Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: February 2021 (Page 1 of 3)

Sunday Evening Video: Jethro Tull Live In 1977

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Jethro Tull’s breakthrough album, Aqualung, and as such, they are the cover feature of the latest issue of Prog Magazine. I got my copy direct from the UK, and I’ve been reading about the band, so I figured it’d be cool to run one of their concerts here in PopCult.

The show you see above was recorded at The Capitol Center, in November, 1977. This was NOT the Aqualung tour, but they do play several tracks from that album here. In fact, I happen to have the setlist handy, but I’m not sure if every song here made it into the video…

1. Wond’ring Aloud
2. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day
3. Jack-In-The-Green
4. Thick As A Brick
5. Songs From The Wood
6. Instrumental/ Drum Solo
7. To Cry You A Song
8. A New Day Yesterday
9. Flute Solo/God Rest Ye Gentlemen/Bouree/A New Day Yesterday
10. Living In The Past /A New Day Yesterday (reprise)
12. Velvet Green
13. Hunting Girl
14. Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young To Die
15.Minstrel In The Gallery
16. Cross-Eyed Mary
17. Aqualung
18. Martin Barre Guitar Solo/Wind Up
19. Back Door Angels / Guitar Improvisation /Wind Up (reprise)
20. Locomotive Breath/Land Of Hope And Glory/ Back Door Angels (reprise)

The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 47

This week we go back to January, 2015 for an episode of The RFC MINI SHOW starring the not-local experimental music group, Platinum Burrito.

Plutonian Burrito is a duo consisting of Charles Pagano and Scott Bazar, and they brought their Outsider Music to The Empty Glass. This episode of The RFC MINI SHOW presents an excerpt of their avant-garde improvised soundtrack music.

With a background in FREE PLAYING thanks to the Woodstock, NY scene, Creative Music Studio, Charles Pagano (DRUMS/PERC) is a mostly self-taught drummer & composer. His own music is very film score-ish.

Scott Bazar played with The Negro Problem/Stew, Beck, Kevin Ayers, Larry Willis, Enrico Rava, James Emery (String Trio of NY), Gene Bertoncini, Russell Kassoff, Giacomo Gates, Cedric Lawson, and Bobby Keys. He attended Creative Music Studio NY & studied with (& did workshops and/or concerts with) Dave Holland, Leo Smith, Oliver Lake, Ed Blackwell, Karl Berger, Bob Moses, Don Cherry. Bazar has recently filling in for Jabo Starks (James Brown) with the Red Bar Band.

Together they produce free-form experimental improvised noise-jazz. It’s quite a trip, but is best experienced live.

Hasbro Rules All Media, The Big Show Is All Elite and Paul McCartney Tells All

The PopCulteer
February 26, 2021

Your PopCulteer is still a bit under the weather due to a Myasthenia Gravis flare-up, so for the second week in a row, we’re just going to bring you some short Pop Culture news items.

Hasbro Almost Has Toy News

We will have more toy industry news in the coming days, but Thursday, when Hasbro held their virtual investor’s conference, they talked way more about television projects than they did about new toys.

In 2019 Hasbro purchased EntertainmentOne, a massive world-wide entertainment conglomerate, and as a result, this subsidiary of Hasbro has their hands in everything from two upcoming feature-film musicals from Steven Speilberg to animated and live-action TV series based on Hasbro properties and a world-wide network of movie and television distribution deals.

In the coming year we can expect a new animated Transformers series on Nickelodeon, another animated Transformers show for younger kids on Netflix, a live-action GI Joe series for Amazon Prime that focuses on Lady Jaye, a CGI My Little Pony series for Netflix and if you dig deep enough, you find an animated series based on Micronauts toys, which doesn’t have a home yet.

It’s a little bizarre to learn that Hasbro controls not only GI Joe and Transformers, but also PJ Mask and Peppa Pig…and Deathrow Records and the merchandising rights for Wu Tang Clan and The Lumineers.

Hasbro previously announced a slew of projects like G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes, which is due in theaters in October after being delayed from last year; a Dungeons & Dragons feature film starring Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez and Rege-Jean Page, and an animated television series based on the board game Clue.

In addition, the toymaker revealed plans for unscripted projects based on Monopoly, Mouse Trap, Easy Bake, Operation, Nerf and Play-Doh. Yep, they’re making reality and game shows, too.

In toy news, they did announce that Mr. Potato Head will be dropping the “Mr.” and will be sold as male, female and child tubers. I’m certain that some far-right-wing news outlets will fly into a rage over this so that they can continue to ignore the fact that the last Republican President attempted to engineer a violent coup to overthrow Democracy.

They also announced that characters from Lord of the Rings and Warhammer 40K  will be turning up in Magic: The Gathering later this year.

The Big Show Changes Channels

Paul Wight, the large athlete formerly known as “The Big Show,” made a big jump this week, leaving WWE after more than twenty years to jump to AEW, the upstart rivals who offer serious competition for Vince McMahon’s wrestling behemoth.

This is actually a rare instance where the move will probably turn out for the best for all three parties.

The Big Show (who will no longer be able to use that name) was not happy with the new contract that WWE offered, which was reportedly a “Legends deal,” where he would be paid a stipend to make public appearances, but would be considered semi-retired from the ring.

Basically, WWE, which has a problem right now attracting younger viewers, didn’t have a place for him to work full-time. Big Show’s WWE-produced sitcom for Netflix, The Big Show Show, was not renewed for a second season (it was unwatchably awful) and even though Wight is in really good shape, they just couldn’t justify paying him what he felt he deserved.

Meanwhile, AEW swooped in and signed Wight to a contract that will have him acting as a commentator for a new weekly YouTube series, and working the occasional match in the ring. For AEW it’s a visibility-raising move, bringing in somebody that wrestling fans have been watching for more than two decades, but not forcing him to carry the wrestling end of their show.

For Wight, this keeps him in the public eye, and gets his very large foot in the door with Warnermedia, who broadcast Dynamite, AEW’s flaghsip show, on TNT, in case they want to develop a project for him that isn’t as awful as The Big Show Show.

Wight is a very likeable, gifted comic talent who has proven that he can hold his own in an acting setting, if he isn’t saddled with poor material. Wight gets instant street cred by working with the hipper, younger new wrestling company. Plus he can now use his real name, and build that as a brand, instead of just being a WWE trademarked character.

AEW gets the rub by having a popular legend on the staff who has great recognition among non-wrestling fans. I know they just added Sting to their roster late last year, but to non-wrestling fans, “Sting” is the guy who used to sing for The Police, not some guy who dresses like The Crow. Wight has a higher “Q” rating, and that can’t hurt.

WWE doesn’t have to figure out how to make a guy who’s pushing fifty seem fresh to a viewing audience that’s been steadily shrinking for twenty years. It’s a shame that they probably won’t put The Big Show in the WWE Hall of Fame any time soon, but the last thing they need right now is another wrestler past the age of forty chasing their major championships.

It’s a win-win-win.

Sir Paul Writes A Book

It has been announced that Paul McCartney, who has resisted offers to write an autobiography for decades, will be releasing a book on November 2 that will come pretty darned close to telling his life story.

The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present will present annotated lyrics to every key song McCartney has writen to date. The pre-order price is a hundred bucks, for 960 pages in two volumes, enclosed in a slipcover.

Let’s just quote the PR:

A work of unparalleled candor and splendorous beauty, The Lyrics celebrates the creative life and the musical genius of Paul McCartney through 154 of his most meaningful songs.

From his early Liverpool days, through the historic decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his long solo career, The Lyrics pairs the definitive texts of 154 Paul McCartney songs with first-person commentaries on his life and music. Spanning two alphabetically arranged volumes, these commentaries reveal how the songs came to be and the people who inspired them: his devoted parents, Mary and Jim; his songwriting partner, John Lennon; his “Golden Earth Girl,” Linda Eastman; his wife, Nancy McCartney; and even Queen Elizabeth, among many others.

Here are the origins of “Let It Be,” “Lovely Rita,” “Yesterday,” and “Mull of Kintyre,” as well as McCartney’s literary influences, including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and Alan Durband, his high-school English teacher.

With images from McCartney’s personal archives―handwritten texts, paintings, and photographs, hundreds previously unseen―The Lyrics, spanning sixty-four years, becomes the definitive literary and visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

If you wish the pre-order this epic tome, check it out at Amazon, and set aside a few weeks to read it.

And that is this week’s PopCulteer. I hope that this MG flare-up subsides so I can bring more cool news, photos and reviews. I’ve got a teetering stack of cool stuff in my living room, but haven’t felt like jumping into it. We will have fresh content every day, as well as all our regular features.

Great Comics Of The 1980s

The PopCult Comix Bookshelf

DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras
(DC Through the Decades)
Edited by Paul Levitz
DC Comics
ISBN-13 : 978-1779500878
$49.99 (discounted at Amazon)

DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras is a pretty wild collection of comics, accompanied by some terrific essays. This expansive and eclectic collection of stories published by DC, mainly in the first half of the 1980s, reveals a level of quality and variety that was not fully appreciated at the time.

Most of this collection pre-dates the publication of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, which most folks point to as the turning point where DC Comics pulled far ahead of Marvel in terms of quality and innovation. The stories here prove that DC, under the direction of Jeanette Khan and Paul Levitz, was already nurturing a creative environment where seasoned veteran comics creators found creative a resurgence while collaborating with then-newcomers.

The 1980s was an exciting time to be a comic book reader. This book shows why that was the case. Comics were migrating from the mainstream distribution channels, and were becoming a hobby item, sold primarily in specialty shops. This decade was sort of the last gasp of true variety in comic books, as most comic shops catered almost exclusively to superhero fans and hobby speculators.

As with any 500-plus page book devoted to DC Comics, we get stories featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. However, except for the often-reprinted “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” Superman stories, we are treated to some unjustly overlooked gems, even starring DC’s “Trinity.”

The first third of this book is devoted to DC’s superheroes, which have always been the mainstay of the publisher. However the stories selected by Levitz are superb. Batman is represented by a 40-page story from the final issue of The Brave and the Bold. This story is written by Mike Barr and features gorgeious art by Dave Gibbons, who would go on to draw Watchmen a few years later.

That is the first story in the book and it sets the tone as we are treated to a two-part Wonder Woman story with terrific art by the much-maligned Don Heck, as well as some great stories starring The Flash, Firestorm and Superman. The superhero stories are filled with great villains and alternate-universe shenanigans, and we are treated to art by Carmine Infanto, Walt Simonson, Denys Cown and Rich Buckler along the way.

With appropriate space given to the supeheroes, DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras moves on with a section devoted to “Mystery” stories (the word “horror” was still forbidden by the Comics Code Authority at this point). This section is a blast, as we are treated to artwork by some true legends of comics like Irwin Hasen, Lee Elias, Infantino, Tom Sutton, Nester Redondo, Gil Kane and Johnny Craig, illustrating stories from a mix of veteran writers and newcomers,

The next section of the book covers their war titles, and we are treated to Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert on a Sgt. Rock story, plus Sam Glanzman drawing an adventure of The Haunted Tank. We also get to see a couple of short early pieces by first-wave Kubert School graduates Steve Bissette and Rick Veitch. One minor complain here is that, while some of the war and mystery stories may have been published in the 80s, a few were sitting around in inventory for a while. A war story with brilliant art by Ric Estrada is included here, but it sports a very large “’72” next to the artist’s signature.

The “Other Worlds” section includes a story from Mike Grell’s Warlord, plus a couple of short sci-fi tales and a two-part Jonah Hex epic. This again demonstrates the variety of different comics that DC published in the 80s.

After that, we get a section of the book titled “Endings and Beginnings,” and it includes a seemingly random assortment of really great comic book stories. We get an issue of Super Friends guest-starring Plastic Man; one issue of the Mark Evanier/Dan Speigle run of Blackhawk,  a series which really should be collected into a single deluxe volume (I think this is the first time any of these stories have been reprinted); a Slam Bradley short from Detective Comics #500; a few weeks of The Worlds Greatest Superheroes comic strip; and in what makes this truly random, a He-Man and the Masters of the Universe story, drawn by legendary Superman artist, Curt Swan.

Rounding out that section of the book, and making things even more random, we are presented with some of the glorious artwork of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, from DC’s consumer products style guide.

I think that maybe less than half of the stories in this book have ever been reprinted before, and this adds to the specialness of this collection.

But wait…there’s more.

The final section of DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras collects Alan Moore’s two-part farewell Valentine to Superman (before his subsequent reboot by John Byrne), which to be honest, has been reprinted more than a few times. In fact, a deluxe hardcover edition of these stories (plus a couple of other Moore Superman stories) was published just one week after DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras.

These are great stories, but the real attraction is the text bonus that immediately follows them.

DC has finally officially published Alan Moore’s 1987 20-plus page proposal for a company-wide DC Comics crossover story that was to be called “Twilight of the Superheroes.”

DC paid Moore a kill fee, but passed on developing the project, and shortly thereafter Alan Moore split from DC Comics over a myriad of reasons.

Rather than attempt to condense it myself, I’m going to share the Wikipedia synopsis with you:

The framing device of the story involves future versions of John Constantine and Rip Hunter travelling to the present day, ostensibly to prevent a catastrophe involving the superheroes of their time. The hook through which the series would connect with other titles is the attempts of the two time travelers to recruit others into their quest to alter the future through warning them of upcoming events. Individual books in the DC Universe could tie into the crossover or not, as their creators wished, by having Hunter or Constantine show up and warn the stars of the book of some event. The main narrative of the series involves Constantine relating the story of what has happened in the future to his present-day self over drinks in a bar.

The series was set in the future where the world is ruled by superheroic dynasties, including the House of Steel (presided over by Superman and his wife Wonder Woman) and the House of Thunder (consisting of the Marvel Family) as well as houses built around the Teen Titans, the Justice League, and an alliance of supervillains. The Houses of Steel and Thunder are about to unite through the marriage of Superboy and Mary Marvel, with their combined power potentially threatening the status quo, and several characters attempt to stop it. One group of opponents is a shadowy cabal of non-powered heroes led by Batman. Another involves an alien alliance of the Green Lantern Corps, Martians, and Thanagarians. Constantine’s narrative of the future ends with a massive battle between the various factions, resulting in the death of most of the superpowered characters.

A side story would show a decaying superhero ghetto where decrepit versions of old heroes live. In the final part of the present time framing device it would be revealed that Hunter and Constantine had traveled back in time not to prevent the future they came from, but to ensure its coming true. The final battle depicted in the book resulted in humanity being freed from the control of superheroes, a prospect that Hunter and Constantine supported.

The series would have restored the DC Multiverse, which had been eliminated in the 1985 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, the series would also have been a significantly darker take on DC characters than had previously been published, with many of the future versions of the heroes depicted as murderers, perverts and tyrants. A central plot element of the series, for example, involves the Question investigating the bondage-themed murder of someone who turns out to be Billy Batson. The series was never commissioned, but copies of Moore’s detailed notes have appeared on the Internet and in print, despite the efforts of DC, which considers the proposal its property.

A number of story elements from Twilight of the Superheroes have made their way into works later published by DC Comics. The 1991 crossover Armageddon 2001, for example, involves a messenger from the future traveling to the present to convince superheroes to avoid a disastrous future. A dark future vision of superheroes as irresponsible was shown in the series Kingdom Come. DC later introduced a more flexible approach to continuity, similar to what Moore proposed, with the idea of Hypertime. Finally, the miniseries Infinite Crisis, along with the series 52, reintroduced the multiverse to DC comics. Other changes to individual characters that appear in the proposal, such as the Teen Titan Cyborg becoming almost wholly mechanical, were introduced as well.

That’s some pretty heavy and dark stuff, and from the looks of DC’s Future State concept, which is currently being published, they are still strip-mining Moore’s proposal from 34 years ago.

For many fans, the publication of Twilight of the Superheroes is worth the price of the book. I have to wonder if its inclusion here influenced some of Levitz’s story choices.

An added bonus in this collection, and something that has been sorely lacking in many recent DC Comics collections, are new essays recounting these remarkable times from participants Elliot S! Maggin, J.M. DeMatteis, Andy Kubert, Jack C. Harris, and Paul Kupperberg.

This is the first of three comprehensive volumes exploring DC in the 1980s, compiled by former DC Comics president and veteran comics writer Paul Levitz. While it’s hard to imagine how he’ll top this effort in the subsequent volumes, I have to say I’m intrigued and looking forward to the prospect. The next volume is due out in May, and is devoted the DC’s more “experimental” projects.

You should be able to order DC Through the 80s: The End of Eras from any bookseller, or get it at a discount from Amazon.

By George! It’s The Beatles On The AIR!

One day before what would have been George Harrison’s 78th birthday, The AIR pays our respects with a brand-new episode of Beatles Blast, hosted by your humble blogger, premiering Wednesday at 2 PM. You can listen at The AIR Website, or on the nifty little player over in the right-hand column of this here blog.

This is the fourth of our solo Beatles spotlight shows, and for this one I decided to go with deep album cuts instead of smash hits, because this shows off the depth of Harrison’s post-Beatles career. We offer up at least one track from each of his solo albums (except for Wonderwall Music) and toss in a couple of surprises along the way.

Check out the playlist…

Beatles Blast 067

George Harrison

“Under the Mersey Wall (excerpt)”
“Wah Wah”
“Try Some Buy Some”
“Hari’s On Tour Express”
“This Guitar (Can’t Keep From Crying)”
“Woman Don’t You Cry For Me”
“Soft-Hearted Hana”
“Save The World”
“Wake Up My Love”
“Dream Away (Theme from Time Bandits)”
“Fish On The Sand”
“Wreck of the Hesperus”
“P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)”
“Any Road”
“Cheer Down”
“Going Down To Golder’s Green”
“It’s Johnny’s Birthday”

Beatles Blast can be heard every Wednesday at 2 PM, with replays Thursday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM, Saturday afternoon, and the following Tuesday at 9 AM.

At 3 PM on Curtain Call, Mel Larch we continue our Bealtemania with an encore of an episode devoted to excerpts from the very rare Beatlemania original cast album. This episode first ran three years ago, during The AIR’s “Beatles Week” event that was tied to the Rubber Soul marathon concert of (almost) every Beatles song.

Curtain Call can be heard on The AIR Wednesday at 3 PM, with replays Thursday at 8 AM and 9 PM, and Saturday at 8 PM. A six-hour marathon of classic episodes can be heard Sunday evening starting at 6 PM, and an all-night marathon of Curtain Call episodes can be heard Wednesday nights, beginning at Midnight.

A Sudden and Unexpected RFC Marathon On The AIR Tuesday

This wasn’t originally in our plans, but as regular readers of PopCult know, sometimes plans change.

We are running a 24-hour Marathon of Radio Free Charleston V5 on our sister internet radio station The AIR from 9 AM Tuesday to 11 AM Wednesday.

There are two good reasons for this. First, our server is filling up again, and after we play these shows, they are going to have to go into storage for a while.

Second, when I began to work on a new RFC for this week, I realized that I was in the middle of Myasthenia Gravis flare-up, and between double-vision and wonky fingers, it was going to be a pain in the ass to put a three-hour show together (not to mention an extra hour of The Swing Shift).

I do plan to return with a new show next week.

Instead of slogging away and craking out a show where I’d seem grumpy and distracted, I plugged in a marathon so I could take a week off, and also give these older episodes from the middle of last year one last spin on our virtual turntables before they go into hiding.

In the unlikely event that you aren’t familiar with Radio Free Charleston Volume Five, this is a weekly (ish) three-hour show that blends tons of local music in with my fresh take on free-form radio. You will hear local music from my 30-plus year archive, and you’ll also get to hear a wild assortment of whatever the hell I feel like playing, whether it’s indie-rock, progressive, punk, jazz, classic rock, deep cuts, weird novelty tunes, ska, New Wave or whatever.

My plan is to take it easy for a couple of days. I hope to have a special new episode of Beatles Blast ready for Wednesday, and I may slap on an eyepatch so I can catch up and review some of the books and comics that I have piling up. I’ll also be sorting out some toy news this week. That’s my idea of taking it easy. There will still be fresh content here in the blog. It just might seem a little half-assed.

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.

Monday Morning Art: Morning City Scene

Almost a year ago today, in the description for a Monday Morning Art piece, I mentioned Coronavirus by name for the first time. I’d been aware of it since mid-December of 2019, when my toy industry contacts gave me a heads up, and I decided to skip attending last year’s Toy Fair in New York. With the world on hold, I haven’t been able to travel, and I find myself, just like last week, missing Chicago. So this week I knocked out a random cityscape, from memory, of some of the buildings in the Windy City.

This was done with pastel crayons on airbrush paper, and then It was scanned through a layer of plastic to keep me from schmutzing-up my scanner. Because of that, I did a little color correction to make it look more like the original piece. I’d be schocked if this matches up with a real view, since I was just trying to mash together different buildings from the River North district, and present them with what I hope seems like realistic lighting.

If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday at 9 AM on The AIR, we bring you six episodes of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL, so you can boogie down and disco dance your way though the day. That might be a better idea for those of you still working from home. Then you can tune into a recent episode of  Prognosis at 3 PM.

Due to the lockdown in the UK, the Haversham Recording Institute programs will be in rerun mode for the next few weeks.  Luckily we have a pretty extensive library of high-quality repeats to share with you.

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

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.

Sunday Evening Video: Lene Lovich Live

This week we go back to the days of New Wave Music (which you can re-visit every Friday at 3 PM on Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on The AIR–end plug) for a live concert by Lene Lovich (with a band that features a then-unknown Thomas Dolby on Keyboards).

Lovich is an amazing vocalist and sax player, born in Detroit, who moved to the UK as a teen and had been on the fringes of the music scene for a while before being signed to Stiff Records in 1978. Her career was launched with a pro-wrestling-style fake biography that said she was from some exotic Eastern European country and barely spoke English. The truth was that she spoke perfect English and had already rubbed shoulders with Salvador Dali, Chuck Berry, Arthur Brown and French Disco star Cerrone before she started putting out novelty-style cover songs, with her own New Wave classics on the B-Sides, in the mid-1970s.

This concert was the first New Wave concert at the famed Disco club, Studio 54. It’s just under an hour of pure New Wave bliss.

The RFC Flashback: MINI SHOW number 46

This week we go back to January, 2015, for an RFC MINI SHOW starring Anthony Hoey, recorded at Third Eye Cabaret.

Anthony was living in Charleston in 2007, during the early days of RFC, and we kept trying to get our schedules together, but it never happened, and he departed for a series of worldwide travels that took him to The West Coast, New York City and back to Dublin, Ireland. In 2014 he found himself back in Charleston, and we reconnected at Third Eye Cabaret, where the footage on this show was shot. I think he’s back in Ireland at the moment.

Random Notes From A Winter-Addled Brain

The PopCulteer
February 19, 2021

It’s Friday morning. Your PopCulteer has had a bit of a trying week. Last night, rather than sit down and force myself to crank out this PopCulteer column, I made the choice to turn off my brain so I could watch morons eating awful stuff on one of the cooking channels.

So now…I got nuthin’.

It’s time for a stream-of-consciousness post, filled with half-baked (and some quarter-baked) ideas that I never quite managed to get to congeal into a coherent blog post.

To start, as soon as I began my fourth attempt this morning at writing this post, the phone rang. It was a robocall sternly warning me that this was my last chance for an extended car warranty before they stop calling me forever. I have been getting this robocall almost every day (except for a glorious lull in telemarketing during the early months of the pandemic) for years.

I drive a 2004 Chrysler 300.  It’s not even eligible for one of these crooked extended warranty scams. So I hit the button to talk to a representative, told them I had a 1952 Studebaker, and when they said they couldn’t offer a warranty for any car made before 2006, I asked, in a colorful (that means loud and filled with expletives) manner why then do  they call me every day.  Then I hung up and tried to remember how I had originally planned to start this post.

Like I said, it’s been a rough week. My train of thought keeps getting derailed by all manner of distractions, plus the juggling of power outages, potential power outages, internet outages and on top of that I had a magazine deadline that was not made any easier by any of those things.

Then there is Myasthenia Gravis, the auto-immune disorder affecting one’s muscles which afflicts your PopCulteer. In the last two weeks of last year, my MG symptoms sudenly disappeared. All my symptoms vanished completely and I briefly entertained the hope that I may have gone into spontaneous remission. My double vision even went away, proving that my eye muscles have not completely atrophied. I was able to drive without corrective lenses.

I didn’t really expect it to last, so I enjoyed it while I could.

That brief vacation from MG lasted two weeks, then things went back the way they have been, which is not horrible–I am still lucky enough to have a very mild case of the disease–but it was a reminder that MG will ebb and flow, sometimes with little explanation.

The past few days, it’s been in “flow” mode, with it hitting me particularly bad, which has made writing a bit tricky. While typing, I’ll occasionally miss the key that I’m supposed to hit with my ring finger on either hand, and to be honest, I already make enough typos without any additional physical limitations, so I’ve had to triple-proofread everything I’ve written, and I’m sure I still missed a few things. My long-suffering editor at Non Sport Update will confirm this.

On top of that, the world has been distracting. I’ve got friends in Texas and I’m very concerned with the situation there. This freak storm system, combined with their decades of antiquated energy policies and senseless deregulation added up to a disaster in the making.  I hope things get cleared up there with minimal loss of life soon.

Our own weather has sucked enough to be distracting too, and where I am we didn’t get anywhere near the worst of this giant piece of climate change.

Meanwhile TV networks are announcing new programs like mad, leading up to the “upfronts,” the advertising meetings where they lay out their plans for the coming year. I’ll be telling you about some of this stuff in the coming days. It looks like Cartoon Network, which is currently split between Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, will now fragment further with an early-morning programming block called “Cartoonito,” aimed at pre-schoolers.

Then there was the matter of one of the worst human beings to ever soil the Earth with his presence dying and going straight to hell. I spent Wednesday in such an elevated mood that I was not able to get much of anything done. It was a glee that one rarely gets to experience, even if it did come thirty years too late. My grin was so wide that it restricted my field of vision.  The world is truly a better place now that he’s gone.

I woke up Thursday with a schadenfreude hangover. I’m not going to stain my blog with that bastard’s name, but I take solace in the fact that so many people who have been so brainwashed by his vile poison are so extremely sad. When those people are happy, very bad things happen to the world.

Happy days are here again.

Speaking of Happy Days, there is a whole channel devoted to Happy Days and its spin-off shows, Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy, on Pluto.TV. If you don’t know, Pluto is an app that you can watch on Roku, Smart TVs and other streaming devices, or on the web. It’s like an entire cable system, loaded with hudreds of channels. Since Viacom bought this app a couple of years back, they’ve beefed up their offerings with stuff from the Paramount/CBS/Viacom library, as well as programs from other suppliers. They even have a 24/7 channel devoted to America’s Test Kitchen, and they just added local CBS Newscasts from major cities like New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh.

There are channels devoted to Star Trek, Doctor Who, Comedy Central animation, and Johnny Carson. On other channels you’ll find classic episodes of American Pickers, The Walking Dead, The Sarah Silverman Show, Red Dwarf, The IT Crowd, Beavis and Butthead, and just recently they have started running new/old episodes of Night Flight.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the thousands of TV Shows and movies they have.

If you haven’t tried it, go check it out. It’s free.

The lack of a Toy Fair for 2021 means that we’re going to have a scattershot approach to our annual toy coverage this year. I offered up one post yesterday, and if I can keep from being distracted, next week I hope to bring you another dozen or so posts to tell you what’s coming to the world of toys in the coming year. I will probably not go into great detail on stuff that’s already all over social media and on other pop culture sites. I might just post links to that stuff. I’m going to try to shine the spotlight on toys that need some more exposure.

For instance, Bachmann Trains has some new Thomas The Tank Engine Sets coming out in HO Scale, like this one…

And with that pretty-cool toy, I’m going to wrap up this PopCulteer. Stay safe, stay warm, and check this blog for all our regular features.

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