Friday, December 22, 2006

Tons of other people are doing it

If anyone's planning on taking part in the flash mob pillow fight in Piccadilly Gardens tomorrow (all info here), you really should read this article first. It's a history of the flash mob phenomenon, written by the guy who invented the flash mob to study the trendmongering social practices of Williamsburg proto-hipsters. I first posted it way back in April. In fact, the article was published almost a year ago, but flash mobs still continue to work their way around the world, and most participants remain oblivious to their origins.

Here's the way Bill Wasik's tale begins:
On May 27, 2003, bored and therefore disposed toward acts of social-scientific inquiry, I sent an email to sixty-some friends and acquaintances. The message began:
You are invited to take part in MOB, the project that creates an inexplicable mob of people in New York City for ten minutes or less. Please forward this to other people you know who might like to join.

More precisely, I forwarded them this message, which, in order to conceal my identity as its original author, I had sent myself earlier that day from an anonymous webmail account. As further explanation, the email offered a “frequently asked questions” section, which consisted of only one question:

Q. Why would I want to join an inexplicable mob?
A. Tons of other people are doing it.

Have fun, kiddies.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Follow the Star

The new edition of the Salford Star, our homegrown bastion of butt-kicking investigative reporting, is out now. It looks to be packed with all manner of Christmas goodies, but the story I'm really itching to read is the long promised MediaPity:UK, a 7-page "study in hypocrisy"concerning the BBC's beleaguered plan to move a chunk of their workforce to the proposed MediaCity: UK complex at Salford Quays.

There's been a lot of speculation lately about whether that move will ever happen. As the BBC looks likely to get less dosh than it's asking the government for, many have predicted that the Beeb will use the funding issue as an excuse to wriggle out of a move that seems to be wildly unpopular amongst the southern majority of its workforce. They're still hemming and hawing.
But the government is making no secret of its support of the plan.

The story is not up on their website, but I can only hope they'll put it up soon, since I could have a hard time getting hold of a copy here in Vermont, where I have arrived for Yuletide

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stu's Review

Erstwhile Mancunian blogger Stuart Ian Burns is halfway through an interesting monthlong project on his blog Feeling Listless, called Review 2006. He's asked readers to send in any question, and he'll answer one a day for the whole of December. But he isn't simply answering these questions - some of which are quite complex indeed - he's using each one as the jumping-off point for a sort of ruminative mini-essay. Past questions have ranged from "Why can't Liverpool FC win away from home?" to "How many girls has James Bond slept with?". He's delved fearlessly into his personal life with toughies like "What would your total fantasy life be like?" (Rosario Dawson and the New Yorker figure prominently) and "Why Stuart Ian Burns, not Stuart Burns?" He's covered blogging, with this one: 'Whenever I think of doing something like a blog, I always worry that anything I write would either sound really pretentious or be very boring. How do you handle those fears and just write?"

And then there's my favorite:
"Throughout most of The Empire Strikes Back, the Millenium Falcon's hyperdrive is not working (should have gone to Kwik Fit!) so it can't travel faster than light! However, there is a point where they travel from the Anoat System to the Bespin system. Separate Star systems would never be less than a couple of light years apart (I presume!), i.e. at least two years travel even if they could attain just a tiny bit less than light speed! It clearly doesn't take them this long, so is it some sort of 'worm-hole' or curved universe phenomena that they utilise to accomplish their trip?" Awesome.
The good news is that you can still get in on this, as Stu's looking for his last ten days' worth of questions, so send yours to There are five flavours of question he will answer:

(a) Personal (egotistical). A question about something that has happened this year or something I've written on the blog that you've wondered about but were too afraid to ask.
(b) Trivia. 'How big is the moon?' or 'How fast is the fastest thing that's ever been fast?' that kind of thing.
(c) Review. What do you think of this album/film/book that I like?
(d) Opinion. See if I can work out something you've been ruminating on. 'Why do people who get on buses always stand near the door when others are patently going to get on after them and they'll be blocking the way?' That sort of thing.
(e) Advice. Dear Stuart, I wonder if you could give me advice about this problem I've been having ...Basically a question about anything.

Go forth and enquire.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Photographer wanted (UPDATED)

This is a personal request. I need a professsional hi-res photograph of myself taken sometime in the next week (it's for the contributors page in an American magazine I write for.) I don't know what the going rate is for this, but I don't have outrageous amounts of money to spend on it.

What I really want is a skill trade - swapping someone's photography for my writing/editing work on their behalf. But if this isn't possible I'm certainly willing to pay for it. Anyone know someone? You can respond in the comments or email me on themanchizzle at gmail dot com.

Update: Sorted! One of our number happens to be an extremely talented photographer, who was kind enough to take some of the nicest pictures of me last weekend. If anyone else needs a headshot for anything, or a wedding photographer, let me know and I'll put you in touch with him - he really is good. Ah, the talents of you blogging folk truly are limitless. Many thanks for all the help/suggestions/advice.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Free gig tonight

Breaking Christmas market update: I just happened to notice on the BBC Manchester website that B-Music have organized a short-order gig there this evening featuring American folkstress Josephine Foster, Voice of the Seven Woods, and Jane Weaver. It kicks off at 6pm in Albert Square. They want you to make an extra effort to come on time so as not to upset the proceedings. Josephine's been described as "delicate" so I hope they're planning on keeping her warm.

All info here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

New Manchester Blogs

Time to introduce the latest shiny new addtions to the Mancunian blogoschmear.

The usual hefty haul of personal blogs:

Ciara Leeming

October Poppy

Rob Adlard

Who does he think he is?

You can't control the message

And two for the music blog category:

Indie Music Blog. No extra points for guessing what that one's all about.

2nd Altos Like the Bottom Parts. A blog about life in the Halle Choir by one of its singers, Jocelyn.

There's a new political blog, On the knocker!

Finally, this one definitely wins the most attention-grabbing name of the week:
Naked Chasm Jumpers
, a general interest blog run by a group of MBA students in Manchester.

Scallies on ice, wursts, and caroling lawyers

Christmas in Manchester. What could be more quaint and Christmassy than an ice-skating rink in scenic olde fashioned Piccadilly Gardens?. On Friday I snuck into the part that's right next to the rink so I could get better shots of the skaters (if the pictures come out okay I'll post them here later.) The first thing you notice is the enormous shocking orange plastic ice skates they make the punters wear. They make hockey skates look like Manolo Blahniks, and it's pretty much impossible to look cool in them.

The skaters seemed to consist mainly of pre-teen kids who were mysteriously not in school. There were a lot of young girls skating around in aloof pairs, stopping frequently to reapply their frosted lip gloss or adjust their sparkly scarf and hat sets. But the best part was watching the scallies on ice, who behaved exactly the same way they do anywhere else. One little scallion in a red and blue tracksuit could really skate, and was playing havoc with the first-timers inching their way around the edges, skating the wrong way and buzzing them like a fighter plane.

If you're looking to get in the Christmas spirit you may want to check out some of the city's christmas concerts. At St. Ann's Church they have a yule-related concert or carols service almost every day this month, including a special one just for lawyers (maybe they need extra help?) Most are free. And over at Manchester Cathedral there's also a whole mess of Christmas music happening, with Manchester Baroque doing Handel's Messiah on the 16th.

One more thing: Avoid the St. Ann's Square Christmas markets on weekends at all costs unless you fancy waiting 40 minutes in the cold for a mug of glauwein and a lukewarm wurst. And if you've never been, a visitor from Nottinghamshire has a thorough write-up of this year's German Market here.