PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Meanwhile, At The Joe Report…

The PopCult Toybox

mikepoweruniformsetPopCult is still under siege by computer gremlins, but luckily Mark Otnes, who produces The Joe Report for Patches of Pride has been diligently updating his readers with details of the recent Official GI Joe Collector’s Club Convention, held this year in Springfield, IL.

Unlike JoeLanta, The Official convention focuses more on the 3 3/4″ “Real American Hero” figures, but that doesn’t mean that fans of the original GI Joe are left out in the cold. Mark tracked down the club’s head honcho, Brian Savage, for a very cool interview and Savage revealed quite a few pleasant surprises for collectors of the 12″ GI Joe.

Mark’s also put in yeoman duty covering the convention via video. Head on over to the Joe Report, and tell ’em PopCult sent you.

Midweek Stuff To Do

Your Popculteer is still toiling away at the rebuilding process, after a power outage took out his main online computer. However, we’ve updated Popcult every day for more than 600 consecutive days, so we’re not going to let a little thing like catastrophic failure get in our way. Here is a midweek edition of Stuff To Do. Later today you can expect a brief PopCult Toybox.

Wednesday Night

The Blue Parrot presents an early jam session, hosted by Prank Monkey at 8 PM, followed by a 10 PM screening of the new Byzantine video directed by Holly Siders. Check the details…


At the Empty Glass, performing without a net and with no cover, it’s Ladies On The Rag, a collective of female musicians from New Orleans, which includes Charleston native (and occasional RFC guest) Sierra Ferrell. You can expect an evening of unbridled Ragtime music. The music kicks off at 10 Pm and I hear that Travis Stephens will be sitting in.


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NAR log 106It’s a rerun of sorts with this week’s Radio Free Charleston at New Appalachian Radio. As you already know if you read PopCult yesterday, a computer crash happened at a very bad time, so there is no RFC MINI SHOW this week, and we were also unable to finish our very special streaming tribute show to the late Tom Medvick. Both of those shows will wing their way to you next week.

You can listen to Radio Free Charleston’s streaming radio incarnation at 10 AM and 10 PM on Tuesdays (and again at midnight Thursday) at New Appalachian Radio, part of Voices of Appalachia. If you miss it, check our the archives for previously-aired shows. You can also listen to Radio Free Charleston Saturday at Midnight. Saturday, RFC airs for six hours, starting at midnight.

So this week at New Appalachian Radio you will get to hear the first two streaming episodes of Radio Free Charleston combined into one, two-hour block. You may recall that our first two shows were only an hour long each, so this way you can enjoy them all in one tasty bunch.

This was back when I was still pretending to call the show “Radio Free Charleston: Volume Three,” and we didn’t have a theme hour because we only had one hour.

Our first hour is basically a primer on the history of Radio Free Charleston. We kick it off with the very first local song I played on RFC back in 1989, and each segment has a theme of sorts.

The Hour One Playlist:

The Haze
The Haze

Hasil Adkins–“Big Red Satellite”
The Amazing Delores–“Love Magic”

Go Van Gogh–“Shut Up, I Love You”
Three Bodies–“Shingles and Tar”
Blue Million–“Lazy Bones”
Mad Scientist Club–“Save The Whales”

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Monday Morning Art: Apocalypse


Last night one of those scheduled power outages from Appalachian Power destroyed your PopCulteer’s main computer. There will be no RFC MINI SHOW this week and the streaming radio program may be a re-run.

In honor of this loveliness, today’s art is a recycled explosion. Please enjoy it while your humble servant is reinstalling his operating system and all the programs he needs to bring you this blog. Click to enlarge.

Sunday Evening Videos: Mr. Cartoon

wsaz_watn_jule_mrcartoon_01We lost Jules Huffman last week at the age of 91. The retired WSAZ weatherman was better known to generations of kids as “Mr. Cartoon,” the host of a daily (later weekly) cartoon show on WSAZ that for most of its run aired at 5 PM, right after school.

The outstanding thing about Huffman was that he was a genuinely nice man. I met him a couple of times as an adult working in the television business, and he treated everyone, from a major TV executive to a lowly production assistant, with respect.  I’ve heard dirt on almost every local broadcaster, and he’s one of the few people that had no dirt to tell. He was just the same nice guy that you saw on TV.

Today we’re bringing you two video clips of the man in action. That’s a ten-minute excerpt up top, with a longer video below from the 1985 Charleston Regatta. He was the last of a generation of cartoon-show hosts, and a lot of “Cartooners” are really bummed out by his passing.

Mr Cartoon membership card

LEGO makes a huge move in videogames

The PopCult Toybox

10828129_1572631739688916_6648486783693761427_oLEGO, with a little help from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games, is about to stake their claim to a share of the profitable new toy category of videogames with toy components. This fall LEGO Dimensions will invade toy and videogame stores and pose an immediate challenge to Activision’s Skylanders and Disney Infinity for dominance in the next generation of interactive toys.

The PR promises “The Creativity of LEGO Building Meets the Epic Story-Telling of LEGO Videogames for Multi-Dimensional Fun. Fan-Favorite Worlds Converge in One Thrilling Adventure — A Dark Knight, a Wizard, and a Master Builder Traveling Down the Yellow Brick Road is Just the Beginning!”

They’ve already launched a Facebook page and expectation is building months before the toys will be in stores.

Batman, Gandalf and Ninjago? Sure, why not?
Batman, Gandalf and Ninjago? Sure, why not?

LEGO Dimensions is an all-new entertainment experience that breaks the rules of traditional gaming to merge physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay in a manner only imaginable in the world of LEGO games. Launching September 27, 2015, the game will fuse many fan-favorite universes together, including DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings, The LEGO Movie, The Wizard of Oz, LEGO Ninjago, Back to the Future, and many more still to be announced.

What’s worth noting here is that, unlike Disney Infinity, which combines Disney and Pixar characters with other Disney properties like Star Wars and Marvel, LEGO Dimensions will apparently extend beyond the various Warner Bros. properties and include LEGO’s Ninjago and the Back to the Future franchise. The potential for more crossovers is pretty huge since LEGO already has toy deals in place for Ghostbusters and The Simpsons, among many others. The only drawback is that these games will all share the characteristics of the LEGO designs. So rather than a complete crossover, everything will be “LEGOfied.”

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RFC Flashback: Episode 2

rfc-002This week we go all the way back to the second episode of Radio Free Charleston, from July 2006. “RVD Shirt” features music by Stephen Beckner and The Sleeping Dons (Sean Richardson, Jay Lukens and Deron Sodaro), animation by Frank Panucci and a sneak peek at the then-unreleased Batman movie.

This episode also marks the first appearence of the infamous Dancing Midget Spider-man (seen right). You can read the original production notes here. A special note: This show is brought to you via Vimeo because, after five years online, the company that owns the rights to the Batman clip filed a copyright notice. When you see the Batman clip, you will realize how hilariously ironic that is.

A Big Ole Nasty Rant, plus Stuff To Do

charleston,wvThe PopCulteer
April 17, 2015

Today’s PopCulteer could be best described as a heated rant. I’ve got a topic that has me a little worked up, and rather than thoughtfully compose a reasoned and balanced essay considering the pros and cons of the issue, I’m in the mood to load up the shotgun and come out firing. So pardon my grouchiness.

The object of my ire is a poll currently being conducted by Charleston’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. It aims to pick the CVB’s “Tourism People’s Choice Awards.”

Can this beat Mountain Stage and The Clay Center?
Can this beat Mountain Stage, Capitol Market  and The Clay Center?

First, I hate this type of poll under any circumstance. I’m on record as despising pointless competition, and any poll that pits The Clay Center, Appalachian Power Park, The Capitol Market and Mountain Stage against one another is just fundamentally flawed in the first place.

On top of that, the nominees are not really representative of the best this city has to offer. I will address that later. What’s really annoying is that this poll is supposed to promote tourism.

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The PopCult Bookshelf

It’s capsule reviews time because your PopCulteer is juggling paying work with ArtWalk today, and isn’t able to go into great detail about anything. That’s also why there was no PopCult Toybox yesterday. You can expect bonus toy posts over the weekend. It’s been a really busy time here in the land of PopCult.

Luckily, we have two cool reprint volumes to tell you about. We must also butt into to tell you that your faithful blogger can be heard Thursday evening at 9 PM as a guest on Mark Wolfe’s “The Real” on New Appalachian Radio. It’s a fun, rambling conversation.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Volume 5
by Steve Skeates, Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Dan Adkins et al.
IDW Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1631401824

51mM5m59x5LIDW is already up to Volume 5 in their reprinting of the classic, yet obscure, 1960s Superhero comic, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. This was a book that I loved as a kid. With top talent like Wally Wood, Steve Ditko, Dan Adkins and Gil Kane providing the art and scripts by Len Brown, Steve Skeates and others, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents was a cool alternative to DC and Marvel. The unique packaging (each issue was giant-sized and sold for a quarter when other books were 12 cents) and irregular publishing schedule added to the mystique. The book spanned the 1960’s superhero boom, running from 1965 to 1969. It was an attempt by the paperback publisher, Tower, to break into comics.

I’ve written about T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents before here in PopCult. I told the story of how I was almost involved in a 1980s revival, and I was very enthusiastic about a DC Comics revival about five years ago. Since that time, DC has let their license of the characters pass on to IDW, who tried their own revival (currently on hiatus) and also their own reprints of the original comic books.

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bitches-brewMiles Davis’ Bitches Brew album is a seminal work. This double-LP was released forty-five years ago this month, and it remains one of the most challenging, controversial and influential works in the history of Jazz and Jazz Fusion. Not content with already having revolutionized Modern Jazz, Davis began this project with heavy influences from rock and funk, but also brought the use of the recording studio in Jazz up to contemporary standards.

This album is filled with multi-tracking, post-production edits and looping. It’s ahead of its time, and had the technology been available at the time, Davis probably would have experimented with sampling and auto-tuning, too.

Because this album is such a notorious studio creation, performing it live is a major undertaking that is not something that musicians just decide to do on the spur of the moment. In this episode of Radio Free Charleston we sit in on a rehearsal by the group 4tet, with added musicians “and more,” as they tackle this epic work in preparation for the first of a series of shows where they will perform the entire album live.

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