Category Archives: Albany

You ought to be in pictures

Yes, I did mention there were a couple of reasons why I had to do the Thanksgiving posting a day early, so without remiss, lets get to them.

Firstly, and I’ll keep this brief, because he will hate the mention, I need to briefly say thank you to someone whose 76th birthday it was today. He’ll know who he is, and a few special friends will as well, and lets leave it at that. Other than to say that without him, there’s a fair chance I wouldnt be here today writing this. So thank you so much, special friend.

Secondly, and in far more lengthy form, the tale of 24th November, 2014, the only one of his birthdays that I’ve missed in 12 years. Maybe even more, but definitely at least 12. It had always been my dream to be in the US for one of the big events, and Thanksgiving, for me at least, was always the most special one. So when, in November 2013, someone offered me the chance to be there the next year, for Thanksgiving, I wasnt going to say no! Unfortunately, if I was going to do my standard Saturday to Saturday thing, it meant being away for his birthday, which was going to be on the Monday. He told me to go, when I asked him about it, so I did! Had a wonderful time, as I mentioned last night, but in truth, this isnt about Thanksgiving Day, this is about the 24th November.

That morning, 2 years ago, I had my first experience of Greyhound buses, from Albany, to Worcester. Yes, unexciting enough coach journey, though the gentleman I was meeting there, and I had fun connecting with each other there, because apart from pictures, we had no idea what each other looked like, and neither of us knew the Worcester transit centre at all! But in good time, we tracked each other down, and headed north into New Hampshire.

After the usual niceties, I sat back in the hypnotist’s chair, and he put me into a deep trance, and regressed me. A couple of stages back in my life, then a little bit further, and…a sweet little voice said “Hi!”

(The rest is what I remember vaguely, and what he told me after I’d recovered, so…)

He asked me where, and when I was, and I apparently replied firmly, “1928, Hollywood!”. Now given the whole Jean Harlow look thing, he told me he was thinking, “Oh good grief, is she really…?”, so he asked my name,

“Clara Johnson.” ‘I’ proudly replied.

A few questions about what she did, and yes, she was an actress, though she admitted, only a small part one. One or two personal details later, including her marriage, her daughter, and her early death (smoking related), and he decided to bring me back to this world, and let me remember it all.

So, a lot of “Oh my God’s” from me later, he told me to come over, and look at his computer. Yes, we’d found her on Imdb. Only for one credit, but as was the case, only the stars in the late 20’s, and early 30’s got credited, so… but yes, we knew she was for real. I’ve since managed to find that as well as bit part acting, she did some dancing too, though it seems likely that was chorus line stuff, and no more. I now know the state she was born in, the year she was born, and the year she moved to Los Angeles. Because she married, and the surname changed, I have no way of finding out who she married to, her daughters name, and when she died, and where she was buried. Next September, I might well be back in the area, and maybe we can get Clara to give up a lot more secrets then!

The second delight that day, after I’d sort of recovered from the shock, was to try something more. Playing to my kinks, he ‘injected’ me with nanites (yes, a pen tip), and created Jean Harlow-bot! Seems I sounded like her, and I know that when I looked in the mirror, it was her reflection I saw looking back at me!

After all that, he gave me a trigger to go back to that state, which by now, sadly, I’ve long forgotten. Pretty certain he wont remember it by now, either! But yes, it was incredible to do, when I could remember that trigger!

So yes, its fair to say, in more senses than one, 24th November is always going to be a very precious day for me!

The video, well, you could say it was what Clara did! Maybe one day I will too, though given reality, I suspect that if I ever act again, its going to be a small part in a theater, not in a big Hollywood movie. But, you never know…?

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A Drop Of The White Stuff

Yes, I know a few people who were hit by the snow storm over the weekend, on the East Coast of the US. Thankfully, as far as I know at least, all are fine. As an added treat, Storm Jonas is now heading for the UK, but thankfully (I think?) by the time it gets here, having crossed the Atlantic and all, it wont be snow that hits us, it will be rain. Mind, given how flooded some areas have been in Yorkshire, I’m not sure that a possible 4 inch dump of rain is necessarily a good thing?

I have seen several feet of snow on the ground before. Thankfully, I was on a nice warm train, crossing the Rockies in the winter of 2003. And by the time I got off the train briefly, in North Dakota, it wasnt snowing, but was exceedingly cold! Minus 25F, dont ask me what that is in centigrade, but its cold. But of course, much of the snow had been swept off the platform, so all was fine.

Thats not to say I havent been out in a snow storm, because I have. November 2014, in Albany, I experienced a snow storm where 11 inches of the stuff was dumped on the city. Do you know what, the buses kept running, though admittedly, that was down a main road, I’m not sure if it was the same on lesser routes, but…they were used to it, nothing ground to a halt, unlike when we have more than an inch over here, probably less!

I’ve seen pictures of New York, I’ve also seen pictures of more rural areas, and the way the snow built up, is quite amazing. Yes, I know, public transit was stopped in places, roads were closed in a few too, but I do think that was wise on the whole.

Who, me, I prefer California weather, I think. Last night I was watching the golf, from Palm Springs, much more my kind of weather lol!

Given that one dear friend on Long Island, said he would do nasty things to anyone singing ‘Let It Snow’, I thought I’d better choose something else for the video tonight, so you can have this Doris Day track instead.

A look back at 2014 – The US Edition

Yes, I think its fair to say that so much has happened in my life this year, that I can stretch this out to 2 parts quite easily. The UK edition will follow on Wednesday, by the way. A look forward to what I know 2015 holds in store, on New Years Day.

So, lets start with the first trip, the one to Kansas City, and the whole state of Kansas. Initially, the plan had been for this to happen in May, but things never work out quite as planned. Kate’s work got in the way, so it got put back to September. Thankfully, her main concern about doing that, extreme heat, and me, never cropped up. It was very pleasant, 70’s, and 80’s and all that, but no more, so all was fine.

Before we get to the main emotional stuff, I could never have got to Cherryvale without her, and I dont think she will ever realise just how much I appreciated her help in getting me there. But its what happened when I got to Cherryvale that really struck home to me, just how wonderful some people can be to a virtual stranger, that she may well never meet again. One amazing woman, named Tina. Not only did she really welcome us to Cherryvale, home town of Louise Brooks (and Vivian Vance, as she would appreciate me mentioning), she really welcomed us to town. A guided tour, photos of both Brooks homes, and a trip out to see the Big Lake nearby too. But on top of all this, she arranged for me to get into the museum, in town, on a day when it would normally be shut to the public. Someone I’m really glad to have met, and to give me the chance to get close to standing in Louise Brooks’s footprints.

Its fair to say that I’ll probably never get back to Cherryvale, but I will always remember that place, unless dementia gets me first!

On the same trip, after Kate had gone back home (she has a normal life, for heavens sake), I headed off into Kansas City, home town of Jean Harlow, of course. Funnily enough, for quite a while, I got no further than Union Station, on the edge of town. Nowadays the station has one through train (Chicago – Los Angeles), and 2 other services to St Louis, and thats it! Of course, back in the 1920’s, there were a lot more trains, and there is photographic evidence of Jean Harlow travelling by train, so its fair to assume that I very much stood in her foot steps there.

Luckily, I got to take a modern trolley car trip around the city, so did see a lot more, maybe I’ll get back one day, but I’m not getting any younger…

Bur despite all that, its fair to say, that in the end, that wasnt my most emotional trip to the US this year. In November, I went out to Albany (as was always planned), given an invitation by my wonderful friend, James, to join his family for Thanksgiving, a first for me. Really, really glad I did it, despite the snow dump on the Wednesday, about 9 inches. Thing is, the bus service didnt even blink, let alone stop. Over here, an inch, and…rolls eyes.

Thanksgiving Day, and everything surrounding it was amazing, so glad I got to find out what that was like. And no, I didnt go shopping on Black Friday!

But yes, the side trip to New Hampshire. I had discussed the possibility of doing a past life regression with S earlier in the year. There was only about 200 miles between him, and Albany, but getting there by public transport… We compromised, I got the coach to Worcester, MA, and he took me to and from New Hampshire from there.

Lets be frank, much though it would have been wonderful to have discovered I was Jean Harlow in a previous life, it wasnt really likely to be true. It wasnt, though I would love to have seen his face (I was deep in trance remember) when I said I was in Hollywood in 1928! I remember being asked the colour of my hair, giggling, and saying brunette, though of course I had no idea why he was asking me that. Yes, I was, in a past life, a small part actress named Clara Johnson, oh wow!

Sadly, finding anything out about Clara, even with the internet, has pretty much come up blank, apart from one credited part. Small parts never got credited before the mid 30’s, we know she made a decent living, but no more… Sometime, I really must get back to New Hampshire, let him put me under for much longer, and find out so much more about her. But until then, I know who I was, and just maybe, she worked, or played with Jean, when both were just small part actresses.

So yes, those 2 trips have tugged at my emotions no end, but I’m really, really glad I done both, and now know what I do.

Louise got married (at least) twice, Jean three times, Clara, just the once. For each of them, there must have been something of this. And of course, in the title of the group, Hollywood

Thanksgiving, and a white Black Friday

And so, the end is near, though the video isnt going to be My Way…well, not the one you’re expecting at least!

Yesterday, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, was Thanksgiving Day, here in the US. And for the first time in my life, I got to experience what that magical day is like.

It started off with what I gather is another US tradition nowadays, the Macy’s parade in New York City. Lots of hype, lots of over exuberance from the commentators, so I kept the volume low, and survived. Then, a little NFL, a phone call to start getting ready (into dress, and low heels), and then over to the home of my wonderful host, James.

The afternoon was wonderful, the conversation, his family, and the meal, all of them. If, and when I repeat this delight, no idea, but I’m so glad I’ve done it once in my life now, at least. Put it this way, I had absolutely no need to eat again after that until this morning!

Black Friday is a crazy shopping extravaganza, that now seems to start at 6 pm, on Thursday! Yes, I know, but thats the way of life nowadays, seemingly. Anyway, I ignored it completely, both last night, and today. So I headed off down town by bus, and went to the New York State Museum, for a very interesting visit. Then back into town, via the State Plaza, and a lunch break, and then finally back to the hotel.

Yes, with all the snow still on the ground, I didnt go out to eat tonight. I know, I’ll probably regret it, but… and tomorrow, I head back to the UK, James very kindly running me back to the airport. Hard to believe, its less than 2 weeks to the Work Christmas dinner.

Not only that, but by the next time I return to the US (Hollywood, next April, if all goes to plan), I should look even more stunning than now, as I will be a beautifully made up lady, looking even more like Jean Harlow, I suspect.

Last, but not least, I’d like to thank my 2 wonderful hosts on this trip, James, for letting me fulfil that dream of celebrating Thanksgiving, and to S, for letting me discover that I was indeed a Hollywood actress in a previous life, and for letting me find out how much fun life as ‘Jean’ can be.

The next blog, probably a jet lagged one from the UK, on Monday.

As I said, the video isnt ‘My Way’, but…

Public transit, a little shopping, and lots of snow!

So fine, picking up from where I left off last time around.

Yesterday morning, at 11.00, I was picked up from my hotel by S, and whisked back to Worcester, to catch the bus back to Albany. Another entertaining chat en route, which led to me discovering that in fact ‘Jean’ was still in my head, and just needed releasing, to make a show. First S did it, just to sort things out between him, her, and me. More correctly, him, my sub concious and me, but that’s just nit picking. Next thing I know, I’m told to do it for myself, and lo and behold, here’s Jeannie!

But before anyone gets any ideas, there are only 2 people that can wake her up, S, and me! Carla is safely tucked away though, before anyone thinks otherwise.

So fine, I’ve quickly discovered that there is a firm that makes Trans Pennine Express look punctual, and that’s Greyhound buses! Anyway, we finally get away from Worcester about 20 minutes late, and head for the Mass Pike, and the journey home. Big snag, accident on the Mass Pike, was a crawl (or slower) for the first 10 miles, and we finally reached Albany 2.5 hours late! Consolation, the most wonderfully sweet taxi driver on the way home, lovely guy, got a better tip than I normally would give, for sure!

Fine, it was well publicised on the news, and on websites that Albany was going to get hit by a big snow storm about the middle of today. So fine, I went out early, and not far, to a nearby Mall. Alright, time for a little fun, I let ‘Jean’ go shopping instead. Now, that was fun! Main moment of amusement, well it seems that Jean possesses quite a Kansas accent. Slightly combined with my own, but predominantly…

Fun moment, when I mentioned about flying back to the UK to one of the cashiers, given my Kansas accent, she asked me when I moved to the UK. I muttered some random year, and just left it at that! Alright, I did think about getting my sub concious to swap me back, change accents totally, (and huskiness of voice) and confuse her, but I’m a good girl, so I didnt.

By the time I got back out of there, the snow was in free fall, with plenty on the ground. Sadly this morning, I’d lived up to my blonde reputation, and only gone out in shoes, and a medium ‘strength’ coat, instead of boots and anorak. I knew it was coming, so why I did that…no idea?

Its different, seeing so much snow, when its only November. The last time I saw this, was about 2000, in Kirkenes, Norway, and thats the other side of the Arctic Circle! Mind, that was the beginning of November, not the end, so…

Right, you’re now up to date, and no, despite the clearness of the roads at least, I’ve decided to forego the Ice Hockey match in town tonight. I’m not the biggest fan of the sport, but if the weather had been good, I might well have gone. But now…

The video, sums up today’s weather really.

smooth operator

Its funny, how when you expect to have problems, everything goes smoothly. Pretty much sums up yesterday’s journey here.

OK, fine, the roadworks on the motorway getting to the airport was a pain, but in all honesty, I got there with time to spare, and walked to the booking in counter, in about 15 seconds flat, from the queue. The challenge of security…absolute stroll!

Plane took off pretty much to time, landed much the same. Funny point, I started the journey with a double seat to myself, then a few hours in, a man excused himself, and moved in next to me. Said his viewing screen wasnt working, but anyway…Fine, it must have been that, as he went back to his original seat about 30 minutes before landing. Ah well…

Then, the only low point of the whole trip, Philadelphia Immigration. Seriously, they are the main reason I dont travel more with US Airways, they are awful. Transatlantic jet arrives, hundreds get off, and 2 Immigration officers are on! Eventually, and I do mean eventually a couple more turn up, I get through, and… you have to go back through security after clearing customs, and generally at Philadelphia, thats as much joy as going through Immigration. Yesterday, sailed through! I was actually at the other terminal waiting for the Albany plane 20 minutes before boarding, instead of dashing on at the last moment. Hey, I even went to the rest room, got a coffee, and…amazing stuff.

Met at the airport as planned, and a smooth journey to the hotel. Hey, I suspect I even spotted the Albany hotel I stayed at in 1988, but dont quote me on that. But it was in the right area, had the right colour sign, so…

Hotel is very good, not that I expected anything else from Best Western, to be honest.

This morning I went across town, to meet up with James for a short while, then back into town, a bite of lunch, and currently, a little NFL. Oh, the lady in Dunkin Donuts loved my accent!

Tonight, I wont go too far to eat, just tossing up between the restaurant here, or a pub/restaurant about 2 doors up.

Tomorrow, off to New Hampshire overnight, to be hypnotised by an expert, and see what develops. I’m pretty sure, at some point, I will believe I’m Jean Harlow! Still, more of that on Tuesday, I suspect.

For now, a video that sums up how things have gone so far

Northern New York state of mind

Yes, tomorrow I head off to Northern New York, for a week of relaxation, pleasure, and my first ever Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, where I’m heading is Albany, not Buffalo, about 300 miles west, where that incredible dump of snow has been. Where I’m going is fine, a bit chilly, but no snow. Or so I was told last night by the wonderful gentleman who invited me across. So all will be fine.

Funnily enough, I’ve been to Albany twice before, but seen hardly anything of the city. First time, in 1988, I stayed overnight at a motel, just outside the centre of town, and I dont even remember us venturing in, though knowing me, and Sheila, we probably did. The second time, a couple of years ago, I stayed much closer to the centre of town, somewhere close to the college relating to nanotechnology, and the like. But did I see any of the city, not really!

This week, I will put that right, even if a day or two (part of) will be spent on a very interesting side trip to New Hampshire. More of that, after the event probably, though if you’re good…I might let you know on Sunday, just before it happens!

To be honest, the only entertainment tomorrow will probably be the change of planes in Philadelphia. If all goes fine, then nearly 2 hours is fine, though not by as much as you probably think, by the time you go through Immigration, Customs, and Security! And then the shuttle bus to the terminal where the Albany plane leaves from. I had about 5 minutes less (admittedly the plane from Manchester was late) when I flew to Richmond, and that ended up being a very tight thing.

Other than that, it will probably only get ‘fun’ if I pull out that Harlow biography I’m not meant to read, and start reading it! I shouldnt, I know, but it might be entertaining to see just how awful it is. If a publisher reads this, and want to give me the funds to write an accurate Harlow biog, let me know!

OK, I’ll end this string of UK based blogs with a Harlow moment. Not too far north of Albany, is a place called Saratoga. To me, it has 2 significant points. Firstly, there is a racetrack there, and sometimes at work, we cover the racing from there. Secondly, and the film buffs will have already worked this one out, Jean Harlow’s last (uncompleted) film, was called Saratoga.

Popular demand at the time meant that MGM finished the film, using doubles, and the like, to cover for the fact that Jean was sadly no longer around. Here is a little scrap of that film

A day to remember, but a day to celebrate 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.

Rainy Days And Mondays

Are supposed to always get you down, and yes, that is a huge clue as to what the video is lol!

But given summertime is now over, on both sides of the pond, its pretty clear that very soon, winter will be on its way. Indeed, just about an hour ago, they showed the view from Foxboro, where the New England Patriots play, and it was snowing! Hopefully there wont be too much of that in Albany, in 3 weeks time, but at the same time, I wouldnt be shocked if there was.

The biggest change at work, is the horse racing. It now starts much earlier, and in terms of the non floodlit meetings at least, it has to end earlier too. Lets face it, most sports nowadays pretty much take place under lights at all times anyway. Flat racing does, though for obvious safety reasons, jump racing doesnt.

So, the baseball season is finally over, after about 7 months of non stop play, I’m sure the players will be grateful for the break. Kansas City fell at the last step, a shame, but after 29 years of nothing post season, pretty awesome all the same. I must admit, Ice Hockey and Basketball dont have much interest for me, though I do plan to take in an Ice Hockey game in Albany, while away.

Yes, 3 weeks from now, you’ll be getting blogs from there, the next big event in my seemingly growing social schedule. 2 weeks later, the works Christmas dinner, for which I booked my hotel room earlier today. I will probably wear the new dress, though the mischievous Harlow element in me wants to wear the much shorter, sexier, blue sparkly dress instead, and show off some leg! I’m sure sanity will prevail, the longer dress, but we will see… 😉

The other thing I did today, was to book the rail tickets for Newbury, for January, after which I will definitely have the Harlow look, in style! Not that I’m as shy as I used to be, but I suspect that once I have the full look (including beauty spot) I might be even more confident in my new self. As far as I know, Paula has no way to make me think I’m actually Jean, but…

Oh, and the boring winter thing, I need to get sorted in the New Year, an eye test, and new glasses, I suspect. If I can find an optician, offering 30’s style frames…they might get some business! if anyone knows one, in the UK, let me know!

Yes, you should have worked out what the video is, at least I hope you have

Lets look forward to 2014

Fine, as promised the brief look at what I know I have planned for the New Year.

As usual, the main things in the pipeline would be the 2 trips to the US, though the first will be later than usual this year, not until mid May, instead of late April. Why, principally because Easter is late this year, so combining in all the bank holidays around that time, and avoiding the Grand National, its about the first chance I get to go. Where, well, as things stand at present, like Dorothy, I will get to Kansas. Though whether I get beyond Wichita, at the moment, its wait and see. September, and this might change for other reasons to November, the plan is to go to Albany.

All provisional, the first depends to a small degree on a friend named Kate (who might have had a few mentions here) and her availability. Though to be honest, unless she can be available in September to travel with me, but not in May, I plan to go to Kansas, come what may! Might make going to Cherryvale without her a lot more tricky, but…

Albany in September, might become Albany in November. I mentioned just before Thanksgiving that it would be nice to be in the US on that occasion, but equally saying I felt it was a family thing, so maybe I shouldnt? But another dear friend, James, offered to adopt me for the event, and if that does happen, I will probably delay the trip till then, and just have the usual week at home in September instead. I might, might, make a third trip to the US, but suspect the finances wont stretch to that.

Due to some small football tournament next year (something called the World Cup?), getting to Ireland for cricket might prove complex. Not that I can really comment at present, beyond 2 one day matches against Sri Lanka just before my May trip, not much is definite yet. I hope I can, and get better weather than last year if I do, but lets wait and see.

Beyond that, I have my 56th Birthday (creak) to look forward to in March, and a week off, starting a week on Monday, hopefully to recharge the batteries. Beyond all that, the Works Christmas Dinner at the end of the year, assuming I’m still there of course!

I know, I know, such an exciting life lol!

The only other thing I do know, is that at some point this month, the 5th ebook should be released, and I promise to crank up the publicity machine when its ready, whether you like that or not! 😛 More, probably, though I have no idea when!

One thing is for sure, whatever plans I make, something will come along to change them, one way or another. For good, for bad, who knows? But no, I have no plans for romance, or to go to a football (soccer) match at any point this year!

The video, well, its a tribute to someone who died 28 years ago today, thanks to his wild drugs intake. But this is silly fun, and as it was used to introduce the world to 1980, quite apt. Phil Lynott, RIP. Oh, and another Phil died today, Phil Everly. I just have to fear the day when all the Stephanie’s die lol!