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!