Sunday, November 25, 2012

Moby Dick in Apple iPad Mini commercial

Apple - iPad mini - TV Ads - Books - YouTube:

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Is Moby-Dick a favorite for commercials?

Of ALL the books in the world, and all the books especially in the public domain that one can read off the new iPad Mini, Moby-Dick once again surfaces to the top of the list.

Granted, in this commercial, Moby-Dick is actually on the big iPad, trying to show the difference. Also on the big iPad is East of Eden, another very long novel. I can't say for sure if that is what they are showing--big, unwieldy novels versus short novellas. I don't know how long Louis L'Amour's How the West Was Won is, or Jack London's The Valley of the Moon. In fact, that Jack London book is a strange choice, if that is the case. I actually have never even heard of The Valley of the Moon (and I am an English major), and a better choice would have been the very short Call of the Wild by London.

However, Moby-Dick gets into yet another new technology commercial. Of all the books in the world. Personally, I still think I never would have finished Moby-Dick had it not been for my Sony eReader. I wonder how many new readers of Moby-Dick are trying it out on these new technologies?

No, I really want to know. It would tell me a lot as someone very critical of the novel. People have these amazing new technologies for reading easily. And Moby-Dick is free in a hundred different ways. So if people are using these technologies, are they reading a free book that is considered a classic the world over? If it is so darn good, why aren't people reading it?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Whale: Bulk Delivery - Page 1 - Theater - New York - Village Voice

The Whale: Bulk Delivery - Page 1 - Theater - New York - Village Voice:

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Proving yet again that if all you do is say "whale" that "Moby Dick" will soon follow...

Some play about a fat man...and you know how we always call fat people whales...

"Charlie has been slowly eating himself to death for a dozen years, like a self-swallowing Jonah, or an Ahab who is the target of his own vengeance. "

Apparently to add the subliminal whale symbolism, or maybe the Ahab obsession complex (I really don't know myself, I'm guessing--haven't seen it), the main character also has an obsession: "An eighth grader's essay on Melville's Moby-Dick, or the Whale is one of Charlie's pet preoccupations. And another theme that has shaped his life turns out to be the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale, on which Melville's hero, Ishmael, hears a sermon early in the novel."

It must go even deeper because look at this analogy: "Into this vortex of unspoken tensions, a young Mormon missionary, who calls himself Elder Thomas (Cory Michael Smith), wanders, as unsuspectingly as Ishmael wandered into Father Mapple's chapel."

Fat guy is his own Moby Dick. Kind of interesting--and again, probably loads more interesting than Melville's novel itself, specifically for story structure.

Friday, October 19, 2012

AT&T Commercial featuring Moby Dick and Ryan Hall

AT&T Commercial (2012) (Television Commercial) - Connecting Pop Culture:

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AT&T commercial this year features Olympic runner Ryan Hall on a training run. He is showcasing the speed and ubiquity of the 4G network as he streams two books.

One is the epic poem by Homer The Odyssey. It is long. That is what they are focusing on.

He stops running because he needs another "read." So he chooses a long one--notoriously long, right? He chooses Moby-Dick.

The focus being on the interminable length of the novel seems to point to Moby-Dick being inaccessible unless a lot of time is devoted to it. However, it also shows that it must be an accessible read to be able to digest it while on the run.

Again, of all the books, they choose Moby-Dick. Not Ulysses, not even War and Peace, which is also notoriously long.

Just interesting.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Herman Melville Books: Moby Dick Google Doodle - YouTube

Herman Melville Books: Moby Dick Google Doodle - YouTube: 

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Full Google Doodle animation at YouTube.

Google Doodle Moby-Dick

Herman Melville Gets The Google Doodle Treatment | WebProNews: 

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Today is the 161st anniversary of the publication of Moby-Dick October 18. And of all the stuff that Google creates its famous little Doodles for on its main page, Moby-Dick wins one.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rare albino whale puts on a show off Australian coast -

Rare albino whale puts on a show off Australian coast -

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Fabulous! A real white whale! His name is Migaloo and he was first spotted in 1991. There's a video on the CNN site.

It may seem straight out of Moby Dick, but a rare white whale is thrilling Australians off the eastern coast.

Interesting tidbits from the article:

Male humpbacks can travel up to 140 kilometers (87 miles) a day during their migration.

Whale watchers may be able to enjoy Migaloo for decades. Humpback whales are believed to survive as long as 90 years in the wild.

So kind of interesting--Ahab could have been chasing his whale for decades. There is a migratory pattern that he may be able to hunt him down with. Very interesting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Audio Project Offers Four Months of 'Moby-Dick' -

New Audio Project Offers Four Months of 'Moby-Dick' - and a Matt Kish ink on watercolor:

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What other books do we do this for? Really?

I know there are audio versions of the Bible and religious texts. What novels though? Probably some Mark Twain, there any other book that records each chapter by individual people, some famous, for all the world to hear?

It is especially instructive with 21st-century technology that they liken the book to basically be a 160-year-old blog:

“The digressive nature of ‘Moby-Dick’ really suits the medium of going online,” Mr. Hoare said. “The book was never edited. It’s quite analogous to a kind of blog, really.”

I agree with that. And I know of the proliferation of some blogs even becoming books. But this was 1850--however, it does lend a new kind of credibility to the overall structure of Moby-Dick. I mean, like a blog, here's a book that people meander through like a maze. In that respect, yes, I can see why the book makes an impact. I just have a hard time justifying how so much of our culture knows the entire story of Moby-Dick without having read it. For instance, another really hard novel, James Joyce's Ulysses, always up there on the top books of the 20th century, is one where no one ever really alludes to it or quotes from it. (I digress but I could probably do this same blog idea about Ulysses--try to read a chapter a day and talk about it. That's another one I tried in college but couldn't force myself to do it--Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow was another one. I've talked to people who powered through Ulysses a page a day just to say they read it. How that is actually reading a book is beyond me.)

I think I am going to try downloading and listening to these readings of each chapter. I will try again with just the audio. Should I follow along with the book? I don't know. But I want to know what these people really see in the book.

But then I see Matt Kish's brilliant illustrations and think about Hoare's statement up above. Kish meanders through Moby-Dick like a blog, creating a great artistic achievement within every single page. This is sort of like reading a favorite blog and commenting on it every day. Hoare really puts some of the fascination into perspective there. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Moby Dick in Seinfeld

In the episode entitled "The Ex-Girlfriend," Jerry is sent to retrieve books from the girl George just broke up with. Jerry argues about what he even needs the books for anymore: "Once you read it, it's done." He discusses how strange it is that people kept books as trophies. George had read the books, he just wanted them back. "They're my books!" he says, in classic George.

In the ultimate analogy, Jerry says, "When you read Moby Dick the second time, Ahab and the whale become good friends."

This is so perfect of an analogy that most people have never even had to read it a first time, let alone a second time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Captain Nemo vs Captain Ahab

I was wathing some old cartoons on some of those dollar DVDs and I had a strange thought that tied into the legacy of Moby Dick.

The show was called The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo, that 1970s cartoon that appeared during Captain Kangaroo. It stars Captain Nemo in charge of the ship the Nautilus in adventures under the sea.

I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea about three years ago now. As I watch this, it is obviously another guy, someone younger and kinder to children--he has two kid sidekicks, a boy and a girl.. But why the name?

It is Captain Nemo. Mark Nemo is the full name. It is the Nautilus. But why? Why couldn't they have used any other name for the captain and any other name for the ship? It must be because we as an audience know the names. We possess enough background information to know Nemo and Nautilus are under the sea.Yet, if we knew anything about the Verne novel, we would know that Nemo is really not that benevolent of a character; in fact, I would call him the bad guy of the novel. Remember all those ships he sank?

This is close to what we in the 21st century know about Captain Ahab and the whale.We know enough even though we may never have read the book. Before I finally finished every god-awful word, I knew all the major plot points about the novel, and could understand just about any allusion made to the book.

Nemo was made into a good guy. That's because we don't really know. I would love to survey the general public because I bet that most would think that Captain Nemo was the benevolent protagonist of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Captain Ahab could never be made into a good guy. The world, even without reading the book, knows him as that crazy guy who was obsessed with killing that whale. Captain Ahab could never become a lighthearted children's show character to be shown during Captain Kangaroo.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Manhunter comic book Moby Dick reference

I sometimes find Moby Dick references in the weirdest of places, places I would not have expected.

In the fifty-cent bin, I found a copy of Manhunter #1 from DC Comics, July 1988. I have always wanted to try the series because it has had a remarkable reputation in comic book circles for being cancelled and having fan write-ins bring the series back to life. At least twice, if memory serves.

I think this reference is just a fluke though. Manhunter looks like this:

The very first words on page one are basically an introductory quote to grab the attention of the reader:

"All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event...some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If a man will strike, strike through the mask!" --Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The great husband and wife writing team of John Ostrander and Kim Yale probably came across this cool quote about "masks" and being superhero comic book writers probably filed it away for use one day. It does touch upon the fact, especially in late 80s comic books, on the psychology of why these characters put on masks and fought crime.

Even though I believe it is a fluke, there is still the allusion to "obsession" tied to the quote. Why would he do all these things if not obsessed; think Batman.

Now I wonder if anybody has ever tied in Batman's obsession with Captain Ahab's.

Moby Dick whale skeleton from 1825 is saved for the nation with £500,000 national lottery funding | Mail Online

Moby Dick whale skeleton from 1825 is saved for the nation with £500,000 national lottery funding | Mail Online:

Fascinating. Just the inspiration is supposedly worth this much. Not that I had ever heard of this whale skeleton before. I even wonder why it was saved in the first place!

"The remains of the 1825 sperm whale have been immaculately preserved since inspiring author Herman Melville to write his sea-faring classic."
Read more:

According to the article, "The 58.5ft skeleton was visited by Melville in the 1800s when he came to England to research Moby Dick. 
He was so taken in by an exhibit of the whale that he included a direct reference to it in his 1851 novel."

The really interesting part are the COMMENTS on the article that say repeatedly how this is such a waste of money!!

And I just realized that this is all on a BRITISH newspaper, at a BRITISH castle, yada yada...when Moby-Dick is considered an AMERICAN novel.

Read more:

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Patchwork: Good fences don't always make good neighbors | Addison County Independent

Patchwork: Good fences don't always make good neighbors | Addison County Independent:

Now this is funny. A gardener likens the woodchuck in the lawn to Moby Dick:
"Moby Dick the woodchuck is back.No, he is not an albino woodchuck. He just keeps resurfacing."
They tried everything to get rid of the vegetation-devouring pest but nothing worked. It became an obsession.
At the end, they compared a bigger animal in another garden:
“'You should have seen what happened the day a moose came and lay down in my potato patch.'
A moose? Now there’s a Moby Dick!"

Note, the author of the article also alluded to another American writer in the title. Robert Frost's "Mending Wall."

Batman vs Moby Dick

From the very first Batman #9, way, way back. It's not Captain Ahab but it might as well be. There is no actual mention of the name "Moby Dick" but who else could it be? This is clearly an homage to the novel. Batman even rides the back of a whale! They even show, quite well too, what happens to a whale once they harpoon it. Batman killed the whale. Just an interesting little footnote to Moby Dick lore. A story explicitly for kids of the time, and they probably understood the references to the novel. That's also why I am a little surprised that there is no mention of the book. I sort of expected Robin to say something at the end like he was going to read the book now, and maybe the kids at home should go read it too.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

G.I. Joe vs Moby Dick

Just watching the 1980s cartoon series of G.I. Joe.

In episode three, as they are waiting to deep sea dive for their mission and the diver Joe known as Torpedo is coming in some kind of submarine vehicle, one of the Joes says:

"If that's Moby Dick, I'm checking out!"

Again, it's definitely a kid's show. Boys are the target audience, usually pre-teen.The reference is out there.

Understandably, Moby Dick is supposed to be an adventure story. Shouldn't boys be reading adventure stories? But at that age?

I was pretty much forced to try reading it in seventh grade by my teacher, Mrs. Connolly. I had chosen novels that she considered too short for our classic independent book reports. She basically said I needed a longer book and Moby Dick is an adventure book, to try that.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Moby-Dick read-along

Found at Goodwill recently: a VHS tape called "Moby Dick Read-Along with our Still Animation Video Classics."

On the back of the sleeve: "It's our mission to help create a reading environment in every home. We must spark the thirst for the pure joy of reading. More specifically, reading alone with the videos in our series will help viewers to develop confidence, self satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment."

Other titles, 72 titles in all, include: Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, A Christmas Carol, and A Midsummer's Night [sic] Dream. (I think not spelling the Shakespeare title correctly says a lot...)

It says specifically about Moby-Dick: "One of the greatest sea novels ever written...a true classic of world literature."

Amazingly, there are no credits attached to this at all, either at the end or the beginning. No pomp and circumstance, it just goes straight into the read-along. I wonder if this is even copyrighted then as I can find no information at all. I wish I knew how to upload a VHS tape to the internet.

The overall narration is not read-along, but there isn't much of that, mostly just that famous opening. Guess they couldn't do without that. The dialogue pops up on screen in word balloons with still animation as a pretty good voice reads through it all with a lot of gusto. Makes it look like a comic book. It is actually pretty nice. The plot and mystery seem tighter without all the fluff of the actual novel. Lots of the elements are there: Queequeg, Father Mapple is short but good, Starbuck. 

We even tend to know more about Ahab I think. He comes in quickly to the story and somehow I feel I know more about him. The Rachel's captain says Ahab has a boy at home. Ahab himself mysteriously says, "My wife's been alone" for forty years. If anything, I feel closer to Ahab with these tantalizingly small clues based on a shorter piece.

The whole thing lasts only 29 minutes. 

Even if I wanted the other titles, I would have no idea where to get them. There's no contact information or date of any kind on the sleeve. Even the VHS tape itself has a simple white sticker with the words "Moby Dick" in block lettering only--literally nothing else. I can't tell if this was some kind of teacher's aid thing or a commercial product. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel

Christopher Buckley on says:

"Moby-Dick" not only bests "Huck Finn," it's the novel that best captures our spirit -- and named that coffee chain

(Oh, by the way, Buckley is awfully anal retentive on that hyphen of our title, so don't forget it.)

He has a strange list, The Bible, Star Spangled Banner, The Constitution, and the daily New York Times that should be everybody' must-reads, must-memorize. But he also wants to include Moby in there: Which leaves me free to say to my three children — and everyone else’s children, for that matter — that I hope, my darlings, that you will take as much pleasure from the book that has always been to me the great American novel, “Moby-Dick.”

Is he being rhetorically funny when he talks about quoting Abraham Lincoln having read Moby-Dick but not Huck Finn because he died before it was published? I think this may be some sort of humor article, like Dave Barry.

It earned him a total of about $500 in his lifetime. Even multiplying that into 2012 dollars doesn’t quite mitigate the sting. But this aspect of Melville’s failure with the book is perhaps ennobling. If it had been a runaway bestseller, like a much later novel about a Great White Shark, its reputation today might be different. Hard to say. What is beyond dispute is that its author swung for the fence, went for the Big One, risked everything to put his genius and all his art on the altar.

I must admit that one of his main lines of reasoning is the fact that most people come to this book too early to really appreciate that. I can understand that--I hated The Scarlet Letter when being forced to read it at age 17 in English class but then I loved it when I was 30--read again simply because I had to turn it around and try to teach it to 17-year-olds. I tried to make it relevant and interesting, but you just can't make it interesting to a 17-year-old. Moby-Dick was kind of like that--I loved that last hundred pages or so, you know, where they were actually concentrating on the whale.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Call me Ishmael...I mean, Earl...Call me Earl!

Episode 52 or Season 3, episode 5 of the hilarious My Name is Earl TV show:

The episode is called "Creative Writing," one of those with Earl in prison. He elects to take a creative writing course to better himself. He begins to discuss it with his brother, a prison guard:

Randy, the brother, says, "Writing sounds cool. You can make a world where anything could happen. Like a guy all alone in a boat hunting a big white whale."

Earl replies, "Randy, nobody's gonna wanna read that!"

First of all, I can't tell if Randy actually means The Old Man in the Sea or Moby-Dick. I think he has gotten those two books crossed. When he specifies "all alone," this is clearly in contrast to our Melville novel, where people who have read note that Ahab is taking down the whole boat with him. If it were truly a solitary thing, there isn't as much conflict for Ahab. It is the conflict of bringing Starbuck and all the men in on it with him that is the real story. The Old Man in the Sea, while focusing on the futility of the endeavor, also focuses on man's determination--in this respect, the protagonist is a hero and not a looney.

Secondly, of all the fictional references to be made, they choose Moby-Dick. Are they saying how weird the novel and idea are? Why didn't Randy say something like, "...a world where anything could happen. Like a queen of a deck of playing cards threatening to cut your head off while you are chasing a white rabbit," or "...Like a taking a raft trip down the Mississippi to take a stand against slavery." Any other work of fiction could work, but they chose Moby-Dick first.

And these two characters have clearly never read the novel. I doubt they have read any book. I know the actors and writers are intelligent and creative people, but the characters are clearly idiots. Therefore, in this creative TV show, the writers have referenced a story that they think even the idiots know all about.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Facebook is Google's Moby Dick

I just love a good modern allusion to Moby Dick! In an article from in May of 2012, the author, Shel Israel, certainly doesn't hide the references:

It has become increasingly clear since founder Larry Page took back the Google reigns that he regardedhimself as some sort of a modern-day Captain Ahab and Facebook as his company’s Moby Dick.
Page’s harpoon was supposed to be Google+. The social network platform is clearly the best of numerous such offerings offered over the past few years. When he took the tiller, Page immediately redirected his ship so that the harpoon could be sunk into the eye of the Facebook whale.

But of course, the reference being what it is, this is not a good thing--we all see this coming as the text directs itself to the possible implosion that this Larry Page faces. This is the interesting bit in understanding popular references to Moby Dick: we all understand that it goes nowhere!
At first, this looked like the makings of a great turnaround story. The young, determined founder, vowing to do no evil, takes the helm of a great ship floundering in anunprecedented storm. Vowing to avenge cruel and painful losses, he sets a new course.
Someone should have warned Page to be careful what he wished to harpoon. It could turn around and give him a very nasty bite, even a fatal one.

And as Larry Page tried to guide the company:
It was said Page was steering into troubling waters in the same way that Ahab drove his Pequod to where no ship should go. 

Overall, this story focuses on Google+ trying to beat Facebook. Facebook is the white whale that he cannot beat:
It seems to me that Google’s biggest mistake is in treating its very real rivalry with Facebook as a life-or-death struggle.
And, of course, the article in proper bookend format, references the overreaching Moby Dick metaphor again:
Focus is a good thing, but obsession may cause your harpoon to backfire.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Moby Dick

Through Netflix, I can stream dozens of episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I began watching one from 1992, The Rebel Set, when I came across this Moby Dick reference:

Joel Robinson is being "scary" to the robots, trying to tell them a good old scary story, and then humorously, he begins reading from the book Life's Little Instruction Book.

"#198: When facing a difficult task, act as though it's impossible to fail; when going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce."

This reference tantalizes me because it is actually a THEME reference. Over the years, countless critics have tried to decipher the white whale as the ultimate in symbolism. In this reference, it is the difficult task that must be accomplished despite the odds.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hakugei Volume 6

The last volume of the animated space version of the WHALE saga.

Goes out rather with a whimper, if you ask me.

Dew us the detonation device. Ahab and crew go looking for him.

Ahab: The reason I came to this dying planet was to get back at that bastard. That damn white whale...

The new Federation President is the late Caption Ho's father.

The Federation starts attacking Moad--what do they need Dew and Moby Dick for then??

Ahab: [if Lucky hadn't have shown up] I probably would have forgotten all about Moby Dick.

(Wow--completely destroys any kind of obsession necessary for the plot.)

Moby used to be a physicist named Abel Cain (completely a reference to the biblical sons of Adam and Eve), convicted of treason against the Federation.

He created the planet-destroyer weapon but tried to prevent its use.

Moby Dick's wave uncovers Ahab's ship and they consider it a direct challenge from Moby Dick. Cool.

Ahab has to kill Cain's half/Dew in order to win.

Moby turns and detonates far off into space.

Everybody lives--no final denoument other than the dead android Sarah waking up and just saying the names of all the crew members.

That's the end??

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Melville's Bartleby

Just the other morning, an ordinary Friday, I awoke at about 2:45 am. I have no idea why. I wasn't sleepy anymore. I lay there for an hour, restless, and then decided that sleep was not forthcoming. So I decided to pick up a book.

What to read--what would put me to sleep. That's what I was looking for. I had been talking with people at work about the reference to Melville's story "Bartleby the Scrivener" where the character keeps saying, "I prefer not to." We were likening this to some of our high school students. I even gave a copy of the book out and said I would re-read it and discuss, kind of like a little book group. I just knew that I really didn't want to read it at all. I hadn't read it since American Lit in college and hated it then.

So that's what I would pick up to read. That would put me to sleep! Melville!

So I started reading. I got so absorbed that I read the whole thing. I never did go back to sleep.

"Bartleby" is a magnificent little story. Tantalizing with clues as to why Bartleby is like this. The frustration of the narrator coincides with a reader's conscience. This is what we would do.

The other three copiers in the law office are a trinity of man, showing that a young kid, a young man, and an old man all have drive in life--or at least the ability to do what's required of them. That's important, I think, to run the gamut of ages and not letting it be linked to a certain phase. Even the old guy, who had probably been doing this copying since the young kid's age, still does what's required. The young man sees his future as a mirror of the old man's life.

At the end, we discover that Bartleby used to work in the dead letter office. Did these dead letters affect him? Was Bartleby a dead letter himself, with no address or purpose?

Melville can sure construct a sentence. There's some beautiful stuff here. Also, this story PROVES that Melville CAN write a good old narrative structure. It proves that Melville knows what to do. So why didn't Melville use these things when he wrote Moby Dick? Maybe that's a question I need to investigate further. When an author knows the rules and then breaks them on purpose, there has to be a reason. Melville knew the rules.

My wife just says that I stayed up because Melville makes my blood boil and that I get worked up over Melville so that probably is what kept me awake.

Hakugei volume 5

The sci-fi of Hakugei: The Legend of the Moby Dick is actually pretty darn good. It's an intriguing tale altogether, and even if I didn't have this obsession with the classic status of the novel, I would probably still enjoy this while I have been watching lots of anime lately. It's a good show.

Ahab versus the android Robotnik (Jacobs/Murato) and Ahab loses. So Robotnik is a cool bad guy. Mono a roboto Ha!

Ahab: "If I lost to a guy like you then how could I ever face Moby Dick?"

Murato then fights and kills Barba, the Queequeg character. Barba's (Queequeg's) luggage has an inscription that helps to rebirth Barba--is this akin to the coffin in the original novel?

Madam Ohara (Special Assistant) and General Ho are interesting characters. Again, the cool bad guys are actually more interesting than the idea of Moby Dick the whale.

The reborn Murato crushes General Ho.

I wonder where all of this is going. In all respects, Ahab must somehow stop the android Dew from being this detonator of the Moby Dick space bomb in order to save the planet Moad. In other ways, Ahab must defeat the white whale in order to save the planet. The ultimate good guy then?

Or is that what Ahab was doing in the novel? I have read bits on how Moby references the evils of the world. Is that what the novel's Ahab was always chasing, the eradication of the world's evil?

But then that still doesn't help its narrative structure. Nor does it alleviate the torture of sitting through Ishmael's first hundred or so pages. Not to me, anyway.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Movies changed from the book modern reference,0,1468020.story?track=rss

March 2, 2012--Of all the movies in the world to refer to, this one gives away the ending to Moby Dick.

In a review of the new movie "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" by Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic, of all the movies to reference a change from the source material, he chose Moby Dick.

"Movies always have monkeyed around with their source material— a 1930 version of " Moby Dick" had Ahab kill the whale and return home to his girlfriend — but it's hard to remember one that actually apologized before the fact for what it was about to do."

He didn't choose the happy ending of Grisham's The Firm with Tom Cruise. He didn't choose some of the little things in the Lord of the Rings movies like Arwen, not the seriously bad changes in The Running Man movie, not even the horrible Supergirl movie, or probably hundreds of others. He chose Moby Dick.

This means that the basic plot is ubiquitous. Especially the ending is known to all, I remember guessing so horribly when my teacher in seventh grade asked me what happened to Ahab (I sheepishly and in full question-voice muttered, "He died?"). I basically got it right, didn't I?

The thing is that the reviewer's opening statement ruins two items if the reader had never experienced them before--the 1930 movie and the book, because the ending of the book has to be opposite. However, the reviewer probably also chose these because no one today will take the time to see a 1930 movie (you know what I mean--there is a specific audience that watches old 1930s movies and most of today's populace simply will not watch movies in black and white anymore) and no one, NO ONE, will read the book of Moby Dick anyway. So this was a safe choice because nobody needs spoiler warnings for Moby Dick.

And I see what the reviewer is driving at. The Lorax apparently comes right out and says it is going to be different than the original book. It probably has to, especially after the horrors that were the live-action Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat. See, now nobody can simply come out and say that it was just too different from the book version. Well, they told you it was gonna be different!

I have to hunt down that 1930 Moby Dick now. Let's go see if it is at

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hakugei volume 3

Hakugei volume 3

Very cool as they plunge down to the planet that Moby Dick comes at them from below to destroy their ship. Very cool.

Their ship, Lady Whisker, sinks, just like the Pequod.

The sci-fi is really interesting, even though it has no real relationship to the Moby Dick novel. I don't understand the entire concept of the android Dew character in any relation to the novel but it is really cool here if you don't think about the book.

This is just another reason overall why they even wanted to have the name Moby Dick as the planet-destroying cannon. Couldn't they have kept the themes without using that name?

Marato is a cool villain that looks like Dr. Robotnik.

Hakugei volume 2

Hakugei volume 2

Ahab just seems too personable, too buddy-buddy, for a true Moby Dick interpretation. He's like a Captain Harlock. They talk about him and say he has "personality defects" but they still love him.

Space Pachinko!

The detective White Hat is "looking for the big one [criminal--Ahab] that got away." Detective White Hat whipped him in prison and after Ahab escaped, he went looking for him. Ahab seems to have more reason to go after White Hat than the white whale. Now amazingly, he joins the crew and they are all buddy-buddy.

Then they are having little side adventures while still pursuing their ultimate goal. So that is a lot like the novel Moby Dick. However, I am liking this anime series.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hakugei--now Moby Dick is anime too!

Sometimes I just search for "Moby Dick." I search through multiple search engines. I even search through Netflix to see what movie versions I come up with.

I found an anime version of Moby Dick:

Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick from 2005

I was really pleased with this.

With Crunchyroll and Netflix through my Roku, the device that streams internet video into my TV, I have been watching a ton of anime. So it is only natural that I also watch the anime version of Moby Dick.

Taking place in the year 4699, the whale hunters are actually space wreckage salvagers. Since the wreckage, coined as "whales," moves pretty fast, they go after it like the harpooners in their little boats. That is a pretty neat update idea. And anime can show it really well.

Moby Dick is a giant robot in space, in actuality, a Federation cannon capable of destroying a planet. So now it is Death Star Moby Dick. Pretty cool.

It is very Blade Runner-esque. It's not the prettiest of space worlds and that is cool.

There is the Nantucket Nebula; the Ishmael character says "Call me Lucky" in the beginning, even soliloquizing like the Ishmael of the book; Ahab has quite a cool lead-up and entrance; Queequeg is a nice yet powerful giant already on the crew.

In Episode 3, the crew remarks that Ahab has had obsessions before: "'Another obsession begins...Oh, no, not another one.'"

It is really interesting when Ahab and Lucky are talking about the Moby Dick cannon threatening the world of Moab and Ahab going berzerk, shouting, "'Twas whiter than snow, wasn't it." He also shouts, "Just as I thought: The Great White is alive!" Then the tale of Ahab losing his left eye and leg is related.

The only thing I don't understand so far is the android character of "Dew." He had a run-in with the Moby Dick in the opening of the first episode, with the whale implanting some device into his chest. Moby Dick tells him, "You will become me and I will become you. We are now joined by a strong bond." It's okay if Dew has nothing to do with the original book but it is another intriguing aspect.

I have just watched the first disc but I really liked it. Great animation and the story is well done. Maybe this is also the power of a tale like Moby Dick. If you can bring it out of its original setting and begin again, then it is a powerful tale that truly cuts across borders. Like updating Shakespeare into different settings, this works.

Somebody else is wondering...

Book Buzz: Why Read Moby-Dick?

Book Buzz: Tension City, Why Read Moby-Dick?:

I love it--it's now a book. Why Read Moby-Dick?

Nathaniel Philbrick is a great writer in his own right. I really enjoyed his book about the whaleshipEssex--it completely captivated me, and I usually don't like non-fiction at all.

The author of this article calls the book "a passionate and convincing text." There is no personal opinion on Moby Dick itself.

But check out this "argument." If I had a student write this, I would have the student express why the quote proves the point:

"but when he quotes Melville, the text soars and Melville’s prose becomes Philbrick’s best argument for reading the book: 'While gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude. ... '"

Yes, I agree, that sentence is awesome. Should we consider Moby Dick just a long, great sounding poem then? The term novel just doesn't fit then anymore, especially if you consider structure.

I love how this piece ends:

If anyone is still awaiting the arrival of The Great American Novel(s), give it up. They have already been written. The first is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and the second is “Moby-Dick, or, The Whale.”

I just taught Huck Finn and didn't have a great experience either. But Huck Finn has a narrative structure.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jack Aranson's stage play of Moby Dick

Through Netflix of all places, I was able to rent a DVD of a taping of the 1978 stage version of actor Jack Aranson's one-man play version of Moby Dick, directed by Paul Stanley.

I just don't get it.

This is a 2003 DVD release of a 1978 stage play. We can't even get some new movies on DVD and they put this out on DVD (for instance, I have been trying to track down a copy of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World starring Leonard Nimoy from the late 1990s but it has never been released on DVD--it boggles my mind).

The first thing you see on the disc is a title screen of a whale fluke with the words: "Moby Dick--American's greatest novel"--complete with whale song.

It's a one-man play. He plays all the characters, including just switching back and forth. The lines are wonderfully delivered. If you didn't know, you'd think it was a Shakespeare play. At least that gives credence to the wonderful language aspect of the book.

The one-man play is not a genre that I'm used to.

No matter how well acted it is, I'm still bored as I watch it. No matter how well delivered, or how much I personally am into this simply to write about it, I wonder who watches this stuff, who goes to the real theater for this, or who re-releases it on DVD in 2003, twenty-five years after the original production.

Am I the uncivilized one? Is this high class art that the bourgeois watch?

I mean, at least you know that a Hamlet soliloquy is going to end and the action of the play go on.

This actor really must love this completely. That is clear. Deciphering who is who is quite easy if you pay attention. I think he did a remarkable job with the material.

But it is the material that I ponder on. Besides some Twain and Poe, what else is delivered like this?

It is just fascinating that this is even out there.

I found this quote about the whole thing at

Update: Look for Jack Aranson's one-man stage play. A gem, and available on DVD.
"Years from now acting classes and scholars will be studying this film for its power in bringing the immortal words of Herman Melville to life." IMDB: Moby Dick (1978) (streaming trailer)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book called "Why Read Moby-Dick"

Book Buzz: Why Read Moby-Dick?

Book Buzz: Tension City, Why Read Moby-Dick?:

I love it--it's now a book. Why Read Moby-Dick? I am going to have to find this book.

Nathaniel Philbrick is a great writer in his own right. I really enjoyed his book about the whaleshipEssex--it completely captivated me, and I usually don't like non-fiction at all.

The author of this article calls the book "a passionate and convincing text." There is no personal opinion on Moby Dick itself.

But check out this "argument." If I had a student write this, I would have the student express why the quote proves the point:

"but when he quotes Melville, the text soars and Melville’s prose becomes Philbrick’s best argument for reading the book: 'While gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude. ... '"

Yes, I agree, that sentence is awesome. Should we consider Moby Dick just a long, great sounding poem then? The term novel just doesn't fit then anymore, especially if you consider structure.

I love how this piece ends:

If anyone is still awaiting the arrival of The Great American Novel(s), give it up. They have already been written. The first is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and the second is “Moby-Dick, or, The Whale.”

I just taught Huck Finn and didn't have a great experience either. But Huck Finn has a narrative structure.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jim Ingraham: Counting down the 10 best free-agent signings of the Dolan era -

Jim Ingraham: Counting down the 10 best free-agent signings of the Dolan era -
"While you're waiting for the Indians to sign a big-name, big-ticket, still-in-his-prime free agent, you might want to get comfortable and curl up with a good book. I'd suggest something along the lines of "Moby Dick," "War and Peace" or the phone book from the greater Shanghai metropolitan area."

Obviously, the author is alluding to the fact that Moby Dick is a long, arduous work.

This does not do well for Moby Dick's friendly feeling. Considering my father is extremely smart but never read a book, concentrating on newspapers and sports pages in particular, this definitely hurts anyone up for a casual book. However, I think that most view it as a tough read.

Maybe that's part of its mystique; if you can read Moby Dick you must be pretty literate. (Or pretty stupid, what with all the really good books out there.)

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