Call me Ishmael

A while back, I posted some thoughts under the title “No subject is terrible if the story is true and if the prose is clean and honest.” Every day someone visits that post, no doubt looking for information about Hemingway, of which they find none.  😦

Just for fun, I thought I’d try another famous sentence, to see whether the same thing would happen again. I was going to use “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” but in the event, I forgot to.

Herewith, everything that I know about whales:

Moby Dick, the movie with Gregory Peck, didn’t do much for me.

I tried for years to read the book. No luck. Bought one copy at a cigar store across from the Wakefield B&M station. Never opened it. Finally listened to the book on tape, read by Richard Ferrone, I think. He does, or did, lots of crime novels and his readings feature a voice dark and minor in key. Whether it was him, or the prose, or both, I came away from Moby Dick with the strong impression that Melville was nuts when he wrote it.

I know a guy in Provincetown who has spent his life and made his living studying right whales, which swim back and forth past Cape Cod.

I know nothing of the private lives of whales. Do they mate for life? Do the husbands fool around? Can a whale get high? Do the dads show up late for their kids’ competitions and other events?

I’ve seen a fluke or two, out from Maui. Maybe some gray whales off the California coast. I can’t remember whether I’ve seen a beached whale carcass or not. There’s one that looks huge in “Maga Shark Vs Giant Octopus” and if you watch the gag reel at the end, you’re shown the camera trick that made a little whale toy look that big. (Note to self: still need to see “Mega Shark Vs Crocosaurus,” “Sharktopus,” and “Dinoshark.”

What about the Japanese? Are they still killing a lot of whales?

Whales do a lot of vocalizing. They can hear well. Sound can travel underwater for incredibly long distances. Unfortunately for whales, the sea has become rackety with the thump of freighter screws and the ping of sonar and the grumble of oil drills. At least the first whalers used sails.

Whales for millions of years had to contend only with the sewage of fish and other whales. Now they’ve got to deal with ours too, and there are a lot more of us than there are of them.

Back in the day, there was a life-sized model of a blue whale at the Smithsonian. Or was it just a skeleton? Either way, I haven’t been back in years, so I don’t know if it’s still there or not.

Not a lot of whale characters in cartoons? Not a lot of whale stuffed animals? Is there a human/whale sympathy gap? Are female whales ever depicted wearing lipstick, like Minne Mouse?

Describe, discuss, compare, and contrast Jonah’s “big fish,” Job’s sea-monster leviathan, Pinocchio’s Monstro, and Milton’s Satan/whale, which “prone on the flood, extending long and large / Lay floating many a rood.”