Blogs: What to read and why
They entertain, educate and often infuriate. They are popular and influential. And they are now an integral part of the media landscape. As the Irish Blog Awards are handed out tonight, here are 20 of Ireland’s most essential blogs, by SHANE HEGARTY
Four bloggers on “everything from fashion to feminism, pop culture to politics”. Often hitting the nail on the head as they go about it.
Taster:“Sweet Lord. Try as I might, I can’t stop rubbernecking the whole sorry saga that is Jade Goody’s impending demise. Any mum of two dying is awful; a 27-year-old mum of two dying, after getting a number of regular smears no less, is just horrendously tragic. But there’s something about the way this is playing out in the media that makes me want to rustle up a buttery bucket of popcorn.”
XBOX 4 NAPPY RASH
Honest, well-written and often funny blog by a man dealing with infertility.
Taster:“I honestly don’t understand the psychology of this whole thing. Just weeks ago, and not exactly for the first time either, we were deflated again. Now, yet again, I’m quite hopeful. Every month you need a hook to hang your hope on, sometimes it can be the same one as before, sometimes you need to find another one, something else that gives you the thought or the hope that this could be the one.
“What was this it month? Not pills, potions, or propped pillows, it just feels right.
A source of musical gems, not least through its indispensable monthly podcasts.
Taster:(On posting an enjoyable, ridiculous video from a guy called Zander Bleck) “Zander or Zoolander? I don’t know what was more inspirational – Zander running with the children in slo-motion or Zander feeding the goats?”
Tenacious and eagle-eyed coverage of Irish politics.
Taster:“So how is Lenihan doing? I was amused by the phrase that went round when Lenihan was first appointed to Finance by Cowen: ‘He is very intelligent’.
“It made me laugh. Was he really? How do we know? And doesn’t it say something about the calibre of our senior public representatives that having a brain would make one of them stand out?”
Slick design, witty writing and great tips have made this beauty site one of the Irish blog world’s biggest successes.
Taster:“We thought it was timely to have a full and frank discussion about eyeliner.”
THE IRISH ECONOMY
Insightful commentary on the Irish economy, from a range of experts.
Taster:“The downside of all of this is that whatever intellectual debt the ICTU document owes to [Swedish economist Jens Henrikkson] is not obvious from the document itself.
“But maybe what [David] Begg is saying is: if you want to know where we really stand, as distinct from the public posture we have to take, you’ve got to read this other stuff too.”
Blog champion, organiser of the Blog Awards and a man happy being at the centre of the Irish blogging universe.
Taster:“Bord Gáis did something very interesting last night. They talked to bloggers. They told us of their new consumer electricity offering ahead of the press conference about it, which is on right now.”
ON THE RECORD
Four Irish Times blogs are nominated for Blog Awards. Among them, Jim Carroll’s music blog, now first port of call for music news, wider culture and the occasional row.
Taster:“Promoting shows is a hugely risky proposition in the first place. We may rail and rant about the big promoters here time and time again, but we’re not the ones paying out huge advances for acts who may or may not do the business. Or even acts who’re hot today and stone cold tomorrow.
“Imagine, for instance, if you were a promoter thinking about doing an open-air show in Dublin in the summer with Chris Brown. You saw him selling 50k tickets in nanoseconds for the 02 and Odyssey and thought ‘bingo’. As Chris Brown turns into the new Bobby Brown, it may be a while before he’ll be selling out shows again.”
ICE CREAM IRELAND
Kieran Murphy takes his Dingle shop to the world with a blog that looks great, and ice cream recipes that look even better.
Taster:“What ice cream flavour would best explain the current Irish predicament . . . Lenihan Lemon Curdle . . . Newry Cream-in’ it . . . Cowen Fudge-in’ it . . . Repossessed Car-amel . . . Lime Your Pockets.”
CRIME ALWAYS PAYS
Interviews and reviews by crime writer Declan Burke on this excellent thriller-themed site.
Taster:A QA with writer Jim Kelly appears on the site. Crime Always Pays asks: “God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?” Kelly: “Write. (But that’s the Bible out, right ? So there’s an upside.)”
A beady eye on Irish politics; anger without the hysteria.
Taster:“Known unknowns? Or Unknown unknowns? Or Unknown until now knowns? Or Known far too well and members of the last Golden Circle? You get my drift surely . . .”
Nominated for best photography blog, but about more than just the pictures, including canny web campaigning and musings on motherhood.
Taster:“I love it when my goddaughter comes over, I have a ready-made and accessible model. Sometimes our photographic sessions veer between running away from my camera to doing the awful, strained CHEEESEEE smiles most overly photographed kids adopt at some stage.”
The granddaddy of Northern Ireland’s politics and culture blogs, led by Mick Fealty.
Taster:“Last week, I pointed out the apparent contradiction between the DUP Anti-Environment Minister’s position on climate change and the DUP Enterprise Minister’s plans to create ‘green jobs’. The DUP has come down on the side of Arlene Foster, but it didn’t stop Sammy comparing himself to Galileo! Now he is never likely to stand trial in Rome, but at the moment, the world is definitely revolving around Sammy.”
Savage humour by multi-Blog Award winner who antagonises as much as he amuses. His favourite word rhymes with “hunt”. His second book has just been published.
Taster:“If a gangster is killed in any part of Dublin, does that make that part of Dublin automatically gangland? It’s easy to point to the area around the Coombe and say ‘gangland’ but if two ne’er-do-wells are shot in Ailesbury Road would that make D4 gangland too? I don’t think we should discriminate.
“And how far is the gangland radius? Within 1km of the killing? 500 yards? Anyone in the same postcode? Who gets to decide? I think I should decide, then ensure that all estate agents have to identify a house as being in ‘gangland’.”
THE LITTLE PINCH OF SALT
Photographer Annie Rhiannon writes about her life, and does it very well indeed. Currently living in Belgium.
Taster:“I’ve been invited by Getty Images to be a ‘contributing photographer’, which sounds very exciting but basically means they have some of my pictures in their catalogue; it doesn’t necessarily mean that anybody is going to buy them. So by night I’ll work in a bar in order to actually, like, eat and stuff. A smokey bar, most likely, with a sullen Frenchman called Claude propping up the counter, day in day out, blowing smoke-rings in my face and falling in love with me despite himself.
“But it is no good, Claude, no; for I am in love with another: a street performer by the name of Klaas who spends his days trapped in a box down on Veldstraat.”
Karlin Lillington’s accessible tech blog, now with added podcasts.
Taster:“I popped into Penney’s on O’Connell Street to pick up some items and was thrilled to find these Pacman socks in the ladies’ socks section.
“Only €2.50 – and that includes the stripy pair as well! What a recession-proof geek bargain!”
2FM DJ’s effervescent “magpie” blog, picking bits from across the web but adding plenty of his own ideas.
Taster:“Here are reviews of films I’ve seen recently in the form of pictures of people’s faces.”
Sharp group blog on media, art and politics.
Taster:“Last week Brian Cowen made a speech. It was a mediocre speech. Nonetheless, he got a standing ovation for it. The reason for this is clear: He made the speech to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, surely a disproportionally FF-supporting crowd. They’d have given him a standing ovation if he’d turned up and made armpit farts for 20 minutes. As it happened, the speech was competent, no more.”
Something of a cult figure, Grandad is engagingly cantankerous.
Taster:“‘Ya have to wear this at all times,’ says he. ‘EU regulations. Ya also have to wear steel tipped boots and a DayGlo jacket. This is a building site ya know?’
‘I pondered this as I stood there on the doorstep, stark naked. Wouldn’t I look a right prat wearing a hard hat and nothing else? I told him to f**k off, and went back to bed.
‘Who was that?’ says Herself from under the duvet.
‘Those f**king builders you ordered,’ I said as I decided whether to get dressed or not.
‘I didn’t order them. You did. Make us a mug of tea.’”
“Tough times, great food,” it promises. The site’s growing popularity backs that up.
Taster:This week: “The amount of times I’ve thrown out bread is criminal. It’s so easy to buy a sliced pan and find yourself eating only a few slices before over half of it has descended into staleness.
“For our regular Ingredient of the Week feature, we thought we’d run some simple suggestions for what to do with leftover bread, besides eating more toast than you could possibly care for.”