My 1600th dice tale. For more, follow me on Instagram.
A good story rarely begins with the phrase “Let me tell you about this dream I had…,” but this will be short. Please stick with me.
I was teaching a training course to people hired to be security guards at some sort of event. I was informing them that some “troublemakers” at the event would be paid actors who would instantly reward the guard with valuable prizes if they dealt with the situation according to policy and in a humane, de-escalating manner.
Even in the cold light of morning, I think that’s actually a good idea.
The first to disappear was my next door neighbor. My wife laughed when I told her, pointing out it was Black Friday, and that she was probably just out shopping. But by Sunday evening, the nosey old lady and her yappy little dog were both still gone.
On Monday, at work, my boss wasn’t there. Had the dumb bastard been promoted and sent to another office? No, there wasn’t an announcement. He was simply gone.
After work, I rushed home to tell my wife the good news about my boss. Our house was oddly quiet. She, and all her belongings; utterly gone.
Never doubt the power of a wish.
Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.
The first little pig lived in a starter home that needed a lot of work. A lot of work. Fixing all the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC took all the pig’s time and money, so the rickety front door, which only closed if you pushed very hard, was just something to live with.
The second little pig lived in a tall condominium building. It was home to so many interesting people! People who loved to shop online, which brought many deliveries to the building. To save time for everyone, the access code that opened the front door was the same as the building’s street number.
The third little pig lived in a new home, inside a guard gated community. The home had a Ring video doorbell, fast Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth door locks. Unfortunately, the pig’s bank was acquired in a corporate merger and none of his auto-payment settings transferred correctly. When the electric company turned off his service, a wolf walked in and stole everything.
Oudmanhuispoort (Old Man’s House Passage) was part of an 18th Century senior citizen’s home. We learned about the place during a late-night “ghost tour” and vowed to visit the ancient market when it was open for business. Not too long after, a rainy day provided the perfect excuse.
In the mid 1880s this passageway became a place for vendors to sell music, books, and prints. That’s still going on today, although during our Tuesday morning visit most of the stalls were closed. One booth that was open sold nothing but used dictionaries — of every kind imaginable, such as “Biblical Greek.”
It’s said that Amsterdammer Vincent van Gogh was inspired by the Japanese prints he saw here, forever changing the course of Western art. The print vendor open on the day we visited had many great pieces to choose from, at very reasonable prices. Two (a Pooka, and a Water Fairy) will be making their way back home to Chicago with us, which poses a new challenge for our luggage situation, but we’ll do our best. (Update: We visited again, and while more booths were open that time, it was still fairly sparse. Perhaps September is off-season for the market.)
The shop’s owner was a charming lady whose only U.S. visit has been to Los Angelas, so she had a few questions about Chicago, which she said was one of her best-selling old map prints.
Postscript: The passageway and surrounding buildings are now home to the University of Amsterdam’s School of Law, which makes clear their view of interlopers in classic passive voice:
We had a “date” to meet Kay and Flo for drinks the day after our joint nighttime dinner cruise of the Amsterdam canals. Gale and I arrived early and settled in at “Bar Americain” at the American Hotel. (The fact that we were early will surprise few of you.)
The walls of the bar are filled, corner to corner, with framed 8 × 10 photos of celebrities. Gale immediately recognized a few — such as Boy George — and as we waited for the arrival of the server we tentatively identified several more, including Slash.
Our server, Roger, confirmed many of our guesses and explained the photos were all taken in the bar. (I was wrong about Lenny Kravitz, it was a Dutch singer that Roger assured me I’d never heard of.) Gale and I were both surprised at how bad Billy Idol looked and would have never recognized him. And of course there was no mistaking the boys from Texas, ZZ Top.
One of my favorites, which Gale spotted, was a young Dweezil Zappa.
Kay and Flo — who were staying at the hotel — said they heard that it was soon to become a Hard Rock property. Which makes sense, given the rock star appeal. A guest book in the lobby displayed the signatures of UB40, who were playing in town that weekend.
Roger did a good job of keeping us well served and told us, when asked, that he was a true native, having been born just a few blocks away. He also offered Kay and Flo a couple of tips for their next destination, Barcelona.
As we left I gave Roger a Bucktown pin, and he gratefully reciprocated with a Bar Americain guitar pick.
We had a great time visiting with Flo and Kay. We left them well after dark (despite intentions otherwise) and had a long walk back to our canalboat, in a heavy rain. But it was worth the experience and friendship, both new and old. I’m hoping we get back to see Roger again before we leave.
Our first encounter with the future, on this very strange day, occurred in the Assistens Cemetery (c1760). We were playing the fabulous Shadow's Notebook puzzle walk and it led us to the grave of Andreas Morgenrødt.
According to local lore Andreas made at least four trips back in time and eventually perished in a forward jump, in 2064, as noted on his tombstone. Or, at least that's what I think the story is, as the scant info findable online is in Danish.
That evening, at Tivoli Gardens, we encountered a tightly packed array of wildly spinning and tumbling time machines. Every one had a bright red LED display that indicated the relative year for each pilot. Above the carriages, a giant mechanical clock ticked backwards at a steady cadence.
Tivoli Gardens (c1843) is said to be the inspiration for Disneyland. That may not be verifiable, but it is easily believable, as the attention to detail and whimsy is apparent at every turn. Also notable is the tenor of the rides — they operate at speeds and heights that no lawyer would ever allow in the US.
Our third and final time-shift of the day happened in Tivoli’s homage to Danish back alleys. There we ordered two delicious “toasties” for dinner. It wasn't until after finishing our sandwiches that we noticed this, below the cash register:
Not entirely sure of its meaning, we took it as a sign to bring our day to a close.
Postscript: After telling the above story to our friend George (Hi George!) he correctly prognosticated that our time travel would continue the next day with a visit to the 1970s at Christiana — the autonomous commune/utopia within Copenhagen. Groovy, man.