2014 – Quite a year!

So yes, as we reach the last few hours of 2014 here in the UK, lets do a brief look back. I’m sure I’ll manage a look forward tomorrow somehow!

Most years of late, I’ve made 2 trips to the US (well, there was 1 to Canada, but), and had a few days in Ireland, taking in some cricket. This year I actually ended up having 3 weeks of holiday, 1 in a Jersey, a lot closer than the US. Yes, not New Jersey (though I went there a few years ago), but the one in the Channel Islands.

Long story. Had originally planned to be in Kansas, and Kansas City in May, but Kate’s work got in the way. Thing is, the rail trip to the airport was booked, so was the hotel there, so I ended up booking a short hop to Jersey, returning after just over 30 years. Glad I did it, saw what it was like now, but pretty sure I wont go back again, certainly not in 30 years time!

Then, in September, I finally got to meet up again with my wonderful friend Kate, in Kansas City, home town of Jean Harlow. Sadly, as is the way with big cities, finding any Harlow landmarks, 100 years on, pretty hard. Thankfully, when you go to smaller places like Cherryvale, finding Louise Brooks landmarks is far easier. Especially when there is a wonderful person called Tina there, to give us a guided tour to the town. I learnt so much more than we would have done on a casual visit, I owe her so much, she was wonderful.

The one place in KC that I knew Jean went to, that I could go to, the railway station. Walking around there, much quieter now than it would have been in the 20’s, and 30’s, really was quite something. I may not have literally stood in her footprints, but it felt that way.

The last big trip, in more senses than one, was later than usual, the end of November. Yes, Thanksgiving week, something I had never experienced before. Thanks to my dear friend, and editor, James, I have now. It was really special. I even got to see that public transport doesnt have to grind to a halt when the snow falls. About 9 inches, and the bus service never even blinked! Over here…more than a few grains…rolls eyes!

But there was one other thing from that trip, that will forever stay with me. In one sense, quite literally! A side trip to New Hampshire (via Worcester, MA) to be regressed to a past life, and just discover whether I really was Jean Harlow. No, I wasnt, but I was an actress in Hollywood in the 20’s and 30’s, if only in small parts. Clara Johnson, take a bow, I’m proud of having been you, or however you like to put it.

Of course, what happened after I recovered from that stunning news, a Hypno Jean-bot was created. I know the voice changed, apparently my whole demeanour changes, it really is incredible to experience, I must say.

Oh, and after 5 years, the old girl went for a job interview, if only an internal one. But getting dressed up, going out, and ‘kicking butt’, yes, it was fun. No, I didnt get the job, but did get high praise for my interview, ah well…

So fine, the last video of 2014. This artist was a star in the 60’s, is now in her 70’s, but still has it, in style. And yes, like Jean-bot, safely nestled in my sub concious would say, she always there to remind me, of an amazing 2014

A day of remembrance, a day of celebration too

Well, seriously, given the date and everything, what else were you expecting tonight?

Strictly, the centenary of the significance of the 11th November is still 4 years away, but given this is the centenary of the start of World War 1, its a major landmark anyway. And at the 11th hour today, we have, or will (depending on your time zone) remember them.

Not that we just remember those who fell during that awful war, but on the battlefields everywhere, ever since. I suppose, strictly, those who died before too, but its fair to say that 1918 was of course the day that Remembrance Day over here, Veterans Day in the US, is the one that all are remembered for.

No, I’m not going to get political on the matter, though its fair to say that in hindsight, the leaders on both sides in WW1 didnt think too much about planning.

But anyway, for all those brave souls who died then, and since then, I remember, and respect all you did for us, who followed you.

Oh, the celebration? Well, two friends, one long term, one who I have only got to know recently both celebrate their birthday today.

The new one, that wonderful lady who showed Kate, and I around Cherryvale, less than 2 months ago. I think it was towards the end of last year when we first made contact, due to a posting I made about, yes, going to Cherryvale, the home town of Louise Brooks. Finally, I got to meet her in September, and she was just as wonderful to me in real life, as she had been in cyberspace.

Thanks, Tina, hope you’ve had a wonderful day.

Its fair to say I’ve known James a lot longer, though I’m not sure now, just how many years it has been. But in that time, he has become a true friend, a confidant, my editor, to name but 3 things! This man is simply amazing, believe me. Oh, and to top all this, he is the one who has invited me, in less than 2 weeks now, to celebrate Thanksgiving with him, my first time doing so.

So yes, as well as remembering the brave who died fighting for us, I am celebrating the birthday of 2 wonderful people.

The video, well yes, its a war related one, though possibly not one that people would immediately relate to events.

World Series 2014: Kansas City and San Francisco, a personal look

Yes, tomorrow night, in Kansas City, the culmination of the baseball season begins. Given that the game will actually start at 1.00 am in the UK, on Wednesday morning, I wont be watching. But in spirit, albeit a sleeping spirit, I will be there.

Its a rare treat, in that I have actually been to both stadiums where the games will take place, and actually enjoyed visiting both of them. The last time there was a World Series when that happened, 1993 when Toronto took on Philadelphia. The Toronto stadium at that time, was the once I visited, but the Philadelphia one wasnt, having being demolished in 2004, and replaced by a very modern stadium that well, I didnt fall in love with!
The last Series between 2 teams I have seen play is far more recent, just 2 years ago, when San Francisco played Detroit. I saw Detroit play, in the now demolished Metrodome in Minneapolis.

But these two…

So lets start with where people leave their heart, San Francisco. AT&T Park is probably one of my all time favourites, probably helped by the fact that the first time I went there (have been twice), I went to an evening game, and not only did I get to watch the baseball, in a wonderful setting, I got to see the sunset over San Francisco Bay, and that was worth the money in itself.
But all in all, its a wonderful setting to see baseball played, though sadly, no one hit a home run into the water while I was there. Have seen it on TV a couple of times, but…

So yes, ironically, under any other circumstances, I would happily support them against most teams, but not this time around.

Because they are playing Kansas City!

So far, I’ve only had the one visit to Kaufman Stadium, about a month ago, when they lost to Boston. As was mentioned in the blog at the time, the service that Kate and I got from the staff, was truly amazing. And seeing those famous fountains, at the other end of the stadium…really good!

I must admit, there are 2 ladies who are the reason I follow Kansas City, Brooks and Harlow. One came from the city, one came from the state of Kansas, so all in all…a big soft spot for me. Neither of course saw the Royals play, they only started playing in 1969. Lets face it, pre war, travel made it impossible for teams to play that far west. And when teams started moving west, California became the big target, so…

And before you ask, I have absolutely no evidence that either lady ever saw a baseball match anywhere!

Given that San Francisco have won it all twice in the last 4 years, Kansas hadnt even made the play offs since 1985, when they actually won the World Series themselves, I might have supported KC anyway. But now, probably the first time I’ve really rooted against SF in all honesty.

Hopefully KC will win, as that would be perfect for me. But at the same time, if a National League team has to win it, well, San Francisco might be my call. But even so, I have to say it, go Royals!

The video, well its about KC, and produced in Cherryvale, surely the perfect combination? I have to thank my friend, Tina for posting it on Facebook in the first place.

Oh, and if any manip/photoshop experts out there want to send me a picture of Jean Harlow, in either a Royals top, or cap, I would so love it, and would post it up. I know, wherever she is watching it from, she’ll be rooting for her home town team

A little city in South east Kansas, the birthplace of 2 famous actresses

Yes, somewhere over the state line, in the South eastern corner of Kansas, sits a little city called Cherryvale, I have mentioned it once or twice before in blogs, as the birthplace of Vivian Vance, as well as a young lady named Mary Louise Brooks.

Yesterday, I got there, so glad.

Now, this isnt a big city, total population of just over 2,200 people, but for me, it was one of those places I so wanted to visit, but getting there is a challenge for non drivers, unless you have a special friend like Kate to drive you there.

We got to Cherryvale shortly after 1.00, and I rang Tina, my local contact there, to let her know we’d arrived. She was one block or so away, and very soon a car pulled up, and we met up. What followed was a wonderful guided tour of Cherryvale, showing us all the landmarks, relating to Brooks, Vance, and general Cherryvale life, both past and present.

A picture of the first home Louise Brooks lived in

Louise Brooks 1st home in Cherryvale

Her second home

Louise Brooks 2nd home in Cherryvale

Then, while we waited for the Museum to be opened (just for us, I might add), we were taken up to the nearby ‘Big Lake’ to admire the view, and for me to get my picture taken

Me, at the lake, Cherryvale

After that, back into town, and while Kate settled into businesswoman mode, I took a tour of the museum. Lots of Vance, plenty of Brooks, and far more relating to life in, and around Cherryvale. We even managed to find some pictures of Jean in the old magazines of the 20’s and 30’s too!

Last, but not least, an ‘I was there’ photo, outside of the museum

Me, at the museum, Cherryvale

Yes, the lady in the background, in green, is Kate, my heroine for getting me there!

Finally, just before 3.30 we headed out of town, realistically my one, and only visit in my life to Cherryvale, but I got there. I know Louise would probably just say “so what?” or something along those lines, but I’m so glad I did it.

Finally, huge thanks to Tina for all she did for us, and thanks also to the lady who guided me around the museum, whose name I cant remember. Cherryvale, thanks for such a wonderful day.

Under the circumstances, there were only 2 video options. Given this is probably the ultimate Kansas song, and all that…No, not the Garland version, but Eva Cassidy, a version that I personally far prefer

Jean Harlow goes back to Kansas City

Well, fine, OK, not literally. Unless her spirit is planning to make the journey at least, and to be honest, nothing would totally surprise me on that front! But yes, this version of Jean will, tomorrow set off for Kansas City, her birthplace, with a transit in between in Atlanta.

You’re right, I cant wait!

Even supposing (faint chance?) I am Jean Harlow in her next life (or whatever number), I wouldnt expect to recognise Kansas City, lets face it, its nearly 100 years ago that she left, and a lot will have changed since then, to put it mildly! But agreed, if I see any of the landmarks she knew (some of her homes there still stand), will any faint recognition happen for me? Who knows?

No expectation, but we will see…

But I must say, it will be something special to visit a city, so precious to a young Harlean Carpenter (as she was then), if only to see what its like now. This time tomorrow (if you ignore the time zone jump), I will be there. Strictly, I’ve only just arrived in Atlanta, but if you ignore that 6 hour thing…

The other special thing for this trip will be going to a small city in Kansas, named Cherryvale, birthplace of a certain Louise Brooks. No, I dont look like her, and I hope to goodness I’m not as awkward as she could be, but… Will be so special to see where she first grew up, I must say.

So here I am, at a hotel next to Manchester Airport, from where I will set off in the morning, via Atlanta, to, as Jean would say, go home. Really looking forward to it, and meeting up there with Kate again.

In the meanwhile, the video is something Jean would definitely be saying about tomorrow, so who knows, maybe I am too? A live version, from Jon Anderson, recorded this year, showing he hasnt lost a trick, and the fact he can talk forever, given the chance.

The next blog will be from Kansas City. Whether its from me, or from Jean, lets just wait and see!

The adventures of Jean (not Thelma) and Louise

Though to be fair, Kate and I have absolutely no plans to end up as the pair in the film did. But given that in just over 2 weeks time, the 2 of us will get together in Kansas City, and have fun (well, as much as 2 ladies who wont see 40 again can do), the title seems apt, for a good reason.

Over the weekend, I got an email from Kate, with a few details, and more interestingly, a picture of her, after her last visit to her stylist. No, I’m not posting it, but lets just say that if Brooksie had lightened her hair, then Kate would be a pretty good match, her hair was styled in the perfect bob.

And given that after my visit to my stylist, a fortnight today, and her plans to turn my hair into Jean Harlow blonde curls, I thought where’s the harm in a play on the film title?

I have few clues as to what Jean and Louise will get up to, other than allowing both a much needed break from work. But for sure, we will have good company (well, I assume Kate feels the same way, or she wouldnt keep teaming up with me), and a good time, whatever we get up to. Will be kind of ironic mind, that when we visit Cherryvale, she will probably look more like Louise than me! And no, I have no idea if Harlow ever visited Cherryvale, but logic says she didnt. Equally, unless she visited it on a movie star tour, there is no great evidence of Brooks visiting Kansas City.

But this time around, ‘Jean’ and ‘Louise’ will visit both!

The video. Well, Harlow and Brooks never appeared in a film together, Louise’s US career was pretty much done before Harlow became a name. But, in a sense, they did work together…I’ll explain

In 1928, Louise made a film called ‘A Girl In Every Port’, a silent movie. In 1931, they remade it, as a talkie, called ‘Goldie’, and you guessed it, in the Brooks role, was a young actress named Jean Harlow! Irony is, that though both films survive, there are very few copies of either. To say the quality of the film here is poor, is putting it mildly. But, its the best connection between Jean, and Louise that I can find.

In the heat of the night

Just a little fyi for all my North American readers (and the stats suggest I have a few), I should point out that today was the last bank holiday in the UK before Christmas. Yes, my US readers have a few before then, including one for which I will be in their country, Thanksgiving, for my very first time, really looking forward to that. Even if it might be slightly cooler (especially where I’m going) by then.

Yes, today, as is seemingly traditional in this country, the weather has been awful, rain for much (if not more) of the day. Hey, one big cricket match was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain, and the only surprising thing was how late they made the decision to do so.

Whereas, in Kansas City, there are heat advisory notices! Hey, it was 84 in the middle of the night last night, which is over 25 degrees higher than its reached here all day! And another fyi, as I type this, its 94! Heck, Cherryvale hit the century mark yesterday! Seriously Kansas, a few degrees lower in 3 weeks time, I really dont mind lol! Daytime round the 80’s will be fine by me! Honest, you dont want to see me in shorts, or short skirts, you really dont!

I’m not saying summer is gone over here, as September has a habit of providing decent weather, so we will see. But in terms of traditional summer holidays, this is it, as wet as ever.

Irony, Jean Harlow hated the sun, and heat, she was so fair that she burnt badly if she was out in it too long. I’m pretty fair, and do tend to burn, rather than tan, so just maybe…? As long as it doesnt put her ‘spirit’ off visiting me in KC lol!

The video, well, the title is apt. The song, hmm? But it should hold sex appeal for most at least.