PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Gift Guide: Wabi Sabi Cat Plushie

wabi cat

IMG_0308_largeYour PopCulteer and his lovely wife met the folks behind Wabi Sabi Cat last February at Toy Fair.  The Wabi Sabi Cat is the plush embodiment of a mascot originally created for a framing shop in Hawaii.  Now Wabi Sabi Cat has evolved into a cute little plush creature who celebrates the beauty of imperfection.

The business that begat Wabi Sabi Cat began in 1988 as a custom frame shop and gallery, and over the years has evolved into what it is today,  “Life is Wabi-Sabi” is the creation of Brian Tanimoto, and the artistic inspiration of his daughter, Erynn. It is also supported by a team of like-minded creative individuals, who enjoy spreading messages of positivity. Life is Wabi-Sabi is an offshoot of their main business, Tanimoto Dharma Designs LLC; which is located in the heart of Hilo, Hawaii.

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese view of life that finds beauty in things that are imperfect, humble and simple, ordinary and unrefined. It is a way of living that peacefully accepts the natural cycle of life. Everything ages, nothing lasts forever, and sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

The “Wabi-Sabi Cat” was a drawing made by Erynn when she was 13 years old. Its cute and quirky looks inspired the development of this brand, which focuses on embracing and appreciating the imperfections of everyday life. Each of their products carries the simple yet inspiring philosophy — “Life is “purr-fectly” imperfect!”

You can order Wabi Sabi Cat directly from their website, where you can also find a bunch of really cool pinback buttons with nifty sayings emblazoned upon them and other cool art objects.  The Wabi Sabi Cat Plushie is suitable for all ages.  It’s a great, different kind of plush animal and it’ll only set you back $15 plus shipping.  It’s perfect for the art lover or cat lover in your life.

Gift Guide: Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery

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A1mz9EsWNPL._SL1500_With David Lynch back on board to helm next year’s Showtime revival of Twin Peaks, now is the perfect time to revisit one of the wildest shows ever broadcast on television.

On stunning High Definition Blu-ray, Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery is a comprehensive collection with every episode from the complete television series; both the U.S. and international versions of the series’ Pilot; the North American Blu-ray debut of David Lynch’s follow-up feature Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me; and nearly 90 minutes of deleted and extended scenes from the film.

The set also features newly transferred Log Lady introductions for each episode; picture upgrades to many shots in the TV series; a new featurette with series creator Lynch and the actors who portrayed the Palmer family which includes a mesmerizing return to the lives of their characters today; and hours of never-before-released material that dives into the fascinating story behind the celebrated pop culture classic.

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All episodes of the TV show, including both versions of the pilot, have been meticulously scanned and remastered from the original negatives. The shows are presented in their original 4 x 3 aspect ratio. This edition contains ten Blu Ray discs with the complete series, the movie and all the extras. It’s packaged in a really cool box with series-inspired art and design.

Recommended for fans of the show, or folks who somehow missed it before, but love bizarre stuff. The list price on this set is nearly $140, but it can be found online discounted to well under a hundred bucks.

rocko

91YaT0xoBLL._SL1500_Overlooked in the wake of the great animation revival of the 1990s, when thanks to Ren and Stimpy TV cartoons suddenly became really good for the first time in decades, Rocko’s Modern Life was a neat little gem of a series. The show had a unique look, thanks to its creator, Joe Murray, and featured top-notch voicework and some pretty subversive humor for a kids cartoon.

The show asked, “What’s a wallaby to do when he’s surrounded by annoying neighbors, freeloading pals, heaps of laundry and the weight of life in general? Why, turn to his loyal canine, Spunky, dim-witted best pal, Heffer and neurotic nay-sayer Filburt to help him confront the trials and tribulations of modern life.”

This eight-disc set includes all 52 episodes, though sadly some have been censored by Nickelodeon since their original airings. That makes this set suitable for children, but annoying for long-time fans.

Still, at twenty bucks for the whole series, it’s not a bad deal for fans of the show that features early directing work by Steve Hillenberg, the creator of SpongeBob Squarepants.

nyebook

51nQ9LO2bZL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World
by Bill Nye
St. Martin’s Press
ISBN-13: 978-1250007148

Just as World War II called an earlier generation to greatness, so the climate crisis is calling today’s rising youth to action: to create a better future.

In UNSTOPPABLE, Bill Nye crystallizes and expands the message for which he is best known and beloved. That message is that with a combination of optimism and scientific curiosity, all obstacles become opportunities, and the possibilities of our world become limitless. With a scientist’s thirst for knowledge and an engineer’s vision of what can be, Bill Nye sees today’s environmental issues not as insurmountable, depressing problems but as chances for our society to rise to the challenge and create a cleaner, healthier, smarter world.

As Nye shares his vision, he debunks some of the most persistent myths and misunderstandings about global warming. When you are done reading, you’ll be enlightened and empowered. Chances are, you’ll be smiling, too, ready to join Bill and change the world.

In Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World, the New York Times bestselling author of Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation and former host of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” issues a new challenge to today’s generation: to make a cleaner, more efficient, and happier world.

Appropriate for forward-thinking, reality-based people of all ages, this book can be ordered from any bookseller.You might even be able to get him to sign it when he comes to town later this week.

Gift Guide: Forbidden Zone Ultimate Edition Blu Ray

FZone

Forbidden Zone Ultimate Edition Blu Ray + Soundtrack CD

81xyobwH7XL._SL1500_It may not shock longtime readers of PopCult to learn that I consider this 1980 movie, directed by Richard Elfman, to be one of, if not THE greatest movie ever filmed. Made on a shoestring budget, this film stars Elfman’s brother Danny, Susan Tyrrell, Herve Villechaize, The Mystic Knights of The Oingo Boingo, The Kipper Kids, Viva and a cast of hundreds.

The story is about a white trash family that moves into a new house, only to discover that the basement contains a portal to the Sixth Dimension. Bizarre, surreal, politically incorrect hilarity ensues. Forbidden Zone is like a mash-up of Three Stooges shorts, Max Fleischer cartoons, nudie movies, cheap science fiction, underground comics and musical comedy. The music is an amazing combination of 1930s and 40s jazz mixed with pre-fame Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman’s first movie score. The highlight is Danny Elfman, as Satan, performing a re-written version of Cab Calloway’s “Minnie The Moocher.”

Danny Elfman as Satan!
Danny Elfman as Satan!

Even though this is easily the greatest movie ever made, Forbidden Zone may not be for everyone. There’s lots of naked boobs in this film. If you are offended by generous displays of female anatomy, you might want to spare yourself the embarressment of watching a movie where several major and minor characters are women who only wear panties. Also, if you’re overly-sensitive about racial stereotypes, the characters who wear blackface and talk like The Kingfish from Amos and Andy might put a damper on your enjoyment of this film. There’s also rough language, poop jokes, Jewish stereotypes, elder abuse and a little transvestitism and chicken fetishism.

But if that doesn’t offend you, then you will be able to enjoy THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE.

Villechaize and Tyrrell
Villechaize and Tyrrell

This Ultimate Edition Blu Ray includes the original black-and-white version of the movie and a newly-tweaked colorized version. You will also get commentary from the director and co-writer, all the bonus material from previous releases, and for the first time, scenes from “The Hercules Family,” the film that acted sort of like a pilot to Forbidden Zone.

If that weren’t enough, this package also includes a soundtrack CD, that mixes tracks from folks like Josephine Baker with music made for the film by Elfman and Oingo Boingo.

Not a film for the kids, you can find the Forbidden Zone Ultimate Edition Blu Ray + Soundtrack CD package from several outlets online, but the best deal is at Amazon.

death waffle

6157kN6vXjL._SL1001_Expect great things of this battle station-like an absolutely delicious breakfast. Sing the Imperial March as you goose-step your way to the kitchen table, delivering a waffle made on a fully operational and armored space station. Yep, the latest breakfast tool for Star Wars geeks (following last year’s Darth Vader Toaster) allows you to make waffles in the shape of The Death Star.

For fans of the original and rebooted Star Wars saga, it’s the ultimate collectible countertop appliance, officially licensed by and approved by the Empire, with fully operational features: Regulating thermostat to ensure even browning; Five temperture settings for preferred waffle done-ness; Dual indicator lights let you know when the iron is hot and when the waffle is ready;  It stands upright and the cord wraps under base for compact storage.

51dmJ4VMd+L._SL1001_This sturdy waffle-maker features stainless steel construction, and a coated non-stick waffle plate that wipes clean with a damp cloth.

Perfect for your obsessive Star Wars fan of any age, this baby will set you back forty bucks, plus shipping, from several online retailers.

And may the syrup be with you.

spencer

16ed737d88fa56721102cc73cbbbc8b1Spencer Elliott and I have been friends for over twenty-five years. I first met him at The Charleston Playhouse, where I met many of my life-long friends and companions. We’ve known each other a long time. Even if I didn’t know Spencer, I’d be recommending his album, “Some Forgotten Color.”

Not to be mistaken for the CD with the same title and cover that I reviewed last year, this is a re-recording, produced by legendary guitar maestro Antoine Dufour (with one track produced by Jack Griffith), and it includes one new composition.

This is exquisite fingerstyle guitar music, the type that a person can get lost in. Sublime, exciting, exhilirating, this collection of tunes came from years of practice and honing and stands as one of the most remarkable recordings by a local artist in recent years.

Spencer will be performing November 28 at Bluegrass Kitchen, and December 4 at UUC, and will have his CD for sale there, but you can also find it at select local book and record dealers, or order it online from Candyrat Records.

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This week’s art is a digital painting of a psychedelic lakefront. I don’t indulge in hallucinagenics, but I’m told I have a natural inclination toward creating altered-mind imagery anyway. Click to enlarge.

There will be no new Radio Free Charleston or RFC MINI SHOW this week. Your trusty PopCulteer is up to his neck in The Tenth Annual PopCult Gift Guide, and also has other pressing deadlines. The plan is to return next week with a full-length episode.

I do hope you’re all enjoying the Gift Guide. After ten years, it’s getting tricky to come up with great Pop Culture gift ideas without repeating myself. Look for three more really good gift suggestions this evening, and every day for the rest of the month, at least.

Gift Guide: KANSAS Original Album Classics Box

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81E4dY5w04L._SL1500_KANSAS has spent more than four decades as a part of the soundtrack of the lives of multiple generations of music lovers. The band’s first public statement appeared on their self-titled album in 1974. “From the beginning, we considered ourselves and our music different and we hope we will always remain so.” Little did this legendary rock group realize that back in the early ‘70’s, what seemed to be “different,” was actually ahead of its time.

This “garage band” from Topeka released their debut album in 1974 after being discovered by Wally Gold, who worked for Don Kirshner.

Now in their fifth decade, KANSAS has released a boxed set of their first five albums, terrific slabs of Great American Progressive Rock, in a box that retails for under thirty dollars. Included are the albums, KANSAS, SONG FOR AMERICA, MASQUE, LEFTOVERTURE, and POINT OF KNOW RETURN. All the CDs are remastered and include all the bonus cuts from previous re-releases.

KANSAS was never a critic’s darling band, but they do have millions of loyal fans and made some fantastic music. This material holds up quite well forty years after it was recorded. Fans of classic rock or prog will love this, and it’s a really good gift for young musicians or kids who need to have their eyes opened to how great music from the heartland can really be. Available anywhere music is sold, and very affordably priced for a five-disc set.

trek

51gmYCaUAfLOkay, let’s say your holiday giftee is a Trekkie (or Trekker, if they’re sensitive about that), and they have one huge room in their house that just doesn’t seem intimate. Your best solution for a practical, yet illogical, gift idea is Oriental Furniture’s 6 ft. Tall Double Sided Star Trek Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura Canvas Room Divider.

They can divide their space into more comfortable “sectors” and enjoy images of Sulu, Chekov and Uhura from Star Trek: The Original series.  This large piece of room furniture features high-quality enlarged digital print images with outstanding quality, printed on durable primed artist’s canvas panels with strong mitered wood frames. They have a two-way double-hinged panel design, so you can use them in a variety of ways.

What true fan of Star Trek wouldn’t love to see larger-than-life images of the crew of The Starship Enterprise every time they walk into their living room? This large hunk of Federation niftyness will set you back just under $60, shipping included, from Oriental Furniture. If you want to be more mainstream in your Star Trek gift-giving, you can also find room dividers with Captain Kirk, and with Spock and Scotty for the same price. Or you can go cheap and just buy them the Tribble wall art, a 31″ by 23″ canvas print, for fifteen bucks, including shipping.

Tribble wal art canvas print
Tribble wall art canvas print

These items are selling for four times this price at Amazon, so you might want to beam up these bargains while you can.