Yesterday (and it always seems to fall on a yesterday) on this date in 1978, the mind-bending sci-fi comedy adventure series that no doubt changed life, the universe and everything -- well, as far as I know, however I know, or think I understand to know, I know when I know, no matter how intangible the facts ... but anyway -- Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom on the BBC radio. It would be another three years, March of 1981, before the Hitchhikers Guide series finally premiered in the United States on National Public Radio.
Adams would follow up this initial version of The Hitchhiker's Guide with more radio productions, five novels, computer games, a six part television miniseries and finally a major motion picture. Not to mention a variety of short stories, comic books, essays and enough odds and ends to fill any aging record store employee’s emotional void. Unfortunately Arthur Dent’s, Ford Prefect’s, Trillion’s, Marvin’s and Zaphod Beeblebrox’ galaxy came to an abrupt and tragic halt when Douglas Adams died of a heart attack at the age of 49 while working out in a gym in the town of Montecito near Santa Barbara on May 11, 2001.
Oddly enough I still hold a grudge against Santa Barbara County and the town of Montecito, and especially jogging treadmills. I know it’s irrational but I’ll debate these opinions with anyone under any circumstances in circumstances beyond anyone’s control anytime. (Then again, irrationality is one of our species' most interesting and unique traits, along with regret and that opposable prehensile thumb). Anyway, I know treadmills are mostly harmless, Santa Barbara is mostly harmless but Adams' early death has always pissed me off to no end. I think the universe, once again, was short-changed and bung holed by some bitter, bitter cosmic throw of the dice. Officially the cause of death was a gradual narrowing of the coronary arteries, which led to a myocardial infarction and a fatal cardiac arrhythmia -- a condition Adams unknowingly suffered. And I am still sad.
Here is the first episode of the BBC's radio production of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.