Monday, 31 August 2015

Prospective Mondays

If you're anything like me, you've just woken up and are trying to piece together your bank holiday Sunday night out. Unlike me, you can't remember because you're hammered. I was sober and I'm still having to look through pictures and whatever I jotted on MS Onenote on the Lumia.

New Northern Quarter bar Pen and Pencil has opened on Hilton St. Great little arts-and-crafts-themed joint playing chilled house. Well worth a look. We had one in here and then moved on to nearby Kosmonaut, which translates as “Russian astronaut”. The small bar has what I guess is a Soviet theme- leather seats like those on old buses, painted and bare brickwork, white tiles. It's one of the few places in the city still playing house music. Although visually it's not what I would have imagined I'd like, the atmosphere was great and the clientele were good people.

We then moved on to Lola Lo on Deansgate locks, which I don't mind, but I think is getting a bit samey. The fire alarm going off emptied it out at the end, and the rain killed the attendance to begin with. Top night with the lads though. More of those to come thanks to meeting them through Meetup.

And on the subject of Meetup, what happens this week? Fancy a free Brazilian dance lesson in the city? Check out International Party People. Stand-up comedy for the self-confessed Socially Awkward? Or perhaps you want to join Manchester Social Group to go to the Spanish festival Festejar

If you like a rummage, how about a car boot sale in Middleton? They're always good for cheap books etc.

I'll be joining Creative Party People on Friday for drinks with filmmakers, graphic designers and writers. If you're a creative type, come join us on Friday at Dukes 92 in Castlefield. Creative talk, ideas, collaborations, but mostly getting pissed. Which is a good enough reason for anyone to meet up. Get involved!

Further events in the city are detailed on the Manchester Evening News' What's On guide, which is always worth a look. Let me know if there's more.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

A few dodgy claims to fame this week...

It seems I share a dislike of author Jonathan Franzen with another author, that of Belle De Jour, Dr Brooke Magnanti.

National DAB news station LBC discussed people getting motivational diet coaches on the NHS to combat obesity. I reminded the presenter, who I guess must have been Iain Dale, that bad diet kills more than smoking, car accidents and drugs, and that what we're currently doing isn't working.

I'm for some reason watching this year's Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5. In the house is Natasha Hamilton of Atomic Kitten fame. I glass collected at Atomic Kitten's after party in Manchester's The Living Room in 2004. They were all a bit cliquey and didn't say much to the staff.

Also in the house is retired porn star Jenna Jameson. Back in 2011 Jenna tweeted that she was stuck on page 3 of mobile phone video game Angry Birds. I replied with “Not like you to be stuck on page 3. (Does anyone outside the UK get this joke?)” She seemed to get it.

So. Bank holiday Sunday. One more night out tonight- nothing solid planned but I will be out causing mayhem...

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sweet Female Attitude @ Static

Remember Garage hit Flowers by Sweet Female Attitude?

Leanne Brown, a singer from the group, performed in Manchester House music club Static last Saturday. I set up a Meetup event and welcomed everyone along. We started in nearby bar Slug and Lettuce (nice, free WiFi) and the four of us went over to the club not long after.

It was a strangely quiet night considering it was a Saturday and it's a nice club with a good act on. Last time I went it was rammed, with a tough door policy. This time there were people in the queue who I'm sure would never have got in this time last year. No WiFi or even reception for texts once inside.

The music was superb: it was like a Sunday morning on Radio 1 back in 2000. Hours of back to back garage. A real nostalgia trip for aging clubbers like myself. More than a handful of these tracks appear in this mix.

Pictures from the night are on Static's Facebook album.

After 1am Leanne performed her set. Great entertainment. I always find it enjoyable to find people who were a part of my younger days in some way, and the garage hour in Ashton's Love Shack was the highlight of my nights out when I was 18. Sweet Female Attitude's hit Flowers was a staple track during those times.

The music did get a little heavy and obscure towards the end, but on the whole it was a brilliant event that deserved to be more popular than it was. This could be down to the music's target audience all being old and having babies, and hanging up their clubbing gear. Lightweights. Top night though.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Prospective Mondays

Opportunities await this week. Tapas on Deansgate on Wednesday and meet new friends? 

After Work Drinks out in Salford Quays on Thursday night if you're hard core?

If you're not, a smartphone quiz out in Altricham? 

These are just three events in three different meetup groups. There's plenty more. On Saturday you might find me in Epernay, a fancy cocktail bar near Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester. I've never been before but a friend is having a birthday night out there. Epernay is on a list of places I've been meaning to check out, a list I'll probably upload later.

Tweet me if you want your event here for free.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Save Manchester TV and Media Production Meetup

If you work in TV, or you're trying to, you'd do well to check out this Meetup group. It's a group for people to meet, discuss careers, share advice and collaborate on projects. It's highly valuable for people trying to get into the competitive field of Media. There's just one problem: the organiser has left the group and a new one is required.

The Meetup admins sent me an automatic email with this warning:

Your Organizer, amadeus hellequin, just stepped down without nominating a replacement.
Without an Organizer, Manchester TV & Media Production Meet Up. will shut down on September 1, 2015.

Step up to become this Meetup Group's Organizer and you can guide its future direction!
Other members can help you. Ask them to suggest Meetups or even nominate a few to help as Assistant Organizers.”

In the discussion section Hannah Suckley has stated she's considering taking on the role and would be looking for people to assist. If you're interested, (or perhaps you want to compete for the position?) drop her a line.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Thoughts on 8 Mile

From the director of the highly suspenseful
50s crime drama, LA Confidential
a modern-day musical, revival of the genre,
A hip-hop tale with vitality and timbre
There's only 8 stories for any storyteller
Here, under the umbrella of “Cinderella”,
The lifetime dream finally come true
Recognition of unrecognised virtue
Overcoming obstacles apparent in their lives
Goodness triumphant after being despised
You might think that sounds like a film that I've seen
It was called “The Rap Rocky” by Empire magazine
As much as I'm a member of the Eminem fandom
And although I admire the works of Curtis Hanson
The 8 Mile movie that no doubt you've seen
It can't be denied was let down by routine
Sorry to the cast and crew, not gonna let 'em off,
but seriously, what was the point of Cheddar Bob?
And seriously, you were surprised by the cops
chasing you down after you'd fired the paintball shots
Splattering paint all over their car,
so you hide, leaving them wondering where the hell you are?

After beginning and middle, you know what must follow
The conclusion of the riddle landed just hollow
Rabbit feels his car plant days are through,
but the audience feels only de ja vu
Rabbit must progress himself to a higher mission
and to prove he's the best this requires nihilism
He knows that he has skill, there's nothing missing in his voice
He's broken through the rap scene of Michigan's Detroit
To win the contest of the slickest lyricist
He must show best there's no-oone as ill as this
He slags himself off in a selfless way
and takes away the argument, there's nothing left to say
It's the self-berating theme became so popular
Here are some films with that feel I've got for ya
Fight Club and Old School had the same vibe, oh,
The same can be said for American Psycho
His nihilistic style became a success
And Mekhi Phifer gave him the contest
But to get to his goal he must stay as the best
A broke-ass rapper on the cusp of greatness
So he turns down the opportunity to co-host
and chases his own goals that he's hoping for most
And there the film ends, Rabbit winning and mighty,
In a Michigan club in the middle of the nineties
He's hungry for fame, career on track
Aside from the fact he doesn't have a contract
So the film concludes with that one disparity
So I guess like in Rocky there's a similarity
in that when the titles roll and the film ends
he still hasn't achieved goals, received dividends.

My main critique and my attack on the story
is that basically all it is is “the rap Rocky”
As described by Empire and many other critics
Curtis Hanson held the fuse, and Eminem lit it
Although I enjoyed, a suggestion if I may
If the production had been made in an entirely different way
If the film had been made as a traditional musical
The press would have found it more critically reviewable
Finally I dedicate these video lyrics
To those involved who aren't around to hear it
My heartfelt condolences to the families collectively
of Brittany Murphy and Proof respectively.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

#tbt Swimming with Barclay James Harvest

Ever heard of Barclay James Harvest? The rock group were formed in my hometown of Oldham in the seventies. They apparently didn't make many waves in the UK but they were HUGE in Europe.

My dad has just told me this anecdote:

Back in the 80's I used to go to swimmer improver classes every Tuesday at Saddleworth Pool with (BJH guitarist) John Lees and his wife Alwin. We were all reasonably good swimmers- we just wanted to get better. We used to go to the pub and to Indian restaurants.

Another couple went on holiday with them to Germany. In Oldham nobody knows them, but when they go to Europe they'd be in the hypermarket and the other shoppers would be nudging each other, nodding in their direction.”

The Wikipedia page for BJH's album Gone to Earth (1977) details an interesting rumour about the track, “Poor Man's Moody Blues”. 

Poor Man's Moody Blues was written after a journalist angered the band by referring to Barclay James Harvest as a poor man's Moody Blues. Shortly after, guitarist John Lees wrote a song that reminded him of the Moody Blues song Nights in White Satin, and decided to use the journalist's phrase as the song title.”

What the page doesn't explain is that the critic had allegedly been working to a deadline and eventually admitted that he hadn't actually listened to the album. Can anyone confirm / deny?

Some years after the height of their fame, the group performed a coming-home concert in nearby town Holmfirth. My dad tells that the sound wasn't properly engineered. Allegedly, John was “thoroughly pissed off.”

In about 1992 Dad, being the legend he is, managed to get me the autographs of band members John Lees, Stuart “Wooly” Wolstenholme and Mel Pritchard. You can't see this from the scan but there's definite ink and pen indentation on the postcard. John is the only living member of the original group.