Tag Archives: Melville

Moby Dick, or, the card game


This week my family has been playing “Moby Dick, or, the card game” almost daily at the University of California at Berkeley’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. This game was a Kickstarter project by King Post that I invested in last year. I gave it to my son-in-law Matthew, who loves games of all kinds. “Moby Dick” is great fun – we plan to buy more copies! The card graphics are interesting and well-executed. The game play is fast and dependent on both luck and strategy. An added benefit is that the classic 1851 whaling story Moby Dick by Herman Melville is one of my favorite novels.

Matthew, Jessica, Paul and I made some rule changes to improve play:

  • You cannot progress past the first chapter until a whale has been fought (this allows players to get some oil – so that more sailors can be hired).
  • Any time there is an uneven number to be distributed, we roll a die to see which player got more.
  • We designated any sailor without a specific name as a forecastle sailor.

Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Moby Dick and Shakespeare in Kickstarter


Kickstarter just closed funding for a big successful project on the classic 1851 whaling novel Moby Dick by Herman Melville. “Moby Dick, or the card game” was backed for $102,730 (410% of the amount requested!). The whaling card game is one of ten Moby Dick theme Kickstarter projects listed, five of which were funded (four over-funded) and five of which did not meet their funding target. 50% success is a good since an estimated 75% of startups fail. Overall, Kickstarter has had 100,600 projects, of which 44% were funded (as of 30 May 2013).  In comparison, there have been 128 Kickstarter crowd-funded projects with a William Shakespeare theme, 43 of which were unfunded and three of which are still in process – at least a 66% success rate.  Literature is good business!

The Kickstarter projects with a Moby Dick theme since 2010:

  • Moby Dick, or, The Card Game by King Post
  • Jeff Finlin – “Moby Dick”
  • Emoji Dick by Fred Benenson
  • The Moby-Dick Variations: Theatre of Multiplicity by John Zibell
  • Sea Monster: a 3-D stereoscopic web series exploring new film grammar. by Gray Miller
  • A Beautiful Annotated Edition of Moby-Dick by Chris Routledge (not funded)
  • Project 40/Moby Dick by Benny Lumpkins (not funded)
  • HOLLYWOOD FRINGE FESTIVAL: ISHMAEAL by Benny Lumpkins (not funded)
  • Call Me Ishmael: One song for every chapter of Moby-Dick!!! by Patrick Shea (not funded)
  • Zomby Dick or, The Undead Whale by JD Livingstone (not funded)

When I was studying English at the University of California at Berkeley, seniors could follow one of four teaching paths: Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, or a great author chosen for that year. Melville was the author for my year. I wrote my honors thesis (“Goneril as a Complete and Motivated Character in King Lear”) on Shakespeare under Dr. Hugh Richmond but I was so tempted to study Melville. Of course, I am one of the 2,583 Kickstarter funders for “Moby Dick, or the card game”. I look forward to receiving my game copies, postcards, and the other goodies in a few months.


Images Copyright 2013 by Katy Dickinson
Links updated 3 April 2014

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Black Friday, Lady Gaga, Moby Dick

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We hosted a full house for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, including my parents, and brother Pete and his two kids, Lynda and Daniel, visiting from Southern California. The food and company were wonderful.  Pete and kids stayed over and we all got up early for Black Friday shopping, to make our contribution to the economy. At 9 am this morning, the Oakridge Mall in San Jose was filling up but the Apple Store was packed because of their 1-day sale.  John and Pete and I bought:

  • 1 Apple iPad, for Pete
  • 1 Apple wireless hub and some USB cables, for John and me
  • 6 books: Alanna, In the Hand of the Goddess and Beka Cooper – Terrier by Tamora Pierce, and Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix, for Lynda
  • 1 Giants t-shirt, for my Giving Tree boy
  • 2 Giants magnets, one small for Lynda’s school locker and one large, for Pete’s car
  • 3 posters: “Star Wars” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” for Daniel, and “Lady Gaga” for a friend who is a fan
  • 1 Moby Dick book cover art tshirt, for me (I first saw it in the Signals catalog but it is made by a delightful company called Out of Print which “celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion”)
  • 1 squishy rubber alien toy, for Daniel
  • 1 package of colored wrist rubber bands, for Lynda

Then, we went home and ate leftovers.


Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

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Listening to Moby Dick


One of my favorite books is Moby Dick or The Whale by Herman Melville (1851). I have been enjoying listening to this classic novel on my iPhone while driving to work. (My Smart Car has an iPhone holder and charger which connects into the speakers, so the sound is very good.) I have noticed that a number of the chapter titles are mis-typed in the Recorded Books, LLC version. Some of the peculiar errors include:

  • Chapter 10 – “A Bossom Friend” (for “A Bosom Friend”)
  • Chapter 31 – “Queen Ma’am” (for “Queen Mab”)
  • Chapter 46 – “Sumrises” (for “Surmises”)
  • Chapter 100 – “Leg And Arm” (for “The Pequod meets the Samuel Enderby of London”)

One problem with listening to an audio book while driving is that sometimes the recording will jump around from chapter to chapter. Earlier this week, it lept 30 chapters ahead and there was no safe way to reset it without being distracted from driving through heavy traffic. I don’t know whether it is the iPhone application or the recording itself which is causing this problem.

I am a fan of Peet’s Coffee but seeing a Starbucks sign always reminds me that the coffee chain was named after the first mate of the whaling ship Pequod in Moby Dick.

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Images Copyright 2010 by Katy Dickinson

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Interviewing for College at Starbuck’s

My daughter Jessica is now in the last half of her Senior year in High School.  All of nine college applications are in. She just finished her final vocal audition last week and recently participated in two of the final three alumni interviews. She is still trying to arrange a time for that last interview.

Except for those at the university admissions offices, I think all of Jessica’s interviews have been held at Starbuck’s coffee shops. A friend of ours who does alumni interviews for his alma mater says that Starbuck’s is sufficiently public that both the interviewer and candidate feel safe; also, there are lots of Starbuck’s shops around and they are usually easy to find. (I am currently re-reading Moby Dick in which the moral but pliable first mate is named Starbuck. The coffee shop chain is named for him.)

We are still getting letters from schools saying they are missing information already sent. For one school, she sent in her musical profile three times before they acknowledged getting it. I suspect that some schools are not as organized as they require their applicants to be.

We will be happy to be done with waiting to hear back. All of the schools are supposed to give Jessica their acceptance or denial letters by 1 April. One interviewer told her they would say by 15 March. Another school asked her to apply for a binding early admission (she declined). A third college had a professor write her a personal letter about his new program. I think all of this communication means that at least some of Jessica’s applications are well regarded. But I would still like to know for sure. I hate waiting.

We are sending in our 10th week summer Blue Camp Bear’s Lair reservations without knowing whether Jessica will be able to go or if we will have to cut our camping short to move her into a dorm.

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On Getting Paid, and Novels

One of my favorite books for good writing and good story telling both is Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick. Here is Ishmael in Chapter I on getting paid:

    Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But being paid, — what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!

I find that most of my favorite books are novels even though the novel as a literary form was not always well thought of in 1851 when Moby Dick was published. Here is Jane Austen, another of my favorite authors, writing with her usual grace on that subject:

    Northanger Abbey, 1818The progress of the friendship between Catherine and Isabella was quick as its beginning had been warm; and they passed so rapidly through every gradation of increasing tenderness, that there was shortly no fresh proof of it to be given to their friends or themselves. They called each other by their Christian name, were always arm-in-arm when they walked, pinned up each other’s train for the dance, and were not to be divided in the set; and, if a rainy morning deprived them of other enjoyments, they were still resolute in meeting in defiance of wet and dirt, and shut themselves up to read novels together. Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom, so common with novel writers, of degrading, by their contemptuous censure, the very performances to the number of which they are themselves adding: joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel cannot be patronised by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard?

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Naval Books Worth a Second Read

I am in a re-reading cycle just now, following a
naval adventures theme. What I have read so far:

  • The
    Honor Harrington
    series by
    David Weber:

    • On Basilisk Station
    • The Honor of the Queen

    • The Short, Victorious War*
    • Field of Dishonor
    • Flag in Exile

    * The title comes from two epigraphs which almost feel drawn from
    events of today:

    • Vyacheslav von Plehve in reference to the 1904 Russo-Japanese War:

      “What this country needs is a short, victorious war to stem the tide of revolution.”

    • Robert Wilson Lynd:

      “The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.”

  • Tom Clancy
    ‘s The Hunt for Red October

Next on my re-read list is
Herman Melville
‘s Moby Dick, and then
Richard Henry Dana‘s
Two Years Before the Mast.
My favorite part of Dana’s story is the last chapter in which he visits
San Francisco Bay. The description of the Bay Area taken from his diary
in the late 1830’s (before the Gold Rush) is fascinating.

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