Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Learn Your Casio The VHS Way + Bonus Rap!

I have a strange love for Casio keyboards... the more pathetic sounding, the better. Years ago I found a VHS tutorial video put out by Casio in 1989. Since I make tutorial videos for a living, and am a bit of a sadist, I've watched this thing through several times. Since I took piano lessons from an ancient wispy grandma years ago, I can't really tell if a noob could really pick up how to play the instrument from this tape, but that's not going to stop Jay Levy from trying.

The tape opens up with Jay in a studio complementing the band, until - surprise! - the "band" turns out to be a single Casio keyboard. On screen graphics help first timers identify keys, and I imagine could stab out a simple melody by following along the video. However the tape is much more entertaining that that - things I still quote to this day. There's Jay speaking directly to the urban youth with his take on rap [1:16], his unique pronunciation of "finger", and coining the phrase "don't touch your dial" [1:01]. Oh, and I guess everyone has loosely gripped an ostrich egg [0:51]

I've always wanted to edit together the best bits, but fortunately someone on YouTube has done it for me. In 2 minutes and 19 seconds, you get everything you need to know about what happens when you let Jay into your VCR and your heart. If you feel like busting our your Casio and learning a few of these hot hits, the full video is down below. We'll even send a free Invader T-shirt (I found just a few more) to the first person to do a cover of Jay's rap and put it up on YouTube (with shout outs to all your friends at Retro Thing, I would hope).

One additional revelation I'll share on how annoying an individual I really am. All that stuff Jay says at the top of the tape? I still say all of that stuff whenever I'm in a recording studio. "That's really a big hot smokin' band we're listening to..."

Classic 16mm Bolex Lenses On A Modern Camera

One of my clients is Fotodiox, a manufacturer of kerjillions of camera accessories and lights. A big part of my job is dealing with cutting edge gear, but a lot of the time I get to indulge a bit of retro geekery; putting old lenses onto new cameras. Reusing old glass is easy, and often pretty cheap. The lens adapters don't cost that much, and the lenses often are nickels on the dollar compared to their original prices.

Most of my work is in video, and recently I picked up a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera which features a "Super 16" sized sensor. The micro four-thirds lens mount is easy to adapt to a variety of lenses, so I just had to try out some 1950s Bolex lenses, and other found optical treasures using a simple C-Mount lens adapter.

We created two videos - one is a primer on the concept of giving classic lenses life again on a new camera. The second is a video essay of some footage we got shot through a thrifted C-mount lens. If you'd like to pick up a C-mount lens adapter of your own, you can get one for under $15 HERE.

link:

Help out Retro Thing by picking up your lens adapter on Amazon

 

Cameron Carpenter And His Massive Organ

I have to admit that I didn't think that Cameron Carpenter was a genuine person. The video has more than a few mockumentary style moments, but no... this guy is the real deal. Cameron is a virtuoso organist who has eschewed the stuffy image of a concertizing musician for a bit of rock flair. In the video we see his new touring organ, a massive machine built to his demanding spec.

The astonishing instrument is his response to the limits on a touring organist forced to use different instruments in different venues, instead of building a relationship with a single instrument. He is also very pro electronic organ, yet another controversy that ripples through the organ community apparently. Note that "electronic" doesn't seem to mean "small" in any way. Through his touring, his talent, and his antics (smoke machines for an organ recital!), he's gained more exposure for the instrument than its seen in decades.

I think it's good to shake up people's musical expectations, especially with an ancient instrument that's got little presence outside of cathedrals and ball parks. Just don't tell Cameron that you're there to hear him play on his pretty calliope, otherwise I think he might pop you in the mouth. And he might be right.

Thanks, Pea!

Does It Get More 80s Than A Le Clic Disc Camera?

Le Clic cameraSwatch showed the world of the 80s that fashion colors and reduced costs could turn a watch from a once-or-twice per lifetime purchase into a frivolous repeat buy. Cheapie cam company Keystone took a pastel page from Swatch's book and rolled out their Le Clic line of cameras; inexpensive cameras in fashion colors.

Pocket sized cameras weren't exactly a new idea in the late 80s, but spankin' new Kodak Disc technology meant that the cameras were easy to load, had a built in reusable flash (instead of disposable flash cubes), and a pleasing flat shape that your could easily slide into your Jordache Jeans. You could say the same about 110 cameras from the 70s too, but let's not quibble.

Keystone was serious when they launched the LeClic disc camera as a fashion forward cam. In 1986 at Astor Hall in the New York Public Library, Keystone invited 500 designers, retailers, and the fashion press to the unveiling, giving each one of the new Le Clic cameras. From the May 14th '86 Chicago Tribune:

"20 waiters dramatically came down the glorious, castle-like staircase of the historic library, each carrying silver trays. Instead of the expected hors d`oeuvres, the trays held film discs. Guests, quite naturally, grabbed the film and started shooting away."

Despite the relative crumminess of disc pictures (the negative was even smaller than 110 film, and the cameras weren't exactly kitted with precision optics), I remember the cameras being quite popular. Lots of the girls in my classes seeemed to always have a Le Clic somewhere in their voluminous Gucci knock-off purses. I imagine that the ubiquity of these cheap cameras encouraged more casual snapping, and therefore more memories captured for posterity (and grainy Throwback Thursdays on Facebook). The Le Clic was a great knock-around camera for young people. It's not like my old man was going to let me casually cart around his Canon AE-1 for spontaneous fun photos.

Now that we all have camera phones with unlimited "film" in our pockets all the time, it's easy to feel somewhat blasé about the Le Clic. I'm going to give the camera some credit for helping make photography breezy and fun, and capturing moments that otherwise may never have been.

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