PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

PopCult Is One Year Old!

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To celebrate, I’m going to revisit a few memorable posts from the last year, and tell you about the new PopCult and Radio Free Charleston CafePress stores, but for now, Let’s go all the way back to the very first post. You can see it right here.

Not much, was it? But at least it was mildly amusing, and that should count for something. I’m shooting for ten posts today, just to see how much of a strain I can put on the Blogger interface. Cut yourself a piece of virtual cake (it’s orange cake with milk chocolate icing), pull up a chair and enjoy!

By happy coincidence, PopCult shares it’s birthday with comics legend Jack Kirby! You can read about Jack Kirby Day at Mark Evanier’s blog.

Thanks for sticking around this long. If you’re looking for the link to the latest episode of Radio Free Charleston, you can find it here. It’s been a kick, the way this blog has evolved over the last year. Who would have thought that after spending ten years making a point of not having any photos of myself on the internet, I’d be hosting an internet video show? Let’s dive into the self-indulgent semi-nostalgia.

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You may have noticed, if you’ve been watching Radio Free Charleston, that in each episode I wear a different T-shirt, and that shirt is then the source for the episode’s name. I’ve got the wardrobe for the first dozen or so shows lined up already, but there was one shirt that I rejected. You can see it below.

This shirt dates back to 1989, when I was working for WVNS Radio, and preparing to launch the original incarnation of Radio Free Charleston. I was not an enthusiastic supporter of the Sternwheel Regatta–working in Charleston, but living elsewhere, and having to reroute my commute for two weeks was about as appealing then as the user fee is today. Sadly, being an employee of the radio station that was sponsoring some of the events meant that I had to put in a token appearance, even though I always avoided the Regatta like the plague. I just don’t care for crowds, and the choice of musical acts is rarely to my tastes. Plus, I think the whole idea of Charleston being a “river town” is more than a little contrived.

So I had this shirt made up, and wore it to the station events. Oddly enough, it was the hit of the party! Even city officials were so burned out on the Regatta by the time it actually got underway that they felt pretty much the same way. Ironically, I had a great time at the Regatta that year. I got to meet and hang out with Cheap Trick, and watched most of their concert from the roof of the covered driveway at the Charleston House Holiday Inn. I don’t think I’ve been back to the Regatta since–quit while you’re ahead, I guess.

As for why this shirt was rejected from the current Radio Free Charleston video podcast, well, it wasn’t a matter of taste–it was a matter of timing. I had planned to wear this for episode five, but now the production schedule has slid somewhat, and episode five won’t be posted for your enjoyment until after this year’s Sternwheelless Regatta is over. So I present this shirt here, for your amusement, and will find a new one to wear on the next show.

Smoldering Rants UPDATED!

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Last December, I coughed up RANT WEEK, a series of posts that addressed the burning issues of the day, from smoking, to Tom McGee, to the befowlment of the naughty bits of an equestrian statue. Nine months later, let’s see what’s going on with these controversial subjects.

Day One: The Riverfront. The controversial plan to bulldoze Kanawha Boulevard into the river and plant trees or something has seemingly stalled. The only thing new on this front is the grudging acceptance of the powers that be that large numbers of people still like and use the Boulevard. Nothing much has happened, and that’s a good thing.

Day Two: Smoking. Following a landmark report from the Surgeon General about the effects of second-hand smoke, the Kanawha County Board of Health has begun making noise about expanding the ban on smoking to all indoor public places, including bars and restaurants. Not only does this make me extremely happy, but you can’t beat the entertainment value of smokers trying to play the victim after years of them inflicting their addictive poison on the rest of us. Their whiny cries of persecution is music to my ears. After years of being told to “suck it up,” when I was forced to be around tobacco smoke, I love watching the tobacco addicts squirm. Hey guys, my right to breathe supersedes your right to indulge in your dirty, dirty addiction. It has been fun watching the same Restaurant owner/pro-smoking advocate go crying to the media about how the smoking ban has ruined his business. Hey fella, I tried eating at your restaurant once, the reason your business is down is because, now that you’re smoke-free, people can actually taste that crap you try to pass off as food.

Day Three: WHCP’s Newscast. It wasn’t pretty. The newscast bit the dust in a very public way back in February, and the station changed their call letters. No word on if Mark Hunt has put together another newscast for the local market. You can read about the ugly end here.

Day Four: Vandalism! Somebody defiled the most delicate part of the Davis Square horsey statue, placing a sticker on its privates. I wrote about this last year. IT’S STILL THERE! SEE! Shouldn’t there be some user fee money left over to pry this sticker off of the equine unmentionables?

Bonus Rant: Metro Gubmint. The user fee was upheld by a court-ordered vote wherein a tiny percentage of Charleston citizens voted to tax people who live outside the city. And the sensible dream of a Metro Goverment that would combine Charleston with the rest of Kanawha County scoots that much farther out of reach. When it comes time for the citizens of Kanawha County to vote to merge with Charleston, the politicians will learn just how long people’s memories can be.

Plastic Man’s Failed Pilot

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Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

You may remember Plastic Man from the wretched Ruby-Spears animated cartoon of the 1980s, but the character is actually one of the greatest comic-book creations of all time. Created by the genius, Jack Cole, Plastic Man has been celebrated in a book by Pulitzer-prize winner Art Speigelman, and stars in a series of DC Comics Archives which sell quite well despite their fiffty-dollar price tag.

Heidi MacD0nald has an embedded movie clip in her blog, The Beat, so you can see how close we came to getting a top-notch Plastic Man cartoon that was worthy of the history of the comic book. You can see it here. Heidi’s blog is one of our everyday stops, and is an invaluable source of comics industry information.

Cartoon Network passed on this show, another in a long line of moronic decisions that CN has made concerning cartoons based on properties owned by their sister company, DC Comics. The show was developed by Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants, and was designed and storyboarded by Stephen DeStefano, who drew Popeye on the Spinach package that Rudy wrote about here.

PopCult’s Top Ten Or So

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Here’s a quick rundown, complete with links and in no particular order, to ten or so of the more memorable posts from the last year of PopCult.

In May, we had Andy Prieboy Week, where I wrote about one of my favorite musician/composer/novelists. I also told you about the Beatles Bootlegs Podcast.

Also in May, and then again in June, I turned evil.

Back in February, Mark Evanier linked to my rant about the decline of Radio Shack, as it deteriorated from nerd Mecca to cell phone Hell. To update things, the Dunbar Radio Shack, where I had been shopping since it opened 35 years ago, was one of the stores closed in the company-wide purge. I couldn’t even manage to feel sad, since the service there had been so poor for so long.

Also in February, David Williams of the Gazette wrote a review of the Symphony Pops concert that I disagreed with mightily, so I wrote a review of his review. I stand by my criticism that his piece was poorly written. In the comments, Williams tried to rebut one point by claiming that I didn’t understand that he was providing context with one of his irrelevant asides. He even seems to compare himself to Hector Berlioz at one point. Sadly, it’s just proof that Mr. Williams still cannot tell the difference between context and pointless trivia.

In January, I attempted to listen to Howard Stern’s new satellite radio show. It wasn’t pretty.

Last December, I knocked myself out, writing 9,000 words of a Holiday Gift Guide in one week. You can read highlights here, here, and here.

Back in November, Melanie and I wrote about our old pal, John K. the creator of Ren and Stimpy. Since this post, John has started his own blog, and the unreleased episodes of the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon have been released on DVD. He’s currently working on the animated title sequence for the upcoming Tenacious D movie.

In October of last year, I presented a week of my own creepy musical compositions, since Halloween is the only time of year that people can stand to hear my low-rent horror movie score noodling. Two of the more listenable examples are here, and here.

Earlier in that month, I wrote about my new favorite movie theater. And I put TiVo in its place!

Not a bad batch of posts for my first year blogging. Now I have to see if I can top them in the next twelve months.

Updating the Sketchy Bio

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Early in the run of this blog, I posted a sketchy bio as a way to introduce myself. You can read it here. In the intervening twelve months, there have been a couple of major changes. First of all, my mother passed away in April. I had been taking care of her for the previous eight-and-a-half years following a stroke that left her bedridden. She had been the center of my life for the better part of the last decade. It’s been quite an adjustment, since I’d basically put my career on hold to take care of both my parents some fifteen years ago, and suddenly I was faced with the exciting and yet terrifying prospect of re-entering the workplace, but I’m holding up pretty well. It’s still strange coming home to an empty house, but I’m getting used to it.

The second big change involves something I wrote in my bio, lo those many months ago: “I may tee off on comic books, toys, movies, animation, health care, food, television, or anything else that strikes my fancy. I’ll also share some of the artwork, photography, and music that I’ve been working on these last few years. Maybe along the way I can reconnect with some of my old Radio Free Charleston co-conspirators.”

“Reconnect with some of my old Radio Free Charleston co-conspirators”…..Check! When I started writing PopCult, I had no idea that it really would lead to me being able to revive my long-lost and beloved radio show. Now we’re in production of episode five of the new video version of the show, I’m working with some of my best friends from the old days, and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

So keep reading PopCult, maybe even buy some of the cheesy crap in my Cafepress Stores. You might enjoy the ride.

Local Photography Blogs

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One of the cool things about writing PopCult was that I got to seek out and link to other cool local blogs. Blogging is particularly well suited to photography, as you can see here at theGazz.com with the DowntownWV and West Virginia Photo blogs. Here’s five great local photography blogs.

On Location With Rick Lee features the work of world-class photog Rick Lee, who may be the most prolific photo blogger in town. He posts a wide variety of images, from his professional work, to his intriguing “produce blogging” shots taken in local grocery stores and tons of other amazing artworks.

Plaedaddy is Stephen Beckner, award-winning photographer and a fine musician and songwriter. Steve’s work is pretty cutting-edge, and is really innovative.

Entropy showcases work by Scott Mitchell. Scott’s got a great eye for nature and architecture, and always puts a smile on my face.

Through The Lens brings us the work of MShane, from Shane Evans Photography. He does terrific landscapes and great portraits, but like all the photo bloggers listed here, he’s not confined to any one genre.

Amanda Miller Photography, by the artist of the same name, brings us an array of wonderful photos, including high-speed shots, tinted photos, and interesting still life. I wish she’d update more often.

So go check these photoblog links out, and if you know of any other cool local photoblogs, leave a comment, or email me at popcult@charter.net.

The Radio Free Charleston Store

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As with the PopCult and Monday Morning Art stores that I mentioned below, I have opened up a Radio Free Charleston Store, so you can go over and buy shirts with the RFC logo on them. If you want to proudly show your support for RFC by parading around like a human billboard, feel free to click on over and buy multiples of of the fine T-shirts featuring the show logo and my cartoon visage. Hey, if we sell enough of these, we’ll be able to buy good microphones to use for the host segments!

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That’s the beast of Capitol Street….the world’s loudest air conditioning unit, as heard in the background of the host segments of episode four of Radio Free Charleston. It’s the source of the oppressive hum that permeates Davis Square all summer long. I had no choice but to immortalize the monster, and then digitally-assault the photograph. As always, click to enlarge.

Starting this week, I’m experimenting with something new. Since I’ve been doing the Monday Morning Art thing for a while now, I decided to see if anybody would want to buy any of this stuff. So I’ve opened a few shops over at CafePress. Each week, in the Monday Morning Art store, you will be able to purchase T-shirts, prints, and other cheesy merchandise featuring that week’s Monday Morning Art. The products will only be available for one week, and then they’ll be replaced by the next week’s art. I’ve also opened a PopCult Shop, featuring some of the previous pieces of artwork that I’ve posted here over the last year. If you have more money than taste, rush on over and buy my stuff.

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cap_origins
In observance of our anniversary week here at PopCult, our pick for Cool Toy Of The Week is one of my favorites from my childhood. In fact, I wrote about Captain Action and his nemesis, Dr. Evil, last year right here and here. The reason I’m picking Captain Action again is because Robby Reed, over at Dial “B” For Blog, is in the midst of a six-part series of articles on the good Captain, and I can just link to it, and let him do all the work. Read the first installment here, the second here, and then check back to his blog every day for the next four parts!