Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself
by Alan Alda
Published by Random House
224 pages, 2007
On the heels of his memoir, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, beloved actor and bestselling author Alan Alda has written Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, an insightful and funny look at some of the impossible questions he's asked himself over the years: What do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?)
In a book that is candid, wise, and as questioning as it is incisive, Alda amuses and moves us with his unique and hilarious meditations on questions great and small. Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself is another superb Alan Alda performance, as inspiring and entertaining as the man himself.
It takes exactly three minutes of my life and it happens most mornings. I scoop into a bowl some cold oatmeal that I’ve cooked in a huge pot at the beginning of the week and zap it in the microwave for three minutes. I know some people think oatmeal is boring, and I understand that my even mentioning the word will lock me in your mind as someone who is as boring as porridge itself, but this kind of thing interests me.
I’m condemned by some inner compulsion to think about the daily rituals of my life. I have a low grade fever for improving myself in many ways, including everyday tasks. This extends even to making oatmeal. I love oatmeal. To me it’s not boring. I agree that ordinary oatmeal is very boring, but not the steel-cut Irish kind -- the kind that pops in your mouth when you bite into it in little glorious bursts like a sort of gummy champagne. Unfortunately, it’s the kind that takes forty minutes to cook. But I love it so much that for months I was cooking it every morning while I read the paper. Then, following my insane habit of questioning everything I do to see if I can do it better, I had a eureka moment. What if I made a vat of the stuff every week? Would it still pop in my mouth if I stuck a bowlful of it in the microwave every morning? It did. And three minutes seemed like the perfect time to heat it.
Existence will pop to life like bubbles in a gummy champagne. | October 2007
Copyright © 2007 Alan Alda
Alan Alda is the author of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed. He is the winner of numerous awards, including six Emmys and six Golden Globes, and has been nominated for an Academy Award. He played Hawkeye Pierce for eleven years on the television series M*A*S*H, has acted in, written, and directed many feature films, and has appeared often on Broadway. His avid interest in science has led to his hosting PBS's Scientific American Frontiers for eleven years. He is married to the children's book author and photographer Arlene Alda. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.