The big day is here! It’s Halloween. Because of the vagaries of the calendar and the fickleness of the public, most of the celebrating is over. The drunken parties were last weekend, and much of this area did trick or treating last night. That leaves us with today, the actual holiday, to simply get into the real spirit of spooky fun with a few Halloween treats. First, there’s our programming on The AIR, which you can listen to at the website, or on this embedded player…
Among the cool things you can hear today are a musical salute to Edgar Allen Poe, audio adaptations of work by H.P Lovecraft, plus Dracula, A Clockwork Orange and The Twilight Zone, and you can hear Halloween episodes of our music programs. This stuff will all disappear from the server and go into storage until next year on November 1, so catch it while you can.
An even bigger Halloween treat comes to us from our good friends Tim and Lisa Weedn, and Studio Joe. It’s a brand-new Toys Will Be Toys Halloween Spooktacular. The image with this post is a preview of the show. It’s twenty-one plus minutes of surreal stop-motion-animated wild humor, brought to life using GI Joe and other 1/6 scale action figures. This time around the gang heads to Joe’s Bar & Grill to participate in a Halloween costume contest. Musical guests Radio Cult perform ‘Saturday Midnight Double Feature’ written by Ricky Zhero. This is a cool collision of fun people that we’ve met at JoeLanta/ToyLanta, and I thank Tim and Lisa for letting me share it with you.
Tomorrow we put Halloween behind us, and begin The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide, which will run every day in November. Be here, and bring money. Until then, Happy Halloween from PopCult!
This Saturday at The Alban Arts Center there will be an all-ages Improv show featuring Improv, Magic and Raffles, and it’s all a fund raiser for a young woman who’s awaiting a double-lung transplant.
That remarkable young woman is Beth Slack (seen right), and you can read about her struggle in great detail in this profile by Bill Lynch, which ran in last Sunday’s Gazette-Mail. Beth is the daughter of Tony Slack, who, in his days in The No Pants Players, appeared on the very first episode of the Radio Free Charleston video show, back in 2006. Tony and his family have been friends ever since, and Mel and I plan to be at this event to show our support.
“A Beth Of Fresh Air” is the name for a series of fundraisers, and Saturday’s show is just one of them. Tony’s new Improv Troupe, The Mighty Shmucks, will be joined by The fearless Fools, from Parkersburg, and Magician Joey Steep. There will also be a raffle with an ever-growing list of prizes. Check the Facebook event page for the latest details. There will be more benefit shows in the future, and we’ll try to keep you up to date on them here in PopCult.
Admission to the show is only ten bucks, and it all goes to a very worthy cause. That’s 7 PM Saturday night at The Alban Arts Center, 65 Old Main Plaza, Saint Albans.
We wrap up our month of spooky art with a slightly impressionistic portrait of Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. It’s his iconic role, and it’s a Halloween classic, one of the greatest horror films in history. For this painting I pulled out some digital brushes that I don’t use as often as I used to, and worked in a mostly monochromatic fashion. I did use photographic reference, but didn’t just feed it through a filter. I think it’s recognizable, but I’m not sure I captured the piercing quality of his eyes.
Click the image to see a larger version, so you can be the judge.
In the meantime, today over on The AIR, we present another 24-hour marathon of special Halloween programming. From 7 AM Monday until 7 AM Tuesday you can tune in to hear Halloween episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, Radio Coolsville, The Bats**t Crazy Show, Curtain Call and RFC International, all mixed in with classic Radio Drama and more spooky goodness. We’ll be playing most of the same shows we brought you last week, but since it’s a 24-hour marathon we mixed up the running order so you won’t hear the same progamming at the same part of the day, so much of it will seem new to you. We’ll also run a marathon for Halloween on Wednesday.
This week we revisit our last big all-star Radio Free Charleston Halloween Spectacular, with our guests Mark Wolfe, Kitty Killton, Penny Maple, and Mic Bradford all gathered around a Quija board. Mark guest-directed the host segments, which feature camera work by Mark and Melissa Bradford.
Our musical guests were Radio Cult, The Jasons, Possum Kingdom Ramblers and HarraH. You can read the full production notes HERE.
We did one more Halloween special after this, but it was a quickie solo job, with me reprising my role as Count Rudolf. That was also a fun show, but I miss getting a bunch of friends together to crank out some fine guerilla filmmaking. Maybe next year we’ll do something cool again for Halloween. You can find the last Halloween Radio Free Charleston to date HERE.
From May, 2012, we have a special episode of Radio Free Charleston devoted to the work of James Vernon Brown, AKA The Liquid Canvas. our 158th episode was called “The Liquid Canvas,” and was devoted to the work of Charleston filmmaker, musician, and artist James Vernon Brown. I first met James back in 2007, when we recorded the band Doctor Senator. James was playing bass and had also made several cool short films and music videos featuring the band.
James ended up leaving Doctor Senator and, at a jam session at The Blue Parrot one night, I heard him play guitar for the first time and was blown away with his David Gilmore meets Jimi Hendrix six-string pyrotechnics. I remember going up to him after hearing him play and asking “why the hell were you wasting your time playing bass?”
On RFC 57, our first “Show Without Words,” James gave me the beautiful instrumental track, “Elemental Devices,” on which he played all instruments himself. I wound up editing it to some of RFC Big Shot Frank Panucci’s computer animation, and the end result is one of the most acclaimed clips in the history of the show. I’d been in touch with James ever since about contributing more to the show and we decided that he had so much quality material that he deserved an episode of the show all his his own. I even had James direct and shoot the host segments for this episode, which is named after his production company, The Liquid Canvas.
Our first clip in this week’s show is a brief trailer for James’ short film, “Blind Date,” starring James, Sierra Ferrell, and Thomas Sigmon. Next up, we have a bittersweet video which has actually been on Radio Free Charleston before in a different form. When we shot the band Quick and Dirty, featuring James on guitar and Randy Walden on bass and vocals, after running the clip in episode 44, I gave the raw footage to James, who added more footage and animation and embellished it with his own edit. After the demise of Quick and Dirty, James began studying the work of ethnobotanist Terrence McKenna. He was so inspired that he took one of McKenna’s speeches, set it to music, and created the short film, “What Are Psychedelics?”
One of the things I enjoy most about James’ work is that he is a filmmaker of opportunity. Much like we do with the Radio Free Charleston style of guerrilla filmmaking, James usually has his camera handy and is not afraid to capture the moment with his unique vision. One such instance of this is the video for Hybrid Soul’s take on the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Goin’ On?” As seen at left, James was tending bar at Sam’s Uptown Cafe and stepped away just quick enough to grab the footage for this stylish video. Another film of opportunity is the very short film, “Winter Blues.” Inspired by the first snowfall of 2011, James created this short mood piece while returning from a gig at The Empty Glass with Sierra Ferrell. Another collaboration with Sierra Ferrell is James’ music video for her song, “Little Company.” Conceived while listening to Sierra rehearse the song while sitting on a couch outside a recording studio, James shot the footage and dropped in Sierra harmonizing with herself on additional vocal tracks to create a wonderful piece.
Wrapping up the show this week, we have a video commissioned by the legendary Washboard Dave Thomas of Boulevard Tavern and Gonzoburger fame. Dave asked James if he could come to the Tavern to record Kentucky band, The Bloodroots Barter. The video that played us out this week is their cover of the Townes Van Zant song, “White Line Freighter,” featuring Washboard Dave sitting in with the band.
This was the only episode of Radio Free Charleston that was entirely devoted to the work of a single filmmaker, and I stand by my admiration of James’ work. He has migrated out to California, and I hope he has some new music for the RFC radio show soon. And with this special episode, The RFC Flashback goes on a month-long hiatus. By this time next week The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide will be in full swing, and every Saturday will be BIG TICKET DAY, where all the gift suggestions are really expensive, so with three or four Gift Guide posts a day, we’re giving some of our regular features a rest. The RFC Flashback will return on December 1, probably with a jump back to epsides that we’d skipped over previously.
It’s become a fun annual tradition in just four years, The Mountain State Pop Expo, dedicated to exploring all aspects of pop culture in a safe, fun, family-friendly environment, with vendors, cosplayers, panels and demonstrations, raffles and more, and it happens the weekend of November 3 and 4, little more than a week away.
Created as a benefit, all proceeds from this event go directly to the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Fans of comics, toys, movies, TV, videogames and all manner of genre culture will find vendors, guests, events, contests and a massive pop culture raffle. All vendor table costs, admission, and raffle ticket sales will go directly to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia to benefit the area’s neediest kids this holiday season.
This year guests include author Edward Holsclaw, artist Glen Brogan, Final Form Fusion, The No Pants Players plus a loads of cosplayers and even a replica of Lightning McQueen. Charcon and Bonus Round will man a tabletop gaming room, and the raffle will include a not-sold-in-stores lithograph of a map of West Virginia from Fallout 76, donated by the folks at Bethesda Games. Many of the state’s coolest rare toy and videogame dealers will be there with incredible assortments of cool stuff from the not-too-distant past. Cosplayers from all over will appear, including Ghostbusters WV Division and the 501st Legion. There will even be late-night panels and entertainment.
This all happens at the Holiday Inn Charleston West, located in South Charleston, at 400 Second Avenue. Admission is only ten dollars per day, or both days for fifteen bucks. Kids under twelve get in free.
All proceeds from tickets, table rentals, and raffles at this event will benefit the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. The Children’s Home Society is a statewide nonprofit children and family services agency. They have 13 locations throughout the state, each of which have a variety of programs including emergency child shelters, foster care and adoption, early intervention, and family strengthening programs. CHS serves over 15,500 West Virginia families a year, and this year they are celebrating 122 years of service.
Funds from this event will go specifically to benefit the Children’s Home Society’s holiday help. Children in foster care, emergency shelters, and needy families in the community will have the holiday gifts and necessities such as winter coats that they otherwise might not receive.
So it’s going to be a great time, to benefit a great cause, and with so many cool vendors coming from all over the region, there’s a good chance that you can get some early holiday shopping done and find the perfect gift for that certain someone on your Christmas list. It all takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Holiday Inn & Suites in South Charleston (not too far from Olive Tree, if you want an awesome lunch) from 10 AM to 6 PM with after-hours events on Saturday, and 10 AM to 4 PM Sunday. Make your way out to soak in the wonderfulness of it all.
Your PopCulteer will be in (paid) attendance, and I hope to see lots of folks there.
That’s all we have for this week’s PopCulteer. Tune in to The AIR Saturday and Monday for more Halloween audio treats, and check back this weekend for our regular features, because The RFC Flashback and Sunday Evening Videos will be taking a vacation during the Month of November, to make room for our daily offerings in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide.
It may seem early, since Halloween is just next Wednesday, but right after that, one week from today, we will begin the 2018 PopCult Gift Guide. We are shaking things up a bit this year, which is sort of the norm, since I don’t think we’ve ever followed the exact same format more than two years in a row, but in 2018, we are once again making some changes.
This year the PopCult Gift Guide will begin on November 1, and the last day for it will be November 30. The master list will be posted on that final day, and then I’ll be done with it for the year. The reason for this is that, many of the items I suggest this year will have to be ordered over the internet, and I wanted to give you plenty of time to get your gift-y goodies before Christmas. Also, I’m going out of town the first week in December, and don’t want to have to tie up any loose ends.
For 2018 I will post three or four gift suggestions every day in November. These will include books, CDs, DVDs, toys, gadgets, gift certificates or gift cards and anything else that I think will make a cool gift. For the month of November, The RFC Flashback and Sunday Evening Videos will go on hiatus.They’ll be back, and just in time for the holiday season to really kick off in earnest, on December 1 and 2.
Every Saturday will be BIG TICKET DAY, where every gift suggestion will cost more than a hundred bucks. The rest of the days I’ll try to suggest gifts that are appropriate for a more modest budget.
The plan is to offer more local gift ideas than I have in the past. I’m aiming for at least one local item per day, but that may not hold true for BIG TICKET DAY.
As an early tip, something that will appear in the Gift Guide next week is Jason Pell’s graphic novel, Pinpricks (that’s the cover to the left). I plugged the Kickstarter for this cool project last March, and Jason stunned everyone by delivering it a month ahead of schedule. Pinpricks. A book of tiny and terrible oddities is not really a novel, per se. It’s one-hundred and one illustrated short stories of misfits, monsters, and the terminally awkward. Spoiler alert here: I enjoyed it enough to make sure that it had a spot in this year’s PopCult Gift Guide. It’s so good that it was the very first pick.
I will post a detailed review with links to how you can order it next week, but for now, you ought to know that Jason will have a booth at The West Virginia Book Festival, this weekend. Jason will be in booth 112, and this is your chance to buy Pinpricks and his earlier graphic novels, like Zombie Highway and Suicide 5, and get them autographed to the graphic novel fan on your gift list.
You should make it out to the West Virginia Book Festival anyway, because there will be all kinds of great gift ideas there among the authors and publishers.
You can read more about the West Virginia Book Festival HERE. The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide will begin Thursday, November 1, with posts going live between Noon and 4 PM, Eastern Time.
Continuing its run Friday, with five more performances left, including Halloween night, it’s OF DEVILS AND MEN, a new play by Lawrence Burgess. OF DEVILS AND MEN is an original stage play from Burgess (Jack the Ripper, Anne of Green Gables, Signing Off) that takes place in 2021 West Virginia. The death penalty has been enacted into law. Twelve jurors must decide the fate of the accused, with great new consequences from their decision. One of them has a secret…
This devilish play by Burgess promises to be a perfect fit with the Halloween season. Performances are October 26, 27 at 8 PM. October 27 at 2 PM , October 28 at 3 PM, and a special Halloween night performance October 31 at 7 PM, at the Capitol Theater, 123 Summers Street in Charleston. General admission for evening shows is fifteen dollars. The Sunday matinees are only ten dollars. Produced by the West Virginia Actors Conservatory You only have five more chances to see this new original work.
We get a bit of a head start on Halloween this week on The AIR. We kicked things off with a 24-hour marathon yesterday, and today we continue to drop in some spooky spice among our regular schedule. You can expect some scary radio drama mixed in with Halloween episodes of some of your favorite shows. We’ll be steeped in the Halloween spirit for the next eight days. All you have to do to listen is tune in at the website, or listen right here on this very scary embedded radio player…
Tuesday we’re coming at you with a Halloween episode of Radio Free Charleston (at 10 AM and 10 PM) and Radio Free Charleston Horror Theater International (11 AM and 11 PM). This was the audio debut of Count Rudolf, and the first time anyone has met his assistant, Igor. It’s two wild hours that are not to be missed. After a non-Halloween episode of The Swing Shift, we bring you the holiday-themed edition of Radio Coolsville at 5 PM.
Wednesday you can expect Halloween-themed episodes of Beatles Blast and Curtain Call. Thursday afternoon we replay the Halloween edition of Radio Free Charleston, then we’ll launch right into a rare daylight replay of last year’s special Radio Free Charleston Horror Theater International at 3 PM.
Friday at 1 PM it’s time for an encore of Radio Free Charleston Horror Theater Internationa At 3 PM we bring you a special Halloween episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, with the spookiest Halloween music from the New Wave era. Friday evening at 9 PM Jay and Jared return with an all-new episode of The Third Shift.
Saturday you get a chance to hear all of this week’s music specialty shows starting at 7 AM. Then at 7 PM we have three Halloween episodes of The (BS) Crazy Show. Midnight sees Radio Free Charleston take over all night long.
That is your guide to programming on The AIR for this week. Enjoy!
I suppose some of you might be wondering about this week’s Monday Morning Art. Well, first of all, it continues this month’s Halloween theme. Second, it is a digitally-composited photograph, combined with another, earlier digitally-composited photograph, to create a half-assed homage to a work by one Edgar Allen Poe. One of the photographs is a shot I took of the “Away With You” wall in Grantsville, Georgia, as immortalized in the “Clear” episode of The Walking Dead. The wall, part of the ruins of a cotton gin, has holes like this in it, and looks really cool.
Poking his head through the wall is The Toe Cyclops. It is highly unlikely that anybody will remember him, but he was part of “Monster Faces,” a bit of collaborative art by my brother and me that was an entry in the inaugural edition of ArtMares, way back when HallowEast was fun. As you can see to the right, the Toe Cyclops was the monster face in the lower-right corner.
An interesting point of trivia is that the Toe Cyclops is actually a photograph of my big toe, which had taken on a purplish hue following one of the periodic dropping of something ridiculously heavy on my toes that tends to occur on a regular basis. I took a photo of it, and having nothing better to do, gave him an ear and a pupil, and made the toenail into the white of his eye.
While digging through old files, I discovered both the shot of the wall from Grantsville, and the original photo of my faux-toe, and immediately thought of combining them into a tribute of sorts to Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Casque of Amontillado.”
I mean, who wouldn’t think of that?
I think it’s sufficiently spooky to work with this month’s theme. To be honest, it cracked me the hell up, especially with the particularly ignorant, yet literate, title I chose for it, so I decided to stick in here. Click the image to see a larger version. Well, the top image. I don’t have a bigger image of the photo of Monster Faces, but I do still have the rather large piece, since nobody bought it. It’s hanging on the wall behind my front door.
Meanwhile, today on The AIR, we present a 24-hour marathon of special Halloween programming. From 7 AM Monday until 7 AM Tuesday you can tune in to hear Halloween episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, Radio Coolsville, The Bats**t Crazy Show, Curtain Call and RFC International, all mixed in with classic Radio Drama and more spooky goodness. We’re going to do this again next Monday, and again, in a shorter form, on Halloween, so get used to it for the next couple of weeks.