Friday, September 5, 2008

"Ford, you're turning into a penguin. Stop it."

Don't Panic!

Next to our independence, one of my favorite things we got from England is the work of the late British writer, humorist, musician, environmental activist, technologist and self proclaimed "radical atheist" Douglas Adams (1952-2001), whose most famous opus is the five book Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy "Trilogy" (which, in the world of Douglas Adams, makes perfect sense). Originally a BBC radio series, H2G2 (or HHGTTG or The Guide) developed into a series of novels and became a multi-media phenomenon that includes a British Television series, a computer game, comic books, Stage Shows, additional radio programs and, most recently, a big screen motion picture.

At the same time brilliant, hilarious, thought-provoking, insightful, satiric, silly and just plain fun, the Guide has to be experienced to be fully appreciated and there's no way I can do it justice. In brief - the story follows the adventures of Earthman Arthur Dent, who finds himself the last human in existence when Earth is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass on an otherwise quite ordinary Thursday. He escapes with the help of Ford Prefect, an alien travel writer from the vicinity of Betelgeuse, on earth doing research for the Guide (which is sort of an electronic talking Frommer's). They eventually end up on a stolen spaceship captained by Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, former President of the Galaxy. Like I said - you have to experience it first hand (I'm currently listening to an audio-book version read by British author, actor, and comedian Stephen Fry), so just mix yourself a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and find out the rest for yourself.


  1. Arthur isn't the last human in existence-- let's not forget the owner of the white mice...

  2. I know there's Trillian too and there ends up being a whole new re-populated Earth (thank you, dolphins) and then you know what happens in "Mostly Harmless"... It was getting too complicated to explain...

  3. douglas adams used to live in Islington, north London, which was where i spent pretty much the first thirty-something years of my life. me and my mates used to see him wandering about between pubs, giggling to himself, all the time. he was a wonderful man, full of joy, always happy to stop and spend time with his fans. one of my most prized possessions is the original BBC radio cast double lp that was released of the Guide, signed by Douglas: " so long, and thanks for all the beer! " ( i bought him a pint ). such a great shame, when he passed on.

  4. Joe, I love to hear that famous people I admire are just as nice as I imagine them to be. Thanks for the insight. I love your blog btw.

  5. I was always fond of Slartibartfast myself. He wrote some other stuff as well which resides somewhere in the boxes leftover from when we last moved - - it is a book of ecological writings and has the same sort of humor poking through in places as the guide.

    incidentally, there is a terrific French writer you would love. He wrote and self published a book called " A year in the Merde " as well as another called " Talk to ythe snail: a guide for understanding the french". His names eludes me and I am frankly too damn lazy to Google him at present ( as well as tranquilized for my back issues ... ). In any event you should seek him out - - insanely funny stuff about ex-patriate life. While Hillsdale is not Paris, I am sure you can relate!