PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Extremely Assaulted Photograph

This week, we kick off the week with an example of what can happen when the digitally-assaulted photographic process goes a little overboard.

Looking at the picture, you probably can’t tell that it was ever even a photograph. If you did, you probably think it’s a close-up of germs or something, taken under a microscope. It isn’t. The picture at the right? “It’s A Tree.” I took the original photo in my front yard.

Click the title if your taste is impaired enough to want to buy it. Or look here for more.

Click to enlarge.

Song Of The Week: Early Goth for an early Halloween

In honor of Friday The 13th, which falls in the Halloweeny month of October this year, our SOTW is a bit of prehistoric Goth from a Liverpool band called “Modern Eon.” Modern Eon were contemporaries of OMD and Echo and the Bunnymen, but they never quite caught on as big as those now-obscure 80s bands did.

Watching The Dancers” is a dark, moody, yet poppy number that typifies much of the music that would go on to inspire a couple of generations of disaffected youth to shop at Hot Topic. It’s from their only album, 1981’s “Fiction Tales.” Modern Eon disbanded in 1982. The only notable work by a former member of the band is keyboard player Bob Wakelin’s career as an artist for Marvel Comics and computer game maker Ocean Software. It’s too bad, since these guys were pretty much near the top of the heap when it came to this type of downbeat-yet-not-too-depressing new wave music.

KP Makes Some “Noise”

This weekend Kanawha Players presents the comedic play-within- a-play-within-a- local-production, “Noises Off.” “Noises Off” begins with a troop of has-been or never-were actors on their frantic, final rehearsal of the classic farce, “Nothing On.” As the melee of actors stumble through their lines, they are tossed about by a whirlwind of calamities – from missing contact lenses and misplaced sardines to philandering lovers and a lethally-swinging axe.

Terry Terpening will appear as Dotty Otley, the forgotten starlet; Greg Morris as Lloyd Dallas, the beleaguered director; Brian Roller as Garry Lejune, the empty-headed leading man; Jamie Dunbar as Brooke Ashton, the ditsy blonde sexpot; Joe Miller as Frederick Fellows, the nervous wreck; Kate Woestman-Anderson as Belinda Blair, the busybody ray of sunshine; Sarah Rohan as Poppy Norton-Taylor, the charming, sweet, hapless assistant stage manager; Jeff Bukovinsky as Tim Allgood, the sleep-deprived stage manager; and Joe Romagnoli as Selsdon Mowbray, the bit deaf/ bit tipsy Shakespearean never-has-been. Jeff Haught directs.

Roller, Dunbar and Bukovinsky are all members of The No Pants Players, well-known to regular readers of PopCult as West Virginia’s only improv comedy troupe. The entire cast is up to the challenge of pulling off this hilarious farce.

IF YOU GO: “Noises Off” plays at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater on October 13 -14 and 20-21, 2006. Tickets are $16 for adults, $10 for students 18 and under. Call 343-PLAY for more details.

Radio Free Charleston News

Reaction to episode six of Radio Free Charleston has been nearly universal in praise of our latest humble little video webcast. It seems the Professor Mike fans are really happy with the way we presented their fave band on the show. Reaction to The No Pants Players and Two Watts Of Power has also been great, and we even have some GI Joe collectors enjoying the show.

Later this week, we’re bringing Charleston’s hottest punk band, the Concept, into LiveMix Studio to record their song for the main event of our first Halloween episode, and we’re also bringing in the legendary Pistol Whippers, who’ll headline the second Halloween episode. You heard right! We’re doing TWO Halloween episodes of RFC, and they’ll be jam-packed with eerie goodness!

If you are so inclined, be sure to zoom by our mySpace page and add RFC as your own close, personal internet friend. And head on over to the Gazz TV page and watch all our shows over and over until we get the next episode done. If all goes according to plan, the Halloween shows will pop up online within one week of each other, with the first part hitting within ten days.

Oh, and if you like the nifty “Official Seal” of Radio Free Charleston, as seen above, you can head on over to Says It.com and make an official seal of your own!

This is Scape Number Eleven, yet another in the series of abstract landscapes-come-digital design by yers truly. This version features a more limited palette, just yellow and black, perhaps a subconscious tribute to my alma mater, WVSU. By this point in the digitally-assaulting process, the image has gone from being a splash of color intended to evoke feelings of nature to a loud, electric jolt. If it were not the eleventh in the Scape series, it could be called “Scape 2: Electric Boogaloo.” Still, it might look good on a black T-Shirt.

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Song Of The Week:

Sean Lennon has an astounding new album out. “Friendly Fire” was released on October 3, and it’s a concept album about how his girlfriend (Bijou Phillips) left him for his best friend, who then died in an accident before the two friends could reconcile. It’s a stunning, emotionally gut-wrenching work, and our SOTW this week not on that CD. “Idea” is an instrumental that hints at the tender melodies that Lennon uses on “Friendly Fire.”

For a better teaser for the CD, you can go to Lennon’s mySpace page and listen to “Dead Meat”, which recreates the ugly confrontation between the lovers with a strikingly beautiful tune.

Lennon’s birthday is October 9, and coincidentally, he shares that birthday with his late father. Also coincidentally, he turns 31, which is roughly the age his father was when he recorded “Imagine.” The younger Lennon bears a slight vocal resemblance to his father, but it’s not as pronounced as his older half-brother, Julian. “Friendly Fire” comes with a DVD with short films for each of the tracks on the album. You can read more about Sean Lennon and his new CD at his website.


The latest bit of twisted coolness from Archie McPhee is their new series of Sideshow Playsets, featuring the Bearded Lady, the Strongman, Frog Girl & Lobster Boy, and the World’s Tallest Man & World’s Smallest Man. Recreate the long-ago days when a traveling carnival meant more than riding on unsafe rides, eating dangerous food, and having the scary one-eyed guy who runs the Tilt-a-Whirl hit on your girlfriend. You can have your own carnival right on your desktop, without feeling guilty about exploiting the sorrows of real, unfortunate examples of humanity.

To be honest, these little pseudo-action figures don’t really do much. They’re minimally posable, if at all, and the sculpting is somewhat less than state-of-the-art, but still, the concept is so twisted that it overwhelms the absent craftsmanship.

Each playset comes with a small plastic stage and a small square vinyl banner featuring an old-time sideshow banner. The figures are around four inches tall, give or take a few inches for various horizontally-affected characters. You can order them from Archie McPhee, which is a must-visit website for those of us who like to indulge in off-kilter gift-giving. Be warned, that at fourteen bucks a pop, these strange little hunks of plastic are ridiculously overpriced, but doesn’t it make you sleep better at night knowing that these cool toys exist?

Well, if not that, then isn’t it handy to know where you can get a really repulsive gift to give someone who’s way too polite to act horrified when they open the package?

10-4 Birthday Wishes!

75 years ago today, one of our most famous detectives, Dick Tracy, made his debut on the comics page of the Chicago Tribune. The creation of Chester Gould, at one point Dick Tracy was one of the most-read comic strips in the country, inspiring memorable parodies like Bob Clampett’sDuck TwacyDaffy Duck cartoon and Fearless Fosdick, who became a recurring character in Al Capp’sLil’ Abner” comic strip. Tracy himself starred in a radio show, movie series, and cartoon show.

Dick Tracy holds up remarkably well. Gould’s bizarre villains and great detective stories rank among the most entertaining comic strip stories ever told. A new series of books that present the complete adventures of Dick Tracy–printing every strip in order, from day one, is coming out from IDW Publishing. The first volume is due out in a couple of weeks, and it can be pre-ordered here. I’ve been a fan of Dick Tracy literally as long as I can remember. This series of strip collections is long overdue.

You can still follow the adventures of Dick Tracy every day. Dick Locher is currently writing and drawing the adventures of America’s foremost detective, keeping him current by having him deal with computer crimes, terrorists and pedophile Republican Congressmen (okay, I made that last one up). If you aren’t lucky enough to have a newspaper that still carries his strip, you can read it here. Personally, I have never forgiven Garfield for replacing Dick Tracy in the Gazette back in 1978. I’ve been volunteering my services as a comics page editor ever since, to no avail.

Another long-running comic strip has been paying tribute to Tracy for the past couple of weeks. Dick Tracy was driving through Gasoline Alley, when he stopped to solve a crime. Below you’ll find Gasoline Alley cartoonist Jim Scancarelli’s tribute strip from today.


October fourth is also the birthday of somebody else important–my kid sister. Happy Birthday Diana, I’m working on your cake right now!

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over!

The Month That Was.

September seemed to fly by in about five minutes. There was so much stuff going on that I didn’t have time to write any proper recaps. So now, in convenient capsule form, here’s September in Review:

September 2–My Brother’s birthday(celebrated a couple of days early). I cooked dinner, pizza, Italian monster salad, and birthday cake (lemon with chocolate icing). A good time was had by all.

September 7–Mel and I had the cover story on The Gazz, about Danny Boyd’s wrestling show at WVSU.

September 8–Danny Boyd and AWA Apex present “September To Dismember” at the Davis Fine Arts Auditorium at WVSU. It was an incredible night of old-school wrestling. Danny and his partner, Death Falcon, captured the AWA Apex tag-team titles. Also, episode five of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Kevin Duffer and the Appalachian Celtic Consort goes online at GazzTV.

September 9–Mel and I attended a reception for my buddy Eric Pardue’s exhibit at the Frankenberger Art Gallery at the University Of Charleston. Eric does these great mixed media collages that capture frozen stream of consciousness moments with a great balance of humor and a wonderful subdued palette. And the Frankenberger Gallery is a terrific space. It was my first time seeing it.

September 14–Fresh bagged spinach is pulled off of grocery store shelves. Our long national nightmare begins.

September 15–Opening night of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s new season. Mel and I had front-row seats to see virtuoso pianist Yakov Kasman perform Prokofiev. The symphony also treated us to Beethoven and Brahms. It was a great night, and we ran into Sean Richardson, from The Sleeping Dons, there.

September 16IWA East Coast’s day of two tournaments. An amazing day, with the Zero G high-flyers tourney in the afternoon–TNA star Sonjay Dutt captured the Zero G cup–and the Masters of Pain tourney in the evening. “Crazy Monkey” Jun Kasai won the Masters Of Pain cup, and the tournament itself lived up to its billing, with each match featuring an extreme gimmick. You can buy the DVDs of both shows here, but let me warn you about one thing: animal lovers might want to skip the first match. It was a hardcore masterpiece, and it featured one spot that will become legend, and will be talked about for years. The squeamish among you might want to look away from the screen.

Those poor lobsters!

September 21–We taped Professor Mike at LiveMix Studios for episode six of Radio Free Charleston. It was an incredible night and they are an amazing band. We’ll probably have them back for one of our Halloween specials.

September 23–Mel and I went to see Jackass Number Two. It was gut-bustingly funny, but less so than the first movie. Seemed to be an awfully gay movie, though, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

September 25My Z debuted on Suddenlink, a few days ahead of schedule. Needs more local programming.

September 28–Season debut of Smallville on The CW. Just in time to wash the taste of “Superman Returns” away. This is the real Superman.

September 29–“The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged)” at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston. Everyman Players put on an extremely entertaining evening at one of our favorite local venues. After the show, we ran over to The Sound Factory to catch Professor Mike. We had to call it an early night and take off before the Mikes took the stage, but we were quite impressed with the show that A Place Of Solace put on. Earlier in the day, episode six of RFC, with Professor Mike and Two Watts Of Power goes online at GazzTV.

September 30–The reason we had to leave the show early was that we had a wedding to attend the next day. Area wrestler Atrocity tied the knot with his lovely bride, and we ended the month on a romantic note. Later that night, the new season of Saturday Night Live debuted. Dane Cook continues to impress me by managing to be the complete antithesis of funny. I’ve laughed more at funerals.

October will be spent napping.