Friday, December 30, 2011

New Jersey Herald - Some ‘Moby Dick' pieces are pursued by collectors

New Jersey Herald - Some ‘Moby Dick' pieces are pursued by collectors:
"Kent's three-volume set of "Moby Dick" was published in 1930. It was filled with Kent's haunting and dramatic black-and-white drawings and the edition sold out almost immediately. Random House issued a trade edition, also immensely popular. "Moby Dick" reportedly was a rather obscure book until the 1920s, but the new edition with Kent's illustrations helped to bring the work to the attention of the American reading public."

Utterly fascinating that there are collectors of this. What is most fascinating is the understanding that the novel was "obscure," mostly until this book with illustrations that probably made it friendlier to read.

These drawings really do help the reader to see the adventure of the book. These are reminiscent of the great drawings in early additions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (See some of those here:

You wonder if Kent had decided to illustrate Henry Dana's "Two Years Before the Mast" like the article says if we would be talking more about Dana than Melville today.

'via Blog this'

Tattoos of a hard-core fan

in Science Tattoo Emporium at Discover Magazine has a blog entitled The Loom, apparently from the chapter of that name in Moby Dick. In researching tattoos, he remembered the tattooed Queequeg.

"I’m a hard-coreMoby Dick fan (this blog’s name comes from there), so it was a delight to stumble across a passage on tattoos, which I had forgotten."

Just fascinating how he calls HIMSELF a hard-core fan. Of all the things in the world to be a "hard-core" fan of, I am curious as to why Moby Dick. See, this is what I need to find more about, these individuals that consider this book just that darn good.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Moby Dick graffiti

I don't know why, but MOBY DICK is in the graffiti in this issue of Hellblazer #54.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The challenge is to read the book!

Daniel Russell has a column called Search ReSearch where he issues challenges to find information in our tech world. He picked Moby Dick for the latest one. Catch what he says about the book as a whole first:

If you're like me, you probably read Moby Dick at some point in your life. Maybe in high school, maybe for general reading later on in life. Regardless of when you read it, you probably have a pretty good mental image of the story, right? Captain Ahab and the search for the great white whale... maybe something about the inherent qualities of mankind, some ideas about man vs. nature, madness and a bunch of characters, the likes of which would never enter a Starbucks, but would prefer their grog on the open sea.

Challenge: How Much Did You Understand When You First Read Moby Dick?

Whenever it was that you read Moby Dick, how much of it did you understand? Let's test your level of understanding: You know what a right-whale is, you probably remember the difference between a top-sail and a stun-sail, and you remember the characters of Starbuck, Queequeg and Ishmael, right?

He then goes on to issue a challenge to find some obscure traits about the Pequod. The question and answer is here at

Cool. And he had to go to the real text to get an answer and then powered through it with a good old CTRL-F find method. Didn't re-read it or anything, though.

Overall, I wonder how many high schools still teach Moby Dick. I wouldn't dare for fear of mutiny. It's a very cursory factual understanding that Russell shows above and I would be interested if all that didn't come out of a quick search rather than his memory.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrating 160 years of Moby Dick in a weekend

Published on November 3, 2011, "It's a very 'Moby' weekend" is an article by Lauren Daley for South Coast Today. She hits it right on the head several times about this strange novel pervading our culture.

"This whole thing started by asking the question: 'How do people come to know "Moby-Dick"?' Because you know 90 percent of the public hasn't read the book," said Katherine Knowles, executive director of the Zeiterion.

Yet amazingly, we still keep saying--

"Moby-Dick" (1851) is largely considered one of the greatest works in all of American literature.

Everybody knows that the whale is everywhere, but no one knows why--

"Moby-Dick," part of the American literary canon, has also become a part of 20th- and 21st-century pop culture, showing up in everything from a Led Zeppelin song to "The Simpsons" to "Star Trek."

"The fact is that 'Moby-Dick' has become iconic," Knowles said. The cartoon character "Mr. Magoo played Ahab. Tom and Jerry played out the story; 'The Simpsons' have done the story. 'Moby-Dick' is now pop culture.

So they have all kinds of activities going on to celebrate. Do they do this for The Scarlet Letter? Or Huck Finn?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Moby Dick is big

From 1966, Undersea Agent #1. I think "Undersea" is actually an acronym in the title for their secret Atlantis base.

Anyway, one of the divers sees the giant object and says, "In the name of Moby Dick...will you look at that?"

The reference here is only on the size. Another name for whale. But we all understand.

I am wondering about a hundred years or so from now...will this be a reference with footnotes? Sort of like a new mythology?

We were reading a short story in class the other day, and one of the lines referenced Nikita Khruschev. There, of course, was an asterisk with an explanation. I didn't need it, but the kids sure did.

One hundred years from now, as more and more people have stopped reading this book, will it too become an asterisk, or will our collective memory still know that Moby Dick was a big whale? Many people still say Lassie for collies but it has been quite a while since the TV show.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It ain't over til the fat whale sings!

Moby Dick the OPERA

Article focuses on the actor/singer playing Queequeg, the "moral compass of the piece."

Fine and dandy. I just think it is amazing that they created an opera out of this. I am dying to hear the songs.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not a Bad movie...

From August 21, 2011.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

All-Star Superman #5 reference

Probably the most obvious modern day cultural reference to Ahab and Moby Dick would be Lex Luthor's obsession with defeating the Man of Steel.

In the comic book All-Star Superman #5 (which is mimicked almost exactly in the cartoon film version of the story), Lex Luthor says,

"Did you know that Moby-Dick can be recited at a frequency so high that it becomes a sonic drill capable of carving through solid rock?"
(Quote from the subtitles of the movie version)

The reference is of course perfect. Lex Luthor, the richest man in Metropolis, and I think the planet in the DC Universe, has a lot of ego. His pride makes it impossible for him to accept Superman seemingly lording above him. His intellect always made Luthor the best. Now an alien, a metahuman, wins the love of others. He can't stand it. He must eradicate him.

This is what makes Luthor such a good idea for a villain at the best of times. The good writers use him right. John Byrne really helped by making Luthor the ruthless business man and not the idiot portrayed by Gene Hackman in the movies.

The Ahab reference fits, and the author Grant Morrison, uses it exquisitely just to drop the hint about Ahab's obsession. Brilliant.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Messing with perfection is just a new interpretation

This article: Why mess with perfection?
Some things, like classic movies, are best left in the past-don't try to remake them
Date published: 8/5/2011

By Cathy Dyson

While I heartily agree that most of what Hollywood is producing nowadays are simply remakes and reworkings of old movies, I don't understand her basic premise. If you agree with her, lots of plays would never get produced, or taking it the step further, books would not be made into movies at all. (If the novel is perfect, why waste a movie?) Every age can reimagine old movies. Sometimes, interpretations can thoroughly separate one movie from another. I constantly watch new versions of Hamlet just to see how they interpret the "To be or not to be" speech as a soliloquy or monologue.

Sometimes, technology can drive movies to be made better and more interesting. Sometimes, actors really can make it different. Maybe better, maybe not, but different. And isn't that what a classic is all about--new interpretations? Would the world be the same if we left the original version of The Bourne Identity alone??

I would not call the 1956 Moby Dick untouchable. From what I have seen of the new Encore one so far, I have actually enjoyed most of it. The problem of the narrative of the novel appears fixed, although I do agree with her that "Capt. Ahab was nice, almost cheerful, most of the time. Even when he was at his worst, or best, as an obsessed stalker, he didn't seem nearly as extreme as Gregory Peck did in the original."

And yes, you are simply going to fail if your only purpose is to compare Donald Sutherland's Father Mapple with the version portrayed by Orson Welles. That's a given, for any actor, and Sutherland is pretty darn good. However, you must distance yourself, as a critic, to analyze what the version you are reviewing got right and wrong. There will always be some comparison with other versions, but notice one key byline, movie critic: "Based on the book by Herman Melville." It does not say, "Based on the 1956 movie." Key distinction there. You have to see what the movie under review accomplished. Anything else is not being fair.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Let's watch a friendly Moby Dick!

I have no idea how this ever got started. A sweet little cartoon version of the evil whale:

Apparently, the actual cartoon is still under copyright and this is someone's home movie of recording one of those old 8mm things.

I guess it is no different than later when Hannah-Barbera turned Godzilla friendly. Same exact cartoon then, really.

I just don't get the whale--is he a kid? why is he so small?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Missed second installment of Encore movie

Sorry, but I missed the second installment of the Encore mini-series. I really wanted to watch it too.

But something happened at home that caused me to miss it. End of story.

Now I have to wait until Sunday night. Not too bad, I guess.

This is just the main reason why I barely watch cable TV anymore. I only watch my stuff, like Netflix, through my Roku device. What I want, when I want--and I can pause too!

Notes for part two coming soon then...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gillian Anderson on Moby Dick

Cool article here, entitled

"Goodbye Mulder, hello Ahab: Gillian Anderson talks 'Moby Dick'"

"Anderson plays Elizabeth, Ahab’s wife. As Melville sticklers will point out, Elizabeth is barely mentioned in a sprawling novel that has no real female presence."

And she is barely in any of the movie--I don't get why it had to be a famous actress...

"Anyway, there is a book out there about what might have happened to her post-Ahab’s demise. I haven’t read it but Ethan [Hawke] has because he has read everything about 'Moby Dick.'"

That intrigues me--does Ethan Hawke actually do this, read everything about Moby Dick? It is possible he was preparing for the role, albeit a kind of small role, even for him. I know Starbuck acts as the other side of the conscience but again, it is a small character, even in the movie.

"She can see his obsession starts to get stronger as he obsesses about taking revenge. It’s quite a beautiful story about God and man and fallibility and how mortals tend to think we have godlike qualities and that we are more powerful than the forces of nature. And he finds out he’s not. "

Yes, you can sort of see that she sees it coming. I just wish it had come out more in the movie. I really wish Ahab had been a bit more menacing or at least aloof to her. He is still loving and playful with her.

"When I got the job I read a good portion of the book, and one of the things I was really struck by was Ishmael, who tells the story, is constantly confounded by the fact that he can’t seem to grasp the essence of the whale …. It has been said that it’s about humans' inability to grasp God, the greater concept of God … but that’s not what you asked me! [laughs]"

So now what I want to know is if she had ever read the book before! According to the IMDB trivia page at, I think it was the character of Scully who was the fan, not the actress. Also notice that she didn't read the whole thing either. And she took the job, it appears, without ever having read the book, simply knowing that it was a classic. (And the limited role in this current movie is so small I cannot help but wonder if she is hard up for jobs...)

"It’s nice at the beginning of the miniseries to see [Ahab] with his wife and child, with a tenderness that is not anywhere in the book, from what I’ve read."

I agree with her analysis here. There is tenderness in the movie that is simply not in the novel. However, this is the one flaw I saw in the movie (at least so far after part one). He clearly loves his family. I just don't buy him rushing off to do this, unless later, somewhere unless I've missed it, he says something about him saving the world by defeating the whale, saving the world for his family.

And then on another purely cynical note, I can't believe a professional actress would say this: "I don’t watch TV, I don’t watch anything. " How do you hone your craft? How can you not see what others are doing? That's like a writer never reading another's stuff, or a director never watching another's movie. You have to see good and bad acting every once in a while.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My running commentary on watching Encore's "Moby Dick"

I tuned in for the world premiere--and I usually don't even watch regular TV anymore with my Roku and my Netflix. Remember, Encore just broke into this "original movie" stuff. This is their first one. This is the movie they decided to do first, to sort of lead the way for future endeavors.

Ishmael saves Pippin from a slave-beater to start it off.

Ahab looking through telescope at the Pequod getting ready--just as credits end! See--get Ahab involved faster!

Is that Ahab's son? A laughing Ahab?

He doesn't seem too asshole, maybe, to Starbuck, but not menacing.

Son: "Are you scared of Moby Dick?"
Ahab: "He's just a whale..."

Wife: "He isn't just another whale."
Ahab: "He's old, he's angry, he doesn't get enough attention from females...something we have in common." --just to get his wife over to him. He's playful with her! Ahab is playful with his wife--you can tell he loves her--would he give this up so easily. He does refuse to go to church with her, starting an understanding of him withdrawing from the world and questioning God.

Honestly, this background gives Ahab something to live for, to keep from self-sacrifice. I really think he should have been a bit mean or at least aloof to her. And I don't think that Gillian Anderson says more than 50 words in this movie--why is she even billed as one of the main actors. I think Donald Sutherland as Father Mapple says more.

Starbuck: "you said things in your fever...about the while whale, about death."

The Father Mapple speech is set up better than the novel, about being full of pride and not accepting help. This actually seems integral with what they've done for Ahab so far.

(It actually sets up a sequel--Son of Ahab's revenge!)

I assumed Elizabeth, Ahab's wife, would say something like, "Come back to us." I would have liked to have seen Ahab's reaction to this.

Boarding the ship in slo-mo was like The Right Stuff.

Ahab puts her picture in a drawer ominously.

I admit, it's grand, like a grand adventure set up like Lord of the Rings. And at least Ahab is infused in the whole thing. Ishmael, rightfully, is basically nothing but a character to introduce the viewer to new whaling/boating things. Ishmael is not focal; Ahab is focal.

An image of Ahab with a "halo" brings up a holy avenger allusion.

The scene where Ahab gets the men on his side seems rushed...why do they agree so quickly and so happily?

Ahab smacks the shit out of Ishmael, showing his seething anger boil to the surface momentarily.

It does seem adventurous. It moves. The bits and pieces move the narrative forward--they don't detain or stall the narrative.

Moby, seemingly chasing the Pequod for a long time, hits the Pequod just as they sight their first whale herd and try to lower the boats. Is he to be interpreted as protecting them?

Moby gently and ominously turns Ahab's boat in circles. It's a great little scene. Moby then breaches and destroys several whaling boats and Ahab laughs. This makes me believe that the men get on Ahab's side for revenge a little easier and quicker.

And that's it for part one. Honestly, I am intrigued. This is adventure, infused with the anger of Ahab. Although, I still think that they could have done better with the wife and son scenes. They still make me think that even Ahab would want to come home to them, and if the movie does not show me explicitly why he would give that up, then I don't think it does its job on that score. Now, if you take those scenes out, either entirely, or added a bit, it would have been more. But overall, I really want to see the next installment. In the end, that's a good thing.

The screenwriter seemed to understand all the failings of the narrative and fixed it. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually didn't have any wife scenes and he was told to add the scenes when someone wanted to add an actress. He did his best with them, but I can almost tell he didn't really want them.

Review #1

Encore's new mini-series as reviewed by Mark A. Perigard

"Call me bored." --that's great!

"...takes some liberties with Melville’s classic, particularly in his decision to depict Ahab’s home life, only alluded to in the novel." These are the Gillian Anderson wife scenes. I don't mind that idea so much as some of her dialogue--

From the review:

"'He isn’t just another whale, is he?' she says of Moby, who tore off Ahab’s leg in their first encounter. 'He went for you, didn’t he? They don’t do that, do they? It isn’t natural,' she says, sounding like a jealous wife. As well she should be. "

That above is eerily reminiscent of the scene in 2010: Moby Dick where the whale stares down Ahab in the beginning/

Fascinating: "As in the novel, there are digressions into the ship’s rhythm and business that easily could have been cut to make this a shipshape 90-minute adventure."

One of the comments on the site addresses that: "Yet your idea that it could be cut if only the 'digressions' about the 'rhythm' were cut does suggest you have little grasp on the metaphysical and philosophic elements of this, perhaps the greatest novel by an American author. It was not written for the 'twitter' age, thank God."

That is fierce loyalism to this novel.

Latest reviews of the Encore Moby Dick miniseries

Just links--I will analyze later...(Links are courtesy of the awesome Yahoo! email alerts)

Encore cable network takes another stab at 'Moby Dick'
New Orleans Times-Picayune Mon, 01 Aug 2011 06:18 AM PDT
New miniseries airs at 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday (August 1 and 2) on Encore.

Top Picks
Worcester Telegram & Gazette Mon, 01 Aug 2011 02:49 AM PDT
"Moby Dick" (8 p.m. on Chs. WAM and ENCR. Part 1 of 2) Herman Melville's classic novel of whaling in the 1840s follows the adventures of vengeful and obsessed Capt. Ahab (William Hurt) as he pursues the great white whale that took his leg. Charlie Cox co-stars as Ishmael. Directed by Mike Barker.

'Moby Dick' gets fitted for mini-series
The Cincinnati Enquirer Mon, 01 Aug 2011 02:33 AM PDT
William Hurt and Ethan Hawke, stars of the new 'Moby Dick' mini-series, are latecomers to the novel.

âMoby Dickâ assumes viewer hasnât read book
Lawrence Journal-World Sun, 31 Jul 2011 22:10 PM PDT
Some books you just have to read. Like F. Scott Fitzgeraldâs âThe Great Gatsby,â Herman Melvilleâs âMoby Dickâ has suffered any number of unsatisfying screen adaptations. A book so filled with strange ruminations and poetry just doesnât hold up when boiled down for action.

Encore's 'Moby Dick' goes off the deep end
Boston Herald Sun, 31 Jul 2011 21:19 PM PDT
Call me bored. Encore's adaptation of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," the cable network's first original miniseries,...

Television review: 'Moby Dick'
Los Angeles Times Sun, 31 Jul 2011 20:10 PM PDT
William Hurt stars as Captain Ahab in the new version on Encore, but Herman Melville seems to be missing. William Hurt stars as Captain Ahab in the new version on Encore, but Herman Melville seems to be missing.

TV Highlights: âMoby Dick,â âKoran by Heartâ
Washington Post Sun, 31 Jul 2011 17:20 PM PDT
âMoby Dickâ (Encore at 8 p.m.), the two-night original miniseries starring William Hurt as Captain Ahab and Ethan Hawke as Starbuck, is previewed by Hank Stuever on Page C1. Ashley and the two remaining bachelors â Ben F. and J.P. â are in Fiji to meet her family on the season finale of âThe Bacheloretteâ (ABC at 8), which causes all sorts of drama, and not only because Ashley leaves one guy ...

Encoreâs lavish new âMoby Dickâ: There whale be blood
Washington Post Sun, 31 Jul 2011 16:30 PM PDT
High school English teachers, your attention please! I have wonderful and terrible news. Encore, that glorious waster of weekend afternoons on cableâs desolate seas, has finally decided to show something besides an endless loop of â Dumb and Dumber .â For its first offering, itâs bringing out âMoby Dick,â a lavish, exciting, well-acted and admirably thorough movie adaptation of Herman Melvilleâs ...

Television Review: Ahab Has a Wife and a Heart. Oh, and a Whale.
New York Times Sun, 31 Jul 2011 16:06 PM PDT
Encoreâs two-night mini-series âMoby Dickâ takes liberties with the novel, including a family back story for Captain Ahab.

TV critic's picks: Ahab's losing battle
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune Sun, 31 Jul 2011 12:36 PM PDT
It's been a while since I read my Herman Melville, but I still recall the 1851 novel "Moby-Dick" as a whale of a tale thanks to the author's ability to weave powerful Shakespearean language with a sense of adventure and a hint of dread that something lurks beneath the waters a lot more intimidating than Bruce the Shark of "Jaws."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Matt Kish answers why MOBY DICK is his favorite

I corresponded with Mr. Kish about his little obsession. It's a great answer...I mean, why do I like Hamlet so much or Lowry's The Giver? However, the crux of my argument is that Moby Dick is supposed to be a classic. Mr. Kish's blog is at
"Hey Matt, that's a tough question to answer thoroughly in the comments section but I'll give it a try. Like you (I think), I bristle at the idea that something should be considered and revered as a classic just because a lot of other people say it is. I tend to reserve that kind of labeling for my own personal headspace rather than try and force it on others. "Moby-Dick" means so much to me for many reasons though. First, it has been an almost constant companion throughout my life, whether it was the film or an abridged version or a graphic novel or the full text. I've read it quite a few times, and at each stage of my life the book revealed more and more to me. I treasure the book so much because, in spite of its thorny and difficult language, its challenging and sometimes maddeningly inconsistent structure, and its long nonfictional asides, I truly believe the book is about everything. Honestly. Nearly everything we humans experience, grapple with, wonder about and struggle toward is in some way addressed in the book.

But honestly, its not for everyone. Some love it, some hate it. Few are indifferent. I don't make any kind of judgments about a person based on whether or not they like or don't like the book. Some of my closest friends turn green and start tuning out of any conversation where I mention the book.

But to me, it's everything."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Harold Bloom on Jonah

I've read a lot of Harold Bloom through my English education. Great guy. The authority. I mean, THE authority on all things literature.

That's why this makes an even greater impact to me. He is talking of his favorite book of The Bible and the very second sentence of his little essay:

"A sly masterpiece of four brief chapters, Jonah reverberates in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, where it is the text for Father Mapple’s grand sermon."

This sentence is setting up the fact that this is how important Jonah is--it is used in one of the great novels, almost as a base. Basically, Moby Dick would not exist without Jonah.

He then needs to reference it again, as if putting it into perspective, using Moby Dick as the reference point of the perspective, as we all supposedly know Moby Dick:

"There is of course the giant fish (not, alas, a whale) who swallows up Jonah for three days but then disgorges him at God’s command. No Moby Dick, he inspires neither fear nor awe."

Again, anybody that seems to have to mention WHALE has to mention Moby Dick!

Danny Glover is Ahab...chasing dragons?

Danny Glover stars in Age of the Dragons, an apparently "very dull movie." It premieres tonight on SyFy channel.

(Digressing, I still think it stupid they changed the name of SciFi Channel to SyFy. Plus, all the non-science fiction they show is horrible. And I, for one, would so much rather they play old, bad scifi TV shows and movies than make these garbage movies. I mean, when you see that a movie is called Mansquito, is there really anything else you need to know? Seriously, the title alone tells you absolutely everything possible about the movie. And then SyFy is just like a new monster-movie maker: Dinocroc vs. Supergator? Why? Do these actually make money somehow? If they want original programming, stick with the TV shows they are making. They are good.)

And I just realized what else is interesting about this--I didn't even hear about this until today. I have Yahoo! News alerts come to me with anything published with "Moby Dick." I search this stuff all the time. Why was nothing published about this prior to today? It's on today...

Herman Melville Family Day is today

There is something special happening today in New Bedford, Massachusetts!

I just really really want to know what the "special sperm whale activity" actually is!

Now Melville is considered an American classic novelist. I wonder how many of the people attending can name a single other book or story he wrote. I would really like to take that poll. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think many can name other works.

"NEW BEDFORD — Herman Melville Family Day celebrates the 192nd birthday of the famed author of "Moby-Dick" at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Saturday, July 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a full day of free children's activities including a whale of a birthday cake."

"Special activities are scheduled throughout the day. From 10 a.m. to noon, kids can make their own floatable toy model of Cap'n Ahab's ship, Pequod. Wading pools on the plaza will allow young shipwrights to test their vessel's seaworthiness before they take them home. A children's poetry workshop will be offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m."

"At 11:30 a.m. whaling wives, Ruth and Abby from the 1840s, will visit with children. At noon the museum's youth apprentices will lead a special sperm whale activity. From 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. kids can illustrate their very own version of Moby-Dick and from 1 to 2 p.m., be photographed with Moby Dick's statue."

"Ongoing activities include make-and-take art projects — whale hats, whale tail bookmarks and magnets — and making chalk whale art. Moby-Dick cartoons will be featured in the theater and drawings to win a family membership will be given hourly. The Museum Store will also hold a Whale of a Tent Sale on the plaza."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moby Dick is the God Particle

"Finding the 'God Particle'" by Lana Bandoim

"The God particle, also known as the Higgs boson, is the Moby Dick of science."

The article is another instance where Moby Dick is alluded to for any reference to an exhaustive search. The search is consuming and takes time, effort, money--everything in a person's life.

Now, if you compare this sentence:

"The thirst for knowledge is not the only motivation to find the God particle."

with Moby Dick, does that mean that Ahab was simply searching for knowledge? Is Moby like the forbidden fruit?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Moby Dick mini-series

A new series! I know Hollywood has no more ideas but what else can you do with Moby Dick that the Gregory Peck movie couldn't do? Well, they remake everything anyway...

The following is stolen from IMDB at: (7-14-2011)

"Cast member Gillian Anderson first came to fame playing Dana Scully on the TV series The X Files. It was mentioned several times throughout the run of the series that Scully and her family were big fans of Herman Melville's book 'Moby Dick': her nickname for her Naval officer father was "Captain Ahab;" his nickname for her was "Starbuck;" and her dog, which she named Queequeg, was, like its namesake, also an eater of humans (the dog ate the body of its previous owner)."

"This is the first production of "Moby Dick" since the 1930 film version with John Barrymore to have a leading female character. There are no women in Herman Melville's original novel."
Gillian Anderson's character is named Elizabeth, so no "Call me Michelle" here. I bet it is Ahab's true love back in Nantucket. "Oh, Ahab, why do you have to go off for your revenge and leave me and little Ahab behind?" And I will have to address the whole Gillian Anderson thing about her whole family being a fan of the book...

Ethan Hawke plays Starbuck and William Hurt plays Ahab. Hey, they got some top talent anyway.

The budget was $25,500,000, according to Wow. Looks like it is still in post-production with some German company because their homepage,, is in German.
(So what does this say about our great AMERICAN novel?)

Amazing to me how many people are following this on the imdb forums page and talking about it. It has almost as much hype as any of the superhero flicks.

Moby Dick singing live!

There's a band named Moby Dick and the Wailers that appeared at a summer concert series in Massachusetts. Get the pun of the name?

I wonder if they sing sea shanties?

Or "Sea of Love"?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do I want to be in Moby's throat??

"Were you ever curious about how Capt. Ahab felt when Moby Dick’s cavernous mouth closed over him, eliminating light and life?"

Seriously, they start the article with that sentence.

First of all, it really makes me want to go to feel horrified at getting eaten by a whale...

Secondly, Ahab doesn't even die that way! He gets tangled up in the ropes. I remember because Mrs. Conley, the teacher who subjected me with this in the first place, asked me that specific question.

So, if you wanted to toot your little exhibition thing, wouldn't you ask how Jonah felt? He didn't get eaten, like that first sentence suggests. Or could they not say Jonah because it is biblical?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Moby Dick on Twitter

“Twitter is an innovative way for us to share this special event with a global audience,” museum president Stephen C. White said. “Nowhere else does ‘Moby-Dick’ come alive the way it does on the decks of the Morgan, the sole surviving ship of the fleet that inspired Melville.”

Oh, my. I can't believe this. It's a marathon reading of all 135 chapters. And they've done this for 26 straight years now!

And it only takes one solid day, from noon to noon, July 31-August 1.

Wow. Do they do this to any other book? I don't even know how to search for something like that. Are there any other books out there that are annually read in their entirety? The only ones I think could be possibilities are ones like Dickens' A Christmas Carol or other seasonal, and short!, ones.

I know one of the Baldwins read excerpts of Moby Dick within the past year. That doesn't count. Entirety.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Call me Michelle" part two

2010: Moby Dick commentary part two

The movie starts off with a sub disaster in 1969. There’s “something out there” (and that’s about as creative as some of the dialogue gets). Ahab is a sonar man, records the whale’s vocals, on a tape that looks disturbingly like it is from 1989 and not 1969, and gets his leg cut off when Moby breaches and bodyslams the sub. Ahab gets to look eye to eye with the whale, with special effects that don’t look all that good, however, you get the impression that Moby meant to be vicious. That was pretty cool.

The writer was most definitely an aficionado of the original novel, or at least had enough working knowledge of it, to drop in names of people and ships that the reader would recognize. Tashtego, Pippin, Queequeg, are all briefly accounted for. Even when the other navy sub the Essex chases after Ahab’s Pequod, you get a sense of the author knowing his subject matter basics. When the two seamen are discussing the "whiteness" of the whale bothering them, they make it a joke that white is always evil.

They just didn’t handle Ahab right. Even when he shouts, “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me!” you barely get the sense that he is obsessive, probably drawing on background knowledge of Ahab in order to connect the dots. Again, you simply had to know the book to really figure it out.

“Where there are squid, there are whales.” Would there be anything left after nuking the squid?

The harpoon marked “Fedallah” is made out of the hull of the Acushnet, the sub from the opening 1969 scene.

When Ishmael/Michelle yells, “It’s your fault! You’re hunting it—it’s not hunting us!” to Ahab, I just wanted to scream. Moby was destroying other boats, subs, and cruise ships without Ahab anywhere near. It’s not Ahab’s fault AT ALL in this movie. It is his job to destroy the monster. The corpses they run into cry out for vengeance, for Pete’s sake. If in the novel Ahab sacrifices his men and ship for his revenge, he simply does NOT do that here. He is a military captain whose job it is to destroy the whale and every single one of those seamen knows it is their duty to keep the waters safe. There simply is no single-minded obsession—there is coincidence that Ahab’s revenge and his duty match up.

At the end, when they take out the individual little boats, that is a pretty cool reminiscence of the last three-days’ hunt from the novel.

However, basic enjoyment of the movie has to rely on background knowledge of the original novel. I don’t think this movie stands up at all by itself if you had no idea about some of the peculiarities.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Call me Michelle"

Now that was funny.

I watched a newer movie version of the beloved Moby Dick. This one is called 2010: Moby Dick.

The Ishmael character is played by a female whale researcher named Michelle. Took me a second to put it together, but when her assistant Pippin kept calling out to her, "Doctor Herman," she finally responded, "Call me Michelle." Clever. Ishmael--Michelle. Cute. Even her last name being Herman is cute.

However, the good stuff stops there.

This was only a so-so movie, and I don't mean that just because of my aversion to the classic novel. It's no better than your average SciFi Channel original movie.

I want to go into all the specifics of the movie--that's what I do here. I first want to make the point that they ruined what Ahab was all about, and thereby ruined the movie.

Moby Dick, like in the opening of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is wrecking ships. You know how the Nautilus is wrecking the ships and it's all being blamed on a sea monster? Well, here the sea monster is actually doing the wrecking and it's getting blamed on Ahab.

Now my point is that the revenge factor simply vanishes from the story. For some reason, Ahab goes radio silent, doesn't check in, and goes rogue, even though his job is to hunt down the sea monster. Most of everything that goes on in the movie is predicated on the fact that they have been assigned to this already since the wreckings. Why does Ahab pull the Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now routine? Why is anybody arguing with him? All Ahab has to do is call his superiors, tell them what is going on, and get the help he needs, rather than be hunted down himself. "Hey, Admiral, just checkin' in! We've almost got that whale cornered! Mind sending me a couple extra ships?" "No problem, Captain Ahab, since that is what we sent you out to do anyway!"

Especially after the cruise ship goes down! Every seaman on that sub would happily follow that whale in order to blow it into snot. So now it doesn't have to be Ahab, it could be any captain--Ahab just put himself in the right position apparently, even outfitting the sub Pequod for this. And of course, he has been waiting since 1969, the original attack that took his leg. Now that 2010 has rolled around, and new attacks have started--where the hell were they for 41 years?--Ahab finally goes after him. If there were sporadic attacks through the years, or this hunt made Moby destroy new ships to piss Ahab off (sort of like Moby shooting hostages), now that would have been better. No, Ahab waits 41 years for new attacks, and now, under orders!, finally goes after the whale. Where is the revenge-for-hate's-sake factor?

More later on this incredible movie. (I mean "incredible" in its most literal sense--not believable.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Well, Wikipedia says it's a classic!

While doing some preliminary research on the term "classic," I came across this Wikipedia article:

And of course, the picture right next to it: Moby Dick.

Later on, it talks about "imprimaturs." It has this comic book version of Moby Dick next to it:

I believe it very telling that these imprimaturs came about in the early part of the twentieth century, just as interest in Moby Dick had risen...hmmmm.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New theater adaptation of Moby Dick--with puppets!

Masks and puppets with good character voice actors tell the tale, bringing the novel down to a length of only 90 minutes.

From the critique: "This Moby Dick works as adaptation, but what makes this production more fascinating is beyond the book. It is a meta-Moby, where we are all Ahab, struggling with our obsessions, looking for significance in what seems a tumultuous sea."

Now that should be on a book jacket.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wow--somebody really likes Moby Dick

Picture copyright Matt Kish.

Wow--this guy really likes Moby Dick.

The article discusses the new book being put out by a guy named Matt Kish. Moby Dick is apparently his favorite. As The Giver or The Catcher in the Rye are mine, Moby Dick is his.

From the article: "['Moby Dick'] has been such a companion for me my whole life," Kish told HuffPost. "I've read it a bunch of times, I saw the TV movie, various comic book adaptations -- it's been such a part of me."

Amazing. His favorite is this book. It is amazing to me.

He started drawing an adaptation of a page a day. The work really is quite extraordinary. Check it out here on his blog:

Also from the Huffington Post article: "He started a blog where he posted his daily illustrations -- mainly just so family and friends could check out his work. But within days, other 'Moby Dick' fan sites caught on and began reposting his drawings. Soon, to his surprise, he was fielding requests from publishers."

Although, the art is exceptional. I don't think it really mattered what book it was and the public and the publisher would have liked it. However, the book lends itself to his interesting psychological take. Maybe he could have done Kafka's Metamorphosis, drawing like that.

It is his passion though and I applaud him for it. And for Moby Dick to influence that kind of creativity has to say something about the book. It may not be my cup of tea, but it is clearly his cup of tea.

However, the crux of the matter with me is why Moby Dick is considered a classic.Shouldn't the definition of "classic" be something for just about everybody? Maybe that is a road I need to explore...