PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

GWAR Is Coming To The Bakery


A couple of weeks ago in PopCult we told you about how The Bakery, Charleston’s all-ages venue, was coping with some financial struggles. We are glad to report that they have caught up on their rent, and are moving forward with some more sustainable fundraising initiatives.

One of their methods of bringing in extra money is by booking great shows. Heavy Metal powerhouse, Trivium is appearing at The Bakery in July, but yesterday they announced an even bigger show for September.

GWAR is coming to The Bakery on September 16. The loaves will never be the same. GWAR, the legendary intergalactic Heavy Metal band will assault the sense of their loyal listeners by stopping in Charleston as part of The Blood Of Gods Tour.

Tickets go on sale Friday May 25th at 10am with a special password presale on Thursday May 24th with password BLOODOFGODS. You can buy advance tickets HERE.

Both of these great shows are presented in conjunction with The D&D Agency.

This is a big deal. It’ll be the first time GWAR has come near Charleston since their late frontman, Oderus Urungus, wrestled for IWA East Coast back in 2009 (seen below). It was a real kick to feature him on Radio Free Charleston, and it’s great that the current crew is carrying on his legacy of mayhem.

If The Bakery keeps booking shows of this caliber then their future should be assured. Charleston has long been in need of a mid-sized venue that’s willing to book touring bands that are simply too big to play our local bar scene, and also too used to playing at a decent hour.  One other great thing about The Bakery is that their shows start and end at a decent hour. Hopefully this will also attract some more corporate underwriters who will pitch in and keep this vital venue open.

It’s another Wednesday with new programming on The AIR for your internet-listening pleasure.

At 1;30 PM, Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle lpresents the first half of a meditation Michele delivered in Columbus. At 2 PM, Beatles Blast presents part six of a classic Beatles BBC radio documentary. At 3 PM Curtain Call returns as your host, Mel Larch, presents part one of a two-part look at the funniest showtunes in history. The AIR Audio Playhouse brings you a dramatization of Journey To The Center of The Earth at 5 PM. Tune in at The AIR, or listen on this embedded player thingy…

Our block of newness begins at 1:30 PM with Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle. This week we present the first half of a meditation talk that Michele led at The Tranquility Salt Cave in Columbus. She recounts her own story and takes questions from the audience to help them find their own path to enlightenment.

Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle can be heard Wednesday at 1:30 PM and 7 PM, with replays on The AIR Friday at 9:30 AM and Monday at 12:30 PM.

At 2 PM Beatles Blast presents part six of The Beatles Story, a legendary BBC radio documentary from 1973, Beatles Blast can be heard Wednesday at 2 PM, Thursday at 11 AM and 9 PM, Friday at 5 PM, and Tuesday at 9 AM.

At 3 PM Wednesday Curtain Call unveils a new episode that collects the funniest songs from musical theater. Find out what put the “comedy” in “Musical Comedy” as Mel brings you tunes from A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To The Forum, Kiss Me Kate, Something Rotten, Avenue Q, Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Book of Mormon and more. And the wild thing is, it’s only the first of a two-part special. You can keep laughing at this not-safe-for-work collection of hilarity next week.

Curtain Call debuts Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM and Saturday at 6 PM.

At 5 PM, stick around for radio drama on The AIR Audio Playhouse. This week it’s the first half of Jules Verne’s Journey To The Center of The Earth.

Stay tuned all day, every day, for incredible music, thought-provoking talk and gut-busting comedy exclusively on The AIR. And check out the full schedule below…


Radio Free Charleston and The Swing Shift are new today on The AIR. You can tune in at The AIR website, or just listen on this little embedded radio doohickey…

At 10 AM and 10 PM our latest Radio Free Charleston presents new music from The Stars Revolt, the new band featuring former Shindig frontman, Richie Ray. W also have new tracks from Sheldon Vance, Poor Man’s Gravy, and In The Company of Wolves. We also toss a few vintage tracks into the mix from the likes of Hasil Adkins, Hellblinki, Hybrid Soul Project and Farnsworth.


The Stars Revolt “Pretend”
Speedsuit “Seven Days”
Sheldon Vance “Logan County Rejects”
Poor Man’s Gravy “Dear Old Friend”
Jonathan Mason “You’re Not Asking”
Jason Barnhouse the Wounded with Compton, Aaron’s Fisher and Scott “I Feel You”
In The Company of Wolves “Shadow Valley”
Farnsworth “I Should Have Known”
Hellblinki “Bubbles”
Byzantine “Dead As Autumn”
Crazy Jane “Turn Me Down”
Hybrid Soul Project “Heat”
Hasil Adkins “Rock The Blues”

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM stay tuned to The AIR for a new hour of The Swing Shift, continuing our mission to bring you the best Swing music from the last century. This week we bring you a mix of classic Big Band era music, retro Swing and brand new Swing tunes. Here’s the playlist for this epic swingin’ hour…

The Swing Shift 043

Big Rude Jake ”When My Number Comes In”
Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos “I’m In A Hole”
Lee Presson and the Nails “Sing, Sing, Sing”
Woody Herman “The Goof and I”
Nicholle Rochelle and her Orchestra “Sing Brother Swing”
Casey McGill “Git It (In The Groove)”
Louis Prima Jr. “Be Mir Bist Du Shon”
Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers “Busy Woman’s Blues”
The Mighty Blue Kings “No Blow, No Show”
Dr. Zoot “Trip The Night Fantastic”
Big Tubba Mista “Drive By”
Vanguard Aces “Rocco’s Joint”
Louis Jordan “You’re My Meat”
Rocket 99 “Go To Reno”
Artie Shaw “Fresnesi”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Monday Morning Art: The Hole Building


Known by locals as “The Donut Building,” This Chicago landmark was actually designed and built as a solution to a problem. The developer had purchased land to construct a suite of offices without checking to see if there were any special zoning ordinances. It seems he never realized that his land was directly in the flight path of O’Hare International Airport. Rather than reduce the height of his building, the developer had architects leave room in the middle for planes to fly through.

That story, just like the painting, is something I just made up for the surreal paintings of the Chicago skyline series, which has been running all month here in PopCult. Click the image to see it bigger.

And while you’re gazing at this loverly piece of digital painting, feel free to check out The AIR, over at the website, or on the schwifty little embedded player below, where you can listen to our great and unique programming. Of special note today is a new episode of Prognosis at 3 PM, which will bring you two hours of music from the American Prog-rock band, Starcastle, who seem to have unjustly sunk into obscurity.

Sunday Evening Video: Secret Munsters

For the next few weeks PopCult’s Sunday Evening Video will dig into a huge pile of unaired pilot episodes to bring you some of the strangest things you’ve never seen. Tonight we bring you the unaired pilot for The Munsters. Among the many differences you’ll notice from the familiar version is the fact that it’s in color, the theme song and set are different, and Lily is not Mrs. Munster. In this short pilot, Herman’s wife is played by Joan Marshall, she’s named “Phoebe,” and she looks a lot like Morticia Addams. There’s also a different actor playing Eddie Munster, and he plays him as a total brat. You’ll also notice that Herman’s make-up and personality were not quite refined yet.

This pilot was part of the pitch to CBS and with changes, it was picked up. The Munsters ran for two seasons on the network, but ran forever in syndication, with a feature-length film, several reunion shows and multiple reboots in its wake. Thye most recent attempt at a reboot, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, was dead on arrival, with the pilot being used as a Halloween special. Seth Myers is said to be developing yet another reboot, this time with the Munsters living in Brooklyn.

The story here is incomplete. It was partly reused as the series’ second episode.. Marilyn is played by Beverly Owen, who played the part on the first thirteen episodes of the series before she was recast with Pat Priest. It’s cool to see the characters in color, and interesting to see how they fixed almost everything that was wrong with the pilot before the show went into production. A second pilot, also unaired, was much close the The Munsters we all know and love.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 139

For the past several and weeks The RFC Flashback has gone back to the most ambitious run of episodes in Radio Free Charleston history.  In June, 2011 I decided to try and do something sort of crazy. I’d managed to crank out Radio Free Charleston on a weekly basis before, which was no mean feat since the show was basically produced by me alone, with camera help from my now-wife Mel Larch and occasional help from other friends. For FestivALL 2011, I managed to produce eight episodes of Radio Free Charleston in under two weeks. This week we bring you the penultimate entry in this intense run of shows, and next week we wrap it up.

“Anything can happen day” on Radio Free Charleston included music from Holy Cow, The Boatmen and Miss Behavin’; with wrestling from XMCW and a Sword Dance by Jenna Brooke Swanson. This seventh of our eight-part show was an attempt to clear the decks of A-grade material that we’d accumulated in advance of our big finish. Next week you’ll see the big finish.

New Wave Music Returns On The AIR

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat returns to The AIR Friday after an extended hiatus. Listen to Sydney Fileen spin the hits of the post-modern age at The AIR website, or on this glossy, shiny embedded player…

Our friends at Haversham Recording Institute have been swamped all year long (which is why your PopCulteer is temporarily hosting Prognosis), but even with the Royal Wedding eating up their time, they have returned with Sydney Fileen’s labor of love, The Big Electric Cat.

This week Sydney brings you a mix of hits, album cuts and unjustly-overlooked bands from the ten-year period of 1976 to 1986, when the best music in the world was made. Take look at this playlist:

The Cars “You’re All I Got Tonight”
The Producers “Back To Basics”
Jerry Dammers “Riot City”
The Style Council “Have You Ever Had It Blue”
NENA “Ecstacy”
DEVO “Through Being Cool”
Souixsie and the Banshees “This Wheel’s On Fire”
The Beat Farmers “Beat Generation”
The Human League “Love Action”
The Men “I Don’t Depend On You”
Kate Bush “Cloudbusting”
Tears For Fears “Mad World”
XTC “All Along The Watchtower”
Cheap Trick “Dream Police”
Heaven 17 “At The Height Of The Fighting”
The Smiths “The Queen Is Dead”
Madness “Shut Up”
The Go Gos “Beneath The Blue Sky”
Mobiles “Climbing Frame”
Ian Dury and the Blockheads “Wake Up and Make Love To Me (demo)”
The Contradictions “Life and Death”
Echo and the Bunnymen “Nocturnal Me”
Jona Lewie “You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties”
Bow Wow Wow “Chihauhau”
The Clash “Magnificent Seven”

You can hear Sydney’s Big Electric Cat Friday at 3 PM, Saturday at 3 PM, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.

Extra Toy News

The PopCulteer
May 18, 2018

This week’s PopCulteer is all devoted to news from the world of toys. We have a lot of brief, cool items to share, so let’s jump in…

Toys R US Liquidation Blues

At the moment it seems unlikely that any of the US Toys R Us stores will survive liquidation. Most stores will be shuttered by June 30, with a few going a couple of weeks past that to blow out the rest of the stock. Anything left after that date will probably go to Ollie’s or another liquidation store.

Isaac Larian, the CEO of the toy maker MGA Entertainment (Bratz, LalaLoopsy) is still working on a plan to rescue the chain, but it looks like he may pursue Toys R Us by picking the pieces out of the wreckage, rather than keeping any of the existing stores open.

Soon the bankruptcy court will begin auctioning off the intellectual property, which includes Geoffrey the Giraffe, and hundreds of URLs. Toys R Us was very proactive in snapping up domain names to keep them out of the hands of others. “SexToysRUs.com” and “ToysRUsSucks.com” are among them, but so are dozens of domain names that end with “R Us.”

Larian may be planning to make a bid for the rights to the “Toys R Us” name and mascot, and he may also go after some of the leases for existing locations. The only problem with that plan is that the chain would have to go dormant for a period of time so that they could re-staff and restock the stores, and establish a new distribution system. Even if he buys one of the three existing warehouses, they’ll have to restock it, and re-route all their deliveries.

He might be able to snap up the IP and leases for a fraction of his original bid, but he’s probably looking at half a billion dollars to start the business over from scratch. Still, we wish him luck.

KB Toys Plots It’s Return

We previously reported on KB Toys and their plan to make a major comeback via pop-up stores this holiday season. Last week at an industry event, KB Toys CEO Ellia Kassoff explained how they plan to make their return.

This Christmas season KB Toys will launch 300 to 400 pop up stores around the country, using them as a quick way to test the market without requiring too much capital.

The best performing stores among those will be reviewed early next year to determine if they’re worth keeping open year-round. Kassoff reportedly said that he hopes to eventually have around 600 to 800 eventual permanent stores in the next 3 to 4 years.

Several Mall owners are in on the plan, which allows KB Toys to bypass the traditional investor route somewhat. With the malls as investors, KB Toys is able to avoid banks, outside investors and private equity firms, which is a large part of the financial system that sabotaged Toys R Us.

They do plan to try new concepts with the revival. They announced that each store will have a (horribly-named) “Toy Nerd” who really knows what they’re talking about in terms of toys and collectibles. I’m sure this is a bit of a play on Best Buy’s Geek Squad, but I hope they change the name before they put it into practice. Better yet would be the novel approach of having every employee know what the hell they’re talking about, but that might be too much to ask for in this day and age.

It looks like, at least this Christmas, we’ll have a new major player in toy retailing. I just hope they do better than all the toy retailers did last Christmas, which was disastrous enough to finish off Toys R Us.

New Rick and Morty Games

Cryptozoic Entertainment, leading creator of board games, trading cards, and collectibles, and Cartoon Network Enterprises recenty announced the May 30 release of Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game. In this engine-building tabletop game, 2-4 players take on the roles of Rick, Morty, Zeep, and Kyle as they introduce Power Supplies to different worlds, and then try to use the resulting Power to activate Contraptions before their opponents. Based on the Rick and Morty episode “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” gameplay takes place in four “’Verses” with unique attributes: the Rickverse, Microverse, Miniverse, and Teenyverse.

“This is an engine-building game in a way,” said Matt Hyra, the game’s Lead Designer. “Except that Power Supplies don’t have ownership, so if you can predict where a Power surplus will appear, you can take advantage of it … if your opponents don’t get to it first!”

During the Action Phase, players spend Actions to move to different ’Verses where they can build Power Supplies and Contraptions. Then, during the Power-Up Phase, Power generates from the bottom ’Verse up, and players utilize it to play One-Shot cards, use Character Abilities, and power-up their Contraptions. The winner is the player who scores the needed Victory Points by building Power Supplies and activating Contraptions.

Rick and Morty: The Ricks Must Be Crazy Multiverse Game will be available at retailers nationwide starting May 30 and at Origins Game Fair (June 13-17 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center) for a suggested retail price of $20.

Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game: This intense 1-2 player game is based on the hugely popular “Pickle Rick” episode of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty. One player plays as Pickle Rick as he tries to escape a heavily armed compound, while the other player takes on the roles of both the Russians and Jaguar as they try to stop him. The Pickle Rick player uses weapons cards to dole out damage and Air Vents to get out of jams as he or she tries to get to the Rooftop. The game includes both Pickle Rick and Jaguar miniatures that are moved across a dynamic board made up of tiles that are constantly being added, rotated, and flipped. Adding to the off-the-wall fun is the game’s packaging: It looks like a pickle! The Pickle Rick Game is in stores now.

MEGO Meet Returns

Mego Meet 2018 will be held June 1st – 2nd in Columbus, Ohio at the Courtyard by Marriott Columbus West. This will be the fourteenth year for the long-running convention (which spent its first decade at Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling). This year it looks like Doc MEGO (AKA Paul Clarke) has finally convinced MEGO founder, Marty Abrams (right) to show up. It should be a great show.

Unfortunately, your PopCulteer will be unable to attend this year because, even though they’re close enough, the announcement of where and when the convention would happen came too late, and I had already committed to attend WonderFest USA in Louisville that weekend. The crazy idea of splitting the weekend between the two shows has been discussed, but we’ll have to wait and see.

But if you are a die-hard MEGO fan, you’ll want to be in Columbus in a couple of weeks. Registration is open now – Meet admission is still only $25 and still includes family; tables remain an additional $40. More details are HERE.

That is it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for all our regular features.

Balancing Birds On A Boat

The PopCult Toybox

Well, penguins are birds, so the headline stands. Today we have another cool kids game just reissued by the folks at PlayMonster. Don’t Rock The Boat is a classic balancing game, in the spirit of the 1960s game, Tip-it, but with a fun nautical spin. Basically you have to keep your Pirate ship upright as players take turns placing the penguin crew aboard the tipsy vessal.

This game looks deceptively simple, but it actually requires quite a bit of skill to master, and there’s still more fun to be had as players grow more bold and start making riskier moves. In the box you get a Pirate ship (minor assembly required), a wave-shaped base, 16 playing pieces, including 10 Pirate Penguins and other cool pirate booty, and the rules.

After everything is assembled and the Pirate ship is balancing on the wave-base, the players (2 to 4) divide up the playing pieces and begin taking turns placing them on the ship. The pieces can go anywhere on the ship–forward, aft, starboard, port, in the crow’s nest–and the game proceeds until somebody puts something in the wrong place, and the whole shebang capsizes.

It’s a load of fun, and it’s way trickier than you would think. The ship is precariously balanced, and one wrong move sends all your Pirate penguins down to Davy Jones’ locker. This is a great game for kids, but it also requires enough skill to be challenging for some adults.

It’s not really the intended target audience, but I think it’d be hilarious to watch drunk people try to play this game. I have a feeling that the entertainment factor would go up as the level of manual dexterity goes down. A bottle of rum might just make beating this game the hardest thing in the world.

Back to its more innocent audience, kids will love Don’t Rock The Boat. It’s a game with a gimmick, but it requires enough skill to remain engaging enough for hours of repeat play. You can find Don’t Rock The Boat at most retailers that carry games for around twenty bucks (less if they happen to be going through liquidation), or you can order it directly from PlayMonster.

In case you’re wondering what it looks like in action, here’s a quick commercial.

Paradise Park Is Coming!

Paradise Park is coming to the stage this summer. A new musical adaptation of Daniel Boyd’s most personal movie has been in the works for some time, and it’s cool to see it finally come to fruition. Theatre West Virginia will be bringing this to the stage, with music by Larry Groce and a book by Boyd, this June.

I’ve known Danny for nearly thirty-five years, and it’s cool to see him get to revisit his magnum opus in a new medium. After decades establishing himself as a director, author, professional wrestler, teacher and Pro Bull Rider (briefly) he can now add “Playwright” to his résumé.

The video at the head of this post was produced last year, and since then Paradise Park The Musical has been cast, and is in rehearsals now. It’s quite an impressive cast that includes Amanda Brigette, Eliska Hahn, Allie Patton, Jake Kinney and many more of our state’s finest performers. You can find out more about the show by visiting the Theatre West Virginia website.

In addition to the above video by our friends at Cucumber and Company, we have a wealth of PR material to share, so let’s dive in:

“God’s comin’, and he’s gonna grant us all a wish.” Paradise Park The Musical has been adapted for the stage by acclaimed West Virginia filmmaker, director Daniel Boyd. Mountain Stage’s own Larry Groce has written a new and extensive score for this premiere. The story contains themes familiar to citizens of West Virginia; poverty, religion, hopes and dreams and centers on people caring for other people, through hard times, through natural disasters and through everyday life.

While these themes are all too familiar to West Virginians, Daniel Boyd said; “It is set in one particular community but the story is universal.” Composer Larry Groce chimed in with; “When I first read the script for Paradise Park The Movie, back in 1991, I loved the heart of the script. I loved what this script was really about. It symbolizes, in many ways, what I found in West Virginia. I came here 45 years ago and I found people who care for other people. That’s what this story’s about.” Theatre West Virginia General Manager Scott Hill had this to say about the show; “You may know Paradise Park the film that was 25 years ago. Larry Groce was in it, Danny Boyd directed it, but we’re turning that into a musical. We’re turning that West Virginia story about God coming to a trailer park into a play, a musical, at Grandview for Theatre West Virginia.”

This cult classic will make its way to Theatre West Virginia’s 1,260 seat Cliffside Amphitheatre at Grandview in the New River Gorge National River outside Beckley, W. Va. beginning June 15. With show dates including June 15 through 17, June 20 through 24, and June 26 through July 1, performances begin nightly at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by visiting the Theatre West Virginia Box Office or by calling 304-256-6800.

Your PopCulteer will be travelling the first two weekends of this show, but we’re going to move Heaven and Earth to see it during the final weekend.