Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Don't Panic

Have you ever heard anything on your car radio so funny you had to pull off because you were laughing too hard to see? I have. The first time I heard Douglas Adam's "A HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy" on public radio. The kids and I were on our way to church and I couldn't go in, I had to hear it through. More than any sermon I'll ever hear, it changed my life. Bits of what I learned appear here fairly often.

"In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, The HitchHiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least widely inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First it is slightly cheaper, and second it has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."

Author Douglas Adams was one of those larger than life people for whom the rules for the commonplace rarely applied. His frequent collaborator, John Lloyd described him as "having the brain the size of a planet, but often seems to be living on a different one." Adams was dangerously funny, generous, interested in almost everything, constantly late, and loved the Beatles.

His claim to fame was "The HitchHikers Guide", but in time I suspect over time he will become better known for "The Last Chance to See" published in 1989, and its companion series on the BBC. In "Last Chance" Adams travels the world searching for species on the edge of extinction including white rhinos, komodo dragons, mountain gorillas,river dolphins and fruit bats. Twenty years later Stephen Fry took Adams place in a remake of the series, an exploration to see what had changed since Adam's trip. Adams called "Last Chance" his personal favorite.

On May 11, 2001 Adams died of a a heart attack.

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

I've been rereading his last and posthumous book, "A Salmon of Doubt" this week, and after several readings I'm still awed by the breadth of his knowledge. I wish I knew him.


James said...

I just watched the PBS series on Hulu last month. Many happy memories.

Jg. for FatScribe said...

one of the first "grown-up" movies i took my son to see was hitchhikers guide. he was 9 or so, and loved it (i am training him to at least appreciate my anglophile bent). another good one, toad.