PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Charleston Area Bloggers

I had a lot of fun last week at the meeting of the Charleston Area Bloggers, at Rick Lee’s studio on the West Side. It’s great to get to put faces to the names on the local blogs. They meet the first Friday of every month, and I’ll post details here on the next meeting as the plans are finalized. Any local blogger, or prospective blogger, is welcome to attend.

It was a kick seeing Rick’s studio, and over at his blog, you can see the first photos of me ever published on the internet–at least the first photos where I don’t have robotic spider legs. Aside from the frightening sight of me, you ought to check Rick’s blog for his terrific photography. The guy’s a real artist.

I also got to meet two other photo bloggers who do great work: Shane Evans, who does Through The Lens; and Scott Mitchell who’s behind the Entropy blog. It was also great to meet Robin S., the man who does One Stack Mind. Bob Coffield maintains the Health Care Law Blog, and is one of the deans of the local blogging community. Bob was just brimming with cool ideas and advice, and as I was leaving, he and Rick were helping set up Dale Morton, a Hurricane-based designer of way cool mascot outfits, with his own blog, which quickly got added to my everyday list.

I’m already looking forward to the next meeting, and hoping that my schedule will allow me to attend. I know that there are several other area bloggers that didn’t make this get-together, so it’d be great to get to meet more of the flesh-and-blood counterparts to Charleston area blogger-egos.

IWA East Coast: Hardcore Hangover

It was hyperactive night of incredible wrestling action as IWA East Coast put on yet another spectacle last week in South Charleston. Shoots And Ladders featured a rematch from last year, and a tremendous visitor from the East, as the South Charleston Community Center hosted nearly 300 fans of blood, guts, and mayhem. Here’s the recap, with photos by Nick Gatens.


The evening opened with IWA’s darling, Mickie Knuckles, venturing outside of the women’s division to take on Ashland’s Juggulator. Despite a valiant effort, Mickie was not able to overcome the outside interference by Jugg’s sidekicks, Crowza and Woody Numbers. After the match, Ian Rotten rescued Mickie from a 3-on-1 beatdown, and challenged Juggulator to a “Loser leaves IWA EC” match at the next show, on June 7.

The second match of the night saw the team of Trik Nasty and JD Escalade take on the unstoppable monster, Warpig. Warpig won, after his handler, Dr. Max Graves, paid Escalade to abandon his partner. The score between Nasty and Escalade will be settled at the next show.

Next up, we had the terrifying Bull Pain facing hardcore legend, Ian Rotten. Bull Pain was intense, and had half the crowd shaking in their boots. Rotten was unfazed, and more than held his own against his frightening oppenent. After a brutal match that saw the Community Center’s walls baptized in blood, Ian emerged victorious. After the match, Bull Pain managed to terrorize several ringside workers and ring announcer Christian Harper.

In the first of three marquee matches, former ECW World Heavyweight Champion, The Sandman, returned to face the inebriated luchadore, El Drunko, one year to the day after their legendary match at IWA East Coast’s “Happy Hour Hatred.” Sandman was in the best shape he’s been in years, and both guys knocked themselves out putting on a great show for the fans. Sandman evened the score with a win, hopefully setting up a rubber match somewhere down the road.

The “Hell Match” was next on the card. “Mr. Insanity” Toby Klein, defeated Mad Man Pondo after smashing him over the head with a steel chair that had illuminated light bulbs attached. This match went all over the arena, and really gave the fans their money’s worth. After the match, Pondo was attacked in the ring by two mystery men wearing prison jumpsuits. 2 Tuff Tony, Pondo’s tag team partner in Japan, made the save, and the next show will see how well these guys can fair in a two-on-two tag team match.


The evening wound up with an acrobatic tour-de-force between IWA East Coast champ, Chris Hero, and Dick Togo, a legend in Japan who has wrestled in the WWE as part of Kai En Tai. Togo is a phenomenal, high-flying technical wrestler, and Hero was able to match him move for move. These guys really put on an exhibition for the crowd. Hero retained his championship, but after the match the crowd cheered both men, and chanted “Please Come Back” at Togo, who rarely works in the United States these days. It was a rare treat to see him live, and I hope that he decides to come back someday.

As usual, it was an
amazing, entertaining night of blood, guts, beer, and wrestling, courtesy of IWA East Coast.

Monday Morning Art: Tracks East

We kick off this week with a digitally-assaulted photograph I call “Tracks East”. The photo was from a batch of pictures I took in Dunbar a few weeks ago. The digital assault was done just last night.

It took some cropping, colorizing, retouching, and a quick run through the pointillism filter to get it to look like this.

Adult Swim Adds Five Shows

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Last week Adult Swim held their “upfront” meetings with advertisers, and unveiled their plans for the coming year. Since splitting off from Cartoon Network for ratings purposes, Adult Swim has ranked number one in the key 18- to 34-year-old male demographic. At the upfront meeting, executives at the network were mum on rumors that Adult Swim would completely split off from Cartoon Network and either be launched as a new channel, or move from Cartoon Network to Time Warner sister channels Boomerang or TBS. While they bring in a lot of advertising dollars, Adult Swim’s “TV MA” programming is keeping Cartoon Network from being offered on the “family tiers” proposed by many cable and satellite systems. Given Adult Swim’s ratings base, the only move that would make sense would be for them to move to TBS, so that they wouldn’t lose a sizable chunk of their available viewers.

The real meaty news from the meeting was the announcement of five new shows that will start airing on Adult Swim later this year.

Death Clock Metalocalypse follows the adventures of an incredibly stupid Norwegian heavy metal band. It’s the creation of Brandon Small (Home Movies) and Tommy Blancha. Blancha is a former writer for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the WWF. For the WWF, he scripted what may have been the greatest single moment in the history of television, where an 80-year old woman gave birth to rubber hand on live TV. Sounds like a winning formula! Metallica will make a guest appearance. This show debuts in August.

Frisky Dingo (right) is a new superhero adventure series from the creators of Sealab 2021. It follows the epic battle between the evil Killface and the hero, Awesome-X. It premieres in September.

Assy McGee debuts in December. It tells the gripping tale of a renegade police sniper who has no regard for criminals or the justice system. He also looks like a giant butt. This one’s from some of the writing crew for Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Saul of the Mole Men is a low-budget puppet show about a government agent who accidentally destroys the civilization of the Mole Men. This experimental show will debut later this year.

Lucy, The Daughter of the Devil (left) actually debuted as a Halloween special last year. It’s been picked up as a series and will debut late this year. This CGI creation of Loren Bouchard (Home Movies) is a delightfully irreverent chronicle of the life of the college-aged daughter of Satan.

In addition to the new shows, Adult Swim has announced the start dates for new seasons of several returning series. Robot Chicken began a run of 10 new episodes last week. Ten more will start in September. Tom Goes To The Mayor returns June 4. Venture Brothers returns June 25. 12 Oz. Mouse and Squidbillies return in September.

New Seasons of Boondocks and Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law will be scheduled to start sometime in the fall.

The ultra-popular Aqua Teen Hunger Force (right) will see a short new season begin in September, but fans will also be treated to a feature-length movie which has already been finished. The movie explores the origins of the very strange team of fast-food-item detectives.

Cool Toy Of The Week: Mega Bloks Pyrates

This week, our cool toy is not from a small, struggling company, but I picked it because it’s just way cool. Mega Bloks is a Canadian company that has successfully challenged LEGO for dominance in the construction toy world. They’ve done this by adapting to changes in the market, and have added elements of other types of toys to keep their construction sets fresh. Their latest toy line combines the fun of the old Marx playsets with the joy of model-building and the trendy genre of swashbuckling pirates.

“Pyrates,” thusly named so that they can trademark the word, is a great series of toys that you can find in almost any store that sells toys. They come with cool fully articulated 2-inch-tall action figures in a variety of styles. Prices range from four bucks for a set of three figures, to 50 bucks for the large “Skeleton Crew” ship. The Skull-shaped playsets that sell for about eight bucks come with a CD-ROM that has a terrific 15-minute animated film that uses the toys to tell the background story of the toys.

Maybe it was the three months that I had to wear an eyepatch last year, but lately I’ve become fascinated with all things piratical. They’re really cool. Assembling them is a nice peaceful diversion, and they look cool on the big corner table in the living room.

I’ve written more extensively about Mega Bloks Pyrates here. And you can check out their website here.

No Pants = Big Laughs

Last Saturday night I got to trek out to the Labelle Theater in South Charleston for an evening of improv comedy from the No Pants Players. It was a great night. The group was really hitting on all cylinders that night, and the all-ages audience was totally into their performance. For this performance, the pantsless crew was made up of Joe Wallace, Brian Roller, Tony Slack, Jason Dunbar, Jamie Dunbar, Duncan Stokes and Kevin Pauley, and they played their parts to perfection.

Last weekend, the No Pants Players worked with the “game” format of improv, which is great for audience participation and made for a very fast-paced show. I am eager to see what this talented crew can do working in the sketch form. Maybe we’ll get to see that in a future show.

It’s great that we can now see this sort of improv locally. Improv is a great way for young talents to develop their acting chops, and it’ll be interesting to see if any big, giant, Hollywood stars come out of this group. Keep checking PopCult for news on the next performance by the No Pants Players. And don’t just take my word about how much fun they are to watch. My fellow Gazzblogger Karin Fuller was also at Saturday night’s show, and writes about it here.

Song Of The Week: “Shingles And Tar”

As promised here, this week’s Song Of The Week is “Shingles And Tar” by Three Bodies, one of the mainstays of Radio Free Charleston. From a batch of demos co-produced by Three Bodies, Spencer Elliott, and me, this one was my baby. I contributed ideas for the backing vocals, effects, and arranged the starts and stops near the end. Despite my contributions, the song was yet another mini-masterpiece by Kris Cormandy, Brian Lucas, and Brian Young. There is a story behind the lyrics, but it’s faded from my memory over the last 16 years.

The images are taken from flyers I did for the band back in 1990. Above, you see that I couldn’t resist the temptation to colorize one of them. The image at left shows that, before the days when I assaulted photographs digitally with my computer, my weapons of choice were Xerox machines and Sharpees.

Monday Morning Art: More Shadowplay

The Monday Morning Art this week is a sequel to the art that ran here. This is More Shadowplay, another digitally assaulted photograph of a fence near my house in the noonday sun. (click to enlarge)

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

This week’s animation news is all about Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. This is the first big-budget animated feature of the year, and expectations are high. The first Ice Age was a blockbuster, and this sequel will attempt to follow in its frozen footsteps.

There are a few changes this time: Chris Wedge, the co-director of the first Ice Age, as well as the voice of Skrat, is just executive producing this this go-around. Carlos Saldhana, his co-director on Ice Age, and Robots, flies solo for this sequel. Queen Latifah has joined the cast, as a female wooly mammoth named “Ellie.” Skrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel, who stole the first movie with his brief appearances, has much more screen time in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, with a series of vignettes interspersed throughout the movie.

Advanced reviews are mixed, though generally favorable. Skrat is still a crowd-pleaser, and it seems that the chemistry between Ray Romano, Dennis Leary and John Leguizamo remains intact from the first movie. One criticism is that the film gets a bit preachy about global warming, but unless they have an unfrozen caveman Al Gore explaining it in great detail, we can’t see how it could detract from the rest of the movie. We hear the highlight of the movie is a Busby Berkley-styled production number with Vultures.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown is currently playing, check the Gazz Movie Finder for theaters and times.

Battle Of The Brewery

IWA East Coast returns to the South Charleston Community Center Wednesday April 5 with “Shoots And Ladders,” an evening of carnage and high-flying action.

The big match on a loaded card features a rematch, one year to the day, of the classic “drunken ladder match” between El Drunko, the inebriated luchadore, and Sandman, the beer-guzzling ECW legend. Last year these guys stole the show at “Happy Hour Hatred“, and their rematch promises to be an alcohol-fueled funny car ride to oblivion.

Another match on the card is garnering international attention. Japanese wrestling legend, and former member of Kai En Tai in the WWF, Dick Togo, challenges IWA East Coast’s champion, Chris Hero, in a ladder match with the championship belt at stake.

Fans will also be treated to a “3 Way Hell” match between Mad Man Pondo, Necrobutcher, and Mr. Insanity. Ruckus returns to take on Omega Aaron Draven in what promises to be an exhibition of acrobatic violence. Mickie Knuckles faces Japanese Women’s legend Sumie Sakai in a rematch from last fall. Hardcore legend, Ian Rotten, goes up against Bull Pain. The newly-formed team of WarPig and Razorback, known collectively as “Freaks Of Nature,”, take on Trik Nasty and JD Escalade.

IF YOU GO: Bell time is 7 p.m. April 5 at the South Charleston Community Center, 601 Jefferson Road. Tickets are $10 and $15. Visit IWA East Coast online for more details.