Monday, April 5, 2010
Concerning Circumcision

Any of you who have been to my book signings know I tend to move back and forth between reading my stuff and doing Q&A.

I do this partly to break up the potential monotony of an hour of straight reading, and partly because I really like to answer questions. Any sort of question, really. That's part of the reason I became a teacher, I think. And it probably factored into my decision to keep writing my College Survival Guide for about 10 years.

I even, believe it or not, wrote a sex advice column for a while. Under an assumed name.

When I do Q&A at a reading, there are some things that get asked a lot. Things like, "Where do you get your ideas?" or "Do you base your characters on real people?"

Then there are the questions that don't get asked very often. Like, "Do you like cats?" or "How do you feel about circumcision?"

This last question got asked when I was down in Lexington. Strangely, wasn't the first time I'd been asked. I actually wrote an column on it back when I was doing the Survival Guide. As luck would have it, I had a copy of that column with me. So I read it.

After the reading when I was signing books, someone said, "You should post that one up on line."

"I probably should," I said.

So here it is...

***
Dear Pat,

I'm in a weird situation. Normally I pride myself in minding my own business. I keep my nose out of my friends affairs (literally) and generally keep my opinions to myself.

But recently I ended up doing some research into circumcision. Not female circumcision, which everyone in their right mind generally admits it barbaric and creepy, but good old fashioned guy circumcision. The type that's done to almost all newborn boys here in the good old U S of A.

I found out not only is it totally unnecessary, but it's generally bad for the little kids. Despite the fact that it's the standard thing here in the US, where almost 90% of guys are circumcised.

My problem is, I have a friend who is about to give birth. Maybe to a little boy. Now that I know all the horrible things that can result from Circumcision, I feel like I should try to tell her about it so she won't do it.

But isn't this kinda sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong? I can't think of a good way to approach her. I mean, I don't have a penis myself, so I can't really speak from experience. I have been with guys both cut and uncut, and I was surprised to find out how much I liked the unedited penis. But again, I doubt that's the right way to approach things with my friend.

How can I mention this to her without offending her for getting in her business?

Student Not Into Penis Slicing.

Your College Survival Guide, the place to go when you really need to learn the finer points of dick discussion etiquette. I'm like Miss Manners with tourettes.

Alright, SNIPS, I'm going to glide right by a few too-obvious jokes about your nose, and get right to the business of answering your question. Back when I was younger I would have taken this as a golden opportunity to make a lot of wang jokes.

But I've matured since then. So, instead, I'm going to slide as many innuendo-laden puns into the column as humanly possible. Also, just to make it a challenge, I'm going to use a new euphemism for the male member each time I refer to it.

First I feel like I need to correct one of the statements you made in your letter. Uncircumcised fellas are more common than you make them out to be. Back in the 1960's about 90 percent of baby boys got the chop, but the circumcision rate these days is closer to 60%, as more and more people get clued in to the situation by helpful folks like you and me.

Secondly, the proper slang term for an gent's uncircumcised dangle-bob isn't "unedited," it's "director's cut." Occasionally it's even a "special edition director's cut," but that's very rare.

Hmmm. You're right though. This is a touchy subject. But there's a big difference between being pushy, and just giving your friend some valuable information. Still, it should be handled delicately. Here are some opening lines you might want to avoid:

"Jenny, lately I've been thinking a lot about your baby's penis."

"Have you ever thought that hacking a chunk off the end of your newborn's wing-wang might not be the best way to welcome him into the world?"

"Y'know, if I was going to have sex with your son, I'd prefer him to be uncircumcised."





The more I think about it, maybe you don't want to try to get a rise out of her. Instead maybe you could just try to bring it up casually instead.

Maybe quoting a few facts would be the way to go. Don't be accusatory, just point out why, exactly, chopping someone's fireman off isn't cool. Point out that since the foreskin actually has about a third of the penis' nerve endings on it, cutting it off it pretty much the same as a partial clitorectomy. In plainer terms, it's like cutting off a good chunk of a little girl's clit. As you said in your letter: barbaric and creepy.

Think of it guys. You know how you think your Johnson is pretty awesome now? Imagine if it was 33% more awesome. Yeah. I know. It boggles the mind. I expect some manner of radiant light would constantly be emanating from my pants. Most of us would never leave the house. The fact that a piece of my winkie was torn off without my approval leaves me feeling a little bent out of shape. Figuratively speaking.

You could also direct your friend to a good website or two, so she can gather her own facts. www.notjustskin.org has a remarkably well-researched and easy to read FAQ on the subject. Including some information about how the surgery might be seriously traumatic for the newborns involved.

In closing, for all my fellow fellows out there, if your parents gave your special purpose the snip, don't hold it against them. Because, y'know, that would be pretty weird.

***

It's interesting to note that I wrote this a couple years before I became a dad. It was nice, actually, having done this research ahead of time. Because I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to circumcise the baby if it was a boy.

But even if I hadn't done the research, I probably would have been convinced when I saw The Circumstraint:



That's really what it's called. It's the plastic thing they strap your baby down onto so he doesn't struggle around too much while they're trying to cut off a piece of his dick. The nurses thought I was kinda weird for wanting to take a picture of it.

While part of me, the scientific part, can acknowledge the fact that something like this helps keep the baby safe during the procedure. The rest of me is filled with a mute horror at the thought of someone tying my baby down onto this thing so they can cut him. Not because he *needs* it. Just, y'know, because. Tradition. And stuff.

A lot of times when people meet Oot, they say things like, "He's such a happy baby." Or "He's so friendly and trusting."





Sometimes I want to reply, "Well, we got things off on the right foot by not cutting off a piece of his dick."

Can you imagine what sort of an introduction that must be to the world? There's a big, long squeeze, then suddenly everything is really bright and cold. Maybe you get a bit of a cuddle and a taste of breast. Then you're strapped down and someone cuts off a piece off one of the most sensitive areas of your body. Welcome to being alive, little guy.


That's all for now, folks.

pat

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Friday, February 12, 2010
From the Archives: V-Day

I've had several people e-mail me in this last week asking for Valentine's Day advice.

Unfortunately, I'm at the end of a long stretch of revisions right now, and it would break my stride to write an appropriately frothy, bile-filled screed about this most abhorrent of qua-holidays.

Then I realized I didn't need to write a new screed. I probably had an old one on file from when I wrote a weekly advice column for the college paper.

So I dug around in my files a bit and found one. Actually, I found several, but here's the one I liked the best.

Share and Enjoy:

*****

Dear Pat,

What are your feelings towards Valentine's Day? Personally, I believe it is just another Hallmark holiday in which consumerism reaches its ugly hand in the picture, forcing couples to exchange gifts and singles to feel like crap.

By the way, what are you getting your girlfriend/sister? Teehee.

Jessie

For those of you who missed last week's column, the last line of Jessie's letter is a reference to a joke I made. Just so nobody is confused let me re-state again, for the record, that I am NOT dating my sister.

Not that there's anything wrong with my sister, mind you. She's great: smart, funny, and hot. It's just that we're really good friends, and I worry that getting into a relationship might jeopardize that.

*ahem* Okay. Moving on.

Honestly Jessie, I'd all but forgotten that Valentine's Day is coming up. You see, I don't pay much attention to crap like that. And that's what VD is: a big, steamy pile of crap in a shiny heart-shaped box.

You were right in your letter. As a holiday, it's made-up bullshit. But Hallmark didn't start it, Chaucer did. He wrote "The Parliament of Fowles" back in the late 1300's. I tell you, there's only one time in history that more crap has been spawned from bad poetry, and that's the musical Cats.

Now I don't want to get a bunch of huffy letters with people telling me VD all started with St. Valentine, the priest who was imprisoned and fell in love with the jailer's daughter. If it were true, February 14th would be Go-Fuck-A-Priest day. A holiday, I might add, that I would wholeheartedly endorse.

But no, what we have is Valentine's Day. The day designed to convince you that if you don't spend money on someone, right now then you're not really in love. Prove your eternal devotion through a four-dollar greeting card sporting some freakishly deformed bug-eyed puppy on the front. Go ahead and give someone the severed sexual organs of a plant. Diamonds are forever. Every Kiss begins with Kay.


(You can tell it's an older column, because Brett's illustration
is in B&W and optimized for newspaper printing.)

Now I'm not just saying this because I don't have a girlfriend and I'm frothing at the mouth with bitter loneliness and rage. Contrary to what you might think, I do have a girlfriend.

I know, it seems to go against all the laws of god and nature. But not only do I have a girlfriend, not only have we been in a happy, healthy relationship for almost six years, but Sarah is sweet, kind, smart, funny, and almost unfathomably hot.

I know, it boggles the mind.

There are many theories among my family and friends as to why someone like her would take time to smile in my direction, let alone date me for six years.

Some of my more religious-minded friends used to believe that she was working off a hefty karmic debt from a previous life. But this theory lost credibility when one of my calculus-savvy Buddhist friends did the math for me, showing how much bad karma Sarah was actually burning off by dealing with me on a daily basis.

What it boils down to is this, if Sarah had, say, beaten a nun to death with a bag of kittens in a previous life, she could have worked that off in about three weeks of putting up with my endless bullshit. In fact, after six years of living with me she's built up so much good karma that she'll most likely reincarnate as a transcendent being composed entirely of white light and multiple orgasms.

Other theories held by my friends and parents include: blackmail, Truman-Show style conspiracy, and the suspicion that she is performing a prolonged psychological experiment.

What does Sarah herself say? I'll go ask….

In response to the question, "Why the hell do you love me, anyway?" Sarah responded thusly:

"Some part of my soul recognizes part of your soul as being really awesome. And sometimes you take out the trash." Sarah then made several sexually explicit comments that cannot be reprinted here. Suffice to say that apparently I possess certain skills that shall remain nameless.

Lastly, she gazed rapturously at me and said that I was "gorgeous."

All this seems to confirm my personal theory, that she has some kind of brain tumor that makes her love me. Really, it's the only thing that makes sense.

The only other explanation is that I treat her with kindness and respect. Or because when I give her a gift she knows it comes from a sincere upwelling of emotion, not because it's National Buy-A-Gift Day (TM). Maybe it's due to the fact that I make a habit of not taking her for granted, and I tell her I appreciate her, rather than buying a card that says it for me once a year.

Yeah. I know. Too crazy. I'm sticking with the tumor theory myself.

*****

That's all I've got for now, folks. I hope each of you end up enjoying V-day in your own special way. If that means drinking a pint of rye whiskey and cursing the unfeeling sky, more power to you.

pat

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Monday, September 14, 2009
My Personal Spring....

I've spent most of my adult life going to college in one form or another. I spent nine years as an undergrad, two years getting my masters, then another five years teaching.

About two years ago, I stopped teaching because it was taking up too much time and headspace. I decided that the grown-up thing to do would be to leave my day job and focus on my writing.

And so I did. What I didn't realize was how much college was part of my life. I've really missed it over these last few years. I miss taking classes, and teaching them. I miss walking around campus and meeting new people. I miss getting into arguments about philosophy at the campus coffeeshop.

And I miss writing my silly little advice column for the campus paper. I wrote it for almost ten years and gave it up for the same reasons I stopped teaching. It was taking too much time away from working on the book.

Don't get me wrong. There are some parts of college I don't miss. Writing the papers, for example. Or grading them, for that matter. I don't miss having to get up for classes, either. Believe it or not, back when I was a student, I sometimes had to be awake by 11 in the morning.

Yeah. I know. There should be a law...

One of the many strange things about being in school for so long is how it changed my perception of time. There is an ebb and flow to the semester. Everyone is tense around mid-terms, irritable two weeks before finals, and giddy by the time finals actually start.

But the beginning of the semester is a magical time. The beginning of the whole school year doubly so.

This time of year has always been spring for me. Yes, yes. I know it's really autumn. But my personal clock, influenced by over 27 years of schooling tells me that this is when the new year begins. It's time to to back to school.

For obvious reasons, I've been thinking about this for the last week. I live in a college town, and when school starts up it's almost like Stevens Point is waking up after a long sleepy winter. Students are wandering the streets again, looking for house parties and curbside couches. The bars downtown are full. People are moving furniture around, hanging out in the coffee houses, and jogging on the sidewalks. I don't need a calendar to tell me that classes are starting again.

This is also the time when I would write my first column for the new school year. It was tricky because I didn't have any letters to answer at the beginning of the year, so most of what I did was introduce the concept of the column to the new students and make a call for letters that I could mock. (Or give advice to, depending on my mood.)

So in honor of my personal springtime, here's one of my favorite introductions that I wrote for the College Survival Guide a couple years ago:

* * *

I love this time of year. After three months of vacation everyone is fresh and rested. All the Professors have forgotten how much they hate teaching. They smile and chat with each other in the hallways. They cluster around Xerox machines like lame, tweedy gangs, pretending they're cool despite the fact that they're doing the equivalent of selling encyclopedias door-to-door while all the other gangs are pushing lapdances, PS3s, and cherry-flavored crack.

Returning students are glad to be back too. Mostly because your summer jobs were tedious and degrading. Three months of summer vacation is long enough so that you've forgotten that most classes are tedious and degrading too.

This means that you're full of hope. You're sure your new roommate won't be like the last one who wore tinfoil socks and had a tendency to occasionally urinate in the refrigerator. You're sure you'll pass Math 106 this time around. You're determined to actually join some clubs this year and not just sit around in your dorm eating spray cheese from a can and watching youtube videos about cats.

Sure you will. And while you're at it you'll have plenty of time to map out your future career, find true love, attain nirvana, and develop a high-tech cybernetic arm that dispenses an infinite supply of orange PEZ . Sure. You'll have time for all that. After all, you've done the college thing before. You've got it all figured out... Right?




But you freshman are my favorites. I remember what that first semester was like: you've got a new haircut and some of mom's money in your pocket. You're on your own for the first time ever. You have so much freedom that you can hardly keep from shitting yourself with sheer delight.

And you express your near-infinite excitement the same way every freshman has done for the last ten thousand years. You buy posters for your dorm. You order pizza at unseasonable hours of the day and night. You touch yourself *down there* in a decidedly impure manner, repeatedly.

Well kids, cherish that delightful innocence for as long as you can. Because soon the horrible truth with start to dawn. You'll realize freedom isn't all nachos, whippets, and wicked touching of the bathing suit area. Freedom is also credit-card debt, STD's that would blister the paint off a car door, and scholastic performance so shoddy that your professors have to invent new grades to accurately represent how profoundly you are sucking in their classes. Something like "Triple F-minus" or "negative B plus."

Some of you, the smarter ones, are already starting to realize how dangerous all this lovely freedom is. Truth be told, your freshman orientation package should include a coil of industrial-strength nylon cord with a label that says: "Welcome to college. Here's a whole lot of rope. Feel free to hang yourself with it." Unfortunately, the effect would be ruined by UWSP's legal department, which would make sure the rope was actually too short for anyone to really hang themselves with. And they would attach a second label, larger than the first, with bright red letters saying: "We mean metaphorically. Dumbass."

Truth is, I can't keep you from metaphorically hanging yourself. And honestly, I wouldn't want to. College provides you an unrivaled opportunity for you to fuck up in a largely consequence-free environment. This is half the fun of college. If you don’t make at least one or two really nexa-level mistakes while you're here, you're really not getting your money's worth.

What I can do is this. When things get weird, or stupid, or broken, I can offer some advice on how to minimize the damage to your tattered life. If that doesn't work, then at least the rest of us will have a good laugh at your expense.

So e-mail your questions, sob stories, and mewling pleas for help to [e-mail no longer valid]. I'll do my best to answer them. Exceptionally good letters will be rewarded with fantastic prizes. I promise.


* * *

Oh my beloved survival guide. How I miss you.

While I'm busy working on book two and getting ready to be a dad, I'll probably post up an old column or two on the blog here. There's a few pieces of good advice buried in all the humorous bullshit.

Also, because I'm feeling nostalgic, those of you looking for advice can mail in questions using the contact form here on the webpage.

That said, be aware that I'm busy, and just because you ask a question doesn't mean that I'll answer it here on the blog.

But maybe... just maybe...

pat

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
My Funny Valentine

One of the side effects of working on the book intensively is that everything else tends to fade from my awareness. I fall behind on e-mail, miss scheduled appointments, ignore Sarah, and tend to let the blog slide.

So yesterday, as I hauled firewood into the cabin, I thought, "Is it February? Isn't Valentines Day coming up?"

Then I thought, "Won't I be up here in Hayward, shackled to The Wise Man's Fear over Valentine's day?"

I realized it was true and went inside to call Sarah. I asked if she was cool with that.

She was cool with that.

I went back to carrying firewood and found that I couldn't remember when I'd last posted a blog, or what it had been about.

Then I thought, "I'm pretty sure I've written a Valentine's day column at some point in the past. If I could find it, that would save me some time."

So, after I was done schlepping in the wood. I dug through my files and found I was correct. I had written a Valentine's Day column. In fact, I had written several of them over the years.

Then I found this one. A column I had written several years ago and forgotten about until now.

This, my friends, is what we writers refer to as serendipity.

[Editor's note. For a few of the references in this column to make sense, you have to understand that by the time I did this column, I had been writing it in the local paper for over seven years and actually had a sponsor who underwrote the column. This provided me some much-needed ad revenue, and let me offer prizes to people who wrote in letters. Usually a gift certificate from a local coffeeshop.]

[Editor's note - This isn't really an editor, by the way. It's just me. But "Pat's note" doesn't sound nearly as official.]


Dear Pat,

A friend gave me a copy of your College Survival Guide Collection for Christmas and I spent all break reading it. It was awesome getting to read all the columns from back before I came to School here.

After reading those old columns, I realized your newer columns are a little... angry. Compared to those earlier ones. They're still funny, but they're also kinda grim.

I was just hoping we could occasionally see the kinder, gentler Pat. The Pat that gave advice to the girl with all the scars back when I was a freshman, or wrote the Christmas column in your book. Focus on the positive.

Kaitlin

*****

Pat,

My girlfriend keeps talking about you. All the time. She's all like, "Pat Rothfuss is the funniest guy! OMG! I can't believe the things he says!" Honestly, I'm pretty sick of it.

It's gotten worse since you put up that Myspace page. She read more of your stuff and found some pictures of you and thinks you're "the cutest." So now I'm officially pissed. I'm her boyfriend, I'M supposed to be CUTEST!

So I was thinking I only have two ways to solve this problem.

You could go out on a date with my girlfriend. It would be like a Valentine's day present to her. AND I'm guessing after she meets you she'll realize you're not all that.

We could trade girlfriends. Mine is obsessed. And I'm guessing yours is probably pretty sick of you.

Sad About My Inappropriately Excited Girlfriend

Well SAMIEL, flattered as I am by your proposal, I find myself skeptical. Lately, people have been writing in fake problems just to get free coffee from the Mission. So I suspect that this letter is pure bullshit. Well, maybe not *pure* bullshit, but at least three-nines fine.

First off, there are no photos of me up at myspace, only illustrations. Secondly, nobody says: "OMG!" And lastly, I have a hard time believing anyone would offer their girlfriend a date with someone else as a V-day present.

I expect it's much more likely that this is a blatant attempt to get close to my girlfriend.

While my cynical nature inclines me toward the first possibility, I'm going to take Kaitlyn's politely-phrased suggestion and focus on the positive in this column. I'm going to assume that you're smitten with my ladyfriend, and, with V-Day coming up, you decided to make your move.

No offense to your girlfriend SAM. She's obviously a woman of impeccable taste. But she can't hold a candle to my girlfriend.

My girlfriend's name is Sarah. She is, to put it plainly, the best of all possible girlfriends.

Some of you might remember the V-day column from a couple years back when I bitched about how girls get to cash in on Valentine's day, while guys got screwed in the deal? Well, last Valentine's day, Sarah bought me flowers and candy, took me out to dinner, and gave me a backrub. How's that for cool?

But that's only the tip of the iceberg. She's hella smart, a great writer, and better at math than me. She does community service, keeps up on current events, and makes awesome banana bread. Her hair smells really, really, good.

Sarah is also hot. Beyond hot. I'm not even kidding here. You know when you see a geeky guy walking around an absolute bombshell and you think, "The hell? How did he end up with her? She's a thousand times hotter than him!" Well Sarah and I are like that, with the main difference that I'm pretty damn sexy too.

It's like a story problem: if Sarah is a thousand times sexier than Pat, and Pat is fifty times sexier than you... Do the math: (Damn sexy x 1000 + boobs = Sarah.)





Shes so sexy that Homeland Security is worried about her falling into the hands of the terrorists. Fema has passed a special set of laws requiring her to always wear at least three layers of clothing whenever she's in public. If she wears only one layer, she causes car wrecks. If she wears a tank top, men without protective eyewear have grand-mal seizures and passing women become suddenly bi-curious.

When she gets naked, the sexiness she throws off is like the radiation from a nuclear bomb. If we hadn't lined the walls of her bedroom and bathroom with three inches of lead, no man in Stevens Point could wear tight fitting pants, and every woman in Central Wisconsin would be gay.

I'm running low on space here, so I can't go into details about the sex. So let me just say this: Damn.

Perhaps most importantly, Sarah is sweet. I have a tendency, as Kaitlyn pointed out, to get a little grim. I tend to waver back and forth between a raging inferno of furious anger, and a chilly pillar of bitter cynicism. But being around Sarah is like a drink of cool water. When she's nearby, you realize that the world is a pretty nice place after all. Sometimes her influence is all that keeps me from turning into a cussed, crotchety old bastard.





Love ya sweetie, happy Valentine's Day.

*****

Awww.... Isn't that sweet?

If you'd like to leave a comment for Sarah telling her how lovely she is, feel free.

That said, don't get too fresh. She is, after all, My Girl.

Unless you are lady-types, of course. Then you can get as fresh as you want. Be my guest.


Later all,

pat

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posted by Pat at 41 Comments



Monday, January 5, 2009
Fromage a Trois.

Hello there everyone. I've retreated to my man cave for a while to work on book two. To entertain you in the meantime, here's one of the College Survival Guide columns I used to write for the local paper.

Dear Pat,

I recently had a rough relationship with a friend.

Actually, I was punch-drunk in love with the guy. We were on the verge of dating and did typical things like talking for hours on the phone, hanging out together, flirting, and beyond.

Everything was going great, but no one was making the first move even though we had talked about dating. When he finally asked me out, I later found out that he already had a girlfriend and was playing me the whole time. As you can imagine, I was angry with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns.

Anyway, the next time we hung out I desperately wanted to ask if the rumors were true, but I never did. As the day went on, I kept thinking about all the lies this guy had told me and couldn't imagine how anyone could be so heartless. Well, he kept making fun of me about one thing or another and I finally snapped. At the time, I was holding a one pound block of Colby cheese and this guy wasn't quick enough to take cover. I had no intention of severely hurting him, but I've never seen someone go down that hard! I nailed him right in the kidney so it took him a few minutes to recover. I felt pretty bad afterwards, but he was feeling better the next day.

So now that the story is out of the way, I can ask you my question. Should I feel bad now that this guy has a giant bruise and will probably be peeing blood for the next month?

Sincerely,
Kristin

Only in Wisconsin could we have a problem like this: cheese-related domestic
abuse.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few Wisconsin laws on the books relating to cheese-specific crime. Wouldn't that make a great CSI spin-off? "This week on CSI - Dairyland: our heroes struggle to unravel a baffling second-degree lacticide...."

First, I have to say that this letter cracked me up, Kristin. The funniest one I've gotten in a long while. This is because it contains the two fundamental elements necessary for comedy:

1) Something horrible happening to someone else.


Mel Brooks said it best, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die." There's something buried deep in our brains that makes us enjoy the traumatic suffering of strangers.

It's not a pleasant thing to think about, but it's true. Think of every joke you've ever laughed at. 99% of the time what makes you laugh is something horrible. If a joke begins "An American, a German, and a Norwegian go fishing…." You already know the end. We end up laughing at the Norwegian because of his stupidity, or because something horrible happens to him. Or both.
Don't believe me? Think about every Loony Tunes cartoon you've ever watched, or any episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.


Still, don't believe me? Check this out.


Case closed.

2) An element of the ridiculous.

Ridiculous things are funny. Like a monkey wearing a dress, or a clown having sex, or an English major with a job. In this letter, the ridiculous element is a girl is kicking a guy's ass with a chunk of cheese: pure comedy gold.


I mention all of this because the humor of this letter really obscures the issue. So let me present a different, humor-free scenario:

There's a guy and a girl. They hang out, flirt, "and beyond" doing the relationship dance. Later, the guy finds out that the girl already has a boyfriend. She's been lying to him and leading him on, and generally taking advantage of his trusting nature.

So the next time they're together, the guy is seething mad. He keeps it under control for a while, but eventually a comment makes him lose his cool. So he takes whatever is in his hand: a coffee mug, a wrench… whatever. Then he hits her with it. Hits her so hard that she falls down and can't get up for several minutes.


Now the question: should the guy feel bad? Seems pretty straightforward to me.


So yeah, Kristin, you should feel bad. Because, when all's said and done, you took something non-violent and made it violent. Someone hurt your feelings and you hurt their body. And ultimately, it doesn't matter that he's a guy and you're a girl. It doesn't matter if you use a wedge of gouda or a baseball bat. It doesn't matter that he seems to be, on all accounts, a total prick. That's just not a good thing. Feel bad. Apologize.

Now I'm not saying that what he did was any better. He abused your trust, and, in my opinion, that warrants him a severe, figurative, ass-kicking of some sort.

Unfortunately, you've forfeited your right to creative revenge by opening up the can of whoop-ass on him. Too bad, I could have written a great how-to get revenge column for all the jaded lovers out there. Oh well.

Oh Survival Guide, how I miss you....

What do you think, folks. If I offered to write new advice columns here on the blog, would anyone be interested? Let me know in the comments below.

Be good,

pat

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posted by Pat at 64 Comments



Sunday, November 23, 2008
For Whom the Bell Tolls

The blog has been a little overwhelmed lately with the Heifer Fundraiser. And while that's a good thing, I thought I'd take a day's break and post up something funny. Expect more news and prizes in a day or so....

This is a column I wrote for the College Survival Guide. I thought I'd re-post it now because it seems timely for several reasons....

I wrote this back when I was going to grad school in Washington State. When the end of that semester rolled around, I was overwhelmed. I ended up staying in Washington four extra days so I could finish a paper, and that meant that I missed my family Christmas. I felt awful about it. I still do.

But what's funny is that my sister cut the column out of the Pointer (the college paper that originally printed the Survival Guide) and took it home for Christmas. Then, when everyone was gathered at home on Christmas eve, Jamie read the column for the family.

General agreement was that it was just as good as having me there. Probably even better in a lot of ways.


*****
Dear Pat,

Well. I see in the Pointer that if we have something to piss and moan about, we are supposed to let you know. So here we go.

The other day I was walking past the University Center. I was cold, but I knew I had to get to the next building for my next class. I was tired, but I knew I had to keep going and make it through the day. I was hungry, but I knew I would have to wait until I got home because I had no money.

While I was approaching the UC building (dreaming about what kind of food I wish I could go and buy) I hear a bell ringing and thought to myself, "No way, they don't have a Salvation Army guy here at the college." But sure enough, I got a little closer and I saw that friendly old guy waving his bell in front of his cute little collection pole.


I couldn't help but glare at him in the way that said "I hate you" and I did, at that moment, hate that man, whoever he was. I glared at him the whole time until I was passed him. I made damn sure he saw me glaring too, I don't care what he thought.

I am broke. Isn't everyone here at the college????


I am a full time college student (who happens to live alone) and I work close to 40 hours per week at some cheesy restaurant trying to pay my bills and get an education. Rent, car payment, bills, you know what I mean. No matter what, I never can get ahead enough to even feel like I can treat myself to a nice hot meal.

All the money we students are spending here at college, not to mention the (expensive) parking meters, and yet the college has enough balls to set up a collection for more money. I don't even have enough money to support myself. You stand here wanting us to help out the less fortunate when we are the less fortunate. We have nothing.


Well. If ya like my piss and moan story-that's great. I feel confident that you know what I mean here and I hope you help in writing something up on this in your paper, maybe the bell guy would then go away.


Marie

Well Marie, I had a strong response to your letter. Actually, I had two responses, each of them utterly irreconcilable with the other. Luckily, due to an end-of-the-semester psychotic break, I have two fully formed personalities willing to give their opinions on the matter.


Nice Pat's Response

I know for a fact that the Salvation Army guy isn't a new thing. I used to see him there in front of the UC every year, and I'll admit my reaction was somewhat similar to yours. I felt put-upon.

As my dad always said, you can't get blood from a stone, or pity from a freshman during finals week. Why were they trying to milk me when I was already dry?

Truth is, even well-intentioned college students are usually strapped for cash, especially at the end of the semester. Because of that I always felt the bell ringer could have been put to better use somewhere else. In the mall. Outside Wal-Mart. On the square at bar-time. Onstage, next to that big pole at the New Yorker....

[editor's note: The New Yorker is a local strip club. Or at least, that's what I've heard.]




(This column's illustration from the anthology)


Evil Pat's Response

Marie, it's not that you're poor. It's that you've has been trained to drool when the bell rings. What do I mean by that? I mean this: You've bought into the system, and the system has made you its bitch. Sure I feel sorry for you, but the fact remains that it's your own damn fault.

I understand that you work 40 hours a week in addition to school. Fine, but don't expect pity from me just because you follow some outmoded protestant work ethic.

"But I need the money!" I hear you cry.

Bullshit. You think you need the money. The truth is you spend your money on non-essential items. Just like everyone else who's been inculcated into the three-step easy-bake American dream.

1) Work hard to get money.
2) Use money to buy things.
3) Use things to achieve happiness.

"But I don't have things! I'm barely making it from bill to bill!"

Bullshit. I know that you're living in some manner of extravagance because as an undergrad I made on average of 6000 dollars a year. And with that colossal sum I paid my tuition, had my share of hot meals, bought presents for my girlfriend, and still had enough to drop a couple of bucks in the bellringer's bucket come Christmas time.

How did I achieve this miracle? Well, I never had a car for one thing. I survived nearly a decade in Stevens Point without one, walking to my various jobs and carrying my groceries home.

I never had the luxury of living alone either. Well….that's not really true. For a year I lived in a one-room apartment with a bathroom down the hallway. It cost me $140 per month, everything included. My friends called it ‘The Pit.' I stayed there because it was cheap, and that freed up my money for other things, like nudie magazines, leather pants, and grain alcohol.

Here is the unvarnished truth. If you're poor and in college, you're not really poor. You're just indulging in certain luxuries beyond your means. However, there are people in the country that are genuinely poor. People who don't have cars, or even nasty little one-room ‘pit' apartments.

Most importantly, those people don't have a support network of friends and family who are willing to help them out if something bad happens. What those people do have is The Salvation Army. They buy toys for poor-kids and shut-ins for chrissake. You can't find any fault with an organization like that.

So pony up, pig-licker, and give some jingle to the bucketman.

*****


Years later, I know more than when I wrote this column, and because of that I can, actually find fault with an organization like the Salvation Army because I know they actively discriminate against gays. It's sad, but I just can't feel good about cheering them on anymore.

To an extent, any charity is better than no charity. But I believe that smart charity is the best charity of all....

More soon,

pat

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Hugging and Monkey Love

Hello everyone. Sorry for the radio silence here on the blog. I've been busy writing and getting together a project that I'm going to be announcing here in a couple of days.

However, rather than leave a gaping hole of not-blog, I've decided to post up some back-in-the-day writing. Specifically, a satirical advice column called "Your College Survival Guide" that I used to publish in the local paper. It was a delicious blend of demented ravings, bad advice, black bile, with just a tiny garnish of truth.

Fair warning: The tone of the College Survival Guide is different than what you might be used to here on the blog. It's different than my novel too. Different audience + different purpose = different style. So don't assume that I've had a psychotic break.

And if you don't know what satire is, you might want to look it up before you read the column. It might help prevent confusion....

Anyway, here's one I wrote a couple years back. Enjoy.

*****
Hello Young Rothfuss,

How you do amuse me from time to time with your silly column... it really is the best read I've come across in a long time.

I've been wondering about men lately. In particular, boyfriends. I've been asking my gaggle of girlfriends why women have attachment issues. (That's not your question) I want to know why most males in a relationship like to play games with their bitches (i.e. "I'm not gonna call her for a couple of days to see if she cracks and calls me first... A HA!") OR if they just deal with distance better than us women.

My friend and I call our condition, the "Kiss and Cuddle" syndrome. The only reason we go back to our loser boyfriends is cuz we want to hold them and kiss them and squeeze them until their heads pop off "wike kwazy widdle cutie pootie wootie puppies!" I'm rambling now, but why why why does my boyfriend (who lives in Minneapolis) NOT CALL ME, GODDAMN IT!!!????

-- Anitra


Well Anitra, I have a good answer to your letter. Actually, I have two good answers. Luckily, due to psychotic break brought about by midterm stress, I have two fully-formed personalities willing to give you their opinions on this issue.


Evil Pat's Response.

So, why are guys thoughtless, callous, game-playing jerks? Simple, Anitra, because that's what you women have trained us to be.

Let me explain this with a story. Imagine that you're a young boy, and like most young boys, you're a Nice Guy: innocent, polite, and considerate. You meet Julie. She's smart, funny, and pretty. You become friends and slowly but surely you realize you're in love with her.

So you join forensics because she's on the team. You cheer her on when she tries out for the swim team. Soon you're talking on the phone for hours at a stretch, really getting to know her.

But while you're investing time and energy into building an emotional and intellectual bond with Julie, some basketball player asks her to the prom. She says yes, because he's a junior, and he has his own car. Plus he's got an ass you can bounce a quarter off of. Let's call him Chad.

Then Chad proceeds to treat Julie like crap, because he doesn't know the first thing about her. But for some reason she clings to him like he's the last life preserver on the Titanic. And all the while, there you are, her friend and confidante. Every night you're on the phone, listening while she cries about how obnoxious and thoughtless he is. But she forgives him because she's in love, right?

Then it slowly dawns on you. Julie will never be your girlfriend. Why? Well, given the overwhelming evidence, Julie doesn't want a boy who listens to her thoughts and feelings. Julie wants a cretin with a nice ass. Guys like Chad get all the lovin'. Guys like you are the equivalent of an emotional tampon. End of story.

Now if you're a Really Nice Guy you move on with your innocence intact. Then you meet a girl called Erica. Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

And after you slide down this emotional razorblade about a dozen times, you know what you get? You get me. I'm not nice anymore. Over the years I've molded myself into an arrogant bastard of such vast proportions that women find me irresistible. And you know what? It works great. You can get radiation burns from the amount of raw animal magnetism I throw off.

And now you're complaining that your guy doesn't call you? Get bent, chicky. You women have made your collective bed, and now you have to lie in it. Alone.


Nice Pat's Response.

Well Anitra, your letter reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about a week ago. She told me that she liked getting massages. More than that, she considered them essential for her emotional well-being, especially when she was in-between boyfriends. She went on to explain that she thought touching and being touched was a vital part of being a primate.

Which means, in a nutshell, that she feels like her inner monkey occasionally needs to be loved.

Personally, I couldn't agree more. I think that deep down we all have basic monkey urges. Do you remember that experiment we all learned about in psychology 101? The one where the baby monkey had to choose between two fake mommy monkeys? Given the choice between a non-cuddly chicken wire mom that had milk, and a furry fake-mom that didn't have any milk, the baby monkey always chose the furry mom. It goes to show how important this cuddling impulse is to us primate types.

So to answer your question, Anitra, I decided to perform an expanded version of this experiment. I added a balsa-wood monkey with a cookie and a handgun; a sheet-metal monkey that gives out bong hits; and a monkey made entirely out of Cool-Ranch Doritos that gets drunk and burns you with cigarettes.





Anyway to make a long story short, I never got around to finding a baby monkey to experiment on. Apparently you need a permit or something for that. But I CAN tell you that my favorite was the razorwire monkey with a tazer that dispensed sweet, sweet, methadone. I still sleep with it at night.

So what's the moral to the story? Shit. I have no idea. Scientists hate monkeys, I guess. There's your moral. I'm outta here.


pat

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Sunday, October 19, 2008
Your College Survival Guide: How to impress your professor.

Here's one of the first columns I wrote for the College Survival Guide. It's from way back in the day. Not my best work, as I was still figuring out how to be funny back then. But it's still worth a chuckle or two....

*****

Well, the first month of the semester is pretty much over. So if you're a serious student like myself, it's about time you considered going to what we eighth-year seniors like to refer to as "class."

Do not be alarmed. "Class" has received a lot of bad press in the past several years, leading many students to avoid it entirely. I however, have always believed that "class," when taken in moderation, adds a new, enriching dimension to your whole college experience.

But "class" is not something to be approached hastily. Important questions should be asked before attending your first "class." Questions such as: "What time is it?" "Who has my pants?" and "Is this your slightly molested, vaguely-orangutan-looking, plush toy?"

Once you've answered these questions (and taken any appropriate legal action that the answers seem to necessitate) you should be ready to go to "class." For new students, I recommend that you bring some school supplies to class. The most important of these are: Pants (this should prove simple, if you've answered question #2), and a bag of candy.

(Optionally, if you had trouble answering question #3, you may want to bring the plush orangutan as well. It may belong to someone who happens to be attending your "class.")

Now, some people will recommend that you bring pencils, paper, a calculator, etc. That's a loosing strategy, because if you try to remember all those dozens of little things, you're bound to forget at least one of them. But as long as you're wearing pants you can usually borrow pens, paper, and books from other students, or in extreme situations, trade candy for them.

On the other hand, if you forget your pants, my experience has been that no one will lend you theirs. Also, without pants, your "classmates" will be noticeably less willing to take any candy you offer in trade.





So, once you are wearing you pants and you're in "class," you should notice one student that is older than all the rest. This old student is called the professor. You will note that he is also wearing pants. This will form a bond between you, which will eventually lead to you getting a "grade."

In rare occasions, your professor will remove his pants. The proper thing to do in this circumstance is to remove your pants as well. This will form an even closer bond between you, which will eventually lead to you getting a "disease."


*****


Something cool coming Monday. Stay tuned.

pat

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Friday, October 17, 2008
The Good Life

A while back I was in the grocery store picking up something to eat. I ended up behind a mom and her little boy in the checkout line. She was buying all sorts of grown-up groceries: hamburger, milk, celery, saltines, green peppers, tomatoes...

I was buying Fritos, some Mountain Dew, and a box of Fruity Pebbles.

The boy looked at his mom's groceries, then at my groceries. Back and forth. I could see him putting together the pieces. His mom's groceries were going to make meatloaf. My groceries....

That's when I realized how awesome my life is. I was living this kid's dream. Of course, I was living MY dream too, but I had forgotten it until this moment.

I looked at him and pointed at the Fritos. "When I get home, I'm going to eat all of those," I said. "and it's going to completely spoil my dinner." I smiled and pointed to the box of fruity pebbles. "That's my dinner."

He didn't say anything. He was only about six or seven, and I'm guessing that he was too stunned with my untrammeled glory to put together a full sentence.

But he looked up at me with eyes that said, I want to be like you. How can I do these things which you have shown me?

"Go to college," I told him.

I was just about to tell him that I was going to put the Mountain Dew on the cereal instead of milk when his mom hustled him away, probably because she thought I was some kind of pervert.

Which is only fair, I suppose. I probably am.





Later all,

pat

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Friday, May 16, 2008
Photo Contest Part II - Babies

Everyone, I would like you to meet Captain Joe. You saw him paying homage to the book in the last blog.




Though Joe put together a lovely shrine and took an excellent picture, I mentioned in that he couldn't win a prize in that category.

Joe came into the contest early, and he came in strong. He photoshopped, posed, dramatised, and wrote captions that cracked me up. What's more, he seems to have put his life at risk at least once or twice. As in this one, where apparently he climbed up onto a roof....





...to set up a scenic shot.





So why can't Joe win?

Well, the first problem is that Joe entered so many photos, of so many types, that if I let him win, he could, potentially, crowd out a lot of the other folks in the competition.

But the second reason is the larger of the two. You see, Joe is an Australian.

And I hate people from Australia.

No. Kidding. Just kidding. Well... I'm half kidding.... Joe is actually from Australia, Perth specifically. But I don't hold it against him.

The real problem is that back when I set this up, back when I was hoping to get maybe a dozen entries, I said that the picture needed to include the paperback. They don't have access to the US paperback in Australia yet.

This was a short-sighted mistake, and I don't plan on repeating it if (when) I do another one of these.

Still, I'm left with a problem. On one hand, it is a rule. IN a way, it's unfair to everyone else if I suddenly change it after the fact. But on the other hand, Joe's pictures were pretty cool, and, in my opinion, this sort of fanatical minioning should really be rewarded.

So here's the deal. In the upcoming blogs you'll see Joe's photos included in the categories such as "Most Sexy" "Most Dramatic," but he won't be eligible to win. Instead, I've decided to make create a new category for him. Let's call it... "Most Most."

What does Joe win? Well, that's a good question. I've got some various stuff to give away as prizes.

1. Good old-fashioned signed copies of my book. I've got a bunch of the new hardcovers here at my house, and though I love them, they are taking up quite a bit of shelf-space. I'll sign or personalize them and send them off to you if that's what you want.

2. Copies of my first published book, The College Survival Guide.



This is a collection of the first four years of a humor column I used to write. It came out in 2005 and they only printed about 500 copies. I still have a box of them here at my house, so I'll offer them up as prizes. Signed by me and my fabulous illustrator friend, Brett Hiorns.

3. Maps of the Four Corners, as rendered by my friend Nathan Taylor. Signed by both of us.




The winners and the runners-up can have their pick from these three. So if you see you're a winner or a runner up, you might want to send me an e-mail letting me know which you'd like, and your real-world address too, if you haven't done that already. Remember the address is paperback.contest {squiggly at thinger} gmail.com

In Joe's case, because he really went the extra mile, I'm also going to include either one of the old black-cover galley copies of the book, or one of my old manuscripts. Whatever makes him happier.

Now, on to today's category.


When I finally gathered all the pictures and tried to group them together, I found they didn't fit neatly into the categories I'd been expecting. Oh sure, there were dramatic pictures, and cute pictures, and pictures of people reading. I'd counted on that. What I hadn't anticipated were groups of pictures involving food, or birds, or babies.





This photoshopped one was the exception to the rule. Everyone else sent me pictures of their babies, which now that I think of it, is really unexpectedly sweet.





This guy has hair like mine.






Ah yes. This guy seems to have his priorities straight....






Eeeeeee! No! Don't bend the cover back like that!




Awwww.... This guy wants it too. What's more, he's picking it over a bunch of brightly colored toys. I think we could hang out.




The Runner-Up. This is about the cutest thing ever. I think it's a combination of the hoodie and the fact that the little pink elephant wants in on the action too.





But here is the undisputed winner. The caption that went along with this picture reads:

"Levi can't believe he has to wait so long to continue the story. A year is a long time for a 2 month old."

I don't know if there's something wrong with me, but every time I look at this picture I end up laughing. I've never seen anyone so absolutely furious in my entire life. It's nice to know that the angriest fan I ever have will never be this angry.


That's all for now folks. More on the way....

pat

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Thursday, March 6, 2008
Ask the Author #5: Where can I buy the new version of the book?


Since I posted up the new cover for The Name of the Wind, folks have been asking me where they can buy a copy.







Doubtless some of you want a copy of this book because it is clearly A Novel. I also know a lot of folks want this cover because the style will more closely match the hardcover for The Wise Man's Fear:





I understand your desire, and I feel your pain. I wanted this new cover too, and even though I'm the author, I still had a bitch of a time locating it. I had to hunt around for weeks before I managed to get my hands on one.

The truth is, I don't know where these new copies will be showing up. These are the books that currently live in the warehouse. If a store orders a book from the warehouse, this cover will probably get delivered to them. But if the bookstore orders from a distributor, the distributor might not have this fifth printing in stock. They might still have first printings, or third printings. It's a crap shoot.

However, since so many people were asking about it, I worked something out with a guy I met out in Seattle last year. His name is Shawn Speakman, and he runs a business that sells signed books over the magical interweb.

So, when I head out to Seattle at the end of the month for Norwescon, I'm going to swing by his place and sign a bunch of books for him. If you want one you can go order a copy at his store.

Please note that I'd be more than happy to personalize your book for you, free of charge. Just make sure you enter what you'd like me to write when you your order your book.

Now, the more astute of you that have doubtless already clicked on the link and noticed that Shawn is charging 29.95 for the books. Five bucks more than the cover price. This isn't because he's a greedy son of a bitch. No. Shawn is a high-class gentleman. I know this because Shawn is giving me that five bucks to help offset the cost of my plane ticket out there. If not for that, I wouldn't have been able to justify making the trip out to the coast.

Lastly, as an added bonus for those of you who have been dying to get hold of a copy of the Illustrated, Annotated, College Survival Guide, Shawn will be selling some of those too.

Those will be signed by me, and each will have a cool doodle and a signature by my longtime friend, illustrator, and co-conspirator, Brett Hiorns.


Later all,

pat

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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....

Pat!

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...

J-
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.

Later all,

pat

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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.

Dear Pat,

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.

John S.


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....

Later all,

pat

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