WEEKEND BRIEFINGMellem Linierne
Oct. 15 - Winter doesn't sneak into Denmark on little cat feet—nor does it come in like a lion. It's more like a two-ton rhino that suddenly and noiselessly appears beside you.
"Holy hell," you exclaim, "there's a rhino in here!"
One day it's sparkling fall weather—brilliant sunshine, bracing air, colored leaves swirling in the streets—and then you wake up one dark morning and realize winter is upon you. No sudden frost, no cyclonic blizzard barreling through, just the sudden realization that the world has begun its annual work of walling you into darkness. The six-month metaphor for death known as the Scandinavian winter has begun.
I'm thrilled, obviously.
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I'm not a fugitive from the law. I want to make that clear, because I just realized this next move will be my 14th address in 22 years. In fact, it's a shame I haven't played a little faster and looser with the law, since I seem destined for a fugitive lifestyle anyway. To think of the heists I could have pulled, the capers I could have committed!
I remember my first week at Carnegie when an acting instructor warned us against the very careers we were there to pursue. "This is a life of rejection," she told us. "It's a nomadic life, a gypsy life, and the rewards are few and far between." I was 18 years old. Nothing could have made a life in the arts sound more appealling. (Being 18, I realized the warning about rejection only applied to my classmates.)
If you want to make 18-year-olds think long and hard about the sacrifices they'll be facing by pursuing careers in the arts, don't emphasize the fairy-tale of nomadism or the ho-hum prospect of limited wages (every 18-year-old knows they'll be a millionaire someday). Emphasize the moving. Emphasize the boxing of things, the hassle of dealing with utility companies, the change-of-address nightmares, the exorbitant cost of packing boxes and bubblewrap.
That'll get 'em thinking.
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What a weekend for New England! It's possible for the Red Sox to lose the pennant on the same weekend that the Patriots' record-setting win streak gets snapped. Boston's suicide hotline staffers are probably pulling double shifts.
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Quick bleg: I found a Turkish review of the Turkish translation of my book (I think), and I'm dying to know what it says. Anyone got any idea?
Dept. of the Totally Random Newsletter
Mellem Linierne, or something like that, is Danish for "between the lines." I happen to know the phrase because it was the name of my previous textbook. The following, on the other hand, is a textbook case of things written mellem linierne.
I was doing some research on San Diego area yacht clubs (writers sometimes have to do these things) when I stumbled across this "Commodore's Report" for the Mission Bay Yacht Club. After praising staff and members for a fine season—a luau fit for Hawaiian royalty, a "Cook-Your-Own" as popular as in previous years, and so on—and before a reminder about the prestigious YRU Silver Cup match races scheduled for later this month, came this:
Please be courteous to our staff. If you believe there is a problem with the actions of an employee, bring it to the attention of our Club Manager or the Commodore. Club rules prohibit confrontational behavior directed towards an employee. Enough said on that subject.
Enough said? Enough said? Commodore Simmons, have you no heart?
Proctology and Transverberation
October 15 is St Teresa of Avila Day in Spain and Evacuation Day in Tunisia.
Evacuation Day recognizes the important contributions made to the world of science by Tunisian proctologists. The less said about the gastroenterological rituals performed on this holiday the better.
Saint Teresa of Avila is also known as the Roving Nun (but should not be confused with the Wandering Nun, the Meandering Nun, or the Hopelessly Disoriented Nun). She is the patron saint not only of Spain, but also bodily ills, headaches, laceworkers, opposition to Church Authorities, and people ridiculued for their piety.
She reportedly died of Transverberation ("the crossing of verbs"). Her pierced heart is on display at Alba de Tormes, so if you're the kind of person that's interested in 400-year-old pierced human hearts you'll probably want to pay a visit. (You'll probably find it in the "Pierced Human Hearts Room" of the "Three-to-Five Hundred Year Old Internal Organ Wing.")
"God," Saint Teresa famously prayed, "deliver me from sullen saints!"
Friedrich Nietzsche, born on St. Teresa of Avila Day in 1844, apparently shared her sentiments if not her tactics.
On October 16, 1792 (or 1799), there was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a boy named Francisco Morazān. He was young, like most newborns, and full of idealism. After a disappointing childhood, in which he turned out not to have been born to wealth and privilege, he decided first to educate himself and then to enlist in the fight against Mexican annexation of Honduras.
After a disappointing loss, in which Honduras turned out to be a part of Mexico even though neither of them was any longer a part of Spain, Morazān joined the government of the United Provinces of Central America. Two years later he was the president of the Honduras State legislature, and the following year he became president of the entire United Provinces by means of the traditional Central American electoral process ("civil war").
As president, he tried to limit the powers of the Roman Catholic Church, which eventually led to a new round of elections ("civil wars") that produced a new president, this time from the State of Guatemala. The new president exiled Morazān, who returned several years later calling for electoral reform ("revolution") and was therefore impeached ("shot in the head") by one of his own troops.
Francisco Morazān's birthday is a holiday in Honduras.
It is not a holiday in Guatemala.
Also, Marie Antoinette was beheaded on Francisco Morazān's birthday in 1793.
October 16 is also the birthday of Oscar Wilde (1854), who wrote the following passage in The Picture of Dorian Gray: "Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the caveman had known how to laugh, History would have been different." I happen to think that cavemen did indeed know how to laugh, and that people who accuse humanity of being too serious obviously haven't been paying attention.
Our lives are haphazard accidents in an indifferent world and the very absurdity of life is what gives it the most meaning. You already know this—otherwise you'd be reading an encyclopedia or reviewing actuarial tables instead of reading something called The Moron's Almanac.
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The Sixth Crusade ended October 17, 1244, after the Saracens ("Infidels") defeated the Franks ("Infidels") at Gaza.
Birthdays, Holidays, Whatever
Besides Nietzsche and Saint Teresa, the 17th is also the birthday of Jim Palmer (1945), Penny Marshall (1942), Linda Lavin (1937), Lee Iacocca (1924), Mario Puzo (1920), Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (1917), John Kenneth Galbraith (1908), P.G. Wodehouse (1881), and Virgil (70 BC).
Morazan and Wilder are joined in their October 16th revelries by Tim Robbins (1958), Suzanne Somers (1946), Gunter Grass (1927), Angela Lansbury (1925), Eugene O'Neill (1888), Lord Cardigan (1797), and Noah Webster (1758).
Another friend of mine has a birthday this weekend, on the 17th, but he doesn't have a website to link to and I don't think he reads the Almanac, so the hell with him. (Which is one way of finding out if he actually does read the Almanac.)
Others born on the 17th include Howard Rollins (1950), Margot Kidder (1948), George Wendt (1948), Evel Knievel (1938), Jimmy Breslin (1930), Montgomery Clift (1920), Rita Hayworth (1918), Arthur Miller (1915), Jean Arthur (1905), and Charles Kraft (1880).
Enjoy the weekend!
Š 2004, The Moron's Almanac