Friday, September 29, 2006

Now with added categories!

The Manc Blogroll (see right) was getting really, really long - and I've been wanting to break it into categories for a while. Prompted by a timely suggestion from Wodge (whose blog is now all about telly, by the way) I actually did it. The blogroll is now broken up into the following categories:

arts and entertainment blogs
group/organisation blogs
literature/writers' blogs
personal blogs (hoo boy, of which there are many)
political blogs
sport blogs
religious blogs
city blogs (stuff about Manchester specifically)
tech blogs
photo blogs
academic blogs

I went through all the sites and tried to categorise them in a sensible way. Of course, if you don't agree with the category I put you in just drop me a line. But if you're some manner of electro-anarchist and have a problem with putting blogs in boxes, too bad. It's much easier and more orderly this way, and I am a virgo, after all.

While messing about in the template I took the opportunity to add some new blogs in and offload some of the abandoned ones. Too screened-out to do a proper introduction, however, so you'll all just have to introduce yourselves.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The pod people

A few random things to tell you about here. First, Jon of Black Country Grammar informs us that tonight marks the monthly return of noWax, the club night where YOU are the dj, astounding and confounding the other musos in the place with a selection of tracks from your own personal mp3 player, mobile phone, or even, Jon says, a cassette walkman (remember those artifacts?) But he doesn't say if anyone who wants to bust out some Waylon and Willie on their portable 8-track player is welcome. (Remember: "If we don't care for the 8-track, who will"? -- Mr. James "Big Bucks" Burnette)

Anyway, it's at the Bay Horse on Thomas Street from 8 tonight. Anyone who goes along to this also gets free entry to High Voltage later on.

If you're still among the podless, you might be interested in this contest I heard about. Kate Fox of the Mersey Basin Campaign says they're running a photo competition for Mersey Basin Week - the person who submits the best photograph of a MBW event by Oct. 20 will win a brand new ipod. The details are here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bill Clinton, Fox News and YouTube

Here in the states everyone is talking about Bill Clinton's appearance yesterday on a Fox News talk show, where he responded to questions about why he didn't do more to catch Bin Laden after the U.S. Cole bombing with an angry tirade against the Murdoch-owned Fox and the American right.

An English viewer, raised on a diet of the Today programme and Parliamentary catfights, might not understand what all the fuss was about; Though he criticised the Bush administration, Clinton didn't say anything really outrageous. But if you understand the despondent state of the Democratic party in this country, you'll know it's a big deal. Confonted with a feckless Republican administration that has raped the environment, endangered the American citizenry and raided the country's coffers for their own benefit, the left has been almost bizarrely incapable of elucidating a response. Clinton's tirade "gave the democratic party a backbone transplant" as Paul Begala said on one of the morning shows - people are getting angry, and realising that we don't have to put up with this shit.

An interesting side story here is what's happening over on YouTube. Naturally, the folks who didn't see it on TV went there first to watch a video clip, and several people had posted it. But YouTube is taking the Clinton clips down as fast as they're put up, after Fox news threatened them with legal action. People seem to be reposting, but are worried about the site's culpability all the same: " er... how do we protect YouTube from copyright violations?" one YouTuber fretted. "Fox will sue them to kingdom come and get them shut down if we keep on posting, but if we don't, then Fox, big media, and the unjust law wins. Can we post under "Fair Use" or creative commons, or anti-copyright?
Is there any chance for us? Or do we just get battered by the law again and again, until we shut up like good little sheep?"

Political blogging recap

Have been meaning to post a report on the political blogging discussion on Sunday, but had to wait until I arrived in the states to do it. I'm writing this from my parents' spread in Vermont, where I'll be for a couple of weeks. Anyway, the talk went really well. I was so impressed at how well informed everyone was, and was happy that the folks in the audience not only asked questions, but also shared their own opinions. In the end, it turned into a kind of seminar, which was great.

I won't do a long summary here, because Urbis are putting together a podcast of the talk and I'll post a link when it's up. But in the meantime two attendees, Stu at Feeling Listless and Stephen Newton, have filed reports of what transpired - go check 'em out.

A partial list of the other bloggers in attendence included panellists Norman Geras, Bill Jones and Martin Stabe, Roy Johnson, journalist and occasional Blood and Treasure contributor Kevin Gopal, MDDA director Dave Carter (who is starting a blog I hear...) and "lapsed blogger" Kate Taylor.

I'm going to be putting together some more of these talks about blogging and digital discourse, so let me know if there's a topic you think would make a good one. Music blogging and online writing about books and literature are two possibilities.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Grab a pew

This is one clubnight I've never seen in a listings magazine, but anyone with gothy predilections should be interested (if you don't know about it already.) Ara is a monthly night at Sacred Trinity, a beautifully preserved gothic church on Chapel Street. Yep, a clubnight at a church.

I think this is really interesting - there's nothing on the website to suggest they do any proseletyzing on the night, but there's no denying that something like this is a smart idea for a congregation interested in welcoming in a younger demographic. It's not all dancing to Bauhaus and Siouxie, though - They also have books/magazines to read, show films, have art on display and have occasional poetry readings.

There's a long post on Criminally Vulgar
that describes what the night is like, and also talks about a troubling series of events when the place was invaded by some drunk brawlers. If you're going, please be serious and respect the folks putting it together. The very complete and helpful Ara website will tell you everything else you might want to know (the church photo is from there). The next one is tonight, and it's an Adam Ant special. 9-2, £5, BYOB.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Weekend: politicking

Ah, the Labour Party Conference is upon us. It's odd how all the national papers turn themselves inside out with special Manchester supplements detailing the city's cultural delights for the benefit of LPC delegates who will probably spend most of their time attending meetings in some dreary conference centre, or in a smoky pub, schmoozing with other pols and their hangers-on.

A case in point is Time Out Manchester - the sample issue should be out today (even though it was meant to be out yesterday and wasn't, so maybe it won't be.) If it's hard to find, it's being distributed by the WH Smith's in the Arndale, so that might be your best bet. But if you're an LPC delegate, you get one for free.

On Saturday, you might want to dig out that Impeach Bush T-shirt and head over to the antiwar protests outside the G-Mex. More info here. Bring a white sheet or white clothes, preferably spattered with red paint, if you're up for the mass die-in at half two.

Or if you're in more of a musical mood, head over to Platt Fields Park for Cohesion Live, an outdoor concert in aid of a Manchester peace park in Kosovo, featuring Doves, Badly Drawn Boy, Graham Coxon, Elbow, and just about every other reasonably successful local indie band going (doors noon, £20 adv/£25 gate). No pets allowed, so leave that crusty dog on a string at home.

And if you have any energy left when Sunday rolls around, come by the political blogging panel discussion at Urbis, at the very civilised hour of four p.m. It's free, too. That's the last plug, I promise.

(The picture is David Harrison's Bad Fairies, part of the John Moores 24 painting exhibition on display at the Walker in Liverpool. Really amazing show - don't miss it.)

Blogger must advertise

You might have noticed I've finally caved in and signed up for adsense, and I'm in the process of looking for other advertising that isn't going to be too invasive or icky (any advice gratefully received.)

I thought about it, and decided that if everyone accepts that newspapers and magazines need advertising to survive, why should a blog be any different? I know many folks have strong negative feelings about advertising on blogs, but I spend A LOT of time on this site, and this is the only way I know of to get reimbursed for that time... though the payment will probably be so nominal that I'll finally decide it isn't worth it and take the ads off. We'll see - it's a trial.

Couldn't they do something about the ads being so dull, though? Why can't we have clever jingles and witty campaigns, maybe Whiffling 'round the internet? (Oh, see, now that's a reference to a book. I suppose I should whack an Amazon ad thingy for Murder Must Advertise in here. Is that how they do it?)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blogging on the radio

I'm going to be on Alan Beswick's show on BBC Radio Manchester today to talk about the Political Blogging Panel Discussion happening Sunday at Urbis, the upcoming Manchester Blog Awards, and the whole weblog phenomenon. I've been told it'll be on sometime between 2 and 4 pm.

I bet I'm gonna be saying the word "blog" a lot.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The North West Enquirer is dead

I'm sorry to be the bearer of such sad tidings, but I've just learned that the North West Enquirer has folded. As always, money is the issue - I'm told the advertising sales never got off the ground, and even with a beefed-up ad sales team the paper never was able to recover.

Condolences to all the fine folks who worked there and especially to editor Bob Waterhouse, who believes the North West deserves its own intelligent and readable paper. I thought it was quite good, and I know there are a lot of people who will be very disappointed.

The Press Gazette has just put a story online: North West Enquirer goes into administration.

New blog bonanza

Jeez Louise, it's amazing how many Manchester blogs have come out of the woodwork since the nominations opened for the blog awards (we've gotten in quite a few of those already, but be sure to get yours in by Oct. 1 if you haven't already...) Because there are so many new ones to add to the Manchester blogroll, I'm not going to write as much as usual in the way of introduction, but go check them out.

Cygnet's Review is a funny personal blog written by Joel Swann, a student based in Manchester.

While it's not strictly in blog format, fans will be happy to hear that Wayne Clews continues to publish his "Sex and Self Pity" column every week online, long after the demise of City Life.

Keeper of the Snails is the literary blog of author and academic Claire Dudman. Lots of tasty stuff for folks interested in books and that.

Bothered is a shared personal blog written by two girls in Manchester.

Hyde Daily Photos is a really lovely photoblog featuring the work of contribitors Gerald England and Pamela, who snap quotidian scenes of Hyde life, like the photo above from Sept. 16. It's part of the city daily photo blogring, which I hadn't heard about before. Nice idea.

Michael Taylor, an editor based in Cheshire, writes The Marple Leaf, a personal blog with a motto: Be honest - be loyal - be kind. Cool.

The Mersey Basin blog is the online home of the Mersey Basin Campaign: "an organisation which is concerned with water quality, environment, waterside regeneration and community engagement in the catchments of the Ribble and the Mersey. We're based in the Northern Quarter, but have various action partnerships all over the Northwest. Our first blog has been set up to write about Mersey Basin Week 2006 - a series of related events that will take place at the start of October, but as you'll see, it also covers what we're up to at the moment, local watery news, and some other random musing."

Wow, that's a lot of new blogs. If I've missed anyone, let me know.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Guardian's Manchester podcast

I almost missed it, but there was a link on the I've Been There page to a Manchester podcast done by David Ward, one of the few lonely Grauniad journos left here. Billed as an audio guide to Manc, it it promises to "reveal how cafe society changed the city" (Yes, they're serious.)

I just listened to it, and can't say I'm any the wiser about Manchester's cafe society. While the production values were as high as I expected, I found the podcast a bit of a dud. It felt like a school field trip, slogging round the Museum of Science and Industry for an age. And the local experts they chose to interview were - surprise! - mostly Guardian or MEN writers, reeling off the usual suspects in culture, nightlife, food etc. I'd much rather hear from regular Mancs, folks who might say something unscripted, talking about some random club night, un-famous pub or the little curry place on the corner.

To be fair, it's nice to see the Guardian paying any attention at all to Manchester. As a regular reader of both their online and print editions, I frequently get steamed up about how little they ever write about the city ... unless someone gets shot in Moss Side or assaulted in Salford, of course. Unfortunately, this podcast is not something most relatively clued-up Mancunians will derive much benefit from, since it just tells us stuff we already know. It's clearly targeted at older, affluent daytrippers, who probably live down south.

Yeah, it's easy to criticise, but how about coming up with something better? Okay, I'm going to take a podcasting course next month at MDDA (The Oct. 13 one is apparently full, but they're going to do some more, so check their website.) If anyone's interested in doing some podcasting about the real Manchester, get in touch.

Yeah, I've been there

I recently stumbled on this interesting open-source travel/city tips page the Guardian has put together called I've Been There. People recommend different places/sites/activities in their city, and other readers can rate them according to whether they agree or not - the more people agree that something is good, the higher its rating becomes.

There are a lot of good things on here, from The Temple to Yadgar's Cafe, and it's cool to read why people like them. One recommendation is simply an admonition to "avoid the curry mile like the plague." A few are clearly people recommending their own artwork or DJ night, etc, but they're exceptions. And there's even a blog on there, or rather a blogroll ... cheers for the recommendation.

(Temple pic from Flickr snapper hugovk.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Weekend: Biennial madness! (updated)

This weekend it's the opening of the Liverpool Biennial, so if you're even the tiniest bit interested in contemporary art, go check it out sometime in the following ten weeks. The really great thing about the biennial is that so much of the work is in public places, and pretty much all of it is free. The Biennial website should be your first stop when planning a visit, it's got all the maps, schedules and descriptions you could want, but the excellent Art in Liverpool blog is a good place to muck about, too.

The biennial has also an extensive fringe, called the Independents Biennial, which is heavy on Northwest artists and has all kinds of far out stuff going on, from phantasmagorical surreal cabaret to sound art installations in flaming tunnels. Unfortunately, it's pretty hard to figure out what's on when because the independents website has bizarrely been set up as an unsearchable forum, and it's almost impossible to find a specific event, except by accident.

Why is there a picture of Bootsy Collins up there? Grizedale Arts are bringing Bootzilla and Bernie "Woo" Worrell to Liverpool for the Biennial is what I heard. Oh yeah.

Update: Bootsy pulled out at the last minute. Boo.

Manchester Mallrat

Yesterday was my birthday, so I celebrated by giving myself the afternoon off to drift around Manchester doing non-important things in a non-hurried manner. I went by the new Arndale food market, which is quite nice and clean - though they didn't even have any bins yet. It only opened a few days ago, but I heard reports of sushi, so I hustled over.

The sushi is sold by Wing's, which have opened a pan-asian concession that sells pad thai and chinese dishes but also has one of those rotating sushi treadmills with colour-coded plates. I don't like them so much. It's cheaper and nicer to buy it from the sushi "pick and mix" - a rack of frustratingly individually wrapped pieces - where I paid about £4.85 for six pieces, soy sauce, wasabi and ginger (yes, you have to buy the condiments). The selection was really limited - shrimp, salmon, tuna and a number of awful things with tuna salad clearly meant to entice those philistines who aren't keen on raw fish. No unagi, either. The quality was good, the fish fresh - I wondered if it came from the lovely and enormous new fish market round the corner? I'll be going back.

The rest of the market was cool; the best things looked to be Gastronomica, which sells a glorious array of Italian-style dried meats (porchetta sandwiches, etc.), an extensive produce stall and a cute little stand selling fancy tea and scones, where I tried to sell the owner on the delights of boba tea - the iced tea with tapioca pearls that I became addicted to in Taiwan and NY but haven't been able to find over here. I'm not sure she was convinced. The Polish deli is actually more of a Polish grocery, selling cookies and margarine imported from the motherland. Is Polish margarine really that different from British margarine?

Then it was into the new, expanded Arndale Centre. This place now goes on and on forever, like a huge American mall, with a bewildering number of shiny new stores. They've opened the bit called the wintergarden, which I thought had a nice ring to it, but it turns out all that means is part of the mall has a glass roof. It's all so anonymous and generic looking that it made me anxious. Thankfully, they've still got the scrotty old market down in the bowels of the beast, where ten minutes in the warren of stalls hawking mobile phone covers, plastic boots and manicures will make you feel much better.

Before I left, though, I went to check out the new Waterstones Arndale, which is oddly being marketed as a "concept store". I didn't really get the concept. The colour scheme is different - all pale gray and metal to suggest hipness, I guess - but it's basically a smallish Waterstones with a tiny, bizarrely curated magazine section. And I missed David Hasselhoff by about 20 minutes. He had been there signing books, and the staff were all wearing autographed t-shirts that read "don't hassle the Hoff." Can we stop saying that now? I bought Anansi Boys and went to go read it in Cathedral Gardens, and for once it didn't rain.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Time Out plot thickens

Via morning_theft on Manchester's Journal (link tk), some more interesting details about Time Out Manchester to be gleaned from this press release. I'm just pasting it below...

Time Out Manchester special edition for Thursday September 21 - Friday October 20 2006.

Time Out is delighted to announce that it will be making its debut in Manchester this September. Bringing its inimitable and hugely successful blend of definitive, independent information to the city at this time is not a coincidence.

The huge cultural and economic growth seen in the last few years and the spotlight provided by the Labour Party conference in the city for the first time since 1917 has meant that visitor figures are expected to rise in the 'capital' of the North by 17,000 during the Autumn.

Tony Elliott, the founder and owner of the international Time Out brand said, "It is the perfect time to provide this fantastic city with its own 'handbook'. There is so much going on that people need to know about."

The one-off publication will hit the city on September 20 covering Thursday September 21 - Friday October 20 2006 (4 weeks) and be a hybrid between a Time Out visitors' guide and a general listings guide for the city during this period. A weekly Time Out Manchester is planned for spring 2007.

Time Out Manchester grew out of discussions with Manchester City Council and Marketing Manchester about the launch of the weekly title. MCC and MM were enthusiastic about the possibility of a one-off Time Out-branded publication that would celebrate Manchester this Autumn.

Time Out Manchester will have a print run of 30,000 of which around 10,000 will go on sale for 1.50 in Manchester and the North-West; the rest will be given away to the Labour Party delegates (direct to their hotel rooms), via direct mail and to cultural outlets and key distribution destinations throughout the city centre.

The publication will focus on the vitality and vibrancy of the city in the same way as the London edition and is designed to be both useful and exciting to anyone in Manchester in the period.

Editor Bill Borrows, a born and bred Mancunian, heads up a team of new and exciting journalists from the city who will be bringing their knowledge, enthusiasm and talent to the project. Borrows has written for almost every national newspaper, including time as a columnist on the Daily Mirror, and worked for magazines as various as Marie Claire, Red and Maxim (where he was Editor-at-Large) as well as editing magazines for the British Tourist Authority,

SKY and working as a consultant on several others.

Contributors include award-winning food critic Andy Shanahan, Alex McCann (editor of music website, Susie Stubbs (Editor of All Saints, No Sinners magazine), Caroline Shaw (former editor of both Theme and City magazine), author and broadcaster Flic Everett and Elbow frontman and XFM DJ Guy Garvey.

Local photographers and creatives including Peter Saville, architecture specialist Phil Griffin and famous Manc rock photographer Karen McBride have all been commissioned to contribute to the pages.

Looking to the future and to launching a weekly magazine in 2007, Time Out Manchester aims to reflect, document and inform the city with the same level of expertise, outstanding editorial content and definitive listings established and honed over 38 years in London. By working closely with Marketing Manchester, local agencies and organisations Time Out will evolve and develop into a definitive weekly guide for Manchester.

Time Out Group Chairman Tony Elliott adds, "The next 12 months are a tremendously exciting time for the Time Out Group. We are expanding both nationally and internationally, and are greatly looking forward to being involved in this vibrant and vital city and welcoming our Manchester team to Time Out."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Blog awards nominations open: updated

And... they’re off! The blog awards nomination period has now opened. So send in those nominations for the best of Manchester’s blogs in the following four categories:

Best Arts and Culture Blog ( incl. music, photo, art, film, lit, fiction blogs, etc.)

Best Political Blog

Best Personal Blog

Blog of the Year (Open to any kind of blog)

One set of nominations per person, please. And yes, you can nominate your own blog, or someone else’s. Only blogs written by someone who lives or works within reasonable commuting distance of Manchester are eligible.

UPDATED: nominations do not count as votes, so the whole notion of campaigning (ie pestering all your friends all over the world to nominate your blog, or creating fake gmail accounts to in order to flood the inbox with ersatz nominations) is kinda silly. If you want to be considered for a particular category, just nominate yourself fer chrissakes.

Another update: The Manchizzle isn't eligible for any awards, because I'm one of the judges. That would be so wrong.

Please email your nominations to:
The nominating period closes on October 1.

A shortlist of finalists in each category will be chosen from the nominations, and announced in early October. A judging panel (see below) will select the winners from that shortlist. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony during the Manchester Literature Festival, at Urbis, on October 16 at 7pm. There will also be live literature, music and blog readings on the night.

2006 Manchester Blogging Awards
Judging panel:

Dave Carter, Head of the Manchester Digital Development Agency.

Fee Plumley, Manchester Literature Festival, Festival Manager and ‘Freeplay’ Artistic Director

Richard Fair, BBC Manchester

Kate Feld, blogger and freelance journalist

Any questions, email me on themanchizzle at Good luck!

Free podcasting and blogging classes in MCR

The Manchester Digital Development Agency is hosting a nice series of free workshops in podcasting, blogging, and other stuff like that. I'm going to the podcasting one myself. More info here, if you're interested.

Political Bloggers: A Panel at Urbis 24/9

I'm going to be moderating a panel discussion at Urbis later this month - and yes, it's about blogging! Details are below. Please come if you're remotely interested...

Political Bloggers and the New Media Landscape

On 24 September 2006, to coincide with the Labour Party Conference (Sun Sept. 24 – Thurs Sept 28), Urbis will host a panel discussion that will explore the way political bloggers are changing the media.

In the UK, bloggers are increasingly driving the news, and providing a robust and democratic new forum for political debate. A consortium of influential UK political bloggers has just set up their own advertising venture, an indication that blogging has started to reshape the media market. These self-appointed pundits are both reviled as ranting rumormongers and hailed as the prophets of the digital revolution. So what’s the truth – are bloggers setting the news agenda, or is this mostly hype? And will political bloggers put traditional journalists out of work, or can the two work together?

Panelists include:

Norman Geras: blogger, author and professor emeritus at Manchester University, where he taught in the school of government for several years. His mostly political blog, Normblog was voted best UK Blog at the 2005 Weblog awards. He is also an author of the Euston Manifesto.

Martin Stabe is an online reporter for The Press Gazette. He is a frequent contributor to the gazette’s journalism weblog, Blog Watches Dog and he also maintains a blog at, which deals with politics across the Atlantic and across the channel.

Bill Jones
blogs at Skipper, which covers UK politics, parliament and the press. He lives in Stockport and is a semi-retired lecturer at Manchester University specializing in British Politics. He is the editor of the Politics Today series of books published by Manchester University Press.

The event will be run as an informal panel discussion, followed by a question and answer session. Starts at 4pm. Free, booking not required

For more information, get in touch on themanchizzle at

Friday, September 08, 2006

September new blogs

Time to introduce some new Manchester-based blogs. As always, if I've missed anyone, get in touch.

Ickleweb is a photo blog featuring the work of Paul Griffiths, who takes snaps around Manchester and has an endearing regular feature called "bug of the week". Some nice photos up this week of the glass-ceilinged "Winter Gardens" bit of the Arndale which has just opened up. I heard the new food market there is pretty amazing too. Plan on going to check it out next week, and I'll post about it afterwards.

Elizabeth Baines is a writer based in Manchester, and her blog relates frankly and humorously what a writer's life is really like. She has just posted a report on last night's relaunch of the Circle Club, a members-only media industry club which stays open later than the nightclubs, enabling hacks and flacks to continue to get sozzled well into the next day. I almost went along with someone myself but decided to hide out in Fringe Bar instead. This turned out to be a wise decision, if Elizabeth's experience was anything to go by. Networking and burlesque, an odd combination.

Secret Knowledge of Backroads is "dead witty and not even slightly up his own arse." He openly snubbed the blogmeet, but it's all right, we won't hold any grudges. Backroads appears to be based in the general Manchester area, but I can't figure out exactly where. Write in and tell us more about yourself, B, or remain mysterious.

This one isn't a blog, it's more of a website, but it's quite well done. Aidan O' Rourke is a name that may be familar to regular readers of Manchester newspapers, as his photojournalism has been featured in them for several years. Now he's set up Eye On Manchester, which is a straightforward news and photography site; the latest item is about Peter Saville's new signage/logo design for the City of Manchester. Props to Mancubist for the tip, and for bringing Aidan to our last blogmeet. He's a lovely chap, even if he thinks my name is Jane.

Samscam is the personal photo-rific weblog of Sam Easterby-Smith, who is the proud father of recently arrived baby Laurel. This week it's lots of adorable baby photos and videos, and also some helpful information about good butchers round Heaton way.

Last up is the FC United blog run by journalist Paul Edmundson, who regularly writes for the maverick side's matchday programme and unofficial fansite on He has also recently contributed a chapter on Man U and FC United for a book called Rebellion due out in October.

Sorry I was so slow to put these links up, they should be on the blogroll this weekend. Unless the weather's really nice and I don't get around to it ...