Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"They're still applauding"

The great Howard Waldrop ("That's MISTER National Treasure to you!") has suffered a series of major ailments in recent months, culminating in heart surgery and an extended recuperation at the veteran's center in Temple, Texas. Traditionally, Howard gives the final reading at Armadillocon to close things out (Joe Lansdale and Neal Barrett, Jr. subbed admirably during Howard's years-long exile to the Pacific northwest to fish during the 90s). This year, since he couldn't be at the convention, a novel solution was struck--a round-robin reading of Howard's brilliant "The Ugly Chickens" by a number of con guests, with Howard himself providing the finishing touches via the miracle of modern technology. I'll let Lou Antonelli take it from here, as he was uniquely positioned for the final act:
The reading back in Austin started at 4 p.m. and while Howard's pals back in Austin were reading "The Ugly Chickens" we all visited and had a nice time.

When they got close to the end, Brad called and Barb and Howard began to follow along, so Howard was able to jump in and finish up. Howard's spirits and wit remain strong, but he's still a little frail physically (or else he wouldn't be in the hospital). Since I'm a journalist I always carry a camera, and so I took digital pics for posterity of the event.

What impressed me was how, when he began reading,Howard sounded his old self. It was like he was back at the first Armadillocon. I guess that came through to the folks back in Austin, from all reports. After he finished, Howard just sat there for a while listening on the cell phone. Finally he said with a big smile, "they're still applauding".

Go read the whole report at Lou's blog. It's well worth your time. Also, make sure you add the forthcoming anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails to your must-have list. Howard's got a story therein that is pure Waldropian gold. You will never, ever look at Certain Pirates in the same light ever again.

1 comment:

Stephen Dedman said...

I remember attending one Armadillocon where Howard's traditional reading had been replaced by a 'Virtual Howard Waldrop' - a bust wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a hat, with a taped recording of Howard reading a story (IIRC, it was 'The Passing of the Western'). It was entertaining, but it really wasn't the same.