PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Gift Guide: Theatre Books For Kids

Once again we remind you that you can hear Mel Larch host Curtain Call, the musical theatre program, on The AIR, every Wednesday at 3 PM at The AIR website, or on this embedded radio player…

Once again we turn The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide over to Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, this time with book choices that make great gifts for very young budding theatre buffs.

These are books for the very young that may well inspire them to develop a life-long love of theatre.

A Is For Audra: Broadway’s Leading Ladies from A to Z
Written by John Robert Allman, Illustrated by Peter Emmerich
Doubleday Books for Young Readers
ISBN 978-0525645405
$16.99 at Amazon

From six time Tony Award winner, Audra McDonald (Ragtime) to Liza with a “Z,” this recently published alphabet book is a showstopper featuring a cavalcade of Broadway’s favorite leading ladies!

Step into the spotlight and celebrate legendary performers from across the decades starting with Audra McDonald, then sing and dance your way through the alphabet with beloved entertainers like Betty Buckley (CATS), Carol Burnett (Once Upon a Mattress), Patti LuPone (Evita), Bernadette Peters (Into The Woods), Chita Rivera (West Side Story), Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon), Kristin Chenoweth (You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown), Liza Minelli (Flora, The Red Menace) and many more!

While Allman and Emmerich’s book is aimed at readers aged 3 to 7 as a way of introducing them to iconic musicals and female performers, Broadway fans and theatre lovers of all ages will give a standing ovation to this one-of-a-kind tribute. Allman’s text is full of toe-tapping rhymes and Emmerich’s colorful, vibrant illustrations are as bright and beautiful as the shining lights on any theater marquee.

A Is For Audra is more than a fun introduction to the world of musical theatre for young readers–it’s also a gift that keeps on giving. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA). BCEFA, one of our nation’s leading nonprofit AIDS fundraising organizations for over thirty years, has raised more than $300 million to provide essential services for people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC.

You can find A Is For Audra through bookstores, or at Amazon.

Me and the Sky: Captain Beverley Bass, Pioneering Pilot
Written by Beverley Bass, with Cynthia Williams, Illustrated by Joanie Stone
Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN 978-0525645498
$10.99 at Amazon

The Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away is based on the remarkable true story of a small town that welcomed the world. On September 11, 2001, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in the provincial town of Gander, Newfoundland due to the closure of US airspace.

The citizens of Gander, in an amazing display of kindness, opened their arms to the displaced, exhausted, and distraught travelers. While there were rough moments in the ensuing days, the spirit of trust and goodwill prevailed and many enduring friendships were formed between the people of Gander and their unexpected visitors. It is that same spirit that has delighted and moved audiences since Come From Away debuted on Broadway in 2017.

One of the show’s main characters is Beverley Bass, a trailblazer for women in the field of commercial avaiation. Her stage incarnation performs a song near the end of the show titled “Me and the Sky,” in which she sings of her dream of being a pilot, breaking aviation’s glass ceiling–and ultimately the pain and loss of that fateful day in 2001.

Now the real Beverley Bass has collaborated with Cynthia Williams and Joanie Stone to tell her story for young readers. Me and the Sky: Captain Beverley Bass, Pioneering Pilot, is her recently released picture-book autobiography.

As a young girl in the late 1950’s, Beverley told her parents she wanted to fly planes. They told her that girls couldn’t be pilots. Still, they encouraged their daughter and brought her to a nearby airport to watch the planes take off and land.

After decades of refusing to take “no” for an answer, in 1986 Beverley became the first female pilot promoted to Captain by American Airlines. Shortly thereafter, she led the first all-female crewed flight. And in 1999, she became the first female captain of a Boeing 777, the world’s biggest twinjet, in an airline operation. But her revolutionary career became even more newsworthy after her unexpected journey to Gander. After several days there, she flew her crew and passengers safely home.

Bass and Williams have created an engaging book about persuing your dreams with persistence and determination. Stone’s lovely illustrations, which are drawn in a mid-century children’s books style, perfectly capture the high spirits and determination of the little girl who would climb up on her family’s washing machine & jump off of it, pretending to fly, to a confident young woman at the control panel of an American Airlines plane. Appropriate for ages 4 – 8, this would be an especially wonderful gift for the young girl on your holiday list who may be interested in a traditionally male-dominated career and is already hearing a lot of “you can’t do that because you’re a girl” from others in her life.

Jellicle Cats: Old Possum Picture Books
Written by T.S. Eliot, Illustrated by Arthur Robins
Faber & Faber Children’s
ISBN 9780571333417
$9.95 at Amazon

One of the widely anticipated holiday film releases this December is CATS, based on the musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Directed by Tom Hooper, who brought Les Miserables to the big screen in 2012, it features an all star cast, including James Corden, Dame Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Sir Ian McKellan, Taylor Swift and Rebel Wilson.

But before the film and the musical, there was the book that started it all: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the renowned poet, playwright, (The Waste Land, Murder in the Cathedral) and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. First published in 1939 by Faber & Faber, it is a collection of poems written by Eliot in the 1930’s under the assumed name of “Old Possum” for his two godchildren. There have been numerous editions re-published in the years since, illustrated by artists including Rebecca Ashdown, Axel Scheffler, and most notably, Edward Gorey, in an edition that was published in 1982 when CATS debuted on Broadway.

While any of the above editions of the Practical Cats would be an excellent addition to any family bookshelf, Faber & Faber Children’s have released a series of Old Possum Picture Books, which focus on some of the show’s popular characters, including the villainous Macavity, “magical Mister Mistoffelees,” the efficient railway cat, Skimbleshanks, and the mischevious duo of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer. Jellicle Cats, the fourth book in the series, introduces us to the feline tribe at the heart of the musical, as they prepare to dance the night away at their annual Jellicle Ball.

This book is a pure delight from start to finish that will not only delight very young readers, but young at heart ones as well. Eliot’s whimsical verses, combined with Robins’ colorful and charming illustrations, beautifully capture these playful “dear little cats” as they prepare for their annual gathering. (Author’s note: Eliot’s definition in the poem aside, people still wonder just what exactly “Jellicle” means. Years ago, I attended a “Backstage on Broadway” seminar conducted by Timothy Scott, who originated the role of Mr. Mistoffelees on Broadway. According to him, the words “pollicles” and “jellicles,” which appear in both the original poems and the show’s lyrics, meant “poor little dog” and “dear little cat,” respectively. So there you have it, straight from the cat’s mouth.)

Hopefully Faber & Faber Children’s will add some new titles devoted some of the other characters to the series, as this film adaptation introduces CATS to a new generation.

If you have a little one on your gift list who loves kitties, this book–or any of the others in the Old Possum Picture Books series–would be a “purrfect” way to give them a great “Memory” of this timeless musical.

Check back during The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide for one more post featuring gifts for the theatre lover in your life.

Gift Guide: Jack’s Cats “State of Swing”

The AIR is in reruns this week as we prepare for our holiday programming, which starts next week.  But you can hear tracks from our next gift suggestion in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide at 3 PM on The Swing Shift.

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

If you have someone your shopping list who loves great Swing Music, then you need to introduce them to Jack’s Cats.

Swing clarinetist and saxman Jack Malmstrom and his Cats recently stepped out of the late 1940s and arrived in present day Los Angeles to the delight and occasional bewilderment of vintage jazz fans and swing dancers. The Cats are grateful to maintain a very active schedule holding forth for audiences amused to discover their performances overflowing with hand-picked standards, forgotten gems and Jack’s Cats original tunes. The show’s not all on the bandstand though — The Cats always attract a friendly, enthusiastic dance crowd.

Earlier this year Jack’s Cats released their album, The State of Swing, and it’s a real treat for anyone who likes great Swing music. You can order a hard copy, which makes it much easier to wrap, from CD Baby.You get fourteen all new original swing tunes by Jack’s Cats, plus a bonus track if you download it from Bandcamp. At 3 PM Wednesday, you can hear the title track open The Swing Shift.

“The State of Swing” is just one of the new original Swing compositions on the album, which you can download HERE. Listen to The Swing Shift for a special offer if you’re going to be in the Southern California area. Meanwhile, see what Jack says about the new album:

What is the state of this music we call swing? Seeking new expression, art constantly evolves, expanding outward, exploding into countless new styles. But are fresh ideas only to be discovered in uncharted territory? What might result when the creative search for The New is focused within a past genre? Our ongoing exploration of a style we call “Pre-Bop” — when jazz was popular music — led to this collection. These all new, original compositions are performed in a more-or-less mid-century style, but be prepared for a surprise or two.

We hope you’ll discover what we have: The state of swing is alive, exciting, intelligent, danceable — and fun!

You can order The State of Swing by Jack’s Cats from the links above.

 

Gift Guide: A Book About The Kahiki

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we go back to a book I reviewed very favorably earlier this year. This is the perfect gift for the Tiki aficianado on your holiday shopping list.

Kahiki Supper Club: A Polynesian Paradise in Columbus
by David Meyers and Elise Meyers Walker with Jeff Chenault and Doug Motz
The History Press
ISBN-13: 978-1626195943
$19.99 (discounted at Amazon)

It was pretty wild to discover that one of the greatest Tiki establishments ever was in nearby Columbus, but that it had been demolished nineteen years ago. This book tells the story of the famed Kahiki Supper Club.

As the book blurb explains, “Inspired by Florida’s famed Mai-Kai restaurant, Bill Sapp and Lee Henry opened the Kahiki Supper Club in 1961. They set out simply to build a nice Polynesian restaurant and ended up establishing the most magnificent one of them all. Patrons lined up for hours to see the celebrities who dined there–everyone from Betty White to Raymond Burr. Outside, two giant Easter Island heads with flames spouting from their topknots stood guard while customers dined in a faux tribal village with thatched huts, palm trees and a towering fireplace moai. One wall featured aquariums of exotic fish and another had windows overlooking a tropical rainforest with periodic thunderstorms. For nearly forty years, the Kahiki was the undisputed center of tiki culture.”

The Ohio-based father-daughter team of Meyers and Meyers Walker were looking for a subject for their next book of local history when both Chenault and Motz urged them to tackle the Kahiki. They opted to include them as co-authors, and the result is a lovely work of history as entertainment.

Lavishly-researched and annotated, with a wealth of color and black-and-white images, Kahiki Supper Club: A Polynesian Paradise in Columbus, covers its subject in a brilliant fashion. This book explores the origins of the restaurant, it’s design and construction, the operation during its heyday, celebrity patrons and the eventual sale of the business and demolition of the building. You know dining at the Kahiki had to be a remarkable experience because folks had to cross a moat and enter between two flaming moai (seen left)

The authors create a narrative that moves smoothly from third-person presentation to an oral history given by the employees, customers and family members of the owners. This is a fascinating story, told very well and it’s a hard book to put down. This is the type of book that makes history so entertaining as a subject.

In addition to telling the story of the Kahiki, the book also presents a few recipes for meals and drinks, and follows the story beyond the closing of the restaurant, to the dispersal of some of the artifacts and architecture of the five-story-high building shaped like a giant outrigger.

The book is a must-read for any fan of Tiki culture, or anybody who was ever lucky enough to experience the Kahiki Supper Club before it was demolished to make way for a Walgreens.

Kahiki lives on as a line of frozen Asian cuisine, which was a project started by the second owner of the club.

It’s a fascinating story, and will make a great gift for anyone with an interest in Tiki, the restaurant business or Columbus. Order it with the ISBN number above, or go to Amazon.

 

Last July when I went to Chicago to see True West, we stayed at The Wit, a hotel right on the Northern edge of The Loop.  This week’s art is yet another pencil drawing using the Blackwing Palamino pencil that has been my weapon of choice of late. I took several photos from the lobby, and used elements of those as reference for this pencil rendition of a street scene, looking out at North State Street, just outside of the fabled Loop.

That sculpture in the center of the drawing is Loop Da Loop, by John Adduci, which was installed in 2017 and which is often misidentified as “Gateway” on some maps. I’m looking your way, Google maps.

I worked on this one at a more leisurely pace over the last couple of weeks s that I didn’t cramp up my hands. Going for photorealism is a challenge and a great exercise in regaining pencil control and hand-eye coordination, but it’s really just an exercise. I’m hoping to get my chops back so that I can go off in some more surrealistic directions and inject a bit more creativity into my work.

If you wish, you can click this image to see it bigger.

Meanwhile, over in radio-land, Monday on The AIR, our Monday Marathon presents eight hours of holiday music starting at 7 AM. You can expect to hear more blooks of holiday tunes over the coming weeks as we use the shortened Christmas season as an excuse to slack off and bring you special programming. At 3 PM we are expecting to bring you am encore episode of Prognosis from a couple of months ago with Herman Linte presenting quality progressive rock music.

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

Also, some time after noon today you can expect one more entry in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide. With our new plan for the gift guide, the plan is to continue to offer up a gift idea or three every day until December 13.

Gift Guide/Sunday Evening Videos: Disney+

Gift Guide/Sunday Evening Videos: Disney+

At the bottom of this post you,ll see a trailer and a video puff piece promoting Disney+. the new streaming service that is the next pick in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide.

Disney+ is the perfect gift for the whole family, particularly if that family includes people who enjoy Disney, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, The Muppets, The Simpsons or any other iconic family of television properties that’s been sucked into the corporate black hole of Disney.

Of course, being a streaming service, it’s going to be a pain to wrap. Disney+ is a subscription video on-demand streaming service owned and operated by the Direct-to-Consumer & International division of The Walt Disney Company.

This streaming app/channel offers films and television series produced by The Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television, with the service advertising content from Disney’s Marvel, National Geographic, Pixar, and Star Wars brands.

Original films and television series are also distributed on Disney+, with ten films and seven series deburing when the service debuted last month. Disney+ focuses on “family-oriented entertainment”, and does not feature R-rated films or TV-MA-rated programming.

So far, the big breakout hit on Disney+ seems to the Star Wars series, The Mandalorian. Word of mouth on the service, after a shaky technical start on thei first day, has been overwhelmingly positive.

 

You can sign up for Disney+ for $6.99 a month, or get a whole year for $69.99. If you enjoy any of the Disney family of entertainment properties, it’s a bargain. You can also bundle Disney+ with Hulu, for more adult content, and ESPN+ for sports content. Unfortunately, you have to bundle with both of those additional services, which sucks for people who hate sports and resent paying inflated cable or satellite prices because they can’t just dump ESPN.

Disney+ is a great gift idea, even if you’re just getting it for yourself.

Gift Guide: Nobody’s Fool

Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead
by Bill Griffith
Harry N. Abrams
ISBN-13: 978-1419735011
$24.99 (or heavily discounted at Amazon)

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we have a biographical graphic novel about an obscure icon, Schlitzie the Pinhead, star of Todd Browning’s 1932 cult movie, Freaks. This heavily-researched tome is written and drawn by Bill Griffith, who was inspired by Schlitzie to create Zippy The Pinhead.

Recommended as a gift for fans of Griffith, fans of Freaks and people who enjoy engrossing real-life stories.

Nobody’s Fool follows the story of Schlitzie’s long career—from Coney Island and the Ringling Bros. Circus to small-town carnivals and big-city sideshows—which is one of legend.

Today, Schlitzie is most well-known for his appearance in the cult classic Freaks. The making of Freaks and Schlitzie’s role in the film is a centerpiece of the book. In researching Schlitzie’s life (1901–1971), Griffith has tracked down primary sources and archives throughout the country, including conducting interviews with those who worked with him and had intimate knowledge of his personality, his likes and dislikes, how he responded to being a sideshow “freak,” and much more.

This graphic novel biography provides never-before-revealed details of his life, offering a unique look into his world and restoring dignity to his life by recognizing his contributions to popular culture.

Bill Griffith is the creator of the syndicated daily comic strip Zippy. Griffith’s prolific output has been included in such publications as the VillageVoice, National Lampoon, and the New Yorker. According to Bartlett, Griffith coined the popular phrase “Are we having fun yet?”

Nobody’s Fool: The Life and Times of Schlitzie the Pinhead is an amazing read. You’ll be tempted to devour all 300-plus pages in one sitting. This will make a great gift for any fan of graphic literature.

I’ve been a fan of Griffith since I was a kid, buying underground comics that I was technically way too young to purchase. After years of reading his short form works and gag strips, it’s a revelation to see how well he’s mastered long-form storytelling over the last several years. This is really an incredible work that not only tells the life story of one of Griffith’s greatest inspirations, but also helps to repay his artistic debt to the man who provided the spark for the creation of Zippy The Pinhead.

You should be able to order this book from any bookseller by using the ISBN number, or check online for some heavy holiday discounts.

Gift Guide: Toy Trains and Automobiles

The PopCulteer
November 29, 2019

This week we’re turning over The PopCulteer to The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide, which was supposed to wrap up today, but instead will now run until December 13.

Below you find some gift suggestions for toy trains and slot cars. These are all priced over $ 100, but I’m suggesting them as gifts for kids, because the joy of bonding with a parent or older sibling while setting up a cool toy that requires adult supervision is not to be underestimated.

Here’s some great ideas for old-school toys that might just get the adults playing with the kids without the need of a gaming system.

Auto World 13′ Stock Car Showdown X-Traction Slot Race Set HO Scale HO Scale

Stock Car Racing…A sport built on speed, time and records.

Drivers and records come and go but two iconic racers have risen above the rest. They are Richard Petty and Bobby Isaac.

Both Richard and Bobby drove into stock car history in two of auto racing’s most memorable vehicles, both Chrysler products…Petty’s 1971 Petty-blue, Plymouth Road Runner and Isaac’s bright-red, 1971 Dodge Charger. Now you can enjoy the history and excitement of racing these two legends, straight to the winners circle!

FEATURES:
Track and Slot Cars are 100% Compatible with all Auto World and AFX Race Sets

Included in the Set:

2 – 6″ STRAIGHT TRACK
1 – 15″ STRAIGHT TRACK
1 – 15″ TERMINAL TRACK
8 – 18″ RADIUS BANKED CURVE TRACK
1 – 9″ LAP COUNTER TRACK
13 – BANKED TRACK SUPPORTS
8 – CORNER BANNERS
16 – CORNER BANNER CLIPS
1 – STARTING LINE BANNER
1 – CARDBOARD GRANDSTAND
1 – TRACK CLEANING PAD
1 – POWER PACK
2 – X-TRACTION® ELECTRIC RACERS
2 – SPEED CONTROLLERS

You can find this cool slot car set for $139 at Autoworld, or check local hobby shops.

Kato #106-0017 Amtrak P42 Superliner Phase IVb Starter set

N Scale model train sets are ideal for folks with cramped quarters and limited space. Smaller than HO Scale, these sets are compact, and can put away for storage more easily after playtime, while still lending themselves well to high-detailed model railroading.

This set, which can be for under two hundred bucks at ModelTrainStuff, features Amtrak cars.

Start your N Scale railroading experience with this sleek passenger set that includes an Amtrak P42 Locomotive #161, three Phase IVb Superliners (Sleeper #32054, Coach #34039 and Lounge #33003), a complete oval of Unitrack (12-3/8″ radius), grade crossing/rerailing track, special packaging with storage drawer for locomotives and accessories, and a Kato Power Pack.

– Phase V P42 Locomotive
– Locomotive Equipped with DCC Compatible Smooth Speed Flywheel Mechanism (DCC Decoder sold separately)
– 3 Phase IVb Superliner Cars
– Equipped with Knuckle Couplers
– Complete Oval of Track (12-3/8″ Radius)
– Grade Crossing/Rerailing Track
– Storage Drawer for Locomotives and Accessories
– Kato Power Pack

This is a great way to relive the joy of riding the rails with Amtrak without having to deal with the delays and downgraded food that they’ve become known for since the guy who ran Delta took over.

Bachmann Rocket Freight HO Scale Ready-to-Run Electric Train Set

HO Scale is the standard for fans of high-rail, ultra-detailed model railroading. For this scale, we’re going to recommend a good starter set, the Bachmann Rocket Freight HO Scale Ready-to-Run Electric Train Set, which can be found at a great price at Menard’s.

Hurtling down the track is the powerful Rocket Freight! Passing in a flash, you have to be fast to enjoy a glimpse of this commanding freight train as it makes its deliveries. Powered by a mighty GP40 BNSF Diesel Locomotive with operating headlight, the 68-piece Rocket Freight Train Set has everything you need to start your own railroad. This Menards Exclusive Train Set includes signs, telephone poles, and miniature people to let you quickly create an out-of-this -world model railroad display. Your complete Ready-to-Run Electric Train Set comes with GP40 BNSF Diesel Locomotive with operating headlight, Canadian Pacific Plug-Door Box Car, Texaco Single-Dome Tank Car, Union Pacific® Gondola Car, BNSF Off-Set Caboose, 47″ x 38″ oval of snap-fit E-Z Track®, 24 railroad and street signs, 12 telephone poles, 12 assorted figures, power pack, speed controller, and illustrated instruction manual.

68-Piece Rocket Freight Train Set has everything you need to start your own railroad
Powered by a GP40 BNSF Diesel Locomotive with operating headlight
Includes; Canadian Pacific Plug-Door Box Car, Texaco Single-Dome Tank Car, Union Pacific® Gondola Car, BNSF Off-Set Caboose
47″ x 38″ Oval of Bachmann Snap-fit E-Z Track®
24 railroad and street signs, 12 telephone poles, 12 assorted figures, power pack, speed controller
HO Scale: 1:87

The Lionel #1923020 NYC Flyer 0-8-0 LionChief Set w/ Bluetooth

O Scale is the grand-daddy of toy train systems, and we’d be derelect in our duties if we didn’t recommend a Lionel set. The Lionel #1923020 NYC Flyer 0-8-0 LionChief Set w/ Bluetooth can be found for under $300 at Trainworld.

New for 2018, but no stranger to the Lionel Ready-to-Run line-up, the New York Central Flyer is back and better than ever. Leading this great looking set is powerful 0-8-0, with upgraded drive rod assembly and Bluetooth® compatibility, followed by some colorful freight cars. This NYC set is a great addition to any existing layout or the perfect way to begin your journey in model railroading.

New York Central Railroad and other are trademarks owned by Consolidated Rail Corporation and are used here with permission.
0-8-0 Steam Locomotive and tender
NYC boxcar
NYC gondola with canisters
NYC caboose
Eight pieces of O36 curved FasTrack®
Two FasTrack® 10″ straight track sections
One LionChief® FasTrack® Terminal section
One Plug-Expand-Play® Power Lock-on section
Wall pack power supply
LionChief® remote for locomotive

LOCOMOTIVE FEATURES:
Electric locomotive controlled by included LionChief® remote, LionChief® Universal Remote (sold separately) or Bluetooth® LionChief® app
Upgraded drive rod assembly
On/Off switch for sound
RailSounds® RC™ sound system with steam chuffing and background sounds, whistle, bell, and user-activated announcements
Operating headlight
Powerful maintenance-free motor
Operating couplers
Puffing smoke

FREIGHT CAR FEATURES:
Die-cast metal sprung trucks
Operating couplers
Opening doors on boxcar
Four removable canisters in gondola

LIONCHIEF® REMOTE FEATURES:
Forward and reverse speed control knob
Three buttons to activate whistle, bell, and special announcements
Requires three AAA alkaline

I’ve tried to give you a sampling of different electric toy sets, from a variety of online retailers. You can find these at your local hobby shop, and maybe even find a set that’s more suited to give as a gift to the kid on your list. Remember that toy trains and slot cars qualify as STEM toys, and can spur a boy or girl onto a lifelong love of engineering and mechanics.

Keep in mind that, if your budget doesn’t allow for something as elaborate as these sets, you can find lower-priced and even battery-powered alternatives all over the place, even at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores.

That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Look for our regular features and check back for two more weeks of The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide.

Black Friday is our “Big Ticket Day” here in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide, and to kick it off we’re tying it in with an all-day marathon of Beatles Blast on The AIR, which you can listen to at this link, or on this embedded radio player…

Our next gift suggestion is expensive, and it’s a luxury. The people who will appreciate this gift are the die-hard Beatles collectors, not casual fans, but people who search out releases from different countries so they can get different sleeve and label designs, and maybe an alternate mix.

The Beatles : The Singles Collection is a collectible Boxed Set that presents  46 tracks on 23 7-inch vinyl singles, in faithfully reproduced international picture sleeves, accompanied by a 40-page booklet with photos, ephemera, and detailed essays by Beatles historian Kevin Howlett.

These singles, plus an exclusive new double A-side single for the mid-1990s-issued tracks “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” are newly remastered from their original master tapes and cut for vinyl at Abbey Road Studios for a new limited edition boxed set.

Keep in mind that this is the gift of an object, not the music. You can track down the individual songs on CD for under twenty bucks, instead of dropping over two hundred on this boxed set. However, for the die-hard collector, this box includes perfect reproductions of extremely rare singles in picture sleeves from 22 different countries. It would cost thousands of dollars to buy the originals. Plus I think this is the only commercial release of “Free As A Bird” on 7-inch vinyl.

It’s a pricey and specialized gift, but you may know the perfect person to receive it. Available where ever records are sold.

Happy Thanksgiving From PopCult And The AIR!

Happy Thanksgiving From PopCult And The AIR!

We want to wish all our readers and listeners a very Happy Thanksgiving, and to help you celebrate we have two very specials shows that you can hear at The AIR website on on this embedded radio player today at 3 PM…

First up, at 3 PM, we welcome Paul and Spike, The Too Grumpy Critics to The AIR, with their very cool Too Grumpy Critics Thanksgiving Special. This came up really quick, and we are honored to have Paul and Spike’s special on our humble internet radio station.

After that, at 3:30 PM, stick around for a special episode of Radio Free Charleston International, where your PopCulteer is joined by his wife, Mel Larch, for a 90-minute collection of music for which we are very thankful, as you can see here…

RFC International Thanksgiving

The Aquabats “Showtime”
The Blues Brothers “Sweet Home Chicago”
Book of Mormon “Making Things Up Again”
The Beatles “Free As A Bird”
Kate Bush “All We Ever Look For”
The Beautiful South “From Under The Covers”
The Bad Shepherds “Making Room For Nigel”
DEVO “Huboon Stomp”
The Aquabats “Playdough (Live)”
Mike Batt/Roger Daltry “The Pig Must Die”
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies “Yankee Pride”
Andy Partridge/Robyn Hitchcock “Planet England”
Andrea True Connection “More More More”
Cats “Invitation To The Jellicle Ball”
YES “Don’t Kill The Whales”
The Tubes “White Punks On Dope”
MST3K “Gamera Song”

We will be running these specials again Saturday, Sunday and Monday, on The AIR. Enjoy!

A Charleston tradition is our next pick in the 2019 PopCult Gift Guide. Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde’s rock opera, MARY, opens the day after Thanksgiving, and you’ll have nine chances to see the 23rd production put on by Charleston Youth Arts Company. You can sample previous a production in the video at the bottom of this post. This year MARY moves to a new home, at the Elk City Playhouse at 218 W Washington St, Charleston, on the city’s historic West Side.

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 of the new Elk City Playhouse. Accompanied by a large orchestra and chorus, MARY has become a seasonal tradition in the greater Kanawha Valley.

This year the production is filled with fresh faces, as CYAC continues to discover and bring to the stage the brightest new talents the area has to offer. One of the great joys of seeing MARY every year is the glimpse into the future of Charleston’s theatre scene that it gives us.

It’s a testament to the depth of talent that can be found in this city that CYAC manages to mount such impressive productions of this show each year.

This is an experience, a wonderful gift of music and theater that is perfect for the person on your list who isn’t just interested in material things. Tickets are $8.00 Students and $15.00 Adults.  Seating is limited in this new venue, so, while CYAC has reserved a few tickets to sell at the door, they strongly suggest you buy your tickets online at Showclix.

You can see Scarpelli and Kehde’s MARY: A Rock Opera at 7 PM November 29 and 30 and  December 5, 6 and 7. And there are 2 PM matinee performances on November 30 and December 1, 7 and 8.

This is the perfect gift for the local theater-going patron of the arts on your gift list. It’s a world-class show that really has to be seen in person to be appreciated. CYAC is hard at work making this 22nd production special and theater lovers, music lovers as well as followers of the Christian faith should make it a point to attend, and it’s such a special show that it makes a perfect gift.