Of Twenty-Fifths… and Giving the Dauntless Their Due

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Enter the OE, bookmarking his place in “The Black Stranger”:

Rather proclaim it, Doc Pod, online and off,
That he which hath no ideas for this Mailing,
Let him gafiate; his name from the roster stricken,
And dues refunded put into his man-purse;
We would not zine in that fan’s company
That spares not his weekend to zine with us.
This day is call’d the feast of [Tim] Marion,
He that outlives this day, and comes safe to #201,
Will stand a tip-toe when this Mailing is nam’d,
And rouse him at the thought of August of ‘06
He that shall zine this day, and live to look like Burl Ives,
Will quarterly one night neglect the remote,
And say ‘Twas not always but a single section.’
Then will he fetch his stacks and show his zines,
And say ‘These printing problems I had in Mailing #200.’
All shall be Mylared; or sold off on eBay,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What pages he filled that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as usual suspects —
Indy the OE, Rippke and Trout-in-the-Dark,
Richter and Gramlich, Romeo and Sea-Burke
Be in their flowing cups beerily remembered.
This story shall the good fan teach his son;
And deadlines shall ne’er force FedEx,
From this Mailing to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered —
We few, we serconn’d few, we apa of brothers;
For he today that sheds his ink with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so minacked,
This day shall excuse his reprint;
And gentlefans at innercircle now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That zined with us for Mailing #200.

The above was penned by Steve Tompkins on July 25th, 2006, exhorting his REHupan brethren in Bard of Avonic fashion to make the heroic effort that culminated in REHupa Mailing #200.

It seems hard for me to believe that Tompk posted that tribute to King Harry’s pre-game speech as given on the morn of the Battle of Agincourt (as envisioned by Shakespeare) without being aware that he was doing so on the twenty-fifth of July. Steve Tompkins was nothing if not mindful of the passing of time and of the importance of observing anniversaries. He was certainly capable of seeing unlikely, but fitting, connections.

Observing dates of consequence is not an exclusively civilized practice in anything but the most reductio ad absurdum sense. Calendrical calculations appear to stretch back to at least Neolithic times. We have solid documentation of “barbarians” faithfully observing holidays on the date required by tradition. Such examples are shown by the Varangians celebrating Yule in the Byzantine court or the druids of Gaul giving brazen immortality to their highly advanced calendar. Whether the Hyborian Age Cimmerians had anything as sophisticated as the Coligny Calendar is an open question, but Conan was able to tell Balthus how old he was when he scaled the walls of Venarium.

Creating calendars (and by extension, what we call “holidays” of various persuasions) is mankind’s way of imposing some sort of control over what can seem a chaotic and non-linear dimension. According to old Jewish folklore, Adam gave names to every animal, thus establishing dominion over each species. By the same token, giving a name and place to each day and season grants humanity a grip on time.

Commemorating certain dates collectively induces a solidarity and groundedness in the souls of people that can’t be duplicated any other way. Ever tried (sincerely) celebrating Christmas (another twenty-fifth) in July? If so, I’m willing to bet it was a failure.

October 25th is a “perfect storm” of a date, at least when it comes to events redolent of blood and thunder and of unmatched courage. I wouldn’t say there is much doubt that Robert E. Howard was aware of it. Howard (and Tolkien) certainly admired jaw-dropping bravery and dogged determination when they encountered it. We happy few here at The Cimmerian do as well. So, lest the deeds of the valorous be forgotten or that the chants of old heroes be unremember’d, we honor those dauntless souls today.