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Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Return To Forbidden Gallery

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Forbidden Gallery #5
edited by William Mull
Writers: Ed Devore, Nicola Cuti, Don Glut, Dan Johnson, William Mull
Artists: Mike Montgomery, Dan Day, Jeff Austin, Tim Holtrop, Rene Maniquis, Karl Comendador, and Steven Butler
Published by ACP Comics
Pre-order now from ACP Comics

Once again, it’s been more than a year and a half since the last issue of Forbidden Gallery, a great independent horror comics anthology, and I’m happy to report that the fifth issue is available to pre-order right now. William Mull and ACP Comics continue in the tradition of short-form horror/sci-fi anthologies of the past, telling new tales of mystery and suspense with a fresh perspective. William was kind enough to send me a review copy, via .pdf, and that puts me in a bit of a conundrum.

I love reading Forbidden Gallery, but I am not crazy about reading digital comics. So I will selfishly be reviewing this book without reading all of each story, because I want to save the shock or twist endings for when I have a physical copy in my hands. That means slamming the brakes with one or two pages left in each story so I can enjoy reading them all at once when I’m not in front of my work computer.

In this latest installment, readers are treated to five great stories that cover a wide variety of settings and eras, but they all do their bit to illustrate the follies of man in the face of forces that he does not understand. One of the difficulties of reviewing this comic is trying to describe the stories without giving away too much of the plot, and in this case, since I’m trying to avoid reading the endings, I may be a little more vague than I usually am.

As with the previous issues of Forbidden Gallery, each story is preceded by a pin-up/splash page which acts as an introduction by the book’s host, Archimedes, and gives the presentation a cool Night Gallery vibe. I have to say that this may be the most solid issue yet, with terrific storytelling and spectacular artwork on every story. I highly recommend this for any fan of horror comics in the classic EC Comics mode.

The first story, Just Below The Surface, by Dan Johnson with art by Mike Montgomery and Jeff Austin, tells the story of a life-long rivalry between two fishing buddies. Sea creatures are involved.  You know it’s going to be good. Next up we have Retribution, a tale of never-ending Hell in the old West, by the late Nicola Cuti, with art by Tim Holtrop. Speciman, by Don Glut, with art by Dan Day and Jeff Austin is a clever spin on a Black Lagoonesque creature. Two Kingdoms: Crown of the Slave King is a really cool-looking sword and sorcery story, written by William Mull, with art by Rene Maniquis, and it was very hard to keep from reading this one to the end, but I did manage. The final story, Tik-Tik, by Ed Devore, with art by Karl Comendador manages to mix a little WWII action with a little romance and just a hint of lyncanthropy to create a compelling short and entertaining story.

All this is wrapped in a gorgeous front cover by Dan Day and Jeff Austin, and a beautiful back cover by Steven Butler.

In reviewing previous issues of Forbidden Gallery I’ve said the following, which still stands, and will wrap up this review as well…

It’s clear that Forbidden Gallery is a labor of love. This is one of the most fun comics being published today. It harkens back to the kind of concise, disciplined graphic storytelling that used to be the norm, but is now all too rare.

Forbidden Gallery is great fun for folks who loved horror comics like Creepy, Eerie, House of Mystery or the EC Comics classics. You can order the previous issues, and this newest issue at the ACP Comics website.

Yet Another All-New RADIO FREE CHARLESTON!

Once again we have come to Tuesday on The AIR  and you know what that means. Today we deliver unto you a brand-new, three-hour  episode of Radio Free Charleston.  You simply have to poke your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to the cool embedded player over at the top of the right column (If you’re reading PopCult on a desktop, that is. Phone readers have to go to the website).

We have a  killer new Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.  This week we open with new music from a David Synn, with guest vocals by Matthew Fitzwater.  “Tattoo” is the title track of David’s upcoming EP. We also pay tribute to the late Mike Lyzinga with a couple of tracks from his band, Big Rock and The Candyass Mountain Boys,

The rest of the show is loaded with new independent music from Charleston, Chicago and The UK, plus some classic tracks and some of our usual off-the-wall rarities. The first hour has a set of country-fied music, while the second hour has a set of 1960s MOD tunes.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store (live links will take you to the artist’s pages)…

RFC V5 071

David Synn w/Matthew Fitzwater “Tattoo”
Big Rock and The Candyass Mountain Boys “Gas On The Fire”
Novelty Island “Cowboy On A Bicycle”
Hello June “Handshakes”
Todd Burge with Joseph Hale “Singing For My Living”
David Mayfield Parade “Blue Skies Again”
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss “My Heart Would Know”
Red Audio “Robotomy”
Static Fur “Eraser”
Frank Zappa “My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama”
Lost Decades “Espresso and 7”
Arthur Brown “Sheep”
Violent Femmes “American Music”

hour two
Big Rock and The Candyass Mountain Boys “That’s Why I’m Crying”
The High Numbers “I’m The Face”
Billie Davis “Wasn’t It You”
Harold McNair “The Hipster”
The Nocturnes “Hay, That’s What Horses Eat”
Sharon Tandy “Hold On”
The Sorrows “Take A Heart”
Mediogres “Jean Gary Diablo”
Gruff “Kiss My Ass”
Queen “Liar (live)”
David M. Stowall “Equniox”

hour three
IDKHOW &Tessa Violet “New Invention”
Ringo Starr “Let’s Change The World”
Julian Daniell “Sweet Serene”
Safetybelt “Look Down”
Sierra Ferrell “The Sea”
James Townsend “Call Me Kid”
Roy Orbison “Dream Baby”
Peter Gabriel “I Have The Touch (Remix)”
Cassius At Best “Friends and Counterweights”
Tautologic “Exit Strategy”
The Lickerish Quartet “Sovereignty Blues”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight,  and  Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can also hear a different episode of RFC every weekday at 5 PM, and we bring you a marathon all night long Saturday night/Sunday morning.

I’m also going to  embed a low-fi, mono version of this show right in this post, right here so you can listen on demand.

 

After RFC, stick around for encores of MIRRORBALL at 1 PM, and NOISE BRIGADE at 2 PM. At 3 PM we have two recent episodes of The Swing Shift.

Monday Morning Art: Pointillism Of Light

Because Mrs. PopCulteer is a big fan of the work of Georges Seurat, and I hadn’t done this for a while, this week’s art is a star, depicted in Pointillism, with a limited pallet of mostly primary colors, done in acrylics on a cheap canvas board (Thank You, Five Below). After painting it, I scanned it and cropped the digital version heavily because, even when my hands are working well, I’m never happy with my borders.

It’s vaguely Christmas-y, which might be a theme for the next few weeks.

I’ve been working on and off (mostly off) with Pointillism since third or fourth grade, when a travelling art teacher taught my class the technique.

If you want to see this image larger, just click on it.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a special encore of the first two episodes of Nigel Pye’s Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a special encore of the the very first episode of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

Our friends at Haversham are still sadly focused on reporting on recent developments with the Omicron COVID variant for their paying clients, so the fun radio stuff had to take a backseat again this week. Because of that, this week we are revisting the first episodes of all of the Haversham shows this week.

Psychedelic Shack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.

You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.

At 8 PM, our Monday Marathon is a mix of Psychedelic Shack, Prognosis and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat,  just to let our friends from the UK know that we miss them.

Sunday Evening Video: A Prima Christmas

Above you see the bright, shiny, sparkly new Christmas video by Louie Prima Jr. and The Winesses. “Hey Skinny Santa” is a jumping Swing Music novelty song about Kris Kringle and his crash diet to put on pounds.

You can grab this song as a digital download from the only performing son of the legendary Louis Prima HERE. And check out his other music while you’re there. I play him all the time on The Swing Shift on The AIR.  Instead of running and hiding to protect your ears from hearing Wham or Mariah Carey, just embrace the season and cut a rug to this Jump Swing soon-to-be holiday classic.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 213

This week we go back six years for what has been the last Christmas episode of Radio Free Charleston…to date. The funny thing is, it’s not really like a traditional Christmas show. Instead of going all-out, commissioning special performances and taping special songs, instead we took the RFC cameras to The Empty Glass to record a benefit show for the Logan band, Let The Guily Hang, who had lost all their gear in a fire.

You can read all the details about the show HERE.

What we wound up with was a killer show with music from Jeff Ellis, Sheldon Vance, Aaron Fisher (solo and with another band), Speedsuit and Farnsworth. It was a great show, and it was not really the last word on the Holiday season that year as we followed it up with a special RFC MINI SHOW that you’ll see in this space next week.

Sister Sledge On MIRRORBALL Friday

Friday afternoon we offer up a new episode of MIRRORBALL and encore a recent Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, plus in the evening we replay our Curtain Call Stephen Sondheim marathon. The AIR is PopCult‘s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.

At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music presents a solid hour of Sister Sledge.  The four real-life sisters, really named Sledge, came out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in 1979 took over the Disco world–with a little creative help from the band CHIC.  We present a retrospective of their Disco-era hits It’s a great show, and I’m just going to drop the playlist right here…

MIRRORBALL 038 Sister Sledge
“We Are Family”
“Mama Never Told Me”
“All American Girls”
“Dancing On The Jagged Edge”
“Thinking Of You”
“Lost In Music”
“Got To Love Somebody”
“Frankie”
“Do It To The Max”
“Music Makes Me Feel Good”
“Let’s Go On Vacation”
“He’s The Greatest Dancer”

You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays Saturday at  8 PM, Sunday at 11 PM, Tuesday at 1 PM and Wednesday at 7 PM, exclusively on The AIR.  This week’s new MIRRORBALL will kick off our weekly Disco Marathon, which runs Saturday night from 8 PM until Midnight.

At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with an encore of an episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat devoted to Swindon’s finest, the legendary New Wave band, XTC.

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.

You can also hear select episodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat as part of the Sunday morning and afternoon Haversham showcases, which begin at 9 AM with Psychedelic Shack, and include double shots of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat and Prognosis.

At 8 PM Friday, we once again bring you, courtesy of  Curtain Call, Mel Larch’s Musical Theatre showcase, by popular demand,  an encore of this week’s marathon of episodes of the show devoted to Stephen Sondheim, who passed away last Friday at the age of 91. The marathon is preceded by an emotional intro from Mel, and over the course of the six hours, you will hear songs from all of Sondheim’s most famous shows. You can read the details HERE, and this encore will also include a tribute to frequent Sondheim collaborator, Hal Prince, at the end.

THE 2021 POPCULT GIFT GUIDE MASTER LIST

The PopCulteer
December 3, 2021

This is it. The Master List of every single thing I recommended in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide.

I made changes to The Gift Guide this year. Like last year, I ended it in November, to allow folks to order gifts online and have plenty of time for shipping.  With the pandemic and some people being understandably shy about wading forth into the retail masses, it just makes sense to do this.  A new change for this year was combining every day’s recommendations into a single post. This forced me to be more concise in my descriptions, which was a good thing. Instead of writing 4,000 words every day about three gift ideas, I managed to cover five gift ideas a day in about 1,500 words.

This made my life easier, as did skipping weekends. It’s no secret that a good number of PopCult readers visit the blog while they’re at work. Dropping gift suggestions over the weekend gave the items I picked then a bit of a short shrift. This way every gift suggestion gets full exposure, and I got a couple of days each week to recharge my batteries. Plus I didn’t have to suspend PopCult‘s regular weekend features for the month.

Because of the nature of how I did the gift guide this year, the links will take you to the post that includes the items listed, but you may have to scroll down a bit to find the exact item you’re looking for. The exception is the children’s books and some of the T-shirts. If you click on those titles, the links will take you directly to a website where you can order them.

TOYS

Hess 2021 Cargo Plane and Jet

Vlad & Niki Super Hero Surprise

MEGO 14″ Frankenstein

Turbo Man

Final Faction Action Figures

Superman Action Figures by MEGO

Hornby Magical Mystery Tour Bus

Stevo’s Horses

RAW 10 Series Two

The Fresh Dolls

Itty Bitty Pretty Angel High

5 Surprise Unicorn Newborn Squad Series 4

Colorforms Retro-The Original Set

Rainbocorns Puppycorn Surprise

Jurassic World Legacy Collecton Large Apatosaurus Figure

5 Surprise Mini Brands Convenience Store

5 Surprise Mini Brands Series 3

ZURU 5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands Wave 2

5 Surprise Toy Mini Brands Mini Toy Store

Jada Nano Hollywood Rides

World Peacekeepers Action Figures

Bachmann – Rail Express Battery-Powered Train Set

GAMES

El The Chicago Transit Adventure Board Game

The Blockbuster Game: The Movie Board Game for Adults and Teenagers

Top Trumps Match Game – DC Comics Originals

Ravensburger Horrified: Universal Monsters Strategy Board Game

Rogue Art History: The Trivia Game

COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS

Nexus Newspaper Strips Volume 1: The Coming of Gourmando

BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams

DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras

Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles

Slow Death Zero: The Comix Anthology of Ecological Horror

The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories

Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore

The Amazing World of Superman (Tabloid Edition)

The Most Important Comic Book on Earth: Stories to Save the World

Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles

Amor Y Cohetes: A Love and Rockets Book

Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter: Coming of the Dragon!

ACP COMICS-Forbidden Gallery and More!

BOOKS

Rack Toys: Cheap, Crazed Playthings

Paul McCartney The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present

Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic

O, Mountaineers! Volume II: Noted (or Notorious) African-American West Virginians

The Beatles: Get Back

The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine (Beatles Album Series)

The Haunted Mansion Little Golden Book

Grandude’s Green Submarine

Change Sings

I Am Odd, I Am New

Hi Weirdo! – The New Children’s Book by Aiden and Mitch O’Connell

Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980-2020

Bachelor Pad’s Little Black Book

Dinosaur! (Knowledge Encyclopedias)

Nympho Lodge by Jack Lynn

Toy Ventures Magazine Bundle

A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection

The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George”

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business by Mel Brooks

MOVIES/TV/VIDEO

Game of Thrones: The Complete Series

Tim Burton’s The NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Smallville: Complete Series – 20th Anniversary Edition

Superman: The Complete Animated Series

The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks! LIVE

Rankin Bass The Original Christmas Specials Collection

The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials 1976-1979

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: Christmas Special

The Honeymooners Specials: A Christmas Carol

Jurassic World 5-Movie Collection

Caveman (multi-format disc)

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (DVD)

The Ed Wood Collection – A Salute to Incompetence

Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years-The Beatles

The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History Box Set

The Misadventures of Biffle & Shooster

Looney Tunes Parodies Collection

MUSIC/AUDIO

The Beatles Let It Be Super Deluxe Box Set

George Harrison All Things Must Pass Super Deluxe Box Set

John Lennon Plastic Ono Band Box Set

Ringo Starr Change The World – EP

BILLY IDOL HAPPY HOLIDAYS

The Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks! LIVE

McCartney III Imagined

The Stranglers Dark Matters

The Dollyrots Down the Rabbit Hole

Yodeling the Classics

The BeachBoys “Feel Flows” The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971

The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History Box Set

Monty Python’s Total Rubbish – The Complete Collection

SHIRTS

Optometrist Prime

Kirby Galactic Black Shirt

WKRP Turkey Drop T-Shirt

THE GREAT WAVE OFF SOUND

TIKI & MOON No. 16

GI FAN

Beam Me Up Shirt

WALL DECOR

New River Gorge by Glen Brogan

BATFIGHT! by Mitch O’Connell

Gill Creep Mini Monster

Nexus “Valley of the Living Rocks” Print by Steve Rude

Pee Wee Herman’s 35th Anniversary Big Adventure Bundle

RANDOM STUFF

Christkindlmarket

John Lennon Vinyl Stamp Collecting Book

Funwares Dinosaur Serving Dishes

Wash ‘N’ Roar Shower Head

HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE WELCOME MAT

Emergency Underpants Dispenser

LIghts Of Broadway Show Cards

Rick & Morty Plumbus Deluxe Coffee Mug

And that is the end of that. Thank you for reading The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide. I hope you found it helpful and/or entertaining. That is today’s PopCulteer.  Later Friday we’ll have a post up to tell you about the a new episode of MIRRORBALL premiering on The AIR. Check PopCult for fresh content every day, including several reliable regular features…and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever floats your boat.

Shopping Local

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide is over, but there’s still more than three weeks until Christmas, and one thing I did not do this year, that I have done in previous years, is focus on local retailers. My reasons for this is that I still have misgivings about venturing forth into crowded retail environments. However, that’s because I have an auto-immune disorder and take an immuno-suppresant, so I have to be extra-cautious. Your milage may vary, and if you prefer to do your shopping in person, please do support our locally-owned businesses. I’m going to tell you about a few here, but if I miss any, please feel free to mention them in the comments.

100% of every dollar spent with a local retailer stays relatively local. There are all kinds of folks who have cool stuff and gift certificates.  Chances are, you’ll find some cool stuff that they don’t have at the big box stores.

I’ve compiled a partial  list of local merchants who you really ought to patronize this holiday season: In previous years I told you about Oddbird Gift Emporium now located on Hale Street Downtown. They’re still stocked to the rafters with cool gift ideas. Other cool area merchants you can support in Downton Charleston are Art Emporium, Stray Dog Antiques, The Purple Moon, Taylor Books, and Capitol Market. Most of the books I recommend in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide can be ordered through Taylor Books, simply by using the ISBN number. Don’t forget Charleston Bread, either, for the gift of tasty bread and cookies and cake and stuff.

In Kanawha City, you’ll find the legendary Budget Tapes & Records, where you can give the gift of music, plus smoking accessories, clothing and lifestyle items.  In South Hills you’ll find Eclectics, and the other Bridge Road shops.

Over on the West Side of Charleston, you might want to check out Elk City Records for your jazz vinyl needs, and around the corner, Kin Ship Goods and Base Camp Printing have pleny of unique apparel and paper gifts to offer, respectively. If you’re one of those folks who still visits The Charleston Town Center, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame has some stuff for sale that’d make great gifts for the local music lover on your shopping list.

The main thing is to get out there and shop local if you feel safe doing it. I know it’s convenient to click away, and lord knows I’ve included tons of online-only items in the Gift Guide for the last two years due to the pandemic, but the local touch means so much more, and you make your immediate world a better place.

Check back Friday for the Master List of every item I recommended in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide.

Sondheim On The AIR Wednesday

Wednesday afternoon The AIR brings you a replay of the marathon of Stephen Sondheim tribute episodes of Curtain Call!  You can tune in at the website, or or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to the convenient embedded radio player lurking over in the right-hand column of this blog.

At 3 PM on Curtain Call, Mel Larch’s Musical Theatre showcase will, by popular demand, present  a collection of episodes of the show devoted to Stephen Sondheim, who passed away last Friday at the age of 91. The marathon is preceded by an emotional intro from Mel, and over the course of the six hours, you will hear songs from all of Sondheim’s most famous shows.

This special marathon of Mel Larch’s Curtain Call on The AIR includes six  shows that pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim, including an early episode from 2016, a three-part special commemorating his 90th birthday, and a two-part show devoted to “West Side Story.” We wlll replay these six hours Wednesday afternoon in Curtain Call’s regular timeslot of 3 PM on The AIR, and again at Midnight.

The first hour is a tribute from 2016, with the following playlist:

Curtain Call 011

“Invocation” from The Frogs
“Free” from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
“Company” from Company
“I’m Still Here” from Follies
“God That’s Good” from Sweeny Todd
“Waiting Around For The Girls Upstairs” from Follies
“Putting It Together” from Putting It Together
“Side by Side by Side” from Company
“No One Is Alone” from Into The Woods
“America” from West Side Story
“Sooner Or Later” from Dick Tracy
“Some People” from Gypsy
“Send In The Clowns” from A Little Night Music

Hours two, three and four bring you highlights of last year’s streaming tribute to Stephen Sondheim, Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration.

In these shows you will hear performancs of classic Sondheim songs by such artists as Meryl Streep, Audra McDonald, Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Hadley, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber, Liza Minelli, Glenn Close, Patti Lupone, Bill Irwin, Betty Buckley, Laura Benanti, Randy Rainbow, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Linda Lavin, and many more.

The event was a benefit for Artists Striving to End Poverty, or ASTEP, a program founded by Broadway musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell which connects visual and performing artists with youth from underserved communities in the US and all over the world to provide them with access to the arts–and help break the cycle of poverty. You can find out more by visiting their website at ASTEP.org

The final two hours are a pair of episodes of Curtain Call from 2017 that recreate West Side Story using performances from different productions and some wild cover versions of tunes from Sondheim and Bernstein’s legendary musical take on Romeo and Juliet. Following the finale, the remainder of the second hour is filled with offbeat WSS covers by a surprising array of artists.

This is our humble salute to the master of musical theatre, and a small way to say “thanks” for leaving us with such an amazing body of work.

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Twenty-Two-Comedy

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide leaves ’em laughing with a comedy-themed final day to end November and this year’s guide.  The new format I chose this year–one post every weekday with five items, instead of three or four posts every day–turned out to be much less stressful, although I did wind up slotting in reruns for today’s programming on The AIR because I finally had too many tasks collide to do everything at once.

The plan is for today to be the final entry in the guide. Thursday I will run a list of local retailers that folks should support. Friday will bring the Master List for The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide, and then I can start concentrating on all sorts of other projects. But for now, it’s our final day and our theme is Comedy.

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business
by Mel Brooks
Ballantine Books
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593159118
$29.99 (discounted at Amazon, and available in Paperback and Audio versions)

I always intended to kick off our final day with this book, which is just officially published today. It’s Mel Brook’s autobiography, telling his entire life story including his amazing career writing for Sid Ceasar, co-creating the TV show Get Smart, and his incredible run as a movie director of comedy classics like The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so many more. We also get details on his side gig producing serious movies like David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, The Fly and Frances, and then find out about his Broadway Musicals that adapted his hit movies.

Let’s check out the publisher’s blurb…

For anyone who loves American comedy, the long wait is over. Here are the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances from a master storyteller, filmmaker, and creator of all things funny.

All About Me! charts Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke. His iconic career began with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, where he was part of the greatest writers’ room in history, which included Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. After co-creating both the mega-hit 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and the classic television series Get Smart, Brooks’s stellar film career took off. He would go on to write, direct, and star in The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs, as well as produce groundbreaking and eclectic films, including The Elephant Man, The Fly, and My Favorite Year. Brooks then went on to conquer Broadway with his record-breaking, Tony-winning musical, The Producers.

All About Me! offers fans insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations Brooks had, including those with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, Alfred Hitchcock, and the great love of his life, Anne Bancroft.

Filled with tales of struggle, achievement, and camaraderie (and dozens of photographs), readers will gain a more personal and deeper understanding of the incredible body of work behind one of the most accomplished and beloved entertainers in history.

This book is obviously recommended for any fan of Brooks’ work, and should be required reading for anyone with an interest in comedy. Available from any bookseller, but discounted at Amazon.

The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History Box Set
by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks
sold by Amazon

Since we’re on the subject of Mel Brooks, I thought I’d offer up this boxed set of all the recordings of Brooks and Carl Reiner’s 2000 Year Old Man. They did this character, with Brooks as the old man and Reiner as the interviewer, first at parties, then they developed it into a stage act.

I think the animated cartoon based on these records was the first time I was exposed to Mel Brooks (that I was aware of). I became a huge fan, and made sure to see Silent Movie when it hit theaters the following year.

Remastered for the 50th anniversary of the birth of The 2000 Year Old Man in 2009, this DVD/3 CD set contains all 5 comedy albums released by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks including 2000 Years With Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks, The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000, and the three albums between those releases from 1961 and 1997.

Also included is a DVD with that animated TV Special that I mentioned above, plus some television appearances from the 1960s on shows with Ed Sullivan and Jack Parr.

This is a great gift for anybody with a healthy sense of humor.

The Misadventures of Biffle & Shooster
DVD
Sold by Amazon and other video retailers

This is a bit of a bittersweet entry, since one of the performers of this semi-imaginary comedy team, Will Ryan, just passed away a few weeks ago, but this is still a very intriguing and hilarious gift idea for the fan of classic comedy teams on your shopping list.

I’ll let them explain it…

Remember when the Golden Age of Hollywood was full of great comedy duos like Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Olsen & Johnson and Biffle & Shooster? Wait, what? WHO?

Okay, so they weren’t really from the 1930s, but these astoundingly authentic and hilarious shorts have actually made audiences believe that those Merry Madcaps of Mayhem worked their screwball magic back then.

Award-winning filmmaker Michael Schlesinger and his enormously talented cast and crew throw themselves into the zaniness with gleeful abandon, stars Will Ryan and Nick Santa Maria are as versatile as they are uproarious, and you’ll spot some familiar faces popping up here and there.

Packed with extras, The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster brilliantly recreates the era when comedy was actually funny. So relax, everyone: Biffle & Shooster will Make America Laugh Again!

Special Features: Hilarious Commentary On All Five Shorts By Filmmaker Michael Schlesinger And Stars Nick Santa Maria And Will Ryan | 1928 Vitaphone Short FIRST THINGS LAST | Spanish Outtake From IMITATION OF WIFE • MAD MAD WORLD outtake | 1962 Interview With The Team | Will Rogers PSA | “Turn Off Your Phone” And Other Bumpers | Deleted Scenes | Alternate Takes and Extended Musical Numbers | Behind the Scenes Footage | Trailers | Plus Nearly One Full Hour of Bloopers and Outtakes!

Any student of comedy will love this. Thanks to Mark Evanier for writing about this so much that I checked it out myself.

Looney Tunes Parodies Collection
DVD
Sold at TCM.com

Like many people, I cut my comedy eye teeth on Looney Tunes. This collections spans the decades with entries from the 1930s to the 2000s, and it’s loaded with Looney Tunes’ favorite characters. Yu can expect to see Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam and more in action.

Of course this includes “What’s Opera Doc?” which is worth the price of the disc alone. Here’s the rundown from the back of the DVD box…

Here’s looking at you, wabbit! Dive into a compendium of parody hilarity from the vaults of WB animation with this collection of 20 side-splitting shorts and TV specials, both old and new. Includes “I Love to Singa” (1936), “Hollywood Steps Out” (1941), “Rabbit Hood” (1949), “Rabbit of Seville” (1950), “Rabbitson Crusoe” (1956), “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957), “Hare-Abian Nights” (1959), “How Bugs Bunny Won the West” (1978), “The Duxorcist” (1987), “Chariots of Fur” (1994), “Carrotblanca” (1995), “Little Go Beep” (2000), “Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas” (2004), and more. 183 min. total.

Recommended for any kid or adult who loves animation and Looney Tunes. It’s cool to have this selection all in one place for a pretty low price.

Monty Python’s Total Rubbish – The Complete Collection
by Monty Python
Sold by Amazon

Our final entry in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide (and one of the most expensive) is this complete collection of all of the Monty Python comedy albums on CD, crammed into a beautifully-illustrated box wth a bonus 7-inch vinyl single and bonus tracks on every CD.

Originally plopped out to take advantage of their 2014 reunion shows, this career spanning box set entitled Monty Python’s Total Rubbish: The Complete Collection is pretty much everything you need to own the audio side of a complete Python archive.

It includes Monty Python’s nine UK albums: Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Another Monty Python Record, Monty Python’s Previous Record, Matching Tie and Handkerchief, Live at Drury Lane, Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album and The Meaning Of Life – all united for the first time to create the ultimate collectors’ edition purchase. Both CD and LP releases also include a limited edition 7” Single of their 1974 flexi-disc Monty Python’s Tiny Black Round Thing.

If you have a die-hard Python fan on your shopping list, then this is the perfect gift for them,since they probably already have the TV shows and movies.

And there you have it…roughly 110 gift suggestions spread out over the month of November here in PopCult. Check back for fresh content every day, and the Master List on Friday.

 

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