A description of violent contact between two or more objects.

A bad computer failure of indeterminate cause.

The depression felt after a feeling of intense drug-induced euphoria passes.

CrApTeX = C = crash and burn


1. n. A sudden, usually drastic failure. Most often said of the system (q.v., sense 1), esp. of magnetic disk drives (the term originally described what happens when the air gap of a hard disk collapses). "Three lusers lost their files in last night's disk crash." A disk crash that involves the read/write heads dropping onto the surface of the disks and scraping off the oxide may also be referred to as a `head crash', whereas the term `system crash' usually, though not always, implies that the operating system or other software was at fault. 2. v. To fail suddenly. "Has the system just crashed?" "Something crashed the OS!" See down. Also used transitively to indicate the cause of the crash (usually a person or a program, or both). "Those idiots playing SPACEWAR crashed the system." 3. vi. Sometimes said of people hitting the sack after a long hacking run; see gronk out.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

"Tell me again, why do we sound like Janet Jackson?"

"Crash" was The Human League's sixth album, and probably the one all bandmembers of that time would like to forget really quickly.

It's not that it didn't sell, on the contrary.

It's not that it didn't have an international Mega Number One. On the contrary.

The problem was: it wasn't really a Human League album.

After the success of Dare and Hysteria, Jo Collis, keyboarder and guitarist and writer of a lot of their material since 1981 left the band while recording the new album in early 1985, leaving a bit of a creative space in the lineup. Additionally to that, singer Phil Oakey was doing his own thing with master of schmaltzy europop, Giorgio Moroder, recording for the soundtrack of every geeks favourite eighties movie "Electric Dreams". Nevertheless, back in Sheffield, they started writing again, just to annouce a bit later that they would rather release a remix album of their last record, "Hysteria". Writing and recording ground to a halt, when producer Colin Thurston walked out on them, and the music press started to write obituaries, just in case.

What nobody expected at this moment was Virgin's insistence on getting something for their money: After bankrolling the recording of the new album so far, they wanted to see some results, and someone suggested to try it with R&B's star producer team of Janet Jackson, SOS Band, Prince and Alexander o'Neal: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of Flyte Time Productions. Oakey, who liked their worked was apparently enthusiastic, and one day the band was flown to Minneapolis to present the work so far to Jam and Lewis.

Unfortunately, Jam and Lewis didn't like the result. At all.

They started recording all over again: For four months Jam and Lewis tried to turn the Human League into an R&B outfit, but to no avail: they just couldn't sing as pitch perfect as requested (anyone who's ever been to one of their concerts can vouchsafe for that) and Philip Adrian Wright's keyboard skills were too machinistic for a Jam/Lewis production, preferring a less slick approach to playing and sequenced patterns, which were a "nono" for Flyte Time, so he started playing table tennis during the recording sessions.

So it ended badly: The League packed their bags and let Flyte Time Productions finish their album with sesson musicians and additional vocal talent. The two hugely successful single releases, "Human" and "Love is all that matters" were completely penned by Flyte Time and probably din't have any League musicians on them (apart from the vocals).


  • Money
  • Swang
  • Human
  • Jam
  • Are you ever coming back?
  • I need your loving
  • Party
  • Love on the run
  • The real thing
  • Love is all that matters

Funnily the album was a huge, worldwide success, but it's certainly not the League's favourite.

Noders comments:

Paul Haggis, screen scribe of 2004’s Oscar winner for Best Picture Million Dollar Baby, has made his Sophomore silver screen effort no less controversial or critically loved. This time though Haggis not only pens but directs his film. Crash, a title not meant to be taken literally (although the movie does have its fair share of them) is a film about something more fundamental, a violent crossing of paths. Haggis tears away the curtain of stereotypes surrounding the various ethnic and cultural groups inhabiting the City of Angels and shines the bright, sometimes harsh, light of reality in every uncomfortable nook and cranny he can conjure up in 113 minutes. From the opening scenes to the closing moments of the film Haggis takes the viewer, unflinchingly, into a world that, while it never feels comfortable, is sadly more frank and matter of fact about some of the most heated issues in America today then any movie has ever been.

Like finely woven cloth Crash is a film made of no less than eight distinct and separate story lines brought together in a way that creates a tightly cohesive work of art. Where these storylines cross exist the moments of pain that drive this movie. Whether it’s two black men (played by rapper Ludacris and Larenz Tate) extemporizing on the negative stereotypes surrounding African-Americans all before car jacking a white couple’s SUV, or a Middle Eastern storeowner (Shaun Toub) thinking he’s being cheated by a Hispanic locksmith (Michael Pena), we find that the common threads that bind them all together are fear and anger. While most viewers will find themselves enraged by the obscenely honest racial tension and stereotyping for most of the film, Haggis shakes things up by throwing in some of the most tear-jerking moments in cinema history. Haggis wraps up the separate storylines with each character experiencing a cathartic moment where they are forced to deal with the events of the previous 36 hours and confront what they thought they knew about themselves yesterday while simultaneously coming to grips with what they know today.

The acting in Crash is anything but trivial. Populated by some twelve different main characters, it is the emotions these characters bleed onto the screen that pulls the moviegoer into this world that Haggis has created. Sandra Bullock and Brendan Fraser pull off type-cast breaking performances as emotionally closed white upper class snobs, while Ryan Phillippe manages one of the most difficult roles in the entire film as a rookie cop forced to make some thorny choices while trying to maintain his personal code of ethics and sense of justice. The standout performance of the movie though was Terrance Howard’s portrayal of Cameron, a middle aged black TV sit-com director forced to watch as an LAPD officer (Matt Dillon) molests his wife during a pat down after being pulled over for driving the same model car that was stolen from the abovementioned Fraser and Bullock. Howard’s character begins to question his role in the world he lives in after his wife verbally emasculates him for not coming to her rescue during the aforementioned rape. With deep feeling and understated emotion we see this character progress from shock and resentment to bitter self loathing, culminating in an explosive outburst of pain and helpless frustration.

Cinematography and editing were both simple, and are used with an eye towards the narrative and character development. Clearly the director knew that this was a movie about emotion and so stays with tight close shots of the actors to emphasize feeling, only pulling back when necessary, to give the scene or shot a more dramatic flair. Here again we see that this movie is about the story not fancy camera tricks or flashy special effects. It was almost as if Haggis said to the actors, “You stand there and you sit there and I’m going to put the cameras here and here. Everyone got it? Action!” So straightforward yet powerful are many of the shots that one wonders if it was the small budget (6.5 million dollars) or the careful hand of a master at work that made the film this way. Considering his past work (Million Dollar Baby) and its simple yet commanding film style the latter is most likely the case.

With an 84 million dollar world wide gross Crash represents a 1300 percent return on investment for Lionsgate Entertainment not a number normally seen in these times of abysmal box office turn outs and 150 million dollar budget mega flicks a la the recent Star Wars Trilogy. This seeming financial windfall for the studio will not likely be forgotten by Hollywood execs and number crunchers, so look for more of this style of low budget simple film making to make a come back in the near future.

With more then twenty years of writing and directing experience in the television industry Paul Haggis has quickly and decisively positioned himself as a rising star in the film industry. His second outing as a writer and directorial debut with Crash has made him somewhat of a critics sweetheart. His uncluttered and emotionally provocative camera work along with an ability to write some of the most honest (sometimes shockingly so) dialog in American movies today is a breath of fresh air amongst the computer generated mega movies currently being generated by Hollywood. His unparalleled story telling ability combined with an uncanny gift at getting his actors to pour out their emotions for the audience will guarantee his place in Hollywood as an actor’s director. While many will, and do, find his subject matter controversial to say the least, it is this kind of disregard for the socially acceptable that has always revolutionized an artistic industry. At the end of the day Crash is not going to change the world or end racism but hopefully it will crack the walls that surround the issues so that people will.

Vaughan unfolded to me all his obsessions with the mysterious eroticism of wounds: the perverse logic of blood-soaked instrument panels, seat-belts smeared with excrement, sun-visors lined with brain tissue.

J.G. Ballard’s 1973 novel focuses on a filmmaker, Ballard, and his wife, Catherine, whose open marriage encourages extra-marital liaisons. Their life becomes a good deal more experimental after they become involved in a traffic accident which kills a man. Ballard develops a relationship with the victim’s wife, Dr. Helen Remington, a woman who eroticizes technology and violence. All soon become involved with Vaughan, a charismatic, disturbed artist obsessed with automobile crashes. Vaughan explores the sexual dimensions of violence, danger, and celebrity, and ultimately plans a staged collision with actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Another character drawn to Vaughan is Gabrielle, a woman disabled and reshaped by violence and technology. As the protagonist's relationship with this group develops, he finds himself in danger.

Crash is a disturbing book, carried along by Ballard’s descriptive style. The book’s most disquieting scenes are also its best. In the nineteenth chapter, the protagonist and Gabrielle have sex in a car (of course), and they explore the sexual possibilities created by injury:

...I moved my hand from her pubis to the scars on her thighs, feeling the tender causeways driven through her flesh by the handbrake of the car in which she had crashed. My right arm held her shoulder, feeling the impress of the contoured leather.... I explored the scars on her thighs and arms, feeling for the wound areas under her left breast, as she in turn explored mine, deciphering together these codes of a sexuality made possible by our two car-crashes.

My first orgasm, within the deep wound of her thigh, jolted my semen along this channel.... she wiped it against the silver controls of the clutch treadle. My mouth was fastened on the scar below her left breast, exploring its sickle-shaped trough. Gabrielle turned in her seat, revolving her body around me, so that I could explore the wounds of her right hip (178-9).

He goes on to dream of "other accidents that might enlarge this repertory of orifices, relating them to more elements of the automobile’s engineering, to the ever-more complex technologies of the future" (179). He visualizes "the injuries of film actresses and television personalities, whose bodies would flower into dozens of auxiliary orifices, points of sexual conjunction with their audiences formed by the swerving technology of the automobile"(180).

One needn't view the novel's images and obsessions as metaphors or symbols for specific things. They resonate with a range of contemporary concerns, including the sexualization of technology (more prominent now than when Ballard wrote this novel), and of violence, and of celebrity. They also reflect all manner of desire and taboo. In addition, many would see the relevance of the characters' erotic fixations to our culture, which sells destruction as sexy. Indeed, in his introduction to the 1995 edition, Ballard discusses his book as a "total metaphor" for "life in today’s society," with an obvious emphasis on the "marriage of sex and technology."

The specific paraphilia depicted in this novel-- arousal related to car crashes-- suits Ballard’s themes. In addition, most readers can view this sexuality with a certain clinical distance. Some of us may eroticize cars, or violence, or celebrities, but only a few, I suspect, in the specific manner of these characters1.

Crash does not always sustain interest. Like pornography, it tends to be repetitive, and might have made a more impressive novella. Nevertheless, it holds up as a fascinating, if disturbing read.

David Cronenberg adapted Crash into an atmospheric film, flawed but often brilliant. Not surprisingly, it received both applause and boos when it played Cannes in 1996. Like the novel, it has been stylishly rendered, but it also runs longer than many people’s patience will tolerate.

I suspect it also caused near heart failure in some people who rented it ten years later, thinking it was Paul Haggis’s Oscar-winning film about race relations.2

Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg
Cinematography by Peter Suschitzky

James Spader...James Ballard
Holly Hunter...Helen Remington
Elias Koteas...Vaughan
Deborah Kara Unger...Catherine Ballard
Rosanna Arquette...Gabrielle
Peter MacNeill...Seagrave

It’s not surprising Cronenberg would have made this film; Ballard’s novel suits his interests in taboos, technology, and sexuality. The author has expressed great satisfaction with the film, which features a creepy score, excellent cinematography, and syncopated dialogue. The car crashes have been realistically staged; Cronenberg employed a small army of stunt drivers to create scenes which bear little resemblance to the typical Hollywood chase and smash fare.

The complete film (edited versions exist) features a good many sex scenes, but these are less explicit than what one might find on some contemporary cable stations. The implications can be strong, however; the encounter between Ballard and Gabrielle, though less developed than in the novel, likely will unsettle most viewers.

Cronenberg changes the setting from London to Toronto, though he does not make the locale explicit. We receive no views of that city’s most famous sexual architecture, the phallic CN Tower and its counterpart, the retracting-roof Rogers Centre. Rather, Cronenberg chooses locations along highways, near the concrete-heavy airport strip, and in bleak, industrial areas.

The film eliminates Vaughan’s ill-fated plot to arrange a head-on collision with Elizabeth Taylor, and emphasizes his involvement with reenactments of famous celebrity crashes as a kind of perverse sexual art. The restaging of James Dean's death proves suspenseful, and grimly recalls our culture's fixation with celebrities, dead and alive.

Crash features first-rate actors, though the performances may leave some viewers cold. The characters have a curious, at times anesthetized detachment, a world-weary sexuality. They also whisper quite a bit.

Koteas portrays Vaughan as a heavy-breathing, somewhat obvious pervert, but he convinces us the character’s obsessions are genuine. Rosanna Arquette gives perhaps the most remarkable performance as Gabrielle, so reconstructed by surgery that she has become a kind of cyborg.

The movie plays with interpretations of its material. Vaughan claims that his work connects to "something we are all intimately involved in: the reshaping of the human body by technology." Later, her refutes this claim, and says that the crashes are really about the "liberating of sexual energy." Then again, perhaps he does it because he's deranged and it gets him off.

As with the novel, the film resonates with real-world issues and psychology. One fascinating scene has several characters watching crash footage the way others might view erotica. Seagrave finds one tape as good as another. Remington needs to see the end of a specific tape to be satisfied. Gabrielle seems mildly disturbed that Remington needs to watch that specific scene. Her own body has been abused, twisted, and damaged, and yet she apparently finds Remington’s kink less acceptable than her own. I suspect many viewers will find this scene familiar, as one might the reflection in a fun house mirror.

Certain narrative elements work better in the novel than onscreen. We’re left wondering why Ballard faces no apparent legal consequences for the accident, given that the film shows him as clearly at fault. The liaison between Ballard and Remington also feels more plausible in the novel, which develops character in a more satisfying manner. Finally, a key scene near the ending has the characters interfering with a fresh crash site to a degree that would never be permitted.

Of course, one has to wonder how realistic Cronenberg intends the film to be. It’s heavily stylized. As in the book, the level of traffic seems to increase and decrease according to the principal characters’ psychological states—- a fact on which they comment. The unreal aspects do not preclude criticism of the film’s verisimilitude, but they do suggest that the critic proceed with caution.

By now it should be clear that neither novel nor movie will appeal to all people. For those with curiosity about sex and technology and tolerance for unsettling material, I cautiously recommend Crash.

1. Does anyone actually do this? There is a paraphilia, symphorophilia, in which accidents or disasters arouse people. Such a tendency can lead to a person arranging disasters, as do the characters in Crash. A 1996 Eye Weekly examination of the question interviewed a number of paramedics and others involved with crashes. Their sample had never encountered evidence of anything like the subculture Ballard and Cronenberg depict. See Tom Lyons, "Is this Stuff for Real?" Eye Weekly October 3, 1996. http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_10.03.96/FILM/cv1003.php.

2. Reportedly, Cronenberg asked Haggis to give his Crash a different title, to avoid confusion. He didn’t. For what it is worth, the Internet Movie Database lists more than ten films by this title.

Crash (krsh>), v. t. [imp & p. p. Crashed (krsht); p. pr & vb. n. Crashing.] [OE. crashen, the same word as crasen to break, E. craze. See Craze.]

To break in pieces violently; to dash together with noise and violence.


He shakt his head, and crasht his teeth for ire. Fairfax.


© Webster 1913.

Crash, v. i.


To make a loud, clattering sound, as of many things falling and breaking at once; to break in pieces with a harsh noise.

Roofs were blazing and walls crashing in every part of the city. Macualay.


To break with violence and noise; as, the chimney in falling crashed through the roof.


© Webster 1913.

Crash, n.


A loud, sudden, confused sound, as of manu things falling and breaking at once.

The wreck of matter and the crash of worlds. Addison.


Ruin; failure; sudden breaking down, as of a business house or a commercial enterprise.


© Webster 1913.

Crash, n. [L. crassus coarse. See Crass.]

Coarse, heavy, narrow linen cloth, used esp. for towels.


© Webster 1913.

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