Sunday, April 22, 2012

Letting The HoseMaster of Wine Inside....Wine Biz Interview #12

Samantha, you’ve asked that I conduct an interview with you for publication on your esteemed blog. Why me? Why the HoseMaster? Why not ChronicNegress or Charlie Olken or ChronicCharlieHorse? Who’s idea was this, anyway?

Only you would have the very first question in MY interview be about You. I asked you because I could think of nothing funnier, aside from bloggers creating lists of other esteemed bloggers and giving them awards, than having a blogger have an interview of themself published on their own blog. When I think funny, well Love, where else would I look but with the king of blogger mocking? Not to mention I admire you and trust you and knew you would come up with something that would challenge me….that and everyone else said no.

 So, wait, this isn’t about me? We already KNOW everything about you, your bits,your crunders, your big boobs, your Dave Mathews obsession, your son, your husband, your brother, your Mom, your past, and your understandable and completely normal crush on me. OK, fine, I’ll ask more questions. Why am I your favorite blogger?

Your humility. 

You blur the line between writing about wine and writing about your own life—the two things seem inseparable, like dogs having sex. What finally got you to talk so openly about your interesting and traumatic past in the context of wine? Did this seem natural to you, or did you simply feel a need to unburden?

Never quite thought about my life being like dogs humping, (thanks for that by the way) but wine is in fact so much a part of my life that I simply can’t separate the two. There are wines that I can’t walk past, glance at the label and not be taken immediately back to a night around a table, clinking plastic cups, my mouth cupping around spilled or splashed drops. It’s like a song that is playing in the background while you make love to someone you’ve ached to be with…an unshakeable and beautiful piece of a tremendously intricate puzzle.

Which is why I always play Barry Manilow to dogs having sex. It does work better than a hose.

As far as sharing my past goes, well that’s a bit trickier. I have always been extremely open about my history, never ashamed or too bound by fear in sharing all of it, the thing is, most people won’t or would never ask. In this setting I just get to talk. Draw from my past when it seems appropriate and never with the concern that it might be making someone else uncomfortable. I know I do at times and while I do feel bad that I might be making someone twist in their chair I also know that in sharing some of those stories I’ve touched people on a level that I might not be able to do face to face and that, well that is one of the most remarkable things I’ve taken away from this silly blog of mine. I share something that makes one person flinch and another person sends me an email sharing their story with me. Unreal and healing on a level I’m not sure I knew existed before.

Yeah, I understand, I wanted to share a bunch of things about my past, but, honestly, who cares about failed penile implants? I told the doctor Seabiscuit’s was a bit much.

Now there's an image that's gonna stick....

One of the underlying themes in your work is the healing power of wine, or, more exactly, the culture of wine. I’m not sure any other wine writer has really ever explored that side of it. It’s sort of the anti-Alcoholics Anonymous. Acceptance and love through wine, and lots of it. If your cousin Randy hadn’t owned a wine shop, ever wonder what career you might have chosen? I’d like to think berserk postal worker.  

Security guard….at The WalMart. 

Honestly there is not a week that goes by that I don't wonder what my life would have been like had Randy not drug me, kicking and screaming, into the wine business. No trips to Europe, no Michael Sullivan, no falling in love with having all of that break me wide open, leaving me exposed, drunk on raw wonder and, needing to share how fucking amazing this feels. I initially took the job to provide food, clothes and daycare for my son, little did I know that everything I had ever wished for, passion, pleasure, pride....the me I had always hoped I could be, was there, just waiting beneath those corks...across the tasting table and in the faces of the people I would pick wines for. Randy has bestowed upon me a life I know would have been out of my reach without his urging and support. There are no words or years of blood, sweat and tears that will ever be able to truly repay him for that. 

When writing about your past, does it even seem real to you any more?


I know how I might describe your “voice.” How would you describe it? How is the voice we read on Samantha Sans Dosage different than who you are in real life?

Oh shit, I’d love to hear how you would describe it. I don’t actually think I have a voice. I write here just as I speak. Not so much good with that polished or filtering business. I’m just me.  I long ago gave up on any aspiration of being the most compelling, sexiest, most beautiful, smartest or most interesting person in a room….I can however be one of the most honest. I say what I think and feel and harbor no illusions that I’m all that special. Kind of makes it easy that way…

I would argue that you have developed a very interesting voice on Samantha Sans Dosage that is not your everyday voice. You and I have become very close friends, so I actually don’t hear your real-life voice when I read your work here, I hear your writing voice. Your writing voice is spontaneous, loud, honest, rambling and compassionate—it’s sort of a “best friend” voice. Because you’re the best friend, you can scold, you can excoriate, you can sympathize, you can make us laugh, you can tell us your darkest secrets, and it never seems false or contrived. It’s not that you get into our heads, it’s that you seem like you’ve always been there. You make this seem easy, but, as a student of writing, I know it is not.

Well if you see a difference it must be true…maybe it’s because you aren’t there interrupting me every two seconds and I can complete a goddamn sentence! You and I have discussed this many times and as I’ve said to you, I’m not a student of writing and never even really think about the stuff I write as really being writing as much as an open letter of sorts, maybe with a few more details painted to make the picture more interesting to whoever is reading. If anything I’m a student of human behavior and emotion and I can convey that here, well then I am not only amazed but kind of proud.

See, it’s called a “conversation,” not dueling monologues. Try not to think of it as interrupting so much as feigning interest.

Oh yeah, being cut off to hear how many times people searching fart water have landed on your blog never gets old....

You don’t have to be a student of writing to develop a voice. Speaking and writing come from two different parts of the brain—I think of mine as a urinary tract and an intestinal tract. I think if you simply tape-recorded your posts and then transcribed them verbatim, it would be very clear that you use a different voice.  Or just read one of your posts outloud—that’s not really you as others who only speak to you perceive you. True, you have a confessional style, but it’s style nonetheless.

There are great pianists who never took a lesson, the golfer who won the Masters never took a lesson—some people are just born to it. That’s you.

And I’ve been in rooms with you where you were easily the smartest, sexiest and most interesting—of course, that was the Napa Valley Wine Writers’ Symposium so the bar was set pretty low.

Need I remind you of Bad Botox Barbie?! That chick was smokin’ hot. I was in her shadow the whole damn time….of course that might have been her fucking perfume cloud….

Oh, hell, I’d forgotten about her, and now I’ll be having nightmares. Thanks for that. She’d had more injections than Roger Clemens and Jenna Jameson combined.

Don’t you feel when you sit down to write that you’re assuming a different attitude? After all, writing isn’t a conversation. Where are you when you write? And what are you wearing? Can I have a pair?

Nope. When I sit down to write I’ve usually had a few glasses of wine, (stop judging me, yes I said a few) and seeing as I never have a shortage of opinions and often too much time on my hands, what with not being a fan of that sleeping business, and I’m simply trying to rid the voice in my head that keeps me from truly focusing on whichever Law & Order I’m trying to watch. See, not so much a writer as a freaking crazy person. Drunk crazy person.

I write hunched over my living room table, (very unattractive position, kinda ape-ish) and anytime you want to borrow my assless chaps they’re yours.

I’m the opposite, I can’t write if I’ve had anything to drink, and I wear Depends. I’ve found the assless Depends sort of defeat the purpose.

Is this still about me?

Who is that voice in your head? Ever wonder? Your Mom, your son, your husband, your father—probably a combination of those voices, and your reaction to them, is what makes that voice so fierce. This goes back to my previous point. That Voice in your head, the one you let out here, that isn’t your everyday conversational voice, that’s the headwaters of your writing voice. And your style isn’t to tame it, or organize it, or polish it, but to let it inhabit you for the six minutes it takes you to write a post. OK, sixty minutes. It’s a genuine roller coaster ride when you really let it go.

Um, I think there was a question in there for me but it seems as if you went ahead and answered it so….

In cyberspace, how many wine bloggers can dance on the head of a pin. In other words, how many wine bloggers are pinheads? Aside from the HoseMaster, who dances like a white boy anyway, pin or no pin.

I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. If you’re asking who I’d like to get my dance on with, well sorry Love, as cute as you are, I fear the “white man overbite” and that is written all over you. Drunk in a bar at the Wine Blog Convention and looking to shake my groove thing, well I gotta go with Hardy Wallace, the flailing alone would be worth it. If you are asking me how I feel about bloggers, (and this is where I stick my finger out at you and call you an asshole….you’re the mean one, not me. I’m a goddamn sweetheart…fucker) I will tell you that in the four years I’ve been doing this that my interest in such things have faded, like a lot. I do think that too many people either phone this shit in, can’t write, have no actual wine knowledge or talent and spend all their time barfing up the same fucking story. It’s tired, or maybe it’s me that tired. Either way, I don’t concern myself with the majority of wine bloggers. I think being in the wine business, (which I was when I started blogging, unlike most bloggers so I'm not doing this to try and get my foot in the wine business door as it were) might be part of the reason I’ve gown achingly weary of reading many other wine blogs…it’s like reading a really long, begging for samples, Yelp review. There goes my sweetheart status…

You drunk at a bar at the Poodle Convention is almost too much fun to contemplate. And I’m not the mean one, Love, that’s my HoseMaster character. He’s definitely an asshole, but occasionally funny (not as funny as he thinks).

You and I drunk at The Wine Bloggers Convention…now there’s something I think we should start a telethon for! Who’s in?!

We’ve talked often about wine blogs and writing. How would you say your attitude toward writing Samantha Sans Dosage has changed over the years? It’s demanding work, and if the rewards are free bottles of below-average wine (like being in the WSJ Wine Club) and very little feedback for the amount of effort involved, what do you use for motivation?

I think one of the biggest changes is that I write fewer “reviews” than I used to, which I’m sure cost me a good clip of readers but I was never all that convinced that you can sell much wine from a wine blog, no matter what Alder would have you believe. I found that I had more comments and saw more customers come in after writing something more personal, sensual, emotional rather than wine write ups. Seemed that there was a faction of wine drinkers that responded to wine the same way I do, or they wish to, instead of reading that “coco, cherries and pencil shaving” crap. The stories have always moved me more, so that’s what I write.

No one sends me samples of anything so I’ve never had that “reward” and as I’ve said billions of times here, my reward has always been in the people that read me, trust me and care for me. I write this silly crap and you people have grown to adore me in some way….fucking amazing to me. Still.

Motivation? To troll for dudes of course. How am I doin?

You make my bits engorge.

Well then my work here is done, you know, seeing as I’m sure it takes a lot to get your bits going and all.

There’s far more joy in writing about feelings and thoughts and complaints than there is in writing yet another review. It makes sense for you to shift your sensibility. Do you think about balance? What I mean, I guess, is that one can also go too far and try too hard to be sensual, emotional or personal to a point where it seems vaguely insincere. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers, usually women, who try to write sexy posts about wine and they come out about as sexy as Martha Stewart in a thong (“Today, we’ll talk about cottage cheese…”). Do you think much about pace as well? Either before you start to write, or after you’re midway through a piece.

I hope I don’t ever come off as insincere, that would suck. I think one problem that I have run into as far as the more sensual or sexually driven posts is that I’ve done so many of them that I think, or fear is maybe a better word, that they sound, or will sound redundant. No one is surprised to stumble on my blog and find a post dripping with want and relayed descriptions of being seduced by a bottle of wine, therefore that bit of shock factor is no longer there which makes them a little more difficult to do now. I have read some other bloggers, (and yes, they were all women, not sure a guy could, or should try to pull that off….although Winey the Elder posted a comment once that made lots of us ladies squirm) getting their dirty on and…about as sexy, to me anyway, as a those cheesecake novels they sell next to the gum at the grocery store. Quivering? Loins? C’mon now people, we aren’t 13 anymore…what does it smell, taste, feel like?!

Do I think about pace? Dude, need I remind you, again, that I don’t really know what I’m doing here? I’m not even honestly sure what that means. I start a piece and let it go until it’s done. And trust me, I know that I’ve lost a few readers because of that as well, posts are often too damn long but I’m not looking at space or pages when I write, just telling a story the only way I know how. I’ve always heard that a story needs a beginning, middle and ending and although I know that I have no idea how to write a piece….well, in pieces. I don’t think about any of that when I’m sharing here.

What has been the toughest hurdle to get over in your four years of writing Samantha Sans Dosage? Any high points? Low points?

I think I am still getting over the toughest hurdle and that has been my inner strife with comments and being addicted to checking stats. Been about three weeks now since I checked my stat counter and now can’t even remember what I was looking for in the first place. As I said a couple posts ago, I took the silent visits as a sort of rating of my posts, like people weren’t into what I was saying, that I was saying it wrong or they were just plain stupid. Took some time for me to realize that none of that is why I started this blog in the first place. I came here to write about wine and hopefully get some attention for the store that I love and have devoted my life to. Stayed because I fell madly in love with this medium, being able to stomp about, rant, ooze my own desire and sensuality, voice my opinions and share what I’ve learned, move people….just by pounding my nails across a keyboard and not being afraid. I’ve become a more confident person because of this silly place and aside from meeting you and so many other amazing people, that has been a highpoint. Low points don't matter really and spending too much time thinking about failures or "I wish I had" isn't something I'm all that interested in. If I spent too much time doing that I would have given up years ago. I've had some bumpy spots that's for sure but in the end....well I have a job I love going to every day, a son that admires me, and remains a personal hero of mine, customers that respect my palate and trust me.....this laptop, lots of opinions, a handful of people that give a crap, and this appitite for words and strining them together that nibbles at me insesantly....just getting started Love. Watch out....

I would like to extend a personal thank you to Ron Washam, the guy behind the curtain that pulls the strings....and punches at The HoseMaster of Wine, for taking the time to interview me. You sir, are a rare and remarkable soul. I am a better person for having met you, a deeper and more complete woman for having you in my life. I hope one day to be as talented as you are, to make you proud that you took the time to reach out to me, make you see just how valued and loved you truly are.....fart water and all. 


Anonymous said...

This has to be your best one yet. I believe you really know yourself and are very comfortable with who you are. Keep up the superb writing.

Samantha Dugan said...

Um, thanks....whomever you are.

webb said...

Can't decide if it was Punch interviewing Judy, or Richard Burton interviewing Elizabeth Taylor - but wow! Once I stopped laughing and got to the second question ...

A wonderful post.

Sam, seriously. Has it occurred to you that the silent visitors (I assume you mean the people who read, but never comment) are AFRAID to comment. Whether it's your voice or the drunk crazy lady in your head, what you say is so full, so rich, so deep that it is damned intimidating to stick one's nose in and make a comment.

I learn from your "regular" wine posts, but I grow from your personal ones. Baring your soul (and whatever else) is your gift to us all. Mille gracie.

Samantha Dugan said...

I've always said that Ron & I are the greatest love story never told. Glad you got that!

Your comment took my breath away a little. Feels odd to think that anyone would be intimidated to talk to or share with me. Guess I never saw that as a possibility and I have to tell you that you made me feel worlds better for saying that, even if its not true. The fact that you thought about it and came up with that reason, well lady, that simply melts me.

The last bit of your comment has left me speechless and so wishing I could give you a hug and open a bottle of wine for you. You have been so sweetly supportive of me and whatever it is I'm doing here and for that I am forever indebted to you.

Charlie Olken said...

Scary, Sam. The top two bloggers in one blog.

Let all those others eat their hearts out.

Anne said...

Never fear, one thing you NEVER come across as is insincere.

Winey the Elder said...

That's how your Voice looks in my Head, only more like you.

I confess to being a silent visitor, from time to time. Mostly because I have nothing to add to the conversation ("Fuck Yeah Babe!" seems a bit much, but I can always throw in a FYB, if it helps you realize that silence doesn't equal a dismissive visit).

And mostly I am silent because I am overcome with awe and adding a comment would be like saying "was it good for you too?",but of course I forget that you can't see my honey-glazed over eyes and hear my serene sighs of exquisite satisfaction that come from such an intimate encounter with someone who brings such delicious sensuality to the table.

As to the interview: FYB


John M. Kelly said...

Aaaahhhh! Get it out of my head! I have this image of Terry Gross interviewing Larry King! It burns the skin!

But seriously - well done, both of you. No softballs here.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh yeah, we're gonna have them running for the hills with this one! Ron was wonderful do do this and I had a blast bantering with one of my favorite people. Was fun and I hope it reads that way...

That is absolutely fantastic to hear. I think I would rather someone tell me I flat-out suck than think I was full of shit.

No darlin' you don't need to change anything. It was me that needed to figure out why I have been doing this for four years. Comments are fucking great, trust me I gobble them up when they come in but I was letting them take over, become my motivation and if it wasn't already, the pieces were going to reflect that. Not at all what I wanted. A couple of weeks ago it just hit me, I want to write, hope that others dig it but just as I don't let the approval of others motivate me in my life away from here, it can't be what drives me here either. Don't get me wrong, I want people to come here and be touched, laugh, entertained, that's the goal, always but to get so wound up waiting for a "Great post"? Nutty.

I get some of the most moving, humbling and inspiring comments, far more than many other bloggers/writers do, the stuff that has many times filled my eyes with tears and heart with pride, nothing can take that from me and I can't expect that every post I write is going to bring those in...and if they did I would have to wonder how sincere they were anyway. Now it just feels like I have a clearer head and more focus, like I can honestly adore the comments when they come and not assume that what I wrote was stupid if they don't. Know what I mean? Thanks for chiming in love, always nice to know you are out there reading.

Which one am I? This was fun to do and Ron was right to let it be more of a back and forth than just a straight interview. Made it a bit long, (so thanks for hanging in there!) but also more interesting and entertaining with him breaking my softballs a bit.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Everyone,

It feels odd to be commenting on a post I sort of co-wrote. Frankly, I wasn't sure at all what sort of reaction this "interview" (though we tried to make it more of a conversation) would solicit. It's difficult to interview a person with whom you are intimate friends. But Samantha is as interesting and as brilliant a person as I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I wanted to coax a bit of that brilliance and talent out. Not sure I succeeded, but it was, as My Love said, a blast to do. I think we could have gone on for triple the length, but we decided it had to stop some time.

And, indeed, Samantha and Ron are a wonderful love story, and one of the great gifts of my life.

Maybe I should just go around and interview all the big wine bloggers. You think Alder would let me interview him?

Marcia Macomber said...

WOW! Two of my favorite blog stars in one post! What a great way to start the week.

Webb is right. Folks are fearful of commenting. Think of it this way (if it's helpful), how many kids do you know who love to raise their hands and comment or answer questions in the classroom? Right...close to none.

Some of us are gluttons for punishment! I do miss your unique wine reviews. But I agree that your delivery is now known, so you don't want to overdo it. Best for the rest of us to wait until you have something special to say about a wine.

Nice turnabout... I liked the Liz Taylor interviewing Burton idea. I was thinking more George and Gracie though.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
We did have to stop somewhere, maybe another, Part II kind of deal? I'm in if you are baby!

George and Gracie suits me just fine. Kind of sweet really.

webb said...

Ah shucks! If I ever make my way west to Wine Country, we'll get sloppy and huggy and have a good old cry together. Meanwhile, consider yourself virtually hugged!

What Whiney said.

chris said...


I'm happy to hear that your will to write comes from within, not from the comments of others. Your voice will remain pure and will continue to captivate.

Samantha Dugan said...

You are too sweet m'lady.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

If you want to do more Conversations, I'd be up for that. Can we do them naked?

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Wait a stinking minute, I was naked when we did this, you weren't?! I would love to do a little more....if you think you can get something out of me that is...
I love you too!