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The Two Majesties ~ A Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

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The Two Majesties (1883) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) was a salon painter and professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. The Two Majesties shows a stately lion regarding the setting sun over a bleak ocean landscape. The lion is the single vertical element in the painting, against the horizontal planes of the landscape.

Attachment ~ A Painting by Edwin Henry Landseer

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Attachment (1829) by Edwin Henry Landseer

This painting illustrates Sir Walter Scott’s poem “Helvellyn,” about a faithful dog that guarded his master’s body after he had fallen while mountain climbing. Though the body went undiscovered for three months, the dog stayed to keep away ravens and foxes that might have scavenged the remains. The painter dramatizes this scene through vivid contrasts of light and shadow and by placing the man’s body at the bottom of the composition, emphasizing the great height from which he fell.

Guernica ~ A Painting by Pablo Picasso

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Guernica (1937) by Pablo Picasso 

Pablo Picasso painted Guernica in response to the bombing, by German and Italian war planes, of the northern Spanish village of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. The painting depicts the tragedy of war and the suffering it inflicts, especially on innocent civilians.

The Peaceable Kingdom ~ A Painting by Edward Hicks

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The Peaceable Kingdom (1826) by Edward Hicks

Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was an American folk painter and Quaker minister. He painted this version of The Peaceable Kingdom in 1826. He painted dozens of other versions of the same painting throughout his life.

1906 Franklin Model-G Touring Car

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1906 Franklin Model-G Touring Car

Winesburg, Ohio ~ A Capsule Book Review

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Winesburg, Ohio ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp

Winesburg, Ohio by American writer Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) is a collection of short stories first published in 1919. While each story stands on its own, with different characters in each story, the stories together form a single, novel-like unit. The only character to appear, at least briefly, in most of the stories is George Willard, a young newspaper reporter on the only newspaper in the small town of Winesburg. George’s father owns the only hotel in town. George’s mother, who is the main character in one of the stories, is unhappy and dies at an early age. George longs to escape the small town of Winesburg and venture to the big city where he plans to pursue a writing career.

Each of the twenty-two stories in Winesburg, Ohio is about a specific character’s struggle to overcome the loneliness and isolation that are part of small-town life in the early twentieth century. Because of its emphasis on psychological insights over plot, Winesburg, Ohio is one of the earliest works of Modernist literature, the literary movement that was about overturning traditional modes of representation and expressing the new sensibilities of changing times.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

Ugly Nurses

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Ugly Nurses ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

He didn’t always know what was happening. They gave him pills and he didn’t know what they were for. He suspected they purposely kept him knocked out so he wouldn’t complain or cause trouble.

“What is this place?” he asked a nurse who came in to turn the knobs on the machines behind his head.

“You’re in the hospital,” the nurse said.

“What hospital?”

“Does it make any difference?”

He drifted off to sleep and when a young doctor came in, he asked, “What is this place?”

“How are you feeling today, Mr. Leonard?” the young doctor asked.

“I don’t feel anything.”

“No pain?”

“Nothing.”

“That’s the definition of happiness,” the doctor said. “The absence of pain.”

“I’m going home today.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Am I in prison?”

“No, you’re not in prison, but you’re not able to go home just yet.”

“What’s wrong with me anyway?”

“You’re just feeling your age, Mr. Leonard, as we all do.”

“How old are you, doctor?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“Do you want to trade places?”

After the doctor left, he turned as far as he could to look out the window. He could see a patch of blue sky, some white clouds and the corner of a building. None of it helped him to know where he was.

The next time a nurse came in, he asked, “What city am I in? What state?”

The nurse ignored him, marked something on her clipboard, and left.

A little while later they said they were going to get him up. They unhooked him from the machines and put him in a wheelchair.

“I can walk!” he said.

A large nurse wheeled him down a long hallway and into a large room with potted plants. One entire wall was glass. They called this room the “solarium.”

The nurse parked the chair so that his back was to the glass wall and left without a word. He tried to turn the chair around so he could see out, but it was locked in place and wouldn’t move. He was going to stand up and turn the chair around on his own, but he knew that as soon as he did that, he’d have a sharp-tongued nurse squawking at him and she would probably take him right back to his room and put him back to bed as punishment.

From where he sat, he could see the hallway and an elevator. People passed by so fast they were a blur. Some of them talked loudly and some of them laughed. The elevator doors opened and closed. Blurs got on and some got off.

“I have to get out of here,” he said. “This place is making me sick.”

A man in a red bathrobe came and sat on the couch to his left. He was the only other person in the solarium.

“Excuse me!” Mr. Leonard said.

The man in the red bathrobe turned and looked at him.

“Can you help me turn the chair around so I can see the sky?” he asked.

The man in the red bathrobe stood up, released the brake on the chair, turned it around and sat back down on the couch.

“What is this place?” Mr. Leonard turned his head and asked. The man was now to his right instead of left.

“Hospital,” the man said.

“What city? What state?”

The man shrugged as if it didn’t matter. “I’ve been here for six days,” he said. “Had surgery.”

“When are they going to let you go home?” Mr. Leonard asked.

The man shrugged again. “I like it all right here,” he said. “I like having pretty nurses take care of me.”

“I haven’t seen any pretty nurses,” Mr. Leonard said. “The ones I’ve seen are all ugly.”

“They make themselves pretty by being kind.”

“I’m going home, whether they say I can or not.”

“Where do you live?”

“I can’t seem to remember.”

“Do you know we’re on the ninth floor?” the man in the bathrobe asked. “That means it’s ninety feet down to the street.”

“Look up there in the sky,” Mr. Leonard said. “A jet plane.”

“That’s a hawk or a large crow,” the man in the bathrobe said.

“I can walk, and as soon as I get back to my room I’m going to get dressed and go home.”

“How are you going to get there?”

“I’ll call me a cab.”

“That might be a problem if you don’t remember where you live.”

“I’m not going to stay here.”

“Would you like to play a game?” the man in the bathrobe asked.

“What kind of a game?”

“I don’t know. A card game.”

“I don’t know how to play any card games.”

“Me, either. You got a wife?”

“Dead.”

“Mine too. She died. Children?”

“Yeah, two, I think,” Mr. Leonard said. “A boy and a girl. I’m not sure if they’re still alive, though.”

“Don’t they ever come to visit you?”

“I’m not sure they know where I am.”

“I have three daughters,” the man in the bathrobe said. “Two are married and the third one is a lesbian.”

“I knew a lesbian once,” Mr. Leonard said. “She was a steel worker.”

“My name’s Eddie Peabody,” the man in the bathrobe said.

“Pleased to meet you.”

“I have a car parked outside. I can leave this place any time I want and go wherever I want. Free as a bird.”

“Maybe you could drop me off at my house,” Mr. Leonard said.

“I can’t if you don’t know where you live.”

“I could pay you for your gas.”

“It’s not that. How can I take you home if you don’t know where home is?”

“As soon as I get out of this place,” Mr. Leonard said, “I’ll start to see things I recognize. Then I’ll know where I am and I’ll know how to get home.”

“I don’t know,” Eddie Peabody said. “I think they’d see us and stop us on the way down.”

“Who would?”

“Those ugly nurses.”

“This is not a prison,” Mr. Leonard said. “I’m an American citizen and I have certain rights.”

“Maybe I’d rather stay until they say I can go,” Eddie Peabody said.

Do you have a car parked outside, or don’t you?”

“No, I don’t. I was only fooling.”

“Then why did you say you did?”

“I don’t know. I guess I was trying to impress you.”

“I wasn’t impressed,” Mr. Leonard said.

“Nobody ever is.”

Mr. Leonard stood up from the wheelchair and took three small steps. “See?” he said. “I told you I can walk!”

Eddie Peabody clapped his hands like a child. “Let’s go someplace and grab us a beer and a hamburger,” he said.

“Don’t you think I ought to go get dressed first?”

With tiny steps, he went out of the room and started down the hall in the direction of his room. He didn’t get far, though. Two nurses intercepted him and when they had hold of his arms, a third nurse wheeled a chair up behind him and he was forced to sit down.

“Just where do you think you’re going?” the nurse asked.

“My friend and I were just going out for a beer and a hamburger.”

The nurses put him back to bed and one of them gave him a shot that made him sleep. He dreamed that he was in the solarium but on the other side of the glass. Instead of falling the ninety feet to the street, though, he found that he could float and, once he was floating, he began to hover like a bird. There were hundreds of nurses in white uniforms down there on the street looking up at him. One of them aimed a gun at him that was a very large syringe. He smiled and waved at them and flew off over the tops of the buildings. They shook their fists at him and called him names.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp