ATTENTION, ALL PERSONNEL!
If they held an election to name the TV series with the strongest, most memorable characters, M*A*S*H would win my vote, hands down. Some of those characters were completely despicable, but who could help loving them all?
When the series first came out, I was busy in high school and never saw it. It was only later, in syndication, that I got completely hooked. In the eighties, it was on MTN every night at ten, and every night at ten, everything stopped at the Todd house. The kids were asleep by then and whatever tasks this young mother hadn't accomplished would wait til tomorrow. I'd make me a cup of tea, put up my feet, and watch M*A*S*H on our little black and white set.
After a while, the episodes started repeating but it only got better. Pretty soon I knew all the jokes and had half the lines memorized. It mattered not.
My favorite funny bit is when Frank Burns and Hawkeye are stranded in the jungle and the cowardly Frank keeps calling for help on a dead radio. At one point he sees a jet flying overhead, so he uses it to describe his position to the nonexistent person on the radio by saying, “right.....NOW!”
To which Hawkeye responds, “Frank, by the time you said 'now' the plane was in the hangar and the pilot was in his jammies.”
Got me every time.
And for most moving speech, I'd pick the time BJ Hunnicut was complaining about how, since he had a wife and children back home, he had the most to lose by being in Korea. To which Major Houlihan delivers a tear-filled speech ending with, “maybe you do have the most to lose. But it's only because you HAVE the most!”
Got me every time.
So I'm pleased to be helping back stage with the Prairie Players' production of M*A*S*H at the Glesby Centre November 17-20. Don't miss it! You're guaranteed to howl at those clowns, Hawkeye and Trapper John (Kevin Hamm and Adam Eisbrenner). Majors Houlihan and Burns (a.k.a. Nettie Neudorf and Terry Tully) carry on in a major way, and good ol' Max Klinger (Bob Guenther) will make you laugh til the mascara runs as he shows off his many fashionable outfits. Paul Warthe makes an adorable Radar O'Reilly, complete with teddy bear; and Jason Paas brings his military know-how to the character of Col. Flagg, making him truly believable. The lovable Col. Blake is portrayed by the equally lovable Reynold Gauthier, and our own 4077th is rounded out by a beautiful and talented team of nurses played by Maureen Britton, Violet Enns, and Azure-Dee Sharp.
M*A*S*H fans like me will recognize lots of original lines from the show, and find them still just as funny. I hope they get you every time.
Confessions of the Recreationally Challenged
Perhaps it was the completion of our PCU Centre that made me realize I had never, in all my 51 years, attended a hockey game. Yes, I was born and raised Canadian and yes, I can hum the theme to Hockey Night in Canada even if I do get it mixed up with the Star Wars theme. Still, I always knew that if sports ceased to exist tomorrow, I wouldn't notice. I never understood the hoopla. Take me to a play or a concert or the library or a yawning convention—just don't expect me to get excited over some mere game. (Insert readers' collective gasp here.) I even took a sick sort of pride in saying “sports shmorts” whenever I got the chance.
But seeing hordes of people give so generously to both our new and old hockey arenas, it occurred to me that I might be missing out on something fundamental to my Canadian-ness. Could millions of hockey fans be wrong? So I decided this would be the year I would finally discover what this national religion was all about, or at least put it on my bucket list. When my friend Shane Neufeld graciously agreed to accompany me as interpreter—and even provided a free ticket-- I imagined what sort of story I might write following the game.
The Story I Thought I'd Write
The atmosphere in the arena was electrifying as I walked in to the sound of energetic music and the swoosh of skates on ice. Delightful scents of hot dogs and french fries wafted through the air and I felt the coolness from the frosty sheet below as I took my seat. As our talented Terriers hit the ice, I thought I'd die from exhilaration and pride. My eyes were glued to the puck as the players hit it up and down the ice. I couldn't stay in my seat! My throat was raw from cheering, and by the time our team scored its winning goal, I had no voice left. Poor Shane had a black eye and a swollen jaw from the erratic waving of my arms. When the final buzzer sounded, it seemed like only moments had passed, so caught up was I in the awe-inspiring event. Wearing my brand new Terriers jacket, I was carried home on waves of elation, having known first hand the thrill of victory. I vowed to never miss another home game for the rest of my life, even if it meant sharing the agony of defeat. And just as soon as I figured out all the rules, I'd apply to be the next sports writer for the Daily Graphic! How could I have missed out on something so exciting for 50 years? Had I known how much I'd love hockey, I'd have become a devoted fan years ago.
The Story I Actually Wrote
I went to the Terriers game. They won. The hot chocolate was excellent. My favorite part was Harry Funk's rendition of Oh Canada.
Sorry to be such a disappointing failure, Canada. I do love you, honest. But I still don't get what the hype's about. Please don't hate me. If I get any points for trying, they will be the most athletic points I ever score.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to cross something off my bucket list.
So I Thought I Could Dance
Go to You Tube and type in “Clog Dancing” and you'll see some of the most amazing dance teams ever! Of course, these are not real people. They are tiggers dressed in people suits, but that is beside the point. The point is I could dance like that, too, if my top were made out of rubber and my bottom were made out of springs.
Alas, I live in a real human body—an aging one, at that, without a single drop of Metis blood in it—and have to contend with the realities of gravity and the sometimes slippery floor of the Herman Prior Centre. Otherwise, I'd be awesome, I know I would.
I started Clogging in 2007 and found I was going home from class not with sore feet as one might expect, but with a sore jaw—from smiling! I was having so much fun, I couldn't wipe the ridiculous grin from my face. It didn't matter that I sucked at it—Heather is a wonderfully patient and laid back teacher. Finally, I was proving my kids wrong. I was not a workaholic like they said, but had found something that was sheer fun—something with no obligation, no responsibility, and good for me to boot.
The second year, I went back to the beginner's class because it's so much easier to believe you're a good dancer when everybody around you is new and you are not. It's all about strategy at this point.
Then I took a year off, due to other commitments.
When I returned to Clogging this year, it was to the Beginner's class again. But since that now seemed a little too easy, I decided I should really challenge myself and stay for the Intermediate session.
Whoever decided this was “Intermediate” should have their feet examined. I am so lost most of the time, I feel like an elephant among swans. They tell me this might have something to do with the fact I don't practice between classes, but I know better. Why should I have to practice? It's not like there's going to be a test. I come home, toss my shoes in the closet where they sit for a week until the next class and can't ruin my laminate flooring with their infernal clacking.
I recently had to miss two classes in a row and when I returned, the group had mastered a song that was still brand new to me, as were most of the steps. I gained a whole new appreciation for why kids drop out of school.
“So this is how it feels,” I thought, “to be the slow kid. Now I know. And it is decidedly horrible.”
Quitting is for quitters. I shall prevail. I will have fun, gosh darn it, even if I have to basic-step my way through an entire song with a plastic smile pasted to my face. So there.
I'll let you know how that philosophy is working for me.