Oh good, it’s that time of year again, when Back to the Future date hoaxes do the rounds on Twitter and Facebook. And the rest of us bang our heads on the table in despair.

Look, I don’t blame the people who start these things, who photoshop a date in 2010 or 2011 or 2012 onto a screengrab of the DeLorean’s date readout. They’re trying to wind up the internet, and they’re succeeding. It’s an old joke, now, but if people keep falling for it they’re going to keep doing it.

But the people who keep spreading it around, and making it so easy to wind everyone up… ARGH. Why do I let it bother me? I wonder to myself. I mean, I’m a massive pedant, everyone knows that. But this one gets my back up more than most – and I think it’s because I love BTTF so much – it’s one of the most truly delightful, joyous, wonderful things that modern pop culture has ever created – that it irritates me that other people don’t care enough to get it right.

I mean, look: if you like BTTF enough that you think it will be pretty cool when we finally land on the future date featured in the film (and it will), then surely you should at least know these two basic facts:

1. Every year featured in the Back to the Future trilogy ends in a 5.

2. The first Back to the Future film is about travelling BACKWARDS in time, not FORWARDS.

Beyond those two fundamentals, however, as a Public Service Announcement I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of all the dates referenced in the BTTF films – so that next time one of these spreads around, there’s a handy and quick reference by which to confirm that it’s utter bollocks. So here it is.

Back to the Future

The dates the Doc punches in when showing Marty how the controls work are:

  • July 4th 1776 (“the signing of the Declaration of Independence”)
  • December 25th 0000 (“the birth of Christ”)
  • November 5th 1955 (“a red letter day for science”)

This last date is the date that Marty gets transported back in time to, as it’s the one left on screen when the Libyans arrive. Despite what some Twitterers say, the Doc never puts in “a random date”.

The date on which lightning strikes the clock tower and Marty returns to 1985 is:

  • November 12th 1955

The date in 1985 that Marty returns to is:

  • October 26th 1985

The date the Doc travels to at the end is:

  • An unspecified day and month in 2015

Back to the Future Part II

The date the Doc brings Jennifer and Marty to (and thus, the ACTUAL “Future Day”) is:

  • October 21 2015

The date Old Biff travels to and gives the Almanac to his past self is:

  • November 12 1955

The date in “alternate” 1985 that Marty and the Doc return to is:

  • October 26th 1985

The date Marty and the Doc go back to retrieve the Almanac is also:

  • November 12 1955

The date the Doc accidentally travels back to, because of the lightning strike jolting the time circuits (the ONLY time a “random” date is travelled to) is:

  • January 1 1885

Back to the Future Part III

The date Marty leaves 1955 to go back to the Old West:

  • November 16 1955

The date Marty arrives in the Old West:

  • September 2 1885

The date Marty leaves the Old West:

  • September 7 1885

The date Marty arrives back in 1985 and the DeLorean is destroyed:

  • October 27th 1985

So there we go. Now, STOP IT.

Weezer. Alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California, specialising (mostly) in melodic power-pop, usually with a romantic lyrical bent. Formed in 1992, with a lineup that has consisted of Rivers Cuomo (vocals and guitar, 1992-present), Patrick Wilson (drums, 1992-present), Matt Sharp (bass and vocals, 1992-1998), Brian Bell (guitar and vocals, 1993-present), Jason Cropper (guitar and vocals, 1992-1993), Mikey Welsh (bass and vocals, 1998-2001) and Scott Shriner (bass and vocals, 2001-present). Primary name associated with the phrase “geek rock”, and the most direct influence on the late ’90s/early 2000s US popular emo-core movement (Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, Saves the Day etc.).

They’ve been basically my favourite band since I started listening to them with a vengeance in mid-2000, but I haven’t really written much about them (a couple of track-by-track reviews aside) since I abandoned my surprisingly-popular fansite, WeezerfansUK, about eight or nine years ago. That’s changing with this blog project, in which I’m listening to every one of their songs, in chronological order, and writing about them on an era-by-era basis. If you want a full tracklist and an explanation of the self-imposed rules, check out the introductory post – but if you’re ready to get on with the project, then read on.

(And feel free to do a listen of the albums – or a re-listen, if you’re a fan – yourself, and join in with your comments, if you fancy it. I’ve tried to make this as accessible as possible both to long-time fans, and to those who don’t know much about the band but might find it an interesting read, so here and there you’ll find embedded Youtube songs so you can hear some of the things I’m talking about.)

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WHAT? A blog-based listening project that will involve going through (just about) every single Weezer song, in chronological order, and charting the evolution (or, in some cases, devolution) of the band’s songwriting and recording styles.

WHY? My favourite band for over a decade, Weezer continue to fascinate me even as they continue their slide towards being one of the music industry’s biggest running jokes. Their recent recording output has been baffling, bizarre and – in the main – borderline unlistenable, yet there’s something about them that means they can never wholly be written off, and even the worst albums contain nuggets of merit. I want to examine why that is, as well as looking at why and how they’ve got to this stage in the first place. I also find it fascinating to look at the surprisingly high number of “albums that never were”, and compare them with the official eight albums that have seen release.

HOW? Rather than taking each song on a detailed one-by-one basis (it’s been done, and with over 150 songs to get through it’d take bloody ages), I’ll look at blocks of songs in separated “eras” – each centred around a particular album but also taking in things that might have gone on in the year or so either side of it.

WHEN? Part one, spanning the band’s earliest demos and debut The Blue Album, will go up at some point in the next couple of weeks. After that… periodic, depending on how quickly I get through them and (especially) how depressed I get around the time of Raditude. Monthly, maybe?

I hope it’ll be interesting – especially for those of you who actually like the band, but maybe for some of you who don’t as well. I’ll try and include song links here and there so that readers who don’t know the material I’m talking about can sample the important bits. And if you are interested, below the jump is the full list of songs I’ll be tackling…

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“Would you like to write us a Liverpool fan’s perspective on Alan Davies’ comments re Hillsborough and the subsequent fallout?” they said. I did have a few things I wanted to say about the matter, so I said “Alright”, while also thinking “Christ, I hope he doesn’t end up reading it and shouting at me on Twitter, though.”

Anyway, I wrote it – sneaking in a Doctor Who reference in the process - and the magazine is now out in shops (as well as being available to order online). I don’t think I was especially hysterical or excessively critical, and I refrained from making personal attacks against Davies (who I think was misguided rather than downright evil) himself. Although I did sort of slightly, possibly, a little bit, compare him to Richard Littlejohn.

I hope he doesn’t end up reading it and shouting at me on Twitter, though.

Today, I want to talk to you about an album. One of my favourite albums, and almost certainly the greatest cult-punk-adolescent-romance-narrative-concept-album ever released. But first, some background.

A lot of people know the song “Jilted John” by Jilted John, even if they don’t know it by name. Chances are, they probably think it’s called “Gordon Is A Moron” or “The Moron Song” or something like that. It sounds like this:

YouTube Preview Image

It got to number four in the UK charts in 1978, was performed live on Top of the Pops on no less than three occasions, and is rightly held as one of the greatest and most memorable singles of the late ’70s punk/new wave era. But for most people, that’s where the Jilted John story ends – as a one-hit wonder, a novelty record and nothing more. What most people don’t know, however, is that “John” actually recorded an entire album. And, what’s more, it’s a masterpiece.

Jilted John was, of course, the alter-ego of a young comedian and singer-songwriter named Graham Fellows – who would later go on to create the peerless John Shuttleworth, and appear in adverts for Yorkshire Tea. In its original form, the eponymous song was actually the B-side of a Rabid Records single called “Going Steady” – in which a not-so-jilted John told of his love for girlfriend-of-two-months Sharon – but on the radio, it was “Jilted John” that gained greater currency, and the single would eventually be re-released by EMI with the sides flipped. In the wake of the single’s success, Fellows and super-producer Martin Hannett regrouped to create an entire album. It had an absolutely fantastic romance-comics-spoof cover, came with a free gift of a “Mice and Ladders” board game, and was called True Love Stories.

Although the album was – by the standards of the single – something of a flop, it’s retained its status as something of a cult favourite. And I absolutely love it to pieces. So if you’ve never heard it – or, even, heard of it – before, allow me to educate you as to its genius…

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