PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Gift Guide: Record Store Day

Our next gift suggestion in The 2019 PopCult Gift Gjuide is that you head out for this this year’s Black Friday Record Store Day, the national movement to get people into records shops by offering hundreds of exclusive releases on one day each year, has expanded to a second day in recent years with a smaller, but still impressive slate of exclusive limited edition vinyl releases on Black Friday.

Locally, Budget Tapes and Records (3708 MacCorkle Ave SE, in Kanawha City) and Sullivan’s Records (1588-A Washington Street East on Charleston’s Historic East End) are participating, with special vinyl reissues from Todd Rundgren, Madonna, Frank Zappa and the Mothers, and dozens of other great artists, and new and unreleased music from history’s greatest musicians. You can find a full list of available records HERE.

And don’t forget that Budget also carries a huge range of other cool gift ideas, from clothing, to smoking accessories to adult novelties, and Sullivan’s now has a used bookstore in the back, so it you want one-stop-shopping, you can’t go wrong at either place (but hit both of them, and Elk City too).

Elk City Records (311 W Washington Street on Charleston’s West Side) won’t be carrying the new releases, but they will be running specials on their great stock of used vinyl, so you’ll want to hit them up, too. Plus they’re just around the corner from Kin Ship Goods and Base Camp Printing, and a short walk across the street from Void and Gonzoburger, so you can just make a whole West Side shopping day of it.With any of today’s three suggestions, you can SHOP LOCAL, support our local merchants and give the gift of music.

Gift Guide: Eat Local

Since Thanksgiving is a traditional day of feasting, our 2018 PopCult Gift Guide pick for today follows our tradition of inspiring you to get out and support locally-owned places of dining. Most of our suggested restaurants offer gift certificates or cards. Even if they don’t, you can still take your giftee out and treat them not only to a great meal, but also to the pleasure of your company. Food is a great gift, and you don’t usually have to wrap it.

Charleston is blessed with a wide variety of great, independent eateries. Take that into account when choosing one for the gift-giving experience. You have a lot of great options. Contact info can be found in the links with the names on our list.

New to the list this year is Mountain Pie Company, with locations in Jefferson and Hurricane. Mel and I just started eating here a couple of months ago, but they’ve been doing great business for five years. They have fantastic gourmet pizza and great sandwiches, and most importantly, they will make your food to order, and not quibble over your eating restrictions or desires.

You can find all kinds of great places to grab a bite in town:  Gonzoburger, with their gourmet burgers in the old Chris’s Hot Dog location; Void, just across the street, is a new, hip coffee shop; Also on the coffee front, we have Mea Cuppa Coffee in Charleston, Cafe Crema, now in Dunbar along Route 25, and Coal River Coffee Company on Old Main in Saint Albans. Plus there’s Rock City Cake Company, on Capitol Street, blending cakes and treats and live music.

We are happy to report that Caffe Romeo in South Hills, an authentic Italian-style place where you can get Gelato, Expresso, Sorbet and several other treats is stil as wonderful as we said it was a while back.

The Olive Tree Cafe and Catering, is already a reliable favorite on the Charleston culinary scene. Their tasty Mediterrean fare is top-notch and the service is quick and friendly. They offer up great salads and sandwiches, and their shawarma is the stuff of legend. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11 AM to 7 PM. It’s a casual dining atmosphere and they have lots of other deli goodies for sale.

Other restaurants you might want to consider for a fun, gift-style special meal are The Block and Bricks & Barrels. And of course, there are all the old favorites. You can buy gift cards or certificates for Bluegrass Kitchen, Tricky Fish, Starling’s Coffee and Provisions, Leonoro’s, Mi Cocini De Amor, Pies & Pints, Lola’s, Bridge Road Bistro, Adelphia, Fazio’s, and Taste of Asia.

These are the stores that we know off the top of our heads offer gift certificates or cards. Your PopCulteer does not get around as much as he used to, due to health issues related to Myasthenia Gravis. You might want to ask around to see if your favorite local restaurant also offers gift certificates. If they do, please feel free to tell us about it in the comments section.


by Thomas Wheeler
Independently published
ISBN-13: 978-1711719665

Next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we have the first novel from my friend and fellow pop culture journalist, Thomas Wheeler. Thomas is well-known for his expertise with toys such as the Real American Hero: GI Joe and Masters of the Universe, but STARCHILDREN is his first novel, and it looks to be lots of fun.

This would be the perfect gift for fans of old-school science fiction and adventure. It’s a throwback to the golden age of science fiction, with echoes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne, but with an modern setting.

Here’s what the Amazon blurb says:

Enter a new world of science-fiction adventure! A mysterious island has appeared in the Pacific Ocean. A pair of scientists is sent in to determine its origin and purpose. What they discover may change the world forever – assuming the world survives the threat that is looming. But is the threat from the island, from somewhere else, or somehow – both?

From the author: This is a concept that I first created forty years ago. Finally, it has been revised, enhanced, and published in book form! If I were to describe the tale in one sentence, it would likely be, “Jonny Quest meets Star Trek”. I hope you will find this book fun, exciting, and enjoyable.

Thomas just published this book through Amazon, and it’s bound to be a fun read, inspired by the great works of Science Fiction.

I first told you about Lights of Broadway Show Cards last year in The PopCult Gift Guide, but we’re going to remind you of that gift idea today because they have just released a new series of cards and they have several exciting projects on tap. Also, it’s a good way to tell you that you can hear Curtain Call, our musical theater show hosted by Mel Larch, every Wednesday at 3 PM, with several replays through the week, and marathons Sunday evenings at 6 PM and overnight Wednesdays at Midnight.

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

With that premable out of the way, next up in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide is a trading card set that I wrote about here and in Non Sport Update last year. The Lights of Broadway Show Cards feature the artwork of Broadway’s reigning caricaturist, Squiggs, and present the stars, theaters and shows of The Great White Way in trading card form. This is the absolutely perfect gift for the theatre fanatic on your holiday shopping list.

The Lights of Broadway Show Cards celebrate Broadway theatre. The stories and the storytellers, the art and the artisans, those who make it all possible and the community embracing it. Shows, actors, directors, writers, designers, and all else in the spotlight or behind the scenes who keep the theatrical world spinning.

Over at The Lights of Broadway website, you’ll find special deals where you can get packs of their new 2019 Edition, with dozens of new faces showing up in the series for the first time. You’ll also find deals on binders and starter kits (which include an illustrated binder and several packs of cards).

If you want to go whole hog, you can find entire boxes of 36 packs, to shower your theatre fanatic with loads of great cards. You can even find single-show packs for Fiddler on The Roof, Fun Home and Dear Evan Hansen. They have everything from stocking stuffers to mid-sized gifts to BIG TICKET items.

The cards are beautifully printed and feature the amazing art of Squiggs. If you’ve got a theatre kid on your gift list, this is where you need to go. You can order directly from The Lights of Broadway Show Cards website, or go to New York and look for them in Schubert Alley and The Drama Bookstore.

This is the perfect gift for the Broadway Baby and die-hard theatre buff on your holiday shopping list.

Our next entry in The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide can be previewed in part Wednesday at 2 PM on The AIR, as we bring you the fiftieth episode of Beatles Blast, which coincidentally celebrates fifty years of Abbey Road. You can tune in to The Air website or listen on this embedded radiophonic widget…

The deluxe boxed set of Abbey Road has three CDS and a Blu Ray Audio disc with a brand new mix of the classic Beatles album. It is the perfect gift for any Beatles fan, any sane human who enjoys fantastic music, and young peoples who have yet to be exposed to this work of genius.

The album — the last that the group recorded together, but released on 26 September 1969, before 1970’s Let It Be — are available in new stereo, 5.1 Surround and Dolby Atmos mixes. Its 17 tracks have been newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell, accompanied by 23 session recordings and demos, most of them previously unreleased. These are presented on the Super Deluxe and Deluxe vinyl box sets in chronological order of their first recording dates.

This is the first time Abbey Road has been remixed and presented with additional session recordings and demos. To create Abbey Road’s new stereo, 5.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos mixes, Martin and Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios. This Super Deluxe Edition of Abbey Road features the new stereo album mix, sourced directly from the original eight-track session tapes. To produce the mix, Giles was guided by the album’s original stereo mix supervised by his father, George Martin.

Abbey Road’s Super Deluxe box set presents 40 tracks – including “The Long One” Trial Edit & Mix for the album’s epic Side 2 medley – on three CDs (stereo) and one Blu-ray disc (Dolby Atmos, 96kHz/24 bit high resolution stereo, and 96 kHz/24 bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1).

The four discs are housed in a slip-sleeved 12” by 12” 100-page hardbound book with McCartney’s foreword; Martin’s introduction; insightful, in-depth chapters written by Beatles historian, author, and radio producer Kevin Howlett covering the months preceding The Beatles’ Abbey Road sessions, track-by-track details and session notes, the cover art and photo shoot, and the album’s reception upon its release; plus an essay by music journalist and author David Hepworth looking at the album’s influence through 50 years.

The gorgeous book is illustrated with rare and previously unpublished photographs, including many taken by Linda McCartney; never before published images of handwritten lyrics, sketches, and a George Martin score; Beatles correspondence, recording sheets, and tape boxes; and reproduced original print ads.

If that doesn’t convince you to buy this for the Beatles fan on your shopping list (or for yourself) just tune in to The AIR at 2 PM Wednesday at 2 PM, with replays throughout the next week, to hear some of the gems in this set. It’s available at most retailers who carry music for under ninety bucks, which is a bargain, considering what this is.

Gift Guide: Maria M. by Gilbert Hernandez

Next up In The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide we have the long-awaited complete collection of Gilbert Hernandez’s graphic novel, Maria M. The first half of this was originally published over five years ago, with the sequel scheduled for the following year. However, the second half never did get published, and a couple of months ago Fantagraphics finally published this complete collection, which reprints the first half, along with the never-published conclusion.

This is the perfect gift for any fan of intelligent comics and Love & Rockets.

Maria M. (Vol. 1 & 2) (Love and Rockets)
by Gilbert Hernandez
ISBN-13: 978-1683960164

This is the fourth in Gilbert Hernandez’ series of graphic novel “adaptations” of the fictional B-movies in which his character Rosabella “Fritz” Martinez stars in stories published in Love and Rockets. Maria M. is a departure in that it’s supposed to be an adaptation of a movie that, in Love and Rockets, was based on a “true” story that was presented in the classic Poison River storyline.

Maria M. is the story of the character who was the mother of Fritz, who then starred in the movie of her mother’s life, and that movie is adapted here. What makes this work so well is that the “movie,” though based on a “true” story, is a sensationalized, exploitation “B” movie that gets many details “wrong,” so it’s not like you’re reading the same story that was portrayed in Poison River.

Anybody order a big plate of meta? Let’s see what the publisher says:

This brutal, original crime thriller graphic novel, from the co-creator of Love and Rockets, tells the story of femme fatale Maria M.

Maria M.’s is a sordid tale of sex, drugs, violence, and power. When she comes to America for a better life, she marries a drug kingpin, whose son learns Maria’s darkest secret, leading to the most violent gangland bloodbath in organized crime history. Maria M. collects 2013’s Book One (now out of print), and the never-before-published Book Two, presenting the complete graphic novel for the first time. Longtime readers of Hernandez’s books will recognize a metatwist worthy of Maria M.’s pulpy pages: Maria M. doubles as a “biopic” of the mother of Hernandez’s most beloved character: Luba from Love and Rockets! Black & white illustrations throughout.

A fine gift for any fans of crime, noir, great graphic novels or the previous works of Gilbert. Maria M. can be ordered from any bookseller, the publisher, Fantagraphics, or Amazon. This is not a comic book for children. Maria M. is essentially a sexploitation movie in graphic novel form. There’s nudity and violence and language, and the lead character is exceptionally well-endowed, as you can see below.

Tuesday’s Radio Free Charleston On The AIR offers up some local music gift suggestions to tie in with The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide.

Also Tuesday on The AIR we deliver a new episodes of NOISE BRIGADE to our loyal listeners as well as a special two-part edition of The Swing Shift. You may point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to this happy little embedded radio player…

Our new episode of Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM brings you double-shots of music by local artists that was either released, or re-released this year, and might just make for a great gift.

We shine the RFC spotlight on music by Beggars Clan, Emmalea Deal, David Synn, Fletcher’s Grove, The Big Bad and Time And Distance. Technical issues are keeping us from posting this show to YouTube, but you can download a copy of it at this link. You should be able to find some of these local artists at local stores like Budget Tapes & Records, Sullivan’s Records or Taylor Books, or click the links in their names to order online.

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 9 AM and 7 PM, Saturday at 11 AM and Midnight, Sunday at 1 PM and the next Monday at 8PM, exclusively on The AIR.

At 2 PM, Steven Allen Adams returns with the second episode of NOISE BRIGADE. He’ll be treating our listeners to the best of Third Wave, modern and even Two-Tone Ska music,. Check out this playlist:


Hans Gruber and the Die Hards “This Flat Earth”
Hans Gruber and the Die Hards “We’re All Gonna Die”
The Aquabats! “Pizza Day”
The Beat “Rotating Head”
Tiger Army “Afterworld”
Reliant K “High of 75”
Punk Shop Boys “I’m not Sick but I’m Not Well”
Matt Skiba & Kevin Seconds “Good F— Goodbye”
Big D and the Kids Table (w/ the Doped up Dollies) “Early to Bed”
Big D and the Kids Table (w/ the Doped up Dollies) “Earthquake and Fire”
Pennywise “Date with Destiny”
Remember Sports “I Liked You Best”
Less Than Jake “The Science of Selling Yourself Short”
Desmond Dekker “Israelites”
Fishbone “Party at Ground Zero”
MxPx “Want Ad”

NOISE BRIGADE will alternate weeks with Psychedelic Shack Tuesday’s at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM, Thursday at 8 AM and 10 PM, Friday at Noon, Saturday at 10 AM, Sunday at 4 PM and Monday at 7 PM.

At 3 PM your PopCulteer returns with a couple of classic episodes of The Swing Shift that brings you Benny Goodman’s legendary 1938 Concert at Carnegie Hall. If you have a true lover of Swing Music on your holiday shopping list, you can’t go wrong with this deluxe 4 CD box set that includes the legendary concert along with two rare Benny Goodman albums from the 1950s. You can find it at Amazon.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM and 6 PM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 5 PM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Please consider giving the gift of music this holiday season. There are many, many more local artists that you can support than I was able to include in this week’s show.

You can also find a lot of great gifts for fans of Ska music, like we recommended last week.

And please support our local music retailers. Budget Tapes & Records and Sullivan’s both have great selections of new music as well as used music and collectible vinyl.

Elk City Records has a fantastic assortment of Jazz, Swing and classic rock. Taylor Books also sells music by local artists, and I believe that all of these retailers offer gift certificates.

I believe that Budget Tapes & Records and Sullivan’s will also be participating in the Black Friday Record Store Day event this coming weekend.


Gift Guide: Broadway Novels

Once again we are turning over The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide, to Mel Larch, AKA Mrs. PopCulteer. Mel is the host of Curtain Call, our musical theater program on The AIR, and today, from 7 AM to 3 PM, you can tune in to The AIR and hear eight hours of her show, filled with the best that musical theater has to offer.

Check it out at the website, or on this nifty little embedded tuner.

Now let’s look at Mel’s gift suggestions for the bookworm/theater kid on your holiday shopping list:

When you have a Broadway buff on your holiday gift list, an Original Cast Recording is one way for them to experience the special joys of musical theatre. But there’s certainly other options out there and today, we shine the spotlight on novelizations of two recent Broadway hits which feature teen characters: The Prom and Dear Evan Hansen.

The Prom: A Novel Based on the Hit Broadway Musical
By Saundra Mitchell, with Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar
ISBN 9781984837523

Seventeen-year old Emma Nolan wants just one thing before she graduates: to dance with her girlfriend, Alyssa Greene at their senior prom. But in their small town of Edgewater, Indiana, that’s like asking for the moon.

When word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her date, it stirs a community-wide uproar that quickly spirals out of control. The school’s PTA, led by Alyssa’s mother (who doesn’t realize her daughter is a closeted lesbian), threatens to cancel the prom altogether.

Enter Barry Glickman and Dee Dee Allen, two Broadway stars who decide to take up Emma’s cause–and gain some positive publicity for themselves in the process. But when they arrive in Edgewater to take up the fight on her behalf, their good intentions quickly go south. Between Emma facing the controversy head-on, Alyssa wavering about coming out, and Barry and Dee Dee basking in all the attention, it makes for a perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realize that love is always worth fighting for.

Author Saundra Mitchell, in collaboration with the show’s creative team of Bob Martin, Chad Beguelin, and Matthew Sklar (the team behind the musical adaptation of Elf), have crafted an enjoyable novelization of this Tony nominated musical, which is being adapted for Netflix by American Horror Story creator/producer, Ryan Murphy. The story is told from the perspectives of its central couple, Emma and Alyssa, in alternating chapters. There are details that will delight fans of the show, including an interview with Martin, Beguelin, and Sklar, conducted by original cast member, Josh Lamon.

If someone on your gift list has an “unruly heart,” this adaptation of The Prom would be a great gift. Available from bookstores using the ISBN number, or at a discount from Amazon.

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel
By Val Emmich with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul
Poppy/Little Brown and Company
ISBN 9780316420235

When a letter than was never meant to be seen by anyone draws anxiety-ridden high school senior, Evan Hansen, into a family’s grief over the loss of their son, he is given the chance of a lifetime: to belong. He just has to stick to a lie he never meant to tell: that the notoriously troubled Connor Murphy was his secret best friend.

All of a sudden, Evan isn’t invisible anymore–even to the girl of his dreams (who also happens to be Connor’s sister, Zoe). And Connor’s parents, desperate to know more about their enigmatic son from his closest friend, have taken Evan in like he was one of their own.

As Evan gets pulled deeper into the Murphys’ swirl of anger, regret, and confusion, he knows what he’s doing can’t be right. But then again, if he’s helping people, how wrong can it be?

No longer tangled in his once-incapacitating anxiety, this new Evan has a purpose. And a website. He’s confident. He’s a viral phenomenon. Every day is amazing. Until everything is in danger of unraveling and he comes face to face with his greatest obstacle: himself.

Singer/songwriter Val Emmich, in collaboration with the show’s creators Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul have created a wonderful adaptation of this Tony Award winning show It’s a big-hearted coming-of-age story about grief, authenticity, and the struggle to belong in an age of instant connectivity and profound isolation. While readers won’t find the “behind the scenes” information that The Prom offers, the authors provide information about some organizations which offer resources to help those struggling with mental health issues.

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel is available from bookstores, using the ISBN number, or at a discount from Amazon.

Either of these novels would be a wonderful way to introduce the budding theatre fan in your life to the world of musical theatre, using stories to which young people can relate. Due to frank discussions of sexuality, suicide, and mental health issues, you may want to be mindful of the maturity level of the intended gift recipient.

Check back during The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide for two more posts, each one covering books that celebrate theatre in a different way.

This week’s art sees your PopCulteer still playing with the Blackwing Palamino pencil This time it was a casual doodle that turned into a drawing of an old barn along a country road. Nothing really deep about this one. I was just trying to keep the fingers nimble and play with lighting..

You can click on the image to see it bigger.

We’ll have notes on today’s Monday Maraton on The AIR a bit later, as part of The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide.

Gift Guide: The Flaming Carrot Omnibus

Flaming Carrot Omnibus Volume 1
by Bob Burden
Dark Horse Books
ISBN-13: 978-1506714127

Now The 2019 PopCult Gift Guide points you to one of the most wonderfully bizarre comic books published in the last four decades. If you know somone who loves superhero comics, but doesn’t like it when they take themselves too seriously, this is the graphic novel collection for them. They’ll never forget Flaming Carrot. Let’s see what the publisher says:

The Eisner award-winning, surreal superhero series, The Flaming Carrot, returns with a new omnibus collection!

Before there ever was a Deadpool, Twin Peaks, or Lady Gaga; the Flaming Carrot’s madcap madness, manic mayhem, and impish mischief exploded from the vanguard of the 80s’ New Wave comic revolution, taking us right down the rabbit hole of creativity-gone-off-the-tracks, and over the rainbow.

Propagating dreamlike surrealism, disturbing violence, sexual adventurism, bar-hopping, and a bizarre and nightmarish costume, the world’s first postmodern super man battled Road Hogs From Outer Space, went on drinking binges with Death, bounced around on a nuclear powered pogo stick, and ordered some of that new Brussels sprout flavored ice cream that wasn’t even on the menu yet.

Check out a comic book series that for many years most people believed to be nothing more than a ridiculous legend or an amusing joke. Doctor recommended. Maximum strength formula. New hope for a nation suffocating in the swill of its own mediocrity.

Collects Flaming Carrot #1-2, 4-11, 25-27.

The movie, Mystery Men was based on characters from this comic book, but for some reason the producers chose not to include The Flaming Carrot himself. An added bonus for fans of independent comics of the 1980s is the inclusion of a three-part team up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is part of the reason this Omnibus is not strictly in chronological order.

Burden’s writing style is somewhere between that of classic Jack Cole (Plastic Man) and Bill Griffith (Zippy The Pinhead). His art style straddles the worlds of underground comics and lurid golden age crime comics. The vast majority of his work is black and white here, and the reproduction is crisp and shows off his linework well.

This is the perfect gift for the super hero fan with a strong sense of the absurd on your holiday shopping list. Available from comic shops, bookstores and Amazon.