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The Glorious 25th of May: Do you know where your lilac towel is?
May 25, 2011 5:01 AM   Subscribe

All the little angels rise up high. The 25 of May is a day to celebrate two giants of British sci fi/fantasy and humor--Sir Terry Pratchett and the late Douglas Adams. Long may their work endure.

...All the little angels rise up, rise up.
All the little angels rise up high!
How do they rise up, rise up, rise up?
How do they rise up, rise up high?
They rise heads up, heads up, heads up, they rise heads up, heads up high!

Fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books take note: It's the anniversary of The People's Revolution of the Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May and a day to wear the lilac (many previous Pratchetts) to honor the fictional memories of John Keel, Dai Dickins, Ned Coates, Billy Wiglet, Horace Nancyball, Cecil Clapman, and Reg Shoe. Fans also wear the lilac more seriously to acknowledge Pratchett's (and others') struggles with Alzheimer's (1, 2). May he rise--but not for a long, long time.

Coincidentally, today is also Towel Day (previously), when fans of the late Douglas Adams, now 10 years gone, carry a towel and remember his famous advice: "DON'T PANIC." From "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" to "Last Chance to See," Adams was a remarkably funny, erudite and passionate voice for the universe as he saw it. "Parrots, the Universe and Everything" is a lengthy but entertaining account of Adams' misadventures with rare wildlife and is perhaps the most hilarious account the mating habits of the kakapo (though his tale of attempting to buy extra-large condoms in China, 1, and 2, is even funnier).

Cheers, gentlemen. And thanks for all the laughs.
posted by MonkeyToes (36 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
The 10th anniversary of Douglas Adams' death passed with nary a peep here (I believe). Longtime fans of both authors know what this day is; if you haven't read their works, treat yourself. I grew up on Adams' humor and am saddened that there won't be any more of it, and discovered Pratchett right around the time he announced his Alzheimer's diagnosis. The premature cutting off of such talent strikes me as particularly sad, and I hope that folks who don't know these authors will seek out their writings and enjoy them.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:10 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just had a scare, as I for a second tought this post was an obit for Pratchett. Gah!
posted by Harald74 at 5:13 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Used to be, here in Amsterdam on Towel Day, you showed up with your towel at a certain bookstore, you got a discount. No longer, it seems. Ten years... sigh.
posted by likeso at 5:16 AM on May 25, 2011


Pratchett's form of alzheimers is actually posterial cortical atrophy, (PCA), which affects the part of the brain that deals with vision. Which probably means that he's not as close to the end of his career as was originally assumed.

He aten't dead yet.
posted by hudders at 5:17 AM on May 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Or to celebrate the argentinian May Revolution.

What, doesn't the whole world care about this?
posted by palbo at 5:18 AM on May 25, 2011


The 10th anniversary of Douglas Adams' death passed with nary a peep here (I believe).

For what it's worth...
posted by gauche at 5:34 AM on May 25, 2011


I will always know where my towel is.
posted by tommasz at 5:37 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


gauche, I missed that. Thanks; glad to know that it was noted here.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:38 AM on May 25, 2011


I kept seeing towel day mentioned on facebook, and I was wondering why 5-25 was towel day. So it's the celebration of the day two weeks after DNA's death? Arbitrary, but alright.
posted by Eideteker at 6:08 AM on May 25, 2011


So it's the celebration of the day two weeks after DNA's death? Arbitrary, but alright.

Somehow, I think DNA would like the arbitrary nature of it.

Makes me regret missing the gym this morning - then I would've had a towel in my bag all day...
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:11 AM on May 25, 2011


So it's the celebration of the day two weeks after DNA's death? Arbitrary, but alright.

I think the day was first observed the same year of his death, and so it was assembled in the week following. The organizers wanted to pick a date in the near future so everyone would have a chance to locate their towels.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn Pratchett posts always give me a lump in my throat until I realise they're not obits.
posted by dazed_one at 6:15 AM on May 25, 2011


I had a vague notion of it being Towel Day, but I read this and was fully reminded almost immediately after hanging up towels to dry out of the washer.

I am a frood who knows where his towel is. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:15 AM on May 25, 2011


Douglas Adams was just this guy, you know...
posted by Mooseli at 6:20 AM on May 25, 2011


It's quite appropriate that Towel Day be two weeks late. DNA would have definitely approved.
posted by bonehead at 6:28 AM on May 25, 2011


Anyone else read that godawful authorised sequel to Hitchhiker's 'And Another Thing...' by Eoin Colfer? Rarely have I been so inspired to publically hate a work of fiction. It really is the phantom menace of the series. Seriously, if you haven't read it, don't. The ending of Mostly Harmless was bleak- but hey that's the universe for you.
posted by leibniz at 6:41 AM on May 25, 2011


Just grabbed my towel, and will grab a sprig of lilac shortly. Off to campus with a song in my heart.
posted by strixus at 6:57 AM on May 25, 2011


Cazzo, my lilac has not bloomed yet.
posted by francesca too at 7:00 AM on May 25, 2011


Seconding leibniz
posted by monkey closet at 7:03 AM on May 25, 2011


Makes me regret missing the gym this morning - then I would've had a towel in my bag all day...

Douglas Adams died of a heart attack while exercising. Let that be a lesson to us all.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:17 AM on May 25, 2011


Anyone else read that godawful authorised sequel to Hitchhiker's 'And Another Thing...' by Eoin Colfer? Rarely have I been so inspired to publically hate a work of fiction. It really is the phantom menace of the series. Seriously, if you haven't read it, don't. The ending of Mostly Harmless was bleak- but hey that's the universe for you.

I didn't think it was so bad, but Douglas Adams had a singularly unique writing style, hard to duplicate by anyone. Viewers of the movie certainly know that.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:19 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, if I had the chance to pick, I think I would still have chosen today to be my birthday.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:25 AM on May 25, 2011


Why fixate on the day of his death, instead of his birthday? Sure, you then get two days per year to celebrate the guy, but it seems a bit morbid.

As for the two week delay, that's covered in the Wiki article -- The original article that began Towel Day was posted at "Binary Freedom," a short-lived open source forum:
Towel Day: A Tribute to Douglas Adams
Monday 14 May 2001 06:00am PDT

Douglas Adams will be missed by his fans worldwide. So that all his fans everywhere can pay tribute to this genius, I propose that two weeks after his passing (25 May 2001) be marked as "Towel Day". All Douglas Adams fans are encouraged to carry a towel with them for the day.

So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!
And there you have it.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:41 AM on May 25, 2011


I am going to a fancypants meeting at my state capitol today. This is what I will be bringing with me.
posted by Polyhymnia at 7:43 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


May 25 is also the anniversary of the release of the first film in a tiny little film series.
posted by hippybear at 7:59 AM on May 25, 2011


I knew it was the day the little angels rise up high, but I didn't realize that people were wearing lilac to acknowledge Pratchett's and others struggles with Alzheimer's. I like it and will be adopting it promptly. It'll be a great opportunity to recognize people in my own life who've been lost to it.

On a more upbeat note, I just introduced (yet another) coworker to the Pratchett universe with Small Gods, which he throughly enjoyed. So, another happy, and thoroughly addicted, fan in the works...
posted by quin at 8:04 AM on May 25, 2011


I didn't think it was so bad, but Douglas Adams had a singularly unique writing style, hard to duplicate by anyone. Viewers of the movie certainly know that.

It's not the writing style so much that bothered me (it was quite a good parody at least for the first few pages) it was the terrible jokes (including the 'hey isn't this wacky!! tone)* and the lack of intelligent original ideas. I mean turn to virtually any page in the 5 Hitchhiker's books and you will find some stone cold genius conceits- the total perspective vortex, the improbability drive, the whole earth-as-computer thing (and then brilliant way the whole project was undermined at the end of Restaurant at the end of the Universe), the flying by forgetting to fall, the rain god, the Agrajag character etc. etc. etc.

*To be fair, there was one joke in And Another Thing which I liked, which is when Random announces she is marrying the telepathic gerbil thing. That played on the teenager-parent dynamic well with an extra level of absurdity very reminiscent of Douglas Adams.
posted by leibniz at 8:11 AM on May 25, 2011


When he was a boy he’d read books about great military campaigns, and visited the museums and looked with patriotic pride at the paintings of famous cavalry charges, last stands and glorious victories. It had come as rather a shock, when he later began to participate in some of these, to find that the painters had unaccountably left out the intestines. Perhaps they just weren't very good at them.

--

Vetinari: “‘You know, it has often crossed my mind that those men deserve a proper memorial of some sort.”
Vimes: “Oh yes? In one of the main squares, perhaps?”
Vetinari: “Yes, that would be a good idea.”
Vimes: “Perhaps a tableau in bronze? All seven of them raising the flag, perhaps?”
Vetinari: “Bronze, yes.”
Vimes: “Really? And some sort of inspiring slogan?”
Vetinari: “Yes, indeed. Something like, perhaps, ‘They Did The Job They Had To Do’?”
Vimes: “No. How dare you? How dare you! At this time! In this place! They did the job they didn’t have to do, and they died doing it, and you can’t give them anything. Do you understand? They fought for those who’d been abandoned, they fought for one another, and they were betrayed. Men like them always are. What good would a statue be? It’d just inspire new fools to believe they’re going to be heroes. They wouldn’t want that. Just let them be. For ever.”

posted by kmz at 8:17 AM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Here is my chance to boast again. Douglas Adams bought a Kaypro from the computer store I worked at, just down the street from Universal Studios. I told him I thought he would really enjoy this cool CP/M game called Zork. I turned Doug Adams on to text adventure games.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:23 AM on May 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


my father has a very large lilac bush outside his house. And every year I am always saddened because it has already bloomed and done for the year before this date.

Nevertheless, I wear the lilac, because I was there.

Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably Priced Love, and a Hard-Boiled Egg!
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:06 AM on May 25, 2011


namewithoutwords: come visit me. Our lilac bush is just now coming into full bloom. (We're having a really late spring here this year....)
posted by hippybear at 9:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought twice about posting this, and then decided to in thanks for two authors who, at different times, kept me going. As a nerdy sixth-grader, and one of two girls in my school's G&T for math and science, I had a closeup look at what geeky boys were into. During summer break, the other girl in the program invited me over to swim, and each of us floated in the pool with a copy of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I think I embraced my inner geek that day, because I knew that few other kids in my school would find this book funny in the way that I did. Fitting in with the popular kids became a little less important that day, and I learned something about seeking out people with similar sense of humor--many (though not all) of which turned on PBS late Saturday nights to catch re-runs of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and "Doctor Who." That's when I knew, really knew that there might be something beyond middle school. And it got better.

Flash forward several decades, and I am driving like a madwoman down the road, headed toward hospice and my dying mother-in-law. Terry Pratchett's "The Wee Free Men" plays as background to each horrible trip, back and forth, and at first I tell myself that I have it on so I can't think about what I might find at the end of my trip. But it's more: It's doing the job in front of me, despite being completely unprepared; it's drawing on some inner resources for a time and paying for it later; it's rage against forces both strange and terrible. It's love for Tiffany Aching and Granny Aching, Granny Aching the healer, the hearer, the solid place of love and comfort that my own mother-in-law always was. Listening to that book kept me from wrecking, in more ways than one, and I will always be grateful for Pratchett's companionship and understanding during those hard moments.

Cheers. And thanks.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


I wonder if Douglas Adams is enjoying the afterlife as a Nac Mac Feegle...

Practchett's books got me through my first year of teaching. I needed to be able to laugh about serious shite, and he's the master of making that possible. Also, he's given me my mantra for when I know I catch myself slipping into intolerant bitchdom: Sin is treating people like things.

Oh, what would I give for a Pratchett-penned Doctor Who episode...
posted by smirkette at 1:21 PM on May 25, 2011


The Doctor is pretty cool, but he's a chump compared to Granny or Vimes.

On the other hand, Nanny Ogg would be quite fascinated by Captain Jack. Oh yes.
posted by kmz at 1:27 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine was just telling me that he got stuck in the rain on his bike and walked into his therapist's office holding a towel. I told him that today was Towel Day, so he was fine. Geeky, not crazy.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2011


hudders:Pratchett's form of alzheimers is actually posterial cortical atrophy, (PCA), which affects the part of the brain that deals with vision. Which probably means that he's not as close to the end of his career as was originally assumed.

Ah, that explains something I heard in an interview with him recently. He was talking about how he "writes" these days by dictating (to a real live person, not a computer directly). He also mentioned that it was a good way for him to tell if what he was writing was funny or just utter pants.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:11 PM on May 25, 2011


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