Music Video of the Day: Basket Case by Green Day (1994, dir. Mike Kohr)


This is another one of those music videos I am obligated to do because it so famous. Or at least the song is so famous that I don’t have much choice.

Along with Smells Like Teen Spirit, this is one of those songs that was so overplayed that I got sick of it as a kid. It actually took me awhile before I bothered watching the music video for it. There isn’t much story to it, but there is a little background on it.

At the insistence of the band, they filmed the music video in an actual mental institution that was known as Agnews Developmental Center in Santa Clara, California. It has a bit of a dark history being the site of the greatest loss of life in the Santa Clara Valley during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. According to the Daily Palo Alto at the time:

“The position of the people in Agnews is critical; a number of insane persons having escaped from the demolished asylum, are running at random about the country.”

According to Wikipedia, 117 patients and staff were killed there during the quake.

The music video of course has references to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

It was originally filmed in black and white, then bassist Mike Dirnt colorized it, which gives the music video that surreal look. It reminds me of the way you see light when your eyes are dilated, which fits with the bit in the song about wondering if the anxiety that Billie Joe Armstrong was under at the time–later diagnosed as having a panic disorder–was just insanity, or the cause of drugs.

It’s interesting to me that this song and Silent All These Years by Tori Amos both start off by asking the audience whether they have the time to spare to hear what they have to say. This is particularly interesting considering the director would go on to make a Tori Amos video. He would also later direct Just A Girl by No Doubt.

If I had to guess about the patients who still appear black and white, and are wearing the same color mask, then I would say it’s a reference to how people tend to view mental illness as a black and white issue. You’re either sane or insane without much middle ground. The masks all looking the same would be the grouping of anyone insane into one pot such as the very mental institution they were filming within likely did, or at least the perception people have of such places. Agnews Developmental Center was once known as “The Great Asylum for the Insane”.

You can also think of them as ghosts of the people who died there so many years ago, or lived out their lives there. According to the band, when they entered the place they found old patient files, deep scratches in the walls, and dental molds scattered around the place. My best guess is those people in the music video are the ghosts of people who left those remains behind.

I like how it ends with the gate closing as if to say that visitation hours are over.

The music video was directed by Mike Kohr. He made 9 music videos for Green Day, but has done at least 60 music videos so far. He appears to still be working in music videos today having done This Is Where We Go for Snow Angel in 2013.

Adam Beckman shot the music video. He appears to have only worked on 7 music videos. He has done some work outside of music videos over the years including shooting 12 episodes of This American Life as well as films.

There is one in particular that jumped out at me, which might explain why he was chosen to shoot this music video. In 1987 he was an additional camera assistant on a movie called Doom Asylum that has this plot summary on IMDb:

“A demented coroner uses autopsy equipment to kill off the teenagers who trespass on the long-abandoned asylum he inhabits. Filmed on location in an actual abandoned asylum.”

Enjoy!

Law & Order In The Internet Archive: Crime Fighter


I have just returned from another exploration of the old MSDOS games stored at the Internet Archive and I think I may have found one of the most addictive games ever programmed.  Without further ado, let’s play Crime Fighter (1993, Peter Steffen)!

(There is an updated version of Crime Fighter that can be downloaded from here.  This review is solely for the version that can be found on the Internet Archive.)

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Crime Fighter is a game where you attempt to become the top boss of a small city’s criminal underworld.  When I started the game, this is the first thing I saw:

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Got it?  This is an educational game!

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You are one of the four gangsters mentioned above.  The other gangsters are your friends and loved ones, assuming you can convince them to play the game with you.  I could not.

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Fear the Citizen Kanes!

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After naming my gang, I was randomly assigned some stats.   I am more brutal than smart and I’m also as weak as a little kitten.  I’ll be running that city in no time.

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Rules?  Who needs rules?  I never read the rules.  I can figure this game out on my own.  What I can’t figure out is which of the two options I’ve selected.  Since I’m using the arrow keys to make my selection, it’s not easy to tell which option I’ve highlighted.  Have I selected no?  The only way to know for sure is to press enter.

crime-fighter-7‘I guess I must have selected yes because there’s the rules.

After all of that, it was finally time to get this game started.  At the start of each turn, you see this:

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I looked at my six choices.  I was not ready to quit the game and, since I was playing a single-player game, there was no next player.   Run through the town sounded like fun but I wasn’t here to have fun.  I was here to become the top ganglord in the city!  The best way to do that?  Get rid of all the other gangs.

I selected gang war.

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That didn’t work.   Apparently, you can only have a gang war if you are actually playing with other people.  That was good news for the Citizen Kanes, though.  With no other gangs around, the city belonged to us.  I guess that made me the winner, right?

Seeing as how I was the city’s new criminal overlord, I decided it was time to run through the city.

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Where should I visit first?  I knew I was only allowed 25 moves before the turn ended so my options were limited.  I decided to pay a visit to the building with the H on the rooftop.

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That explains the H.  I decided to enter the hotel.

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“Give me all your money!”

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What happened next occurred so quickly that I did not get a chance to capture a screenshot.  Four gangsters showed up with baseball bats and beat me down.  It was not the greatest moment in the history of the Citizen Kanes.

Things only got worse.

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Bribing the police was the right thing to do but now I was down 1500 DMs.  I was not sure how much money I had left so, when I was transported back to the city map with 15 moves left in the turn, I decided to visit the bank.

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Coming back at night seemed like a good and simple way to make some money!

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Who needs instructions?  How difficult can it be?

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Again, I pushed the wrong button and I got the instructions anyway.

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What the Hell am I supposed to do with that?  Can I see those instructions again?

Too late.  The alarm went off.  It’s a good thing that I can always just bribe the police.

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Did I push the wrong button again?

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Yes, I did.

This is when I discovered is that, while you can keep backing up from them for as long as you want to, there is no way to escape the police.  You have to fight them.  That’s a problem when they have guns and you do not.

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That did not work out.  I guess I’m dead now.

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No, I’m not dead.  But I am in prison for 1 month, which amounts to four game turns.  If I had been playing with another player, this would have given them time to steal all of my territory while I was in jail.  Luckily, since I was playing a single player game, being in jail did not hurt me one way or the other.

After I was released, I found myself back here:

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This time, I decided not to go to the bank or the hotel.  Instead, I went down to the bottom of the map and visited the subway station.

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I learned my lesson the last time!  I bribed the cops and they let me go.

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Where to now?  It looks like there might be a gun shop above the subway station.

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Eddie, I like the way you think.  Show me your weapons.

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Hand grenades might be helpful but let’s take a look at that pistol first.

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Thanks for nothing, Eddie.

If I can’t afford a gun, maybe I can steal one.  And who has more guns than police?  As I started to make my way to the police station at the top of the map, this suddenly happened:

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Thanks, officer!

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Here’s the police station!  Let’s see if I can trick a flatfoot out of his piece.

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Sorry, stealing a gun is not an option.  If I wanted a weapon, I was going to have to find the money to pay for it.  But how could I steal the money if I didn’t have a gun?

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Is that a casino down at the bottom of the map?  My prayers have been answered!

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Blackjack has always been my game and I am not a bad poker player either.  But I needed money quickly and that meant betting it all one turn of the roulette wheel.

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Great.

To recap: After playing the game for fifteen minutes, I have spent a month in jail, I do not have a gun, and I am now broke.  The Citizen Kanes have seen better days.

Maybe I should just go rob that big shopping mall.

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Money transport in the evening?  That sounds like an easy score!

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How difficult can that be?

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I just have to wait for that one guard to move before I move down.  There he goes!  This is so easy, I can’t believe I did not try it earlier…

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This is probably not going to end well.

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No, it did not end well.  Not only was I captured but I did not have any money to offer the police.  I ended up spending another 4 game turns in jail.  When I was released, I looked back on what I had accomplished after playing the game for 30 minutes and it became clear that I really only had one option.

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I may not have done so well on my first try but Crime Fighter is an addictive game and I look forward to playing it again in the future!  msdos_crime_fighter_1993

Music Video of the Day: Lightning Crashes by Live (1994, dir. Jake Scott)


When I was a kid, this was one of those music videos that never seemed to get played that much, but when it did, I would stop to watch it. I guess there was just something moving about it that I couldn’t resist. I always had a fondness for the books on the floor part. Watching it today, it doesn’t do a whole lot for me except to send me on a bit of a nostalgia trip.

Whenever I listen to the song, it sounds like the story of a an old woman who dies in one room while a woman gives birth in another room. According to Ed Kowalczyk the music video created a misinterpretation that the new mother died:

“While the clip is shot in a home environment, I envisioned it taking place in a hospital, where all these simultaneous deaths and births are going on, one family mourning the loss of a woman while a screaming baby emerges from a young mother in another room. Nobody’s dying in the act of childbirth, as some viewers think. What you’re seeing is actually a happy ending based on a kind of transference of life.”

I never really thought of it as having a happy or sad ending, but something sadly inspirational. A mystical experience if you will. I think that aspect is captured well in the music video. You could say that the books represent a lifetime of accumulated knowledge haunted by ghosts of people who have come and gone in the form of the band members who seem to either be ghosts or pass on just as the baby is removed and held high before being given to the young mother.

The music video was directed by Jake Scott who seems to have been drawn to this type of music video seeing as he also did Everybody Hurts by R.E.M., Wonder by Natalie Merchant, and When You’re Gone by The Cranberries. He seems to have directed 50 or so music videos.

Salvatore Totino shot the music video. He seems to have shot around 15 music videos usually directed by Jake Scott. He went on to shoot some well-known films such as The Da Vinci Code (2006), Frost/Nixon (2008), Everest (2015), and the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017).

Patrick Sheffield edited the music video. He seems to have only worked on a handful of music videos.

Ellen Jackson produced this music video, and that’s all I could find. I highly doubt that is all she has done though. She probably worked for their record company. That’s my best guess.

Enjoy!

Here’s The Trailer For The Autopsy Of Jane Doe!


I don’t know much about The Autopsy of Jane Doe but there are a few people, with whom I casually interact on twitter, who saw this film at TIFF two weeks ago and they swear it’s the scariest thing that they’ve ever seen.

Take that for what you will.  I’ve lost track of how many horror films have been described as being “the scariest thing that has ever been seen.”  Go read a few of Stephen King’s reviews and you’ll notice that he apparently thinks everything that has ever been written and/or filmed is “the scariest thing that he’s ever seen.”

Beware of hyperbole, I’m saying!

That said, here’s the trailer and it looks like the movie might be pretty scary…

Here’s The Latest Trailer For Luke Cage!


Don’t worry, we won’t!

Speaking of which, here’s the final Luke Cage trailer!  The show itself will be available on Netflix starting on September 30th.