Monday, September 17, 2007

Alan Alda - Atheist?

Sometimes it's fascinating going through server logs to find out what's on the minds of your readers.

Goofy A.C. used to comment on how many people got to her blog through Google and Yahoo searches on often truly delightful streams of obscenities and other disturbing thoughts.

Of late most of my readers seem to be finding Axinar's on a search for elusive information on AOL's edition of McAfee Security Center and specifically some of its conflicts with, ironically enough, the AOL 9.0 software.

Now, I just tried to start the AOL 9.0VR software AGAIN and it started without a problem, although I have seen it act like it couldn't find my broadband connection a couple of times since I downloaded the McAfee Security Center for AOL software, but I was always able to get AOL 9.0VR working on a second try.

However, probably the most interesting search string that will lead you to Axinar's of late is "Alan Alda Atheist".

In fact, it's the TOP hit of 37,500 sites on Google right now.

And it's a false positive.

It comes from my VERY brief mention of Alan Alda's new book, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself,combined with one of the blogs on my blogroll - "The eBay Atheist".

Well, I got both the book and audiobook version of Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself and I think I found what y'all are looking for - on page 9 he starts a sentence, "One day, though, I realized I was no longer a believer ..."

Now I haven't finished the book yet, but I think this is the only place in Things I Overheard or Never Have Your Dog Stuffed where he talks much at all about his personal faith. I believe his family background is Catholic, but I don't believe I ever once heard him address directly what he believes personally.

I was watching a retrospective of the M*A*S*H series the other night and I remember one of the original producers saying they not only wanted someone funny for the role of Hawkeye but someone intelligent. Alan Alda did bring a certain intelligence to the role.

I've never known QUITE why but he sometimes almost puts me in mind of Carl Sagan. In fact, I sometimes wondered if Alan Alda might have had a Jewish background, but there was certainly no mention of it in Never Have Your Dog Stuffed.

Of course, let's think about this for a moment - why WOULD they necessarily have anything in common? Of course they DO have one major thing in common - they were both major television figures - but there the similarity should probably end.

The one was a teacher - a PhD - who did 13 magnificent hours of non-fiction explaining in the universe in a way to, hopefully, make it accessible to the average person.

The other was an actor - a gifted actor to be sure - but an actor - an artist who expressed himself by bringing to life a character based upon a composite of army doctors who served in Korea.

But of course Alan Alda captured some of the thoughts and feelings and motivations of SO many other people. Hawkeye was that gifted but undisciplined miracle worker that should have been appreciated for his skills but was often criticized for not knowing how to handle a "pecking order".

Of course many actors who portray such a popular charcter for so long end up having a VERY strange relationship with that character. Certainly it shows with William Shatner and James Kirk and Leonard Nimoy and Spock. First William Shatner belted out that "get a life!" line on Saturday Night Live, then he seemed to experience some real loss when Kirk was killed in Star Trek: Generations. Nimoy of course wrote TWO books - I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock. Leonard Nimoy and Spock have literally been through death and life together. Looks like Leonard Nimoy is also going to be in this next Star Trek movie where they're not just handing over the FRANCHISE to new actors and new stories, but, in fact, the original CHARACTERS to the next generation. What a fascinating dance can go on between these real and fictional characters.

But, in a way, since M*A*S*H ran it's last episode in 1983, Alan Alda has kept the Hawkeye character all to himself.

Now, let's do a little math and see where we end up ...

Alan Alda was born in 1936 and started M*A*S*H in 1972, so he was 36. Although most of the surgeons in Korea were in their mid-late 20's as I recall. But, let's say that the character Hawkeye was 36 in 1950. Alan Alda in 2007 is 71. The character, Hawkeye would have been 71 in 1985 - right around the airing of the last episode of M*A*S*H.

Wouldn't it be neat to do some really Star Trek-esque TV-movie where all the old characters who still have surviving actors - Hawkeye, Trapper, B.J., Colonel Potter, Klinger, Radar, Hot Lips, Father Mulcahy and Winchester all get together WATCH the last episode of M*A*S*H and reflect on how their lives were changed by the time they spent in Korea?

Wouldn't it be neat to find out what happened the soldier who thought he was Jesus?

And the one who lost his legs and went to "the short pass"? Did they have good composite prosthetics by 1983?

I think such a show just might be worth the price of admission.

It might be really neat to see what effect the '80's might have had on those characters as they headed into their "golden years".

Maybe we could get a REAL tear-jerker going and have something like the last scene of the Fat Albert movie - with a scene set in 2007 with a somewhat heavily latex-ed Gary Burghoff playing a Radar in his mid '70's visiting Colonel Blake's final resting place at Arlington or something of the sort.

That would be neat.

It surely would.

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