DAILY BRIEFING
Nissernes

Dec. 2 - You know those advent calendars you got as a kid—or that maybe your Christian friends got and made you wonder what the hell kind of weird pagan rituals they practiced?

They're usually sheets of cardboard with scenes of the navity or Christmas mirth or pugilistic snowmen on them. They're covered with little numbered flaps, from one through twenty-five, and each day from December 1st through Christmas you open the corresponding flap to be rewarded with a picture of a candy cane or some goddam thing.

They have Advent calendars here in Denmark, too, but they're big-time. Television stations (public and private) issue their own Advent calendars that you can buy at stores or the post office; what you reveal each day on your calendar corresponds to a little segment you'll see that day at 6pm on the associated television channel.

(Trine swears it was great fun as a kid, but the idea of her and her family huddled around the television, Advent calendars in hand, strikes me as weirdly atavistic. Trine's younger than me. She should have grown up with memories of Christmas diskettes or something.)

Anyway, I decided to get into the Advent swing of things as part of my ongoing effort to understand this strange and wonderful country.

I was interested in the Danish Radio calendar because it's about elves and Santa Claus, whereas the TV2 calendar is about Jesus and Josefine—it looks like what you'd get if Disney offered an animated serial about the adventures of pubescent Jesus. The idea of a cartoon Jesus cranked up on hormones was more than I'm prepared for (although I may find room for it in my next play, The Jesus and Mohammed Comedy Hour).

I didn't actually buy the calendar because you can follow the adventure online without having to cough up thirty kroner (it's Christmastime and I'm semi-unemployed, so these things count—yeah, yeah, bah yourself).

This year's Danish Radio Advent-ure (get it? I made that up myself) seems to be about Santa's elves having retired to the West Indies, where they've established their own island (Nissernes , or "The Elves' Island"). From what I gather, the children of Denmark (and I) will be required to help save the elves from—and I'm not making this up, though I'm surely misunderstanding it—some renegade bogus Santa, who's corrupted the elves with his American notions of Christmas.

In the December 1st game, playable at the link above, you'll have to guide your way through a palpably untropical landscape on skis, dogsled, and kayak, shooting polar bears and some other fast-moving winter creature I couldn't identify before you finally reach Santa, or at least someone who looks like him.

What that has to do with the West Indies or American commercialism is beyond me, but it would be wrong to anticipate seamless logic from a television station called "Danish Radio." Besides, it's for kids—manually dextrous kids, apparently—and it's only December 1. (I realize it's the 2nd by the time you read this, but that's your problem.)

The game is fun, although all the instructions and buttons are in Danish.

Good luck!

* * *

A few December factoids I forgot yesterday: December is the twelfth month of the year and therefore receives its name from decem, the Latin word for ten. December is International Calendar Awareness Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and Colorectal Cancer Education and Awareness Month. The first week in December is both Deaf Heritage Week and Flossie Beadle Week.

(Check with local law enforcement agencies before planning your Flossie Beadle bonfire or purchasing your Flossie Beadle fireworks.)

* * *

The Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed on this day in 1823. The doctrine set forth the principle that meddling European bastards should keep their meddling goddam hands out of the Americas. It should not be confused with the Marilyn Monroe Doctrine, which stated that fondling European bastards should keep their fondling goddam hands out of—

It's Independence Day in Laos. In the United States it's National Fritters Day.

Britney Spears is 22 today. She shares her birthday with Monica Seles (1973), Tracy Austin (1962), Cathy Lee Crosby (1948), Gianni Versace (1946), Maria Callas (1923), Charles Ringling (1863), and George Seurat (1859).

Happy Tuesday!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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