from the vault: fifty-one seconds in the kitchen

I needed to double-check a date for the final Podcasts I Love post on Saturday, so I found myself in my old blog archives yesterday afternoon. An hour later, I was surprised to discover that I had been reading my own blog for an hour. It was like I was reading something someone else had written, and I really enjoyed the stories from that particular time.

I'm not sure where you're all coming from, but there are an astonishingly huge number of recent new visitors to my little hunk of Internet, and I thought I'd share something from the vault that you probably haven't seen before:

fifty-one seconds in the kitchen

I stood in front of the open refrigerator, and scanned the shelves. Anne spoke to me from the dining room.

"What are you doing?" She said.

"I'm thinking about having a Homer Simpson," I said.

"Donuts and a beer?" She said.

I stood up, a pink box in one hand, an Arrogant Bastard Ale in the other.

"Yeah," I said. "Isn't that horrible?"

"What's horrible," she said, "is that I knew what you were talking about without looking."

I opened up the box. A glazed donut clung to one side, and a devil's food with rainbow jimmies rested next to it. The crumbs and remains of their brothers surrounded them.

"You want to join me?" I said. "There are two donuts left."

"No. That's disgusting." She said. "I think I'll have a Flaming Moe instead."

"Okay," I said, "I'll get the cough syrup."

I love this silly little short story because it tells you almost everything you need to know about me and Anne, and what we're like together. Though the idea of eating a donut totally grosses me out now, if I close my eyes, I can see myself standing in our kitchen, in front of our old refrigerator, holding that flimsy pink box so many years ago.

I'm my own worst critic, and when I look at my acting and writing work, it's hard for me to see anything other than the flaws. But there's enough distance between me and these old entries to just let them exist on their own, and accept that they were the best I could do at the time.

I liked some of the things I read yesterday so much, I'm considering polishing them up and re-releasing them in some nifty way with a bit of context and commentary. Whether that's on my blog, on a podcast, in a book, or some combination of all three is yet to be determined, but I'm putting it on my short list of Crazy Ideas That May Be Awesome, Or Just Crazy.

50 thoughts on “from the vault: fifty-one seconds in the kitchen”

  1. Oh, man. I was really excited to try oak aged beer after I learned the wonders of anejo tequila. One sip of the Arrogant Bastard, however, and I swore off it. It tasted like cold frothy butt.
    You can have mine, Wil. (Or you could have had it–I pawned the rest of the six pack off on my neighbors. I hope they’ll still talk to me.)

  2. I know what you mean about going back and reading your own blog, only to realize that hours have gone by. I’ve been keeping my blog since Dec of 2000, and I keep meaning to go back through it and do a little clean up; fix links, spelling errors, etc. It’s just such a big job that I keep putting it off, but I’d like to get it done so that some day I can have it printed and bound as a more permanent keepsake of my life. Something about having a hardcopy in your hands just makes things seem more real, doesn’t it?
    -= Chris

  3. Mmm donuts…. the problem I see with donuts is that they LOOK better than the really taste. Either that they don’t make them as good as they used to. Or I am old. One of them.

  4. That is a brilliant little story. I was known as sislak for couple of the years i spent treeplanting in northern ontario, even though i only watch the simpsons through people quoting them. It was so nice living without any technology for those summers, and the greatest food on the entire planet three times a day.
    I think a really great collection of your old blog stories would make a super awesome book, and that is a fantastic idea for so many reasons im afraid to list here as this comment will turn quickly into unedited thesis… keep the idea in your pocket, there always comes a day when you need all those that have been stashed away there.
    cheers!!

  5. When I was going through my older blogs to transfer them one by one (copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste) into my new blog page I found some that I forgot I’d written and some I wish I could forget. The ones I loved I kept, the ones I didn’t like so much I left. I felt like I was reading things from someone else’s life.
    Also, another book or some new podcasts would be AWESOME. :D

  6. Personally I think a book of some of those old stories cleaned up, polished, and commented on would be really cool. I vaguely remember that story but I haven’t gone back to read your older stuff in an extremely long time. Reading the stories from that time period (the ones that didn’t fit into Just A Geek or Dancing Barefoot) would be cool, kind of like meeting an old friend and sitting down to have coffee and talk over old times. You might be your own worst critic but if your old work hadn’t been good we wouldn’t have kept reading. My own blog writings from 2000-2004 are, well, lame. Yours aren’t. Put it on the list of Crazy Awesome Ideas!
    Also, while I haven’t felt the need to eat a donut in forever I do have to join in and ask what’s wrong with donuts for dinner? Donuts are, like, awesome and stuff.
    Cheers!

  7. Wil,
    Sorry to go so completely off topic, but I thought you might want to know about this.
    Shinyung Oh is something of a legend in the legal community, or at least that portion of it that follows Above the Law. Here’s why:
    http://abovethelaw.com/2008/05/paul_hastings_farewell_email_a.php
    and here’s when her identity became public:
    http://abovethelaw.com/2008/05/meet_shinyung_oh_of_paul_hasti.php
    Well, she has been trying to reinvent herself as a writer, using, in part, her blog: http://shinyungoh.blogspot.com/
    (As I see it, when she wrote her famous e-mail, she was choosing truth as a career.)
    That common thread of reinvention should help to explain why I’m telling you about Shinyung Oh. But if you read the last couple of entries in her blog you’ll know why I’m telling you now. She needs a motto like yours. The jerks are getting her down.

  8. Oh, since I wrote this, something changed in my body chemistry and I really dislike things that are sweet. On very rare occasion, I’ll go ahead and mow through a donut or something, but more often than not it ends with a tummy ache.

  9. When polishing your old stuff, please correct the dialog punctuation and capitalization too? *wince* I’ve read a few of your other posts where you narrate dialog, and it appears you’ve gotten better since writing that vignette. Fixing badly punctuated work after-the-fact seems to require a different mindset, though. I’ve observed many writers who, even after they’ve trained themselves to properly punctuate and capitalize on the first go, their eyes still skip right over the mistakes in their earlier work and can’t see anything wrong with it.
    *** Ponder, frustrated copyeditor

  10. I have something like 1500 posts going back 7 years, and I have the same problem. If I start reading, I start laughing, and then I feel ultra lame for laughing at my own stories.
    And can you say “rainbow jimmies”? I always thought that jimmies were brown. I thought that “sprinkles” are the multicolored ones.

  11. It’s a really nice little piece. Your pride in it is well-justified. (Also, don’t know what the heck Ponder is on about. I’m a copy editor, too [incidentally copy editor is 2 words, copyedit/ing is 1], and I might quibble with a single comma in the vault post.)
    But I come not to start an editing flame war, I come to thank you both for bringing this nice read forward in time, and for reminding me that I need to write a song that incorporates one of the lines with which my husband won my heart, namely “Why does my thumb have no monkey?”

  12. Wil, I gotta say, while the “beer and donuts” thing was awesome, I have to disagree with you on the choice of beverage.
    A friend once bought me a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale as a joke, and I tried it. To this day, words cannot properly describe the utter putrescence I encountered. When relating this story to other friends, I liken the experience to taking sweaty socks that were used at a gym for a year straight, never washed, and left in a gym bag for five years collecting dust, then deciding, spontaneously, to rub it all over your tongue.
    Boulevard is MUCH better :) http://www.blvdbeer.com/index.cfm

  13. I love three things about Arrogant Bastard:
    1. It says, right on the bottle, “You’re probably not going to like this.”
    2. It has more hops in it than an entire field of hops.
    3. It is one of my favorite beers in the world.
    But, as I’ve so often said before, it’s a huge world out there, and everyone is entitled to their own likes and dislikes. If AB is too hoppy, but you’re interested in a less-bitter IPA, I’d recommend the Stone IPA (from the same brewery) or High Tide IPA from Port Brewing company. If you *do* like AB, Port’s Hop 15 is wonderful.

  14. Back on topic:
    I’ve told someone recently that I get to play house with my bestest friend. This old post and others like it show that you have something pretty much like that. Congratulations.

  15. I liken the experience to taking sweaty socks that were used at a gym for a year straight, never washed, and left in a gym bag for five years collecting dust, then deciding, spontaneously, to rub it all over your tongue.
    That is exactly what eating goat cheese is like. Which is why I don’t eat goat cheese.
    Very nice post, Wil, and very sweet. Thanks for sharing it with us again.

  16. You’re a sacrilegious, lunatic, heathen!! The right to donuts was in the original Declaration of Independence, but the words were of course obscured by powdered sugar and strawberry jelly filling.
    Not eating donuts is un-Amercun… go ahead. Let the terrorists win… again.

  17. You know, I’ve never liked sweet things. Fruit is about my limit, and even then, I prefer tart fruits. My mom and siblings are the same way; we’d all rather have fruit and cheese than traditional dessert.

  18. Out of curiosity, were you also a vegetarian back then? Just wondering about what might have caused the change (if ONLY I could get my body to stop liking sweet things).

  19. The only donuts I can stomach any more that also seem to live up to the hype are Krispy Kremes. Why the hell can’t someone who knows what they are doing get in there and run that company somewhere other than into the ground. Seriously, nothing competes with watching the naked donuts roll along the conveyor belt toward a wall of icing as you bite into one. Sucks when you have soft enamel though.

  20. One of the most amazing (to insiders) and baffling (to outsiders) things about a relationship is the language you develop in your little nation of two. I told my husband the other day that I sometimes think the measure of love can be made by the durability and obscurity of a couple’s inside jokes.

  21. Actually all kidding aside I know what you mean about changes in body chemistry. I used to absolutely adore garlic and coffee. But at this point more than just a very little bit of either and I end up sick as a dog and cursing all manner of pagan deities. I have to admit though I’m glad that my relationship with sweets remains unaffected so far.

  22. That’s when you know a relationship is awesome…you can do something disgusting (like beer & donuts) and they love you anyway :D
    This was an entertaining little story that says so much about where you’ve been, where you are, and those who understand and love you.
    If there’s more in the bag, dust them off, make ‘em shiny and post ‘em!
    @CJWellman

  23. I think you should make a separate page on your blog and put your favorite posts there. Just a little link at the top of your main page, like your archives. That’d be cool.

  24. I’m basically the same way with my dance performances. It takes me forever after the show to finally watch the DVD. I still haven’t watched my solo, which was almost an entire year ago. I just know that if I do, I’ll critize the hell out of it.
    I guess you could say you’re giving yourself more room for improvement, room for more creativity? I don’t know.
    Oh, and I agree with Jon up there. I always called the multicolored ones “sprinkles.” But whatever floats you boat… or donut.

  25. I think it’s a good idea. Way back whenever, I remember sending your “tastes like burning” story to people to try to get them to understand why I read your blog.
    Thank you for the IPA discussion. I bought one once and it was so horrible I had to not dump it down the sink just so I could share the experience with others (OMG!). It is good to know that it wasn’t just that one bottle, but the entire genre, that I need to avoid.

  26. That’s most unfortunate. Have you been to Donut Man in Glendora? I think their donuts, esp the legendary Fresh Strawberry Donuts are well worth post-donut binge bodily discomfort. Outside of strawberry season (spring), you can’t go wrong with most of their donuts, including my favorite, the tiger tail (chocolate + regular donut twisted together).

  27. Have you ever seen the Homer donuts they sell near the Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios? They’re huge, like 6 or 7 inches in diameter, covered in bright pink frosting and rainbow jimmies.
    The same store carries Duff brand drinks, but they’re energy drinks, not beer, which is odd because they sell real beer just outside. Why not sell Duff beer to go with the donuts?

  28. No one’s flaming here. I think there’s a truism somewhere that every post complaining about errors will have at least one error in it. :)
    One example from Wil’s vignette:
    “No. That’s disgusting.” She said.
    Corrected:
    “No. That’s disgusting,” she said.
    There were several more like that.
    *** Ponder

  29. I’m not sure what you did either but your popularity rating is up 68% on imdb.com
    I’ve no idea how they work those numbers out but it sounds impressive when it’s put that way. :)

  30. That was actually a deliberate choice.
    Ending with a comma and ending with a period imply very different vocalized deliveries from the speaker.

  31. I’d be very very surprised if your dead-tree publisher lets you do things like that with your dialogue tags. It isn’t a style choice. They might never have said anything to you; some long-suffering copy editor may have just fixed that kind of thing for you and never said anything.
    In a dialogue tag, the connecting comma serves the same purpose as a sentence-ending period does when you just have a bare sentence without a tag. Using a post-speech tag, with a period after the “she said” does its job and implies the kind of intonation and pause you intended.
    As written, you’ve got an incomplete sentence. Take it on its own. Any complete sentence should be able to stand on its own and say something (maybe not much) without any other context:

    She said.

    She said… what? That pretty much demands an object be connected somehow. You could connect it to the following dialogue as a pre-speech tag:

    She said, “I think I’ll have a Flaming Moe instead.”

    But as a style issue, that’s a bit clunky because she already said something in that paragraph before that. It’s much better decapitalized and connected as a post-speech tag to the preceding dialogue:

    “No. That’s disgusting,” she said.

    In case you were wondering, a mid-speech tag can’t work here, because the tag is placed between complete sentences.
    Here are a few guides I’ve found that do a pretty good job of explaining dialogue punctuation:
    http://mrbraiman.home.att.net/page25.html
    http://www.itsuckstobejoe.com/Jdn/writing/punctuation.html
    http://www.rachelsimon.com/wg_appendix.htm
    http://www.tthfanfic.org/guide.php
    http://www.palidormedia.com/james/editor/lesson1.html
    http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/dialogue.shtml
    I’m always on the lookout for better ones. If you have a cite for a counterexample, a site that explains the do’s and don’ts for punctuating tags as you have them in your vignette, I’d be very interested in reading it.
    *** Ponder

  32. I’d be very surprised if your dead-tree publisher lets you do things like that with your dialogue tags. It isn’t a style choice. They might never have said anything to you; some long-suffering copy editor may have just fixed that kind of thing for you and never said anything.
    In a dialogue tag, the connecting comma serves the same purpose as a sentence-ending period does when you just have a bare sentence without a tag. Using a post-speech tag, with a period after the “she said” does its job and implies the kind of intonation and pause you intended.
    As written, you’ve got an incomplete sentence. Take it on its own. Any complete sentence should be able to stand on its own and say something (maybe not much) without any other context:

    She said.

    She said… what? That pretty much demands an object be connected somehow. You could connect it to the following dialogue as a pre-speech tag:

    She said, “I think I’ll have a Flaming Moe instead.”

    But as a style issue, that’s a bit clunky because she already had a complete sentence in that paragraph before that. It’s much better decapitalized and connected as a post-speech tag to the preceding dialogue:

    “No. That’s disgusting,” she said.

    In case you were wondering, a mid-speech tag can’t work here, because the tag is placed between complete sentences.
    Here are a few guides I’ve found that do a pretty good job of explaining dialogue punctuation:
    [REDACTED LIST: I think your blog refused my post because it had links in it. I can email you the list if you're interested.]
    I’m always on the lookout for better ones. If you have a cite for a counterexample, a site that explains the do’s and don’ts for punctuating tags as you have them in your vignette, I’d be very interested in reading it.
    *** Ponder

  33. I’m sorry if this post is a bit off topic, but forgive the rambling. I will have a point!
    I started watching “The Next Generation” because of of your character, and was delighted when I found your blog in medical school/residency! Your warmth, intelligence, and humor provided a respite from the grueling rounds and swollen-headed instructors. I loved the adventures of William FUCKING Shatner, and the 50,000 monkeys (maybe they could all go into a room together and duke it out- or make out). I went into the field of psychiatry and continue to enjoy your blog as a lovely oasis from the sadness I see daily.
    I recently read your book, “Just A Geek,” and your personal courage in the face of trying to find a niche after “Star Trek” was what truly moved me. It must have been horrific for you trying to come of age and manage all of that with people saying they hated Wesley and other such craziness. I look at the celebrities today and wonder how you managed to keep your feet on the ground and a sense of humor(!) with all the venom spewed by the media. In today’s world, with Twitter, Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, and Perez Hilton all swarming around celebrities like vultures, how does one keep oneself intact? I have been particularly upset by all the viciousness surrounding a few pounds Jessica Simpson has gained. She has done the unspeakable: gained 5 pounds and is probably a size 6, and shows she is human by crying and having to leave a performance. I have worked some celebrities as well in therapy and how does one even comprehend the tidal wave of cruelty that these human beings, not gods( gasp!!) have to deal with?
    So, here’s my point: you seem to have weathered this well. Do you have any advice, web links, or resources that have helped you? Also, is there some kind of voice for the acting community to support each other and take a stand for more humane treatment? It’s time for the media to be put back in its place and cover real news, not “faux” news sidestepping real issues to incessantly cover the misfortunes of pretty blond girls. Thanks for any advice/insight and keep blogging!! I think you are getting more visitors because we are ALL getting sick and tired of the “reality” drivel on TV and actually want some substance. May you become the Oprah of geekdom (if you are not already)!
    Kind Regards,
    SJ

  34. I remember from college days taking a course in Logic. A favorite quote of the professor was, “Te gustibus non disputandum.” “What a person likes cannot be disputed.” Example: If a person says, “I like the taste of shit.” It is illogical to say, “No you don’t. Shit taste like shit.” What a person likes or dislikes cannot be argued about. I enjoy beer with cookies all the time. A mixture of sweet and bitter is a great combination.
    Freeman :)

  35. Wil, I love reading your work! I always wondered what you have been up to. Last time I seen you was on Outer Limits. I heard you on Fanboy Radio about three weeks ago where I learned about your blog. Been hooked ever since. I’m addicted to Radio Free Burrito and would love to hear podcasts of these stories from the vault. Please?! You are the best at turning print into voice and how you add commentary to your stories. That’s why I’m ordering all of your audio books in a couple of weeks. Not to mention the nostalgia factor since I grew up in the same era as you..

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