DAILY BRIEFING
Roskilde

Jan. 26 - Our weekends have been quiet, lately, since the DMG's moods seem to swing exclusively between nausea and exhaustion. By Sunday afternoon, however, we were both beginning to exhibit classical symptoms of cabin fever: the DMG was flipping through "Let's Go: Copenhagen," and I was trying to pry my eyeballs out with a fork.

We decided to go somewhere. With no itinerary at all, we bundled ourselves up, hopped in the car, and shot westward.

About half an hour into the trip the DMG pulled off the main road and drove us through a sleepy little village that had sentimental value for her. It was where a cat of hers had died, she explained. For some reason she'd had to part with a cat when she was a child, and the cat had been adopted by a friend in this little town.

"A quiet, gentle place to live out its golden years," I reflected. As we drove past the little thatched-roof cottages set among copses of high-spiring beeches, I imagined a broken-hearted cat pining its life away on one of their stoops.

"There's the school," the DMG suddenly exclaimed, smiling brightly. "She loved the school! She'd always go there to visit the kids. That's probably how she got run over."

Very sentimental.

* * *

We ended up in Roskilde. I'd heard the name before but had never been there. It's a fairly large town with a population just over 50,000 and a history far more impressive than its present. Once the capital city of Denmark, it was one of the cradles of Viking civilization.

Roskilde is a harbor town situated on the southernmost tip of Roskilde Fjord, a slender body of water that slices halfway through Zealand from its northwest corner to its very center, like the minute-hand of a clock showing five minutes to the hour. From this port (and others like it), Vikings poured forth unto the world, striking out at Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Finland, Greece, Russia, and even Byzantium. Some Byzantine Emperors actually retained Vikings as their personal guards. Kiev and Dublin were both Viking outposts for centuries. (The Viking Museum in Roskilde is currently running an exhibition on the Vikings in Ireland, chronicling their domination of Ireland from about 800-1150 A.D.)

The Vikings' primary interests, one exhibit informed us, were "trade, taxes, plunder, and politics." If you're willing to lump taxes and plunder into the same category, as I am, you'll find that not much has changed in the past 1000 years.

On the other hand, now that I think about it, what has any human civilization ever produced beyond a capacity for "trade, taxes, plunder, and politics?" Oh, a little art and a little science, to be sure, but those are merely accidental byproducts.

* * *

I learned how to spell "Greg" in early Viking runes. It looks like XRMX. I thought that was cool until I realized pretty much everything looks like XRMX in early Viking runes. It makes you wonder if they even had an actual language or just were a people with chronic bronchitis.

* * *

It's Eddie Van Halen's birthday today, so I'd thought about doing some kind of Van Halen tribute, but then I realized it was more important to do a memorial to Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan), who died on Friday. Both were heroes to me, at different times of my life, and both deserve a little special attention today.

But they've made it this far without me, and both pissed me off at one point or another—Mr. Van Halen by dumping David Lee Roth, and the Captain by talking some smack to Mr. Greenjeans—so what the hell.

Never mind.

* * *

January 26 is Republic Day in India, and dancers from all over the nation gather in New Delhi every year on this day to dance in the huge National Arena and all along a five mile parade route. On January 26, 1979, "Le Freak" was on the top of the American charts.

It's nice to think there's a connection.

* * *

As an aside... Remind me why I'm supposed to take this kind of backward-ass culture seriously.

* * *

Sharing their birthdays with Eddie VH are Wayne Gretzky (1961), Ellen DeGeneres (1958), Jack Youngblood (1950), Gene Siskel (1946), Bob Uecker (1935), Jules Feiffer (1929), Eartha Kitt (1928), Paul Newman (1925), and Douglas MacArthur (1880).

Besides the aformentioned Indian holiday, today is also Australia Day. In Australia. Go figure.

Happy Monday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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