Towel Day occurs on May 25th annually and is the internet-wide celebration of the life and work of Douglas Noel Adams (1952-2001).
“He was a brilliant writer….maybe that’s why he hated it. He put so much effort into it” Terry Jones quoted in an article on what would have been Douglas Adams’ 60th birthday.
Graham Chapman discovered Douglas Adams in 1974 as the result of a live show the latter had written. They started a short lived writing collaboration when Chapman’s former collaborator, John Cleese, left Monty Python in December of 1974. Adams would go on to receive a writing credit for the sketch Patient Abuse which appeared on the final episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Adams is one of only two non-Python members to receive a writing credit in the series. Adams also collaborated on a sketch for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
CORRECTION: I said in an earlier version of this review that this book was last in the series. I am overjoyed to learn that it’s not.
Publication Date: December 31, 2018
Dave Marwood and his girlfriend, Melanie, are due for a bit of a break in the country after saving the City of London from destruction. It’s a bit of a worry that Death, the last standing Horseman of the Apocalypse and Dave’s employer, is having a bit of an existential crisis and Dave has been acting as his flip-flopped toy scythed stand-in, but a relationship needs tending. The break, however; is not the peaceful time away the couple anticipates when they find themselves beset by ghosts and the people seeking them.
Serious Moonlight by Dave Turner is the fifth book in the How to be Dead series.
Part of my life’s work is finding books that give me the feeling I got when I first read the works of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Jasper Fforde. The beautiful humor and massive creativity of the aforementioned authors are qualities shared by the great Dave Turner. Continue reading Serious Moonlight (How to be Dead) by Dave Turner
Good Omens is based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) and Crowley (David Tennant) are an Angel and Demon who are quite fond of humanity and, grudgingly, of each other. They have had off the books meetings for centuries and have perhaps each influenced the other in a way that their supervisors wouldn’t condone. When Crowley is called upon to deliver the Antichrist, he knows the end is near. The demon and angel agree to each stay close to the child and try to influence him but what happens when it’s the wrong child? And what happens when Heaven and Hell are both willing to do whatever it takes for the ultimate face-off to happen?
Neil Gaiman wrote the screenplay and worked in the role of showrunner for the production and it shows. I think this may be the truest translation of novel to screen that I’ve seen. From the perfect casting to joyful irreverence, this show is a pure pleasure to watch. I’ve seen it three times all the way through and have plans to watch a fourth time and am willing to bet that I’ll see a host of things of hidden jokes and sly references. A demon and an angel who have lived long among the humans and developed an affinity for humanity have a crisis of divine purpose vs what they really want. Early on there are two great scenes. In the first great scene, the Archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) finds Aziraphale in a sushi restaurant and question why he’d want to foul his mortal shell with ickiness. In another scene, Crowley roars up in his classic car to take delivery of the baby Antichrist and his fellow demons go over their accomplishments in securing souls. Crowley gives this off-hand high tech explanation of his mass frustration of humanity as they stand there dumbfounded. The humor in both scenes is pure Pratchett. Tongue in cheek, setting up the beings with whom we’ll spend the length of the miniseries and highlighting their hesitance to give up the comfortable lives they’ve established.
Good Omens is a complex story. In part it’s about the Prophesies of Agnes Nutter and her descendants carrying on her tradition, in part it’s the story of an impending war between heaven and hell and it’s also part the story of a great friendship of opposites formed outside of the gates of the Garden of Eden as two immortals ponder God’s ineffable plan. Narrated by God herself (voiced by Frances McDormand), it’s a mostly linear story that bounces through time. Aziraphale and Crowley do their best for the little Antichrist but, in the end, their efforts are pointless.
As one would expect from the cast, the acting in Good Omens is outstanding. Micheal McKean as Witchfinder Shadwell is just comic genius. Jack Whitehall as Newton Pulcifer/ Adultery Pulcifer is just probably the best performance this actor has turned out. Sam Taylor Buck as Adam Young (the Antichrist) is convincing in fighting his dangerous side. The scenes with Adam and his group of friends are as interesting as the playful byplay between the more seasoned Michael Sheen and David Tennant. These young actors have great futures ahead of them.
Good Omens is simply amazing. To say too much would involve spoilers. I know that there’s been some backlash against the production because it’s considered blasphemous and, if you’re religious, I’m sure it is but only in the best way. How nice must it be to be so absolutely sure that things that are unseen in life exactly as you think they are. That God is a long-haired white dude and not some cheery lady with an American accent and a sly sense of humor. This is fiction, it’s not literal and I’ve always been of the opinion that if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but that’s me. It is tongue in cheek and clever. The rare talent that comes along in literature and thank goodness for Neil Gaimon translating it to the screen because it was the production was just a joy. To see some of the best scenes from the book acted out and exactly as one would have pictured them is just delightful. Agnes Nutter throwing open the door and facing Adultery Pulcifer was just beautiful. Will there be more? I don’t know but given that Pratchett died after the publication of this first novel, I can’t see Gaiman going back to that well. Gaiman is an author that seems to respect the legacy and as talented as he is, I would think that Gaimon would hesitate to continue without his original co-author’s cooperation.
See Good Omens. See it now. It is wonderful, amazing and fully worth binging over and over.
In The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, it’s 1985 in the fictional world that is parallel to our own. Someone is kidnapping literary characters. It’s the job of Thursday Next, the occupant of our world but the detective in the Literary Detective Division, to find the culprit and stop them before it’s too late.
Every book claims to be like the work of a bestselling author. They’ll up the ante saying that the work is by an author who is the modern version of the author to whom they’re likened. Usually, they could not be less like the author whose name they use to promote themselves. In the case of Fforde, it would be in no way inaccurate to liken him to Douglas Adams. It would also not be inaccurate to say that they are nothing alike. Fforde and Adams share a well-defined imagination with a lightness of being. Their worlds are intricate. Fforde is extremely well-read. The characters created by others in his story are wholly within character. The description of the fictional world is beautiful and complete. Continue reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
In Four Horsemen (How to be Dead Book 4) by Dave Turner, It’s 1874 and War, Famine, Conquest and Death are called upon to find a little boy from a prominent family. The boy is seen leaving his home with his father, a man who has been dead for three years. In the meantime, Death is doing his day job when he comes across a little girl named Elizabeth that can see him as he’s collecting her aunt and bringing her home. Can the Horseman find out what happened to the boy and the other children who have disappeared and what will they do about Elizabeth? Continue reading Four Horsemen (How to be Dead Book 4) by Dave Turner
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 1 (2017) is based on Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series. Shortly after Todd (Elijah Wood) finds the body of Partick Spring, a billionaire with a lot of secrets, Holistic Detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett) crawls through his window and presses him into investigating the murder. With a holistic assassin (Fiona Dourif) on Dirk’s heels, can he solve the case before he’s swimming with the fishes? Continue reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency Season 1 (2017)
The Frood: The Authorised & Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts is an examination of the influences and impact of the late Douglas Adams on British comedy, his most famous work, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and his legacy.
In Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently is a holistic detective who believes that everything is connected. He sets out to help a man named Richard’s whose girlfriend’s father has been murdered and is convinced that the crime must be solved to clear his own name. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is the first book in the Dirk Gently series. Continue reading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
In Old Haunts, Dave and Mel are struggling to get back to a common ground after the events at the end of “Paper Cuts.” With the big bad revealed and his surely devastating plan not clear, can Dave stop the horror that will inevitably descend on London? Death and his office staff, Dave and Anne, are ready to kick this saving-the-world thing into high gear.
Old Haunts is the final installment in the “How to be Dead” series.
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