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|
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.
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.
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|
To be continued...