Everyone knows of my hero-worship of two Lions greats, Alastair Lynch and Joel Patfull. But before those two, there was someone else. Someone who I think is the single greatest actor ever to grace our screens, and had a huge influence on my sense of humour, adding irrelevance and childish aspects.
That man is Alan Alda.
His character in the hit series M*A*S*H Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce continues to be one of my favourite characters of all time. His quick wit, strength of conviction, irrelevant quips, good heart and all around amazing looks won me over for life (and I don't care how old he is, he still has that charm about him!). Finding out a bit later on that Alan's also a strong advocate for womens rights and a charitable man to boot just make me like him even more.
I adored Hawkeye as a kid - any episode focusing around him was always a favourite. Some of my fondest memories are of his shinanigans - like after his eyesight healed in "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" and he started antagonising the nurses (that episode is also pretty special to me, as it deals with one of my worst fears - going blind). Another memory is of Hawks reluctance to ever aim a gun at another human being or even carry a gun, something I respect quite a bit.
Another fond memory is when he punches out Frank Burns in "House Arrest", and tells Radar that he's fine the way he is, and doesn't need to wear shoes that make him look taller. The only problem with this episode in my opinion is the "rape" scene where Frank is wrongly accused of rape and gets punished - I know this was back in the 70's but it still rankles me a bit.
My favourite episode by far is "Adam's Ribs". Hawkeyes hilarious obsession with the ribs mirrors my own obsession with fried rice from a little store called Noodle Bento in Toowoomba (what, you thought I went back every once in a while to see my family and friends? Yeah, nah).
Unfortunately I doubt I'll ever get to meet him, he's 78 years old - older than my grandmother - and the chances of me getting over to the U.S any time soon are slim. But he still remains an inspiration to me, many of the older characters I write are based on him.
Thanks Mr. Alda, you created a character I will cherish forever, and inspired me to do the one thing that I have found gives me the greatest pleasure in life - make people laugh