WEEKEND BRIEFINGTummy Humming
Apr. 17 - We're back from the states and gradually finding our way back into the rhythms of our Danish life. In case you missed it, I covered a lot of our trip over on the Moron Abroad blog.
It's an exciting day in Denmark: it's Queen Margarethe's Birthday and opening day for Tivoli, where they're introducing a brand new roller-coaster. That's almost too much excitement for one day—good thing it's a Friday! (But that's not all: Saturday is the birthday of Denmark's second-most celebrated author, Karen Blixen—better known to the world as Isak Dinesen—born in 1884.)
Today we enter Week 23, meaning the Bean is due to make her appearance in exactly 18 weeks (that's Friday, August 20, in case you're not keeping score at home).
According to The Literature, our Bean should now weigh about a pound and be the size "of a small doll." For all my complaints about the size comparisons to fruits and legumes, at least they gave me something to work with. What am I supposed to make of "a small doll?" What kind of doll? Small by whose standards?
The Bean is now acting up on a regular basis. The DMG and I are both working at home these days, and I frequently encounter her speaking or singing to her belly. At night she sings or hums the Danish "Elephant Song" as a lullaby:
En elefant kom marcherendeI suppose it's one of the joys of parenthood to find the woman you love singing about elephants to her abdomen, but it's going to take some getting used to.
hen ad ederkoppens finde spind
fandt at vejen var så interessant,
at den byder op endnu en elefant.
To elefanter kom marcherende...
An elephant came marching
along the spider's fine web
and found the way so interesting,
it invited another elephant.
Two elephants came marching...
Listen My Children and You Shall Hear...
It was a tense April in Boston in 1775. The colonists were simmering with resentment toward the motherland, on account of King George III having strewn the colonies with excessive tacks, painful to step on and bothersome to horses. Furthermore, British cabbies had refused to unionize and the colonists were adamantly opposed to taxis without representation.
King George III tried to assuage the riled colonists by sending them boatloads of tea. (King George III was insane.) The colonists dressed up like Indians and poured all the king’s tea into Boston harbor, proving they could be insane without any help from the king.
Meanwhile, a network of colonists had been secretly meeting for some time. They reasoned that since they preferred coffee to tea, liked salad before rather than after their entrees, and couldn’t make any sense whatever of cricket, they were obviously no longer British. Perhaps they had become French, or Portuguese. Finally they took a vote, which proved they were in fact American.
The king’s colonial representatives overheard some of these secret discussions and decided to arrest as many of these malcontents as possible—or maybe just kill them.
On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere got wind of the British officers’ plan to arrest John Hancock and Sam Adams in Lexington that evening—arrests that would have been calamitous to the colony’s fledgling insurance and beer industries.
Anticipating colonial unrest, British officers had deployed "Regulars" on all the key roads between Boston and Lexington. (The Regulars had previously proved effective even where the Irregulars and Extra Longs had failed.)
Revere told some friends to hang two lanterns in Boston’s Old North Church, in order to signal his wife that he’d be late for dinner, and immediately set out for Charlestown. Once there, he mounted a horse and began the ride to Lexington.
He found himself almost immediately pursued by Regulars, whom he eluded by means of wily Boston riding tactics: he took a series of lefts from the right lane and a series of rights from the left, utterly confounding his pursuers, who were anyway accustomed to riding on the other side of the street and still weren’t sure what to do at a blinking red light. One of the Regulars rode straight into a fruit stand and ended up covered in produce. Another rode through a big plate glass window that two workmen were carrying across the road. It was pretty funny.
Just before midnight, Revere finally arrived at Jonas Clarke’s Lexington home, where he breathlessly informed Adams and Hancock that the British were coming. This confounded Adams and Hancock, who, like Revere, were themselves British and already there.
Once the confusion was cleared up, Adams and Hancock fled for safety while Revere and two others rushed on to Concord. Many memorable and important historical events ensued, such as the American Revolution, but by then it was April 19th and therefore no longer appropriate to this Almanac.
A Titanic Affair
It was a lovely April day, but a certain beautiful young woman walked about in a daze, heavy of heart and despairing of hope. She was betrothed to a rich and cruel young man who didn’t love her. Then she met a boyishly handsome young ruffian who loved her for who she really was. His every sentiment seemed to echo those in her own soul, sentiments that had gone too long unanswered. His smile radiated warmth and joy and quickened her blooming young heart, which had withered too long from neglect; his touch sent shivers down her spine, which had always consisted of numerous vertebrae. They fell in love abruptly and completely. Then the sea broke through the dikes and they were drowned along with 100,000 other less interesting people on April 17, 1421, in Dort, the Netherlands. (On April 15, 1912, the unsinkable Titanic sank, drowning 1,523 of her 2200 passengers and crew. On April 16, 1951, the British submarine Affray sunk in the English Channel, drowning 75. On April 18, 1906, the San Francisco earthquake left 200,000 homeless and over 1000 dead. Let’s be careful out there.)
Elsewhere in History
On April 17, 1961, the Kennedy administration’s secret plan to cripple Castro by inundating Cuba with thousands of wild boars backfired, as the nervous beasts leaped from their cargo ships and drowned just a few hundred yards from shore, resulting in the “Bay of Pigs.”
On April 17, 1521, the Diet of Worms excommunicated Martin Luther (see previous almanacs for an in-depth discussion if the digestion problems Luther experienced as a result of that ill-chosen Diet).
On April 18, 1480, Lucrezia Borgia was born in Rome, the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI. The Borgias were one of Rome’s great families, establishing a tradition of treachery, intrigue, and deceit that has rarely if ever been surpassed—although not for lack of trying.
On April 18, 1923, Yankee Stadium opened in the Bronx, exactly 148 years after Paul Revere rode from Charleston to Lexington to warn Massachusetts colonists that the British were coming. Coincidence? They’d like you to think so.
Birthdays and Holidays
April 16 is the birthday of Martin Lawrence (1965), Ellen Barkin (1955), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1947), Dusty Springfield (1939), Bobby Vinton (1935), Edie Adams (1929), Henry Mancini (1924), Peter Ustinov (1921), Charlie Chaplin (1889), Wilbur Wright (1867), and Anatole France (1844).
April 17 is the birthday of Olivia Hussey (1951), Harry Reasoner (1923), William Holden (1918), Nikita Khrushchev (1894), and Isak Dinesen (1884).
April 18 is the birthday of Conan O'Brien (1963), Eric Roberts (1956), Hayley Mills (1946), Leopold Stokowski (1882), Clarence Darrow (1857), and Lucrezia Borgia (1480).
Besides the Queen's birthday here in Denmark, April 16 is Qana Memorial Day in Lebanon.
April 17 is Independence Day in Syria, FAO Day in Iraq, Territorial Flag Day in American Samoa, and Arafa in Afghanistan. I'm not sure if the Iraq and Aghanistan holidays are still being celebrated; consult a more reliable source.
April 18 is Health Day in Kiribati and Independence Day in Zimbabwe.
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac