Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!

A happy holiday to one and all. Catch you in 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Queerupnorth faces Arts Council axe

A blogger involved with Manchester's gay and lesbian arts festival has written to say that queerupnorth are one of the couple hundred regularly-funded arts organisations in England who may lose a significant portion of their funding in the Arts Council's latest reorganisation. He writes:

"Arts Council England plans to end funding to queerupnorth from April 1st 2008. queerupnorth is the UK’s leading lesbian and gay arts festival, a Manchester institution, and the only organistion of its type in the UK with an local, national, and international reputation.

queerupnorth will be appealing this cancellation of funding; Arts Council’s Regional Board, chaired by Tom Bloxham, will meet on January 25th to consider the appeal.

queerupnorth is an important arts festival with a key role to play in portraying the LGBT community in a positive light and in challenging complacency, discimination and homophobia, which remain challenges to be faced in our society - all from a bona fide arts platform that enriches community life for all in the Manchester area."

Follow this link to find out more about the festival's campaign.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ambition and distraction

Here's a whole family-size tin's worth of new Manchester blogs for our blogroll. Tasty.

Manchester Libraries have entered the blogging action with The Manchester Lit List, full of news about readings and events, book groups and mini author profiles.

Another foodie blog! This one features the culinary adventures of GastroGrrl... restaurant reviews and meditations on food, cooking and eating.

Mel's Bog Blog is the blog of Manc artist Melanie Warner of the aformentioned Bog Standard Gallery.

Still on the artistic tip, Paw Quality Comics is the blog of comic artist Jim Medway. As you'd expect, lots of great illustrations as well as news about openings and workshops and discussions of the comic art.

Manchester Photography is a blog about photography and Manchester, from Mark Page. For Frock's Sake! is a blog about fashion and styling from Zo, a stylist based in the city.

Equine Obesity is not about fat horses. It's a personal blog written by Fathorse, a student who lives in the city.

Where's Wigan? is the personal blog of Robin, a New Yorker who recently moved to deepest Lancashire. God, can you imagine how crazy a transition that must be? Ho ho ho...Who is that girl? is another personal blog. The Thirsty Gargoyle is another personal blog, and at the moment it seems to be mostly about the work of Alan Moore, the best comic book writer to ever worship a snake-headed Roman sock puppet. Also possibly the best comic book writer ever.

As we giveth, so we taketh away: I am going to be doing a clear-out of blogs that haven't been updated in the last few months or have ceased to exist. If yours is removed but your new year's resolution is to blog more in 2008, just let me know and I'll put you back on the blogroll.

RenterGirl in the Guardian

Yes, it's another "Manchester blogger makes good" post. Y'all are just so darn talented these days. Our MBA best new blog awardee RenterGirl has a nice big feature on the front page of the Guardian's Society section today. Called "Lost in Neverland," it's about the perils of living in a rented new-build apartment in the city centre - essentially a short n' sweet version of her blog. Well done!

Curiously, the article never mentions Manchester - perhaps the Guardian wanted to help it appeal to urban nomads all over the UK? Or maybe they were trying to shield the actual location of Dovecot Towers to prevent reprisals from angry landlords?

Another interesting thing is that RenterGirl has dropped her anonymity for the article and used her real name, Penny Anderson. Penny's a freelance journalist based in the city whose professional writing experience clearly shows in the polished tone of her blog. It's interesting how anonymous bloggers find they can't keep their identities a secret anymore when they cross over to print (see Single Mother on The Verge/Maria Roberts) but I guess it's not surprising. Most newspapers, mags and publishers aren't down with anonymous bylines, at least not for stuff that's based on real-life experience.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Do try this at home

Manchester is a great city for art. Yeah, we don't have a Guggenheim or a Tate, but the full spectrum of what you can see and do here as an artist or art lover is pretty amazing. I just wrote a piece for Art World Magazine about people who start galleries in their homes and in other non-traditional places, inspired by seeing a few around these parts, and in the process of reporting it I discovered a few more.

In addition to the venerable Apartment, located in a flat in what has to be one of the most culturally-leaning council tower blocks in the land, Lamport Court (also home to a literary magazine and at least a couple of musicians who record there), we've got Twenty + 3 projects, an art gallery in the front room of a terrace in Whalley Range, and Porch Gallery, the entrance vestibule of a house in Chorlton which is periodically turned into a kind of contemporary art vitrine.

And then there are totally off the wall things, like Bog Standard Gallery: Artist and recent MMU grad Melanie Warner turned a portaloo into a mobile mini artspace. It's currently at Urbis, exhibiting a series of Warner's photographs of toilet signs around the world.

Want more? Look out for exhibitions in abandoned buildings, private homes or utterly random locations around the city ( from folks like Interval, or Forbidden Arts.) Established art institutions like Castlefield Gallery are doing and supporting off-site stuff too. They recently did a show at the grand old derelict fire station near Piccadilly. Someone had to clean up A LOT of pigeon shit.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Blogging workshop in January

Chris of Mancubist and I are going to be holding another blogging workshop in the New Year, thanks to the lovely folks at MDDA and the Manchester Literature Festival. The workshops booked up in October super fast, so if you want in don't delay.


So You Wanna be a Blogstar?
With Kate Feld of The Manchizzle and the Manchester Blog Awards, and Chis Horkan of Mancubist

1 – 3 pm Saturday, January 19 2008
MDDA, Portland Street.

After a huge demand for our blogging workshops during last year’s Literature Festival, we’ve decided to hold another one for those who might have missed out in October.

In this hands-on workshop, we’ll look at the elements that go into successful blogs, and discuss the finer points of style, design, focus, and attracting readers. We’ll also take you though the applications and add-ons that can make your blog function more professionally. This workshop will suit someone who’s familiar with the basics of blogging but wants to progress to the next level.

Wireless available on site for laptops, or workstations provided – please specify your needs when booking. Limited to ten places. Book by calling the Manchester Literature Festival office on 0161 236 5725, or by emailing

Another Manchester blogger lands book deal

And we're back. I went by the ice rink in Piccadilly yesterday afternoon, which wasn't so festive. A few people were skating (and falling) through puddles in the rain, but the big screen made it all look very Blade Runner.

Some exciting news to report: Manchester freelance writer Maria Roberts, who (until now) has been anonymously writing Single Mother on the Verge, has just landed a deal with Penguin for a book based on her wry and funny semi-confessional blog. Maria has published several short stories and is a former City Life hack who has recently been working with Literature North West, and it's nice to see her hard work paying off.

And you may note that Maria is the second of this year's crop of Manchester Blog Award winners to get a book deal.(Not that the award had anything to do with Chris Killen's, but still.) Maria credits the award with raising her blog's profile and boosting her own confidence in her writing, both of which helped her land the publishing deal. And I've heard something about a third blog award winner being commissioned to write a blog-inspired column in one of the nationals... sheesh. Do we know how to pick 'em?

Santa's sack is bulging with new blogs for me to add to the blogroll, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Two things

Those folks at the Guardian just love Manchester blogs: MBA best new blog winner Renter Girl is the latest to be featured in its hallowed pages. An excerpt from her blog appears on Page 2 of today's Society section - a really nicely-written bit about the cleaner at her infamous abode, Dovecot Towers. Well done!

Another Blog Awards winner, Chris Killen of Day of Moustaches, has embarked on a very interesting project: The Cat Boat.

There are some cats on a boat. The boat is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There are some cats on it. The cats are in charge of the boat. There are one hundred and fourteen cats on the boat. The cats have given the boat a name. They have called the boat ‘The Cat Boat’. The boat is like a pirate ship, but with cats on it instead of pirates.

The cats take it in turn to ‘man the rigging’ and ‘carry the Christmas pudding’ and ‘play the record album’. The cats are listening to Tunnel of Love by Bruce Springsteen on repeat. This is their favourite album. It is somehow easier to take songs about low-down American drifters and transmute that experience into the experience of some cats on a boat, than it is, for instance, to take some songs about gangs or about love and transmute those.

Here is the list of 114 cats on the boat.
Killen is inviting writers to send in each cat's story, which he will then post on his blog. Lots of good stories there already, but lots of good cats left. There is also a "Tunnel of Love" drawing competition (see the example above.) Go write about cats! My favourite cat is whatthehellamidoingwhyaminotworkingonmynovel?, which really sums up this whole post perfectly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Scary new blogs

Boo! We have spine-tingling music blogs, a ghoulish food blog, and even a blood-curdling new home for Cheshire blogs. Yes, I know. I'm about to carve up a pumpkin with a big sharp knife, and am very excited about Halloween. Always loved Halloween. Dressing up and looking scary! Black nail polish! Bela Lugosi's Dead! It's the favorite holiday of lapsed goths the world over.

First up is Northernights, which is the blog that goes along with the Manchester-oriented clubbing and music site run by Manc journalist and diamond geezer Danny McFadden. Recent posts include a recap of the Ting Tings' recent single launch gig at Islington Mill, something I meant to get to but was overcome with inertia and lassitude. Now it's like I was there!

Danny was kind enough to send another music blog my way: Well plastic yeah?

I love it when people get organised. Liverpool Blogs is going strong, and now we have inspired another regional bloghub neighbour: The Deva Station is "A roll call of Cheshire blogs" started by Chester-based journalist Louise Bolotin. And now I'm curious: what is the Deva Station? Is it a secret place only people in Cheshire know about?

A new (mainly) political blog: The Obscurer, which is written by Quinn, who also sent word of Occupied Country, a photo blog by Steve from Oldham. Some really lovely shots of Manc on there.

And we have a new food blog again this week. Around the world in 80 dinners is Robert Hamilton eating in different city restaurants, complete with pictures - recent forays include Luso, Fatoosh and the excellent-sounding Jati. I'm always happy to find another independent restaurant blogger, since many of the local sites out there that cover Manc restaurants are also selling websites or ads, and it's hard to trust them not to be influenced by that. And anyone interested in food and restaurants should check out the UK messageboard on Chowhound - lots of good Manchester reccs on there if you search.

NaNoWriMo time again

For the second year in a row I'm going to be one of the thousands of folks all over the world trying to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Yep, it's National Novel Writing Month. Gulp.

It is utterly mad, but not impossible. You have to write about 1500 words a day, which is manageable, I think, if you have a lot of time to devote to it and can be merciless with yourself about not taking a day off. Not even Sundays. I did it last year, but was less militant about days off than I should have been, and had to make up for my slackness at the end. This year will be different, dammit!

There are quite a lot of folks in Manchester taking part. If any of you bloggers are in there, give me a shout: my codename is yankunian. And if anyone's thinking about it, I'd urge you to try it. It's a very effective kick in the ass for lots of people, and kind of fun, when you aren't tearing your hair out.

Of course, all that novelwriting means my blogging will suffer, but I'll try to check in once a week or so and keep updating the blogroll with those pesky new blogs that keep cropping up all over the place. And someone mentioned the possibilty of a Manchester Bloggers' gathering in December. A Chrismukkah blogmeet maybe?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Attack of the new blogs

Now that the frenzy of the MLF and blog awards has dissipated, and I'm starting to claw my way back to something resembling normal life, here's a whole bunch of new blogs I've been meaning to add to the blogroll for some time:

Almost Witty is the "anecdotes of a reluctant thirty-something UK man in Manchester mildly obsessed by all things film, comedy, media, music, dating, the internet world and this thing we call life."

is the personal blog of a shadowy "Lancashire Lad."

Epicly Carnage
is the personal photoblog of Gil Swerts.

Geekinetics is Fee Plumley's (formerly of Fee Fi Fo Fum) new blog about "evolving forms of theatricality & digital scenographies through internationally collaborative creative praxis." The word praxis sounds kind of scary, doesn't it?

The dictionary of Oscar Macsweeny is a Manchester-based fiction blog. Apparently no relation to Timothy McSweeney.

Secret Lunch is described by its author as "a manchester-
restaurant-review-spouse-abuse-rant-blog." Definitely the first one of those we've had.

Belinda Webb wrote in to say hello. She's a writer and Manchester native (now living in That London.) She says: "I have my first novel, A Clockwork Apple, due out in April 08 which is about a raging girl gang who traipse the streets of Manchester! It is, in part, hommage to that other Mancunian, Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange!" You can check our her blog here, in which she weighs in on the Amis/Eagleton cat fight.

I'm also adding a link to the MEN's stable of blogs. Many thanks to online editor Sarah Hartley for reminding me. She writes the "Life Through Food" blog which, since we now have two food and drink blogs, joins a shiny new category. Any more?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Manchester Blog Awards: 2007 Winners

And the winners are...

Best Personal Blog: Single Mother on the Verge

Best New Blog: Rent Girl

Best Arts and Culture Blog: Mancubist

Best Political Blog: Politaholic

Best Writing on a Blog: Day of Moustaches

The blog awards event was a roaring success. Some 80 people packed out Matt and Phred's to hear wonderful readings from Day of Moustaches' Chris Killen (pictured above), Airport Diaries, A Free Man in Preston, the end of Elizabeth Baines' Manchester Blogstory (which I've just posted here,) and a reading and chat with author and blogger Caroline Smailes. Not forgetting the dj stylings of music blog stalwarts Black Country Grammar and Yer Mam!

But, as usual, the best part was seeing old friends and actually meeting in the flesh people I've only previously known on the internet. Many thanks to everyone who came and helped make the night such a good time.

(If anyone posts pictures of the night on their blog, let me know and I'll link to them. I got so busy that I forgot to take more than a few!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Manchester Blog Awards Tonight

Just a final reminder that the blog awards is happening tonight at Matt and Phred's. The whole thing kicks off at 7, though the actual announcement of the awards will be happening around 7:50 or so, after readings from some of the city's most lovely and talented bloggers.

I'm really looking forward to having a pint and a chat with my blogging brethren. It's been far too long since we've all gotten together. And there will be lots of new folks to meet as well. I predict a late night.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Manchester Literature Festival: Review competition

Before I say anything else, today is the last day to vote on what happens in the final chapter of our Manchester Blogstory. If the blog poll function seems to be having problems when you visit the site, check back in an hour or so. For some reason the poll is extremely temperamental. We don't know why. Sigh.

The Literature Festival kicks off tonight with a reading from the wonderful Rose Tremain. For the next week or so I'll be redirecting my blogging energies over to the shiny new MLF blog, where we're running a review-writing competition. And if you write the best review, you'll win a covetable set of Vintage Twins worth £150.

All you have to do is send your review of an MLF event (400 words or less) to me at mcrlitfestblog at gmail dot com, within three days of the event. I'll post all the reviews we receive, with a link to your blog if you have one. Full details here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Manchester Science Festival makes it 4

Hey kids, there's a new festival in town... The Manchester Science Festival has somehow materialised out of thin air, and will be spreading its nerdy goodness all over town Oct 20-28.

So how many festivals are we up to now? The science fest muscles onto an already crowded field, joining the Literature Festival, the Food and Drink festival and the Comedy Festival. Okay, that's four.

Four festivals is a lot to cram into one month, that's all I'm saying. And all this unbridled festivity puts a tremendous burden on Manchester's humble punters. You could try and enjoy them all at once by eating Italian peasant food prepared by an overpublicized celebrity chef whilst simultaneously composing a poem in your head, laughing at Dave Spikey and marvelling at the wonders of physics busking. But I wouldn't recommend it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

blog awards venue change

Newsflash: The Manchester Blog Awards will be happening at Matt and Phred's Jazz Club on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter. NOT at MOHO Live, which isn't done yet.

The good thing about the new venue is that, if you're so inclined, you can stay on and groove on some live jazz after the blog awards wrap up.

Same bat time: Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7pm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Random cool stuff

Sorry, I realize I've been all business lately at The Manchizzle. With the festival almost upon us, and the blogstory project going strong (chapter 4 is up now) there are so many important things I have to blog about.

So here are some things I don't have to blog about. They don't have anything to do with Manchester, but whatever.

This is weasel and ferret week at the Manchizzle. Why? They seem to keep popping up in conversation for some reason. And any discussion of ferrets always reminds me of Rudy Giuliani's insane ferret rant on the radio, during his time as NYC mayor. Anyone who thinks he might make a good president should listen to this.
Actually, everyone should listen to it.

As nutty as Rudy clearly is, I have to admit there is something distasteful about ferrets. I'm sure the pro-ferret brigade would set me straight. Sure, maybe ferrets get a bad rap, and bad press. But they also get lots of good press. In fact, there's a magazine called Ferrets, and they publish centerfolds every month that look like this:

I just thought you might enjoy that one.

I've gotten really into this web comic called Achewood. It describes itself as a cartoon of modern life as lived by a retarded otter, an alcoholic tiger, and two bears. But it's so much more than that, really. The characters also have their own blogs. You can read what Ray Smuckles, the thong-wearing, potty-mouthed cat has to say here.

I've also gotten really into this band called Vampire Weekend. They're from New York, and in addition to having a great name, they make amazingly catchy and smart afrobeat-inflected indie music. Kind of like if Jonathan Richman was in The Shins and they got knocked up by Orchestra Baobab. Yeah, I know that's a horrible description, that's why I'm not a music reviewer. Just go listen to them. If there's any justice in the world, they're going to be HUGE. And when I was putting the link to their site in, I just now saw that their first ever Eurotour stops at Manchester Academy Nov 8. With... wow. The Shins? Am I psychic or what.

Independents Day

I'm going to be taking part in a discussion about alternative publishing at the MLF's Independents' Day event, a one-day conference for non-mainstream publishers, editors, writers, readers and their ilk at the Lowry on Saturday 6th October, 11am – 7pm. So I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that MLF has just announced a special two-for-one deal on advance tickets (full prices are £8/6).

Here's all the wondrous details from festival HQ:

Independents Day is a great networking event for all budding writers, publishers and
fans of cutting-edge contemporary literature, with opportunities to:

MEET the editors of some of the UK's most innovative small presses and magazines,
including representatives of Comma, Route, Templar and Suitcase.

DISCOVER hot-off-the-press talent with performances by Elizabeth Baines, Ian Clayton,
Shamshad Khan, Janet McDermott, Chloe Poems, Jane Weir, Chris Woods
and contributors to Rain Dog (Pat Winslow), Match Box (James Davies & Alex
Middleton) and Libertine magazines.

CREATE your own publication in our DIY Workshop facilitated by 'zine queen Michelle
Green, yes SHE IS AWESOME - sorry, that was me interrupting the press release. I'll stop. (Please note there is a limited capacity for this workshop so please reserve a space at the time of booking).

GEN UP on imaginative and viable ways to publish and disseminate work in our
Alternative Publishing Seminar chaired by Ra Page. Speakers include Ian Daley
(Route), Kate Feld (Manchizzle and Manchester Blog Awards) and Paul Williams
(Lightning Source).

JOIN the Inpress Debate about the future of independent publishing, chaired by the
writer and critic, DJ Taylor. Speakers include Simon Thirsk (Bloodaxe) and Jeremy
Page (Frogmore Papers).

DISCUSS the role of MA writing courses in the nurturing of new writers and editors in our Out of School presentation featuring representatives of Transmission, Matter and
Textyle magazines.

BROWSE our Indie book market and sample the best in independent literature
production from around the region and beyond.

For further information please visit:
To book tickets please tel: 0870 4280785 and quote 'Indie Day 241'.

(Provocative illustration courtesy of Being lady lucy.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blogging workshops at MDDA (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Gadzooks! These are now full, I'm told. There has been such a robust demand that I may try to organise some more blogging workshops after the festival. If you want a heads up about those, leave a comment with your email, or send me a message at themanchizzle at gmail. Sorry to those who missed out this time around.

Just wanted to say that there are still a couple of spaces left in the two blogging workshops we're running Saturday, Sept. 29.

Blogging for Writers will go over the basics of blogging as a tool to market your work, experiment with different styles and get projects off the ground. And have fun writing! It'll be led by myself and the amazing Elizabeth Baines (Tart of Fiction/Fictionbitch), an author who has made excellent use of blogging both professionally and creatively.

So You Wanna Be a Blogstar? is a general blogging workshop ideal for anyone setting up a blog, or anyone who has been blogging for a while but needs a little inspiration. It'll be from 2-4pm, and will be led by myself and the awesome Chris from Mancubist, which is shortlisted in the arts and culture category at this year's MBAs.

Both are just £2, and take place at MDDA headquarters on Portland Street. We will have computers available for those who need them, but the place has wireless so you can bring laptops if you like. Book here at the MLF site.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Manchester Blogstory chapter three

The third riveting chapter of our interactive Manchester blogstory, What Would You Do?, has just been posted. I have to say, I didn't see the story going this way at all, so it's a neat surprise. I also enjoyed Elizabeth's descriptions of stuff we see all the time around Manchester - the goths in Cathedral Gardens, the dancers performing in front of M&S, the crowds of drinkers outside Sinclair's Oyster bar. It's both unnerving and cool to see these familiar scenes become part of a fictional work. And I'm dying to know more about the mystery man! Go read it and vote already.

There was a major problem with the blog poll last week (and incidentally, why do blog poll tools suck so much?)Aaaanyway, we're back with the one that worked best, Blog Flux Polls, which has a very neat map function which shows where all the votes are coming from on a map of the world.

By the way, I added about a hundred new blogs to the Great Manc Blogroll late last week - okay, er, maybe it was only 12 or so. But I'm not going to have time to introduce them politely here, so y'all will just have to introduce yourselves.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2007 Manchester Blog Awards: Shortlist

Here's the shortlist for the 2007 Manchester Blog Awards - it's now with the other judges, Richard Fair of BBC Manchester and Dave Carter of MDDA.

Many thanks to everyone who nominated and was nominated; we had well over a hundred nominations this year, many of them very strong, and it was really difficult to choose. The winners will be announced October 10 at the awards event, so if you've been shortlisted you may want to reserve tickets and save the date. More details on that event as we get closer to the time.

The shortlists (in no particular order:)
Best writing on a blog:
Untitled Supermarket Nightmare/Day of Moustaches
Airport Diaries
A Free Man in Preston
Community Fair

Best political blog:
The Asparagus

Best personal blog:
Single Mother on the Verge

Best arts and culture blog:
Fictionbitch (aka The Tart of Fiction)
The Ring Modulator
The Console (music and visual)

Best new blog:
The Shoe Project
Get Weird Turn Pro
Words Dept.
Renter Girl

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Manchester blogstory chapter two

...has just been posted here. Please read this week's chapter and vote on what you think should happen next.

Now off to look at blogs, blogs and more blogs. The shortlist for the blog awards should be up in the next couple of days.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Act now!

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the deadline for submitting your picks for the 2007 Manchester Blog Awards. We've had more than 80 separate nominations, which is a scorching hot response! But if you haven't sent yours in yet, email 'em to mancblogawards AT by midnight tomorrow.

Also, while we're on the subject of deadlines, reader voting on what happens next in What Would You Do, our Manchester Blogstory, closes at 8pm tonight. Eeek! Tune in on Tuesday morning for the next installment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What would you do?

Check it out... The first chapter of Manchester Blogstories went live this morning. The story is called "What Would You Do?" and starts out in a Chorlton apartment building. I'm really excited about the way its coming together.

I think I've posted about it before, but the idea behind this project was to set up an interactive fiction blog, set in real time Manchester. Every Tuesday for the next six weeks the writer Elizabeth Baines will be posting a new mini-chapter, and readers will have two days to vote on what should happen next. The final chapter will be performed live at the Manchester Blog Awards on Wednesday 10th October.

So please go read and vote! It is VERY short, and won't take long. The link is here:

And check back next Tuesday...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Under construction

Here are some pictures from the New Islington Festival on Saturday:

Versifier Martin Stannage getting things started in the literature tent.

This is Seb Clarke bring the horns, while the security guy looks bored.

There were these two crazy performance artists dressed like medics, clowning and dancing all over the place.

I love how this one looks like an L.S. Lowry painting. You can see that the festival was basically a party on a muddy building site.

Before and after?

I had a good time, though I took a stupid route to the site and was menaced by a marauding band of scallies haunting the canal. Spent most of my time in the literature tent, where I heard David Barnett read his great short story "What Would Nite Owl Do?". It had been published in the sadly departed All Saints No Sinners but I missed it somehow. Anyway, I'm reading the amazing Watchmen for the first time right now, so it was weirdly serendipitous to hear a story that referenced those characters. I also admired the insanely cool cover for the Pulp Fiction-themed editon of Transmission which should be out soon.

Later I saw 2 Days in Paris at Cornerhouse, which really is funny despite often being a huge Woody Allen rip-off (or should I say tribute?) It has this great scene with a cat... I was actually howling with laughter.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Time Out Manchester... it's alive?!?

Missed this little piece on Time Out Manchester from way back in July on How Do. Not much information in it, but the folks in London are saying the project isn't dead, and the TOM website has been updated with a wee bit of content. So I'll certainly let you know if I hear anything more than this. But I suspect there are some among this blog's readers who actually do know something more than this. Ahem. Hello?

Incidentally, if you scroll down to the comments on that How-Do article there's a cringe-inducing catfight between two local media folk that makes for pretty funny reading.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

New blogs: The shoegazer edition

A bunch of new additions to the Manchester blogroll:

The Shoe Project is Chris Shen's new site - he's taken down his multimedia blog Supashen and is focusing all his energies on this. The site features pictures of people's shoes with their handwritten notes about what they think their shoes say about them. You can download a form on the blog to make your shoes part of the project (see above.)

Manchester Dead Souls is about all kinds of things, lately Mancunian driving style and how it differs from the way people drive in France and Sheffield.

Rent Girl lives in Salford and writes about landlord and tenant issues, the perils of renting and her adventures in Dovecot Towers.

Lady Levenshulme is "all about things she likes and things she doesn’t like, things she’s done, places she’s been to, the neighbour who has stolen 3 of her wheelie bins, books she’s read and anything else that takes her fancy. And why Lady Levenshulme? Because she lives and works in Levenshulme and you wouldn’t believe the stuff that goes on there."

Wiggers World is Tom Wigley's personal blog, which features writing about various places, flora and fauna as well as some lovely pictures. Here's a cool post on the Hawthorn plant and its uses.

Single Mother on the Verge is the personal blog of a mother and writer in South Manchester who recently had a play in the Edinburgh Fringe.

A couple of new music blogs: hip young gunslinger "is a blog that 'deals with' pop music, electro music and indie music you can dance to. It is basically an 'indiepop electro' blog, whatever one of those is." Fucking Dance is Jamila Scott's "music blog from a bored girl."

And still with the music, here's a new one for the sidebar: Northernights is a pleasantly lo-fi clubbing site for Manchester whose mission is to "bring you independent and accurate nightclub listings with insider knowledge and recommendations from the people who really matter: the clubbers themselves. We won’t hound you with flashing ads and cheap hotels. This is a non-profit service predominantly for the creative and forward-thinking side of the city’s nightlife." It's been really difficult for me to find out what's on since ___(insert rant about Manchester STILL not having its own listings magazine here). This will help.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Weekend: New Islington, Mayflies

Remember last year's New Islington festival? Uh... I remember that there was one... something about a spurting man and a barge? This year its being billed as The Urban Folk Festival for Urban Folk. Urban as in Urban Splash, developers of that rebranded bit of Ancoats, geddit? Anyway, it's 2-8 pm around Old Mill Street, and it's free.

And the music is by (drumroll please) D.percussion, making a "secret return" after saying this year's fest was the last. Not sure this is a real selling point in Manc these days. The list of performers, spread over three stages, doesn't ring a lot of bells for me. Psychedelic outfit the Beep Seals, Magic Arm and a bunch of other local bands and DJs. Contrary to what the "urban folk festival" tagline leads you to expect, there are only a tiny handful of folk performers including Mancunian folkstress Kathryn Edwards. Would've been nice if they actually had given us an urban folk festival, instead of the usual teeth-grinding mix of Manc djs spinning the usual thumpy whatever. Basically, it's going to be D.Percussion with fairy cakes.

Fortunately, there's the indie-tastic Manchester Book Market, where you can meet some of those hardworking literary magazine editors and small press folks. There's readings from Anthony Joseph, Lemn Sissay (though he was a no-show last year) the brilliant flash-fiction writer David Gaffney, Tony Walsh, John Siddique, and a mess of poets and writers you may not necessarily have heard of before but you never know one or two of them might be pretty decent, all compered by Chloe Poems. There's also a series of specially commissioned shorts from local filmmakers.

There's also some twee activities involving vintage cakes, wellies and eek, pedalos on the canal. Yeah, that canal in the picture above. A lot of it sounds harmlessly annoying along the lines of Mr. Scruff's sodding tea tent. But then there's the nu rave sheep pen. "Graffiti artists will spray designs on live sheep while listening in the best in nu-rave club sounds." Oh sweet Jesus, that's wrong in eleven different ways at once.

At the same time, across town in Cornerhouse, Mayflies flits into town to bring us a day of arty hijinks. Between 11 and 5:30, artist BBB Johannes Deimling will perform Don't Hurt Me in the public spaces of the Cornerhouse building. His works often "provoke unconscious fears using an undercurrent of bizarre humour." Scary and funny? Sounds good. Up in the gallery they'll be screening Kleinodtotsod, a video work by John Bock that hints at the malevolent nature of domestic space. Then at 6 there's a screening of the Mayflies film programme, with works by George Barber, Deborah Bower, Wojciech Bruszewski, Michelle Handelman and Ben Rivers. (entry to the films is £3 and includes a drink, booking reccomended.)

Oh, and you can't get in if you've been within ten feet of the nu-rave sheep pen. They'll be checking.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Manchizzle in The Guardian

Holy cats! Today's Guardian Guide did a Blog Roll feature on Manchester, and here's what they had to say about this blog:

"The pick of Manchester culture and hub of blogging goodness."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Cheers, nameless Guardian writer.

Blog Roll also namechecked Mancubist, The Ring Modulator, I Shook My Head, Manchester Looks, Yer Mam!, and Chronicles of Joy Division.

Now off to enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend. They said it was supposed to be sunny, didn't they? THEY SAID IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SUNNY.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happy Birthday to me

I'm astonished to tell you that today is The Manchizzle's second blogiversary. My first post, way back in 2005, was about how much I love pound shops mixed up with a story about a girl menacing me at Piccadilly Pound World. I had done some blogging before I moved to Manchester, but not much. For the most part I've had a great time doing this blog - it's brought me together with some people I'd never have met any other way, and I feel like it's helped me explore the city, settle in and make it my own.

It's interesting for me to see how the blog's focus has shifted and evolved over time. It's now a rather impersonal site about new blogs and upcoming events in Manchester. While this is pretty much what I intended to create, I feel like I might be changing things around a bit in the future. But not for a while. I am far too busy with blog awards stuff to even think about this now, not to mention social networking (snicker.)

Anyway, thanks for reading, all this time. Awww. Go out and buy yourselves a cupcake or something.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On holiday

Am busy eating maple creemees, swimming in the lake and reading comic books. Normal service will resume in a week or so.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More new blogs

Just like last year, the blog awards nominations are clueing me up to a whole mess of new bloggage. Plus I already had a backlog of new blogs to add on account of me being too busy offscreen to blog much lately (selling house, buying new one, family visiting, grousing about the weather, etc.) So here's the lastest additions to the blogroll:

Manchester DJ and writer Fat Roland has a blog where he talks about his life and music, chiefly electronica "from afx to yokota." And who says bloggers are all arrogant gobshites? His latest post starts out "I am a blithering hypocrite and you should pap me on the nose with the back of a spoon." You just have to read on after that opener, don't you?

On the other side of the musical spectrum is The Ring Modulator, which writer Adrian Stevenson describes as "musings about jazz, Manchester, and anything else that feels right at the time." He's just posted a recap of this year's Manchester Jazz Festival.

Mamucium has started a second blog called I Shook My Head (This is What Fell Out).

Tourista de Mancunia
is a personal blog written by a Southerner living in Manchester.

Manchester Blog is concerned with Manchester news, parking, affairs and personalities, and it's open to submissions from Manchester bloggers.

New Ways of Seeing is a blog about digital photography, with lots of pictures as you'd expect. It's actually the Manchester Studio Digital Portrait Photography and Fine Art Pictorial. That's where the image above comes from.

Ear I Am is the personal blog of Nigel Hughes, who lives in Newton-Le-Willows and works in PR in Manchester.

Literary blog Pernickety Hat is the work of writer Viki Lane. It's the place where she posts her flash fiction, short stories, poems and novel extracts. You can also play with her adorable tiger. A blog with a pet? I like it.

Action Without Theory appears to be concerned with left politics and journalism, and it's written by Miles. "The first stop for rebels and renegades on the web."

Finally, Diary of a Bluestocking. "Being the recordings of the day to day ruminations of EP Niblock, Edwardian spinster, flaneuse, adventurer and intrepid explorer, an unfashionable anachronism constantly bewildered by her unexpected navigations into the contemporary post industrial landscape." Marvelous.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Clarification on eligibility for Manchester Blog Awards

After getting a raft of nominations in already from far and wide, I feel like I should clarify the issue of what a Manchester blog is.

The blog awards are meant to recognise great online writing in the Manchester area. In the past "the Manchester area" has been described as anywhere within reasonable commuting distance of the city. But with high speed rail and all that this area could conceivably cover most of England. So I'll clarify further: You're eligible if you live in a place where Manchester is considered the nearest big city. The place that you mean when you say "should we drive into town or take the train?" The place you go when you need to do school shopping, see a concert, or do something annoying involving government offices and forms in triplicate.

In other words, if you live much closer to another fairly big city (like Liverpool, Stoke, Nottingham, Leeds...) than you do to Manchester, you won't qualify unless you work in Manchester, or go to school there, and/or you blog mainly about the city. Yes, I know that's horribly unfair. But it would be great if some of these other places started their own blog awards, wouldn't it? Then bloggers could take over the world.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Manchester Blog Awards 2007: details

The nomination period is now open for the 2007 Manchester Blog Awards

Cash prizes will be awarded in five categories: political blog, personal blog, arts and culture blog, best new blog (open to blogs begun since September 1 of 2006) and a new category recognising the best creative writing on a blog.

To nominate blogs, send URLs for one entry in each category to mancblogawards at by Sept. 7. Please also specify where the blogger is based, if you know. I'll draw up a shortlist after the close of the nominating period, and the winners will be selected by a judging panel TBC.

(In order to qualify, writers of the blogs must live within reasonable commuting distance of Manchester. And yes, you can nominate your own blog. Respond in comments with the seventeen questions I haven't anticipated, and I'll do my best.)

Also, save the date, for the winners will be announced here:

Step away from the computer, it’s the MANCHESTER BLOG AWARDS 2007

Moho Live, Oldham Street
7pm Wednesday October 10, free

We’ve organised a star-studded gala affair in the brand new Moho Live venue on Oldham Street (it's the building that used to be a health club, between Sascha's Hotel and Affleck's Palace. Not open yet.) The evening will be a riotous celebration of new and engaging online writing, with readings from Manchester bloggers and music from the city’s mp3 bloggers.

We’re delighted to be able to host a reading from Caroline Smailes, whose debut novel, In Search of Adam, was recently published by Friday Fiction, the new fiction imprint from The Friday Project, the innovative publishing company that specialises in putting blogs in print. Caroline’s blog was hugely instrumental in getting her book published, and we’ll talk to her about that too.

Manchester writer and blogger Elizabeth Baines will be reading the final installment of her Blog Story, What would you do? a tale set in Manchester that she’ll be writing in six sequential posts on a blog – with readers voting on what turn the plot should take. To find out more about this project, visit

Also, the Decemberists suck.

Friday, July 13, 2007

You're not going to believe it

Are you plagued by giant albino alligators in your sewer? Did you go to school with a guy whose cousin tried to drink coke while eating pop rocks and her stomach exploded? This is your lucky day. See below for details of a verrry interesting writing competition that's happening as part of this year's Manchester Literature Festival:


Urbis and the Manchester Literature Festival are running a national call for submissions of micro fictions that tell or retell an urban myth.

The micro fiction or flash fiction genre forces writers to dispense with the excessive, superfluous and unnecessary elements to convey a succinct idea or story. This format is particularly suited to the Chinese-whisper characteristic of Urban Myths, where partial truths are laced with fantasy as they pass from teller to teller. We invite you to create your own version of what happens in the dark alleys and night clubs of cities and towns. You can use horror, science fiction or comedy to pack your punch.

You can submit up to five short fiction works of no longer than 250 words each on the theme of Urban Myths. Participants can be any age, and must live in the UK. Entries will be accepted in hard copy by mail only (see details below). All entries must be accompanied by a covering page which details the writer’s name, mobile phone number, email address and mailing address in order to be eligible.

The deadline for entries is Friday August 17th at 5pm. The submissions will then be judged by a literary panel including Katherine Beacon (BBC writersroom) and flash fiction author, David Gaffney, who will select the ten strongest entries.

Students from the Interactive Arts degree at MMU will then interpret the successful ten flash fiction pieces and use the work as inspiration for the creation of new artworks in various genres (,photography, sculpture, performance). This will result in a promenade performance installation piece,featuring all of the successful selections of micro-stories as interpreted by the Interactive Arts students.

The event will take place at Urbis on October 11th at 6pm as part of the Manchester Literature Festival 2007. The audience will be led around the Urbis building as darkness falls…. and the Urban Myths are re-told again. The overall winner of the competition will receive a complimentary night for two, including dinner, bed & breakfast, in one of City Inn’s stylish contemporary hotels.

Please post to:

Creative Programmes
Cathedral Gardens
Manchester M4 3BG

It's true, man. It really happened. Seriously, I am not making this up.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Manchester International Festival: Dead Wedding

I finally got myself down to another MIF event this weekend - I saw Dead Wedding at the Library Theatre. And like a good blogger here's my report:

Faulty Optic do just the kind of ramshackle, macabre adult puppetry and animation I love. Sort of Tim Burton-esque, but more arty. And the description of Dead Wedding really appealed to me - it's an adaptation of the Orpheus myth featuring a score composed by electronica maven Mira Calyx, with help from the musicians of Opera North (live strings and recorded experimental vocals).

We showed up on Saturday night, wedged ourselves into the theatre's tiny seats, and from the first minute I was pleasantly confused. The spectacle Faulty Optic put on was incredibly entertaining and inventive - they used every part of the stage and employed about 73 different kinds of puppetry and animation, from live manipulation of the puppets by black-clad puppeters (works better than it sounds), to shadow play, to puppets seamlessly interacting with film projected on a scrim. You had to wonder at it.

The problem was a bit too much wondering about the action unfolding on stage. As a former classics student who's really into mythology, I'm probably more familiar than most people with the story of Orpheus and Euridice, but I kept getting confused about where we were in the story and what was happening. The way it was staged was too abstract, and frankly lost me at times. And this aspect of the show completely ruined it for my companion (who wasn't keen on the music either.) The music was quite modern and interesting, at times even beautiful, with the strings playing off against Calyx's multilayered and sampled soundscapes. But the whole thing was more of a bewildering curiosity than a great night of entertainment.

Friday, July 06, 2007

How-Do? How-Don't!

After a reading a few interesting features on new NW media site How-Do (buried in among reams of head-poundingly dull pr babble) I was unpleasantly surprised by this week's edition of "The Weekly Wrap", their e-newsletter. Guest editor Paul Carroll writes:

"I bet there’s not been an agency presentation made this week that didn’t propose ‘doing a blog’ for client X, Y or Z. But are blogs really the future of ‘citizen journalism’ or just a load of egotistical, boring claptrap? Venturing onto How-Do’s blog section, there’s over 50 links to entice the visitor. Who has the time to read them? Who, in fact, has the time to write them? Worse of all are the so-called blogs that are thinly veiled corporate vehicles, whose attempts at being ‘street’ are as cool as the Concert for Diana. There are some good, amusing and thought provoking blogs out there (including some notable ones in the How-Do list), but these are the exception rather than the rule. My advice to most would-be bloggers? Shut it!"

And that's exactly what i did... with the email. If How-Do wanted to make it clear that they represent the backwards-looking, tin-eared, grammatically-challenged old boys of the North West media, they've succeeded by enabling this rubbish.

I'm the first one to agree that thinly-veiled corporate vehicle blogs (or, as I like to call them, "flogs") are evil - and there's an interesting and timely piece to be written there, as many web-users still seem blithely unaware of the mercenary element lurking on blogs, messageboards and social networking platforms. Though, as long as they're up-front about their identity, company blogs can be great reads and very effective in many ways. But any interest I had in his line of thought disappeared when Carroll conflated it with the old saw about all blogs being "egotistical, boring claptrap." We've all heard this argument (expressed more intelligently) before, and it was wrong then. Now it's five years out of date, badly written, and still wrong. Nice one.

Of course, I'm sure all concerned will read even this negative bandwidth as buzz for their respective brands. No publicity is bad publicity, after all! Just keep saying that, guys.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Blogmeet Monday at MIF

Richard and Robin over at BBC Manchester blog have organised a blogmeet Monday evening in the Manchester International Festival Pavilion (AKA GMEX, Manchester Central or whatever they're calling it today.) They'll be there from 6 pm, and will have a table reserved for blog folk. The food and beer ain't free, but the wifi is. More details here. I'm going to try my darndest to make it, but Monday's busy for me.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

These are the fireworks in my hometown of Waterbury, Vt, complete with oohs and ahhhs.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Short short stories on Normblog

I just found out that Norman Geras is running a short short story series on his excellent and very widely-read blog. Contest details here. He's just posted one today, here.

He also says: "All I need add is that, whatever its quality, your story will be received at normblog as a vote in favour of the glory of literature." Hooray for Norm!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Goth beach party

How do you make a 16-year-old Manc goth miserable? Turn their fave hangout into an "urban beach". Unless its a grim, overcast winter beach off the North Yorks. Moors those Urbis marketing folk want to recreate with the 80 tonnes of sand they're trucking in - though, somehow, I doubt it. Beach Club Manchester looks more Bacardi Breezer than cider and black.

You can read the whole sordid tale, and get links to pro- and anti- beach campaigners' myspace pages (of course they have myspace pages) at Whathappenedlastnight.
The beach was meant to be in business June 25, but has been delayed until July. Check here for more info.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's quiffs at dawn!

Panic on the streets of London! The Star and Garter's revered-in-Manchester-among-people-who-like-that-sort-of-thing Smiths Disco has a challenger for the title of place in town you're most likely to meet a pale girl in pearls who has the words to English Blood, Irish Heart tattooed on her thigh.

(For those who haven't been, it's an ecstatic group singalong rather than a disco - Of course you can't really dance to a Smiths song; it's more a matter of bobbing around either archly or despondently as the song requires.)

Young upstart "Malajusted" bills itself as a new Morrissey/Smiths night on the third Thursday of the Month. Unfortunately, it's at Overdraught, which is a bit shit, and definitely can't compete with the pitch-perfect shabbiness of the upstairs room at the S & G, where the Smiths disco is held the first Friday of the month. Or can it? Maybe we should organise a showdown. God, could you imagine that?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday is art day

I've been terrible at the posting. Really, what kind of example am I to young bloggers? But I've been recovering from a week at Arvon's Science Fiction and Fantasy writing course (which I highly recommend) along with a bunch of lovely people including Graham Joyce and Liz Williams. Go buy their books! Though I've now let my alter-ego as an SF/Fantasy writer out of the bag. Shit. My alter ego has its own blog, and I may even start posting on it one day. Finishing novel more important, though.

To make amends for being a bad blogger I bring you some arty, Manchester-specific news:

This Friday there's a pretty cool gig at Greenroom. In connection with the launch of Castlefield Gallery's show To The Left of the Rising Sun, Iceland-based artist and composer Ben Frost performs work from his latest album. They say: "Influenced by the stark natural environment of his new home country and the contrasting abysmal winter darkness and endless summer light, Frost’s soundscape references the Baroque and the sublime and carries its audience into unexplored territories."

Next door same night, it's the opening of the Cornerhouse's ArtRadio project, which looks interesting.

There's a call for participants for a performance event as part of the Manchester International Festival. They say:

We are looking to find 90 people by Friday who are willing to share stories about someone who has vanished from their lives (either because of a relationship breakdown, death, relocation, paranormal disappearance, etc.) Artist Michael Mayhew will then use these stories as the basis for his performance piece. If you would like to share your story, please contact ag at to book a slot on June 29th.

Also, Manchester-based artist Paul Harfleet has a great blog where he writes a lot about his practice, which I'm adding to the blogroll. Some of you may know him as one half of the duo behind Apartment, the artist-run exhibition space that happens to also be Paul's council tower block flat.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

You can do amazing things with dominoes

I'm gonna be away all this week in sunny Heptonstall, West Yorks. So here's a video to keep you amused (the song is Ankle Injuries by Fujiya & Miyagi)and keep me from feeling like a blogslacker. Kind of.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Manchester Blog Awards 2007

I'm happy to tell you that the Second Annual Manchester Blog Awards are in the works, and they're going to be bigger and better than last year.

The judges will be picking winners in the same categories as last year (political, arts and culture, best personal blog and blog of the year) as well as a new category that recognises the best creative writing on a blog. And we're sorting out cash prizes for the winners this year. I'll let you know about how to nominate blogs closer to the time.

We're getting our own star-studded event where we'll have even more readings from bloggers, an exciting guest speaker, and the city's music bloggers are going to be asked to do some dj-ing (so don't even think about going to a gig that night. I'm looking at you, GirlonaTrain and JustHipper.)

The blog awards going to be happening during the Manchester Literature Festival on Wednesday, October 10, at around 7:30 in a new venue on Oldham Street called Moho Live (this is all tbc for now). Put it on the calendar.

We're also planning some blogging workshops during the festival - more info on that later.

So... does any one of you design wizards feel like whipping up a "second annual blog awards" logo? And if anyone has any ideas or strong opinions about this year's blog awards, speak up.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Birdman cometh

The amazing Andrew Bird is playing tonight at the Academy. If you're not familiar with him, his website has a streaming radio station that only plays his songs. Just thought someone might want to know. I'm going and I'm dead excited.

The picture is of a male passenger pigeon.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Social networking : enough already

"I've added you as a friend on Facebook". I'm getting lots of these emails lately, and I can only guess that every time someone signs up to Facebook, there's some button they click that sends these messages to their whole contacts list. Cut it out. I've got social networking fatigue. Between blogging and checking in with the MySpace (and how come the Log Lady hasn't added me yet?) do I really have time to invest in a whole new social networking platform?

Up to this point I've been a big champion of the new ways that technology has helped us collaborate, how it has juiced up creative endeavours and been generally a good thing for the way writers, artists and musicians work. But lately I feel like all this electroclutter, and these snippets of circuitry-aided pseudointeraction, are becoming a little distracting. When I'm checking who's written what on my wall, that's time I'm not accomplishing work (which also involves gazing at a computer, making me less inclined to do it in my free time) or having more meaningful direct interactions with real people.

I had a similar angst about signing up with MySpace, and delayed that until it was clear that, despite its general horridness, it was one of the most effective ways to keep up with cultural goings-on around here (in the absence of, oh, I don't know... a good listings magazine.) Because everyone else was using it by then. If the same thing happens with Facebook, and the benefits seem to be worth the trouble, I may decide to join up. But it makes me tired thinking about it.

Some of this social networking stuff totally turns me off from the get-go. Twitter seems to involve broadcasting inanities about my mood and whereabouts to a whole bunch of people and getting deluged with similar uselessly annoying updates from them. Why would I want to do that? Plus, the name is ridiculous.

Other stuff is more compelling. When I read the Tech section of the Guardian I sometimes regret not having a presence on Second Life, like I'm missing out on some virtual party. But there's something really sad about those pixelated pictures in the newspaper of busty/muscular avatars congregating on some imaginary island. And really, who needs a Second Life? I'm still quite enjoying the first one, thanks very much, and as it is I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do, read all the books I want to read, have actual conversations with actual breathing people, etc. That is not living.

(Image from Moriash Moreau's blog, which details his daily existence on Second Life)