Posts Tagged ‘Babycakes’

Armistead Maupin, Thank You For Motivating Me

Armistead

Although Armistead Maupin has been writing his “Tales of the City” stories for forty years, I just discovered them twenty years ago this spring when PBS aired the first “Tales of the City” miniseries.

It’s very strange to see Michael in his 60s and Anna in her 90s.  But, then again, I’m no longer watching the last months of my 20s escape me!  Before I know it, 50 will be here.

But, if my 50s and my golden years are half as much fun and exciting as the lives of the “Tales” gang and Armistead Maupin’s life, it’ll be “fantabulous”.

Armistead, thank you for giving this small-town Kentucky boy the motivation and the courage to move to Chicago just four months shy of my 30th birthday, just as you allowed Mary Ann Singleton to leave Cleveland, Ohio,  for San Francisco.

Tales-5

And, just like Mary Ann becoming an on-air personality, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a television newscaster and meteorologist!

further+tales+of+the+city+sandra+oh+laura+linney

Anthony CBS4

Thank you for the memories of 28 Barbary Lane and beyond.

For the past few weeks in my “Random Friday Thoughts”, I’ve been sharing details of the “Tales of the City” books once I read them to introduce them to a wider audience.  Today, since I’m finished with the series, I want to share them in one blog entry.

ARMISTEAD MAUPIN’S “TALES OF THE CITY”

Although I read “Tales of the City” twenty years ago, I’m re-reading it again, along with the following eight books in Armistead Maupin’s series.

Tales of the City Book

Maupin started the series in the “San Francisco Chronicle” in 1976, after moving to the city in 1971 for a job at the Associated Press.

Armistead

“Tales of the City” is about a group of young people living at 28 Barbary Lane, a complex of apartments owned by Anna Madrigal, an older, eccentric landlady, who loves her marijuana and is harboring her own secrets.

The series focuses on the funky culture and “alternative lifestyles” of San Francisco, starting out in the 1970s.  The tenants are straight (Mary Ann and Brian), gay (Michael), bisexual (Mona), and asexual (Mrs. Madrigal).

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the miniseries that debuted on PBS in the United States giving them their highest ratings ever (at the time) for a dramatic series.  It stars Olympia Dukakis as Mrs. Madrigal and introduces us to future star Laura Linney.

Tales Miniseries

It’s still one of my favorite miniseries of all time.  I watched it for the first time as, in early 1994, as I was getting ready to make my big move to Chicago from small town Kentucky, just like Mary Ann Singleton did in the series from Cleveland to San Francisco!  And, I was just as naive as Mary Ann, too, twenty years ago!

If you lived through or if you love the groovy 1970s, you’ll love this series.

The final book in the series, “The Days of Anna Madrigal” was just released.

“MORE TALES OF THE CITY”

I just finished my fourth book this year, which matches what I read in all of last year!

More Tales of The City

“More Tales of the City” is the 1980 follow-up to Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City”.  “More Tales” is the second in the nine-book series.  I reviewed the first book last week and talked about it and the PBS television miniseries based on it that debuted in the U.S. twenty years ago this month.

In this book, we still follow all of the comings and goings of Anna Madrigal and her “children” at 28 Barbary Lane on Russian Hill in San Francisco.  It’s still the 1970s.

Mary Ann and Michael go on a cruise and both meet the men of their dreams, but Mary Ann’s is a man of mystery.  He just can’t remember it.  Mona escapes to a Nevada brothel (even though the book uses the w-house word) and learns a big secret.  Also, a major character dies, one has a health issue, and another is almost attacked!

After reading the first book, I started watching the first miniseries again.  Now that I’m two books in, I’ll continue on to the second installment miniseries that aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s that trailer and it does contain adult language and images.  (The first miniseries’ trailer is in last week’s random blog.)

Now, it’s on to book three in the series.

“FURTHER TALES OF THE CITY”

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past two years, you know that I often talk about music, movies, and television.  Lately, I’ve been including books, too.  My friend, Kelly Hager, would be so proud of me.

Over the past week, I just finished my fifth book of 2014!  That obviously means I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill and it’s working.  I’m down 8.2 pounds since the start of the year!  Only 12 more pounds to go before this summer.

I just finished “Further Tales of the City”, the third book in Armistead Maupin’s nine-book “Tales of the City” series.

Further Tales

If you recall from my last two “Random Friday Thoughts” blogs, the series is about a “family” of friends at 28 Barbary Lane in San Fransisco in the 1970s.

In this book, it’s now 1981, President Reagan is just beginning his years in office and the Jim Jones’ Jonestown Masscare plays an integral role in the mystery and intrigue.

One character moves away from Barbary Lane, two residents begin a relationship with each other after years of avoiding it, and one couple re-unites only to break up again.

Someone strives to become a television reporter and another ends up dead and you’ll never guess who killed the character and what happened to the body!

Sadly, this was the last of the books to be made into a miniseries.  It aired on Showtime in 1998.  Here’s the trailer and it contains some adult situations and language!

Many moons ago, I read the first three books in the series that I just re-read.  Now, it’s on to book four and I have no idea what happens, so this is exciting!

“BABYCAKES” & “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”

If you read my “Random Friday Thoughts” each week, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill walking and reading.  I’ve lost 8.8 pounds since the beginning of the year, but it’s getting harder now.

I’m also reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  I just finished the fourth and fifth books in the nine-book series.

“Babycakes”, the fourth book, takes place around 1983, seven years after the first book.

babycakes

The AIDS pandemic claims the life of a recurring character and a main character is dealing with the loss of his best friend and lover.  He takes a trip to England and runs into a major character that was absent in the third book.

One character becomes a television reporter after breaking the story of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.  Another story line involved a favorite couple trying to have a baby with sterility and infidelity playing a major role.  As the book ended, one life started and another ended.

This was my least favorite of the four books, so far, and part of it might have been the fact that it was new to me since it wasn’t made into a miniseries like the first three books.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The series found its mojo with the fifth book, “Significant Others”.

Two different retreats, one for a women’s festival (lesbians) and one for older men (rich Republicans), take place on Russian River north of San Francisco in 1985.  We meet three new characters that play a big role in some of the lives of the original “Tales of the City” group.

One character faces the unknown when he takes the HIV test and what he’ll tell his wife and another is still dealing with the loss of his friend/lover from AIDS in the third fourth.  He meets a new friend that could be something long-term, but they live on opposite coasts!

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sixth book!

“SURE OF YOU”

I finished reading my eighth book of 2014 this week, “Sure of You”, which is the sixth book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.

Sure of You

While you may not have read them, you’ve likely been following along with me about the book series in my blog.

It’s now 1988, twelve years after the first book and three years after the last book, “Significant Others”.   While the book had some fun parts, this was my least favorite of the series, so far, because there wasn’t much happiness to be found.

Like real life, friends drift apart over the years and that takes place here with some of Barbary Lane’s favorite tenants.

One chance meeting in the last book leads to love in this book and that is a happy point.  However, one person becomes very successful and leaves San Fransisco and their family for fame in the “Big Apple”.

“MICHAEL TOLLIVER LIVES”

I’m almost done with Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” nine-book series.  Over the past week, I read books seven and eight, “Michael Tolliver Lives” and “Mary Ann in Autumn”, respectively.

If you’re familiar with the series, Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”) is one of the original tenants of Mrs. Madrigal’s 28 Barbary Lane.

Michael Tolliver Lives

It’s now 2005, almost thirty years since the first book.  Michael is no longer a youngster from Orlando, Florida, living in San Francisco’s Castro.  He’s now married to a younger man about 20 years his junior.  It’s a very happy union.

The bleakness from the sixth book in the series, “Sure of You”, is gone, even when we learn of an original “Tales” character’s death to cancer and the death of a loved one closer to Michael.

Also, the book is told in first person from Michael, which is a departure from the third person story telling of the previous six books.

“Michael Tolliver Lives” is one of my favorite books of the “Tales” series.

At the end of “Michael Tolliver Lives”, Mary Ann Singleton, now a married woman on the East Coast, returned briefly to visit an elderly friend that may not recover from a stroke.

Mary Ann

In “Mary Ann in Autumn”, it’s a couple of years later and Mary Ann and “Mouse” are back together again in San Francisco almost thirty years after they first met in 1970s.

A couple of secrets brings Mary Ann back to cry on Michael’s shoulder.  All of the years and the tears of twenty years apart are forgotten when they examine their friendship and what they’ve been missing.  It brought me so much joy to see them together poking fun at each other and pushing each other’s buttons as they head toward their golden years — both are in their late fifties and early sixties now!

And, boy, does Maupin have a few shockers up his sleeve that go all the way back to the original “Tales” book.

As much as I loved “Michael Tolliver Lives”, “Mary Ann In Autumn” is my new favorite after the first book.

“THE DAYS OF ANNA MADRIGAL”

I just finished the ninth and final book in Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” series.  If you haven’t been following my blog over the past few weeks when I talked about each book that I read, take notice.

The books follow the lives of a group living at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco in 1976 through current day.  The apartment complex is headed up by self-proclaimed matriarch Anna Madrigal and the final book is dedicated to Anna, who’s now 92-years-old.

The Days of Anna Madrigal

Needless to say when I started the book, I was bracing myself for the worse thinking this might be Mrs. Madrigal’s swan song.

I loved the flash backs in the book about Anna’s childhood at the Blue Moon Lodge, the Nevada whorehouse where she was raised by her mother, the madam, “Mother Mucca”.

While the book moves forward from Mrs. Madrigal’s childhood to the teenaged years and escaping Nevada, it was a pleasant ride.  It was also amazing to see her get to take one more trip back home to Winnamucca, even though most of what she remembered was already gone.

The book also updates us the lives of Michael Tolliver (“Mouse”), Mary Ann, and Brian, from the original “Tales” book.

THANK YOU

Armistead, thank you again for the stories and the memories.

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s going to be a snowy one in Iowa and Illinois, but it’ll make it more romantic! 🙂

champagne

I hope you and yours have a great weekend.  If there’s no “yours”, you still have every reason to enjoy the day and make the most of it.

I had many single years and I still treated myself to champagne and chocolates whenever I wanted them!  Indulge.  Life is too short.

Here are my random thoughts this Friday.  As always, thank you for checking them out.  If you agree with me, let me know.  If you disagree, let me know nicely. 🙂

BEST WISHES TO MICHAEL SAM

Michael Sam, the Associated Press defensive football player of the year in the Southeast Conference, came out last Sunday telling the public something that his teammates have known since last fall.

Sam told ESPN, “I came to tell the world I’m an openly proud gay man.”

Michael Sam

Sam is expected to be drafted into the National Football League and that would make him the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL.

Michael, I wish you the very best in football and in life and I’m not alone.

Bette Midler

And, here is an incredible commentary from Dale Hansen, a sportscaster with WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, Texas.  This is so true!

However, we still have a long way to go.  This is a series of tweets from Kent State University wrestler Sam Wheeler.  He’s been suspended indefinitely until the athletic department decides on how to handle the situation.

Sam Wheeler Kent State Wrestler

ZOMBIES SLAY OLYMPIANS

While the ratings for the 2014 Winter Olympics for NBC are off slightly from four years ago, people were watching this past weekend.

However, last Sunday night, in the key television viewing demographics, 18-49-year-olds, the season four mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” killed the rush for the gold, silver, and bronze.

The Walking Dead

In that demo group, “The Walking Dead” scored a rating of 8.2 beating the 6.9 for NBC’s Sochi Winter Olympics.  Overall, 15.8 million people tuned in for “The Walking Dead”.

RACIST SOCHI TWEET?

Former Russian gold medalist figure skater Irina Rodnina, who lit the Olympic torch for the opening ceremonies of the Sochi games, is now at the center of a controversy that screams of racism.

Rodnina

Rodnina, who is now a member of Parliament in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, tweeted this doctored picture of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from last September.

Racist Sochi Tweet

Pro-Kremlin television personality Vladimir Soloviev says this is not a big scandal and that Rodnina is free to post whatever she wants.  He went on to say the Tweet was not racist and that the reaction is too sensitive, “I advise everyone who attacked her that the next time they go out for a coffee, they should not call it a black coffee but an African-American coffee.”

I think this is racist whether it’s posted by a Russian politician or someone in the United States who feels as Rodnina does!

Your thoughts?

THIS “ARROW” HITS THE BULLS EYE

“Arrow” actor Stephen Amell wishes the athletes that have been training all their lives the very best in Sochi, Russia, but he holds nothing back on this thoughts about the country’s anti-gay laws.

Stephen Amell

On Facebook, Amell posted, “For everyone asking, we’re taking a mini hiatus so people can grit their teeth and suffer through an Olympic games marred by homophobia and mediocre public interest.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHTS

Weather ChannelSnow

Davenport Cold

That was in Davenport, Iowa, the other morning.  Luckily, it was actually only -23°!

SO LONG, MULDER & SCULLY

We just finished watching all 202 episodes of “The X-Files” and the two movies.  While enjoyable, I still feel that the series finale was rushed and not very rewarding for such a stellar nine-year series that changed television.

the_x_files_i_want_to_believe-wallpaper

After watching “The X-Files:  I Want T0 Believe” again, the 2008 big screen movie is incredible and greatly under appreciated.  While it did have the feel of a more adult (language, violence, and gore) expanded television monster-of-the-week episode, it is very powerful.

Mulder, Scully, Skinner, Doggett, Reyes, Krycek, The Smoking Man, the Lone Gunman, aliens, and Chris Carter, thank you for the memories.

HELLO FISHER FAMILY OF FREAKS

Before we move on to “Fringe” to wrap up the last two seasons, we’re going back to “Six Feet Under”.  We’re now on season three (of five).

six feet under

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dysfunctional family like the Fishers and their crazy friends and loved ones.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I love Michael C. Hall.  And, to see him as a very tormented David Fisher, who’s also gay, is very interesting.

PICK HIT

Singer Hailey Rowe is back with a very inspiring song and video.

Hailey Rowe

While she isn’t a household name, she scored my favorite song and video of 2013 with “My Boyfriend Is Gay”.

Her latest release is “Don’t Need Your Approval”.

“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS”

“Captain Phillips” is nominated for six Oscars this year, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi.  It also gained attention when Tom Hanks was snubbed for a Best Actor nomination.

Captain Phillips

The $55 million movie earned $215.3 million at the box office.  It’s based on real life events when Somali hijackers took over the “MV Maersic Alabama” in April 2009 and kidnapped the cargo ship’s captain, Richard Phillips, for ransom.

It’s a well crafted movie by director Paul Greengrass (“United 93”) and Oscar winner Hanks does a great job playing Phillips as a strong leader in the face of terror and possible death.  Even Adbi and the other three first-time Somali actors hold their own in the movie.

If you didn’t follow the story when it was news almost five years ago, you’ll enjoy the movie more.  As I was watching it, I kept wondering if Hollywood would change something in the outcome for dramatization since it’s “based on a true story”.

After seeing the movie, was Hanks snubbed?  I don’t think so based on the two Oscar-nominated performances I’ve seen so far (Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” and Christian Bale in “American Hustle”).  Will Abdi win the Supporting Actor award?  No.

If you like an action packed thriller, you’ll definitely like “Captain Phillips”.  If you want to see Greengrass at his best, watch “United 93”.

GRADE:  B

“RUNNER RUNNER”

This thriller starring Justin Timberlake and Ben Affleck is entertaining enough with a few twists.

Runner Runner

Timberlake plays Richie Furst, who used to work on Wall Street and is now getting his Master’s Degree.  Since he isn’t eligible to get help with his tuition, he recruits college students to gamble online and he get a kick back.  When he’s reported, the school’s dean tells him he must quit or he won’t get his degree.

He takes a chance gambling on the site knowing the odds and loses all his money.  He then flies to Costa Rica to try to get his money back from Ivan Block (Affleck), who is the online gaming king.

It’s a cat and mouse game, but you don’t know who’s playing who.

GRADE:  C

NEW TWITTER FOLLOWER

I’m still relatively new to Twitter and I find it interesting.  I only have 142 followers, but one of my new followers is someone I’ve been a fan of for almost 30 years — Andy Bell of Erasure.

Andy Bell

Since the follow, we’ve corresponded a couple of times.  If you’re an Erasure fan, check out this encouraging and fun tweet from Andy.

Andy 2

“Make It Wonderful” is the second single from last fall’s “Snow Globe” album and the remixes will be available February 24th.  Here is the amazing “Morlando Club Mix”.

Some of the “many” things that Andy may have been talking about is the anticipated new album and tour this fall!

“BABYCAKES” & “SIGNIFICANT OTHERS”

If you read my “Random Friday Thoughts” each week, you know that I’ve been spending a lot of time on the treadmill walking and reading.  I’ve lost 8.8 pounds since the beginning of the year, but it’s getting harder now.

I’m also reading Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of The City” series.  I just finished the fourth and fifth books in the nine-book series.

“Babycakes”, the fourth book, takes place around 1983, seven years after the first book.

babycakes

The AIDS pandemic claims the life of a recurring character and a main character is dealing with the loss of his best friend and lover.  He takes a trip to England and runs into a major character that was absent in the third book.

One character becomes a television reporter after breaking the story of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre.  Another story line involved a favorite couple trying to have a baby with sterility and infidelity playing a major role.  As the book ended, one life started and another ended.

This was my least favorite of the four books, so far, and part of it might have been the fact that it was new to me since it wasn’t made into a miniseries like the first three books.

SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

The series found its mojo with the fifth book, “Significant Others”.

Two different retreats, one for a women’s festival (lesbians) and one for older men (rich Republicans), take place on Russian River north of San Francisco in 1985.  We meet three new characters that play a big role in some of the lives of the original “Tales of The City” group.

One character faces the unknown when he takes the HIV test and what he’ll tell his wife and another is still dealing with the loss of his friend/lover from AIDS in the third fourth.  He meets a new friend that could be something long-term, but they live on opposite coasts!

I can’t wait to see what happens in the sixth book!

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Kentucky-born singer John Conlee had a long, successful string of 27 hits on the Billboard Country charts from 1978-1987.  Of those 27 hits, 22 reached the Top Ten, and 7 topped the charts.

My two favorites are “Backside of Thirty”, his third hit and second number one from 1979, and his first country hit, “Rose Colored Glasses” that peaked at #5 in 1978.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

Have a great weekend.  I think we’re having heart-shaped pizza and a heart-shaped strawberry ice cream cake this weekend with Gretel and my sister, Tammy.

Anthony