Friday, July 24, 2009

Copenhagen (and Berlin) Wrapen-upenen

- Final Quotes
- Copenhagen Final Quiz
- Book Reviews
- Copenhagen Observations
- Copenhagen vs. Berlin

This is I, Hamlet the Dane!

Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused,
And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill.
All he believes are his eyes
And his eyes, they just tell him lies.

Copenhagen Final Quiz:
THB commends all those that managed to not submit their scores for the final Berlin quiz (that being everyone), and makes the same recommendation for this quiz: that you not try for too high a score, that might put you in running for the prize.
1. Did DB sleep through the TV going off at 11:45? Five points
2. If you have 385 euros on you, enter Denmark and get 2250 kroner from an ATM, find a loose $500 bill in your wallet, and decide to visit Noma for dinner, how much money do you have left at the end of the evening? Ten points for coming within 5,000,000 rupees.
3. How many days did it rain in two weeks:
a. 4
b. 8
c. 12
d. 16
e. 20
Five points for correct answer
4. If you buy a ten ride metro pass for $26 and you take two rides, how much does it cost per ride? 1 point, and minus five points for an incorrect answer, and minus ten points for skipping this question
5. Which night did we get a good bottle of Chilean wine? Which night did we get to drink bad Chilean wine? Ten points
6. What day did they come around on some sort of people-crane and wash the windows? Was it raining? Ten points for right day, zero points for answering correctly to “was it raining?”.
7. Would you pay $17 per person to just stroll around Tivoli Gardens? Five points
8. If there is one artist THB does not want to see an art gallery, who might that be? Five points and a picture of skull encrusted with diamonds signed by someone who is paid by someone who may or may not know the artist
9. If the access to the computers is up a steep flight of narrow-rung stairs, which person checked their e-mail more often: DB or THB? Which person checked the Dow level more often: DB or THB? Which looked at the baseball scores on ESPN more: THB or THB? Five points for each correct answer
10. How many times did THB buy something at Lagkagehuset? Ten points for correct answer, and a bonus of 10 points if you can correctly translate Lagkagehuset (into Lithuanian Spanish)
11. Is it easier to find somewhere if you have already been there? Five points for correct answer and additional five points if you correctly state the number of maps THB consulted during bike rides
12. Name the one appliance you should go out and purchase right this minute? Five points, and an additional five points if you pronounced it arrow-chino when reading it to yourself, and fifty points if you pronounced it that way when telling someone else to go out and buy one
13. What makes mail carriers stand out in Denmark, five points:
a. They ride bikes to make their deliveries
b. They ride three wheeler bikes with a big yellow box on the front
c. They wear striped shirts with the cuffs unbuttoned and maybe rolled up
d. They wear shorts, regardless of the weather
e. It takes some getting used to recognizing these casual types as having some well defined purpose in life
f. All of the above
14. If a Dane says “please” what can you discern from this? Twenty points
15. If you visit a restaurant in Fyn and see a dish being served and the waitress tells you it is an omelet yet looks like a soufflé with potatoes and vegetables piled on top, and later you ask a waiter outside a café in Copenhagen if they have that dish and he laughs wickedly and says in perfect English: There is no special omelet dish in Denmark, whom do you believe? Five points
16. If the flower pots needed watering, would you contort yourself over the edge of the lip of the canal and try and insert a key into a lock, turn on the water and then pull out a 20 foot hose now full of water, or would you fill up a small pitcher and make numerous runs from the kitchen to the backyard? Ten points for identifying which method THB used and which DB used, and twenty points for correctly identifying which one DB suggested THB try after her own attempted method
17. How much money (in kroners) do you need to keep in your bank account if the only method of payment other than cash is a debit card, ten points
a. 5000
b. 10000
c. 20000
d. 30000
e. 80000
f. More
18. Is it better to do the “easy” house exchange first or second? Ten points
19. Metaphysical question, award yourself as many points as you like for your answer: if Ikea is a Danish company that makes extremely well-made low cost furniture and furnishings, how is that Denmark is the most expensive city in the world? If you realize that Denmark is a country, then give yourself at least a few metaphysical points and a few more if you believe Ikea is a Danish company
20. Will you think of Bob Dylan the next time you hear anything having to do with William Shakespeare? One thousand points for correct answer
21. Twenty points for correctly Identifying any of the pictures, 100 points for figuring out the theme of the pictures

The person replying with the most number of points within 5 days of this posting is entitled to one Emeryville Arizmendi t-shirt; please send your size with your answer. Oh, and you must “post” your answer as a comment on the blog, so please make sure to identify yourself with your point total if you post anonymously; e-mail answers not allowed (except with special dispensation, so make your plea sound better than the others who respond via e-mail or posted their answer via blog comments)

Book Reviews:
• Gertrude and Claudius, John Updike: The love affair between Hamlet’s mother and her brother-in-law, the future king, while the King was still alive. Quite good (best thing I ever read of Updike’s, I am not a big fan) and a fast read (not read on this trip). Available in Kindle edition.
• Spiral Jetta, Erin Hogan. A trip through the southwest to visit the great earthwork art projects or, in one case, to attempt to visit the great earthwork art projects, plus a visit to Marfa for the Judd experience. This book definitely reads like a travel blog, though shorter and easier to read than some you may be familiar with. It is informative, includes a bit of art history and recent commentary from Kimmelman, Tompkins and a few other contemporary profilers of the artists. The title is a play on words, the author drives a Jetta and her first stop is Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Available in Kindle edition
• The World Is What It Is: Patrick French. Biography of V.S. Naipaul. To paraphrase Naipaul himself: He is NOT a nice man, HE is not a nice man, he is not a nice MAN, and he is (really) not a NICE man (the guy had a verbal tic of repeating himself, emphasizing different words in the sentence each time). However, he did enable French, giving him free and unlimited access to archives and friends, and did not retain any rights of censorship on the book (he couldn’t have!). The book itself is reasonably well written, not too wordy when it comes to the books written by Naipaul, and a great look at a man in his time since Naipaul was more journalist than novelist. I have read several of Naipaul’s books (fiction and non-fiction) and the books do not really reflect at all what he is like in real life, not a clue. If you want to read a book that exposes a well-known guy as a truly, completely arrogant asshole, in his own words and those of his first wife (through her journals), this is the book for you. I couldn’t stop reading! Available in Kindle edition
• Beginner’s Greek: James Collins. A novel about a 25-30 year old guy that has a chance encounter on a plane with a young woman, falls in love with her on the flight, loses contact and then re-encounters her when she has hooked up with his best friend. A well-written fluff piece with a Hollywood ending. Probably submitted as an ironic movie script. Available in Kindle edition
• Cloud Atlas: David Mitchell, takes me 30 pages to realize I have already read this book, and at that can't remember finishing it. NOT recommended

• The Danes dress very casually, and seem to realize that they live in a very expensive country with good social services provided in exchange for very high taxes. Much friendlier in person, and everyone we met here seemed for the most part interested in helping out once they “knew” us
• Hey, it rains a lot here in summer, day after day, and is a lot less humid than Berlin, a lot less
• Once you get used to it, getting around via bikes is terrific, until you realize it rains a lot here in summer and that it must be really brutal in winter. Good to know that the public transportation is also quite extensive (except in the newer housing development south of Copenhagen, which was a very expensive ghost town)
• Danes are even more rule followers than what we saw in Berlin; best example was early on Sunday morning where a jogger was waiting patiently for the light to turn green and as best we could tell there was not a car coming anywhere near the intersection she needed to cross, it was clear for miles (other than us, and we weren’t crossing in front of her).
• Countryside is full of wheat fields, not too many animals (we saw more horses than cows or sheep)
• They don’t eat a lot of leafy green vegetables, and most vegetables come in some sort of sauce, and they do love their new potatoes
• Driving was pretty easy and most things are very well marked until it comes to reading the street signs with their long complicated names and changing every few blocks to another long complicated name
• Ice cream here is overrated, though heavily indulged in; a six scooper waffle cone was on every open air menu and we saw plenty of people order them. Somehow with all the great pastry and ice cream eaten, they look in great shape: lots of people exercising and plenty of bike riding instead of getting around in cars
• There’s smoking here, and maybe it is about what you would see in the US give or take a few percent, and way less than Germany
• DB felt that the famed Danish design was somewhat limited and you saw the same items over and over again. I thought the best store we found was Moomentstore and it turned out to have not a lot of items, many of which were from Japan, US or Germany (sometimes done in collaboration with Danish designers)

Berlin vs Copenhagen: 5 points awarded for each category won
Accommodations: Berlin, mostly because everything was so easy and accessible, though the swimming in the canal right outside our back door was a huge plus for Copenhagen. Sleeping separately and climbing the stairway to computer heaven huge drawbacks in Copenhagen
Art: Berlin even if the galleries in Copenhagen had been open. Though Louisiana makes it a pretty tight category, the museum in Leipzig was even more of a wonder
Bath tub: Copenhagen had one and Berlin did not
Cars: Copenhagen by default, though on second thought, the cost of gas and bridge tolls gives this one to Berlin (and the train to and from Spinnerei was driven by someone else and required no navigation)
Cost: DUH! If you don’t get this one right, you stopped reading after we left Berlin
Dress: Both towns are extremely casual, to the extent that anyone wearing what we would call business casual really stood out. The Danish women seem to be in one uniform, combinations of black and white, black and grey, black and black, and black and anything else. They definitely looked good in their uniforms! Copenhagen
Drinking: Beer and wine better in Berlin
Entertainment: Then we take Berlin, Leonard Cohen in a landslide over five days of Metallica
Exchangers: We know the Danes were disappointed at the beginning of their beach stay, so Berlin for now (they come next August)
Food (unprepared): The best bakery in Europe and good produce in Copenhagen overcomes the much better prices in the Berlin stores
Neighbors: Gerry the Indian aficionado vs. Helle and Jergen, category winner is Copenhagen; though Gerry was wonderful, he didn’t mortorboat us
Outdoor cafes: Berlin, available all day long and the city is basically one large sidewalk café that never ends.
Reading: I had read one book that took place in Copenhagen, The Exception by Christian Jurgersen (translated, available in Kindle edition), which is a very good psychoanalytic thriller. However, I had trouble finding other recent releases dealing with Denmark. Berlin was not a problem, three books all read while in town. Sounds likes Berlin, except the quotes of the day were from some obscure work that takes place in the north of Zealand. Toss-up
Restaurants: Berlin, on overall quality and price, though we think we had a few better meals in Copenhagen, we also had some real duds
Smoking: Copenhagen, with about 40% fewer of the population lighting up at all times of the day
Sports: Wimbledon vs. Tour de France, Copenhagen, because we were biking all over town while Contador was leading Astana to the yellow jersey (and we don’t play tennis), even with great show by Williams sisters and Roger achieving 15 slams
Touring: Interesting comparison, Leipzig and the infamous trip to Spinnerei vs. Fyn and the Funish group. Bad food in both, better scenery in Fyn, great art in Leipzig gives points to Berlin
Transportation: Bikes vs. the S- and U-Bahns. Toss-up, both great
Water: the water in Copenhagen was much nicer, we actually felt like our hair was clean after shampooing, and we were actually able to get tap water with a meal in Copenhagen, impossible in Berlin
Weather: Copenhagen, even with all its rain, over the humidity of Berlin
Overall: Berlin, by a small margin

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