Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: May 2020 (Page 1 of 4)

Sunday Evening Video: The Who at The Isle of Wight

For reasons of taste and timing, this week we have replaced our scheduled concert video by The Police with this great film of The Who, performing live at The Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

I really shouldn’t have to tell you who The Who are.

You’ll get to hear bits of their magnum opus, Tommy, as well as some other classic hits by one of the greatest live rock bands of all time. It could be months or years before we see crowds like this at a concert again, so enjoy the experience in the safety of your own home.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 108

This week we take you back to August, 2010, for our first “normal” episode of Radio Free Charleston after a six-part look at that year’s FestivALL.

This episode, “To The Batmobile Shirt,” featured music from InFormation, Volt 9000 and The AK40 Sexuals. We also have short films from K.D. Lett and Scott Elkins.

I totally forgot about the cool Batmobile shirt I’m wearing in the host segments, and wonder where in the house it has gone.

This was a pretty strong edition of our program, and it’s nice to get it back into the blog. Original production notes can be found HERE.

Brief Notes And Disco Music

The PopCulteer
May 29, 2020

Aside from the aforementioned and still-ongoing computer upgrades, your PopCulteer is attempting to assemble a magazine-sized catalog for the virtual art exhibit that I plan to run in this blog starting in a little more than two weeks, and all of that takes up quite a bit of time, so this week’s PopCulteer will be a very short one.

Basically, we have one item, and it’s a plug for a show that’s debuting on The AIR Friday afternoon.

We offer up our third edition of MIRRORBALL  Friday afternoon on The AIR. You can hear this show on The AIR website, or just click on this embedded radio player…

At 2 PM we present an AIR Music Special, the third edition of MIRRORBALL, hosted by Mel Larch. Our unexpected hit seems to have settled into a bi-weekly groove, and this week’s grooves include what you see in this playlist…


Bee Gees “You Should Be Dancin’”
Dan Hartman “Instant Replay”
Vicki Sue Robinson “Turn The Beat Around”
Chic “I Want Your Love”
Walter Murphy “A Fifth of Beethoven”
Heatwave “The Groove Line”
Sister Sledge “He’s The Greatest Dancer”
The Jacksons “Blame It On The Boogie”
GQ “Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)”
George Benson “Give Me The Night”
SOS Band “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”
Marvin Gaye “Got To Give It Up”
Hues Corporation “Rock The Boat”
Diana Ross “The Boss”

You can tune in at 2 PM and hear the third edition of MIRRORBALL. The plan is to drop a new episode roughly every other Friday afternoon, until Mel gets tired of doing it, or people stop listening. Later today, it will go up in the Podcast section of The AIR website, so you can listen on demand. MIRRORBALL will also be replayed Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 11 AM and Tuesday at 1 PM. We’ll probably sneak in a few more airings during the week.

And with that, your PopCulteer will place his nose firmly back against the grindstone so we can figure out what happens next. Keep checking back for our regular features and fresh content every day.


The Svengoolie Action Figure and Studio Set

The PopCult Toybox

We featured America’s favorite horror-movie host, Svengoolie a few days ago in our Sunday Evening Video feature, and since we were already talking about the legendary monster movie maven from Berwyn Illlinois, now PopCult gives you a quick photo review of the deluxe Svengoolie Studio Set, from ME TV and Figures Toy Company.

This limited edition set is the third action figure version of Svengoolie from FTC, and this time they pulled out all the stops, including a ReMEGO 8″ figure fully-dressed in Svengoolie’s trademark outfit-Red shirt, Black suit complete with detail on the lapel and a removeable top hat and shoes– and his casket, plus a backdrop of his set, and even a miniature Archie McPhee rubber chicken.

The figure itself has a great headsculpt with paint detail of Rich Koz in his Svengoolie warpaint, with rooted hair. The body is a typical Figures Toy Company MEGO copy (this time of the heftier style used for figures like The Penguin, back in the day). It’s got the pitfalls of most of FTC’s imitation MEGO bodies, but is still poseable and can hold his chicken. It’s vitally important that one can hold his chicken.

The top hat can be a little stubborn about staying on Svengoolie’s head, but it is one sturdy, solid hunk of plastic, which is a lesson learned from it dropping on my feet several times during the photo shoot.

The backdrop, which is printed on the package insert, is a fantastic addition to the set, and adds to the fun.

The flips side of the package insert is pretty cool too.

The casket is impressive. It is not hinged, nor is the lid in two pieces, but it is velvet-lined– even the lid, and it captures the look of Svengoolie’s newly-refurbished casket (which is probably eight years old by now). This piece looks great and the figure fits into it perfectly. It also looks terrific displayed in front of the backdrop from the package.

Here’s the Svengoolie figure in front of his casket.

And here’s the casket, with the lid closed for those of you who prefer a closed-casket collectible.

The tiny rubber chicken is half the size of what had previously been the world’s smallest rubber chickens, also made by Archie McPhee. You do just get one, so maybe they can offer an accessory set with extra chickens later. As you can see at right, the chicken is securely held in the packaging, so that you don’t suffer any loose chicken incidents during shipping.

The set comes packaged in a deluxe clamshell–something FTC is very good about–and looks great in the package, or set up on your desktop. Some collectors over at the MEGOMuseum forums add custom figures and rotate them in to represent whatever movie Svengoolie is showing in a given week.

All in all, The Svengoolie Studio Set is a great collectible for fans of the show. It’s a limited edition, so quantities are limited. And it’s not cheap. It’s a reasonably-priced $49.95 (plus about thirteen bucks shipping), but considering the limited number of these sets being made, the deluxe packaging and all the extras, it’s pretty much a bargain. The sold-out earlier editions of the Svengoolie action figure, which didn’t come with the cool accessories are now selling for upwards of a billion dollars and your firstborn on eBay (disclaimer: slight exaggeration there).

Another cool features is that FTC’s collector-friendly packaging allows you to take the figure out, play with him when nobody is looking, then put him back in his package so that people will just think you’re a collector instead of an adult who still plays with toys.

This set checks off all the boxes for fans of Svengoolie, fans of MEGO-style figures based on horror movies (and there are a lot of us), collectors of action figures based on TV shows, and fans of Me TV. You can display it with pride in your home or office, or you can act out the shows with your toys as they happen on TV…if you’re into that sort of thing.

You can order this directly from the Svengoolie Store at ME TV.

More Details On VirtuALL FestivALL

The folks at FestivAll have released the schedule of events and details on a slew of the events they have lined up for this year’s VirtuAll FestivAll, and it looks like Charleston will find a way to become a work of art while still encouraging public safety and good health.

The design for this year’s T Shirt, by Carolyn Murphy (seen right), will be for sale in June, with details on how to get yours posted on the FestivALL website then.

There are some great events coming up, and some interesting new virtual takes on our city’s usual celebrations. Today we’re looking at just a few examples of what FestivALL will have to offer.

CAMC Foundation “Run for Your Life” Virtual Run/Walk

This month-long event kicks off before FestivALL and runs (see what I did there) all month long. 2020 CAMC Foundation Run for Your Life Virtual is a unique Virtual experience, as the CAMC Foundation holds a fun and safe experience in which you partake by running or walking anywhere, anytime. All funds raised benefit awareness and screening initiatives for colorectal cancer in your community.

Registrants will receive the following:

• 2020 CAMC Foundation Run for Your Life T-Shirt – your choice of cotton or dri-fit.
• 2020 CAMC Foundation Run for Your Life Ultralight and versatile gaiter – wears the way you want it.

Now, I have somewhat Shakespearian view of running–I see no reason to do it if I’m not being pursued by a bear, but if this is your idea of a fun time, why not sign up, raise money for a good cause, and get a few cool goodies. To keep this artistic, you can think of it as your own reenactment of “The Lonliness of The Long-Distance Runner.”

Details can be found HERE. 

Show Your Pride” Window Display Contest

Running from June 6 to June 20, Charleston busineses can celebrate Pride Month by using the colors of the rainbow. Businesses throughout Charleston use their storefronts to turn the city into a work of art this June. You can vote for your favorite on the Rainbow Pride WV Facebook page through June 18th. Winner will be announced Saturday, June 20th.

Ice Cream & The Arts

This virtual coloring contest takes place une 8th to June 19th with winners announced June 20th. Each entry requires a $5 minimum donation, which will support select West Side businesses.

This virtual coloring contest features unique coloring sheets from 2019 chalk artists Blake Wheeler, Kelly Bryant, and Mallory Burka. In the spirit of the originally-planned event, it is suggested that you indulge in some Ellen’s Ice Cream while you do this.

Like you needed a reason to eat Ice cream from Ellen’s.

Details can be found HERE.

Virtual Art Fair

Over 70 new and returning artisans will display and sell their work in this juried art fair dedicated to handmade items created by local and regional artists. This fair has grown to be one of the largest events of its kind in the state, and in it’s 16th year this staple of FestivALL is changing for the first time.

Like many events around the world transitioning to a virtual platform, we will transform the fair into an online experience. The virtual fair will be open for the 15 days of FestivALL, providing the opportunity to shop small, support WV’s economy, and learn about the techniques that go into making some of your favorite products. Virtual Fair will open on June 14th on the FestivALL website – check it regularly for the gallery and links to shop your favorite WV artisans this summer.

Also, check in on Saturday June 27th for the premiere of the Virtual Art Fair Experience featuring behind the scenes looks at artists, performances by local musicians and street performers, and guest appearances from all sorts of FestivALL favorites. Virtual FestivALL Experience will premiere on YouTube on Saturday, June 27th at 1PM.

CREATORS TALK – “From Screen to Stage: Transforming Paradise Park the movie to the Staged Musical, with Larry Groce and Danny Boyd”

As a part of WVSU Creators program, listen to Larry and Danny take us through the process of transforming Paradise Park from the original motion picture in 1992 to the staged musical. Selected scenes from the original movie will be shown with related songs for the musical. Discussion will be live-streamed so the audience can ask Danny & Larry questions about their process, inspirations, and more.

This will happen on YouTube HERE.

This is just the beginning. Next week I’ll post about more events tied to VirtuAll FestivAll, with links and details on how you can bring the work of art into your own home.

Summer Repeats On The AIR

Tuesday on The AIR we kick off a mini-vacation with a slate of previously-enjoyed specialty shows. To hear these you may point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to this happy little embedded radio player…

Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of Summer (or the unofficial beginning of the second wave, if you’re pessimistic) and in the grand tradition of broadcasting history, The AIR will be in reruns for the next few days.  In our case, it’s so we can do some computer maintainance that might make your PopCulteer’s life a little easier, but the plan is to bring you some of our classic programs for the next two or three days, and then return on Friday with new stuff for you to listen to.

Hot off our holiday weekend marathon of Radio Free Charleston, we continue to take another week off from RFC and The Swing Shift and we also bring you a classic episode of NOISE BRIGADE.  At 10 AM and 10 PM, we’ll bring you several different episodes of Radio Free Charleston, and all week long, instead of replaying the same shows in our regular replay spots, we’ll mix up new and old versions of RFC with episodes of RFC International.

At 2 PM we’ll bring you an encore of NOISE BRIGADE, Steven Allen Adams’ Punk-Ska showcase.

At 3 PM, The Swing Shift brings you three encore episodes. Our Swing showcase will return with new episodes next week. You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 AM and 6 PM, Thursday at 7 PM and Saturday at 5 PM, only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Wednesday at 2 PM we have a new episode of Beatles Blast, featuring The Lost Beatles Project. This show is new because I cooked up a batch of five of these to run until halfway through next month.

Wednesday at 3 PM we will bring you all three episodes of Mel Larch’s recent tribute to Stephen Sondheim on Curtain Call.

Wednesday in PopCult, the plan is to bring you a review of a cool action figure playset, while your humble blogger is elbow-deep in installing a new video card and memory into his workhorse PC.

Monday Morning Art: Tiny Skyline


Our Monday art this week is an exercise in working small and fast. Lately I’ve been doing my real-world art on tinier and tinier “canvasses,” and this week I used an actual tiny canvas, stretched on tiny wood, which was three by four inches.  I think I got it from Hollar for a buck. It even came with a tiny easel.

I wanted to see what I could knock out on a tiny canvas with a ten-minute time-limit, so I wound up doing a Chicago Skyline from memory, using cheap watercolor markers and some grayscale markers. I wasn’t in the mood to bust out fancy oils or acrylics for such a small piece. I painted this on a tiny spot on my desk, right next to the keyboard I’m using to type these words.

Unless you’re looking at this on your phone, you’re probably seeing it larger than actual size. Rather than scan it, I photographed the finished piece because I was too lazy to clear a stack of stuff off the scanner. Give me points for being honest. You can see the tiny easel in a rejected photo (the flash was too strong) to the right. Notice how gigantic the USB drive in the background seems. The whole thing is less than five inches tall.

You can click the top image if you want to see it even larger than that.

Meanwhile, over in radio-land, Monday on The AIR, our Radio Free Charleston Marathon runs from 7 AM to 7 PM, and brings you a full 24 ours of our flagship show before we get back to whatever passes for normal these days after the holiday weekend.

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

Sunday Evening Video: Prehistoric Svengoolie

This week our Sunday Evening Video jumps back to 1982 for a look at famed Horror Host, Svengoolie back in his early days when he was still known as “Son of Svengoolie.” Rich Koz would go on to great fame almost thirty years after this when the show finally went national. (the drawing of Svengoolie at right is by PopCult buddy and “world’s greatest artist,” Mitch O’Connell)

This is the (mostly) complete broadcast of Sven’s Summer Special, a “Friday Night Fright” edition of Son of Svengoolie, with the 1931 film Frankenstein being the main attraction, as broadcast on WFLD Channel 32, Chicago.

The recording cuts at at the end of the movie, so we miss the last segment with Svengoolie, and some commercials, but otherwise it’s the way Svengoolie looked back in the 80s. This extended video clip includes all the local and national commercials, plus all the skits and song parodies from the original broadcast…well, except for the very end.

Rich Koz took over hosting the Svengoolie show from the original Svengoolie, Jerry Bishop, when the show was revived in 1979 after its original run from 1970 to 1973. Because he was such a fan of the original show, Bishop dubbed Koz “Son of Svengoolie” as he took over for the revived show that ran from 1979 to 1986, when the show was canceled once again by WFLD. (Thanks to Svengoolie himself for the correction on that!)

In 1994 the show was revived by Koz at WCIU in Chicago, and at that point Bishop told Koz that he was “all grown up” and should drop “Son of” from the name of the show. Svengoolie reached new heights when it was picked up for national broadcast by METV in 2011. Just a couple of weeks ago a repeat of the episode where they showed the movie, Munster Go Home, became the highest-rated episode of any program in the history of METV. Our video this week lets you seen Svengoolie’s humble beginnings, way back when.

This program comes to us courtesty of The Museum of Classic Chicago Television, whose primary mission is the preservation and display of off-air, early home videotape recordings (70s and early 80s, primarily) recorded off of any and all Chicago TV channels; footage which would likely be lost if not sought out and preserved digitally. You can find their video library on YouTube on on the Fuzzy Memories Roku app.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 101

RFC 101 "Viewmaster Shirt" from Rudy Panucci on Vimeo.

This week we go back almost ten years, to June, 2010, for the one-hundred first episode of the Radio Free Charleston video program. “Viewmaster Shirt” includes music from Josh Buskirk, The Gypsy Nomads and The ButtonFlies, plus a sequel from MURFMEEF and a trailer for the film, “Toxic Soup.”

Our host segments were shot on a warm, windy Saturday afternoon in front of the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse on Virginia Street, for absolutely no reason other than the fact that we hadn’t shot there yet.

Our musical guests are Josh Buskirk, playing guitar and singing at Taylor Books; Frenchy & The Punk, back when they were known as The Gypsy Nomads, recorded at The Empty Glass; and The Button Flies, also recorded at The Empty Glass. We also have a music video from Murfmeef, the title of which we will not type here.


Memo From The Lockdown

The PopCulteer
May 22, 2020

We are around ten weeks into the pandemic lockdown here at Stately Radio Free Charleston Manor, and this week the PopCulteer is going to share some observations and pass along some links to help the saner amongst you pass the time while the lemmings rush back into the minefield.

I have tried not to focus extensively on the Covid-19 crisis here in PopCult because I would imagine that nobody in their right mind is looking to this blog for up-to-date information or guidance on how to deal with this unprecedented situation.

I also wouldn’t want to contribute to any misinformation in the middle of what has proven to be an exceptionally fluid set of circumstances.

It is my opinion (informed, but not infallible) that most of the country is rushing to reopen way too soon, and the results will be catastrophic. Keep in mind that this is the point of view of someone who is taking meds to suppress his immune system, so I may be more sensitive to these things than most. The fact that I rarely see more than a third of people wearing masks when I have to venture out is a signal to me that folks are not taking the threat of the virus seriously enough.

I sincerely hope that these people, who look to me like dangerous lunatics–no smarter than lemmings rushing off the edge of a cliff–turn out to be right. If they are right, then me wearing a mask just looks silly for a short time.

If I’m right, then these people will spread a deadly virus that will claim the lives of many of their beloved family members and friends.

I would much rather that these folks be proven right. I would survive the blow to my ego for being wrong about this. However, the fact that the people who ridicule those of us taking safety precautions don’t seem to have enough sense to pour piss out of a boot does not give me much hope that they have any clue what they’re talking about. I prefer to err on the side of caution.

With that out of the way, we can address some of the ways that the pandemic has changed our lives.

What To Expect In Our New World

Malls reopened in West Virginia this week, and the small number of people who ventured out discovered that not all the stores within have survived. Reports are that The Charleston Town Center has lost Books A Million, The Shoe Department and Candy Craze, and down at the Huntington Mall, two anchor stores, Macys and JC Penney, are not yet open, while Bath & Body Works decided not to renew their lease. That’s just the ones I’ve heard about. There may be more (And to be fair, some of these stores may have closed before the shutdown. I don’t think I’ve been to the Town Center this year, so I can’t say for sure).

Nationwide, it looks like maybe 15% of comic books stores will choose not to reopen following the pandemic. This is actually a lower number than people suspected would close, so there’s some optimism there.

Movie theaters may be doomed. I don’t think the entire industry will go under, but I would be shocked if all of the three major theater chains survive. Variety released a poll this week that indicated that 70% of people would be perfectly happy watching new major movie releases in their homes, with over 20% of people saying that they never intended to set foot in a theater again.

It may take years before great numbers of people feel comfortable attending live sporting events, live plays or musicals, concerts or pop culture conventions.

The most dangerous point in all this is that not everybody sees this as a bad thing. Consumers of entertainment may, like your humble blogger, come to the realization that you don’t have to see a hit movie on the first day it opens in theaters in order to enjoy it. With the cost of large-screen TVs at an all time low, people are realizing that they can enjoy movies better without having to deal with other people, waiting in line, paying too much for concessions, and not being able to pause the movie if they have to pee.

People still want to see new movies. Trolls World Tour grossed over $100 million it’s first weekend as a video-on-demand title after its theatrical release was scrapped. That’s probably more than the animated sequel would have grossed in theaters, and due to the nature of the business structure, Comcast, who owns Universal Studios, probably kept a bigger slice of the pie.

Print media is also in crisis. Readership is way up, especially for magazines and newspapers with online components, but advertising is way down. Magazines that rely on bookstores are in trouble, since the stores that sell their product have not been open. Worse yet, the businesses that advertise in their pages have also been affected by the shutdown, and the first thing they cut is their advertising. It’s the same with newspapers, so if you’ve been putting off subscribing to The Gazette-Mail online, now would be a good time to do it. It’s worth it, if only for Phil Kabler’s columns, but there’s so much more than that.

Local TV stations took a hit from this reduction in advertisers too, combined with losing ad time due to running commercial-free daily press briefings from various state and national leaders. They are starting to recoup some of that now, thanks to campaign ads, but their rates must be astonishingly low now because I’m seeing ads for candidates running for offices that used to be considered too piddly for television advertising to be feasible.

I don’t recall seeing TV ads for county magistrates or state legislators before. It’s pretty wild.

There’s Still Cool Stuff

With all that craziness going on in the world, it’s good to know that we have a few cool pop culture stories to which we can link to provide some distraction:

Vanity Fair has a great interview with SCTV legend, Catherine O’Hara, complete with photos taken by a drone, to promote safe distancing. That’s her, in one of the drone photos, at the head of this post.

The City of Charleston and Moses Auto Group will put on a drive-in concert featuring Fletcher’s Grove and Parachute Brigade, June 13 at Hills Plaza on Patrick Street. Go and enjoy the music, but stay in your cars, people.

There is a cool report that crazy sons of bitches have been criss-crossing the country at high speeds in modified cars, breaking the underground speed record of the Cannonball Run. Read this while shaking your head at how reckless it is while quietly thinking to yourself how cool it is at the same time.

Mark Wolfe alerted me to an amusing article about an Italian designer who took some of the world’s worst logos and redesigned them to be blandly acceptable instead of unintentially sexual.

A three-year-old article at Quartz that started circulating again this week tells how Henry Ford forced square dancing into schools in an attempt to keep white children from being attracted to black people’s music. This would be an attempt that backfired, since I can say for myself that forced square dancing made me develop a hatred of country music, hillbilly culture and White Supremecy all at the same time.

Our old JoeLanta buddy and maestro of the six-stringed beast, Timothy Price, has a new fingerstyle album out.

Todd Burge passes along a form letter you can send to your legislators stressing the need for support to keep our non-profit peformance venues going.

A fascinating documentary abou the woman who was the “Roe” in “Roe vs. Wade” debuts tonight on FX. The Los Angeles Times leaks the stunning revelation from the film.

I’m going to call it a column at that. I hope you don’t mind the ramblings, and remember to tune in to The AIR this weekend for several day’s worth of Radio Free Charleston.

And read PopCult for fresh content every day and all our regular features.

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