PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: The Green Mill


We wrap up our January filled with digital art inspired by Chicago with a digital oil painting of the legendary Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. This is where your PopCulteer and his wife got to see Alan Gresik and the Swing Shift Orchestra back in December. Video of that show turned up in the most recent video episode of Radio Free Charleston.

The mob and jazz history at Chicago’s Green Mill Cocktail Lounge is the stuff of legend, but from the outside, you’d never guess that you can still sit in the same booth once frequented by Al Capone and his gang. Billie Holliday, Al Jolson and Joe E. Lewis were among the performers who frequented The Green Mill back in the early Jazz era. Today, The Green Mill hosts everyone from local Chicago jazz acts to internationally famous artists. Every Thursday you can hear Chicago’s finest Big Band Swing Music there.

For this pianting, I took a traditional approach, with some surreal elements in the color and lighting.

As always, click the image to see a bigger version.

Meanwhile, over on The AIRThe Monday Marathon remains shrunken from 24 hours to 8. It still kicks off at 7 AM, every Monday, and it still showcases one of our popular music programs, but now it wraps up at 3 PM, to make way for two weekly marathon presentations of the best of two of our regular shows.  At 3 PM you can settle in for eight hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Then at 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis. Today’s Monday Marathon features Live and Local, with live performances by local performers Matt McGuire, Travis Stephens, Go Van Gogh, Hybrid Soul Project, Christopher Vincet from Qiet, and Corporate Orange.

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

Not quite ten years ago, we brought you an entire animated feature film by Nina Paley called Sita Sings The Blues. This was an amazing work that combined her experience of being dumped via email by her husband with the Indian story of Ramayana, Due to major headaches getting the rights to the music she used, Paley decided to make her film available in the public domain, which is how I was able to post it here.

You can read her story HERE, and watch the entire film intact HERE.

Now Paley has a new film, Seder-Masochism, which she finished a couple of years ago and has been taking on the festival circuit. She decided to make it available for free a few days ago, and we’re bringing it to you now. We’ll go to the press release for details:

Seder-Masochism, an animated musical, loosely follows the Passover Seder story, with events from the Book of Exodus retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus and the director’s father. The film puts a twist on the traditional Biblical story by including a female deity perspective – the Goddess in a tragic struggle against the forces of patriarchy.

Seder-Masochism has been in the works since 2012 when Paley first animated a scene called This Land Is Mine, a parody about never-ending conflict in the Levant which has been viewed over 10 million times on various online channels.

In addition, Paley has written and designed a companion book, The Seder-Masochism: A Haggadah and Anti-Haggadah, currently available through Amazon.

Accustomed to working outside the mainstream movie industry, Paley has made Seder-Masochism a one-woman project: she wrote, directed, and animated it herself on a total budget of $20,000. Being independent allows her to release and distribute her films in unorthodox ways – such as into the public domain.

A Public Domain dedication (using a Creative Commons license called CC-0) means anyone can re-use, remix, and redistribute the work, with no restrictions. All of Paley’s animation and images will be free for anyone to use however they wish; however the music will continue to be controlled by its copyright holders.

Paley has no plans to pursue commercial distribution for Seder-Masochism. “I claim Fair Use for the music, but distributors are loath to do that. Instead they’d want to obtain music licenses, which would be daunting,” she says.

Just like with Sita, Paley plans on making money from her webstore, selling related merchandise, like the book, apparel, posters, and other cool things. Wikipedia offers a pretty good summation of how Seder Masochism came to be:

After Sita Sings the Blues, Paley was criticized by some observers for co-opting the culture of India as an outsider, an assertion with which she strongly disagreed. A recurring theme among the negative comments was “how would you like it if people made a film about your religion?”

Paley thought that she would enjoy watching any such film. Accepting this as a challenge, she turned to her own Jewish cultural heritage for her next project: a revisionist retelling of the story of Passover. She pored over the Book of Exodus, finding details that were not part of modern Jewish culture, for instance that Moses’s brother Aharon performed some of the acts that are commonly attributed to Moses, and that the Jews were killing each other during their 40 years “wandering” in the desert.

For inspiration, she also read The Creation of Patriarchy by Gerda Lerner, and The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas. She concluded that the Book of Exodus represents the final defeat of goddess worship by the patriarchy that had been rising since the agricultural revolution.

Please visit Nina Paley’s website and blog and if you enjoy her work, support her efforts by donating or by buying some of her cool merchandise. I’d love to see what she comes up with next.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 168

This week we go back to September, 2012 for the final of our three “Tribute The To The Troops II” episodes of Radio Free Charleston. This wraps up our three-part special devoted to Tribute To The Troops II, an all-ages, all-day musical event held at The Saint Albans City Park amphitheater for the benefit of The West Virginia National Guard Foundation and The Wounded Warrior Project.

This episode brings you music from In The Company of Wolves, Point of Jerus, Deck of Fools and a very special song from HarraH. We also have a short film about The West Virginia National Guard Foundation narrated by Melanie Larch, with video contributions by Steven Allen Adams and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

I want to take a moment to thank Dave McClanahan for his audio superheroics on these three episodes of the show. Dave is a friend, a technical genius and an incredible musician going all the way back to the original radio incarnation of Radio Free Charleston. Dave’s band project, The Mad Scientist Club, was one of the most-requested groups on the radio show, and we’re glad to bring you some of their tunes on the new RFC radio show on The AIR.  It was a surprise and a treat to discover that Dave was recording Tribute To The Troops II and I can’t thank him enough for the high-quality board recordings and the ultra-deluxe twenty-track mixes for In The Company of Wolves and Deck of Fools that he was able to fit into his busy schedule.

Playing us out we have our old friends, HarraH, also returning from episode 166, performing a special song written by Dawn Marie Wood. “Too Late” came from the pen and the heart of the lady who conceived Tribute To The Troops, and with her husband, Brad and Wood Boys Music, they helped to pump a lot of life and excitement into the local music scene. These last three shows would not have been possible without them.

This is a bit of a bittersweet show to look at now, because due to my health, it’s unlikely I’ll ever record video at another outdoor event. It was a real kick to put these together, and I hope you’ve enjoyed watching them again.

The PopCulteer
January 25, 2019

It’s been a bit of a strange week here in Charleston. Macy’s announced that they were closing their store, an anchor store in the Charleston Town Center. That same Charleston Town Center was auctioned off on the steps of the Kanawha County Courthouse, and essentially failed to sell, being bought back by the bank holding it in receivership for what was probably their minimum acceptable bid.

On top of that, there are rumblings that the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department plans to open a Suboxone Treatment Clinic in a location that is more than a little controversial. And out at the Southridge Shopping Complex, something weird is happening at the old Toys R Us building.

So things are definitely “interesting.”

The Macy’s move was not a major shock. The chain has been closing stores for some time, trying to get to a manageable size so they can stay in business. Their criteria, hinted at in the statements the company released, indicated that they thought they could get more money out of selling the building than they could by continuing to operate a store there.

That indicated to me that, perhaps, they have already been contacted by a developer. My wild speculation is that a developer could buy Macy’s and the vacant Sears building that anchor the West end of the mall (seen left), and build a hotel, which would be right across the street from the newly-renovated Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center. It’s a primo spot, and a deep-pocketed developer could justify picking it as a location for a six-or-seven story hotel, with a grand entrance on Quarrier Street with a drop-off area and handicapped parking, a huge lobby where Sears is now, and escalators and elevators to the admissions desk, which would be where the second floor of the mall is now.

The stores on that end would be relocated. The Chop House and Panera would stay where they are, open to the public, but also on the grounds as hotel support. The former Macy’s would host the hotel’s swimming pool, laundry service and conference rooms and hotel restaurant. You’d still be able to walk from the mall to the Convention Center.

Both the Sears and Macy’s buildings would be demolished, with new structures replacing them. That end of the mall would have to be extensively remodeled and reinforced, and then the hotel rooms would go above that entire West end of the mall. And it would be right across the street from the new Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center (seen right).

The new hotel would have access to the Town Center’s parking buildings, and its mere presence would serve to attract more upscale retailers to what is in danger of becoming a “ghost mall.”

I realize that’s quite a bit of a pipe dream. Such a developer would have to buy both Sears and Macy’s and probably the entire mall, and then invest at least a couple of hundred million more on construction. And that’s a conservative estimate.

In my wild dreams for this project, I’d see the hotel being a combination Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites. Hilton is exploring this combination option, and they’re doing it in locations near convention centers.

However, getting a developer to invest in building a massive and expensive hotel in a town where the company that owns two hotels near the Clay Center just declared bankrutptcy, might be a bit too wishful. But if you’re going to dream, dream big.

Can We Afford NIMBY?

An unexpected development that’s popped up is the potential Suboxone Treatment Clinic at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, which would be in the shadow of my dream hotel complex.

This one is a conundrum. This area has a terrific need for drug treatment clinics. We’ve been hit really hard with the opioid epidemic. We need all the treatment centers we can get, and the problem is grave enough that we may be past the point of playing NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

There is a good argument to be made that the urban setting may not be the best for the patients. The proposed clinic would just be a brisk walk from the Transit Mall, which at times can be a bit like a shopping mall for hard drugs. These issues need to be studied and debated, and in the meantime maybe we need to fund and build additional clinics elsewhere in the county. One clinic that treats up to 12 people is only a drop in the bucket.

I Don’t Wann Grow Up

Meanwhile out at Southridge, the old Toys R Us building still sits empty since the entire chain went under last June.

Or does it?

A couple of weeks ago, when your PopCulteer and his wife drove by the building on the way to food, we noticed that all the lights were on, and the building was filled with what looked like unassembled fixtures. It had been dark since the whole chain shut down last summer, but notably, this building still has all of it’s Toys R Us and Babies R Us signs intact. Stores that we’d seen in some other cities had all the signage removed.

It is likely that those are just fixtures that didn’t sell when the store closed last year. I wasn’t in there right after they closed, and with the lights off you couldn’t see them. This could very well be a case where somebody had to go in there for some reason and just left the lights on.

Calls to the owner of the property have not been returned, and if anything is actually happening there, I doubt that anybody could say anything about it anyway. This isn’t exactly the sort of information that anyone wants to blab to reporters before they’re ready.

So since I’m already in “wild speculation” mode today. How about I just put this out here?

I will not be surprised if, either right before, or during, the International Toy Fair in New York City, which is coming up in a couple of weeks, Toys R Us announces that they will be reopening as many as 200 stores in their old locations, with the stores to be open sometime later this year, before Christmas.

This is ENTIRELY SPECULATION. I have no proof, no inside information, nothing more than a hunch based on what I saw at the former Charleston TRU store. And, hell yes, it is indeed wishful thinking. With severence packages finally being paid to their former employees in January, the deck may be cleared for Geoffry and Toys R Us to return.

Normally I would not run an item in PopCult with such flimsy supporting evidence, but it’s properly labelled as speculation. I just hope I’m right.

UPDATE: As I write this, the New York Post adds fuel to my speculatory fire. They report that a new firm representing TRU is reaching out to toy manufacturers to place orders at Toy Fair.

My timeline for an announcement might be off, and the lights being on in Charleston may have nothing to do with it, but it looks like Toys R Us will return this year.

The AIR Radio Notes.

Over on our sister interent radio station, The AIR, we have two new shows Friday afternoon. I told you about them yesterday, but now we have playlists. You can hear these at The AIR website, or on this embedded player…

Friday at 1 PM, Radio Free Charleston International features yours truly playing obscure music that he loves. Check out the playlist:

Barnes and Barnes “Gumby Jaws Lament”
Tubeway Army “That’s Too Bad”
Skankin’ Pickle “My Hair”
Nina Hagen Band “Superboy”
Midnight Satellites “Long Lost”
Nicky Hopkins “Shout It Out”
Mi Sex “It Only Hurts When I’m Laughing”
Roger Glover “Dreams of Sir Bedivere”
Spazzchow “Cats”
MIKA “Love You When I’m Drunk”
The Parlortones “Skeletons”
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra “Storm Rider”
Ugly Blondes “Bottom of the Ocean”
Tiki Tonga “Island Paradise”
The Soulutions “Do Right”
Nu Tra “Superhuman”
Black Dyke Mills Band “Thingumybob”
Small Affairs “Back To China”
Silent Treatment “Life On Earth”
Busty and The Bass “PS, I’m Pregnant”
Macy Gray “Nothing Else Matters”
Polysics “Black Out Fall Out”
Spacehog “Candyman”
Super Furry Animals “Don’t Be A Fool, Billy”
The Dollyrots “The Addiction”
The Woggles “Morituri Te Salutant”
Tracy Bonhom “Your Night Is Wide Open”
Fitz and The Trantrums “Fool”

Then at 3 PM, on Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, and ailing Sydney presents two hours of New Wave Dance Mixes with limited interruptions. Here’s her playlist:

Ultravox “We Came To Dance”
FGTH “Two Tribes”
Toyah “Brave New World”
The Stranglers “Let Me Down Easy”
The Human League “Don’t You Want Me”
The Clash “The Magnificent Seven”
Kid Creole & The Coconuts “Stool Pigeon”
Heaven 17 “Crushed By The Wheels of Industry”
Freur “Belladonna”
The Boomtown Rats “Up All Night”
Erasure, “River Deep, Mountain High”
Lene Lovich “New Toy”
Echo and The Bunnymen “Broke My Neck”
Depeche Mode “Everything Counts”
Cyndi Lauper “Change of Heart”
Baltimora “Tarzan Boy”
Adam Ant “Goody Two Shoes”
DEVO “Peek A Boo”

And that is it for this week’s PopCulteer. Be sure to check back for all our regular features and fresh content every day.

Thursday and Friday on The AIR

Time keeps on moving into the future on The AIR, and Thursday sees a new episode of Prognosis. Friday will bring new episodes of Radio Free Charleston International and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. You can listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

Our new Thursday morning sees Psychedelic Shack gaining an addtional replay at 9 AM, followed by a replay of the previous week’s edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat at 10 AM and Radio Free Charleston International at Noon. Then at 2 PM we replay this week’s new episode of Radio Free Charleston, before kicking into a brand-new Prognosis at 3 PM.

This week Herman Linte presents another two-hour burst of Progressive Rock with tunes from King Crimson, Genesis, Dream Theater and more. You can read the playlist right here:

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King Crimson “Red”
Kansas “Death of Mother Nature Suite”
Steven Wilson “Ancestral (live)”
Steve Hackett “Matilda Smith-Williams Home For The Aged”
Pet Shark “I Cannot Breathe”
Curved Air “Piece of Mind”
Greg Lake & Geoff Downes “Check It Out”
Genesis “The Battle of Epping Forest”
Dream Theater “Honor Thy Father”
UK “Carrying No Cross”
The Mars Volta “Nocturniquet”
Starcastle “Lady of the Lake”

Prognosis can be heard every Thursday at 3 PM, with replays Friday at 7 AM, Saturday at 10 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM and Wednesday at 10 PM, exclusively on The AIR. Also tune in Monday at 11 PM for a weekly eight-hour marathon of the best of Prognosis.

Our Thursday evening We continue to let our listeners play catch-up with the week’s new episodes of The Swing Shift, Curtain Call, Beatles Blast and Psychedelic Shack, beginning at 7 PM. At 11 PM we bring you an hour of comedy, then we kick into the all-night marathon of The Swing Shift.

Friday mornings now kick off with a 7 AM replay of the week’s new episode of Prognosis, followed by Word Association with Lee & Rudy at 9 AM and The BS Crazy Show at 9:30. This one-hour combo of Word Association and The BS Crazy Show will repeat at 9 PM, for those of you who don’t want to listen to these NSFW programs at work.

At 10 AM The AIR will broadcast The Best of The Real with Mark Wolfe.

At 11 AM we’ll bring you two hours of The AIR Music Mix, which this week means a replay of both episodes of our presentation of a reconstructied West Side Story on Curtain Call.

Then at 1 PM we will debut the week’s new edition of Radio Free Charleston International.  This is the show where your PopCulteer gets to play anything he wants, and this week we stretch the boundaries with cult artists you may have never heard before, and deep album cuts from the artists you think you know. I’d go into more detail, but I haven’t actually produced the show yet, so I don’t know what’s going to be in it yet.

At 3 PM Sydney’s Big Electric Cat presents a new two-hour block of the best music of the New Wave era. We are still awaiting transmission of this program from Haversham Recording Institute in the UK, so I can’t really tell you what’s going to be in this one, either.

For more details on our broadcast schedule at The AIR, just look at this embedded thingy right here…

A Century of Ernie Kovacs

Not enough people know who Ernie Kovacs is.

The man was a television pioneer and a comedy legend. His TV shows were the American equivalent of the British Goon Show radio program. They helped shape a generation of comedians and stretched the technical limits of primitive television.

Had he not died in a car wreck ten days before he would have turned 43, Ernie Kovacs would still be a household name.

Wednesday, January 23 marks 100 years since his birth, and in tribute, Turner Classic Movies is presenting a night of his television and movies. Shout Factory is re-releasing a boxed set of his ground-breaking TV programs.

On cable and satellite Wednesday night, beginning at 8 PM EST, TCM will broadcast three of his iconic ABC SPECIALS from 1961 & 1962 along with films starring Kovacs including Operation Mad Ball (1957); Wake Me When It’s Over (1960); Bell, Book and Candle (1958) and Five Golden Hours (1960).

Since he died before I was born, my first exposure to Ernie Kovacs came in the 1970s, when PBS stations (locally, WMUL, which is now WPBY) broadcast the best of his shows for the first time in almost twenty years. It was mind-blowing to see such innovative comedy that was all created right before I existed. I can’t really describe how incredible it was seeing Kovacs’ bizarre sense of humor combined with a medium in its infancy in television. He broke forms that hadn’t been established yet. Many of the comedy bits were wordless. Some were just hilariously silly, and lots of them were filled with camera tricks that you would have thought were beyond the abilities available at the time.

Shout Factory is releasing a new 9-disc set boxed set of Ernie Kovacs’ work, which combines two previously-released boxed sets into one. To celebrate the 100th birthday of television’s original genius, this collection combines the previously released volumes of groundbreaking, rule-breaking, surreal and charmingly silly comedy of Ernie Kovacs. Included are over 22 hours of decidedly offbeat entertainment from across his many television shows and specials, all of which showcase an utterly unique sensibility that has influenced such comedy institutions as David Letterman and SNL.

This set includes * Episodes From His Local And National Morning Shows * Episodes From His NBC Prime-Time Show * Kovacs On Music * Five ABC TV Specials * The Color Version of His Legendary Silent Show, Eugene * His Award-Winning Commercials For Dutch Masters Cigars * Short Films, Tributes, Rarities * 18 Bonus Sketches Featuring Many Of His Most Beloved Characters * 3 Complete Episodes Of His Offbeat Game Show Take A Good Look * A Pony For Chris: His Rare TV Pilot For Medicine Man Co-Starring Buster Keaton * The Lively Arts Featuring The Only Existing Filmed Solo Interview With Ernie Kovacs, and The 2011 American Cinematheque Panel.

This all adds up to a fitting tribute to a comedy pioneer who should not be forgotten. Tune into TCM tonight, then order the boxed set so you can enjoy almost everything available from this comedy legend. You can check out a couple of brief clips below…

Tuesday and Wednesday on The AIR

We’ve got some great new programs lined up for you on The AIR this week. Listen at the website, or on this embedded radio player…

We are still following our new schedule. You can find an embedded widget at the bottom of this post so you can see what’s on anytime.

Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM we have a new Radio Free Charleston. This episode opens with Of The Dell, who will be part of the Rubber Soul “With A Little Help From Our Friends” Beatles marathon show in March.

After that, we have a new track from Neostra, the ambient/proggressive project of Dave Roberts, and that kicks off a long block of instrumental music from some of the area’s finest virtuosos. We wrap up the show with a deep dive into the archives for tunes from Stark Raven and Hasil Adkins. Every week this year we plan to close the show with some local classics that harken back to the early days of RFC, some thirty years ago.

Here’s the RFC Playlist:


Of The Dell “Runnin'”
Neostra “Journey Back Home”
C2J2 “Paces”
Karma To Burn “47”
Trielement “Blue Flamingo”
Scrap iron Pickers “Junkyard Jesus”
Stark Raven “More To Life Than This”
Hasil Adkins “She’s Mine”

Radio Free Charleston can be heard Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM, with replays Thursday at 2 PM, Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at noon and Midnight, and Sunday at 3 PM exclusively on The AIR.

At 2 PM Tuesday Nigel Pye checks in from Haversham Recording Institute with a 60-minute mixtape of groovy Psychedelic Rock. Here’s what Nigel has in store this week:

Psychedelic Shack 014

The Nice “Tantalizing Maggie”
Matt Berry “Any Color You Like”
The C Sides Project “Stand Up”
The Kinks “Phenomenal Cat”
Barry Gray Orchestra “Thunderbirds”
The Dukes of the Stratosphere “The Mole From The Ministry”
Strawberry Alarm Clock “The World’s On Fire”
The Turtles “Love Minus Zero”
Sly & The Family Stone “I Want To Take You Higher”
Bubble Puppy “Hot Smoke & Sassafrass”
The Monkees “Apples Peaches Bananas and Pears”
Liz Phair and Material Issues “Banana Splits Theme”
Julian Lennon “I Don’t Wanna Know”
The Animals “Sky Pilot”

Psychedelic Shack can be heard Tuesday’s at 2 PM, with replays Wednesday at 11 AM, Thursday at 9 AM and 10 PM and Saturday at 7 AM and the following Tuesday at 9 AM.

Tuesday at 3 PM your PopCulteer returns to host a new hour of The Swing Shift as we continue to bring you the best Swing Music of the last century. This week we present a solid hour of The Brian Setzer Orchestra, in honor of the maestro’s 60th birthday, later this year.

Here’s the playlist:

The Swing Shift 060

Brain Setzer Orchestra Special

“Good Rockin’ Daddy”
“Route 66”
“A Nightengale Sang In Berkeley Square”
“A Town Without Pity”
“The Man With The Magic Touch”
“That Mellow Saxophone”
“This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof”
“Jump, Jive and Wail”
“Since I Don’t Have You”
“Mack The Knife”
“Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
“Ghost Radio”
“Jumpin’ East of Java”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 9 AM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

On Wednesday at 2 PM, Beatles Blast presents a one-hour audio collage that looks deep inside the making of The White Album, using material that, for the most part, was not included in the recent Super Deluxe boxed set. You can expect studio chatter, rehearsals, run-throughs and song fragments that give you and insight into the work process of The Fab Four.

Beatles Blast offers up a new episode every Wednesday at 2 PM, with replays Thursdays at 9 PM, Saturday mornings, and Sunday at 5 PM, exclusively on The AIR.

Wednesday at 3 PM Mel Larch once again guides us into the world of musical theater with Curtain Call. This week’s new show opens with a tune from Cats, and presents of old and new show tunes performed by folks like Lin Manuel Miranda, Patti Lupone and Shelly Winters.

Here’s the playlist:

Curtain Call 053

“The Jellicle Ball” from Cats
Lin Manuel Miranda “Trip The Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns
“Tonight Belongs To You” from The Prom
“Bat Out of Hell” from Bat Out of Hell
“Meadowlark” Patti Lupone from The Baker’s Wife
“The Blessed Trinity” From Poppy
“Bordello” from Bordello
“Entr’acte” from Can Can
“I Was Young” “from Charlie Girl
“Today is a Day For A Band To Play” from Drat The Cat
“You Don’t Have To Do It For Me:” Shelly Winters from Minnie’s Boys

Curtain Call can be heard Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 7 AM and 8 PM and Saturday at 7 PM. An all-night marathon of Curtain Call episodes can be heard Wednesday nights, beginning at Midnight and a six-hour marathon can be heard every Sunday evening at 6 PM.

Remember, you can tune in to The AIR at all hours of the day and night for a variety and quality of programming that you will not find anywhere else. Check PopCult regularly to see what our new schedule will bring. Or just scroll this handy widget…

MEGO Storms Into 2019 With New Action Figures

The PopCult Toybox

Within two hours of me posting the Toy News update in last week’s PopCulteer, the floodgates opened with news of the upcoming general release of MEGO figures (AKA “Wave 4), which will be available from any retailer who wishes to sell them beginning in March or April. These pictures were all over social media all weekend, but are being reposted here for the sake of completeness, and as a service to those collectors who do not spend all their time on Facebook.

Last year MEGO action figures were sold exclusively at Target stores and at Target online. That period of exclusivity is over, but Target will still be selling MEGO figures, and some of the figures we showed you last Friday may be exclusive to the store. Details are still a little fuzzy on which stores will have which figures, but most of them will be sold at multiple retailers.

Thus far, we know of a few online retailers who are taking pre-orders, but it’s a safe bet that more will spring up as we get closer to the arrival date for these cool new action figures. Because some of the dealers offering pre-sale prices are bad about jacking up the prices, we’re not going to provide any links until these are actually available. The suggested retail price for the single-pack eight-inch figures is $14.99. Any retailer charging more than that should be avoided.

What was announced last Friday were several all-new figures, some significant variants of figures that were released in 2018, and few repackaging of popular figures with minor changes to the costume and card art.

At the head of this post you see Lt. Uhura, one of four Star Trek figures in this wave. This is the “regular” Uhura, as opposed to the “Mirror Universe” Uhura that was sold in a two-figure set at Target last fall.

Below we’ll look at the rest of the new line-up. These photos are likely pre-production packaging samples, and the finished product may look quite different from these in some cases.

Right off the bat, we have to look at Elvis Presley. This one has been a bit controversial because, as you can see, the headsculpt shown in the sample photo does not look much like the King. In fact, it’s a dead ringer for West Virginia’s own Dancing Outlaw, a man with an Elvis fixation, Jesco White. Reportedly, the final product will not look like this, but if it does, this things going to sell like crazy here in the Mountain State.
Another choice that has gotten mixed reactions online are these four figures based on the show, Impractical Jokers. You can see them above and below.
While i have to admit to not being a fan of the show at all, this license has the potential to be a breakout success, since it’s very popular with kids, and unlike Funko Pops, these MEGO figures can be used to recreate some of the stunts from the show. This may well be the first new MEGO line to get a playset of some sort.
Aside from Uhura, the next wave of MEGO figures will include Kirk and Spock in their Dress Uniforms, and a more elaborate Romulan Commander. Putting new outfits on existing figures allowed MEGO to get these ready for production in time to be in stores this Spring. Among the new features, Spock is making his “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture.
Possibly exclusive to Target, we find Andre the Giant. A wonderful choice, we are holding out hope that he’s significantly taller than the other MEGO figures.
Jimi Hendrix shows up in a more iconic outfit than his first release.
Bruce Lee enters the Legends line up with what could be the first of several figures.
The grand-slam home run of Wave Four is this fantastic Nosferatu figure, part of the new “Horror” line. Brilliant sculpting and tailoring make this a must-have figure.
Another Horror entry is The Invisible Man. The entire figure will be molded in clear plastic. We don’t know if his bandages and sunglasses will be added before this reaches stores, but it’s pretty cool either way.
I don’t think they’re going to have any trouble selling this Horror entry, either. Freddy looks pretty fantastic.
Last year’s Movie Classic figures at Target get a few changes as they move to the Horror line. Dracula gets a red-lining in his cape. The Werewolf now has a blue shirt, instead of a red one, and Frankenstein not only has a new black outfit, but he glows in the dark, too.
Finally we have six new entries in the 14″ DC Comics series. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are all in their “New 52” gear. The Joker has his jacket, but a much less elaborate shirt and vest, and our all-new additions are Aquaman and his nemesis, Black Manta.

We will continue to keep you updated on the new MEGO figures as more details become available (hopefully not on a Friday afternoon right after we’ve knocked off for the weekend next time). As soon as we posted this, MEGO tweeted that more news is coming soon.


Inspired by a view from our hotel window during last month’s trip to Chicago, this is your PopCulteer indulging in a bit of expressionism to show a vital city thouroughfare after dark. All month long I’m trotting out Chicago-inspired digital art, and I’m trying to make each one different.

As always, click the image to see a bigger version.

Meanwhile, over on The AIRThe Monday Marathon remains shrunken from 24 hours to 8. It still kicks off at 7 AM, every Monday, and it still showcases one of our popular music programs, but now it wraps up at 3 PM, to make way for two weekly marathon presentations of the best of two of our regular shows.  At 3 PM you can settle in for eight hours of great New Wave music with Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. Then at 11 PM you can spend you overnights with eight hours of the best Progressive Rock of the last half-century on Prognosis. Today’s Monday Marathon features Radio Free Charleston International, hosted by your humble PopCulteer.

Every day this week we will unveil the new programming schedule for that day on The AIR, right here in PopCult, and if all goes according to plan, we should have new episodes of ALL of our music shows this week.

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


In 1974, famed daredevil, Evel Knievel was at the height of his fame, and it was decided that this folk hero stuntman should have his own television show. Of course, Knievel himself was too busy and too disinterested in acting to star in such a show. In a movie on his life a few years earlier, George Hamilton, he of the famed suntan, starred as the motorcycle legend, with Knievel himself performing the motocycle stunts.

When it was decided to try to bring Evel Knievel to the small screen, the task fell to a then-unknown, Sam Elliott (seen right), many years before he reached the full heights of his own stardom in Tombstone, Gettysburg and The Big Lebowski.  Commissioned by Viacom for CBS, the pilot was not picked up, and instead flamed out and missed the landing-ramp.

This pilot was directed by Michael O’Herlihy, a veteran of Star Trek, Gunsmoke and MASH, and it was written by Richard Admas, who’d scripted shows like Combat and Kojak. In this pilot, Evel has to face off against a female daredevil in a “Battle of the Sexes.” The cast is rounded up by recognizable TV veterans Gary Barton and Nobile Willingham, and the female daredevil is played by Karen Philipp, a former singer for Brasil 66.

It’s not hard to see why the show wasn’t picked up. It’s goofy as hell, especially in that it shows Knievel as a law-abiding citizen. Three years after the production of this pilot, he was convicted of assaulting Shelly Saltman, one of the producers of the failed Snake River Canyon jump, with a baseball bat for writing an unflattering book about the daredevil. That stunt cost Knievel all his endorsements and toy deals, and eventually lead him into bankruptcy.

Despite that dark period, the man rebounded and recovered, and by the time he passed away in 2007, was a celebrated pop culture icon. Evel Knievel remains a beloved folk hero and this unsold TV pilot is a wild reminder of just how big a star he was in the 1970s.