Thursday, January 31, 2008
On the Perils of Translation
For those of you who may not know, over this last year we've sold the foreign rights to The Name of the Wind
in, at my last count, 20 countries. So many countries that when I just tried to make a list of them all on a piece of paper, I was unable to remember them all.
When we first sold the Dutch rights, my giddy thought was that I would learn Dutch well enough to read my own book. Later, when a few more sales started to pile up, I realized a more realistic goal might be to learn enough so that I could read, perhaps, the first page of the book. Or the first few lines.
But now, with 20 countries, I'm thinking that if I work at it I can learn how to say the title of my book using the appropriate accent. I'd still just be saying, "The Name of the Wind," but it would sound
French, or German, or whatever they speak in Holland.... Hollandaise.
But on to the heart of the matter. When I first heard we'd sold the Dutch rights, my main thought was, "Wow, a quarter million word translation... that poor bastard."
And that was about it.
A few weeks later, my translator contacted me and started asking questions about my book. It was only then that I started to get an idea of how complicated the process is. How many ways there are to go wrong in a translation....
For example, how can you translate the nicknames for all the buildings in the University? They're slang. Artificery becomes Fishery.... But you can't just translate that, because it really doesn't have anything to do with fish...
Even worse are the names in Auri has given the places in the Underthing, they're not even slang, they're puns. Imagine trying to translate the belows/bellows/blows/billows conversation into another language? It just can't be done....
Then there's the plot points. Some subtle things are mentioned in the first book that will prove to be very important later. If they're accidentally left out or changed, the series as a whole will suffer.
Luckily, my first translator, Lia Belt, was wonderful. She walked me through it carefully, asked a lot of questions, and helped me understand some of the potential pitfalls.
So over the last couple of weeks I've been putting together a comprehensive FAQ for the translators. It clarifies things that are potentially murky, and brings up some of the potential difficulties that I've become aware of.
In a way it's fun, it forces me to examine my language and word use from a different angle than I'm used to. But at the same time putting together this FAQ has been like some sort of fractal magician's trick. Where every time I answer a question it unfolds into four other important issues I need to address.
Anyway, that's what's going on in my life lately. Just thought I'd share...
And lastly, an interesting piece of fanmail someone sent me....
Dude. I was looking around on E-bay, and I found THIS. Is it really yours? I thought Name of the Wind was your first book....
Let me know because if it is yours, I'm totally buying it...
As always, I will protect the privacy of my fan by using a fake name: Susan.
Well Susan, The Name of The Wind
was my first book in a lot of ways. It was my first novel. It was also my first professionally edited and published book.
But I did have a few other things printed before that, and Your Illustrated, Annotated College Survival Guide
was one of them.
It is a collection of humor columns that I wrote over the space of four years for the local college paper, illustrated by a friend of mine, and with interesting annotations from yours truly. If you're wondering what the columns were like.... well, odds are you've already read one of them here in my blog. Namely: The Great Zombie Debate.
Other helpful columns were written along the lines of, "How Not to be a Goddamn Mooch." "On the Impotence of Proofreading." and "How to Deal with the Unbearable Shittyness of Your Life..."
So yeah, in a nutshell, it's me.
Labels: College Survival Guide, translation
posted by Pat at
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Interview - Illusion TV
Bravo on yesterday's SAT questions. While I enjoyed them all, I actually laughed at "Kvothe is to Harry Potter as pudding is to cats." That was probably my favorite, though I did enjoy the buffy the vampire slayer one as well.
I had a longer post planned for today, but it's delayed due to a digital camera spasm of a mysterious sort. Hopefully it'll be sorted out by tomorrow...
For now, if you're bored, you can go enjoy the most recent interview HERE
Labels: epiphenomena, Interview
posted by Pat at
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
What Should I do #5: Cloverfield.
I was hoping to make an announcement about something cool tonight, but I got caught up working on a project and I don't have the energy to do it justice right now. Tomorrow for sure...
However, It's been a little while since I've answered the perennial question, "What should I do until your next book comes out?" Luckily, a friend dragged me to see Cloverfield
on Saturday, and a good time was had by all.
Am I saying you should rush out and see it? No. But I will say the following...
1. I very much enjoyed it.
2. I suspect that people will either love the movie, or hate it. I don't think many folks will be in the middle.
3. I expect that people who like my book will have a greater chance of liking Cloverfield than the general population.
Hmmm... That's hard to say....
You remember those SAT questions they used to give? Like this?
Apple is to Pie, as Nathan Fillian is to _____
A) More different pie.
D) All of the Above.
I don't do reviews because I detest spoilers. (Speaking of which, feel free to give your own opinions of the movie in the comments below, but I'm declaring it a strict spoiler free zone. Prosecutors will be violated.)
But while I don't review, I can give you an impression of the movie using this SAT format.
The Wheel of Time is to the Name of the Wind, as King Kong is to Cloverfield.
Not entirely accurate, but I think it gives a general feel for the flavor of the movie.
Maybe it's the sleep deprivation talking, but these word puzzles are kinda fun. Now I can see why they constantly gave us those tests. Here's one you can finish on your own.
Kvothe is to Harry Potter, as _____ is to _____.
Oh yeah. This seems like a really funny idea right now, but I know as soon as I open my eyes tomorrow I'm going to cringe in anticipation of what'll be waiting for me in the comments...
Labels: boding, recommendations, what should I do?
posted by Pat at
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Official Announcement: The Campbell Award
A couple weeks ago, I got the following piece of fanmail...
I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I really loved your book. I mean REALLY loved it. Probably the Best I've read in five years.
In fact, I loved it so much, I just nominated you for the Campbell award. I thing [sic] that there's going to be a bit of a showdown between you and Scott Lynch, but personally, I think you're a shoe-in.
Keep on Truckin,
I've removed his name for confidentiality reasons, so for simplicity's sake let's call him.... Susan.
Anyway, I replied to Susan and told him that while I was really flattered, I wasn't actually eligible for the Campbell Award.
For those of you who don't know. The Campbell Award is awarded at Worldcon
. It's given out to the best new Sci-Fi/Fantasy author to appear on the scene. While it's not a Hugo
itself, it *is* given out during the same award ceremony, and it's a pretty big deal. Honestly, I'd love to win it.
Unfortunately, I can't. You see, the Campbell is only awarded to new authors. You're only eligible for the first two years after your first publication, and "The Name of the Wind" wasn't the first thing I ever had in print. Back in 2002 I published my first and only short story, "The Road to Levinshir."
Very few people actually know about that story, but it still counts. That means my eligibility started in 2002, and ended in 2004. I was out of the running long before "The Name of the Wind" ever saw print.
I sent Susan an e-mail thanking him, explaining why I couldn't win, and letting him know that, generally speaking, calling me "Pat" is fine, as "Mr. Rothfuss" sounds oddly formal to me.
He e-mailed me back, saying:
Thank you for e-mailing me back. That was unexpected. I just wish that I would have known earlier, or I wouldn't have wasted my time voting for you for the Campbell, and would have gone straight to nominating you for the Hugo instead.
Unfortunately, I've already sent in my Hugo nominations for this year, so I'll have to settle for rooting for you from the sidelines. Rest assured that if you make it onto the final ballot 'Best Novel' you'll have my vote.
And that, I thought, was that. The thought that anyone would nominate me for the Campbell or the Hugo filled me with lovely warm feelings. I didn't give much thought to winning, because honestly, those awards get won by huge authors like Gaiman and Rowling and Susanna Clarke....
Then I got another e-mail that said pretty much the same thing as Susan's. They loved the book and nominated me for the Campbell. I e-mailed them back and told them the truth...
Then I got a third e-mail and realized I needed to put out an official statement of some kind....
So here's the official announcement:
If you're thinking of nominating me for the Campbell, thank you very much. I'm flattered.
But I'm not eligible. It makes me feel bad that people are wasting their votes on me when there are other cool new authors out there that would love your nominations. (Folks like Joe Abercrombie
, the aforementioned Scott Lynch
, Kat Richardson
.... There's too many to mention, check out a full list over HERE
That said, if you're absolutely dying to nominate "The Name of the Wind" for something, feel free to mark me down on your Hugo nomination ballot for "Best Novel." I am eligible for that.
Truthfully, the odds are vastly against me winning the Hugo, but I'll admit that even the thought of making it onto the preliminary ballot makes me all tingly. I mean seriously, look at the award itself....
It's a frikkin rocket. How cool is that? All phallic jokes aside, I swear if I won that thing I'd carry it around with me for a solid year, making rocket noises and flying it through the air.
Then, when my arms got tired, I would affix it to a gold chain and wear it around my neck, not only would it be the most badass author bling imaginable, but it would protect me from accidentally dying before book two comes out by stopping bullets and deflecting laserbeams.
Okay.... At some point that stopped being an official announcement and turned into me being a total geek about something shaped like a toy. I think I'm going to stop blogging now and put this energy into revising The Wise Man's Fear....
Labels: awards, fanmail, geeking out, hugos, worldcon
posted by Pat at
Monday, January 21, 2008
My Readers Are the Best Readers Ever....
... and I will engage in manly fisticuffs with anyone who says otherwise.
When I posted up last Thursday's blog, I was nervous about what sort of reaction there would be. While news of the book's delay was hardly secret, I was still worried that people would be pissed.
Anyway, whatever my best hopes were, y'all exceeded them. After reading your kind comments and messages, I'm filled with warm, tingly feelings that I usually reserve for fluffy kittens and Alyson Hannigan.
If you haven't already, I recommend taking a peek at the comments. A lot of them cracked me up, especially the ones making a case for a Pat Rothfuss action figure.
My love for you is such that were I able, I would give all of you backrubs and cake, no lie.
However, as that is problematical, I will settle for writing you the best goddamn book possible. Seriously. It's going to be so good the ALA will have to put a label on it warning people of the dangerous levels of awesome contained therin. It's going to be so good that you will read it and then die.
Well... I might want to scale it back a little from that. But still, when it comes out it would probably be safest to read it with one eye closed, just to be safe.
That's all for now, but make sure to stop back tomorrow for more news.... In fact, you might want to stay tuned for the rest of the week, I'll be making more posts than as is my usual.
I've got a lot of other announcements to catch up on (happy ones this time) and stories to tell from the convention I just got back from.
Labels: blogging, boding, book two, fan coolness, love
posted by Pat at
Thursday, January 17, 2008
The unhappy announcement
I have to pass along some unhappy news, but before I do that, I have to tell a story. (For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while, or who have read the book for that matter, this behavior should not come as any particular surprise.)
A couple weeks ago, I was home for Christmas. While I was helping my Dad get ready for dinner, we talked about his Christmas letter. You know, the sort of thing I'm talking about: the yearly cute picture and Cliff Notes version of your family news.
My dad and I had talked about the letter before because this year's was a lot harder to write. It's been an odd year....
Wow. Look at that. "It's been an odd year." That, my friends, is what we call a classic Midwestern understatement.
Let me try again. This post is meant to pass along some important news, so I might as well speak plainly....
In some ways, this has been the best year of my life. The book that I've worked on for over fourteen years finally hit the shelves. I have met countless fans who have stunned me with their cleverness and kindness. I got to meet Tad Williams and Neil Gaiman and a host of other incredible authors. The book has gotten stunning reviews, and won awards, and they're currently translating it into twenty foreign languages.
I would say that my dreams had come true, but honestly, I never had dreams this big.
But in other ways, this year has contained some of the worst things I've ever lived through. My mom died this February, about a month before the book came out. She was my biggest fan, and liked me back before anyone else had a reason too. She was so exited about the book....
Later, my dad discovered he had cancer too. Just in time for last year's Christmas. His was, by comparison, a good cancer, and they removed his lung in January.
Yeah, as we say here in the Midwest, it's been an odd year.
Anyway, because of these things, writing the Christmas letter was tricky. Still, my dad managed to get all the family news summed up in a page and a half. Included was the most recent news about Name of the Wind and information about the release date of book two....
So, as I was saying, my dad and I are making dinner, and he tells me that two days after he sent out the letter, friends started to stop by his office at work. "The publication date of book two, was that a typo?" They ask. "Or is that really when it's coming out?"
My dad tells them that it's not a typo. That is when book two is really coming out.
Telling the story in the kitchen, my dad mimics their posture when they hear the news: the disappointed slump to their shoulders. One person went beyond disappointment and seemed truly distressed when he heard the news "This is awful!" the guy said, standing in the doorway to my dad's office. "I can't tell my son about this, it'll ruin his whole Christmas."
The story was pretty funny the way my dad told it, but my stomach still twisted into a knot when I heard it. It confirmed what I already knew, that people were going to be really disappointed when they heard the news about book two. I've known for a while... but I've been putting off making the official post here. It's easy to tell jokes and post up good news about awards. It's hard to make an announcement that's will make people unhappy.
But here it is: As of now, book two is scheduled for April of 2009.
I'm sorry. We were sure we could have book two out in a year, but it just wasn't the case.
There are reasons. For those of you who are interested, I'll cover them in the second half of this post, but the heart of the announcement is simply that: Book two has been delayed. It was unavoidable, and I am sorry.
The Reasons Behind the Delay
Answers to Your Questions
Why Pat is a Total Dick
"I thought you said that books two and three were done?"
I did. It wasn't a lie.
In some ways all three books were done way back in 2000 when I managed to write the story all the way through to the end. But there's a HUGE difference between a story that's finished, and one that is polished, revised, and refined into something really, really good.
I tend to revise A LOT. Over the years these three books have been put through hundreds of revisions. That's not an exaggeration. Some of them are small, just me tweaking words here and there to make things sound better.
Other revisions are huge and involve me moving chapters, removing scenes, and adding characters. On more than one occasion I have gone through this first book cut out over 10% of the total text. Then sometimes, in later revisions, I put some of it back. There's a lot of trial and error. A good book doesn't happen by accident.
(Warning: Minor spoiler alert for those of you who haven't read Name of the Wind.)
For example. If you were to go back in time and read The Name of the Wind one major revision ago, you'd discover that there wasn't any trip to Trebon, no draccus at all.
If you were to go back two major revisions, you would lose Auri and Devi. Their characters didn't exist in that version of the book.
Three revisions? You wouldn't have the scene where Kvothe and Elodin go to the asylum. Or the scene where Kvothe saves Fela from the fire in the Fishery. Or the scene where Bast talks to Chronicler at the very end of the book. I hadn't written any of those them yet.
Think about that version of the book. Would you want to read that instead? I wouldn't.
Were those early drafts finished? In some ways, yes. They had a beginning, a middle, and an ending. They probably could have been published, and people would have liked them fairly well, but they would not have been the best book possible, and that's what I want to write for you.
Hell, just thinking about the book without Auri nearly breaks my heart.
So when I say that book two needs revisions, you have to trust me. What I have right now is good, but it's not the best book possible. I want to give you a great book. A book that is as perfect as I can possibly make it. I want you to read it and laugh, and cry, and be horrified.
But that takes time....
"Fine, book two needs revisions. Why aren't they already done, you dick?"
1) Mental Exhaustion.
As I've already mentioned, we found out my mom had terminal cancer in September of last year. That meant that I had to do my final revisions on The Name of the Wind while coming to grips with that, working my day job, and driving down to Madison to spend as much time with her as I possibly could.
Needless to say, it wasn't a lot of fun. Trying to re-write a scene so that it captures the delicate magic of budding young love when the main thing on your mind is your mom dying... it's kinda rough.
What's more, I didn't tell my publisher about my mom, because everyone at DAW and Penguin was really excited about the book, and I the last thing I wanted to do was take a big old shit on their enthusiasm. We were just getting to know each other professionally, and I didn't want our first interaction to be me backing out of a bunch of commitments, no matter how good my excuse.
Plus, sometimes when authors go through heavy emotional stuff, they stop writing. Sometimes for years. I didn't want the publisher to start worrying about that before my first book was even out.
But because I didn't tell them, I had to cowboy up and do all the pre-publication promotional stuff. I went to a lunch with bookbuyers on the same day my mom had to go in for emergency thorastic surgery. (This was made easier by the fact that my mom told me she'd kick my ass if I didn't go....)
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all bad. In some ways it was nice to get away and be around people who didn't know. It gave me a much needed vacation from that traumatic part of my life.
A few months later, when my dad found out he had cancer too, I finally fessed up to my publisher. Betsy was very supportive and cut me every piece of slack possible. However, at that point we were looking at unmovable production deadlines. Because of that, the ten days I had to look over the final page proofs for The Name of the Wind, were the same ten days my dad spent in the hospital after getting his lung removed. I remember red-penning corrections into the manuscript while he slept in the ICU, the tubes everywhere and a machine helping him breathe.
In the end, I did it. I managed to meet my deadlines and get the Name of the Wind out on time. But I felt like I'd done the writing equivalent of running in the game-winning touchdown on a broken leg. We won the game, but afterwards, I really didn't feel that great...
I don't know. It was like I'd pushed things too far and pulled a muscle in my brain. Following my dad's surgery and my mom's death, I didn't even want to think about working on the next book. Not for months....
2) Unexpected busyness.
Just yesterday I read something that Charlie Stross wrote on a message board. He said, "The epiphenomena of a writing career can easily occupy about 30 hours a week, on average."
This, is some capitol-T fucking Truth.
Before my book was published, I had no idea how much extra work was involved in being a published author. I'm not talking about the writing itself. I'm talking about doing interviews, going to conventions and booksignings, answering fanmail, corresponding with the editor and agents, looking for promotional blurbs from other authors, answering questions for my foreign translators....
That means when my book came out, I suddenly discovered I had brand-new 30 hour-a-week job. That, plus teaching at the University, plus, teaching fencing, plus working with the College Feminists as their advisor.... Assuming that I still wanted to sleep, eat, and occasionally kiss my girlfriend, there just weren't enough hours in the day, and my writing time was slowly eaten away.
Also, the timeline for publishing a book is a lot tighter than I ever knew. It takes a lot of time to print, promote, and edit things. Because of that, for the book to come out in April of 2008, I actually would have had to have it pretty much finished this last August. Five months after my mom died. I tried, but I just couldn't make it happen.
"So what are you doing to make sure that you don't delay the book again, you dick?"
For starters, I've quit my day job. Starting this semester, I'm no longer teaching at the University. It was a hard decision to make. I'm giving up my health insurance, my office, and the ability to act as advisor to a lot of student groups that I really enjoy. Plus, I really love teaching. But it take a lot of time and mental energy, so I'm leaving it behind to focus on my writing.
I've also trimmed a lot of the extracurricular things out of my life. I've given up the fencing class that I taught at the YMCA, and the College Feminists don't hold their meetings at my house any more. I'll miss them, as they're some of the coolest people I know, but I need to buckle down and streamline my life.
Whew. Longest post ever.
In summary, I suck and I'm sorry.
That said, I'd rather disappoint you a little now by delaying things, than by crapping out some half-finished turd of a book and disappointing you a LOT in April.
Hope I didn't retroactively ruin your Christmas....
Labels: book two, emo bullshit, epiphenomena, mom, my sucking, turd
posted by Pat at
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
On the coolness of Librarians
So I just found out The Name of the Wind
won a new award....
YALSA announces 2008 Alex Awards PHILADELPHIA - The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest growing division of the American Library Association (ALA), has selected 10 adult books that will appeal to teen readers to receive the 2008 Alex Awards.
I can see the headlines now: "Patrick Rothfuss appeals to teens." My friends are going to have a field day with this...
Seriously though, I'm terribly flattered. When the American Library Association likes your book, you know you must be doing something right. Librarians kick ass, and the more of them you get together in one place, the more powerful they become. Like Voltron.
This will also help me feel more comfortable answering a question that I've been getting asked on and off for the last several months. Namely, "Is your book for kids?"
Up until now, the only answer I've had for this has sounded extremely dodgy. I say, "Well, it kinda depends on what you mean by "kids," and it kinda depends on what you mean by 'for.'"
Do you see what I'm getting at? I read the Lord of the Rings when I was 11 or so. I don't know if it was *for* me, but I certainly enjoyed it....
Up until now, when someone asked me this question try to pin down the specific age of the kid they're asking about. Sixteen? Sure. Fourteen? Yeah, probably. Twelve? Hmmm.... I'm not sure...
I even know some families that have read my book to their kids who were 5-6 years old. Apparently, the young-uns dug it. I wouldn't have anticipated that in a hundred years. Those kids must have some kick-ass vocabulary....
Now, however, I don't have to feel strange about answering this question. The professionals have weighed in on the subject. Huzzah.
For more information, and to see the other Alex award winners, you can check out the press release HERE.
That's all for today. I've been putting together the announcement-type newspost I've hinted at a couple times, but it won't be ready until tomorrow. I've got AFK busyness all today....
Labels: awards, boding, librarians, nancy pearl, Rothfuss appeals to teens, Warm Fuzzy
posted by Pat at
Thursday, January 10, 2008
A Convention, A Trip to Boston, and a Touching Story
First, an announcement for those of you Michigan area. I'm going to be at Confusion
Jan 18th through the 20th. I'll be signing books, speaking on panels, and generally getting my geek on. Stop on by if that sort of thing sounds like a good time to you....
Second, an apology. Over the last year I've fallen into a bad habit. I post a blog announcing some appearance I'm going to make, then, when I come back, I make a post along the lines of, "Whew. I'm back. It was cool, I'll give you the details later."
But then, of course, I never do.
This isn't because I don't love y'all. It's because this past year I've been really over-busy. Typically I spend all weekend at a con, come back exhausted, then spend most of the week catching up on everything I'd fallen behind on because I was out of town. Then, by the time I'm caught up, it's usually time for me to leave town again....
As a result, there are a bunch of stories I've been meaning to tell, but haven't. I've met cool people, discovered cool games and books, and frequently made an ass of myself in a variety of amusing ways. The last one, if you haven't guessed yet, is a particular specialty of mine.
So expect to see some of those convention stories popping up over the next couple months. Hopefully they'll be somewhat amusing, if not particularly timely.
Thirdly and lastly, the story.
My recent trip to Boston was, by and large, a lot of fun. The trip itself was made extra exciting by the fact that I was traveling through airport security without a form of government ID.
You see, just before the holiday season, I accidentally left my driver's licence at K-mart when returning a defective broom (It sounds like there's an interesting story there, but trust me, there isn't.) Afterward, K-mart called to tell me my licence was there, but because I went home for the holidays instead of rushing to their store to pick it up, K-mart decided to be helpful and drop my ID in the mail.
Of course I didn't find this out until three hours before my plane was supposed to leave for Boston. Making things even more lovely was the fact that they had mailed it out in the middle of the holiday post office crunch. And that they had mailed it to the wrong address.
Rather than take this opportunity to invent scathing new cusses and inflict them on the hapless K-mart employee, I took the high road with the hope that it will help me accumulate good karma. so that the next time I reincarnate I get to come back as something really cool.
For those of you who don't know, karma is like.... Well, you know how you can collect box tops, or Camel-cash or Kool-aid points and trade them in for prizes? I'm a little fuzzy on the concept, but I'm pretty sure that's what Karma is like. It's like Kool-Aid points for your soul. I want to collect enough Karma Points so that I get to reincarnate as Optimus Prime, Allyson Hannigan, or a glowing orb made entirely out of fluffy puppies and orgasms.
What was I talking about again...? Oh yeah. Boston....
Anyway, I made the trip with much anxiety, but no actual trouble. Despite my fears, they did not probe me in any unseemly ways. In fact, they tossed my luggage a lot less viciously than they normally do when I'm trying to play by the rules. Maybe I'll make a habit of leaving my
Out in Boston I met up with the publicity people from my UK publisher. They were a lovely crew and we shot a bunch of video interview footage. Among other things I told a joke about a gorilla, and attempted to speak with a Norwegian accent. The Gollancz marketing people were a blast, and I hope that had as good a time as I did....
I'm told that we might get to see some of that footage eventually on youtube, I'm told. If that happens, I'll post it up here....
We had a remarkably good turnout at Pandemonium
books despite the bitter, bitter cold. I read a little and answered questions. I really enjoy doing Q&A, talking about writing and the world I've created.
However, one question caught me off guard as I'd never been asked it before. It was, "How cool is it to be you?" I didn't really have a good answer for that....
I also got to sign a book "To E-bay" which is something I've always wanted to do.
If you're interested in more details, an attendee posted up a blog about the signing HERE
including several pictures of me. Yes, I know that the shirt I'm wearing to the signing is the same one I'm wearing in my author photo on the webpage. It's not a coincidence. The truth is, I only own one shirt.
I did not, as many of you speculated, get my ass handed to me at Catan. But that's only because we didn't actually get a chance to play. Two lovely people showed up and informed me that they actually worked on the computer version of Catan. One of them had a cool travel set of Catan with her, and I got the feeling that if we did get into it, I'd start off winning a game for fifty cents and the evening would end with me stark naked, owing each of them thousands of dollars.
The next day before I flew home, I went to the Boston aquarium. Where I formed the following opinions: penguins stink, seals are cool, fish are weird.
I also got to touch a sea anemone with my finger. And, no offence to the other cool things that happened out there, I have to say that that was, without a doubt, my favorite part of the trip....
Seriously, it was really cool.
Labels: appearances, Confusion, conventions, gnome, karma
posted by Pat at
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
The Great Zombie Debate
About a decade ago, I started writing a humor column for the local paper. It started as a fake advice column, and over the years it became.... I don't know what. Somewhere for me to make crude jokes about monkeys and pontificate on whatever subject was currently holding my attention.
I can't say why I started doing it. Boredom and ego, I guess. Plus I liked writing and making people laugh. What makes even less sense to me is that after almost a decade, I'm still writing it. I don't get paid for it, and over the years the column has landed me in more trouble than anything else I've ever done. That's the problem with satire, if it's done properly, it pisses people off.
Here's how it works. I make fun of clowns, and you laugh. I make fun of frat boys, and you laugh. Then I make fun of Buddhists. But you're
a Buddhist. Suddenly you're not laughing.
Have I suddenly become unfunny? No. It's just that now I'm poking fun at your personal sacred cow. But that's my job as a satirist, I expose that which is ridiculous in the world. I'm a sacred cow tipper.
Anyway, I when I was out at the Fantasy Matters conference a couple months ago, I had do do a reading directly following Neil Gaimain. I knew that I couldn't hope to match him in sheer mythic storytelling awesomeness, so I decided to go for some cheap laughs instead. To this end, I read a column I wrote a couple years ago called The Great Zombie Debate.
Surprisingly, people liked it. So I thought I'd post it up here for those of you looking for a cheap laugh or two.
My social group is fiercely locked in the fast zombie vs. slow zombie debate. While I'll admit that 28 Days rocked, I still think slow zombies are much scarier than their faster counterparts. Can you shower us with your wisdom? I fear this debate will cause a schism in our group that may never mend.
Thanks for the letter, John. It's always nice to hear from a guy who's not afraid to use the word "schism."
Though not many folk know it, the fast vs. slow zombie debate goes all the way back to the early days of the church. It was part of a disagreement between James the greater, and Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus. You see, James believed in salvation according to works, slow zombies, and that watching two women kiss was, in his words, "wicked cool."
On the other hand, Paul believed in salvation according to faith, fast zombies, and the fact that women were "kinda icky" therefore two kissing would be, "double icky."
Now normally when there was a disagreement, they turned to Thomas. But Thomas thought it should be faith AND works. And he'd never actually seen two women kiss and didn't believe that sort of thing really happened. As for zombies, well... the thought of people getting up and moving around after they were dead was just too much for him, and he told the other disciples that he had better things to do than sit around and listen to them tell silly stories.
And so the issue remains unresolved to this day, stirred up by recent fast zombie movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days.
So let's lay this to rest once and for all, shall we?
Now to a certain extent whether you like fast or slow zombies is simply a matter of personal taste.
It's like sex. Fast sex is different from slow sex. But they both have their good points. A quickie is fun. It's a romp. It's exciting. Slow sex is different. It's an experience. It's an adventure. It's an African safari which necessitates the use of a special type of hat.
But while they both have their selling points, the fact remains that slow sex has a lot more style. More room for finesse. More opportunities to wear exciting hats.
The same thing is true with zombie movies. Everybody who isn't all a total tightass enjoys a good zombie movie now and then, fast or slow. But ultimately, a slow zombie movie has a lot more style. More finesse. The purpose of a zombie movie is to scare you, and ultimately, slow zombies are more frightening.
Now before all you fast zombie advocates get your knickers in a twist, listen to me. Slow zombies are frightening. Fast zombies are startling. There's a huge difference, let me explain.
You know the part in the horror movie when the young co-ed is looking through the attic with a flashlight? It's dark, the music gets real dramatic, then BAM! A cat jumps out from behind a stack of boxes.
Pretty scary, huh?
No. No, that was not scary. It was just startling. It's cheap. If you don't believe me, just think of a whole movie full of nothing but cats jumping out at people. Would that be a scary move? No. It would just suck. The same goes for a movie full of nothing but fast zombies jumping out at people, or, come to think of it, relationships full of nothing but fast sex.
That is, unless you're having a relationship with a slow zombie that wore an exciting hat when you had sex with it. That might work, I think.
And with that bit of wisdom I will leave you for now. I'll be back soon, and posting more consistently now that the holidays are past. I'll tell y'all how the Boston Signing went, and I'll be making those announcements I promised you a couple weeks ago.
Plus, I have some delicious fanart that I've been dying to show you....
Labels: College Survival Guide, Neil Gaiman, sacred cow tipping, satire, zombies
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