PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

The Eyes Have It

eyesThe PopCulteer
May 12, 2017

So yesterday your PopCulteer had his peeper poked, and by that, I mean I had my first cataract surgery. As expected, everything went smoothly and I am on the mend and looking forward (with my one good eye) to having my second cataract surgery next week. After that, more of the photos and videos you see here in PopCult will be in focus.

Because of the effects of anasthesia, this week’s column will be a collection of short items and observations.


olliesOllie’s opened in Dunbar Wednesday, and your PopCulteer made the tactical error of checking the store out on Grand Opening Day. The place was packed. I’m a big fan of the chain, and have made regular visits to the Barboursville store. They have a great selection of blowout and overstock merchandise, with everything from food to clothes to toys, tools, cleaning supplies, shelving, flooring, books, DVDs and beyond.

But the crowd on opening day was insane. I’m sure the presence of some NASCAR yahoo (excuse me for not knowing who he was, but no apologies for not caring) contributed to the “Black Hole of Calcutta” atmosphere, but it was not the optimum shopping experience.

Still, it was great to see a vital and thriving business locate in my occasionally moribund hometown of Dunbar. They will get great traffic and I’m sure they’ll be a big success and maybe help attract some other new businesses to our city (maybe to take advantage of our lack of an added sales tax). I’ll be going back often. In fact, I went back for a second time the next day, with Mrs. PopCulteer, right after leaving the hospital following my eye surgery.

Toy Review: JadaToys Batmobile

b-mo-02Just a quick note to let folks know that the JadaToys “Metals” Die Cast Batmobile is starting to show up again in local Walmarts. This is a decent representation of the one, true George Barris Batmobile, and fills a void, pricewise, running around twenty-five bucks. The Hot Wheels 1/18 Batmobile has been reissued at a fifty-dollar-plus price tag, and while there are a few others in this price range, they tend to be plastic, rather than die cast metal.

The car comes with two figures, Batman (Adam West) standing by it in the package, and Robin (Burt Ward) seated inside and using the Batphone. The figures are not articulated, so you won’t be able to put Batman behind the wheel. The scale is not listed (probably 1/24) and the paint is a little less than perfect, but for the price, it’s a neat little collectible. It’ll look good on your shelf.


Beatles Hot Wheels Scalpers

pc-h-set8There is a set of five Hot Wheels collector cars based on album covers by The Beatles making the rounds at retail now, and they are selling well.This is a great set of affordable collectibles, aimed at both the Hot Wheels collector and the die-hard Bealtes fan who doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a cool new item. They’re supposed to retail for under five dollars each.

However, scalpers nationwide have mobilized, and are snapping up just two of the five cars–a van based on Rubber Soul, and a truck based on The Beatles (The White Album), leaving behind cars based on Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour and the US version of A Hard Day’s Night. There is speculation that they chose these two because they think that they’re the least likely to be produced with extra runs by Mattel to boost supply.

s-l300All five cars ship in equal numbers, two per case, but scalpers are trying to corner the market on Ford Van and Hiway Hauler so that they can gouge any collector who wants the entire set.

Luckily, there are some online dealers who are ruining this scheme by selling entire sets for what they’d cost at retail, less in some cases.

Rumor has it that Mattel plans to flood the market with these cars so that the scalpers will be stuck with a glut of those two that they snapped up. There were never advertised as having a set limited number, so it’s great that Mattel is considering this.

956h2-600x600But it still sucks that scalpers have found a new way to ruin collecting for those of us who actually have a life.

I was at the Walmart in Quincy looking for these cars when I encountered a collector from Beckley who confirmed that scalpers down there wiped out the supply of just those two cars.

A quick check of eBay showed some folks, with pictures of thirty or forty White Album trucks, asking as much as $75 EACH for them.

There is a special place in hell…


Speaking of Special Places…

shawnee-park-plan9Last week I ranted about the very foolish-seeming idea to waste $12 Million on a sports complex that nobody wants at Shawnee Park in Institute. I would like to correct the record on that rant.

The latest estimates are that it would cost $15.4 Million to build this sports complex that nobody will use. Sorry for the confusion. An op-ed by County Commisioner Ben Salango offers little in the way of a convincing argument for spending money the county doesn’t have on this project, but he does take the time to insult anyone opposed to it.

As examples of why Kanawha County should invest in a sports complex, he cites the Tygart River Park Sports Complex in Duncan, South Carolina, without mentioning that it’s located about an hour’s drive away from the Charlotte, North Carolina metro area, with a population in the neighborhood of 2.5 million people.

Likewise, his other example,Traverse City, Michigan, is a well-known tourist destination with almost their entire economy based on attracting people to town and hotel space out the wazoo. In addition to that, the tournaments that he mentions generating so much money there were held at facilities that are either privately-owned, or were built with huge private donations.

While Salango makes the usual claims about Charleston being one-day’s drive from half the US population, he ignores the fact that a multi-sports complex in Kanawha County will be competing with similar, more established and better-financed facilities near Cinncinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Louisville KY, Washington DC, Akron OH, Wytheville VA, Kingsport TN, Cambridge MD…I could go on. There are hundreds of such faclilites within one-day’s drive of Charleston.

My point is that we are literally SURROUNDED by multi-sports complexes of the type envisioned by the County, only every one of them is located much more conveniently near a major city or transporation hub.

Most of these multi-sports complexes are larger and better-financed than the proposed boondoggle at Shawnee Park, and have the added benefit of serving a metropolitan area with a larger population than our entire state. It’s foolish to spend over fifteen million dollars to build a facility in the hopes of landing a tournament that might generate three million dollars in extra income for the area once every year or two. There’s no doubt that, 80% of the time, the facility will sit mostly unused.

I mean, six lacrosse fields? I’ve lived in Kanawha County my entire life, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who plays lacrosse.

Salango characterizes those who are opposed to this idea as having a “short-sighted, myopic mentality that continually leads to West Virginia finishing 50th.” I would counter that by saying that those who support this project are delusional, unrealistic and are the reason West Virginia always finds itself finishing 50th because they pour tons of money into projects that will provide little or no return.

Our money would be better spent on a monorail.

A Less Important Mini-Rant

I still resent blue M&Ms.

Friday on The AIR

april-6-logoYou know the drill…listen in at The Website, or use this nifty little embedded player…

Today we have our usual Friday schedule, with some replays in the morning and early afternoon, leading into a brand-new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat at 3 PM and a brand-new (to The AIR) episode of Radio Coolsville, from DJ Betty Rock at 5 PM.

That’s New Wave Music, followed by Alternative Rock, and it’s cool as all get-out. Later in the evening, Jay and Jarod bring you an hour of The Third Shift at 9 PM.

Just to whet your appetite, here’s the playlist for Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, which this week presents the entire Red, Hot + Blue album…

BEC 023

Cyndi Lauper  “She Bop” (Extended Dance Mix)
Men At Work  “Who Can It Be Now”
Personal Effects  “I Had Everything”
Psychadelic Furs  “Love My Way”
Planning by Numbers  “Man and Woman”
The Coupe DeVilles  “She Has Friends In L.A.”
Simple Minds  “Love Song”
Neneh Cherry  “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
The Neville Brothers  “In the Still of the Night”
Sinéad O’Connor  “You Do Something to Me”
Salif Keita  “Begin the Beguine”
Fine Young Cannibals  “Love for Sale”
Deborah Harry + Iggy Pop “Well, Did You Evah!”
The Pogues + Kirsty MacColl  “Miss Otis Regrets / Just One of Those Things”
David Byrne “Don’t Fence Me In”
Tom Waits  “It’s All Right with Me”
Annie Lennox  “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
U2  “Night and Day”
Les Négresses Vertes “I Love Paris”
k.d. lang “So in Love”
Thompson Twins “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
Erasure “Too Darn Hot”
Jungle Brothers  “I Get a Kick out of You”
Lisa Stansfield  “Down in the Depths”
Jimmy Somerville “From This Moment On”
Jody Watley “After You, Who?”
Aztec Camera  “Do I Love You?”
Tom Robinson Band  “Up Against The Wall”

Okay, that’s enough PopCulteer for this week. Check back for our regular features