Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stuff to do in May 2013: film, zines and art

Some interesting events for yer Manchester diaries, lovingly cut and pasted from press releases:

Anna Colin artist talk Wednesday 1st May (tomorrow) 6.30pm at Islington Mill. Free.

Post Tenebras Lux Manchester premiere at Moston's marvelous A Small Cinema. 2 May, 7:30pm. £3. This Mexican indie film has been making serious waves among some cinephiles of my acquaintance, who reckon director Carlos Reygadas is the best thing to come along in ages. Go decide for yourself.

Victoria Baths Zine Fair. May 5. £2.50 Who said print was dead? Zines galore, plus a musical tour of Victoria Baths by Manchester zinester David Carden, a film screening of Manchester DIY music film Helpyourself Manchester, talks by David Hartley and Karren Ablaze! and workshops.

Steven Severin and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari at International Anthony Burgess Foundation, May 10, 8pm. £10. Siouxie and the Banshees' Steven Severin in a rare performance of his electronic score for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (above). Support is from the trio Ears In Excellent Condition, performing soundtracks for Cinderella (1922) and The Death-Feigning Chinaman (1928), two ten-minute silhouette animations by the German director Lotte Reiniger (1899-1981).

Monday, April 29, 2013

New Blogs: The post-blog blog edition

Are blogs dead? Perhaps political blogging isn't in the rudest of health, if this Eulogy for the Blog on The New Republic is to be believed. From my point of view, political blogging in Manchester was reasonably active back in, say, 2005, but has gone very quiet these days, apart from a few stalwarts like the excellent Norman Geras, on whose Normblog I actually read about this piece.  I think it's a reach to say that blogging in general is over because a few cash-strapped newspapers are consolidating their media portfolios. But there's no doubt that things are changing.

We are seeing less of the all-rounder personal blog than we once did. Nowadays most bloggers recognise that you have to focus strongly on a niche if you want to develop an audience. I think bloggers on the whole are becoming increasingly professional and serious, as blogging itself becomes commodified. And what we have, increasingly, is what Marc Tracy describes as the post-blog blog: a sophisticated group-written and edited website that publishes blog posts. A bit like our latest addition to Manchester Media and other stuff: Northern Soul. Former Times journalist Helen Nugent has marshalled a wide-ranging group of contributors including Ex-Guardian journalist Helen Carter, Manchester Salon organiser Simon Belt and theatre director Lucia Cox to cover Northern happenings, attractions and cultural events. It joins just-launched NW listings mag The Skinny; terrific to see our cultural press growing. And it's also good to see Nick Jaspan's NW media industry website Prolific North filling the gap left by the closure of How-Do.

Writing and Literature: Andrew Simpson is the author of a history of Chorlton, and maintains a blog packed with interesting history and photographs, mainly Manchester-related. There are also new blogs from Manchester-based writers Rosie Garland and Michelle Green.

Personal: A nice range of new ones this go-round:
Manchester Flick Chick
Bitten by the Dog
Richard Frosty

Music: Silent Radio is a well-organised music blog with a monthly Manchester gig guide. And tenuto sempre is a pleasingly eclectic music and found-sound blog with plenty of interesting audio files to listen to.

Food and Drink: Enough with the food and drink blogs already, this is getting ridiculous. Honestly, they just keep coming. The latest batch, fresh from the oven:
Manchester Foodies
Where to Feed
Bacon on the beech

Here's another thing: The Manchizzle's Manchester Blogroll isn't the Manchester Blogroll anymore. Well, it mostly still is, but in my latest update I've sneakily added in a smattering of great blogs from the wider Northwest, Liverpool and possibly even as far away as (gasp) Leeds. This is an indirect result of the Manchester Blog Awards' expansion into the Blog North Awards last year. In the course of running the competition I've made the acquaintance of some Northwest blogs so good I can't bear not actually linking to them myself. I've also weeded out links to blogs that were not being regularly updated, exquisite corpses though they may be. Happy reading.

Image courtesy of newly Turner-Prize nominated (and Macclesfield-born) artist David Shrigley. Yeah!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Blog North's Food Glorious Food in Leeds

You know, food and drink bloggers aren't just greedy people. A certain enjoyment of the scran is required, but they're performing a service. Most of them do what they do out of passion for good food, are self-taught, do it in their spare time and don't expect any compensation. There are more of them every minute. Consider the stuffed-to-bursting food and drink section of that Manchester blogroll to your right: it's easily the fastest growing section of the Mancunian blogosphere. And what food bloggers say and think and eat and drink has never been more important.

Consider the lot of the restaurant owner/chef/producer/PR bod, working hard to get their restaurant or product some coverage. With the "national" food press fixated on London, and the regional food press shrinking, food bloggers and tweeters are becoming increasingly important. So what we have now is a culture of blogger tasting evenings and invited review meals where bloggers can meet chefs. Meanwhile, samples of artisan pies and bottles of beer and jars of jam are winging their way to bloggers around the country. And home cooks are letting dust gather on their cookbooks as they source interesting recipes from a blogs, often via Pinterest or Twitter.

The current culture of DIY food writing has sprouted practically overnight. And while professional restaurant critics or food writers may have their own codes of conduct, food bloggers don't (though this may not be a bad thing; asking bloggers to sign up to a code of anything is like herding cats, as this old Word of Mouth post and its comments ably demonstrate). So we all have to learn as we go: How do you build credibility with restaurants and readers? Is it okay to accept a sample of food and then not write about the product? How do you deal with producers/brands/restaurants who are unhappy with what you've written? Is it important that readers know you ate for free and the restaurant knew you were coming? If you're chummy with the chef and know she follows you on Twitter, are you really going to be comfortable writing an honest review of you less-than-awesome meal at her place? If you're posting your own recipes on your blog, how can you make sure no-one steals them? If a national newspaper asks to feature your recipe or writing, should you insist on a fee?

Fortunately Blog North Network's upcoming event, Food Glorious Food, will provide the time and space to get to grips with these issues. April 13 in Leeds is a full day of workshops, talks and schmoozing just for us. It's a chance to brush up on your food writing and photography with talented professionals, refresh your social media and marketing skills and hear inspiring stories of homegrown and independent foodie success. You'll meet lots of other people as greedy as you are food bloggers to swap stories, recipes and tips with. And there will be food and drink on offer. Of course there will be food and drink on offer. Booking and all the details are here. I'll see you there (I'm one of the organisers.) And if you see a surprisingly-shaped jelly, don't eat it. It might be art.

Image courtesy of the lovely Clandestine Cake Club, who will be taking part in the event.