I told you we weren’t done with the Braxton County Monster after our photo essay last week.
In 1995, my friend, Matt Mullins, and my brother, Frank Panucci teamed up to produce a pilot for a proposed television series devoted to the paranormal in West Virginia. This first episode of Weird Wonderful was all about The Braxton County Monster.
Nothing came of it, and the project was scrapped while the second episode, devoted to Mothman, was still in the early research phase.
After I revived Radio Free Charleston as a web video show in 2006, I started asking Frank what had happened with the footage. He had no idea, as he had moved on to other jobs and never really had that precise of a memory to begin with.
Digging around in a closet one day, looking for old footage of Charleston bands, I found a VHS cassette labelled “Braxton County” and it turned out that Frank wasn’t the only one with a faulty memory. Apparently I had not only narrated, but also edited the show into a workable finished package, and then managed to completely forget that I’d done either of those things.
I was able to digitize it and burn it to a DVD, and it was shown in public once, at the Radio Free Charleston Halloween event in 2008 at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston, thirteen years after it was produced.
Then it sat, forgotten, on one of my hard drives until last weekend, when I was reminded that I had this 24-minute documentary in my files, and had never shared it with my PopCult readers (except for a short trailer in an episode of RFC).
So here, on Halloween, thirteen more years after it was last seen in public, we have the pilot episode for Weird Wonderful, devoted to The Braxton County Monster.
Written and researched by Matt Mullins, with camera work, animation and direction by Frank Panucci, and narrated and edited by yours truly, this project could have easily been lost to foggy memories and dusty closets.
Matt did a killer job on the research, lining up interviews with James Haught and Terry Marchal of The Charleston Gazette, and UFO experts Richard Taylor and Bob Teets. Frank shot the video and contributed some animation that looks way better than anything created on such a primitive computer has any right to. I have vague memories of recording my narration using a cheap microphone plugged directly into the back of a VCR, and I’m guessing I added the heavy reverb while editing it. I had no input on the script.
The special thanks to Steve Gilliland, Marc Porter and Jamie Cope tell me that I must’ve edited this at West Virginia State College, a few years before it blossomed into a University. The occasional use of negative video tells me that this was probably shot with my old camcorder, and I would imagine Jamie Cope loaned the microphones and lights used on location.
The irony that every piece of equipment used on this project is far less sophisticated that what most people carry around on their phone today is not lost on me.
Above you see a compilation of (almost) every Halloween episode of Radio Free Charleston’s video show, plus a few other holiday-appropriate clips. You can see the episode we left out in last week’s RFC Flashback.
Tomorrow, PopCult’s Sunday Evening Video will be a very, very special holiday-appropriate video that hasn’t been seen anywhere for more than a dozen years.
And don’t forget, we still have Halloween programming all day Saturday and Sunday on The AIR!
Let me explain. I’m not a Halloween-hater. I just got burned out on the holiday of the macabre a few years ago because, to be honest, I enjoy horror movies and spooky stuff all year long, and being a non-drinker who should avoid candy, the holiday lost its luster for me. When every day’s like Halloween, then Halloween is just as special as an average Wednesday.
So I do have a bunch of Halloween stuff to tell you about, but first, it’s time to preview The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide.
I’m not really rushing it. It starts this coming Monday, like it has for the last several years. For a variety of reasons I’m shaking things up a bit this year. Instead of three or four posts a day for the month of November, there will be one post, with five, usually-themed, gift suggestions, every weekday. This will ease the server strain, now that I’m out on my own and not with The Charleston Gazette-Mail, and it’ll make my life a little easier.
Because of supply chain issues caused largely by the wretched ineptitude of the former resident of the White House, I’m going to be very picky, and will try to make sure my suggestions are actually available for sale somewhere. There are still residual effects from the pandemic that are messing with our retail options, too.
Books are tricky this year. We have a worldwide paper shortage, caused in part by Amazon buying up much of the world’s wood pulp supply to make boxes to ship stuff over the past two years. Toys are a low-priority for shippers because electronics and manufacturing components need to get through to keep factory workers employed. We have a massive trucker shortage because some idiot passed a giant tax cut for rich people in 2017, that also raised taxes on truckers, driving tens of thousands of them into retirement or other careers.
So…I’ll be recommending less of the cool, just-released stuff, and more of the cool things that I know are definitely in stock. I strongly suggest you buy local, whenever possible, but also, if you have to order something, do it early. The guy who lost the last election in a landslide also managed to wreck the postal service.
As a teaser, and unoffical gift idea, let me tell you about a new Monster High Skullector doll, Greta from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. She will go on sale Friday, at Noon, Eastern Time, and even at sixty bucks, plus shipping, she’ll probably sell out long before the end of Halloween on Sunday night. That’s her at the top of this post.
It’s a cool doll, with an incredible design, and it’s nice that Mattel Creations is throwing a few crumbs to the loyal collectors of Monster High.
If you’re interested, and quick on the draw, you can find her HERE.
However, I will not be recommending many gifts like this because of the limited nature, higher price and the chance that she may not ship on time. So she’s not an official entry in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide. I’m going to try to be a little more conservative, and offer more gift ideas for under fifty bucks this year. Times are still tough, and we’re not close to being out of the mess the GOP got us into.
But I’m still excited to bring you yet another PopCult Gift Guide. I’ve been doing this in one form or another since the blog started, back in 2005. I’m taking weekends off for the first time in over a decade because readership drops during the weekends, and I would like to get some sleep this year.
Also, I apologize if I got a little too political in this PopCulteer. I spent more than a couple of minutes on Facebook today, and was very disappointed to see some of my friends have become radicalized terrorist sympathizers, aligning with the forces of the Orange guy against Democracy. Why I’m barely on Facebook anymore is a topic for another column. I still have to tell you about Halloween stuff.
The Halloween Hootenanny
It’s a Charleston Halloween Empty Glass tradition. The line-up of bands (including many RFC Favorites) is amazing,.. and there’s no way in hell I’m going, because I don’t want to be around crowds during a pandemic. But I really hate missing this one. If you aren’t as concerned about COVID, then go. It’s a two-night affair, Friday and Saturday, and Saturday coincides with the HallowEast drunken street party, so “woo-hoo,” if you’re into that sort of thing.
You should know the drill by now. The pandemic is still not over. The numbers are improving, but are still pretty awful. If you are fully vaccinated and ready to do your best to stay safe, you should go check this stuff out. It’s Halloween weekend, so there’s really no excuse to go maskless
If anybody gives you grief over wearing a mask… it’s freaking Halloween. Throat-punch them and move on.
Use your common sense and stay safe…and support the local scene. And if you are so inclined, go to the Empty Glass for some great live music.
Halloween on The AIR
As we have in the past, The AIR will kick into Halloween mode Friday afternoon, and stay there until midnight, Sunday.
On The AIR, Halloween kicks off this afternoon, and you can listen at The Website, or on that spooky little embedded player. lurking at the top of the right column of this blog (on your desktop or laptop–I don’t know where the hell it is on your phone).
On our sister internet radio station, The AIR, Halloween begins at 2 PM Friday with an encore of last year’s Halloween episode of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL, which puts a disco spin on The Monster Mash (not actually that song, though…we couldn’t find a disco version of it).
At 3 PM Sydney Fileen brings us a Halloween-themed episodes of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat. 5 PM sees a replay of last year’s Halloween edition of Radio Free Charleston Volume 5, which includes our classic RFC International Horror Theater special.
Starting at 7 PM Friday and running until Midnight Sunday, we dig back into The AIR Archives for special Halloween programming that includes Scary episodes of Prognosis, Curtain Call, and Radio Free Charleston, plus some classic radio drama and a three-hour special of music inspired by Edgar Allen Poe.
This includes a chance to hear Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds, Friday at 10 PM, following the Prognosis presentation of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. Saturday at 5 PM, and Sunday at 9 AM and 9:20 PM you can hear the entire final Halloween concert by Oingo Boingo, from 1995. We’ve snuck in a few other new compilations of Halloween music and radio plays throughout the weekend.
With that, I feel like I’ve done enough to contribute to Halloween this year.
And that is this week’s uncharacteristically cranky PopCulteer. Sorry about that. It’s been a long day. Check back for our regular features, and next Monday be sure to take a look at our Monday Morning Art with a piece I haven’t made yet. Later Monday we will begin The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide.
While your PopCulteer and his lovely wife, Mel Larch, were galavanting around the highways of West/Central West Virginia last weekend, we got a wild hair to visit the Flatwoods Monster Museum on the home stretch of our premature leaf-peeping tour.
The museum is smallish, one room in an old Fountain drugstore, I think, but it’s filled with tons and tons of cool stuff devoted to the Flatwoods Monster, or as I’ve always called him (or her), The Braxton County Monster. I’m going to cop the description of the fabled incident from their website, along with a live link…
It was almost fully dark on the evening of September 12th, 1952. Edward May, Freddie May, Neil Nunley, and Tommy Hyer, all young residents of the town of Flatwoods, were playing on the lawn of the Flatwoods Elementary School. Suddenly, a bright light streaked across the sky overhead and appeared to crash into a hillside on G. Bailey Fisher’s farm. To find out how the story end, click here.
I knew about The Braxton County Monster long before I’d ever heard of Mothman, and the additional element of an extraterrestrial origin makes it much more up my cryptozoological alley. I have to admit, I have an affinity for the space aliens. Sorry Mothy, but I’m all-in for the BCM. Not that you aren’t cool in your own way.
If you know Sutton, the museum is hard to miss. If you don’t, it isn’t hard to miss at all. My advice…when Google maps says to take a hard left, take a hard left. Check their Facebook page to make sure they’re open.
Anyway, we found the place on a quiet Sunday. A very friendly attendant left us to our own exploratory devices, and I’m bringing you some of the photos today. I didn’t want to show everything, because you really ought to go there yourself. The museum doubles as The Braxton County Visitors Center, so you can find information on all sorts of other things you can get into around the area (heck, there’s a Bigfoot Museum on the same street).
Since I’m in a Braxton County Monster Mood, I’ll give you a heads up that you might hear about Braxxie again this weekend, in PopCult’s Sunday Evening Video.
Without any further ado, here’s some photos of the museum, with a few captions…
The front door only hints at the weird, wonderful treasures within.
Upon entry we are greeted by Dale Morton’s rendition of the Monster, in mascot uniform form. Not the last cool thing created by a friend that we’d see here.
Last weekend yours truly and Mrs. PopCulteer took a leisurely weekend mini-trip, obstensibly to see the lovely colors of the fall foliage. It was a pleasant and relaxing trip, but to be honest…we went too soon. The leaves have not yet burst forth in their full technicolor glory.
We still had a wonderful time, and we could see a few examples of the trees that turned sooner than those around them…sort of like the first few people who timidly get on their feet for a standing ovation, not knowing if the folks around them would join in.
So I got a few decent photos of leaves, early in the process of turning colors, while we drove the leafy triangle of Charleston to Parkersburg to Clarksburg and back. Most of these photos were taken along Route 50, but a few are from Interstate 79. We might do this again in a couple of weeks when the colors are more spectacular. It all depends on how far ahead I can get on The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide. As you can see, the sky ranged from a grim and dreary gray to a bright and sunny blue. It was the luck of the draw.
We made a couple of other fun stops along the way, and you’ll see photos from one of those tomorrow. But now, sans captions (’cause I’m feeling lazy), here are some leaf photos…
Tuesday on The AIR your blogger and radio show host once again shirks his duties and delivers a patchwork edition of Radio Free Charleston. Preparations for the start of next week’s PopCult Gift Guide have devoured my time, so you get to revisit the recent past of 2019. Since my gift guiderly duties are what pulled me away from producing a fresh show this week, I decided to go back to the final episode of RFC Volume Four, which also doubled as an entree in the 2019 PopCult Gift Guide. That makes up the first hour of this week’s show.
For our second and third hours, you get a swell vintage episode of RFC International, from around the same time. To hear all this wonderfulness you simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and listen to the cool embedded player over at the top of the right column.
At 10 AM and 10 PM you can hear this compilation of RFC volume 4, episode 125 and RFC International 072. This year I probably won’t devote a show to the PopCult Gift Guide like I did back in 2019, but that’s because many local bands will be getting full-fledged entries in the guide this year. I’ll tell you more about The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide on Friday.
hour two Andy Partridge “Humanoid Boogie”
Moron Police “Beware The Blue Skies”
The Hatters “Обижен”
Wax “Right Between The Eyes”
Argyle Gooslby “Blood Cave”
Hans Gruber and the Die Hards “American Hero”
The Beautiful South “36D”
Residente “La Sombra”
Cherie Currie & Brie Darling “Something In The AIR”
Mark Knopfler “The Boxer”
Hollywood Vampires “Heroes”
PP Arnold “Different Drum”
The Pretenders “Stop Your Sobbing”
Buck O Nine “Tuff Rudeboy”
Ringo Starr “We’re On The Road Again”
Julian Cope “Psychedelic Revolution”
Waddy Wachtel “Wadraga”
Billy Sherwood “Sailing The Seas”
Terry Draper “Everything Will Be All Right”
Rupert Hine “Anvils In Five”
Paul McCartney “Dominos”
The Gift “Long Time Dead”
Fish On Friday “Godspeed”
You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM and 7 PM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight, and Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can hear a different episode of RFC every weekday at 5 PM, and we bring you a marathon all night long Saturday night/Sunday morning.
I’m also going to embed a low-fi, mono version of this show right in this post, right here so you can listen on demand.
After RFC, stick around for encores of MIRRORBALL at 1 PM, and NOISE BRIGADE at 2 PM. At 3 PM we have two recent episodes of The Swing Shift.
The PopCult Gift Guide starts Monday, but you should also expect an all-new three-hour RFC next week.
This week’s art is the last of our Inktober drawings, and for this one I decided to give myself some extra burdens. This was a timed drawing. I did it in 20 minutes. Also, I used no photo reference or rulers or straight-edges. I decided to attempt a city scene, using my imagination.
And…I did it left-handed (I’m a rightie, normally). Due to Myasthenia Gravis, I could hold the pens better in my left hand the day I drew this. It’s cheap markers on airbrush paper (not a great combination, by the way–the ink smears like crazy).
I probably screwed up the dimensions of the buildings, which should range from three to six stories high, but don’t appear to be in scale with one another.
I was happy enough with it that you get to see the results, as sloppy as they are.
If you want to see it a bit bigger, just click on it.
Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a recent episode of Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a recent edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis. You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.
We gave the Haversham folks the week off so that they could prepare for Halloween.
PsychedelicShack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM, and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.
You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.
At 8 PM, we brng you an encore of Michele Zirkle’s Life Speaks Special, featuring her appearance on the Myrony podcast. That’s followed by an all-night preview marathon of this weekend’s Halloween programming on The AIR.
This week we depart our usual chronological trip through the Radio Free Charleston archives to go back eleven years to a pretty major departure from our usual format. Back in 2010, for some reason, I thought it would be good idea for the RFC Halloween special to make a whole cheesy horror movie, in black-and-white, and present it as an episode of the show.
I had the bright idea to make “Jazz From Hell,” named after a Frank Zappa album, this movie attempted to be a cross between “White Zombie,” “Dragnet,” and “Reefer Madness.” It’s about a Mad Scientist who creates a mutant strain of marijuana that turns people who smoke it into zombie jazz musicians.
It wasn’t a bad idea. In fact, it was a really good idea. However, the execution fell a bit short. Basically I forgot the number one thing they teach you in film school…don’t start shooting without a script. I thought I could apply my usual guerilla filmmaking techniques to a narrative film, and, well, it’s eleven years later and the film remains about 60% unfinished.
However, I had enough footage on hand to slap together an extended trailer, which became our 2010 Halloween Special. It’s about 13 minutes of the movie, plus a promo spot for HallowEast by KD Lett. This was during the period that I was uploading Radio Free Charleston to Vimeo instead of YouTube, so when I compiled a YouTube playlist of all our Halloween shows, this one got left out. You will see the rest of the RFC Halloween shows next week. For now you get to see its of the unfinished goofball horror epic, “Jazz From Hell,” starring yours truly, with Melanie Larch, Chelsea Cook, Lee Harrah, Craig Auge, Duncan Stokes, Donnie Smith, Abby Rhodes and Steven Allen Adams.
Friday afternoon we offer up lovely and remarkable new episodes of MIRRORBALL and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat, and we offer up a brand-new Life Speaks to Michele Zirkle special Friday evening! The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.
At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music presents a salute to the Disco artist who inspired the creation of this show. Mel will tell you all about it in this hour-long presentation of the best of the first two albums by Andrea True Connection. Check out the playlist…
Andrea True Connection
“Keep It Up Longer”
“More, More, More”
“Fill Me Up (Heart To Heart)”
“What’s Your Name, What’s Your Number”
“You Make Love Worthwhile”
“Life Is What You Make It”
“N.Y., You Got Me Dancing”
You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays this Saturday at 8 PM (kicking off a mini-marathon), Sunday at 11 PM, Monday at 9 AM, and Tuesday at 1 PM exclusively on The AIR.
At 3 PM, Sydney Fileen graces us with a terrific new episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat dedicated to another seminal New Wave record label (and management company), IRS, or The International Record Syndicate. Run by Miles Copeland (brother of Stewart Copeland, drummer for the police), IRS was sort of the American counterpart of Stiff Records in the UK, and brought many British acts to these shores, along with developing an amazing slate of American New Wave stalwarts.
Just check out this star-studded playlist to be amazed…
The Police “Roxanne”
The Go Gos “Can’t Stop The World”
Squeeze “Cool For Cats”
Concrete Blonde “Tomorrow Wendy”
Wall of Voodoo “Blackboard Sky”
Stewart Copeland and Stan Ridgeway “Don’t Box Me In”
The English Beat “Mirror In The Bathroom”
The Cramps “Human Fly”
Skafish “Sign of the Cross”
The Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen In Love”
The Stranglers “Get A Grip (On Yourself)”
Magazine “Shot By Both Sides”
Fine Young Cannibals “She Drives Me Crazy”
Oingo Boingo “Violent Love”
Klark Kent “Office Talk”
The Alarm “Sixty-Eight Guns”
Humans “I Live In The City”
R.E.M. “It’s The End of the World As We Know It”
Berlin “It’s A Matter of Time”
General Public “As A Matter of Fact”
Sparks “I Predict”
Fleshtones “Ride Your Pony”
Bangles “Hero Takes A Fall”
Let’s Active “Every Word Means No”
Lords of the New Church “Like A Virgin”
Timbuk 3 “All I Want For Christmas”
Jane Wiedlin “Modern Romance”
The Bolshoi “Please”
Camper Van Beethoven “Pictures of Matchstick Men”
Klark Kent “Don’t Care”
Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.
We are not done with the new programming once our music specialty programs wrap up Friday. At 9 PM we welcome Author and podcaster, Michele Zirkle back to our airwaves with a new Life Speaks special. Actually, this is a re-presentation of Michele’s recent appearance on Alysha Myronuk’s podcast, That’s Myrony (my+irony) which chronicles the crazy coincidences that happen in life that we can’t explain…it’s also another word for sign/synchronicity. Michele shares how her spiritual gifts opened up after she and her family had an unexplainable paranormal experience that eventually required a priest to do an exorcism on her house. What is more “myronic,” this paranormal experience ended up being a huge catalyst of self and spiritual discovery for Michele which she now helps others by teaching mindfulness and is also a holistic healing practitioner and life coach.
It’s a great interview, and you can hear more from That’s MyronyHERE.
We will replay this Life Speaks special program Satruday at 6 PM, Sunday at 7 AM and Monday at 8 PM.
That’s what’s on The AIR Friday, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back because we have a fresh post every day.