This is a reading of the classic American novel Moby-Dick, as interpreted by Jack Pendarvis. To embark at the beginning, please click here.
I was just going to remark that, uhhh…
So, in a previous [pulling of lids from tin cans of cat food] segment of our project… I… I mistakenly compared Stubb… when Stubb and Captain Ahab had their little… argument… I… compared Stubb to Danny DeVito. A big error on my part, as we had assigned the Danny DeVito-like qualities to Flask! Short and… [tin can sounds] bilious! As he is.
If you will recall, we had decided [clinking]… it was voted on and passed by unanimous decision [scraping sounds]… that Stubb was more like Popeye the Sailorman.
[Clink! Clink! Unidentified, vaguely metallic grinding sound. Clank! Grinding sound.]
So I highly regret [clink!] the expressive and giddy [sound of metal utensil in empty tin can]… very compelling and, uh, aesthetically pleasing way… the full-throated and… delightful [thump!] comparison… [bird calling outside; plate clattering inside; bird; footsteps].
Where’d you go, Doc?
Where’d you go?
[Clink. A grunt. A bird. Footsteps. Bird.]
I regret… how… uhm… enthusiastically I dis… I attributed Danny DeVito-like qualities to… Stubb. Having forgotten… so… [bird] mesmerized was I by the image that came to my mind of Stubb popping up from below decks.
Uhhh… like Danny DeVito in Batman Returns.
Come on, Pan.
There you go.
[Long pause. Clinking. Small cough.]
I’m sorry, muhhhhm, I’m trying to feed the cats, so I’m not really… up on…
Doc! Come over here. Get over here. Go on!
You know, let me… let me state it… let me sit down for a moment and [short throat clearing] try to state it with… cheerful simplicity.
When we met… [short throat clearing] Stubb, Starbuck, and Flask, I compared Stubb to Popeye the Sailorman, very rightly and correctly. And likewise, with similar… exactitude, settled upon the… [bird calling outside] spirit and visage… of Danny DeVito as the proper embodiment of all the qualities… [bird calling]… which [short laugh], collected… I’m really—do I know what simplicity is?
Look. I said that Stubb was like Popeye the Sailorman and I was right. Then I said Flask was like a relatively young Danny DeVito. Once again, I was absolutely correct. However, when I described the scene in which Ahab and… Stubb have a little tiff, I forgot! And I switched it up, and I said that Stubb was like Danny DeVito, and I, in fact, wove a… quite a… if memory serves [stifled laugh], and I doubt that it does…
[Bird calling outside.]
Yarn I spun, all firmly… centered on the erroneous notion that Stubb equals Danny DeVito.
Stubb is Popeye the Sailorman.
Now, it might be said with some amount of… [bird calling] validity that Popeye the Sailorman and Danny DeVito have some qualities in common!
How you doin’ there, Big Boy?
I guess everybody’s…
Oh, there you go, Doc. Good job. You can keep goin’! Oh, all right. You two are doin’ all right. I don’t know what happened—okay. Don’t… what do you think you’re doin’, Mr. Smart Guy?
That’s not another cat. I’m just calling one of the cats, whose identity has already been established, “Mr. Smart Guy.”
[Sigh. Footsteps. Clunk.]
So. Chapter Thirty-One.
Popeye the Sailorman…
Is like, “Oh, man, Danny DeVito, listen! I had the craziest… dream. You’re not going to believe this, but it is super phallic.”
“Okay, get this. Uhm… Ahab kicks me! You know. With his false leg. Get it? Mmmnnnh! You know what I’m talkin’ about. Then I kick him back until my leg flies off, if you know what I mean. And then an old, ugly merman pops up, and you know what that’s all about. [Short laugh.] Everything in this dream was phallic, I’m tellin’ you! I started to kick somethin’ else and, uh, it had a buncha… I started to try to kick the merman and he had a buncha spikes coming out of his ass. And you know what that’s all about. Yes. Every single thing I dreamed about was a penis, all right?”
End of Chapter Thirty-One.
That’s not the end of Chapter Thirty-One.
The end of Chapter Thirty-One is, uh…
God, I hope it’s not time for my meeting already.
“What were you do—”
“I was just, uh…”
“Why were you late?”
“Well, I was describ—I was… inaccurately summarizing Moby-Dick into a digital recorder.”
“Oh, in that case, carry on.”
[Scraping, clinking, and thumping.]
Chapter Thirty-One: Popeye’s Dream.
Hey, you know what else? I can’t even believe it! Because when I was describing that other chapter, I ended it with how… uh… [long pause] Stubb is muttering to himself in a… in an entertaining manner. “Mutters his way into our hearts,” I’m—I believe I said. And, ehhhmmm, what better description of the animated version of Popeye, in its original conception?
[Sigh.] That was my reaction to almost dropping a can of cat food. I shouted the name of our Lord and Savior.
Well, this was not the most successful… uh… feeding.
[Pause. Throat clearing.]
This was an incredibly short chapter, but through my digressions and… I’ve managed to wreck every… semblance of balance. Wait. So…
Oh, yes. So.
Danny DeVito is not impressed.
“Well, all I learned—I’ll tell you what I got out of my dream!” says Popeye. “Don’t talk—don’t even—just stay away from Ahab. That’s probably the best… thing to do.”
Jack Pendarvis is a writer who lives in Oxford, Mississippi. In this weekly transcription, we join him as he reads Moby-Dick. Please read along here, if you like (highly recommended).