The shark is just trying to be a good shark, so he can come back next time and eat sandwiches instead of surfers.

Now there are purposely bad shark films. The Asylum is the film studio and distributor responsible for Sharknado. The Asylum intentionally make low-budget, tacky, B-movies in the hope that they will become cult hits. They are also the people responsible for the film Titanic 2, FYI. I enjoyed Sharknado as much as the next guy, but I can’t help but feel it was a bit of a one-trick pony. A film made to be bad is never as satisfying as one that’s unintentionally terrible. It’s like a bumbling, clumsy friend, versus an outright douche-bag. I can only the assume the sequel will be Nazisharknado, where Nazis ride sharks that are spewed out of a giant spurt of swirling water. Tagline: ‘You’ll Never Go In The Cinema Again’.

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TETRIS

Recommended Sanderwich: Read this post with a Club Sanderwich on white bread, with everything thinly sliced. Cut into at least four tessellating triangles.

 

A week ago I downloaded the Tetris app. As a kid, it was one of the few computer games I enjoyed, and played endlessly. Since I downloaded it, I’ve been playing it at every opportunity I get: in the canteen during my lunch-break, on tubes and trains to and from work, and in bed before I go to sleep at night. At work, I’ve ignored colleagues. On the tube, I’ve very nearly missed my stop on several occasions. Late at night when I get home, I change into my pyjamas, slip under the duvet in my cold, lonely bed. Already exhausted from work/football/rehearsals, I get out my phone and start playing. A game can take up to fifty minutes. When I finally put down my phone and close my eyes, I see shapes. In good dreams, they all fit together, but nightmares are interminable hours where nothing will tessellate.

 

I’ve started to see those shapes, or tetrominos, to call them by their official term, even during the day. Conversing with someone, I’ll realise that I’ve stopped listening to what they’re saying, and all I can see is the rotating shapes. I can feel them moving in space, slotting them in just in time. I’ve realised I’m playing it my mindbrain while I’m doing my work as well. Tetris is eternal.

 

In real life, I want to make objects and people and everything tessellate neatly. This is so common, it’s known as the ‘Tetris Effect’ or ‘Tetris Syndrome’. This describes a syndrome in which a certain activity begins to pattern a person’s thoughts, mental images, and dreams because of the amount of time and level of attention lavished on it. Tetris has also been described as a pharmatronic – an electronic drug. It has been shown to lessen the effect of traumatic memories, so if ever find yourself in a hurricane, or a car crash, get out your gameboy. Tetris is so addictive, the inventor of the game, Alexey Pajitnov was delayed in finishing the prototype because he was too busy playing it. I think I’ve made my point.

 

 

While Tetris might have a very catchy theme tune, it’s an incredibly simple game, and yet it has consumed me, eyes, fingers, and soul. I am Tetris! I am Tetris! My theory is that Tetris taps into a deep-seated human desire, instinct even. This is the desire for order, control, and for things to fit just-so.

 

I’m a naturally untidy person, my room is often messy (read: always). When I’m in my room, I don’t enjoy the mess, it infuriates me. I wish it were beautifully ordered, I wish I had secret storage compartments, a colour co-ordinated bookshelf, and a sense of minimalism. Instead, I have knickers on the floor. It’s not that I don’t want for things to be ordered, it’s that I’ve failed to put in place a good and reliable system for order. Also, I bloody hate tidying.

 

I love to build a sandwich. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is because I feel like an architect, making component parts fit together, tessellating neatly into a delicious temple. It’s so delightfully convenient. It’s not just physical spaces we want to find order in. When we tell a story, we impose an order on events and characters. Don’t we just love it when all the strands are neatly tied together, and somehow at the end we find ourselves at the beginning again. And what are themes, if not reoccurring shapes throughout a narrative, a pattern, which pleases our brain, and helps it to process the story.  

 

There is a human desire to want people to ‘fit’ as well – we want them to ‘fit in’ or be ‘the right fit’, whether it’s in the workplace or in a social group. When we look for love, we want somebody who fits with us, somebody who has the same interests and habits. Or at least somebody whose neuroses are conveniently the inverse of our own: “I’m shy, but he’s very outgoing”, “She’s always upbeat, which balances out my eternal pessimism”, “I’m an angry, control freak, but it’s ok, because my wife is very easy going and does everything the way I want” etc. etc. In Plato’s Symposium Aristophanes tells a story in which every human is one half of what was once an original whole. I imagine this is a story based on taking the phrase ‘my other half’ very literally. Yes, it was an Ancient Greek phrase. Anyway, there were three kinds of whole human: your basic hetero couple man/woman, then the lesbians and gays, woman/woman and man/man. In the story, I believe Aristophanes claims they’re joined back to back, forming a circle, and they roll around. With such a mighty fine design, they were too much for the gods:

‘Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great’.

So instead of destroying them, the gods split them in half. And for the rest of time humans were doomed to roam the earth in search of finding their other half. And lo, internet dating was born.

 

Sex is the ultimate tessellation. I’m going to get a little raunchy here, but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that some parts seem to be made to fit into other parts. The next time I’m having sex in my shambolic room, I will let my orgasmic cry ring loud: “TESSELLATION!!!”. It can’t be any more embarrassing than the time I shouted out the answer to a question on 15 to 1 during coitus.