Black Lodge 2600: The Twin Peaks Video Game

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“That gum you like is going to come back in style.” Kyle MacLachlan and Michael J. Anderson in the Black Lodge.

After the chance discovery last week of photo panoramas by Twin Peaks “Giant” Carel Struycken I was doubly-surprised this week when random searching turned up a small Twin Peaks video game. Black Lodge 2600 is a free game for Macs and PCs that emulates the crude graphics and audio of an Atari 2600 cartridge. Jak Locke is the programmer, and his creation appeared last year which is again surprising since I’d have expected to hear about it by now.

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The accompanying manual describes the challenge facing the player:

A day in the FBI was never like this before! You are Special Agent Dale Cooper and you’ve found yourself trapped inside of the Black Lodge, a surreal and dangerous place between worlds.

Try as you might, you can’t seem to find anything but the same room and hallway no matter which way you turn. Worse yet, your doppelganger is in hot pursuit! You have no choice but to keep running through the room and hallway (or is it more than one?) and above all else, don’t let your doppelganger touch you! Your extensive physical training in the FBI will provide you a seemingly limitless supply of energy to run as long as necessary, but running out of breath is the least of your worries!

You’ll find quickly that you’re not alone in the Black Lodge, though your friends are few and far between. Not only that, the lodge itself seems to be actively trying to trip you up at all times! You’ll be dodging chairs and crazed Lodge residents all while trying to keep your own insanity. How long can this go on?

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I racked up 800 points before the Bad Dale caught up with me. Those who want to try their hands can download Black Lodge 2600 here.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Carel Struycken’s panoramas
Bohren & Der Club Of Gore
Through the darkness of future pasts

Carel Struycken’s panoramas

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The Bradbury Building by Carel Struycken.

An idle search for a panorama view of the interior of the Bradbury Building in Downtown Los Angeles fetched me up at my favourite panorama site 360Cities and this photo by Carel Struycken. Mr Struycken is better known as an actor whose great height has seen him cast as The Giant in the Twin Peaks TV series, and Lurch in the Addams Family films. 360Cities has a page of his panorama views most of which are taken in and around Los Angeles. The strangely ossified landscape around California’s Monolake is more familiar from this photo by Hipgnosis for Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album.

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Urban Light by Carel Struycken.

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Monolake in Winter by Carel Struycken.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The panoramas archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Through the darkness of future pasts
The Bradbury Building: Looking Backward from the Future

Bohren & Der Club Of Gore

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Black Earth by Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

How to sustain the atmosphere of something you’ve enjoyed without flogging the work itself to death by repeated viewing? In the case of Twin Peaks, the subject of yesterday’s post, you can indulge yourself with spin-off merchandise like this Garmonbozia T-shirt. Or you could try playing the Twin Peaks Murder Mystery Board Game. I own the latter and while it provides some amusement the reduction of the first season’s enigmas to a set of board game rules doesn’t really work that well. Better by far are the two soundtrack CDs by Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me, and the first Julee Cruise album, Floating Into The Night. And if that’s still not enough, there’s always Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.

Bohren… are a German “doom jazz” outfit whose origins in the hardcore scene and their enthusiasm for Black Sabbath explains both their name and the appearance of CD covers like the one for Black Earth (2002). But the music within contradicts all expectations. I was first alerted to them a few years ago when I saw them described as being “like the Twin Peaks soundtrack”. An initial “yeah, sure…” scepticism crumbled upon hearing their third album, Sunset Mission (2000), which really does sound like a continuation of Angelo Badalamenti’s slow, dark jazz scores. The fourth album, Black Earth, is better in many ways since it sounds less derivative, further reducing the rhythms to a slow crawl in the manner of doom metal band Earth. In place of the riffs of the doom-meisters you get a sullen saxophone wailing in the dark. Black Earth was followed by the even more minimal Geisterfaust (2005) which happens to have a blue flower on its cover. Coincidence or not? Their most recent album, Dolores (2008), lets some light return with an organ and vibraphone augmenting the slow evolution of each piece. Bohren & Der Club Of Gore are a great band who deserve wider recognition. If you’re a Lynch enthusiast then Sunset Mission and Black Earth are the ones to go for, I’ve been playing them continually all week.

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Prowler | Midnight Black Earth

Previously on { feuilleton }
Through the darkness of future pasts
Earth in Manchester

Through the darkness of future pasts

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Having spent the past two weeks re-watching the whole run of Twin Peaks, and following that with David Lynch’s 1992 prequel, Fire Walk With Me, I feel I owe the producers of these works a note of apology. Being a long-time Lynchophile I eagerly watched every episode of Twin Peaks when it was first screened by the BBC in 1991, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the first fifteen episodes I grew increasingly dismayed with the series as the principal writer and director wandered off halfway through and the whole thing lost focus. There was a return to form with the very last episode, and Fire Walk With Me is great despite some flaws, a film I much prefer to the later Lost Highway, but that disappointment meant I’d never tried watching the whole series again until now, courtesy of a very reasonably-priced Gold Box Edition (thanks, Fopp).

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Kyle MacLachlan and Michael J. Anderson.

There were a number of surprises: first of all the main story hangs together better than I remembered, starting with the investigation into Laura Palmer’s death, grading to the cat-and-mouse game with rogue FBI agent Windom Earle, then looping back via the Black Lodge business in the final episode and Fire Walk With Me to Laura Palmer again. The sub-plots in season two are still a mix of the annoying (all the Dick Tremayne stuff) or the pointless (the unconvincing attempt to put James Hurley into a Black Widow ménage)—and the episode directed by Diane Keaton is positively amateurish—but if you stick with Agent Cooper all is well. Aside from the content lapses the quality of the whole thing was a delight, having watched the series originally with mono sound on a TV with a fuzzy picture. There are many great performances which benefit from the DVD mastering, among which I’d choose Kyle MacLachlan, Sherilyn Fenn, and especially Ray Wise as Leland Palmer whose role is by turns comic, terrifying, and ultimately tragic when he comes to terms with the horror of his predicament.

The best episodes are all Lynch-directed, of course, and I hadn’t realised before that the climax of the first story arc, the murder of Maddy Ferguson, is episode 15, right in the middle of the run. And I had the opportunity this time to do something I’m sure many Lynch-heads have done already, namely watch Fire Walk With Me after the final episode as though it’s episode 31. Seeing the film this way deepens the whole experience despite obvious disjunctions such as the slightly older cast and Donna Hayward being played by a different actor altogether. (In a David Lynch film this perhaps doesn’t matter too much.) What’s most thrilling is the realisation that Lynch has done something here which seems almost unique by joining the end of his otherwise unfinished story to its beginning; Laura Palmer’s life and death becomes a Möbius strip in which questions of ends or beginnings are negated. And why not when the Red Room is an apparently timeless space?

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Sheryl Lee.

I could enthuse at length about the musical moments which are always a high spot in Lynchland—Julee Cruise’s appearances, Audrey’s dance, Little Jimmy Scott (!) in The Black Lodge—but if you’ve seen these you’ll know to what I refer. If you haven’t, well…your life is a hollow sham. Now that we’re in the month of the Gift Apocalypse I’d thoroughly recommend the Twin Peaks box as a purchase for anyone who likes the weird stuff. A feast of garmonbozia awaits.

Previously on { feuilleton }
David Lynch window displays
Patrick McGoohan and The Prisoner
David Lynch in Paris
Inland Empire

In another place

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Where we’re from the birds sing a pretty song, and there’s always music in the air.

My internet connection has been steadily degrading over the past few days to the extent that I’m now reduced to posting this via the antiquated miracle of dialup. Things will be quiet here for the next day or so while I attempt to get to the bottom of the problem. In the meantime, for anyone curious enough, I’ll activate the archive feature to summon random posts from the past.

Picture from Twin Peaks since I’ve been re-watching the series over the weekend.