DAILY BRIEFING
A Nice Day for a White Wedding...

May 14 - My radio alarm clock woke me up this morning to Billy Idol's "It's a Nice Day for a White Wedding." If I had made a list of the ten songs most likely to be overplayed on the radio today, that would have been number one. My first conscious thought of the day was therefore something like "Oh, for God's sake," which would have been number one on my list of thoughts most likely to be thunk today. I lay there half-asleep and giggled myself awake. I turned to my left and saw the DMG giggling along with me.

Faktisk, it was a nice day for a wedding. When I woke up the sun was shining in a cloudless blue sky. (Aren't all cloudless skies blue? —ed.) That was an hour or so ago. Clouds have already rolled in. We'll see what happens.

Today is the wedding day of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Elizabeth Donaldson of Australia. There is nothing else worth knowing in Denmark. There is nothing else to know in Denmark. It's a nation held hostage by Hallmark, a nation of flowery hearts and syrupy slogans and little girls in plastic tiaras staring dreamily at their television sets.

It's kind of cute.

Some day Frederik will be crowned King Frederik X (no relation to Malcolm), the sixth Danish monarch from the house of Glucksburg. Mary Donaldson will be Queen Mary of Denmark. Their children will be princes and princesses.

Yesterday on Moron Abroad, I described an accidental encounter with the royal family. I mentioned that I'd recorded some video of same—what you might call a peasant's-eye view of the royals on the eve of the wedding of the century—but that I couldn't afford the bandwidth to host it. Troniu the Amazin' Romanian offered to host it for me, so here it is:

A peasant's-eye view of Queen Margrethe (et al.) entering Copenhagen's Lutheran cathedral the day before the wedding. (AVI, zipped, 6.7 MB)

Two notes: first, don't bother downloading the video unless you've got broadband. It's not a high-quality, close-up look at the Queen: it's a peasant's-eye view, as I've already said (twice!). What I mean by that is that I'm holding my camera up in the air and angling the lens down toward the queen, while hundreds of people around me (including one especially annoying bastard right in front of me) do the same. If you're looking for a good little snippet of Queen Margrethe in action, this isn't the video you want. If you're an American wondering what it's like to be in a throng of nuanced Europeans mobbing their hereditary monarch, though, this is the real McCoy.

One more thing: in typical moronic fashion, you'll notice I screwed up the date: "June 13, 2004," the video proclaims. Okay. Make that May 13, 2004.

* * *

This afternoon I'm hoping to get more pictures and possibly even some video of the much-anticipated golden carriage ride that the just-married couple will take from the church to the royal residence of Amelienborg, before taking more conventional transportation to their reception, well north of the city. Since it's Friday, I'll almost certainly post them all on Moron Abroad.

Beancounting

Today begins Week 27. The Bean is expected to make her appearance in 98 days. (She's due Friday, August 20, exactly one week after the Olympics open in Athens.) Some of The Literature claims we've entered the third trimester today; some of it tells us we won't until next week. It's all pretty goddam arbitrary, if you ask me. Forget weeks and trimesters: we're about twice as far from Bean's conception as we are to her birth. That's stunning.

We seem to be settled on naming her Molli. There's been some trans-Atlantic conversation about the spelling. I have to admit that when the DMG suggested the spelling, I myself said that it seemed "a little California," especially if our daughter is inclined to dotting her i's with stars. (Is there genetic testing for that?) There seems to be a taboo against ending names with "-y" in Denmark, however, and Danes would pronounce an "-ie" ending as we'd pronounce an "-ia" ending in English. By spelling her name "Molli," we're only ensuring that Danes and Americans will pronounce her name more or less the same, even without our guidance. Her middle name, Malou, is pronounced the same in both languages.

A notweorthy extract from a friend's email:

Things are going to be radically different once the baby arrives. It will all be worthwhile, but at times you are going to be wondering WTF happpened to you. I have never been run over by a truck, but an acquaintance of mine once was. He said it was a fair approximation of getting a child, except that with children you end up prepared to repeat the experience. It is some kind of biologically programmed insanity.

On that happy note, I hand you over to the usual Almanac material...

The Usual Almanac Material

Skylab was launched 31 years ago Friday.

The first inoculation against smallpox was administered on May 14, 1796, by Edward Jenner, whose descendant Bruce would become an Olympic decathlon champion. This medical wonder came only four days after Napoleon's army defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Lodi.

Exactly twenty-two years prior to that, King Louis XV had died of smallpox (on May 10, 1774). When he died, Louis XVI became king, and only five years later (on La Quatorze Juillet, French for "the Fourth of July"), the Revolution began (mostly because Louis's wife kept telling everyone to eat cake), which resulted in the Rain of Terror, which resulted, eventually, in Napoleon.

Which practically brings it all full circle, if you're not a stickler for circularity.

* * *

Four-score and eight years ago today, Mark Sykes and Georges Picot carved apart on the Asian continent an old empire: conceived in secrecy, and dedicated to the proposition that Britain and France should score a piece of the action.

Now we are engaged in a great global war, testing whether that area, or any area so conceived and so dedicated, can overcome its troubled past and learn to prosper. We have seen the great battlefields of that war on television.

I have come to dedicate this page as a final condemnation of those shortsighted twits who carved up the Ottoman Empire in such a way as to guarantee a century of war and horror. It is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.

But, in a larger sense, I cannot dedicate—I cannot consecrate—I cannot hallow—this page. The bumbling idiots, both dead, who wrangled that agreement have consecrated it, far above my poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what I say here, but it can never forget what those jackalopes did on May 15, 1916.

It is for we the morons, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work of perpetuating the names of Sykes and Picot in infamy. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before all of us—that from these damn fool dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave no a single measure of foresight—that we here highly resolve that those fools shall not escape blame-free—that the blight they bore, an abhorrence under God, shall live in infamy forever—and that the peoples of the lands of the former Ottoman empire shall enjoy governments of the people, by the people, and for the people, and that Imperial cartography shall perish from this earth.

And may we never have to clean up their mess again.

(It was on May 15, 1916, that Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and Georges Picot of France, with Russia's assent, confirmed their agreement to carve up the tottering Ottoman Empire between them. America wasn't in on the deal.)

* * *

On May 16, 1763, James Boswell first met Samuel Johnson in Tom Davie's London bookshop. Due to the lax stalking laws of the period, Mr. Boswell followed Mr. Johnson around for several decades. On May 19, 1795, Mr. Boswell died. (This could not have come a relief to Mr. Johnson, who had already been dead for some time and was probably relishing the privacy.)

Birthdays and Holidays

George Lucas turns 60 on Friday the 14th. It's also the birthday of Bobby Darin (1936).

Emmitt Smith turns 35 on the 15th, and shares his birthday with Eddy Arnold (1918), James Mason (1909), and Joseph Cotton (1905). That's as good excuse as any to rent a copy of The Third Man. (That and the damn theme, with the balalaika or whatever the hell it is that stays stuck in your head for a week whenever you see the movie.)

Janet Jackson turns 37 on the 16th. She shares her birthday with Debra Winger (1955), Liberace (1919), Studs Terkel (1912), Henry Fonda (1905), and William Seward (1801).

Liberia celebrates National Unification Day on the 14th. It's also Kamuzu Banda's Birthday in Malawi and Independence Day in Paraguay.

May 16 is International Pickle Day.

Enjoy the weekend!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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