Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Douglas, we hardly knew ye...

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

To those who understand, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not, no explanation is possible. (seen on a t-shirt at a Drum Corps International competition, but applicable, nonetheless...)
Monday night, I felt like I had something in my eye - some kind of irritant that kept making my eye water. I kept flushing it out with saline, to no good avail. Tuesday morning, I woke up with my left eye completely swollen shut. Faced with being at least temporarily half-blind, my morning prayer routine was abbreviated to just two words, one of which was "Holy..." I lept out of bed, and started trying to find help. Four hours later, I left the University of Chicago Hospital "ER-Express Care" center with a diagnosis of an infected tear duct, two different kinds of antibiotic (just in case it tried to turn into conjunctivitis, or "pink-eye") and a prayer of gratitude that it wasn't worse than that.

I wasn't supposed to drive, and to be honest, I hadn't much excitement for doing much of anything through a visual haze of antibiotic-creme, so I went home and spent the afternoon catnapping and applying warm compresses to my eye.

Tragically, this seemed to me to be as good a frame of mind as any in which to review the newly-released movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

And so I wrote this really incredible, in-depth review of it, and my likes, and dislikes. And hit "save as draft." And lines and lines of text disappeared, to be replaced with the cryptic characters "%2". Gaaagh...grumble mumble grumble Blogger grumble...

So you get the short(er) version.

The good news is, I liked it. The bad news is, I liked it because I understood it.

You see, I'm a Hitchhiker's fan from way back. My introduction to the Guide (or HHG, or H2G2...) was back in the late '70's or early 80's, when PBS was carrying the original HHG radio plays...twice a week, once on Sunday night, repeated on Wednesday night. I rearranged my entire weekly schedule to accomodate my weekly dose of Peter Jones as the Book, Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, Geoffrey McGivern as Ford Prefect, Susan Sheridan as Trillian, Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox and Stephen Moore as Marvin The Paranoid Android. I'd delight to the work of Patti Kingslund and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (and a small furry creature from the Crab Nebula) as they created some of the greatest sound-effects ever heard, to accompany some of the great lines of British radio humor:
Ford: Arthur, what if I told you that I wasn't from Guilford after all, but from a small planet in the vicinity of Beutelgeuse?
Arthur: I dunno...Why? Do you suppose it's the sort of thing you're likely to say?
My roommate Tim and I went to see the movie's opening on Friday night - one of the digital projection versions. And it was fun enough...for us. And it was great - from the opening bit about the dolphins to the final credits. But the cleverness only seemed to translate to the big screen if you knew what to look for and listen for - as both of us did. There were people laughing who I really hoped were wearing Depends, for fear of impending bladder failure. And then there were folks (like the two right in front of us) that had looks that clearly said, "Wha...?...."

I loved the image of the starship Heart of Gold, and the Infinite Improbability Drive effect was great. Marvin, as voiced by Alan Rickman, was near perfect. The Vogons were, well, full of Vogonity (to quote Ford). And the images of the hyperspace factory as the Magretheans build Earth Mk. 2 were classic. But Ford Prefect missed the Simon Jones version by a country light-year, and Zaphod was either too manic or just not hip-slick-and-cool manic enough. It could have been worse, but it could have been so much better.

Don't get me wrong - for HHG fans, you'll have fun seeing someone else's vision of all the things you've been imagining in your head for a quarter-century or so. The rest...well...

If I were king of the forest, I'd force (US) to sell the Amazon.UK CD versions of the original HHG radio broadcasts at a deep discount, so everyone could get The Real Thing, and then go on and see the movie. But alas, my appointment to Forest leadership is still held-up by some hanging chads...or maybe just not having the right forms...

For now, my movie sights are on Fantasic Four and what looks like a cute remake, Herbie: Fully Loaded...

To Rich Dubler, my buddy who introduced me to The Guide a quarter-century ago, thanks for the memories. Wish I knew where you were to tell you in person.

To Douglas Adams, I can only quote your own words, attributed as the final message by God to Creation: We apologize for the inconvenience.


Peter said...

I, too, enjoyed HG2TG back when CBC Radio broadcast it in Canada, then broadcast the TV version some years later. Marvin was a splash of Adams' genius...

May or may not see the movie, but I recently spotted a book of Adams published posthumously, in which masses of material rescued from his Mac hard drive were edited and republished--musings, notes, whatnot, for Adams fans.

He was a prodigious writer, and apparently a procrastinator of legendary proportions. He was also virulently hostile to religion in any form, I dicovered. This last makes me reconsider his one-liners on religion in HHG2TG--he wasn't joking, it seems...

Michael Dodd said...

To offer you the kind of information that the Guide would no doubt throw in at this point, the quote from the t-shirt is originally from Franz Werfel's SONG OF BERNADETTE, about the appraritions of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes in 1857. If you multiply 1x8x5+7=47 Bernadette was 14 at the time: 47-(1+4)=42. Huh? Huh?

Michael Dodd said...

Okay, I tried to post this once and it disappeared. Suspicious or what?
At Lourdes the first apparition was Feburary 11 (2/11); the last of 18 was 23 weeks later on July 16 (7/16).
9x9=81 (the reverse of 18)

Keith Brenton said...

Thanks for a positive review! I've been discouraged at the others I've seen.

The most compact one:

Mostly harmless.

Others were not so generous or forgiving.

So, again, thanks for all the fish!

Steve F. said...

Of course, as I emailed to Br'er Damien, we all know that the Ultimate Question is "what do you get if you multiply six by nine?"

So the fact that the mathematical stuff works just proves that it doesn't. QED.

Michael Dodd said...

Ah, but does it? There's the rub.
Are you trying to say that the real answer to life is 54? Like any liar who can figure, I can make that work, too. I didn't spend all those years studying theology for nothing!

Steve F. said...

No, everyone knows that the Answer to the Ultimate Question, is in fact, 42.

To quote Arthur Dent:
"Six nine! Six by nine! That's the question?...I've always thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the Universe..."

Im A Foto Nut said...

I bet I can guess what was in your eye the day before it exploded into almost pink eye...

YOUR FINGER, sounds like. ( just sayin')

LOL hope you feel better.

Anonymous said...

Ah well, I may get to see it around Sunday if I'm really lucky.

And everyone knows that 6x9=42.

Who said you had to use base 10 math? This is one of the quirks of life - the rules the universe plays by aren't always that easy to figure out.

Anonymous said...

The amazon package must also inclue a towel.