Monday, 13 June 2011

The Second Scottish Invasion of Cross Plains: Day 3.25, the Night at the Pavillion

This is an interim post where I discuss the night at the Pavillion.  A lot of stuff happened there, and due to the intimacy and liquor involved, a lot of it was deeply private and personal: however, there are some things said that night that I want to share, and hopefully the other participants won't mind me sharing.

Just after I finished the last post, I tried to sleep.  I couldn't.  Wired to the ceiling, so much energy left, I felt like I was wasting time.  So I got back up and returned to the Pavillion, hoping that there were still some night owls present.  Luckily, there were: Dennis McHaney, Russell Andrew, Todd Woods, Tom Foster, Ben Friberg, Chris Gruber, Aurelia Bryan, Frank Coffman, Jim Barron, and Ed Chaczyk were still up and enjoying each other's company.  I arrived just as Ed and Jim were leaving for the night, but I got a chance to say my goodbyes.

For much of the evening, everyone talked.  Dennis talked to me about film and the work involved with fanzines, Ben & Todd talked history with me, I talked to Frank about poetry, country songs and rugby anthems, I chatted with Chris and Tom about my Howard and Conan, and Aurelia about... just about everything, really.

Talking with Dennis was incredibly rewarding.  I was still thinking of Dennis as this "colossus, this great legendary thing" who was so instrumental in paving the modern golden age of Howard Studies, not to mention being somewhat intimidating when encountered in print or online.  Yet he was considerate, tolerant, and just damned great company.  He recommended I find a horror film with Sean Bean called Far North, and coming from a man who knows so much about cinema, I'll be sure to do so.

Todd is a great chap, too.  He and I talked at the barbecue about the history of Scotland, the current political status of the UK and the possibility of Scottish Independence, and the historical verisimilitude of Braveheart (cough), and during The Wee Hours we picked up on our conversation.  Todd reminds me a lot of one of those great, gregarious giants like Little John or any Brian Blessed role.  Great fun.

Tom was fantastic: also very learned and knowledgeable, and he seemed particularly interested in how I first got into Howard.  I retold the story, and we discussed the merits of "The Tower of the Elephant." Ben and I discussed history and historical films, Zemeckis' Beowulf (hint: we slammed it) and, again, Braveheart. Chris was very thoughtful, as he seemed deeply interested in furthering intelligent discussion, as opposed to fun drunken ramblings.  Which is fine, of course, but I appreciated his efforts too, and enjoyed listening to everyone recounting their first experiences with Howard, comparing the boxing stories to the rest of his ouevre, and his poetry.  Someone I really need to talk to more.

The only person I didn't chat to was Russell Andrew: I was bothered that I didn't make or find the time to talk with him, but that's what next years are for.  Soon Frank regaled us with rugby songs and Howard's favourite Irish tune, we were all giggling and having difficulty with our motor neurons (some through being "tired and emotional," some being non-euphemistically tired and emotional) and we started to drift apart into small groups to different parts of the place. At which point, I found myself with Aurelia.

Let me talk about Aurelia: she is absolutely wonderful. I talked with her all through the night about Howard, poetry, life, everything in general. I even got a few opportunities to talk to her alone: we sat on the porch of the Howard House and discussed America, the sights of the land, our lives and beliefs. We had a pretty massive argument (involving gender roles, politics and whatnot) at around 05:30, and all through it I felt absolutely dreadful. Yet because I truly believe Aurelia understood where I was coming from, we managed to reconcile - almost entirely consisting of me apologizing and grovelling! - and continued talking about Howard, poetry, life, everything in general, letting her get a rest before she drove off to the airport. At around 07:30, I finally, and most reluctantly, left to get ready for breakfast, having not slept a wink that whole night, my throat hoarse from talking.

My time with Aurelia is a time which I consider one of the most important - of not only Howard Days, but of my life.  I learned so much talking, arguing and laughing with her.  I think - hope - I came out of this a better, wiser, more mature person than I was yesterday. For this, I thank Aurelia from the bottom of my heart for affecting me so much. She is one of the most charming, insightful, sharp, determined, commanding, and all-round brilliant people I've ever met, and I dearly hope to keep in touch with her, and see her return for the next Howard Days.


  1. You know, Al, I couldn't help but think that Bob and Novalyne might have sat on that porch talking about poetry, life, and everything in general, and yes, arguing. Funny old world.

  2. Hmmmm... If Aurelia has such kind words to say about you too, then y'might not wait for the next Howard Days. Invite her to Scotland, see the sights (highlands! castles! Edinburgh!).

    Perhaps I haven't been paying attention and I'm misjudging the situation, but life's too short!


  3. There are few things more thrilling than sitting up into the small hours *really* talking with someone.

    Reading this reminded me of before I was married, sitting and talking to my not-yet-husband, when he was still just my roommate's ex-boyfriend :)