PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Décès d’un Ordinateur

PC ded 001a

Above and below you see two digital paintings based on photographs of the screen of my computer as I feared that it let loose its grasp upon this mortal coil and was drifting into the digital afterlife. Your PopCulteer’s trusty dual-core Compaq computer had seemingly floated off to meet CyberJesus in PC Heaven. This workhourse is what I’ve been using since 2007 to bring you PopCult, Radio Free Charleston and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, not to mention all of my digital art. Well, except for what you see today.

This was not the tragedy that it might have been in previous years. PopCult is being updated from the Frankenteined laptop that we keep in the kitchen. A new i5 computer is sitting on my desk waiting for its custom operating system and all its software to be installed. We will skip the RFC MINI SHOW this week, but our streaming radio show should be online tomorrow. No data was lost, since this time it was evidently cancer of the motherboard what brought us down. With any luck we will be up and running with a rock-solid system in a matter of days.

Still, lets take a moment of silence and bow our heads as we honor our trusty companion of nearly eight years. Following its wishes, the PC will be stripped of all usable parts, which will wind up on our next Frankensteined computer. And we still have the art. Click to enlarge.

(Special Sunday late-night Happy Correction: It turns out that the PC was not terminal and instead simply had a blown video card, which sort of makes this whole post pointless, but we’re leaving it up anyway, even though our loyal cyber-steed has risen, Phoenix-like, from the ashes to soar to new heights…at least it will, once the new video card comes in the mail.)

PC ded 002a

Sunday Evening Videos: Happy Birthday, Kate

article-0-1C77C86000000578-409_634x731Her birthday isn’t until July 30, but since we remembered it this year, we’re going to go ahead and bring you an early birthday salute to Kate Bush. Once again we’re going to indulge in my Kate Bush worship and present some more of her music videos. Above, you see the rare “Puppet” version of “Suspended In Gaffa.”

On the other side of the “read more” link, you’ll see a few more cool Kate vids.  Thanks to the Kate Bush Tribute Page for pointing us towards some of these.

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RFC Flashback: Episode 76

Radio Free Charleston’s 76th episode, “Peace Sign Shirt,” was the last episode of the show hosted on the Charleston Gazette servers, and it features two long songs by Option 22 and Suburban Graffiti, punctuated by a Plant Ro Duction Mini Movie, and a couple of important announcements.

After this episode of RFC, we began posting the show directly to MySpace, which turned out to be a disaster when they unceremoniously dumped all their video uploads, which is why we now find ourselves remastering and re-uploading the older episodes of the show to YouTube.

You can find the original production notes HERE.

Radio Activity in Charleston

1908200_463231830509679_3280559379774759519_nThe PopCulteer
July 10, 2015

Charleston is officially getting a brand-new radio station Saturday. Even though they’ve been in “soft launch” mode for a few weeks. WTSQ, 88.1 “the Status Quo”, officially launches July 11 and hopefully, will usher in a bold new era of independent volunteer radio in Charleston. This non-profit low-power FM station will bring a daily dose of Democracy Now to the capitol city each morning and offers a daytime playlist of terrific 1980’s and 90’s poppy New Wave hits.

Now this may seem like a case of deja vu to you. About a year ago, another low power FM station based in The Union Building went on the air and lasted a mere six weeks before collapsing amid mysterious and arcane circumstances.

WTSQ is a different beast altogether, with a focused management staff and a solid idea of how to accomplish their mission of bringing diverse voices to Charleston’s airwaves.

Josh Gaffin and Kenny Lavender, who didn't really want to be photographed, but I insisted
Josh Gaffin and Kenny Lavender, who didn’t really want to be photographed, but I insisted

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The PopCult Bookshelf

212-479-Product_LargeToMediumImageThunder Bay Press is at it again, with four new books that show kids (and adults) how to make their own toys of licensed characters. These are packaged as kits that include everything you need to make Crochet dolls of some of the most famous and beloved characters of all time.

Each kit includes all the material needed to make two dolls–yarn, stuffing and beads, plus a crochet hook and a yarn needle. Also included in each kit is a book that not only shows how to make the featured designs, but also includes instruction on how to make an entire set of dolls (using your own yarn–they have to make these kits small enough to be stocked on bookshelves.

The books feature step-by-step instructions and full color illustrations for each project. This is a great way to introduce kids to sewing and crochet, and along with teaching them skills and building hand-eye coordination, keep their interest with their favorite characters. Let’s look at the publisher’s information on each book:

212-479-Product_InteriorArt_LargeToMediumImageStar Wars Crochet
Author: Lucy Collin
Thunder Bay Press
ISBN 13: 978-1-62686-326-2

An out-of-this-world crochet adventure, the Star Wars Crochet kit offers a fun and interactive experience by including a full-color paperback book with step-by-step instructions for crocheting Star Wars’ most memorable characters, plus yarn, a crochet hook, a needle, stuffing, and safety eyes. With instructions for twelve different characters and enough materials for two complete projects—Yoda and a stormtrooper—your crochet collection can also soon include Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Jabba the Hutt, and many other favorites.

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Venture Brothers ReMegos Reviewed

Image2The PopCult Toybox

This week we take a quick look at the final two figures in Bif Bang Pow’s Venture Brothers series. These ReMego figures, made and packaged in the style of the popular 1970s Mego action figure line, are a great end to what has been a terrific line of figures based on the Adult Swim classic cartoon, which is sort of retro-cool itself.

Image5The two figures wrapping up the line are Sgt. Hatred and H.E.L.P.eR. (Humanoid Electric Lab Partner Robot).

With these two characters, all the major players in the Venture Brothers have been made into ReMego figures, with the exception of The Sovereign, the leader of The Guild of Calamitous Intent and The Council of 13, who for most of the series looks exactly like David Bowie, which would make securing likeness rights rather tricky.

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A Programming Note

2092051Due to software upgrades, this week’s streaming episode of Radio Free Charleston on New Appalachian Radio will not debut at 10 AM, as it normally does. Instead, we will take a week off and return next Tuesday morning with a really cool show featuring new music from Superfetch and The Aristocrats and a classic out-of-print album from World Without Fear. It’s no fun skipping a week, but such is the way of technical progress! We must march forward FOR SCIENCE!

Your host, at the bandshell at Coonskin Park

Above you see our ninth anniversary episode of RFC. It’s hard to believe, but nine years ago we revived my old radio show as a video program as part of The Charleston Gazette’s GAZZ website. In those nine years we’ve watched the world change a bit. The GAZZ is still around as the Thursday entertainment section of The Gazette. Radio Free Charleston is now a multi-media empire with two video shows, an internet radio program and soon, a website. And the Charleston arts and music scene continues to be a vital and diverse collection of amazing underexposed talents.

This week on the show we have music videos by The Company Stores, Close The Hatch and Volt 9000. We also have live performances by Tape Age and Speedsuit and animation from Third Mind Incarnation.

Ann Magnuson

We kick things off with a trailer for Ann Magnuson’s Dream Puppet Theater. During Ann’s show, “An Evening of SurRURALism” in Charleston last month, the audience was treated to the first full episode of Dream Puppet Theater. It was magically-deranged and I can’t wait to see more. Thanks again to Ann, not only for allowing me to use this trailer in the show, but also for including some of my art in her show.

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Fox News Cow

A couple of weeks back I was honored to have a couple of my pieces of art included in Ann Magnuson’s show, SurRURALism. I want to thank Ann and Mark Wolfe for picking a couple of the digital paintings I did for the show.  I had submitted five pieces, and they chose the best two of them for the show.

That means that there are three that haven’t been widely seen yet. Today I’m going to post two of the runners up. Above you see “FOX News Cow.” I had this image in my head of cows walking around with flatscreen televisions embedded in their sides. After thinking about it further, it occurred to me that most of those TVs would be annoyingly tuned to FOX News, just like almost every waiting room TV always seems to be. Hence the digital painting above.

Below you see “Cow Eat Cow.” This is a simple photograph, with a comic ceramic cow juxtoposed with real life cows. For some reason it did, and does, make me crack up. Click to enlarge.

Cow Eat Cow

Check PopCult later on Monday for our ninth-anniversary episode of Radio Free Charleston, with contributions from the aforementioned Ann Magnuson, as well as The Company Stores, Volt 9000, Speedsuit, Tape Age and more. Maybe a miracle will happen and they’ll actually plug this one in the paper!

Sunday Evening Videos: FFS

photo by David Edwards
photo by David Edwards

The members of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks will join forces to become FFS, a new supergroup, as NME reports. That’s right, two of my favoriate bands, Sparks (I’ve been a fan since the 1970s) and Franz Ferdinand (I’ve been a fan for about ten years or so) have teamed up for an album and tour. This is really cool for me because both bands have attained a level of fame mixed with obscurity that qualifies them as “cult favorites.”

Here’s a music video for one of the tracks off of their album that sees every member of both bands dressed as Ronald Mael, the distinctive keyboardist for Sparks…

Here’s a concert they did together in Paris last week…

Now go buy the album, FFS.