The Reluctant Townie | Don't jump the shark, it's the summer of 'The Meg'

The Reluctant Townie | Don't jump the shark, it's the summer of 'The Meg'

Is everybody having a good summer?

Last week, I had the chance to throw an honest-to-God Frisbee and chug a bottle of basement-aged Zima, so my summer might have already peaked, but I am still optimistic that the final month of the season has some surprises left in store.

For one thing, the only movie that matters this summer is still on the horizon, that film being, of course, the prehistoric-shark-vs.-Jason Statham flick "The Meg." If we're being totally honest, my final grade for this summer hinges almost entirely on my enjoyment of "The Meg," which may be a lot of responsibility to place on a film that I am only realistically expecting to rank somewhere between "Deep Blue Sea" and "Sharknado 2."

I actually just finished reading the novel "The Meg" is based on — making this perhaps the only Jason Statham film to exist with a literary counterpart — and I can only hope the movie version retains the absolutely bonkers novel ending, which (SPOILER ALERT!) finds the Statham character going mano a mano with the 80-foot shark armed only with a fossilized tooth (LOL, for real).

Not that I have any shame about reading movie-based literature (as a child, in a world before the internet, I regularly read novelizations of movies I wanted to see, as evident by my dog-eared paperbacks of "Last Action Hero" and "Super Mario Bros: The Movie"), but in this case the novel had been sitting unread on my bookshelf for a number of years before the film release served as a catalyst to hunker down and finish it.

The book, as you have likely guessed, is no work of high art, but it is short and zippy and reads like a screenplay, and if it weren't for the author's borderline misogynistic subplot in which he seems to be working through his own personal demons surrounding a recent, acrimonious divorce (The novel's villain, aside from the titular Megalodon, is the Statham character's one-dimensional shrew of a wife, who begins the novel by running off with his best friend because he spent too much time during their marriage ... studying sharks?), I would gladly offer it a solid recommendation.

Of course, why would you chose to read a book about a dinosaur shark eating unsuspecting rubes when you could instead watch a movie about a dinosaur shark eating unsuspecting rubes? I supposed I don't have a compelling answer to that question, aside from noting that you don't have to choose — you can have it both ways.

I've been afraid of sharks for as long as I can remember. In the grand scheme of things, I feel it's a pretty reasonable phobia to have.

Unlike land-based predators, sharks have a distinct environmental advantage over human beings that renders its prey an extra degree of helpless.

As I child, I used to have a recurring nightmare in which I would wake up to find myself submerged in the murky depths of the ocean, unable to discern which direction was up or down, and as I flailed in a slow-motion, underwater panic, from the shadows would emerge a great white shark to devour me.

These days, I don't have to have nightmares, because I own a virtual reality headset that does the dreaming for me. One of the first things I did with my new Oculus Go was find 360-degree videos of shark cage dives. Despite knowing that I was sitting in the comfort of my office chair during the dive, the immersive experience of great white sharks swimming 6 inches from my face overrides the lizard part of my brain and sends my body into instant fight-or-flight mode.

Indeed, "The Meg" has its own VR promotional video, although I am sad to report that Jason Statham is nowhere to be seen in any of its 360 degrees. I guess the filmmakers wanted to give you a reason to head to the multiplex next week.

For those of you who have been sending me your concerned letters, rest assured: I have managed to lose only one pair of sunglasses in a public pool this summer (a personal best), although its disappearance haunts me to this very day.

For reasons I cannot fathom, after wading into the pool in a calm, everyday manner, without bombast or fanfare, the sunglasses on my face simply vanished from this plane of existence. Science offers no explanation for this truly unsolved mystery.

I know what you're thinking: Ryan, of course your sunglasses didn't actually vanish from reality; that's impossible, have you checked in your car?

Yes, for the record, I have checked in my car, as well as the swimming pool itself, wielding my daughter and her pink goggles facedown, like a metal detector, to visually sweep the pool floor.

Deepening the mystery: While I didn't find my own sunglasses despite a thorough search, when I returned to my point of entry, I discovered a mysterious second pair of sunglasses had emerged on the pool drain. Had these cool-guy specs traveled from another dimension to find me?

One final note: You folks may have missed The Reluctant Townie in the paper last week, and that was due to me being too sick to meet my deadline. But anyway, you might as well get used to it as I'll be scaling back my column to every other week.

So from here on out, like the Meg, catch me if you can.

Ryan Jackson will not fade gently into the night, and he can be reached at, for whatever time we have left.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (3):Film, People, Television