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Posts Tagged ‘MASH’

A Review of Just Call Me Mike

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 23, 2013

Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and ActivistJust Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist by Mike Farrell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mike Farrell is an interesting man. I bought this book (for fifty cents at a used bookstore) because of my love for his character in MASH. Truthfully, that’s what I thought the book might be about, although it’s subtitled “A Journey to Actor and Activist.” I just had no idea what an activist Mike is! It’s really overwhelming. I mean, if he’s done half of what he claims to have done, he should be sainted. He traveled to numerous south and central American countries like El Salvador to document human rights abuses. He went to Rwanda to document the genocide there. He became an advocate for prisoner’s rights and has fought hard to abolish the death penalty everywhere. Let me tell you, if you’re a conservative, you won’t like this book. I’m pretty liberal, and even I felt like I was being preached to too often at times! He’s very anti-Bush, but doesn’t hold back on Clinton either, as well as Reagan and Bush 1.

I was disappointed at how little a role MASH plays in this book. A little over a chapter is devoted to the show, with the only major story being about the final episode. I had hoped to read numerous behind the scenes stories about the show, and that was a big let down. At the same time, I didn’t know how much other acting and producing Mike has done, so that was interesting. He got Patch Adams produced (starring Robin Williams), although he was deeply disappointed with the final product, which he thought the director and writer butchered.

Mike’s devotion to his second wife and his kids is awesome. His wife had to go through so much, including a frightening liver transplant, but Mike stood with her the whole way. Mike never went to college, but his kids did, so he was proud of them.

At times, this book bored me, however. I wanted anecdotes, not proselytizing. I feel kind of ripped off by that, even though, again, the words on the book cover should have alerted me to the primary purpose of the book. I mean, most of the blurbs on the cover are from politicians. That should have been a big tip off. If you’re a MASH fan, don’t bother reading this book. You won’t learn anything. If you’re against the death penalty and other human rights abuses, this might prove an interesting read for you. If you’re pro-death penalty, you’ll just get a headache reading this book. I can’t say I recommend it and I’m a little relieved to have finished it. Somewhat of a disappointment, no matter how noble Mike might be….

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A Review of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 25, 2013

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've LearnedNever Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I’ve Learned by Alan Alda

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a longtime M*A*S*H fan, I was elated when I found this book. I grew up loving Alan Alda’s character, Hawkeye, on M*A*S*H. He seemed so very cool, and the rest of the cast was awesome. So when I picked up the book, I was hoping for a lively autobiography complete with numerous M*A*S*H stories. BTW, it surprised me to see, while reading through Goodreads reviews, just how many people did NOT want that! It confirmed for me the fact that I’m a very different reader than most people. I like what most don’t, and dislike what most do. In this case, I wanted M*A*S*H stories while most people didn’t.

It’s painful, then, to say that the book barely mentions M*A*S*H. There’s a little over one chapter devoted to it about halfway through the book with barely any mention of cast mates or episodes, aside from one that he directed his father in. That was bitterly disappointing and it’s the reason I’ve knocked this book down from four stars to three. That said, it’s not a bad book. He spends a lot of his time telling us about his childhood, which seemed rather sad to me. He spent time with a mentally ill mother, a distant father, and he got beat up by the neighbor and school kids a lot. It’s amazing he’s as balanced as he is now! He spends a lot of time talking about religion, particularly Catholicism, which played a major role in his life. Indeed, I believe when he married his Jewish wife, it was in his Catholic church so he wouldn’t go to hell. The book discusses his struggles as an aspiring actor and writer and spends a lot of time on various plays he was in, both before fame and after. Strangely, when he gets to M*A*S*H, he basically glosses over it, as I said, and then moves on to Scientific American Frontiers, a show that he seems much more proud of. Isn’t that bizarre? The book basically ends with a harrowing tale of colon obstruction requiring colon re-sectioning while in Chile and his recovery from that with the support of his wife and daughters. It’s a good book, but it feels a little empty, a little hollow, like something major is missing, and it’s M*A*S*H that’s missing, which is a travesty. If you want to learn about Alan Alda, the person and writer, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about Alan Alda, Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, you’ve come to the wrong place.

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