Monday, October 25, 2010

Nike: The Wind Seeker

(Greek:  2nd centruy BC, marble, Louvre, Paris)

Ok, reader peeps, this week we are going to diverge a little from our normal routine here at "The Merry Scribe."

That means we are going to cut the comedy.

Now before you throw your laptop out the nearest window, please allow Dr. Merry to prescribe some necessary medicine for you.

As we all know, there is more to life than just the funny stuff.

Dang it!

Can I be honest here?

If the powers that be had appointed me CEO over this planet, there would be nothing but funny stuff.

And that's exactly why I am not the CEO over anything - including the lint in my dryer.

The lint let's me think I'm it's daily slayer.

But both of us know the disgusting truth.

Besides, I'm doing this for your own good.

It is not right that people should laugh all the time.

Sometimes we must refine ourselves - ouch! - and actually learn something.

I promise - it will only hurt for a little while.

Before you know it, your artsy-fartsy boo-boo will be all better.

And your funny bone will be back in business before you can say "Bob Heiney."

So................without further adieu please allow me to inaugurate Docent Day here at "The Merry Scribe."

And just in case you are wondering - it wasn't that many years ago that I was wondering - a docent is an art educator.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  

The Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike) is my favorite sculpture of all time.


Well, for starters, she exudes feminine power.

Her body is well built and strong.

I love the fact that she no longer possesses her head.

Maybe she would be deemed beautiful if she had one.

Or maybe not.

In any case, the point is moot.

Because she is headless, we are never distracted by the potential beauty of her face.

Instead, we are drawn to the power of a woman nearly in flight.

She is armless.

No matter.

We are now free to concentrate on the strength of her steadfast legs.

Nike's flat chest does not draw attention.

And here is the real shocker:

She is clothed.

Her gowned body has not been objectified by today's in-your-face nudity.

This frees the viewer to contemplate Nike's actions - not her sexual possibilities.

Her robes flutter in the wind.

Indeed, they trail behind her as the air lifts them in the breeze.

Nike's magnificent wings are bent inward in the act of flight.

Her body is thrust forward directly into the wind.

What adventure is she running toward?

She appears fearless as she moves through the air.

There is a spirit of reckless abandon about her.

Whatever task awaits her, she is surely ready and willing to accept it.

Everything about this sculpture portrays the beauty of a woman in dedicated movement.

Nike resides at the head of the Grand Staircase II in the Louvre.

She stands alone.

In reality, who or what could compete with her?

She is surrounded by prominent stairways, massive stone arches and beautiful leaded ceiling windows.

This is, indeed, a fitting backdrop for such commanding art.

I adore this woman of ancient days.

Timeless, she steps purposefully into the world, modeling power and strength for her sisters as they pursue their own sacred dreams.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


(Dante & Virgil; Hippolyte Flandrin; 1835; Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, France)

Later that evening, Bob drifts off to a deep sleep punctuated with visions of seagulls shooting bullets of something - he's isn't sure what.

Soon, he sees Dante and Virgil coming toward him in the distance.

As they make their approach, Bob squints and says, "What took you guys so long?"

Dante replies, "We got delayed on the Fifth Circle. Virgil wanted to pick up a few things for you in "The Scream" Gift Shop. Welcome to the Ninth, Bob!"

Puzzled at their thoughtfulness, Bob wonders to himself: "Does this mean I am going to have to be nice to people - even in Hell?"

Smiling, Virgil grasps a blood red basket.

He places it in Bob's hands and says, "We want you to enjoy these gifts!"

Bob notices a swirling banner lying elegantly across the ruby hued cellophane.

The glittery words read: "We welcome Hell's newest hottie!"

He peers cautiously into the basket and surveys the contents.

Horrified, he sees a wheel of blue cheese the size of a monster truck tire.

Dante's eyes sparkle as he adds, "We've taken the liberty of enrolling you in the "Blue Cheese of the Month Club, Bob."

A faint grimace crosses Bob's face.

But he is determined to remain cool amidst the Ninth's stiffling heat.

Within seconds Bob's eyes focus nervously on a pre-paid membership packet to the Hades Museum of Art.

Virgil elaborates: "The museum's permanent exhibit is entitled: "Feeling Our Feelings Forever - Art That Never Ends."

The poet continues: "Bob, we know you're dying to see this exhibit. Please remember that you are required to view this fascinating collection three times a week - always and forever."

Virgil adds, " Emotional outbursts are mandatory. Kleenex is provided free of charge on Tuesdays."

Bob's knees begin to wiggle like jelly.

He stares off into Hell's horizon thinking to himself: "What did I do to deserve this?"

Just then Virgil hands Bob a crimson red envelope and commands, "Go ahead, I insist that you open it."

Bob pulls a bright pink brochure ever so slowly from the envelope.

It reads: "Congratulations, Bob! You have just won an annual, three month vacation to the gift shops on the Fifth Circle. You must spend a minimum of $50,000 in each store - weekly. Shop till you drop!"

Virgil winks at Bob and says: "We take that admonition seriously here on the Ninth."

Dante glances at Bob and quickly sizes him up, "You look as white as a ghost, my friend."

"Perhaps we should direct you to Hell's Five Star restaurant: "We Only Do Grilled Chicken Salad."

Dante adds, "This popular salad is priced right at just $175.00 per entree. Croutons are available for an additional $20.00."

Bob drops his head into his hands and whimpers softly.

Virgil tells him, "Oh, I almost forgot. Here is a book of coupons which introduces our newest service:

"Doody Calls."

Virgil cautions Bob, "Those unpredictable seagulls are Class-A dive bombers here on the Ninth."

"They have developed a particular affection for folically-challenged males."

"I wouldn't be surprised if they target your place hourly."

Limp with agony, Bob whispers to his companions, "Thanks, but you really shouldn't have gone to all this trouble just for me."

As they turn to walk away, Virgil explains to Bob, "The gift basket is not something we usually do here."

"But this is a highly unusual circumstance."

Virgil's eyes soften as he touches Bob's arm.

"We checked the Ninth's Resident Roster yesterday. Your neighbor for eternity will be a woman called "Merry."

"Not the most appropriate name for a resident of Hell but we work with what we have."

"Do you happen to know her?"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


(Dante & Virgil in Union Square, Isabel Bishop, 1932, Delaware Museum of Art)

Bob rushes to push open the door to Oslo's National Gallery of Art.

"He seems a little too happy to be leaving this cultural edifice," I muse to myself.

I quickly realize that I need to cut the Bobster some major slack.

So I say to him, "Honey, all we have left to do is walk back to the ship and get onboard!"

Bob glances at me and keeps walking toward the Baltic.

The temperature on the streets of Oslo is close to 326 F - and that's in the shade.

To say that it is HOT is the understatement of all time.

Bob and I are sweating buckets.

I am tired and cranky.

Because I am directionally-challenged, I am confused about our location every time we stop to search the map.

I say to Bob, "Please figure out the quickest way to get back to the ship. My feet are killing me and we don't have much time left before we need to be onboard."

We stop at a street corner for a no-walk light.

My eyes are scanning for taxis.




Because the Oslo taxi drivers are sane, they have left Oslo for work at the Arctic Circle.

Bob is studying the map like crazy.

I'm studying Bob.

I am nearly out of my mind with - for want of a better word - exhaustion.

I can tell that I am within seconds of getting my full gear "crazy" on.

I watch Bob study the map.

He is squatting on the street trying desperately to figure things out.

I decide that the best move on my part will be to kill Bob and hijack a car so I can get back to the ship before it leaves Oslo.

This plan seems utterly rational to me.

Then it happens.

From out of nowhere........


A big green blob of glop lands right in the center of Bob's map!



A second load of the same green stuff drops directly on the back of Bob's hand.

Bob grins up at me and says, "I guess one of these seagulls had to answer nature's call."

Then he actually.......... LAUGHS!

Perhaps I should say that laughing would not have been my first reaction.

I would have rapidly removed my AK47 from my handbag - which I keep handy for just such an emergency - and blown that bag of feathers with the loosey-goosey bowels into the middle of the next universe.

But that's just me.

We immediately realize that we need to get the green doody OFF THE MAP A.S.A.P. because the seagull's aim was dead on.

At this point, I am nearly comatose with exhaustion.

But the Bobster is in his element.

Bob says to me, "Do you have anything to mop up this mess?"

I watch as the green gunk runs down the back of his hand in rivers.

I choke back dry heaves and say to him, "I think so."

I dig into my purse and retrieve several tissues which I hand to him.

Then Bob picks up his precious map and moves it and himself close to the buildings to be out of the way of passersby.

He lays the map on the sidewalk and begins to blot up the bird - how shall I say this? - poop.

If he doesn't act fast, the needed information will disintegrate into doody oblivion.

He knows he must be able to read the very spot that is covered with the remains of the colon explosion.

I look at him and don't know whether to laugh or cry so I do some of both.

Bob is still in amusement mode as he blots away.

My heart goes out to this man who has been so incredibly steady and patient through every crazy thing I've put him through during the past 40 years.

I love him for that and so much more.

That doesn't mean that I've forgotten about killing him.

I need a target to relieve my overwhelming anxiety and he is the obvious choice.

At this point, my feet feel like they're on fire.

Crawling to the ship seems like an enjoyable alternative to walking.

I ask Bob, "How close are we to the ship?"

He answers and points, "It's just over there."

I look.

I see nothing.

I want to kill him.

But that sounds like way too much work.

Instead, I stare at him and shriek, "ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE?"

He says quietly, "Trust me. Trust me."

And so I do.

We drag our bodies through another block of ambulatory torture.

Then, turning the corner, we see the magnificent Star Princess in full view.

The blazing lights of heaven could not have looked more welcoming!

We fall in line with many of our cruise-mates who are making their way back to the ship in time for the afternoon sail-away.

Later that evening, I begin daydreaming about the wonders of Oslo.

Strangely, I can no longer feel my legs and feet.

That's because maximum-strength Advil is my new BFF.

I'm hard core.

I refuse to ingest anything but Advil gelcaps.

I get a faster hit with those sweet puppies.

Frankly, I can't live without the stuff.

(Traipsing all over Europe like a crazy person will do that to you.)

Still, I have to admit that every pain, every incident of misery has been worth it.

I am thrilled to the bone that we finally saw my grandparents' homeland.

I say to Bob, "Wasn't it a wonderful day, honey?"

He smiles at me and says, "Yes, dear."

Monday, October 4, 2010


(Carl Bloch, In a Roman Osteria, 1866, Statens Museum For Kunst, Copenhagen)

Bob and I pass the gallery gift shop on the way to the museum's cafe.

He purposefully looks the other way.

But I crane my neck to the left as far as it will go in order to scan the shop's merchandise as we whizz by.

I can easily see that I am going to have to get away from Bob long enough to buy a boatload of stuff in this artsy store.

But first things first.

I look at Bob hopefully and say, "Honey, are you hungry?"

You would think that I would know better, wouldn't you?

I've probably asked this man that very same question at least 60 gazillion times in the 40 plus years I've known him.

The answer has always been, "No, not really."

And it never matters how long it's been since the last morsel of food has passed his lips - it could be 6 hours, 17 days, or 3 years - Bob is never, ever hungry.


I'm always hungry - even if I just ate three seconds ago.

We walk into the small cafe and I am immediately stunned.

My eyes feast on the magnificent sight before me.

The walls of the cafe are covered top to bottom in emerald green marble.

White Greek columns stand like heavenly sentinels throughout the room.

Bas relief angels drape themselves in all of their beige-y loveliness on the ceiling of the cafe.

Catching my breath I exclaim to Bob, "Who designed this room and can I please live in it forever?"

All of this artistic gorgeousness means only one thing to Bob.


He knows that it took a lot of money to create this room.

And he knows that it is requiring a lot of money to maintain it.

Within 45 minutes a chunk of our money will be donated to the cause.

Our lovely Norwegian server, Ingrid, smiles at us as she approaches our table.

She speaks perfect English.

I waste no time explaining our situation to Ingrid.

"This is going to be our one and only Norwegian meal. We - excuse me - I - would like to eat something that is authentically Norwegian. What do you suggest?"

She quickly replies, "Well, we do have a limited menu. But the herring plate would certainly fill your request for authentic Norwegian food."

I smile sweetly at her and say, "Gee, maybe something not quite that authentic! My dad's parents were from Norway and he used to buy pickled herring for us when we were little kids. I actually ate it because I didn't know any better - whoops! - I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to offend you!"

Ingrid laughs and says, "I know what you mean. I can't stand it either."

She continued: "The asparagus soup is lovely. And it comes with dark, crusty bread. Soup and bread are staples of the Norwegian cuisine."

I said, 'That sounds fabulous! And I'll take the open-faced blue cheese sandwich drizzled with honey, as well."

I know exactly what Bob is thinking:

"I can't believe she is going to eat that nasty cheese and then breathe all over me. On a scale of 1 to 10, that stuff has an "ick" factor of at least 189."

Pleased as punch with my selections I glance at Bob who is, by now, deep into the menu zone.

That means he is studying the menu selections as if this meal is going to be his last.

Here's the thing about Bob: He would much rather eat his own home-cooked meals than any of the fancier stuff that most restaurants offer.

If he has to eat out, his first choice is almost always Cracker Barrel because the menu there is very similar to what he cooks at home for himself and the family.

The truth is: Bob's cuisine is always healthier and tastier.

Personally, I would rather be shot at dawn than walk into the kitchen to do anything but eat.

Bob finally settles on that old Norwegian classic - mixed veggie salad with grilled chicken.

He likes to live dangerously.

Ingrid flies off to the kitchen, relieved to be rid of us for a few minutes.

Then she returns with sparkling crystal goblets filled with ice ( a bit of a rarity in Europe) and gobs of refreshing water.

Lemon wedges sit sturdily on the rims of the goblets.

However, one lonely lemon wedge is never enough for me.

Ingrid remembers that I asked for a plate of sliced lemon wedges and they appear within seconds.

I gaze admiringly at the freshly cut rose sitting in its watery crystal vase in the middle of our table.

White linen napkins and simple porcelain plates - white again, of course - lighten the table in a visually.

The presentation is superb - everything speaks of elegance, romance, and good taste.

I allow myself to be wrapped in the ambiance of this lovely cafe.

Bob isn't nearly as impressed.

He looks at me and says, "Do you realize that my salad is going to cost the equivalent of $30 in American money?"

"No, honey, that really hasn't even crossed my mind," I reply. "It doesn't matter to me because this is our one and only meal in the country of my grandparents. Chances are, this experience will never happen again."

I can tell by the look on Bob's face that he is counting on that.

Just then Ingrid arrives with our entrees.

I lift the first spoonful of asparagus soup to my lips.

Its delicate flavor and silk-like texture send me into spasms of delight.

Slices of crusty brown bread, rich with everything grainy, sit at the side of the soup, accompanied by creamy butter sticks.

I say to Bob, "This stuff tastes divine!"

Next, I lift the sandwich to my mouth and sink my teeth into the cheesy, sweet honey goodness.

Bob whimpers in utter disgust as the moldy mixture passes my lips.

I notice his reaction, of course, but I can't swallow the blue cheese fast enough.

I feel as if I am stuffing my mouth with tiny bits of heaven.

Bob's chicken salad looks equally gorgeous.

The large white bowl is filled to overflowing with crisp, colorful veggies.

The roasted chicken has been perfectly sliced and scattered in a circular pattern across the top of the mixed lettuce greens.

The same grainy bread and butter sticks appear on the side of his monstrous white plate.

Bob takes a few bites of his salad and says, "This food looks good but it isn't anything special."

"I know that's disappointing," I say to Bob as I shove more cheese and honey into my mouth.

I smile sweetly and say, "Every single bite of my meal is absolutely scrumptious!"

I add, "You are having a really tough day.  But look at it this way - we'll be back on the Star Princess before you can say "I hate Oslo."

Polishing off my last bite of sandwich, I plant a cheese-laced kiss on his lips and say, "I've got to run into the gift shop and pick up a few thousand postcards."

Bob breathes a sigh of acceptance as he thinks to himself,   "Why prolong the agony?  I'll tell the Post Office to forward my mail to the Seventh Circle - effective immediately.  Please tell me they've never heard of blue cheese."