Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Weather in Copenhagen is Identical to the Weather in Vermont...

...temperature-wise, and it's raining! Too bad, as Marge's return to work a bit later this morning would have included a short hot-air balloon ride (an unexpected perk I can't really explain; something to do with a reward for a teacher in the district Marge was going to tag along for), though we reckon that's now rained out.

We're indeed home again, after a lengthy 19 hours and three flights back. We were sorry to leave, as we really loved our visit to Copenhagen, and everyone there we were lucky enough to meet and spend time with.

I'll post more on the trip later this week, particularly on the excellent event, but I still have a heady two-day crunch ahead of me at The Center for Cartoon Studies I have to prep and pack for. It means two more nights away from home when I'd love to just steep in my home juices, but I'm eager to engage with the end-of-the-first-ever-year sessions today and tomorrow. Our 'grand adventure' to Copenhagen is, alas, over, but I still have the more expansive 'grand adventure' of CCS Year One to complete.

So, sparse posting until then, if at all, if I am able to get to a computer.

Thanks to Henrik Andreasen's thoughtful and attentive Monday with a group of us (Jose, Marge & I, and Leah & John joined us about noon), Marge indeed enjoyed every single thing she'd hoped to do during our brief visit. Thus, we left without any "if only..." regrets -- we managed to savor far, far more than we thought possible.

[Alas, though, one of my missions was not accomplished: I'd hoped to find for for Elizabeth Chasalow at CCS a copy (hopefully two; one for me!) of Gare du Nord by Rolf Classon, reportedly an illustrated history of Swedish and Scandanavian comics. No such luck; sorry, Elizabeth, but I'll keep in touch with my contacts in Denmark and hope for the best. I did search the comic dealers at, the two major comic shops in Copenhagen, and one great bookshop, but couldn't find any histories of Scandanavian comics, much less Classon's -- one of the Copenhagen comics shop owners kindly did an online search for me, checking used book dealers online in Denmark -- though I lucked into a 1998 hardcover price guide for Danish comics (soon to be revised, I'm told) which I snapped up. In the meantime: Gene, I'll take you up on that offer -- thanks! -- and will email you directly.]

Come yesterday morning, after we'd had a fairly sound few hours of sleep, our kind host Kim Jensen arrived at his apartment (which, again, he'd allowed us to stay in) door at 7:30 AM, having had no sleep, exhausted but intent upon ensuring we made it to the proper train for the last leg of our Copenhagen trip to the airport. Kim has worked professionally for years subtitling theatrical features in Danish for their mainstream release, and was unexpectedly called in for a Monday late-night-to-AM shift thanks to the pressing schedule to ready Mission Impossible III for its Danish debut, day-and-date with the rest of the world. Using laser technology, every single print must be subtitled individually (I always assumed it was done with an interpositive and prints would be struck from that, but that's not how it's done), so Kim's job has been a bit more of a pressure-cooker given the under-the-wire delivery of upcoming releases, usually reel by reel rather than complete, with do-or-die release dates now locked into international studio day-and-date rollouts (to discouraged bootleg video/DVD releases beating theatrical debuts). Nevertheless, Kim & Regina did join everyone for the Monday night Indian restaurant gathering, and Regina was up and about to bid us farewell yesterday morning, too, which was sweet. They've both been the most caring hosts one could hope for, to the very end: Kim stayed with us on the initial Metro ride and made sure we made it to the correct train platform, with our destination clear in our minds (there's three different airport stops) before bidding us a warm goodbye. Thanks, Kim, we'll really miss you.

The departure from Copenhagen was a singular experience: as in every other aspect of life we sampled during our four days, from the buses to the Metros (both with timers, alerting you to the arrival time of the next bus or train) to every aspects of getting around their largest city, the Danes have made it as easy, comfortable, and stress-free as imaginable. We arrived at our gate well within the time now needed for international flights, found the gate area, which is set up for comfortable seating -- and before it's time to board, they come to you, one by one, to check your passport, tickets, and/or boarding passes to make sure everything's in order. By the time we were boarding, we were grinning at each other like stooges: can air travel really be this beguiling?

In Denmark, it can -- but not elsewhere. We had a stop and changeover in Frankfurt, Germany, which went smoothly but had the most rigorous security I've ever seen (Marge has travelled twice to Israel, which she says beats the German security measures by a mile). We moved through three security stations, including a wand-scan and pat down that ends with a cursory "shoes off" foot message (nyuk nyuk) before being shooed into the gate areas. I saw one security official scanning another passenger's passport with an outsized magnifying glass -- it was almost cartoony -- but didn't see the resolution of that scrutiny; we were off to our plane. By comparison, all USA post 9/11 security is a sad joke.

Again, an easy enough boarding experience, followed by the almost 9 hour flight to Washington/Dulles in the US. Though the plane wasn't nearly as comfortable as our flight into Copenhagen (Scandanavian Air is great!), it was OK and there were no crying babies (unlike our flight in), only a poor old fellow hacking his lungs out upon occasion.

Of course, as soon as we arrived in the US, we were back in the crowded mania that is Dulles, bombing as best we could through the unenviable gauntlet -- off the plane, cattle-call through a procession of customs aisles broken only by the need to collect one's complete luggage en route to another customs/security agent for final clearance (thankfully!) and then off to check our luggage again and then to our gate -- in the mere 60 minutes we had between arrival and departure to our final airline destination in Hartford, CT. We made it through in time, but arrived to our United Airline gate having broken a sweat with the hustle to find only one United employee valiantly manning the gate single-handedly, from checking tickets and issuing boarding passes to dealing with preboarding families with children and attending to a petulant first-class customer and fretting stand-by. But she did it all with aplomb, and we were soon off on our final flight homeward -- a brief enough time in the air, though it was spiced with an unfortunate medical emergency (a middle-aged woman a ways up from where we were seating had some trouble, requiring oxygen -- she looked dazed but OK when the emergency team took her off the plane in Hartford).

Anyhoot, enough on that.

We drove home to VT in a steady rain and 47 degrees, the identical weather we'd left in Copenhagen that very morning.

Ah, home. A few phone messages, but everything's fine. Our king-sized bed greeted us and we fell into it blissfully and slept like babies.

Gas prices are down a couple cents, Colin Powell has upset Condy Rice's composure, Stephen Colbert apparently pissed off the Prez entertaining at the White House, and we're still a country of fuckheads, agonizing over national ID cards while raining death and destruction upon others, but hey, we're happy to be home.