Thursday, July 31, 2008
The Pat Rothfuss Escort Service.

Today I was driving downtown and I saw a momma duck walking down the middle of the street with six little baby ducks following her. Downtown Stevens Point isn't really a bustling place, but there's still two lanes of traffic, and she was walking right down the center line.

I did a quick job of parallel parking, which turned out even more lousy than my usual. Then I hopped out of the car and made sure that they got out of the road okay.

The babies were still really young. They still had their baby fluff, and were smaller than tennis balls. Mom was taking small steps to they could keep up, and they were all trucking along to keep up with her, none of them ever falling behind by more than a foot and a half.

The other thing I noticed is that if she stopped moving, all of them sat down immediately. They did it in unison, six little duck butts hitting the pavement all at once. Then when mom started going again, they all bobbed back to their feet and started following her again.

Momma duck eventually headed off the road to the sidewalk and hopped up the curb. I was surprised that the baby ducks could make it up there too. But they did, bouncing up a sheer wall three times taller than they were. It was really cute. Hallmark cute.

I walked with them the five or six blocks to the river, stopping traffic when they needed to cross the road. I thought I might need to herd them too, but momma duck knew where she was going, and I only had to steer once to keep her going the right direction.

That said, she really didn't like having me around and made it clear whenever I got too close. She would snap her beak, and the feathers on the top of her head stood up. I had no doubt that were I to cross some invisible line, she would bring all sorts of momma-duck wrath of god down on me.

A lot of the drivers I stopped of didn't care for me much either, and their mouths made similar snapping motions behind their windshields when I stepped in front of their cars and held out my hand for them to stop. Luckily, this is something I can do with incredible authority. I worked in a parking ramp one summer, and that was the skill I carried away. I can stop a car at thirty feet with a hand gesture no matter what the driver might think of me.

However, people didn't stay pissed for long. Once they saw what I was doing, everyone was full of smiles and willing to help. I believe, given the chance, the vast majority of people are eager to do the right thing. I believe that people are good, and that most of the ugliness in the world comes from folks being thoughtless, or misinformed, or simply inattentive to the world around them. No one willingly runs over baby ducks, but it happens all the time because people aren't careful.

Sometimes you need someone to step out in front of you and say, "No. Stop. Look at this thing that's about to happen. Think about what you're doing. Attend. Be mindful." Whatever you call this impulse, I have a great deal of it, and it's constantly leading me to step out in front of moving cars. Metaphorically speaking.

Everything said, it took about an hour for me to escort the ducks to the river, and the milk that I'd left in my car got hot from sitting in the sun too long. But the truth is this: walking those ducks to the river was the best time I've had in months. Maybe longer. I felt good afterwards, better than I've felt in a long time.

It's strange for me to admit this, but a lot of my life has felt very hollow lately. Many of my days are not particularly good days, though I would be hard pressed to explain why this is the case.

I've had fun, don't get me wrong, but a lot of it has been fun like eating one of those giant Pixy Stix. It's great while you're doing it, but afterward, you don't really feel.... good. It's not a substantial experience.

I need to think on this. If an hour spent helping some ducks feels like the most worthwhile thing I've done in a months, I probably need to re-examine my life.

That's all for now folks. Have fun, but look out for ducks while you're doing it. And if someone steps in front of you and holds up their hand for you to stop, you might want to slow down whatever you're doing and have a second look around, just in case.

Fondly,

pat

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Saturday, July 19, 2008
Do Not Bounce.

So, I can't imagine my life without Dr. Horrible. I'm dimly aware of doing things prior to watching it. I wrote a book, learned to walk, lost my virginity, etc etc. Silly things. Trivial things.

Joss Whedon. I don't think there's even a word for what I feel for him.

There's awe, that's a given, plus a vasty respect. Then those two emotions are tangled up with an odd, primal terror. I know that sounds odd, but that's the only way I can describe it. He terrifies me. It's the same fear a caveman would feel when confronted with, say, Opimus Prime. It's the terror that drove people to burn witches at the stake. Why? Well, because they can do things. They have preternatural abilities that freak us out right down to the marrow of our bones.

So. You take that knot of molten awe, respect, and holy terror, wrap it up in a fluffy blanket of love, then sprinkle it lightly with toasted coconut. That's how I feel about Joss Whedon. Is there a word for that? If not, we need one.

Were I not Pat, I would be Diogenes. Were I neither of those, I would be Joss Whedon.

But I'm not. I can't be Dr. Horrible either. Is it wrong that I want to dress up like him? Where can I get a lab-coat like that?

I think that there might be something wrong with me....

By tomorrow I'm guessing I will have settled down a little. But right now I'm thinking I might want to do a video blog or two. But honestly, I don't know if that's a good idea, I am many things, but I'm no Neil Patrick Harris.

What about you guys? Would any of you be interested in seeing a video blog?

pat


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Monday, June 9, 2008
Photo Contest Part VIII - Eros, Filius, and Agape

One of the original categories I proposed for this contest was "Most Sexy." This was, of course, a shameless attempt to get young ladies to send me pictures of themselves all scantily clad.

As with all of my nefarious schemes, this one met with varying degrees of success.





Oh. I remember when I had abs. *Sigh.* A decade of sitting in front of a computer writing a novel has not been good for my physique. I hope y'all appreciate what I gave up for this novel....

Similarly, as the pictures started to roll in, I realized that that "sexy" was too narrow a term for this category. I needed to broaden the field a bit, but I can't think of a single way to describe them. "Most Lovely" isn't quite right either. Perhaps what we need is not a single broad term, but a group of more specific ones....

The ancient Greeks were wise enough to have three words for love: Filius, Eros, and Agape. Filius was family love, what you feel for your mom. Eros was sweaty love of the sort that you feel for best friend's hot mom. Agape is profound and elevated. A sort of soul love, like what you feel for your PlayStation, or Natalie Portman, or Joss Whedon.

Let's do it that way, let us divide and conquer.





Some people made blatant attempts to appeal to my prurient interests. But these heavy-handed photoshoppings were the exception to the rule.






Some photos, in fact, were very high-class. Elegant, even.






Here we have the flirtation that comes at the beginning of the relationship....






.... and the romance that comes later. You sure know how to treat a book, Captain Joe.






Awwww.... the sweetest picture.






Here, apparently my book has just competed in some manner of sexual Olympics. I'm pretty sure that low score up on the board is from the East German judge....






Only rarely in my life have I been looked at with this degree of adoration. This is an agape look.






Awwww... Filius.






And there was a fair share of straight-up sexy too. Good old-fashioned Eros never goes out of style.






We've got librarian sexy.






Hip-wader sexy. (Don't judge me.)





And some bad-boy sexy. Can you feel the sheer damn manliness rolling off this? Not a lot of guys seemed interested in sending in pictures of this sort, so I think it's worth the runner-up position.






Our winner. So lovely. (I assume this was before the duck showed up...)





(Click to Embiggen)


And the picture that stunned me. The extra-winner. Winner plus. The ladies who sent this in were careful to point out that they were reading Chapter 69: Wind or Women's Fancy.

Ladies, for going to such lengths, each of you may have whatever prizes you like. Plus, I'd like to send along something special. Would you have any interest in a couple copies of the ARC I've been hording? It only seems fair that you would each get one, as this was clearly a team effort.

This picture. I... I just don't know what to say. Part of me feels like I should try to be suave here. I feel like I should pretend...

Here's the deal. I think when we're young, we all dream of being famous. We see actors or rock stars on the news, and we want some of that for ourselves. It's a dream of power. It's a childish fantasy.

I'm a grown-up. Partly. And that grown-up part of me says, "You should be mature about this. Assuming an attitude of careful appreciation to this picture. Be calm and complimentary, but don't overdo it. Remember, you don't want to seem like some immature git. Or worse, an old pervert."

I'm also a feminist. Hell, I spent years as the ADVISOR to the local feminist group. That part of me is grumbling about women's bodies as objects, and... y'know... patriarchy and stuff.

These are just a few of the ways my superego is trying to assert itself. Trying to make me feel guilty. Trying to crush my joy thin and lifeless as a dry, brown leaf.

But no. I'm going to shrug off all that responsible-minded bullshit for a moment and tell you the truth. This is cool. This is the coolest thing ever. I look at this picture and I feel like a goofy teenager again. When I first saw it, I laughed with delight and joy. I told everyone about it.

I wish I could go back in time and talk to my poor, lonely, confused teenage self and say, "Pat, things are not going to go smoothly for you over the next couple years. You will make terrible mistakes. You will spend a decade getting your college degree and writing a unmarketable behemoth of a fantasy novel. Most people, even the ones that love and support you, will think that this is a pretty stupid thing to do, and they will be right in thinking that."

Then I would lean forward and say, "But if you keep writing, you will finish that book. And if you keep revising it, a publisher will buy it. They will pay you money for the story that came out of your head. And once that book is in print, there are people who will love your book. They will love it beyond all reason and expectation. They will love your book to such a degree that beautiful young women will strip naked and adorn their bodies with the image of your book, and then they will send you a picture of it!"

In my mind's eye, I can see the smile on the face of that teenage Pat. It is the smile I am wearing now. It goes deep down into my chest, and it feels good. It feels like being a stupid kid again.

Tomorrow it will probably fade. I'll probably feel a little embarrassed about the fuss I made over this picture. But for now, I am happy in a very non-mature, non-responsible way.

For now, I know that I am very lucky. Thank you all.

pat

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posted by Pat at 52 Comments



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