Re-Blog: Book Review

I read this book several years ago but never reviewed it here for some reason. Like Mary, I was a MASH fan and was drawn to Alan Alda’s work, which I give a definite thumbs-up. Enjoy, and happy reading.

Book Review


Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
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Letters to Celebrities


One blogger I follow posts letters to Ellen DeGeneres simply because she can. In this post, she explains to Ellen why she thinks rotary phones should still exist. I must admit she makes some good points, although I really love my cell phone.

One of my favorite comedians is Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye on MASH. If I were to write letters to him on my blog, would A. Marie Silver, Ellen DeGeneres’s pen pal, sue me for plagiarism? When I was in college, I once took a basic research writing class in which the instructor was fond of saying, “Plagiarism is a crime.”

I pictured myself calling home from a police station in Billings, Montana, where I was attending MSU. “Hi Mother, Dad, I’m in jail for plagiarism. Could you drive the 150 or so miles from Wyoming and bail me out, please? Maybe you could ask Uncle Tony in Colorado Springs to come. He’s a pretty good lawyer, isn’t he? Maybe Aunt Lynn and the girls could also come, and after I’m free, we could all go skiing at Red Lodge like we did in Breckenridge when I was in high school, remember?”

Needless to say, it was with trepidation that I wrote my final paper, paraphrasing the heck out of every source I quoted. The topic was schizophrenia. Believe me, I had one of the symptoms of this psychological disorder, paranoia.

It didn’t help when another student said the instructor accused her of plagiarism after she turned in her paper. I expected armed policemen to march into the classroom at any minute and haul her off in handcuffs. Miracle of miracles, when I turned in my paper, the instructor did not accuse me of plagiarism and did give me a passing grade.

Now, my parents are gone. Uncle Tony is semi-retired, and his health isn’t what it used to be. If Alan Alda were a lawyer, he could march into a courtroom cracking jokes, like he did in the operating room in Korea years ago, but he’s not a lawyer. He’s not even a doctor. He’s a comedian and can’t help me if I’m sued for writing letters to him on my blog. I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. What do you think?


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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Talking to Myself

I talk to myself all the time. When my husband Bill was alive before his strokes, it drove him nuts. After his strokes, he said he liked it because he could always tell what I was doing. When you can’t see, walk, or use your left arm or leg, hearing your significant other chatter about nothing can be reassuring, I suppose.

That’s not what this post is about, though. I just finished reading Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda, the actor who portrayed Hawkeye on MASH, one of my favorite television shows during the 1980’s. This book is a collection of humorous essays on a variety of topics including his childhood, army life, acting experiences on stage and screen, and what it’s like to be a celebrity. In one piece, he explains how his father encouraged him to consider a career in medicine, although he really wanted to be an actor, and then talks about a commencement address he gave to a class of graduating medical students. In another, he describes how he learned to shoot with a rifle at age eleven, used it to euthanize his pet rabbits, then helped his grandchildren bury their pet rabbit after showing them how to make telephones out of old shoes. Most of his essays contain speeches he gave at various commencement ceremonies. His final piece is an address he would give if he were on his death bed in which he urges graduates to “go forth and stay there.” Alan Alda was born on January 28th, 1936 in New York City. His original name was Alfonso Joseph D’abruzzo. He’s known for his work on MASH, The Aviator, and What Women Want. He married Arlene Alda on March 15, 1957. They have three daughters: Eve, Elizabeth, and Beatrice.

Did you know that Alan Alda almost turned down the offer to star on MASH because he didn’t like the idea of using war as a backdrop for humor? He then agreed but insisted that each episode have at least one scene in the operating room to show the ravages of war. He studied at Fordham University in New York where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1956. He also attended the Sorbonne in Paris during his junior year. In the army, he went AWOL every weekend because he was dating the woman he eventually married. He was selected as the most believable actor in the U.S. and did a cartwheel down the aisle on his way to accept an award. To learn more, visit / .

Alan Alda is like his character on MASH. Although Hawkeye cracks under pressure a few times, he takes life in stride, tells a joke or two, and goes on. Sometimes, I wish I could do the same. I recommend this book to anyone needing a few laughs.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

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