Posts Tagged ‘Mary Ann in Autumn’

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 28, 2014

It’s hard to believe that the first two months of 2014 are already behind us.  I sure hope that with March starting this weekend that spring can’t be too far behind.  With that being said, enjoy the snowy weekend.  Here are my random thoughts for this week.

DISGUSTED WITH UGANDA

This past Monday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a controversial law that makes being gay punishable by life in prison.  Before this week, a gay person faced 14 years of jail time.

Uganda President

Museveni had been going back and forth over the issue and just last week he said that gay people were “sick” and needed treatment and not imprisonment.

He added that this is necessary because of the arrogance of Westerners promoting behavior that threatens Ugandans’ “way of life”.

Here’s a reality check for you, President Museveni:  my being gay and open about it does not threaten the “way of life” in your nation (and the other 37 African countries that make it illegal to be gay).  What you should be threatened by is losing the $1.6 billion aid that you received in 2011 from the United States!

UGANDAN AID BEING CUT

In wake of Museveni signing that law, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands were the first three countries to cut aid to the Ugandan government.

Pink News

Pink News, Europe’s largest gay news service, reports that Norway and Denmark will donate money directly to human rights groups now and not the government there.

The news service also reports that the U.K. is making changes.  It will now only send money to multilateral aid agencies and non-governmental organizations in Uganda.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT — ARIZONA

Normally, in this segment, I don’t add commentary.  But, this week, I must.

Wednesday night, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 that would have allowed individuals and businesses to refuse service based on religion, especially toward the LGBT community.

While I applaud Governor Brewer for vetoing it, in my heart, I feel that she did it because of the money Arizona stood to lose and not because it was the right thing to do.

Today’s “Food For Thought” is for the 17 Senators and the 33 Representatives that voted for the ill-fated and bad SB 1062 in the first place!

Uganda Arizona  ArizonaGay Wedding Cake

“HANNIBAL” RETURNS

The critically acclaimed and ratings challenged NBC series based on the Thomas Harris novel, “Red Dragon”, returns tonight (February 28th).

Hannibal S2

For the 2 million people in the U.S. that were still watching the series for the June finale last year, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) had done his part to drive FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) mad and Will was jailed for murder.

If you didn’t catch this incredibly creepy, gory, and complex series, you’re missing out on great drama and television.

“Entertainment Weekly” and NBC released this two-minute opening teaser for tonight’s premiere.  Let me warn you, it’s awesome and violent.  It also makes you wonder what led up to this scene because once you watch it, you know they will flash back to let you know how this transpired!

“EW” definitely likes the season 2 premiere!

EW Hannibal Review

For the thirteen episodes this season, I really hope that we see much more of Gillian Anderson, who plays Hannibal’s psychotherapist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier!

Gillian Anderson Hannibal

I can’t get enough of my crush, Gillian Anderson!

BREAKING NEWS…. MORE SNOW THIS WEEKEND

Sick of Winter

Remember, I’m only the messenger.  But, in reality, I’m shooting for 70″ this winter and the all-time record!

This is where we stand right now before any snow falls today, tomorrow, and Sunday in the Quad Cities.

Snow Stats -- Friday Morning

Light snow is on the way later this evening and tonight.  This first wave will be gone by daybreak Saturday.  Accumulations will generally be less than an inch for most of us.  Northern hometowns near the Wisconsin border may see a little more — closer to 2″.

More snow is on the way Saturday afternoon into early Sunday night.

This Weekend

Here is how much snow I’m expecting from Friday evening through Sunday night.  This snow will be falling over a three-day period and not all at once!

Snow This Weekend

‘Tis the season!  Yes, it’s still winter!

SNOW SWIMMING!

Obviously some in Duluth, Minnesota, look at snow differently than we do in the Quad Cities!

Duluth has had about 84″ of snow this winter and there’s still about 29″ on the ground.

Snow?  I didn’t notice snow in the video!

OSCAR WEEKEND 2014

I’ll be staying up past my bedtime Sunday to watch some or all of this year’s Oscars with host Ellen DeGeneres.

While I’ll post my Oscar picks for all 24 categories Sunday morning, including Best Picture, I’ll touch on a few here.

After seeing the incredible performances of Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both nominated this year, for “August: Osage County”, I wanted them both to win.  Their performances were flawless.

august-osage-county- Julia Roberts Meryl Streep

However, I don’t think either will take home the Oscar.

Although I haven’t seen “Gravity” yet, I don’t want  Sandra Bullock to win, as much as I love her.  Yes, I’m still jaded that she beat Meryl for “The Blind Side”.  Meryl’s Julia Child in “Julie & Julia” was much more deserving.

Cate Blue Jasmine

For Best Actress, Cate Blanchett will win for her devastating and heartbreaking performance in “Blue Jasmine”.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

I also pick Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey to win for  “Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Actor”, respectively, for  their incredible performances in “Dallas Buyers Club”.

My other 21 winning picks will be revealed Sunday!

“BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD”

Last weekend, we watched two more of the late, great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s movies, “The Savages” and “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead”.

Both were amazing and I highly recommend them for different reasons.

“Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead” was released in 2007 and was director’s Sidney Lumet’s last movie before his death in 2011.

before_the_devil_knows_youre_dead

The $18 million dollar crime drama barely made its money back at the theaters ($25 million), but it was highly entertaining and it kept you guessing as to how it would end.

Hoffman played Andy, a finance executive at a New York City real estate firm, who was embezzling money from the company to help support his drug use.  In a scary case of real-life deja vu, it was hard watching Hoffman shooting up drugs.

He devises a plan with his brother Hank (Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke) to knock off a small mom & pop jewelry store, which would net them about $120,000.  As you can guess, things don’t go as planned.

The movie also stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei and five-time Academy Award nominee Albert Finney.

I have a warning and a spoiler about the movie:  I’ll never get the image of Hoffman’s naked butt, while having sex with his wife, in the opening scene out of my mind — ever!!!!

GRADE:  B+

“THE SAVAGES”

We also watched Hoffman’s 2011 family dramedy, “The Savages”, which earned co-star Laura Linney an Oscar nomination.  The movie was also nominated for Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Tamara Jenkins.

E25SavagesB

Hoffman and Linney star as a couple of single New Yorkers, who have to come up with a plan to take care of their estranged elderly father suffering from dementia in Arizona.

While the subject matter is heavy at times, it’s also heartwarming and funny.  I’m a huge fan of Laura Linney, so it was a pleasure seeing her in the movie.

The movie was produced by Academy Award winner Alexander Payne, who’s up for an Oscar this year for directing “Nebraska”.

GRADE:  B

With these two movies, I’ve now seen ten Hoffman movies:  “Twister” (1996), “Boogie Nights” (1997 — his Scotty J. was heartbreaking), “Happiness” (1998 — a sad, creepy performance in an amazing movie that made you want to shower after watching it), “Magnolia” (1999), “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999), “Red Dragon” (2002 — slimy, sleazy, but unforgettable as Freddy Lounds), “Doubt” (2008 — touching and worthy of the Oscar nomination), and “The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire” (2013).

PICK HIT

“Take Me Home” by the dance band, Cash Cash, featuring vocals from Bebe Rexha is my pick hit of the week.

While the song has already reached the Top Ten in Australia and on the Billboard Dance chart, it only reached #64 on the Hot 100.

However, it’s one of the 20 most played songs right now on Top 40 radio stations in the  U.S.

It’s still a great song to get your weekend off to a fun start.

“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.

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

One of my favorite songs as a kid was “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Texan Jeannie C. Riley.

Jeannie C. Riley

I used to play the record over and over as a 4-year-old.  I played it so much that my older step-sister too the record away from me and broke it!

The song went on to sell six million copies and it became the first song by a woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Country charts at the same time.   That was in 1968.  The next time that would happen would be in 1981 with “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton.

From 1968-1972, Jeannie C. Riley would score 14 hits on the country charts.  Of those, six would reach the Top Ten.  “Harper Valley P.T.A.” was her first and only #1 hit.

Later in the 1970s, Riley would become a “born again Christian” and she briefly distanced herself from the sexy and risque song, but she never stopped performing it.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

That’s enough random thoughts for one blog.  I have no plans this weekend and I just might take advantage of the freshly fallen snow and go sledding with Gretel.  It’ll take me back to December 2010 when Ray, Gretel, Miss ABBA, and I took advantage of the winter wonderland.

Sledding December 2010

Ray Gretel ABBA December 2010

Anthony