Category Archives: USA

We’ve got two tribes?

Firstly, to all my US readers, reading this on the right day, happy 4th of July. For non Americans, and those not reading this on the day of publishing, hope you’re having a good day, anyway.

I cannot vaguely imagine what life was like 241 years ago, on this day, in the small part of the US that was escaping the yoke of UK rule, so I’m not even going to try! The one thing I am sure of, is that it was probably a lot calmer, and quieter than today will be, in most places there. Of course, the US has grown quite considerably in size since then, even if the continent was there all that time ago, most of it, the colonists had never seen, and for most, never would. Indeed, back then, Alaska would actually have been part of Russia, now there’s an irony!

Back then, it would have taken months to traverse the country, by wagon, and horse, even if people had ever considered doing it, which I doubt. Now, in a matter of hours, you can cross the country by jet plane, though fine, if I had unlimited time, I still think doing it by train would be a whole lot more fun. Ironically, the train fare, with a cabin, would probably cost as much, if not more than the plane fare!

No, so far, I’ve never been in the US on the 4th of July, but maybe one day, after retirement, I will. A lot of it is down to the holiday season at work places, but also, for me, high summer in a lot of the US, would be ‘pretty warm’ for me. Maybe thats the time to go to Alaska lol?

But yes, have fun, if you’re celebrating.

I know, despite the title, I’ve avoided the obvious political comments until now. Now technically, this related to the Cold War, at its height in the 1980’s. But given a US leader’s ‘supposed’ ties to Russia, fine, I was feeling mischievous! Many said that Frankie Goes To Hollywood couldnt perform live, but this puts that theory to bed. Alright, its not quite the same as the recorded version, but its decent, all the same.

Somebody watching me?

Until about 6 weeks ago, this blog tended to dip into double figure daily views on days when I posted a new blog, and be lucky to reach more than a handful on days when I didnt. Fair enough, because of my posting pattern when working, by Friday, or Saturday, there’s not a lot fresh to see, so I could understand that. And may I add, most of the views, understandably were from the UK, with a number from the US, and a few others. And then…

The last 6 weeks or so, if I havent managed 25 views in a day, I’ve had a bad day. Most days its at least 30, and sometimes even more! The weird thing is, 90% plus of those, are from the US. I mean, I’ve had days when I’ve had over 40 views, on a non posting day, and everyone of them is in the US? So who is it, no idea. Given that I know the view count, and location stats seem reliable, I dont know where my new fan club has come from. I will say that if I believed the figures, most of them are individual people, coming in reading one article, in a 24 hour period, and nothing else. Thing is, I know that count isnt right, as I’ve had days in the past when I’ve had, for example, 3 viewers, but have had 5 countries listed in the location section. So yes, doesnt tie up.

But who has suddenly taken an interest in my blogs? Now, if this is some US film conglomerate, or theater company checking me out, before offering me a role, then great! Equally, if its some US newspaper, or LGBT group, looking at my blogs, before offering me a journalistic type role, equally great. I would jokingly say that it might be some scientist waiting to check all my robot/brainwashing fantasy stuff, and make me an offer to do something interesting to my mind, or those aliens reading it from Area 51, but suspect thats only in my dreams lol! Hopefully, one day, I might find out!

But yes, if you’re one of those new readers I’ve attracted, who reads all the old stuff, on a regular basis, let me know. Either here, by comment, or by email at stephmajor8@hotmail.com if you dont want everyone to know who you are, and why!

Oh, but if you are planning on making me a job/guinea pig offer to work in the US, for a while at least, let me know what is being considered for me, pretty please xxx

Right, video time. In the sense that the singer had hardly any hits, this song is probably more famed for Michael Jackson doing backing vocals on here than anything else.

Back on the bus, and back to reality

Or in a non derogatory sense, its back on the chain gang. Which gives away the video at least. No, its not that bad really, but its still going to be a culture shock after all this time. The longest period of time that I can actually remember having off previously, and then gone back to the same job, would be an extended fortnight, back in 1987, which was my first ever trip to the US. Extended only in the sense that we flew out on the Saturday, so it would have been 2 weeks, plus 1 working day. This time around, its going to be 2 days short of 3 weeks! Wow!

The main difference though is going to be the situation when I get back to work. Back in 1987, working in a betting shop, there were no emails to return to, let alone the several hundred that will be waiting for me when I get back tomorrow. Mainly because back then, there were no such thing as work emails, of course! Now, 30 years on, we live by our work emails lol! Oh, and back then, the only ‘computer’ I had to help me with my work might have been a very primitive settling machine, though I’m not convinced we had them that far back, but as I cant remember the exact date we did, lets roll with that, certainly nothing more, if we even had that.

Oh, and back then, you needed to get an actual visa to go to the US, unlike today. I know, you still have to get approval to go there, but you do it all online, not sending off passports in the post, and hoping you got it back, care of the Post Office!

So yes, despite the fact that I will be doing exactly the same job tomorrow, as I was doing before I went on holiday, its going to take a bit of time to get back in the groove. Even more so, given that we started using a new call system on my last day at work, before my holiday. But yes, get there I must!

So yes, it will be interesting to get ‘back on the chain gang’ tomorrow, though there are certainly a few faces I’m looking forward to seeing again, I must say. But yes, I will be out of practice, and I just hope it all sticks in my head. Mind, if they needed to ‘download’ all that information into my mind again, it might be fun! Fine, you might hear at the weekend, if I have nothing better to write on Sunday, at least.

Fine, I’ve given enough clues to the video, so lets just get it posted up!

When do I get to pay my way?

One issue I have found over the years when trying to arrange, or pay for things in the US, is that so many companies, and websites are just not designed for dealing with someone who isnt in North America. I’ve tried to buy things through websites over there, but unless your credit card details have a zip code, that you cant use them. Some, like AT&T have given me work arounds, that using 00000 as a zip code will work on their sites, and some others.

Other times I’ve tried that, no joy! The funniest thing was once when I was ordering a food delivery over there, tried to do it on their website, no joy. Rang up, they settled it, some way or another, no idea how. Another time I rang up, only to be told that I couldnt purchase what I wanted, because I didnt have a US address, no way, no how!

Recently I found out that its not only credit cards that cause issues with US firms. On my 2 previous trips to LA, I’ve used a company called Prime Time Shuttle to get me to, and from where I have been staying in Hollywood, ordering it online, no issues whatsoever. Anyway, somewhere in the last 18 months they’ve changed their site to something that I assume is more tablet/cell phone friendly, as a lot of sites seem to have done of late. Generally I tend to find these sites less laptop/PC friendly, which is what I use of course, but I survive all the same.

No, the snag is now, that before they will take a booking from you, they have to send you an authentication code to your cell phone. Even ignoring the fact that I dont have one over here, I certainly dont have a US one, as indeed anyone travelling from Europe, to LA would be in the same position. So yes, you’ve guessed it, I cant do a booking with them. I actually checked, to see if I had a UK cell phone, if I could get the code that way, but no, it could only be sent to a North American phone anyway! Fine, I have a way around it, by using a friend, while on Facebook messenger, get the code sent to her, she pass it on to me, and then… But seriously, should it come down to doing something like that, just to make a booking for a shuttle?

There is also an alternate company I can use, without the same issue, though of course I have no idea how reliable they are? I’d rather use Prime Time, who I know are reliable, but equally why should I support a company that doesnt seem to realize that people from outside the US would like to book with them? Or that there are still people in the world who feel no desire to own a cell phone! 😛

Of course, if anyone wants to solve the issue for me, by picking me up from LAX, late afternoon on 17th May, and get me to my apartment in Hollywood, then let me know! It would cost me about $25-30 by shuttle, so happy to pay that amount to anyone doing the same job for me, and saving me the whole US company insularity issue! Return trip would be early afternoon of the 27th if anyone wants to offer that too, same arrangement!

Shout here, on Facebook or Twitter (if seeing this there) or email me at stephmajor8@hotmail.com, if a willing chauffeur. Sorry, I’m not yet a movie star, but maybe one day lol…?

Video, a take your pick moment, from one of my favorite LA groups. First one is a live performance from Hollywood Forever cemetery in 2013. Seriously, if you havent been there, and get the chance to, its a must, especially if you like seeing the last resting place of movie stars, including Valentino!

This version is a symphonic version of the same song, which I love, but naturally, no live performances this way!

The first time ever?

I know, strictly I’ve been booking in to flights, and hotel rooms for about 6 years as a woman, but all the same, tomorrow will still be a little different. Yes, it will be the first time ever I’ve booked in, handing over a female passport! Well, assuming the hotel even bothers to check my ID, which seems to be a bit hit and miss over here, unlike the US, where it is always done.

Regardless of whether they do, or dont, it still wont be as special as May, when I board a flight, and pass through Immigration, and Security for the first time with a passport showing me as a woman. Funnily enough, that wont make Los Angeles Immigration the first place I’ve entered the US with a passport of both genders, as I’ve never flown directly to Los Angeles before. Both times, its been through Atlanta, and a change of plane.

That honor will actually go to Boston, exactly 30 years after my previous time doing that there, as a man, in September. I’ve actually been through Boston since then, under my interim name, but didnt clear Immigration there, as I had already done it in Ireland. Indeed, its quite possible that the same will happen again in September, funnily enough. In fact, due to the nature of transiting airports, with your first entry point to the US being the only place you do Immigration (unless you go through Dublin, or Shannon), the only places that I could do the ‘hat trick’ are Philadelphia, and Chicago!

But yes, tomorrow evening, when I book in at that hotel, and if requested, hand over my ID, it will be the first time that said ID has actually said female! Not that I think they look, but…its going to feel good! Oh, if someone wants to offer to wine and dine me there, its somewhere near Thatcham!

Of course, job interview wise, I’ve done 3 with a female passport, so its not unique, but its still going to be special. Not as special as Manchester Airport, in May, but its the first step. And then, entering the US on a female passport, for the first time, oh wow!

Right, video. I gather there have been a few versions of this since this one, but hey, this is the one that this teenage ‘girl’ grew up knowing, so…

And so this is Christmas?

Yes, in truth, it really is. Amazingly, at a time when I’m working, its the longest break I’ve had at Christmas in a long time, a whole week! Yes, what could best be called William Hill syndrome sometimes meant that I got Christmas Day off, and that was it! This time around, I finished yesterday, and dont go back until next Thursday. I then do 2 days, then off again from Saturday, until the Wednesday, when normal service resumes. Yes, the last is only because Tuesday is my day off for the week, but besides all that…

In truth, the monthly travel pass ends tomorrow, when I plan to go no further than the local shops (maybe?), and I wont bother again until Thursday, so I wont go too far now in the interim. Even if I cant pay for the holiday until the New Year break (should be able to work it after pay on 30th), I hope I can get the details sorted out before then. Yes, I know the flight, have an idea where it will be, if a hotel, but still contemplating a glance at Airbnb, and seeing if anything will tempt me, but I doubt it. Hotels dont need a mad dash for supplies after arrival, and prices arent that dramatically different, so…

Yes, my present to myself lol! Well, assuming there is still an America by then!

I groaned this morning when I saw the news, that Trump, even before becoming President, is seemingly trying to build up his nuclear missile arsenal, and being aggressive about it. Yes, fine, Russia is already reacting to that, and I thought they were supposed to be friends! Worse, he’s doing it all on Twitter, ah well…!

As to the inauguration thing, nothing but grief there too. No one wants to perform for him, and one group that seemingly will have to, The Rockettes, are already saying they dont want to. Most other entertainers are seemingly trying to arrange a concert to compete with his inauguration, to ruin his viewing figures, that should be fun!

I also saw someone (I assume less than seriously) suggest that California (or another, suggesting all 3 West Coast states) become independent from the rest of the US, now wouldnt that be fun? Would be wise to do it before Trump builds up his nuke collection, just in case…ah well…Please let me know which I need a visa for, USA, or California! Or Cali-Washing-gon? 😉

So yes, at Christmas, peace and goodwill to all on Earth, not! Fine, hopefully I’ll be feeling a little less cynical about it all tomorrow night!

Having already used Greg Lake (for the wrong reason), this seemed the obvious call.

395 years on from the first one?

Yes, I know, tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, but I’ve discovered something that happened 2 years ago date-wise tomorrow, so I’ll get in a day early. And anyway, tomorrow, may, or may not be anywhere close to that date of the first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621. History suggests it was November, but exactly when in that month, I’d suspect earlier, given it was post harvest. But anyway, last Thursday in November is now the agreed day, so…

For us now, to try and imagine what that first one was like, almost impossible. If you believe historical articles on the internet (hmm?), then there were no ovens, and in all likelihood, no cakes, due to a lack of ovens, and a low supply of sugar. Probably right, but guaranteed? But one thing is for sure, its where the whole Thanksgiving celebration started, even if I very much doubt it was called that, back then.

It was only in 1863, and Lincoln, that the date got settled on, as the last Thursday in November. Until then, states celebrated it, if, and when they wanted to. After that, the date seems to have stuck, so…

Nowadays the day has become more commercialised, though to be fair to the NFL, games have been taking place on the day since the 1930’s, though its fair to say that people didnt settle down in front of huge TV’s to watch them back then! More likely, listened to them on their radios, if that.

Talking of modernity, the whole holiday has now been seemingly equaled by, with the shopping spree that is Black Friday, the day after. In truth, nowadays, that has turned into Black Fortnight, or does it just feel that way?

At least now, thanks to one wonderful man, and his family in Albany, I know what Thanksgiving Day is like as a celebration. Yes, 2 years ago, I got to celebrate that event, first held in 1621, for the first time. Hopefully not the last, though I have no idea when it will happen again, just at present. Maybe when I stop working, who knows? Or maybe while working in the US, either acting, or more general work, but I dont think I’ll hold my breath for that to happen! Oh, there might be one other good reason too, but I suspect he might prefer me not to mention that on here? Lets just say it was something I regretted missing 2 years ago, but it had to be done, just once!

So, all US readers here, have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow.

The video. How the Pilgrims, back in 1620 might have viewed the new world?

All that peace and understanding?

So fine, all of you who know what song that line is from, before you look at the video, I’m impressed!

So, OK, much as I suspected most of us neutrals feared, there was going to be problems in the US, whoever won the election! Alright, ironically Trump, and his followers were the main ones threatening to cause problems if they lost, but the backlash to him actually winning seems equally bad. His followers doing lots of bad things, those who didnt want him protesting merrily, but besides all that…?

Anyway, going back to Wednesday, one of the first things I saw on Twitter, that had me laughing, was this,

Hey! #England ! I am interested in moving there. I’m a hardworking female with a drive to appease and entertain people. #actress #model

Didnt take her long to decide that, for sure! Anyway, me, being me, I had to reply, so this was my offering,

Hey America, I’m brave enough to work as a model, or actress over there in the next 4 years, just need the opportunity! Hardworking,you bet!

No, I havent been flooded with offers lol! Still time, I guess? Yes, I did actually include a request to Mr Trump by Twitter, to give me the rights to do so, but havent heard back from him yet, either. Mind, it was only sent yesterday, so…lol? Glad my passport says I’m female, mind. Probably doesnt help I’m not 25, and East European, maybe? 😉

I also see that supposedly, a good number of the things Trump said he would do, he’s backed down on, but how much news you believe on the net nowadays, is a moot subject?

The other offer I’ve had this week, was (I assume?) in a lighthearted manner, offering to do a property swap with someone I know in Alabama for 4 years. Yes, I’d love that, and I’m sure I could get some work (acting/model/writer) done while there, with luck, but seriously… No, I’m sure he didnt mean it, mainly because he has a very nice house, and I have a very nice, err, studio flat, to describe it best! So yes, it would be win/win for me, but anyway… Would I go if he had meant it? Not sure, Alabama isnt my dream state to live in, but I suppose it could grow on me?

Anyway, lovely guy, but I’m not expecting to move there anytime soon! Well, unless an Alabama theater wants to offer me 4 years (or more) of roles? 😉

Otherwise, I guess I’ll have to wait until next May, and let all those Hollywood studios fight over me…yes, I wish!

Right, video time. This is one of those songs that I thought couldnt be done decently live, but seems I’m wrong! Yes, I’m still ‘for America’ in a job sense, just give me the chance, before I retire lol!

Yes, that day has finally arrived!

Yes, after what has felt like 18 months of campaigning, which makes the UK’s look brief, it has finally happened, Election day in the US. Actually, it probably is about 18 months, as I remember when in New England, 14 months ago, the Republican debates going on. Or was it when I was in Hollywood last October? Regardless, its all been going on for over a year, but its nearly over, thank goodness!

As to my comments about the candidates, I’m not going to say too much, as I’m not really a fan of either. But fine, its not hard to work out who is the more LGBT friendly candidate, so yes, they might get my backing, if I could vote! All I will say, to all my US readers is that whoever you want to vote for, go out and vote, please! I might, or might not agree with your choice, but go do it, all the same!

I must admit, my friends list varies in taste from those who are so dedicated to Bernie Sanders, that they cant face voting for Hillary, right through to those who think Trump is wonderful, and all stages in between. And yes, I’m still friends with them all…just!

Oh fine, for those who must know, I’d hold my breath (as I dont admire her greatly), and vote for Hillary as the lesser of 2 evils, but I wish there was a better candidate for my tastes! Now you know, but please dont let that influence you. Probably Jill Stein would be the logical candidate for me, but seriously, she’s not going to win, so…

The most interesting difference, the fact that the people (of sorts at least) get to choose the candidates, whereas over here, we have to take our chance with whoever the political parties decide should be their leader, regardless of what we think. Doesnt mean either system is better than the other, but I suspect their might be a few (especially in the Republican party) who wish someone else was their candidate!

But anyway, at some point tomorrow (UK time, at least), we will know who will be President of the US, in all likelihood, for the next 4 years. At least then, it might be over, though knowing politics, not for very long!

Alright, the video song is the obvious one for today. The beauty for me, its live, its recent, and its filmed in Los Angeles. Warning, those of a politically sensitive nature, you might want to stop it before the end!

Levels Of Fan Mania

I have to say that basically certain events of the last few days have inspired this blog, sadly, for the wrong reasons. But before we get to that…

I guess I wouldnt be called the most passionate fan of any team, in all truth. Yes, there are a few teams (a couple who will be mentioned shortly) that I support, and follow, but get crazy about them, no chance!

Two of ‘my teams’ big rivalries are actually being played out today. The Buffalo Bills are playing the New England Patriots, and we Bills fans are supposed to hate the Patriots. So fine, one of my best friends is a big Pat’s fan. Do we have a rivalry over this, hell no! We might tease each other a little, but thats about as serious as it gets! Fine, I can dislike the Patriots, but thats more down to how good they are, rather than anything else. I mean, I dislike the big football teams over here for the same reason, and nothing delighted me more than when a minnow like Leicester won the Premier League last season, believe me!

The other tonight, I’ll be watching some of later, thats my Dodgers, taking on the San Francisco Giants in the last game of the regular season. Having said that, we could still have as much as 3 more games tomorrow, due to ties, play off venue deciders, and the like. But regardless of that, it will be Vin Scully’s last stand, as he’s said he’s not commentating on the play offs, so… Thankfully ESPN UK are covering that game tonight, and I only hope its his commentary we get.

But yes, Dodgers supposedly hate the Giants, but with me, no, I fail that test too. I know who I want to win, but… whole different game! There are still fans on the boards saying that unless we win the World Series, the season has been a disaster, oh please, be real!

But fine, the one that has annoyed me the last few days. Yes, the Ryder Cup. Dont get me wrong, I understand people wanting their country/continent to win, but there are levels of passion that are good, and those that are wrong. Sadly, the last few days, a small number of Americans (though the noise level suggests more) have acted like rabid idiots, rather than fans. It got so bad yesterday, and that is saying something, that fans started being ejected from the golf course, for their abuse of European players! I know, it was a long day, and maybe beer played a part? Equally, the awful behavior of Trump, and his followers, may lead people to think abuse of this kind is permitted? May be his type of followers doing this, who knows?

Either way, as a British born Ameriphile, its embarrassing! I thought the behavior at Brookline was awful, but I think this has almost topped that, at best. Yes, I know, my American friends are not the type that do this sort of thing, and I do appreciate that. The people who do, wont read this, so…I know, its been a while since the US won, but please, win it fairly, not in this matter.

OK, rant over!

The video. If anyone had told me that a cover of a Simon and Garfunkel song could challenge the original, I might have laughed. But fine, this does!