Don't Panic, for today is Towel Day.
This likely won't be news to fans of science fiction writer Douglas Adams , author of the classic and hilarious intergalactic tome The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its four sequels (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; and Mostly Harmless).
Every year on May 25, fans of the late Mr. Adams -- who died in 2001 at the age of 49 -- carry towels to show their respect and pay tribute to the man who gave us timeless characters, an excuse to waste hours of study time in high school as well as the answer to "life, the universe and everything." (It's 42)
Hitchhiker's is a favourite among the fellow geeks I tend to encounter in the course of my reporting and it's one of those books I often use as an ice breaker when talking to new sources.
The long standing connection between science fiction and technology innovation is well documented, which makes me wonder as to when someone will develop an Infinite Improbability Drive for travel throughout the galaxy.
Come to think of it, someone's probably working on the iPhone app already.
Just how useful can a towel be? It's just about the "most massively useful" thing for anyone looking to take an interstellar trip, apparently. I refer you to the third chapter of Hitchhiker's:
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough."
The official Towel Day Website features a list of various Towel Day activities, including a celebration at the Donegal Irish Pub in Calgary and a party in Ottawa at Zaphod Beeblebrox, a downtown bar named after a character from the book.
Zaphod's even offers a " Pan Galactic Gargleblaster," a drink torn from the pages of Hitchhiker's. Although theirs doesn't make you feel "like having your brain smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick," the way it does in the book.
It doesn't appear there are a lot of rules about how you are supposed to carry or wear your little cottony friend on Towel Day, so long as you tote it around with you.
Although I resisted the temptation to wear my towel like a cape to the office, it may or may not feature a picture of Scooby-Doo.
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