VISCERAL BRIEFINGCopenhagen Stories
Oct. 27 - I'm not going to say anything about the Red Sox, except to note in passing that the only positive thing about the hell these headaches are putting me through is that I happen to be awake in the middle of the night when the World Series happens to be on television.
I'd also like to note that the Red Sox have now won 7 consecutive games. That pales beside the Patriots' winning streak of 21, but the Pats are still at least twelve games away from Super Bowl XXXIX....
The Red Sox are one victory away from winning the World Series.
Such a sentence hasn't been utterable in 18 years.
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The streets of every city are paved with the stories of their inhabitants. I very literally came across one such story yesterday in Frederiksberg.
I was taking a stroll to the library with my lovely wife and daughter in hopes that some fresh air might clear my wretched sinuses. As we made our leisurely way around the construction that's been surrounding Frederiksberg library since we moved here last year, a little discarded 2004 daybook on the sidewalk caught Trine's eye.
I glanced from her to the daybook and back to her.
"It might be interesting," she said.
I picked up the daybook and flipped through it. Mostly of the pages for the early months of the year were covered with columns of three-digit numbers, mostly the numbers 100, 150, and 200, summed up at the bottom of each column. Occassionally the numbers were followed by the tell-tale "kr" suffix, meaning it was money that was being tallied. The handwriting throughout was crude, even childish. There were notes in English, Danish, and whatever language includes words like "ligama," "ubaal," and "holbowlaha."
We entertained ourselves with a discussion of what our anonymous friend might have been tallying until we had worked the subject to death, at which point I nearly discarded the daybook in a public wastebasket.
Suddenly I found myself mesmerized. The entry for January 2 consisted of a long story in Danish that I was actually able to read. I reproduce it below in English. I've tried carrying the spelling and grammatical errors over to convey something of the feel of the thing:
I got married on the 22 May. And I was in Africa. And I am married about 7 months. My weding happened in Africa. And I had good weding. And I was pleased with it. Unbelievably happy and I like my wife. And I wanted to travels and saw her. I unbelievably miss her. One day we get a future together. And I'm thinking about to builds a house which to raise me and her at last. It costs 4000 kr. to buy [indecipherable]. Afterwards to builds... [a jumble of words and numbers]... So I hope it comes to something. That's what I think and I hope. It is fated. She is very beautiful girl. I love her. I want to do everything for her. When we got married. She thought I would live in Africa. But I didn't do that. I came back to Denmark. Anyway I travel back to her. One day. That is the story I had experience when I traveled to Africa last year.The entry on January 5th reads, "Remember. I would travels the 5 January or January month and come back July month. That is my plan next year." Then there is a name and a local phone number. Then it says, "it is just dreams."
There are frequent reminders of debts owed and loans taken and payments to be made throughout January and early Feberuary. Some of the payments are appended with the curious note, in English, "if Alla says." Then on February 6 there's a note about a meeting with someone in Somalia and the rest of the daybook is empty except for a doctor's appointment on February 19.
Then, a propos of nothing, December 31 features crude drawings of trucks and more columns of numbers.
And that was that—until I noticed an English warning on the very first page of the thing, which I transcribe verbatim:
This book is privat. So if you want be cyrusly or know what standin or writing in this book. So you must closed the book otherways the Secret in my book would be open for avery body. So maind you busienicl busenice by by besnisse bysnece b becines be bysinesI apologize to the keeper of the daybook for not having been able to mind my business. I just thought it was interesting.
And I apologize to you if it wasn't.
* * *
The new message board is kicking into gear. Current topics under discussion include remoulade and the Danish Suck. Drop on by and join the conversation, or start a new one of your own—in English or Danish.
I've changed its name to "The Moronic Underground," which sounds more interesting and is easier to abbreviate.
* * *
Four-hundred-and-fifty-one years ago today (on October 27, 1553), Michael Servetus was honored in Switzerland for his discovery of the pulmonary circulation of the blood.
Under the peculiar Swiss honor system of the age, he was awarded a crown of sulfur and set upon a podium of green wood, then lit on fire.
John Calvin is given a good deal of credit for having arranged these honors, which may have had something to do with his own gratitude to Mr. Servetus for having raised an important theological question.
Throughout history, such important theological questions have caused almost as much bloodshed as important theological answers. That doesn't mean theology's an especially bloody field—there's been just as much carnage from philosophy, political science, economics, linguistics, and the rest of the humanities.
It's probably all that blood that puts the "human" in the "humanities."
* * *
The New York City subway system opened officially 100 years ago today.
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Today is the birthday of John Cleese (1939), Ruby Dee (1924), Roy Lichtenstein (1923), Dylan Thomas (1914), Emily Post (1872), Theodore Roosevelt (1858), and James Cook (1728).
It's Disovery Day in Cuba, Independence Day in Turkmenistan and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Navy Day in the USA. It is or was also Anniversary of Name Change in Zaire, if Zaire is still Zaire, otherwise it's probably Congolese Refutation of Zairean Nomenclature Day. Or something.
Happy Hump Day!
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac