Don’t Panic!

Today is the anniversary of the first broadcast of the first radio installment of Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. I mention it only because I know some Trail Baboon regulars are fans of the author and the series, which went on to include books, TV shows, movies, more radio shows, a video game, lots of websites and who knows what else.

But it started as a for-ears-only experience.

The online description of the beginning states it thus: “Despite a low-key launch of the series (the first episode was broadcast at 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 8 March 1978), it received generally good reviews and a tremendous audience reaction … for radio.”

I love the “… for radio” part. Who listens to radio at 10:30 on a Wednesday night? For drama? Comic, science fiction drama? In Britain in 1978, the answer was “just enough.”

The video and film versions never quite measured up to the original, for me. But then I’m biased in favor of “the theater of the mind”, where some say the pictures are better but it’s also true that you automatically edit out any mind-pictures that don’t measure up – perhaps an unfair advantage for the creaky old medium.

This You Tube non-video offers the first ten minutes of the first episode.

Shortly after this clip ends, the world is destroyed. Not a bad first step along the way to starting something new.

I can only guess that Adams did not expect this project to draw the cult following it did, or to take up so much of his limited time on Earth. He died of a heart attack at age 49.

Clearly “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” is an example of something with modest beginnings that became much grander and infinitely more complicated. So hurrah for modest beginnings!

What have you done that met with unexpected success?

68 thoughts on “Don’t Panic!”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons:

    I’d first like to point out the unexpected success of Anna’s suggestion in yesterday’s blog that a certain US Representative from the 6th (? I think–I block her out) District–MB– is a troll and Crow Girl’s challenge to nominate a bridge for her to live under! CG also thought this was an insult to trolls everywhere. This stream ought to keep our group occupied for years. We could even do a investigative MB Bridge Field Trip for Baboons.

    I’ve had several things meet with unexpected success. 10 years ago I had to give up playing the clarinet due to TMJ and chronic jaw pain. I took up visual arts and that has been fun. I even like some of the stuff I make.

    Then in 2004 I finally gave up on working for non-profit social service agencies after too many experiences with “brilliant” yet trollish executive directors who bumbled through the agencies “fixing” things that did not need fixing, wrecking service provision. I started my own private practice thinking, “Even I can figure out how to provide service better than they do.” I expected abject failure followed by a career change shortly thereafter. Instead it worked out well.

    Whadya know?


  2. Good morning to all on the Trail.

    I arranged a “card shower” for the 90th birthday of the mother of one of the priests at church He often told stoies about her in his sermons and I thought we could reciprocate.

    There were a few political hiccups but a notice was placed in the bulletin and soon cards began to arrive in Nebraska. We spread them out for several weeks before her birthday so as not to overwhelm her on the day.

    So many arrived that the mailman asked her for an auxillary mail receptacle. He also stopped to chat and mentioned that his birthday was on the same day. The priest shared both his mother’s delight and the story of the mailman. In his next sermon he thanked the church members who sent cards to the mailman.

    In the end hundreds of cards were joyfully sent and even more joyfully received.


    1. This sounds fabulous.

      Many, many years ago I used to browse through card shops and pick up cards that I thought I might use eventually. And if I found a particularly funny/nasty card about getting older, I would pick it up for my mom. For years I had been giving here these little missives on her birthday. I don’t remember the “aha” moment, but about 3 years before her 50th birthday, I decided to give her a card for 50 days before her 50th. I spent 3 years finding every mean/nasty birthday card out there. Addresses them all sporadically so ink wouldn’t be the same on all the cards and then sent them out one a day for the 50 days. Then on her actual birthday, when we were together up at Telemark, I made a very fancy 3-tier birthday cake and had the kitchen staff deliver it at the end of the meal, along with an oversized, very sentimental card. But what my mother remembers most about this is the nasty cards for 50 days. I recently found out that she still has them all; she put a hole punch in the upper corner of each one and put them all on a small chain.

      I could never ha


    2. For my folks’ 60th Anniversary, I copied their address book when they weren’t looking and sent out a mass request for memories and stories from their friends and relatives. They were inundated, and it was such a rich experience reading through all the memories.


  3. Agree, Dale, only the books really work at the real Douglas Adams level. I do keep thinking that someone will try Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as a movie.
    I want to answer the question of the day . . .hmmmmm?? f I could answer the question, that would be unexpected success.


  4. Good morning to all.

    Most of my efforts at job hunting didn’t turn out well, but once I had unusual success that I didn’t expect. I applied for a job with a nonprofit organzation that I thought was a long shot. Some how, they decided to interview me and some how the interview went well. As a result I spent 5 years working with very remarkable farmers on sustainable agriculture.

    I was told by a person who consider himself to be a leader in sustainable ag., that I shouldn’t have gotten the job because his student was the perfect person for the job. At the end of the job I was told that I was not playing fair because a woman with a similar job was receiving lower pay, but I had nothing to do with that. Also, in the end I found that the nonprofit did not understand the value of the project I was working on and cut it when they needed to reduce their spending. Nevertheless, for five years I had a very good job doing work that I really liked working with some very good farmers.


    1. Your last sentence, JiCG – that, i would think is the definition of success. to be happy with what you did and to have no regrets (well, not too many anyway).
      at the very beginning of my professional life, an evaluator (a highly “successful” and respected expert) told me “barb, you’ll never be successful in this profession because you are interested in too many things.” by his definition i never was successful – not nationally recognized, not published all over the place, etc. – and i switched jobs quite often (12 years was the longest i stayed in one place – by Duluth standards that is flighty). but, like you Jim, i look back at any time thinking of the friends and the small accomplishments and i’m happy i did it the way it did. i think the person who was most surprised when i did anything well – at any period in my life – was my Mother. 🙂 she was endlessly surprised that i ended up in Blackhoof milking goats.


      1. biB, yes I think I did okay in some ways. I have some regrets about never landing a steady job that brought in a decent income. I wasted a lot of time looking for that kind of a job. Still my family is doing okay, but we could be in better shape if I had found better employment.


  5. I guess my bike riding. When I took it back up again 10 years ago, and never having been all that driven before, I could not have imagined how many miles I would put on and how much it matters to my health.


      1. I’ve read that the most critical question people should ask themselves when choosing a mate is whether they like themselves when they’re with that person. We all tend to gravitate toward people and activities that make us like ourselves. Maybe the bike does that for you, Clyde.


  6. Most of the artistic stuff I do. Somewhere along the process, I think to myself, “Who would be interested in this, let alone pay actual ~money~ for it?” I always seem to be pleasantly surprised though…at least a little bit.


  7. Ah, Hitchhiker’s Guide – it’s the fault of H.G. and Douglas Adams that I became a fan of the morning show. Loved the radio show version – the movie/video, not so much. (And a definite “five towels” for the books.) I liked the Marvin in my head a whole lot better than the Marvin on screen. Ah well.

    As for unexpected accomplishments – well, hmm. I guess that gets back to the discussion Jim and BiB are having about success. I guess this: a friend and I got ourselves on “The Story” with Dick Gordon based on a 4-5 sentence description I sent in to them (they called within a week from when I submitted something – also a surprise) – but the better part of that was the people who tracked me down through the web after the show aired to say how much the appreciated our piece. So I guess that really was an unexpected success; you sit in a booth at MPR in St. Paul staring out at the news room with all those Smart People milling around and another Smart Person in a different state asks you questions through a headset and somehow it gets edited into 25 minutes of radio that People Who Aren’t Your Mother appreciate. (Bonus: they have repeated the show and even decided we were worthy of a short follow-up interview about a year later…)


      1. I like the way the show works – it’s an enjoyable format. It’s on at a weird time (for me anyway – something like 9pm weeknights), so I mostly listen to the archived shows. Should probably sign up to get the podcasts (that’s how I keep up with “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”).

        Glad you liked the show – it was fun doing the interview.


      1. They’re good women – and I’m so glad I can count them now as friends. I truly don’t think I would have gotten through months of unemployment without them to be with me on the journey.


  8. I found unexpected success in early adolescence as a cook and baker. My mother didn’t like to cook much but had cookbooks in the house, and I found that I could pull off almost all of the recipes I tried. I also got to go to the State Fair when I was in Grade 6 when the lame (or so I thought) terrarium/garden 4-H project I exhibited at the county fair won a Grand Champion Ribbon. That was a total surprise. I had never been in Mpls./St.Paul before and it was pretty exciting to finally see a big city.


    1. Wow! I love to check out all the 4H projects at the Fair. Of course, I also like to go through all the buildings that have displays… from homemade jams, to quilts, to engineering projects and even the seed art! This is why I go to the Fair twice each year. Once w/ the teenager and once for myself!


    2. I always enjoy looking at the 4H projects exhibited at our county fair. They were short on judges and asked me to judge projects one year. I gave out a lot of blue ribbons. The 4H people said that was okay. I should do what I thought was right. However, they didn’t ask me to do any more judging.


  9. My favorite unexpected success is my fanily, I have gone through a couple of wives and though neither was particularly thrilled with the joy and harmony that surrounded their lives they did crank out some great kids. The two older ones are good models for the younger ones and the family really likes each other. Oh the yelling matches and dysfunctional crap still exist but that is because I was there. My kids are loved by their teachers who are very generous with the praise of the wonderful job of child rearing we have done, who’d have thunk it?


    1. Thanks, tim, for doing the “parenting” entry before I did. That was my first reaction this morning – the raising of the teenager, but I figured you all expected me to say that, so when I saw Beth-Ann’s post, I thought I’d try something new and not go w/ my usual and obvious!


      1. For me, with a 40 year old daughter, there still is some carry over from being a parent of this 40 year old, but there is much more understanding about the problems of being a parent. Sucesses and failures are now better understood and we are more acccepting of each other. Also, the parenting has not ended and we still are expected to and want to be there as parents and help with various things.


      2. I don’t know about the parent perspective yet but my folks have been important to me as their kid so far. I always remember about the kid of the guy whose dad giver to be 100. the kid was complaining he really hadbern looking forward to being able to get on with his life on his own and now here he is 80 and stilll answering to his dad. He’d like to have a life of his own before the world passes him by


  10. Kinda OT – Jacque… is Blevins Book Club still on for this Sunday at your house? If you’ve emailed address, I’ve lost it…. can you email again? shelikins at hotmail dot com?


    1. Sorry VS. I did not get back on-line today until I got home from work. Address is in the email Anna sent. Anybody know the TIME of the group.

      I LOVED Huck Finn again!


  11. I’m having a difficult week and will only post briefly here. The most appropriate answer to Dale’s question is tim’s answer: parenting. But I’d like to be a little bit more creative, so I’ll say “divorce.”

    How odd that is. I lived for three decades with the conviction that divorce was unthinkable for me. When it happened, it was the most devastating experience of my life. Everything in my life after the divorce has been one sort of adjustment or another to the unmitigated awfulness of divorce.

    And yet . . . I take great pride in how we have been able to handle our divorce. You start with the fact it will be misery, but misery comes in so many different flavors and colors and intensities. We’ve done our divorce with more dignity, affection, respect and civility than any divorcing couple I’ve seen or heard of.

    If that isn’t an “unexpected success,” I don’t know what could be.


    1. I don’t know much about divorce, but I am certain it is very painful. It is great, Steve, that you are able to say that you have found ways to make it a more positive experience. I also hope your week gets better.


      1. Well done Steve . The witch I was married to is beyond trying to get through to. Ugly ugly ugly. My kids learned all they needed to from how not to behave, I am proud to be the one that realized they would be watching, she is living with the realization she would like to have do overs.


      2. It is funny, tim, how people can interact with us. An old acquaintance once invited my family to join him in a lodge mansion along the Brule River (Wisconsin) for a grouse hunt. My wife and I wanted Molly to experience one of those fantastic old lodges and the beauty of the Brule, so we all joined Tom.

        Tom, an alcoholic, was so excited by our visit that he fell off the wagon. Fell hard. He got wrecked on little blue pills and scotch and then spent the evening smashing furniture, falling down and calling strangers on his phone, having fights with them. All of this was so loud that Molly was terrified and unsure of what Tom would do next. In the morning, our “host” was gone, having taken off in his car.

        I didn’t speak to Tom for years after that, mostly because he had frightened Molly (about 12 at the time) so badly. And then I came to see that Tom’s wild drunken spree had been an object lesson for Molly that could never be matched. She has avoided drugs and alcohol ever since, having seen what that stuff can do.

        As for Tom . . . I have decided to forgive him provisionally, mostly because his “lesson” was so potent for my daughter. He and I will meet this spring to photograph the river we both love so well. Negative experiences can be turned to positive uses.


      3. Steve – I had a similar situation that turned out to be exactly the same kind of learning experience that Molly had. When the teenager was younger, I rented out a room in the house so that I could afford daycare. One turned out to be a lifelong friend, but there was a guy who lived with us for almost 8 years. He also fell hard, bashed up his car, spent the night in jail and after a long long discussion, he spent a month w/ the ankle bracelet and the sporadic calls to check his sobriety. Because of this, he lost his license, followed quickly by his job. He fell off a couple of other times over the next few years, although he clearly believed me when I told him initially that if he ever drank at the house or came home drunk he would be out on his ear. So while the child never saw him in a bad state, she did certainly see (& we discussed it a few times) the fallout from his drinking and choices. She did actually say once, that she would never want to be like “John” (names changed to protect ….. well, I’m not sure, but changed anyway).


      4. So true Steve, I always say the kids had beget pay attention to the stuff I teach them not to do, it’s some of my best stuff


  12. I think being a guest blogger is one of my surprises of success. I remember being a bit anxious the first time Dale asked for volunteers (Can I really do this?)… I’ve written well enough to get through college courses, and people enjoy my Christmas letters, but this was a whole new level. It’s fun to see yourself in print, with people responding in print.

    Just listened to the Hitchiker’s Guide… for the first time; will to hear more!


    1. I also have enjoyed being a guest blogger. I like writing and doing the guest blog has given me a chance to work on my writing. I think Dale is a good editor and has helped me improve my writing. Hopefully, my next attempt won’t need a lot of editing.


  13. At the top of my bulletin door (the door to the basement which is covered with photos, quotes, clipped-out cartoons, etc.) is a sign that my daughter made for me one day. It is in beautiful pink/orange letters. It says:
    DON’T PANIC !!! (best advice ever.)
    The thing I did was write a song (Walk by the River) which was published in the 6th grade songbook of the Share the Music series, and later, the Spotlight on Music series. I originally wrote it for my bluegrass band. The band member guys say that 6th grade is about right….


      1. How exciting, Holly! Thanks for posting your link – have you ever played at Rock Bend, where Krista plays?


      2. Holly,
        I’m the official bluegrass fan on the Rock Bend committee. You probably sent your package to the PO box. We have a basement and a garage full of those packages and, truth be told, we can’t get to them all. Please send me an e-mail at and I’ll put String Fever on the list. Please try to include a sample or a link to YouTube if you have one.

        We start with a huge, long list and begin voting in a series. Voting takes a couple of months. While we’re going through that process, some bands cancel and others become available. Last year we were still playing with the schedule in July (dangerously close).

        I have to really sell bluegrass to this committee. It’s one of my very favorite kinds of music and I envy you for being able to play it. I had to pitch and pitch for Kimmel and Co. last year and they might not be open to it this year. It’s really unfortunate, I know, and is one of my biggest frustrations. Please try to send me something and I’ll work as hard as I can to get you on – if not this year, next year. Thanks for your interest. Also, please visit Rock Bend on Facebook. Our website is never up to date.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s