Thursday, September 30, 2010

R.I.P. Tony Curtis (1925-2010)

Sadly, one of the few remaining classic leading men in cinema passed today. Tony Curtis died of cardiac arrest in Nevada at the age of 85. He left behind a huge body of work of over 100 films, TV credits and his collection of art work.



Tony was born Bernard Schwartz and did time in the navy before embarking on an acting career. He did his time in many forgettable films including some light comedy before landing some serious roles that got the attention of the critics and led to academy award nominations for best actor in The Defiant Ones.
He married his first wife, Vivian Leigh in 1951 and had two children one of them being actress Jamie Lee Curtis. They were a true Hollywood power couple and lasted 11 years before divorcing. He remarried but had some pretty lousy luck going through six wives in total and five divorces.

Tony battled through some hardships including addictions to drugs and alcohol but in the end found peace with his last wife and a new found love in art. He gained respect in the art circles with some of his paintings going for as much as $25,000. His cool factor was never at risk and he always managed to remain relevant.


I first became aware of him growing up in the 70s watching Saturday morning cartoons as guest star Stoney Curtis on the Flintstones. When I went through my Marilyn phase I watched him in drag on Some Like It Hot and later grew to respect him more with his role in classics like Spartacus and The Defiant Ones but he'll always be Stoney to me.



Flintstones - How much more retro can you get ?

The stone age family from Bedrock celebrated their 50th anniversary today and what's really amazing about that is how well the cartoons created in the 60s hold up today. Unlike real life sit-coms from that era, the Flintstones seem to transcend time and generate new generations of fans with every passing year.


It first aired in 1960 and ran for six seasons. Many thought it was a rip off or homage to The Honeymooners which was the biggest television show at the time but the creators dismissed any similarities as merely coincidental........uh huh. When it was eventually cancelled, a movie was made to parody or style the big film character of the day, James Bond. The movie "The Man Called Flintstone" is a classic and is far better than the real life movie version of the Flintstones that came out in 1994 starring John Goodman and Rosie O'Donnell.


Having said that, the real life movie versions did have two redeeming qualities - Haley Berry and loin clothes............. nuff said.


The Flintstones was never meant to be a kids show, it was the first adult themed animated show that inspired many of today's adult animated series, most notably the Simpsons and Family Guy. One of their first sponsors back in 1960 was Winston cigarettes so it's pretty safe to say we've evolved a bit in terms of political correctness since the 60s when it comes to advertising. Having said that, our evolution hasn't prevented us from coming up with stupid ideas like the Flintstones Nike High Tops. Yabba Dabba Do indeed.







Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Retro Video of the Day - Snap!

Oh Snap! Back before ruling the 90s dance floor with Rhythm is a Dancer, German Eurodance group, Snap! had a bunch of club hits in many countries with some solid efforts combining early House and Hip Hop music to come up with very dance floor friendly music that still had a bit of an edge for the times.
Although nothing they ever did could match the chart dominating Rhythm is a Dancer, their hit Mary Had A Little Boy reached number 4 in Germany and only number 8 in the UK and broke the top 5 in both the U.S. and Canada. Their other big hit also from 1990 was The Power that hit number one or two on the charts in the U.S., the UK, Canada, Germany and Sweden.
Here's a double shot for you which is just the thing to make it through the rest of the week.




Remixes Make the World Go Round

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, lots of today's music may sound kind of familiar. Big reason for that is the abundant use of samples in contemporary music. Whether it's lifting a few beats and choice riffs or a complete ripoff of the tune with new lyrics rapped over the music, much of the music you listen to today probably wouldn't exist or be popular if it wasn't for the art of the remix.

Remixing is the art of combining or editing existing music to create something new. Not to be confused with the term rip off which requires far less talent and vision. I never really gave much thought about the whole thing other than to wax on about how some of today's "artists" lack the same kind of talent that earlier artists had and with the use of technology, many people are getting pretty famous that don't really deserve to be.

What will become of music twenty years from now ? Where will new samples come from if much of today's music is already sample rich with stuff someone else already did ? What will be the source for new samples?

Kirby Ferguson, a New York based filmmaker has given it much thought and is working on a four part project all about the history and art of the remix. The project is called, Everything is a Remix and you can check out Part 1 in the series on Kirby's blog by clicking the link above or the picture of the bitchin' turntable below to go to his blog to view the video. If you like what you see, help the guy out.