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Douglas Adams looks down upon us today

March 11th, 2013

Douglas Adams would have been 61 today. Douglas Adams should have been 61 today.

I met Adams once, and I write that as a pout, because that was so early in my journalistic career that I feel owed more interviews with the man. I was a fanboy, though I doubt the term had been invented yet. I had read and re-read his books, first checked out from the Arlington Public Library and later after buying them on my own, loaning them out, wearing them out, buying new copies. I knew what the Answer was, I knew what sort of bath linens to always carry, I knew what to expect at Milliways and who to call a hoopy frood.

The meeting was an interview, as I wrote features at the time for the Fort Worth, Texas, newspaper, but not about the Hitchhiker’s trilogy or the Dirk Gently books. No, it was for Starship Titanic, a computer game Adams wrote probably thinking back to the success of his Hitchhiker’s-based text adventure.

But you can’t — or I couldn’t — separate the man from his most famous works, much as he may have been trying to leave them behind. It’s worth noting, though, that hero worship dies quickly when you’re a journalist. (Journalists, at least back when we drank as much as the cliche, pass around bad-behavior stories about athletes and actors and, yes, authors.)

That’s my long way of telling you that I found myself sweating into an ill-fitting suit during an Atlanta summer waiting to see how I would act (fawning fanboy? consummate professional?) and how Douglas Adams would act (craven rake? hoopy frood?). Adams was a big bear of a man.

I’m no small man, but I remember feeling it. No matter. Douglas was also not to be one of my favorite cocktail stories. He was immediately friendly, exceedingly patient when I tried to explain his influence on my own life (because I’m sure he only heard that from everyone he encountered), laughed and talked and managed to ably promote his new venture while fielding my thoughts on Arthur & Co.

This time of year, I’m angry because the entirety of my interview should not fit within one paragraph. There should have been more, more years of his work and more interviews and maybe more video games and definitely more books. I don’t even remember what we said off the record, because I was just so accustomed to thinking, “That won’t be it. We will talk again.” Of course we didn’t. I get the one paragraph for my own story, and a short column based on the interview. And that was it. I still read the books and watch the relatively recent movie.

Adams watches over me, even, thanks to a painting by my brother-in-law in the guest room that doubles as my home office. But one paragraph. I should have 10, 20, 30 more by now, and just as many after today.

Anyway, happy birthday, Douglas Adams.

Douglas Adams and zombie slippers

That ever-awkward first post

September 10th, 2010

The first line of any story is the most important, so… aw, crap. I’ve just wasted the first line. And the second. And… crap.

This is that awkward first post, where I don’t know you and — more important — you don’t know me. You haven’t decided whether to keep reading. You don’t know whether I expect you to laugh or cry or buy everything on my Amazon wishlist. Meanwhile, I don’t have much of an idea of what I want to express here, and how much. Don’t worry; stick with me, and we’ll get through this together. In return, I promise to make it worth your time.

Here’s what I can tell you: I’m a lifelong writer and sometimes editor who lives in one of Texas’ last few liberal strongholds. I share a house with my fiancee La, our still-embryonic son Squishy, our dogs Gus and Li’l Bit and, representing our back yard, some wild toads — Stella and T-Pain. I’ve written one novel, for which I’m currently seeking an agent, and have (at the moment) four others in various stages of percolation.

There’s more to come. In the meantime, go read the morsels of other writing I have posted and will continue to post to the site. I’ll see you again tomorrow, I hope.