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Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
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This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st of each month and on the 7th, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
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Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of DOG BITE High Gravity Lager (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
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[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

BOTB RESULTS: NOV. 1, 2021 (Or, DAVID ESSEX VS. JOHN 'COUGAR' MELLENCAMP)

 

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Well, I waited as long as I possibly could. I now MUST post the BOTB Results.

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The third and final part of my 'James Dean BOTB Contest' took place [link> HERE. It was between 'ROCK ON' (David Essex) and 'JACK & DIANE' (John 'Cougar' Mellencamp), and it wound up being a huge disappointment. 

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The last thing I wanted was a tie. Imagine watching a full season of the NFL or MLB and at the end, the Super Bowl or World Series was declared a tie! 

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I kept waiting, hoping that someone -- anyone -- would show up at the end to vote for someone -- anyone -- and break this tie. But, alas, it was not to be and I just couldn't wait any longer. 

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Nevertheless, I appreciate every one of you who took the time to visit, comment, and cast a bote. Thanks, all y'all! 

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(I'm listening to some [link> Tiny Tim while writing this, just to make me feel a wee bit o' better about this mess. Tiny Tim always puts a smile on my face! And later, I'm gonna get drunk and watch 'Pinocchio'... and that ain't no lie!)

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David Essex jumped out to an immediate 5-1 lead but... the lead didn't last.

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Final Tally:

David Essex = 7 votes 

John 'Melon' Cougarcamp = 7 votes 

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As much as I really dig 'Jack & Diane', my vote went to 'ROCK ON' by David Essex. There is just so much I love about that song. First of all, it's REAL Cool! I mean, it's just plain cool. It would be cool even if it didn't mention James Dean, the king of Cool. And as I previously described it, 'Rock On' sounds like a super-duper-slowed-down James Brown 'FUNK' song. But wait! There's more!...

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Aside from the repeated mention of James Dean (my acting hero), in the lyrics of 'Rock On' there's also a mention of 'Summertime Blues'. That song was by Eddie Cochran who has always been my favorite Rock artist from the 1950s. I love Eddie and still listen to him regularly. After a thorough, many-years-long study of it, I came to the conclusion that Eddie Cochran's 'Sumertime Blues' was the very first Punk Rock song (or more accurately, the very first Proto-Punk Rock song). 'Summertime Blues' was the first truly anti-establishment song I've ever found -- it was anti-parents, anti-boss, and anti-government (but with a sense o' humor, which I'll always have). 

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References to James Dean and Eddie Cochran in the same song! OF COURSE I voted for THAT! Hullo-oooo!

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Here's another Fun Fact: 

Although I did own a red leather James Dean-inspired motorcycle-type jacket when I was in my early twenties (as seen in the M*A*S*H photos I displayed), that wasn't really my favorite leather jacket. In fact, I eventually gave the red leather jacket to my buddy Kelly "Andy" Anderson (who committed suicide in 1986), because my more basic black leather jacket was my favorite and the one I practically lived in for a decade or more.

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Here's me wearing that black leather jacket (sans a pin) at the Statue of Liberty in 1983:

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At different times, I wore a single pin on that black leather jacket, and there were only 3 pins that I ever deemed worthy enough of being displayed on that leather jacket: 

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1) The first one was a black & white Eddie Cochran pin.

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2) Later, I replaced the Eddie Cochran pin with a Lone Wolf pin.

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3) And lastly, I replaced the Lone Wolf pin with a black & white James Dean & Julie Harris pin. This pin was handmade for me by my acting buddy, Marty "Party" Brumer. I think Marty cut the picture out from a Fox Venice Theatre or Nuart Theatre flyer advertising their showing of 'East Of Eden'. I LOVED that pin -- it was literally one-of-a-kind -- and I still own it to this very day. Marty Brumer was killed by a car thief in 1989, but the James Dean pin he made for me remains one of my all-time most cherished possessions.

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Here's me wearing that almost-famous black leather jacket (WITH my handmade, one-of-a-kind James Dean pin) in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1985:

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In the previous post, I showed y'all pictures of me on MASH during my "Dog Tag Years". I'll close this disaster with a few mo' pics of me on a few mo' shows:

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[Me, at far-far right ("in the vest, is it?"), as a member of The Shamrocks, the idiotic Irish gang on the ridiculous show 'Hill Street Blues'.]

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[Me, at right, playing the part of a martial arts gang member on the idiotic show 'CHiPs'.]

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[Me, at center, taking notes while Fonzie tells us guys how to pick-up-girls on the moronic, shark-jumping show 'Happy Days'. The image quality is very poor, but that's apropos, because the show was incredibly low-quality, too!]

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Well, thanks again to ALL O' YOUZ for showing up and attempting to promote a winner in my 'James Dean BOTB Contest'. Sadly, there was no winner. What we had was a tie -- which is like kissing your sister, or so I've been told (by my Brother... the sick bastard! ;-)

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Anyway, I intend to return here on December 1st for a traditional Christmas BOTB installment. I hope to see you here again for that. Until then...

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Bless And Be Blessed!!

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy

[link> LEARN THE HOLY BIBLE IN 15 MINUTES!

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Monday, November 1, 2021

2021, NOV. 1: BATTLE OF THE BANDS - James Dean Series, #3 Of 3 (Or, DAVID ESSEX VS. JOHN 'MELON' COUGARCAMP)

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This blog bit series is dedicated to three persons: 

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1: My Ma ('East Of Eden'), who first made me aware of James Dean.

2: My great friend and publicity photographer, Kelly "Andy" Anderson ('Rebel Without A Cause'), who committed suicide in 1986.

3: My great friend and professional acting buddy, Marty "Party" Brumer ('Giant'), who was killed by a car thief in Los Angeles in 1989.

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Yes, it's time once again for Battle Of The Bands (BOTB).

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[But first, a shout-out and special message for The Countess. Countess, click HERE!]

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Alright, let's get on it. Let's get ON this thing!...

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This has been a James Dean themed BOTB tournament, in which I've used my 4 favorite songs that mention Dean, who was my acting hero during my youthful venture into the world of Hollyweird. 

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In Part 1 (HERE) David Essex's song 'ROCK ON' beat 'American Pie' by Don McLean, as explained HERE.

In Part 2 (HERE) John 'Cougar' Mellencamp's song 'Jack & Diane' beat 'James Dean' by The Eagles, as explained HERE.

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In this final installment, the two winners face off against each other for the 'James Dean BOTB Championship'.

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But before we do that, I promised to share some photos from my 'Dog Tag Years', also known as 'My Years Working On M*A*S*H'.

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Although I'm not certain, I believe the first episode of M*A*S*H that I worked on was 'LIL', the third episode of the 7th season, which first aired on October 2, 1978. I was 19 years old at that time. The story involves Colonel Lillian Rayburn, who visits the 4077th. Radar O'Reilly becomes concerned that perhaps Colonel Potter is falling for Lil and is about to cheat on his wife. Major M*A*S*H fans might remember the episode more for the subplot, in which Hawkeye Pierce is being driven batty by the fact that he can't find out what the "B.J." in B.J. Hunnicutt stands for. 

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There's a scene early on in the episode where Lil Rayburn and Colonel Potter visit the Post-Op. Colonel Rayburn says, "Look at that boy. He belongs in a playground, not a hospital." Then there's a close-up of my sweet, angelic face as I sleep on a Post-Op cot:

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Colonel Potter says, "You know, as much as I hate O.R., this room is worse."

Colonel Rayburn: "Why?"

Colonel Potter: "In there you only look at the wounds. In here you see the faces."

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And as far as I can recall, that was where I first appeared on M*A*S*H. Apparently, the powers that be liked something about me, because from then on, I was a regular on the show, always in the 4077th camp somewhere and occasionally having a couple lines of dialogue to say. I can find myself somewhere in nearly every episode from 'LIL' through and including the 2.5 hour 1983 series finale in Season 11 [link> 'Goodbye, Farewell and Amen'.

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Although today I have great appreciation for my 'Dog Tag' experiences, sadly I didn't appreciate my time on MASH as much as I should have while it was occurring. I thought I was on my way to bigger and better things, so MASH just seemed to me, at the time, like a stepping stone on my way to becoming the new James Dean. Live and learn, eh?

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In the 2005 CNN.com Entertainment article [link> 'Alda's Favorite 'M*A*S*H' Episodes', star Alan Alda named four of his very favorite MASH episodes, and as fate would have it, I appeared prominently in one of them: "Life Time", a 1979 episode done in real time, in which a soldier will suffer permanent injury -- or death -- if he isn't treated within 20 minutes. This episode is known for the clock in the corner of the screen, keeping real time (even through the TV commercials) as one soldier needs to die in time for the doctors to take a piece of his aorta and graft it into another dying patient. This episode is so famous amongst MASH fans that it even has its own Wikipedia page [link> HERE.

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Although I had no dialogue in this episode (just some death rattle gasping sounds in my dying moment), I was Harold Sherwood, the patient who died in time and provided the aorta that saved another soldier's life:

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[Stephen T. McCarthy, a bloody mess who is also known as Harold Sherwood]

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So, here are some more MASH pictures from my Dog Tag Years:

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In one episode, Colonel Potter took Sgt. Rizzo's drivers' education class, and sat in with the rest of us lowly soldiers. (I still can't get over how young I looked in this photo! That's me on the left.)

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Speaking of Rizzo, there was an episode where he kept getting caught playing craps in various places around the 4077th with his "craps-shooting monkeys!" as Father Mulcahy called us. I was one of Rizzo's "craps-shooting monkeys". That's me second from the right wearing my cap backwards:

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In another episode, an emotionally distraught soldier went AWOL and sought sanctuary in Father Mulcahy's Mess Tent chapel. In quite a stretch for this Maverick Christian, I portrayed a Catholic who was trying to hang around after Mulcahy's sermon in order to find out what the commotion was all about. In this picture, Mulcahy is trying to hustle me out of his Mess Tent chapel:

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This next shot was taken at the MASH compound set up in the Malibu hills, where most of the exterior filming took place. (The interior scenes were shot on Stage 9 at 20th Century Fox Studio in Los Angeles.) I have no idea which episode we were shooting at this time, but someone took a picture of me walking through camp in the background:

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A Malibu canyon fire in October of 1982 burned down the MASH set, so the writers incorporated the fire into the storyline of the show's final episode. Here's a picture of me - wearing my red leather James Dean-inspired jacket - at the charred remains of the exterior MASH set in Malibu.

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And lastly, below is an official photo of the MASH cast and crew taken during the 11th and final season. You can find me in the second row from the bottom, toward the left, and wearing that same red leather James Dean jacket:

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Alright, enough of this. Let's get on with the music Battle...

Please leave a comment telling me which of these two songs you like better, and why. I will return here on November 8th or 9th to cast my own vote and to announce the winner of the James Dean BOTB series. And perhaps I'll share a few more pictures and close with a story about my leather jacket and and an extremely special one-of-a-kind James Dean pin that I used to wear on it.

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ROCK ON -- David Essex

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDnRY0QkVio


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JACK & DIANE -- John 'Cougar' Mellencamp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjMwrXGk4xU

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Thanks in advance for your participation. And please visit 'n' vote at the Battles presented by the other BOTB participants.

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Bless And Be Blessed,

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Saturday, October 9, 2021

BOTB RESULTS: OCT. 1, 2021 (Or, THE EAGLES VS. JOHN 'COUGAR' MELLENCAMP)

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Part 2 of my 3-Part James Dean 'Battle Of The Bands' series took place HERE, and it was one heckuva blowout!

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The songs battling it out were 'JAMES DEAN' (The Eagles) and 'JACK & DIANE' (John 'Cougar' Mellencamp). The turnout was good and the conversation was fun, as usual. What wasn't so good was the competition: Yes, I was pretty sure that 'Jack & Diane' would beat 'James Dean' - after all, it *WAS* two against one - but I didn't expect that level of a beat-down. 'Jack & Diane' had 5 votes recorded before The Eagles even got on the scoreboard! And The Eagles fortunes didn't improve much after that, either. It isn't often that The Eagles are dogs - I mean, "underdogs". Well, they were this time, and they got BIT!

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The Final Tally:

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The Eagles = 3 votes

John 'Cougar' Mellencamp = 12 votes

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My vote? Yeah, I went along with the majority. It's rare that I can be counted amongst the majority, rather than being a loud voice in the minority, but it happens once in a Chartreuse Moon.

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Why the Cougar rather than the Eagle? Well, I simply like the song better and find it more interesting, even though 'Jack & Diane' merely mentions James Dean while 'James Dean' is ABOUT... well, James Dean. Aside from the neat 'Rebel Without A Cause' reference in the line "Well, then, there, Diane", I can really relate to the lyric "Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone". That line didn't particularly resonate with me back in 1982, when this song was a radio hit, but today I consider it one of the most profound observations ever sung in a song!

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Not that I'm complaining about my life, mind you. But I'm tired, and "there is nothing new under the sun"

There is a season (turn, turn, turn)

And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die

A time to plant, a time to reap

A time to kill, a time to heal

A time to laugh, a time to weep

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And unfortunately, I've reached the stage in my life where everything I do is something I've previously done. It may be fun, but it's been dun.

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There is a time to be young, energetic and full of life; 

and a time to be bored and ready to go Home (capital H).

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However, below is a picture of me in my bedroom (circa 1983), when life was still wild and full of spirit (and spirits!) One of my drinking buddies, Cranium, has passed out on my floor, a can of Colt .45 malt liquor is just beyond his reach. My gesture for the camera seems to say, "You see what I have to put up with?" Right over my shoulder, you can see a red-jacketed 'Rebel Without A Cause' James Dean cardboard stand-up next to my bookcase.

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By 1988, the acting dream had burned out, or faded away. Truth be told, I had really begun to find my own true self, and the idea of pretending to be other characters didn't really thrill me. I guess "the thrill was gone", and I was now focusing more on writing. ("Writing is your forte, STMcC", my Pa told me a thousand and 3.5 times. Coincidentally, my Pa had actually been enrolled in the same California elementary school as James Dean. Although Pa didn't recall Dean, we did the math and it's a fact that they were in the same school at the same time.)

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I still believed that James Dean was the most naturally gifted actor of all time, and in October of '88, some of my fellow Dean fans and good friends whom I had met at the 1980 James Dean festival in Fairmount, Indiana, came out to Los Angeles where I escorted them to some of the important Dean-related sites in the area:

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[Left to Right: Russ Hodson, Larry Minor, Ed Lane, me, Bob Pulley --photo by Carole Redus]

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[Left to Right: Larry Minor, Sally Hinton, Mary Alice Rodes, Bob Pulley, Carole Redus, Russ Hodson, and me.]

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Those were some pretty big names in the world of James Dean Fandom in '88. Bob Pulley was one of Dean's friends and classmates in high school and he was the last surviving pall bearer from James Dean's funeral.

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The pictures were taken at Santa Monica High School, which is the school I attended and graduated from, and which also played the role of "Dawson High School" in the movie 'Rebel Without A Cause'. In that first photo, we're gathered around the very spot where Jim Stark (James Dean) accidentally stepped on the school seal on his first day at Dawson High and caught hell for doing so. Even in 1974-1977, when I went to "SAMOHI", there was an unwritten rule that you weren't supposed to step on the school seal.

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The photo above, also from October of 1988, was taken when Kenneth Kendall's bust of James Dean was first unveiled at the Griffith Observatory in L.A. That was Sylvia Bongiovanni, president of the We Remember Dean International Fan Club, posing with the artist.

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Once again, I thank EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU who took the time to visit my blog, listen to the songs & cast a vote.

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On November 1st, the Super Bowl of my 'James Dean BOTB' series will appear here. Part 3 will be the finale, where the winner from Round 1, 'ROCK ON' by David Essex, will go up against the winner of Round 2, John 'Cougar' Mellencamp's 'JACK & DIANE'. I hope all y'all will return to help determine the ultimate winner. I'll be yakking a bit and showing pictures of my years on M*A*S*H in Part 3. See ya then (I hope)!

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy

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