Now, about this year's Howard Days...
|Man, I love Texas.|
The annual gathering of Robert E. Howard fans, scholars, movers & shakers, and experts big and small has become more of a family reunion than anything else. So many of us are regulars and it's the only time we see each other, and we always make time to chitchat and catch up with matters inside and outside the arena of Howard Studies. The vibe is contagious amongst the old-timers: all are welcome. Even the few weirdos that we occasionally attract are conspicuous by their absence.
I don't quite know what it is that makes Howard Days so special. Maybe it's Cross Plains, Texas, itself that adds that perfect touch of homey charm and small town enthusiasm to the weekend. All of the locals are smiling and friendly and eager and willing to help in any way they can. They are always impressed by the folks who've traveled from far and wide to be there, and any foreign accents discovered are particularly exciting for all.
|A Scot in Texas: Al contemplates the sunset.|
That's kinda what it's like. You walk up to the house, and everyone shouts your name like you're Norm from Cheers. And they all know your name. The regulars and the locals, the newcomers and the old guard. All you have to do is show up and you are immediately in the club. Because, let's face it, this is a deliberate destination. You can't just "swing by" on your way to somewhere else. You've got to intend to get there.
|From my terrible vantage point, Charles Hoffman gives|
his address at the banquet while Jason Momoa looks on.
Of course, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy a certain amount of, shall we say, rarefied celebrity, that comes with me attending every year. Usually it's someone walking up to me, very nervous, and saying something that begins with, "Um, Mister Finn, I just wanted to tell you how much Blood & Thunder meant to me..." And yeah, it's very flattering, but I am also keenly aware that it's the only place I'll ever be treated with some measure of respect like that. Even still, it is flattering, and I try to put everyone at ease and take time to talk to them and include them in whatever else is going on. Basically, I try to do what Rusty Burke and Bill Cavalier did for me, about a thousand years ago at my first Howard Days in the mid 1990s.
|Paul Herman, Barbara Barrett, and Rusty Burke |
at the Glenn Lord Remembrance Panel.
Reconnecting with these folks is so very gratifying, as well. Paul M. Sammon is a good example of this. Paul is an author and film person with lots of credits to his name (go check out his book, Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner--it's incredible). He actually worked on both Conan movies with Ahnold! Well, Paul's been a regular at REH Days since the Centennial and he's got great stories that he tells about working in the last gasp of pre-corporate Hollywood. Very well-read and knows his stuff; he's a real REH fan and at any other convention or show, he'd be mobbed by people wanting to talk to him about his arm-long list of credits. But here, every year, he's just Paul and he's one of the guys.
|Jeff Shanks is one of the up-and-comers in the field of|
Howard Studies. He and I have some great projects
in the works, too!
|Shameless, I tell you. Sonya is a sucker for any man|
who'll scratch her tummy.
To all of my friends, my fellow Howard Heads, and the wonderful people of Cross Plains, thank you for all of it. I can't wait for next year.