The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

All Astir...

Keep an eye on the Whaling Museum website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page during this shelter-in-place period! The museum staff are busy making their collection available on the Web, often with expert interpretation.


A Virtual MDM

Beginning Friday, April 17, at 5 P.M. Eastern, the museum will make available a one-hour video segment from a recent Moby Dick Marathon. The closing chapters will be read by folks currently in "lockdown" at home.

Tours of the Collection

The Museum from Home series is an ever-expanding set of resources for students and parents.

The current exhibition of Dutch maritime paintings, De Wind is Op!, is now behind closed doors, but a wealth of material is available online:
  • The entire (4.5 hour) opening symposium.
  • A tour of the works, with commentary by Chief Curator, Christina Connett Brophy.
  • The complete exhibition catalog(!). Grab a copy while you can.

If you have wandered the museum during the Marathon's "Graveyard Shift" and browsed the items in Turner Gallery (where we used to read Cetology), you'll want to watch these videos guided by Akeia de Barros Gomes, Curator of Social History; and Michael Dyer, Curator of Maritime History.

Speaking of Maritime Museums

The Mystic Seaport Museum offers its share of digital treasures, including a cool "Behind the Scenes" series.


 Other Avenues

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In your "insular Tahiti"...

These recordings of M-D could ease the monotony of isolation. All are available as free, downloadable .mp3 files. So load up your audio device of choice for those home-bound sessions of low-impact aerobics.
  • Both Librivox and Project Gutenberg offer the same reading by Stewart Wills. He's a good, clear speaker, not overly dramatic. Slightly annoying is the 15-second intro to each file: "This is a Librivox recording, ..." There are 44 .mp3 files, including Etymology and Extracts. The Librivox site lets you download all the recordings in a single .zip file (677 MB); on the Gutenberg site, you can only download each file separately. (Scroll down the Gutenberg page to see the files in .mp3 format.)
  • The recordings of the Moby Dick Big Read were posted in weekly installments back in 2013 (and duly reviewed). The drivers of this project, Angela Cockayne and Philip Hoare, recruited as readers prominent actors, authors, and artists; as well as TV/radio hosts, scientists, sailors, students, and a Prime Minister. The voices are varied, and nearly all the readings are top-notch. (Tilda Swinton reading Loomings is refreshingly unexpected.) You have to download each of the 136 chapters separately (no Etymology or Extracts), via the "down arrow" icon at the top-right corner of the player.
One caveat: All of these readings are from some copy of M-D that does not include the corrections made (by Hayford, Parker, and Tanselle) for the 1988 Northwestern-Newberry edition (discussed previously).

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, March 13, 2020

Whaling Museum closed through March 27

The Whaling Museum just announced that it will close immediately due to "the growing concerns related to the coronavirus."

The Museum plans to remain shuttered to the public through March 27, 2020. Consult the Museum's website for updates.
Think of the fevers, yellow and bilious! Beware of the horrible plague!
- Chapter 71
...a time to hunker down with a good book.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Sunspots & Whale Strandings

Biologists have already demonstrated that many animals can navigate by somehow sensing Earth’s magnetic field lines. Gray whales, which migrate over 10,000 miles a year through a featureless expanse of blue, might be relying on a similar hidden sense.
        - New York Times, 25 Feb. 2020
The Times article quoted above summarizes a study published in Current Biology; a collaboration of Duke University biologists and an astronomer from Chicago's Adler Planetarium. The research looks at strandings of healthy gray whales, chosen because they have "one of the longest migrations of any mammal, an extensive history in the stranding database, and [are] near-shore migrator[s]." (Near-shore is where "small navigation errors increase the risk of stranding.")

Previous studies have correlated these strandings with solar magnetic storms, but were the strandings the result of alterations of the Earth's geomagnetic field, or did the storms somehow "disrupt the animal's receptor itself"?

Examining the influence of climate/season, magnetic field displacement, and radio-frequency noise, the researchers conclude that the whales' navigation errors are "best explained by increases in RF noise rather than alterations to the magnetic field." The analog that comes to mind is headlights of oncoming cars when you're walking at night.

One of the authors, biologist Jesse Granger, notes that such RF noise is not the sole cause of gray whale strandings. Her hope, according to the Times, is "to unlock the secrets of magnetic navigation."

Friday, December 6, 2019

Get Ready (again)!

Updated 12/27/2019 to include video stream and #mobydickmarathon hashtag.

We are now four weeks from the 24th annual Moby-Dick Marathon.

If you're planning your first MDM, you'll find some practical advice in this post from 2011 and in the "Essentials" section at the right of this page. Check out the Whaling Museum's MDM page, too.

For stay-at-homes, a live video stream will commence at 11:30 AM, Saturday.

If you are set to be a Reader, here's a list of uncommon words you might encounter (courtesy of the 2014 NYC MDM).

...and be sure to follow #MDM24 & #mobydickmarathon on Twitter.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Latest News from the Feejees - 11

It had to happen...

Enjoying its world premiere in Cambridge, MA, through January 12.

Make sense who may. I switch off.       - What Where

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

MDM23 "post-mortemising"

Gone but not (completely) forgotten...

Let's stow away January's MDM before the 2020 event is upon us.

MDM23 was one for the books — the bicentennial of Melville's birth was coming in August, the weather was mild (for January), and the roads were clear and dry. The result: "a record crowd." The museum reported "over 1500 through the doors" during the three days. (Ahem, "over 2900" were reported for MDM16.)

Things proceeded along the lines of past MDMs, established with the introduction of Stump the Scholars in 2011. That's MDMs number 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22!

10:00 AM
It's "Stump," with MC Michael Dyer of the museum, and scholars Wyn Kelley (M.I.T), Timothy Marr (UNC), Christopher Sten (George Washington U.), Jennifer Baker (NYU), Robert Wallace (U. of Kentucky), and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (Univ. of Conn & Mystic Seaport).
Michael was feeling generous. At least nine "I Stumped..." buttons were awarded.
Over the years, we in the audience have learned that you can't stump this group with quotidian queries. Our questions have become ever more abstruse, often causing deliberations to devolve into an open, and informative, discussion. That's entertainment!

On the subject of scholars, I hesitate to mention the "Chat with a Melville scholar" sessions — they are in danger of outgrowing the room. Still, if you want to expand your appreciation of Melville, and fill some gaps in your erudition, make a point of dropping in. This is a very patient and generous group of scholars/educators with a wide range of backgrounds and specialties!

11:23 AM - after "Stump"
Familiar faces, and a welcome sighting of Peter Whittemore, HM's g-g-grandson.
Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, of Boston radio & TV, were introduced and presented with mementos (see below). Jim got to read "Call me..."
The live stream was moved to YouTube this year — better results for viewers, fewer headaches for Michael Lapides & staff.
1:18 PM
New Bedford Mayor, John Mitchell, reading Chapter 6 as is customary.
1:21 PM
To the Seamen's Bethel for chapters 7-9.
9:53 PM - still a decent crowd.
The MDM is always evolving! This year the usual readers' lecterns were replaced by comfy chairs. The atmosphere was less like a religious service and more like a cozy neighborhood book club (or Russell Baker's intros to Masterpiece Theatre).
Sightlines were not great for those in the back. Maybe the museum could raise the readers' area a bit for MDM24?

1:43 AM
The sweet, still heart of the MDM.
6:19 AM
Tjitske, from the Netherlands, reads Chapter 94 in Dutch at her ninth(?) MDM.
Tjitske's audience.
It's just after noon for her friends at home watching the live stream.
(Impossible to discern at this resolution, but that's Ira in the other reader's chair.)
6:41 AM
The museum's Harbor View Gallery is aptly named.
11:02 AM
Who doesn't love a good shipwreck? The audience swells for the dramatic finale.

...Then it's off to the pub to celebrate another fine MDM.
Monday morning...
For safety's sake, get a good night's sleep, then drive home.
Jim Braude sporting his NBWM tie on Monday evening's Greater Boston.