It's Towel Day!
I grew up knowing about The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy... my aunt's license plates growing up read "ZAPHOD1" and of course I had to ask!
So why a towel?
"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-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.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."
- Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
I remember seeing bits of the old adaptation of the radio plays, and having fun getting lost in the books. They are so deliciously weird, but kind of like Tom Robbins' books, if you just go with it you'll have a hell of a time even if you feel like part of your brain was stirred when you're done. It's kind of a good feeling, actually.
I was skeptical when they started filming the newer version, and while they did make a few changes they were fairly small (and necessary since they probably weren't going to do all the books anyway), and all in all I loved it...
Sam Rockwell was born to be Zaphod.
So enjoy Towel Day! Take a look at the "official" website - there may be something fun to do in your neck of the woods! If not, though, it's okay...
Just be sure you know where your towel is, and don't panic!