Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Fanmail Q & A: Coolness

It's been a while since I answered an e-mail from a reader. How about we do that?

Pat,

I just wanted to say I've loved The Name of the Wind for over a year now, but I just recently found your website. Your blog has kept me laughing for almost two solid weeks as I go back and read the archives. That's something I've never done with a blog before.

Even better, your fundraiser was seriously amazing this year.

Seriously, how cool are you?

Jake

Jake,

You strike on a topic I've been curious about for some time. How cool am I?

As I've mentioned before in the blog, growing up, I wasn't one of the cool kids. But things change, and these days geek is chic. I'm willing to admit to the fact that these days, I might actually be a little cool.

Your letter poses an interesting problem though. If you'd simply asked, "Are you cool?" I could have gotten away with answering "maybe" or "kinda." But you've asked for a _degree_ of coolness. What's more, you've requested that I *seriously* consider the problem.

That means we need to use science and shit. We need quantifiable units of coolness that we can plug into formulas. We need to be rigorous.

Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, the BIPM hasn't established a standard unit by which we can measure coolness. I can't just tell you that I'm say, 85 pascals of cool. Or 158 newtons. Or whatever.

That means if we want to determine how cool I am, we have to measure me against some sort of universally accepted standard of cool. We need to develop our own yardstick, as it were.

So, let's pick two people who are undeniably cool. The king and queen of geek cool: Felicia Day and Neil Gaiman.

Now we need some numbers. While popularity isn't quite the same thing as cool, you have to admit they're closely related. Since I don't have access to things like book sales or website hits, we'll have to go to the lowest common denominator: Facebook.

(Yes, I know. Technically, Myspace would be the lowest common denominator. But there's only so low I'm willing to go, even for science.)

A quick search of fan pages reveals the following stats.

Felicia: 192,000 fans.

Neil: 90,000 fans.

Me: 10,000 fans.

Now we could stop here and say, that I'm about .05 as cool as Felicia. Or that I'm roughly .11 of a Gaiman. Or something like that.

But drawing data from only one source strikes me as slipshod. To round things out, why don't we take a look at Goodreads rankings?

Here's a screenshot of their list of most-followed people.

[Edit: Yes, I know these numbers have changed since I took the screenshot. I'm not redoing the math.]

(Click to Embiggen)

As a side note, you can see that according to Goodreads, I'm ever-so slightly cooler than Wil Wheaton. I like how it looks like his little Lego man is pissed at me for being above him.

"Curse you, Rothfuss," Lego-Wheaton says. "How dare you get between me and Felicia day?"

"Takest not that tone with me," Russian-dictator-looking-Rothfuss glowers from above. "Lest I crush you with my manly, blue-lit beard."

"Bring it Hagrid," he replies. "I'll beat you like a redheaded stepchild."

"What are you going to use?" I say. "Your kung-fu grip? Hell, you don't even have any elbows!"

Wait... Sorry, what was I talking about again?

Oh. Right. Coolness. I guess I lost a few points just there.

Anyway, as you can see things stand like this:

Me: 383 friends, 308 people following my reviews.

Felicia: 2,710 friends, 380 people following her reviews.

Not pictured above, Neil Gaiman sits at #1 on this list. Topping the chart on a mountain of cool with 5,175 friends and 3,133 people following his reviews.

Let's just combine these for simplicity's sake:

Gaiman: 8308

Felicia: 3090

Me: 691

Because the Facebook numbers are really high compared to Goodreads, we have to normalize them by multiplying by .045. (Don't ask how I got there. It's boring. If you understand statistics, you know how it works.) That gives us:

Gaiman: 4050

Felicia: 8550

Me: 450

So we add these together and apply the bonus multipliers.

Gaimain:
Medium Bonus - Novels, Comics, Movies, Audiobooks: *1.4

Association Bonus - Engaged to Amanda Palmer *1.5

Flair Bonus - Accent *1.4

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

12358 *1.4 *1.5 *1.4 *1.5 = 54499


Felicia:
Medium Bonus - Television, Webisodes, Comics: *1.3
(The Guild comic is coming out soon, in case you didn't know.)

Association Bonus - Works with Joss Whedon *1.6

Flair Bonus - Smells like flowers and PS3 *1.3

Appearance Bonus: Sexy *1.5

11640 *1.3 *1.6 *1.2 *1.5 = 47212

Me:
Flair Bonus: Beard *1.2

Penalty: Engaging in imaginary smack talk with Lego-Wheaton. *.09

1141 *1.2 *0.9 = 1232


You still with me? Now we have to create our yardstick for the measurement of geek-coolness. Imagine if Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day were somehow alchemically combined into one creature. Some ubercool, sexy, hermaphroditic, webisode-creating, rockstar, gamer, author thing.

I think it's safe to say that godlike creature would be the ultimate amalgam of geek cool.

So if we add together the scores of Neil Gaiman and Felicia Day, we get roughly 100,000 units. These I hereby term Gaiman-Day units. They will hereafter be used to determine how cool someone is. 100,000 Gaiman-Day units is the coolest you can be without collapsing into some manner of singularity.

So there we go. Now we have a way to quantify how cool I am, Jake. I am exactly 1232 Gaiman-Day units of cool. Only about one percent as cool as it's possible to be.

I hope this answers your question, Jake.


pat

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posted by Pat at 111 Comments



Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Music, Miscellany, and Signed Copies of The Guild.




This is a Worldbuilders blog.




So Worldbuilders is almost at an end for this year. We've got one last blog full of prizes. We've got music and some other cool miscellanea, including some signed DVD copies of The Guild.

But first, news:

First and foremost, the deadline: The fundraiser ends on January 15th. You have to donate before then to have a chance at winning the fabulous stuff we're raffling off.

Second, as I'm writing this, we've already raised over 110,000 dollars. That means people have donated twice as much as last year.

This is empirical evidence that y'all are awesome. Seriously. Before I was just guessing, but now I can prove it with math and such.

Thirdly and lastly, a tiny story:

Yesterday Sarah was busy feeding the baby when I walked past her bedroom.

"Sweetie?" she called. "Can you do me a favor?"

"You can't afford it," I said.

I am, of course referring to the recently completed auction for the Golden Ticket. Apparently the thought of winning a favor from me was worth over 15,000 dollars to someone.

This leaves me stunned and more than slightly frightened. If someone paid, like, seventeen bucks for it, I'd feel free to tell them to go screw if they asked for something unreasonable. But for 15,000 dollars, I worry that I might end up being pressured into something morally reprehensible, like kicking a koala bear.

Anyway, I hope the favor granting goes smoothly. Unlike the uncannily timed comic that just came up on Cyanide & Happiness...

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net



Okay. Enough news. On to the prizes....

  • Two CDs of Manticores and Owlbears: Songs of Dragons and the Dungeons in which they dwell! by Daniel Marcotte.
I met Daniel Marcotte at Gencon this year. He was strolling the halls all minstreled up, and carrying a gorgeous lute.

We got to talking and quickly established our mutual geek cred. He gave me a CD. I gave him a book. The rest, as they say, is history.

This particular CD is a bunch of D&D songs played on classical instruments. Fun stuff. Plus, I've heard it rumored that listening to Dan the Bard's CD gives you +1 on your next encounter. So you might want to look into it.

  • Two CD's of Unicorns and Dragons: Love Songs, Drinking Songs, and Fighting Songs from the Bristol Renaissance Faire! by Daniel Marcotte.
More from Dan. I'd already have a sample of his music up on my webpage right now if I weren't so busy with book and baby. Hopefully soon.

Not all of Dan's music is steeped in modern-day Geekery. Some of it is old-school geekery as well. This CD is "Tales of Wizards, Knights, Pirates and Princesses, set to music of the Ap Huw Manuscript (16th c Welsh Bardic Tradition) and transcribed for Renaissance Lute."

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember these folks from a previous post. If you never saw that blog, you should really click over here and watch the little video. It's short, and I guarantee you've never seen anything like it.

After I gushed about how awesome they were, we actually got in touch. I sent them a copy of the Brazilian translation of the book, they sent me some CDs for the fundraiser.

"They are considered a new phenomenon in the Brazilian guitar. With a mix of perfect technique, infallible repertory and a lot of charisma Fernando Lima and Cecilia Siqueira are winning admirers where they go" Published on "Violao Pro" Magazine, Sao Paulo – Brazil

You can also catch their music on their website and myspace page.

  • Six copies of Only Ghosts Remain by Fermata.
I caught Fermata playing about a year ago at the Afterdark, the local coffee shop here in Stevens Point. It was cool stuff, and it gave me some ideas about what type of music a group of eclectic troupers might play.

I'd have a sample of their stuff up on my webpage too if I wasn't so swamped...

Review from Sepiachord.com, "Fermata are not most bands and make the smooth mixing of pop elements and folk elements seem easy.There's a confidence here that makes what they do feel light, effortless. Despite the somber mood they evoke this confidence gives a sense of hope and positiveness to the work. "Only Ghosts Remain" is a chamber pop album for goths-who-smile. This collection proves that all "gothic Americana" doesn't have to be gutter tales of depravity and desperation."

You can listen to the music of Fermata at their myspace page.

Another Wisconsin musician was nice enough to kick in a CD of his work:

From Eli August's myspace page: "Eli August creates music with zeal and energy, focusing on mood, tonality and lyricism. The songwriting mines memories of past regrets and failures to create melancholy aural set pieces that are sincere, passionate and some times dark, but never completely devoid of redemption."

I guarantee you've never heard anything like this stuff. I could try to explain it to you, but I just don't have the words for it...

Description from SkullsofHeaven.com, "db is a self-taught throat singer, nature mimic, and multi-voiced performance artist [...] He has rolled up his sleeves and written lyrics for some of the songs, though he still keeps the emphasis on wordless imaginary flight with his vocal gymnastics. Playing bass, bansuri flute, and percussion he creates menageries of animal worlds with minimal looping effects and expressive feats of multi-tonal singing."

  • Three CD's by Janis Ian, Folk is the New Black, The Best of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection and Billie's Bones.
Most folks know about Janis Ian because she's a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who's been making music for over 40 years. Fewer people realize that in addition to being a talented musician, Janis is also active in the Sci-fi community.

She contacted me after reading my The Name of the Wind and said some very flattering things. Then, despite her disappointment that book two wasn't finished yet, she was nice enough to donate some CDs to Worldbuilders.

Blogcritics.org say, "Best Of Janis Ian: The Autobiography Collection is a two-disc retrospective of Janis Ian’s career. All of her hits and well know songs are included as well as some of her equally impressive but not as famous new material."

"Now I can add another favorite to my Hall of Urban Fantasy Fame: Deborah Smith writing as Leigh Bridger... tense, heart wrenching and lovely." - Pam Headrick, bookseller - A Thirsty Mind

  • Two copies of Once Bitten by Kalayna Price with signed bookplates.
"Once Bitten is a solid urban fantasy debut with enough original ideas and twists to satisfy readers looking for something different and fresh." - SciFi Guy Blog

  • One set of the first two books in the Unbidden Magic series, Moonstone and Moonrise by Marilee Brothers with signed bookplates.
"Marilee Brothers' novel stands out for its humor and Allie's strong point-of-view as an underdog finding her place in the world. This is another good choice for public library teen/fantasy collections. I look forward to the next title in this series." - Grinnell College Libraries

  • A copy of Mutant Chronicles by Matt Forbeck. Signed by the author.
From the back of the book: "It will be a dangerous mission. I don’t expect that any of us will survive. But it’s a chance to save mankind, to save our world. Maybe the last chance."

  • A copy of Blood Bowl: Rumble in the Jungle by Matt Forbeck. Signed by the author.
"The action begins in the very first paragraph. From then on it is non-stop action, adventure, humor, and blood." — Huntress Reviews

  • A set of two books in Knights of the Silver Dragon, Prophecy of the Dragons and The Dragons Revealed by Matt Forbeck. Signed by the author.
"A thrilling series of adventures that will not only get kids interested in fantasy, but also the Dungeons & Dragons game as well." — Tim Janson


I'm guessing most of you already know about Felicia Day. She was Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along blog, after all.

However, I'm guessing some of you might be woefully ignorant about the The Guild: Felicia's brilliant mindchild.

I got these copies of The Guild signed when I was out at San Diego Comic-con this year. I was doing it for Worldbuilders, of course. Not because I have a thing for Felicia Day, and certainly not because of my my burgeoning bromance with Sandeep Parikh.

Whatever my motivation, the result is the same: delightfully signed swag available if you donate at least 10 on my page at Team Heifer before January 15th.

Do it. You know you want to make the world a better place.

Want more details about the Worldbuilders fundraiser? Click HERE.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.


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posted by Pat at 18 Comments



Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Something to brighten your geeky day...

So, I'm back from GenCon. And despite the fact that I washed my hands like Lady Macbeth the whole time, I somehow managed to get sick.

Ordinarily, I'm okay with this. It's one of the risks of attending conventions. Sometimes you get stuck on a panel where you don't fit in. Sometimes you get trapped in a conversation and have to listen to a guy tell you about his 15th level half-elven ranger/assassin.

And sometimes, if you're unlucky enough to have me as your arch-nemesis, you get a death threat in your fortune cookie....





... Sometimes you get a cold. It's all part of the game.

But this time it sucks more than usual. I did Worldcon and GenCon back-to-back this year, so I've been away from home for almost two weeks solid. However, because I got sick the day before I came home, I cannot have a joyeux homecoming complete with passionate kissings from Sarah.

No. It is bad for a pregnant lady to get sick. That means when I returned from the airport, Sarah greeted me at the door with a firm handshake and a pat on the head.

Don't get me wrong. It was a good handshake. But even the best of handshakes cannot help but fall far short of passionate.

So I sit at my computer, sick, kissless, and trying to catch up on 500 unanswered e-mails. What can I possibly find that will lift my spirits?

This:







Yes, Felicia Day is all kinds of awesome. You had to know that already. What this video really did was firmly cement my love for Sandeep Parikh and Jeff Lewis.

Midwest side, my boys. Represent.

pat

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posted by Pat at 49 Comments



Wednesday, July 29, 2009
San Diego and The Legend of Neil

So last night I was writing up a blog about my embarrassing adventures out at San Diego Comic-Con. It was a good blog, chock full of me making an ass of myself.

Then, just as I was finishing it, my computer decided that 3:00 AM is the *perfect* time to auto-update. Shutting down and erasing the blog and several e-mails I was in the middle of.

Needless to say, I quickly became a pillar of incandescent rage. I'm glad nothing else was going on at three in the morning because this was the sort of anger that easily could have led to an Ovid-style metamorphosis. I was so angry that if something would have bit me during that first fifteen minutes, I would have manifested super powers and gone on a fucking rampage.

Eventually that blog will rise from the ashes, but for now the pain is still too close to the surface. So instead, I'd like to share one of my current geeky pleasures with you.

Ready? Here we go.

There were a lot of things I didn't get to do out at Comic-con. I didn't get to see Neil Gaiman or Joss Whedon. I didn't get to see the preview of the new Tron movie or go to any of the Firefly panels. Those panels were too full, and I'm not cool enough to hang with the beautiful people.

But I did have a good time. And one of the main things that made the trip worthwhile was the fact that I got to touch base with Felicia Day and the rest of the cast of The Guild as shown here in Exhibit A:




(Click to Embiggen)


It's well-known that I have a bit of a fanboy crush on Felicia Day. But that's nothing out of the ordinary. Any proper geek is morally obliged to have feelings for her. Aside from the fact that she was in both Dr. Horrible and Buffy, Felicia writes and produces The Guild. Plus she's good with math. And a gamer. And a musician. Anyone who claims they don't have a bit of a crush on her is just a fucking liar.

That said, the subtle subtext of this picture is harder to see. Specifically, it's the fanish crush I have for another member of The Guild cast: Sandeep Parikh.




(That's supposed to be a heart, by the way.)


For those of you are tragically out of the loop, Sandeep plays Zaboo in the Guild. But not only does he possess brilliant comedic timing and an enviable magic carpet. He writes and produces his own web series: The Legend of Neil.

Anyway, the story goes like this. Sunday I hit The Guild booth to buy some signed copies of season 1 and 2 to use for prizes in this year's Heifer Fundraiser.

Felicia recognizes me, smiles, and introduces me to everyone as that author guy who wrote that book. (I'm paraphrasing here, she was much more eloquent.)

That's when Sandeep looks up at me and says that he really liked my book. I look at him and I tell him that he is seriously funny and that I'm a geek for Legend of Neil. (I'm paraphrasing here too, I'm pretty sure I cussed a bit for emphasis. )

Our eyes met. Everything went quiet for a moment. We had a magical moment of shared geekery that might have eventually led to a hug.... but unfortunately there was a table in the way. Plus the two of us might be too manly for that sort of thing, anyway.

Now don't get me wrong. I love The Guild. But in terms of pure irreverent humor, The Legend of Neil is hard to beat. Plus Felicia plays the Fairy in episode three. Even if you never played Zelda, you'll laugh your ass off.

Seriously. Check it out. Here's a link. (Get it? Zelda? Link?)


More convention stories soon...

pat

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Monday, February 16, 2009
My Trip to LA: Part Two

Just a reminder folks. This is part two of a longer blog. Part one is over here.

[...]

I've had the chance to hang out with some pretty cool people over the last year: Peter S. Beagle, Tad Williams, Neil Gaiman. Folks I've idolized for a long time. But I never had this strange vertigo with any of them.

I've thought about it a lot since then, and right now my best guess is this.

I think talking to someone you've seen on TV is like meeting someone you already know. Your brain has become familiar with the image of this person, you know the texture of their voice, their body posture. For all intents and purposes, you know them.

Except you don't. You're just familiarized to the sensation of them. What's more disorienting is that if they're an actor, the personality you've attached to their image isn't really their own. Or at least it's not *entirely* their own.

I don't think it's the same with writers. When you're experiencing our work, you don't see our faces. You might get a peek inside our heads (or think you get a peek) but that doesn't lead to the same visual imprinting that you get from watching someone on screen.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've probably watched Dr. Horrible over a hundred times since it came out. I haven't watched The Guild *quite* as much as that, but if you count the times I've re-watched each of the individual episodes, I've probably moved into the triple digits by now.

This means that in the last year, I've seen Felicia Day's face more than I've seen the face of my own sister. More than I've seen the faces of any of my friends who all live out of town. More than any real-world face except Sarah's, and honestly, during the week when Dr. Horrible was first released, that particular race might have been too close to call.

I think that's what where this strange vertigo came from. It was some rational part of me hitting my the degauss button in my brain again and again. Helping me realize that the person in front of me was fundamentally different from the person I had been watching on the screen of my computer.

And eventually it worked. I was able to settle down and talk with her and the moments of odd vertigo grew farther and farther apart. Unfortunately one of those moments happened when I was signing a book for her. A signing that I screwed up to a degree that still embarrasses me.

I also have to say that I was really impressed with everyone else at the signing. I know a lot of people must have recognized her, but from what I saw, nobody freaked out on her or hassled her.

Part of this I'm guessing has to do with the fact that we were in LA, but I'm willing to lay a lot of it on the fact that my readership seems to be composed of very cool, intelligent people.

For example, when I was signing books after the reading, a couple folks came up to the front of the line, and thanked me for introducing them to Dr. Horrible on my blog.

I motioned them a little closer and they leaned in. "Be cool about it," I said quietly, excited to get the chance to tell someone who could appreciate the news. "But Felicia Day is here. She's behind you, standing in line!" I grinned, vibrating with geeky joy. Probably looking like a garden gnome who has recently stumbled onto the a particularly interesting patch of mushrooms.

"We know!" They grinned too, just as excited as me.

After the signing, the lot of us went out to dinner: me, my gracious hosts, a few of their friends, and Felicia day.

We ended up at a small restaurant, where I had the best Thai food of my life. And I must say, sitting there, surrounded by rocket scientists, librarians, and other persons of eclectic occupation. Chatting and trading stories with Felicia day. It was my own personal Valhalla.





Lastly, since we're talking about public appearances, I'm going to be having a little reading up here in Hayward in a week or so.

So if you live up here in the north woods of Wisconsin and are not an elk, feel free to swing by. It should be a nice cozy event with just a few of us, so I'll have plenty of time to chat with everyone who comes. Plus, I hear there will be cookies.


February 26th, Thursday, 6:00-8:00

Hayward Public Library
10788 HWY 27/77
Hayward, WI 54843

For more info call 715-634-2161


And back to work for me,

pat

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Saturday, February 14, 2009
My Trip to LA: Part One

So, it's been about a month since my trip to LA.

Now some folk will quibble and say that I was in *Pasadena,* not LA. But that is a distinction that matters primarily to folks who live in the LA area. To the rest of us, that entire gob of city there in Southern California is all LA.

It's best not to split hairs about these sorts of things. If we're going to get technical, I would have to explain to people that I'm not originally from Madison proper. I'm actually from the Town of Burke, right next to Madison. And right now I'm not in Hayward, hiding from the world and writing, I'm in the nearby township of Lenroot, or something like that.

These are pointless little truths that don't do anyone any good.

This is the art of storytelling, you see. Telling small lies in pursuit of a larger truth. The art of being a reader is being willing to work a little to get at the meat of the story, while at the same time accepting the occasional bent technicality and comma splice.

Anyway. LA was awesome. I was flown out by the lovely folks responsible for one of the winning pictures in the photo contest. Not only are these ladies lovely and willing to get naked for my book, but they are also rocket scientists. Seriously. So while I was out there, I got to take a tour of JPL and look at cool spaceship stuff.

I got to see oranges growing on trees. Which might not seem like a big deal for most of you, but for me it was pretty cool. I also saw lizards running around wild, and can now identify a eucalyptus tree. I got to play some new board games and walk around outside without wearing a coat or hat or anything.

The book signing itself turned out to be a marvelous success. We had a surprising number of people show up, I'm guessing 100 or 120. They had to bring out a bunch of extra chairs, and even then people were standing in the isles and sitting on the floor.

It was a good crowd. I read a few Survival Guides, a poem, and a snippet of book two. I told some stories, answered questions, and got a few laughs. Afterwards, I signed a buttload of books and got to chat one-on-one with folks. Someone brought me wine, someone else brought me an entire care package including memory sticks and tickets to Disneyland.

Though I love the swag, I feel obliged to remind folks that the "Something Cool" rule only applies to books you're mailing in for me to sign.

That said, if you have something you'd *really* like to give me, far be it from me to stop you….

Of particular interest was something that happened halfway through the reading. I was answering some question or another, and I looked out and saw Felicia Day sitting at the back of the crowd.

Now this is the point in the story where I don't exactly know what I should say. Normally when I'm telling a story out of my real life, I go with the truth, even when it's embarrassing or unflattering. I don't know exactly why I feel obliged to do this, but I do.

But for some reason, as I tell this story, I want to lie. I want to pretend I was laid-back about it. Pleased, of course, but also nonchalant. I'd like to portray myself as relaxed… cool. Like the Fonz from Happy Days. Or like the modern-day fantasy author version of the Fonz: Neil Gaiman.

I've seen Neil Gaiman a couple times. He's a great public speaker, funny, insightful. He knows how to work a crowd, and he's irritatingly good at reading his own work out loud.

Even better, he's terribly gracious in person. I once watched him get ambushed by a fan who was desperate to have Gaiman read his manuscript. The guy clung to Gaiman and wouldn't take no for an answer. I found it irritating from a distance of fifteen feet, but Gaiman was unfailingly polite through the whole exchange.

I'm not graceful in that way. I honestly don't know how I come across in public, but sometimes I expect that it's something like the way my old dog, Pup, used to behave.

He was a big liony mutt that I grew up with as a kid. An outside dog who never knew a fence, as we lived out in the country and let him run wild. He a smart dog, and a vicious hunter. He patrolled our house, protecting us from pretty much anything.

Despite the fact that he was a great hunter and defender, he was also very friendly. Unfortunately, it was like he never figured out that he wasn't a puppy anymore. When someone came over for a visit, Pup would jump up on them, putting his paws up on your chest (or your shoulders, if you were shorter) and lick your face.

This is fine behavior if you're a fluffy puppy with milk-breath, or if you're an adult dog hanging out with your family. But Pup treated everyone that way, even when he was full grown, shaggy, and smelling of whatever interesting he had found to roll in.

I suspect that's what I must be like when I'm in public most of the time. I'm this great shaggy beast who gets excited about meeting new people, and does the conversational equivalent of jumping up on people and licking them in the face.

This means that when I want to be socially graceful, I need some sort of internal touchstone about how I should act. So when I see Felicia Day sitting in the back of the room, I think to myself: WWNGD?

I'm guessing he would not, for example, stand up at his own reading and say: "Holy shit everybody! Felicia Day is here!"

So I didn't either. But I tell you, it was a near thing. I'm pretty sure I kept my game face on, and kept answering whatever question I was in the middle of. But the truth is, inside I was standing up and pointing, shouting: "Holy shit! Everybody! Felicia Day!" with all the enthusiasm of a four-year-old who has just seen his first real firetruck drive by on the street.

(Re-reading this, I think I need to add another item to my ever-growing list of Things You Should Never Compare a Woman to Under Any Circumstances. Number Seven: Firetruck. Perhaps any type of truck.

For the record, please note that this particular use of firetruck is being used to describe my reaction to Felicia, not Felicia herself.)





Anyway, after the reading, I managed to grab Felicia and chat for a bit before I started signing books. By this point I'd settled down a bit and was able to behave like a regular human being.

But still, every once in a while, my head would spin around a bit and I would think, "Wha? Who is this? Holy shit. I'm talking with Felicia Day!"

*****

Well folks, due to my tangential nature, this particular blog has ended up being WAY longer than I'd intended. I'll post the rest of it in a day or two, how's that?

In the mean time, if you don't know what the big deal is, you can go check out Dr. Horrible, where Felicia plays Penny. Or The Guild, which Felicia writes and produces in addition to playing the part of Codex.

Later,

pat

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Some of the Best for Last - More Delicious Swag

Did I mention that Heifer International called my house? Yeah. They're the coolest folks. Apparently some of them have been watching our fundraiser with more than passing interest. They confirmed something I had started to suspect. Namely, that y'all are cool as hell.

This is the last treasure post, and we have some lovely stuff. Detailed below, we have another original manuscript, signed books and ARC's, and some cool swag from Queen of the Geeks, Felicia Day.

I've raised the donation bar a couple times just in the last week, and right now it looks like we stand a good chance of actually raising more that 40,000 dollars. Which is awe-inspiring, really.

For the last month, the first thing I've done in the morning is check the Heifer donation page. It's been a great way to start my day. But I'll be honest with you, there have been a few times in the last week that I've woken up, looked at the total, and thought. "This is it. I really shouldn't match any more. I said I'd keep going until Dec 11th, but I'm sure folks will understand if I stop matching donations a couple days early...."

When I get that feeling, I go look at Heifer's website. Then I learn things like the fact that half the chickens in Korea are descended from eggs that Heifer supplied after the Korean War.

Or I read about a young man in Uganda who had to quit school to take care of his five younger siblings because his parents died. He got a Heifer, greatly improving the family's nutrition. And the money they get from selling the surplus milk is helping to pay for school.





And then I think, "I can order Chinese food any time I want, and they bring it to my house. I have a car in reasonably good repair. I have a house that stays warm through the Wisconsin winters. I have a house full of books to read, and all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD. I am living the best possible life."

Then I relax, and I realize that nothing makes me happier than raising the donation bar again. And again after that if need be.

Okay, enough touchy-feely. Let's talk about free stuff.

  • A set of the first three books in Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet: A Shadow in Summer, A Betrayal in Winter, and An Autumn War. Hardcover. Signed by the author.




While I haven't mentioned these books on my blog, I've read them and they're really good. In fact, these were the first books I ever decided to give an official blurb to.

I'd almost forgotten about it. But when Daniel's books showed up today, I saw that my blurb was actually there, right on the cover. First book: quote from GRRM. Second book: quote from GRRM. Third book? Quote from me. That's right baby. Me.

So obviously I thought these were great books. But don't take my word for it. Instead, why not trust bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss when he says, "There is much to love in the Long Price Quartet. It is epic in scope, but character-centered. The setting is unique yet utterly believable. The storytelling is smooth, careful, and--best of all--unpredictable."

  • An advance reading copy of Jeri Smith-Ready's The Reawakened, conclusion to the Aspect of Crow trilogy. Signed by the author.




Another one of those cool ARC's for those of you who are interested in getting a peek at the book before it hits the shelves. Publisher's Weekly says, "Myth blends with passion in this colorful conclusion to the Aspect of Crow trilogy."





Award winning author Stephen Baxter calls Mirrored Heavens, "A crackling cyberthriller. This is Tom Clancy interfacing Bruce Sterling. David Williams has hacked into the future.”

  • A copy of Questions for a Soldier, by John Scalzi. Limited edition.




Questions for a Soldier is a limited edition Subterranean Press book set in the world of Scalzi's first novel, Old Man's War. Scalzi himself says, "for those of you looking for rare and unusual Scalzi-related curiosities, this is it, baby."

Paul Di Filippo, writing for The Washington Post Book World says, "Scalzi's imagined interstellar arena is coherently and compellingly delineated....His speculative elements are top-notch. His combat scenes are blood-roiling. His dialogue is suitably snappy and profane."

  • A set of S.C. Bulter's Reiffen's Choice and Queen Ferris, books one and two of The Stoneways Trilogy. Signed by the author.




Children's Literature says, "Fantasy fans of all ages will be drawn into the world that Butler has created…. If one wanders away from the main characters they will not fall out of the story but will find another story somewhere in the Stoneways or Valing, and that is the mark of a truly great fantasy."





This husband and wife team just sent me some of their stuff out of the blue. And I'll admit that when this graphic novel showed up, I invoked my sovereign right of... um... book-lookingness. Anyway, I read it. And it was pretty cool....

According to Publishers Weekly, "The tale's unfamiliar setting and the uncanny events work together intriguingly."





In a starred review, Kirkus says, "Featuring both an uncommonly well-conceived setting and buckets of high-energy action, Taylor's debut tale of a thumb-sized devil hunter who comes this close to meeting her match belongs at the top of everyone's fantasy must-read list."

  • A copy of Dead to Me, the debut novel of Anton Strout. Signed by the author.




Anton Strout is, among other things, my mortal enemy. However, I'm willing to set aside any personal rancor I feel toward the man in order to accept his generous gift on behalf of Heifer International.

Bestselling author Charlaine Harris gives this review: "Following Simon's adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but it's well worth the wear and tear."

  • An ARC of Fenzig's Fortune by Jean Rabe. Signed by the Author.




Jean has donated both a signed ARC, and a signed hardcover to the cause. Publisher's Weekly says that, "Readers of all ages will find simple pleasures in this traditional hobbit-inspired fantasy."

  • A manuscript of Steven Savile's new Stargate novel, Shadows, book one of The Iblis Trilogy. Signed by the author.




I can't say enough good about Steven. When he heard about the fundraiser, he immediately went out and started beating the bushes for donations. He brought in the folks from Bad Moon Books. He tipped off Kevin Anderson and many others. Finally, he's donated this lovely manuscript.

Here's what Steven says:

"Shadows is the first book in the Iblis Trilogy, an SG-1 novel featuring the original team. What makes this manuscript unique is it includes all of the mistakes and material that MGM won't approve - so there are a good 10,000 words different between it as a first draft and the finished book which is coming out at the end of January. The story itself pits the team against the Goa'uld, Iblis, and features the Mujina, an archetypal monster who can be all things to everyone, the hero and villain their heart most desperately desires."



(That's not my thumb this time, folks.
Judging by the grace and poise, I think it might be Felicia's.)


When I heard from Felicia a couple days ago, I hurried downstairs to tell Sarah.

Me: Felicia Day just sent me an e-mail! She says she'd like to donate a signed copy of The Guild DVD and a Dr. Horrible poster signed by the cast.

Sarah: Well that must make you excited enough to pee.

Which, in fact, sums up my reaction quite nicely.

I made a blog post about The Guild a while back, singing its praises. Later, Felicia and I interviewed each other, each in our respective blogs.

What I'm getting at is that I thought she was cool even *before* Dr. Horrible came out and she worked a deal with X-box to sponsor season two of The Guild.

The Los Angeles Times praised The Guild as "perhaps the smartest (and definitely the funniest) webisodic series of the year." This year, they're putting out a new season that's way more budgety.




If you haven't heard about Dr. Horrible, then you obviously haven't been reading my blog for very long. Maybe you have been living under a heavy, heavy rock. Or perhaps you hate everything that is lovely and good in the world.

How much do I love Dr. Horrible? I'll let this picture from my Halloween party tell the story:





Yeah. The ladies were totally into my Dr. Horrible costume.

So... yeah.
Dr. Horrible was bigger than Lennon, and the poster is pretty cool too. Signed by Felicia Day, Neil Patrick Harris, and Nathan Fillion. This prize is guaranteed to make you excited enough to pee.

That's all she wrote, folks. Remember you have until the end of December 11th to get in on the action. Tell your friends....



Want to know how to win these and other fabulous prizes while making the world a better place? Check OVER HERE for the blog that describes it all.





Rock on, team geek.

pat

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
On not being one of the cool kids.

A lot of folks have been asking if I'm going to be at San Diego Comic Con this weekend. This is to let everyone know that I'm not.

Yes. I know. Everyone cool in all of god's creation is going to be there. All the authors. All the actors. All the geeks of different creeds and nations. All the Joss Whedon.

I've never been to San Diego Comic Con before. This was going to be my first year, but in an act of true selfless love, I agreed to perform my friend's marriage ceremony, and it happened to land on the same weekend.

Don't get me wrong, I don't regret it. This is one of my very best friends, the guy who helped keep me sane during the two years of burning suck that was grad school. We live in different parts of the country now, but I still miss him, and if it were possible I would transplant him here in central Wisconsin. But alas, raised in the Pacific northwest, he is like a delicate hothouse orchid. One of our winters would either kill him, or throw him into some terrible psychosis.

So I'm looking forward to the wedding.... but... well.... the whole Dr. Horrible crew is going to be there. It would have been really cool if I'd managed to get to say howdy to Felicia Day in person, buy a copy of the Guild DVD, and get the cast to sign it.

Then this morning on my daily troll through the interweb, I see that just about all my favorite webcomic artists are going to be there too. I feel like the kid who forgot his permission slip. And believe me, I know what that feels like. I was always that kid.

So if you're going, have an extra portion of geeky fun on my behalf. Tell Joss Whedon I love him, and I'll catch y'all there next year.

pat


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The Day Has Come: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.


For you Whedonites out there, I just thought I'd remind you that the first part of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along blog is now live.





This probably isn't a big surprise for those of you who have been reading the blog for a while, as I've been geeking out about it for a while.

A couple months ago might remember me talking with Felica Day. She's Penny, the female lead. On the offhand chance that you weren't reading a couple months ago, and you're interested, here's a link to the interview I gave her. And, contrariwise, here's a link to the interview she gave me.

If nothing else, they will give you something to read while you're waiting for Dr. Horrible's page to load. I'm guessing it's going to get hit pretty hard today.....

pat

P.S. By the way, let's keep the comments section spoiler free, shall we? Not everyone will be able to watch it right and nobody likes having the good bits given away before they've had a chance to watch something themselves.

While I understand the desire to talk about the awesomeness of something like this, we must restrain ourselves. Sublimate the urge to say something along the lines of, "That was so cool when he blew up the sun and died at the end." Instead, say something gushy and loving about the show itself. Extra points given for odd-but-appropriate comparisons. For example: "That was so cool that I feel like I just got to hug a kitten and eat an entire ice-cream sundae."

Remember folks, people who give away spoilers go to the special hell: one reserved for child molesters and people who speak in the theatre.


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Monday, May 5, 2008
Interviewing Felicia


Over the last year, I've given a lot of interviews. I haven't counted, but I'm guessing there have been somewhere between thirty and forty.

Generally speaking, I enjoy them. I have a strong oracular element in my personality, which means that when people ask me questions, I feel moved, compelled even, to answer them.

But that's only half the story. I'm also a big asker of questions. I have a vast curiosity about all manner of things.

Combine this with my profound geekery, and you can understand why, when I got the opportunity to interview the fabulous and talented Felicia Day, I jumped at the chance.

Behold the result....

------------







So tell us a little bit about yourself....

I'm a professional actor (meaning I pay the bills solely with acting work, cross fingers) and I've lived in Los Angeles for almost 8 years now. I moved here after going to the University of Texas at Austin and getting Mathematics and Violin degrees. Natural progression to acting, don't you think?

I consider myself a "Jennifer of all trades" meaning I do a LOT of things PRETTY well. It's not a good long-term plan, but it's my personality.


Okay, I'll take the bait. If you started as a mathematician and violinist, what prompted you to make the transition into acting?

I got a bad tendentious in my left pinky during college which caused me a lot of pain when I played. I had to get cortisone shots in the joint to keep playing. (It actually hurts when I play too much Guitar Hero now, LOL). That, combined with the narrow reality of a professional classical musician's career choices, made me decide to focus on the other thing that brought me joy after college: Acting!

I also feel obliged to mention for all my fellow geeks out there, that one of your acting gigs was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Felicia here played Vi in season seven.

So what have you been up to lately?

Recently my focus has been on creating web content. I'm the creator of the web series called "The Guild," which is about a group of online gamers.


It's awesome on toast, and I'm not the only one who thinks so, as it recently won a bunch of fabulous awards, too. How did you get involved in working on that?


I created the show as a half-hour television pilot after I shook a two year addiction to World of Warcraft. People read the script, thought it was funny, but thought it was too "niche" for TV because it's about a group of online gamers. My friend and producing partner Kim Evey had just had fabulous success with her own YouTube videos, so after reading my script, she suggested we do it for the internet. We shot the first two episodes with our producer, Jane Selle Morgan, on our own dime, and after that we've been wholly supported by viewer donations through Paypal! It's pretty cool. Like PBS for online web series.


Hold on. You actually quit WOW? You don't play at all anymore?


Well, up until a month or so I did. I actually re-upped my account to see if I could play a normal amount of time (and to do some "research" for the show, haha). I had to quit cold turkey in the beginning though, it was consuming my life. I would move any WOW related tasks to the front of the queue, over career and family even. It got bad. Thankfully, my experience playing now is much more casual. I've only logged on a few times in a the whole month and it was easy to log off again after a few hours, keeping it short and sweet and playing with friends. Cross fingers I can sustain that!


In addition to playing the female lead in The Guild (Codex) you also write the script. Is this your first experience with screenwriting? Is it something that you're interested in pursuing more of in the future?

I have 4 or 5 scripts written... halfway. The Guild was the first one I actually finished and rewrote and polished. It took an amazing amount of sheer will to get it on the page because I haven't been writing since I was a kid like most accomplished writers. I absolutely admire writers more because of the whole process. I can't believe YOU got through so many HUNDRED pages with your book! Phenomenal!!


Well... I didn't write the whole book straight through, you know. I stopped around page 450 to get a sandwich and use the bathroom.

How do you go about your own writing?

The key for me was letting myself write badly at first in order to have something to rewrite and make better later on. I constantly have to beat down a perfectionist voice in my head. It holds me back in a lot of areas. Thankfully, the success (and fun) of writing the Guild has encouraged me to start writing other things and pursuing writing more seriously. I have several projects in the works now for TV and film. Getting them done is my main goal this summer!


Ooooh. I'm all tantalized. Can you tell us anything about your other projects?


They're still in the development stages, but one is a half-hour comedy, and the other is my ATTEMPT to add more fantasy into the hour-long genre. We'll see if it works!


One of the hardest parts of being a writer is actually trying to sell the book. A lot of authors spend years racking up rejections. Is the auditioning process similar to that?

Ooooh yes. It's even worse (well, from my perspective!) After you send in your book and get rejected, at least you get your book back and can take it other places. As an actor, you go in and do your interpretation of a role, and when you're rejected, they give it to someone else. It's not a judgment that you're necessarily bad, you just aren't what they're looking for, but it's hard not to take it personally. The mechanics of the actor's audition process is grueling, and I never ever will get to the point where I'm not anxious and nervous when I go in to read for a part.


Though it fills me with shame, I constantly check my Amazon Sales rank to see how well my book is selling. Most authors admit to doing the same thing. Is there anything similar that actors do?

Of course! Ratings are a #1 topic of conversation with anyone in the industry! Personally, I check my hits on YouTube a lot, especially the first few days after we post a video. The immediate feedback of the internet is pretty gratifying (and horrific depending on the comments : ) ) I have Google Alerts set up on my name and the show name and other phrases to constantly update me on what the web is saying about me/the show. After a while you get a much thicker skin, haha.


What sorts of things have people said over the years? Can you give us an example of something that's really gotten under your skin?

I really hate the racist comments against my cast members, I remove all those comments immediately. It's surprising how many they actually are, especially after we get featured on the front page of YouTube.

I also am irritated when people make fun of us for only putting out an episode a month, implying we're lazy or something. It touches on the part of me that is frustrated we don't have the budget or means to do them any quicker, but also shows that a lot of people don't understand what it takes to make a 5 minute short that looks much better than the average video. We don't just have one guy holding the camera, we have a real crew, who are all professionals, and who are working for free or near free. Hopefully for the next season that will not be an issue, as we're talking with several people who are interested in financing the show.


What's the weirdest fan moment you've ever had?

Well, I actually interact with fans on an everyday basis because I'm so wedded to the internet, so fan communication is actually a two way street with me and I generally ask fans for more stuff than they do of me! But the best experience I've had recently is when I visited Austin, and my brother and Dad and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond together to get a bath mat of all things, and a guy who worked there came up and asked me if I was Codex. Right in front of my Dad, which was so cool because not only did I create that character myself from scratch, my Dad got to see the reality that what I'm doing is "known". It was a great feeling.


You recently got to work with Joss Whedon on "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." What can you tell us about that?


I can tell you that it's going to be make a lot of people want to sing after hearing the music. Joss and his brothers Zack and Jed and Jed's fiance Maurissa wrote the show together to go on the internet in three parts. Joss had seen The Guild and had been percolating the idea of an internet musical for a while, and he said that watching the Guild was a part of the inspiration to get it done; that and the strike.


Hold on. You inspired Joss Whedon?


He said it was a PART of what spurred the work on Dr. Horrible. Don't make it seem like I'm claiming too much credit for it!! I worked with him on Buffy a few years ago and was crazy lucky enough for him to hire me for the part of Penny. I can't tell you what a fabulous experience it was working on it, the script and songs are fantastic! For someone in Joss' position to do something this experimental is great because not only is it going to be a huge success, it's going to make people look at internet content in a new way. I can't wait for it to be released!


Do you have a date for that?


I believe he said it will be released on the internet before Comicon.


Okay. I have to ask. Is Joss Whedon as cool as I think he is?


Yes, he's worthy of every kind of crush you could develop, I hate to say it. He's one of the most creative people I've ever met and he has a good and true heart. A real gentleman and a pleasure to be around.


Oh good. I have such a crush. I'm one tiny step away from setting up a little shrine in my house. It's only through a supreme effort of will that I've kept myself from doing something extreme to get him a copy of my book. I don't want to be that guy....


Let's say the impossible happens and The Name of the Wind gets made into a movie. We both agree it would be dreamy if Joss Whedon wrote or directed it, but what would your ideal cast be if you got your pick?

OMG that's hard, I'd have to read it again to refresh (the paperback is by my bed just for that purpose actually, haha!!)

Kvothe = Damien Lewis or a young version of him. (Life cop show, Band of Brothers) Jesse Tyler Ferguson also came to mind? (The Class)

Bast = the guy from American Beauty, Wes Bentley (What happened to him?)

Denna = Kiera Knightly or Natalie Portman definitely. Or the girl from Serenity: Morena Baccarin?


Oooh. Good picks. I hadn't ever thought of Morena Baccarin as Denna....

Would you have any interest in playing a part yourself?


My dream role would be Auri. I like playing damaged goods, haha.


So you live in LA, where everyone is beautiful. What happens when you take a trip to somewhere like Wisconsin. Is it traumatic looking at us regular folks?

That's funny! It is true that LA is filled with freakily beautiful people. I feel a lot prettier when I go out of town because the bar is set SOO high here! In LA I'm considered for the "plain" or "homely" characters mostly, I get called in for every one of those roles. They end up being more fun to play in the end, so I definitely don't mind. But going back to Austin and dressing up and getting head turns, that's pretty fun too, haha!


What's the worst part of the whole actor gig?

Auditioning. It's the most important part of the career, but you don't know that going into it. You have to consider auditioning the sole (unpaid) function of an acting career. When you actually get hired, that's the exception. And it's the thing that keeps you going, of course: Those moments when you're on set and working. There's nothing like it!


Any advice for aspiring actors and actresses out there?


Don't expect someone to pick you up off the street and make you a star: That's like winning the lottery. Make your own work. It will fill your hours with fulfillment and also lead to things you'd never expect.


Like with The Guild?


Yes! Like me with "The Guild"!


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In a gesture of inspiring largess, Felicia has said that she's willing to give away 10 autographed photos to folks out there that would like one. Well, eleven pictures, if you're counting mine....

If you'd like to be part of the random drawing for one of those pictures, why don't you send me an e-mail at paperback.contest {swirly at symbol} gmail.com with your mailing address. We'll leave the drawing open until... say... May 12th.

Lastly, today marks the end of the paperback photo contest. I have to say that the response has been beyond anything I could have reasonably expected. There have been so many submissions that it's going to take me at least a week just to sort them out, judge the best of them, and award some prizes.

That means if you spaced out and forgot to send your entry in, you can probably sneak it in tomorrow and I'll pretend to be too busy sorting to notice....

Later all,

pat

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Friday, May 2, 2008
A new interview with Felicia Day

I just finished an interview with the fabulous Felicia Day: actress, creative mind behind The Guild, and all-around good person geek.

I had a lot of fun chatting with her, if you're interested you can find it over here at her blog.


Also, if you live in the central Wisconsin area, I'm going to be having a booksigning at the local independant bookstore, Bookfinders. It's this Sunday from 11:00 to 1:00. Feel free to show up and hang out, I'm expecting it to be pretty relaxed there, so I should have time to chat with folks who stop by...

Address and contact info:

1001 A Brilowski Rd
Stevens Point, WI 54481
715-341-8300


Later all,

pat

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