Happy Towel Day 2015! and Don’t Forget to Wear the Lilac!

Towels may be employed as cunning camoflauge...

Towels may be employed as cunning camouflage…

For those of you wondering what in Almighty Zarquon’s name I’m talking about, I’m referring to the wonderfully zany, fan-created holiday honoring the late author Douglas Adams. Douglas Adams is a humorous science-fiction author most famous for writing the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, but he also wrote Dirk Gently novels, the non-fiction book Last Chance to See, and even worked on Doctor Who. On Towel Day, fans across the globe don their towels with pride, because, in the words of Douglas Adams:

““…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 vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft 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 to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); 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.”

For the uninitiated, I have several suggestions for celebrating Towel Day listed on my earlier post, Towel Day 2015 Approacheth! Also, if you missed it, I wrote a brief flash fiction story in honor of Towel Day titled “The Most Massively Useful Thing.” Photos of myself and my son using our towels in suitably unorthodox manners are included in today’s post.


Monsterbat is ready for hand to hand combat!

This year, however, in addition to honoring Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett fans are also celebrating Wear the Lilac day in honor of the author who died recently from Alzheimer’s. As a fan of Pratchett’s work, I was also deeply saddened to hear of his passing. Pratchett is known primarily for his DiscWorld novels, stand-alone books that nevertheless all take place in the same universe with many of the characters overlapping from book to book. Terry Pratchett’s books are mostly erudite, humorous fantasies.

Why this day and why lilacs? From the Wear the Lilac site:

“On May 25th, certain members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and a few others around the city, wore a sprig of lilac. The 25th of May was the day that they remembered those who fought and fell for hardboiled eggs, truth, justice and reasonably priced love, who died – and in Reg Shoe’s case rose and kept fighting – in the Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road”

If you are a Pratchett fan, here are a few additional suggestions.


Obviously, wear a lilac.

Read out one of his books! or perhaps watch a movie based on his work, or listen to an audiobook. I personally recommend Going Postal.

Donate or volunteer at a charity that cares for victims of Alzheimer’s.


As if that wasn’t enough, today is also, appropriately enough, Geek Pride Day!** Today was chosen to celebrate geek/nerd culture because Star Wars was released on this day in 1977. Go forth and wear those horn-rimmed glasses with pride, guys.

So, if you are a fan of either of these authors, now is a time to honor their memory by celebrating their lives and works. And if you aren’t a fan yet, today is the perfect day to become one by treating yourself to some intelligent and silly fiction. If you do celebrate, I would love for you to share what you’re doing today in the comments, In the meantime, Happy Glorious Geeky Towel Day to you all.


*photos taken by me.


**I realize that ideally I’d link to something other than Wikipedia, but since I’m discussing obscure holidays on my personal blog I’m willing to let it slide. There actually was one network source, but it was posted in 2013.          

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Filed under All about books, Current events

Friday Flash: The Most Massively Useful Thing


What sort of woman was she? She’d known how to swim for as long as she could remember. When she was growing up, her parents had been hard-pressed to get her to spend more time out of the water, but what of that? Plenty of people loved the water, whether it was oceans teeming with fish, a backyard pool, a public beach, or even running through sprinklers. Many people went skinny-dipping too, but not always in such a public place.

Of course, her relative isolation at the time had appealed to her inner tadpole. How could she resist waters so tranquil and clear? However, that was before the schoolbus arrived, teachers and children chattering about spending time at the Castle. Someone took her clothes. When the Castle closed, they would leave, she’d dash to her car and… damn. Her keys were in her missing pants. Still, it was late, the kids should be leaving soon…

That was, of course, before she knew about the fireworks.

As the sun slowly sunk into the horizon, darkness descended, and Kate hid against a log floating some distance from shore. She retreated underwater once the children gathered on her previous hiding spot, the pier. Though there were no boats, the wooden structure jutted out into the water, and schoolchildren sat dangling their legs along its edge. She gazed resentfully at them with their flashlights and sparklers. They oohed and ahhhed at the fireworks lighting up the heavens.

“Nice show, ain’t it?” came a voice from beside her in the water.

Kate gasped, the beginnings of a scream forming as the man swimming beside her clasped his hand over her mouth. “Shhhhhhh,” he said, pressing one webbed finger over his mouth. “Don’ wanna alarm the kiddies, do we?”

She shot a look at the shore. Teachers and children happily chatted, pointing out the display in the night sky. Luckily the fireworks noise had covered their conversation, plus they were a fair distance from shore. Kate began to wonder how lucky she really was.

Though it was difficult to tell in the light shed by the differing hues of fireworks, the man had light green, shining skin, scaled slightly along his hairline and the edges of his fingers and hands. Flowing green hair floated behind him, and his eyes were two pools of darkness she felt she could easily fall into for the rest of her life. His facial features were angelic. She continued to gape as he watched the display.

“Eh, don’t mind me, chicky. Just wanted a bit o’ company, din’t I?” continued the man, unphased. “No fun watching a show by meself, ist?”  The gills along his sideburns opened and closed as he spoke. What kind of sense did that make? Also, what the hell was his accent? Merman-cockney?

Was she hallucinating?

“I… you speak English?” she said, feeling stupid.

“Well, couldn’t resist meeting a sweet lil’ catch like youself, could I?” he continued. “I hafta say, you a beauty, aintcha?”

Despite the water’s cool, Kate felt the heat rise to her face as she realized exactly what “beauty” he meant. She suddenly had the horrible suspicion it wasn’t fish nibbling at her feet and legs earlier. A large fin bumped against her thigh, and she yelped. Though the merman continued watching the atmospheric display, she detected a smirk during one brief moment of illumination.

Oh, what the hell, she thought, resigning herself to madness. If she was hallucinating, what else could she do?

“Look, I sort of got stuck out here,” she replied, unable to think of anything else to say. “I need to cover up, so I can get out of the water and go home.”

“Cover up?” Now it was the merman’s turn to gape. “Why the bloody ‘ell ‘ou wanna doa thing like that for?” He dipped beneath the water, then came back up. “I mean, lookatcha!”

Kate bit her lip in frustration. Maybe she could just run past the kiddies. I mean, could streaking through a crowd of middle-schoolers really be worse than this?

Before she could form a reply, the merman disappeared beneath the water again. She stayed as still as she dared, hoping he wasn’t ogling her from below. After awhile, she began to wonder if he was coming back. Had she scared him off? She contemplated that streaking scenario again. Would these fireworks never end?

The merman suddenly emerged beside her holding, with an air of triumph, a soaking paisley beach towel. “There! That do?” he asked, handing her the sopping material, a knight bestowing his most treasured possession upon his lady.

“To dry off with?” asked a bewildered Kate.

The merman emitted a childish giggle. It was quite endearing, almost innocent. “Naw, sweets. I mean, you seem to wanna cover up them beautiful boobies and buttox and all dat. I still don’ unnerstand, but whatev’ you need, love.” The giant fin brushed against her thigh again.

“Uh, thanks…?” said Kate. “Why do you have a towel? Er…”

“‘Name’s Carl, sweets,” replied the merman. “I nicked it, dint I? People leave all things along the shore, don’t they? If you ever in the neighbor’ood…” He winked, slid gracefully beneath the water, and disappeared.

Kate waited for another thigh bump, which never came, and firmly refused to admit she was the tiniest bit disappointed. Maybe Carl wasn’t such a bad guy after all. He did bring her a towel, though she began to have different suspicions about her clothes’ disappearance. Still, it wasn’t every day she met a merperson. She smiled, wrapped the heavy towel around her body, and made her way to shore.


*This story was inspired by a photo prompt at the six minute story site. I decided this needed more time and editing. Since May 25th is Towel Day, I combined the photo prompt with my personal challenge to include something about towels and flashing, all in honor of Douglas Adams and #FridayFlash. I hope you enjoy the result!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com


Filed under fantasy-magic, Flash Fiction, humor

Towel Day 2015 Approacheth!


In the interest of spreading the word about this wonderful fan-created holiday, I’m posting once again an explanation and a list of resources and ideas for celebrating Towel Day. “What is Towel Day?” Why, I’m so glad you asked! May the 25th is Towel Day, created to honor the life and works of the late and great author, Douglas Adams, who gave us such jewels as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, several Dirk Gently humorous detective novels, and the non-fiction book Last Chance to See. He also worked on Though Adams died too young, his work lives on after him in everything from books and television series to pop culture references that constantly pop up to the amazement and delight of geeks and fans everywhere.


OK, so why use a towel to remember such a hoopy frood? SO GLAD YOU ASKED.

From the Guide:


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 vapours; 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-bogglingly 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.


—Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy



First things first, if you haven’t read any of his books yet, FOR THE LOVE OF ZARQUON, read one of his books! If you don’t have time to sit down and read, listen to an audiobook. You can check them out of the library. If you can’t do either of those, borrow one of the movies! But seriously, you could finish one of the books in a day, because they are pretty thin as well as awesome.


If anyone has read these suggestions before in my previous Towel Day posts, I apologize for the repetition, but consider this an update, ok? Anyway, you three know you are the hippest cats this side of Betelgeuse, so I know you’ll understand.


Since the holiday is called Towel Day, the most obvious suggestion is to carry a towel with you all day long. Do it as conspicuously as possible, so that if people ask you why you are carrying a towel to the grocery store, you can tell them all about Hitchhikers. Like so:

Uninitiated stranger: “Hey, why are you carrying a towel in the grocery store?”

You, fan extraordinaire: “Why, I’m so glad you asked! Let me tell you…”

And so on…


For those of you already familiar with the book, here are a few more suggestions:


*Lie down in front of a toy bulldozer in a tatty bathrobe. (caveat: the TOY part is important here, as lying down in front of a real bulldozer might be hazardous to your health)


Wear a bathrobe and pajamas all day long.


Drink lots of tea. Possibly eat fairy cake.


Try to make the perfect sandwich for lunch!


Create a Terran (Earth) version of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. There are tons out there, but my son and I challenge ourselves to create a non-alcoholic Terran version of the galaxy’s most alcoholic beverage! Hey, he’s a teenager, ok?


Speak in Hitchhiker slang all day. You dig that, you hoopy froods?


Write some Vogon poetry using the Vogon poetry generator.


Take a photo of yourself with your towel and share it on Twitter (#towelday), FaceBook (at the Towel Day FB page), or Flickr (labeled “Towel Day).


Donate towels to a charity. Lots of animal shelters like to have towels on hand for their charges.


Be very nice to a bowl of Petunias. Water them,  talk to them, plant them in some really nice soil. Goodness knows,  Agrajag had been through enough!


Come up with alternate uses for your towel, other than hand-to-hand combat and drying off. I’m thinking mine might make a nice scarf or wrap.


Visit other Towel Day themed pages. I discovered this little treasure recently!


Create a blog post in honor of Towel Day!


Tune in to Nick Page’s YouTube channel for some wonderful animations of the Hitchhiker series!


Visit the Towel Day page to discover events in your area and get more great ideas!


I posted this early this year so that you should have sufficient time to implement any suggestions that take your fancy. As always, remember you can always borrow materials from your friendly, neighborhood library. And in this digital age, that usually includes that library’s electronic selections as well, instantly downloaded through the magic of the Internet! And if you can’t find what you need on their website, just ask the reference librarian to order whatever you need.


So what are you waiting for? Please feel free to make any suggestions of your own here, and I’d love it if you’d share your Towel Day adventures! So, see you in a week, and stay hoopy!




*This suggestion was kindly donated by John Wiswell of The Bathroom Monologues via Twitter. Thanks, John!


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Friday Flash: Watching

Karen sat in bed, the quilts tucked under her chin, knees pulled up against her body in an effort to conserve warmth. She loathed being sick, helpless and useless, and what’s more the house would be a hundred times harder to clean once she was better. No one would wash dishes for her, prepare her meals, make sure she was hydrated, and she was too damn exhausted to do it herself. It was maddening.

Propped against the pillows, she stared at the tv, sniffling miserably. The skin around her eyes and below her nose was red and stinging, and she pressed the button on one of the many remotes with a ferocity that belied her condition, as though the harder she pushed, the better she would feel. It didn’t work.

So, the red light meant the tv was off, so if she hit…? Voila! Blue light meant “on”, she was sure of it. Now to work her way through the two additional remotes and she’d finally be able to watch the sitcom she’d been binge-watching during her ordeal. Five minutes later, the program was set, and she relaxed back into her ugly but surprisingly comfortable cushions. She was thirsty, but hemmed in by her two dogs and finally comfortable, she’d be damned if she’d get up now.

She stared at the show as the light indicating the tv’s power shone a steady, glowing blue.



The female continued to spend hours in the reclining position.

During its intermittent lapses of consciousness, the machine watched the human in the large, cloth-covered bed. It had watched her eat. It had watched her remove clothes and replace them on her body with other clothes. It had watched her gazing at a small glowing screen she held in her hands for hours at a stretch. And it had watched her, as she watched it watching her, for many more hours.

What did the female do during the blank times in the machine’s consciousness?

From somewhere in the dim recesses of its memory, it recalled a previous life, a hint of some common humanity with this forlorn creature that sat shivering and alone. A phrase floated into the machine’s consciousness, Who watches the Watchmen?

Unable to make sense of the phrase, it merely recorded its observations and forwarded them, as always, onto the Company.


*image courtesy of BigFoto.com


Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: The Ring


The house fire took everything Cynthia cared about, including her life. The only copy of her manuscript, which she had typed on an old fashioned typewriter in a fit of romantic sentimentality, had been incinerated. Her body, which she had taken such pride in keeping healthy and strong, had been reduced to ash when the home she had known for the past four years had burned to the ground. Her only companion had been her tabby, Gertrude, but rather than warn her owner of the inferno, she had done the sensible feline thing and saved her own ass. Cynthia didn’t blame her.

Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and that goes double when you’re a ghost. Sure, trauma had driven her to a life of seclusion, but present circumstances made her rethink the decisions she had made. If she had lived closer to town, maybe a neighbor would have seen the fire. As things stood, the firefighters only happened on her home because of the forest blaze. Now, her consciousness didn’t even have a body, dead or alive, to cling to. The only thing left was the ring she had been wearing when she died.

Her spirit condensed and became contained within that tiny metal band when she had shuffled off her mortal coil…

Most of the firefighters had walked farther off, but two remained close to her former home. From within the ring’s shining band, Cynthia watched one of them approach. “Hey, Bill,” said the female firefighter, picking the ring up to show her companion. “Hear anything about family, next of kin?”

“Nah, sweetheart,” said Bill, the condescending endearment making the firewoman wince while Cynthia psychically winced on her behalf. Cynthia knew that voice; even through the grime and the distortion of the ring, she’d recognize that face anywhere. Though dead, her first impulse was to run away, her second -to warn the woman.

How could she forget that monster? Four years ago, he had turned her world upside down. He had said he’d find her again, that she belonged to him body and soul, but she had moved! Changed her name, secluded herself and- dear God, how did he find her?

Hiding had done her no good. Now was the time for action. Before he hurt someone else.

“Nobody that I know of,” he continued, oblivious to both women’s distress, “but you could find out when we get back to the station.”

“Thanks, Bill,” said the woman, whose name Cynthia learned was “Eve” from the lettering on her flourescent yellow jacket. Eve examined the ring a moment longer before slipping it into her pocket. Instinctually, Cynthia prodded, mentally probing the woman’s psyche. Seeming to reconsider, Eve put the ring on her finger instead.

Immediately, Cynthia felt the rush of life in her new body, the woman’s strength, the ache of her muscles, the warmth of her browned skin. She even smelled the ash in the air. Was she breathing in her old body from within her new one? Eve’s body turned to gaze at her coworker through new eyes. The other firefighters had moved farther away, leaving the three of them relatively isolated. Stepping behind a crumbling and charred wall, the woman grabbed a sharpened piece of unmelted metal, readied herself, and called to Bill. “Hey, come here a sec’. There’s something here I want to show you.”

Bill smirked. Sooner or later, they all wanted him. “Coming, sweetheart,” he said, sidestepping blackened debris as he unknowingly approached his final destination.



*image courtesy of BigFoto.com


Filed under Flash Fiction, Ghosts, Writing Corner

No Friday Flash, but Free Comic Book Day is Nigh!

2010-05-30 18.08.53

Due to time constraints and physical limitations, I am not posting a #FridayFlash this week. I had one prepared, but since I didn’t have time to properly edit the story by letting it sit between passes I’m going to save it for next Friday.

In the meantime, tomorrow – Saturday, May the 2nd, is Free Comic Book Day! It is my sincerest wish that you find a local comic store tomorrow and get loads of free comics and other goodies. May the Force be with you!




Filed under Current events

National Poetry Month: Day #30 – “The Big Read”


The Cuyahoga County Public Library system sent out email prompts this April in honor of National Poetry month! The idea was to inspire new poems each day based on that day’s prompt.

Today’s prompt involves sharing a short poem about a place I have visited by writing one down on postcard or small piece of paper. Since it’s also the last day, I decided to compose a short poem in honor of the local library and museum taking part in The Big Read.

My poem is a Sicilian tercet based on today’s prompt:


The Big Read brought you together, books and

art combined, a partnership uniting

museum and library – hand in hand.


Once more, I’d like to thank the Cuyahoga County Public Library for providing daily writing prompts, as well as the Massillon Public Library and Massillon Museum of Art for being incredible resources of both inspiration and creativity.


*image courtesy of BigFoto.com


Filed under poems, Writing Corner

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #29 – “Ubi Sunt Redux”


The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.


Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.



“Ubi Sunt Redux”


Bigger is better

was the phrase we lived by.

Big feathered hair

fixed with a giant bottle of Aqua Net,

spiked high in the air

-a towering citadel of keratin,

Big shoulder pads

-a hazard to unsuspecting passersby,

Big massive television

with a huge dial and no remote

that I’d use to watch Big budget shows

like Knots Landing and Dallas,

Big typewriter to type my Masterpiece on

(though I never did),

and a Big computer for the Big thinker

(not me)

that took an enormous amount of time

to connect and download ANYTHING.

Best of all

the Biggest cord I could get for my land line,

the only way to reach into farther rooms

without having to hang up

-stretching and twisting the curled plastic line

around my fingers,

the next best thing to a cordless phone.



My father used to mow the lawn

with a moderately-sized mower.



Now smaller

more efficient

is the goal for most things.

My hair no longer

poses a threat to the ozone layer

-shorter and sleeker is the style.

Shoulder pads are out

-which means there’s less padding in the event of an accident

but its safer for innocent bystanders,

The television,


and telephone

have all given way to a single, compact device;

The clicking keys of a typewriter have been replaced
with the silent sweep of a finger across a digitized keyboard
on the same unit I use to make my calls,
watch my shows,
download a photo and take it to the discount haircut place
to torment the stylist with my impossible expectations.

-I’ll be the envy of Captain Kirk

once Star Trek becomes a reality

(oh come ON, you know it’s true).

My cell does everything except call the starship Enterprise.


Bigger is better

has given way to smaller and greater

-all except for the lawnmower.

The moderately-sized machine used to build muscle

as it was forced up and down the yard

has been replaced

with a hulking, cherry red Riding-mower,

a thing of beauty.

In its black vinyl seat,

someone can sit and mow down everything in their path,

mulching grass and sticks and weeds

as the engine roars.


Bigger is better

or smaller is greater,

And perhaps the more things change,

the more they stay the same…

Who knows?

But nostalgia is overrated,

and riding lawnmowers rock.


*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

* Today’s prompt involves rewriting a poem written from one of this month’s previous prompts. Since I wasn’t crazy about the list style prompted on day 18, I rewrote “Ubi Sunt” according to my own inclinations.

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Filed under poems

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #28 – “Poetry Night”


The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.


Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.



“Poetry Night”


Assembled for their yearly vigil

in the library’s hallowed reading room,

bibliophiles, poets, and players alike

pay homage to the written word.

Prose or poetry?

Sometimes the line is blurred.




*image courtesy of BigFoto.com



Filed under poems, slice of life

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: Day #27 – “In 1976”


The Cuyahoga County Public Library system is sending out daily email prompts in honor of National Poetry month! The idea is to write a new poem each day based on that day’s prompt.


Library prompts and poems can be found here. Below is my poem based on today’s prompt.



“In 1976”


We took the bus,

Grandma and I,

to go on our day-long adventure.

The Florida sun beat down

as we waited for

the air-conditioned Paradise

known as the Broward County local.

Shaking back and forth,

the entire bus carriage moved

to the rhythm of those giant engines.

Pulling the cord as we neared our destination,

the bus slowed with a stupendous groan,

the metal beast stopped

to disgorge its passengers

at the Taft street shopping center,

the closest strip mall

to the only home I could remember

in my short seven years of life.


Stumbling from the vehicle’s metal jaw,

my grandmother and I

crossed the parking lot

to the mass of stores baking in the afternoon sunlight.

We ate lunch at the Walgreens’ diner.

It reminded me of the Fifties restaurants on tv;

I spun on one of the raised metal barstools

with its red vinyl cushion,

they bordered the formica counter

like a line of brightly colored mushrooms.

I had a Steakum sandwich,

which seemed terribly fancy to me

with its big bun, thin meat, melted cheese, and sauteed onions,

My drink – a chocolate thickshake

served in a tall fancy glass.

For dessert, not food

but a treat

(a fancy one)-

a bright-yellow toy lion

that amazingly came with its own bottle of perfume.

I wondered about big cats and their odor problems on the velt

the entire bumpy ride home,

clutching my prize,

smiling the entire time.

My grandmother was tired by the time we got back,

a day spent walking,

alternately sweating in the sun

and freezing indoors,

but I was elated,

forever grateful,


on top of the world.


*image courtesy of BigFoto.com


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Filed under Flash NonFiction, poems