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March 11, 2012 5:37 AM   Subscribe


 
I wonder sometimes what he would have thought of the iPod. I like to think he would have loved it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:49 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're ever in London, go visit Adams' grave at Highgate cemetery. Among all these other towering monuments, his is just a small, simple upright slab. People leave little toy dolphins and other silly things on it. It is quite charming.
posted by vacapinta at 6:02 AM on March 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I attempted writing like Adams for a while in high school and early college before realizing that, just like gonzo, it's very hard to get right, and really easy to end up sounding like a douche.

Also, the Mark Carwardine link appears to be broken.
posted by KGMoney at 6:02 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a series based on Dirk Gently currently running on BBC4, its pretty fantastic. The stories are different, but the whole thing is definitely very Adamsian.
posted by memebake at 6:05 AM on March 11, 2012


Richard Dawkins, from his Eulogy for Douglas Adams, Church of Saint Martin in the Fields, London, 17th September 2001:

"I once interviewed Douglas on television, for a programme I was making on my own love affair with science. I ended up by asking him, 'What is it about science that really gets your blood running?' And here is what he said, again impromptu, and all the more passionate for that.

'The world is a thing of utter inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness that is absolutely awesome. I mean the idea that such complexity can arise not only out of such simplicity, but probably absolutely out of nothing, is the most fabulous extraordinary idea. And once you get some kind of inkling of how that might have happened ' it's just wonderful. And . . . the opportunity to spend 70 or 80 years of your life in such a universe is time well spent as far as I am concerned.'

"That last sentence of course has a tragic ring for us now. It has been our privilege to know a man whose capacity to make the best of a full lifespan was as great as was his charm and his humour and his sheer intelligence. If ever a man understood what a magnificent place the world is, it was Douglas. And if ever a man left it a better place for his existence, it was Douglas. It would have been nice if he'd given us the full 70 or 80 years. But by God we got our moneysworth from the forty nine!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:05 AM on March 11, 2012 [26 favorites]


I was lucky enough to meet Adams, in November 1997 in Oxford. The university drama society was staging a version of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, so naturally I had to go and see it. As I took my seat, I happened to glance along the row, and there was Douglas Adams, a tall, affable looking chap. I asked him to sign my program, which he did, and he listened politely while 20-year-old me babbled a bit incoherently about how much I enjoyed his work. The following year I was in the audience when he came again to Oxford to give readings from 'Last Chance to See'. Sad to think he was gone only four years after that.

(Fun trivia fact: I still have that signed program, and when I pulled it out to look at it just now, I noticed something I'd forgotten: Dirk Gently was played that night by an unknown 18 year old called Rory Kinnear.)
posted by meronym at 6:11 AM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there where I say he was supposed to be my commencement speaker, and he died an unreasonably short period of time before hand? And that he is pretty much my favorite author and I feel like an terrible person for being upset that he wasn't there, because his passing mattered so much more to his loved ones that it ever could to me?

No?

Shite.
posted by flaterik at 6:13 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Has he really been gone 11 years? Damn. I still miss you, Mr. Adams.
posted by Scientist at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're ever in London, go visit Adams' grave at Highgate cemetery. Among all these other towering monuments, his is just a small, simple upright slab. People leave little toy dolphins and other silly things on it. It is quite charming.

I was there just a couple of weeks ago. Someone had left a small blue towel next to the tombstone. There was also a small plotted plant tucked beside it, and while I'm no botanical expert, I'd be willing to bet that it was a petunia.

Thanks for everything, Mr Adams.

.
posted by Chichibio at 6:21 AM on March 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wow the part of my life that was most Adams-saturated never really overlapped with the part of my life that contains the sprawling modern internet, so getting lost in all the DNA information that is now readily available to me is overwhelming to my central nervous system.
posted by SharkParty at 6:26 AM on March 11, 2012


The fourth link, "Mark Carwardine: 'Douglas Adams and Stephen Fry were unbelievably similar'", does not work.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:30 AM on March 11, 2012


Think of all the publishing deadlines that he could have missed by now had he lived.
posted by octothorpe at 6:34 AM on March 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mr. Adams (along with this xkcd strip) is the main reason I own a Kindle despite my general dislike of the walled gardens of consumer-level tablet computing.

Kindle Keyboard (formerly Kindle 3G + WiFi) model, where the free 3G can access any website, not just Amazon.com & Wikipedia. Browser's ass for most things that aren't text, but some of my favorite websites are text.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:35 AM on March 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


“We really knew it was a hit when we got a letter which had just been addressed to ‘Megadodo Publications, Megadodo House, Ursa Minor”, and somebody had written in the corner, ‘Try BBC’. I thought that if the Post Office had heard of us, we must have made it.”

From "The Making Of The Hitchhiker’s Guide Radio Series" link.

I have heard this before and it always makes me smile.

also: You're a jerk, Dent.
posted by marienbad at 6:35 AM on March 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I really need to read his books. I feel like an asshole. I keep hearing wonderous things.
posted by Fizz at 6:47 AM on March 11, 2012


Whenever my smartphone does something insidiously clever I think about the Hitchhiker's Guide Mark II from Mostly Harmless. The only thing keeping my phone from being a time-traveling multidimensional Evil Corporate talking bird is a couple random scientific breakthroughs coming to market, mainly in the time-travel & multidimensionality departments.
posted by distressingly thick sheets at 6:53 AM on March 11, 2012


He was one hoopy frood who really knew where his towel was at.
posted by briank at 6:59 AM on March 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


[I switched the nonworking link for what seems to be the proper content. Fearfulsymmetry, let me know if you need it changed. ]
posted by taz at 7:06 AM on March 11, 2012


Loved his work, loved his view of life. Still can't forgive him for Bureaucracy or the HG2G text games, because I was never smart enough (or persistent enough, I'll admit it) to solve them.
posted by Mchelly at 7:14 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate round number anniversaries. I dislike the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

I miss the bejeezus out of DNA.
posted by mintcake! at 7:15 AM on March 11, 2012


O hai, octothorpe. [hug]
posted by mintcake! at 7:16 AM on March 11, 2012


ZeusHumms: I wonder sometimes what he would have thought of the iPod. I like to think he would have loved it.

Not sure about the iPod, but according to a great friend of his, definitely the iPad:
One melancholy thought occurs as my fingers glide and flow over the surface of this astonishing object: Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker's Guide that humankind has yet devised. -- Stephen Fry
posted by tzikeh at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I loved Hitchhiker's Guide from the first sentence.
posted by tommasz at 7:59 AM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man those Infocom games... I played the crap out of Hitchhiker's as a kid and never beat it because I kept doing something wrong during the brain maze part and killing myself. I finally got to beat it in the 90s when I found some java playable version and I couldn't believe how close I had been to the end all those years.

I still never beat Bureaucracy. I had an eagle eye on Electronics Boutique as a teenager hoping to see find it and I wasn't a computery kid at all so that was my only reason for being there. I finally got to play it around the same time I found the java Hitchhiker's, but it had one of those 1980s antipiracy measures of asking you a question about the actual paper goods included in the game box and since it was still the 1990s and everything ever hadn't quite been uploaded yet, I got stuck outside the paranoid guy's house and never finished.
posted by SharkParty at 8:14 AM on March 11, 2012


Still can't forgive him for Bureaucracy or the HG2G text games, because I was never smart enough (or persistent enough, I'll admit it) to solve them.

Not to be a downer, but the H2G2 text game wasn't about bein smat, it was about reading Adams's mind.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:17 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


smarrrrrrrrrrt.
posted by Herodios at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


My friend/business partner is someone I first dated briefly, and one of the things we bonded over was Douglas Adams. I think it was on our first date that he said that his company had done "live performances" of radio shows in the past -- with actors on stage reading from scripts, and someone in the corner doing the foley work, as if you were watching a team of actors do a radio broadcast -- and that they were trying to get permission from Adams' estate to do the first series of Hitchhikers in this way, as a benefit for the company. I think that was the point at which I got a little turned on. And conversely, my mentioning that I owned a copy of the complete radio scripts is probably where HE got a little turned on.

I will draw the veil of discretion over the rest of our first date. But our SECOND date, we went over to his place, where he put on his CD of the BBC radio recordings, and the two of us sat there on his couch, both of us reciting the whole damn thing together, in tandem, along with the recordings.

Somewhere within the next couple months, we broke up, then decided to keep working together anyway. He never heard back from the Adams estate, but decided he was going to go ahead and do the staged readings anyway; he scheduled them for May of 2002, a year after Adams' death. We assembled a great cast (the woman we found to do the voice of the whale was ASTONISHINGLY funny), and it looked like it was going to be a great show. On our opening night, I was at the theater helping set things up, and he went on a supplies run to get beers and sodas to sell during intermission. When he came back, he had a very, very odd look on his face. "I think we may have just gotten posthumous permission from Douglas Adams himself," he said.

"What do you mean?" We asked him, and he showed us the receipt from the store where he'd got the beer. The total cost of the beer, plus tax, came to precisely forty-two dollars.

Mr. Adams, the staff of Reverie Productions of Brooklyn, New York (all two of us) wish to thank you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on March 11, 2012 [39 favorites]


(Oh - and an additional thanks from my partner's girlfriend, as I've just remembered that they met when she came to one of those Hitchhikers performances, and are still together ten years later.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on March 11, 2012


[I switched the nonworking link for what seems to be the proper content. Fearfulsymmetry, let me know if you need it changed. ]

Yeah, that's the one. Normally double check links...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:29 AM on March 11, 2012


After I finished university I hitch-hiked right down the UK and into Europe and back. In my backpack was an original paperback copy of Hitch-Hikers. And a towel.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:31 AM on March 11, 2012


If you've got Netflix streaming, may I suggest celebrating this somber anniversary watching the Doctor Who serial "The Pirate Planet" (by Adams) - eWit's ridiculous, fantastic, horribly flawed (especially if you aren't 11 years old discovering a show and Adams for the first time) but still probably in my top 10 Classic DW episides (see parenthetical above for why)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:49 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had the good fortune to chat with Douglas Adams at Macworld 2000 in SF. (At that same expo I remember seeing Steve Jobs sweep down an aisle across the hall surrounded by his posse; Wozniak standing by a booth, sans posse, talking to someone, George Clinton likewise.) I hadn't planned on seeing him speak and wasn't even really aware that he was going to, but I turned a corner in that cavernous Moscone Center space and there he was giving a talk, the last ten or fifteen minutes of which I caught.

Afterwords, I went up to him and, though now I hardly remember what the talk was or what my questions were, I do remember showing him the copy of cog sci prof/design guru Don Norman's book, The Invisible Computer, which I had recently started reading. His eyes lit up (even more than usual): "Don Norman is a friend of mine!" (They were both Apple Fellows at the time.) I'll never forget the animated curiosity with which he peppered me with questions about the book, which he said he hadn't yet seen, although it had been out for a while. For the couple of minutes we chatted, his attention and friendliness were total; I really got the sense of someone who was just always so glad to meet interesting people (Don Norman; not so much me) and learn as much as he could about, well, everything. What a great guy.
posted by Philofacts at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wish I could double-favourite EmpressCallipygos's comment.
posted by marienbad at 9:26 AM on March 11, 2012


I just wanted to say that all I knew about Douglas Adams was that he wrote HHGtotheG and that something about the number 42 being the answer to everything (which I also learned here). Now I spent some time reading the wikipedia article and hearing how he was tied into UK's cultural history and that he died at 49(!). Well, I'm a little bit smarter and more appreciative of DA and life in general again this morning thanks to Metafilter.
posted by bquarters at 9:28 AM on March 11, 2012


I remember the unexpected shock and sadness I felt when Adams died. I read it in a newspaper I was reading while I sweated away on an exercise bike in the gym. That gave me a bit of a chill, as you can probably imagine.

Dawkins's "Lament" hit the spot.
posted by Decani at 10:45 AM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


$42 sure doesn't buy very much beer.
posted by item at 10:54 AM on March 11, 2012


A few months ago I re listened to the original radio version of Hitch Hikers and the later adaptaptions of the later books (which I'd not listened to before). Soon after I found an interview with Adams by the BBC, for I think, then tenth anniversary of the show. Adams actually says that '70 or 80s years' quote... real chills at that point.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2012


$42 sure doesn't buy very much beer.

It was a small theater.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:02 AM on March 11, 2012


Douglas was a lovely person and it was a privilege to know him and work with him.

The more obsessive fans may want to visit Islington and see the window he looked through when he wrote. His huge apartment was everything that's over what is now a gay bar called "The Green" and Don Matteo's coffee house, and his office window was on the side of the building looking out over the roof of Blacks that has the statue on top. From his desk you had a clear view of Hotblack Desiato and Co which explains where that inspiration came from. At the time The Green was a pet shop and Blacks was called Dome Antiques, but the buildings themselves haven't changed.

The flat was incorporated into Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - he has Richard MacDuff live there, and he gets his sofa caught on the awkward staircase with a right-angle bend at each end that visitors encountered on opening the front door to Douglas' place.
In So Long and Thanks for All the Fish he has Fenchurch live very near there too (in a converted stable behind "the derelict Royal Agricultural Hall" which is The Business Design Centre now). I think that was also a real place as I think he thanks the owners for the fictional use of their place in the dedication ("with thanks to Rick and Heidi for the loan of their stable event").
A lot of So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is about that bit of Islington, although the specific stuff he made fun of has changed a lot

Eventually he moved to a big georgian house around the corner on Compton Terrace where he had the most staggering parties you have ever seen.
Oh and then he moved to California and died, but I don't like to remember that bit.
posted by w0mbat at 11:22 AM on March 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


One melancholy thought occurs as my fingers glide and flow over the surface of this astonishing object: Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker's Guide that humankind has yet devised.

That's it, I'm changing my lock screen to "Don't Panic", in large, friendly letters.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:45 PM on March 11, 2012


That's it, I'm changing my lock screen to "Don't Panic", in large, friendly letters.

I've got two of those in my random assortment of lockscreens on my Kindle. One using the version from the BBC series, and the other using the version from the movie with the Hitchhiker's thumb logo.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2012


Only 60, huh? Just too soon to lose him.

This is my favourite Adams quote:

Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. From a speech at the Digital Biota conference, Cambridge 1998.

It's such a simple and elegant take down of a very human way of thinking. I love the way he saw the world. Its so sad we'll never get to see his commentary on the direction our technology has taken in the last decade.

Don't Panic.
posted by dry white toast at 1:08 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Douglas Adams would have been 60 today. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:37 AM - 42 comments (3 new) +


Eponyohmygoodness.

OK - favourite lines. "It was the sort of restaurant where little expense had been spared to give the impression that no expense had been spared".
posted by Sebmojo at 1:12 PM on March 11, 2012


I cannot recommend enough this episode of the South Bank Show (first of the six parts it appears to be broken into here) about Douglas Adams. He and various friends and acquaintances go into a lot of the matters mentioned here. Even better, if you can *cough* find a decent TV rip of it or something I recommend getting it and watching it properly. It contains a lot of very well written and performed new material and features much of the cast of the original radio/tv programs.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:17 PM on March 11, 2012


I've got two of those in my random assortment of lockscreens on my Kindle.

Did you jailbreak your kindle first? Seems like that's the only way to customize the lock screen. Apologies, DNA, for the derail.
posted by dry white toast at 1:24 PM on March 11, 2012


Did you jailbreak your kindle first? Seems like that's the only way to customize the lock screen.

Yep. Rather painless. I mostly did it so that I could put "Property of:" contact info across the top of all the lock screens in my rotation, but adding "Don't Panic" screens was only slightly behind in importance. (Note: The method I linked to is useless on "Special Offers" advertising-subsidized Kindles.)

Apologies, DNA, for the derail.

I think he'd be amused at the absudity of corporations selling people perfectly good computing hardware that is locked down where it can't do but a few functions. "Here I am, a perfectly good linux device with gigabytes of storage memory, and what do they ask me to do? Display ebooks."
posted by radwolf76 at 1:40 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the show linked above: DNA reveals where the the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation elevators came from. (Link goes directly to it at 2:30)
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:50 PM on March 11, 2012


That's it, I'm changing my lock screen to "Don't Panic", in large, friendly letters.
posted by George_Spiggott at 14:45 on March 11 [+] [!]


Beat you to it, several years ago, when I first got my smartphone. I wonder if I should get a matching ringtone.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:55 PM on March 11, 2012


Also his best work was Last Chance to See. Everyone here needs to read the book.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:57 PM on March 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I had no idea Adams was born on the 11th. That almost makes up for sharing a birthday with Rupert Murdoch.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:10 PM on March 11, 2012


I once heard that Adams' original plans for the reveal concerning the Answer to the Ultimate Question was that the Answer was actually supposed to be interpreted as For tea, too.
posted by JHarris at 2:48 PM on March 11, 2012


Doesn't fit the corrupted version of the Question, in either base-10 or base-13 math.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:55 PM on March 11, 2012


A little bit late in the day, but today's Kindle Daily Deal is the entire HHGTTG "trilogy" for £2.19.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:21 PM on March 11, 2012


$42 sure doesn't buy very much beer.
posted by item at 6:54 PM on March 11


To buy a lot of beer with $42 would seem very improbable, certainly. Almost infinitely so.
posted by Decani at 3:45 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of all the people I've loved but never met who have insisted on dying before me, Adams' death makes me the saddest, I think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:44 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A little bit late in the day, but today's Kindle Daily Deal is the entire HHGTTG "trilogy" for £2.19.

amazon.co.uk customers only. Had to "temporarily loan my kindle to a friend who works at the US Embassy in London", and then I could purchase it for him to read, because the kindle was listed at his address, but I managed to get home from work and snag the deal just before they closed it up.

Thank you very much for the tip, EndsOfInvention.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:15 PM on March 11, 2012


42 x .
posted by humanfont at 5:33 PM on March 11, 2012


I kept doing something wrong during the brain maze part and killing myself

That is, unfortunately, the way forward. So long as something happens simultaneously, you are then able to do something else.

That something else was the one thing that stopped me from finishing the game myself. I spent 6 months with 350 pts until, to my eternal shame, someone gave me a hint.
posted by Sparx at 7:45 PM on March 11, 2012


Jesus, the 21st century has really just been one long fucking ass beating hasn't it.
posted by nanojath at 7:52 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: has really just been one long fucking ass beating hasn't it.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:47 PM on March 11, 2012




Every screensaver that I've had on every computer I've ever owned has been 'Don't Panic' in large friendly letters. I think of DNA every time I use this amazing magical thing I have in my lap right now. I've never been more devastated by the death of a famous person than I was when I read the very short article that appeared in the Sunday paper after he died.

He had so much more to give. Salmon of Doubt made me cry and is the only Douglas Adams book that I've read only once because it's the beginning of so many incredible ideas. He was only just getting started!
posted by h00py at 6:10 AM on March 12, 2012


I named my first sailboat Forty-Two, because at least for me, sailing is definitely The Answer. Turned out not to be a very good name for a thirty-three foot boat, though- using the radio was always a challenge (although that single fuel dock attendant who ever got it apologized for taking awhile to fuel me up because he said, over the VHF, that he was contemplating life, the universe, and everything, and he'd be down as soon as he could. Made my week).

The dinghy was, of course, the Towel.

DNA was also the guy who finally convinced me that I really actually was an atheist. I'm glad to see so many other people here felt the same way about him that I did/do. Gin and tonics all around.
posted by zap rowsdower at 10:55 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If there ever is time travel then he's going to be waiting for us at the Restaurant at the end of the Universe. There is no way that the first thing any self respecting geek does that invents time travel will not be to set up that restaurant and head back to pick up Douglas. (Or should that read "Not be'd to haveen", he did point out that tenses were the main problem with time travel.
posted by Gratishades at 11:46 AM on March 12, 2012


Nice to see Dirk Gently is finally on the air as a TV series.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:02 PM on March 12, 2012


DNA was also the guy who finally convinced me that I really actually was an atheist.


He was pretty influential there for me, too. After reading some of the non-fiction bits in Salmon of Doubt, I'm quietly convinced that, had Adams lived, he would have followed Dawkins and Hitchens in publishing a best-selling book criticizing religion. Except, y'know, funny.
posted by DiscountDeity at 12:43 PM on March 14, 2012


I always thought the staircase was at St. John's College, Cambridge?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirk_Gently's_Holistic_Detective_Agency says it was about an incident in Third Court. I had assumed it was the triple set in Second Court which has such a staircase, and where Douglas Adams lived for a year (as did I later).
posted by mdoar at 2:58 PM on March 22, 2012


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