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In Memoriam 2016: Remembering Those We Lost In Entertainment
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In Memoriam 2016

In Memoriam 2016: Film, Television, Music, Sports, Literature, the Arts…

With 2017 upon us, let’s take one final look back at the luminaries and personalities of the entertainment world who left us in 2016, during a year that seemed more turbulent and taxing than any other in recent memory.

Challenges in the past and challenges ahead, it’s a tough time to live in the world right now with so many changes like a whirling dervish to the senses. While there is much sadness in recognizing and accepting the passing of so many great figures in 2016, it’s the endearing, endless, never-ending fanbase and legacy that will keep each and every one of these names mentioned here (and some are of only cult status, but still enjoy a rabid passionate following as equal as any global figure) alive and well in the consciousness and beyond. In no particular order and apologies in advance if some of your favorites were left off. This was a huge list to go through and what was more painful than compiling this list was the fact that these incredibly talented people are all no longer with us.

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Book Review: Art Of Atari
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Art of Atari review

Art of Atari
Hardcover | Kindle
Written by Tim Lapetino
Foreword by Ernest Cline
Afterword by Robert V. Conte
Dynamite Entertainment
Publication Date: October 25, 2016

Art of Atari, a lavish book which covers all things visually historic and celebratory regarding the storied, pioneering video game company, is out in bookstores now, and without question, if there ever was a must-have book for the video game zealot, the pop culture maven, or the scores of gamers in between, this is it.

Absolutely essential from cover to cover and irresistible in its one-two dazzling punch with its presentment of facts and a literal overstuffed yet 100 percent effective usage of photos containing pretty much every single facet of the company’s output that required some sort of art, Art of Atari leaves no stone un-turned, not even the most minute pebble. From the packaging of the boxes for its line of 2600 VCS games to the sides and front of its successful and now almost legendary line of arcade coin-op games, and advertisements that stretched from stark simple white background designs with a spectrum of colorful game boxes to the most rebel rousing and sensory lifting art of the highest caliber, it’s all showcased this hardcover tome, and then some.

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‘Network’ 40 Years Later: Why We Are Still Mad As Hell
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Network movie box art banner

Network, the 1976 powerhouse of a motion picture, in which its statements on national and world politics, Hollywood, the television industry, and the human population in general resonate more relevant in today’s age than ever before, celebrates its 40th anniversary this week.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, with an Academy Award-winning screenplay written by the genius small and big screen writer Paddy Chayefsky, Network, originally released on November 27th, 1976, doesn’t pull any punches whatsoever, in terms of its script, narrative, themes and especially its performances. Faye Dunaway leads an ensemble group of Hollywood’s finest, including William Holden, Ned Beatty, and Robert Duvall, all of whom explode across the screen while naturally spouting dialogue of the highest intellectual and emotional order.

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Holiday Geek Gift Guide 2016: Music
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Holiday Music Gift Guide 2016

Just like that, it’s that time again, where the holiday season is upon us and the mad scrambles down store aisles to find just the right gifts for friends and loved ones commences. It’s a yearly ritual that always seems to come sooner than later. It’s also a sign that the year is coming to a close, and of course there’s no question that 2016 will remain in memory and history as one of the most turbulent, challenging, and painful times ever seen. It is for that reason that the holiday time should hold even extra special positive emotional weight, as community and solidarity run high among people during this time, acting as sort of metaphoric concrete that fills in the gaps that division among many created. And music too, is an eternal, external, and ultimately internal healing agent for the soul, regardless if times are happy or sad, joyous or maudlin. Music also reflects those aforementioned emotions and more. Here’s some of the best released this past year that will for sure excite even the most hardened by the whirlwind of the times and warm someone’s soul like kindling a hearth on the coldest December nights.

Check out our 2016 Holiday Geek Gift Guide for Music

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The Original ‘Rocky’ Is 40 Years Old? Absolutely
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Rocky Poster

Rocky, the 1976 film in which a down on his luck boxer gets an improbable shot at the World Championship, and made a superstar and eventual Hollywood legend into its star and writer Sylvester Stallone, celebrates its 40th anniversary today.

Originally released in the United States on November 21, 1976, Rocky gave a jolting uppercut to the industry that was only just handling what a true blockbuster was thanks to the overwhelming success of JAWS, released about 15 months prior. Before that, films in Hollywood that weren’t Best Picture winners were gritty and tough with uneasy and uncensored narratives, awash with characters and plots that didn’t always end sunny and resolute. With Rocky, there was a re-ushering in the industry and the theaters of the type of story that hadn’t existed since the heyday of these types of films churned out in the 1940s, where boxers were Palooka Joe-style guys who had mob ties and odds that they always overcame by the last reel. Whereas the genre became a dried-up dime a dozen by the mid-20th century, Rocky was a fresh jolt in the arm of Hollywood. Only the most curmudgeonly critics couldn’t be swayed by their built-in cynicism to give it the free pass of the fresh air that it deserved for being the kind of necessarily for the times throwback film that it was.

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Led Zeppelin IV and “Stairway To Heaven” Celebrate 45th Anniversary
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Led Zep 4 cover

Led Zeppelin IV, the fourth release by the legendary hard rocking band Led Zeppelin, which contains some of their most muscular and most remembered songs of all time, including their centerpiece to many, “Stairway to Heaven,” celebrates its 45th anniversary today.

There isn’t anyone who is a fan of rock and roll in general who hasn’t crossed paths with this album at least once, whether it be the constant replay and re-re-replay of almost all the songs on the album on a daily basis on Classic Rock radio, or the various forms of media many of the songs have been included in pop culturally. It’s become a global playbook for the correct and attitudinal way to amplify the original organic blues and its become a global playbook for how to take simple chord rock and enhance it with mixtures and clovers of folk and exotic sounds, stemming from American shores like Memphis (“When the Levee Breaks”) all the way to countries like Morocco and such (“Four Sticks”).

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Remembering The “SkyDog” – Guitarist Duane Allman – 45 Years On
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duane allman

Duane Allman, the original co-lead guitarist in The Allman Brothers, and who remains one of that instrument’s greatest titans, a pioneer who in a breathtakingly short amount of time managed to trailblaze the entire rock/blues/jazz idiom, tragically died 45 years ago today at the age of 24.

For many people, although his musical career was staggering brief, Duane Allman still remains one of the greatest if not possibly the greatest guitarist of all time. That platitude is usually applied rather irresponsibly, but a clear case can easily be made for Duane Allman which quantifies that aforementioned statement. Nicknamed “Skydog,” Allman had a panache and organic skill to his instrument unlike many others who have gone on to legendary heights and status. He seemed to transcend his instrument and genre, employing relentless and soulful leads on the guitar, a rare kind of a one-two punch combination of speed and emotionality which when fused together, and acting in metaphoric and literal concert with the rest of The Allman Brothers which took from a musical playbook of sounds, electrified Deep South-styled blues. Being the rare band that not only played songs that stretched time and conventional imagination but also created hits, The Allman Brothers, led by the sonic panacea of Duane Allman, has remained for the ages in musical history, a key influence both for the musicians who followed and the fans who listened.

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DVD Review: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series
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Johnny Carson: The Vault Series

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series
DVD
Time Life
Release date: October 4, 2016

Johnny Carson, the pioneer of late night television, whose incarnation of The Tonight Show ran for 30 years on NBC, is now available in newly packaged deluxe DVD set from Time-Life entitled The Vault Series, showcasing some of the best and most requested episodes from that program.

With the current success of The Tonight Show in reruns on Antenna TV, Johnny Carson’s famous visage, wit, distinctive voice, intelligence, and propensity to have a smooth control throughout has been resurrected for audiences young and old. Chock full of entertainment variety including a virtual who’s who of celebrities and musical acts, ranging from Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, Muhammad Ali, Jack Benny, Richard Pryor, Sean Connery, Jerry Lewis, Buddy Rich, Don Rickles, Orson Welles, and scores of others, one would be hard pressed to find a celebrity who didn’t make his way on the program, which originally ran from 1962 to 1992. With hilarious sketches that usually parodied the pop culture of the times, and of course the banter between Carson and sidekick stalwart Ed McMahon, The Tonight Show was the perennial go-to program for most of America as the twilight hour surfaced, five nights a week.

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‘The French Connection’ Celebrates Its 45th Anniversary
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The French Connection

The French Connection, which remains one of the benchmarks in the history of cinema, particularly instrumental in ushering in a new wave of motion pictures during the latter quarter of the 20th Century in which real, gritty, uncensored, and violent police crime drama narratives were portrayed realistically, uncensored, and cinematically expertly, celebrates its 45th anniversary today.

Originally released on October 9th, 1971 in the United States, The French Connection is based on a true story about a French shipping magnate who plans to smuggle over $30 million in heroin to America to make a deal with some New York underworld gangsters, only to have it thwarted by a ragged yet alpha duo of unconventional and extremely unorthodox cops.

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Kenny Baker, Best Known As R2-D2 In The ‘Star Wars’ Films, Dies At 81
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Kenny Baker R2-D2 Star Wars

Kenny Baker, who became an international star for portraying R2-D2, the lovable iconic droid in the Star Wars franchise, has died after fighting a long illness, according to CNN. He was 81.

Like Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, or even James Earl Jones in a way, the British-born Baker became a household name to the immense legions of Star Wars fans, who span almost 45 years of generational adoration for the franchise by donning the instantly recognizable R2-D2 costume. Not many people knew what the diminutive actor looked like in real life, but Star Wars fans wore a proud badge of honor knowing that it was Baker inside the R2 unit, a sort of early trivia nugget before the trivia boom started in the 1980s and never let its grip on popular culture.

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