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Douglas Adams Answers (Finally)

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the we-may-be-slow-but-we-get-there dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 293

I've gotten lots of e-mail asking, "Where are Douglas Adams' answers to our questions? Has he forgotten us?" Obviously, no one was forgotten, but the man had a screenplay on deadline and had to work, work, work. Yes, if we had a hall of fame category for "Longest time between interview questions and responses to them," this one would be #1, but it was worth waiting for. Obviously there was never any cause for panic, but all true Douglas Adams fans already knew that, right?

Relationship to Terry Pratchett?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Enoch Root

One author who is often compared to you in terms of style and humor is Terry Pratchett of Discworld fame. What is your opinion of Pratchett's work? Do you agree or disagree with the comparisons between your works?


I can't really answer this one. I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett.

God Exists
(Score:5, Interesting)
by bfree

Did you endorse the use of "Babelfish" by AltaVista or did you consider trying to prevent them from using the word as they are far from proving that God does not exist?


We are working on developing all sorts of cross-promotional opportunities between AltaVista and Does that answer the question?

Modern Culture as silly as the one in HHGTtG?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by SoupIsGood Food

In the HHGTtG series, you deal with a culture accustomed to instantaneous access to hip information -and- time-travel. It seemed to spiral in on itself, with time being as inconsequential a barrier to getting the best possible parties that geography is in the age of highways and jets.

In the contested twilight of the 20th century, we can go out on any given weekend, and find people dressed up in zoot-suits swing dancing, decked out in bell-bottoms at a disco, and rushing about outdoors attired in the shining armor of medieval knights, whacking each other with sticks.

Has the Internet and recursive nostalgia brought us to a point where modern culture is every inch as silly and fractal as the one you created?

Also: I have the phrase "Don't Panic!" marching cheerily across my web-access cell phone's display when not in use. Did you expect to see the technology you envisioned with "The Guide" come to pass in your lifetime? Are you terrified someone might come up with an infinite improbability drive sometime before dinner?


You obviously go to better parties than I do.

Comedy....or Tragedy?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by FascDot Killed My Pr

First, a big thank-you. You've made a lasting contribution to "our" culture (or should that be "culture"?)

I first read HGttG in my early teens. I doubled over laughing the whole time. I read and reread the entire series, bought both Dirk Gently books AND Last Chance to See. Loved them all and wouldn't trade having read them for anything. (btw, the first mental ward scene in Long Dark Teatime is a no-foolin', all-time classic.)

However, a few years ago I was talking to a (then) classmate. Very smart, philosophy-major type. He said (paraphrased) "I thought that HGttG was depressing. Such nihilism." At the time I thought "Hmmm...I didn't SEE a black beret on his head....". But every reading of the series since then his comment has struck me as more true--especially in the case of Arthur Dent. In fact, far from being funny, I now find Dent's character depressing--he's not just a loser, he literally has no control over his life at all (except in So Long for a while). And the control he does have does him no good (e.g. Earth is destroyed while he's trying to save his house.)

So my question is: When you were writing these books did you feel you were being gaily whimsical or did you instead feel frustrated and cynical?


I suspect there is a cultural divide at work here. In England our heroes tend to be characters who either have, or come to realise that they have, no control over their lives whatsoever Pilgrim, Gulliver, Hamlet, Paul Pennyfeather (from Decline and Fall) Tony Last (from A Handful of Dust). We celebrate our defeats and our withdrawals the Battle of Hastings, Dunkirk, almost any given test match. There was a wonderful book published, oh, about twenty years ago I think, by Stephen Pile called the Book of Heroic Failures. It was staggeringly huge bestseller in England and sank with heroic lack of trace in the U.S. Stephen explained this to me by saying that you cannot make jokes about failure in the States. It's like cancer, it just isn't funny at any level. In England, though, for some reason it's the thing we love most. So Arthur may not seem like much of a hero to Americans he doesn't have any stock options, he doesn't have anything to exchange high fives about round the water-cooler. But to the English, he is a hero. Terrible things happen to him, he complains about it a bit quite articulately, so we can really feel it along with him - then calms down and has a cup of tea. My kind of guy!

I've hit a certain amount of difficulty over the years in explaining this in Hollywood. I'm often asked 'Yes, but what are his goals?' to which I can only respond, well, I think he'd just like all this to stop, really. It's been a hard sell. I rather miss David Vogel from the film process. He's the studio executive at Disney who was in charge of the project for a while, but has since departed. There was a big meeting at one time to discuss, amongst other things, Arthur's heroicness or lack of it. David suddenly asked me 'Does Arthur's presence in the proceedings make a difference to the way things turn out?' to which I said, slightly puzzled, 'Well, yes.' David smiled and said 'Good. Then he's a hero.'

In the current, latest version of the screenplay, I think that Arthur's non-heroic heroism is now absolutely preserved, and I'm pleased with the way he works out.

In respect of the screenplay, I'd just mention a couple of things. I finished and delivered this new draft last week, and it's suddenly really working in a way that no previous version really did. It's a very hard circle to square that it should on the one hand be true to the spirit of Hitchhiker, and that on the other hand it should work as a structured movie with a beginning, a middle and an end, and character motivation and so on. Well, I think we've finally got there, after all these years. The other thing I want to touch on is this. There was a bit of a commotion on the Web last month about a version of the screenplay that got leaked, and which people didn't like very much. There is a whole story to be told about that script and the role it played in the politics of the development process, but now is not the time and maybe there won't ever be a time. But it wasn't my script and bears very little relation to any script of mine. The new script is my script and I'm extremely pleased with it.

Interconnectedness of all things.
(Score:5, Funny)
by Spud the Ninja

Dear Mr. Adams.

While the Hitchhikers' Guide trilogy is very good (I own a copy of the omnibus), I couldn't help but notice that it has 5 (five) parts. For this reason, I enjoy the Dirk Gently books greatly. My question is this:

What is your favourite type of cheese for cucumber, tomato and onion sandwiches on a nice French bread?



(Score:5, Interesting)
by MosesJones

There was a Radio Series, a TV series, the books... but no film. What stopped Zaphod becoming the most self-centred person in Hollywood?


My answer above will throw some light on this. But there are some other points. The story started on radio. And while radio and cinema are both extremely visual media (yes, I meant to say that) the way in which they each create pictures is very different. Sound is very important to both of them, but on radio you create pictures with words, and in cinema you create them with cameras. Translating between the two of them is a big stretch. (TV is the worst of both worlds. It's not as good at words as radio is because the pictures are a distraction which demand attention, and it's not as good as cinema because the pictures are not nearly as good.) However, I think we are now well on the way to solving these problems, and I hope that the movie will work out just great. I am very much looking forward to working with Jay Roach, whom I feel very fortunate to have fallen in with.

Interesting Music Software
(Score:5, Interesting)
by weston

In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, the character Richard MacDuff is obsessed with mapping natural processes into music. I really enjoyed this book; not only was it fun to read, it started me thinking about the relationship between math and music when I was a wee lad of 16 (and I still think it's the sort of thing that might be stimulating to young minds; I gave out the fictional essay "Music and Fractal Landscapes" to my high school students this last semester, and some of them took to the ideas. Some of them thought I was a jerk, though).

But my question is: are there any music composition software packages/languages/environments that you find interesting? Anything that Richard MacDuff would find fascinating?


There's one particular package that I bought and found very promising, though I have to confess that I never found the time to climb its steep learning curve. It's called MAX, and it's a high level object oriented music programming language. You can find information about it at

Distributing copyrighted media over the internet
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Cycon

As someone whose writing talent and sense of humor many of us in the Slashdot community have come to admire and respect, could you explain to us your stance on some of the current issues regarding distributing copyrighted material over the Internet?

For instance, the original BBC recordings of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy have made frequent appearances on various pirate music sites, and they show up frequently in searches on Napster. What are your feelings on this sort of thing? Also, although I'm not aware of it happening currently, how do you think you might react to discovering that some of your various novels were being traded online?

Finally, many of us feel that the issue revolves around one of availability - for instance, if I knew that I could purchase digital recordings of the original HGTTG broadcast over the internet, I would be happy to do so, but as far as I am aware, such a distribution scheme is not currently available. Do you think that this is merely a cut-and-dry issue of intellectual property theft, or do you feel that issues such as these point out that maybe it is time for the publishing industries of these various forms of media need to redefine the way they do business?


I don't think the issues are cut and dried at all, and I think that we will see new models emerge. I don't think any of us can really predict exactly how they will work, but I do think that any model which fundamentally prevents people getting something they want is going to fail. We shouldn't be trying to prevent copying, just trying to make sure that the creator of the copyright gets something for his or her work when it happens.

However, under the current state of copyright law, copyright holders are obliged to protect their rights aggressively, or lose the right to protect them at all. That's why you'll often see people (such as me) whose natural instinct is to be a little flexible and forgiving in this area having instead to take a tough stand.

In fact, there is a very simple way of getting hold of digital recordings of the original Hitchhiker BBC broadcasts. We sell the CDs off my Web site, at

Is Radio Drama Dead, or Can the Internet Save It?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Cy Guy

The Hitch Hiker's Guide is probably the most well-known, if not the only known radio drama to gen-Xrs in the U.S. Do you think that given the vast array of media available today the Radio Drama as an art form is dead? Or do you think it can survive as Internet based streaming audio because the audience can listen to it at a time and place that is convenient to them, and there is a revenue model that works for U.S. listeners?


I think that radio is a great dramatic art form. In the UK it never has died, though obviously it has fewer listeners than it did before TV came along. I'd love to see it gain a new lease of life on the Internet, and I strongly feel that one of the things that might drive this is if the BBC created dozens and dozens of streaming channels and started to pump out all of the radio drama and comedy they have had sitting in their vaults for decades. They could do it on a very cheap subscription basis, and I guarantee you that there are lots of absolute gems sitting there. And a lot of dross as well, of course but there's nothing better for promoting creativity in a medium than making an audience feel "Hmm I could do better than that!'

How do you feel...
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Wah

....about predicting the Internet?

My mental image of the the Guide (outside of the Don't Panic sticker) was a laptop computer with high speed access. The big hint was when you said (paraphrased) "The Guide contains vast amount of information on every conceivable concept, much of it completely erroneous or actively dangerous." That's about the best description of the Net I've seen, and it came about before the thing was mainstream. I guess my question is, Have you ever thought of it that way? Do you like turkey? And what's the deal with Smithers?


Yes, the Web/net is a bit like that. And I think the reason it's like that is that it is essentially just people talking to each other.

I think that turkey is just big, bland, dry chicken.

I've consulted my lawyer and I have no deal with Smithers.

The Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster
(Score:5, Funny)
by phossie

What is the origin of the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, and how would you make one on Earth?

I need to know.


Unfortunately there are a number of environmental and weapons treaties and laws of physics which prevent one being mixed on Earth. Sorry.


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wow... (1)

Rombuu (22914) | more than 14 years ago | (#985871)

Given the obvious thought and length of these answers, I can see why it took so long for this interview to come back :)

For some reason, I get the feeling the DNA just doesn't like to write that much. (Where is A Salmon of Doubt, damn it!)

Thanks (1)

pieterh (196118) | more than 14 years ago | (#985872)

The subject says it, I think.

Wow. (4)

kwsNI (133721) | more than 14 years ago | (#985873)

What a cool interview. I think he must have had his pet mice :) write it for him.

Mods, if you haven't read his books and don't know that mice are the smartest creatures on Earth, don't mod me down :)...

No, seriously though. It's a great interview. It's nice to see someone put so much thought and effort into one of these. Definately worth the wait. I think I'll even go out and buy another one of his books today.


the damn dolphins (4)

Backline (202972) | more than 14 years ago | (#985874)

DAMN IT. I was hoping he would tell us how the hell the dolphins got off planet earth before it was destroyed by the vogons to make a hyperspace bypass

I was hoping to employ the same technique to get out of work for a coupla days


Failure in the US (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#985875)

I'm not sure he's totally right about failures not being funny in the US, but it IS an interesting point.

Now if only we hadn't gotten so many "pan-galactic gargle-blaster" questions modded up to +5 we could have had a good interview going here.
Less money, less admin, less machine--more power

Radio is not dead in the US (3)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 14 years ago | (#985876)

National public radio, and Public Radio International have amazing shows... All Things Considered and Morning Edition on NPR are *by far* better than most TV news shows I know of... and programs like A Prairie Home Companion [] illustrate quality culture in radio that I wouldn't miss.


Max! (5)

wugmump (6611) | more than 14 years ago | (#985877)

Max is no longer sold or maintained by Opcode, which has been absorbed into the Giant Sucking Sound that is Gibson, Inc. Instead, David Zicarelli, one of the original developers of the application, has re-taken control of the software. Downloads, information, pricing and ordering stuff can be found at Cycling '74 [] .

Also, there's a fantastic DSP addon to Max called MSP, which manipulates waveforms and ADSR info the same way Max manipulates MIDI information. This is the multimedia development environment of the future. Share the joy!


A big dry CHICKEN?! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#985878)


If he's ever in America I shall have to kidnap him and cook him a turkey. That's the problem with British cooks...

On the other hand, their beer is a lot better than ours...

Intergalactic Police (5)

Mirk (184717) | more than 14 years ago | (#985879)

There's a certain dry quality to some of DNA's answer's, isn't there? Reminds me of a section I enjoyed in Neil Gaimain's (I think) book about the HHGTTG series: it had some fan mail Adams had received, especially letters with a lot of questions in, together with his replies. The one that sticks in the memory went:

Q. Have you ever been contacted by the intergalactic police concerning the whereabouts of Zaphod Beeblebrox?

A. No. They are fictional characters.

No? Oh well, I thought it was funny.


Good show! (2)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 14 years ago | (#985880)

I would have liked to see a few more serious
questions, but on the whole, interesting stuff.

I can hardly wait for the movie. I'm curious as
to which existing script it'll follow closest.
(the radio series, tv series, or books--they're
all fairly different)

Shitty Logic and Penguin Power! (3)

webword (82711) | more than 14 years ago | (#985881)

(1) Douglas Adams cares about fish. "So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish"
(2) Penguins like fish.
(3) Linux mascot is a penguin.
(4) Therfore, Linux likes fish.
(5) Damn, that's not it.
(6) Therefore, Douglass Adams cares about responding quickly to our questions.
(7) No, That's not it.
(8) Penguins like Linux. That's it.
(9) Uh, no, you idiot. That's not the answer.
(10) What is the Answer?
(42) This space left intentionally blank.

Re:Wow. (2)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 14 years ago | (#985882)

No, no you got it wrong.

The mice wrote it, But DA is THEIR pet. Currently he's just a mouthpiece until they get the giant robot bodies working.

All that wait, for one-line answers? (1)

dmorin (25609) | more than 14 years ago | (#985883)

Hmmmmm, it took him that long to answer half his questions with one-liners? That's pretty disappointing. Of course, maybe that's because we moderated up only very silly questions.

The mystery... (2)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 14 years ago | (#985884)

I'm so glad that DA was very *appropriate* with his answers... Very quick, short, and to the point... its nice to see that he was willing to tease us a bit with plans, as well as give Slashdot back some humor with a few answers (like the last one!)

I totally agree with English literature to be rather anti-heroic in US standards... this is a constant theme in Brit Lit, and I think quite a nice mindset, and would be a large part of HHGTTG's appeal to me.

Americans are too power/glory hungry, and the anti-hero theme gave me insight into balance, and acceptance of life, instead of living in a fantasy world.


Infamous for hating Deadlines (1)

Div0 (41952) | more than 14 years ago | (#985885)

Well as any DA fan should know, he hates deadlines. Did you really expect him to meet this one?

Interactive Douglas Adams (2)

Bilestoad (60385) | more than 14 years ago | (#985886)

Don't forget Douglas Adams has also been involved in a few excellent computer games:

HHGTTG: an Infocom classic text adventure.
Bureaucracy: Another Infocom text adventure
Starship Titanic: Graphical adventure.

All of which you can find on eBay most of the time. One even contains Peril-Sensitive sunglasses.

I didn't play the last, since it was in the middle of the Titanic hype and some girl had just made me sit through that movie twice. HHGTTG is a true classic, and was the first adventure game I got through without any hints. I played it on a CGA-equipped genuine IBM PC with one of those excellent clicky keyboards, and enjoyed every second. It also made me more curious about tea, which I rediscovered and learned how to make properly as a result.

Crowther and Woods' Colossal Cave Adventure was the first one I ever played, on a family friend's CP/M system. But HHGTTG and that clicky keyboard were the things that made me really decide that I was going to do something with computers. Thanks Douglas, you changed my life!

Lost opportunity (5)

Golias (176380) | more than 14 years ago | (#985887)

If you go back to the /. archive of when the questions were asked, there were probably about two dozen people that asked "what is your next book likely to be, and is it coming anytime soon?"

Since the mod points were split up between them, none of them rose as high as the question about his favorite cheese.

There were several other really good potential questions, but instead we get two questions about the same upcoming film. Alas.

Perhaps the method of moderating and selecting /. interview questions should be re-examined.

Not sure if anyone has seen this... (2)

TheCaptain (17554) | more than 14 years ago | (#985888)

But the green guy from the Hitch Hikers Guide book covers is being used on some adult links site full of porn ads.

Here []

He's on that page more than once. Not sure if anyone else mentioned it before or noticed.

Homer Simpson's a failure - and still on TV (2)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 14 years ago | (#985889)

Homer has got to be one of the biggest failures ever, but he's still funny and the Simpson's are on TV. Although Homer does have control (sometimes) of his life, so I guess that doen't really compare with what he was saying... oh well.

What happened to Dr. Who? (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#985890)

How can you have a Douglas Adams Q and A and not cover his time as a writer for Dr. Who? Such as how much his was responsible for Tom Baker's jokes. Such as the Zoroastrian elements. Such as how much working on the show influenced him. Et cetera.

Boo (4)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#985891)

I had hoped he'd answer my question about what influence the writings of Lewis Carroll had on him. It had gotten modded up to +5, but perhaps it contained one-too-many references to 42 and got unilaterally rejected on those grounds.

If anyone knows the answer, please speak up. This one's bothered me for the last decade or so.

The trade in novels (3)

Johnath (85825) | more than 14 years ago | (#985892)

Also, although I'm not aware of it happening currently, how do you think you might react to discovering that some of your various novels were being traded online?

I think the trade in novels online was just waiting for a vessel to carry it, and with palm pilots now shipping with up to 8M of ram, the opening has presented itself. Check out this site: jects/palm/palmtext.html []

which for better or for worse, has all five books of the hitchhiker trilogy in iSilo (reader software for palmpilot) and ascii format. I think it would be really great if DA could stick to his "more lenient side" and not take a hard line on things like this, they really are great for reading on the subway - but at very least, the site seems topical.


PS - Without meaning to flame, bitch, or otherwise irritate people, I had expected... I dunno... more, from DA. Am I the only one who felt that the only questions that got more than three words were the ones promoting the movie or his website(s)? No disrespect intended, the man has 7 times the genius in his pinky that I have along my entire left side, but...shrug... I was expecting more.

humor (3)

wishus (174405) | more than 14 years ago | (#985893)

DA's contrast between american and english humor was interesting - I've never seen the "failure" take on it before, although it works quite well.

In even the worst american humor (Jim Carey, in my opinion) the protagonist accomplishes something.. There is catharsis, the impression that he has done something.

While not all British humor centers around failure, it is certainly present. If you think about MP's "Holy Grail", the knights of the round table are certainly failures.. Sir Robin, the brave? ".. He bravely ran away...".. And riding pretend horses while banging coconuts.. these guys are complete losers..

I've always found english humor much better than american humor, but then people here have always thought i was strange, too.


Crappy Interview (1)

cwhicks (62623) | more than 14 years ago | (#985894)

I hope everyone above is joking because that was possibly the worst interview I've read on /..
Non-answers, flip-answers, and plugs for products. It's like Woody Allen fanatics that laugh at the credits because they are so droll and insightful.
I love the guys writing, read 3 Hitchhikers, but peeyoo.

Re:Infamous for hating Deadlines (1)

medicthree (125112) | more than 14 years ago | (#985895)

I don't really think he's "infamous" for hating deadlines. Since when is hating deadlines considered an evil or bad thing?

infamy (nf-m) n., pl. infamies.

1. Evil fame or reputation.
2. The condition of being infamous. See Synonyms at disgrace.
3. An evil or criminal act that is publicly known.

All Yesterday's Parties Tomorrow. (4)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 14 years ago | (#985896)

<em>You obviously go to better parties than I do. </em>

I'm a reclusive misanthropist, I don't go to parties. There is a startlingly profound difference between "go to" and "somehow wind up at".

SoupIsGood Food

Re:the damn dolphins (4)

DebtAngel (83256) | more than 14 years ago | (#985897)

Read So Long and Thanks for the Fish again. They found a planet clos to earth in another dimension, and being smarter than us, went there.

They then, kindly enough, did exactly the same thing to the human race. But, knowing the human race like they did, they quite rightly sent humans to a different planet than they went to.

The real question is what happened to the mice.

It takes just a *little* reading between the lines, but not a heck of a lot.

Good Beer in Oregon (was Re:A big dry CHICKEN?!) (1)

lil_billy (25771) | more than 14 years ago | (#985898)

You must be somewhere in the US without microbreweries. Here in Oregon we have more breweries than in Germany. There are 7 brewpubs within 2 miles of my home.
Before writing off US beer come to Oregon.

42 (1)

spudwiser (124577) | more than 14 years ago | (#985899)

Where was the deeper meaning of 42 explained? Quite a big hole left with What do you get when you multiply six by nine? (Grunt)

Reread with this in mind. (2)

Masloki (41237) | more than 14 years ago | (#985900)

It is important to remember that often an author is very separate and distinct from the characters he/she creates. I know my expectation was for witty and tongue in cheek and other Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect-esque responses. And yet, we had the true blue Douglas Adams talking to us.

Re:Not sure if anyone has seen this... (1)

TheCaptain (17554) | more than 14 years ago | (#985901)

Actually...I just looked at the new copies of the books on He's not on them anymore? My copies are ancient.

he's got a point about the BBC (5)

imac.usr (58845) | more than 14 years ago | (#985902)

they must have an unimaginable amount of radio material from their history (assuming it hasn't been tossed out as with the Dr. Who debacle), and I for one wouldn't mind hearing it streamed via RealPlayer/QuickTime/whatever.

I probably wouldn't want to pay to subscribe to it, though. And how likely is the Beeb to do such a thing for free, coming from a land where license fees for radios and TVs help make up their operating budget?

(note: that's not a rhetorical question.)

Re:The trade in novels (1)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 14 years ago | (#985903)

I think genius also comprises of when *not* to talk... I think he knew we were all superfans, and that anything we did would not be enough...


Re:Radio is not dead in the US (2)

JonesBoy (146782) | more than 14 years ago | (#985904)

I must agree. I didn't have a TV for my five year stint in college, and I had to rely on the radio for news and entertainment. NPR kept me better informed about world news and events than people watching the standard 5/6/7 o'clock news shows. It has less bias and almost no corporate censorship of news events that the other news channels carry. The commentaries, stories, and shows are also amazingly entertaining. It is just a shame more people are not listening or know about it.

Re:Thanks... (1)

Grahf666 (118413) | more than 14 years ago | (#985905)

for what? The fish? ;)

Re:the damn dolphins (1)

Timex (11710) | more than 14 years ago | (#985906)

My theory is that the Dolphins stumbled across their own version of the Electronic Thumb. Either that, or they had enough tid-bits from all those sunken ships that they could talk the Rich Kids (you know... the ones that liked to harass the yokels...) into taking them off-planet.

Of course, we may never really know for sure... 8\

Just another computer geek....

Writer vs. Musician (2)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#985907)

I think it's interesting that a good writer like Douglas Adams) answers questions in less words than a musician (Lars).

To paraphrase John Byrne, I think it was, (the great comic book artist), once said that drawing was not about making a lot of marks and lines to create something, but to use only those absolutely necessary to make it recognizeable. The art is in knowing what not to draw, or say.

In conclusion, that's why metallica sucks.

Can one ever really sustain it? (2)

cah1 (5152) | more than 14 years ago | (#985908)

History is littered with people whose first works (in whatever medium) are greated with acclaim and are elevated to classics and the creators deified.

DNA is just such a person. He's managed what others have only glimpsed, like the Beatles changing styles from album to album, but not like Python who've been abusing the same sixth form gags for 30 years, he has been trying to outgrow his roots.

The radio series was wonderful (if you don't own the CDs, go buy. Now) the books translated them to a new form.

His subsequent ventures have seen a few flops, but they have been different.

I saw him lecture a few years ago on some element of futurism and I really got the feeling he was looking at the world through slightly different eyes and it was a privilege to glimpse his perceptions.

One thing that has always surprised me - and he touched on it in some of his answers - that such a basically English (not British) sense of humour is such a hit in the US. Why is that?

great interview (1)

Fooknut (73366) | more than 14 years ago | (#985909)

These were not "silly" questions at all. Weird becomes normal when everything around it is weird.
These silly questions fit perfectly into a Douglas Adams interview.


Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

gaudior (113467) | more than 14 years ago | (#985910)

My new favorite is 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

Annoying (1)

seizer (16950) | more than 14 years ago | (#985911)

It's really annoying to have to discover the "real" author underneath those great works. He's not concerned with pleasing his fans anymore - far more with creating new opportunities, making the most of his product's potential, etc etc, to actually care about his long term fans. Ok, so I might be inclined to do that too, if Hollywood was waving six figure amounts at me, but it's still a shame.

Oh, and I think it goes without saying that he's not got the slightest interest in slashdot, except as a vehicle to push all his latest and greatest creations, including (INCLUDING!) h2g2 [] , the commercial ripoff of Everything [] .

Shame. SHAME, I say.

--Remove SPAM from my address to mail me

Re:A big dry CHICKEN?! (2)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 14 years ago | (#985912)

That's the problem with British cooks...

Hey, but they make great fish & chips.


Not radio, but radio DRAMA (2)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#985913)

Radio dramas are rarely heard in the US, in Seattle, WA we had (still have?) a sunday night radio drama show on one station. Its on late at night and I haven't checked for it in quite a while, but it still may be running.

Back in the olde days radio drama was the big thing. There were cool sound effects and good voice actors. The plays were written so you could follow the action only with your imagination.

Nowadays most radio stations are too concerned with providing either the latest new music or up-to-the-date traffic and weather to bother spending money on quality radio drama. Another excellent program that I haven't heard in a long time in the Seattle area is Music with Moscowitz, the last station I heard it on switched formats and dropped it, when it was the highest rated show in its time slot!

Eric is chisled like a Greek Godess

Re:the damn dolphins (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 14 years ago | (#985914)

Dolphins are simply a higher life form poking fun at us wee humans. With the right frequency emited from their head they can create a worm hole to an ocean on any other planet. That's how they got away from Earth in time. Or maybe the Vogon's simply had a soft place for these dolphins and gave them a helping hand.

Beer in USA? (1)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#985915)

Hey, what about upstate New York? Some of the best breweries in the world are here, like Saranac (FX Matts Brewery) in Utica. Saranac beats the pants off most "international" beers. Plus, we have some of the best wineries in the world around the finger lakes. We rock!

Disapointed on the pratchett answer (3)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#985916)

I'm a crossover Adams/Pratchett fan muself, and I was pretty put off by his (lack of) answer to that question. Even if he really hasn't read any of the other author's work, he could have said something, even if it was only "Americans think we're the same because we're both british humour writers, but there are actually many differences in narrative style." Or, "he sucks because he's selling more new books."

The non-answer almost made me think that maybe he's jealous of Pratchett's current surge in popularity, and I'm getting sick of my favorite authors turning out to be petty dicks as people (JMS, James Randi, the guy who wrote West SIde Story... Stephen King had a short story about the phenomenon.) I would have rather had something more definitly positive or negitive of the Pratchett comparison, if not the books themselves.

-Kahuna Burger

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (3)

mcgregorj (114352) | more than 14 years ago | (#985917)

In fact, it's really not dead. For a program which looks at American culture in an off-beat way which many Douglas Adams fans (and people who like the stranger things in life) would appreciate, check out This American Life. []

You won't be disappointed.

Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster (3)

Dr. Blue (63477) | more than 14 years ago | (#985918)

Actually, in the mid 80's there was an O'Charlie's restaurant in Nashville that made a drink called a "Pan-galactic Gargle-Blaster" in honor of the HHG series. They even had a (unofficial) contest going on who drank the most. We got into some serious trouble one night when I tied the previous record (5) and a friend beat it with 6. Ever see anyone do a slow-motion sideways fall from a high barstool? At least it seemed slow-motion to me at that time! :-)

I think some of the people I hung out with at the time snarfed the drink recipe, but I wouldn't have a clue where it is now.... :-(

I'm a crackhead in London (1)

NevDull (170554) | more than 14 years ago | (#985919)

I visited Islington a few weeks ago, and must say that I was quite amused that there's a Hotblack Desiato Realtors.

Oh, you can just call me Phil.

Very Likely.... (1)

listen (20464) | more than 14 years ago | (#985920)

They need to justify their continuing licence fee. This would be a pretty cheap way to do it. They don't charge for the news on their website ( ). And no ads!
The licence fee is only for TVs, not radios. And very few people in Britain think the licence fee is a bad thing. (ie only ultra right wing tories, who would like to sell the BBC to themselves cheaply, like they did to a lot of other publically owned industries).

Re:Max! (1)

dr.bone (102153) | more than 14 years ago | (#985921)

Even cooler than Max/MSP is a relatively new audio programming language called SuperCollider. Max is a graphically oriented programming environment, where you connect little boxes with little lines. It's a neat idea, but in practice Max patches are terribly difficult to maintain once they get beyond a certain size (which they almost have to do if they are to be useful). SC, on the other hand, is a structured programming language similar to SmallTalk. IMO, SC makes Max/MSP mostly irrelevant. Check it out: []


Re:he's got a point about the BBC (1)

travisd (35242) | more than 14 years ago | (#985922)

Actually I think that being able to pay a monthly fee to access any and all of the Beeb's audio archives would be excellent. Not too unlike a video store membership.

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#985923)

If you ever end up in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada you get this drink and many more at a bar called Zaphods...

Re:A big dry CHICKEN?! (1)

paul r (32049) | more than 14 years ago | (#985924)

I heard him talk once in St. Louis. He's around, at least once in a while. The US isn't that big, you could just drive over and take him to dinner. He talked about some environmental issues, quite a guy.

Hoo boy... (1)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#985925)

Man, you just opened up a can of worms with that one... but thanks, I already own all the novels, so having them in digital format on my Visor is great! And it's legal, right???

Re:he's got a point about the BBC (1)

bfree (113420) | more than 14 years ago | (#985926)

Perhaps if they release online for free one year after the show has aired on radio (so a big catelogue comes straight out) and allow people to pay by some means if they just can't wait. They are a public service broadcaster at the end of the day, how about getting all those TV programs online toooooooooo (RedDwarf I-VIII would have me sitting in front of RealPlayer for about 26 hours straight every few months!).

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

jamis (16403) | more than 14 years ago | (#985927)

Cartalk, dammit! Car talk is the best show on NPR :)

Though I think the best news comes from BBC world service.

The Connection and Morning Editions often have some interesting stuff too.

Re:Can one ever really sustain it? (2)

gaudior (113467) | more than 14 years ago | (#985928)

One thing that has always surprised me - and he touched on it in some of his answers - that such a basically English (not British) sense of humour is such a hit in the US. Why is that?

Because, the Political Correct Crowd notwithstanding, the US is essentially English. Our culture is deeply rooted there. We have flavored things from the immigrants who came afterwards, we grew while facing challenges that our cousins back home never did, and we accomplished great things.

My heritage is half German, but I recognize my culture is essentially English. I cherish the traditions from my German ancestors, but the language and social structure bear more upon our society than anything else.

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 14 years ago | (#985929)

Darn right! NPR has to be one of the best entertainment and information resources in existence. Now only if it were available on the Internet... Wait! It is! What's stopping them from taking over the world?

Re: Radio is not dead in the US (1)

CoffeeNowDammit (5514) | more than 14 years ago | (#985930)

All Things Considered and Morning Edition on NPR are *by far* better than most TV news shows I know of

Very true. Between NPR and Yahoo news headlines, I don't bother with TV news at all. You simply can't get NPR's quality journalism and analysis from anywhere else, frankly. (Not in the States, anyway.)

While you're at it, don't forget to cite Whaddya Know?, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (which is a SCREAM), and, of course, Car Talk.
"O Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can,
the serenity to accept those I cannot, and a big pile of money."

pan galactic gargle blaster (1)

thexdane (148152) | more than 14 years ago | (#985931)

the nearest match for one on earth that we have found is this 1 oz tequila 1 oz gin 1 oz vodka 3 oz lemon juice mix gargle swallow repeat as necessary :)

Re:Homer Simpson's a failure - and still on TV (3)

_Swank (118097) | more than 14 years ago | (#985932)

I disagree with you that Homer is actually a failure, at least in the same sense that Douglas Adams is speaking of. Sure, Homer is definitely a bit dim-witted, lazy, and pretty much everything else that would and/or should lead someone to being a dismal failure. Yet despite, or maybe due to the overabundance, of these traits he actually succeeds. His brief, but semi-successful singing career, his stint as an astronaut, his boxing breakthrough, and nearly every other misadventure of Homer's are really things that we envision "successful" people doing. I think it is probably that mix of the stereotypical traits of a failure with the fruits of success that gives Homer his appeal.

Over-analyzing the Simpsons....

Re:Failure in the US (3)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 14 years ago | (#985933)

In the US, failures are only funny when there's either slapstick going on, or it's a comedy of errors; But very nearly every movie in the US has a happy ending, so any failures along the way are just plot complications.

There's a movie containing Michael Douglas called Falling Down [] which I have not seen, but am told is just a movie about a guy having about as bad a day as you can possibly experience without being in a POW camp someplace. In essence, it's a story about a kind of failure... So I wouldn't say there are no examples of movies about Failure in the US, but then, I don't know how the movie ends, either.

I do know that people who post spoilers are bad, however, and being naughty in my sight, they shall snuff it.

In any case, America is an extremely young nation with very little history of its own, even as compared to England. Let's face it, we only go back a couple hundred years. We're sensitive about our failures in the same way that a boy just past puberty is insecure about his sexual orientation; History speaks for itself, but we (as a nation, not individuals necessarily) still get defensive when someone brings up something embarrassing. Remember the Alamo?

Re:Annoying (1)

InstantCool (19982) | more than 14 years ago | (#985934)

Your a wacko, aren't ya?

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 14 years ago | (#985935)

The show right after Cartalk, "Whad'ya Know" at [] is really really funny... and In reply to some others on this thread, I totally love the shows they mentioned, and PHC is a variety/drama show... its a nice american/folk theme...


Drew Carey! (3)

GoVegan (72692) | more than 14 years ago | (#985936)

I think Drew Carey covers the antihero thing pretty well: An overweight geek with huge Buddy Holly glasses who has been in the same job for ten+ years.

I enjoy seeing him fail. His character was promoted temporarily, but from the second it happened I enjoyed waiting for him to plummet back to where he was before. The show is supposed to be about a loser and his three loser friends.

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

Biff Cool (18858) | more than 14 years ago | (#985937)

Seeing Ear Theatre [] on

Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 14 years ago | (#985938)

Anyone got a URL for "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me"? Thanks ;)


Re:Drew Carey! (1)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#985939)

But you gotta admit, for a looser, he gets really hot women. Call it the Seinfeld Syndrome - even in a comedy about two men who are pathetic in relationships, all of their dates have to be hot. I mean, why would we can if they got dumped by ugly women? I'm starting to see the difference between the Americas and England...

Re:Good Beer in Oregon (was Re:A big dry CHICKEN?! (1)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 14 years ago | (#985940)

And Guiness puts them all to shame.
Although newport is a fun place to visit
--oregonian past and gone. []

Re:Interactive Douglas Adams (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 14 years ago | (#985941)

One even contains Peril-Sensitive sunglasses.

For some reason, I read this the first time as "Perl-sensitive sunglasses" which sparked off a whole thread in my head about sunglasses doing your syntax hilighting for you.

I wonder how much O'Reilly would sell them for?

DISNEY??!? (2)

softsign (120322) | more than 14 years ago | (#985942)


He's letting the same people who felt no compunctions at all about letting Quasimodo ride off into the sunset with Esmerelda or the Little Mermaid avoid becoming seafoam make his books into a movie?

Please say it ain't so...


Re:Not radio, but radio DRAMA (2)

Janthkin (32289) | more than 14 years ago | (#985943)

Well....yes, I suppose, you're probably right: radio dramas are an extinguished breed. However, I'd like more to comment on the poster of the original question: No, the HGttG broadcasts are NOT the only known radio dramas; you left out the Star Wars radio dramas. Those deserve mention, if for no other reason than they showed surprising initiative at the time.

Re:Annoying (2)

bfree (113420) | more than 14 years ago | (#985944)

I asked if he had given permission to Altavista to use the name BabelFish and the answer was that they are working on cross-developments between altavista and h2g2! Sounds to me like that is about the best proof that
he's not got the slightest interest in slashdot, except as a vehicle to push all his latest and greatest creations
I am amazed at such commercial superficiality from a man who can write such an brilliantly amusing piece of insightful predictive cynicism (see comments on anti-heroism, they are a flavour of my own view that the HitchHickers is the most depressing book around...I love it though)

Re:Wow. (5)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 14 years ago | (#985945)

Mods, if you haven't read his books and don't know that mice are the smartest creatures on Earth

Hm, so they must just be letting us THINK that we made them smarter... [] . Ingenious.

-- Dr. Eldarion --

Statship Titanic's actually pretty good- try it. (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 14 years ago | (#985946)

It's chock full of Adams' dry wit- not to mention being a decent graphical adventure.

Re:Shitty Logic and Penguin Power! (2)

bw42 (130368) | more than 14 years ago | (#985947)

(1) Douglas Adams likes fish (2) Penguins like fish (3) Linux mascot is a penguin (4) Linux runs on Macs (5) Douglas Adams uses a Mac (6) sorry for the inconvenience

Re:Not radio, but radio DRAMA (1)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 14 years ago | (#985948)

Good radio drama can still be found in stations here and there. Down LA way, KNX [] has radio dramas every night, and their signal is incredible; being able to hear the station from hundreds of miles away is very common. It all goes back to video killing the radio (drama) star

Re:Not sure if anyone has seen this... (1)

fedos (150319) | more than 14 years ago | (#985949)

I do believe that if you can find the hardcover book of the entire trilogy, that has the green guy on it.

You should be whoopin' it up! (1)

LocalYokel (85558) | more than 14 years ago | (#985950)

You clearly live in US West territory (like myself). You should get out more -- there is TONS of better food and beer in the (Mid|North)west...

Turkey is marginally better than chicken, but not something to make a big fuss over. Have you NOT had pheasant? People shoot all kinds of game birds in these parts, and they all happen to be tastier than the common "farm fresh" birds you get at the supermarket.

I live in Minneapolis, and there are plenty of tasty brews to be had. If you like beer, ale is the only way to go, and there are at least two good sources. Across/along the river in St. Paul, there is Summit Brewing Co., which makes a Pale Ale second only to Sierra Nevada. Their India Pale Ale and Porter are also top notch. A little closer to home, near the West Bank campus of the U of M, there is the Town Hall brewpub, which serves wonderful brews from a hand pumped cask -- no nasty forced carbonation, just pure, tasty beer. I also hear good things about the Sherlock Holmes brewpub in Minnetonka, but I haven't been there myself.

must... go... now... hungry... thirsty... I'm glad it's lunchtime!


Re:Annoying (2)

seizer (16950) | more than 14 years ago | (#985951)

I don't think the HHGTTG can claim be the first, in that succeeding similar ideas (such as Everything) rip it off. It's just too much of a broad concept. However, once DNA saw the possibilities (read: commercial) in Everything, *then* he created H2G2.

As for your last point, no, I think it's astonishingly precocious if an author does not care about his audience, and still expects to be taken seriously. Some artists claim that their work is for themself, and others liking it is just a lucky chance, but that sounds desperately conceited. DNA is quite happy to reap the rewards of his popularity, but if it was more widely known that he is, at least metaphorically, raising the finger to his audience, his income would drop.

And stop flamebaiting. I have more personal relationships than you have (Insert comical yet insulting value here).

--Remove SPAM from my address to mail me

Re:I'm a crackhead in London (2)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 14 years ago | (#985952)

I visited Islington a few weeks ago, and must say that I was quite amused that there's a Hotblack Desiato Realtors.

The Islington one was the original: DA saw the name, thought it was cool and used it (with permission).

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

vermiculture (14963) | more than 14 years ago | (#985953)

Re:he's got a point about the BBC (1)

MartinB (51897) | more than 14 years ago | (#985954)

Probably about as likely as they are to give away possibly the world's best news site [] . Or insist that any site officially syndicating the content place zero ads on the same page. Yahoo are the only ones to take them up on it so far.

fwiw, there's no radio license any more.

Aside: There's an anecdote about Ballmer circulating in UK eCommerce circles - he visited the Beeb and was very nice about the news site. Then he asked what the revenue model was and was told "Um, it's free. Users pay for it from their TV licenses which you have to have if you watch TV in the UK"

Obligatory jMax post (4)

autechre (121980) | more than 14 years ago | (#985955)

Since he mentioned MAX, I feel that I should post a reminder that while MAX is a commercial program for MacOS, you can get jMax, the descendent, free for Linux and SGI.

You need the JDK, Swing, and libaudiofile (probably have that anyway) to compile it. Everything but Swing can be found in packages (at least, for Debian), and Swing is also free (beer).

What is it? Well, it's a programming language for music. You can either do it textually or graphically. What you do is create little modules, and link them together via "patch cables". Each module could be a slider, wah-wah, sine generator, or whatever. It also allows for time-programmed events. Once linked together, you can then "run" this "program" to produce sound.

I've only just gotten time to start with it in the past few days, but as someone who's been doing music for years, it's truly incredible to me. And I also like the fact that it's one app Linux has that Windows doesn't :)

ps: Aphex Twin uses MAX. If you haven't listened to his stuff, do so immediatly.

Re:Radio is not dead in the US (1)

AntiPasto (168263) | more than 14 years ago | (#985956)



English stoicism (3)

Once&FutureRocketman (148585) | more than 14 years ago | (#985957)

So Arthur may not seem like much of a hero to Americans he doesn't have any stock options, he doesn't have anything to exchange high fives about round the water-cooler. But to the English, he is a hero. Terrible things happen to him, he complains about it a bit quite articulately, so we can really feel it along with him - then calms down and has a cup of tea. My kind of guy!

He's right about English culture, you know. In the immortal words of Floyd:

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say.

BullSh*t (1)

eshaft (82430) | more than 14 years ago | (#985958)

I took the wines course at the Cornell University Hotel school, we had tasings from all over, and guest speakers from France, Germany, etc., and they all highly regarded NY wines. Goose Watch, Loch Sheldrake, Salmon Run... all medal winners, and Hosmer makes the best Chardonnay I have ever tasted (1998 reserver, gold medal winner). First of all, what the heck kind of title is a Master of Wines, and why would your friend rip on NY State wines? They make plenty of cheap, crappy wine in Italy and California too.

Re:Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster (1)

eddy the lip (20794) | more than 14 years ago | (#985959)

I was at an sf con many years ago in Calgary (Alberta, Canada) and they served up something they called a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. It was prepared by exposing 2 oz. of Everclear to liquid nitrogen, scraping off the frozen impurities that rose to the top, and adding one drop of lemon juice. Tasty.

Re:Drew Carey + average women? (1)

GoVegan (72692) | more than 14 years ago | (#985960)

That's true. I'm not sure how much commercial appeal that would have either in America or in the UK.

There were a few episodes where he was dating a woman who was like 60-something. How many people would want to see him dating woman in his league?

Probably not many. I don't think it would take away from anything, though. It would definitely add to the loser factor.

Re:Interactive Douglas Adams (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 14 years ago | (#985961)

You got through the text adventure HHGttG without any hints?

That's amazing. I congratulate you. :)
(just read my email address in reverse)

Re: A Prarie Home Companion? BLECH. (1)

TheLocustNMI (159898) | more than 14 years ago | (#985962)

I agree with you on the All Things Considered and Morning Edition shows, but A Prarie Home Companion? I'd rather *listen* to paint dry. Try CarTalk [] , Michael Feldman's Whaddya Know? [] or This American Life [] . FAR SUPERIOR! And usually entertaining, which is more than I can say for that man from Lake Wobegon.

Ham on rye, hold the mayo please.

Re:Disapointed on the pratchett answer (1)

bockman (104837) | more than 14 years ago | (#985963)

To be politically correct, now ./ has to interview Terry Pratchett. And the first question shall be how he relates to Douglas Adams work. I bet we will get a snappy answer, too.

classic DNA (1)

hlva (174132) | more than 14 years ago | (#985964)

record breakingly late, largely detouring around the topics, and over way too soon. (or am I the only one who's read enough about the man to expect this sort of thing :) )

DA doesn't do deadlines (very well) (1)

MartinB (51897) | more than 14 years ago | (#985965)

DA is on record as being very, very, very bad at meeting deadlines; usually delivering only after the publisher has tied him up and threatened his nearest and dearest with body part removal.

OT-ish: has no-one outside the UK heard of The Meaning of Liff [] [sic]? This was a non-Amazon link but BOL's URLs are too long.

Re:Drew Carey! (1)

munchtipq (203253) | more than 14 years ago | (#985966)

This is actually known as 'Billy Joel Syndrome'

Re:Infamous for hating Deadlines (2)

Phrack (9361) | more than 14 years ago | (#985967)

I love deadlines.. especially that "whooshing" sound they make as they go by.

Never knock on Death's door.
Ring the doorbell and run
(He hates that).

Re:Fiff (1)

jqs (67745) | more than 14 years ago | (#985968)

I have both 'The Meaning of Liff' and 'The Even Deeper Meaning of Liff' on my bookshelf... They are very much woth the read!

Re:42 (1)

jqs (67745) | more than 14 years ago | (#985969)

I think it means that the Universe is f*cked up...

Re:Drew Carey! (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#985970)

How do they get hot chicks? Buy 'em. []

And there's the simple question of "Would you rather see the loser main character (which you should identify with) dating attractive women, or plain women?"
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