Review Of The Year, Part one

Now, normally when you do a review of the year, and you’re splitting it in two, you’d do two spells of 6 months, right? But when I looked back on my year, it took me about 30 seconds (if that long) to work out that apart from one event in May, not much happened for the first 8 months, then a hell of a lot happened in the last 4! So to avoid a 500 word blog tonight, and a 3000 word one tomorrow, I’m doing this on an 8/4 basis this year.

In truth, the highlights of the first 2 months were getting the news I’d passed probation period at work, and getting a passport in my new name. Oh, and around the same time, my first moments of DWP fame, in an LGBT sense, with an interview from work, about life as a LGBT woman in the Department. Which of course led to something that will be mentioned in Part 2, but for now…

No, diplomacy means I’m not mentioning a certain event that happened in the US, in January, but you all know what I think of him, and his actions, so lets leave it there.

Of course, my first flight as Harlean Carpenter, was in May, going back to Hollywood, or more strictly, Los Angeles. Lets just say the whole apartment thing this time around wasnt the success of the previous trip, both in the sense of initially booking an apartment, and then the landlord deciding he wanted to decline the booking, because he hadnt put in his price rise for the New Year. Fine, I thought, until he told me it was done, and suddenly the price had risen by over 20%, nearly 25% in fact! So I started again, thought I’d found somewhere decent as a replacement, but it didnt live up to all its claims. Dont get me wrong, it was nice enough, just didnt have all the facilities it claimed it had.

The funniest moment was a delightful Thai takeaway I had found 18 months earlier, and the lady still remembered me the moment I walked in, despite that. Its sad to think that by the next time I visit, she will almost certainly be gone, as it will be a few years before I get there again (unless I get a role offer), and I doubt she was that young this year, so…but she was amazing!

The other big highlights that will stick with me, would be 2 Louise Brooks silent films, viewed at the historic Egyptian Theater, a guided Hollywood walk given by a wonderful lady that I like to see as a friend, a ‘better than I would buy’ seat at a Dodgers game, thanks to another friend, with the added bonus of it being a game that Kershaw pitched at! Lastly, there was a wonderful Harlow display at the Hollywood Museum, which was a delight to see. Oh, and thanks to the Metro, getting to Santa Monica far easier than ever before!

In truth, I have no idea when I’ll be back, unless I get an offer, which I would have to say is pretty unlikely. But never say never… Certainly, due to something that will be mentioned shortly, walking up the hill to where Harlow rests at Forest Lawn would probably be beyond me now, but anyway…

In July, 2 things happened, one good, one bad. The good one was, that knowing that Clara Johnson’s middle initial was E, and finding a few images of a chorus line dancer/Goldwyn Girl, and putting two and two together, when you find a dancing match, named Elaine Johnson, who has a career that seems to tie in to Clara’s, well I jumped on the issue, and joy, actually found 3 pictures of her from a credited movie promotion shoot. Of course I cant be 100% sure its one and the same, but enough coincidences for me to say it is. In fact, as you’ll find out tomorrow, this isnt the end of that story! Yes, a few new pictures, wow! I’d still love to find her married name, so I’d have a chance of paying my respects if, and when I get back to LA.

The bad thing, my back, after giving me support for about 59 years, decided it had had enough, and snapped. Quite literally, though not in too severe a way, fingers crossed. Yes, osteoporosis had taken its toll on me! Painkillers, and other meds (been tweaked a couple of times) keep it bearable, but yes, its fair to say old age is beginning to catch up with me. It eventually led to me cutting back to 4 days a week at work, with which I can just about get by financially, but holidays will need to be cut back on now, for sure.

August marked 1 year in the new job, and in truth, apart from a dream acting offer, I cant see me leaving before I get to retire in just over 6 years time. Yes, I really am that old lol! The rest of the year, and a few landmarks, tomorrow!

Right, the video. One of the few modern groups I have much time for, are The Killers. I now love them even more now I know that each Christmas, they record a song, and give all royalties to charity! This is the 2013 song, which is apt given where I was in May, and even more so when you see something I post tomorrow!

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A group of actresses

Though I must admit Harlow, Johnson and Brooks could very easily sound like a firm of solicitors!

In truth, there are very few places left in Hollywood that you could trace back to their days in town, but yesterday I managed to visit two of them, though one is no longer used for the purpose that they knew it for. Oh, and I passed a couple of others too, the Chinese theater, and Musso and Frank’s being the famous ones.

I always planned to visit the Hollywood Museum on this trip, seeing they’ve got a special Jean Harlow display this summer, and yes, its really good, if you get the chance, which I suspect a lot of my readers wont! Back then of course, this was the Max Factor building, the man behind the movie make up of many famous actresses, and judging by the pictures there, a few chorus line dancers too! Its a well known fact that Harlow would have gone there, and ‘supposedly’ thats where the platinum blonde look was created. That I’ll question, but anyway…? Kept going, quite possibly. Created, hmm?

In truth, I always assumed that Factor only did the make up for the stars, but yesterday I saw a few pictures of chorus line dancers, waiting their turn to be made up by him, and thoughts turned to Clara. Was she one of them, who knows? Did she at some point have her make up done by Factor, seemingly almost certainly. One thing is for sure, they wouldnt recognize the building today. Not just because of the change of nature of the building, it lost its front seemingly when Highland Avenue was widened.

There is one seriously wonderful helmet type thing, that was seemingly used to measure imperfections in faces, which I would love to have used on me, but it would find plenty of imperfections lol.

Oh, one fun moment, signing the visitors book in my name, especially given who the main display was about, though I doubt they even look!

The evening was spent in the company of the last of our trio, Louise Brooks, at the Egyptian Theater, which is 5 years short of its centenary! I wonder if you’d told Grauman that, back in 1922, whether he would have believed you that it would happen? Looks very different in places now, to then of course, but so much remains, though mainly restored, but all the same…

I found out shortly before coming here, that there were 2 of her films on last night there, neither of which I’d seen before, beyond glimpses of one. Beggars Of Life is probably one of the better known Paramount ones that survives, with ironically Louise playing a girl pretending to be a boy. Some of the shots were amazing, especially when you think there was no CGI back then!

The other was the second film she made in Germany, Diary Of A Lost Girl. I’d seen brief scenes from this, but that was it. Personally, for all the fuss made about Pandoras Box, I found this the far superior movie. The cast seems stronger, in deeper roles, and benefits from that. In modern eyes, its amazing how much censorship was used on this film originally in US (Yes, I saw a restored version), as some of it is daring, but not extreme. But its not hard to imagine that in 1929, things were seen very differently to that. Oh, and the ending is delightful.

So yes, yesterday was a look back to Old Hollywood for me, this afternoon I’m off to see some new, at a female playwright festival. Just watching, nothing more, unless…? No, I doubt it somehow! More on that in next blog, I suspect.

The video. Well, I couldnt think of anything more apt on a California Sunday Morning. Cant believe there will be many who know this already.

If I could turn back time

I suppose one of the more interesting (in a sense) events that have come out of the internet era, are some of the crazy theories doing the rounds.

And no, I dont mean things like whether we actually went to the moon, or not (we did), I mean things dating far further back than that. There are several videos on You Tube (find them for yourself, if you care), which supposedly show modern gadgets being used in the late 1920’s, and claiming this as proof of time travel. Fine, it has to be said that I’ve seen pictures of Clara Bow, and Louise Brooks with something in their hand that really does look like a modern mobile phone, but I assume is just a compact, or makeup mirror? I mean, the biggest issue, even if they were time travelling back then, is how they got these devices to work in 1929? I mean, yes, there were dozens of cell phone transmitters back then, not!

All the same, I admit it, yesterday I wrote a story that played very much to that theory, telling the tale of how they ‘supposedly’ got their pieces of modern technology. Yes, folks, pure fiction! I know, I know, the pictures suggest maybe, but seriously…?

Mind, having said that, if Twitter is anything to go by, a good number of silent era, and 30’s movies stars are time travelling, and using Twitter as social media. I know, I have a Harlean Carpenter (Jean Harlow) account on Facebook, but I use it as much to have Jean as a time hopping character, as much as for just focusing on her short life. Oh, and given what I write, it enables me to hide, to some degree, some of my personal kinks. Mind, given Jean’s attitude to sex, she might have enjoyed them, if she was alive now…no, not getting into that!

Gable, Lombard, and a few others are seemingly all active on Twitter, but if you asked me my favorite of those types of account, its an actress whose peak was from well before the Harlow era, Lillian Gish. Yes, I know, she lived to 100, did she have some special trick, or…? But seriously, if you’re on Twitter, and you know anything about silent movies, go follow @MsLillianGish there. She is just wonderful! Though Marion Davies (as far as I know, not on Twitter) gets some flak from her, I think its just good banter between the 2, somewhere in the mists of time.

Fine, the video. Really big clue in the blog title!

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

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!