Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Report on Howard Days 2011, Day Two

The second day of Howard Days was pretty laid back for me.  I arrived at the Pavilion about 9:00 or so.  One of the anniversaries being celebrated this year is the 50th year since Glenn Lord's zine The Howard Collector first appeared.  At the banquet the previous night, one of the announcements was of a new issue.  The issue went on sale at the Pavilion Saturday morning.  I, of course, bought one.  It contains the the original version of "Black Canaan" as Howard wrote it, an untitled poem that wasn't included in the collected poetry, an untitled Breckenridge Elkins fragment, and a drawing by Howard.  If I heard correctly, there are only 200 copies.  I don't have information about purchasing, so if someone reading does have that information, I would appreciate it if you could put it in a comment.

 The Barbarian Festival was moved from downtown to Treadway Park just down the road from the house.  I intended to swing by but never made it.  I got to talking to several folks, including Paul Herman of the Foundation, Willie Siros and Scott Cupp of Adventures in Crime and Space Books, and author James ReasonerDave Hardy joined in the conversation shortly before we adjourned to The Staghorn Cafe for lunch and more conversation.  If you've been to Cross Plains and not stopped in for their chicken fired steak, you've missed out.  The Staghorn was named an honorable mention in Texas Monthly's list of the 40 Best Small Town Cafes in Texas.  If you think about how many small towns there are in Texas, you'll realize that's no small accomplishment.

I don't have many pictures for two reasons.  One is that people sitting around talking generally don't make for exciting photos.  The other is that my camera had gotten turned on and by the time I discovered it, the battery was dead.  I do have a couple of pictures from my phone of the signing and the ascent of Caddo Peak. 

After lunch Scott and I decided to take in the new art museum.  One of the ladies in town has taken the old Methodist church building and converted it into a museum.  It exceeded my expectations, containing some very nice pieces.  I bought my wife a bracelet, just to say "Thank You" for allowing me to abandon her at my parents' house while I went off and had fun.

While there we ran into Mark Finn (interviewed here and here).  Mark and I agreed that you should always have some money tucked away for emergencies and that a new issue of The Howard Collector you weren't expecting constituted an emergency. 

We went back to the Pavilion and sat around talking for a bit.  I got the contributors who were there to sign my copy of Dreams in the Fire, the new anthology of original fiction by current and former REHupans.  Look for a review here in the next week to ten days.  

I was having such an enjoyable time visiting with friends that I never made it to the library and the panels held there.  Those included Paul Sammon on Conan Movie History, Howard Fandom with Damon and Dennis, and REH Historical Poetry with Barbara Barrett, Alan Birkelbach, and Frank Coffman.

Book signing at the Pavilion
The last panel of the day was held at the Pavilion.  Rusty Burke, Fred Malmberg, and Paul Herman discussed what's happening with REH.  Some of the upcoming projects include a new Kull movie, a new edition of the collected poetry that will include all of the poems discovered since the last volume (now out of print) was published, Mark Finn's biography, Howard's biographical writings which will include Post Oaks and Sand Roughs, a collection of Howard's spicy stories in their original form (racier than the published versions), and a collection of all of Howard's science fiction.  Lots of good stuff to look forward to.

There was a brief signing of Dreams in the Fire, then everyone headed out to the barbeque.  The picture above is of the signing.  The people at the table in front are, from left to right, Amy Kerr, Mark Finn, Angeline Hawkes, Christopher Fulbright, Gary Romeo (in the purple shirt).  The gentleman on the right side of the picture in the black T-shirt and tan shorts facing to the left is Rob Roehm.  If you look carefully, you can see the bottom of the Howard house on the right side.  The rest of the house is lost in the glare.

Before we ate, there was the traditional assault on Caddo Peak.  This is the west peak.  The east peak is owned by someone else who doesn't want a bunch of folks traipsing around.  Makes sense seeing as how he has cattle grazing there.  The heat wasn't too bad.  I think it was around the upper 90s but the breeze and low humidity allowed the evaporative cooling to offset the discomfort. 
Al Harron and Miguel Martins atop Caddo Peak

When we got to the top, one gentleman passed around a small bottle of scotch.  We each took a sip and toasted our achievement (not keeling over from heatstroke).  I've forgotten the gentleman's name, but if he happens to read this, many thanks, sir.  I found a nice multi-fossil specimen; Al Harron kindly identified some components. 
View from Caddo Peak looking east towards Cross Plains

After that we headed down to an excellent dinner of brisket and sausage with all the fixings.  Paul Sammon sat at the table I was at, and he, Willie Siros, and Scott Cupp talked about writers they'd known who are no longer with us.  People like Phillip K. Dick, R. A. Lafferty, Karl Edward Wagner, and Theodore Sturgeon.  I was insanely jealous that they had known these men.  It was a wonderful meal and conversation, and I hope Paul will take the time to write some of his memories down.  One thing that frustrates me is how much oral history has been lost in the science fiction and fantasy fields because no one has bothered to write things down.

When the meal was over, we went and watched the Sun set.  Then those who were so inclined headed back to the Pavilion.  I went for a few minutes but didn't stay long since I had an hour's drive in the dark ahead of me and didn't want to sleep at the wheel.  I got Barbara Barrett to sign Dreams in the Fire since she hadn't been at the signing earlier and chatted for a few minutes with Damon Sasser.  Last year, Dave Hardy provided some homemade mead.  It was good, but this year's batch was better.  I had a taste and really wished I didn't have to drive.  I would have loved to have some more.  Thanks for bringing it, Dave.  I need to get the recipe from you.

Then I hit the road, and Howard Days 2011 became a memory, at least for me.  But a very good memory...

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