Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: October 2019 (Page 1 of 4)

When Charleston Walked With Zombies

To celebrate Halloween Thursday, we’re going to look back at five videos that we made of the first four HallowEast Zombie Walks, plus one extra Zombie Walk from the Charleston Town Center. HallowEast abandoned the Zombie Walks when they couldn’t figure out how to use the event to sell beer, but it was fun while it lasted, as you can see here. Happy Halloween, folks!

It’s Stuff To Do To End October and Start November!

We interrupt this week for a special Stuff To Do because an expected torrential downpour has caused Trick-or-Treat night to be moved from Thursday to Saturday in most cities and counties around Charleston.

There’s still lots of interesting things that you can get into in and around Charleston, if you’re willing to deal with a little rain (and that should be over by Friday), and we’re going to bring you some of the cool things for which the nice folks promoting them have bothered to provide graphics.

First, Wednesday afternoon, in advance of the big All Elite Wrestling show that will originate from Charleston, four of our local indie wrestling feds plan to put on a free wrestling expo just a short jaunt away from the Charleston Coliseum, in the part of The West Side that some people insist on calling “Elk City.”


It’s a fun way to check out some up-and-comers before going to see the TNT broadcast.

There’s some other cool stuff happening Wednesday night, and on into the weekend. Check out the graphics below and don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend, as Daylight Savings Time ends, and we get an extra hour of sleep!




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Halloween On The AIR

We have gone all-in with Halloween this week on The AIR. All day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we bring you marathonx of classic Halloween programs, including episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Curtain Call, Word Association and the BS Crazy Show. Listeners can also tune in for radio presentations of Dracula, The Twilight Zone and works by H.P Lovecraft, plus classic radio dramas from Suspense and The Twilight Zone.  We’ll be steeped in the Halloween spirit for the next three 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…

The plan is to mix in a few new Halloween-themed shows over the next few days and also bring you our classic mix of radio drama and music shows dedicated to the season of the ghosts. Thursday we’ll have a post here in PopCult that will serve as your guide to what program is on when. Friday we’ll have a day-long marathon of Radio Free Charleston International, as we rotate out a bunch of our classic episodes of our free-format show, and then rotate in a new batch of them next week.

That is your guide to programming on The AIR for this week. Enjoy!

Monday Morning Art: Tree Doodle


Now that your PopCulteers hands are working reliably again, he decided to acquire some fancy new pencils. I ordered a box of Blackwing Palaminos, and finally had time over the weekend to try them out. With no great inspiration striking me, I wound up doodling a tree in about half an hour. It’s nice to have regained the use of my hands to the point where the brand of pencil I’m using actually makes a difference. and I’m pretty happy with the result, which you see above.

If you wish, you can click this image to see it bigger.

Meanwhile, over in radio-land, Monday on The AIR, our Monday Marathon presents eight hours of Special Halloween music programming starting at 7 AM. This is part of our big Halloween marathon programming blitz, in which you are now soaking.   At 3 PM, we will present eight hours of Halloween radio drama, kicking off with the classic 1939 Orson Wells broad cast of War of The Worlds. It’s Halloween all week on The AIR, so get ready to enjoy it.

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

Sunday Evening Videos: The RFC Halloween Shows

We are going to attempt to cram every Halloween episode of Radio Free Charleston into this one post, just to get you ready for the day of scaring and candy and stuff. In the clip above we go all the way back to our first Halloween special, in 2006. Orginally a two-parter, these shows have since been combined into one longer clip.

This was our first attempt to do something more ambitious than our normal video jukebox-type show, and in it you will see skits with me, Mel Larch and Brian Young, short films by Frank Panucci, Third Mind Incarnation and Brian Young, and music by Whistlepunk, The Concept, Professor Mike, Clownhole and half of The Pistol Whippers.

You’ll get to see me get killed and ressurected, plus there are ghosts and spirits and really cool posters for monster movies that they sold at Dollar Tree back when they carried really cool stuff. These were originally episodes 7 and 8 of Radio Free Charleston‘s video incarnation.


Recorded at a Halloween Party at Capitol Roasters (RIP). Music from Big Money and Lil’ Guy.

This week we go back to the first week of February, 2014, for a show jam-packed with great music and cool stuff. Radio Free Charleston 195, “Powdered Toast Man Shirt,” was our first full-length show of 2014, and it’s fairly epic. We had music from Spencer Elliott, Cemeterry Schultz, Sign of The Fig, WATT 4 and Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands. We also featured two animated shorts by Jake Fertig, and a trailer for a screening of the classic movie, “Metropolis” at the Clay Center Electric Sky Theater.

Host segments were shot in front of The Clay Center, while our musical performances were recorded all over town, at Unity Church, Kanawha Players Theater, The Blue Parrot, The Empty Glass and also in an undisclosed Downtown Charleston alley.

You can find fully-detailed production notes HERE.

A Sick Day Encore

The PopCulteer
October 25
, 2016

PopCult Note: Your PopCulteer has been fighting off a cold for most of the last two weeks. As longtime readers may remember, I have been diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, and as part of my treatment, I take an immuno-supressant to battle the auto-immune elements of that disease. The cold has caught up to me and rather than hit you guys with an impaired PopCulteer column, I decided to re-post one of my more memorable PopCulteer columns from a bit more than three years ago. So here’s the essay known as “Beer, Bacon and Country Music.”

On The Outside

As The Gazette-Mail’s resident pop culture blogger, I occasionally need to acknowlege my failings as an observer of all things pop culture. There are many, but today I’m just going to run down a few things that place me well outside the mainstream.

I don’t feel that these things disqualify from covering pop culture, rather, they allow me to distance myself from the midst of all that is happening and make objective calls about some things. There are three things that seem to dominate the local pop-culture scene of late which I cannot lay claim to having any interest in whatsoever: Beer, Bacon and Country Music.

Let me address these one by one.

beer 002Beer, of course, is an alcoholic beverage. I don’t drink anything with alcohol. I have never wanted to. It’s a matter of taste. I find all alcoholic beverages to be vile-tasting, mediciny concoctions. Add to that the recent discovery that my skin is so alcohol-sensitive that mouthwash can raise a welt, and you can see that I simply have no use for the stuff.

This is not an “I’m better than you” thing with me. It’s simply a matter of taste. The side benefits from this is that I have never been intoxicated in my life. I have no idea what it’s like to be drunk or hungover. From what I hear, I’m not missing much in that regard.

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Wild Republic Jungle Guide Figure Reviewed

The PopCult Toybox

Today we’re gong to take an in-depth look at an action figure I found over the summer, in a bit of an unusual place. It’s not really unusual to find an action figure in a toy store, but this one, which had previously escaped my notice, was an interesting find anywhere.

A couple of months ago, during your PopCulteer’s anniversary trip through cool places in Eastern Pennsylvania, the day before the big Hershey Toy and Action Figure Show, Your humble reporter and his wife checked out a really cool independent toy story near Hershey called “Toys On The Square.” They had a pretty good assortment of the kind of stuff you tend to find in stand-alone toy stores–lots of building sets, plush, STEM toys, cars and trucks and dolls and more–but on a shelf next to their Barbie dolls, they had two figure sets made by Wild Republic, a company usually known for their plush and plastic animal toys.  One set featured a generic fashion doll, packaged with a toy tiger cub and a few accessories, while the other featured a 12″ male action figure, with a larger tiger, and a cool hat and a large machete.

The price wasn’t too high ($20 is little high for what might seem like a cheesy knockoff, but it’s not outrageous, and I’ve learned to never pass up oddball figures like this because you may never see them again). I picked up one each of the male and female figures and they’ve sat in my living room for the last two months waiting for me to write about them.

I’m going to do a detailed review of the male figure below, but I’m just posting a photo of the female version of the Jungle Guide Adventure Playset here, because she’s not that special. The figure in the box has less articulation than the figure pictured on the box, and neither figure comes close to the “25 Points of Articulation” promised on the back. I think the female figure only has nine points of articulation. She’s basically a knock-off Barbie, dressed in a simple outfit–shorts, a sleeveless shirt, socks and boots. Her accessories are a cloth hat, a cloth bag, plastic binoculars and a plastic tiger cub.

I can tell by the price tags, that Toys On The Square received these sets in March and April of this year, however neither can be found at the Wild Republic website, so it’s possible these have already been discontinued. There are some available at Amazon, in different skin tones and with Dolphin Trainer Females, and Reef Diver Males.  That link is there just in case anyone is interesting in getting these for potential kitbashes.

Whether you want to consider doing that might want to be something you decide after reading the review.

First of al, the packaging is nice, with bright colors. The front is open so you can see the figure, with no clear plastic keeping them from prying fingers. The box is adorned with little education blurbs and choking hazard warnings in many languages. The claim on the back of the box that each figure has 25 points of articulation is simply incorrect.

Once out of the box, we can see the good and the bad with the set.

The headsculpt is nice, if a little generic-looking. The tiger seems like something you’d find at Dollar Tree. The hat is a decent sculpt of an Australian bush hat, but might be a tad oversized for some figures. The figure itself is…interesting.

Our Male Jungle Adventure Guide feels very lightweight. The skin tone on the head is considerably more colorful than the rest of his body. His pants are simple camo-pattern pants with no closure and an elastic waistband. The shirt is a decent black T-shirt.  He also has a scabbared for the gigantic machete, which I have to admit looks pretty cool. His boots are uni-boots (doesn’t matter if they’re left or right) and they look pretty good.

The figure poses well. He has fourteen points of articulation and can maintain his balance standing and kneeling. Let’s take a closer look…

The machete scabbard, close-up.

A headsculpt that could be modified into several different characters.

Decent posability and balance for a figure that is deceptively lightweight.

One odd feature, which indicates to me that this toy might have been “designed” by the toy company asking their Chinese manufacturer what kind of existing molds they had that could be combined into a new toy is that the back of this figure has a battery compartment and what looks like soundholes for a talking mechanism. That might also explain why the body is so light, perhaps to compensate for the weight of a talk box for whatever figure first used this body.

The re-use of body molds is pretty common in the toy industry, so it’s not a shock to see one here. The battery cover has no screw holding it in place, and is either glued on molded in, but if a customizer was looking for a body for a potential talking custom figure, this might be a decent candidate. There are no batteries or anything to make him talk inside. There are little flecks of green paint all over his back, which is a bit odd.

The hands are a bit huge, but they are sculpted in odd poses, so they may be just exactly what some customizer is looking for. I guess the right hand is meant to hold the machete, while the left pets his pygmy tiger.

Here’s a closer look at the accessories, still attached to the card. I didn’t remove them because I wanted to return the figure to his box for storage.

All in all, this figure is a curiosity, but aside from the momentary glee of finding a 12″ action figure that I didn’t previously know about, most collectors will choose to give the Wild Republic Jungle Guide Adventure Playset a pass. The body might be good for flying vehicles that need a lighter figure inside, and the headsculpt is pretty good, but I don'[t see this as something collectors will want to rush out and snap up.

One note: If you decide to order from the Amazon link, be warned that the photos appear to be prototypes, and some of the show the figures with outfit pieces that may not be included. Also the boxes appear to be prototypes, and don’t match up with the ones I found.

Pre-Halloween Stuff To Do In and Around Charleston

This year Halloween falls on a Thursday, which means it’s as far away from the nearest previous weekend as possible. So all the adult parties are going to happen early.

Some stuff gets publicized out the wazoo, so they don’t need me plugging their events, but there are a few hidden gems out there that you might want to know about.


Thursday from 5 PM to 7 PM at the Davis Fine Arts Building at West Virginia State University they’re holding the reception for the “Weird Sisters” art show, which includes the work of four of the area’s top female artists.

The art exhibition features artists Ashley Hoey, Jamie Miller, Debra Rayhill, and Elizabeth Turner. “Weird Sisters” is a mixed media exhibition by a group of outstanding women artists from the Charleston area. The paintings, drawings, and mixed media works you see feature/celebrate the essence of women in ways unique to each artist’s vision. The grouping of artworks reads like one collective voice while simultaneously emphasizing uniqueness and individuality.

Weird Sisters is on view until November 8, but this is a chance to mingle with the artists and see the work with other folks who enjoy the arts.


Frdiay evening from 6 PM to 7PM, Taylor Books will present professional storyteller, writer, poet and ballad-singer Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein is from Jackson County, WV. Her storytelling performances include Appalachian stories and ballads, family heritage, and tales from West Virginia’s weird and wonderful history. Ghost stories, especially West Virginia ghost stories that have been documented in books, newspapers and other media, or from oral history, are a focus of her storytelling. She often travels to the site of these stories as part of her research, and this might lead her into haunted hotels, graveyards, abandoned houses and other out-of-the way places. As she travels across West Virginia sharing her stories she collects new tales from people she meets along the way.

Granny Sue has produced four storytelling CD’s and is a founding member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild. In 2015 Holstein was named a West Virginia History Hero.

Friday from 6 PM to 9 PM, “Field of Screams” is happening at the Bigley Avenue Little League Field.

We go to their event page for details: “Field of Screams – Save the Date: Oct 26, 2019 @ 6 pm – Come join us to Zombie Walk the Bases and Trick or Treat along the way. A family friendly Halloween Movie will follow. Bring blankets and chairs. And of course Dress up in a costume.”

Sounds like a fun, family-friendly event. Bigley Avenue Little League Field is located at 1409 Bigley Ave, Charleston.

Friday at 9 PM, The Swivel Rockers return to Sam’s Uptown Cafe for their Halloween Party. Boone County’s Swivel Rockers recently reunited with members of their original line-up, and I owe their lead singer a phone call because he was one of the many people who called my cell while my battery was dead. If I can get over this nagging cold I’m fighting, I may make it up to see them Friday. If I don’t make it, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check out some of West Virgina’s best homegrown bluesy rock ‘n’ roll.

At 9:30 Friday, the Empty Glass has managed to separate their Halloween Hootenanny from the HallowEast drunken street party, which takes place Saturday this year. A killer line-up includes The Fabulous Brothers Steele, The Mediogres, Red Audio and Embracer, and there will be contests and prizs. This is the 21st year for the Hootenanny, and it’s cool to see it back on its own night again.



Aside from the aforementioned HallowEast drunken street party, there’s plenty of other stuff happening in Charleston Saturday evening.

From 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM Independent State will perform at Taylor Books. There will be snacks and Halloween fun, and as always at Taylors, no cover charge.


Satruday at 10:30 Deadfacedown will reunite for one night only with special guests Crown the Witch and Messenger Vessel for a night of brutality and debauchery, in keeping with the holiday spirit.

Halloween Head Start On The AIR

We get a bit of a head start on Halloween this week on The AIR. Tuesday at 10 AM we launch into a marathon of classic Halloween programs, including episodes of Radio Free Charleston, Curtain Call, Word Association and the BS Crazy Show. Listeners can also tune in for radio presentations of Dracula, The Twilight Zone and works by H.P Lovecraft.  We’ll be steeped in the Halloween spirit for the next ten 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 kicks off with a Halloween episode of Radio Free Charleston (at 10 AM and 10 PM) and ends with Radio Free Charleston Horror Theater International ( 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.

Wednesday you can expect Halloween-themed episodes of Beatles Blast and Curtain Call. Halloween programming will continue all week long, up until the big day, next Thursday.

That is your guide to programming on The AIR for this week. Enjoy!

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