Archive for February, 2022

In the Still of the Night

On February 28 1983, M*A*S*H ended. For 11 years, we sustained our disbelief and didn’t ask “Wait, how long was the Korean War?” We watched Hawkeye, BJ, Hot Lips Houlihan, Colonel Potter, Klinger. And on February 28 1983, we said goodbye to them. The last scene focused on the two main characters, BJ and Hawkeye, as they pour out their hearts. 139 million people cried. And then the two biggest alcoholics in television history said goodbye and went home to Crabapple Cove and Sausalito. And 139 million people wondered what exactly they were going to do on Monday night at 9 o’clock. They’re still wondering.

Though producers and writers have been trying to replicate the show since then, there’s no saying what the magical equation and alchemy were. For so many years people tuned in to watch the doctors and nurses suffer and laugh. We were there when Henry Blake’s death was reported. We were there when Klinger broke the PA system. We were there.

Or, at least, I was there roughly. As an obsessive fan during the rerun period (i.e. 1983 until an hour ago) I watched and rewatched the episodes roughly 7,000 times. I won a game of M*A*S*H Trivial Pursuit in the late 1990s, receiving the question and giving the answer in Pig Latin. To this day, when I read about a celebrity if I can place him or her to an episode of M*A*S*H, I instantly know who they are. The DVD and now download age have made M*A*S*H a constant part of my life whenever I so desire. This very fact makes 12 year old me squeal for delight at every remembrance.  

I bought GI issue boxer shorts and named my bedroom The Swamp. I went out for Halloween as Hawkeye Pierce so many times that the kibosh was finally enforced by my disconcerted parents. As if a bloody surgeon walking around our neighborhood was an odd thing. Pbbt. I called people ferret face and was boggled when they didn’t get angry. They simply had no idea what I was referring to. And then there were the martinis.

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Meditations on Getting my Cat Stoned

The dog loves to play. This is hindered by the fact that the cat hates the dog, everything about the dog, and all things the dog represents and embodies. The cat voices this distaste with an almost constant meowing that sends my blood pressure through the stratosphere.

Oh, this wouldn’t be so bad (I can always drink) except the cat comes equipped with scimitar-like claws and the dog has no snout. My nightmare machine produces lots of clashes between those claws and my dog’s unprotected eyes. We have considered getting the dog a pair of goggles, but then that would raise lots of internal questions about who I have become as a person that I’d rather avoid right now. Instead, I brought the cat to the vet. The veterinarian found that the cat has a minor back problem and suggested CBD (cannabis) oil to help her relax and to not be such an asshole.

It’s an unusual event leaving a vet’s office with a bottle of cannabis oil for your cat. I was reminded of those days in college when I’d leave a shady house with a baggie paranoid that I smelled like a skunk. I went to the grocery store and bought the cat some treats as the vet said her appetite would increase. Or, in the parlance of the lifestyle, she would get the munchies. Instinctively, I picked myself up some cookies and a can of Pringles, because you never know when you might get a contact high, or accidentally take 4-8 drops of the oil yourself.

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Remember the Maine, Down with Spain!

On February 15 1898, a huge explosion sounded through Havana Harbor. The U.S.S Maine, sent to Cuba to protect American interests during the Cuban War for Independence against Spain, was quickly sinking, a massive hole in its fore. An American steamer and a Spanish cruiser, the City of Washington and the Alfonso XII, respectively, rushed to its assistance and saved over 100 men. However, 261 men would die.

Everyone handled everything perfectly. America handled the news in stride and made a nationwide pact to reserve judgment until all evidence could be investigated. The newspapers put out thoughtful analyses and reasonable discussions of the tragedy and promoted a cautious reaction from the U.S. America followed suit and everyone decided that it was best not to jump to conclusions – in this case that the explosion had been caused by the U.S.’s possible enemy, Spain – and allow cooler heads to prevail.  

Ha hah ha hah ha, nah, I’m just kidding. Everyone lost their shit. And fast. The U.S. was pretty well on edge because of Cuba’s third war against Spain and because of the atrocities Spain had committed against the Cubans. They were urged forward by the shrill and shrieking accusations – or at the very, very least heavy insinuations – from the U.S.’s two leading newspapers that Spain was responsible for or involved in the tragedy. Though Joseph Pulitzer, the owner of the New York World, one of the most vociferously accusatory newspapers, privately said that “nobody outside of an insane asylum” could actually believe Spain was involved, his newspaper sang a far different tune. Though the newspapers weren’t directly responsible for the cause of the Spanish American War, they sure helped. The rallying cry, “Remember the Maine, down with Spain!” became rampant and two months later, William McKinley, who had been trying to cool things down, declared war.

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7 Telltale Signs I’ve been Watching Squid Game

I am enormously susceptible to media. After watching The Walking Dead, I judged everything in terms of zombie avoidance, zombie combat, and where to hang out if I become a zombie. Well, these days it’s Squid Game. This was, it must be said, not my idea. If I were left to my own devices, I would watch comedies where the biggest threat is that Willy might not be free at the end (Thank God that worked out). Now it’s Squid Game and, as always, each day brings a Squid Game-induced insight. Here are 7 telltale signs that I’ve been watching Squid Game. (spoiler alert: While I have not seen all of Squid Game and I actively try to not give away too much, tread lightly if you haven’t seen it. in the same vein, please be careful with comments/feedback. I’d like to be rightly horrified.)

Brushing up on kid’s games

One of the very disturbing aspects of Squid Game is that well-known, nostalgic childhood games and innocuous little competitions are turned into horrifying life or death blood fests. With that in mind, I have begun reviewing the rules and tactics of games from my own childhood. I have begun a personal rolodex of strategies and tactics that helped me win the games then. Well not me, but someone I was watching after being eliminated. So if anyone needs a powwow on the tactical dimensions of tag, I am your man. Please let me on your team.

Picking my team

I was in line at the grocery store last week when I realized that at any minute a man in a red suit and with a circle on a black mask might force me at gunpoint to create a team. I then looked around in a panic to find my nine teammates. I located the room’s psychopath (every room has one). I decided that while he was physically strong, he would stab me in the back with a broken Sprite bottle at first opportunity. I found a guy who had decided to open his beer before paying for it. A dick move? Yes. Disgusting? Yes. Inconsiderate? Yes. But I figured he was gutsy and, plus, if he was eliminated, I wouldn’t be too upset about it. An old man in front of me had his groceries sorted within his box in a relatively brilliant manner. Eggs were stacked sideways, fruit was dangling from the sides, tied to the handles by knots, spreads were riding the cart in the same way. Deciding he was wise from a lifetime of struggle, I chose him for my team.

Trying to find 7 other human adults to test out 001’s tug-of-war strategy

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