American Woman?

Mary Pickford, born 127 years ago today, was known as America’s sweetheart. There was only one tiny fact that was overlooked in giving her that title, she wasnt American. She was actually born in Toronto, Canada, of parents of Irish, and English ancestry, and at that time, had no connection to America whatsoever.

But when Gladys Louise Smith arrived in New York in 1906, to work in theatre on Broadway, no one knew what history would hold. She had her first screen test in 1909 (before Los Angeles became the home of movies), and appeared in 51 films that year, mainly in small parts. 1910 saw her first movie making trip to Los Angeles, though it wasnt until 1916 that she found stardom there. In 1919 she was in at the creation of United Artists film studio, and a year later in one of the celebrity wedding of its day, married one of the other owners, Douglas Fairbanks. They stayed married until 1936. Shortly after that, she married Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, who she stayed married to, for 42 years, until her passing.

Strictly, she did become an American citizen in 1920, when marrying Fairbanks. But previously, she was British, as Canadian citizenship only began in 1947, post independence from the Commonwealth. She did become a dual citizen (American/Canadian) before her death, so she could die as a Canadian, as she wished.

One of the amusing things is that in her mid 30’s, she still was playing child roles, care of her ringlets. Some of them were real, though wigs have certainly been found that she used too. In 1928, the fuss when she had her ringlets cut off, and replaced by a stylish bob, you dont want to imagine!

But yes, if later today, you see pieces in tribute to America’s sweetheart, just remember one thing, she was actually Canadian!

Mary Pickford, RIP.

The video. I thought this apt somehow. A Canadian group, singing about an American Woman, exactly!

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I doubt we’re alone now

OK, someone was messing me around in the flotation tank this afternoon, and my eye would cast a suspicious glance in the direction of Clara Johnson on that front? No, I’m sure it wasnt, but…

What would normally happen is that I’d get in the pod, get comfortable, turn the light out, and then soon after that, the new world type music would start up for 10 minutes, then fade away for 45 minutes of complete silence, before the music starts up again, 5 minutes from the end, to get me ‘back to normal’ again, before the light comes back on, and get out, back into the boring real world again!

Today, well, the music never started up, but my mind quickly blanked out regardless, and after a little while, Clara broke through the ‘barrier’ and proceeded to have her fun, until the music actually started up, as I later found out, 10 minutes from the end! I mean, I thought the closing music was going on a bit longer than normal, but it was only when the light didnt come on, that I put 2 and 2 together, and made mischief! Even more so, when after climbing out, it didnt start the instant filtration process.

Anyway, got outside after shower, and dressing, and reported it to the owner. Seems something had gone wrong with the system, but anyway, I’m sure Clara wasnt really to blame, lol…? I did offer to finish off the hour from when it actually started, jokingly, but no, was never serious about that. But was it Clara making mischief, was she trying to play with my mind by changing the normal routine, who really knows? Suppose I’d just imagined that was actually the start of my hour, what games did she have planned for my mind? Not that I’d mind, but…?

So, when I got home tonight, what did Eric put on TV, and tease me about? Yes, you guessed it, my alien ‘relatives’! That combined with one of those silly Twitter trends, along the lines of ‘Aliens Are Probably Thinking’ as soon as I log into there just amused me no end. I’m one of those who love to think there really are aliens out there, and would love a ride in one of their space crafts, if any happen to read this. I can pass happily on the Anal Probing, but if its the only way I get to fly in an alien spacecraft, bring it on! I’d still love to get a really nice, ideally figure clinging (or reasonably clinging) alien suit for my Birthday, if anyone wants to treat me, if only to see Eric’s face when I walked in wearing it! No, I’m a part time, disabled worker, so paying out for silly things like that, not really going to happen, before anyone just tells me to get one! Being able to get out of it again, having put it on, purely optional! 😉

So today, I’ve had a day where I felt far from alone. Firstly, Clara taking charge, and having her fun, and then the thoughts of Aliens messing with my mind, and/or body, and living here on this planet, or offering me a ride through the solar system. All about as likely as me dancing like the pro Clara was, at Blackpool, but anyway…

OK, video time. Some vintage Tiffany, as an opposite to my day

Two authors came travelling

So, as promised, the review of the year starts here. It will finish tomorrow, and then at the start of the new year, I’ll take a look at what 2019 might hold, some of it very likely, some of it unlikely, but might be fun if it does.

2018 actually saw something happen, that I’d never done in my 44 years of working life, I was told not to go to work! Yes, a combination of the fragility of my back, and some very cold, and icy weather saw me put on ‘winter weather leave’ for a few days. It made sense in so many ways in truth, but was still a bit of a novelty to me. But agreed, if I’d slipped over, landed on my back, and especially my spine, well you wouldnt want to think about the potential outcome, lets face it. Pretty sure its likely to happen early in 2019 too, especially given the deterioration in my wrist too, but we will have to wait and see on that. In truth, after about a week of that, I was getting a bit of ‘jail fever’ but it was a very wise move, so kudos to my employers for letting me do it.

While on about work, I started working on an LGBT committee at work, which was definitely a fun thing to do. It actually led to a meet with a fellow EMCSA author, the legend known as Betsy, who I got to meet on my travels to Newcastle. And yes, she’s as interesting in real life as she is in her stories! Yes, was, more on that over next couple of posts.

Something else that happened early in the year was also work related. One of my colleagues got notice of volunteers needed for the Blackpool Film Festival in March, and the rest, as they say, is history! I wont claim it as strictly the revival of my acting career (its more a natural performance thing, no scripts), but it was a moment that led to the return of my time performing in public.

This year, it was a flying visit, arrived in Blackpool on the Friday afternoon, left again on the Saturday morning, due to fate, and a memorable date. Yes, the night of my flapper revival was my 60th Birthday! The works celebration was done a week earlier (would have been anyway), but the ‘house’ version was delayed until the Saturday night, which was why we needed to get back as we did.

Yes, a decade or so ago, that would have been it, retirement, which in truth, the body probably needs already. Now, officially it will be March 2024, though I have my doubts my body will hold out that long, but we will see? If it does, I might plan to retire (or take holiday) from work a couple of weeks early, because as things stand, the Iditarod race will start from Anchorage on 2nd March (restart at Willow on 3rd), and that would be an amazing thing to do, and a sort of dream come true. Nome as well? Well, maybe, but all that is a long way off. More on my preferred retirement option in part 2 tomorrow night.

May saw my return to Seattle for the first time in a few years. A few firsts there. Another state bagged, as I flew in via Las Vegas, so getting Nevada as my 24th state. Hopefully get 25 ‘somewhere’ next September, maybe? Ask Kate on that one, lol. She knows the one I’d love it to be, but its not renowned as the most friendly LGBT state in the US, so maybe not? There are a couple of New England options for that title too, so we will see.

The other big first on that trip, was my first Mariners game. It was memorable for more reasons than one, good, and bad. Good, they won. Bad, disability related issues. To be fair to the club, I complained, got a free ticket in the disabled area later in the week, and a few souvenirs as well, they handled it all very well.

Lastly, in the first half of the year, was a return to Blackpool, for World Pier Day. Again I have to thank a colleague for covering my Saturday shift to enable me to do this. Went back even further in time, as an Edwardian Lady, though I never got tightly corseted, cant have everything, lol. Amusingly, it was also Blackpool Pride day, and though I heard a lot of that, didnt get to see it at all. 2 trips already planned for Blackpool in New Year, but more on that on Tuesday, one of which you may not want to miss!

OK, video time. I have been guilty of not doing many Christmas songs this year in the videos, so lets put that partially straight, if a bit late in my day. Its not the best known one, but its one I love, probably because it is a little different. Oh, and it also fits in with Eric’s claim that I’m a spaceman/alien, anyway! 😛

 

Happy Birthday One Two Five

In these modern times, would you care to nominate any movie star who’s career is likely to last 75 years? Probably not? And lets face it, even if they did, the chances of them making 1 silent movie, let alone hundreds in that career, very unlikely!

But did you know, there was one movie star who did both, and managed to live within 8 months of reaching her century? Well, some readers might, but I suspect, not many. But yes, that amazing lady was Lillian Gish, who would have been 125 today, had she still been living, and she did her best to do so!

Of course, a lot of those silent movies are now lost to time, a lot of that down to films being made on nitrate film back then, which was a highly volatile material, to put it mildly. Indeed a lot of the lost films relate to fires created by these films being burnt to shreds. Thankfully, a number of her films do survive, unlike poor Theda Bara for example, who has 2 extant films from the numerous ones she made.

The thing is, back in the 1910’s (yes, a century ago), she was one of the biggest stars of the time. And she stayed that way until the dreaded introduction of sound to the movies. Though whether it was a lack of interest, or a lack of something else (her voice seemed fine in later life), she didnt make many talkies back then, before her retirement. Well, partial retirement, because as stated, she didnt actually make her last movie until 1987, at the grand old age of 94!

No, no one really knows why she never married in her life, though she did say she was married to her movies. But apart from one fling, and another reputed earlier affair, she never seems to have shown interest in romance. Was it that her preference was frowned upon back then, or was she really just totally asexual, who knows?

But yes, on this day in 1893, one of the great movie legends entered the world, and it took until 1993 before she left it again! So happy heavenly birthday, Miss Gish!

OK, video time. Well, this guy is still with us, though only (only!) 79 at this time. I know, the number is 109 out, but what can a woman do?

A heavenly dancer?

The next few days might be a let down for readers, but a bonus for me. Why, you ask? Because apart from Sunday, if you’re lucky, one blog will cover both versions! Tonight, because of the event, and next week, because of the holiday. But for now…

113 years ago today, in a small part of Pottawatomie county, Oklahoma Territory (as it was then, only became a state in 1907), a baby girl was born, to, I assume, a Mr and Mrs Johnson. They seemingly named her Clara Elaine, and the rest, in terms of Hollywood Chorus girl duties, and the like, are history.

Maybe one day, I’ll do more of a dig on Ancestry.com, and discover what her parents names were, and if there were any more brothers and sisters, as well as her. The only tentative suggestion (apart from the lack of birth control back then) that there was more than 1 child, was one of her actual film credits, when there was also a Peter Johnson listed in the cast. Of course, that might simply be a name coincidence, though her 1930 Los Angeles census record did mention 1 brother, so I am inclined to suspect it was probably him.

All I know of the early history is that she moved to LA from Texas in 1925, but when the move there, from Oklahoma, no idea. I need a long enough period of time to really work on Ancestry.com to dig into that sort of matter, and also I need the funds to buy a subscription for a few months at least, that I can get to really use to dig for info. So probably wont happen until I’ve finished working, whenever that is, but then… Even then, I suspect I’m only going to have the 1910, and 1920 census details, so unlikely to find exactly when the Texas moved happened is still going to be vague.

The other thing that needs a major digging through, is a list of marriages in the LA area in the late 30’s (most likely, as her work career seems to stop around 37/38), or perhaps the beginning of the 40’s, because for now, thats where my trail goes cold, with the lack of her married name. Given that her daughter she mentioned would now be in her 70’s, if still alive, it might be fascinating to follow the family tree from there. Probably grand children, and great grand children by now! I wonder if any know, or wonder what Grandma/Great Grandma did?

As I say, if I survive to retirement, and I’m mobile enough to still do it, I suspect it might be my post retirement challenge to try and find out more. I guess that nowadays, I could do a lot from the comfort of a computer at home, anyway?

I must admit, one thing I’d love to do, just once, especially at my age, is do the whole chorus girl thing. My dancing wouldnt be great, I’d probably look less than graceful in one of those flimsy outfits, but my attitude is, just once, I dont care, I want to do the whole Clara Johnson thing! I have 2 lovely friends who are trying to work on making that happen, so who knows, but I hope so?

Anyway, given this was the first year I actually have known her birthday, before the big day, I wasnt going to miss this chance. Its funny to think though, she had all the glamour of working in Hollywood, without any of the fame!

So, happy heavenly birthday, Clara Elaine Johnson, and hopefully, maybe one day, we can get to actually meet, though not in this world.

OK, video time. I have seen her dancing in numerous musicals of the late 20’s, and through the 30’s, including many of the famous ones. For all that, back then, unless they went on to make it, chorus dancers didnt normally get credits. One that Clara did, was a film named Strike Me Pink, though seemingly she was working under her middle name at the time, probably because Clara was a little ‘old fashioned’ name by 1936? Its also the best sighting of her, because she fills the screen between 4:13, and 4:17 in this clip

Didnt I have a lovely time, the day I went to Blackpool?

Well, hopefully a few of you at least have been eagerly waiting for the report from Friday night. If you werent, you’re getting it anyway! 😛

Beyond a few moments of, err, entertainment on the last section of the journey, from Preston, to Blackpool, in truth the journey was relatively unexciting. The ‘entertainment’, some very loud children, and the fact that we had 2 wheelchair passengers, as opposed to the train designed 1, caused some fun. But in truth, we arrived pretty much on time.

The hotel was pretty much standard budget hotel, with thin walls which we noticed overnight (people talking outside the room), and though in theory we had a second bed, it was so designed that neither of us, in perfect health conditions would have been able to get out, and besides, we had no bedding for it anyway! Survey comments done, lol! But fine, thats not what you want to hear about, is it? So after a meal together, Eric went back to the Trams, I went off to the Winter Garden, and through the time travel portal. Fine, not literally, but you get the drift? After an early false start, the staff worked out where we needed to go, and lo and behold, I was soon in a lovely, and short pink flapper dress. Fine, I wasnt going to care about length for one night, but more on that shortly. Thing is, flappers werent designed to have boobs, or big shoulders, and the zip wouldnt do up properly at the back. Anyway, as you will see shortly, I was quickly changed into another dress which was longer, with no zip issues, perfection! Well, I was flashing someleg, but…

Oh fine, like this!

Me in Blackpool

There is a better one of me, but it has someone else in the picture, and I’m loathe to use that without her permission. I suspect she wouldnt care, but to be on the safe side… If she grants it in hindsight, I will add it to the posting. So if you come here in 6 months time, see 2 photos, and are confused, you know why!

The evening was great fun, lots of lovely people that I was working with, equally a lot of nice people in the audience, including 1 wonderful gentleman I talked to for a while, who had originally come from Bradford! However, having flirted as an Usher prior to performance, stood on the stairs, we eventually got told that part of our work was done. I decided to give the film, Some Like It Hot a chance, but it didnt grab me much, so after an hour or so, I headed back to the refreshment area, got myself a coffee, and started chatting with a few others, until it was time for part 2, getting those who had paid for it, to the party upstairs.

All went smoothly, then a few of us went up to the Balcony, put on a bit of a show (very tame dancing, by Flapper standards, I suspect) for the guests for a while, then I, and a few others went back and changed into modern life again. One treat I had for a while, was to do something I’d never done before (and no, it wasnt to dance the Charleston), which was to wear a pair of those long gloves that go up to your elbow, and maybe beyond. I’d seen pictures of them, always wanted to wear them, and now I have!

End result, everything, and everyone was so lovely, I’m already planning on going back next year, however crazy, and unpractical that is. Might be a different era, but as long as it doesnt mean wearing something as revealing as what my past life self, the chorus line dancing, Clara Johnson had to wear, all should be fine. But no, I’m not going to suggest 42nd Street, or the like, just in case, lol! But beyond that, I’ll definitely be back. Fine, if it is that, I will probably still go back!

The journey home by ‘modern trains’ was a bit more entertaining. The train from Preston, back to Manchester was very crowded, but ‘Queen Bitch’ soon pushed a way through for me, and Eric, to our reserved seats, and someone was already sat in them! Yes, they got moved, probably not my most diplomatic moment of my life, but hey, its principle, and neither of us could have stood, anyway!

Then we get back to Manchester, running late, so going to be a tight push, or no go for our booked train back to Huddersfield. Only…I looked at the departure board, it had been cancelled! So anyway, the next train was going to be very crowded, (2 sets of passengers, plus loads of football fans), but I lined Eric up roughly where I thought the doors would be, and we grabbed 2 seats very quickly!

After that, out last night, with Ella as well, for the birthday meal. I wore the same dress as last week again, so I stayed in Flapper mode for the weekend. Oh, should I mention, this was all done in lots of snow!

In theory I’m back to work tomorrow, but if it had been today, I’m certain it would have been a ‘snow day’ off, with my physical issues. Tomorrow, who knows? Hopefully its better in the morning, I must say. Not just because I’m due back, but because I need to learn something for the following week, which I will probably relate later in the week, but until then…?

Yes, I hurt, partly because of Friday, partly because of the current weather. When (or strictly at this point, I guess, if) I do this next year, I’ll pace it better, all that travel, on top of everything else, in 1 day, was just too much now. Go down the day before, build to it, and have a day off afterwards to recover, before coming back, far wiser! But hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Video time. The frightening thing for me, this song is 50 years old, and I remember it being released!

If words could make wishes come true?

Fine, I’m in a sort of ‘What if?’ mood tonight, so if thats not your thing, maybe you should pass on this one tonight? It probably is a ‘week of my 60th Birthday’ thing, so if anyone has anything cheery they would like for Thursday night, please let me know. Inspire me, and all that.

Yes, its probably because I’m looking back on my 60 years (less 3 days, at time of posting) and thinking I havent done much that I’m going to leave as a mark when I’m gone. I know, I’ve done more than many, I’ve written, I’ve acted, but nothing that I’m ever going to be remembered for 5 years down the road, let alone decades! And the highest level my sporting skills ever got me was into County Competitions when at school, so nothing notable there either.

I suppose its fair to say, as you might have gathered from the title of this blog, the one that probably annoys me the most is the acting one. Yes, if I’d had the chance to go to University, get involved in drama there, well who knows?  That was just a piece of fate I had no control over, the child with a single parent who had to go out to work as soon as she was old enough, and the rest was history. Yes, I have done amateur dramatics since then, but nothing in a long while now, and I think in terms of genuine roles, I’m probably done by now.

So yes, I’m sort of seeing Friday night as that final fling, the final farewell, or whatever you like to call it, even if its not strictly acting. Its just being dressed up, albeit for a very good cause, as a Flapper girl from the 20’s, which will be a lot of fun, but somehow I suspect I’ll be the only one putting much thought into the role, all the same. Might be a few others, but I suspect for most, its just a night out dressed up, helping a good cause.

No, I have no plans to go over the top in the role, but I’m sure I will put a bit of effort into it, just to satisfy myself, if nothing else. But yes, I plan to have fun at the same time. Who knows who will be there, though I doubt I will be whisked off to Broadway, Hollywood, or even the London theaters due to my work lol! Strictly, it may not even be it, but being honest, I cant see my body getting strong enough to do much again, or the opportunity being likely to arise unless I put a lot of effort in, and at my age, I’m probably past that point!

But yes, one big last performance, absolutely, just for me. As I say, I’m not saying there wont be more, but in all honesty, I have my doubts. So no, I’ll have to pass on that Oscar now, lol! 😛

Still, for one night, I can act out the life of a 20’s flapper, and not worry about anything else. Well, maybe the length of my dress, I suspect, but otherwise… lol?

OK, the video. Someone who died far, far too young, at the age of 30. I know, older than Harlow, but all the same, a talent lost way too early. The blog title, a line from this gorgeous song