Last Tuesday, the Yahoo Groups mailing list devoted to the late fantasy novelist L. Sprague de Camp failed to note the 100th anniversary of his birth. This unconscionable slight has inspired Leo Grin, editor of the Robert E. Howard literary journal The Cimmerian, to take up his metaphorical two-handed battle axe and go medieval on their asses:
... not since I quit the board of The Dark Man in December of 2003 have I been so disgusted at the hapless, witless performance of a group of colleagues. I'm so thoroughly revolted, in fact, that I've come to an ad hoc decision, one that feels not only appropriate but strangely purifying, like a good flea bath or delousing: I'm going to remove the D for de Camp group from my list of links on TC's blogroll. I originally put it up as a tangential link to REH, mostly out of a sense of charity towards my good buddy and frequent Cimmerian contributor Gary Romeo. But damn -- friendships aside, I see no reason to funnel Cimmerian readers towards a congregation that reeks of such bovine stupidity that it misses the most important de Camp milestone of this century. If they can't even work up the energy to mention his centennial, what good is the forum at all? Maybe D is for dumbasses? For shame, halfwits, for shame.
The guy's explanation for it is just painful: hey, we don't even know if de Camp cared about his birthday, and his wedding anniversary was more important to him, and he should know because he was at de Camp's 50th wedding anniversary "gala". What a queerboner.
Like I said elsewhere, all this talk of missing birthdays kind of reminds me of a "I Love Lucy" episode. Lucy goes, "Wah, wah, Ricky missed my birthday," and Ricky goes, "Ai, yi, yi, yi." Ricky then scrambles for a ridiculously expensive gift to make it all better. Ah, the lessons of TV.
A Yahoo discussion group is formed so like minded folk can discuss a topic. The de Camp group is (everything could always be better) serving that function. It is a day to day forum for various topics.
It is not a web site where visitors might need to be educated about de Camp's birthday and why he matters. They already know. A de Camp fan can certainly be devoted and cultish; placing great emphasis on birthdays and visiting old haunts and such, but they don't have to be.
Forgetting the birthday of an author you like is no great damnation that should prevent you from continuing to be a fan of the author's work.