This post celebrates the birthday of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, who was born on 1 August 1819. When he wrote his book, in 1851, whales were an important commodity, for example for fuelling lamps (an astonishing 300,000 whales were caught between 1835 and 1872 alone). While I am against whaling, there is a fascinating book-historical dynamic to this 19th-century tradition: the captains of whaling vessels kept detailed logbooks, the pages of which are sometimes decorated with charming images. They are doodles, really, entertaining rather than functional. The sample above, taken from digital material made available by the Providence Public Library, shows a pod of inky whales swimming across the page of a daily log (top), a tiny bottle illustrating a post on the consumption of alcohol on board (middle), and a row of whales next to the catch of different vessels (bottom). The images present a peculiar contrast between artistic charm and the bloody events that sparked their creation.
Want to know more about these great little books? Here are some digitized items which you can help to transcribe; here are a whole lot of digitized microfilms of whaling logbooks. Here are PDFs of the famous Nicholson collection of logbooks.
One of my most favorite things in the entire universe is Big Finish's Doctor Who audios. Fifteen years ago this month, they released their first Doctor Who play, and now they're celebrating with a daily deal for each year they've been in business. Today's deal (Day 2; good until Friday at 7pm BST, at which point a new sale for Day 3 begins) includes six £/$1 downloads, which means that for one pound/dollar each, you can have two hours of quality Doctor Who goodness. I want to draw attention to three of these stories, because they're among my favorite Doctor Who stories in any medium, and they can all work as introductory stories for those new to Big Finish.
- Jubilee by Rob Shearman - Russel T Davies asked Shearman to adapt Jubilee into the Ninth Doctor episode Dalek. While it’s easy to identify the TV story’s roots in the audio, Jubilee is also a much darker, much funnier, and more fulfilling story (and I say this as someone who easily counts Dalek as among her top New Who episodes).
- Spare Parts by Marc Platt - Spare Parts was the inspiration for the Series 2 Cyberman 2-parter, Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel (if you watch the credits, you’ll see Platt’s name). Spare Parts, however, is a very different story, one RTD considers “some of the finest drama ever written for any genre, in any medium, anywhere.”
- The Holy Terror by Rob Shearman - Oscillating between farcical and supremely creepy, this is Steven Moffat’s favorite Sixth Doctor story. (Moffat’s favorite Eighth Doctor story, The Chimes of Midnight, was also written by Rob Shearman. Basically, Sherman writes fantastic stuff.)
For a full list of today’s deals, check out Big Finish’s Day 2 news item here, and check back for new deals every day.
Even if you don’t have the money to spend on any audios right now, you can still experience Big Finish through the offerings on their SoundCloud page, one of the free downloadable features previously published with Doctor Who Magazine, or their podcasts, which include interviews, behind the scenes peeks, and occasionally even a free “taster” episode.
And if you’re mostly just disappointed that this post has no gifs, check out the series of posts I did last year about people who have worked both with Big Finish and on the new series of Doctor Who, originally done in honor of the announcement of Big Finish’s 50th Anniversary audio special, The Light at the End :D
This is good stuff. Perfect for listening to while drawing.
I needed a headshot, today, so I redrew this sketch from a couple weeks ago.