Music Video of the Day: The Bubblemen Are Coming! by The Bubblemen (1988, directed by ????)

The Bubblemen are coming!

Who are the Bubblemen?

According to this video, the Bubblemen lived in London and looked like they might be offshoots of the infamous killer bees who used to appear during the early seasons of Saturday Night Live.  Underneath the Bubblemen costumes were Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J, three former members of Bauhaus who later formed a band called Love and Rockets.

The Bubblemen were a side project of Love and Rockets.  They only released one single and video but they later made cameo appearances in the videos for Love and Rockets’ No New Tales To Tell and Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man).

The Bubblemen Are Coming was issued by Beggars Banquet Records and came with three additional tracks, Bubblemen Rap, Bubblemen Rap (Dub Version), and Bees.  The video perhaps achieved its greatest exposure when it was featured on an episode of Beavis and Butthead.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen it but, if I remember correctly, this video really freaked out Beavis.

Game Review: Deadline (1982, Infocom)

Wealthy industrialist Marshall Robner has been found dead in his study, with the door locked.  The autopsy says that he died of an overdose of antidepressants.  Was it suicide or was it murder?  And, if it was murder, who was responsible?  That’s the mystery that you’ve been given a limited amount of time to solve.

In Deadline, you play a police detective who has 12 hours to investigate and solve the mystery behind the death of Marshall Robson.  The game starts with your arrival at the sprawling Robner estate.  Do you immediately start interviewing the suspects or do you look for clues around the grounds?  Do you attend the reading of Robner’s will or do you search the study where he died?  It’s up to you but just remember that the clock is ticking!

Written by Marc Blank and released by Infocom, Deadline is a classic text adventure from 1982.  From the minute, you enter the Robner estate, you are interacting with suspects like Robner’s adulterous wife and his irresponsible son.  Their actions and their responses to your questions are determined by how you go about investigating the crime and one of the joys of the game is seeing how people react to different approaches.  (When it comes time to read Robner’s will, one character will either show up early or late, depending on whether or not you’ve shown them a key piece of evidence.)

The mystery is complex.  I played through the game a handful of times before realizing that one thing that I felt was very important was actually just a red herring.  The mystery can be solved but you’re going to have to play the game several times and experiment with being in different places at different times and showing different clues to different suspects.  Or you can just type “Deadline Walk-Through” into Google like I eventually did.

Like many other good games from the past, Deadline can currently be found in the Internet Archive.

Some Things I Liked In 2018

Since I don’t feel comfortable doing a traditional top ten list, I’m just going to list a few things that I liked in 2018.

When it comes to last year’s movies, my two favorite films were both comic book adaptations.  Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse both redefined what we traditionally expect from the comic book genre and they worked as both entertainment and as something a little bit deeper.

Among the other films I liked this year, Mission Impossible — Fallout reminded us of just how exciting a good action film can be while Game Night was hands down the best comedy of the year.  Deadpool 2 proved itself to be a worthy sequel while Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Three Identical Strangers, Free Solo, and Shirkers made this a great year for documentaries.

David Peisner’s Homey Don’t Play That was a fascinating book about the history of In Living Color, examining both the show’s tumultuous history and how it continues to be relevant today.  Also worth reading: Thanks A Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite by Roger Daltrey and Cult City by Daniel J. Flynn.

In a year that seemed to be dominated by adaptations of comic books, it seems appropriate that one of the best comics was about the history of the medium.  Written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Ryan Dunlavey and Adam Guzowski, Comics For All was the second installment in their Comic Book History of Comics.  No matter how much you think you may know about comic history, you’ll learn something new from Comics For All.

When it comes to the year’s video games, I’m torn.  Red Dead Redemption II is a totally immersive gaming experience that challenges much of what we’ve come to expect from video games.  On the other hand, Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of the most purely enjoyable games that I’ve ever played.  If I had to pick a best, I’d go with Red Dead Redemption but Spider-Man is the game that I’ll probably end up replaying a month from now.

On television, I continued to enjoy and occasionally be baffled by HBO’s Westworld.  I also enjoyed playing around with Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive program that introduces you to a likable game designer and then give you the chance to totally mess up his life.

In the States, BBC America televised the the animated restoration of the “lost” Doctor Who serial, Shada.  As an episode of Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, Shada was just as disappointing as many have warned that it would be, an overextended mix of inside jokes about Cambridge.  However, as a piece of Doctor Who history, it was priceless.

Finally, as far as the year in music is concerned, I recommend The Who’s fifth studio album, Who’s Next.  I know Who’s Next came out in 1971 but good music is timeless.

Music Video of the Day: Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins (1986, directed by Tony Scott)

For better or worse, few songs have come to epitomize a decade to the extent that Danger Zone has come to epitomize the 1980s.

The song was originally written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock for the Top Gun soundtrack.  When the film’s producers heard the demo (performed by background singer Joe Pizzulo), they knew they wanted the song but they also knew they wanted it to be performed by a big name artist.

The problem was that no one wanted to perform it.

Byran Adams thought that the song and its use in the film would glorify war.  (He wasn’t wrong.)

Corey Hart, best known for Sunglasses at Night, turned down the opportunity because he only wanted to record songs that he had written.

REO Speedwagon (!) declined an offer when they were informed that they wouldn’t be allowed to contribute any other songs to the soundtrack.

Toto came close to recording the song but their lawyers couldn’t come to an agreement with the production’s lawyers.  (Toto’s song, Only You, was also originally written for the film but was rejected in favor of Take My Breath Away.)

In the end, it was Kenny Loggins who finally agreed to perform the song and the rest, as they say, is history.  Not only was the film a huge hit but it spawned one of the best-selling soundtracks of the 1980s.  Fueled by the film’s success, Danger Zone reached the #2 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

As for the video, it was directed by Tony Scott (who, of course, also directed Top Gun).  The video mixes footage from the film with shots of Kenny Loggins deep in thought, which makes it appear that Loggins simply can’t stop thinking about the first time that Maverick and Goose met Charlie.  This video has been called “the most effective recruiting poster ever produced.”

For me, though, Danger Zone will always be the song that I used to hear while listening to the classic rock station in Los Santos.

Music Video Of The Day: Elegantly Wasted by INXS (1997, directed by Michael Stern)

The 1990s was a decade when many bands, who otherwise had little in common, were bonded together by a mutual hatred for Oasis.

Originally hailed as being the second coming of the Beatles, Oasis was fronted by two brothers, Liam and Noel Gallagher.  At the height of Oasis’s popularity, the Gallaghers never hesitated to let it be known how little they thought of their musical competition.  At the 1996 Brit Awards, when Noel Gallagher received an award from INXS’s Michael Hutchence, he accepted by saying, “Has-beens should not be presenting awards to gonna-bes.”  Backstage, Hutchence got into a scuffle with the other Gallagher brother, Liam.  Apparently, Liam made some disparaging remarks about Hutchence’s then-girlfriend, Paula Yates.  Hutchence reacted by throwing a fire extinguisher at Liam.

Following the altercation, Hutchence went to the recording studio and added some additional vocals to the chorus of the song that would become the title track to INXS’s upcoming album, Elegantly Wasted.  The original chorus was “I am elegantly wasted.”  Hutchence added, “I am better than Oasis.”  You have to listen carefully for it but it’s definitely there.

(The rest of INXS reportedly didn’t find out about Hutchence’s additions until several months later, when the album was released.)

As for the song itself, depending on which source you consult, it was originally inspired by either a pub crawl with U2’s Bono or by Hutchence’s relationship with Yates.  The video was filmed in Los Angeles, on a set that was made up to resemble an airport.  While the song may not have been as big a hit as the some of INXS’s previous releases (it peaked at 20 in the UK and 48 in Australia), it did reach the number one spot on the Canadian charts.

Sadly, it would also be one of the last INXS single to be released in Michael Hutchence’s lifetime.  Hutchence committed suicide in November of 1997.  He was 37 yeas old.

Music Video of the Day: Rocket by Def Leppard (1988, directed by Nigel Dick)

The seventh and final single to be released off of their album Hysteria, Rocket allowed the members of Def Leppard to acknowledge the music of their youth.  Among others, the song’s lyrics cites The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, T. Rex, and especially Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love.

Directed by Nigel Dick, the video for Rocket features Def Leppard playing in the same warehouse that was used in the video for Women. This time, the band is surrounded by televisions that flash footage from the 70s.  Not only are there the expected clips of Richard Nixon, the Apollo 13 disaster, and Edward Heath but there’s also plenty of footage of various artists performing on Top of the Pops.  Because Def Leppard is an English band, there’s also a good deal of footage of Arsenal winning the 1971 FA Cup Final.  There’s also a very brief shot of the infamous Gary Glitter, who was a British icon at the time this video was released but who, nine years later, would dramatically fall from grace after being convicted on charges of downloading child pornography.  This video was the last to feature lead guitarist Steve Clark, who died from alcohol poisoning in 1991.

Rocket ultimately peaked at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.


Music Video of the Day: Right Now by Van Halen (1991, directed by Mark Fenske)

If it seems like Sammy Hagar looks like he was pissed off during the filming of the music video for Van Halen’s Right Now, that’s because he was.  Hagar was firmly opposed to the video’s concept, saying that the MTV audience would be so busy reading the subtitles that they wouldn’t pay attention to the lyrics.  It also didn’t help that, when the video was shot, Hagar was also suffering with pneumonia.  When Hagar slammed the door at the end of the video, that wasn’t acting.

The video was directed by Mark Fenske and produced by Carolyn Beug.  (Ten years after the video was released, Beug was killed in the crash American Airlines Flight 11 on Steptember 11th, 2001.  At the National 9/11 Memorial, Beug is memorialized at the North Pool, on Panel N-1.)  For the shot of the photograph being set on fire, Fenske used an old picture of himself.  As well, Fenske’s mother appears in the video, kissing the camera.

Right Now is probably the best known of the songs to come out of the Van Hagar period.   Despite Hagar’s reservations, the video was one of Van Halen’s most successful, winning the award for video of the year at the MTV Music Video Awards.