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Friday night SW headed off to Smith’s Olde Bar to see some olde friends in The Gourds. I met other degenerates at the Shuteye Hoedown at their HQ over on Dekalb Ave. $5 got you “membership” and in the door where they had free beer, vodka, and a mess o’ acoustic singer/songwriter Americana bands in a couple of rooms. The space is interesting but eventually became so crowded it was more fun to stand outside and chat than it was to try to cram inside to watch touchy/feely heartfelt acoustic sentiments. Eventually they ran out of vodka and a couple of degenerates hadn’t eaten yet so we headed around the bed to the Yacht Club for dinner and another round. When I returned to the Hoedown things were winding down a bit and you didn’t have to walk sideways to squeeze through the door any more. I can enjoy a bit of acoustic music from time to time, but usually after a few tunes “I wanna rock,” to quote Dee Snider, so I split. SW and other degenerates apparently showed up a few minutes later and lingered until something like 3 AM while beer flowed and strings strummed.
Saturday we headed over to Inman Park for one of the best festivals in town, but mother nature was not kind this year. Record lows and cloudy skies kept us shivering as the ragtag parade tromped by, everything from the Feed & Seed Marching Abominables to neighborhood organizations to local restaurants to random car dealerships to the basset hound rescue organization leading a pack of several dozen of the droopy looking beasts down the street. There was plenty of festive food, more acoustic and other styles of music, lots of art and hordes of people to ogle. But the crowds and weather eventually wore on us so we split without seeing everything, or even lurking around to hear any of the live music.
Sunday we dressed more appropriately and headed back to the festival where I discovered corndogs and white wine somehow go together, I discovered, thanks to the famous Corndog Lady and The Patio’s little sidewalk bar. Sunday the crowds were much more tolerable than Saturday so we made a leisurely afternoon of it, finding strolling on down to Carroll St. Café for another round or two of beverages before wrapping the night up at Daddy D’z.
Tuesday I skipped the weekly trip to the drive in, due in part to the cold, wet weather and in part thanks to SW wrangling me free passes to an advance screening of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and in part due to Fever Pitch winning the weekly vote at the drive in.
Hitchhiker’s Guide is challenging material at best from which to make a film. Douglas Adams clearly wasn’t concerned about a strong narrative plot or story arc, so it’s difficult to pull a coherent story from the books, especially one approachable by a broad audience, the type needed to fund the special effects of a summer blockbuster. Which is a little frustrating because one of the charming things about the universe according to Douglas Adams is things aren’t all that special. The story isn’t a sweeping space opera or a slick action thriller packed with high tech gadgetry and shiny robots. At least it shouldn’t be.
The film almost gets it right.
As with any book-to-film transition, there are characters who aren’t quite what you had imagined, others who aren’t even close. Mos Def is not nearly manic enough as Ford Prefect. Martin Freeman as Arthur isn’t bumbling and lost enough. Marvin is just too damn shiny and perfect. Sure, he’s depressed, but he looks like a new Mac. But it may be that it’s impossible to cram 5 novels’ worth of character development into 110-minute film.
But the biggest problem for fans of the books, like myself, is the effort to create a coherent story where none really existed. It feels like the very things that made the books so interesting have been ignored for the most part – the clever sidebars and distractions. There are a few excerpts from the Guide itself, cleverly animated, but none of the chapter-long ramblings about strange alien races that just happen to be mattresses, for example. Then there’s the relationship between Arthur and Trillian, something that works in the books as a bit of unrequited love that apparently just doesn’t work on film. (It was proven in a lab in 1949 in France.)
But all that aside, most fans of the books will enjoy it. The screening audience actually cheered. And I think it has managed to appeal to those who didn’t read (and re-read) a single book in the Hitchhiker’s series. The film deals fairly well with a few of the questions posed by Adams, such as why we are here and what does it all mean and all that stuff, and gives the audience a sense that maybe we aren’t the biggest fish in the pond. Maybe we aren’t even the smartest mammals on the planet.
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