PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Going Back To Chicago



Soon, maybe even sooner than you think, your PopCulteer will once again be visiting the Windy City, Chicago. Above you see a digital painting I did recently based on the view from our hotel window on our last visit. I love trying out different approaches to depicting big-city skylines. I hope we get a view like this again. Click the image to see it larger.

Meanwhile, we are still in the midst of our annual holiday tradition here in PopCult, so today the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide continues. Be sure to check out all our unique gift suggestions. It’s going to run for quite some time, so bookmark this site and make a habit out of checking it regularly.

air-logo-b-0001While all this is going on, please remember that you can tune in and hear cool stuff on our internet radio station, The AIR.

You can listen at the website, or on this familiar little embedded player…

We’re bringing you more of the best independent radio that you’ll ever hear anywhere on our humble little internet station. Your PopCulteer is still a little preoccupied with the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, but all week long you can still hear the coolest stuff in the world on The AIR, including a new episode of Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle on Wednesday, and special holiday music all week long. Take a gander at this ever-changing embedded schedule…

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: The Walking Dead

gg-twdWe didn’t do too many theme days in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, but today we’re combining three picks into one post, specifically for the rabid fan of the hit AMC series, The Walking Dead. You know if you have one on your holiday shopping list, and these three ideas will help you hit one out of the park…so to speak.

The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide  
by Lauren Wilson with photos by Yunhee Kim
Insight Editions
ISBN-13: 978-1683830788

Based on the hit AMC television series, this cookbook is packed with life-saving tips and unique recipes inspired by The Walking Dead.  The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide details the skills and recipes you need to survive (while avoiding being eaten) during a walker apocalypse. Inspired by the hit AMC television series, the book features recipes for meals featured on the show, plus food and drinks inspired by key characters and locations, along with expert information on foraging, hunting wild game, and outdoor cooking. Featuring familiar treats like Carl’s pudding, Carol Peletier’s baked goods, and Hershel’s spaghetti, this is the ultimate gift for fans and walker-wary survivalists alike.

Lauren Wilson is a professional chef and cookbook author. She graduated with honors from Toronto’s George Brown Chef School in 2008. Since then, she has worked in various capacities in the food world, from fine dining to cheese-mongering, online sales, catering, teaching cooking classes, and writing for print and online media. She is the author of The Art of Eating Through the Zombie Apocalypse, an illustrated cookbook and culinary survival guide.

Yunhee Kim is a New York based photographer specializing in food, still life, and interior. Her clients are Food Network, Martha Stewart Ominmedia, Parents, West Elm, and most recently Siggi’s Yogurt.

You can find The Walking Dead: The Official Cookbook and Survival Guide anywhere that sells new books, or if you’re lazy, click on over to Amazon.

The Walking Dead: Here’s Negan
written by Robert Kirkman, art by  Charlie Adlard, with Cliff Rathburn and Dave Stewart
Image Comics
ISBN-13: 978-1534303270

This is the comic book version of The Walking Dead, but rumor has it that this story will be faithfully adapted by the television series this season. You can get your TWD fan Here’s Negan, which was originally serialized in Image’s catalog/magazine over the course of more than a year, so they can enjoy it all in one sitting. Then they’ll know why that Andrew Dice Clay-looking dude on the show keeps caving in people’s heads with his barbwire-wrapped baseball bat.

I’m talking about Negan, of course. Since his debut in THE WALKING DEAD #100, the charismatic psychopath has antagonized Rick Grimes, murdered his friends with a baseball bat wrapped in barb wire (which he calls “Lucille”), and led the Saviors into war against Alexandria and the neighboring communities.

But who was he before society broke down? That question is answered here, collecting the HERE’S NEGAN! story originally serialized in IMAGE+ magazine.

This is a gem that may have escaped the notice of fans of The Walking Dead who don’t haunt comic book stores every week. You can find it all over the freaking place. Any retailer who sells graphic novels seems to have it, but of course you can always zip over to Amazon.

McFarlane Toys The Walking Dead “Lucille Bat – Take it like a Champ” Edition Role play Accessory

Let’s say you have a REALLY BIG fan of Negan on your holiday shopping list. They may already have the graphic novel mentioned above, but they may not have a replica of his Louisville head-crusher, affectionately named, “Lucille.”

This particular version of Lucille is plastic, thirty-two inches long, wrapped in realistic-looking (but not feeling) barbed wire, and covered with “blood.” It’s an adult role-play replica, crafted to match the exact specifications of the bat carried by Jeffery Dean Morgan, who portrays Negan on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

This replica is highly detailed and complete with identical markings and a barbed wire wrapped barrel end. The “Lucille Bat – Take it like a Champ” edition features bloody finger prints and blood splattered paint finish. It’s a full-sized plastic baseball bat, displayed in a collectible AMC’s The Walking Dead themed window box packaging

The Walking Dead television series is still the most watched drama in basic cable history, shattering records along the way. Season 8 finds Rick and the other survivors in the crosshairs of one of the most ruthless enemies they have ever encountered. Just imagine the twisted look of glee on the face of your Walking Dead fan as they unwrap this implement of death and destruction on Christmas morning!

This is availalbe in comic shops, pop culture emporiums, and, of course, at Amazon.

gg-asiaAbove you see a one-song preview video of the album, Symfonia,Live In Bulgaria 2013, by ASIA. This is the band performing “Wildest Dreams” live in the Roman Theatre Plovdiv on the 21st September 2013.  Released earlier this year, this not only our video for today, but also a music pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide. The CD is packaged with a bonus DVD of the entire concert that sees the Prog-pop band performing with a symphony orchestra in an ancient Roman amphitheater. This was released following the death of ASIA frontman John Wetton, and is dedicated to his memory. This is the perfect gift for any fan of the band, or just great 1980s music in general.

The band is captured in fine form, with terrific sound quality. The orchestrations are tasteful and not intrusive and their then-new guitarist, Sam Coulson, establishes himself as an incredible musician. You don’t really miss Steve Howe, who left the band to concentrate on his work with YES by this point. Carl Palmer lights up the drums, as usual, and Geoff Downes handles the keys and backing vocals with a confidence that was lacking in the band’s early years.

While this is essentially a CD with a bonus DVD, the DVD is actually the main attraction. It’s great to actually see the band playing live and the setting is visually stunning. Seeing Wetton healthy and in strong voice is a little bittersweet, but it is a great way to remember him. The only knock on the DVD is the lack of good shots of Palmer, but other than that, it’s an epic show.

All the hits are are here, “Heat of the Moment,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “Soul Survivor,” and many others, plus there are great album tracks and tunes from their more recent reunion albums.

ASIA: Symfonia,Live In Bulgaria 2013 is a wonderful tribute to the late John Wetton, and a must-have for any fan of the band, ASIA. You ought to be able to find it at any retailer who sells new music, or snag it from Amazon.

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: Adventures in Pop Culture

Adventures in Pop Culture: Memories of a Lifelong Journey  
gg-trekkerby Thomas Wheeler
ISBN-13: 978-1973285205

Full disclosure time again, folks: This next pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the first book by one of my best online buddies, Thomas Wheeler. Being roughly the same age and having many of the same interests (action figures, comic books, wrestling) it’s no shock that his book is right in my wheelhouse. Adventures in Pop Culture is the pefect gift for the pop culture maven on your holiday shopping list.

Wheeler has been a lifelong participant in the world of pop culture, from action figures to science-fiction, movies and TV, to much more. This is the story of his adventures and travels along the way. Wheeler’s writing style is crisp and to the point, and these essays will seem to fly by. Since he’s my friend, I asked him to describe this book:

Adventures in Pop Culture is a series of essays related to my own personal experiences in the world of pop culture across my lifetime. Whether it pertains to a wide variety of action figures, comic books, science-fiction, related television shows, occasional conventions, super-heroes, or even the WWE, there’s something about it in this book. Captain Action, Major Matt Mason, Big Jim, G.I. Joe, Gundam, Star Trek — they’re in here. Mego — it’s in here. A 7-1/2-foot Aircraft Carrier — it’s in here… figuratively speaking. Traveling on the same plane as nearly a dozen WWE superstars, seated one row behind the Undertaker — it’s in here. Getting some advice in an airport from WWE legend Nikolai Volkoff — it’s in here.

This is a fascinating collection of essays about cool stuff that’s all over the map, pop culturally-speaking. Thomas’s stories, many of which I’ve read in emails over the years, range from hilarious to heart-warming, and at a stocking-stuffer price, you can’t go wrong with Adventures in Pop Culture. You can order the book from Amazon using this link.

gg-yesOur music pick for today’s 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is the just released new live album by legendary prog-rockers, YES, TOPOGRAPHIC DRAMA – LIVE ACROSS AMERICA. This is the first recorded document released of this version of YES since the death of virtuoso bassist and founding member, Chris Squire, in 2015. This is a great gift for the prog-rock fan on your holiday shopping list who might be curious to hear how the band is doing after the passing of the only man who played on every one of their studio albums.

More cynical fans may think that this album was rushed out in advance of the first live release by “YES featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman,” a group made up of former members of YES who are actually more closely associated with the classic line-up of the band, but even if that is the case, this is a pretty damned good live album.

This album highlights the best performances from the truncated 2017 leg of the 28-show American tour and mirrors the set list from those concerts. Each night, YES opened with all six songs from Drama (1980), the band’s tenth studio album, which peaked at #2 on the U.K. album chart. Standouts include “Machine Messiah,” “Tempus Fugit” and the album’s only single “Into The Lens.” Remarkably, their current vocalist, Jon Davison, sounds uncannily like the band’s original vocalist, Jon Anderson, on these songs. Ironically, Drama was the first album the band released with a different vocalist, Trevor Horn of The Buggles. After returning to the band Anderson declined to perform these songs, so it’s a bit bizarre to hear them sounding so much like he’s singing them.

After performing Drama, the band shifted gears for songs from two of its best-selling albums: “And You And I” from 1972’s Close To The Edge and “Heart Of The Sunrise” from 1971’s Fragile. Next, the group played the opening and closing tracks of its controversial concept album, Tales From Topographic Oceans. Howe’s exceptional guitar work on “The Revealing Science Of God” and White’s propulsive drumming on “Ritual” have always been regarded as ground-breaking. The album concludes with two live staples: “Roundabout” from Fragile and “Starship Trooper” from The Yes Album.

This is rather a nifty documentation of the current touring line-up of YES (not featuring those other three guys), and it shows that the band is living up to the hefty reputation of prior line-ups. Billy Sherwood, a longtime associate of the band, ably steps into the sizable shoes left by Squire’s death, and proves that life goes on. You ought to be able to find TOPOGRAPHIC DRAMA – LIVE ACROSS AMERICA anywhere that new music is sold, or head over to Amazon.

gg-bakerJosephine Baker
written by Jose-Luis Bocquet, drawn by Catel Muller
ISBN-13: 978-1910593295

Next up in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide we find an epic biography in comics of Josephine Baker by the French team of Jose-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller. This is a huge graphic novel that won all kinds of awards in Europe before being translated into English earlier this year. This is the perfect gift for anyone who enjoys biographical comics, or has any historical interest in Jazz, race relations, pre-war France or really anything that happened in the first half of the previous century.

Bocquet is a novelist and comics writer whose work has been published in the legendary Metal Hurlant, while Muller has collaborate on several acclaimed comics and graphic novels. Their work on Josephine Baker is exhaustive.

Josephine Baker (1906–1975) was nineteen years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time in 1925. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier, and Simenon. In the liberating atmosphere of the 1930s, Baker rose to fame as the first black star on the world stage, from London to Vienna, Alexandria to Buenos Aires. After World War II, and her time in the French Resistance, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, publicly battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered personally. She led by example, and over the course of the 1950s adopted twelve orphans of different ethnic backgrounds: a veritable Rainbow Tribe. A victim of racism throughout her life, Josephine Baker would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.

The story covers the 68 years of its subject’s life in tremendous detail. Bocquet has left no stone unturned and his research comes through in an authoritative way. Muller’s artwork serves the story very well. She has a terrific style that recalls the work of early-20th century magazine cartoonists, with a looser line and heavy contrast. Despite the length, you do not get tired of the pace or the way this book looks. In addition to the main story, which runs over 460 pages, Josephine Baker also includes over a hundred pages of additional prose material, including a timeline and biographies of all the major and minor players in Baker’s life.

Bocquet and Muller give the reader a front-row seat for the life of one of the greatest performers of all time. Any fan of historical comics, entertainer bios or epic stories will love Josephine Baker. You can order it from any bookseller that doesn’t already have it in stock using the ISBN number, or hit up Amazon, where everything seems to be heavily-discounted this time of year.

Since the tenth anniversary of Radio Free Charleston back in July, 2016, we have been devoting this weekly post to a chronological presentation of every episode of the show (whenever possible). However, since we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, we decided to suspend the chronological stuff for the remainder of the year so we can bring you our special Christmas episodes. We kick if off with the very first one.


Episode Eleven of Radio Free Charleston dates back to December 2006. It was our first Christmas Show and it features music from CLOWNHOLE and MELANIE LARCH, plus Pentagram Flowerbox and more animation from Rudy Panucci and Brian Young. Host segments were shot at the original location of The Purple Moon and this is the first episode where our host, Rudy Panucci, had facial hair.

This memorable show included Mel singing “Ave Maria” live on the fifth-floor fire escape at the old Livemix Studio. That clip recieved notice from around the world and remains our most-watched music video on YouTube.

The rest of the show is pretty impressive as well, with Pentagram Flowerbox, holiday cartoons by Rudy Panucci and Brian Young and a punk rendition of “Deck The Halls” by Clownhole. We also have an onscreen appearance by The Charleston Playhouse Quartet, performing the RFC theme song, buried in the end credits. It’s always fun to run a Christmas show in the dog days of summer, so watch this and feel somewhat cooler.

Actually, that happens every time somebody watches RFC.

2017 PopCult Gift Guide: How To Write Cheesy Movies

How To Write Cheesy Movies: The Only Screenwriting Guide You’ll Never Need!  
gg-frankby Frank Conniff
Pothouse 90 Press
ISBN-13: 978-0692958407

Our next pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is a book that will teach you everything you need to know about writing a cheesy movie. Its author, Frank Conniff, is intimately acquainted with the ways of the cheesy movie from his years working on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where he not only played TV’s Frank, but was also responsible for ferreting out movies that were just perfectly awful, such as Manos: The Hands Of Fate.

This is the perfect gift for the lover of bad movies on your holiday shopping list. It’s also a treat for any fan of Frank’s and anybody who enjoys Mystery Science Theater 3000. Armed with the knowledge you glean from this tome, you could create a screenplay so gigantically atrocious that it could actually change the world with its awfulness, or possibly be optioned by Michael Bay.

Don’t take my word for it? You know you can believe the publisher’s own press release:

Lots of books claim to teach you how to write good movies. This is the first book that claims to teach you how to write cheesy movies. And author Frank Conniff can back up that claim. He spent years working at Mystery Science Theater 3000 as a writer, performer, and procurer of cheesy movies, the worst he could find. And in this volume he shares everything he learned at MST3K about the art of the artless. If your dream is to write a screenplay that could be the next Manos: The Hands Of Fate, this is the book for you to buy after you buy the book about dealing with the aftermath of a psychotic break.

How To Write Cheesy Movies: The Only Screenwriting Guide You’ll Never Need! is THE book on cinema for your movie snob friend with a genuine sense of humor. In this book, Conniff shows you how the sausage is made, and we’re not talkin’ high quality, good tasting sausage either. This is the stuff you wouldn’t feed to a dog. Much like a primer on how to build a bomb, only less deadly and more funny, this book is a real comedic gem.

You can order How To Write Cheesy Movies: The Only Screenwriting Guide You’ll Never Need! from Amazon, where the price tends to fluctuate by the hour, but is always less than thirteen bucks.

gg-robin-01Today’s toy pick in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide is actually two elegantly crafted “plastic Army men” style sets of figures, one of which depicts Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the other of which depicts the Sheriff of Nottingham and his nasty minions.

This is the perfect gift for the young (or young at heart) person on your holiday shopping list who has an interest in the possibly fictitious adventures of the man who did the opposite of what Congress is planning with their Tax Reform bill.

“Rob from the rich and give to the poor!” cry Robin Hood and his Merry Men in this set from LOD Enterprises. Each polybag includes 16 heroic medieval outlaws in 8 poses that stand up to 2.5 inches tall and are approximately 1:32 scale. These are highly detailed and realistic figures are made from fairly stiff plastic in forest green color.

These figures were originally released by Ron Barszo Playsets in 2007 and are now produced by LOD Enterprises with Ron’s blessing. LOD Enterprises is committed to producing figures with superior sculpting, historical accuracy, and attention to detail, yet also with a nod to the past so they mix perfectly with figures from Marx, Atlantic, TSSD, Superior, and Toyway. These are recommended for ages 14 and up.

Playset collectors, who go nuts over figures like these, are starting to increase their ranks. Younger collectors who didn’t grow up in the era of Marx and the classic playset are discovering that there’s lots of fun to be had with these guys, plus the smaller size makes it a heck of a lot easier to store your collection. LOD is resurrecting some of the premium high-quality figures made by other companies in the past, and the craftsmanship on these is just astounding.

gg-robin-02Where you have Robin Hood, the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and his Norman Soldiers can’t be far behind. You can also find this cool set that includes 16 medieval knights in 8 poses that stand up to 2.4 inches tall and are approximately 1:32 scale. Highly detailed and realistic figures are made from fairly stiff plastic in silver gray color. These are also made by LOD from Rob Barszo’s molds.

The LOD Robin Hood and Sheriff of Nottingham sets can be ordered directly from VictoryBuy and may seem a little pricey, but you’re getting really high quality sculpts made with good plastic and these are toys that will be loved and played with for years to come.

bakery-3The PopCulteer
December 1, 2017

If you can remember way back three or four decades ago, when your PopCulteer was getting ready to begin the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, I told you in this space that this would be the final day of the Gift Guide and this here PopCulteer would be the master list of all the items I suggested. It turns out that I probably should have looked at a calendar before I wrote that. The 2017 PopCult Gift Guide will go on for another two weeks. I counted wrong. Two weeks from today, I will present the master list of the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide, and then go pass out.

However, we do have a really big event to tell you about. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this weekend, the big benefit for The Bakery takes place and if you remember, last week I told you about the ARTS Flea Market that nobody told me had been re-scheduled to coincide with this benefit. So while I was there standing outside the empty Bakery last Sunday, it occurred to me that perhaps plans had been changed. Indeed they had and the ARTS Flea Market will now take place this Sunday.

The Charleston Music and Arts Collective will host a soft opening and three-day series of fundraisers for the all-ages venue under development at the former bread factory now dubbed The Bakery, located at 1007 Bigley Ave.

The event begins with performances Friday by Emma Deal and the Compulsion at 5 PM; Needful Things at 6:15 PM; Farnsworth at 7:30 PM; and The Joe Hunt Project at 8:45 PM.

Saturday’s performers include Foxy Bear and the Home Wreckers at 5 PM; The Change at 6:15 PM; Threes Company Blues at 7:30 PM; and Beggars Clan at 8:45 PM.

Doors open at 1 PM Sunday for ARTS Flea Market. Performers include Signals at PM; HorseBurner at 6 PM; Let The Guilty Hang at 7 PM; 4 Ohm Mono at 8 PM; with headliners, Byzantine, taking the tage at 9 PM.

A one-day pass is $10 in advance or $15 the day of the show. A two-day pass is $15 in advance and a three-day pass is $20 advance. Kids 12 and under get in free all days. Admission to Sunday’s art market is free, but passes are needed for the live bands. The market features arts equipment, supplies, music gear, photography and craft gear, as well as completed works. The featured vendor is Wendy Swiger. For more details and to order tickets visit The Bakery’s Facebook page.

gg-bonusThe 2017 PopCult Gift Guide will continue for another two weeks. You’ll want to be sure to  continue to check PopCult every day for the very coolest holiday gift ideas that nobody else dares to tell you about.

Also, we have a little programming note for PopCult. We will be interrupting the run of consecutive episodes of Radio Free Charleston for the next month so that we can bring you the best of our holiday specials at the proper time of the year. There will still be an RFC Flashback Saturday mornings, but during the holidays they’ll be all Christmassy and stuff.

And that is the PopCulteer this week. Check back later today for more entries in the 2017 PopCult Gift Guide.