Of Mule, Man, Mike, and Meg.

Hey, everybody!  How was your weekend?  It was good?  Oh good, glad to hear it.

I’m sorry, what was that?  Oh, you ask how MY weekend was?  Well, to be honest, my weekend. . .


Guess who I met yesterday?


Yep, that’s me and MIKE “The Beej” FARRELL!!

Mr. Farrell was in town yesterday doing a book reading for his new memoir, Of Mule and Man, which is about a cross-country road trip he took a couple of years ago while on a book tour for his 2007 memoir, Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist.   The book tour featured dozens of stops, each sponsored by an advocacy organization for human rights, and Mike did the 8000+ mile road trip alone — just him and a rented Prius, a car he nicknamed the Mule for it’s combination of  hybriditude and stubbornness.   As with the man himself, the book features an engaging, irresistible amalgam of comedy and seriousness, a combination that makes Mike Farrell the kind of  progressive thinker I think it’s easy for all sides to listen to, interact with, and learn from.  He’s a gentle soul with emphatic, passionate beliefs — a rather delicious and deadly combination.

The reading itself was amazing — he didn’t actually read from the book at all, but instead told us a few funny stories about his trip and then said he mostly wanted to hang out and chat.  So, that’s what we did!  He encouraged us to ask him anything, and our reward was getting to listen to him talk about his incredible advocacy work (special focus on anti-death penalty activism — yay, Mike!), as well as a few stories about M*A*S*H and his experiences as an actor in general.  Both of his books talk a lot about his life as an activist, if you’d like to learn more, and you can also read journals from his trips to places like Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, and other war-torn places on his web site, Mike Farrell Online.

After it was over, we each got a few minutes of one-on-one time with him while he signed our books, and I got to tell him face-to-face how much I respected him and how grateful I was to him and his co-stars for the impact that M*A*S*H had on me as a kid.   Being able to tell him that in person was one of the high points of my life, I kid you not.  Even better:  he seemed genuinely pleased to hear it, and was more than happy to pose afterward for the above photograph as well.

Thank you, Mr. Farrell, for being so gracious and accessible to us all yesterday, and for taking the time to talk to us about the things you are so passionate about.  You’re an inspiration.

Additional thanks go to my friend BCL, because if you hadn’t emailed me about Farrell’s reading yesterday, I would’ve MISSED IT, which would’ve been a goddamn crime.

And, of course, gratitude size XXL to my husband, Mr. Meg, whose store of patience appears to be infinite.

Great frakkin’ weekend all around, my peoples.  Might even have been one of the best.

13 Responses to “Of Mule, Man, Mike, and Meg.”

  1. megwood Says:

    p.s. First person to post here that Trapper John was way cooler than Beej gets a boot to the shin.

  2. JS Says:

    Okay, I’ll leave the Trapper/BJ debate alone, but what about Burns v. Winchester?

  3. megwood Says:

    Ferret Face was a bit too stock-comedic-effect for me. He was a surface character and was rarely allowed to demonstrate any actual humanity or depth.

    Winchester was more interesting a man, in my opinion, though he could be just as much of an ass. One of my favorite episodes of all time is a Winchester episode, though (“Morale Victory” — the one about the pianist who loses function in his right hand), so I have a clear bias there.

  4. Liz Says:

    Agree completely on BJ vs. Trapper, and Frank vs. Charles. I loved, and still do love, M*A*S*H. I also loved the fact that every time they had to replace a character, they created someone NEW, and not a carbon copy of the one who had just left. The show not only grew and developed, but so did the characters. I love that you met Mike Farrell; I only wish that you could have reminded him about your blog, and his gracious note to you. But maybe that would have been too self-serving….

  5. Marni Says:

    I’m sooooo with him on the anti-death penalty thing. I took a class in college where we read both sides of issues (like death penalty, abortion, euthanasia) and debated them and that was the most black and white issue BY FAR to me.
    So cool that you got to do this. Did you leave him with your print-outs of your email correspondence?

  6. megwood Says:

    I did leave him print-outs from the email exchange and a copy of the Boyfriend write-up! He left the Boyfriend write-up on the table next to him where everybody else could see it, too.

    Yeah, I totally do NOT understand people who support the death penalty. There isn’t a single pro-death-penalty argument that makes any sense to me whatsoever. And not just because I think it’s wrong ethically to kill any human being for any reason whatsoever, but also because it actually costs gazillions more dollars to kill someone than to keep them in prison for life — this is a demonstrated fact! Meanwhile, states like California are cutting social services programs because they are out of money. Need to trim your budget? How about not putting people on death row for a while instead of taking food and healthcare away from kids and the poor? Just an IDEA.

    He also talked briefly about the misuse of solitary confinement and Supermax prisons, by the way, which is an issue I’m interested in myself. Atul Gawande wrote an utterly STUNNING article about solitary confinement in the New Yorker a couple of months ago, if anybody is interested. I wish everybody would read it, if you haven’t already — we talk all the time about how untenable torture is, and yet, we’re torturing our own citizens all the time in ways that seem far worse than waterboarding to me, frankly: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/30/090330fa_fact_gawande.

  7. Marni Says:

    Wow. I just read that article. Wow. That is so sad. Thanks for telling me about it. On a different positive note, did you see the Oprah with the prison dog-trainers? If not, see if you can find it. Glenn Close is a part of it. It’s so hopeful and so amazing. They train dogs for soldiers coming back from Iraq for various things … and everybody benefits. The prisoners have the time to train these dogs in the way that they need to be trained, they find a purpose to helping other people, and they find real love in the dogs. It was really an amazing story.

  8. megwood Says:

    I think I did see that Harpo! I’ve seen something else recently about those programs in prisons too — it’s such a great idea for EVERYONE involved.

  9. Liz Says:

    Rats! I couldn’t get the link to work! At any rate, I so agree about the capital punishment issue. Not only am I very uncomfortable with anyone making a decision that someone ought to die, but also, I can’t understand how that can be deemed a punishment! And don’t try to tell me it’s a deterrent, because I don’t think that works either!

  10. alisaj29 Says:

    First off… YEA HOO go Meg for meeting “The Beej”. 🙂
    Now onto my controversial statement about the M.A.S.H Men.
    My favorite is..well Hawkeye “Insanity is all in the mind.”
    2nd fav is Radar and 3rd is Klinger, obviously, he’s never heard of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Rule. (Yes I know, it didn’t exist then. )

    Now on the controversial I liked Charles Winchester over Beej, and Trapper. Now here’s why….

    Beej and Trapper were inherently good guys. Married, loved their wives, yes they played pranks, but it was never to hurt anyone.

    Now, Winchester came in as a bad guy. He pissed off a General, and was sent to the war front (despite his money and family position) due to a “punishment” and he knew it, and was hell bent on being the pompous twit that he was at home in Boston. But as the episodes went on you got to see another side to Winchester, IE the Christmas episode where he donated all those boxes of chocolate to the orphanage. His character changed when he saw the war firsthand, and not what the papers wrote about, and I think it helped shape him to be a more compassionate person, unlike Frank, who will always be an ass, and Beej and Trapper who always be nice guys.

    Ok I’ve said my piece,please don’t hurt me. 😉

  11. Lorraine Says:

    So cool to meet one of your childhood idol/crushes and not have them disappoint! It’s also nice to read that he is such a graceful and intelligent man.

  12. Liz Says:

    Hey, Meg! I just showed your pic (with Mike) to my husband, and he immediately pointed out that you look a lot like one of my best friends, from high school days. He’s right – I hadn’t thought of it, but it’s kind of neat. Also, your word, “hybriditude,” (or was it his word?) appealed to us both, as it’s just the kind of word we might use!

    I found that article about solitary confinement, by going to the “New Yorker” sight, and searching for the author. It was really interesting … and powerful … and explains a lot!

    Alisa, I thought your points about “Charles,” etc, were very well made. I think all those characters had coping mechanisms about being stuck in the MASH unit … and some worked better than others!

  13. Leslie Says:


    Burns was a bad doctor so there really is no comparison.

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