Category Archives: Favorite Quotations

a beginner’s guide to Douglas Adams

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 Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, Bill Cosby, Mel Brooks, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who …

You know that favorite thing you have– the one that you are zealously delighted to introduce to everyone around you?  That one that you can’t remember not loving?  That one that you quote from pretty constantly and crack in-jokes about with the two other people you know who are as nutty about it as you are?

For me, that thing is Douglas Adams, and I know I’m not alone. 

In fact, at this very moment, you may be sitting next to an Adams-addict.  One might be your teacher [Hi, kids.  See you all on the 24th]. One might live upstairs.   One might be your boss.  You are surrounded by Adams-addicts everyday.  How can you tell, you ask?  Do you need a magic decoder ring?  Is there a litmus test?  Do we all wear tee-shirts?

I want this.  I want this shirt.

 Here’s the test; are you ready?  Turn to any person you happen to meet, and simply ask him or her, “What is the meaning of life?”  If the answer comes back, “Forty-two,” then you, my friend, have found yourself an Adams-addict.

So he’s got a lot of fans.  Big deal– so does professional wrestling , and that’s just dumb [sorry, Jerry 😉 ] 

Well, do you remember when you first read Shakespeare and Greek mythology in high school, and then you started to see quotations and references to them everywhere?  Then you figured out that they had been there all along, but you’d never noticed, because you just didn’t know?  Adams is like that.   In fact, in science-fiction writing, there is such a thing as the “obligatory Hitchhiker’s reference.”  It appears in nearly every work of sci-fi written post-1980.  Go ahead– Google the phrase– you’ll see.

Why do we all love Douglas Adams so much?  Because the man looked at the world in an incredibly unique, intelligent, positive, and humorous way.  Then, he wrote it down. 

I could go on at length about his technique, perspective, and utterly original spirit, but I think that would spoil it for you.  Part of what draws Adams-addicts in is discovering for ourselves something new and precious every time we read his books, listen to his radio shows, watch his films, play his video games, use his towels [yes, you read that correctly– towels].

I’ll tell you how I got into Adams, but we have to go back a bit:  My father was in the Air Force in the mid-seventies, and he was stationed in England.  My mom, after their wedding, went to live with him.  Now, she didn’t have a car, didn’t know anyone, and had a husband who worked 24 hour shifts– so she spent a good deal of time listening to the radio and watching television.  She saw and enjoyed Doctor Who and Hitchhiker’s on tv.  Flash forward to about 1992 or so.  We were all living in South Florida.  My sister and I were hooked on Sci-Fi Saturday Nights on our local PBS station [WXEL].  Hitchhiker’s came on.  My mom said, “Oh, I remember this.  It was funny.  Let’s watch it.” 

I distinctly remember sitting on the cool tile floor and leaning against the couch, as the three of us watched the mini-series.  Yes, it was super cheesy in many places, but gosh, it was brilliant!  Then, my sister and I discovered the books, then his other novels… and in college, I began reading his non-fiction.  “Last Chance to See” is a wonderfully powerful book.  I found copies of his radio play scripts, watched his Doctor Who episodes, read his obituary with a deep sense of loss, and now I love “The Salmon of Doubt,” a collection of all sorts of writing that his friends rescued from his hard drive.  I have a particular fondness for the audiobook, to which many of his closest friends contributed.Ask any Adams-addict, and he or she will have a similarly personal story about discovering the brilliance that is Douglas Adams.

So, I will leave you with just a few examples of why I love Adams:

“The ships hung in the air in much the same way that bricks don’t.” 

“Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, ‘We don’t demand solid facts!  What we demand is a total absence of solid facts.  I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!'”

 

“‘And I am Dr. Desiato’s bodyguard,’ it went, ‘and I am responsible for his body, and I am not responsible for yours, so take it away before it gets damaged.'”

“One of the major problems encountered in time travel is not that of acidentally becoming your own father or mother.  There is no problem involved in becoming your own father or mother that a broad-minded and well-adjusted family can’t cope with.  There is no problem about changing the course of history– the course of history does not change because it all fits together like a jigsaw.  All the important changes have happened before the things they were supposed to change and it all sorts itself out in the end.  The major problem is quite simply one of grammar…”

 

“In the end, it was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in about 2:55, when you know you’ve taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.”

“‘My name,’ said the mattress, ‘is Zem.  We could discuss the weather a little.’  Marvin paused again in his weary circular plod.  ‘The dew,’ he observed, ‘has clearly fallen with a particularly sickening thud this morning.'”

 

Are you intrigued?  Good.  Go down to your library and pick up your copy today.  Then come back and leave your favorite quotation in the comments!  Till then, my hoopy froods, Don’t Panic!

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tea with Douglas

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 A nice cozy chat about Douglas Adams is long overdue, my dears.  It is coming tomorrow, but until then, brew yourself a nice cup of tea (if you don’t know how to do it properly, see Douglas’s words on the matter.) and then nibble on these tasty treats from “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.”

“Professor Urban Chronotis, the Regius Professor of Chronology, or ‘Reg’ as he insisted on being called, had a memory that he himself had once been compared to the Queen Alexandria Butterfly, in that it was colorful, flitted prettily hither and thither, and was now, alas, almost completely extinct.” (11)

“Sunlight played along the River Cam.  People in punts happily shouted at each other to fuck off.  Thin natural scientists who had spent months locked away in their rooms growing white and fishlike, emerged blinking into the light.  Couples walking along the bank got so excited about the general wonderfulness of it all that they had to pop inside for an hour.” (13)

 “Michael ususally referred to his mother as an old battle-ax, but if she was fairly to be compared to a battle-ax it could only be to an exquisitely crafted, beautifully balanced battle-ax, with an elegant minimum of fine engraving which stopped just short of its gleaming razored edge.  One swipe from such an instrument and you wouldn’t even know you’d been hit until you tried to look at your watch a bit later and discovered that your arm wasn’t on.” (98)

  

Lovely, were they not?  But we don’t want to over-indulge.  More tomorrow.

 

the 2nd flight of Aeolus

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Back again, bouyed by breezy comments from Aeolus’s margins, we fly.  If you missed the previous flight, catch it here.  This may be a bumpy ride, so please stow your luggage securely and put your trays in the upright positions.

 

“Practice dwindling.  A mighthavebeen.  Losing heart.”– such a sad fellow.

“Weathercocks.  Hot and cold in the same breath.”– are they Mary Poppins then?

“Is he taking anything for it?”– a good question.

“shite and onions”– such a disgusting phrase!  What did onions ever do to you?

onions are lovely.  leave them alone.

onions are lovely. leave them alone.

“Get a grip of them by the stomach.”– I agree.  good advice.  hopefully not using the shite and onions, though.  eww.

“The editor’s blue eyes roved towards Mr Bloom’s face, shadowed by a smile.”– Why, what does Secret Squirrel here know?

Is this really a picture of the Editor and Leopold Bloom?

Is this really a picture of the Editor and Leopold Bloom?

“My Ohio.”– ooooooo ooo hio– where North Cork won every time [sung to tune of “Oklahoma”]

“He took a reel of dental floss…”– ok, nice to see him flossing, but such poor manners!

“Who wants a dead cert for the God cup? he asked”– how are the odds on the choirboys handicap?  Bertie Wooster wants to place a bet with Pongo.

“There’s a hurricane blowing.”– listen, bub.  You don’t know nothin’  ’bout no hurricanes.

“We are the boys of Wexford…”– I’d rather have David from “Newsies” singing here: “Open the gates and seize the day…”

give me David anyday over random Ulysses urchins

give me David anyday over random Ulysses urchins

“He’ll get that advertisement”– why is Leo so motivated here?  does he work on commission?

“Lenehan promptly struck a match for them and lit their cigarettes in turn.”– according to Hanff, the English would light cigs only off of other peoples.  they would never ask for a match.

“Thanky vous”– well, aren’t we just too Gallic for words!

“Silence for my brandnew riddle”– booooogus!

“We mustn’t be led away by words, by sounds of words.”– Pah-lease!  That is all that J.J. does!

“The Roman, like the Englishman who follows in his footsteps, brought to every new shore on which he set his food… only his cloacal obsession”– Do you have a flag?

“First my riddle, Lenehan said.  Are you ready?”– Poor guy can’t get a word in edgewise.

“Youth led by Experience visits Notoriety”– sounds like a naughty poem by Blake.

“Lenehan said to all:”– Why is a raven like a writing desk?

“He comes, pale vampire”– is he sparkly?

“The bloodiest old tartar God ever made.”– Ah, She Who Must Be Obeyed.

“O’Rourke, prince of Breffni”– yes, yes, we’ve had all of this already.  get on with it!

“We were always loyal to lost causes.”– ah, like Evan Tanner.

“But the Greek!”– For all our faults, we loooove our Greeks.  [sung to a tune from Pirates of Penzance]

“Pyrrhus”– without Thisbe?

“LENEHAN’S LIMERICK”– I like Carl Kasell’s better.

“Myles Crawford crammed the sheets into a sidepocket.”– Those Blasted Sheets and Tissues!

“The Rose of Castille”– groan.  awful.  though, better than Stevie’s from earlier.

“YOU CAN DO IT!”– why does this remind me of those Python letters to the editor?

 

And I shall leave you, dears, with one of my favorite bits of flying humor.  Enjoy.

the nonsense is blowing in the wind

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 Why, hello.  Did you do your homework?  Have you listened to or read Aeolus? 

Good, good.

So, let’s review: Aeolus is the section of Ulysses that is roughly set as a newspaper, complete with bold titles and (mostly) uninterested reporting of events. 

this chapter is full of wind bags.

this chapter is full of wind bags.

The wind bags in this section have blown in these random bits of marginalia.

“The hoarse Dublin United Tramway Company’s timekeeper bawled them off”– Reminds me of Cosby’s subway routine called “Incoherency.”

Is the porter a Sontarian in disguise?

is the porter a Sontarian in disguise?

“All his brains are in the nape of his neck, Simon Dedalus says.  Welts of flesh behind him.”– Is that a probic vent I see? 

 “But will he save the circulation?”– He needs Jack, David and the Newsies (Let’s be honest– every one needs Newsies!)

“HOW A GREAT DAILY ORGAN IS TURNED OUT”– ok, that’s dirty.  Even for you, J.J!

“Monkeydoodle the whole thing.”– another excellent phrase that I wish to incorporate into my everyday vocabulary.

“his spellingbee conundrum…”– a cute puzzle.  He should send it to Click & Clack for the Car Talk puzzler.

“Time to get out.”– he knows a lambasting is coming.

“ONLY ONCE MORE THAT SOAP”– I’d forgotten about the soap.

“Wouldn’t it give you heartburn on your arse?”– Um… no?

“The pensive bosom and the overarsing leafage…”– I have to agree with them here; this is ridiculous doggeral.

“The right honorable Hedges Eyre Chatterton”– is he involved in the Eyre Affair?

“SHORT BUT TO THE POINT”– but what was the point?

“The doorknob hit Mr Bloom in the small of the back as the door was pushed in.”– Ouch!

not recommended by your chiropractor

not recommended by your chiropractor

I’ll leave you today with that painful memory.  Tomorrow– more hot air.

By Grabthar’s Hat!

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 Ah, all good things (?) must come to an end, and so it is with Tom and Lalla’s visit to the “Leisure Hive.”   Here is part 4’s commentary.  Part 3 is skulking here.
 

When we last visited the Leisure Hive, the Earth businessman had just been unmasked as a reptile to gasps of horror!  (Stella Luna says, “Let me at him!  Migaow!”)

Drats! Foiled again! And I would have gotten away with it, too...

1. Interesting use of pyramid as viewscreen.

2.  I like the march theme playing behind Son-of-Mine’s rant here.

3. Why is he so terrified of the reptile?  I mean, I share the fear, but dude, get some dignity.

4. Ohh– an imposter!  I see.  Where’s Doctor McCoy when you need him? “Jim, this man is a Klingon!”

5. Ah- a nice twist on the enemy/ non-enemy.

6. You tell him, Chief Inspector!

7. And there goes your plot, regenerator boy!

8. “You don’t cross your bridges until they’re hatched.” 🙂

By Grabthar's Hammer, you will be avenged!

By Grabthar's Hammer, the Ambassador shall be avenged!

 

9. Way to threaten an ambassador of peace there, boyo.

10. Tom is looking mischeivious here.  What is he up to?

11.  By Grabthar’s Hammar, he will be avenged!

12. “We are the army.”  Oh dear.

13. Why is the dawn so crucial to the plan?

14. OK- when your self-appointed leader demands unquestioning obedience AND starts referring to himself in the plural, it’s a bad sign.

15. Reports of her death have been greatly exaggerated.

16. How can she so quickly find the Doctor on her scanner?

17.  Oh just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow and get on with it already!

18. Oh!  Poor Formazi!

19. Does he realize that the mask looks like the “Pyramids of Mars” guy?  Do they have the same hatter?

Pyramids of Mars snazzy hat

20.  Oh dear– their marching looks too much like the Rimmer puppets dancing to the Rimmer song to be taken seriously.

21.  Army of clones is a good idea, though.  Has he met the Sontarians?

22. We do have tons of dramatic eye acting in this episode.

23. Oh, cute little trick!  Lucky Son-of-Mine wore that helmet into the machine, wasn’t it.  Isn’t Tom much taller, though?

24. Useful plot device.  It’s what happens when a non-scientist tries to make clones.  They are always unstable.

25. Where did Romana find his clothes?  umm… never mind.

26. Finnegan, begin again.

27.  Now Son-of-Mine is just a hystrical child throwing a temper tantrum.

28.  Is the poor woman going to have a mustache?  I think they did a Star Trek episode like this.

29. Yes, bring him up properly this time!

30.  Ah– I’m glad to know the Ambassador/ Chief Inspector didn’t get blown up. 

31. Black Guardian: “a galactic hobo with ideas above his station”  Ha!  And no more randomizer.  A nice ending.

 

So, the destruction of the randomizer also brings us to the end of this series of random comments.

Did you enjoy them?  Would you like to see more?  Are they all rubbish?  Drop me a comment.

Hades is not a cheerful place

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Can you believe it?  Two posts in one day– this hasn’t happened in awhile.   For my second trick today, I’m giving you the rest of my marginalia for the Hades section of James Joyce’s Ulysses.  My margins are full to bursting! 

Part one comments reside here.  (If you’re new to this game, it’s great fun.  Click on the Ulysses category on my sidebar to find the rest of them.)

Picking up on page 92 of the Vintage edition…

The River Styx just isnt as fun as it used to be. 

The River Styx just isn't as fun as it used to be.

“The devil break the hasp of your back!”– Why is this funny?

“Well, nearly all of us.”– Ouch!

“As decent a little man as ever wore a hat, Mr Dedalus said.”– I like this phrase.  Finally Mr. D is not being a twat.

“Our.  Little.  Beggar.  Baby.”– how awful and sad!

“But the worst of all, Mr Power said, is the man who takes his own life.”– Now listen here.  You leave poor Leo’s dad alone.

“Martin Cunningham drew out his watch briskly, coughed and put it back.”– Take the hint, dude.

 You did WHAT? to the roast beef, Everton?  You shall die for this.

You did WHAT? to the roast beef, Everton? You shall die for this.

“Roast beef for old England.”– Reminds me of that episode of Chef!

“To heaven by water.”– Not one of your best advertising ideas there, Leo.

“Better for ninetynine guilty to escape than for one innocent person to be wrongfully condemned.”– Powers would have this reversed.

“Too many in the world.”– Well that’s depressing.

“I was in mortal agony with you talking of suicide before Bloom.”– You tell him, Mr. C!

“Condole with her…” — I don’t approve on hitting on recent widows, Leo.  At least you thought better of it.

“[Mr Bloom] dropped carefully his unfolded newspaper from his pocket and knelt his right knee upon it.”– cute.

“With a belly on him like a poisoned pup.”– eww!

“Makes them feel more important to be prayed over in Latin.”– well, yes.

“One whiff of that and you’re a goner.”– gruesome.  Sounds like something from Castle of Otranto or Poe.

“Mr Power took his arm.”– Ok- I feel sorry for old Mr. D now.

“The reverend gentleman read the service too quickly, don’t you think?  Mr Kernan said with reproof.”– yes, I do.

“Come forth, Lazarus!  And then he came fifth and lost the job.”– Harde har har

“What? Eh? Corny Kelleher said.”– Is our Corny a bit slow?

“A traveller for blottingpaper.”– Does he know the territory? [Wilson’s The Music Man]

“They tell the story…”– Why are all of their jokes about drunk men?

“Come on out and live in the graveyard.”– Probably not the most successful of chat-up lines.

“In the midst of death we are in life.”– reminds me of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

“Well preserved fat corpse gentleman…” — Listen, Leo.  Not everything is a business opportunity. 

“Nothing to feel on feed on themselves.”– eww!

“Every Friday buries a Thursday if you come to look at it.”– cheesy pun.

“It’s the moment you feel…”– What the moment of death may be like, as a Python sketch.

“Does he ever think of the hole waiting for himself?…”– It is a creepy feeling. 

“the gravediggers rested their spades”– “Tamp it down tight, Charlie.” [Disney’s A Christmas Carol]

“That one day he will come again.”– like King Arthur?  or was that Jesus?

“Eulogy in a country churchyard it ought to be that poem”– a good poem, that.

“Have a gramophone in every grave or keep it in the house.”– What a strange, yet tempting, idea.

“Cremation better…”– God, he is morbid here– yet practical.

“Back to the world again.”– Yes, please.

“that case I read of to get at fresh buried females”– ewww!

“Plenty to see and hear and feel yet.  Feel live warm beings near you.”– Now that’s the Leo that we know and love.

“John Henry Menton stared at him for an instant without moving.”– Ouch!  Cut him dead in true Regency style.

“Thank you.  How grand we are this morning.”– Are we sarcastic, too?

 

My, this was a cheerful and optimistic chapter!

My, this was a cheerful and optimistic chapter!

Wow!  I’d forgotten how long that section was– and we’ve got a longer one coming up.  I may well break these up into 3 or 4 sections for Aeolus section.

Are you all still enjoying these?  If so, drop me a comment and let me know, or share some of your book graffiti with me.

in which we finally meet the aliens.

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 We’re back with episode 3 of “Leisure Hive”– a classic Tom Baker Doctor Who story.  If you missed episode 2, find it here.

As we rejoin Tom & crew, he had just been turned ancient by the video-effects box.

 

This gives a new meaning to "Old Who."

This gives a new meaning to "Old Who."

 

Away we go, then…

1. A  nice review of previous episode, though repetitive music make it hard to build suspense.

2. Hey– he can’t complain.  He could be Gollum-Doctor.

3. No, duh.  He just came out of the box– of course he hasn’t seen himself!

4. Where does Harden get off giving orders?

5. Son-of-Mine seems inordinately please with himself.  Why?  What devious thing is he planning?

6. Yes, yes, yes.  Sand.  We know!  Being spied on.  We get it.

7. How would he know?  Romana’s the brains.

8. How does Son-Of-Mine intend on wearing that helmet?  It looks solid.

9.  Is Pangorn conspiring with the reptiles?

10. “Dignity.  Always Dignity.”  [See “Singing in the Rain”]

11. Um, as Harden has already proven himself useless, and this is your last hope– that’s a dumb decision, La Presidente.

12. No, No… we’re not part of a conspiricy.  Not at all.  Nothing to see here.  Move along

Move it along.  No alien conspiricies here. 

"Move it along. No alien conspiricies here."

.

13.  With the old make-up, Tom’s eyes are even more powerful.

14.  Cool-looking contract plastic/ paper.

15.  Ah, political plot thickens.

16. OOOh– so this is “The Doctor’s Daughter” all over again but done properly! 

17.  Where did the other “disfigured” mutants go?  They sound interesting.

18.  The Formaci sound like R2D2.  Why isn’t the Tardis translation circuit working?

And so another episode ends with the reveal of the alien– I’m glad that they saved it for so late in the game.

Hi,  here we are.  How are we for time?

Hi, here we are. How are we for time?

Next up, the final episode.  Huzzah!