PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The 2016 PopCult Gift Guide: Toydriver

giftguide-graphic-smallThis item is more of a gift for parents than for kids, but kids will be very, very happy if their parents get it, and open it early so that they can put it to good use. In the video below, from the 2016 International Toy Fair in New York City, we get to see a demonstration of Toydriver, a nifty battery operated, low-torque power screwdriver designed specifically for removing screws from stubborn battery compartments on toys.


Now Toydriver is available in stores across the country with a suggested retail price of $10, which is a bargain for such a vital tool. The Toydriver is specially-designed with a longer bit and smaller heads to get at those difficult to reach teeny toy screws. Parents will be overjoyed.

With this item, and extra packs of batteries, you will be well-equipped to be “Santa’s Helper” and power up all the electronic toys that you have coming down your chimney this year. For the rest of the year, this will come in handy for other small electronics that have a screw holding their battery-comparement shut.

Super Weird Heroes:Outrageous But Real!
swh-001edited by Craig Yoe
IDW Publishing/Yoe Books!
ISBN-13: 978-1631407451

Super Weird Heroes is the first superhero book from Yoe Books/IDW, and it’s a winner, filled with hundreds of pages of the strangest, most obscure and downright goofiest superheroes from the Golden Age of comics. This massive is filled with tons of rare, full-color, never-before-reprinted comics which could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars on the collector’s market. These are not your mainstream superheroes, but a collection of weird-as-hell heroes that will make you wonder just exactly what their creators were smoking. Best of all, unlike some other books on superhero obscurities, Super Weird Heroes brings you entire stories so that you can wallow in the absolute bizarreness of these comic book curiosities.

giftguide-graphic-008With an “all-star” line-up of curious obscurities, Super Weird Heroes boasts characters so obscure that your PopCulteer, a major comic book nerd since birth, had only heard of about half of them. Trust me, any book of superheroes where the most recognizable character is Bulletman, is going to be filled with plenty of brave new hilarious worlds for you to explore. You will witness Public Domain superheroes like The Hand (yes, he’s a giant hand), The Eye (you got it―he’s a gigantic eye) and The Bouncer (this super-hero-in-a-skirt’s power is bouncing)!

swh-002There’s Rainbow Boy (he sports a towering rainbow mohawk on his head), Boomerang (he defeats Nazi hordes and weaponry by throwing a little boomerang), Kangaroo Man (don’t jump to conclusions―he’s even weirder than you think―his fighting partner is a talking kangaroo!).

You will thrill to the adventures of early Charlton Comics star, The Yellowjacket (he fights villains with bees), plus Madame Fatal (a cross dressing hero), and Phantasmo (who fights criminals barely wearing any clothes at all)! This is just a small fraction of the Super Weird Heroes you’ll experience in this  amazing collection. There are over 65 super weird heroes in all (and a sequel is planned for next spring with even more).


swh-003Super Weird Heroes is edited by the Eisner winner Craig Yoe who Vice Magaizine called, “The Indiana Jones of nerd-perv artifacts!” Like all Yoe-Books, it includes essays and top-notch reproduction, which, in the case of hereos like Captain Hadacal may not really be neccessary.

Super Weird Heroes is perfect for the obsessive comic book and superhero fanatic on your holiday shopping list. This book can be ordered from Amazon, or from any local bookstore by using the ISBN code above.

This book is just a tremendous amount of fun, and it’s cool to see Craig Yoe turn his preservationist eye toward the superhero genre after so many years of bringing us memorable collections of pre-code horror, funny animal and other great artifacts of comic book history.


50570161The Cabbage Patch Kids dolls are a pop culture icon. Created by Xavier Roberts in the late 1970s, when these dolls first hit mass-market stores back in 1982 they were the original “hot toy” that set the tone for manic near-riots as parents battled to snag a “must-have toy” for their kid for Christmas. After the initial rush, Cabbage Patch Kids proved that they were no mere flash in the pan, and now, almost 40 years after their creation, the doll is still a must-have item on many parent’s shopping lists.

This year the newest iteration, the Cabbage Patch Kid Baby So Real, is truly revitalizing the baby doll category with new technology and features that Cabbage Patch Kids never had before.  Wicked Cool Toys has developed the most innovative and remarkable life-like version of the iconic Cabbage Patch Kids from the 80s with Baby So Real.

giftguide-graphic-008Baby So Real allows children and parents to enjoy one of the most magical and interactive experiences in the history of the baby doll category. These life-like babies combine traditional nurturing play patterns with groundbreaking technology that allows children to interact with their babies’ sweet sounds and unexpected reactions designed to surprise and delight. There is a reason that parents are in hot pursuit of this toy.

With a simple touch, Baby So Real comes to life with beautifully animated, expressive, full color LCD eyes that open, close and look around, creating more than 30 different expressions. The technology and function are like miniature flat-TV screens allowing for their detail and movement to be truly lifelike. Loaded with realistic features and over 60 sounds such as giggling, talking, playing, sleeping, eating and so much more – this special baby encourages hours of interactive and nurturing play.

cpkBaby So Real has built-in sensors throughout allowing for peek-a-boo and tickle play, feeding from an interactive bottle, burping, diaper changing, and rocking to sleep. And if the baby should develop a fever, kids, parents and grandparents can calm those red cheeks by administering TLC from a magical spoon. Despite all the AI magic, just like the original Cabbage Patch Kids, Baby So Real is soft and cuddly with removable clothes. This doll really brings the classic Cabbage Patch Kid to life for a new generation.

Speaking of that, Baby So Real has its own free app that allows your phone or tablet to simulate a baby monitor. With the app, children can also play games, watch video clips and earn baby points to collect additional virtual accessories such as toys, fashions and room decor. The app can be fully enjoyed with or without your Baby So Real being connected.

cpk-01Baby So Real is available in Blond, Brunette and African American babies, comes with a fully removable outfit and diaper, a special interactive bottle and medicine spoon, birth certificate, adoption papers and a free baby monitor style app for additional virtual play. And, of course, just like every Cabbage Patch Kid, Baby So Real exudes the most beloved and identifiable soft and fresh scent.

This is the ultimate baby doll experience for the little girl, boy or collector on your shopping list. The suggested retail price is just under a hundred dollars, but ’tis the season for deep discounts, so you might want to shop around at Target, Toy R Us, Walmart or Amazon. Just don’t wait too long.

Check out the commercial to see Baby So Real in action…



It’s been a while since we’ve done a straight-up photograph here in Monday Morning Art, so this week we start things off with a cool image I grabbed during ShockaCon last October. It’s The Stay Puft Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters, appearing courtesy of Ghostbusters WV Division and Classic Plastics, seen from afar, across the parking lot of the Beni Kedem Shrine Center. I just thought this looked cool.

Click to enlarge, as always, and keep reading PopCult for the 2016 PopCult Gift Guide.

Sunday Evening Video: Leonard Cohen in Concert

1411561144285-cached2016 has been an absolutely hellish year, what with the Grim Reaper being in the running for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and all. Tonight we look at yet another star who done been plucked from the sky. Leonard Cohen was an amazing poet and songwriter and a controversial performer. People either loved his voice or they hated it. Still, there’s no doubting that he was a force of creativity who followed his own course through life.

Cohen passed away a couple of weeks ago, shortly after releasing his latest album. Above you see him in concert from a 1988 performance on Austin City Limits.

giftguide-graphic-008For another of our weekend “one post” Gift Guides, we’re going to revisit a cool device we told you about last year. It may seem a little odd hyping the Roku, now that it’s basically mainstream, but they do have new models to talk about. It’s even more tempting than ever to cut the cord and kiss your cable bills goodbye. The newest upgrades to the Roku streaming device is better than ever and ready for the future of Ultra High Definition Television.

roku-tvRoku TV is a Smart TV with Roku already built in. You can do everything that you can with the Roku, but you don’t have to mess with wires or hookups. Easy setup and simple navigation makes Roku TV the perfect smart TV for the entire family. All of your favorites are in one-place, switch between your cable box, gaming console or favorite streaming channel the simple remote control.These start at $139 for tiny screens, while larger models are comparable to other Smart TVs.

Roku Ultra is their ultimate player, with stunning 4K and HDR picture quality and advanced technology and features. With brilliant picture quality for 4K Ultra HD & standard HD TVs and powerful wireless for the best streaming experience, the Roku Ultra is a winner. The included point anywhere remote offers voice search, headphones for private listening, gaming capability, and even a lost remote finder. You can enjoy more than 2,500 streaming channels, most of them free, offering access to 300,000+ movies and TV episodes. Plus there are games, music, sports, International, kids programming and more.


You will need WiFi and an HD TV is recommended. The Roku will pull in pay subscription services like NetFlix, The WWE Network, HBOGo and others, plus there are component channels like FXNOW, which offer you on demand access to existing cable and satellite channels. The real treat is the free stuff. You can surf YouTube in your living room, or watch any of the thousands of free channels that offer up everything from wild niche and genre programming to sports, hobbies, exercise, foreign news, public access and more.

roku-express-plusThat’s the top of the line model that retails for $129. If you’re on a budget you can still experience the coolness that is Roku with Roku Express, a smaller unit that comes in two models, one stripped-down version for most HD television sets and for ten bucks more, a model that turns old analog televisions into Smart TVs. That’s thirty bucks for HD sets and forty for older TVs. For that low price you’ll still get the complete assortment of entertainment channels available on the more expensive models.

And there are other models at different price points with varying degrees of bells and whistles. Some allow you to play games, some have other features, like headphone jacks on the remote. You can check out all the different models at the Roku website. After you decide which one you want, shop around, because there have been price wars with these units.

Roku is a wonderful device that opens up your television to almost as vast an array of programming as the internet-only you get to watch from the comfort of your own couch. The Roku experience is as much fun as the early days of cable, only with thousands more channels to explore. For all ages, but parents of young kids might want to use the parental controls.

bec-xmasPopCult Note: Today we just have one post for the 2016 PopCult Gift Guide, and it’s guest-written by Sydney Fileen, the presenter for Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on The AIR. Sydney is a legendary UK voice on radio and television, and her passion is the classic music of the New Wave era. You can hear a 24-hour marathon of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat today on The AIR, running from Midnight Friday to Midnight Saturday.

I want to thank Rudy Panucci for allowing me to take over his PopCult blog today to share with you my picks for the best New Wave Music gift ideas for the intelligent and charming person on your holiday shopping list who also has impeccable taste in music. Mr. Panucci assures me that he will insert links where appropriate.

We will try to show you that having a love for music created thirty to forty years ago doesn’t make you old. It makes you cool.

71opvvqdrcl-_sl1200_We will begin with a good sampler of the type of music we’re talking about. A budget-priced 3 CD boxed set, The Greatest Ever Punk And New Wave, The Definitive Collection very nearly lives up to its rather unwieldy title. Scattered across its three discs are classic New Wave tunes from the likes of The Stranglers, The Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, Martha and the Muffins, Adam and the Ants, The Dead Kennedys, Joe Jackson, Madness, Lene Lovich and more.

There are 57 tracks in all, and every one of them is a gem. This is a terrific sampler for the newbie just learning of the wonders of the New Wave era, and it’s also a kind artifact for those gentle souls who have survived after experiencing it firsthand.

Having awarded them a good library of Punk and New Wave classics, my advice is for your giftee to explore and discover which types of New Wave music most excite them. Then they must tell you which artists they prefer so you can get a head start on next year’s gift giving.

Continue reading…

rudytoplessThis week he head back to August, 2007 for “Las Vegas Shirt.” This is a special episode of Radio Free Charleston for a couple of reasons. We feature fantastic music by Seven Minutes Til Midnight and an early line-up of InFormation, and we have a really cool piece of animation by Frank Panucci.  But what makes this show so notable is that it is the only episode of Radio Free Charleston to be rejected and censored by The Charleston Gazette, and it is one of only two shows in which your host, Rudy Panucci, does not wear a hat.

Those two matters, by the way, are unrelated. It’s not like the sight of my un-hatted head is so hideous as to border on obscene, at least I hope not..

The problem content in this episode is a segment called “Cooking With The Atrocity,” a comedy cooking segment brought to us by the fine folks at IWA East Coast Wrestling and the 108 Dragons. The humor in the original piece was that it turned into a disaster, with much unexpurgated cursing along the way. In these early days, Radio Free Charleston was hosted on the Gazette servers and as such, we didn’t want to push the envelope too far for fear that it would be returned containing a pink slip.

So when I included “Cooking With The Atrocity” in the show, I bleeped the crap out of it. The odd thing was that the bleeping made the already hilarious bit even funnier. Unfortunately, my editor, Douglas Imbrogno, felt that too many remnants of cursing remained, so for the only time, I withdrew the show for further editing.

It turned out that adding even more bleeps made the bit even funnier, so it all worked out well in the end. Sadly, the official, heavily-bleeped version is one of my “missing” shows, so we are bringing you the original cut, which has a bit less bleeping of the words that lip-readers could have figured out anyway.

As for me not wearing a hat…people were asking, so I complied. I have no excuse for the silver shirt, though. The original production notes can be found HERE.


The 2016 PopCult Gift Guide So Far

giftguide-graphic-008The PopCulteer
November 25
, 2016

While everyone else is out killing themselves trying to find super Black Friday deals, the sophisticated PopCult reader is sitting in their warm home, huddled by the fire, relaxing because they know they can just consult their favorite blog and come up with the perfect pop culture gift for everyone on their list.

Today we bring you a master list that covers the first couple of weeks of this year’s PopCult Gift Guide. If you missed any of our posts, you can see them listed here with a handy-dandy link.

I do want to remind you that, not only is it Black Friday, it’s also Record Store Day, so you might want to take some time to visit Budget Tapes & Records, Sullivan’s or the new Elk City Records on Charleston’s West Side.

The 2016 PopCult Gift Guide index


The Amazing Toys of Marvin Glass
Celeste Giuliano’s Pin-ups in 3-D
The Battle of Charleston
Rain No Evil
Mitch O’Connell’s Tattoos Volume II
TV’s Frank on MST3K
Maido: A Guide To Japanese Gestures
Pinball Wizards and Blacklight Destroyers


2016 Hess Toy Truck and Dragster
AZIAM Yoga Toys
Lionel Mega Tracks
Terra Climber
I AM Elemental
Mensch on a Bench


The World of Edena
The Fifth Beatle (Expanded Edition)


Celebrity Name Game Home Edition
Noel Shuffle
Captain Action Card Game


Phantom of the Opera Remastered
Eight Days A Week: The Beatles-The Touring Years


Aquabats Power Watch




Eat Local


Oddbird Gift Emporium
Shop Local


Musical Theatre Gifts from Curtain Call

Pop Culture Themes

Batman ’66
Star Wars
Star Trek
Progressive Rock from Prognosis
Swing Music from The Swing Shift

That’s our 2016 PopCult Gift Guide so far, but we’re less than half-way through. This weekend we’ll give you a single post each day before plunging back into our four-post-a-day schedule on Monday. We’ll still have time for our regular PopCult features to, so keep checking back.

A Pause In The 2016 PopCult Gift Guide

turkey_bigYour PopCulteer is enjoying the Thanksgiving Holiday in an undisclosed location, and will take this day to thankfully pause the annual PopCult Gift Guide, because it’s not like anyone is reading the blog today anyway.

Tomorrow we will return with a special PopCulteer that provides a master list of all the entries in the 2016 PopCult Gift Guide to date.

Here’s wishing you and yours the best possible Thanksgiving Day. Please try not to choke on a Turkey bone.