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The Late Movies: 9 Low-Budget "Classic Alternative" Music Videos

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I grew up watching 120 Minutes, an MTV show that aired starting at midnight on Sunday night. This made waking up for school on Monday morning hard, but at least I got to catch the newest "alternative" videos (The Cure, The Replacements, The Breeders, that sort of thing) which rarely aired in the normal MTV rotation. Well, as the years have passed, what I grew up with as "alternative" is now called "classic alternative" (referring to roughly 1990 and earlier). When I noticed this the other day, it made me feel old. So now I'm blogging about it.

Here are some of my favorite "low budget" classic alternative videos. In many cases these look like they were done with one camera, on one or two sets, but they're still a lot of fun -- proving that you don't need special effects, fancy sets, heck, you don't even need actors or the band itself in some cases. Enjoy.

The Replacements - "Bastards of Young" (1986)

The ultimate non-video video, this is a single shot depicting a speaker thumping, with a young punk occasional partially visible in the frame. According to Wikipedia, "Similar videos were also made for 'Hold My Life' (in color) and 'Left of the Dial.'"

(Quick warning: this video isn't available on YouTube, so you have to sit through a brief ad to see it via MTV.)

The Dead Milkmen - "Punk Rock Girl" (1988)

Full of mistakes (the singer clearly messing up) and general goofing-off, this is just a boatload of fun.

The Sugarcubes - "Birthday" (1987)

This was back when Björk was just "that singer from The Sugarcubes."

The Breeders - "Divine Hammer" (1993)

Okay, maybe a few years late to be officially "classic alternative," but the Super-8 video makes it classic in my opinion. Best Breeders song ever.

R.E.M. - "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" (1984)

Fun facts from Wikipedia:

The video, directed by Howard Libov and first aired in June 1984, featured the members of the band playing their instruments behind white screens in an otherwise empty room, with Michael Stipe singing in the foreground. Stipe refused to lip sync to the song. Guitarist Peter Buck said, "We played a recording of the track, and the rest of us faked it, but Michael insisted on singing a new vocal to make it more real for him.

Violent Femmes - "Gone Daddy Gone" (1983)

Again, a ten-second ad precedes the video. But it's worth it to see Gordon Gano and the crew staring directly at the camera and rocking out.

The Cure - "Boys Don't Cry" (1979)

So here's the deal, guys. We'll get some kids to dress up like the band and pretend to play the song. But behind the kids, there's this see-through scrim where the REAL band is playing, but the real band has creepy weird glowing eyes. Now...ACTION!

Elvis Costello and the Attractions, "Oliver's Army" (1979)

You know how that Buggles video ("Video Killed the Radio Star") was the first video shown on MTV? Well, this video was also shown that first day -- August 1, 1981. Another tidbit from Wikipedia:

During the recording of Armed Forces at Eden Studios in West London, the incomplete "Oliver's Army" was nearly dropped from the album, but was eventually kept after keyboardist Steve Nieve created the piano part for the song, inspired, perhaps ironically, by ABBA's "Dancing Queen."

Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (1967)

Although many people have seen this iconic video, most don't know that it's the opening shot of Don't Look Back, D.A. Pennebaker's documentary on Dylan (which is well worth a look -- keep an eye out for a scene in which Donovan performs a song in a hotel room). Here's how Wikipedia explains it:

In addition to the song's influence on music, the song was used in what became one of the first "modern" promotional film clips, the forerunner of what later became known as the music video. Although Rolling Stone ranked it 7th in the magazine's October 1993 list of "100 Top Music Videos", the original clip was actually the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker's film, Dont Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England. In the film, Dylan, who came up with the idea, holds up cue cards for the audience, with selected words and phrases from the lyrics. The cue cards were written by Donovan, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Neuwirth and Dylan himself. While staring at the camera, he flips the cards as the song plays. There are intentional misspellings and puns throughout the clip: for instance, when the song's lyrics say "eleven dollar bills" the poster says "20 dollar bills". The clip was shot in an alley behind the Savoy Hotel in London where Ginsberg and Neuwirth make a cameo in the background. For use as a trailer, the following text was superimposed at the end of the clip while Dylan and Ginsberg are exiting the frame: "Surfacing Here Soon | Bob Dylan in | Don't Look Back by D. A. Pennebaker."

What Did I Miss?

Please leave your favorite alternative (or otherwise) videos in the comments!

See also: A Brief History of Music Television, 120 Minutes Archive, and Another Immense Time-Waster: MTV Music Posts Tons of Videos.

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science
6 Radiant Facts About Irène Joliot-Curie
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Though her accomplishments are often overshadowed by those of her parents, the elder daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie was a brilliant researcher in her own right.

1. SHE WAS BORN TO, AND FOR, GREATNESS.

A black and white photo of Irene and Marie Curie in the laboratory in 1925.
Irène and Marie in the laboratory, 1925.
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Irène’s birth in Paris in 1897 launched what would become a world-changing scientific dynasty. A restless Marie rejoined her loving husband in the laboratory shortly after the baby’s arrival. Over the next 10 years, the Curies discovered radium and polonium, founded the science of radioactivity, welcomed a second daughter, Eve, and won a Nobel Prize in Physics. The Curies expected their daughters to excel in their education and their work. And excel they did; by 1925, Irène had a doctorate in chemistry and was working in her mother’s laboratory.

2. HER PARENTS' MARRIAGE WAS A MODEL FOR HER OWN.

Like her mother, Irène fell in love in the lab—both with her work and with another scientist. Frédéric Joliot joined the Curie team as an assistant. He and Irène quickly bonded over shared interests in sports, the arts, and human rights. The two began collaborating on research and soon married, equitably combining their names and signing their work Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.

3. SHE AND HER HUSBAND WERE AN UNSTOPPABLE PAIR.

Black and white photo of Irène and Fréderic Joliot-Curie working side by side in their laboratory.
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Their passion for exploration drove them ever onward into exciting new territory. A decade of experimentation yielded advances in several disciplines. They learned how the thyroid gland absorbs radioiodine and how the body metabolizes radioactive phosphates. They found ways to coax radioactive isotopes from ordinarily non-radioactive materials—a discovery that would eventually enable both nuclear power and atomic weaponry, and one that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.

4. THEY FOUGHT FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE.

The humanist principles that initially drew Irène and Frédéric together only deepened as they grew older. Both were proud members of the Socialist Party and the Comité de Vigilance des Intellectuels Antifascistes (Vigilance Committee of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals). They took great pains to keep atomic research out of Nazi hands, sealing and hiding their research as Germany occupied their country, Irène also served as undersecretary of state for scientific research of the Popular Front government.

5. SHE WAS NOT CONTENT WITH THE STATUS QUO.

Irène eventually scaled back her time in the lab to raise her children Hélène and Pierre. But she never slowed down, nor did she stop fighting for equality and freedom for all. Especially active in women’s rights groups, she became a member of the Comité National de l'Union des Femmes Françaises and the World Peace Council.

6. SHE WORKED HERSELF TO DEATH.

Irène’s extraordinary life was a mirror of her mother’s. Tragically, her death was, too. Years of watching radiation poisoning and cancer taking their toll on Marie never dissuaded Irène from her work. In 1956, dying of leukemia, she entered the Curie Hospital, where she followed her mother’s luminous footsteps into the great beyond.

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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iStock

After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like Delivery.com or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with Delivery.com or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]

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