Saturday, September 25, 2010

Willow Ball - I don't have a thing to wear

"Torso" by artist Robert Graham, on Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

It's the talk of the town, the event of the season: The Third Annual Willow Ball. Dance over to Willow Manor  and you will find an invitation extended by our gracious hostess Willow.

I'm practicing my dance moves  à la dancing goddess Cyd Charisse; watch this film clip with Gene Kelly in the classic Singin' in the Rain here


Since this is a fantasy ball, I assume Willow will have the strategically-placed fans and the grand staircase adjoining the ballroom.  The fantasy continues as my date and I clear the dance floor while admiring eyes watch us flawlessly perform this dance.

Won't you join the fun?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Viking Ship Museum - Gokstad ship

IMG_2603  Gokstad Viking Ship

As beautiful as the ceremonial grandeur of the Oseberg was, the simple grace of the Gokstad was the ship at the Viking Ship Museum that took my breath away. Intuitively, this longship looked more seaworthy than the Oseberg. I later learned that in 1893 a full-scale replica of the Gokstad successfully completed a 44-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean from Bergen, Norway to Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition. 


Ironically, the exposition was held in celebration of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the western hemisphere in 1492. In a move that predated the term “political correctness”, in order to minimize offending the Columbian Exposition, the ship’s proposed name “Leif Ericson” was rejected in favor of “The Viking”.

Image: Wikipedia 

In 1925 a stamp commemorating the Norse-American centennial depicted the Gokstad’s replica, complete with the American flag at the bow and the Norwegian flag at the stern.


* * *

Both the Oseberg and the Gokstad were built using the clinker method where the oak planks overlapped along the edges. The Gokstad is slightly bigger. 

21.58 meters (70.8 feet)
5.10 meters (16.7 feet)
23.24 meters (76.25 feet)
5.20 meters (17.1 feet)

IMG_2606  Gokstad Ship

A single piece of oak was used to ensure the structural integrity of the keel.The length of the keel then determined the dimensions of the rest of the ship. I imagine that the tallest and straightest oaks in the land would be a Viking boat builder’s greatest treasure.

IMG_2618 Gokstad Viking Ship

The invention of the keel is one of the key reasons for the Vikings maintained naval superiority for over two hundred and fifty years. A keel allowed the ship to be rowed and sailed as well. The smaller draught, along with a removable rudder, the ship had the distinct advantage of being able to navigate in shallow inland waters.

Remnants of 32 shields, alternately painted black and yellow, along with 16 oars for each side, and a striped woolen sailcloth were excavated from the buried ship. There were no benches, thus it is speculated that the oarsmen sat on their sea chests.

Model of the Gokstad ship
 Image: Wikipedia

Like the Oseberg, the Gokstad was used as a burial chamber. A 50- to 70-year-old male was uncovered with the ship along with some modest grave goods. It is believed that the valuable items were plundered long ago.

IMG_2607 Gokstad Viking Ship

The third ship at the Viking Ship Museum is a 22-meter fragment of the Tune ship.

IMG_2602 Tune Ship

The incomplete state of this ship reminds us how remarkable the nearly complete finds of the Oseberg and Gokstad were.
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