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‘The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be’: Crispin Glover’s concept album, 1989
06:39 am



In 1989—not so long after he starred in River’s Edge, tried to kick David Letterman in the face and published his first book Rat Catching—Crispin Glover released an album. More than a mere new wave or spoken word record, The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be presented itself as a riddle. On the back cover, above a collage of nine items including photos of Hitler, Charles Manson, unidentified clowns, and Glover as Jesus crucified, these lines of text dared listeners to reach out and touch someone:

“All words and lyrics point toward THE BIG PROBLEM. The solution lay within the title: LET IT BE. Crispin Hellion Glover wants to know what you think these nine things all have in common. Call (213) 464-5053.”

(It was rumored that Glover sometimes picked up, but every time I dialed this number I got the answering machine of his press, Volcanic Eruptions.)

Recorded with Barnes & Barnes of “Fish Heads” fame, the album included readings from Glover’s books Rat Catching and Oak Mot; indelible interpretations of “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and Charles Manson’s “I’ll Never Say Never to Always”; and originals that ranged from a ballad about hygiene (“The New Clean Song”) to a rap about masturbation (“Auto-Manipulator”). Promotion (*cough*) seems to have been limited to a video for “Clowny Clown Clown,” whose lyrics referred obliquely to Glover’s character, Rubin Farr, in the excellent cult comedy Rubin and Ed. At the time, the reference was all the more oblique because the straight-to-video movie did not come out until 1991, two years after the release of The Big Problem. In the video, Glover appears dressed as “Mr. Farr” at the appropriate moment in the song.

The entire album is now up at UbuWeb. Wikipedia and UbuWeb both report that the phone number printed on the sleeve has been disconnected. However, they fail to mention that Glover’s—or that of Volcanic Eruptions—current number, (310) 391-4154 is posted on his website. Why don’t you give him a call? The nine items on the back cover of The Big Problem are:

I. The killing and maiming of defenseless animals?
II. Cleanliness?
III. Indignant, righteous, self manipulation, with discrimination against others?
IV. Clowns?
V. Getting out of bed?
VI. Boots?
VII. The daring young man on the flying trapeze, who might just as easily be called a gloating woman seducer?
VIII. Charles Manson never saying “Never” to always?
IX. Oak Mot?
  A. Adry Long circa 1868?
  B. Adolf Hitler circa 1932?
  C. Adry/Hitler in the minds of history forevermore?

What do these things have in common? If you find out, let us know.

The video for “Clowny Clown Clown”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Vintage Photos of Rockers, Punks, and Pop Stars Playing Pinball
07:33 am



The Ramones
The Ramones pose for CREEM, 1978
Here’s a set of vintage photographs capturing rock stars, punks, and pop royalty playing pinball. Many of these are candid shots, taken on the road during downtime while on tour. Some were taken in such a casual environment that information regarding who took the photo, and when, is scarce.

Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry, 1977. Photo by Bob Gruen.
David Johansen, Lenny Kaye, Dee Dee Ramone, Andy Paley
David Johansen, Lenny Kaye, Dee Dee Ramone, and Andy Paley at C.B.G.B.’s, 1977. Another one by Bob Gruen
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan, c. 1965
Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley in a Detroit arcade, 1956
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen, 1978
Gene Vincent
Gene Vincent, 1963
Joe Strummer
Joe Strummer
Tina Turner
Tina Turner
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson, c. 1983

Keith Moon explains why he loves pinball:

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Finally: The ‘Big Lebowski’ pinball machine is here and it is gorgeous!
07:37 am



I have to tell you, I adore pinball, and I’m very excited to make a trip to my local bowling palace sometime in the next year or so to try out the soon-to-be-released Big Lebowski pinball machine, duly licensed by Universal Studios and manufactured by Dutch Pinball. The machine retails for $8,500 (which can be broken up into four payments), excluding taxes and fees; if you would like to pre-order one, you can do it here. They aren’t kidding about the “Dutch” in “Dutch Pinball.” Ahem: “Residents of the European Union are subject to Dutch BTW (VAT). ... Customers living outside of the European Union are not required to pay Dutch VAT; however, you may be subject to an import tariff.”

The game has three levels, including a stunning re-creation of a bowling alley (“Licensed Brunswick Lane Design”) underneath the main level. The game will play songs from the movie, including Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” Kenny Rogers’ “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In,” and Santana’s “Oye Como Va.”

Details on gameplay are not the easiest to come by, but the game features three “Character Modes,” two “Car Modes,” a “Mark It Zero” bonus, and three “Rug Modes” (you read that right). Marvelously, the game features a life-sized, actual goddamn White Russian that juts out of the playing field on the right-hand side and occasionally lights up.

When you speak of this—and you know you will—please resist the temptation to make a “rug ties it all together” joke, everyone’s already done that one.





“Attract mode lighting”:

Three more videos detailing the luscious Lebowski pinball machine, after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
How many moles does Lemmy have? Play the Motörhead trivia board game and find out
01:16 pm



How well do you know Motörhead? Even though I’m pretty much uh stalker-level with my knowledge of the band, even I didn’t know this game existed until recently. So how about you? DO YOU know how many women Lemmy has slept with? (Naturally, that’s a trick question as the number just keeps going up.) I suggest you put money where your Motörmöuth is by taking on the 1600 questions that are a part of the Motörhead trivia board game made by Swedish game makers, Rock Science.

Each question has a different level of difficulty: “Poser” (what’s an umlaut?), “Fan” (knows the titles of all 21 Motörhead records) and “Scientist” (knows more about Lemmy’s current medical condition than their own). There’s even a “Rock the Song” category that requires players to hum a Motörhead song until someone guesses the title.

Methinks this dangerous game may take quite a lot of booze and time to get through, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night. Or any night for that matter. It’s $79 bucks over at Motörhead’s merch store. Jack Daniels and amphetamine sulphate not included.

Motorhead trivia board game box

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
The Surrealists’ tarot deck
08:22 am



In 1940 and 1941 André Breton, widely considered the founder of Surrealism, and a group of like-minded individuals (René Char, Oscar Dominguez, Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Jacques Hérold, Wilfredo Lam, André Masson, Benjamin Péret) decided to design their own deck of tarot cards. The deck they finally came up with was executed in a remarkably pleasing, almost ligne claire style. In accordance with the mindfuckery inherent to Surrealism, the group rejected the courtly/medieval theme of the traditional deck and nominated their own heroes to represent the face cards, including Hegel, Freud, the Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire, and so on.

(A quick clarification: It seems evident that this is a deck of playing cards or possibly a hybrid of tarot and playing cards. Sources seem unequivocal in describing the deck as a tarot deck, and so that’s what we’re going with too.)

The Surrealist deck of cards suggests a kind of post-Enlightenment, left-wing, revolutionary, intellect-based cosmology. So the royal hierarchy of King, Queen, and Jack was replaced with “Genius,” “Siren,” and “Magus,” this last word accentuating the occult roots of the project. Rejecting the traditional clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds as well as the traditional tarot suits (wands, cups, swords, and discs), the group invented its own symbolism, with flames and wheels constituting the red suits and locks and stars being the black ones. Flames represented love and desire; wheels represented revolution; stars represented dreams; and locks represented knowledge.

Brilliantly, for the joker, the group selected Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (bottom).

Genius of flames: Baudelaire
Siren of flames: Marianna Alcofardo (author of Letters of a Portuguese Nun)
Magus of flames: Novalis

Genius of locks: Hegel
Siren of locks: Hélène Smith (nineteenth-century psychic)
Magus of locks: Paracelsus (Renaissance physician and occultist)

Genius of wheels: De Sade
Siren of wheels: Lamiel (from Stendhal)
Magus of wheels: Pancho Villa

Genius of stars: Lautréamont
Siren of stars: Alice (from Lewis Carroll)
Magus of stars: Freud













via Tombolare

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Tampon Run’: Teenage coders make a video game about menstruation at summer camp
07:38 am



While Anita Sarkeesian receives death threats and rape threats for the crime of generating thoughtful, detailed critiques of the sexism in video games, as happened just a couple of weeks ago, then you know that the world of gaming sorely needs a lengthy session of sensitivity training—if its problems with women aren’t so deep-seated as to resist any improvement, that is.

Enter Andy Gonzales and Sophie Houser and their charming Flash game Tampon Run, which they designed this summer at a camp called Girls Who Code. Gonzales and Houser are both high school students in New York who wanted to attack the sexism in the gaming industry.

As Gonzales says:

“We were brainstorming what our potential feminist game would look like, and Sophie jokingly suggested a game where you could throw tampons at people. The moment she said it, we realized it was a game we could make. We did some research about the menstrual taboo and realized it was a real problem that we could legitimately address with our game.”

The game is preceded by a few splash screens in which the creators explain their purpose in designing Tampon Run:

“Although the concept of the video game may be strange, it’s stranger that our society has accepted and normalized guns and violence through video games, yet we still find tampons and menstruation unspeakable. Hopefully one day menstruation will be as normal, if not more so, than guns and violence have become in our society.”

The game itself is very simple—it emulates Mario Bros. by having a character run in a rightward direction, shooting projectiles to kill an endless succession of oncoming marauders, except the projectiles in this case are tampons. Even removing the tampons from the equation, just having the protagonist be a woman is a relative rarity in video games. You shoot the tampons at the “enemies” until you run out of ammo, but every now and then a fresh box of tampons hovers near you, and when you jump you can refresh your supply. If an enemies reaches you, you lose two tampons. The game ends when you run out of tampons. The game doesn’t exactly reward hours of playing time, but I enjoyed it well enough—in my third game I achieved a high score of 129!

via Internet Magic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
David Bowie should be in every video game
02:46 pm



While I strive to be a Bowie completest, I feel like I’m constantly coming across some weird little project he did on the side, many of which are more intuitive than others. Somehow I entirely missed that he partially scored and had a small voice-over part in the 1999 adventure game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Frankly I’m a little surprised he never got into video game acting earlier—he has a great speaking voice, and is there a rocker more sci-fi than he? And that face! Those chiseled cheeks are perfect for 3-D animation.

The plot of Omikron even reads like a concept Bowie came up with. The player enters an alternate dimension to investigate murders in a futuristic city, eventually liberating citizens from a fascistic techno-government while attempting to evade demons trying to steal their soul (you know, script number 3). Bowie wrote some decent pop tunes for the soundtrack and played an underground revolutionary. He also makes an “appearance” as a singer for a band that plays illegal concerts. It’s all very much the cyberpunk “vive la résistance” aesthetics à la The Matrix, which came out the same year.

Where it falls flat is the attempt to divine a music video from the not-so-slick game animation—a rare miss from Bowie’s aesthetics. I mean, it’s not “Dancing in the Street” bad, but it’s no Labyrinth either.


Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Destroy millions of dollars’ worth of Ai Weiwei vases in new video game
06:22 am



Ai Weiwei
Many of you reading this will recall the incident of last February in which a gentleman named Maximo Caminero destroyed a very valuable vase by the internationally famous Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

Ai Weiwei and dropped vases were linked well before Caminero committed his act of artistic vandalism, which might in fact be regarded as a form of hommage—indeed, Caminero has said as much. For, nearly two decades earlier, Ai Weiwei did much the same thing in order to elicit a reaction. In his 1995 photographic triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, Ai Weiwei does precisely what the title indicates, getting butterfingers with a 2000-year-old relic. These three massive pictures were hanging just a few feet away from Caminero in the Perez Art Museum Miami, so his claim to be perpetrating hommage seems highly credible.
Ai Weiwei
You might even say that “Ai Weiwei and dropping valuable vases” constitutes one of the most exciting new artistic genres of our era. According to Chin-Chin Yap, in 2012 “Swiss artist Manuel Salvisberg created a photographic triptych called Fragments of History, which depicts Uli Sigg in an almost identical stance to Ai’s in Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. Here, Sigg drops the famed Coca-Cola Urn [a work by Ai Weiwei] that has long been one of the central pieces of his collection.”
Manuel Salvisberg
If I’m understanding this game correctly (and if we follow the logic of a certain conceptual-art exchange purportedly performed by Macaulay Culkin and Ryan Gosling last week), the next step in the sequence would be for Ai Weiwei to destroy an invaluable urn created by Manuel Salvisberg, or possibly by Maximo Caminero.

Be that as it may, a video game designer called Grayson Earle has broken this closed loop by creating an online video game called “Ai Wei Whoops!” in which the player repeatedly drops 2D images of Ai Weiwei vases on the ground, which then go smash. After that the tally of “approximate property damage” increases by some number in the neighborhood of a million dollars (it isn’t always the same number).

Here’s the Caminero video, for those who’d like to see the mayhem all over again:

via Hyperallergic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘It’s Pie Face!’: Hasbro’s sadomasochistic kids’ game, 1968
08:58 am



What’s more fun than humiliating yourself in front of friends and family with a self-inflicted pie in your face?

“Pie Face,” made by Hassenfeld Bros (now Hasbro) in 1968, was a cream pie game version of Russian roulette. placed a whipped cream “pie” on the launcher, then took turns spinning to find out how many times to crank the launcher’s handles. It was randomly set to let the pie fly into the player’s face, positioned within the target.

According to the box “Pie Face” is “The most fun-filled action GAME you’ve ever played!”

The “loser” of this variation on the Russian roulette theme is kind of the winner, though, ‘cause at least they get to eat some pie and not die.

The whole “goo in the face” aspect of the song lyrics in the “Pie Face” commercial jingle would probably have to be revisited if they ever revive this game… And what’s a “mystery handle” aside from a great name for a punk band?

Via Tracy’s Toys and h/t Richard Swanson

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Danish gov’t creates perfect Minecraft Denmark; hooligans promptly blow it up, plant American flags
09:37 am



Mincraft Denmark
I love everything about this story. I love what the Danish government did, in creating a perfect 1:1 Minecraft simulation of the entire country of Denmark, and I love what the users did, which is, by sheer inventiveness and determination, circumvent the Danish government’s well thought out measures to prevent people from messing with it. Well, maybe I don’t love the jingoistic instinct of the American gamer… Well, what are you gonna do?

About a week ago the Danish government made the meticulous simulacrum available to users. You can download sections of the Denmark map here. The simulation involved the use of “trillions” of Minecraft bricks, and although there have been similar real-life Minecraft simulations before, from all appearances this is one of the most ambitious and detailed areas of this sort yet achieved.

The Danish Geodata Agency, the creators of the simulation, intelligently disabled the use of dynamite so that users could enjoy the pixelated Scandinavian land unmolested. But the innate human need to fuck shit up prevailed. You see, the Danish Geodata Agency had neglected to disable the “minecart with dynamite” item. Oops. Users figured this out, blew up parts of a number of Danish towns, and put American flags over the main train station of Copenhagen (pictured above). In this reddit thread about the incident (in Danish), a Swedish user wrote in, “As a Swede, I’m happy to see this…..” (As usual, the Swedes and the Danes always get along under all circumstances…..)

Initially, the Danish government announced that it would reboot the map with add new restrictions to prevent the possibility of virtual vandalism. However, further investigation revealed that “only MINOR areas” of the map were destroyed, so they would leave the simulation intact. The simulation has been quite popular, having been downloaded 200,000 times already, so all in all it’s PR coup for the pleasant European nation that gave the world LEGO and Lars von Trier.

Here’s a little tour of the Minecraft Denmark (pre-vandalism) so you can see what it’s like.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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