Saturday, March 28, 2009
Being Thankful.

Quite frequently, something happens in my life and I think, "I should mention this on my blog."

This is one of those unpleasant truths that I'm reluctant to come to grips with.

I think part of the problem is the word "blog." I never felt this way when I would think similar thoughts about the humor column I wrote, or when I think, "I'm going to put that in the novel."

I know a lot of people who struggle to think of material to put on their blogs. I'm the other way around. If I went with my natural tendencies, I'd be writing little stories up here every day, maybe more. Slowly I would move all my writing energy into the blog, then it would start eating into other parts of my life too. Drawing time and energy away from vital activities like eating and playing videogames. Eventually they would find my shriveled husk in front of the computer.

Because I don't blog all the things I think of, sometimes interesting little stories get left by the wayside. This ensaddens me.

For example, months ago, I was driving around with Sarah. We were bickering, which is like arguing, but cleverer. We're really good at bickering. We could bicker for our country if they ever made it an Olympic sport.

The key to our successful bickering is the fact that we argue about stupid shit. We're also articulate, witty, and in love. Lastly, I am funny as hell, and Sarah is absolutely batshit crazy.

This leads to great bickerings. Honestly, I wish I had a lot of them on tape.

So we're driving around, bickering, and Sarah says, "Whenever you call me a rule utilitarian it makes my womb clench."

And I thought, "I've got to mention this on my blog."

Not the reason for the bickering, which I can't remember. Not any of the context, which really isn't that important. I just wanted to share that sentence because I knew if I didn't, you'd never run into it at any other point in your lives. Ever.

Sometimes the blogs that get put off are more substantive. I put those off because they'll take a lot of time and energy to get right.

And sometimes they aren't hard to write, they just get buried in the ephemera of daily life. Then when I rediscover them, I think, "Shit. I can't believe I haven't posted anything about that yet..."

This is an example of something thus belated.

Those of you who have been on the blog for a while probably remember Captain Joe. If not for his comments on the blog, then for his strong showing in the photo contest last year....





After last year's minor debacle with the Locus Award, I posted a blog wherein I generally lamented the unfairness of all God's creation.

In response to that blog. Captain Joe sent me this.





And a close-up of the wordage.





Later, I found out he actually made it. Found the wood, burned it and glazed it. Installed the clock....

In short, it was some serious above the call of duty coolness.

So I just wanted to take this opportunity to share this coolness, and thank him for it in a very belated way. If I had my way, I would have them write "Winner of Captain Joe's Most Kickass Novel of the Century Award," on the new version of the book when it comes out. But I'm pretty sure the marketing people have their hearts set on the whole NYT bestseller thing....

Later folks,

pat

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
On the importance of treat-bringing
So a few days ago, it was St. Patrick's day. This gave me thoughts. The thoughts led to feelings, and thence to musings. So I wrote about the musings and then planned to post that writing up here. Because that's what I do...

But then, in the time between writing it up and finding a picture, I discovered I'd had similar thoughts before, a year ago, and I'd already written about them.

I considered not posting this newer blog because of that. But now I think I will. For one, I'm guessing many of you weren't reading here a year ago. And for another, the blogs are remarkably different, despite the fact that they share the same seed.

There's something to be learned about stories here, but I don't know if I can articulate it.

Either way, here it is, if you care to read it.


*****


When I was a kid going to school, you were allowed to bring in a treat to share with the rest of the class on your birthday.

I don't know if kids can still do this these days. Homeland Security probably has some sort of homebaked cookie alert system that never falls below orange. Maybe schools are only allowed to distribute snacks that are OSHA approved.

But when I was a kid, going to school in a place called, I kid you not, Pumpkin Hollow, you could bring treats.

This was a pretty big deal. Because if you brought treats for the rest of the class, you were cool, at least for the day.

But my birthday falls in the summer, outside the school year. That means I couldn't bring in treats on my birthday, and was in real danger of being denied the one day of being cool every kid was entitled to.

This might not have been a big deal for other kids who got to be cool all the time. But I wasn't cool, and it was a big deal for me.

Now I can hear some of you already beginning to think/type/say comforting things like, "Oh Pat, I'm sure you were plenty cool back then. You just didn't know it..." Etc. etc.




(Click to embiggen. But beware, lest my young geekery blind you.)

So here is exhibit A. I was just looking for a picture of me as a kid, I didn't expect to find one that so perfectly shouted my not-cool from the rooftops.

Okay, fine. The bullwhip was pretty cool. But other than that, you can tell this guy isn't going to know the loving touch of a woman until... well... maybe ever.

What as I talking about again?

Oh yeah. The importance of treat-bringing in kid society.

When you're a kid, these little things loom so large in our minds. After we grow up, we look and wonder how we could have ever gotten so worked up about being a leaf in the school play instead of a chicken. Missing a field trip was the end of the world.

And not being able to have a day when you brought in a treat in for the other kids to share… it was huge.

It's important to remember that this doesn't mean we were dumb back then and we're clever now. That's dangerous thinking, and it's wrong, wrong, wrong. What it means is that when we were young, we knew the truth of things. And now that we're older, we know different true things. We were right when we were kids and thought it was really important, and we are right now that we're adults and realize it's a little silly.

As with so many of my childhood problems, my mom stepped in to save me. She pointed out that my name was Patrick, and so I could bring in cookies on St. Patrick's day.

Problem solved. So we made shamrock-shaped sugar cookies, and frosted them green, and I took them to school. And, for a day, I was cool. Well... cooler. Cool-ish.

I always think of that this time of year. Yesterday I realized everyone was wearing green and thought to myself, "Is it St. Patrick's day?" I was amazed it had snuck up on me. It used to be such an important day for me. I always felt like it was my day, really. My mom gave that to me.

I never celebrate it now, though I always feel like I should. But I'm not Irish, and I don't drink. So my options are rather limited. Still, I like the thought that on my surrogate birthday, everyone is out whooping it up.

To all of you out there who are the summer children. The kids that weren't cool, or who weren't cool very often. Know that I am one of you, and that you are my favorite sort of people.

Fondly,

pat

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
On the Subjectiveness of Spring.
I declare today the first day of spring.

This is for the simple fact that today is the first day that I have left the house without my coat and not regretted the decision.

I won't miss winter. But I will miss my winter hat just a little.





Carry on,

pat

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posted by Pat at 96 Comments



Friday, March 13, 2009
On that which lies between (and The Watchmen)

I have an undeniable tendency to overconsider things. That means that sometimes, some of the things I want to say here end up becoming obsolete before I actually say them.

Like Coraline, for example. I really liked the movie. I wanted to post a blog about why I liked it, and recommend that people check it out. But movies come and go so fast, and I missed my window of opportunity for that one.

Part of the problem with writing these posts is that it's hard for me to shift gears. It's hard for me to post up something serious and involved, then two days later say, "Hey, y'all know what movie is really cool?"

Similarly, a day after I post up a humor column, it doesn't seem really appropriate for me to post up the story of what I thought when I felt the pain in my chest and the tingling down my left arm.

You see, a novel needs continuity, pacing, consistency. I strive for these things, I'm hyper-aware of them. A novel can have funny bits and sweet bits. It can be romantic, dramatic, and horrible. But all those pieces need to come together to form a coherent whole.

It's my belief that this coherency is one of the most important parts of any story. Comic, movie, or book, the medium doesn't matter. I think that strange intangible element makes the difference between a story that's satisfying, and one that isn't.

In fact, now that I'm thinking of it, I think this strange something might actually be the soul of the story. It's the difference between something that is a story, and something that just looks like a story.

You can't just throw together a plot, some characters, some dialogue and some humor onto the page and get a real story. Not a true and vital story. It doesn't work any more than throwing two arms, two legs, a head and bunch of organs into a sack makes a person.

Sure you need a plot, mostly. And you need characters and all the rest. But the story, I think, is the thing that connects these parts. The story is that which lies between.

Bigger stories need more of it. A novel needs it in spades.

Sometimes I wonder about what I write here. Does this collection of musings and anecdotes that I only reluctantly call a blog need that same coherency? I think not. Maybe. Probably. I think.

Still, old habits die hard, and so a lot of times I think of writing something for the blog, but it doesn't seem timely. Other times I actually write something with the intention of posting it up, then decide that the time for it has past. Or I don't post it because it seems odd or incongruent with what I have posting lately.

Hmmmm...

What was I talking about? Oh yes. The Watchmen.





In brief, I liked it. It was fun to watch, largely true to the spirit of the original, and I'd be happy if someone did that good a job bringing something I wrote onto the screen. Not ecstatic, perhaps. But very happy.

Did I have quibbles? Of course I did. The Watchmen was the second comic I read as an adult. I was 22 at the time, and it was a large part of what convinced me that the medium of comics wasn't just a mess of childish bullshit.

I don't believe in spoilers, so I won't give anything away about the plot or the changes they made. Instead, I'll just make some general comments.

I liked...

...the casting. Whoever was responsible for the casting in the movie deserves a full, passionate kiss on the mouth. The acting was brilliant, and the portrayal of many of the characters was truly exceptional.

... the fact that the movie was subtle and clever. I am a fan of subtle and clever.

... the visuals. Normally I could give a care about things like that. But many of these were truly fantastic. Very true to the comic while at the same time adding to the overall tone of the movie.

... the acting. So good on all fronts. I can't remember the actor's name who played the comedian, but he rang my bell. Every role I've seen him in he's been great.

... seeing Dr. Manhattan's great naked blue dick dangling all over the place. Huzzah.


I disliked...

... the loss of moral ambiguity the original story possessed.

... the portrayal of Ozymandias. Not the acting, mind you. The overall portrayal.


As I've said I don't go in for spoilers. So that's all I'll say here. Maybe I'll chime in with a more specific comment or two below. If you hate spoilers, you'll probably want to avoid the comments section, as I expect there will be some heated and specific discussion.

Is the movie worth seeing? Absolutely. But you should really read the graphic novel too. It's brilliant. It's clever. It's full of that which lies between.

Later all,

pat

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Sunday, March 8, 2009
Floating on a Sea of Love.

Gech. After I wrote that title, I threw up a little bit in my own mouth.

But just because it's nauseatingly sweet, doesn't mean it's not true. Since I posted the Longest Blog Ever about a week ago, I've received roughly one billion messages. There were e-mails, phone calls, facebook wall posts, strip-o-grams, and alien beams shot directly into my head from the icy depths of space.

Yeah. They read my blog in space, apparently. Who knew.

Seriously though, the vast majority of these messages have been displays of loving support and kindness. Many of them terribly sweet, funny, or touching in turn. Only a very few were snarky.

And yes, there was one turd. But it was a tiny thing among all the rest. A turdlet. And it didn't spoil my day. Instead I laughed a great booming laugh at his ineffectual flailing rage.

On synchronicity:

Now, I should mention that I don't actually read any blogs myself. There are a few I peek in on occasionally, but my addictive web-wanderings lean more toward comics.

So after I posted my blog, I was surprised to learn that George RR Martin wrote a blog on a similar subject about a week before I posted mine.

I saw Mr. Martin at Worldcon last year. And I almost went up to him and asked, "How have you gone this long without killing someone?" Because however much flak I happen to get from fans, he has to get a thousand times more.

In my opinion, he's a saint. If I had to deal with that level of fan dickishness, I would have already lost my shit in some spectacular way. There would be a video of me on youtube, gone all berserk with nerd rage, holding someone up by the neck, shouting "I've got your sequel right here, bitch!"

I didn't actually approach him and say that though. Because it seemed a weird way to introduce myself. Still, know that I'm on your side Mr. Martin. Slow writers represent. Um. Yo.

Several of you also brought Scalzi's post to my attention as well. Apparently, just a couple hours before I posted up my blog, John Scalzi over at Whatever wrote a blog on the topic of authors. It's a good read. Not only did we make a lot of the same points, we even made some of the same jokes. It was more than slightly eerie, to tell you the truth.

I just wish I'd skipped the last revision, and posted my blog a day earlier. That way it would have looked like he was ripping me off instead of the other way around.


Concerning the flood of love: (Ew)

I just wanted to mention that I did read all the messages. All of them. Though I only responded to a small fraction of what came in because there just aren't enough hours in the day.

While I was reading through them, I snipped out some of the clever, bizarre, and funny things people wrote.

Then I cleverly lost the file I saved those quotes into. And I just don't have time to winnow through several hundred messages again to dig them out. Rest assured that I enjoyed them all. Even the turd.

There is one message that I got after I made the post that just about knocked me over though.

My husband reads fantasy and I, the English teacher, prefer "real literature." The Name of the Wind is what I get for being so smug. It is an incredible novel! Our first baby is due this April and I'm not sure what the two of us anticipate more: our new daughter or the Wise Man's Fear!

Well done, Mr. Rothfuss, well done!

If that isn't intimidating, I don't know what is. I have a terrible mental image of a woman going into labor in the fantasy isle of Borders.

Oh, and here's something else I thought y'all might get a kick out of:





You might have to click on it to see the joke.

It's here...





I'm guessing that someone at B&N has a sense of humor, or there's a profoundly weird glitch in their system.

(Edit: B&N insiders reveal the truth about this in the comments below. Thanks for the clue-in folks.)

Either way, I would just like to say I'm confident of my ability to get book two out before this deadline. Rest assured.

That's all for now. I just wanted to thank everyone for their support. I'll be posting up a few other blogs this week, so stay tuned.

Fondly,

pat

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