PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Classic Popeye books

gg-popeyeWe kick off today’s 2017 PopCult Gift Guide with a comics pick that can’t go wrong with anybody who likes great, classic comic books. I have been a huge fan of Craig Yoe’s Popeye Classics comic book that reprints all of the great Popeye comics written and drawn by Bud Sagendorf. IDW and Yoe Books collect every few issues into a cool hardback collection with bigger pages and bonus material and historical articles, and these are a worthy addition to the library of any lover of the great comics.

I’ve been recommending Popeye collections in the PopCult Gift Guide for over ten years, so you know that I’m fond of the Sailor Man. I’m also a stickler for high quality, and after the original comic strips by E.C. Segar, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any better Popeye than Sagendorf’s.

There are currently ten hardcover volumes available in the Popeye Classics series. Each one is a winner, collecting four or five issues of the Popeye Classics series, along with bonus material. These can probably be ordered from any bookseller. For the sake of convenience, I’m going to give you a link to an Amazon page HERE that has all ten volumes, plus the two collections of Popeye strips by Bobby London that I recommended in the Gift Guide a couple of years ago.

Each volume re-presents the classic Popeye comic book series that debuted in 1948, complete with Bud Sagendorf’s covers, stories, one-pagers and the O.G. Wotasnozzle back up strips. Sagendorf was a long-time assistant to Popeye’s creator, E.C. Segar, and came closer than anyone else to matching Segar’s brilliance.

Sagendorf, who passed away in 1994, wrote and drew more Popeye comic strips and books than any other cartoonist.  When Bud was just 17, his sister, who worked in an art supply store in Santa Monica, California, introduced him to a customer, E.C. Segar, the creator of Popeye. Bud began a long relationship with Segar who became his teacher, employer, and father figure. After Segar’s passing, Bud produced comic books for 24 years, penned the daily strip, and drew art for licensing products.

Any of the Popeye Classics volumes would make a terrific gift for the comics lover on your gift list, or you could splurge and buy them all ten. You have to ask yourself, “What would Popeye do?”

gg-stonesI’m about to commit a couple of acts of heresy here. First of all, I am a Beatles fan. when pressed to choose between The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, I will pick The Beatles every time. I will also pick The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces, and several other bands over the Stones. I don’t hate the Rolling Stones. I just like a lot of other bands more.

On top of that, and this is the real heresy, my favorite Rolling Stones album is considered by most die-hard Stones fans to be, by far, the worst thing they ever did. My next pick for the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the 50th Anniversary Special Audiophile Edition Box Set of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Even a die-hard Rolling Stones fan would get a kick of out this set, if only for the inclusion of the lenticular 3-D cover on the vinyl version of the albums in this set.

This was the Rolling Stones answer to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, and even with John and Paul contributing vocals and all four Beatles showing up on the cover of the album, it fell short by 2000 miles or so. Even so, it’s the Stones at their most trippy and psychedelic, and it’s got some great tunes on it.

The discs were remastered by Bob Ludwig this year, and vastly improve the depth of the original mix. Fans who previously dismissed this album would be well-advised to revisit them for a fresh listen. The new mixes reveal a much better album than its reputation.

This 50th Anniversary Special Audiophile Edition limited hand numbered box includes the restored original lenticular cover, not available for over 30 years, with 180gm Vinyl and Hybrid SACD versions of both Mono and Stereo versions of the album. That’s two vinyl discs and two SACDs. Both recordings are newly remastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering.You also get a 20-page book, with an essay by Rob Bowman, that also includes Michael Cooper’s photos from original cover shoot. In my early days of collecting vinyl, almost forty years ago, it was damned near impossible to find the lenticular cover for less than a hundred bucks.This box sets lets collectors scratch that itch with a new reproduction that looks fantastic.

This set is available for under $75 at record retailers who carry box sets, or you can zip on over to Amazon. This is a great gift for the die-hard completist fan of the Rolling Stones, or folks who love British Psychedelic music.

It Came From the Video Aisle!: Inside Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment Studio
gg-bandDave Jay, William S. Wilson and Torsten Dewi
ISBN13: 9780764354106

Next up in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide we find a comprehensive book about Full Moon Entertainment, the movie studio behind such B-movie classics as Puppet Master, Trancers, SubSpecies and Doctor Mordrid, among many others. This is the ideal gift for the connoisseur of fine direct-to-video schlocky movies on your holiday shopping list.

Charles Band’s Full Moon Entertainment was the most remarkable B-movie studio of the 1990s, responsible for a barrage of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror classics during the last true “golden age” of the home video era. From Puppetmaster to Trancers and beyond, Full Moon transformed the VHS experience for fans worldwide, bringing the inner workings of the movie-making process into the living room, and in turn creating a ravenous fanbase that remains to this day.

It Came From the Video Aisle! tracks the history of the company, from its late ’80s birth among the ruins of the American drive-in through to its bid to survive in the modern digital world. Featuring rare artwork, behind-the-scenes photos, and over 60 exclusive interviews with the cast and crew who helped to create the legendary B-movie studio, this is an essential read for any cult film fan still lamenting the death of the “mom ’n pop” video store.

The authors are schlock-movie gurus: Dave Jay is a London-based writer who has contributed to cult film magazines such as Fangoria, Gorezone, and Horrorhound. He also works as a music writer/producer, including Driven, The Last Castle, A Walk to Remember, and the soundtrack album for Austin Powers in Goldmember; William S. Wilson resides in Williamsburg, Virginia, and has written articles for genre magazines Fangoria and Deep Red. He has also contributed to a number of film guides, including Horror 101, Hidden Horror, BFI’s 100 European Horror Films, and the 101 film book series edited by Steven Jay Schneider (Paranormal Activity); Torsten Dewi lives in Munich, Germany, and has been a professional writer for the last twenty years. Alongside his co-writing credit for Empire of the ’B’s he has written numerous successful novels, genre screenplays for the international market (Lost City Raiders, Post Impact, and Sumuru), and hundreds of articles for a broad selection of magazines, including Playboy and TV Zone. His non-fiction work includes a guide to the Babylon 5 universe, a Dune photo book, and three annual guides to science fiction on TV.

If you know someone who’d want to get inside the minds of the people who created these direct-to-DVD classics (and direct to video before that), then It Came From the Video Aisle! is the perfect holiday gift. You can order it from any bookseller by using the ISBN number, or go directly to the publisher for a copy.

gg-dashOur game pick for today’s 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is called Ultra Dash, and it’s a terrific electronic activity game for kids six and up that let’s them burn off a little steam, instead of sitting in front of a television or around a board. This is perfect for the kid on your shopping list who likes to be active while they’re playing.

Ultra Dash consists of an electronic baton, or “tagger” that comes with five target bases. Kids have to rush to tag the base that corresponds to the color that the baton flashes. Players get a thrilling rush of excitement as they race to match the color of the flashing light on their tagger to the color of the targets. it’s a fun way to get kids, as well as adults, up and moving.

Each time you play it’s a different game because the order of color flashes randomizes, plus you can rearrange the target course however you want.  Ultra Dash could also be exactly what the doctor ordered for a great family activity during our society’s much needed screen-free time.

Ultra Dash has three game modes: Beat the Clock is a race to hit all five targets and see which player is fastest; Target Tally allows players to choose their time and then race to see how many targets they can hit in that time; and Relay Race is team vs. team, with each player racing to hit five targets and then passing their tagger to the next player. The first two games can be played as single player, with kids trying to beat their own time or target-count.

There’s an element of the game “tag” here, but with a fun new electronic twist. Plus, kids can play solo, which is hard to do when you’re just playing tag. I’ve tried it. It’s not fun.

You can find Ultra Dash at toy retailers nationwide. It’ll set you back less than twenty-five dollars and will provide hours of enjoyment. Check out this video to get an idea of how you play…

gg-demonThe Demon by Jack Kirby  
by Jack Kirby
DC Comics
ISBN-13: 978-1401277185

Our comics pick today in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the paperback edition of the now-out-of-print collection of The Demon, by Jack Kirby. This is recommended for the comic book fan on your list who loves Kirby, horror comics, or all things mystical. Created while waiting for a hamburger, The Demon is one of Kirby’s DC Comics creations that is still going strong today, with new versions popping up on a regular basis.

THE DEMON BY JACK KIRBY collects all sixteen issues of Kirby’s initial run on the series, and is some of his most dynamic storytelling from the 1970s.

Kirby revolutionized comics with his sprawling saga of the Fourth World, a bold storytelling vision that was decades ahead of its time. DC is just now beginning to mine the depths of Kirby’s creations, with Steppenwolf, the lead villain of the current Justice League movie, being just a minor character in his massive epic.

Following the Fourth World titles, Kirby brought comics fans his most shocking creation yet: THE DEMON! Summoned from the stygian depths by Merlin himself to defend the legendary kingdom of Camelot, a rhyme-slinging hell-spawn known as Etrigan was bound to this mortal coil through the body of his all-too-human host, Jason Blood.

2017 marks the centennial of Kirby’s birth, and DC Comics finally reprinted this long-sought-after collection in an affordable format. The hardback edition from a few years ago sells for upwards of seventy-five dollars, if you can find someone willing to part with it.

You ought to be able to find THE DEMON BY JACK KIRBY at most quality comic book shops, or order it from any bookseller using the ISBN number. As is the norm, you can find it at a sizable discount at Amazon.

gg-toddToday’s music pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the newest album by music legend, Todd Rundgren. White Knight is a collections of collaborations with a wide variety of musical acts. Any fan of Rundgren’s will fall head over heels in love with this album. It’s got hints of every aspect of his career, and still points to the future.

White Knight showcases Rundgren’s incredibly diverse range of styles from soulful art rock to ambient synth pop and includes performances from Rundgren’s equally diverse musical companions such as Trent Reznor, Donald Fagen (of Steely Dan), Joe Walsh (of The Eagles), Daryl Hall, Dam Funk, Joe Satriani, Robyn and others. Includes the tracks “I Got Your Back,” “Chance for Us,” “Tin Foil Hat,” “Sleep,” “That Could Have Been Me,” “Deaf Ears,” “This Is Not a Drill” and others.

I’ve had three of those tunes in heavy rotation on The AIR, and as a sign of how incredibly talented a producer/performer/musician Rundgren is, he even has me liking a song he performs with Donald Fagan of Steely Dan.

Longtime PopCult readers may remember that I have a long and inexplicable aversion to the music of Steely Dan, but the Trump-baiting “Tin Foil Hat” is a masterpiece that does not provoke a Pavolovian response in me, even though it sounds EXACTLY like Steely Dan at their most Steely Dannish.

In fact, I like this song so much I’m going to post the video for it right here…

Isn’t that cool. This is a great album for any fan of Rundgren, or classic rock in general, and it’s certain to put a smile on the face of anybody who is disgusted by the current occupant of the White House. You can find it at any retailer that sells new music, or go look in the Amazon machine.

gg-teddyOur big pick for today in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is a superstar from the 1980s, back on the scene and better than ever. Teddy Ruxpin is the perfect gift for the young child of wonder or kid of the 80s on your holiday shopping list. Teddy is back at full strength, bolstered by modern technology, and is more interactive than ever.

The iconic, best-selling toy from the 1980s, who remains as one of history’s most successful, trusted and cherished children’s entertainment properties,has made a huge comeback. The new soft and cuddly 14” tall Teddy Ruxpin will have the core features and play patterns that parents and grandparents fondly remember, and will still read stories to children with a motorized mouth.

Teddy still looks like he did back in the 1980s, but he is no longer hiding a heavy cassette player within his body. He is now soft and cuddly and can no longer be used to whack a wayward sibling. This is a major improvement.

However, that means that in this new version, fans of all ages will benefit from Bluetooth technology, Teddy now sports LCD eyes with over 40 animated expressions that are synched to the stories, and touch sensors in the hands and vest that allow the child to start, pause and fast-forward through stories and songs. Teddy is ready to be the electronic best pal for a whole new generation.

Teddy no longer uses audio cassettes. He’s moved into the twenty-first century with Bluetooth compatibility. Parents can download the app, and go to town with tons of stories and songs.

You can find Teddy at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble and at QVC. He retails for just under a hundred dollars, but during the Christmas season you may find some good discounts.

Check out the commercial to see the new Teddy Ruxpin in action…

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Yellow Submarine Magnets

gg-ys-magnetsWho wouldn’t want to turn their refrigerator in Pepperland? Our next pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, wrapping up our second day devoted to The Beatles, is a cool set of magnets featuring Heinz Edelmann’s animated designs from The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. This is a great gift for anybody of any age who loves the Beatles’ animated classic. Mudpuppy, the cool magnet people, have created a fantastic set that lets you relive the movie, and make your own further adventures with the Fab Four and their Pepperland Dopplegangers.

Join The Beatles and Old Fred on an imaginative adventure with The Beatles Yellow Submarine Magnetic Character Set from Mudpuppy. Perfect for fun at home or while traveling, three sheets of shaped magnets and four illustrated background scenes, feature iconic characters and images from the 1968 classic film Yellow Submarine.

Magnets stick to the hinged tin packaging, so there are no lost parts! Or you can free the magnets from their tinny imprisonment and allow them roam free on any metal surfaces in your home, be they the refrigerator, dishwasher, dryer or the steel plate in grandpa’s head.

You get three sheets of magnets, four illustrated background scenes and a tin package that can help you contain all the magnetism. The tin box is hinged and measures almost nine inches by six and a half inches, and it’s an inch deep. Recommended for ages 3 and up.

You may luck out and find this set in a cool magnet store of some sort, but your best bet is to go to Amazon.

gg-georgeI Me Mine: The Extended Edition
by George Harrison
Genesis Publications
ISBN-13: 978-1905662401

Next up in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide we have the “Extended Edition” of George Harrison’s book, I Me Mine. This collection of Harrison’s handwritten lyrics, accompanied by his personal notes and memories of each song, was first released in 1979 as a very expensive limited edition, and then in 1980 as a mass-market hardcover. Any fan of “The Quiet Beatle” will want to own this.

Cherished by fans and collectors, I Me Mine is the closest we will ever come to George Harrison’s autobiography. This new edition has been significantly developed since the 1980 original; now printed in color, and with previously unseen archive material, the book covers the full span of George Harrison’s life and work. It’s much, much larger, in page size and page count, and is one of those books that you can just get lost in.

Featuring George Harrison in conversation with Derek Taylor, I Me Mine delves into everything from Harrison’s upbringing in Liverpool and the growth of early Beatlemania, to his love of India, gardening and racing cars. With over fifty archival photos, Harrison’s words, and his song lyrics, this book offers an insight into the musician’s life, work and philosophy. I Me Mine: The Extended Edition presents the lyrics to 141 George Harrison songs, with handwritten lyrics beautifully reproduced in facsimile, accompanied by Harrison’s uniquely intimate and humorous commentary. This edition has been expanded to include 59 new songs; as well as tracks written for The Beatles, it also contains lyrics from Harrison’s solo career, including his albums All Things Must Pass and Brainwashed.

I Me Mine: The Extended Edition presents for the first time a complete compendium of Harrison’s musical career and his writing. With written contributions from Olivia Harrison and Derek Taylor, new original cover art by Shepard Fairey, and a wealth of previously unpublished material, the new edition is a treasured portrait of George Harrison and his music.

You should be able to find it at any bookseller, or visit Amazon where it’s available at a sizable discount from the list price. There is also a paperback edition, if you’re some kind of cheapskate.  Even if the person you give this to already has the first edition, I Me Mine: The Extended Edition is like a whole new book.

gg-ringoWe’ve already one Beatles Day here in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, but it’s my blog, and I’m a confirmed Beatles Freak, so today we have three more gift suggestions for the Beatlemaniac on your holiday shopping list. We kick it off with the new album by Ringo Starr, Give More Love.

Give More Love is Ringo’s 19th studio album and it features special guests Paul McCartney, Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, Don Was, Richard Marx, Steve Lukather and more. Four of the fourteen songs are new renditions of previously released tracks like “Photograph” and “You Can’t Fight Lightning.”

This is a solid, likeable album that finds Ringo’s voice stronger than it’s ever been as he tackles rock, country and more with the confidence befitting a Beatle.

Recorded at Ringo’s home studio in Los Angeles, Give More Love has 10 new tracks featuring collaborations with friends including: “We’re on the Road Again,” a rocker featuring Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Edgar Winter, Steve Lukather; “Laughable,” a tune co-written and performed with Peter Frampton as well as Benmont Tench, Timothy B. Schmit, Richard Page and Amy Keys; “Show Me the Way,” co-written and performed with Steve Lukather and with Paul McCartney contributing; “Speed of Sound” co-written with Richard Marx and featuring Steve Lukather, Peter Frampton and Nathan East; “Standing Still” was co-written with Gary Burr; “King of the Kingdom,” including performances by Dave Stewart and Edgar Winter; “Electricity,” co-written with Glen Ballard and featuring Joe Walsh and Don Was; the country-tinged “So Wrong For So Long,” co-written and performed with Dave Stewart; “Shake It Up,” a rockabilly raver co-written and performed with Gary Nicholson and including Don Was and Edgar Winter; and “Give More Love,” co-written with Gary Nicholson including Timothy B. Schmit and All Starrs Richard Page and Gregg Bissonette.

Give More Love also has four bonus tracks: “Back Off Boogaloo,” “You Can’t Fight Lightning,” “Photograph” and “Don’t Pass Me By.”  This version of “Back Off Booglaloo” is based on the original recording Ringo made when he wrote the song. He recently discovered the tape when he moved houses and after much research discovered that the unidentified guitarist on the track was himself. The other three bonus tracks are collaborations based on performances from Starr’s 2016 Peace & Love Birthday event. Alberta Cross performed “You Can’t Fight Lightning” and Vandaveer performed “Photograph” and “Don’t Pass Me By.” Ringo loved their renditions so much that he asked them to each record them for his new album, adding his own vocals.

Give More Love is a fun treat for any fan of the Fab Four who wants to hear new music by one (or more) of their heroes. You can find it anywhere new music is sold, or take the easy route and get it from Amazon.