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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

"Loomings" Locations, part 1

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and from thence, by Whitehall, northward.      - Chapter I, Loomings
We hear them in the opening minutes of every Moby-Dick Marathon—Corlears Hook, Coenties Slip, Whitehall. In one sentence, Melville mentions three well-known locations along New York's working waterfront. He also slips in a shout-out to his mother's family back in Albany, and names a spot that is tied to her family in a way even he may not have known about.

Corlears Hook
What I learned in my researches was a revelation to me—sawmills on the Hudson; north of Coenties Slip bowsprits run in over street traffic so you could touch the figureheads; the ship-chandlery shops north of Market Street (halfway between the Battery and Corlears Hook).
      - Melville Biography, An Inside Narrative; Hershel Parker; p.13
Check Google Maps—Market Street is still there, leading right down to the East River. The dockyards long gone (mostly), replaced by the FDR Drive.

Corlears Hook, 1841
According to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, "The Corlear family, 17th century Dutch landowners, controlled much of the property in this curving landmass." Jacobus von Corlaer (the original spelling) was the first Dutch owner of a "plantation" here (Wikipedia).

By Melville's time, the area had evolved into an isolated slum, frequented by seamen from the nearby waterfront, and prostitutes. Some sources claim that the term "hooker" derives from this neighborhood's name.

Today, Corlears Hook is memorialized by a small park.

View Larger Map
Corlears Hook Park, looking south toward the river

My next posts will look at the other locations mentioned in Loomings, Coenties Slip and Whitehall, and their (surprising) ties to Melville's family.

(Note: The full map of 1841 Manhattan can be found at this outstanding Boston Public Library site.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Gift idea! (even if it's for yourself)

Released this year: Melville Biography,
An Inside Narrative
For the Melvillian on your list is this unclassifiable tome by Hershel Parker: Melville Biography, An Inside Narrative.

"Unclassifiable" because it is part autobiography, part rebuttal of his critics, part explication of his approach to biography, part continuation of his monumental Melville biography.

More than that I hesitate to say—because I've only just started reading it, and because my ignorance in these matters is vast. For a real review, see this one by Carl Rollyson, himself an accomplished biographer. (You may need a Wall St. Journal account to load the review. I was able to view it once; no longer. If you have access to back issues, it's in the 3/29/2013 WSJ.) A slightly condensed version of Rollyson's review is here, about halfway down the page.

I can tell you that it is interesting reading. (Be sure to read the Notes in the back, too.) 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gift idea?

The Moby Dick Card Game is another Kickstarter project. It was fully funded, and the first run has shipped. The artwork looks terrific, but the game is unavailable to the general public at present.
Even without a knowledge of the novel, playing the game will clue you into the relationships between key sailors and the various perils and processes of hunting whales in the 19th century.
As important as the visuals are, the game could not exist without Melville's voice. Every card features a choice quotation from the book, tying the action at hand to the grand tale itself.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page and their website—they promise a webstore soon.

Hat tip: Kiwi.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift idea?

Emoji Dick is a crowd sourced and crowd funded translation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick into Japanese emoticons called emoji.

It's a free country. I can't help but agree with one commenter, "That's astoundingly useless."

Hat-tip to techie Megan.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Blessed by "Berkshares"

A news segment on PBS this evening talked about the "local currency," Berkshares, an alternative coin-of-the-realm for western Massachusetts.

Who is the "face" of Berskshares? None other than our man, H.M., pictured on the twenty next to a profile of Mt. Greylock.

Damned by dollars, blessed by Berkshares...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One month to MDM18

The Moby-Dick Marathon page on the Whaling Museum's website has the details of MDM18.

Check this post from 2011 for the what/where/how of the MDM.

Mark your calendars and make arrangements. January 3rd is only one month away!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Did Proust Read Moby-Dick?

One hundred years ago today, on November 16, 1913, the first volume of Proust's In Search of Lost Time was published. Like our beloved Moby-Dick, it has since come to be recognized as one-of-those-works-you-should-read-before-you-die.

At seven volumes and about 1.5 million words, it dwarfs M-D (about 209,000 words). Students complain about M-D's Cetology chapter—Temps Perdu seems to carry Melville's "detail-oriented" approach beyond the limits of human endurance! So I have to wonder, did Proust read Moby-Dick? Was Melville an influence on "the major novel of the twentieth century" (Harold Bloom)?

Looks like probably not. According to Critical Synoptics: Menippean Satire and the Analysis of Intellectual Mythology by Carter Kaplan, "The first French translation of Moby-Dick was not published until 1941." That's nineteen years after Proust's death. So unless Proust was an accomplished reader of English, there's no way. Alas, a review of  Proust's English (2005) in the New Yorker states:
Proust did not speak English, and read it only with difficulty (though he translated Ruskin, with much help from others).
It appears (according to Wikipedia) that Proust's influences were of the "old world": Saint-Simon, Montaigne, Stendhal, Flaubert, George Eliot, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Leo Tolstoy.

Regarding another favorite "detail-oriented" novel, the question arises: Could Joyce's Ulysses have been influenced by Moby-Dick, or by Temps Perdu?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Readers get ready!

Reader sign-up for MDM18 opens in one week.
According to the Marathon page on the Whaling Museum website,
Reader sign-up begins Tuesday, November 12, at 12:01 a.m. Request a 7-10 minute reading slot. Provide preferred time and two alternates. Potential readers who were shut out in 2013 will receive priority for 2014. (508) 717-6851
Lemuel's series, How to Be a Good MDM Reader, might be of interest.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

M-D Opera -- on TV & at MDM18

Moby-Dick, the opera, will be broadcast on Boston's PBS station, WGBH, four times in the next week, as part of the Great Performances series. Check your local listings, as they say, but for Boson-area folks it's:
  • Friday, Nov. 1, 9 PM, channel 2
  • Saturday, Nov. 2, 2 AM, channel 44
  • Sunday, Nov. 3, 1:30 PM, channel 2
  • Monday, Nov. 4, 3 AM, channel 44
If you plan to attend the Marathon's kick-off lecture on Jan. 3 (2014), you'll want to check out this opera. The featured speaker will be its librettist, Gene Scheer.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

No NYC M-D Marathon this year

Brooklyn's Word bookstore, which organized last November's "1st ever NYC marathon-style reading of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick," announced that the reading will be "on hiatus" this year. A second NYC marathon is scheduled for November 14-16, 2014.

For 2013, Word will "celebrate Melville and his leviathanic masterpiece" with an evening of "readings, screenings, performances, sing-a-longs, and more" on November 15 at 7 P.M.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

That Mast in Mattapoisett

A visit with globe-trotting friends (ciao, Giulia) brought me to Mattapoisett; my first time in this whaleship-building town. The plaque in Shipyard Park summarizes its importance to Melvillians.
Mattapoisett's Shipbuilders

From the year 1752 to 1878 at least six shipyards
flourished along this waterfront from the foot of
Pearl Street to Ship Street (Cannonville). The fine
harbor, an abundant supply of virgin timber, and a
ready market for whaling and maritime commerce
attracted the finest of shipbuilders. Barks, brigs,
schooners, sloops and merchant ships were built and
launched here. When the whaling industry was at its
height in New Bedford, Mattapoisett became world
famous for its whaleships. More than 350 vessels
went down the ways during this period. Among the
most famous were:

"Acushnet," ship, 1840, which carried as a crew
member Herman Melville, on her maiden voyage.
Ten years later he wrote the famous whaling
saga "Moby Dick." [sic]

"Platina," ship, 1847, distinguished for capturing
a white whale.

"Wanderer," bark, 1878, last whaleship to be
built in Mattapoisett yards, and one of the
last whalers to sail from New Bedford.

Mattapoisett Bicentennial Committee 1976

The story of the Platina is told here, on the Whaling Museum's site.

The Wanderer is featured in actual whaling scenes in the 1922 film Down to the Sea in Ships (with Clara Bow in the first year of her movie career). If you visit Arrowhead, you can watch a DVD copy which plays in the small shed behind the house. On August 27, 1924 the Wanderer was wrecked on Middle Ground Shoal, between New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard. This page displays an interesting artifact from the Wanderer — its mailbox.

I had read on several websites that the Wanderer's mizzen-mast is now the flagpole in Shipyard Park, but that is not exactly true.
Walk up to the flagpole and you'll see the bottom section is a conventional steel pipe. About two-thirds of the way up, another piece is joined to this steel pole. Is this top section part of the Wanderer's mast? Well, not anymore. According to the Mattapoisett Yacht Club,
...Ship Yard Park is the site of Jonathan Holmes’s shipyard, where in 1878, the last whaler of Mattapoisett, the Wanderer, was built. The flagpole in the park originally was the mizzen mast from that ship. However, lightning strikes and hurricanes took their toll, and the pole was replaced in 1993.
So what became of the old mast-cum-flagpole after it was removed from Shipyard Park? It is reported to have been donated to the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum in November, 2012. (Who had it in the intervening 19 years!?) A return road-trip beckons.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Morgan afloat

Before launch (photo: Claire Whitehouse)
Earlier today the world's last surviving wooden whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, was re-floated at Mystic Seaport, right on schedule. Read the report in the New York Times, and look back at the fascinating daily details of the restoration in the "Shipwright's Blog." (Marvel at the dedication of the volunteers, and moreover, the skills and techniques of the artisans.)

Restoration of the ship's framing and planking began in 2008. At this point, the new masts and rigging have yet to be installed, but today's launch marks a significant milestone.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Symphony (and Cantata)

photo: Vancouver 125
As a film (and film score) buff, I eagerly followed up on Lemuel's discovery that Bernard Herrmann had written a Moby Dick cantata and sinfonietta.

For those less obsessed, Bernard Herrmann composed for some of the greatest films of the 20th century (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Taxi Driver, ...), finding particular success writing for Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, ...).

Herrmann wrote two pieces inspired by M-D. The Sinfonietta, written for string orchestra in 1935-36, and the Cantata, written for male voices and orchestra in 1936-38. You can hear snippets of a CD by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra on this Amazon page. According to the liner notes:
The fondness which the composer held for Melville's Moby Dick [sic] dated from his boyhood. The novel was a childhood favourite and as a young man Herrmann's father had served on two whaling ships and was even shipwrecked on an island in the Bering Sea in 1892.
Apparently, Herrmann originally intended to write a M-D opera, and had discussed it with lyricist William Clark Harrington. Harrington was "a New England poet and manager of the CBS music library." Together they took trips to the novel's Massachusetts locations, searching for inspiration. In the end, the opera became the cantata, with "text selected and arranged from the novel" by Harrington. Interestingly, the canata is dedicated to Herrmann's friend, Charles Ives.

If you have any interest in M-D spin-offs and/or orchestral music, seek out this recording. It bears close listening. The Sinfonietta is the culmination of Herrmann's interest in Arnold Schoenberg (say the liner notes). The Cantata condenses the novel to 45 minutes, featuring solos by Ishmael, Ahab, Pip, Starbuck, and various generic "sailors."

One curiosity: You can hear in the Amazon clip for track 10, Ahab sings "...and hemp can only kill me." M-D devotees will realize this is a misquote of "...and hemp only can kill me." The libretto with the CD has the same error.

Now, the singer for this recording is British, a native English-speaker, David Wilson-Johnson. One might assume he would have recognized that "can only kill" doesn't make sense in this context. Either there was an error preparing the CD, or Herrmann & Harrington made the error. I'd bet the former. It's a question for the Bernard Herrmann Society. (Yes, there is one!)

[Whoa! I completely forgot that I blogged about this music back in 2011. Time to listen to Old & In The Way.]

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Halfway to MDM18

At midnight tonight we'll be midway between MDMs—halfway to the next Moby-Dick Marathon, MDM18. (That is, if we assume MDM18 will follow the museum's recent pattern of launching the Marathon on the first weekend after New Year's Day.)

Clear the decks and mark your calendar.

Heed the advice of this post—take Monday (1/6/14) off, and book a room for the night of the close of the Marathon (1/5/14).  New Bedford and neighboring Fairhaven have a number of hotels and B&Bs. The fine Fairfield Inn & Suites is a three-block walk from the Whaling Museum. You'll spot some luminaries of Melville studies at breakfast there.

Lemuel and I will keep an eye on the Whaling Museum's website for definitive schedule info.

Update, 10/2/13 — The Whaling Museum's site confirms that MDM18 will be held on Jan. 3-5, 2014.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Road Trip: Bloomsday in Worcester

If you love a good literary marathon, consider trekking to Worcester, MA any June 16 for the Bloomsday "ramble," reading selections from James Joyce's Ulysses. The Worcester County Poetry Association has held more Bloomsday events than the Whaling Museum has held MDMs.

Not plump, but plenty stately.
After last year's visit, I had to return for yesterday's doings. This time I mustered my fortitude to make the 8 A.M. kick-off at Bancroft Tower, which stands in for the Martello tower of chapter 1. Then I followed the ramble to its following six locations until Stephen and Leopold had relieved themselves, and Leopold's budget for the day was itemized.

This is a modest event compared to the MDM, with a DIY feel; our group never exceeded twenty. This means that you chat with everyone, and everyone reads (repeatedly).

As at the MDM, a return visit to Ulysses reveals fresh details and connections. It's nice to be reminded why this, for me, is an essential book—insightful, ingenious, moving, and... charming.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Beckett's 107th

Samuel Beckett, born on this day, in 1906.

Beckett grew up about three miles from the Irish Sea. An inveterate rambler, he often visited the shore or viewed the sea from the inland mountains. Images of strand, sea, and skiffs appear throughout his work.

This excerpt from The Calmative (1946) has a bit of the flavor of Ishmael's musings in Chapter 1:
I went right across the city and came to the sea, having followed the river to its mouth. I kept saying, I'll go back, unbelieving. The boats at anchor in the harbor, tied up to the jetty, seemed no less numerous than usual, as if I knew anything about what was usual. But the quays were deserted and there was no sign or stir of arrival or departure. But all might change from one moment to the next and be transformed like magic before my eyes. Then all the bustle of the people and things of the sea, the masts of the big craft gravely rocking and of the small more jauntily, I insist, and I'd hear the gulls' terrible cry and perhaps the sailors' cry. And I might slip unnoticed aboard a freighter outward bound and get far away and spend far away a few good months, perhaps even a year or two, in the sun, in peace, before I died.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Road-Trip: Frederick Douglass Read-A-Thon

The 13th Annual Frederick Douglass Read-A-Thon was held as (re-)scheduled this past Sunday. In contrast to last year's event, we weren't graced with the presence of Miss New Bedford or Barney Frank. We did, however, hear excellent readings from two young men—one barely taller than the podium. (That's the kind of thing that renews one's faith in the future.) Also reading were two MDM regulars: Michael Dyer (Maritime Curator of the Whaling Museum) and Jennifer Nersesian (in her National Historical Park uniform).

The New Bedford Quakers were early proponents of abolitionism, organizing their anti-slavery society in 1834. Frederick Douglass and his wife settled in New Bedford after his escape from slavery in 1838.

The local paper, The Standard-Times, covered the event.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Douglass Read-A-Thon POSTPONED

The Frederick Douglass Read-A-Thon, scheduled for tomorrow (2/10/13), has been postponed to Sunday, March 3.

Same time (2-6 P.M.), same location (Friends Meeting House, 83 Spring St., New Bedford).

Apologies for the last-minute notice.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

...proceed to put on lasting record

photo: happykatie
The Moby-Dick Big Read has concluded. After posting a chapter each day since September, all 136 chapters are now available for free download as MP3 files. The complete reading will take about 2.5 GB on your iPod. Grab them now — there's no telling how long they'll be up.

The readings range from adequate (Does a life at sea really reduce one's voice to a Tom Waits growl? Ahab impersonators seem to think so.) to entertaining to incantatory.

Readers include M-D-related authors (Nathaniel Philbrick, Andrew Delbanco), Masterpiece-Theatre-caliber actors (Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch), and the odd UK Prime Minister.

Apparently, many of the readers are well-known in the UK. This blog by M-D virgin and reader-with-lovely-accent, Eva Stalker, gives the credentials of most of them.

If you listen to just one...

One reading stood out for me, for its inspired match of reader and text. Chapter 105, Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish? — Will He Perish?, is read by veteran natural-history documentarian David Attenborough. His voice and delivery are immediately recognizable, and make our time-honored text as fresh as this week's installment of Nature.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MDM17 "post-mortemising" - Part 1

This year's Moby-Dick Marathon (MDM17, Jan. 4-6) was a close duplicate of last year's MDM. The crowd seemed slightly smaller than the record-breaker of 2012; the readers, on average, seemed a bit less eloquent. It was great to see my Marathon pals again, but  my blog-mates were no-shows and several "regulars" were mysteriously absent. (Also, the photo-ops are becoming boringly predictable.)

As always, the weekend's events ran like clockwork. Thanks go to the museum's Science Director, Robert Rocha, the rest of the museum staff, and the dedicated volunteers.

If you have a "bucket-list," the MDM should be on it.

I drove to New Bedford with Dutch MDM veterans, Tjitske and Tonnie. Following tradition, we hastily checked-in at our hotel and toddled off to what Lemuel calls "the Marathoner's Rest" to toast our happy return to The Whaling City. All agreed, it felt great to be back.

Matt Kish at the podium
MDM17 kicked-off Friday evening with a talk by graphic artist and librarian, Matt Kish. He described his artistic odyssey, creating a drawing-a-day for every page in his Signet Classic edition of M-D; 552 pages, 552 pieces of original art.

As he worked, he didn't count the pages; he didn't look ahead. (He didn't quit his day job!) He conceived and executed one drawing every day for over a year and a half. (Like the MDM itself, there's an element of performance art here.)

What started as a personal goal became a blog. Then the blog became a splendidly realized book.

He described the process as "months of obsessive misery." So he's obsessive (appropriate to his subject). He's also very articulate, open, and... modest.

Matt's emotional, non-academic interaction with M-D was refreshing. It dawned on me that M-D is a rich and multi-faceted book that accommodates any number of approaches. "In my father's house there are many mansions" comes to mind.

Saturday morning brought the third annual "Stump the Scholars." This year's teams were the Clams — Wyn Kelley (M.I.T), Matt Kish ("I'm not a scholar!"), Robert Wallace (Univ. of Kentucky) vs the Cods — Jennifer Baker (NYU), Tim Marr (Univ. of North Carolina), Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (Univ. of Connecticut). Before the questions started, Wyn Kelley announced that Peter Whittemore (Melville's great-great grandson) would not be attending this year's MDM. [All the best to you, Peter. You were missed.]

The contest was again entertainingly moderated by the museum's Maritime Curator, Michael Dyer. This year's crop of questions stimulated a lot of discussion, even among audience members; e.g. Moby Dick is male, so why is the cry always "there she blows?" No one had a conclusive answer.

In a break with tradition, "Stump" did not end in a tie! ...but I don't remember which team won.

Then it was into the museum proper to begin the reading. This year, the museum asked for a $5 donation for an MDM button. This was certainly understandable in light of the withdrawal of a grant from the Dept. of Education. There were (reasonable) charges for food and drink, too, which is fair enough, but I really missed seeing the ministering angels of the chowder line of years past.

A small but significant improvement greeted us in the Lagoda Room. As last year, Extracts were read by some of the Scholars, but this year they were read at the microphone. The MDM never stops evolving!

At noon, Museum President James Russell called for "eight bells," and we were off.

Lemuel terms these opening hours of the MDM "The Pageant," and they can be a little tedious. The text is often comic, the celebrity readers can be uninspired, and the green hands in the audience insist on applauding after every reader (breaking the flow, grumble, grumble...).

Still, it's a beautiful setting on a sunny winter afternoon; great people-watching — students and old duffers, couples and young families; perched on the model ship and ranging along the upper balcony, silently bent over some book.

Jennifer Nersesian of the NBWNHP
As Chapter 7 approached, marathoners in the know nervously crowded the side door so as to be at the head of the line for the Seamen's Bethel. Inside the Bethel (standing-room only) the first reader was Jennifer Nersesian, the Superintendent of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park. She reads each year in her Park uniform, and is always outstanding.

To be continued...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Douglass Read-a-Thon, Feb. 10

Although it's not yet on the website of the New Bedford Historical Society, the 13th Annual Frederick Douglass Community Read-a-Thon will be held on Sunday, February 10 from 2-6 PM at the Friends Meeting House (83 Spring St., New Bedford). It is organized by Melville biographer, and poet, Laurie Robertson-Lorant.

This is a great event. (See this post from last year.) Make an effort to attend.

Friday, January 18, 2013

M-D Marathon in Liverpool

Still trying to find the time/fortitude to post a summary of MDM17, this just in:

Moby-Dick on the Mersey

May 4-6, 2013
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Liverpool, England
The event website says this will be the "first ever Moby Dick [sic] marathon reading," with a reader for each chapter. [Here's hoping they get a good one for The Town-Ho's Story!]

There's a bit on Melville's Liverpool connection in this post.

[Hat-tip to Wyn Kelley]

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MDM17 from Matt Kish's POV

Matt Kish and his wife
If you heard artist Matt Kish speak at MDM17, you'll want to read his thoughts on his first Moby-Dick Marathon.

Matt's blog-turned-book of M-D art, One Drawing for Every Page of Moby-Dick, has been in our blogroll since his project's early days. It was a pleasure to hear the full story of what has become his brilliant career. Matt writes that he'll be back for the next MDM. Let's hope.

Monday, January 7, 2013

MDM17 Wraps

Unwinding and unpacking after the 2013 Moby-Dick Marathon (MDM17). It was a great event (again), executed with apparent ease (again) by the dedicated staff and volunteers of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

This was a year of change. Graphic artist Matt Kish was the Friday night speaker, rather than the customary Melville scholar. Ray Veary, who for years opened Chapter 1 in watch cap and pea coat, was replaced by retired congressman Barney Frank. Sidebar "chats" were expanded to include Matt Kish and fellow artist, painter Jason Hancock. The MDM buttons and the food/drink, provided free to marathoners in the past, now cost money(!).

Also, the Celtic Coffee House, across the street from the museum, got a beer and wine license. How conveeeenient!

Blog-mates Lemuel and Ynot did not attend this year, so I was stretched pretty thin trying to cover the weekend. Result: more Tweets, fewer photos, no sleep. Pleasures were found less in the text and trying to follow intellectual discussion, and more in simply seeing old friends once again.

A full brain-dump will come over the next few weeks. Long live the Moby-Dick Marathon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Crack fellows all #4

...crack fellows all, and capital from boot-heels to hat-band.
                                                                                       - Chapter 101

 Tjitske and Tonnie at MDM16

Tjitske and Tonnie first ventured to New Bedford in 2011 for MDM15. Tonnie had read a recent, improved Dutch translation of M-D, then somehow heard about the Marathon. They came from their home in The Netherlands to celebrate his 50th birthday. Tjitske took the podium to read from The Whiteness of the Whale in her native tongue. (Listen to a clip.)

2011 was the year of the great snows in Massachusetts. The couple was "vacationing" in Boston while the city was paralyzed by repeated blizzards, but they took it in stride. Tonnie, a literature fan, wanted to visit Kerouac's grave in Lawrence. We drove to the cemetery, but could not find the flat marker under two feet of fresh snow!

They returned for MDM16, where Tjitske read again in Dutch; and they will be back for MDM17! Tjitske is assigned a 10:10 A.M. time slot (Sunday, Jan. 6) to read (in  Dutch, of course). That will be 4:10 P.M. in the Netherlands, so their friends can watch her on the live webcast.

Tonnie finds parallels between Ahab and General Custer. (There's a topic for a beer-fueled discussion!) Tjitske notes that "speksynder" of Chapter XXXIII is a corruption of the Dutch "spek snijder" ("fat cutter" or "blubber cutter," as explained in M-D). Somehow the original snijder (pronounced "snyder") became "synder." Whale in Dutch is walvis; blubber is walvisspek.

Respect is due: the Dutch ruled the oceans for generations. They were hunting whales around Greenland as early as 1586, according to Ashley's The Yankee Whaler, and it wasn't until the late 1700s that their whale fishery was "on the wane" (Ashley, p.26).

Look for Tjitske and Tonnie at MDM17, and say hi.