PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

RFC Flashback: Episode 70

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montage70This edition of your local music, film, animation and art webcast was jam-packed with music and other short bits of coolness. The music is from Barebones, the accapella group who debuted on RFC just a few weeks before this episode, plus we continued “Mark Beckner Month” with a couple of performances that feature Mark: one solo, and one supporting his brother Stephen while jamming on an old Go Van Gogh tune.

As if the music weren’t enough, we also had a 100-second art show, this time showcasing the work of Leia Bell, a promo clip for “Viva le Vaudeville,” and the debut of “A Plant Ro Duction Mini Movie.”

It was a magical show, and you can read the original production notes HERE.

Gamera Is Really Neat

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10427347_1428308240772612_6912343783602609092_nThe PopCulteer
May 30, 2014

It’s another jam-packed weekend, and your PopCulteer is going to try and bring you the highlights of everything cool going on in the area. We are sure to miss a few events, so please feel free to chime in with some comments if you know of anything else happening in town.

We’ve Been Eating Gamera

First up, we have the inagural MOVIE NIGHT at Kanawha Players Theater. Friday at 10 PM, which gives you plenty of time to check out the Laser Shows at the Clay Center or Time and Distance and Beggar’s clan at Live on the Levee, you can settle in at KP for a showing of the 1965 classic, “Gamera the Invincible.”

An atomic explosion awakens Gamera–a giant, fire-breathing turtle monster–from his millions of years of hibernation. Enraged at being roused from such a sound sleep, he takes it out on Tokyo. In addition to being really neat, Gamera is also filled with turtle meat.

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The Sailor Man and The Air Pirate

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The PopCult Bookshelf

Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London Volume 1 (1986-1989)
images (13)The Library of American Comics
by Bobby London
IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1613778746
$39.99

First of all, I’m not going to refer to this book by its full title because that’s one heck of a mouthful. Second, I’ve made no secret in this blog of my admiration for Popeye. The legendary Sailor Man is one of my favorite characters from both comics and animation and I am inclined to enjoy the bejeezus out of almost anything he’s in. Third, I have been a fan of cartoonist Bobby London for more than forty years. One of the advantages of having an older brother is that you get exposed to cool things like underground comics and the National Lampoon much sooner than you normally would have been.

The infamous Air Pirates comic
The infamous Air Pirates comic

Bobby London is a legendary underground cartoonist and was a founding contributor to National Lampoon magazine, which pretty much set the standard for humor and comedy in the 1970’s. London contributed stories about “Dirty Duck,” a dirty old man duck character with the personality of a particularly venal Groucho Marx and a perverted boll weevil as his sidekick. Before his National Lampoon days, London was one of the notorious “air pirates” who published an underground comic featuring the classic Disney cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in pornographic and drug-riddled exploits.

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An Alarmingly Activist Episode of RFC

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Details on how you can buy your own Top O Rock shirt are coming soon
Details on how you can buy your own Top O Rock shirt are coming soon

Radio Free Charleston 198, “Save Top O Rock Shirt” is one of our most politically active episodes. We have music from Time & Distance, Little Nomad, The Living Deads and a special music video by The Laser Beams, plus there’s ten epic minutes of animation by Jake Fertig. But first, in this episode I actually talk about the shirt that gives this show its name.

Top O Rock is an architectural marvel in Charleston. It was the home and office of the late architect, Henry Elden. We shot our host segments for Episode 100 there four years ago, a couple of years after he passed away. Since then, the building has fallen on hard times. Recently vandals have struck and we were in danger of seeing this landmark demolished.

A foundation is being established to assist in the resuce and restoration of Henry Elden’s dream home, and you can help out by buying this shirt, and visiting the Save Top O Rock Facebook page, plus you can visit this blog and sign this petition. We will keep you posted on future fundraising activities.

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Levine with a GI Joe Frogman, in an AP photo
Levine with a GI Joe Frogman, in an AP photo

Don Levine passed away last Friday at the age of 86. His name is not instantly recognizable, but he is considered one of the fathers of GI Joe.

Levine was working as an executive at Hasbro in 1963 when he was approached by Stan Weston, a licensing agent, who pitched an idea for a toy based on a proposed TV show, “The Lieutenant,” a show set on Camp Pendleton and created by Gene Roddenberry. Weston came up with the idea of making a posable figure, nearly a foot tall, that could be dressed in different outfits. Levine ran with the concept and was developing an entire line when “The Lieutenant” was cancelled after one season.

Fighting Man From Head To Toe
Fighting Man From Head To Toe

Rather than drop the project, which was rather risky to begin with, Levine continued with a new name, “GI Joe,” and bought out out Weston’s interest in the concept. Levine then successfully mimicked the “razors and blades” concept of selling toys that Mattel had managed to turn into a cash cow with Barbie. GI Joe was an instant hit and was among the top selling toys for several years.

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Monday Morning Art: Work In Progress

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Today’s Art may or may not be a component of my contribution to this year’s East End Main Street Streetworks Art Initiative. You’ll just have to keep checking back here at PopCult to find out. Click it to enlarge.

You’ll also want to come back later Monday morning for the latest episode of Radio Free Charleston. It’s a hum-dinger, with an extra helping of hum. We have music from Time and Distance, The Living Deads, The Laser Beams and Little Nomad, plus ten epic minutes of animation from Jake Fertig. Also, there’s a burlesque tribute to WV Attorney General Patrick Morrissey. On top of all that, this episode is called “Save Top O Rock Shirt.” You won’t want to miss it.

Sunday Evening Videos: Diablo Blues Band

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Some of DBB. See the whole band tonight at The Empty Glass
Some of DBB. See the whole band tonight at The Empty Glass

This week we’re bringing you three videos by Diablo Blues Band to help plug their show tonight at 9 PM at The Empty Glass. The band will be recording a live album with their brand-new line up, which includes a horn section. Five bucks gets you in the door to witness the blues explosion. You may remember Diablo’s frontman, Johnny Compton, from last week’s RFC MINI SHOW.

From different times over the last five years, we bring you three songs. Above you will find “Diablo Blues,” the song from which the band took their name. Below are the videos for “Hell To Pay” and “The Price of a Broken Heart.” These are all taken from past episodes of Radio Free Charleston.

RFC Flashback: Episode 69

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May 2009 was “Mark Beckner Month” on Radio Free Charleston. Mark is a long-time friend and was a fixture on the radio incarnation of RFC as a member of both Go Van Gogh and The Tunesmiths. To this day he still shows up as a member of The Nanker Phelge.

However, in May 2009, he was preparing to play his first real show in Charleston in years, since he’d relocated to Nashville back in the 1990s. It turned out to be quite the homecoming, since unbeknowest to me, he was returning to town for good.

I had a wealth of archival material and new video featuring Mark, so I decided that, as a way to plug his “return” show with his band, Hitchcock Circus, I would devote an entire month of shows to Mister Mark Beckner.

We kicked it off by digging deep into the vaults to present “Go Van Gogh: The Sad Truth,” a mockumentary starring the band, which I had totally forgotten about, directed by Timothy Rock, the bassist for GVG. Stephen Beckner showed it during a movie night at his house, and I started wondering why it seemed familiar. Then it got to the scene where I’m crouched over a toilet blaming the band for the RFC radio show getting cancelled, and it all came back.

It turns out I was the cameraman and was the offscreen interviewer in addition to my cameo as myself. I have this bad habit of forgetting really cool things that I’ve done.

I was able to get a copy of the film from Stephen, and trimmed it a bit for time so I could present it as an episode of RFC. This is a rare episode of the show which was not named after a T Shirt for the simple reason, it does not include a “host segment,” instead empoloying a simple voice-over.  This is also one of the few RFCs that doesn’t have the opening theme, and with this 2014 remastering, I have correcting one shocking omission–after the end credits and remastering card, I put the “Ya-Hooo” guy back in.

The original production notes can be found HERE.

Memorial Day Weekend Stuff To Do

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10271231_10203845960975321_2300270470785762133_oThe PopCulteer
May 23, 2014

While all you lovely people are gearing up for a wonderful long holiday weekend, your PopCulteer is hunkering down for a work-filled four days that includes two video shoots plus shooting the host segments for and assembly of RFC 198. We’re keeping our descriptions short, but sweet. Here’s your weekend highlights…

Laser Light Shows Return…

…to The Electric Sky Theater at The Clay Center, that is. Cool laser shows set to nifty music will entertain the masses for the next couple of weeks. Admission to each laser show is $4 for adults and $2 for children, Clay Center members and donors, seniors and students.

The schedule of music is as follows:

Friday, May 23–6 p.m. Laser Beatles
7 p.m. Electro Laze
Featuring the most popular music of the new Electronic Dance Music madness! You’ll hear heart-thumping hits like “Derezzed” by Daft Punk and “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex.

Saturday, May 24
6 p.m. Laser Country
7 p.m. Laser Beatles

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The PopCult Toybox: Max Steel’s Second Chance

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PopCult Note: Remember, this week the PopCult Toybox and The PopCult Bookshelf have traded days.

Img_0770Last fall I sort of trashed the new line of Max Steel toys from Mattel. I stand by that trashing. The toys were awful with poor articulation and lousy paint jobs, and they are currently marked down for clearance in the stores that were foolish enough to stock them.

However, a couple of funny things happened with Max Steel. The CGI series was a hit for Disney XD, and so they ordered a second full season of twenty-six episodes. Also, because Mattel’s original Max Steel line, which featured 12″ fully-articulated action figures, was still a successful property in South America, Mattel designed a special line of figures in that size for the South American market.

Those have been leaking into the US via eBay for months now.

So Mattel had an easily-solved conundrum on their hands. There will soon be a second season of what is essentially a half-hour toy commercial airing in this country, but consumers soundly rejected the crappy little six-inch Max Steel figures. Luckily, Mattel has a fully-realized line of higher quality 12″ action figures based on the new Max Steel cartoon all lubed up and ready to slip onto retailer’s shelves.

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