Category Archives: College Survival Guide

Pat’s donations and the Golden Ticket

This blog is part of the Worldbuilders fundraiser. If you want details about the fundraiser itself, click the picture below.

Okay folks. Worldbuilders is kinda my baby. So I guess I should donate my books first.

Here’s what I’m throwing into the mix:

  • 5 signed hardcover copies of the Name of the Wind.

These are anywhere from 2nd printing to 6th printing, all with the sexy new blue cover.

  • 3 copies of the College Survival Guide. Signed by me and the illustrator.

This book was my first publication, and it’s a shameful piece of my sordid past. It’s a collection of of humor columns I wrote for the college paper between 1999 and 2003. Columns dealt with pressing philosophical issues such as the fast zombies/slow zombies debate as well as everyday problems like how to bribe your professor or start a career as a prostitute.

The book is full of illustrations by BJ Hiorns, the same guy that illustrates my blog. It also contains annotations where I explain how some columns got written, the lies I told, and what sort of trouble various jokes got me into.

Only 500 copies were printed, so the Guide is hard to come by these days. Collectors sell them for as much as 200 bucks. Myself, I think it’s perfect for reading on the toilet.

  • 2 First edition copies of the Name of the Wind. Signed by me.

Both of these with the out-of-print covers. One with the green man (above) and one with the Fabio. You wouldn’t believe what some people are charging for these things out there.

  • 3 Copies of Tales of Dark Fantasy. Signed by me.

This is the Subterranean Press anthology that printed my short story, “The Road to Levinshir,” which is an excerpt from The Wise Man’s Fear.

It also has some great stories by folks like Tim Powers and Kage Baker. It’s a beautiful hardcover book, and the cover price was $40, and that was back before it sold out. Now it’s hard to find one for less than 80 bucks.

  • 1 Copy of the original galley for The Name of the Wind. Signed by me.

A galley is an early version of a book that publishers occasionally print in order to promote a book. This version of the book was before the final edits, so there are about 5000 small changes I made before publication, as well as two chapters that I re-wrote almost entirely.

There weren’t that many of these printed, and the last one of them I saw on e-bay was going for over a hundred dollars. The few signed ones out there are going for more than that

  • The Golden Ticket.

I’ve thought long and hard about what sort of big prize I could offer this year. Last year I donated one of my old editorial manuscripts. But I’m aware that while collectors might think that sort of thing is cool, not everyone is interested.

I could offer to put your name in book two, but not everyone who’s donating to the fundraiser is a fan of mine. I could offer to critique your manuscript and give you feedback, but not everyone is working on a novel….

So here’s what I’ve decided. If you win this prize, I will owe you one (1) favor. You can cash it in however you like.

You want your name in book two? We can do that. You want me to read your book and give you some criticism? No problem. You want me to attend your local convention, perform your wedding ceremony, or just give you a nice backrub? Consider it done.

A few stipulations:

  • The favor has to be legal. (More or less.)
  • It has to be something I can actually do. (Duh)
  • I can’t make anyone fall in love.

Other than that, I’ll do my best to grant your wish. Personally, I’m really curious as to what the winner will come up with…

Remember, every 10 dollars you donate gives you a chance to win these and hundreds of other cool books, so head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in.

Want to go back to main page for Worldbuilders? Click HERE.

And, as always, special thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

(All Hail Subterranean Press!)

Also posted in Golden Ticket, Subterranean Press, Worldbuilders 2009 | By Pat16 Responses

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

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art, my student days | By Pat62 Responses

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

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art, Sarah, sexy | By Pat41 Responses

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 CSIDairyland: 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

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art | By Pat65 Responses

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 th
e 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

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art, Fanmail Q + A, My checkered past | By Pat19 Responses

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

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art | By Pat32 Responses

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

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art | By Pat44 Responses
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