Posts Tagged ‘Sure of You’

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

Random Friday Thoughts — February 21, 2014

My favorite two days of the week are upon us — the weekend.  Okay, technically, those aren’t “days”.  But, I’m sure you get the point.

Whatever you have planned, make the best of it and enjoy.  Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.

FIVE YEARS!  HERE’S TO FIVE MORE…

Saturday marks the fifth year that Ray and I met in person for the first time.  While we chatted before then, we had drinks for the first time on February 22, 2009.   It was champagne and we hit it off rather well and after he left, Miss ABBA, the golden, and I talked and agreed that he was worth a second date.

That came a couple of days later with lunch at Exotic Thai in Moline and the rest is history, as they say.

Here’s one of our first pictures together from the spring of 2009!

Ray Anthony Spring 2009

To mark five years together, we’ll have champagne this weekend and go have lunch at Exotic Thai Monday.  We do that each year to mark those dates and Miss ABBA is still with us — in our hearts.

“LOOKING”

The eight episode, HBO series, “Looking”, is about three gay friends in San Francisco looking to find themselves and love.

Looking

It stars Jonathan Groff, who is best known for his Tony Award-nominated and Grammy Award winning role on Broadway in “Spring Awakening” and on “Glee” as Jesse St. James.  He also voices the character of Kristoff in the worldwide Disney smash, “Frozen”.

Frozen

“Looking” has been criticized as “boring” and lacking diversity, even with one of the leads and a major recurring character being Hispanic.

I love the show.  It’s funny and it’s sexy.  My only gripe is that there’s only eight episodes and they’re only 30 minutes long!

Here’s the trailer and remember that it’s HBO, so there are so are some adult themes.

I have to admit that I have a crush on Patrick, Groff’s character.  Or, maybe I just have a crush on Groff?

JENNIFER NETTLES IS AN ALLY

Jennifer Nettles, the leader singer of the country duo Sugarland and a married mother of a one-year-old boy, is a friend of the LGBT community.

jennifer-nettles

Nettles tells PrideSource that country music is slowly evolving and becoming more accepting.  “It’s exciting to see within the country genre, yet at the same time, for me in terms of social motivation and evolution and moving forward, I always feel — be it within a music genre or a religious movement or whatever — like, ‘OK, come on, let’s move faster. Let’s get there faster. Let’s get it done.”

She adds, “This should have already been behind us. So I am excited about it, but I want it to continue and be more.”

Sugarland, featuring former member Kristen Hall, who is a lesbian, took “Something More” to #2 on the Billboard Country chart in 2005, from their debut album, “Twice The Speed of Life”.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Sarah Palin Olympics Shoveling SnowSummer Hot

ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOKS

We’ve had a lot of snow this winter.  We’re now up to 54.3″ in the Quad Cities.

21714 Snow Update

That makes this the 5th snowiest winter on record (and the snowiest since I moved to the Quad Cities in November 2005)!

However, there’s some confusion.  A local newspaper and some local television meteorologists are reporting it as the “snowiest winter” on record.  What they are referring to is the snowiest “meteorological winter” on record.   “Meteorological winter” is the months of December, January, and February.

But, if you use that analogy, do you magically just forget about the snow that falls in October, November, March, and April?  That’s why when we list the snowiest winters on record, the National Weather Service runs the snow totals from summer to summer to cover all the snows from the first to the last.

One thing that isn’t confusing.  It’s the snowiest February on record in the Quad Cities with 21.8″!

Here’s a cool shot of the solar lights around our fish ponds trying to shine through the snow.

Snow globes

Gretel is definitely making the most of the snowy winter.

Gretel Snow HillGretel in Snow

At this point last winter, we had only picked up 14.5″ of snow in the Quad Cities!

“MOST UNPLEASANT CITY RIVALING SOCHI”

How would you like to win that honor?  Russia’s blantant homophobia aside, we’ve heard the less than desirable reports of hotel and facility issues with the 2014 Winter Olympics hosting city.

Now, MissTravel.com, a travel dating site, recently polled more than 3,000 people and asked what the “most unpleasant city rivaling Sochi” is and the winner (or loser) was Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.

In second place was New Delhi, the capital of India.  Also ranking high on the list was Rio de Janerio, the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics!

Two American cities also made the list, Detroit, Michigan and Youngstown, Ohio.

I lived and worked in Youngstown for years from the late 1990s until the summer of 2002 and met some really nice people there.  I hope I don’t lose friends over what I’m going to say.  And, to put a positive spin on the dubious “honor”, I’ll start with a nice photo of Youngstown.

Youngstown 2

When I talk to people about all the places I’ve lived (there have been ten), I refer to the former booming steel town as “the most deplorable city I’ve ever lived.”

I know the loss of the steel mills and jobs, rampant crime, and mob activity took its toll.  From 1930-1960, more than 165,000 people called Youngstown home.  In 2012, the population is down almost 100,000 people to just around 65,000!

Youngstown 1

Sorry, Youngstown.  I guess I’m not alone.

SERIOUSLY, BILLY RAY CYRUS IS BACK ON THE CHART AGAIN!

I was still living in Kentucky, in 1992, when “Achy Breaky Heart, by Billy Ray Cyrus was so popular.  It spent five weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country chart and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

At the time, I was appalled by the song and the fact that we were both from Kentucky.  I was okay with the down home country image that Loretta Lynn portrayed to the world about the Bluegrass state, but not with Cyrus!

Then, when Reba appeared on “TV Guide” with him, I just about died.

Reba Billy Ray Cyrus

Now, I have to admit that I took a chance and listened to the new Buck 22 song, “Achy Break 2”, which features Miley’s dad!  And, Billy, you rock now.

“Achy Breaky 2” is at #80 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is up to #11 on the Hot Rap songs chart!

So, to make amends, here’s a more recent picture of Reba and Billy Ray.

More recent Reba BRC

Billy Ray, this is my sincerest apologies for disliking you so much more than twenty years ago!

One final note is that Buck 22 is Damon Elliott, a well-respected music producer and the son of singer Dionne Warwick!

“ENOUGH SAID”

This little romantic comedy that made $21.8 million at the box office was one of the last roles for the late “The Sopranos” star James Gandolfini.

Enough Said

He and Julia Louis-Dreyfus play a couple of divorcees, Albert and Eve, who meet at a party and start dating.  The only problem is that Eve is the masseuse of Albert’s ex-wife and she starts filling Eve’s head with all of Albert’s faults.

The movie is very touching and very funny.  It’s hilarious to watch these two awkward adults fall for each other.

GRADE:  B+

“CARRIE”

I absolutely love the 1976 original with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie.

Carrie

So, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other when I heard that a remake was coming out.  I love director Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry”, so having her behind the movie helped.  It was also a positive that stars Chloe Grace Moretz (“Let Me In”) and Julianne Moore are incredible.

Carrie

While some of the special effects were awesome, the high school drama seemed very Disney and silly.  Maybe it’s because the original was so creepy that the suspense never built up for me in this one.

For a dollar in Redbox, you might enjoy it.  Otherwise, watch the original.

GRADE:  C

“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”.

“DJANGO UNCHAINED”

I finally got around to seeing my first Quentin Tarantino movie, “Django Unchained”.

Dja

The lengthy, Oscar-winning movie for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Christop Waltz was entertaining and fun.  However, it too long and too much of a joke.

Maybe that was the intent — to make you laugh through the horror that was slavery in America.  Even the shoot outs were jokey and fake with the overkill of blood.  Don’t get me wrong, I love “The Walking Dead”, “Dexter”, “Hannibal”, and “American Horror Story”.  So, I can handle the blood.

After seeing this, I’m really ready to see this subject matter handled accurately with “12 Years A Slave”!

GRADE:  B-

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

In 2014, I’m taking a break from the 1980s music and featuring some of the country songs I loved growing up and when I listened to more country before going pop!

I remember a couple of my favorites from Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers Band.

Gatlin Brothers

From 1973 until their last hit in 1989, the trio reached the Top 40 on the Billboard Country chart 34 times.  Of those, 17 made the Top Ten and 3 topped the chart.

My favorites were “Broken Lady” (#5, 1976) and “All The Gold In California” (#1, 1979).

When researching Larry Gatlin for the chart information, I was surprised to see that he’s very conservative (not a problem) and a regular contributor for Fox News (less comfortable).  So, I was concerned about featuring the song because I didn’t want to promote him if he was anti-gay.  But, I haven’t come across anything to point to that.  Hopefully that proves that you can be a “Christian” and not be anti-gay!

Granted, if I learn otherwise about Gatlin, I’ll come in and delete this and that will be another blog topic altogether!

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

I hope you have a fantastic weekend.  Other than the plans I mentioned earlier, I’m having lunch with Ray and my sister, Tammy, Saturday and enjoying a blizzard tonight!

No, you didn’t miss a weather report.  I’m talking about a Red Velvet Cake Blizzard, silly!

Red Velvet Blizzard

After posting this blog early Friday morning, I added this line Friday afternoon because my local Dairy Queen was out of Red Velvet Cake blizzard!

That might be a good thing because I’m getting mixed reviews about them.  Some say they weren’t good, but I also heard that they excellent.  Oh well, better luck with the next blizzard, Peeps!

Anthony