THE LONG DARK TEA-TIME OF THE SOUL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Surreal

This is the second of the two Dirk Gently books written by Douglas Adams, my time-twin except he’s dead and I’m not. Yet.  It’s an audiobook and it was written by Douglas Adams and is narrated by him, too.

There are not many of these original books written and narrated by the late, great Douglas Adams. There were original versions of all of his “Hitchhiker” books with him as the narrator, but no one has them anymore. It’s a pity because no one narrated Douglas Adams as well as Douglas Adams. He was, among other things, one of the Goon Show people and did a lot of work for the BBC. He also tended to do at least a small amount of editing and moving about of characters when he read. After all, who knew his books better than he did?

Of the many books Adams’ wrote, this is my all-time favorite. I start to cackle at the opening lines:

By Douglas Adams

I keep chortling, cackling, laughing all the way through. It’s not merely funny. It’s surreal and funny. It’s outlandish and funny. It’s bizarrely and weirdly true — and still funny.

Garry has never read the books, or rather he took a pass at “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” but he didn’t get it. But he is definitely getting this. I did have to slow it down to 75% because Douglas Adams talks very fast and Garry doesn’t hear very fast.

Yes, you can read this in words and it is still funny, surreal, witty, and wonderful. To hear the author read it himself is special. The thing is, Adams wrote for radio.

This is part two of a series (it might be a series of three since “A Salmon of Doubt” was supposed to be Part I but somehow isn’t, exactly). It stands by itself and you don’t need to read the books in order.

Author: Douglas Adams

He worked with sound. Most of his material sounds beautiful to one’s ears. It’s an almost perfect counterpoint for the dreariness of current reality.

If by some chance you haven’t really read or listened to Douglas Adams — and especially if the world is getting to you (it certainly is getting to me!) — this will lighten the load. A little bit. A tingle.

A touch of the joy of a world we need to recover.

THE UNREALITY OF FINDING YOUR WAY HOME – BY TOM CURLEY

AND because this is absolutely relevant to the previous story … here’s one by Tom Curley.

I’m not a fan, I’m a zealot. I’ve read all his books. Listened to all the BBC radio series. And watched both movies of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.”  The first one done in the ’80s with the original BBC radio cast was actually a TV series. It was done on a budget of maybe 25 bucks, but it was great.

The Disney movie was okay. Mostly, because Douglas Adams was the producer. Unfortunately, he died before it was finished. Even if you didn’t like the movie, it was worth watching just for the opening musical number “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish”.

While Hitchhiker is my favorite Adams work, I also loved the Dirk Gently series.

One of the things in the book always stuck with me. Whenever Dirk was lost he would simply follow someone who looked like they knew where they were going. He found that he never got to where he was going but he always ended up where he needed to be.

I used that concept once. I was driving home from work one night and I was on the local road that leads to my house. I came upon a police barricade. The road was closed.

There were no detour signs. I only knew that one road. So, I did what Dirk did. I saw a car in front of me turn off the road. He/she seemed to know where he/she was going. So I followed him/her. For the next 20 minutes to a half-hour, we wound our way through twisty back roads in the bowels of Southern Connecticut. I had no idea where I was.

Suddenly, the car in front of me turns on to the main road again. Past the barricade. I couldn’t believe it! It actually worked! But here’s where it got weird. The car in front of me turned off the main road and on to the road I live on. OK, I thought. Makes sense. There are a lot of houses on my street. This person was obviously going home too. But then the car turned into my driveway! That’s when I realized it was my daughter. I should have recognized the car, but I didn’t put two and two together.

The really funny part was that my daughter had just spent the last 20 minutes or so completely freaking out because this mysterious black car had been following her, turn for turn and then followed her to her house! True story.

I know Douglas Adams was smiling.

HOW DO THEY DO IT? – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been trying to pay off credit cards which got used to repair the house. It was a bad idea, but it seemed reasonable at the time. It wasn’t either reasonable or good as ideas go. Now, it’s payoff time.

So I got a notice today that Discover had gotten their big payment. I wanted to see if I had overpaid or had a small remaining balance. One way or the other, it would be less than $100.

I couldn’t remember my username. I didn’t know my password. After a long back and forth between me and Discover I eventually rediscovered my username and eventually, learned I didn’t have a password — I had a pin number. Which I also didn’t remember. More back and forth through email.

I won’t give them my mobile number. Sorry. Won’t do it. I don’t need to carry around anything else that can be easily hacked.

Eventually, I got it sorted out. Then, I thought I should check and see if any other of the bills had been paid, but I didn’t remember my username or passwords for any of them, either.

I spent the whole evening doing this and I’m exhausted.

How do hackers figure it out? I can’t figure it out and I created these usernames and passwords in the first place. If the creator of the username and password can’t get them straight, how do hackers figure it out?

It’s all too much for me.

THERE’S A CODE FOR EVERTHING – Marilyn Armstrong

There is a code for everything these days. Every item in the shop, every village in the world.

There’s a code for every telephone. Bar codes float through the air like fireflies. We are all zipped up. Where once we needed our name, today we need a passport, email address, social security number, and zip code.

But, life on earth existed before codes. Before zip codes, cable television, and calling codes. Before bar codes were printed on every product. We used dial telephones which worked pretty well as telephones than the phones we use now.

In small towns, you only needed the last four numbers to place a call.

We mailed letters and remarkably, they got delivered. Television was not as diverse or intense, but it was interesting and often funny. We enjoyed it, or at least some of us did. If we didn’t, we could read a book!

We had conversations with each other. That’s right! Imagine it, for a moment, groups of people getting together and talking about all kinds of stuff. History, books, and the state of the world. No one became enraged and charged from the room with blood in his or her eye.

Oh, did I mention that most of us were polite?

We said things like “excuse me” and “thank you” and “please” … and no one felt diminished or belittled by talking like this. Politeness made many of the small things in life easier to manage.

Not that the world was perfect. Far from it … but manners helps smooth over some of the rough parts.

Much was broken and is still waiting to get fixed, but as a whole, we were nicer to each other. Personally, at least. We weren’t nice because we were whiter or browner or some shade in between. We were nice because we were taught to be like that. By our parents. Because civilized people were taught to be polite to adults and each other. It was the grease on the squeaky wheel of civilization.

As I watch kids today sitting together in groups busily texting each other, I have to wonder how they will develop human relationships with any depth.

If they don’t know how to have a conversation, how are they going to build a life? Maybe the passion for electronics will fade with time. After which, folks will remember how talking and laughing used to take up that space in their world.

You never know. It could happen! Of course, walking around with loaded military-grade rifles and murdering people who you think are the wrong color is both uncivil and extremely rude. We might try doing something about that while we are busy worrying about manners.

Civility is all well and good, but killing people is worse.

A LONG LIST OF QUESTIONS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ME – Marilyn Armstrong

Not sure of where these came from other than Melanie. Does it really matter? So, for Melanie, answers to questions that have to do with someone else’s life, but very little to do with mine.


QUESTIONS:
This is a list of 72 questions. Number 15 was missing, so I renumbered the list.

1. What’s your usual Starbucks order?

Never been to Starbucks, but I don’t like their coffee. It isn’t “dark roasted.” It’s burned.

2. What does your workstation look like? 

What workstation?

3. Favorite food? 

Japanese.

4. Favorite author? 

Too tough to call.

5. What do you think of open relationships? 

Been there. Done that. It has good points and bad ones. This is much too complicated for a simple answer.

6. What is your favorite video game? 

Bridge.

7. Guilty pleasure treat? 

Fresh fruit.

8. Favorite movie? 

The Lion in Winter (the original)

9. Favorite book? 

Too many.

10. Twitter or Instagram? 

Neither.

11. Desktop or laptop? 

Laptop.

12. Best advice you’ve ever received? 

Take care of yourself. If you don’t do it, no one will (Author: My mother)

13. What project are you working on right now? 

I’m not. Unless you count blogging.

14. Favorite color? 

Lapis blue.

15. Dream job?

Did that already. Retired and planning to stay that way.

16. Play any sports?

Not any more.

17. Do you have a degree?

B.A. in something. I used to want to frame it and put it up over the sink so I could look at it while I washed dishes. But I lost it, so now, I can’t even prove I went to college. Not that anyone cares. Even I don’t care.

18. Nationality? 

American.

19. What is your favorite kind of blog post?

Something with an idea in it. Or great pictures. Or makes me laugh. Historical too.

20. What do you like to collect?

Nothing. I’m over-collected.

21. Describe yourself in three words?

Busy yet retired.

22. If you were a rapper what would your stage name be?

I would not be a rapper. By any name.

23. Who was the last person you DMed? 

What’s a DM?

24. What’s on top of your wishlist right now?

Winning a lot of money. I probably should cash in my lottery ticket, but I think I lost it.

25. Sorting house? 

What?

26. How many tattoos do you have? 

One. A big one. On my left calf.

27. What are you most grateful for this year? 

Being here. For another year.

28. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month? 

Owen fixed the hole in the back door.

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today? 

I remembered to give the dogs their heartworm medicine. Now I have to ORDER medicine.

30. What’s the best thing ever? 

For who? Me? Garry? Dogs? Friends? Seriously EVER?

31. Favorite season?

Fall.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

32. Favorite holiday?

Christmas. I like the music.

33. What fictional character do you relate to most? 

Rachel Morgan.

And in the mid-October, we have autumn on the Canal

34. Do you like surprises?

It depends. What KIND of surprise?

35. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had? 

Garry wanted to get married.

36. Which surprise made you cry? 

If it made me cry, it wasn’t a surprise. It was something else.

37. What’s the best surprise you’ve given somebody else? 

Getting Garry a subscription to the Baseball channel.

38. Do you like muffins? 

Real muffins or the kind they sell at Dunkin Donuts? Because those are cupcakes, not muffins.

39. Do you cook often? 

Every fucking day.

40. What’s your favorite dessert? 

Ice-cream and fresh strawberries.

41. Is there a dessert you don’t like? 

Anything excessively sweet.

42. Cake or pie? 

Pie.

43. What’s your least favorite food? 

Snails.

44. What’s your favorite condiment? 

Za’atar.

45. It’s 4am on a random Saturday. What are you eating? 

I’m not eating. I’m sleeping.

46. If you could teach a college class what would it be called? 

How to survive all the things nobody warns you are going to happen.

47. Best animated film? 

Fantasia 1 and 2.

48. What has a guy done or said to impress you? 

Garry married me. I was impressed.

49. The best thing to do on a first date? 

First date? Do you realize my first day was 56 years ago?

50. The worst thing to do on a first date? 

That was also 56 years ago.

51. What’s the best pick-up line?

I love you. Let’s get married.

52. Best comic book character?

Superman.

53. Name three things which can always be found in your wallet.

Credit cards.

54. Favorite drink? 

Coke or Ginger Ale. It’s a mood thing.

55. If you could play a historical character in a movie who would it be?

Eleanor of Aquitaine.

56. Kittens or puppies?

Neither. I like cats and dogs.

57. Favorite sushi roll?

Wanakura’s special roll. it has EVERYTHING I love on it, from crab to tuna and then it’s cooked like tempura.

58. What lipstick do you use?

I don’t.

59. What foundation do you use?

Skin.

60. Blow-dry or air dry?

Air unless it’s really cold and I’m going out. I don’t want my wet hair to freeze on my head, so then I’ll blow-dry it.

61. Who is your fashion icon?

A fashion what?

62. Favorite Disney Character?

Minny Mouse. She doesn’t get any respect.

63. What are you doing tomorrow?

Nothing.

64. Movie you laughed the hardest through? 

Young Frankenstein.

65. A movie that made you cry?

Something with animals. I cry at all of them.

66. If you could sing a duet with anybody, who would you choose? 

Myself. Alone. In the shower.

67. If your life was a song what would the title be?

We Didn’t Start the Fire

68. What’s your favorite animal?

Horses. Dogs. Cats. Parrots. Ferrets.

69. Favorite illustrator?

John Tenniel

70. The person you’d like to have coffee with?

Anyone I like

71. What country would you like to visit?

England, New Zealand, and Japan

72. Best way to decompress?

Read a book! Or write one.