The last flight for Stevie Nicholls

No, dont worry, its not as serious as it sounds, I will be crossing the Atlantic again some day soon, just not under that name. Well, if Hollywood wanted me to fly back next week (ha ha), I’d have to, but otherwise, thats it!

Yes, thats right, now I’m back, and actually have no trips booked in my current name, or any plans for more, I can finally get around to formally changing my name, phew! Not that I’ve finalised whether it will be Stephanie Harlean Carpenter, or Harlean Stephanie Carpenter at this point, and its quite possible that I wont make the final decision on it until I’m actually on the deed poll website, about to fill it in, and send it off. I know, but I want the one I feel I shouldnt take, so…

Thats right, in so many ways, taking Stephanie as my formal first name just makes so much sense. All those who know me as Stevie, or Steph, can carry on calling me that, absolutely no issues. I mean, they can as my middle name, given how many people are known by their middle names, but anyway…Also, I guess I’m more likely to react to that the first few times, than someone calling me Harlean, and having to think, hey, thats me! And fine, it keeps the Harlean, and Carpenter together too. Not that Jean did, because Harlow was her middle name already! And yes, fine, I could let myself be known by middle name, if I really wanted to!

But yes, the idea of making a clean break from my past, does hold appeal. And yes, actually being named Harlean Carpenter holds pretty big appeal to me too! Its not like Jean used it much, in her later years anyway! But fine, at the same time, the thought of quite literally taking her name doesnt sit entirely comfortably with me. It was her name, and even today, a few people know that, even if it would mainly only be film buffs. Fine, one night in LA, I was being called Harlean Carpenter (and loving it) because that was the Facebook account she knew me through! So yes, its been done, I love the name, and I answer to it, so…Yes, I want to go with it, I really do, especially as those calling me Stephanie, or Steph (I seriously want to lose Stevie, please note) would only be calling me by my middle name anyway, and as I say, there are a few people known by their middle name. But equally, there is just this annoying part of me that says becoming Harlean (Stephanie) Carpenter isnt quite right, because it really was Jean’s name, and so… Mind, her middle name wasnt Stephanie, but…

I know, I know, I probably really will only make the decision at the last moment, one way or another…rolls eyes… There is a poll on Twitter (new thing there, seemingly) on my account @harleanlook, offering you the chance to vote. About 22 hours to go when I post this, so if you read this 3 months after I wrote it, I wouldnt bother lol! You might want to go over there and see what name I chose, mind, though I suspect there will be clues here anyway, on that matter.

Passport might take a bit longer to get changed, as I’m using that as my ID while job hunting, and it would take a few weeks for the new one to reach me. So realistically, I cant order it, until I’ve got a job, as I cant afford to not try and find something in that line, while waiting for it to arrive. So if you can offer me work, so I can get my name changed, pretty please…

Right, the video. I’ve used this song before, but it does seem rather apt tonight. After all, fairly shortly, I might be living as Harlean, in a house! So I’ve used a different version! Oh, and like Harlean/Jean, they were from Kansas City!

The last days in Hollywood

Yes, as promised, the tale of yesterday, and today.

Yesterday, as planned, I headed for Glendale, and Forest Lawn, to properly say goodbye to Jean. Well, fine, I’ve done it again today, at a couple of landmarks, but thats where she’s at rest, so… OK, fine, it didnt go as planned.

When I got to Forest Lawn, there was a very large poster announcing a display at the museum, dedicated to leading ladies, both real, and fantasy. So yes, under the circumstances, I had to go find that. No, I never did, actually finding the museum there took me a long way out of my way, and I still never found it. So I have no idea whether Jean was featured there or not! Snag is, after that, Forest Lawn is huge, and I got thoroughly lost, trying to find the mausoleum again. In the end, I got back to the entrance, and started again. Oh, did I mention, it was hot yesterday, there isnt a lot of shade in that place, and I was wilting. But second time up the hill, I just turned in the right direction, and found her. Well, sort of.

Unlike April, the person on the gate at the mausoleum was one of those I’d heard bad things about. Very ‘Mr Jobsworth’, I could go in, for the exhibition there, and that was it. Fine, I ignored him, headed once out of sight for where Jean Rests, but this time the gate was across, and it wasnt moving, even if I had been tempted to flout the rules. So I spent a few minutes ‘talking’ to her at a distance, and that was it. Nothing like the 40 minutes or more I spent with her in April!

Ah well, its what I’d heard of Forest Lawn, so…

Then to today. Firstly to Mel’s Diner for a good lunch, a wonderful 50’s style place, and yes, that had been my last meal plan pretty much since I got here. Then a bit of needed souvenir shopping, and one last walk down Hollywood Boulevard. The most remarkable thing at this point was that, back in April, I was up at La Brea, and one wonderful gentleman (trying to get people on Hollywood tours) would talk to the “English lady” every time I saw him. Yes, even after I did the tour, and he knew I wasnt going to do it again. Yes, he remembered me, from 6 months ago, seriously! So we chatted for a few minutes (yes, he asked me if I wanted to do the tour again) before parting. This time, I’m sure it really was for the last time.

Oh, in between, I stood and paid tribute again to Jean, at her star, though not for long, as I knew where the special moment would be. Yes, the hand, and foot prints at the Chinese Theatre. After several minutes just talking to ‘her’, I put my hands in hers, and felt something. Now that could just be because I was bent over a long way, and my chest doesnt like me doing that! But then, when I put my feet on top of hers, I felt it again! OK, that all did nothing for my emotional state, I must say. Finally, finally, I decided I needed to walk away, and I guess I will never stand there again.

An ice cream later, I headed back to Hollywood Boulevard, with the plan of getting the train down to Vine, getting the bus home, and that would be it. The emotions of leaving this place behind were already getting to me, so it seemed wise. So fine, I walked down instead! I even found a few shops selling memento Hollywood Stars, but none of Jean, anywhere. Then just before I reached Vine, I found a shop selling Hollywood stars, you could put a name on, so crazily I bought one. No, it wont be my name, or Jean’s going on it. Lets just say, that for those who have been around a while, you’ll understand when I say that Clara Johnson (my past life self) is going to get that Hollywood star she never got! Maybe because she never made it as a star, but… And no, annoyingly, I still havent discovered her married name, to discover where she rests!

Fine, then home on the bus, for the last time, heading up Beachwood, looking at that famous Hollywood sign. I might get a glance of it in the morning, but that pretty much was it. And yes, the emotions hit me hard, I did come home and cry for a few minutes, knowing it was all over, and I will never be here again after tomorrow. Fine, I suppose I might be, but I cant see it.

Yes, I’m pretty much packed. One or two items I need in the morning, one or two clothing items, as I havent yet chosen what I’m wearing for the trip home, but thats it. Apart from the stuff I need in the morning, it will all be packed before I go to bed tonight anyway, which wont be late! I guess I need to be up about 6, as I will be leaving here about 7.45, and need to be ready to go when the shuttle gets here.

So yes, the carnival really is over now. And yes, that is a clue to the video! I have actually chased up a few leads by email today, and I have applied for a few in the last couple of day too, so back to that grindstone. Mind, I got rejected for one of those in 21 minutes! Not a perfect match, but not awful either, ah well…

Lastly, the video. Yes, you’ve seen the clue. Its a live version from 1993.

Pacific Palisades, Traffic woes, and something very magical

Alright, fine, its getting towards the sad end of the break, the last few days. How do I know that? Well, for the first time in a few weeks, I had to really think about what I needed from the supermarket up the hill, and not get more than I really need. Most things I’ve managed to work fairly well, though the peanut butter is going to run out 1 day early, and I wont quite use up all the sugar, or the last part of the loaf bought today, but done pretty well. I’m planning a nice last lunch out in Hollywood for Tuesday, instead of cooking for myself, mind. Why lunch? Simple, I will need to pack as much as possible on Tuesday evening (being picked up at 7.45 am Wednesday), and besides which, just after 5 pm, the 1 game of the World Series I will get to see live. Game 2, I will be in mid flight, and the rest will happen in the middle of the night, UK time. Only wish I could see more, but unless someone is crazy enough to give $2,000 dollars to me in the next day or so, not going to happen. But seeing Kansas City get this far, has been pretty special, all the same.

The other reason I know its the end? I’ve started doing the trips I was leaving until now, to say goodbye to a few places, and “friends”. The first of those happened at the end of last week, the return to Pacific Palisades. Its funny, when I went there in April, it was by sheer accident, this time it was deliberate. Its a lovely little place, which as the name suggests, sits very close to the Pacific Ocean. So after lunch, and a last look around the community, I headed down the canyon towards the Pacific Ocean. I walked down the beach, to the ocean, and said my goodbyes. I mean, I will see it again, when we take off from the airport on Wednesday, and its quite possible I will see it again, in San Francisco, or Seattle, but from here, in lovely LA, by the water, that was it, almost certainly forever! As far as I can see, thats it, though 1 Facebook friend tells me I will return, in 6 months, but I cant see it myself.

Alright, after that. the journey back here. It should be just over an hour (70 mins or so) to Hollywood from there, but…it took 2 and a half hours! I assume there was an incident on the freeway, but we crawled, or simply sat still until we reached back to the junction with the 405 freeway. I did hear a couple of sirens, so I assume it was that. Let me just say at this point, that the bus seats on the Metro buses win no prizes for comfort, or design. So my back stiffened up beautifully, and getting home from town was fun. As was clambering into the bed that night! Better by next morning, but that evening…ouch!

Yesterday evening, I had the chance to go somewhere different, The Magic Castle. To go in there, you either have to be a member, or a guest of a member, and I was fortunate enough to be the latter. OK, as with so much travel this trip, things didnt go smoothly. The taxi was fine, and then we hit a traffic jam on Franklin Avenue. So he went down to Hollywood Boulevard to avoid it, just as bad. So down to Sunset Boulevard, then all the way up to my destination, but it meant a $12 taxi fare ended up at $18! Oh, and of course, my friend got stuck in the same jam, but texted me what to do on arrival, and all was fine.

The evening itself was wonderful, I had wonderful company (thanks Eden, and Phylis), and was wonderfully entertained by both them, and a string of magicians. One especially took my heart (though not in that sense, I think?), but they were all great. Phylis ran me home afterwards, and I got in about 1.15 am, a time I have no idea when I last saw before bed! Oh, and this morning was the latest I’ve got up in my stay, about 8.15! No surprise, I guess? Still, Wednesday (when I guess I’m going to have to be up by 6, or soon after) is going to come as a culture shock!

Right, 2 full days, and 2 special trips to do. Tomorrow is off to Glendale, and Forest Lawns by bus, to say my final farewell to Jean Harlow. Yes, I know, she’s not going to answer me or anything (unless her “ghost” turns up, who is seemingly very chatty, then all bets would be off!) but its something I really want to do, just spend some time with her, one last time. Hopefully its as easy to get close as it was in April.

Then Tuesday, one last farewell trip to the delight that is Hollywood Boulevard. A little bit of souvenir shopping, a nice lunch (which I wish could be Musso & Frank, but I really cant afford it. Silly, its only because I included it in a story, but…), and then say farewell again, at Jean’s star on the strip, and to her’s, and a couple of other people’s hands, and footprints at the Chinese Theatre. Then 1 last nice ice cream at Hollywood & Highland centre, then with, I’m sure a few tears, say goodbye to Hollywood for the last time, as I head back here, to pack, and watch baseball!

Then, Wednesday morning, the long trek home. At least I will see that wonderful Hollywood sign, one last time, as the shuttle pulls out on to Beachwood before I leave.

I have got a few possible jobs to follow up on, from before I left, and I’ve applied for a couple more in the last few days, telling the people concerned that I wont be back before the 29th! Hopefully they noticed!

I’m sure there will be one last posting from LA, assuming Tuesday doesnt prove more problematical than expected, packing wise, and the like. So, if I dont…

Right, lastly, the video. Lets go back to last night for that.

An Oscar at Warner Brothers, some outer space stuff, and a few humble requests

Right, I’m glad to say that the knee is improving. Still a bit sore, even worse than usual to look at, but hey, I can walk on it, so lets celebrate that at least.

First, lets do some catching up. Yesterday I did the one tour in Hollywood that I wanted to do, though I’d have enjoyed it even more if I could have time warped it back to the 1930’s, but being realistic…Warner Brothers do a studio tour, and I headed off to take a look. Most of it (obviously) relates to modern movies, and TV programming, not the Golden Era that I truly love. But there were a few spots I saw, where films in the 30’s were made, even if the facilities on site were on the whole slightly more technologically up to date than back then. What I had forgotten, until conveniently reminded by my excellent guide, was that Jean Harlow starred in at least 1 movie for Warner’s, while Howard Hughes was contracting her out, ‘Public Enemy’. Alright, more remember Cagney, but anyway… Of course, a short period after that, MGM signed her to a contract, and of course, thats where she’s remembered for working, naturally.

Oh fine, so some of those Batman cars, I wouldnt mind being taken for a ride in, and the Hathaway, Catwoman suit (in my size), I’d love to wear. As for the Mr Freeze outfit… It was also interesting to see inside a sound stage, and imagine that Jean might have done the same walk, across town at MGM.

Seriously, the tour comes highly recommended. I did afterwards get my picture taken with ‘An Oscar’, which I will pull off my camera some time, and post. As close as Jean Harlow ever got to winning one, lol!

The other main moment of hilarity was attempting to arrange the meet that never happened. As much as you can ever know someone only through Twitter, and Facebook, I have the pleasure of knowing a wonderful, crazy guy there, by the name of Matt. Lets leave it at that, to protect his privacy at least, though a few will know who I mean. If I had a smart phone, with internet, and the like, I would have got his Twitter messages after I left here, I would have met him, and got a DVD. Sadly, even though I have a US phone, its cheap, cheerful, and no internet. So, in the end, it never happened. I did ask a couple of people in the studio if they knew the name, met with blank faces. As he told me afterwards, if I’d asked at the end of the Stage 48 part of the tour, where I got my coffee,…would have happened, but…

Today was a briefer trip, to the science museum down at Expo Park, close to USC. I did go mainly for the space stuff, but had a general look around, and yes, its good value. Straight face, that might be because basic entry is free, but seriously, well worth visiting.

Fine, the 2 requests. And lets face it, as you might have guessed, unless you’re in the LA area, you might as well jump to the video link. Well, unless you want to bestow a few thousand dollars on me, so I can stay a bit longer, but otherwise…

Firstly, is to take me out by car (or whatever) to a very special address. 9525 Easton Drive, up above Beverly Hills is the (in)famous home where Jean lived with her 2nd husband, Paul Bern, and where he committed suicide. Well, we assume he did, its the generally believed version, but we will never know for sure now, I guess? If I say this address is 3.5 miles from the nearest public transport point, and that the temperature during the day is still at least in the high 70’s, I’m not going to get there under my own steam. And its not like I’m going to pay a lengthy visit, unless I get invited in, ha ha! So, if anyone is prepared to drive me up there, I’d be eternally grateful. So might Jean’s ghost (allegedly) be, but thats another story! In my dreams, Jay Leno reads this, and drives me up there in 1 of his 30’s cars, but this isnt a fairy tale!

Second request is a more silly one, which I’m sure wont happen, but in this town, where movies are made, and special effects people abound, I can only ask. Yes, a robot transformation, or brainwashing scene, performed on me. No, I dont mean for real (though I wouldnt mind), just a roleplay where it really feels like its going to happen. You have a week, on both these requests, btw.

I know, I know, but if you dont ask…

OK, lastly, the video. One of the things that amuses me, is that the signpost for the main highway, doesnt use San Francisco, when going north, it uses Sacramento. Now fine, the latter is the state capital, and I gather little love is lost between here, and SF, but anyway…I find it funny. So, I’m using that as an excuse to use this golden oldie, from the 70’s, as my video tonight.

And lastly, as you know, recently I was interviewed by a wonderful lady named Alexia. Well, I’m trying to publicize, and raise funds for her new movie. There is one of those Thunderclap things, due to go off tomorrow, which costs you nothing to support, at and also, if you want to offer her financial support to get the movie made, go here, and do so please!

Jean Harlow lingerie for real. Well, almost…

So fine, the last 3 days have generally been quiet, mainly due to the state of my knee (stiffness) after the tumble I had, but given I’m actually running out of time now, and need to get a few places, I’ll have to grin, and bear it, I guess? Today is the only day I havent actually been out, but not been going mad either. Well, if money was no object, I might have gone mad yesterday, but more on that at the relevant point.

Friday, I had planned to go out, but I knew I wasnt going to go far. Yes, the knee was sore, so any serious trips was out of the question. So I did some reference work in the morning, planning to go down into Hollywood “proper” for a late lunch at least, and maybe do a bit on the strip, as it has to be done at some point. The beauty of the bus service up here, by Dash, is that you can follow the progress of the bus at all times. So, when I see it at a certain point en route, I head out for the bus stop, to catch it. Which is fine, until the ‘old lady’ pulls up a little stiff on the way there, and as she’s about to cross the road to catch it, she sees it going down, on the other side of the road, missed it. And no, I wasnt going to wait 25 minutes (or so) for it to return. So instead, I just headed up the hill, and ate at the local cafe up there instead. Then I went shopping, came home, and that was it. Well, I might have watched some baseball, but otherwise…

Yesterday, I did get out, and I got to where I planned to get to, as well. Down town LA, there was a vintage clothing fair, so I went to investigate. As someone used to these things costing a couple of pounds to get into, at most, the entry fee of $15 was a bit of a shock. But hey, this is the US, I’d gone down there for this, so…I went for it. I guess the difference between my normal purchases (vintage look), and the genuine vintage stuff, unsurprisingly, is the price! A look at a couple of nice looking items quickly confirmed I wouldnt be buying anything at those prices! The main delight, I found this, in pink, quite literally. Fredericks of Hollywood, so really quite an item.

Jean ready for bed

Given the original was an Adrian design, and Fredericks didnt actually exist until 1947, its not the same one, but matches it almost exactly. Yes, I loved it, and even got to put the gown on, and it was wonderful! Oh, the cost, a mere $375 lol! So unless I can find my own Dan Packard, I’m not going to own, or wear it, but…oh goodness, it was wonderful. It made the trip, and entry cost worthwhile at least.

Today has ended up being a stay at home day. There is no bus service, its a mile-mile and a half into town each way, and I’m pretty sure my knee would have objected very strongly to that. There were a couple of movies I considered, but I decided to play it safe, probably wise.

The snag is, I’ve realised I’m beginning to run out of time, and still got 4 trips I want to do! So I’m going to have to ignore the knee, and just get on and do it! In truth, if I could find a benefactor/sugar ‘daddy’, so that I could stay on a little longer, I’d love it, but not going to happen. I should see the 1st game of the World Series, but the 2nd game, I’ll be flying, and the rest will be in the silly hours of the morning in the UK, so…Yes, I know, not going to happen, but…

Right, finally, the video. Yes, that lingerie item, as featured in Dinner At Eight. I know, I wish…

Pasadena, Glendale, and a little weather warning

OK, fine, I’ve cheated for once. Thats not a major clue to the blog material, nor is it the title song of the video…quite. But for all that, there is a link to the video in tonight’s edition.

OK, going back to Tuesday, and this is where the video connection kicks in, Pasadena. Yes, I went there on my trip out. There was a reason for going there (beyond an interesting place to visit) but that will get mentioned when we get to the tune. Pleasant enough place, had a nice lunch, had a look around a couple of nice (value) clothes shops, before heading to the big mall, which seems a bit of a work in progress at the moment. Oh, the cute moment, I went and had a facial, the first time in the US. There were a couple of differences to norm, the first one being the abundant use of steam in the first part, presumably to moisten the face, which it certainly did. Oh, and a few ‘toys’ used on my face, I have no idea what, but presumably its meant to strengthen the skin, or something? Then the fun started. Well, fine, strictly, I had an ice cream first, but then went to get the bus home.

For some reason best known to myself, I didnt wait for the express bus back, I got the stopping one. Fine, I was in no rush, but…Yes, there were a few, err, interesting passengers on board, shall we say, and leave it at that? Given I was rather warm (putting it very mildly) by the time I got back, I passed on the movie that evening.

Yesterday was a quiet day, and a livelier evening. Yes, off to see some nice vintage clothing, and spend some money! A dress, a pants suit, a couple of skirts, and a couple of pair of slacks (one of which is cream silk, Jean would love) later, then back into town. Fine, not without incident. I got dropped off, And dropped to the ground. Yes, I hadnt notice the concrete block, and tumbled straight over it. Scraped my right knee a bit, and its stiffened up a bit, but nothing serious.

So today, I’ve taken things relatively easy. A short trip up to the shopping centre at Glendale by bus, and back, and that was it. Nice enough place, but nothing exciting, but at least I now know that.

Tomorrow, a lot depends on how my knee is, and the weather. Yes, it might rain, and thunder a lot, but it might just pass us by. There have been rain, and thunderstorm warnings broadcast tonight in fact, for an area just a little way north of here, in Antelope Valley. Flash flooding, so I’m told, oh wow! Nothing here however, yet!

Right, the video. When I was much younger, there was a group called Manhattan Transfer. They worked with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, a lot of the time. So yes, the Pasadena connection, and who is providing the music tonight. A real old song, to put it mildly

Outdoor entertainment in October, only 100 degrees or so

Fine, I lie, strictly I saw it about 100 yards from Sunset Boulevard, but you could see, and hear the traffic on said street, so close enough. Mind, the section of said road featured in the film, is not the section in downtown Hollywood, but who’s counting?

As I’ve joked before, I dont seem to do films in a standard setting any more. A recent one was at Bradford Cathedral, and last night, on the roof of the Montalban Theatre, sat in a deck chair, wearing wireless earphones (classy ones too), with my feet on astro turf grass! A great experience especially as I was an equally short distance from Hollywood Boulevard on the other side.

Sunset Boulevard (1950), the movie, is one of those films that I suspect more people have heard about than seen. Before last night, that was certainly true for me. Yes, Gloria Swanson steals the show totally, as the crazed Norma Desmond, though the supporting cast is pretty decent too. Given the nature of her career, you could say she was playing herself, but given she was only about 4th option (Pickford, Negri, and Mae West supposedly turned down the part first), maybe thats not the case, but it was the feel I got. Some of the lines have gone into cinema lore, and its well worth seeing, I feel.

Alright, the down side for me. Yes, its on the rooftop, but I wasnt expecting to climb 5 flights of stairs to get there, nowadays! Beyond that, no there really werent any, beyond the old bones finding it hard work to get up from the deck chair afterwards. So much so, given there is a film I’ve seen before, and love, being shown there tomorrow night, I might go back. Lets just say the clue is in the video! 😉

But seriously, if anyone had told me that I’d be sat outside, on a roof, watching a 1950 film, in October, just wearing a dress, well…yes, it was nearly 100 degrees here again yesterday, though its calming down a little in the next few days. Fine, it will still be about 80, but…

Lastly, the video, not the original one, which I’ve used before somewhere, so found this live version