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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