The other night, I went by Walmart, to stock up on extension cables, and stopped by the DVD
bargain bin. In there, I found a DVD of the cheesy early-1980 BBC TV
miniseries of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, for
about five bucks.
When I got it home and opened the case, it turns out to also have a
bunch of BBC segments about the series from over the years, even
including mention of
the H2G2 site.
1: the DVD has no commentary track, but has commentary in the form of
interesting text on the subtitles halftrack, backchannel, or whatever
you want to call it.
2: the animations for the BBC TV show were cell
animations, inked onto acetate -- but then negatives were made of
them, and those were what we saw.
3: yes, the show looked low-budget, but you have no idea how
little money, equipment, and expertise they actually had.
4: The show was made with a laugh track, in complaince with some BBC policy of the time. The result was so appalling, painful, and foul. Apparently the test audiences practically rioted in disgust. The laugh track was dropped.)
This trip down memory lane brought back a
queasy-making blast of nostalgia for the old Infocom game that Douglas Adams did with
Steve Meretzky, which I spent a good chunk of my formative years
playing, afterschool with friends, on various 8-bit machines.
But because it's the future now, it occurred to me to wonder what
the result would be if I took the Z-Machine file for the old Infocom
game, and ran it thru a decompiler. Unfortunately, you get something
only slightly more readable than unannotated assembler
code. But reading thru the string-literals was fun. Here's some
of my faves:
- Sorry, the Galactic Compendium on Interactive Fiction prohibits
the use of AGAIN after your previous action.
- Hey, I never get any appreciation! There's absolutely no job
satisfaction in being a computer.
- Congratulations on your fine dental hygiene.
- [devour OBJ =>] Stuffing OBJ in your mouth would do little to
help at this point.
- You are obviously letting things get to you. You should learn to
relax a little.
- This is family entertainment, not a video nasty.
- You have neither the tools nor the expertise.
- You can't spin that!
- You achieve a state of Negative Capability, and are able to be in
uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable searching
after fact and reason (Footnote 1). [=> In case anyone is
interested, this quotation is from a letter written by John Keats, and
thus he becomes the first major 19th Century British poet to feature
in a computer game.]
- Yucchhh! You are jerked to your senses by the realisation that you
are licking the lining of a whale's stomach.
- It is the finest tea you have ever tasted. It has almost made this
entire misadventure seem worthwhile. You experience several moments of
complete happiness and relaxation.
- Damogran is a planet whose surface is mostly water. It is a
favourite spot for Presidential dedication ceremonies
- The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation incompetently produces a wide
range of inefficient and unreliable high-tech machinery. However,
thanks to SCC's ruthless marketing division, this junk accounts for
over 95% of the high-tech machinery sold in the Galaxy. (SCC's
marketing division will be the first against the wall when the
- Sorry, that portion of our Sub-Etha database was accidentally
deleted last night during a wild office party. The lost data will be
restored as soon as we find someone who knows where the back-up tapes
are kept, if indeed any are kept at all.
- Your serious allergic reaction to protein loss from teleporters
becomes a cause celebre amongst various holistic pressure groups in
the Galaxy and leads to a total ban on dematerialisation. Within fifty
years, space travel is replaced by a keen interest in old furniture
restoration and market gardening. In this new, quieter Galaxy, the art
of telepathy flourishes as never before, creating a new universal
harmony which brings all life together, converts all matter into
thought and brings about the rebirth of the entire Universe on a
higher and better plane of existence.
However, none of this affects you, because you are dead.