PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Free Previews Of Cutting Edge Animation

Animated Discussions
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch

Thanks to the magic of the internets, fans of cutting edge animation can get free sneak peeks at two cool new projects.

IGN is offering the first 24 minutes of Richard Linklatter’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly. We actually didn’t care much for Linklatter’s previous foray into the world of rotoscoped animation, Waking Life. It was basically a sub-par arthouse flick with animated effects that served no real purpose. A Scanner Darkly is different, and suggests that Linklatter may have just been getting his feet wet with Waking Life in order to prepare himself for this project. A Scanner Darkly is a futuristic tale of drug interdiction and intrigue from the creator of Blade Runner. You can check out the first big chunk of this movie, which is currently in limited release, right here.

Mike Mignola, the cartoonist/creator of Hellboy, has a new project coming to the cable channel, Sci Fi. The Amazing Screw On Head is described as “an animated comedy” by Sci Fi. Based his 2002 comic book, it’s a send up of Steampunk and Lovecraftian horror. This series tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s top spy, a bodyless head who is a master of disguise! You can watch the first episode of The Amazing Screw On Head here.

Short entry this week, because our cool toy is not official yet, rumors have been circulating for a couple of weeks, but reliable sources tell me that Mattel has coughed up enough money to end the feud between DC Comics and master car designer George Barris, and has secured the master toy license to produce the famous Batmobile from the 1960’s Batman TV show. This car has been in legal limbo for years, as it was ruled that Barris owned the design, but not the name or the bat-insignia. There haven’t been any legally-licensed toys of this most famous version of the Caped Crusaders car for over twenty years.

Now we’ll finally get the full gamut–Hot Wheels, 1/18 scale desktop toys, remote-control versions and maybe (though this is a pipe dream) a version scaled for Barbie that we can steal and use for Captain Action! And it’ll be the real Batmobile, not that ugly thing from the 1989 movie that looked like a Goth sex toy, or the ‘roided up SUV from Batman Begins. This is the real deal–the coolest car ever built!

It won’t be a done deal until the official announcement is made, reportedly at the San Diego Comic Con next weekend, but things are looking good for fans of the coolest car in the world. This is a big deal for us aging nerds, trust me. The Batmobile ROCKS!

You can read about the second coolest car in the world here.

Radio Free Charleston Production Diary–Show Two

We are hard at work on the second episode of Radio Free Charleston. Last night, at the LiveMix studio, we recorded Steve Beckner and The Sleeping Dons. They’ll be the musical guests on the next RFC. We’re also working on a major Hollywood scoop, and of course we’ll have all the unexpected visual treats designed to amaze and confuse you that you’ve come to know and love. If all goes according to schedule, the next episode of Radio Free Charleston will be coming your way next week!

We’re also lining up guests for future shows. If you have a band, play solo music, or have some experimental films or short animated bits that you’d like us to consider, drop me a line at radiofreechas@charter.net. We’re out to prove that the Mountain State is more than just country music and friends of minerals.

Song Of The Week: Wall Of Voodoo

A couple of months ago, we had “Andy Prieboy Week” here at PopCult. This included the SOTW, a review of the book he’d co-written, bonus reviews, and an explanation of who he is. To remind you, he is the former lead singer of Wall Of Voodoo. But he wasn’t the first lead singer for that band. Originally, Stan Ridgeway was the frontman for Wall Of Voodoo, and it was Ridgeway who sang on their biggest hit, “Mexican Radio.”

Since we paid so much attention to Prieboy, it’s only fair that we give equal time to Ridgeway, so our song of the week is “Call Of The West,” the title cut of a Wall Of Voodoo album, and a great example of their cinematic sound that blended Morricone with New Wave. This one is a Ridgeway tour-de-force.

And the reason we made this the SOTW this week is that next Tuesday, a reformed Wall Of Voodoo will open for Cyndi Lauper at a concert in Orange County. Nobody knows exactly who will be in this incarnation of the band, since two of the original four members are dead, one member who had been fired is complaining loudly that he wasn’t contacted, and none of the other members of the band are talking.

However, in an exciting development over the last week, a photo was posted on a Wall Of Voodoo message board that showed Stan Ridgeway, shoulder-to-shoulder with Andy Prieboy. The two have never performed together, and in fact, Ridgeway hasn’t performed much Wall Of Voodoo music since he left the band, so this may indicate a special union that would allow fans to hear song from the complete history of the band. It’s only speculation at this point. All we know for sure is that Wall Of Voodoo, with Ridgeway included, will be performing next week. But all indications are that it might be a combination of both incarnations of the band. It would be like when David Lee Roth toured with Sammy Hagar, only with good music.

Disguise and Destruction in Nitro


I had a wild time in Nitro Saturday, as I took in my first XMCW wrestling show. It was lot of fun, seeing some of the up-and-coming area wrestling talents work their magic in front an enthusiastic crowd, but the evening ended on a shocking, perhaps even disturbing note.

But first, the show itself was a trip. This was my first time seeing most of these folks in action and I was impressed at the level of athleticism and theatrics on display. Local boys like Smokey C and Max Rock showed real star quality, while The Unholy made a tremendous fire-breathing entrance, before his three-way match with Wes Lynch and Eric Steel. I was excited to see Death Falcon, since I’d been hearing about him for some time, but he factored into one really weird turn during the evening. It was a fun show, and I’ll probably be going back, but during one of the night’s main events, something bizarre and unexpected happened.

The Kid, a miniscule, but vicious fellow, was facing Alan Lynch, the XMCW champ. However, he was not alone. He had Death Falcon in his corner. It was a particularly brutal match, with plastic tubs filled with barbwire coming into play, and Death Falcon getting in more than a few shots on the outnumbered champ. At one point, Lynch was on his back outside the ring when an elderly gentleman who had been at ringside in a wheelchair all evening rose shakily from his chair, and tried to help Lynch to his feet. It seemed like a touching, uniquely West Virginian moment, until the old guy (who looked like a Civil War Veteran) started beating on Lynch and then delivered a snap suplex. The now three-on-one beating continued back in the ring, where the “old guy” removed his disguise to reveal that he was, in fact, Danny Boyd–West Virginia filmmaker, author, and photographer.
Now, I’ve known Danny for over twenty years. And I knew about his fascination with professional wrestling. It even led him to become a professional wrestler a couple of years ago. His flirtation with professional wrestling was covered in a documentary film last year. But we all thought Danny was done with this. He left XMCW fifteen months ago. He made a hero’s exit. He left as a good guy. It was a bit of a shock to see him return to the ring–now that he’s pushing fifty–in such an underhanded way. It’s almost like the world of professional wrestling has changed him. He’s gone over to the dark side. I know Danny’s friends are worried about him. I just don’t know where this will lead. It was a strange ending to a fun evening.

Photo credit: Susan Lively

Monday Morning Art: Drew Redux


For our weekly art blog this time we’re going back a couple of weeks to FestivALL, where Drew The Dramatic Fool was peforming on Capitol Street. I caught a few moments of his act on video, and this is the resulting digitally-assaulted frame grab.

It’s another exercise in color composition and image manipulation.

Click to enlarge.

The Writer’s Best Friend

Two years ago, when I was hunkered down in my office bunker working on a particularly grueling deadline, I had a steady stream of folks knocking on my front door in a two-hour period. There were two kids selling fundraising crap, a seedy-looking guy asking if I wanted my lawn mowed, a hippy chick selling candles and incense, a Jehovah’s Witness, two ladies from a Baptist Church from Nitro (poaching potential parishioners from the Baptist Church two blocks away, I guess), and a young lady selling magazine subscriptions for Jesus who seemed frightened by the rabbit in my yard (the young lady, that is, Jesus fears no rabbits, or so I’m told).

“Does the bunny bite?” she asked me, her voice quivering. Unfortunately, I didn’t think the vicious attack bunny would scare off any other unwanted visitors, and the constant interruptions were driving me nuts, so I did something drastic. I composed a little note and posted it on my front door. I haven’t been bothered since.

Who know those people could read? The bit about not changing our beliefs because a stranger comes to our door was lifted from Mark Evanier, who writes a blog that I visit every day right here. Mark cracked me up yesterday with this suduko post. The solution is here.

Two years of peace, all because of one little piece of paper taped inside my screen door. Sometimes curmudgeonliness pays off.

Hypothetical Legal Question

I was just wondering, if a court ever ruled that contracts or release forms signed under the influence of drugs or alcohol were null and void, due to the incapacity and impairment of the person signing, would that mean that the Girls Gone Wild people would have to go out of business?

Songs Of The Week: Go Van Gogh

We’re taking another deep dip back into the Radio Free Charleston archives this week–all the way back to 1989. Go Van Gogh was the most-requested local band on my old radio show. Made up of two sets of brothers, all four members of the band were capable of singing lead, and they also wrote their own material, which includes some of the finest rock songs the Charleston area has produced. In addition to a rabid local following, the boys would often pop into the RFC studio late at night, as seen above. The composite photo depicts (L to R): Johnny Rock, Tim Rock, and Stephen Beckner. Mark, Steve’s brother, didn’t make it to the studio that night. This week’s main SOTW is “Shut Up, I Love You,” written by Stephen Beckner. It was easily the most-requested song during the eight months that Radio Free Charleston was on the air. This recording is a demo of the song, I believe, from late 1989. Steve sings lead on this tune.

As a bonus this week, PopCult also brings you Go Van Gogh performing The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.” This is one of my favorite Beatle songs, and this recording was captured live, at the Charleston Playhouse, with Mark Beckner on lead vocals. It was recorded especially for the old radio show.

Stephen Beckner is currently living in Elkview and racking up photography awards by the armful. You can check out his blog here. He’s also still writing songs, and will be on a future episode of the new Radio Free Charleston video podcast. Mark Beckner is living in Nashville, and performing and writing songs with his band, Hitchcock Circus. The Rock brothers are still here in Charleston and they’re cooking up a new musical project. As soon as more details emerge, I’ll tell you about it here in PopCult.

Reminder: The Sleeping Dons

I don’t want to kick up another firestorm in the comments section or anything, but since we featured The Sleeping Dons performing our song of the week a couple of weeks ago, I figured some of you might want to go see them in person.

The Sleeping Dons, Sean Richardson (left), Jay Lukens and Deron Sodaro will be performing during happy hour (7:00 PM to 8:00 PM) at The Vandalia Lounge every Wednesday in July, starting tonight. I’ll be there to check out one of the most charismatic bands in Charleston, and you might want to go hear the guys, too.

Correction: The start time for the happy hour sets by The Sleeping Dons is 5:30 PM, not 7:00. They’re still playing until 8:00 PM. Sorry about that guys, your second set sounded great tonight!