Category Archives: Books

New Tales of the City

“When I first got off the bus years ago, I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
—Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton in Tales of the City

Oh, yes, Mary Ann, in this you are not unique. The first time I was in San Francisco, I had exactly the same feeling.*

And now, thanks to Netflix, we’re going home again.

“inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.”

Tales of the City had its start as a three-times-a-week serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Author Armistead Maupin mixed real and (mainly) fictional characters to capture the essence of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Maupin succeeded in doing for The City what Tom Wolfe failed to do for New York in Bonfire of the Vanities, probably the most overrated novel of the late 20th century. The column became must-read material, and a cult was born.

The first novelization of the serial was published in 1978, followed by five more volumes published at two-year intervals, with three more books released after a 20-year gap.

In 1993, Channel 4 (UK) turned the first book into a superb miniseries, which was shown on PBS in the US in early 1994. Here’s the trailer:

Good news! That original series is currently streaming on Acorn.

The new series will be released on Netflix on 7  June  2019.

Bonus Track

The great Laura Linney makes an uncredited appearance in this video for the also-great Aimee Mann. Watch closely, and see if you can spot her.

* Granted, I also had exactly the same feeling the first time I was in London, and the first time I was in Paris. Never had it in my own hometown,  though, for some reason….


Florence + the Machine — “Jenny of Oldstones”

Here’s Florence + the Machine’s full-length version of “Jenny of Oldstones”, the song that played during the end credits of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, Sunday night’s somber episode of Game of Thrones. The opening lyrics are by George R. R. Martin.

Spoilers, if you haven’t yet seen S08 E02. But of course you have, by now.

Brienne of Tarth

Brienne of Tarth

After Killing Eve — Witches and Vampires and Demons, Oh, My!

Immediately following  tonight’s season premiere of Killing Eve, BBC America will screen the first episode of the well-reviewed British supernatural series A Discovery of Witches, based on the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The first eight episodes ran in the UK last Fall, and the series has been renewed for two more seasons.

I’m liking the rich Venice and Oxford settings, which are a long way from Sookie Stackhouse’s Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Killing Eve Returns Tonight

Killing Eve returns tonight at 8 PM ET with an episode called “Do You Know How to Dispose of a Body?” on both BBC America and AMC.

Six Minutes of Villanelle

Here are some memorable Villanelle scenes from the first season of Killing Eve. Warning: Huge Spoilers if you haven’t seen the first series.

Killing Eve Season 2 — Teaser Trailer

I’m far from the only person who thought BBC America’s Killing Eve was the best new TV series of 2018. Metacritic reported that Killing Eve appeared on more critics’ 2018 Top Ten lists than any other show, The Guardian and Time named it best of 2018, and the Tomatometer stands at 97%.

And then there’s this, from Netflix:

The thing is, Killing Eve isn’t a Netflix show; it streams on Hulu. Netflix demonstrated real class by promoting programming on a rival streaming service, simply because the show is so damn good.

For those arriving late, Sandra Oh plays Eve Polastri, a mid-level civil servant convinced that a female hired killer is behind a string of assassinations. That leads to her recruitment by a shadowy little MI-6 operation run by Fiona Shaw’s Carolyn Marten. The assassin is Villanelle, the charming, stylish, and very funny psychopath played by Jodie Comer.

When BBC America saw what it had with Killing Eve, it commissioned a second series of the show before any episodes of the first season had aired. Very smart move, BBC America.

That second series will begin its run on 7 April 2019.*

Highest Recommendation.

*That’s one week before the 14 April 2019 return of Game of Thrones.

“April is the cruelest month”? Ha! T. S. Eliot obviously didn’t subscribe to the right streaming services.

Game of Thrones Season 8 — New Teaser, and an Official Start Date

This teaser, called “Crypts of Winterfell”, shows most of the surviving Starks assembling in front of statues of several of their less fortunate relatives.

I usually spend the last few hours of 14 April trying to figure out things like how to claim all that Halloween candy I bought as a charitable donation on my income tax forms—a little iffy, since I didn’t get any trick-or-treaters on Halloween, so I ate it all myself—but this year will be different.

Game of Thrones will return for its eighth and final season on 14 April 2019. By my count, that’s 90 days.