Happy Towel Day to me!

I think we can all relate right now

“This must be Thursday,’ said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”

For many literary geeks May 25th is a special day. It’s the day Douglas Adams fans show their love by celebrating Towel Day. Why May 25th? Sadly, it’s the day of his death, which happened on this day in 2001. If you’ve never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy you probably are wondering if you read the first part right. Towel Day? What?? This is because one of the best pieces of advice given in the book concerns every traveler’s basic needs. Of all the things you should always have with you is a towel.

From the book:

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 mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-tohand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a bush, but 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.

And yes, there have been years when I’ve celebrated the day by wrapping a towel around my neck; but only when I was sure my employer would not call the men in white coats to come get me.

May 25th has always been a special day for me. The nerd in me would like to point out that the first 6 opening days of the Star Wars series always fell on May 25th. It became a tradition in my family to go out and brave the lines in order to see the movies on opening day. You see, not only were we a hardcore Star Wars family, my birthday just happens to fall on, you guessed it, May 25th.

It’s been a hectic few months leading up to my special day. I did not say so before, but I’ve spent the last couple of months getting ready to move house. I did a lot of purging and boxing up only to come to the shocking realization that we have a housing shortage. Google, Apple, and Tesla are either moving in or expanding so more people are moving into the area than there are houses available. I had no idea how bad it was until I started to look for a place to downsize to. Leave it to me to do things backwards. I should have looked for a new house before clearing mine. For now I stay put, minus a lot of big furniture. At least I have my towels!

This is one of many reasons why I haven’t posted in a while. Just when I declared my finger healed, I hurt it again while packing. Once again it became too painful to type.

Between reality setting in that our area seems to be quickly becoming a mini Silicone Valley and my writing taking a hit, you’d think I wouldn’t have much to celebrate, but you’d be wrong. As crazy as 2017 is turning out to be for us all, I am finding that the second half of year may be something to celebrate on a personal level. I’m finding new professional opportunities are opening up for me. I have a wonderful core group of friends who have been by my side even as I freaked out about our housing crisis and will be with me to celebrate my day. I have wonderful friends all around the world who patiently and good-naturedly cheer me on, offer words of support and comforting criticism. Looking at where I am right now, I have no reason to feel down because no matter what happens on this journey called life, I have a strong sturdy metaphorical towel. I have all of you, and in the end really this is all you really need.

My gift to you today is a list of Adams quotes. His wit will never grow old and I for one will never tire of reading his work. I hope you enjoy it to.

The story so far:
In the beginning the Universe was created.
This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

A learning experience is one of those things that says, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Happy Towel day my friends!

Collaboration I don’t think that words means what you think it means


O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend. The brightest heaven of invention, A kingdom for a stage, princes to act. And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

Back in early October there was a bit of a shake-up in the world of Shakespeare scholarship. Okay, it turned out to be a slight rattle, but for a few days it appeared to be big news. Oxford University Press announced that its next edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare will include a credit to Christopher Marlowe as a co-author on the three Henry VI plays.

It’s been long suspected by some that Shakespeare’s earliest writing included language that strongly suggested ties to Marlowe. There has been an on-going debate between the idea that Shakespeare borrowed words from Marlowe and the idea that the two briefly worked together. But this announcement by OUP is the first time Marlowe has been formally tied to Shakespeare.

Oxford’s decision to credit Marlowe stems from some recent data analysis done by several teams of scholars, and mathematicians that came to the same conclusion; words and phrases associated with Marlowe show up in several of the Henry plays, most notably in Henry VI. Now, while this may indeed be in the case, I feel, as do many other Shakespeare scholars, that Oxford went a little to far when they suggested the two playwrights collaborated together on the Henry plays.

Here is what Gary Taylor, one of the editors of new Oxford Complete Works, had to say on NPR about the two playwrights:

Shakespeare was not a fraud. Marlowe did not write all of Shakespeare’s works. He did something, instead, that was perfectly normal in the Elizabethan theatre, which is he collaborated with another playwright, in this case Shakespeare.

It’s one thing to offer up some data analysis that shows that Marlowe’s “voice” is found in several places in Shakespeare’s plays, but it is quite another to say it proves that the two sat in a pub and wrote a couple of plays together. It may be a little more complicated that what Taylor is suggesting. In fact, the only big news that comes from the analysis is just how quickly OUP jumped to some rather far-reaching conclusions. One would have hoped that they would have reached out to scholars in order to do some type of peer-review on their assumptions. This assumption is all they have to go on, and you know the saying about assuming…

There are numerous other reasons Marlowe’s voice may have appeared in Shakespeare’s plays. Let’s list them out. I know how much many of you like my lists. So, give you

Reasons why it appears Marlowe had a hand in Shakespeare’s work

Marlowe and Shakespeare were buddies

Let’s start with Taylor’s assumption that Marlowe and Shakespeare were friendly rivals. Perhaps Marlowe took a liking to the young actor turned playwright, and offered to help the upstart crow. Keep in mind that the Henry plays were among the earlier history plays that turned Shakespeare’s fortunes. Maybe, just maybe, Shakespeare was sitting in a pub desperately trying to come up with a good play when Marlowe, who just happened to be there too, offered some assistance. Just like in the Movie Shakespeare in Love.

The younger Will didn’t always have the words he was looking for

It is no secret that Shakespeare borrowed stories and plot devices from earlier works, so it is not out of the realm of possibilities that he borrowed words and phrases from well known authors. Marlowe, who gets little credit outside of academia, was the first to use blank verse in conversation. Shakespeare perfected this style, which is one reason his work stands the test of time, rather than Marlowe. Is it possible that the young Will, looking for his voice, borrowed more than just a literary device from Marlowe?

There are only so many words a person can use

The data analysis only shows that certain word use is more commonly found in Marlowe’s work than Shakespeare’s, but this in no way proves beyond a doubt it is because Marlowe used them in the Henry plays. Every writer is a creature of habit; there are certain words we use more than others but every once in a great while we go out of our way to sound different or find uses in our work for words that otherwise don’t normally appear in our work. I’ve always wanted a reason to use the word honorificabilitudinitatibus, but just because it now appears in my writing doesn’t mean the ghost of Shakespeare and collaborated on this post.

The actors who worked with Shakespeare also worked with Marlowe

This one seems a little more plausible to me. The young Will started out as an actor in a troupe that may have acted in Marlowe’s plays. It is not uncommon for writers to take suggestions from actors. It is done today. There is an iconic scene in the first Indiana Jones movie in which a sword-wielding giant confronts our hero. The original script called for a sword fight between the two, but on the day of shooting Harrison Ford came down with the flu, making it impossible for him to perform any action stunts that day. Instead, he asked, “Why can’t I just shoot him?” It made perfect sense, as Indy carried a gun. It worked. The scene was one of the comedic highlights of the movie. Is it possible, that as a group, the actors offered line suggestions to Shakespeare? Carol Rutter and I agree on this point. The professor of Shakespeare offered this same idea to the BBC.

It’s much more likely that he started his career working for a company where he was already an actor, and collaborated not with another playwright but with the actors — who will have had Marlowe very much in their heads, on the stage, in their voices. … They were the ones putting Marlowe’s influence into the plays.”

The truth may be somewhere in the middle. Perhaps Marlowe having to pay off some gambling debts was paid to write with Shakespeare. Perhaps Shakespeare and his troupe, wanting his early plays to succeed, borrowed from Marlowe in order to make the plays more appealing to an audience who at the time adored the older writer. I think we can all agree, that no matter how Marlowe’s words made their way into a few Shakespeare plays, the world of theater it better for them.

Works cited

Marlowe as Shakespeare’s co-writer. BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-37750558

Christopher Marlowe credited as co-author on the Henry VI plays. NPR http://www.npr.org/2016/10/24/499199341/christopher-marlowe-credited-as-shakespeares-co-author-on-henry-vi-plays

William Shakespeare, Henry V Folger Press

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