March 11, 2020
Day 71 of 366
March 11th is the seventy-first day of the year. It is the Day of Restoration of Independence in Lithuania, celebrating the country’s 1990 breakaway from the former Soviet Union.
In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day, National Johnny Appleseed Day, National Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day, National Promposal Day, National Worship of Tools Day, and National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. The last one is typically observed on the second Wednesday in March.
Historical items of note:
- In 1702, The Daily Courant was published for the first time. It was England’s first national daily newspaper.
- In 1708, Queen Anne withheld Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill. It was the last time a British monarch vetoed legislation.
- In 1824, the United States Department of War created the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
- In 1851, the first performance of Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi took place in Venice.
- In 1903, famous bandleader Lawrence Welk was born.
- In 1946, Rudolf Höss was captured by British troops. He was the first commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
- In 1954, composer and conductor David Newman was born.
- In 1956, voice actor Rob Paulsen was born.
- In 1963, actress Alex Kingston was born.
- In 1967, actor and singer John Barrowman was born.
- In 1989, actor Anton Yelchin was born.
- In 1993, Janet Reno was confirmed by the United States Senate as the first female Attorney General of the United States.
- In 1997, the ashes of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry were launched into space.
- In 1999, Infosys became the first Indian company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
- In 2006, Michelle Bachelet was inaugurated as the first female president of Chile.
In 1952, English author and playwright Douglas Adams was born.
Some of his earliest writing was during prep school in 1962, including spoof reviews, short stories, and poetry. After university, he moved back to London with the intent of breaking into television and radio as a writer. He was discovered by Monty Python’s Graham Chapman and began to write for the comedy troupe, becoming one of only two people other than the original Python members to receive a writing credit.
His career stalled as his writing style became incompatible with the current style of radio and television comedy. He took various odd jobs and continued to submit sketches. In 1977, he pitched the idea for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to BBC Radio 4.
He allegedly made the story up as he went, and he developed a problem keeping deadlines. That problem only got worse as he started working in television and writing novels. He wasn’t a prolific writer and often needed help to get moving, but his work was popular and well-regarded. This resulted in his well-known quote:
“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
During the development of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams began to work on Doctor Who after submitting the pilot script to Hitchhiker’s Guide to them. He was commissioned to write The Pirate Planet, and followed that up with City of Death and Shada. A potential film script, “Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen”, later became his novel Life, the Universe and Everything which evolved into the third Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series. He also served as script editor Doctor Who‘s seventeenth season.
Elements of Shada were reused in his novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and a story he pitched called “The Doctor Retires” inspired Steven Moffat’s The Snowmen for Doctor Who in 2012.
Despite his difficulty with deadlines, Adams wrote five novels in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, published in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1992. The series took multiple forms, including print, television, radio, video games, and film.
His other novel universe, the Dirk Gently series, contained two books. He was also a musician who played guitar left-handed and was influenced by Pink Floyd and Procol Harum.
Douglas Adams died of a heart attack on May 11, 2001, at the age of 49. He was survived by his wife, Jane Belson, and his daughter, Polly Jane Rocket Adams.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.