SPORADIC BRIEFING
Sunshine

Jul. 19 - Saturday was a beautiful day. The sun poured down on Denmark as if making up for lost time—which it was, since we hadn't seen it since late May. It was the kind of day, I observed aloud to my wife, that made Denmark seem like a sensible place to live.

"Sometimes we get a whole couple of weeks like this in summer," she observed proudly. Then, hedging her pride, she repeated ruefully: "Sometimes."

Denmark snookered me last year. My first summer in the country was the warmest, sunniest, dryest season in years. The Danes themselves made no effort to deceive me: I was assured from all sides that the shining weather was a glorious exception to a dreary meteorological rule.

But Danes are skeptical and laconic by nature and breeding. (Remember, this is a people for whom appreciation is expressed as an ability to suffer something. "Can you suffer beer?" "Yes, I can suffer it well.") I dismissed their negativity.

And, as I was saying, Saturday was the first sunny day of the summer. Sunday was also warm—even hot—but it the skies were thick with roiling Nordic clouds that poured rain down on us over night. And this morning we're back to Danish summer as usual: gray, lukewarm, sunless.

But I've hardly even noticed. I may well remember this as the sunniest summer of my life. See how it shines:

She's over five pounds, now, off all monitors, wearing store-bought clothes, and taking about half her meals straight from the source. (So that's what breasts are for! Who knew?)

We still haven't heard any suggestion of her coming home before her due date, so we're still leading half our life out of Hvidovre Hospital until August 20, but we're beginning to suspect—groundlessly—that the girl may make it home a little before then. If she keeps growing the way she has been, and keeps building up her capacity to suckle, it's hard to imagine them keeping her there another month.

She has to eat, they tell us, and she has to grow.

Eating and growing? Man, did she luck out on her gene pool!

The Molli update behind us, I will now attempt to write something that has nothing to do with my daughter.

Financial Liquidity

Yesterday I told the guy at the local kiosk I needed coins instead of paper money in change for a purchase.

"For the laundromat," I explained helpfully (and in Danish).

He eyed me strangely as he handed me the coins. The guy's from India, for god's sake. Even if I didn't pronounce my Danish perfectly, as a fellow immigrant he should have cut me some slack.

As I walked home, however, I remembered something Trine had told me recently: she said my biggest problem was that although my pronunciation in general was getting very good, I still had some problems with the various "a" and "æ" sounds. It would be like mixing up "e" and "i" sounds, say, in English... you think you're saying "pin," but you're really saying "pen." And you better be very careful when you threaten to deck someone!

I realized I'd mispronounced møntvask ("coin wash," or laundromat) in such a way that it sounded like møntvæske. But was there even such a word?

Of course there was. As soon as I got home I consulted my dictionary and discovered I'd told the guy at the kiosk I wanted loose change for coin liquid.

Mm. . . kroner soup. . .!

The Reign in Spain

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899. He was young at the time of his birth. It was fine to be young.

He drove an ambulance in the first world war. It wasn't called the first world war then. It was called the war. It was one of those times when people shot at each other. When people were shooting at each other they didn't have time to worry about what to call it. It was only afterwards that they needed to call it something. "What should we call that time when we were shooting at each other?" "Let's call it the Great War." "Good."

It was a good ambulance. It was long and white. It had flashing lights and a siren that went "wee-ooo, wee-ooo." He liked that.

After the war he lived in Paris. A lot of Americans lived in Paris after the war, but only a few of them had ever driven an ambulance. In the 30s he went to Spain. He was a journalist. They were having a war.

They called it the Spanish Civil War. It was started by an Evil Bastard named General Franco on July 18, 1936. It was a test to see whether or not they should have World War II. They had fascists and socialists and anarchists. They even had clowns. People shot at each other.

(General Franco finally gave up power on July 19, 1974, because he was sick. Maybe he had always been sick. It is sometimes hard to understand sickness. Maybe we are not meant to understand it.)

Later Hemingway lived in Cuba. He liked to fish. He thought all men should fish. He wrote stories about fishing. Finally he blew his brains out at his home in Idaho. It was July 2, 1961.

He had written a lot of books but now he was dead.

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. It was a brave thing to do. Hemingway would have liked that.

But he would have been disappointed by the fishing.

Nat. Soc. Lit.

July 18 marks the seventy-eighth anniversary of the 1925 publication of Adolf Hitler's best-selling political memoir, Mein Kampf (or, in English, "I'm Batshit Crazy and I'm Gonna Kill Ya"). The book remains extremely popular with genocidal sociopaths and is therefore experiencing a renaissance of sales.

The book's original title was Four-and-a-Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice.

Taking him at his word and assuming the little lance-corporal really had struggled against lies, stupidity, and cowardice for 54 months, one has to ask, in light of his later activities, if maybe lies, stupidity, and cowardice aren't so bad.

Fiddling Around

On July 18, 64 A.D., most of imperial Rome was burned to the ground because Emperor Nero had been playing the fiddle. This resulted in the persecution of Christians, many of whom were believed to have encouraged him.

Bad Craziness

It's Hunter S. Thompson's birthday. He's still alive (at 65), armed, and dangerous. Dr. Thompson founded the Gonzo school of journalism in the 1970s; graduates from that school can today be seen every night on cable news.

Dr. Thompson inspired the character "Uncle Duke" in the comic strip Doonesbury, by former Canadian Prime Minister Gary Trudeau. ("Uncle Duke" first appeared in Doonesbury on July 8, 1974.) Several movies have been made about Dr. Thompson's life and work and psychotic episodes. He is perhaps the only American journalist to have been played on-screen by both Bill Murray and Johnny Depp.

Historical Miscellany

On July 19, 1870, France attempted to declare war on Russia. Due to a typographical error, however, she inadvertently declared war on Prussia and caused the Franco-Prussian war. This eventually led to the creation of Germany, which led to World War I, World War II, and the Volkswagen. Moral: always prooofread.

On July 20, 1402, at the battle of Angora, Tamerlane led his huge army of Taters against the Ottomans (or Ottomen). Tamerlane captured the Sultan (Head Ottoman), and this is why we call some sweaters Angoras to this day. (Angora, however, is now called Ankara.)

Birthdays and Holidays

Also born on July 18: John Glenn (1921), Nelson Mandela (1918), Harriet Nelson (1914), Richard "Red" Skelton (1913), and Hume Cronyn (1911).

July 18 is Constitution Day in Uruguay.

Given the sporadic nature of the current Almanacs, let's press ahead into the week.

July 19 birthdays: Anthony Edwards (1962), Vikki Carr (1941), George McGovern (1922), Lizzie Borden (1860), Edgar Degas (1834).

July 19 is Independence Day in Laos, Martyr's Day in Myanmar (and Burma), amd Liberation Day in Nicaragua.

July 20 birthdays: Carlos Santana (1947), Diana Rigg (1938), Natalie Wood (1938), Chuck Daly (1933), Sir Edmund Hillary (1919).

July 20 is President's Day in Botswana, Independence Day in Columbia, and Crown Prince Haakon's Birthday in Norway.

I ought to be able to squeeze out another post by the 21st.

Happy Monday!

© 2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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