DAILY BRIEFINGFrederik og Mary (og Arnold)
Oct. 9 - [Red Sox win! Red Sox win! Red Sox win!]
There were two dominant stories in the news here yesterday: California's election results, and the official celebration of Crown Prince Frederik's engagement to Mary Elizabeth Donaldson.
The (endless) coverage of both events was light-hearted. It's something I've come to admire about the Danes: they have a staggering collective capacity for benevolent indifference. Unlike Euro-CNN, which spent the day squeezing their thesaurus for every possible synonym of "ridiculous," Danish coverage of the California election seemed almost affectionate. Their coverage of the engagement was similar to what the Anglophonic world observed with Charles and Diana—a big orgy of flags and hearts and crowns—but without quite going over the top.
I like Frederik better than I've ever liked Charles, and I think Mary Donaldson is not only better looking, more interesting, and just plain cooler than Diana ever was, I also think she's a better story. She's from a little town in Tasmania, Australia. (I don't know if there are any big towns in Tasmania, so I apologize for the possible redundancy.) She had a career in marketing or something when she met Frederik. They fell in love. Now they're engaged. Next spring, on May 14, she'll be a princess (won't that be a holiday!). And someday she'll be a queen.
She's better than Diana because Diana was a Lady. She was, you know, whatever the hell you call it. A peer, a noble, an aristocrat. Yeah, yeah, so she taught kindergarten. Okay. You think she ever did her own laundry?
Mary Donaldson sure did. That's what's great about her story. She's done laundry, struggled with bills, had lousy service at mediocre restaurants, argued with clerks, had crappy jobs, waited for buses. Her father wasn't a peer of the realm—he was a fricking math teacher.
A much better story.
Still, all the hoopla does strike the American sensibility as a little nutty, all this excitement about an institution we're raised to deplore. Monarchy? Come on.
But the Danes are realistic. They love their royals, but they don't get stupid about them the way they do in Britain. They're affectionate and indulgent toward them, but never obsessive. I remember seeing on TV a British woman's reaction to the death of the Queen Mum: "First Lady Di, now this," she sobbed. "Now I know how America felt on 9/11." I can't even imagine a Dane, even a stupid Dane, saying such a thing.
The Danes maintain this stoic perspective in their view of the rest of the world, which is why they covered the California election so indulgently: they thought it was fun. They thought their Crown Prince's engagement was fun.
It was just a really fun day, and the Danish media didn't agonize all day over whether or not days ought to be fun.
More Viking Stuff
In 1964, backed by a unanimous congress, President Johnson proclaimed October 9th "Leif Ericson Day." Many people don't even know who Leif Ericson was. (He was Leif Eriksson and sometimes Leiv Eiriksson.)
The day after Leif Ericson Day in 1965, Yale University astonished the world with its Vinland Map, a 1440 transcription of a map believed to have been originally drawn by Ericson himself (or possibly Eriksson, but certainly not Eiriksson) around 1000 A.D., and which appeared to depict parts of Canada. Just a few years ago, more evidence supporting the authenticity of the map was revealed, lending further support to the conclusion that there were Vikings in North America five centuries before Columbus soiled his first diaper.
This is an exciting development, because it will almost certainly necessitate the development of Viking reservations and the establishment of Viking-run casinos.
Still more exciting are recent scientific findings that suggest caucasians may have existed in North America prior to being displaced by the so-called native-Americans who were later visited by Vikings prior to being utterly displaced by still more caucasians.
But this is also deeply troubling, because there was probably someone here before those original caucasians.
In the interests of fairness, I think every American should be endowed with their own casino.
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On this date in 1776 a group of Spanish Missionaries settled what is today San Francisco. Their arrival displaced a small Native American population and therefore came to be known as the "missionary imposition."
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Today is the birthday of Jackson Browne (1948) and John Lennon (1940).
Besides being Leif Ericson Day, today is also National Coming Out Day in the U.S., Independence of Guyaquil Day in Ecuador, and Independence Day in Uganda.
Leif Erikson Day is also celebrated today in Iceland.
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac