My Blog- October 2020

Greetings, Glancers! Another month begins, and the Corona Saga continues. Northern Ireland is getting its highest figures yet and the fear is that further lockdowns will come, even as Schools and Businesses remain open. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here given serious thought to starting my own podcast. I have most of the right equipment to start a shitty one to go along with all the other shitty ones, and I have an idea of what I would like to do. It’s just getting the will and courage to actually do it, and to rope in some people to help. That, and the logistics are quite difficult given my lack of spare time. It’s these excuses and procrastinations which stop me from ever doing anything.

If you’re seeing more music posts than normal, it’s likely because I’m playing along with Paul Rose/Mr Biffo’s new podcast, in which the Marillion super-fan charts the band’s history release by release with his wife, his wife who only knows a handful of songs. It’s very similar to the Do You Love Us podcast I’m also listening to, where a Manics fan shares his love with two friends who don’t know much about the band. That’s an idea I’ve had for a while – for years really, long before podcasts ever existed. I say ‘idea’, but isn’t it more like a compulsion we all have – to share the things we love with the people we love? To impart and pass down our wisdom to the next generation, or to our peers we feel may be missing out? In the old days, this was bringing in your favourite CD or cassette and forcing the person sitting beside you on the School Bus Trip to listen, or to take control of the stereo at your house party. Nowadays, we have genuinely entertaining and insightful folks spreading this love and wisdom over the internet via the Podcast form, and us existing fans or newbs can revel in the agreements and arguments and new knowledge which follows.

By the time this post will be published, I will have published two Marillion posts for everyone to gawp at and I should have finished writing two more. I’ve listened up until the first half of the band’s first album, and have mostly enjoyed the journey. I’m not used to this sort of process – listening repeatedly with the express purpose of giving my thoughts – in my other Nightman Listens series, I type my thoughts at the same time as the song is playing, and I only listen once while in my regular music reviews, I tend to review music I’m already a life-long fan of.

To close today, and because I know some of you enjoy this sort of thing, I’m linking to a post about Northern Ireland and giving a few of my own thoughts below.

30 Reasons Why Northern Ireland is Weird But Wonderful

To be fair, I don’t think I could have picked 30 reasons, but lets go through them.

  1. Our newspaper headlines are insane: Given that I rarely, if ever read any news – especially local news, this doesn’t mean much to me. I don’t think our headlines are any more or less silly and exaggerated and click-baity than any other nation.
  2. We eat sandwiches filled with crisps: This is, or was pre-lockdown, my daily lunch diet. Why go to the bother of making something else, or heading out to buy overpriced junk, when a loaf and a 12 pack of Tayto has you covered?
  3. We have our own unique version of the English language: Aye rite mate, wind yer neck in and smell yer ma when I get home.
  4. We have one sacred rule – sun’s out, taps aff: Or for anyone outside of Northern Ireland – Sun’s out, tops off. You do get a lot of steeks strutting around Belfast as soon as it hits 16 degrees with their ribs on display with only crayon textured spotty skin to protect from UV rays.
  5. For some reason we’re really good at bread: Yes, we are. Lots of different brands too, not one main boyo.
  6. Our graffiti is while creative: Or for anyone outside of Northern Ireland – ‘wild creative’ – or ‘very creative’. They’re talking not only about our murals, but the random quotations you’ll see spray painted on the side of buildings.
  7. We made Eamonn Holmes: And a bunch of other people you don’t know.
  8. Our politicians work hard and play hard: Or, more accurately, they refuse to work at all, but still get paid more than anyone else
  9. We have an annual bog snorkelling competition: I wasn’t aware of this, but also read ‘bog’ as ‘dog’.
  10. People come from all over the world to see The Giant’s Causeway: Yes, they do.
  11. When someone asks you where you’re from, you have genuinely no idea how to answer without putting your life in danger: Because, you see, we have only two types of people, and both want to kill each other.
  12. One of our most delicious foods is called ‘fadge’: I have no idea what this means, or what they’re talking about. Unless they mean fudge, yet the associated picture is of some soda looking thing.
  13. The PSNI like a bit of craic: Strangely, it turns out that police officers are human too. You wou;dn’t think so given some of the truly pointless wastes of humanity you hear about on the news these days, but most cops, and people, try not to be dicks.
  14. We have a dark sense of humour about our past: Yes, we name our drinks after terrorist events. Like walking into a cocktail bar in NYC and seeing a Twin Tower Crumble on the menu.
  15. Our Christmas lights look like penises: Fair enough. So do our politicians. Flaccid, diseased ones.
  16. This picture isn’t as shocking as it should be: It’s a picture of two vans of riot police standing on guard outside an Ann Summers (sexy lingerie) store. This store is bang in the middle of Belfast City Centre, though I’m sure why it would be shocking.
  17. You can ask little children if they’re having the craic and not be arrested: Assuming this is a twee play on words. Given I don’t say ‘craic’, it doesn’t work for me.
  18. You can ask a woman if she would like a poke and not be arrested: See above. Poke means Ice Cream.
  19. We may have Snow Patrol, but our most recognizable musician is this guy: It’s a migrant who plays an instrument which is half violin, half trumpet. As of 2020, he’s still out there doing his thing to my knowledge.
  20. Your Granny will either have a picture of the Pope or the Queen above her fireplace – never both: Again, I have never once seen or experienced this in my life, so I assume it’s entirely concentrated to the most scummy parts of Belfast.
  21. You can buy home furnishings that look like this: It’s a giant picture of a cat. I don’t see how this is different from anywhere.
  22. Our sculptures have poignant names: It’s a picture of two large orbs near one of Belfast’s hospitals which people apparently call ‘the balls on the falls’. It’s near the Falls Road in Belfast. I’ve no idea what it’s actually called nor have I heard people call it this.
  23. This monstrosity is a hospital: It’s a picture of City Hospital (not the one with the balls on the falls). It looks like a giant death cube, in industrial taxi colours, inconceivably balanced atop a smaller cube, with crematorium chimney alongside. I always tell people you can’t get lost in Belfast, because you can see the lights of City Hospital from anywhere.
  24. No matter where you live, you can have lemonade delivered to your door: Yes, Saturday mornings were great because of cartoons and the Maine Man coming round to drop off some Rasberryade and Coke. Feckers don’t make Ciderette anymore.
  25. No one else in the world knows the joy of introducing Coronation Street in their best Julian Simmons’ voice: And now on the UTv…
  26. Game Of Thrones employs more locals than the Civil Service: Not anymore.
  27. Your granny loves a good gravy ring: Not anymore.
  28. No-one knows what’s in a pastie bap, but we eat them anyway: No we don’t.
  29. Burning wood is part of ‘our culture’: And tyres.
  30. The way you pronounce the letter ‘H’ determines whether or not you’ll get a dig in the bake: For whatever reason, Protestants say ‘aitch’ and Catholics say ‘haitch’. So THEY ALWAYS KNOW. Dig in the bake? Punch in the mouth.
  31. We’re obsessed with Jamie Dornan: Who?

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a sile 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!


Nightman Listens To – Marillion (and Mr Biffo’s Between You And Me Podcast)!

cover art for Market Square Heroes

Greetings, Glancers! As I have said to my wife on many a saucy occasion – ‘I’m not sure how long I can last’. What has this embarrassing revelation to do with Marillion, you may be asking. You see, the always busy, always brilliant Mr Biffo (Paul Rose) – creator of Digitser and somewhat of an inspiration for many folks of a certain age – has launched a new Podcast. In this Podcast – Between You And Me – Paul and his wife, Sanja, are trawling through every major Marillion release together, with Paul acting as wizened mentor and Sanja the enthusiastic student. Presumably. I haven’t listened to anything beyond the trailer yet.

Rose is a diehard, lifelong Marillion fan, while Sanja is something of a newb. I assume some of their songs will have filtered through to her via Paul playing them around the house, in the car, or possibly on the long walks down to the local Chippie I imagine they take. It’s the type of Podcast format I enjoy listening to, in my limited Podcast experience. Regular Glancers will know that I listen to the Shockwaves Horror podcast (or did until it all collapsed due to those allegations), and the Mick Garris (Horror writer and director) Podcast. If Joe Rogan has one someone interesting – one of those UFO guys or someone from WWE, I’ll give him a ear or two.

As a thirty something white male, starting a Podcast of my own is a source of daydreaming increasingly. I had thought of doing something similar where I grab a bunch of friends, each of us picking a movie or an album to focus on in one episode – preferably one which the friends have either not seen or not enjoyed – and try to convince them to like it via insults and profuse fanboying. Recently, I’ve been listening to the Do You Love Us Podcast – a Podcast which takes this format but uses it to go through the entire Discography of the Manic Street Preachers, who will know as maybe my favourite band of all time. From humble beginnings, the three lads – one super fan, one casual, and one newb, have discussed the cultural impact of the band and their thoughts on the music, the lyrics, the surrounding fluff, and have grown to having legitimate guests on the show including Greg Haver (Producer of Manic Street Preachers albums) and Michael Sheen (Welsh and Hollywood legend).

Sadly, as someone too busy and/or lazy to have friends these days, such a podcast of my own is a mere pipedream – and the old Northern Irish accent would most likely be like being forced to wear someone else’s facemask to a Floridian Trump fan. Via that verbal detour, we return to Marillion and me. I.. don’t know much about the band. I know they exist, and I’ve heard a few of their biggest songs, but that’s about it. If asked, I would call them a Prog band but that answer is more borne out of saying their name on the cover of Prog music magazines or mentioned in the same breath as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Rush, rather than any practical experience of their music I have personally had. Regular Glancers will know that I have a number of regular music features on my blog – I’m currently finishing off my Bowie, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, and Madonna discographies, and I’ve kicked off the same for The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, as well as working my way through the Top 1000 Albums Of All Time, the Top 500 Metal Albums Ever, the Post Beatles release of each Beatles member, and the Non Iron Maiden releases by each Iron Maiden member. It’s a lot. But given that I want to listen to everything ever made, and then tell you why I didn’t like any of it, I’m willing to give Marillion a go too.

Being a big Pink Floyd fan, Prog is a genre I enjoy but have never fully embraced in terms of going through the back catalogues of the other big players. For the Marillion posts though, rather than use the same format of my other posts, which are not insightful in the slightest and end of reading as repetitive nonsense (I basically listen to the album and type my thoughts wile listening, with no edits or planning), I’m going to do the Marillion thing properly; Multiple listens, let the music absorb, follow up by listening to Paul’s associated Podcast episode for the particular release, listen again, then post my thoughts on it all. OR SOMETHING.

But as I say, I get bored easily and may give up long before I get past the Fish era, whatever that means. I’ll probably still listen to the albums, even if I don’t write about them. I’ll probably still listen to the Podcast, even if I don’t listen to the albums. You probably won’t care about any of it. But if you do – if you’re a Marillion fan, maybe you’ll get something out of whatever I type. You’ll have more luck listening to Paul’s Podcast (I don’t really know how Podcasts work so I tend to just Google and click on the first safe looking link which pops up and listen via that site – so here’s the link I’m using). At the very least, I hope I’ll enjoy the music and find another band so enrich my life.