PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: Riverbank

This week’s art is an image that I’ve used before, but never quite in this form. It’s a digitally-assaulted photograph called “Riverbank.” This was taken from a window in the Union Building about a year ago. In previous incarnations it’s been used to illustrate a rant and a song of the week. Here it is newly-recropped and altered. Anyone interested in owning this image can click here. Primo former examples of Monday Morning Art can be found here.

As always, click to enlarge.


In response to my post on Baron Von Redberry, Noise Reducer asked “What next, Freakies?”

Okay then….Freakies.

Link courtesy of Bubblegum Fink.

Song Of The Week: Midget Spider-man Dance Party

The end sequence of Episode Five of Radio Free Charleston (go here to catch up on them) features the widely-acclaimed dancing skills of the internationally-renown master terpsichorean known as “Dancing Midget Spider-man.”

We were thrilled that he agreed to be on the show, and even more excited that he chose to dance to a piece of original music composed and performed by my brother Frank and me. Our SOTW is that piece of music, presented uncut, it’s “Dancing Midget Spider-man Fantasia.”

Thanks to a link at Bubblegum Fink, I discovered a cool blog called Waffle Whiffer Zone. It’s dedicated to the packaging and premiums from kid’s food items from the 60s and 70s. Lately he’s written about Pizza Hut Pete, a long-forgotten mascot for the pizza chain, and Big Yella, the mascot of Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops. This blog is a gold mine for fans of cereal and fast food from the golden age of mascots. He had me at Baron Von Redberry. I loved Baron Von Redberry. It wasn’t exactly because of the taste. This was basically Frankenberry with different shapes. I’ve just always been a fan of the Fokker Triplane.

My sister preferred Sir Grapefellow. Me, I never much cared for grape cereal. Evidently, not too many other people do, either. If they did, there’d be all kinds of grape-flavored cereals. And don’t even talk to me about Grape-Nuts. They’re about as grape-flavored as Apple Jacks are apple-flavored.

The Day Of Double Damage!

Saturday September 16, IWA East Coast, West Virginia’s premiere hardcore wrestling federation(as seen on Radio Free Charleston) will hold TWO tournaments at the South Charleston Community Center. At 2 PM, the Zero G Tournament kicks off with the following high-flying match-ups in the opening bracket:

M-Dogg 20 will face Ruckus; Lotus will take on Chuck Taylor; El Drunko, with Crowza and Woody Numbers, will meet Omega; and TNA star Sonjay Dutt will wrestle Zac Vincent. The finals of the Zero G Tourney will feature the two toughest competitors in a ladder match.

Then, at 7 PM, the Masters Of Pain Invitational kicks off, featuring hardcore lunatics from around the world, competing in a series of twisted contests. Each match will feature a different gimmick, including a bed of nails match, an electrified light tube match, a barefoot thumbtack match, and more beastly match-ups that could make Dr. Mengele wince. The first four matches in this bloodbath of a tournament are the following:

A No Rope Barbed Wire/Mystery Pit match will see Big Japan Star “The Crazy Monkey” Jun Kasai face off against “Mr. Insanity” Toby Klein; The first-ever “Fantastic Four Match” pairs up IWA EC Icon Mad Man Pondo against “The Deranged One” Coke Haine; In the oddly-named “Garden Of Eden” match, Brain Damage takes on Corporal Robinson: and a crowd-pleasing “Fans Bring The Weapons Match” sees 2 Tuff Tony take on JC Bailey.

These tournaments are a huge deal for IWA East Coast. They’re treating this as their “Wrestlemania.” It’ll be interesting to see if local fans have the stamina to sit through a full day of intense wrestling action. The ranks of the local fans will be swelled somewhat by visitors from around the world, as IWA EC reports ticket sales to fans who are coming from Germany, Japan, and California.

There are a variety of ticket prices that cover package deals or tickets to the individual shows. But tickets will now have to be purchased at the door. For more information, check the IWA East Coast website.

No Pants Weekend!

The No Pants Players return to the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston this Friday And Saturday. The family-friendly improv shows begin at 8 PM, and are guaranteed to be a treat for all in attendance. The No Pants Players are West Virginia’s Only Improv Comedy Troupe. The group’s comedy styling is very similar to the popular television show “Whose Line is it Anyway” The fast-paced nature of their performances forces every member of the troupe to completely rely upon the abilities, and most importantly, the instincts of their fellow players

IF YOU GO: The No Pants Players perform Friday September 15 and Saturday September 16 at 8 PM. Tickets are $5.00. For more ticket information call 1-877-467-7689 .

Annoying TV

You’ve all seen the commercial

“Head On, apply directly to the forehead!
Head On, apply directly to the forehead!
Head On, apply directly to the forehead!”

Widely proclaimed to be the most annoying television ad in history (no mean feat, mind you).

Thank God they don’t make a hemorroid cream.

Monday Morning Art: Tracks East Revisited

Back in April, I posted a different version of this digitally assaulted photograph. This week I’m giving you a more bold, graphic version, with the aspect ratio changed and a new color scheme. This is also called “Tracks East,” but it’s a different take.

Our experiment with Cafepress is still ongoing. Visit the Monday Morning Art Store for your chance to buy this design on a variety of T-shirts and cheesy items. We’ve lowered prices and added some new products, so you should check it out to see if you want to buy anything with this design, or just make fun of me for thinking anyone would want to do that. You can check out the PopCult and Radio Free Charleston Shop, too.

Radio Free Charleston Production Notes: Episode Five

Episode Five of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Kevin Duffer, The Appalachian Celtic Consort, Pentagram Flowerbox, and cut-ins by IWA East Coast, is online now. We had lots of adventures producing this show, which is a departure in many ways from our normal format. It’s our longest show so far, by five minutes, and we’re trying several new things. Without any further ado, let’s go behind the scenes.

The host segments were shot by Melanie Larch on Labor Day in South Charleston. Mel was just hired to sing the role of Mercedes in the upcoming production of the opera “Carmen” by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Yes, it’s Bizet in the hizz-ouse. What other internet video shows can say they have famous opera singers running camera? I don’t know if it shows, but I was not quite at 100% during production of the new RFC. I’ve been fighting a food-allergy problem for a couple of weeks, and I think it’s a bit obvious.

On top of that, my wardrobe for the show didn’t exactly work out like I thought it would. I was going for a semi-military revolutionary look. In reality, I seem to look more like some sort of demented Radar O’Reilly from “M.A.S.H.” The shoot itself went fairly smoothly, except for some unfortunate background noise from traffic and crickets. Usually, there aren’t many out-takes from the host segments–I’m a bit of a one-take guy– but for this show there were several times when I had to stop doing my introductions to curse the crickets, who seemed to be attempting to do backing vocals. Also of note for this show: GI Joe makes a cameo appearance! We shot in front of the South Charleston Community Center and on top of the famous Mound! If I seem to be a bit subdued for the show, there are reasons.

Another departure for this show is the inclusion of footage shot on location at the Empty Glass back in 1990. Normally, we don’t like to use location recordings on the show, but this is a special case. Kevin Duffer, who is featured in this archival recording, passed away in 2003. Kevin was one of the few musicians from the old Radio Free Charleston days that I kept in touch with while I was semi-reclusive, caring for my mother for much of the last decade. He was always positive and told me that, eventually I’d find some way to bring Radio Free Charleston back, and then he’d come on the show and perform. It was a bit of a bummer that Kevin didn’t live to see the show return.

At the right, you can see a photo I took of Kev the last time I saw him, about a week before he passed away. 2003 was a lousy year, on many levels, not the least of which was the loss of my good toy-hunting buddy. I always felt that Kevin didn’t get the exposure that his songwriting deserved. However, a few weeks ago I was digging through my archives and I found an old VHS tape labeled “Kevin and some Fysshes at the Glass”. It was footage I’d shot at a bachelor party at the Empty Glass in 1990. Kevin played, backed by Todd, Joe, and Keith from Strawfyssh. The video was painfully dark, and I didn’t think I would be able to use any of it on the show. Back in those days I had this humongous camcorder. It had a great light unit, but if you turned the light on, it would suck the battery dry in ten minutes. As I watched the tape, memories of the night I shot it came flooding back to me. I remembered that Kevin asked me to come out and record him because he had a new song that he was really proud of. It’s called “Harder Days” on the video tape box, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that title changed a few times over the years. This was the first time that he performed the song in front of an audience, and it was still a work in progress. When he started to play that song, I turned on the light. For the duration of that song, the video was good enough to use on the show. The audio and video are not quite up to our usual high standards for RFC, but this is the only chance I’ll have to play Kevin’s music on the show, and I thought that makes up for the technical shortcomings. It’s a little self-indulgent of me to put my friend on the show, but Kevin was important to the history of Radio Free Charleston, and his music deserved a wider audience. I hope you enjoy his song despite the dodgy video and audio.

On a less somber note, The Appalachian Celtic Consort also appears on the show. I ran into Pat Weigand by chance at the book signing for Pavanne Pettigrew’s “One More Breath” which I wrote about here. Being the nosy sort I am, I overheard Patrick talking about his band, and I quickly butted in and gave him one of the famous Radio Free Charleston business cards. A few emails later, and RFC had our first Celtic band all miked up and ready to go at the LiveMix Recording Studio. Microphone placement was an adventure, with six acoustic instruments plus voices to record. Pat, Mark, Dewey, Neil, Mark and Dave gave us three virtuoso performances, two of which we’re saving for future episodes of Radio Free Charleston. We feature the Consort as our Song Of The Week, so go down there and follow the links to their website so you can buy their CDs and catch their upcoming shows.

Episode Five also features a new installment of Pentagram Flowerbox. This time we see the dark lord of Hell having trouble keeping the cat prints off his Prius.

Another cool departure is our special guests, Kevin “Pimpdragon” Pauley and Frank Manhattan, the voices of IWA East Coast. They storm onto the show to bring us all the details about the upcoming wrestling tournament on September 16. In the afternoon, area grappling gourmands will be treated to the Zero G high-flyer tournament, featuring acrobatic aerial assaults. The evening show sees the Masters Of Pain hardcore tournament, featuring an international line-up of the toughest men on the planet, who will come together in a bloodbath of hard-hitting, bone-crushing action to determine who is the craziest, meanest, toughest S.O.B. around.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the way the show ends. Let’s just say that the people who have seen it keep tossing around David Lynch’s name. The end credit music is a collaboration between me and my brother Frank. I recorded some absolutely horrid guitar licks, and then Frank managed to edit them into something that sounds musical. It was quite a feat.

We’re going to take some extra time to recover before episode six, so you can look for it the week of September 25. Hope you enjoy the show. Meanwhile, go check out the newly-revised Radio Free Charleston Store, now with improved designs and lower prices!

Song Of The Week: Celtic Artistry

Our SOTW today is a preview of episode five of Radio Free Charleston. One of our guests is The Appalachian Celtic Consort, who blend traditional Irish and Scottish music with Appalachian instrumentation. On the show they treat us to their arrangement of “Johnny Jump Up/Monaghan’s Jig.” As a teaser, we’re bringing you their arrangement of “Gary Owen/Brian Boru.” Just lick on the link to give it a listen, then visit their website for information on their CDs and upcoming performances by this talented group.

Barring any technical setbacks, the new episode of Radio Free Charleston, clocking in at nearly seventeen minutes, will be posted later today. Check back for production notes and a remembrance of our other musical guest, the late Kevin Duffer.