30 September 2009

Hey there, Babycakes

Forget cupcakes, kids; they're so last season. Right now in the good ole US of A, it's all about Tweet Sweets. At least for the pink-loving domestic goddess behind the fabulous all-frills Bakerella website, where there's "sweet inspiration and fun baking ideas" to help y'all keep the kitsch in kitchen.

They sure are cute, Bakerella baby, but blue icing?! Yowzers. Next stop: Mood Swing Central, know what I'm saying here?

(Pic and cakes by Bakerella, BTW. You can see how to make 'em at www.bakerella.com. I have no personal link to this all-American gal, in case you're wondering; I just kinda stumbled across her in a kinda Googley way and now I can't stop this darn accent thang.)

29 September 2009

I'm a poet, even if you didn't know it

I'm finally famous - one of my poems (ooh, you didn't know, did you?) is this week's feature presentation on Rainy City Stories. I'm absolutely brimming with excitement and slightly rosy cheeked!
It's called Hawthorn Lane - enjoy!

Hawthorn Lane
By Clare Conlon

The branches shake themselves,
Like a freshly dipped dog.
A hundred thousand glistening baubles
Shower down and crack open on the ground,
Spilling out a shiny confusion.
Ponds now stand
Where paths once ran;
The river and road course forwards as one.
Puddles hold dark secrets,
Their depths difficult to navigate
In the tunnel of trees.
At the end: bright light.
We emerge, blinking, roused from a dream.
The rain has gone, here comes the sun.

28 September 2009

Charting your life

Here's something nice to have a shufty at on a dull and drizzly late September Monday morning.


Simply enter your first and last name in the box provided, click return and you will be "characterized" (Mr Aaron Zinman, the student and member of the Sociable Media Group who created this crazy package, lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, hence the "z". He has also devised something called Blogger Disco and likes to spin French house records; quel mec extraordinaire!) using the magic of internet searches.

The results are presented in a very pretty bar chart you might like to print out and pin to the side of your pod to cheer you up on a dull and drizzly late September Monday afternoon.

26 September 2009

Two wheels good

Went to Critical Mass last night, so, as some kind of tenuous
link, here's a nice picture of me and one of my four bikes,
enjoying the evening sun on the front lawn of Dunham Massey
out in deepest, darkest Cheshire.

(And yes, I too had noticed that I'm a shadow of my former self.)

25 September 2009

Rosy future

I was at a "do" recently on the Wirral (look, it always had a "the" in my day, so why drop the definite article come the 21st century?). Anyway, we were treated to a bit of fizz, ooh la la, and you could choose from white or pink, ladidah. I picked pink, lady that I am. When our glasses came to be topped up, the waitress asked if we should care for some more of "the rose". Yes, without an accent, as in like the flower. Perhaps she'd heard the wine had a floral bouquet.
Me and my posh mate Simon pissed ourselves.

22 September 2009

Pulling power

Another one for the crap T-shirt pile, courtesy of @wordsandpics
via Twitter:
Just seen a man wearing a t-shirt with 'on the pull' emblazoned across it. Good luck with that.

21 September 2009

Snack attack

Also seen in the Padstow vicinity...
Printed on the bag which contained a famous Cornwall carry-out:
Authentic, homemade Cornish Pasties made where possible,
with fresh and locally sourced ingredients
It's my guess you can make pasties pretty much any place there's
an oven, so "where possible" counts out a) up a sea cliff,
b) down a tin mine, c) on a beach, d) in a cider orchard, etc.
(It's a grammar question, in case you're puzzled. There should
be another comma after "made".)

Still, it's true what they say about pasties staying warm for ages
(so miners could put them in their pockets on leaving the house for work and they'd still be toasty by lunchtime). This one kept radiating heat until at least halfway to the aforementioned rubbish pub.

20 September 2009

Great Western

Have been in the West Country for a few days, hence the
radio silence.
One day, I hiked a long long way to a really rubbish pub
(which, obviously, I didn't know before setting off).
Here, among others things (including greige leatherette
banquettes and a weekly canasta evening), there were
"Cornish cream teas avaliable".
A good example of writing it how you say it.
I bet they also use a "computier".

15 September 2009

Emerald city

Earlier today, in a wee little online chat, an Irish acquaintance of mine suggested we meet up for a drink next Tursday. I don't know if it was a spello or whether she did it on purpose, but it sure made me laugh.

12 September 2009

A little lift

You know how when you get in a lift sometimes and other people get in after you and it's kind of inferred that you sort of have to take charge? Well, I found myself in that very situation just the other day.
I was headed for the ground floor down from third and thought I'd better check the second person was too.
"Are you going to ground?", I queried, then (because I was in a very giddy mood, having just escaped from a difficult, drawn-out interview process) quipped: "I don't mean, 'Are you going into hiding?', but you never know. I can give you a disguise if you need it."
Lift passenger number two thought this was hilarious and said they'd use it again some time. Praise indeed.
Anyway, I didn't get the job, but hey - I may now consider a career in comedy instead.

08 September 2009

Metro has the Life sucked out of it

MetroLife - the regionally tailored arts and culture section to be found lurking, somewhat (if I'm honest) out of place, in the middle of Associated Newspapers' freesheet Metro - took its last breath a little over a week ago. It passed away with barely a death rattle and I don't quite know why. It was a well-written, well-edited, well useful supplement in a, well, otherwise pretty dire product. A number of very good journalists now swell the ranks of those other very good journalists who have lost their jobs and shifts in recent months. Sigh.

Perhaps it's a sign of the economic slowdown/downturn/outright recession times in which we live (or perhaps it's just indicative of the London-centric industry in which we ply our trade - the main MetroLife office was based in Manchester; the rest of the satellite staff were scattered around the provinces), but the redundancies (of which there were around 30) didn't even shown up on the radar of most of the usually reliable sources of information on the goings-on in Medialand. Indeed, I don't seem to be able to find anything on the section's demise on holdthefrontpage.co.uk, journalism.co.uk or even mediaguardian.co.uk. Hmm.

However, there were some eulogies...

Jonathan Schofield of Manchester Confidential:
"Metro Life was produced by committed journalists who knew how to write and spell. There was quality control ... Of course there's always the web. But the problem is as free content gets poured onto the web, editorial professionalism disappears ... At Confidential we are an independent web magazine with a professional editorial team - but we are an exception to the rule. Most local web content is woefully under edited, often slapped up without anyone running a critical eye over it."

And from Kate Feld of Manchizzle:
"The Metro folks took their work seriously and were very progressive about including a really wide range of arts and culture ... it was often a thin slice of clued-up and enjoyable writing that seemed oddly out of place at the center [sic - Kate is American, so it's allowed] of a free newspaper that in terms of actual news value or readability pretty much deserves to get stepped all over on the floor."

As reported on How-Do, where W&F first got an inkling of what was going on:


07 September 2009

Snark unit

New Yorker critic David Denby reckons that the interweb thingy has "lowered the tone" of journalism, and has coined the word "snark" to describe this. The paperback version of his book, called (funnily enough) Snark, came out last Thursday.

Earlier, Denby and Toby Young, author of the insipid (if I remember rightly) How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, had a food fight on Radio 4's Today programme about it. Young didn't agree with Denby, saying it's the oldies versus the newbies or perhaps the intellectuals versus the plebs.

John Humphrys didn't seem to give a monkeys either way, while I was distracted somewhat by thoughts of Lewis Carroll...


04 September 2009

A question of training - OPINIONS PLEASE!

Here's a poser for you; please let me know what your views are via comments, email or Twitter.

Technological advances have enabled everyone to operate
as a journalist, so does this mean that traditional journalism training is becoming obsolete?

I'll post your responses (yes, they'll stay anonymous, so you really can say whatever comes into your pretty little head) and my own scintillating thoughts on this very de rigueur subject very soon.
Bet you can't ruddy wait, huh?

Font of all knowledge

I love fonts. It must be something to do with being a sub and having to make sure words are emboldened when they need to be, or when text should be in italics when Art say it should, and so on and so forth. (Alternatively, if you're a Grauniad sub, you could just totally ignore the usual rules, and halfarsedly bold some stuff up then ignore the rest so it's all over the show and the reader has no chance of spotting any kind of pattern or be helped to read more easily in any way. I mean, what does the reader want? Bloody hand-holding?)

If you also love fonts, I suggest you go and have a look at Lars Willem Veldkampf's thumbnails for more of your favourite typefaces and their subliminal meanings. It's a quarter of an hour well spent this rainy Friday afternoon as you wait for the weekend to get a shift on.


Incidentally, yesterday at the ICA, the author Douglas Coupland did a companion talk to the film Helvetica (which I have yet to see) on what words look like and the power of text as an art object. It was he who alerted me to this Veldkampf fellow's Flickr fonts; not because DC is my mate, but because I follow him on Twitter like the sycophant I most surely am.

03 September 2009

Express delivery!

Oh dear, oh dear.
This is rather funny, and an example of how last-minute meddling
can lead to mistakes, but unfortunately I fear that in this instance heads may roll...

02 September 2009

Happy Anniversary, CED

Quick! The latest Collins English Dictionary hits the shelves any time now. It's the 30th Anniversary Edition, no less. Perhaps they'll be doing signed copies. I'm off to Waterstones presently to check it out.
I imagine my life will be much fuller by close of play today.

New words listed in the 2009 edition include:
"hey-ho" (and its variant spelling "heigh-ho"): an exclamation of weariness, disappointment, surprise or happiness.
"mwah": a superficial air kiss.
"meh": an exclamation of not caring or of being disappointed.

The popularity of words such as the examples above is being attributed to a booming online community; certainly, Duncan Black, one of the dictionary's editors, thinks social networking sites are largely responsible as we attempt to find written ways to communicate visual expressions.

Tony Thorne, a language consultant at King's College London, agrees: "A lot of internet communication is written speech, or transliterated speech. Social media is all about nudging and poking. It's a more amplified conversation."


Read more at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8231771.stm