Category Archives: Writing

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….

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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

Colette — Official Trailer

This could be very, very good. Keira Knightley is getting raves for her performance as Gabrielle Colette.

Colette was many things: Actress, journalist, and nominee for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Katherine Anne Porter wrote that Colette “is the greatest living French writer of fiction; and that she was while Gide and Proust still lived.”

While she’s generally regarded as one of the preeminent novelists of the 20th century, she’s probably best known in the US for her 1944 novella, Gigi, which Lerner and Loewe turned into a stage production and Vincente Minnelli adapted as a film.

The Real Colette, in 1906.

And her life!  Her first husband, Willy, published her early works under his name instead of hers, taking the credit and keeping the royalties for himself.  When she was less prolific than he wanted, he kept her locked in a room until she’d produced what he thought was a sufficient number of new pages.

Even before the inevitable divorce, she had begun to live exactly as she pleased, taking both male and female lovers, often considerably older or younger than herself. (One of her two later marriages broke up after she seduced her 16-year-old stepson.)

When she died at 81, the Catholic Church refused to give her a religious burial. France, on the other hand, honoured Colette by making her the first female French writer to be given a state funeral.

She’s buried at Père-Lachaise cemetery, along with Oscar Wilde, Guillaume Apollinaire, Marcel Proust, Sarah Bernhardt, Marcel Marceau, Honoré de Balzac, Gertrude Stein, Rosa Bonheur, Frédéric Chopin, Marcel Proust, Isadora Duncan, and, of course, Jim Morrison.

Colette opened in New York and Los Angeles last weekend. The current Tomatometer reading is 92%.

The Good Place Returns, Not a Minute Too Soon

Important

As of this week, the first two seasons of The Good Place are streaming on Netflix. This is one show that must be seen from the start. You have time. The third series premiere is on Thursday, 27 September, so you can easily binge the backlog by then.


The Good Place, the funniest, smartest, most original American sitcom since the first three seasons of Arrested Development, will be back with new episodes later this month. Kristen Bell plays Eleanor Shellstrop, who discovers, post mortem, that she’s wound up in The Good Place, even though she clearly doesn’t belong there. Ted Danson gives what might be the best performance of his v long career as Michael, the architect of The Good Place.

In the first episode, he tells Eleanor that most religions only got things about 5 percent right in describing the afterlife. But then there was Doug Forcett.

And here, Michael explains how people make it into The Good Place:


Even Better

The supporting cast—D’Arcy Carden, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, and William Jackson Harper—are all just about perfect.

I mean, what the fork are you waiting for?

Dorothy Parker 125th Birthday Celebration

Wish I were in New York for this year’s birthday party! Here’s what’s happening at the Celebration.


“In youth, it was a way I had
To do my best to please,
And change, with every passing lad,
To suit his theories.

“But now I know the things I know,
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you!”

—“Indian Summer” by Mrs Parker