Liverpool Bus Hack.

Liverpool Life Lately for various reasons this past couple of years I've been getting the bus home from the Liverpool One bus station, the 80, the 80s, the 75,the 75a, the 76 and during rush hour such services, despite me only living at Sefton Park, because of rush hour and the process of getting through the traffic in the city, and collecting passengers at the various stops can take up to fifty minutes if I get on at 4pm.

Except this month and next, from the beginning of March to the end of April, due to gas maintenance work on Hanover Street, these buses are not at Liverpool One. They're picking up and dropping off at Great Charlotte Street. Coming into town this means I've been getting off at the old Lewis's building and walking down Raneleigh Street into Hanover Street and onwards to my destination, which I've quite enjoyed, especially being able to pass through WH Smiths at Central (underground) Station on the way.

Coming home, being an entirely lazy human and wanting to avoid the crush of Great Charlotte Street in rush hour and all the "hey, there's a queue here" moans which come with that bus stop, I decided to throw out convention and catch a 27 bus, the Sheil Road circular to close to home and walk from there instead. I assumed this would cock up the whole routine, making the process of coming home even more taxing.

Um, no. It's not worked out that way. In fact, I can't imagine why I didn't think of this before.

Catching the 27 cuts out the whole of the city centre. Travelling towards Parliament Street thence to Park Road to Princes Avenue takes about ten minutes, twenty minutes shorter than it takes to get through the city street on the edge of being engulfed by rush hour traffic. Then, being as I said inherently lazy and with a Day Rider or Saveway-type ticket, I've jumped off the 27 and onto a 75 which has taken me to my usual bus stop near home.

A home I've now getting to a full half hour less than I have for the past two years on those days. Like I said, I can't imagine getting a different bus from there now.

Some notes:

-- This can only work with these buses. Even when they return, this will not save you from the murder of the 86 or 86a. Unless you get the 27 to Princes Avenue swap to a 80 or 75 then swap again on Smithdown Road at the stop near the post office. This seems like it could be unnecessarily complicated, but I guess there are probably enough 86s on the roads that the wait times will still be shorter than the mess of getting out of the city centre on a busy day.

-- This happened on Monday:


On Tuesday I missed the 27 (though they run about every five minutes) and this queue, which looks like a daily occurrence seems actually to have been for the X1, the Runcorn express bus which goes up the Dock Road to Aigburth Road and seems to be the way that people who'd usually get the 82 skip the city centre themselves. Quite how the gentleman expected me to know this, I'm not sure.

My Favourite Film of 2005.



Film The other key film during my film studies days was Don Roos's Happy Endings which was the reason I ended up writing a dissertation about hyperlink cinema. The original subject was metafiction in Woody Allen's films, notably Annie Hall, Deconstructing Harry and one other which I could never quite decide on, but after reading around on the topic I realised that very little had been written about the topic in film terms at that time which meant I'd spend most of my time reading literary criticism and I didn't want to do that. Luckily I happened to be reading Jason Kottke's blog one afternoon and noticed him writing about hyperlink cinema and the article's he linked to became the backbone of what I'd spend the rest of that summer writing and led to the ability to say that I actually wrote about Richard Curtis's Love Actually for my dissertation.  Actually.  The guts of what I wrote about that film is here and I had planned to write something just as long about why Happy Endings isn't rubbish, but having reviewed the chapter it turns out I wrote a lot more about what Curtis did than either Altman (in Short Cuts) or Roos presumably because there was a lot more to say about it but also because I sensed, I think, that Happy Endings isn't really a hyperlink film, but an ensemble piece more akin to Hannah and her Sisters or Parenthood with its familial connections and the like. Expect spoilers.

Narrative.

The narrative in Happy Endings is closer to the more straightforward structure presented in most ensemble films with just three stories running in parallel. Don Roos identifies his work as a comedy ‘but obviously gets deeper’ (Johnson, 2005) and is not tied to a familiar generic story pattern. Quart confers hyperlink cinema status on the film because of the complexity with which those stories are told: ‘Roos takes the baggy plotting of the Altman picaresque into web territory: in Happy Endings playing games with time and personal history are a given’ (Quart, 2005: 48). Roos’s motivation for using the form was similar to both Altman and Curtis: ‘There’s not one story line that has to deliver everything […] because you have several stories, the audience can be freshened up. They can feel different things as they go from story to story’ (Johnson, 2005). The film opens with Mamie running into the path of a car, flashing back to the moment when she and Charley conceived their son and the aftermath, then forwards again to the scene when Mamie meets Javier for what appears to be a regular meeting. From here the film unfolds fairly conventionally, with three forms of disruption occurring in the set-up – Nicky blackmails Mamie into helping him make a film so that he can get the information about her son, Charley begins to suspect that Max might be his partner Gil’s son and Otis introduced Jude to his life, his house and his father. The connections between the characters are obvious from then on because Roos was wary of trying the force the connections: ‘I don’t like it when they all kind of connect co-incidentally at the end. Like Crash (2005) they all connect to something and I prefer it when its casual’ (Roos el al., 2005).

Narrative density is increased however because of the employment of non-diegetic captions that interrupt the mise-en-scène, presenting information regarding the characters and story outside of exposition within dialogue. The first instance is after the Mamie’s shocking motor accident to explain to the audience that ‘She’s not dead. No one dies in this movie, not on-screen. It’s a comedy, sort of.’ These effectively introduce an extra level of subtext into each scene, with details that the spectator would not otherwise have been aware of, impacting upon their relationship to the action, potentially increasing their level of suture because the concentration of information being presented is greater than the standard shot/reverse shot. In his opening scene Nicky is introduced to the audience before Mamie enters the cafĂ©, and the caption explains that ‘Nicky is 25, oldest of three kids. He has a gun which he is realizing he left in the car. He has to pee’, de-threatening the character and changing the tone of the ensuing scene outside of the diegetic space (one wonders for his example if some of Nicky’s desperation is as a result of body functional needs). The implications and meaning of these captions change on subsequent viewings – it is later revealed that Nicky is the adopted older brother of the boy that Mamie could not abort. Note that these captions only ever complement the action and never intrude on scenes presenting important verbal or visual narration – usually action will pause (as occurs with Nicky’s introduction) or be of a humdrum nature (Mamie’s arrival at the salon) – so that the attention of the audience is still directed in a linear fashion.

The captions eventually restructure the climax, because once the narrative reaches its apparent conclusion, Roos explains the fates of the characters, sometimes years or decades after the timeframe of the film. Unlike the ‘where are now section’ of National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) or Friday Night Lights (2004), as Victor Morton identifies there are ‘enough changes in fortune (i.e. drama) to make a whole new movie. Compressed into three minutes. And then with a coda of its own’ (Morton, 2005). It could be inferred that this is partially the result of the editing process, since as with Love Actually the first assembly was three hours long and so the director needed to ‘cut a lot of scenes when it was done’ (Lee, 2005). Like Curtis but unlike Altman, Roos appears locked into a need to complete the narrative structure identified by Todorov, even if it means increasing the plot duration exponentially. The closing montage sequence includes a flash forwards ten years to show Mamie and Charlie meeting their son possibly completing both of their story arcs but in other cases the captions present exposition that reaches even further than that - it is explained that Otis ‘watches Ted and Charley’s dogs sometimes and never plays the drums again. But in 20 years he’s happier than anyone else here. But that’s another story.’ Indeed, this whole section also allows new key character relationships to be created and their ‘happy endings’ sometimes occur because of these chance or synchronous meetings, running counter to the normal expectations of hyperlink cinema that such incidents will motivate the central action.

Protagonists.

By producing Happy Endings as an ‘independent’ film, Roos is able to make two of these characters gay without their stories being about their sexuality: ‘It’s a rare studio movie that you can talk about the things I want to talk about. You can have gay characters in a studio movie, but it has to be about them being gay, or else they’re the sidekick. […] You can’t really talk about the love life of a gay man, like I did in The Opposite of Sex (1998)’ (Cavagna, 2005). Despite Alyssa Quart’s insistence that the characters exist without hierarchy (Quart, 2005: 51) each of the three stories has a main protagonist. These are clearly Mamie and Charley; and although Roos thinks of the third as being Jude’s tale -- ‘The girl meets the boy, she changes her mind, she attaches herself to the father, she blackmails the boy to keep silent, she finds out in the meantime she’s fallen in love with the father, she’s exposed, she has to give him up’ (Cavagna, 2005) – the narrative and mise-en-scene suggest this is Otis. Jude’s appearance creates the disruption in his life and it is only when he has left that the equilibrium returns; in the scene after the band rehearsal Otis’s nervy reactions appear in relative close-up as he leans against the counter and the reverse shot is over his shoulder and the spectator enjoys his long shot point of view as Jude riffles through the kitchen looking for food, with the camera in a later seduction scene angled in such a way that Otis’s reactions are prioritised over hers. In the main, Jude appears antagonist to Otis’s protagonist.

Conclusion.

See what I mean? Apart from odd lines noting how the architecture in the houses between the characters reflects their class and how Roos has a better idea of representing diversity in his film, although it's still with a secondary character.  The key element which gave Quart and others the impression that they were watching something akin to Short Cuts must be the on-screen captions but the rest of it simply isn't akin to Crash or indeed Love Actually in how the stories are told.  But it is still a remarkable film, because of those captions, because of the performances notably from Maggie Gyllenhaal whose character, a singer, contributes to one of my favourite film soundtracks.  It's on this blog's old Forgotten Films list and although I haven't seen it recently images are stuck in my head.  Images like:



Bibliography.

Cavagna, Carlo. 2005. Interview: Don Roos. In. AboutFilm. Available at: http://www.aboutfilm.com/features/happyendings/roos.htm. Accessed: 17th July 2006.

Johnson, Tonisha. 2005. Happy Endings: An Interview with Director Don Roos, Jesse Bradford and Jason Ritter. In. Black Film. Available at: http://www.blackfilm.com/20050715/features/happyendint2.shtml. Accessed: 17th July 2006.

Lee, Michael J. 2005. Don Roos. In. Radio Free Entertainment. Available at: http://movies.radiofree.com/interviews/happyend_don_roos.shtml. Accessed: 17th July 2006.

Morton, Victor. 2005. Tone Deaf: 'Happy Endings' Can't Get It Right. In. TheFactIs.org. Available at: http://www.thefactis.org/default.aspx?control=ArticleMaster&aid=1048. Accessed: 17th July 2006.

Quart, Alyssa. 2005. Networked. In. Film Comment. 41:4.

The Origins of Auteur Theory.



Film A short introduction from Filmmaker IQ. Worth looking at this piece on Bayhem and The Wes Anderson Collection for a discussion of this within a contemporary context.

"CSN without the Y"

Music On the occasion of the loss of filmmaker Albert Maysles, Diffuser looks at his work on concert films and more widely how there's a huge difference between a standard recording of a set and what's achieved when someone with a sense of narrative and wider context is involved. There are some interesting nuggets throughout, like this on Woodstock:
"Michael Wadleigh’s Woodstock documentary makes similar historical omissions for various reasons. Turning three days of peace, love and music into three hours of cinema mandates that some artists simply aren’t going to make the final cut. Additionally, technical issues seriously affected footage of some bands, and in a couple of cases artists didn’t want anything to do with the film.

"Neil Young stands as the most famous of the latter group. Crosby, Stills and Nash’s acoustic set remains a highlight of the movie, but their electric set with their fourth member is lost to the ages because Young refused to play with Wadleigh’s camera crew on stage, feeling that they were too invasive. As a result, the Woodstock mythology remains cemented as a wonderful night for CSN without the Y."
The BBC's Glasto coverage ever expands but even then some bands find themselves omitted because the BBC doesn't happen to be covering a given stage. Or as with Young, the band decides they don't want to available on iPlayer for the following month.

The Doors in New York City.

Photography From npr, the kind of story which doesn't work on the radio:
"Between November 1975 and September 1976, a man named Roy Colmer decided to photograph New York City's doors. Not all of New York City's doors. No doors in particular. And in no real particular order. But his aptly named Doors, NYC project amounted to more than 3,000 photos, which now live with the New York Public Library.

"If you're like me and want to obsessively look at every single one, the best way to do that is here. But then, I did that so you don't have to. Firstly, note the door on the bottom left. For every dozen-ish nondescript doors, you'll find a little treat — like a poster of a cat ..."
My favourite? The one which says boldly, "CLOGS OF COURSE" because of course, clogs.

What made me a feminist?

Life Why do I think the way I do?

This isn't the first time I've wondered this and since it's International Women's Day, I thought I'd attempt to trace through my memory to try and work out why I think the way I do about, well everything.

Have I always thought this way?

Quite honestly I don't know.

The only reason I'm asking is because there seem to be so many people who for some reason don't and I feel sorry for them and don't unlike them think they're entitled to have that opinion, not in 2015.

I do have some memories.

My first two best friends were girls, I think because their Mums were my Mum's best friends. I have photos of a birthday party at about the age of five, the three of us sitting around the birthday cake.

At primary school, I remember the story books and later on text books featuring the usual gender roles. Men went out to work. Mothers were housewives.

All my real friends were girls. I have vivid memories of sunny break times sitting in grass and making daisy chains when all the rest of the boys played football. I had friends who were boys but it wasn't same. I didn't like football.

That hasn't really changed. I find women much easier to talk to than men.  I still don't like football.

Except when I began secondary school, it was an all boys school and just as puberty hit, I lost the ability to talk to girls. I'd get nervous. Odd. All my friends were male for years.

Then girls arrived in the sixth form and they were utterly brilliant and thought so even though I couldn't speak to most of them.

There was also the moment at university at a hall formal, which was at a hotel, stuck on a toilet overhearing two blokes at the urinals outside referring to potential conquests as "the blonde one" and "the ginger" and wincing and wishing to god I'd never be anything like them.

I was also bullied a lot at school which has led to a dim view of any kind of oppression.  Gender, race, anything.

Is any of this really relevant? I don't know. Probably not.

But what I'm trying to say is that I can't remember the moment when I became a feminist or at least thought women should have the same rights as men. There's no one thing which made me "get it".

I've just always thought so and can't understand why anyone wouldn't.

Is this unusual? I don't know that either.

People just have the experiences they have I suppose. I was reading Woman Woman comics at an early age. Watched a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation as a teenager and I expect a lot of my liberalism can be traced back to that. Reading Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and Chaucer and being shocked at the treatment of women in those by societies of the past. Listening to a lot of female singer songwriters dealing with their experiences through lyrics. Tending to identify with female protagonists in films more than men.  Reading The Guardian's Woman pages.

See what I mean?  It's all a bit woolly.

If anything it's become even more focused this past few years, thanks to social media, reading feminist writing, watching my way through this and the general sense of injustice but knowing full well I'm not the right gender to really understand what it's like to live within a patriarchal society, or as I've taken to calling it "the fucking patriarchy".

I have no answer.  So I'll just be pleased that I can see it and hope that someday everyone will.