PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Sunny Day On The River

Above you see a digital painting over a digitally-assaulted photograph that I took about five years ago out of the Union Building, looking East over the Kanawha River.

That’s pretty much all you need to know about it.  Click to see it bigger.

Sunday Evening Videos: Weird, Funny Shorts

I’m not talking about pants here. This week we’re bringing you some short, weird little films, designed to amuse and astound you.  Well, amuse, at least.

First up, courtesy of Mark Evanier and his NewsFromME blog, here’s a Diabnetes Awareness clip starring Bill Kirchenbauer…

More mind-hurting weirdness after the jump…

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John Waters At The Clay Center (sort of)

The PopCulteer
August 5, 2011

Once again, Charleston’s theatre scene is blessed with two high-quality shows running at the same time. You can see a video clip of CYAC’s production of Dan Kehde’s “Cupid Falling/Cupid Rising” right here. That original comedy is running at The WVSU Capitol Center Theater. Meanwhile, across tiown at The Clay Center, Charleston Light Opera Guild, in conjunction with the Clay Center, will bring you “Hairspray,” the broadway musical based on the 1988 John Waters movie.

Big Hair = Big Fun

Tracy and Amber, photo by Chip Ellis

“Hairspray” opens tonight at 7:30 PM at The Clay Center, and it’s a fun musical set in Baltimore in 1962. While it tells the story of how young Tracy Turnblad helped break down the walls of racial integration on a local “American Bandstand” style dance show, the deeper message is how Tracy stands up against the rampant sizism, which is still a problem today.

This is a fun production. Nina Denton Pasinetti has mastered the science of distilling hit Broadway productions into the perfect works for the local stage, and the young cast shines brightly as they rip into a score that is a pure valentine to the pre-Beatles era of American music. You’ll hear echoes of Motown, Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” and classic girl groups, all performed with gusto by the cast and recreated faithfully by the orchestra, under the direction of Bobby Hodges.

Jessica Cooper captures the spirit of Rikki Lake, who made her mark as Tracy in the original movie, and Alan Pennington is overwhelming as her mother, Edna, a role created by the late iconic transvestie star, Divine.

Check out the video preview below…

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Dan Kehde’s “Cupid Falling/ Cupid Rising”

Opening this Thursday is Dan Kehde’s newly-expanded play, “Cupid Falling/Cupid Rising.” This is a can’t-miss comedy, a farce on teen love, morality and misinformation. The play stars stage veterans Anna Poole, Samantha Oxley, Kaylen Surface, Nik Tidquist, Patrick Felton, Daniel Calwell and Eli Chambers. Originally written in 2009 as a one act play, the piece was revised this year to accommodate an expanded cast and plot.This is fall-on-your-butt funny, and a real treat.

Opening night is Thursday August 4, and you can also see the show Friday and Saturday at the same time, and next week, August 11-13, the curtain rises at 8 PM each night at the  WVSU Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers Street, Charleston. Tickets are $10, or $6 for students and seniors.

CD Review: Justin Johnson “The Gold Album”

The Artist: Justin Johnson

The CD: “The Gold Album”

The debut solo CD by Jackson County’s Justin Johnson, the former lead singer of Dog Soldier, is a solid effort, with eight primo cuts of alt-rock angst featuring Johnson’s epic voice fronting some first-class musicianship. Sounding like a cross between 1980s-era Peter Gabriel mixed with Eddie Vedder and just a dash of Robert Plant, Johnson has delivered a soulful collection of anthemic ballads that have a timeless quality to them.

Standout tracks include “Easterlily,” in which Johnson comes across as a smoother-sounding Tom Waits as he bitterly laments a lost love. “Goldtown Hotel” broadens the sonic palette a bit, with some great guitar and percussion work backing up Johnson’s amazing voice. “Honor Song” wraps up the album in style, starting out as a traditional-sounding ballad before transforming into a stark percussion and voice crescendo that ends with an impressive CD-closing coda.

If there is a weakness to “The Gold Album,” it’s the consistency. While musically excellent throughout, Johnson doesn’t vary the tempo much. Having seen him incite crowds to near-riot status on stage with his former band, it’s a bit disappointing to see him sounding so subdued on this recording. He is quite capable of ripping into high-octane rock ‘n’ roll. It would have been nice to see some of that energy captured on disc. As it is, I’m eager to see how Johnson transforms these tunes into live performances.

“The Gold Album” is a strong debut that only hints at the talents of its creator. I have a feeling that we’re going to be hearing a lot from Justin Johnson in the years to come, since it seems that he’s keeping a few cards up his sleeve for future projects.

You can buy “The Gold Album” online at Amazon.com, iTunes, CDBaby, CDUniverse and you can preview it at MySpace. You can check his website or follow him on Facebook for news on upcoming shows.

Monday Morning Art: Docking Procedure

Today’s Monday Morning Art is an iPort™ Instagram photo of the docking of the Space Cruiser Coppola at the Unified Stratoport orbiting over the Appalachian region.  Due to the quirks in remote iPort™ technology, the picture was knocked into high-contrast black and white,which makes for a really cool effect in this case.  This was another routine arrival of the Coppola, a space barge hauling coal to the Southern Moonbase where they’re fracking for space gas. From the iPort™ vantage we can see the bottom of the cruiser as it descends into the nesting pod. A few seconds later.  as the ship blocks out all light, this area was pitch black, save for the glow-in-the-dark exit markings.

Or maybe it’s a shot of the ripped-out ceiling of the Huntington Mall, run through the “Stark Charleston” filter. Either way, it’s pretty cool looking. Click to see it bigger.