"Denny Crane!"

TV If that names means nothing to you then you haven't been introduced to the insane world of Boston Legal, yet another series set in a law firm created by David E. Kelly of Ally McBeal fame. Having not liked much of anything else that Kelly has created (with the exception of Doogie Howser) I came to this with trepidation but an arm full of recommendations. And after an insane pilot which seemed to think that every scene needed to be fifteen seconds long with ten seconds of incidental music each and that such idiotic things as exposition were unimportant (I think my initial bewilderment is probably because this was is a spin-off from Kelly's The Practice), over the other three episodes I watched tonight it settled into being a unexpectedly touching yet surprisingly funny series.

The key is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. It simply understands and encourages the fact that James Spader's performance seems to have dropped in from another dimension and that William Shatner has such a cult following that his mere presence is enough to lift any situation. With Spader it's all about the hand gestures -- a scene does not go by without him stiffly raising one or both of his hands in the air, often holding a glass -- his face sometimes doesn't move for whole minutes at a time and yet its probably one of the best performances because it forces the audience to make up their own mind what he's thinking (see also Greta Garbo in Queen Christina).

Shatner is playing a legendary lawyer whose a partner in the firm and actually you largely imagine he's playing himself -- this is only a beat away from the performance he gave as himself in Free Enterprise. One of the jokes is that he's so much of a legend that simply saying his own name "Denny Crane!" will get the job done -- and the ongoing surprise is that it does. Sometimes he'll steal whole scenes with this schtick, often being deployed in corridors to say those magic two words as other characters passby. The Shatner/Spader interplay is a real hit and since they've apparently appeared in every episode Kelly appears to think so too.

So yes, the writing is very good. Sometimes the director and editor appear to have drunk too much caffeine. Monica Potter's character looks like she's wandered in from another series completely -- although that's not a criticism -- one of the genius aspects of the show is that it knows how important sentiment is in the middle of cynicism and Potter is at the epicentre of that with the beautifully pitched performance. Now and then the odd story has a hint of refried LA Law, but this is simply far better than I had any right to expect it to be and according to the Wikipedia entry, it just gets stranger. Excellent.

"Denny Crane!"

Tory Telly

Politics At the Politics Blogging Panel last week, I wondered by politicians aren't using something like YouTube to spread their words. I think someone Conservative must have been listening, because David Cameron now has a video blog, Webcameron (which is actually quite a neat pun). Sadly my dial-up connection would take all day to download each one, so I've no idea what they're like, but there first one in the kitchen looks a bit sinister. I imagine there'll be lots of news stories in the press about the Tory leader embracing new media etc etc etc. [via]


TV All over the local news last night and this morning were reminders that analogue BBC's One and Two broadcasts from Winter Hill would be switched off for much of the day for 'essential maintenance work' and that digital viewers would be unaffected. I'd imagine they were installing the big switch ready for when the signal will be turned off in a couple of years. As a digital viewer for so many years I actually forget the time when there were only five channels. I mean I'm so old I can remember when there were only three and BBC Two only broadcast in the evening. That was before we had a video recorder so when the signal went off you were buggered.

As I heard the reminder, something dislodged in my brain that before Breakfast TV there was a weekly or monthly show in which a voiceover (that sounded somewhat like the one that cropped up on the parody BBC Two announcements on the second series of Look Around You) would give broadcast frequency news and information, and yes, warn the viewer of when transmissions would be disrupted. There was a photograph of a transmitter and the voice

I can actually remember tuning in once to actually watch the picture go off. Heady days.

But then during the major ITV strike of the seventies, when they permanently broadcast a blue screen with a message about the industrial action, it actually still registered a rating of a few hundred thousand -- presumably because some of the people with the boxes couldn't bare to turn their tv off, watch Grandstand, and might have found the colour quite soothing. That particular shade of blue was brought out of retirement and worked with Derek Jarman.

Since I do have digital it wasn't so much of a blow this time and in any case I was tucked up sneezing in bed watching the average remake of The Italian Job and the generally mis-understood Adaptation. How far we've come.


About I'm selling some very bad films on ebay because the collection needs thinning out and I can't imagine I'll ever want to watch any of them again (or why I bought them in the first place). Oh and the money would be good. I tried a little bit to sell them, but by the time I got to the tortuously bad Killing Me Softly I wrote:
"Nicci French's classic novel becomes a taut and sensuous masterpiece in the hands of auteur Chen Kaige.


Well alright, it's a terrible, terrible film. Quite how the director of 'Farewell My Concubine' could churn out this rubbish I'm not sure. But somehow I did end up sitting through ninety minutes just to see if the ending was as bad as I expected. And oh yes, I wasn't disappointed.

So perhaps I should have written 'Buy this film, you won't be disappointed'. It lacks context, but at least it's truthful."
Actually I quite liked Lagaan but needs must and cricket still bores me rigid.

Six words

Fiction After being avenged, we wasn't happier.

See you CITV.

TV PM are reporting (I’m just listening to it now) that ITV have confirmed their decision to close Granada Kids which means they will no longer be producing new ITV children’s programmes, and have cancelled all commissioned shows from independents which includes My Parents are Aliens.

This means that any children’s programmes appearing on ITV1 and the CITV channel will be repeats or imports. ITV are apparently refusing interviews about the decision although the assumption is that it’s in reaction to the denial of their petition to Ofcom to remove the programming from their main channel and the new regulations regarding fast food advertising during such programmes.

One of the fundamental decision I had to make as a child was whether I was a BBC kid or ITV - Blue Peter or Magpie?Swap Shop or Tiswas? Think of a Number or How? This was one of the life choices I think we all made so that we could find out what kind of people we are. Obviously this has disolved in the multi-channel world, and no wonder most kids look so confused and restless. But it also used to be that this brand loyalty would continue into adulthood – if ITV aren’t grabbing people when they’re young, who will be watching in a decade’s time?

Shak Attack

Theatre I have of late, but wherefore I know not retreated to Shakespeare. I think it's no doubt the post-academic slump, the shift from one state back to 'nother, the determination to hear beautiful language still ahead of such discourses as party speeches, by kings and princes, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. To be honest, I think it be infecting my mode of speech. Same thing happened between original school and college, but I was less worldy wise then and none to familiar with the ways of the world, less sharper than the serpents tooth, without money in my purse.

The upshot of this is that when I look at something like John Sutherland's bit of fun in yesterday's Guardian about the so-called poor passages in Shakespeare's plays I begin to grumble, especially because he's very very wrong (in my humble opinion). He explains initially thusly (sorry, I'll stop it now):
"The proposition that not all Shakespeare is Shakespeare-great was put forward by Frank Kermode in his recent book on the bard's language. Kermode came out and said what most audiences secretly think - a lot of Shakespeare is impossible to understand."

"Following Dromgoole and Hall's allegations, "Crap Shakespeare" will probably be a fashionable parlour game over the next few weeks. What, it will be mischievously asked, are your candidates for the worst ever lines in our nation's best ever plays?"
Which seems perfectly reasonable -- Shakespeare is known to have loved a tipple and it's supposed that it ended up killing him. But did it effect his writing? Sutherland presents a cornucopia of examples but none of them quite ring true for me. So if you'll indulge me, it's time for us to have a conversation (with some help from a few friends).

When, for example, pondering whether to be or not to be, Hamlet fantasises about "taking arms against a sea of troubles", what does Shakespeare expect us to see in our mind's eye? Some mad idiot firing a blunderbuss into the waves from the end of Brighton pier?

Harold Jenkin's Arden Edition of the play suggests that although this line has been objected to, it explains that 'the incongruity of taking arms against a sea is expressive of the idea - the futility of fighting against an uncontainable and overwhelming force'. Sutherland leaves off the point of the line too -- it ends with 'and by opposing end them' -- which in Jenkins words means -- 'not by overcoming them but (paradoxically) by being overcome by them'. Like Milton, Shakespeare's verse is filled with double meaning and irony. It's about the ending of 'troubles' by 'opposing' -- and Hamlet understanding that inevitably the only outcome to his course of action is the destruction of everything he knows and perhaps himself (I'm not convinced he's sure of that at this point in the play especially since this line is from the 'To Be Or Not To Be' speech).

The richest hunting ground for crap lines is the "Scottish play" - a dramatic work which is so terrifying to actors that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid playing in it (think of Peter O'Toole - has his reputation as a classic Shakespearian actor ever recovered from that disastrous 1980 production at the Old Vic?).

Actually that sentence should really read 'has his reputation as an actor ever recovered from appearing in High Spirits with Steve Guttenberg, but I digress. I can't think of any actors who have avoided Macbeth when asked or cast -- it's K2 to Hamlet's Everest. You've done one, you have to do the other.

It's not just the witches - although all that double, double, toil and trouble stuff is pretty blotworthy.

Is it really. So setting up the texture of the play and creating a bit of mystery isn't? Oh Ok.

Apart from Macbeth's soliloquies, the porter's half-pissed prose and Lady Macbeth's mad musings, the play is, to borrow a mixed metaphor, a veritable sea of crap.

Hey, Jimmy, j'ya wannu taek this oussi'?

What actor, for example, can utter, without an inward shudder, King Duncan's opening line: "What bloody man is that?" One can imagine Prince Charles saying it, on glimpsing Nicholas Witchell on the slopes at Klosters. But Duncan, in the play, has just come across a soldier horribly wounded in the civil war that is tearing his country apart. A certain urgency would seem to be in order.

I'm suspecting a double meaning here but really this is about stage craft. This is only the second scene of the play, so after the witches, Shakespeare is setting up the world the characters will inhabit. This was written for the Elizabethan age of theatre, remember, The Globe, a place without sets and precious much in the way of costuming and special make-up effects. When Duncan says the line, he's indicating that the solidier is wounded so that the image is fixed in the imagination of the groundlings -- that's why these plays tend to also work so well on audio -- it's the same technique used in radio to create setting.

It is also the first appearance of a usage or allusion to the word 'blood' which according to Kenneth Muir in the Arden edition of the play is used over a hundred times throughout. If one wanted to pick, its that the solidier then has a whole speech to work through explaining the plot and who this Macbeth character is -- but we're not told how badly he is wounded (could be just a flesh wound) and in any case the fact that he's prepared to risk his life to let his King know the matter gives Duncan a certain authority that increases the enormity of Macbeth's dirty deed later.

If you were a young actor given his big chance with Macduff, and you wanted to catch Michael Billington's notice in the front row, would you really want to leap on stage, claymore in hand, with the line "Turn, hell-hound, turn!"? I have heard audiences yowl with uncontrollable mirth at that ejaculation. Another career-killer.

Sure this is rum stuff but looking at the rest of the scene (Act V, Scene 8) and the context it's part of the swash and buckle that occurs in many of these plays and Errol Flyn movies when the really meaty talk is over and the fighting begins. To pick this line out of the rest of poetry does seem like grasping at straws. It's often forgotten that Shakespeare was just as interested in the bottom line as possible literature and this is part of one of the crowd pleasers.

There is also, at this point in the tragedy, a feebleness in the plotting, which does incline one to the suspicion that the playwright was drinking too deeply of mine host's four-star in the Tabard the night before. You will remember the great plot twist. No man "of woman born" can kill Macbeth. How does he know? The witches (is this for real?) have told him so. Lay on, Macduff.

Well no, it isn't for real. It's fantasy -- was Macbeth mad when he saw the figure of Banqou or was it a ghost -- some productions have it both ways, but given the presences of WITCHES I'm inclind to go with the latter.

And how is the villain confounded? "Know that Macduff," our good guy says, "was from his mother's womb untimely ripped." Collapse of hell-hound. Heads on poles. Happy times for Scotland. But what, the audience will wonder as they file out of the theatre, does "untimely ripped" actually mean? A Caesarian? Premature delivery? Was the Macduff foetus removed at the point of conception and, by the advanced technology of 15th-century alchemy, brought to term in a test tube? Even in medieval Scotland, surely, you are still "born of woman" even if you did pop out, or were pulled out, a month or two early?

Well, actually in Elizabethan times, I'd say that yes the baby could have been taken from the womb and not be called a birth because it wasn't through the natural and at the time largely sacred process. So Macduff was not of woman born according to those values -- and if you really want to stretch the issue it could have been a male who aided the removal of the child and not some medieval midwife -- arguably the man would have been the one holding and being able to use the big knife (see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, no really, do).

There is a quality of "who gives a toss?" in the play which, sadly, bears out Dromgoole's heresy. Homer sometimes nods. And Shakespeare occasionally suffers from dramatist's droop.

Or you're applying modern stage craft and expectations on four hundred year old plays which had very specific staging requirements and when audiences had very different expectations.

See what happens when I start reading and listening to Shakespeare? Aspirations of grandeur.

I'm going back to bed now, my joints are beginning to ache in that 'oh shit I've got a cold' kind of way.

New word

Words My new word for the day is 'Zoonosis'. That's 'Zoonosis'.


Art Liverpool Biennial Googlemap. [via]

And now on ...

TV BBC one's new onscreen idents are lovely, returning some authority to the channel. The Windows image reminds me of Andreas Gursky's photography. [via]

At your inconvenience

Film(?) At some point in the future, someone studying film will be given an essay title. 'An Inconvenient Truth is not a film. Discuss.' They'll delve into the reviews of the 'text' and see that Empire Magazine gave it five stars and that Mark Kermode essentially refused to present any criticism other than he thought Gore was a bit boring, because to him it is just another example of works, such as The Queen and Zidane being projected in an auditorium when their natural home is elsewhere. The student will sigh, look at the open document in Word and wonder why he'd signed up for the course and hadn't just studied theatre instead. But their opening paragraph (before being rewritten in academic-speak) might look something like: 'The question would seem to be one of intent. If a work is created with the intent of being watched in public, in the dark with the lights out rather than through a box in the corner of the room in private from a couch then that seems like a fairly good benchmark.'

Davis Guggenheim's work is not uncinematic. It opens with some shots of our fragile Earth suggestive of Godfrey Reggio's work (Koyaanisqatsi), with a voice over from 'star' Al Gore in which he talks about his message and why he has chosen the form of a slideshow in order to make his argument. There is a narrative - can this 'hero' figure successfully persuade his audience both within the frame and in the auditorium that global warming is a greater threat to humanity than even terrorism and that unless something happens all will be lost. Whether the narrative has a happy ending depends on whether the viewer is persuaded to take the few steps outlined to clean up their lives and the environment. There are also flashbacks to the key incidents in Gore's life that led him to this crusade that took him into politics and into the White House and may yet see him return again. An antagonist might even be seen in the Bush Administration and those who seek to cloud the issue for their own financial ends.

It is a very persuasive argument. For a man who was once a figure of fun for allegedly saying that he created the internet and was criticized by some democrats for being too wooden to win an election outright, Gore has a natural charisma and bubbling under the surface he seems to be aware of some of his ludicrousness. He certainly has comic timing and even though he explains during one of the flashes away from the slide show that he's given versions of the talk over a thousand times in countless states and countries, there is a still a freshness to his words, a seeming improvisation. The overall effect is somewhere between an extended weather report and the Christmas Lectures, with simple graphs, diagrams and his words educating us to not simply on an upcoming catastrophe, but one which has already begun. Simply if a spectator doesn't gasp three or four times at such simple devices as before and after pictures, then they must not care or be paying attention.

The only criticism might be that some of the flashbacks seem to have been included as a way of breaking up the lecture when Gore's performance and the information being conveyed is mesmerising enough to keep the interest of the viewer. In some cases, it appears that the filmmakers want to both present the argument but also create a portrait of the man and sometimes this muddies the former and makes the latter too insubstantial to the extent that they feel like those Party Political Broadcasts in which a politician returns to their home town to show that they're really human too - spot the moment when Gore points out where he once crashed his car. In general however, these are used to extrapolate out the statistics into the 'real world' or to metaphorically demonstrate what the world should be doing. For me, the film had a happy ending, because I'll never keep my television on standby again.

Sans Everything.

Theatre "Covent Garden's Theatre Museum is set to be closed down permanently, after plans for a partnership to run a revamped institution on the site broke down following five months of talks. The decision by the Royal Opera House and the Victoria and Albert Museum to end discussions for a collaboration means that it looks almost certain the museum will now close on a permanent basis come January. The pair blamed lack of funds on their decision to abandon the project, while finding a third partner to help run the scheme, after the Society of London Theatre decided not to get involved, had also proved an issue." -- The Stage

These is really disappointing news and I'm glad that I had a chance to see it before the curtain falls. It seems like such an anchor for the London Theatre world, a vital front door. It is bizarre that none of the big London theatres could see that some of their profits would be used to keep open something whose central purpose is to inspire people to go to see more of what they do. Shame on them.


Radio For readers who aren't staunch party supporters but like to be kept in the loop, from New Years Eve and for eight weeks, Doctor Who returns in a series of eight, specially for radio adventures on BBC7 featuring Eighth Doctor Paul McGann and new companion Lucie Miller played by Sheridan Smith. Forbidden Planet's blog has a breakdown of dates and casts which include such showbusiness luminaries as Anita Dobson, Bernard Cribbinsk, Nigel Havers and Una Stubbs which means that if it all goes wrong they can at least have a nice game of charades (no sniggering at the back). Nick Briggs, voice of the Daleks and Cybermen is directing some of the episodes and providing those voices here again too.

My ...

Film I grudgingly enjoyed Tim Story's Fantastic Four -- well it was rubbish obviously but there were enough good character moments to keep me happy particularly between movie Johnny and movie Ben. It generally felt like the work of someone who didn't quite understand the material and wanted to attract as wide an audience as possible -- although there aren't many comic book adaptations that don't fall into that trap. One of the rough edges were the special effects which never quite seemed to work -- Mr. Fantastic's arm being particularly creepy.

The reason I'm bothering with any of this is because of the news that in the appalling titled sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), the herald is going to be computer generated by Weta Digital, the people behind Gollum and King Kong. This is excellent news, because even if the plot crashes about Galactus's ankles the man on the board will have a quality of realism. Given that the only man alive who can possibly be Galactus (when he speaks) would be James Earl Jones, lord knows who else they can get for the equally universal surfer. In the 90s cartoon series, he sounded like a Harvard man but there needs to be gravitas and I'm guessing they'll be going British and of a certain age.

Paul McGann?
Joseph Feinnes?
Rufus Sewell?


History "Part of the UK's national music archive could be lost as a result of copyright law, the British Library has warned. The library's Sound Archive cannot copy audio from fragile or obsolete formats for posterity until copyright runs out." -- BBC News

Paradoxically the Sound Archive can't copy items because they're still in copyright, but they'll be lost forever and therefore worthless if they don't. Horrifying.

Not mild, not perilous

Film Have a look at this cover for the new dvd release of Bertrand Blier's Les Valseuses:

"Uninhibited sex, random violence."


[Having watched the film as part of my university course I can contest that in fact it does contain both -- and you've no idea how uncomfortable it was seeing it in the language lab where random strangers could look over your shoulder and wonder what kid of course I was doing. I just love the baldness of the description though -- that all pull quotes were that descriptive. Unlike the infamous BBFC description 'mild peril' it perfectly captures the content of the work -- although you could add "aimless wandering" in at the end too, but that might not sell too many discs.]


Life So for the second time this year I was sitting in a room filled with fellow hoodlums (bloggers). The difference this time was that I actually knew it was happening. I've only ever met three other bloggers in the five years I've been doing this and I'm always slightly intimidate/nervous/wigged-out by the process, because in a nice way they're never what I expect but I always have the feeling that it's also true for them but not in a good way.

It's a self-esteem thing to be sure which is odd because that's not something I've had problems with for years. Inevitably at the back of my mind, if they've read my blog, I'm thinking that they're thinking -- 'You -- that is you -- actually write that?' as though what I do on here has no correlation with who I am out there. Which isn't true at all (I hope otherwise I'm in serious trouble). Thankfully, Kate was lovely even if she wasn't catching me at my best. I was really, really tired because I've been waking up at half-seven every morning however late I've been up the night before. My body is still in the university routine I think.

The other problem I have at these events (he says as though he's been to several) is that because I'm basically the only person I know who has any depth of knowledge about blogging and the web there's a whole vocabulary that I only ever use in text or read from a screen -- so here I am saying brand names like 'YouTube' and even 'Blogger' outloud for the first time in ages or ever and they sounded incongruous coming from my lips in the same way that words like 'cat', 'dog' and 'ball' did when I was using them in nursery school. I think I got away with it. Even having to say my name and the name of this blog sounded wierd -- apparently I say 'feeling lissless' with that important letter 't' no doubt being tucked under my vocal chords having a nap. There was also a vague mental rictus when I was trying to remember the word 'delegate'. How could that be?

Jumping On The Blog Wagon

Politics I don't tend to talk about politics here -- well alright I don't ever talk about politics here, partly because I wouldn't know when to finish but also because I wouldn't know where to start. I'm not an activist, I don't have really strong opinions on the subject, other than what might be expected of the so-called rank and file -- I'll turn up at the polling station put by cross in the Lib Dem box (usually) and walk away again, safe in the knowledge, at least in the General Election that either Labour or the Conservative party will be forming a government during the following day.

During that journalism course I took a few years ago, the tutor gave us students a preamble as to what it was like to be his brand of freelance journalist, the kind of work he does and then he essentially sat us down (well alright we were already sitting) and said that in essence, politics, especially home office politics didn't matter. Year on year, the economy will rise and fall, laws will be made, some of which might effect our lives (but mostly not) and it doesn't really matter you vote for or have an opinion about because nothing will change that much, because over the span of the human life it'll all, generally, balance itself out. Seventeen eyes widened in the room that evening and some people were slack jawed but some of us grinned because he was right -- in the grand sweep of history all politicians are doing is giving journalists something to talk about.

In this country it's very rare that there will be a news story about some law being passed. Most of the time it'll be an 'idea' being 'floated' to rile up the public to see if it's something that can stick as a manifesto pledge -- there aren't many of these ideas that actually pass into law and actually, I would guess that many of them are perceived to have become illegal when in fact they've just passed into lore without a single law being voted on or ratified. They create debate and in the mess of legislative process they don't ever (under these uneducated eyes) ever come into fruition. As the Blair/Brown/whoever debate shows, politics is about personalities rather than policies and having just spent a week watching some of Shakespeare's history plays it always seems to have been thus.

The reason I'm boring you with this now is because I've just returned from an excellent panel discussion at Urbis in Manchester on the subject of Political Bloggers. Chaired by Kate Feld, freelance journalist and writer of The Manchizzle blog, it featured Norman Geras of Normblog, Martin Stabe is an online reporter for The Press Gazette who also writes their online journalism weblog, Fleet Street 2.0 and Bill Jones of Skipper. The main thrust of the discussion seemed to be that although as with any subject online, there is a vast range of different uk politics blogs, they haven't yet caught fire in the same way as those across the pond. They tend to be commenting on events rather than creating them but that documents such as The Euston Manifesto are seeking to change that. It was striking to see that actually no matter the subject being considered, the blogging experience doesn't change all that much.

Geras talked about how he can get addicted and gets edgy when he can't blog because he's not near a computer but also when he can't find a subject to write about. That's been happening to me lately -- I sat for a good ten minutes glaring at the Blogger editing box last night before deciding to write about my Dad's birthday -- it's writers block and it can be frustrating. None of them other than the journalist claimed to be journalists; Jones prefixed the word with proto or cyber and Geras said that he was 'just a citizen' and that as a citizen in a democracy he can air his views. There was also some talk about online behaviour -- how discussions are conducted on political blogs and online in general and how abuse is often hurled in ways that simply wouldn't be tolerated in public. I noted in the Q&A that actually this sort of thing has been happening online since the days of the flame wars on bulletin boards and that actually you get used to it. I have someone who anonymously drops the odd sarcastic comment here but its parr for the course. You end up tuning it out in the end.

Stabe mentioned the lonelygirl15 story as an example of how the kid of internet hive mind can jump on something and investigate its implications in ways that a single journalist could not -- I was reminded of the days of the Kaycee-Nicole controversy so again this isn't a new phenomena -- silly notion, but I wonder if Watergate would have been broken by bloggers if the web had been around in the seventies. One of the best sections of the discussions, however, was about what actually constitutes a blog, especially institutionally. Stabe mentioned a number of examples of newspaper blogs that were essentially columns put out once a week or every few days that didn't refer to other blogs and simply seemed to be an extension of the printed content (if not actually the printed content in a new form). Does this constitute a blog? I suppose I'm a bit more lenient about the subject because I happen to think that the blog format is an excellent way to deliver these columns, time stamped and ready to read.

The frustration is when they don't take advantage of the online format by linking to relevant sources or explanations of topics that are only given a cursory mention. Many of these blogs lack a certain passion as though the writer has been ordered to partake in this 'journey' as part of some new-media remit when in fact they don't really want to be doing it -- which tends to make the copy a bit bland. Stabe called it 'jumping on the blog wagon'. [Updated: In the comments for this post, Martin notes that he was quoting from Kevin Anderson of The Guardian who cites Jon Stewart of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as a source.] The reason BBC Political editor Nick Robinson's blog works is because it has the feel of a personal blog (often talking about what he's been doing that day) but also includes wodges of insider insight.

All of the panelist suggested favourite sites: Bill Jones offered Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale, Paul Linford and Mike Smithson. Norman Geras diversified with Harry's Place, Shaggy's Place, Tim Blair and Instapundit. Martin Stabe said that he didn't read that many political blogs preferring technical blogs lately except for Guido, Chicken Yoghurt and Europhobia suggesting Overheard in the UK and Digg instead. There were also some hints as to what makes a good blog entry the best of which was to be humourous and keep to three or four paragraphs, boths rules that I seem to have ignored in this post. Ooops. But this was an excellent panel and I look forward to future discussions on other topics.