August 25th, 2005


Dirk Pondered the Eagle *BZZT* "Got a Fag, Mate?"

I have recently been sent CDs of Douglas Adams reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (excepting Salmon of Doubt, of course) and the Dirk Gently novels. Unfortunately, these are not commercially-released CDs, because apparently there aren't commercially-released CDs of the Dirk Gently books (or I would have just got those).

Apparently, the person who sent me the CDs just hooked up their computer to a tape player and burned the cassette versions to MP3 files, except that for some reason, there's always a glitch at the end that chops off a sentence or two and often includes a random extraneous noise. Of course, it could very well be that these are bootlegs of bootlegs, which is a strangely appropriate medium for listening to Douglas Adams.

I do love the Dirk Gently books; the Hitchhiker's Guide books turned me on to them of course, but I like the Dirk Gently books much better. Before he died, Adams claimed to be working on a third Dirk Gently book, but was having a great deal of trouble actually fitting Dirk Gently into it; after re-listening to The Long, Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, I can see that. Most of that book consists of Dirk being slapped around by a hostile universe and in the end failing to actually achieve much other than figuring out what was going on ... and having his house blown up. Certainly a sad place to leave the character who so arrestingly commanded the storyline in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency; I think it may be that Adams was just inherently hostile to strong characters.

Oh well; the rarity of them just makes the experience that much sweeter, I suppose. And it's no secret that my own Michael Macbeth was inspired by the tales of Mr. Gently ... so assuming that Michael ever actually does get into print, there will be a legacy, of sorts.

-The Gneech
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Today's Forgotten English

quiffing the bladder
Drawing the long hair over to hide a bald pate. [From] quiff, the small curl on a soldier's temple just showing under his glengarry, or forage cap. Close-cropped hair is one of the indispensable conditions of military smartness, but the curl used to be allowed, or in lieu of it a false curl was gummed inside the forage cap so as to lie on the forehead. This postiche was especially in favour with men just released from milityar prison. Among tailors, quiff [was] used in expressing the idea that a satisfactory result may be obtained by other than strictly recognized rules or principles.
--Albert Barrére's A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, and Cant, 1897

Feast Day of St. Louis,
a patron of barbers, who were known as "sons of lather," according to Peter Pindar's Lyric Odes to the Royal Academicians (1785). The farmyard expression, "to cut a comb," originally referred to a cut on the top of the head known as a "coxcomb." Gabriel Harvey's Pierce's Supererogation, or a New Prayse of the Old Asse (1593) noted that it also meant "to suppress a conceited person."
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