Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Convention stories

It seems like every time I'm at a convention, a thousand small, cool things happen. There's usually a dozen or so that catch at me, and I think, "I'll write about that in the blog when I get home."

But then I actually get home, and I'm tired. Then the next day I need to do laundry, and answer about 800 e-mails, and make lusty snugglebunnies with my girlfriend.

And sometimes I write, too. I don't know if y'all have heard, but there is a book that I'm supposed to be working on.

Typically, by the time I'm caught back up with my life, the memory of those cool little moments has faded somewhat. And so most of them just gently evaporate without ever being written down. Which is a shame, really.

So, instead of trying to weave all of these things into any sort of consistent narrative, I'm just going to bang a few of them out there. If you're one of those literary folks, you can think of these as vignettes. If not, you can just pretend you're reading a Vonnegut novel.


I hate it when you're at a crowded convention, and people stop in the middle of the hallway to talk to their four friends.

I know that one of the great joys of the convention is running into people and having a nice chat. I myself have been known to stop and talk with friends I haven't seen in a long while. However, the center of the hallway is not the place for this conversation. A coffee shop? Yes. Over dinner at the Italian place? Certainly. How about over in the lounge there, on the couches? Why that sounds lovely too....

The hallway? No. That is not the right place for your reunion.

You see, the purpose of a hallway is to allow people to move from one place to another. That is its primary function. That is key to the platonic form of the hallway. If you stop in the hallway to talk, you are acting contrary to the fundamental nature of the hallway. This angers god and all clear-thinking individuals. Including me. Yes me, the person standing behind you. Yes me, the person standing motionless behind you in the hallway. Yes the person who looks as if he is thinking about howling with rage, punching you in the neck, then stepping over your doughy, twitching body.

In the interest of politeness and civilization, I resist my urges. However, I am tempted to do something. Like make buttons that read: "Hallways? Ask me how!" or a pamphlet entitled: "Hallways: a user's guide for getting the fuck out of my way."


Bad - My cell phone went off during a panel.

Worse - I was one of the panelists.

Worst - I was the moderator.

P.S. Then it went off again.


When did clocks become unfashionable? Am I the only one who remembers when you could go into a store and there would be a clock on the wall? You know, for the telling of time? Who decided that wasn't cool anymore?

Yes I know most people have cell phones these days. But that shouldn't make any difference. People used to have watches. You know what's easier than digging around in your backpack, pulling out your phone, then opening it? Looking up on the fucking wall and seeing a clock there. That's what.


Fans are cool. My fans are cool to an exponentially higher degree. At gencon, after my first panel, a lovely young lady came up and handed me this....

This isn't a terribly good reproduction of the watercolour, as I just snapped it with my digital camera. But the picture is obviously a likeness of me from when I dressed up like a gnome at gencon last year.

Did I ever post up a picture of that? I can't remember. Here it is, just in case:

I never remember to take pictures of myself at these things, so I owe this picture to the fan who sent it along to me. When e-mailed it, she told me the story of how her daughter laughed when she saw it.

Her mom though that she was laughing at the obvious thing: a man dressed like a gnome. But apparently that wasn't it at all. The little girl reached out, brushed at my face in the picture, and said, "I like his fur."

Score another point for the beard.


Though I've done a bunch of traveling lately, I've never flown on Southwest Airlines before. They don't have assigned seating. Every ticket has a number, you board the plane in that order, then you pick whatever seat looks best to you, depending on what's left. It was a little weird. Not bad, just unfamiliar.

Also, Southwest apparently has the only funny flight attendants in the whole business. I've tuned out the standard safety procedures for over a year now. You know what I'm talking about: that little pre-flight spiel where they explain how the seat belt works and lie to you about your seat cushion being able to float.

But on Southwest, the woman said, "Please listen closely while my ex-boyfriend and fiance demonstrate the safety procedures." And I did pay attention, especially when she started to make fun of one of the guys who couldn't get his life jacket on quickly enough for her taste. Later, when she was walking down the isle, one of the guys got on the intercom and made a boom-bada boom-bada noise in time with her walk. It was good fun.

Lastly, on Southwest, they don't cheap you on the snacks. They go around with a big box of different goodies, and if you say, "I want one of each." Then they just give you one of each. They didn't act like the CEO was going to count the packets of peanut butter crackers at the end and beat them if one is missing. Plus you got a whole can of soda and not just a cupful, which I appreciate.

These may not sound like much, but life, like writing, is built from small details. If I'm going to pay 400 bucks for a plane ticket, then I want a whole can of soda and an extra packet of peanuts. Does it make me feel better? Yes. Yes it does. It's like being given the choice between sodomy and sodomy with a little lube. You're going to have the sodomy either way, so you come to appreciate whatever small pieces of consideration the airline overlords grant you.


That's all for now. More later. Off to bed.


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posted by Pat at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you never fail to make me smile ! never forget that ok

August 20, 2008 1:33 AM  
Blogger marky said...

Now thats funny stuff!

"It's like being given the choice between sodomy and sodomy with a little lube."

I'd like to add that there's nothing more scary than making a sandwich at a friends house, only to find there's finger prints in the butter.


August 20, 2008 2:22 AM  
OpenID patham said...

Woo! Great way to start off my day. Thanks for making me smile Pat. :)

August 20, 2008 2:25 AM  
OpenID lovesmasher said...

"Bad - My cell phone went off during a panel.

Worse - I was one of the panelists.

Worst - I was the moderator.

P.S. Then it went off again."

This seems to happen to you fairly frequently (Wiscon, OddCon). Some psychologists would say that part of you does it intentionally. Those psychologists would, of course, forget to take into account that you're a writer.

August 20, 2008 2:38 AM  
Blogger Bin Bin said...

You're one funny man Pat. Pure genius. Haha, by the way, nice metaphor with the sodomy and airline tickets

August 20, 2008 2:56 AM  
Blogger Dark Wolf said...

I've started your novel this week-end and so far I'm thrilled.

Also, you are perfectly right about the conventions hallways. I go to a series of fairs in my country (in my line of work) and it always seems that the hallways are the better places for chating with the aquintances. Sometime even our booth is good too.

August 20, 2008 3:16 AM  
Blogger marky said...

I forgot to mention that Captain Joe has done the best video review of TNOTW ever. Everybody should take a look at his blog. It's the living, breathing baws.

August 20, 2008 3:57 AM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...

And thanks go to Marky, my official PR guy, for drawing attention to my dirty little blog.

Heheh... lusty snugglebunnies.

Pat, as much as Joss Whedon and company, you're one of those people who can do things. A man has to take a lot of punishment to be as funny as you are. I sincerely hope there was very little sodomy involved.

You're working on a book? No kidding. Might be worth a look...

~Cap'n Joe

August 20, 2008 4:25 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

that watercolor should be the cover of book 3

August 20, 2008 6:33 AM  
Anonymous Qeith said...

I couldn't help but hear Andy Rooney's voice when I read the part about the hallways...heh

August 20, 2008 6:51 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Amen about the hallways! I am so making you buttons :)

I noticed you kept looking at your phone to see what time it was between your readings. All I kept thinking was 'No, no don't look at the time, just keep reading and talking to us.' But alas it ended.

Jut remember only the most exceptionally awesome can have exceptionally awesome fans ;) We love you Pat.

August 20, 2008 7:38 AM  
Blogger Mad Crafter and Geek said...

ahhh conventions. Love them.

And I think one of the flight attendants on my last flight via United must have formerly worked for Southwest based on HIS pre-flight comedy routine. Unfortunately none of us were in the mood after United's chicanery and lack of customer service in forgetting how to deal with storms.

August 20, 2008 8:04 AM  
Anonymous cpierson said...

Good seeing you there again, Pat, even though we never ended up on the same panel. Complete agreement on the hallway thing -- I come up against it at every con I go to. It's why I'm not allowed to carry a machete any more.

And Southwestern -- one time, flying to Vegas, they explained that in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, complimentary margarine containers would drop from the ceiling.

Northwestern, on the other hand, is apparently designed by people with legs that end just above the knee, only one arm, and a single buttock. This is the only possible explanation for their seats.

August 20, 2008 8:08 AM  
Blogger Kate said...


Yes, I would agree that Southwest despite their odd seating arrangements, has great flight attendants. I flew from Hartford, to Vegas and the flight attendants sang the safety instructions while the pilot continually threw out marriage proposals. :)

Oh, next time your phone goes off at a panel, get a ring tone that is forgivable, like the "Bad Horse" one. Now, every time my phone rings, I wait for the death whinny.

August 20, 2008 8:20 AM  
Blogger Robert S said...

I love Southwest, I've always had good experiences with them. Except that nasty stinky guy on the plane next to me last time, but that's not their fault.

By the way, you got another mention on the Real Life comic's blog area.

August 20, 2008 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Kalligenia said...

If you make those hall badges, I will wear one. I was experiencing Hallway Rage this year at GenCon since it was particularly bad and I'm typically a very timid woman. Yes, it's always the quiet ones.

The seminars were great. I love hearing you speak! :)

August 20, 2008 9:38 AM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

The phone thing was great. I especially liked how you tried to sell it as an example that the rest of us should shut off our phones- and after we obediently did so your phone rang again.

lusty snugglebunnies...

This was a great post.

August 20, 2008 9:39 AM  
Blogger buzz said...

I enjoyed stopping by your signing booth (sans book, alas!) and saying hello briefly on Thursday.

I understand your frustration with the hallways: there might be some correlation between a lack of social graces (and personal hygeine) and a lack of crowd maneuvering skills.

August 20, 2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger me said...

Do the pictures give anyone else an urge to steal a horde of garden gnomes and enshrine them, hidden in your basement. Unfortunately, all the garden gnomes in my city have already been stolen...

August 20, 2008 11:18 AM  
Anonymous LiquidWeird said...

Pat, if you ever go on Slice of Sci Fi again, you must wear the gnome costume, and send Mike that picture. Trust me, it'll be gold.

August 20, 2008 12:21 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Why can't I ever get on these amazingly awesome plane rides?

August 20, 2008 12:29 PM  
Blogger gypsyharper said...

What fun little vignettes! I'm sitting here at work, sniggering quietly to myself so my coworkers won't look at me strangely, but I really want to laugh out loud.

And I totally agree about the hallways!

August 20, 2008 2:10 PM  
Blogger Fe2O3 said...

Pat -
I've put together the cover art for your new pamphlet. You can see it here


August 20, 2008 2:15 PM  
Blogger matt said...

Ha! The pamphlet is sheer genius.

August 20, 2008 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Emilie said...

Emilie's tactic for clearing a hallway: "Hey (insert name of person with you)! My lice is all gone!" I used that first when I was 6, and it's worked several times since.

Great post! Sorry I missed the panel. :(

-Mary's Grad school friend Emilie

August 20, 2008 4:29 PM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...

Rusty, you sir, are an inspiration.

August 20, 2008 8:44 PM  
OpenID bluharlequin said...

I just flew cross country on Southwest myself. It had been a while and it was refreshing.
Yes, in fact I WILL have two packs of peanuts thank you very much.

August 20, 2008 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't say i know much about the halls at conventions but based on the large amount of people that agree, it must be true. I can testify to the truth of it on other places, however. One that stands out would be a high school with nearly 2000 students all trying to get to their lockers and classes at the same time! You're late and the two girls in front of you, already walking as slow as possible, stop to chat with their 4 "besties" to take up one entire half of the hall while the quarter on the left is taken up by people going in the opposite direction and the quarter on the right is occupied by 25 students waiting for their teacher to show up and let them into the room. I'm sure this stirs all of your blood as much as mine.
On another note, vibration and silence mode on phones is a wonderful thing. Saved me from getting in trouble many times while the silly people at the back of the class get their's confiscated etc.
As for watches, I love them! They don't even hav to be expensive either! My aunt got quite a nice one for 15 dollars and its lasted quite a while. Saves you from having to dig into your pocket or backpack too =D
Great post!! made me laugh a lot especially being able to relate. Thanks a ton, keep 'em coming and, like everyone else I'm sure, can't freaking wait for book 2!!!! ;D

August 20, 2008 11:56 PM  
Blogger marky said...

HA! Quality work Sir Rusty!

August 21, 2008 1:20 AM  
Blogger Wysen said...

Wow, thanks for the laughs Pat. That last section on airlines just had me in tears and caused strange looks from co-workers as I laughed and blubbered about sodomy and getting a full can of coke(not just a cup).

Also add me to the number of people who liked the pamphlet Rusty.

August 21, 2008 8:31 AM  
Anonymous QingTing said...

Speaking of cons, your Tour Schedule says you'll be at Dragon*Con, yet their site doesn't list you among the guests... What gives?

Hoping to see you there.

August 21, 2008 9:57 AM  
Anonymous Greg said...

The cell phone gaffe was especially funny as Pat had just gotten finished informing everyone in the room of the importance of turning cell phones so the panelists wouldn't lose their train(s) of thought. In fairness, though, Pat did use his Hand of the Moderator (TM) to smooth over the irony. :) Seriously, though, it was a cool panel, Pat...and I'm with you on the hallway business.

August 21, 2008 12:59 PM  
Blogger Bek said...

I missed you this convention, Pat! I really wanted to listen in on your panels but my damn...I mean, wonderful relatives chose those days to come out and visit.

Hilarious about the hallways. Maybe that's one reason most of the newer high schools make their hallways so wide. To prevent anarchy amongst the student body. When one can still sift through the throngs of social butterflies, there's one less reason to rage.

August 21, 2008 5:46 PM  
Blogger Steve Stair said...

I enjoyed meeting you at Worldcon, even if I did cause your second book's release date to be pushed back another week. 2028, was it?

And Jim Butcher really did call you a bastard at ComicCon (for making it look too easy).

I added the "serious face" picture of you I took at Worldcon to your Wikipedia entry.

August 21, 2008 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Yes I know most people have cell phones these days. But that shouldn't make any difference. People used to have watches."

I once had a girl ask me (after looking at her cell for the time) "What did people do before mobile phones?" ...
The realy sad things was that when I looked down at her wrist she was wearing a watch. All I could do was shake my head

August 21, 2008 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Valentina said...

Reading this blog entry of yours, reminds me of Triumph the Insult Dog's visit to comic-con this year:


I agree with you about the hallway thing. I don't go to conventions often anymore, but one thing I've also learned: never wear anything that trails behind you. I once dressed in 12th century garb and the dress trailed behind me... only for dozens, if not upon hundreds, of other convention-goers to step on my dress everywhere I went.

In any case, hope my last personal letter didn't bug you (that is, if you ever got to it considering you get a thousand a day or so!). I was having a weird day where anything from the past was bringing me to tears. I got over it. Let's just say I miss so many people I used to work with at the Pointer.

I saw you the other day right after I witnessed a car hit a motorcycle. You were wearing your "No, I am NOT Pat Rothfuss" T-shirt and that made me feel silly, so I didn't say hello. By the time I was distracted away from the accident, you were gone.

Hope you're well! Hug Sarah for me. She's an awesome person!!! Every time she visits Dala's store when I'm working, she always has something pleasant to say to make my day.

August 25, 2008 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pointing out, all of the women in your stories are beautiful, and, while i don't know about most of them, i did see this one, and her nose is a bit crooked, Reshi

December 10, 2009 7:39 PM  

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