Category Archives: small adventures

Ultimate Chalupa

So I’m driving by Taco Bell the other day, and the sign outside says, “Ultimate Chalupa.”

Naturally, I’m intrigued. Not just any old chalupa, not even a Really Good Chalupa. They’re selling the Ultimate Chalupa. The end-all be-all of chalupas. How can I pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

So I lane-change across three lanes of traffic and hurry inside. “Do you still have the Ultimate Chalupa?” I ask.

The guy behind the counter gives me a blank look and nods.

I’m so relieved. “Thank god. I’ll take it.”

So I pay my two bucks and change, and step to the side, waiting to them to complete whatever terrifying alchemy is required to produce the Ultimate Chalupa. It takes almost two minutes, so I’m guessing something pretty complex is going on back there.

And all the while I’m thinking: Wow. Ultimate Chalupa. This thing is going to be awesome. It’s going to be the Chalupa equivalent of Optimus Prime.

But just as they’re finishing, someone else steps up to the register behind me. She orders the Ultimate Chalupa too. I felt a little guilty, but also a little smug as I wait for the guy behind the register to explain to her that they’d already sold it.

But get this. He nods and rings up her order! I look over at him, pissed, and say, “What the hell are you doing?”

He gives me a blank look. I think this guy specializes in blank looks.  “What?”

“I already bought the Ultimate Chalupa,” I said. “It’s mine. You can’t sell it to her.”

Another blank look. He buys them in bulk at Costco. He got his associate’s degree in blank look at the local tech. “There’s your Chalupa.” He points at a tray being slid across the counter toward me.

“That’s not the Ultimate Chalupa!” I said, pointing at the woman. “Now she’s got the Ultimate Chalupa!” I slam my hand down on the tray. “This is just the Penultimate Chalupa! That’s not what I ordered! I didn’t pay $2.79 for some fucking Penultimate piece-of-shit Chalupa!”

The conversation spiraled out of control from there. The woman left in tears, and the guy behind the counter eventually used up his vasty store of blank looks, and was forced to use other looks that he wasn’t nearly as skilled with, like confused, irritated, and exasperated. He even had one that might have been flummoxed, but I’m not sure. He wasn’t very good at it, and I don’t think he really knew it was for.

Eventually I produced a Webster’s dictionary and proof that I did, in fact, have a Masters degree in English. This left them with no choice but to throw my ass out of Taco Bell yet again.

I stood in the parking lot and cursed them for a while. Then I climbed up on the sign and found out that someone had left the box of letters there. So I changed the sign to read, “Rather Good but by no means Ultimate Chalupa.”

Unfortunately, that used most of the letters, so my options were limited for the other side of the sign. All I could spell with what was left was, “Taco Bell – Everybody Masturbates on Us.”

Then I left. All in all, I’m counting the experience as a moral victory.


Editor’s note: I actually wrote this back when I was doing the College Survival Guide, but I figured I’d post it up here so people could get a cheap chuckle out of it while I’m busy with revisions.

Also posted in BJ Hiorns Art, College Survival Guide | By Pat77 Responses


Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while might remember several months ago when I posted up a general call for help.

The short version of the story is this. A reader sent me a very polite invitation to their high-school graduation party, and since I was going to be in the area anyway for Wiscon, I thought I’d stop by and say hello.

Of course I failed to take into account the fact that I’m an idiot. So while I remembered the party was over Memorial Day weekend, I didn’t make note of anything else, such as the address of the party, the person’s contact information, or even their name.

Needless to say, it was not my shiniest moment.

So I posted up a blog asking if anyone could help clue me in.

The bad news was that I did miss the party. The good news is that I did eventually get in touch with the reader. (Their name was Moss, by the way.)

The weird news was that over the last couple months, I’ve had at least fifty people ask me if I ever managed to get in touch with them. It was kinda strange. I’d be doing a reading in California, and when I threw open the floor for questions, someone would ask, “did you ever make it to that reader’s party?”

So, in the interest of giving everyone the closure they so desperately desire, I figured I’d let y’all know what happened.

This last weekend we finally managed to get together. We grabbed coffee and hung out for a little bit.

Awww…. (Yes, they’re taller than me. No, I don’t have a problem with that.)

I also finally got to give them the graduation present I meant to bring to their party. A remnant of my checkered past: a copy of my College Survival Guide.

I’m including this picture mostly so y’all can make fun of my handwriting.

That’s all for today. Just a little closure on a story I started a couple months ago. See? I can do it. It just takes some time….



Also posted in College Survival Guide, fan coolness | By Pat45 Responses

Circadian Spring

Okay. I’m going to tell a little story. But for it to make sense, you’re going to have to understand two things…

First, my sleep schedule is wildly variable. When I’m in the thick of revisions, it’s not odd for me to be up until 5 or 6 AM. Neither is it odd for me to sleep until 2 or three in the afternoon.

Second, spring is a confusing time in Wisconsin.

Don’t get me wrong. Spring is great. In Wisconsin we appreciate spring way more than most other folks because we spend half the year buried in snow. In more temperate parts of the world, if the thermometer dips to 68 degrees people start putting on sweaters and shutting their windows.

Not here in Wisconsin. Our winters can easily dip to -40 Fahrenheit (Which, for those of you who are all metric, is the same as -40 Celsius.) So when we get a sunny spring day that hits, say, 55 degrees, we’re all putting on our shorts and playing Frisbee. To us, 55 degrees is like getting a kiss from God…

The main problem with spring in Wisconsin is that Mother Nature is beginning fresh after the hard winter. She’s effectively starting her whole life over again.

That means in April and May Mother Nature is the equivalent of a 14 year old girl. Which is to say she’s insane.

So on May 13th, she can be sunny, happy, and sweet. She can wear a pretty sundress and hug puppies. Then, 12 hours later, she’s weeping inconsolably in her room. By May 15th she’s listening to NIN, wearing black lipstick, and burning herself with cigarettes.

That’s what a Wisconsin spring is like: Sun. Warm breeze. Two inches of snow. Lilacs. Birds singing. Hail. Tornado.

But even in her less extreme mood swings, a Wisconsin spring can be troublesome. Lately I’ve been heading out to my writing space at night, and it’s been chilly, if not chilly and damp. So I put on my coat and hat, walk over there, and write most of the night. Then, if it’s gotten really late, I sleep on the futon mattress I have over there just for that purpose. (Yeah. I know. Pretty glamorous, huh?)

The point is, when I wake up the next day at 1:00 in the afternoon, it’s lovely and sunny. I don’t want to wear my coat home and get sweaty, so I leave it at work and enjoy the weather on my way home.

The first day this happened it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t have my black leather duster, so I went to the back of the closet and pulled out my old, grey denim duster that I wore for 9 years back in college. It’s tatty, but it’s warm. I also found a weird furry hat that was too small for me, and stuck up about a 8 inches off the top of my head.

So I walk, write, and sleep again. Then when I get up it’s lovely, so I walk home coatless to see Sarah and Oot.

But the third night I was out of options. I don’t own multiple coats. It goes against my whole philosophy. And while Sarah has roughly one Billion hats, they’re all too small for me.

Normally I wouldn’t mind walking a mile or so if it’s just a little chilly. I’m built like a bear, after all. But I was fighting off a bit of a headcold, and I didn’t want it to get worse just a before heading off to so a reading down near Madison.

So, for all these reasons, I ended up walking through downtown Stevens Point at 1:30 in the morning wearing a cloak.

I’d forgotten I owned it. I bought it back when me and my friends used to hit the Ren Fair. Or maybe when we were doing our fantasy LARP. It’s green and black, and in many ways, it was the perfect garment for the job, as it had a hood, too.

But wearing it made me realize two surprising things.

First, the silhouetted figure on the cover of The Wise Man’s Fear is absolutely perfect.

(Click to Embiggen)

I know it’s perfect because when I was walking down the street, the shadow that splayed out in front of me on the sidewalk looked exactly like that. Almost to an uncanny degree.

The second thing that surprised me was how amazingly self-conscious I felt. I don’t like to admit it, but I was really mortified at the thought of anyone seeing me walking around in a cloak.

I think I’m vain. The old denim duster I’d worn the night before was really ragged and awful looking. It’s frayed and torn. Holes in the pockets. The furry hat looked stupid, but not nearly as stupid as the hat that I wear the rest of the time.

So if I’m not vain, why was I so uncomfortable with the thought of someone seeing me in this cloak? It couldn’t be that I was worried I might look stupid. I’m fine with looking stupid. I go out of my way to look stupid sometimes.

I think my worry was that someone would recognize me as, “That Local Fantasy Author,” and then that they’d assume I dressed up in a cloak because I was desperately trying to be… I dunno… extra fantasy author-y. (Which would make me a poser.) Or that I was trying to dress up as Kvothe. (Which is worse.)

All whys aside, I was trying to stay out of sight. But it quickly occurred to me that trying to be inconspicuous while wearing a cloak looks really, really suspicious. And if there’s one thing worse than being identified as “that local fantasy author who dresses up in a cloak.” It would be people thinking of me as, “That local fantasy author who dresses up in a cloak and hides in the bushes outside your house.”

Plus, there are some places you simply can’t hide. I have to cross a couple parking lots to get where I’m going.

So, of course, when I’m crossing one of these parking lots, that’s when the cop car drives by. He’s trolling along Main Street at bar time, looking for drunk college kids. I’m the middle of the empty parking lot, wearing my cloak.

I knew the cop was going to circle back and come talk to me. He would drive up and say, “Um, hello?”

And then I would get my ass in trouble because when I’m put in a situation like that, I just can’t take it seriously. The urge to flap around like Batman would be overwhelming. Or I’d pretend to cast Magic Missile when he talked to me. Or when he asked “Who are you?” I’d say something like, “I am the servant of a secret fire! Wielder of the flame or Anor!” and then get my stupid, sarcastic ass would get tazered and put in jail for the night.

But the thing is, as soon as I saw the cop, I wasn’t nervous any more. If one person sees you doing something kinda weird, it’s really embarrassing. But getting thrown in jail because you wore a cloak and then quoted Gandalf? That’s awesome. That’s a story I’d tell for the rest of my life.

Unfortunately, the cop didn’t circle around. It would have been the perfect ending to this little adventure, but real life rarely gives us that sort of satisfying closure. That’s why we love stories: they give events the pleasing shape the real world so seldom provides.


Also posted in day in the life, my dumbness | By Pat90 Responses

Elodin Enterprises: Making Tomorrow’s Mistakes a Reality Today.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about women.

When I was younger, I was the guy all the girls came to for relationship advice. Don’t ask me why. I’d never actually had a relationship. But I was thoughtful, and a good listener, and I didn’t openly gawk at their breasts. (I did gawk, of course, I just wasn’t rude about it.)

These three things may not seem like much, but from what I understand they rarely come together in a 16 year old boy. The result was that most girls found me to be trustworthy, fun to be around, and neuter as a Ken doll.

But I learned a lot by listening to their relationship problems. I learned what irritated them, what they really wanted in a relationship (or said they wanted, anyway), and the sort of jerky things guys were capable of.

Eventually I started to develop a list of things you should never do in a relationship. Rules of conduct that should never be broken. I continued building that list all through college.

Now I’m not talking about the obvious stuff here. Rules like, “Don’t sleep with your girlfriend’s sister.” or “Don’t jab her in the eye with a pointy stick.” Shit like that is obvious.

My rules were more specific, but other people had paid for them in blood.

A few real examples:

* Never tell a woman she looks like her pet.

* Never compare a woman to a cow.

* Never compare a woman to any sort of cheese.

Maybe those last two don’t happen so much outside of Wisconsin. But trust me, you really can’t pull them off. Dairy products are fine. If you’re careful, you can use creamy or milky. You can even, depending on the situation, get away with buttery. But cheese is right out. It can’t be done in a good way.

Later on in life, as I started to date more, I began to add new rules based on my own experiences. Things like:

* Don’t break up with a girl then send her roommate a love letter.

* Don’t invite four different women to the same poetry reading. Especially if one of them is your ex-girlfriend, one is your current girlfriend, and one is the girl who kinda wants to be your girlfriend.

That last one might seem a little specific, and it is, I suppose. But if I can keep even one other person from making that mistake, I will be doing the world a very big favor.

Now some of you may scoff at my list of rules. Thinking them bizarre and overly specific. I don’t really feel the need to defend myself or prove the efficacy of my system. Simply look at me, then look at my past girlfriends, all of whom have been lovely, intelligent, and sexy as hell. My results speak for themselves.

I’m not claiming to have it all figured out. Far from it. I’m still adding things to my list all the time.

For example, the other day I’m laying in bed with Sarah and little Oot. Because Oot is a happy little bundle of cute, Sarah experienced a moment of what I call Mom Bliss. I’m pretty sure this is an evolutionary thing. Specifically, it’s a rush of endorphins designed to make moms adore their children, rather than devour them.

So we’re all on the bed and Oot kinda squirms around, looks up at us, and gives us one of his trademarked triple-distilled cuteness grins. Then he makes a happy little shriek that sounds like he’s trying to speak dolphin.

This presses Sarah’s mom button, and the endorphins hit her brain like a pixie stick dissolved in a jam-jar full of heroin.

Oh!” Sarah says, her eyes all dewy with Agape-style love. “This is so great! I’m in bed with my two favorite people!

“Yeah,” I say, pretty much agreeing with her. “It’s kinda like a lame three-way.”

New rule: Do not refer to quality time with mom and baby as “kinda like a lame three-way.”

Here endeth the lesson.


Also posted in day in the life, my dumbness, Oot, Sarah | By Pat77 Responses

Tales from the Con: Reading in Indianapolis

So when I was attending GenCon out in Indianapolis last month, I had several adventures.

For one, I got to eat at a Stake and Shake, which was pretty cool. This may not seem like a big deal for most of you, but… well… I don’t get out much.

I also did a reading at the local library.

I love doing readings. But this one was especially fun, as I got to hang out with the folks from “…and Sewing is Half the Battle.” They’re the ones that won the photo contest from a couple months ago.

They all came dressed in their costumes and did an intro to my reading, talking about what cosplay is, why folks do it, and how to dabble if you’re interested.

I have to say that it was pretty cool showing up for my own reading and having a bunch of the characters from the book in attendance.

As a whole, I was too bemused to take a lot of pictures. But I got a huge kick out of this:

I don’t remember writing a hippie into the book. But then again, I don’t remember NOT writing a hippie into the book. Trapis, nice guy that he is, seems to be reserving judgement.

Haliax, as you might have guessed, is a big hit with the ladies. Why do they always go for the dark types?

Here’s one I snapped of Haliax when he didn’t think anyone was paying attention. Apparently when there aren’t any chicks around he summons some sort of glowing orb, practicing to destroy his enemies. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Ladies, let this be a lesson to you. Sure, cowls are sexy. Everyone loves a bad boy. But when you’re dating evil, it’s only a matter of time before you get the glowing orb.

Here’s everyone. From top left to bottom right you have: Elodin, young girl (see below) Haliax, Bast and Urchin, Ambrose, glowing death orb, Hippie, Trapis, Denna, Kvothe and Fela.

I won’t bore you with the whole story of the reading, but here are the high points.

  • A 10 year old girl made fun of my handwriting.

She looked down at the book I was writing in. “Authors are supposed to use cursive,” she informed me.

“Not me,” I said cheerfully, scribbing away.

“Is that your name?” she asked.


She kept watching in disapproval, then said. “Authors are also supposed to have better handwriting than a third grader.”

“You’re fat,” I said.

I didn’t really. She was adorable. Plus, I was on an adulation buzz by that point and nothing could bring me down. I long ago came to grips with the fact that my handwriting looks like a psychotic grade schooler’s ransom note. She wasn’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.

  • At some point during the Q & A period, I used a terrible phrase.

I used to do improv comedy. This is a good thing. I know how to work a crowd and think on my feet. Public speaking doesn’t freak me out. I’m relaxed. I make jokes. It’s a good time.

The down side is that I’m not exactly working off a script. And that means sometimes I’ll say awful things.

I’m not talking about cussing. I cuss all the time. It’s not a big deal.

All humor is rooted in transgression. That means that most things that are genuinely funny also have the potential for being really offensive, or weird, or creepy.

I can’t remember the exact context for this phrase, but I was answering a question. I think I was making fun of the fact that since I hit the NYT bestseller list, everyone seems to think I’m all rockstar famous.

As I said, I can’t remember the exact context. But I do remember the phrase I used.

It was: “Come Ride the Rothfuss Train!”

Yeah. I even pronounced it with the exclamation point, which is something I very rarely do. It was one of those things that seems brilliant before you say it, but goes horrible as soon as it leaves your mouth.

There was a half-second of quiet, then I said. “I’m never going to say that ever again.”

THAT got a laugh. A big laugh.

So later, when I was signing books, everyone wanted me to write something about the Rothfuss train. So the story has a happy ending.

  • I got to hang out with the “Sewing is Half the Battle” crew.

After the reading, we all hung out, and I treated them to dinner as part of their prize for their epic win in the photo contest.

Eventually the restaurant closed, so we went to… you guessed it. Steak and Shake. My second trip in as many days. It was there that a talented artist who will remain nameless drew this on a placemat for me.

Yeah. It’s the Rothfuss Train. Hop on. Ride it. You know you want to….

Later all,


Also posted in contests, conventions | By Pat30 Responses
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