PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Scenes From ShockaCon

966_4688Your PopCulteer had a blast at ShockaCon last Saturday. Due to real-life intrusions I was only able to make it to one day of the extremely fun three-day event, but I could tell that the entire event was a success. I hosted the “40 Years of Star Wars Toys” panel with Mark Wolfe and Lee Harrah, and played Ed McMahon to Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch as she hosted Walking Dead Trivia. That was right after her stint moderating the panel with Walking Dead actors Lew Temple, Josh Turner and Scott Lane.

Unfortunately, I was having so much fun that I didn’t take many photos. And many of the photos I did take did not come out well because I was trying out a new camera that turned out to be a bit of a dud. I did get a decent shot of the Staypuft Marshmallow Man, who greeted visitors, courtesy of Ghostbusters WV Division.  Most of the stuff I shot inside came out fuzzy.

Despite the camera glitches, we do have some images to bring you. I want to thank Mike Winland and Penny Maple and the whole ShockaCon crew for putting on another great show. We’ll do it again next year, and this time I’ll bring the good camera.

Scott Lane, Josh Turner and Lew Temple, who have all appeared on The Walking Dead, talking with Mel Larch


The first Jason, Ari Lehmen, signs a photo for a fan in the only decent shot I got of any of the other guests.


Lee Harrah, Mark Wolfe and yours truly, minutes after hosting our panel on Star Wars Toys. Photo credit to the guy in the Ghostbusters outfit that Mark handed his phone to.

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Steven Universe Construction Toys at Walmart

The PopCult Toybox

su_mr_universe_van_inpackage_1Now on the shelves at Walmart at new McFarlane Construction Sets based the Cartoon Network hit show, Steven Universe, which was created by Emmy-nominated writer, storyboard artist, and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Sugar.

Steven Universe is the coming-of-age story of a boy named Steven Universe and the “Crystal Gems”, a team of magical alien guardians who protect the Earth. Every episode finds Steven, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl in one incredible adventure after the next, protecting the planet and always finding a way to save the day. The show started out with a cult following, but quickly became one of Cartoon Network’s top-rated shows.

stevens-kitchenWith an engaging epic science fiction backstory, but terrific light-hearted characterization and adventures, Steven Universe has captured the imaginations of kids and adults. The show is both really funny and sweet while telling a fantastic world-threatening story about an alien invasion. Plus there’s music, too.

The first wave of Steven Universe Construction Sets from McFarlane Toys includes 6 different Construction Sets depicting iconic scenes and characters from the show. Figures included in each set feature articulation in the main joins and have swappable limbs for playful gene-splicing experiments and mayhem.

su_great_diamond_inpackage_1Smaller sets, which are discounted to a mere eight bucks, include “Arcade Mania” with Garnet; “The Great Diamond Authority Pillar” with Pearl; and Jailbreak with recent Crystal Gem addition, Peridot. Two larger sets, “Steven’s Kitchen” (with Amethyst) and “The Temple Door” (with Steven’s mother, Rose Quartz) can be had for $13.The biggest set, selling for $30, is Mr. Universe’s van, and comes with Steven Universe and his dad, Greg.

These are part of McFarlane Toys’ new wave of construction toys, unveiled at Toy Fair, are are compatible with other McFarlane sets, like those based on Rick and Morty and South Park, as well as other LEGO-style building toys.

The figures in these sets are good representations of the Steven Universe cartoon style, and they’re larger than most other building sets, standing around four inches each (on average), with good articulation and a strong sense of the show on which they’re based.

Fans of Steven Universe have been starved for quality toys that actually look like the cartoon, and these sets fill the bill. Here’s hoping the line continues so that we can get toys of the rest of the supporting cast, and maybe a set with Steven that doesn’t cost quite so much. Over all, Steven Universe looks like a winner.


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The Week’s Highlights On The AIR

week-schedule-9-11For one more week we still find ourself in the midst of Summer Rerun Season on The AIR.  Except for new episodes of Marking Out, Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle and The Third Shift, all of our regularly-scheduled programs will be presenting classic episodes until we unveil our NEW FALL SEASON on September 18!

We expect to have new episodes of ALL of our programs, including Radio Free Charleston, Curtain Call, The Swing Shift, Word Association with Lee & Rudy, Ska Madness, Prognosis, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, Radio Coolsville, Beatles Blast and more, beginning September 18. Our listeners are really excited and you can listen for classic episodes of those shows this week at the website, or on this nifty embedded radio machine doohickey…

To the right you see a handy graphic listing our highlights for the coming week. In addition to those great shows, you can also expect:

Every Weekday

6 PM The New Music Show
6:30 PM The(BS)Crazy Show


7 PM  That Conversation with Patrick Felton (Guests are Penny Maple and Bob Wilkinson)
8 PM  The Real with Mark Wolfe (Guest is Your PopCulteer)
10 PM  Six Degress of Separation (Guest is Sean Richardson)


9 AM & 5 PM Radio Coolsville
8 PM Big Electric Cat
10 PM Radio Free Charleston
11 PM RFC International


5 PM Audio Playhouse
7:30 PM Word Association with Lee & Rudy
8 PM Prognosis
10 PM Marking Out
11 PM The Comedy Vault


7 PM The Swing Shift
8 PM Curtain Call


9 AM Morning Talk Shows
8 PM Marking Out
10 PM RFC International

Check it out, folks, because next week we have ALL NEW EPISODES!



fat-bldg-01The above piece of colorful abstract art began life as a black and white photograph of Charleston’s Laidley Tower.  Really! It was a frame grab from my “Stark Charleston” short, where I had the building breathing, so it was bulging a bit, but I had at it with color, then filters, and more color, and more filters and tons of digital trickery, until it became what you see above.

If you don’t believe me, check out the smaller version of the original image to the right.

This is what happens when you have a couple of spare hours with nothing to do and an arsenal of digital playthings at your disposal. Please feel free to click on the top image to see a bigger version.

Check PopCult later today for our guide to week two of Rerun Season on The AIR! We promise that, if you liked it the first time, you’ll like hearing it again!

Sunday Evening Videos: Ringo Starr

rs-starr-v2-2c2cf167-1a32-447d-981b-4d234b71a89eLater this week Ringo Starr will release his 19th solo studio album, Give More Love, and to mark the occasion we’re bringing you a concert by Ringo and his All-Starr Band (above) and an audio only video of a preview song, “We’re On The Road Again.”

In the above video, Ringo’s All-Starr Band included Walsh, Dr. John, Clarence Clemons, Nils Lofgrin, Levon Helm, Billy Preston and more.  This is the very first incarnation of the All-Starr Band, from 1989, and that’s why there are so many dearly-departed musicians on hand. In October Ringo will begin a short tour with his current All-Starr Band, which includes Todd Rundgren, as well as members of Toto, Mr. Mister, Journey and Kansas.

Give More Love features his old bandmate, Paul McCartney, along with his brother-in-law Joe Walsh (both of whom can be heard on the preview song) and frequent collaborators Dave Stewart and Gary Nicholson, plus members of Ringo’s All-Starr Band. You can hear the lead song here…

And as a bonus, here’s Ringo performing with Green Day…

The RFC Flashback; Episode 67

From April, 2009, comes “Earth To Eros Shirt,” a show named after John Lancaster’s old band. We never managed to get E2E on the show, but we have had John on a few times. Our host segments were shot at The Convenience Store on Summer’s Street, which is not there anymore.  This show contains our comedy interview with the store’s owner, Scott Shapiro, which illustrates why I hardly ever do interviews on Radio Free Charleston.

Music from Go Van Gogh and A Place Of Solace highlight this episode. We also featured a trailer for the movie “The Bride and Grooms” and the phenomenal young Bradley Wilkerson Sings! Actually, a deal to record The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra fell through at the last minute, so I did the first-ever “rerun” of a segment and reused the animated video “Requiem For Pepperland” that I created–in just a couple of days–for a then-twenty-year-old demo by Go Van Gogh.

Our other musical guest, A Place of Solace, finally appeared fifty episodes after I wore one of their shirts on the show. It all comes around.  It is great to see Bradley Wilkerson at his peak and in his prime. This is how he should be remembered, not his eventual decline and sad end.

Full production notes can be found here.

Music Review: The Heavy Editors

a1551924154_16We have today the debut EP from The Heavy Editors, a group that includes Joe Vallina, who made memorable music in the legendary Charleston band, The Feast of Stephen, as well as Wiley Sonic and others as well as on some incredible solo albums. Joe is joined here by Wally Bird and John Rapoza, and they sound like way more than than a simple power trio.

The Heavy Editors make pure post-punk power pop, exquisitely-crafted and impeccably-played. The five songs here are perfect creations of a type of genuine music that we don’t get to hear very often today. This is not manufactured hit-factory pap, but real rock and roll, with intelligent lyrics and sharp arrangements, played by musicians with real chops.

The five songs on this EP address relationships, our changing times, the dreams of a musician and impending maturity. The tempos vary from near-ballads to solid rockers, with hints of psychedlia and punk around the edges.

Standout Tracks are “I’m Buying At Stratocaster” and “Heavy,” but all five songs are terrific.

This is a great start from a new band, and it really stands head and shoulders above the music you hear on commercial radio these days. Here’s hoping we get to see these guys play in or around Charleston soon. You will hear them on The AIR when our new fall season kicks off on September 18.

You can download The Heavy Editors EP from Bandcamp, and follow the band on Facebook.

Or you can just listen to it right here…

ShockaCon Starts Today!

pc-shockacon-01The PopCulteer
September 8 , 2017

Today is the day that ShockaCon begins! This is West Virginia’s premiere Horror and Science Fiction covnetion and it happens at the Beni Kedem Shrine Center on Quarrier Street in Charleston, nestled right in between the Charleston Civic Center and the Charleston Town Center Mall.

What you can expect if you go is a huge room filled with people like the same kind of stuff as you (Let’s face it, you won’t go if you don’t love horror movies or science fiction). There will be actors, musicians, celebrities, artists, writers, directors, vendors and cosplayers, all devoted to the worlds of horror and sci-fi.

You’ll be able to buy autographs from the famous folks on hand. Vendors will have movies, comic books, action figures, props, jewelry, and tons of cools stuff that you’ll want in your life. You can attend panels to learn how to do effects make-up or build props. There will be horror-themed crafting and lessons on cosplaying. The actors will hold question and answer sessions. Yours truly will even be on hand Saturday morning to talk about forty years of Star Wars toys with Mark Wolfe and Lee Harrah.

There will be several trivia contests, including Walking Dead Trivia, Saturday at 2 PM, hosted by Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, with an assist from your humble PopCulteer.

After-hours on Friday and Saturday there will be live music, magic, dancing and more. Ari Lehman is bringing his band, First Jason to the stage Saturday night. The Renfields will be there Friday. We’ll have more details below. And after the music wraps up Saturday night, there’s the AfterShock party at the Blue Parrot.

At 11:30 AM Saturday there’s even a costume parade that winds through the Charleston Town Center. Sunday is a whole day devoted to kid-friendly events.

It all begins today at 4 PM. Visit the website for details on tickets. You can find the full schedule in last week’s PopCulteer. The extended Halloween season kicks off in Charleston ShockaCon. We told you more about Ari Lehmen HERE and Professor Sinsiter HERE.  Check below for mini-profiles of some of the guests and musicians.










You’ll find more guest profiles after the jump…

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ShockaCon Spotlight: Professor Sinister

19143379_1310831895698523_7966992665400331067_oFriday evening at 8 PM at ShockaCon Professor Sinister will take the stage for the fourth consecutive year of his Savage Sideshow! Attendees at the after-hours Shock ‘N’ Roll Party will kick off the night thrilling to Professor Sinister’s amazing feats of illusion, escape and things which defy explanation.

Above we take you back in time as Professor Sinister brings his Savage Sideshow to ShockaCon 2015.  With help from some volunteers from the audience, the mysterious Professor displays feats of fire-eating, stage magic and a great escape. In his second year at ShockaCon, Professor Sinister left the crowd amazed and stunned by his daring acts of magical adventurism.

His fourth year will be even more astounding, with new feats and maybe some returning favorites. You will be shocked and awed if you dare to witness this mind-bending show.

Stay tuned to PopCult for more ShockaCon Spotlights.

ShockaCon Spotlight: Ari Lehman

19054997_1307434949371551_1871648994011700945_oAri Lehman, the first actor the play “Jason” in the Friday The 13th movie franchise, returns to ShockaCon this weekend, and this time he’s bringing his band, First Jason.  In the above clip you get an idea of what to expect from the may who kicked off one of the greatest franchises in the history of horror movies.  Ari is seen at ShockaCon 2015 discussing his acting career, how he was cast in the classic horror movie and his career as a musician.

You can follow Ari’s careers at his website.

ShockaCon, West Virginia’s premiere horror and sci-fi convention, happens this weekend at The Beni Kedem Shrine Center and the show will be packed with movie and TV stars, cosplayers, artists, vendors, Ghostbusters and more, and they’ll be signing autographs, holding question-and-answer sessions, meeting the fans and a wonderfully macabre time is guaranteed for all.

I posted the schedule and a few graphics last Friday. Stay tuned to PopCult because we’ll tell you a little more about ShockaCon every day, leading up the opening festivities this Friday. For information on tickets, directions and other pertinent stuff, go HERE.