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Don't panic.
March 11, 2013 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Today would have been Douglas Adams' 61st birthday. Google is celebrating with an elaborate doodle. Neil Gaiman, who once wrote a companion book to the Hitchhiker's Guide, reminisces a little bit about the man here. Worth reading, if you haven't read it before, is the old lament by Richard Dawkins, a long-time friend of Adams. (Second thing on the page, not first; scroll down.)
posted by Rory Marinich (99 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
(The lament was included in The Salmon of Doubt, a combination of non-fiction essays about life, the Beatles, and Apple products, unfinished stories, and older, less-known works. It's a wonderful tribute to a brilliant, messy, and enthusiastic mind.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I think a nerd is a person who uses the telephone to talk to other people about telephones. And a computer nerd therefore is somebody who uses a computer in order to use a computer."
I think Douglas Adams would have enjoyed metafilter. I know we would have enjoyed having him on here.

.
posted by Fizz at 9:45 AM on March 11, 2013 [24 favorites]


Fizz: Douglas Adams was made for the Internet. A man before his time.

If you can read Frank the Vandal and not mourn the blog that man would have kept, you are weird.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:47 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought he was spending the decade dead for tax reasons.
posted by dr_dank at 9:48 AM on March 11, 2013 [24 favorites]


Imagine if he'd lived he might be almost but not quite done with another book by now.
posted by octothorpe at 9:51 AM on March 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


I thought he was spending the decade dead for tax reasons.

Man, can you imagine how great his Exile On Main Street would be?
posted by The World Famous at 9:52 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I miss that hoopy frood.
posted by hypersloth at 9:53 AM on March 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


Today I learned that Douglas Adams was 25 when he wrote Hitchhiker's Guide. Which is astonishing, and for this 28-year-old "writer" who hasn't produced so much as a completed manuscript, completely humbling.
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God.

The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'

'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'

'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
Work ethic aside, I suppose some people are just much, much more talented than others. And when those people possess gifts as astonishing and luminous as did Douglas Adams, I'm completely at peace with that.
posted by incomple at 9:54 AM on March 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think I'll be having my brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped around a gold brick tonight.

And mindlessly surfing wikipedia on my kindle.
posted by cmfletcher at 9:55 AM on March 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Salmon of Doubt weeps into its retsina.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:56 AM on March 11, 2013


I never realized how very young he was when he died.
..........................................
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:00 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also born today: Rupert Murdoch, Dock Ellis, Antonin Scalia, Nina Hartley, Lawrence Welk, Joey Buttafuoco, John Barrowman, Lisa Loeb, Johnny Knoxville, and me.

So, clearly March 11 has historically been a mixed bag, birthday-wise.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:00 AM on March 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


I love the Google Doodle, it's such a fun and affectionate portrait. Don't miss clicking / mousing over the elevator.
posted by oulipian at 10:02 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Douglas Adams was made for the Internet. A man before his time.

It brings me great joy that his website is still up.
posted by hoyland at 10:02 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


At times, I really feel I wouldn't be who I am today without Douglas Adams.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:05 AM on March 11, 2013 [31 favorites]


Douglas Adams was a very funny and clever guy, but many people don't realise that the man was so clever, he made jokes that would only be funny in the distant future.

There's a scene right at the start of HHGTTG, where Ford and Arthur go to the pub, and it goes like this:

FORD PREFECT:
Six pints of bitter and quickly please. The world's about to end.

BARMAN:
There you are sir, six pints.

FORD PREFECT:
Keep the change.

BARMAN:
What from a fiver? Thank you sir!
posted by daveje at 10:07 AM on March 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's incorrect to say that Douglas Adams lived before the internet, for it was already a big thing in his lifetime. h2g2 still exists too.

On the Google, these are the Guide entries that come up if you click on it:
Babel Fish
Earth
Flying (how to)
Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster
Infinite Improbability Drive
Viltvodle VI (Great Green Arkleseizure theory)
Earth (most advanced species)
Towel (uses, including evading Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal)
Vogons
Deep Thought (Ultimate Question and Answer)

(I notice it looks a Kindle, by the way.)

Some other random things have minor click actions. If you hover over the button to the door in the background, behind it is version of Marvin the Paranoid Android from the BBC series.

Also, I don't know if this is a new change or what, but if you hover over the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, it'll randomly change to something else, like "I'm Feeling Artistic" or "I'm Feeling Hungry."
posted by JHarris at 10:08 AM on March 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've often had the bittersweet thought of all the stupendously wonderful Twitter exchanges DNA and Stephen Fry would have had. The universe is truly not fair.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:10 AM on March 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Given his love of small electronic devices and Macs, I really, really, really would have like to have seen what he would have thought of the iPod, iPhones, and smartphones in general.

Though I suspect that given a choice, he would be most curious over which of the endangered species he told us about in Last Chance To See would be the first to go or perhaps, the first to get off the endangered list.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:13 AM on March 11, 2013


No book has changed my life and way of thinking more than HGTTG. Well, I guess the whole series, so it's got a bit of an advantage, but still.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:18 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given his love of small electronic devices and Macs, I really, really, really would have like to have seen what he would have thought of the iPod, iPhones, and smartphones in general.

DON'T PANIC
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:19 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I need to thank my grandmother for introducing me to Douglas Adams back in junior high, even though I suspect she only purchased that leather bound edition of The More Than Complete Hitchhiker's Guide because she mistook it for a bible.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


because she mistook it for a bible.

Well, for me, she was right. :)
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:30 AM on March 11, 2013 [16 favorites]


Many fine cocktail party conversations have been spring-boarded by Adam's quotes. He provides a nice litmus test of likeminded-ness.
posted by jfts at 10:41 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When he died, the world became a little shorter and less funny.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:54 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


How many people here are still astoundingly primitive enough that they think using the words "DON'T PANIC" in large, friendly letters as the lock screen for their tablet or smartphone is a really neat idea?

Because I am.

I'm also typing this in my bathrobe. Guess I'd better take a towel with me if I'm going anywhere today.
posted by egypturnash at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2013 [19 favorites]


I do hope that you remembered to set the time an hour forward on your digital watch as well, egypturnash.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:59 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


poking at wikipedia just taught me that his child became an orphan 2 years ago. how tremendously sad.
posted by nadawi at 11:02 AM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't think of a single person who I didn't personally know that I actually miss on a regular basis other than Douglas Adams. I wish I could know what he would think about things on a weekly basis.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:03 AM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


nadawi: poking at wikipedia just taught me that his child became an orphan 2 years ago. how tremendously sad.

A little poking at the Internet revealed that she has a delightful Twitter feed. This would make her Dad quite proud, I think.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:14 AM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


In that Google doodle, I have been unable to find the button that says, "please do not press this button again."

Google, I'm not mad. Just disappointed.
posted by RobotHero at 11:21 AM on March 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


I am actually having my Meaning of Life birthday this year, and there will be a whale and a potted petunia, some kind of Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, and I think tiny towels as gifts for my guests.
posted by emjaybee at 11:24 AM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is a stupid question, but can you (not) buy anywhere a "Don't Panic" iphone/ipad/smartphone/tablet cover? I'm surprised that I've never seen one in a shop.

I could google that question but you guys 'n' gals are all hoopy froods who really know where your towels are, so you should know this too.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:32 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel that my sense of humor owes a huge debt to Mr Adams. When I ran into and started reading Hitchhiker's at some point in... middle school? (oddly I remember what the library looked like and where on the shelf I found it, but not which school that was in or when it happened)... as part of my quest to read All Of The Science Fiction, I really didn't like it. "What the hell?", young me thought, "is going on? He isn't taking this seriously at all! The destruction of the earth is Serious Business!".

I kept reading, partially because I wasn't the sort to Not Finish A Book I Started, but also because it's just damn good. It broke my mind open to the absurdity of the world, and how much humor there is to be found everywhere.
posted by flaterik at 11:32 AM on March 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


I could never bring myself to carry a whole towel everywhere, but I do keep a Buff in my pocket because of his excellent advice.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:33 AM on March 11, 2013


quidnunc kid, how about this one, for $18?
http://mycaseconcepts.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=2
posted by wenestvedt at 11:36 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


FTGaimanA: I do know that he was astoundingly kind to a 22-year-old journalist when he didn’t have to be

The definition of a good man.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:37 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:37 AM on March 11, 2013


A good try, wenestvedt. Not quite the classic BBC-series font, of course ...
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:43 AM on March 11, 2013


Don't Panic.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:56 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can anyone please provide me with a direct link to the image? Google doesn't want to show me anything but my localized version, and I suspect it's not quite as elaborate.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:09 PM on March 11, 2013


My scepticism and atheism was seriously shaped and emboldened by DNA (who, as he liked to point out, was born in Cambridge in 1952, the same place and year that Crick and Watson discovered the double helix).

My favourite Adams quote about creationists and an anthropomorphic God:
This is rather as if you 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.
Thanks for all the fish.
posted by dry white toast at 12:13 PM on March 11, 2013 [18 favorites]


There's a Youtube video of the doodle in the 2nd link of the OP.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:14 PM on March 11, 2013


When I ran into and started reading Hitchhiker's at some point in... middle school? (oddly I remember what the library looked like and where on the shelf I found it, but not which school that was in or when it happened)... as part of my quest to read All Of The Science Fiction, I really didn't like it. "What the hell?", young me thought, "is going on? He isn't taking this seriously at all! The destruction of the earth is Serious Business!".

A 7th Grade friend introduced me to this during a sleepover; me and one other friend and I were having a sleepover at her house, and at some point in the evening the other two girls had to go to an iceskating lesson at the local university. Somehow it was decided that I'd just sit inside with a book for that whole hour, and so S grabbed a book off their shelves and said, "I think you'll like this." And that book was Hitchhiker's.

I'd seen the cover before, but didn't know anything else about it, and I'd tried reading other sci-fi before but hadn't ever gotten into it. So I was a little dubious. When they left me in the rink's lobby with the book, I was sort of eyeing them skeptically and opening the book. When they came back an hour later, I was ten pages away from finishing and had a zealously manic look on my face and an enormous grin.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:19 PM on March 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thanks, zombieflanders! They're pretty similar after all.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:22 PM on March 11, 2013


I still remember reading this for the first time, when I was 12 years old:
The great ships hung motionless in the air, over every nation on Earth. Motionless they hung, huge, heavy, steady in the sky, a blasphemy against nature. Many people went straight into shock as their minds tried to encompass what they were looking at. The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.
I had to put the book down and lie on the floor from laughing so hard. My mother came upstairs to see what was wrong. She asked me what was so funny, so I showed her that paragraph.

She didn't get it.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:25 PM on March 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thanks, zombieflanders! They're pretty similar after all.

It's funny, when I visited the google.nl link, the first thing that pops up (I'm using Chrome) is a little message telling me the page is in Dutch and asking if I want to to translate it.

The Babel fish lives on.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:25 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


My wife has nice leather bound copies of the Bible, Talmud and Quran and some Hindu book on a table in our foyer. I stuck my leather bound More Than Complete Hitchhiker's in with them. To represent, you know?
posted by charred husk at 12:41 PM on March 11, 2013 [12 favorites]


My son is 9. He's listening to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" at night, as he goes to sleep. Over breakfast, he repeats passages he finds funny and asks questions like, "What do you think a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal *looks* like?" He wants to talk about it and quote it and he smiles while he does. It's a delight to see him discovering an author who can inspire those sorts of reactions. Thank you, Douglas Adams...
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:44 PM on March 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


It was when a law professor concluded his last lecture of the semester with a powerpoint that simply said "Thanks for all the fish!" And then asked, "Who gets it?" that I realized that there was one other geek not ashamed to raise their hand in the classroom of over 80 other students.

Naturally, I graduated and took a job in state government. She was elected president of the class, then departed before graduation to compete in the Miss USA competition and to find work as a model / actress.
posted by Atreides at 12:54 PM on March 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey, the backpackers we stayed in last night had the complete hhgttg sitting in the room.

I appreciated the scene when ford distracts a crowd by yelling 'Walkmans!' And throwing them into a crowd. All it would take is replacing that with 'iPhones!' today.

Also ipad spellcheck corrects to hhgttg just fine.
posted by xiw at 12:57 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a single person who I didn't personally know that I actually miss on a regular basis other than Douglas Adams.

I'm an utter fucking ghoul/sentamentalist, so I've got a list (which includes Adams). The only one that's sort of appropriate to share here is C.M. Kornbluth: he had a proto-Adams sense of the absurdity of humanity and our endeavors, and also died far, far too young. I often think of him when the snow piles up...
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:01 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was looking at this book recently to figure out if my kids are old enough to enjoy it yet, and while the humor definitely holds up and the actual entries in the Hitchhiker's Guide are still entertaining, the concept of the Guide itself seems utterly mundane. I fear they will find it less remarkable and exotic than the bulldozer bearing down on Arthur's house. It's seems like just another smartphone connected to a website.
posted by straight at 1:35 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:39 PM on March 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I first read the Hitchhiker's Guide when I was 18. Oh I laughed long and hard over the use of the towel to protect from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

A few years later I scored the cassette to the book Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I wore it out, simply put.

I had no idea he was so young, but his books are great fun and very thoughtful, too. I should own the set again.
posted by Nadie_AZ at 1:39 PM on March 11, 2013


the quidnunc kid: ... can you (not) buy anywhere a "Don't Panic" iphone/ipad/smartphone/tablet cover?

I found a decal on Etsy that fits perfectly across the back of my phone.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:43 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once ran into someone on the bus who had a full-on brown leather book-binding case for his iPad with DON'T PANIC embossed in large, friendly gold letters on the cover.

I still regret not asking him where he got it, and I don't even own an iPad.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:52 PM on March 11, 2013


Here's the link to the decal on Etsy.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:54 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.

Died. Right there.

I grew up under a rock and right now at 28 I'm reading this book for the first time.

A friend introduced me to the movie a couple years ago and I wish I had read the book first so I could create my own imagery. There are so many references in it that I'd heard before, but had no idea it was from this.
posted by E3 at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


egypturnash - Why yes - I do think that is a pretty neat idea. The fact that DNA is trending on google+ says much about the ghosttown townsfolk mindset, I think.
posted by Sparx at 2:55 PM on March 11, 2013


My wife and I got rid of all our books because we're moving house and we have Kindles (and the like).
We have three physical books left.
My leather bound hitchhikers, my US edition complete hitchhikers (because some of the words are different and there is that little bit about Belgium in life the universe and everything) and my wife's complete hitchhikers (because she couldn't stand the mere possibility of not having a copy).

Yes... nerds, I know.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:41 PM on March 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I was about 12 I was incredibly sick for a week or so and had a copy of the radio scripts and an off the air recording of all the episodes. I probably listened to them 4-5 times that week while reading along, and probably knew at least half the lines by heart. It wasn't till a few years later that I read the books, and I honestly never forgave them for Not Following The Script Damnit.
posted by aspo at 3:44 PM on March 11, 2013


Given his love of small electronic devices and Macs, I really, really, really would have like to have seen what he would have thought of the iPod, iPhones, and smartphones in general.

The Salmon of Doubt contains collected essays and newspaper columns - and its brilliant by the way - and one of them is about him using the Apple Newton.
posted by memebake at 4:00 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't know if this is a new change or what, but if you hover over the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, it'll randomly change to something else, like "I'm Feeling Artistic" or "I'm Feeling Hungry."

Well, it's sitting too close to the infinite improbability drive, isn't it?
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:37 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey y'all, the pilot for Out of the Trees is on YouTube in its entirety. Pretty funny, and stars a bunch of folks who were later in the BBC TV version of HHGTTG.
posted by jiawen at 4:59 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you haven't yet listened to Douglas Adams speak on Parrots, the Universe and Everything, treat yourself: Video of lecture; transcript. His story about attempting to buy condoms in China -- for a microphone! -- is particularly hilarious.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:21 PM on March 11, 2013


The Post That Cannot Possibly Go Wrong

Thanks for Marvin, Douglas.
posted by ersatz at 5:35 PM on March 11, 2013


Saw him and Terry Jones at Stacey's in San Francisco when they were on a book tour for the Starship Titanic. At the end they sang Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love" a capella. It was amazing!
posted by Alles at 5:47 PM on March 11, 2013


Used to watch the TV version with my kids when they were little. They loved it. All of us love Douglas Adams. He is missed.

.

<•{{{{{<
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:02 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I may be wrong but I think I first read Hitchhiker's after my friend showed me this Infocom game that didn't make any sense. It was still hilarious. I asked if it would make more sense if I knew the book and was told that it would, at least, let me know what I should be doing but really just read the book regardless.

I soon did, following it with the sequels and the Dirk Gently books. And at some point learned that this all started as a radio drama. It took me a a while to find the radio drama (it might have been after I found a video of the BBC TV show) but I did find the radio scripts. Reading the commentary in that book was just as funny as reading the novel the first time. None of it is the same but it is all hilarious and wonderful and some of my favorite things.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:17 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I was in 5th grade, listening to cassettes of the Hitchhiker's Guide (ordered from the Signals catalog), made the hours spent stuck in LA traffic pass quickly.

But Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is probably my favorite out of his books.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:37 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Ottawa is a night club called Zaphod Beeblebrox, a fine little place where you can catch live music and enjoy drinks like the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster (well, duh) and the Deep Thought.

Naturally, when Douglas Adams passed away, we gathered at Zaphod‘s for a memorial/drinking binge... I can‘t remember if it was something that was planned or just a spontaneous gathering (thanks to a few Gargle Blasters, that‘s just one of many details of that evening to elude my memory). Afterwards, a few of us went to the Elgin Street Diner for greasy, post-alcohol nutrition. I kept my bill from the diner, for whatever reason, and noticed the next morning upon examining said bill that I was sitting at table #42... Make of that whatever you‘d like...
posted by Jughead at 6:51 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


E3: I grew up under a rock and right now at 28 I'm reading this book for the first time.

1. Before long you'll reach the place with, not to give too much away, a bowl of petunias.
2. DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE PETUNIAS. You must trust me on this.
posted by JHarris at 6:53 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know, JHarris. I think part of the joy is forgetting about the petunias entirely.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:16 PM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh!

Last year I was in London, and met up with a few London MeFites somewhere in Islington. I think we were walking from a cocktail bar on to the next venue, when I happened to look up -- and saw this. Shocked, I realized I was probably standing in front of the very same Hotblack Desiato's that had given Douglas Adams the idea for the name, and I stopped to get my camera out of my bag and get that picture.

The best part, though, was that it took everyone else a few moments to notice I wasn't with them; and that when they did, their reaction was a sort of long-suffering, "oh, that's right, you're one of those people...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 PM on March 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are three artistic luminaries I miss above all others:
Adams, Vonnegut and Strummer. Perhaps in that order.


I read HHGTTG when I was about 13, and while I'll live and fight to the death over the sheer brilliance of it, I do have to admit (in a small voice) I thought Dirk Gently was a little bit better.

The movie of HHGTTG was one of the few movie adaptations of books that I could stand, and that was because Adams himself played so fast and lose with the different versions (radio, tv, book, record) that it made it ok for the movie to be different.
posted by edgeways at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


.

I've been thinking about him all day. I work in banking, and I made a joke today about one of our deceased borrowers - "Maybe he's spending a year dead for tax reasons?" (I was holding his tax return.) No one else got it, sadly.

I carried my copy of Hitchhiker's everywhere for a long time - when I needed something to read on the bus, or waiting in line, or between classes. I knew that I wasn't alone in the universe.

That man knew where his towel was.
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:38 PM on March 11, 2013


EmpressCallipygos, did you also look for Fenchurch's flat?
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:57 PM on March 11, 2013


I don't feel like this is the case with too many people, considering how everybody has their 15 minutes of internet fame now, but Douglas Adams was somebody who would have changed the future. I don't mean, like, changing the course of human events, but rather, The Future, the idea of what is futuristic. I think if he had been able to stick around with us through the past decade of technology, his opinions and his ideas about it all would have continued to evolve, and affected the people making it so much to the extent of changing what we use in our daily lives. I think there is an alternate universe out there where Douglas Adams is alive and smartphones are something entirely different, where iPads and other tablets aren't what we think of them here.
posted by Mizu at 8:35 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Direct link to the Doodle
posted by flabdablet at 9:10 PM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"oh, that's right, you're one of those people...."

Empress, I'm not sure you're hanging out with the right sort at all.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:17 PM on March 11, 2013


Mizu: Douglas Adams was somebody who would have changed the future.

Oh my, yes. At a minimum he would be the Undisputed Master of Twitter, a unflagging critic of and evangelist for Apple (in the best way possible), and would be constantly pushing the envelope of multimedia entertainment. I mean, can you imagine what a Douglas Adams app might look like?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:22 AM on March 12, 2013


Empress, I'm not sure you're hanging out with the right sort at all.

Heh; no, I mean that they were sort of immune to it because they'd seen it every day. I mean, yeah, I think the Empire State Building is awesome, and I love that you can find that weird monolith-looking building that they used as the headquarters building in Men In Black, but I'm not taking pictures of it every day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:55 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


unflagging critic of and evangelist for Apple (in the best way possible)

And Google (universal search and real-time translation), Wikipedia (the closest thing we have to a real-life H2G2), Amazon (the form factor of the 1st-gen Kindles are essentially the H2G2 as described in the book), iRobot (our anthropomorphization of Roombas and even military robots), and the rise of GPS (half of the Electronic Thumb).

Just picking one company or technology does a great disservice to the man's influence and curiosity.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:22 AM on March 12, 2013


zombieflanders: Just picking one company or technology does a great disservice to the man's influence and curiosity.

Totally agree. That's why I said at a minimum. I do think that there was a special relationship between DNA and Apple, and the iPod/iPhone/iPad would only have cemented that.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:32 AM on March 12, 2013


Yeah, Rock Steady didn't mean that he predicted stuff that Apple made. Douglas Adams was a well-known Mac user. As in, Apple was mentioned in his eulogy. Apple was the 'slightly random thing that must be wedged into all articles'. He wrote for MacUser (see Frank the Vandal linked above.) There was Mac chat on the forums of his website. (That actually appears to be his last post in the forums.)
posted by hoyland at 6:54 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


[..] Wikipedia (the closest thing we have to a real-life H2G2) [..]

"[..] for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate [..]"

Does it count as ironic that I picked that up from Wikipedia'a entry on the Encyclopedia_Galactica?
posted by rochrobbb at 8:10 AM on March 12, 2013


And he and Stephen Fry were the very first two Macintosh owners in the UK.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:30 AM on March 12, 2013


Tangent: Emma Thompson talks about how Fry rushed over and spent several hours saving her Sense & Sensibility screenplay when it disappeared on her computer.

I know she wound up marrying Grey Wise (who played Willoughby in S&S) in real life, but if Ms. Thompson ever needs tech support, I would be more than happy to fly anywhere and provide it. I have a long-standing crush. ;)


posted by Celsius1414 at 9:37 AM on March 12, 2013


With every day that passes, I identify more and more with Wonko the Sane.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:01 AM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh; Adams' physical description of Wonko has especially stayed with me for some reason:
If you took a couple of David Bowies and stuck one of the David Bowies on the top of the other David Bowie, then attached another David Bowie to the end of each of the arms of the upper of the first two David Bowies and wrapped the whole business up in a dirty beach robe you would then have something which didn't exactly look like John Watson, but which those who knew him would find hauntingly familiar. He was tall and he gangled.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:16 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, people, I am trying really hard to write my first novel, and if you keep reminding me of sentences like

Wonko the Sane laughed. It was a light easy laugh, and sounded like one he had used a lot before and was happy with.

and

He was tall and he gangled.

I might as well give up now, because nothing I could possibly write will be as good as that.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:20 AM on March 12, 2013


Guys. GUYS.

Here is a web site where you may find, in their entirety, all five of Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' books.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:20 AM on March 12, 2013


Unfortunately it also contains Mostly Harmless, which isn't exactly Adams' most shining moment as a writer. The first two books get quoted all over the place, the third a little less, the fourth quite a lot less than that. I don't think I've ever seen someone quote MH though. (Possibly because it's a huge downer, and one can tell reading it that DA was tired of writing Hitchhiker's books by that point.)
posted by JHarris at 1:08 PM on March 12, 2013


From the first time I read Mostly Harmless, I got the impression that its conclusion - as indisputably an end to the Guide series as it was for Dent himself - was one of those times when Adams most fully identified with his protagonist:
"...there was nothing to be done, not now or ever. ... A tremendous feeling of peace came over him. He knew that at last, for once and forever, it was now all, finally, over."
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:47 PM on March 12, 2013


For whatever it's worth, I love Mostly Harmless, and consider it to be both the perfect ending to the trilogy, and Adams's single best book as a book, rather than as a loose adaptation of a radio serial in a book-like form. It's the one where he finally figured out how it's done. Books three and four were attempts that didn't work so well.

(If we're talking favorites, then it's a tossup between the first and last books. HHGTTG can't be beat for manic inventiveness and complete weirdness, but MH has the structural coherence and the most satisfying ending.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:49 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beware of the leopard.
Gets me every time.
posted by bystander at 8:52 PM on March 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought Dirk Gently was a little bit better.

The recurring couch bit has stuck with me much like a couch stuck in the hallway of a building that must have been built around it.
posted by flaterik at 9:40 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


the quidnunc kid: I was inspired among other things by HGTTG to start a company called "Don't Panic". We created "the most relaxing iPad case in the galaxy" and it's got "Don't Panic" embossed on it. It's an incredibly versatile case that's made in the USA (by humans). You can check it out here.
posted by dontpanicproject at 8:43 PM on March 15, 2013


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