My Blog – December 2019

Well would you believe it? Another year is almost over and… AND I managed to do this regular post for the whole year. I’m not big on routine and consistency, so that’s quite an achievement for me, however hollow and meaningless it may be. I hope the lustre of moonlight is gleaming off the newly formed snow on your lawn, I hope that Santa will be slopping his obese love handles down your smoke chute soon, and I hope that all your dreams for the festive period are realized in wondrous beauty. What is on your Christmas List this year? I don’t mean any of that World Peace malarkey or seeing those damn liberals/republicans/brexiters/remainers/others get what’s coming to them – I mean, what stuff do you want to find under the tree for you on the big day? I find as the years go on, my list gets smaller. A lot of this is to do with time and space, but a large chunk of it is because of streaming – physical media is fading and although I’m a fairly large collector, I just can’t be arsed buying or asking for something anymore unless I really really want it. And in terms of movies, music, games etc, there’s few that I really really want now. Nevertheless, my list is mostly made up of games, music, and movies… TV and books too. And maybe whiskey and rum.

I’m still a big kid. Christmas is still my favourite time of the year and no matter how cynical you get about the commercial side of it, no matter how guilty you feel about the waste, excess, and those worse off, I still get sucked in by the magic. I want to get sucked in by it all. I want the miracles Hollywood has sold us to come true, and I want my kids, my family, my friends, to all create memories to last a life time.

So what is your Christmas routine? Mine now, at thirty six years old, isn’t much different from how it was at six years old. In the run up to the day I make sure to buy that TV mag and circle all the shit I’m going to watch and record. When I was at home I would plan to wake up early, switch on my TV and catch whatever cartoons or movie was on before I was allowed to go downstairs and play with my big ones. Ahem. We would have our stockings filled and hung on our bedrooms doors at night, so in the morning that kept us busy before the excitement was too much and we launched ourselves down those stairs. My younger sister would hear me waking up and bring her stocking into my room to see what she got and to compare – chocolate coins, an orange, a toothbrush, a pound, whatever sweets were on offer in Tesco etc. My elder brother would usually appear afterwards before we kicked down mum and dad’s door and demanded that it was time to get up. Nowadays we let our girls wake up whenever they want and they come running into our bedroom to look through their stockings together. Of course, I still get my own and fill one for Mrs Nightman.

When my little sister was born, she got to be the first to enter the living room to see what Santa had left. We had two sets of presents – Santa’s stuff, and the family stuff, with Santa’s presents rarely being wrapped and the family stuff being under the tree. We would sit together and tear into the Santa stuff first before Dad would head out to feed the birds or do some gardening or do whatever weird stuff it is that dads do and Mum would start thinking about lunch. Now, Mrs Nightman is usually first up because she has to head to the garage to bring in the turkey and start pre-heating the oven. I go into the living room to make sure Santa has been and gone, and to grab the camcorder to record the excited faces coming in and reacting. The main tradition Mrs Nightman brings is Santa Sacks – all of Santa’s presents are stored within giant sacks – when I was growing up the presents were just sitting unwrapped in three piles.

I used to hate going to relations on Christmas Day – most of my huuuge extended family lives ages away (in Northern Ireland and hour’s drive ins considered ‘ages’) and thankfully as we got older we did this less and less. That’s something I’m clear on now – people can come to us on Christmas Day, but I ain’t going nowhere – I have too many toys to play with. After a few hours, Mrs Nightman’s family show up for lunch and to open the presents under the tree while she freaks out in the kitchen that the turkey is too big/small/burnt/not cooked/her feet are sore/that her mum won’t just leave her to do it all herself/that no-one is helping/that I’m just arsing about and not doing anything constructive. All true of course. Then on Boxing Day, or some other day during the period we drive down to my parents and do it all again – though this probably won’t happen this year with Mrs Nightman being very pregnant and the car journey won’t be the most comfortable, given that my lot live ‘ages’ away.

There’s usually Champagne and Crackers, the usual turkey and ham and roast potatoes and absolutely no sprouts or green crap for me. Shloer, sweets, and the same stories about how the various dogs no longer with us also loved Christmas and could unwrap their own presents/leap over a wall/grab a leg or turkey when no-one was looking. Mrs Nightman’s mum will disappear as soon as she can and shortly after it’ll be just us again, with everyone seeing what’s on TV and wondering where the hell all the new stuff is going to live. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

So what about you? What is your Christmas routine? Do you build up to the 25th by watching classic Christmas movies and shows? Will Alexa be blasting Christmas songs from December 1st so that you hate them by the 8th? Do you stay in or go out, do you have a home-cooked meal or find a fancy restaurant? Let us know in the comments. Next year, I’ll try to continue this monthly series and till then I’ll be on the look out for blogging ideas to try – if you have anything you want me to try or write about or share, stick those in the comments to and I’ll see what I can do. For now – Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the definition into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attention to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

Tell it like it is!

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