Sea-Fever blog


Google Doodle Celebrates Moby-Dick’s 161st Berthday Plus Listen to the Big Read! by Peter A. Mello

 

 

We love Moby-Dick at Sea-Fever so it was fun to stumble upon Google’s Doodle celebrating the 161st birthday of it’s publication in England. We can celebrate again next month because it was published in the US on November 14, 1851!

As a present to Sea-Fever readers, here’s the 1st chapter of the Moby-Dick Big Read. Here’s what’s that’s all about:

…an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.

They started posting a chapter a day on Sept. 16, 2012. Tilda Swinton spins an awesome yarn in Chapter 1 – Loomings. There are many other interesting readers and the artwork on the website is definitely worth a visit.

Of course, if you need any help deciphering Melville’s lexicon, there’s no better place to go than Meg Guroff’s awesome PowerMobyDick website.

 



Moby-Monday: Finding Melville’s Whale by Peter A. Mello
January 24, 2011, 9:49 am
Filed under: Moby-Monday | Tags: , , ,

The crew over at Southern Fried Science are mixing art and science with “a year-long series exploring Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick, from the perspective of modern marine scientists.” More from their website:

Each chapter will be posted with a brief summary, in verse and discussion will take place in the comment thread. Generally, new chapters will be posted every Tuesday and Thursday, with some Sundays. I’m reading from the Oxford World’s Classic edition of Moby Dick, but any unabridged copy will do. The websitePower Moby Dick hosts a complete, unabridged, and fully annotated version online. We will keep a running list of the posts made or this project here so that they are easy to find.

Everyone is welcome to read along and encouraged to participate in the discussion.

The introduction to this project can be found here:Finding Melville’s Whale

Hmmm…two things I was never very good at in high school: (1) finishing Moby-Dick and (2) anything science related. But I’m a different person today. :) So I’m considering this my own personal Nantucket sleigh ride of art and science education. Hop aboard!



Moby-Monday: A Whale of a Weekend! (#mdm15) by Peter A. Mello

Moby-Monday is back and inspired by an extraordinary event organized by the New Bedford Whaling Museum. From all accounts the 15th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon was a great success!

I took my seven-year old son Luke to the Seamen’s Bethel on Saturday for Chapters 7 (The Chapel), 8 (The Pulpit) and 9 (The Sermon). Since I am on the Board of Managers of the New Bedford Port Society I am obviously biased, but there is no better place to experience a Moby-Dick reading than the place where Melville actually worshiped.  Here are a few pictures and a video from that experience.

Seamen's Bethel prior to 15th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon

The Sermon in the Seamen's Bethel, Moby-Dick Marathon

After taking this in, the tide of Moby-Dick enthusiasts carried us across the street to the Jacob’s Family Gallery in the Whaling Museum, the home port of the Moby-Dick Marathon, where there was a full house and lots of great energy.

Jacobs Family Gallery, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Moby-Dick Marathon

On Sunday mornings, we typically listen to classical music but this week we tuned into the livestream of the event. While listening Luke was hard at work in the corner with his carpenter’s kit and by mid-morning he had built a whaleship for my office! The extraordinary convergence and power of great art and new technology in action inspiring a young boy to dream and create!

Thanks and congratulations to the New Bedford Whaling Museum for putting on a great show! Using the livestream and an active Twitter feed, people were able to enjoy the experience without actually having to be present. Of course, there is no substitute for being there in body, soul and spirit. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is an extraordinary small museum that keep getting better. I’m already looking forward to the 16th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon!



New Bedford Whaling Museum’s 15th Moby-Dick Marathon by Peter A. Mello

Some might think that reading Moby-Dick is like running a marathon. Well, this weekend reading Moby-Dick actually is a marathon event at the New Bedford Whaling Museum which is hosting it’s 15th year celebrating Melville’s American classic.

Moby-Dick Marathon poster

Beth Perdue wrote a great article in today’s Coastin’ section of the New Bedford Standard Times about what you can expect which includes the below highlights so that you can chart your experience. Standing Watch – A marathon timeline (times are approximate)

Chapter 1-6, Noon, Saturday

These first few chapters are entertaining for several reasons, including the comical treatment Melville gives to the relationship of Ishmael and Queequeg and the rare and intriguing look at the city of New Bedford as seen through Melville’s 19th-century eyes. And, this year, the Whaling Museum returns the reading’s kickoff to the Lagoda, its 89-foot, half-scale whaleship replica, adding a new layer of atmosphere to the reading.

Chapter 7-9: Seamen’s Bethel and Father Mapple sermon, 1:20 p.m.

Being in the Bethel, the inspiration for this scene, is reason enough to make the trip up Johnny Cake Hill to hear the famous sermon by Father Mapple. The sermon, full of fire and brimstone and delivered with passion for the past few years by Rev. Dr. Edward R. Dufresne, is another great reason. If that’s not enough, the hymn (from the 1956 film) that kicks off the sermon will be sung by Joanna McQuillan Weeks, local choir singer and secretary of the Ladies’ Branch of the New Bedford Port Society.

Chapter 32: “Cetology,” 6:20 p.m.

This look at the scientific classification of whales is a “love it or hate it” kind of chapter with many votes landing in the latter category. In reality, Melville scholar Dr. Laurie Robertson-Lorant said, for those willing to dive in, the chapter can be very funny. “It’s hilarious because what’s he doing is deconstructing scientific classification,” said Robertson-Lorant. “He’s poking fun at this idea that now we have everything nailed down because we can make a chart.”

Chapter 40: “Midnight Forecastle” 7:45 p.m.

Written in theatrical style, this is an annual favorite among marathoners and this year promises to be extra special with the debut of Culture*Park, the New Bedford theater ensemble, to the mix. About 10 actors will perform the section which shows the ship’s watch, made up of representatives from many countries and cultures, eyeing a coming storm.

Chapter 69: “The Funeral,” 1:30 a.m. Sunday

Melville isn’t pulling punches with this powerful look at the 19th-century industry’s brutal treatment of whales. A key image here is the floating white mass of the whale’s corpse, according to “Moby-Dick” scholar and literature professor Robert Wallace, who called it one of the strongest ecological images in 19th-century literature.

Chapter 78: “Cistern and Buckets,” 3 a.m.

A short comic chapter showing Tashtego falling into a gutted whale carcass and then into the sea, only to be rescued by Queequeg. “It has what Melville calls ‘unspeakable horror’ as well as redemption and wry humor,” said Melville expert Mary K. Bercaw Edwards.

Chapter 81: “The Pequod Meets the Virgin,” 3:30 a.m.

A good example of the fun Melville managed to work into his tragedy, this chapter combines high nationalistic comedy — spoofing the futility of the German whalers — with deep Shakespearean tragedy — in the Pequod’s unnecessary cruelty to the old, blind, wounded bull whale, according to Wallace.

Chapter 87: “The Grand Armada,” 5 a.m.

In this chapter, the whaleboat enters a circle of mother whales and calves. Scholars say for all the novel’s focus on Ahab’s obsession, the whale is the book’s central figure and this chapter is its spiritual center. “Ishmael’s vision of the baby whale in the heart of the carnage “» is the spiritual touchstone for the entire book,” said Wallace.

Chapter 93: “The Castaway,” 6:10 a.m.

The beauty of Melville’s language, noted again and again in conversations about “Moby-Dick” is especially evident in this chapter about Pip going overboard and being dragged down into the depths of the sea, according to Robertson-Lorant.

Chapter 99: “The Doubloon,” 7 a.m.

A dramatic reading where Ahab nails a doubloon to the mast and each of the whaler’s crew members interprets its meaning, each according to their subjective view point, said Robertson-Lorant.

Chapter 110: “Queequeg in His Coffin,” 9 a.m.

“The fact that Queequeg cannot interpret the tattooing on his own chest even though his own heart beats against it is a lesson for us all,” said Wallace. “The dialogue between him and Pip in this chapter is unbearably poignant.”

Chapters 133-135: “The Chase,” 11:45 a.m.

The novel ends with an action-packed bang in these final chapters when Moby-Dick appears and the whalers begin their chase in earnest. “They’re chasing Moby-Dick, knowing that they’re doomed,” said Robertson-Lorant. “The language is so dramatic. The description of fear is the best there is.”

Want to experience things like Melville did as he prepared for his journey on the whaleship Acushnet, cross the street and step into the Seamen’s Bethel (aka Whalemen’s Chapel) where Father Mapple’s sermon will be delivered. Here’s a taste:

I’m proud to be a member of the Board of Managers of the New Bedford Port Society which is the organization that owns and manages the Bethel and the historic Mariner’s Home next door.  We are currently underway on a major restoration and preservation project and if you are interested in learning more and/or supporting this effort, please email me.  If you need or know someone who needs a new website or some digital marketing help, Sea-Fever Consulting’s digitsimple program will donate 25% of all revenues generated from new projects from now until the end of February 2011 that use the code SEAMENSBETHEL. More about our Good Neighbor Program can be found at digitsimple.

Back to the marathon.

  • The majority of the event will take place in the beautiful, newly renovated Bourne Building, the homeport of the Lagoda, the largest ship model in the world.
  • Can’t sail over to New Bedford for this happening? You can still experience it via the web. The Whaling Museum say they will be live-streaming the event via their website.
  • It’s doubtful that this event will conjure up the appearance of another white whale, but you can follow the event on Twitter via the hashtag #mdm15.
  • Think you know a lot about Moby-Dick? There’s a fun sounding Stump the Scholar’s quiz game with Melville Society experts matching wits. The free public program is patterned after National Public Radio’s popular show, “Wait, wait, don’t tell me.” No questions will be deemed too tough and prizes will be awarded. (10:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2011 in the Whaling Museum’s Cook Memorial Theater.

It sound’s like a whale of a weekend! Sea you there!



Moby-Monday: 2010 Moby-Dick (the movie) by Peter A. Mello
November 8, 2010, 10:30 am
Filed under: maritime, maritime heritage, Moby-Monday, storytelling | Tags: , ,

From the same people who brought us Titanic II (huh?), on November 30, coming straight to your DVD player, Herman Melville‘s classic  has been updated: 2010 Moby Dick. I guess the original (and all previous versions) were not good enough; nothing a few helicopters and machine guns can’t fix thankfully.



Moby-Monday: “In the Unequal Cross-Lights” — Contemporary Sculptors Respond to the Whaling Museum Collections by Peter A. Mello

Giant Squid sculpture by Erik Durant

Last month I took the kids to New Bedford Open Studios and one of the highlights was meeting sculptor Erik Durant and seeing his giant squid which was under construction for the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s outdoor sculpture show which opened last week. Durant’s studio is always a real hit with the kids if for no other reason than his giant ear sculpture with companion Q-tip;  Joy especially loves it.

The sculpture show is titled “”In the Unequal Cross-Lights” — Contemporary Sculptors Respond to the Whaling Museum Collections” and the title is derived from Moby-Dick. From David Boyce’s article in the New Bedford Standard Times:

The project’s title is taken from “Moby-Dick,” referring to Ishmael’s visit to the Spouter-Inn, where in the “unequal cross-lights” he sees a painting on the wall that confounds him. Melville writes that this artwork requires “careful inquiry,” “earnest contemplation,” and “repeated ponderings.” In other words, much like looking at some contemporary art work, one must allow it time to divulge its intentions, its message, its meaning, or merely its composition.

Photo from ErikDurant.com



Moby-Monday: A song about the thoughts of a young Moby-Dick by Peter A. Mello

Last Thursday marked the first of a series of concerts organized by the Ladies Branch of the New Bedford Port Society for the Seamen’s Bethel Restoration Project Fund. It was a great evening of shanties and sea stories by Dillon Bustin and the Rum-Soaked Crooks.

Here’s a short video of a neat song that Dillon Bustin sang. It was part of a youth education program that he helped organize in which students wrote a prequel to Moby-Dick. The song give each of the characters in Herman Melville’s classic an adolescent outlook. Here’s what was doing on with Moby-Dick. (Low light video but audio is definitely worth the listen.)

The Seamen’s Bethel is one of America’s historic treasures. Hope you will consider making a donation to it’s Restoration Project Fund so that future generations will be able to experience it.  For more information or to get involved, please visit the Seamen’s Bethel website, email support@portsociety.org or call +1 508-992-3295.



Moby-Monday: Herman Melville’s Pew by Peter A. Mello

Herman Melville's Pew by kodachromeslides on Flickr

Ever go somewhere and “feel” that you are really experiencing history. Well, the historic Seamen’s Bethel in New Bedford, Massachusetts is one of those special places. If you haven’t been there, make a plan to and when you do make sure you sit in Herman Melville’s pew. Who knows. maybe some of his inspiration will rub off on you.

I’m a member of the board of managers of the New Bedford Port Society and we own and operate the Seamen’s Bethel and I recently wrote Please Help Me Help the Seamen’s Bethel.

If you live anywhere in the area, I invite you to join me for a very special fundraising evening with Dylan Bustin and the Rum-Soaked Crooks on Thursday, October 21st in the historic Seamen’s Bethel.  You can buy tickets at http://bit.ly/bethelconcerts and 100% of the proceeds go to Seamen’s Bethel Restoration Project Fund.

We are well underway with the work to make sure that future generations will be able to experience history at the Bethel and Mariner Home too. Hope you can join us and support the effort too!

Photo credit: Herman Melville’s Pew by Patrick Mont (kodachromeslides on Flickr.com)


Moby-Monday: Moby Mobile by Peter A. Mello
October 4, 2010, 10:00 am
Filed under: maritime heritage, Moby-Monday

Flag dip to the New Bedford Whaling Museum



Moby-Monday: Happy Belated Berthday Herman Melville! by Peter A. Mello
August 2, 2010, 9:24 pm
Filed under: maritime, maritime heritage, Moby-Monday | Tags:

Okay we missed Herman Melville’s birthday (August 1st); yesterday was his 191st. We were actually on a family roadtrip to Mystic Seaport where they were celebrating Melville’s birthday with a marathon reading of Moby-Dick.

It had been a few years since we visited Mystic and the first time with the kids. It’s a great destination with lots and lots of things to do for “youth of all ages.” We started our visit with a showing of the outdoor play, A Tale of a Whaler which is highly recommended if you have kids. It’s engaging and answers, in a fun way, some of those difficult historical questions kids always have.

Some of the other highlights included a visit to the Charles W. Morgan which is currently in the middle of a MAJOR restoration project.  You can actually climb aboard her and go below to see first hand how whalers lived and how restorers do their work. This experience should not be missed.

Charles W. Morgan - On the Ways

It’s a bit of a climb, especially with small children, but it’s definitely worth it!

Charles W. Morgan - Maindeck looking aft

Here are a few “artsy” shots taken with my iPhone of other favorite spots in the Seaport.

This is from the Shipyard Gallery looking down into the work area. The gallery has an interesting exhibit about the Morgan restoration project.

Shipyard Gallery

I love scale models of villages and this one is a must see. Even though it’s Mystic, it’s great to imagine what our town, Mattapoisett, was like back in the mid 1800’s when activity was buzzing at the six shipyards located on the harborfront.

Mystic River Scale Model

No visit is complete without hopping aboard a real living tall ship like the Joseph Conrad. Well, she might not leave the dock but in the summer time she serves as living quarters for the young campers in the Seaport’s sailing program. How cool is that!

Joseph Conrad




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