On the Crab: Deadliest Catch
July 15, 2008

Mark's summer job across the country has not prevented us from participating in one of our favored pursuits. Don't be gross, I'm talking about the Sig Society, the Cult of the Cornelia Marie. I'm talking about Deadliest Catch. See, Mark remotely downloads the episode from our TiVo to his laptop, I call him, and then we sync up and watch over the phone.

This season has held us in particular thrall, and I'm not just talking about Phil hocking up a pulmonary embolism, either. A few months ago, we were in the practice of blaring CNN on 24-7. (Mostly because Mark kept insisting that each primary was, "The One -- The One that Will Decide It All." Yes, well, we got over that fairly quickly.) However, one night the crawl caught my eye, "Alaskan... fishing...vessel...sinks...in...Bering...Sea...off...Dutch...Harbor."

"MARK!" I screeched from the living room, "GET IN HERE!"

"What? What? What?" he asked, running in, "How many precincts are reporting now?!"

"Look!" I whispered hoarsely, pointing a trembling finger at the crawl where I had paused live TV.

"Oh, god," he said, dropping to the futon, "Who is it?"

"They haven't said yet," I admitted and let the crawl play out.

"Not the Northwestern. Not Sig," Mark pleaded.

It wasn't the Northwestern, it was the Alaska Ranger, but it was still a tragedy. The Coast Guard managed to rescue 42 of the 47 crewmen from the lethal waters.

A few years ago, seeing a crawl about a fishing vessel sinking off some harbor in Alaska would have meant nothing to me. However, because of our obsession with the Discovery Channel show, I recognized every word on that crawl and each spooled-out word filled me with dread. It's a really fantastic show and that paired with the recent sinking makes us even more emotionally invested in these guys.

We're so invested (or such geeks) that when we were in Boston last week, we specifically sought out Pratty's in Gloucester, MA. You see, Pratty's was the bar of choice at which they shot this year's After the Catch, the show that gathers up the captains and deck hands and plunks them down in a bar with alcohol (or Coke in the cases of the Hansen brothers) to talk with Deadliest narrator Mike Rowe about various subjects surrounding crab fishing. This year's topics look to be: "Legends," "Brothers," "Emergency!" "Deck Hands," and "Real Life."

In past years, After the Catch has been filmed in Seattle bars, closer to where most of the Alaskan fishermen landlub in the off-seasons. I'm not exactly sure why they filmed in Massachusetts this year, unless they are trying to promote the other Discovery Channel fishing show. The one that is sort of like, The Very Dangerous but Not Quite as Deadly Catch.

Anyway, we dragged our Boston-based friends to Gloucester and first tried to find Pratty's on our own. After wandering around in the fog a bit, we finally went to ask the little old lady at the Gloucester Visitors Center how to find it. When Genevieve told her what we were looking for, I half expected her to say, "Oh no, dear -- you can't go in there." Because seriously? Pratty's looks rough. I mean, they're fishermen. In Alaska. Where people DIE every season. Of course they'd be at home in a hard-scrabble bar. Aside from forty-foot waves and empty pots, what could really scare these guys?

So we followed the little old lady's directions, found Pratty's, and Mark posed out front, trying to do his Sig move from the show's opening credits.

Yes, we are big geeks.

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