Douglas Adams

Towel Day 2022

Another pandemic year, another Towel Day. I finally read Don't Panic: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion by Neil Gaiman earlier this year, and it was everything and more that I hoped it would be. It has a hard-to-fathom amount of detail about the life of Douglas Adams and the production of the series. I brought the towel I got as part of Vancouver Public Library's One Book One Vancouver out of storage again, along with Archie the Humpback Whale (whom I would nave named Noel after Douglas's middle name). I'll walk around with towel and hopefully I'll see some other hoopy froods who know where their towel is. I brought them to the co-working space, so I know where mine is.

A white towel with a blue whale and blue text that reads DON'T PANIC along with a plushy whale in a co-working space with plants.

Douglas Adams is tied with Zadie Smith as my favourite writer of all time. He, along with Steve Martin, are the heroes that aren't my dad, because they all taught me it was OK to strive to be intelligent and have a silly streak. (Monty Python, which I'm a fan of as well, taught me that but I could never fully get into them. The comedy troupe figure prominently in Neil Gaiman's book and Douglas Adams's life, as one would expect.) The heart aches when considering all of the deadlines that would have gone whooshing by had DNA lived longer.

Previously: There's a Frood Who Really Knows Where His Towel Is

There's a Frood Who Really Knows Where His Towel Is

The earliest memory I have of reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was actually through the text-based computer game. My dad got it for the ASCII-only computer we had at the time, and it came with a "Don't Panic" button and a piece of fluff, which I would much later learn was called a "feelie" inserted into Infocom games of that era. I didn't get far in the game, but I would subsequently read all 5 of Douglas Adam's increasingly inaccurately named trilogy, plus the Dirk Gently books, plus Starship Titanic, plus Last Chance to See, including the later TV series where Stephen Fry plays the role opposite Mark Carwardine that Adams played in the book and radio series. I was only really a few years into being "very online" when Douglas died. (I was just starting to recover when Aaliyah, my favourite R&B singer of all time, died as well.) In the passing years, I accepted that he might have ceased writing had he not died then, because he had notorious bouts of writers' block, but it still hit hard because he was someone, as a person who could be intelligent and silly at the same time, I admired greatly.

In 2010, somewhat controversially, the Vancouver Public Library chose Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as the book to read in a city-wide book club. (It was unclear to many why a Vancouver author was not chosen.) For me, it was not only a chance to read the book again, but to get cool swag in the form of a white towel with the whale from the novel and "DON'T PANIC" in big letters. Every May 25th, a celebration of Adams' work takes place online, marking two weeks after the anniversary of his passing. On that day, I take my towel with me, hoping to see someone else on the street with a towel on their shoulder. The last couple of years have been mired in the COVID-19 pandemic, so I've only been able to celebrate at home and send out a tweet.

This time, the day before, I had a mild panic because I didn't know where I had stored it. After searching through every box in my storage area, and rustling through every nook and cranny in my apartment (with a pleasant side effect of tidying up as I went), I went back into storage and did a closer inspection of the boxes and found it in the "Whale Stuff" box. So, going forward, that is its spot. That means I'm now a frood who really knows where his towel is.

I brought my towel today

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Submitted by one42chrisp on Tue 2011-06-07 10:34 #

"So this is it, we're going to die!"

The above comments will not display in the recently updated section because they are syndicated directly from the Flickr photo.

group: towel day - tribute to Douglas Adams

Excellent haul at Word on the Street: a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy bookmark, fridge magnet and towel!

My Green Towel

To celebrate the life of that hoopiest of froods, Douglas Adams.

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My Green Towel

Today I'll be taking around my green towel in remembrance of Douglas Adams who died in 2001. He was far and away my favourite writer of fiction (and still is), who had a deep understanding of science and comedy, using the former as the plot device for the latter. I've read his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series twice (the first book 3 times), as well as every book other than Last Chance to See. (Don't worry, it's on the list.) Milan has a nice tribute to the man, and you can listen to a sound clip about towels from the radio show. See also Darren and other froods who know where their towels are.

Their 42

Zadie Smith on a section of Glenard Oak school, in London: “This concave section of wall, depending where you stood, provided low teacher-visibility for smokers too young to smoke in the smoker's garden (a concrete garden for those who had reached sixteen and were allowed to smoke themselves silly—are there any schools like this anymore?). The drama hollow was to be avoided. These were hard little bastards, twelve-, thirteen-year old chain-smokers; they didn't give a shit. They really didn't give a shit—your health, their health, teachers, parents, police—whatever. Smoking was their answer to the universe, their 42, their raison d'être. They were passionate about fags. Not connoisseurs, not fussy about brand, just fags, any fags. They pulled at them like babies at teats, and when they were finally finished their eyes were wet as they ground the butts into the mud. They fucking loved it. Fags, fags, fags. Their only interest outside fags was politics, or more precisely, this fucker, the chancellor, who kept putting up the price of fags. Because there was never enough money and there was never enough fags. You had to become an expert in bumming, cadging, begging, stealing fags. A popular ply was to blow a week's pocket money on twenty, give them out to all and sundry, and spend the next month reminding those with fags about that time you gave them a fag. But this was a high-risk policy. Better to have an utterly forgettable face, better to be able to cadge a fag and come back five minutes after for another without being remembered.”

I'm about 2/3 done White Teeth after seeing the second half on late night CBC. So I already know how it ends, or at least how the made-for-TV version of it ends, but this is already one of my favourite books, and the above quote, taken from a longer paragraph about the smokers in Irie's, Millat's and Joshua's school is a fantastic example of the humour and allusion (in this case, to Douglas Adams) and repetition Smith uses effectively in the book. The main topics are very serious: that is, Irie's mixed race, about immigrants trying to feel comfortable in their adopted land (there's a really great section near this one about English given names on a “collision course” with their parents' non-English family names), but also sex, between teenagers and between consenting adults, even if one of those adults could be another adult's parent. The section on masturbation is ... handled very well.