Wednesday, August 6, 2014

M*A*S*H Goes to New Orleans by Richard Hooker and William E. Butterworth

It begins with a kidnapping, and gets steadily more amusing and twisted from there. Hawkeye's wife, Mary Pierce, is about to deliver their fourth child, and is understandably not amused by the idea of her husband assisting during the delivery, so she has a chat with the guys from The Swamp. Trapper, Spearchucker and Duke put together a plot to get Hawkeye out of town for the duration, and Mary first drugs him with a doctored hot cocoa, then they bundle him up in a straightjacket and put him on a plain for New Orleans, where the annual meeting of the TA & VD (Tonsil, Adenoid and Vas Deferens) Society is taking place.

By an amusing set of coincidences, the French Quarter hotel which is hosting the TA & VD convention is also hosting a missionary conference, where Hot Lips Houlihan is one of the medical missionaries, and a Knights of Columbus grand gathering where Archbishop Patrick Mulcahy is representing the Vatican, and the President of the TA & VD Society is...Frank Burns. It gets far more convoluted before it's all through.

Great lines,

"Mr Wachauf had gone to meet his Maker as a result of the energy shortage. He had been standing under an electromagnetic lift supervising the loading of a fifteen-ton six-foot square mass of compacted automobiles into a railroad car at the precise moment the Southeastern North Dakota Power Company had been forced to reduce power to its clients."

Strong drink,

"Do you still make them (martinis) by exposing the gin for thirty seconds to the smell of an old vermouth bottle cork?"

Which reminds me where I got my favorite dry martini recipe, after all these years.

There is an amusing paragraph or two about why the manager of the hotel doesn't like to have religious groups stay there. They brown bag their meals and don't spend any money at the bar, and "The cold truth of the that the black ink comes from the boozers."

Which reminds me of my conversation with the longtime owner of the Three Rivers Resort. She told me that the original owners were a family of home-schoolers who couldn't stand all the partying people who came there to raft the river, so they sold it to..a Mormon family who also had little tolerance for the hard-drinking party animals who sold it to her and her husband, a pair of retired California school teachers, "We sell them all the beer, wine and cigarettes they want."

But I digress.

Hooker and Butterworth introduce us to the first of the "new" characters in the M*A*S*H universe, "Horsey" de la Cheveaux, a Cajun oil multimillionaire whose family's land grant in Bayou Perdu dates back to the time of Louis XIV, and who was patched back together at the 4077th by Hackeye and Trapper, back in the day.

This book actually begins a pattern which continues through the rest of the series, as various characters, for diverse reasons, end up gathering unwittingly in a series of cities, worldwide. As they say, it's all about the journey, not necessarily the destination.

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