PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Blockface Number Two

 

During the month of November, PopCult’s Monday Morning Art has presented pieces of art created using MAX Build More bricks. You can read all about them HERE.

Today’s piece is our final artistic effort made with the MAX Build More Bricks. This is the finished work that I showed you last week in progress. I took the photo of last week’s piece, spherized it and then painted it digitally, using a different color scheme. I like the way it came out. It’s sort of like I finally got the hang of this, just in time for the month to wrap up.

If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday on The AIR, the Progsgiving marthon continues, bringin you episodes of Herman Linte’s Prognosis until Tuesday morning.

At 3 PM on Prognosis, Herman Linte promises us a brand-new episode, chronicling the evolution of Robert Fripp, with plenty of work from all eras of his main band, King Crimson, plus his guest stints with David Bowie, Peter Gabriel and other collaborators. 

You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Sunday Evening Video: The Train Show

We are going to go back nine months for this one. It may not seem like a long time, but it also seems like a lifetime ago. This was the only toy show we were able to attend in 2020, and it was local.

In mid-February, before the pandemic hit bad, your PopCulteer attended the 15th annual Kanawha Valley Model Train and Craft show in Saint Albans. I hadn’t planned to make a video, but luckily, I had my trusty Samsung J7 on hand, and when we saw the different train layouts on display, well, I just had to shoot some video. That became a de-facto “PopCult Instant Video,”  and that’s the video at the top of this post.

The plan was to, at some point, make it to the Kanawha Valley Railroad Association HQ in Coonskin Park, and shoot some better footage of the layout up there. That has been the plan for several years now, and I doubt that it’ll happen this year. They are open with very limited attendance, but being immuno-suppressed, I’m going to have to give it a pass.

In the meantime, enjoy this video, and go visit the KVRA yourself for details on their hours and COVID protocols. Due to the pandemic, they will not be having their annual train show next year.

The RFC Flashback: Mini Show number 39

The RFC Flashback is back after The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide, and we’re doing it up all classy with an episode of The RFC MINI SHOW from October, 2014 starring The Velvet Brothers!

The legendary Velvet Brothers, had just reunited in September, 2014 when we recorded them at Bruno’s on Leon Sullivan Way in Charleston.  In this edition of The RFC MINI SHOW you can hear them perform “Savannah Rose” and “De Do Do Do, De Dah Dah Dah.”Yes, that latter song is a cover of the old Police tune, rendered in a velvety-smooth lounge version.

The Velvet Brothers were the first full band that I featured performing live on the Radio Free Charleston radio show way back in 1989. We’d had some acoustic performances on the show, but never a full band. The studio wasn’t big enough to hold the entire band, so we ran cables all over the building with the drummer in the hallway, the bass player in the production studio, and the keyboard player in the newsroom. With the guitarist and vocalist in the FM studio with me, the band managed to create a magic moment, even though it was three in the morning and they’d just played a full set at The Charleston Playhouse earlier in the evening.

The Velvet Brothers are still rehearsing together, even though nobody is really playing out much in these pandemic times. Bruno’s is gone, and I believe The Charleston Lounge is, or will soon, occupy that building. For now, you can enjoy this vintage footage of the band on their triumphant return.

“MARY” Goes Virtual Tonight

Folks, this is such a cool thing, and one that I couldn’t cover very well until now because I was swamped with The PopCult Gift Guide, so I am just going to borrow liberally from the Facebook Event Page for this important info…

The Contemporary Youth Arts Company has performed “Mary: A Rock Opera” beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving for the past 23 years. Because of COVID-19, they are unable to mount the usual production in 2020, but CYAC is keeping the tradition alive with a film adaptation that was shot earlier this month at the Elk City Playhouse under strict COVID-19 Protocols.

Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde’s rock opera MARY follows the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, during the final 9 months before the birth of Christ.

The cast features Afton Myers as Mary, Susannah Atkins as Gabriel, Grace Javins as Elizabeth, Christian McCormick as Joseph, Nik Tidquist as Zechariah, and Daniel Calwell as Herod.

Dan Kehde is the Playwright and Director, Mark Scarpelli is the Composer and Musical Director, Austin Susman is the Director of Photography and Editor, Penny Kehde is the Assistant Director and costume designer, Erin McGrath Susman is the Assistant Director of Photography, and sound is mixed and mastered by Daniel Cioffi.

To keep the cast and crew safe during these difficult times, all rehearsals and taping took place on a closed set. All cast and crew wore face coverings at all times on set with the exception of when actors were actively performing on camera during tapings.

The film will be released free of charge on CYAC’s YouTube page at 7PM on Friday, November 27th. In lieu of a ticket purchase, viewers are asked to send donations to the Elk City Renewal Association, the organization that sponsors the Elk City Playhouse and made this film possible.

Donations may be made at https://elkcityrenewal.org/ or via check to Elk City Renewal Association, 303 West Washington Street, Charleston WV 25302.

This is a great solution to the COVID crisis. Theatre has been devestated, and in the spirit of “the show must go on,” technology is the only way salvage what we can of the theatrical experience. Austin Susman has done an incredible job with the trailer you see at the head of this post, and it’ll be wild to see what he does with the full show.

A Charleston tradition, Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde’s rock opera, MARY, usually opens the day after Thanksgiving, and opening night is usually a reunion for previous cast members. This will be a bittersweet experience, but it’s also a testament to the power of this work that it just had to find a way to happen.

Scarpelli and Kehde’s rock opera MARY follows the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, during the final 9 months before the birth of Christ. A driving score and vibrant young talent brings the story to life on the stage. Usually accompanied by a large orchestra and chorus, MARY has become a seasonal tradition in the greater Kanawha Valley. This year, maybe more than ever, we need for a tradition like this to continue.

Normally, I make MARY a pick in The PopCult Gift Guide. This year, it’s online for free (but make a donation–don’t be a freeloader, people), so it didn’t make the list, but you can see it tonight.

The PopCulteer
November 20, 2020

The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is over.

Huzzah!

You may have noticed that this year the gift guide wrapped up earlier and was a bit shorter than in previous years, and that I recycled a lot of cool things that I told you about earlier in the year.

That was by design. I planned to make things easier on myself this year by reviewing more cool books, music, video and stuff throughout the year than I had been.  Then I brought you the cream of the crop for part of the gift guide. This will continue, because I really enjoyed doing it this way.

You folks must’ve enjoyed it too, since this year The PopCult Gift Guide has seen its largest readership since I was given the ability to look at the numbers a few years ago. Maybe that’s because my readers tend to be sensible people, and sensible people tend to stay at home during a pandemic.

As I’ve mentioned before, I did not implore you to shop local the way I usually do. We are in the midst of a pandemic, and I try not to go out more than once a week, so I didn’t feel right suggesting that anyone else potentially put themselves in danger just to buy a Christmas gift.

Every item on the list this year is under a hundred bucks. Every item can be ordered online. Plus, I’ve recommended a few web-based stores where you can find thousands of cool things to use as potential gifts.

Presented here is The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide Master List, with direct links to each long-winded gift guide entry (some are listed more than once because they qualify in more than one catagory). This too has become an annual tradition, and I hope it helps you find the perfect gift for the folks on your holiday shopping lists. Dig into the catagories…

 

BOOKS

 Murder On Stanton Road

John & Yoko: Plastic Ono Band

George Harrison on George Harrison

Ringo Starr: Another Day In The Life

John Amero: American Exxxtasy

The OX: John Entwistle

Hadestown

John Byner’s Autobiography

Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

Santa On A Panda

The Psychedelic Experience

Dreams Unreal: The Psychedelic Rock Poster

The Guide To Star Trek The Animated Series

The Young Bucks

Into The Woods Storybook

The Making of West Side Story The Movie

Bruce Timm: The Big Tease

Magazines

Giving Up Whiteness

Steve Martin and Harry Bliss: A Wealth of Pigeons

Yoe Books!

Fantagraphics Books

 

COMICS

Batman: Tales of the Demon

DC Goes To War

The Aquaman Saga

Jack Kirby’s Dingbat Love

Shazam in the 70s

Superman Smashes The Klan

Pirate Comics

Wanted: DC’s Greatest Villains

Doom Patrol: The Silver Age

80 Years of The Spirit

Marvel Mini Comics

Second Coming

Yoe Books!

Fantagraphics Books

 

MUSIC

IDKHOW “Razzmatazz”

The Empty Hearts “Second Album”

Tears For Fears: Sowing The Seeds of Love boxset

John Lennon  “Gimme Some Truth”

Paul McCartney “McCartney III”

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Live at The Roundhouse

Rick Wakeman: Red Planet

Santa On A Panda

Vangaurd’s Lost Psychedelic Era

The Who Live In Hyde Park

The Who: WHO (singles box with Live at Kngston)

Mike Batt: The Penultimate Collection

Eddie Jobson: Live

Todd Burge: Live In Parkersburg

 

TOYS

Ambulance And Rescue HESS Truck

RAW 10 Action Figures

Epic Army Men

X-Shot Crusher

Svengoolie Action Figure Studio Set

Snap Ships

Robby The Robot

The Svengoolie At Home Box

The Iron Giant

Santa On A Panda

Robo Alive Rampaging Raptor

Fifi The Flossing Sloth

Frankie The Funky Flamingo

X-Shot Dino Attack

5 Surprise Mini Brands

5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands

5 Surprise Dino Strike

5 Surprise Unicorn Squad

Costwold Collectibles

Auto World

Figures Toy Company

Auto World

Figures Toy Company

 

STOCKING STUFFERS

5 Surprise Mini Brands

5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands

5 Surprise Dino Strike

5 Surprise Unicorn Squad

Five Below

Lights of Broadway Show Cards

 

VIDEO

Picard: Season One

The Goonies Giftset

Eureka: The Complete Seires

All In The Family: The Complete Series

Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Live at The Roundhouse

Spongebob The Musical

Titans Seasons One and Two

Space Ghost and Dino Boy

 

WEBSITES

Kin Ship Goods

American Science & Surplus

Costwold Collectibles

Oddbird Gift Emporium

Archie McPhee

Auto World

Figures Toy Company

West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame

Mountain Craft Shop Co.

Five Below

Yoe Books!

Fantagraphics Books

Christkindlmarket

Part of This Complete Breakfast

 

There you have it, around 80 gift ideas, not counting the website suggestions or magazine ideas. That ought to get you a good start. Later today PopCult will have news on a cool streaming event that happens this evening, and our regular features are due to return Saturday. I hope all my readers have the best possible holiday season, given the circumstances.

Happy Thanksgiving from PopCult

With The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide in the can (save for tomorrow’s Master List) and The AIR tied up with Progsgiving for the next few days, PopCult will pause and take a day where we only put up this one post, with a pencil drawing of a turkey that yours truly did while staring at reference photos on the internet.

Truth be told, I had planned to just trace my hand and do a turkey drawing that way, but that idea was too half-assed, even for PopCult. So I pulled out my trusty Blackwing Palamino and some Paper for Pens and hunkered down to draw this bird. Then I cleaned up a bunch of smudges digitally after I scanned it.

The PopCult family wishes you and yours the best possible Thanksgiving in this steaming hellhole of a year. Keep your chin up and be thankful that 2020 is almost over.

Gift Guide: A Wealth of Pigeons

The final entry in The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is a book of single-panel cartoons, conceived and written by Steve Martin, who can’t draw, and drawn by New Yorker cartoonist, Harry Bliss, who can. This is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to laugh, any fan of single-panel cartoons with offbeat humor, and anybody who likes having books about pigeons but never actually opens them so they won’t realize that this isn’t really a book about pigeons.

A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection
written by Steve Martin, drawn by Harry Bliss
Celadon Books
ISBN-13 : 978-1250262899
$28.00 (discounted at Amazon)

In a recent New York Times profile, Steve Martin was described as ” an aspiring cartoonist with no artistic ability. ” Having spent many nights between 2 AM and 4 AM jotting down ideas for cartoons, Martin asked Harry Bliss, a famed New Yorker cartoonist who probably owns a mansion and a yacht if he would be interested in bringing his ideas to paper.

According to the Times, “Bliss was interested. Over the next six months, they created around 200 cartoons, many of which appear in their new collection, A Wealth of Pigeons.”

We go to the PR blurb, which is rather oddly structured…

“I’ve always looked upon cartooning as comedy’s last frontier. I have done stand-up, sketches, movies, monologues, awards show introductions, sound bites, blurbs, talk show appearances, and tweets, but the idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me. I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny. You can understand that I was deeply suspicious of these people who are actually funny.”

So writes the multitalented comedian Steve Martin in his introduction to A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection. In order to venture into this lauded territory of cartooning, he partnered with the heralded New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. Steve shared caption and cartoon ideas, Harry provided impeccable artwork, and together they created this collection of humorous cartoons and comic strips, with amusing commentary about their collaboration throughout. The result: this gorgeous, funny, singular book, perfect to give as a gift or to buy for yourself.

Of course, the idea is to give it to someone else, at least the idea of making it the final entry in The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is. This would be a great gift for the die-hard Steve Martin fan who started buying his books over forty years ago with Cruel Shoes. Bunches of other people will like it, too.

You can order A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection from any bookseller by using the ISBN code, or you can save almost ten bucks at Amazon.

And with that, The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is over, but we still have the Master List coming Friday, and for Thanksgiving PopCult will bring you something that won’t take much effort on my part, since it’s a holiday and nobody will be reading this blog.

Our next recommendation on this final day of The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is a website where you can buy stuff featuring the designs of Cross Lanes native, Adam Daniels.

Part of this Complete Breakfast is Daniel’s store where he sells stuff inspired by “70s, 80s, and 90s Pop Culture fun, before the internet recorded everything.”

You can find T-shirts, cozees, facemasks, hoodies and tie-dye shirts with cool designs like The Sign of the Happy Clown, a fun mash-up of Monster Cereals and Guns ‘N Roses and a lovely West Virginia pride shirt.

And you can’t go wrong with his “2020” design.

Check out the Facebook page and visit his storefront. You may just find the perfect gift for the snarky pop culture maven on your shopping list.

There’s a lot of fun stuff here, go gawk at it now!

 

We begin the final day of The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide with a cartoon classic from the 1960s.

This is the perfect gift for any aging fan from the original Saturday Morning Cartoon days, or any kid who loves cool animated superheroics in space or in prehistoric times.

Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series
Blu ray
Warner Archives

Showcasing the episodes in the three-segment form as they originally aired, these stellar retro hits soar through space and time to deliver justice.

First, intergalactic policeman Space Ghost navigates the cosmos in his tricked-out spaceship, The Phantom Cruiser, battling villains like Brak and Zorak in his legendary suit and powerful wristbands.

Then, Dino Boy teams with caveman Ugh and dinosaur Bronty to go primeval on the ancient menaces of their primitive home.

And finally, Space Ghost flies again with more extraterrestrial adventures and thrilling takedowns.

This dynamite compilation also features the dynamic six-part Space Ghost episode The Council of Doom. It’s cosmic entertainment for all.

Now, this is not to be confused with Space Ghost: Coast To Coast, the bizarro half-animated talk show parody that spawned Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. These are the original Hanna Barbera cartoons from the 60s, featuring the voices of Gary Owens, Tim Matheson, Don Messick and others.

This is the primal Space Ghost, as created by legendary comics artist Alex Toth for Hanna Barbera

You’ll get all 20 original episodes, which aired in 1966 and 67, on this two-disc set. You can order it directly from Warner Archives on Blu ray, or save a couple of bucks at Amazon, where they also have it on DVD.

Gift Guide: Christkindlemarket

Our final pick for the penultimate day of The 2020 PopCult Gift Guide is a bittersweet website recommendation for Chicago’s Virtual Christkindlemarket.

Mel and I first visited Christkindlmarket in 2015 over Thanksgiving, and we fell in love with the bustle, the glass ornaments and Germanic trinkets, plus the hot cocoa and apple cider and we also fell in love with the pretzels. There’s something about eating a hot pretzel (I get mine stuffed with spinach and feta) in 35 degree weather that’s almost orgasmic.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago was first conceptualized in 1995 when The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACC Midwest) was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACC Midwest, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services for GACC Midwest, initiated the partnership with city officials of Nuremberg, Germany. Mr. Lotter invited companies from Germany and the Chicago area to participate in the first Christkindlmarket Chicago in 1996. The market was an instant success and continues to flourish through the work of GACC Midwest’s subsidiary, German American Events, LLC.

The inaugural event took place on Pioneer Court in 1996 for the first time. By special invitation of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. With the support of the City of Chicago and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions for locals and tourists alike.

The Christkindlmarket Chicago is the most authentic traditional holiday market of its kind outside of Europe, offering a unique shopping experience, family-friendly events & intercultural activities.

That can’t happen this year. Only insane and reckless folks are traveling, and the Christkindlmarket will not be open in a physical sense this year due to the pandemic.

However, There is a virtual Christkindlemarket, and you can order mugs and scarves and ornaments and cool stuff, plus they have links to dozens of their regular vendors, so you can at least experience the shopping, even if the joy of hot cocoa and pretzels in Chicago is not possible.

As they say at their website…

From November 1st – December 31st, people from all around the nation will be able to enjoy the beloved tradition from the comfort and safety of their homes through the first-ever virtual Christkindlmarket “Home for the Holidays,” featuring an online marketplace, family-friendly events, and fun interactive activities.

Ready to make some wonderful memories and get into the holiday spirit?

You can find individual items, and gift boxes at their shop, and you can also visit their affiliated vendors for even more cool holiday items.

Shutting down to the public was the only thing that made sense this year. Below you see a photo of Christkindlmarket in 2016 that was taken at the least crowded time of day. But you can get into the Christmas spirit from the comfort of your own home, and we need it more than ever this year.