Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: November 2021 (Page 1 of 5)

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Twenty-Two-Comedy

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide leaves ’em laughing with a comedy-themed final day to end November and this year’s guide.  The new format I chose this year–one post every weekday with five items, instead of three or four posts every day–turned out to be much less stressful, although I did wind up slotting in reruns for today’s programming on The AIR because I finally had too many tasks collide to do everything at once.

The plan is for today to be the final entry in the guide. Thursday I will run a list of local retailers that folks should support. Friday will bring the Master List for The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide, and then I can start concentrating on all sorts of other projects. But for now, it’s our final day and our theme is Comedy.

All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business
by Mel Brooks
Ballantine Books
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593159118
$29.99 (discounted at Amazon, and available in Paperback and Audio versions)

I always intended to kick off our final day with this book, which is just officially published today. It’s Mel Brook’s autobiography, telling his entire life story including his amazing career writing for Sid Ceasar, co-creating the TV show Get Smart, and his incredible run as a movie director of comedy classics like The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so many more. We also get details on his side gig producing serious movies like David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, The Fly and Frances, and then find out about his Broadway Musicals that adapted his hit movies.

Let’s check out the publisher’s blurb…

For anyone who loves American comedy, the long wait is over. Here are the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances from a master storyteller, filmmaker, and creator of all things funny.

All About Me! charts Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke. His iconic career began with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, where he was part of the greatest writers’ room in history, which included Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. After co-creating both the mega-hit 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and the classic television series Get Smart, Brooks’s stellar film career took off. He would go on to write, direct, and star in The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs, as well as produce groundbreaking and eclectic films, including The Elephant Man, The Fly, and My Favorite Year. Brooks then went on to conquer Broadway with his record-breaking, Tony-winning musical, The Producers.

All About Me! offers fans insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations Brooks had, including those with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, Alfred Hitchcock, and the great love of his life, Anne Bancroft.

Filled with tales of struggle, achievement, and camaraderie (and dozens of photographs), readers will gain a more personal and deeper understanding of the incredible body of work behind one of the most accomplished and beloved entertainers in history.

This book is obviously recommended for any fan of Brooks’ work, and should be required reading for anyone with an interest in comedy. Available from any bookseller, but discounted at Amazon.

The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History Box Set
by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks
sold by Amazon

Since we’re on the subject of Mel Brooks, I thought I’d offer up this boxed set of all the recordings of Brooks and Carl Reiner’s 2000 Year Old Man. They did this character, with Brooks as the old man and Reiner as the interviewer, first at parties, then they developed it into a stage act.

I think the animated cartoon based on these records was the first time I was exposed to Mel Brooks (that I was aware of). I became a huge fan, and made sure to see Silent Movie when it hit theaters the following year.

Remastered for the 50th anniversary of the birth of The 2000 Year Old Man in 2009, this DVD/3 CD set contains all 5 comedy albums released by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks including 2000 Years With Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks, The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000, and the three albums between those releases from 1961 and 1997.

Also included is a DVD with that animated TV Special that I mentioned above, plus some television appearances from the 1960s on shows with Ed Sullivan and Jack Parr.

This is a great gift for anybody with a healthy sense of humor.

The Misadventures of Biffle & Shooster
DVD
Sold by Amazon and other video retailers

This is a bit of a bittersweet entry, since one of the performers of this semi-imaginary comedy team, Will Ryan, just passed away a few weeks ago, but this is still a very intriguing and hilarious gift idea for the fan of classic comedy teams on your shopping list.

I’ll let them explain it…

Remember when the Golden Age of Hollywood was full of great comedy duos like Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Olsen & Johnson and Biffle & Shooster? Wait, what? WHO?

Okay, so they weren’t really from the 1930s, but these astoundingly authentic and hilarious shorts have actually made audiences believe that those Merry Madcaps of Mayhem worked their screwball magic back then.

Award-winning filmmaker Michael Schlesinger and his enormously talented cast and crew throw themselves into the zaniness with gleeful abandon, stars Will Ryan and Nick Santa Maria are as versatile as they are uproarious, and you’ll spot some familiar faces popping up here and there.

Packed with extras, The Misadventures of Biffle and Shooster brilliantly recreates the era when comedy was actually funny. So relax, everyone: Biffle & Shooster will Make America Laugh Again!

Special Features: Hilarious Commentary On All Five Shorts By Filmmaker Michael Schlesinger And Stars Nick Santa Maria And Will Ryan | 1928 Vitaphone Short FIRST THINGS LAST | Spanish Outtake From IMITATION OF WIFE • MAD MAD WORLD outtake | 1962 Interview With The Team | Will Rogers PSA | “Turn Off Your Phone” And Other Bumpers | Deleted Scenes | Alternate Takes and Extended Musical Numbers | Behind the Scenes Footage | Trailers | Plus Nearly One Full Hour of Bloopers and Outtakes!

Any student of comedy will love this. Thanks to Mark Evanier for writing about this so much that I checked it out myself.

Looney Tunes Parodies Collection
DVD
Sold at TCM.com

Like many people, I cut my comedy eye teeth on Looney Tunes. This collections spans the decades with entries from the 1930s to the 2000s, and it’s loaded with Looney Tunes’ favorite characters. Yu can expect to see Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam and more in action.

Of course this includes “What’s Opera Doc?” which is worth the price of the disc alone. Here’s the rundown from the back of the DVD box…

Here’s looking at you, wabbit! Dive into a compendium of parody hilarity from the vaults of WB animation with this collection of 20 side-splitting shorts and TV specials, both old and new. Includes “I Love to Singa” (1936), “Hollywood Steps Out” (1941), “Rabbit Hood” (1949), “Rabbit of Seville” (1950), “Rabbitson Crusoe” (1956), “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957), “Hare-Abian Nights” (1959), “How Bugs Bunny Won the West” (1978), “The Duxorcist” (1987), “Chariots of Fur” (1994), “Carrotblanca” (1995), “Little Go Beep” (2000), “Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas” (2004), and more. 183 min. total.

Recommended for any kid or adult who loves animation and Looney Tunes. It’s cool to have this selection all in one place for a pretty low price.

Monty Python’s Total Rubbish – The Complete Collection
by Monty Python
Sold by Amazon

Our final entry in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide (and one of the most expensive) is this complete collection of all of the Monty Python comedy albums on CD, crammed into a beautifully-illustrated box wth a bonus 7-inch vinyl single and bonus tracks on every CD.

Originally plopped out to take advantage of their 2014 reunion shows, this career spanning box set entitled Monty Python’s Total Rubbish: The Complete Collection is pretty much everything you need to own the audio side of a complete Python archive.

It includes Monty Python’s nine UK albums: Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Another Monty Python Record, Monty Python’s Previous Record, Matching Tie and Handkerchief, Live at Drury Lane, Holy Grail, Life of Brian, Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album and The Meaning Of Life – all united for the first time to create the ultimate collectors’ edition purchase. Both CD and LP releases also include a limited edition 7” Single of their 1974 flexi-disc Monty Python’s Tiny Black Round Thing.

If you have a die-hard Python fan on your shopping list, then this is the perfect gift for them,since they probably already have the TV shows and movies.

And there you have it…roughly 110 gift suggestions spread out over the month of November here in PopCult. Check back for fresh content every day, and the Master List on Friday.

 

ZURU MINI FASHION Unboxed!

Above you see the latest PopCult unboxing video, and it’s really cool because it’s for a new collectible toy that won’t be in stores until December 11, ZURU MINI FASHION. Your PopCulteer and his lovely wife, Mel Larch, got the first crack at these cool collectibles.

UPDATE: Due to the ever-present supply chain issues, MINI FASHION will now debut at Walmart December 26.

We are among the first to bring you the news about the newest collectible craze that will likely sweep the country in the coming weeks. In the tradition of ZURU’s 5 Surprise Mini Brands and Toy Mini Brands, comes MINI FASHION, minature fine-stitched fabric handbags, jewels and fashion accessories, which are pretty much the perfect size for the most popular Fashion Dolls.

They also have quite a bit of appeal as a collectible in their own right. Miniature collectibles are a hot item right now, and ZURU is at the forefront. MINI FASHION will appeal to kids, of course, but they also scratch that itch for adult consumers who just don’t have the room to buy everything they want.

As a 1/6 scale hobbyist, I love the idea of high quality minatures at a very affordable price, and at $9.99 per capsule (the suggested price), these are incredible. A quite note here: in the video, which was ad-libbed in a hurry, I got the price wrong repeatedly. Apologies for that. These are still quite a bargain.

The big draw is the handbags, but there are also tiny lipsticks that open, makeup accessories that open and have wonderful detail, sunglasses with working hinged legs (and they fit GI Joe, too–I checked), and even little purse dogs to ride around in the handbags.

Another cool feature of ZURU’s MINI FASHION is that the packaging is made from certified and traceable recycled plastic. The inner bags are paper and the whole package is remarkaby environmentally-friendly.

Let me quote from the press release for more details…

Fabulous mini purses and teeny accessories in Mini Fashions fit in the palm of a hand, and are the next iteration of ZURU’s top-selling and hot collectibles brand. Set to hit Walmart shelves December 11, just in time for Christmas, Series 1 will feature over two- dozen intricately detailed and fully functional handbags and clutch purses made with soft fabrics, fine-stitching and working compartments, and stylish fashion accessories like sunglasses and jewelry to collect.

“Fashion is all about mixing the hottest trends with those timeless classics, and with 5 SURPRISE being the ultimate trend in collectibles – this new series of miniature functioning handbags was an obvious next step for us,” said Aneisha Vieira, Global Brand Director of ZURU. “Each capsule includes a hand-stitched fabric bag that’s fully functional, with stunning fine details, and other fashion accessories, and with an eye towards sustainability, we are proud to introduce a new more eco-friendly capsule.”

Continuing on its 360-degree 10-year sustainability initiative, Mini Fashion capsules will be made from 100% certified and traceable used plastics. The new capsule keeps the surprise element with paper blind bags, and the two-part design will eliminate 49 tons of virginal plastic globally. All products in the 5 Surprise range will incorporate these sustainable tactics by 2023.

With each Mini Fashion capsule, fashionistas experience the thrill of unwrapping, peeling, revealing and collecting one designer handbag and four mini accessories. From metallic bags for a night on the town, to everyday purses, there are 25 real fabric fashion bags, including two rare bags, and accessories to find. Launching exclusively at Walmart in December, Mini Fashions are priced at $9.99 and designed for ages four and up.

We had a blast making this video, and I wanted to mention that we joke about the “MF” logo on the handbags meaning “Mouie Futon.” I want to make clear that it actually stands for MINI FASHION. And also, ignore the parts of the video where I mention the incorrect list price. MINI FASHION will sell for $9.99, exclusively at Walmart beginning December 26.

Also, as you can see, the really cool mini sunglasses with working legs do indeed fit GI Joe.

Many thanks to ZURU for letting us break the news about this cool new collectible! We will update this post with links and post a reminder in PopCult when these hit stores.

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Twenty-One

On this, the penultimate day of The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide, we once more venture into the random pile of great gift ideas, as we bust out the word “penultimate” because it sounds fancier than “next to last.”  Our gift suggestions range from bittersweet to overlooked, and cool toys from military action figures to battery-operated HO Scale trains, plus there’s a leftover gag gift from Turkey Day in the mix as well.

Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created “Sunday in the Park with George”
by James Lapine
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0374200091
$40 (discounted at many online retailers)

I have to be honest, I almost didn’t put this book on the list. I changed my mind because a lot of Stephen Sondheim fans will want a gift like this to remember the legendary Broadway composer that we lost a few days ago.

By all accounts this is a spectacular book, a fascinating insight into the creation of one of the most memorable musicals of the 1980s. My misgivings were because of the large number of complaints about poor printing and reproduction in the first printing. Every review of the digitial edition has been overwhelmingly positive, but word is that the print edition leaves a lot to be desired.

Still, this is an important book about an important work of theatre, written by Sondheim’s collaborator, James Lapine. Let’s go to the publisher’s blurb…

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the iconic musical Sunday in the Park with George

Putting It Together chronicles the two-year odyssey of creating the iconic Broadway musical Sunday in the Park with George. In 1982, James Lapine, at the beginning of his career as a playwright and director, met Stephen Sondheim, nineteen years his senior and already a legendary Broadway composer and lyricist. Shortly thereafter, the two decided to write a musical inspired by Georges Seurat’s nineteenth-century painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.

Through conversations between Lapine and Sondheim, as well as most of the production team, and with a treasure trove of personal photographs, sketches, script notes, and sheet music, the two Broadway icons lift the curtain on their beloved musical. Putting It Together is a deeply personal remembrance of their collaboration and friend – ship and the highs and lows of that journey, one that resulted in the beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning classic.

This book is a no-brainer gift idea for any fan of Sondheim or musical theatre. Just be mindful of the complaints about the printing and paper quality. Available everywhere books are sold.

“Feel Flows” The Sunflower & Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971 Box Set
by The Beach Boys

This is a hefty deep dive into underexplored Beach Boys waters, and it’ll make the perfect gift for the die-hard Beach Boys fan on your shopping list, or for anybody who loves great pop-rock music with luscious harmonies and killer hooks.

The “Feel Flows” collection from the Beach Boys is based on the landmark albums, Sunflower and Surf’s Up, released in 1970 and 1971, respectively.

This is a 50th anniversary, expansive 5CD and digital box set officially titled Feel Flows – The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions 1969-1971 that chronicles and explores in depth the metamorphic and highly influential 1969-1971 period of the band’s legendary career.

Assembled by Mark Linett and Alan Boyd, the team behind the award-winning SMiLE Sessions, this collection features newly remastered versions of Sunflower and Surf’s Up and boasts a total of 135 tracks, including 108 previously unreleased tracks, live recordings, radio promos, alternate versions, alternate mixes, isolated backing tracks and a cappella versions, culled from the album sessions.

Housed in a book style package, the set is rounded out with a 48-page book loaded with unreleased and rare photos, lyric sheets, tape box images, recording artifacts, insightful new liner notes by noted radio veteran and Beach Boys aficionado Howie Edelson, and new and archival interviews from Al Jardine, Brian Wilson, Bruce Johnston, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Mike Love, and others. Feel Flows is also available in abbreviated versions including 4LP on both black vinyl and limited edition Translucent Blue and Translucent Gold color vinyl, 2LP black vinyl and 2CD editions.

Feel Flows shows how creative The Beach Boys continued to be after their commercial peak, and after the breakdown of Brian Wilson, as the other members of the band stepped up and started contributing some amazing music.

Available where music boxed sets are sold, or at Amazon.

World Peacekeepers Action Figures
sold by Cotswold Collectibles

These cool action figures used to be holiday mainstays at Big Lots, but a few years ago the discount retailer dropped them in favor of some really sucky figures with hardly any articulation. Now Cotswold Collectibles has stepped up and you can once again get cool World Peacekeepers action figures, vehicles and accessories in 1/6 and 1/18 scales.

Best of all, while Big Lots only carried a handful of regular military figures, Cotswold is offering much more variety, with 12″ figures of Astronauts, Extreme Sports, Secret Agents and Ninjas. They also have 1/6 scale Humvees, Jeeps, horses, and tons of other cool accessories and sets.

Fans of 1/18 scale figures will find cool stuff like airplanes, helicopters, tanks and a military base, complete with a Quonset Hut.

Cotswold is a reliable online retailer with a 30-plus year track record of serving the hobby, and these toys make the perfect gift for any kid or adult who’s neck-deep into action figures. Cotswold has a ton of other cool products for the hobby, too, from Superheroes to customizing supplies, and their own line of cool 1/6 action figures and sets.

Bachmann – Rail Express Battery-Powered Train Set
sold by Train Sets Only and Amazon

This is a great beginner’s train set. It’s perfectly HO scaled but it’s battery operated. The cars will run on regular HO Scale track (possibly with the addition of new couplers) and it’s around fifty bucks from most retailers (currently more than that at Amazon, but their price seems to change every hour or two).

Now little engineers aged 3 and older can enjoy all the sights and sounds of a real railroading adventure! The new battery-operated Bachmann Rail Express sound-equipped train set includes an oval of snap-together track for fast set-up. It features an F7A diesel engine with realistic horn, bell, and rail running sounds plus an operating headlight; three colorful, detailed cars and a 64 x 46″ oval of snap-together track. Just add two AA batteries (not included) and you are all set to go. No controller or power pack is needed. For extra fun, the Rail Express train can be run right on dad’s or grandpa’s traditional HO scale layout (if the power is off, that is).

This battery operated train set includes:

An F7A locomotive with operating LED headlight, realistic horn, bell, and rail running sounds (three-position switch for choice of “on with sound,” “on without sound,” or “off.”
Cars include a colorful gondola, boxcar, and off-center cupola caboose with hook and loop couplers.

64 x 46″ oval of snap-together track (16 pieces curved and 4 pieces straight) and the train also runs on most brands of HO scale track. Two AA 1.5V batteries required for operation; not included.

This is the perfect gift for the very young train enthusiast on your shopping list who may be creeped out by the fact that all the Thomas The Tank Engine trains have faces on them.

Rick & Morty Plumbus Deluxe Coffee Mug
sold at Amazon

Finally we have the Turkey Day gift that I forgot about last week in our gag gift post.

Fans of Rick & Morty will be delighted at whatever the hell this monstrosity is supposed to be. It’s a coffee mug shaped like a Plumbus. “What the freaking hell is a Plumbus?” you ask?

Let’s got to the manufacturer’s PR…

Welcome to the exciting world of Plumbus ownership! A Plumbus will aid manythings in life, making life easier. With proper maintenance , handling , storage, and urging , Plumbus will provide you with a lifetime of better living and happiness. Plumbus is a fan favorite! What better way to show your love for Rick and Morty then with this Amazing Plumbus mug / stash jar! Display him on your desk or in your kitchen, either way…..this will be the ultimate conversation starter!

Wubba lubba dub dub! Everyone has a plumbus in their home. It’s hard to imagine life without one. And we all know how a regular old plumbus is made. You can get ’em by the case at the local big box store.That’s why we carry only artisan plumbuses. Rest assured that these are not your 6 1/2 brapple black-market plumbuses. We use extra-virgin schleem, never before pressed into the dinglepop, which is organic. And we do not force the dinglepop through the grumbo; it proceeds naturally on its own.

This ceramic mug / stash jar looks just like a Plumbus and comes with a ceramic lid to keep your favorite beverage warm and ready to drink. Also great to store your favorite stash of goodies. This is a must have for all Rick and Morty fans and would make the Ultimate Christmas or Birthday gift for that special friend in your life.

So there you go, it looks like a cross between a sex toy and a toilet brush, only this is one you can drink out of.

Give this as a gift at your own risk.

Monday Morning Art: Mr. Sondheim

The world of musical theatre lost a Titan last Friday. Stephen Sondheim, the most important composer of Broadway Musicals died at the age of 91. Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, is devastated, and to pay tribute to the master, I decided to do a pencil sketch of him based on a photo I found online of Sondheim in the 1970s.

My Myasthenia Gravis has subsided to near-remission levels with the change of seasons, and I was able to draw this on a sheet of copy paper, using my trusty Blackwing Palamino pencil, which not coincidentally was also Sondheim’s weapon of choice when jotting down his lyrics. After scanning the drawing I cropped it digitally and cleaned up a few smudges.

Though the bulk of my exposure to the work of Stephen Sondheim came from my wife (in fact, I probably first laid eyes on Mel during a production of “Side By Side By Sondheim” at The Charleston Playhouse), I was well aware of his work before that. It felt necessary to pay tribute to a man who contributed so much to pop culture.

If you want to see this drawing larger, just click on it.

Later today we will be back with Day Twenty-one of The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide, and I believe today our theme will be random. PLus around 3 PM EST, we will have a third post today, but it’s a secret and you’ll just have to wait until then.

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.

Our friends at Haversham are sadly focused on reporting on recen developments with the Omicron COVID variant for their paying clients, so the fun radio stuff had to take a backseat again this week.

Psychedelic Shack 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 are going to present a special marathon of Mel Larch’s Curtain Call on The AIR. The first six hours will feature shows that pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim, including an early episode from 2016, a three-part special commemorating his 90th birthday, and a two-part show devoted to “West Side Story.” We wlll replay these six hours Wednesday in Curtain Call’s regular timeslot of 3 PM on The AIR.

Sunday Evening Video: David Synn

An old friend and occasional collaborator of PopCult and Radio Free Charleston, David Synn, has a new single out, in advance of a new collection of songs coming early next month.

Above you see the still-frame video for “Tattoo,” the title track of his next EP. You can find it now at all major streaming platforms, and you can hear it opening up a new Radio Free Charleston broadcast Tuesday on The AIR at 10 AM and 10 PM.

This striking song features guest vocals from Matthew Fitzwater, and it’s a great late contender for best local song of the year.

Below you can watch a curated PopCult playlist featuring some earlier videos of David’s (solo and in groups) music and poetry.

The RFC Flashback: MARY

Mark Scarpelli and Dan Kehde’s rock opera, MARY, opened last night, and you have a few more chances to see this Charleston tradition staged (almost) every year by Charleston Youth Arts Company. You can sample a Radio Free Charleston playlist of clips from previous  production in the video at the top of this post. This year MARY happens at the Elk City Playhouse at 218 W Washington St, Charleston, on the city’s historic West Side, after being a virtual production last year, due to the pandemic.

This year, in a more intimate production with limited seating because of COVID protocols, an orchestra pit of just two guitars will accompany a cast that includes Maddie Wright and Jackson Sorrels as Mary and Joseph, and Ted Rose as The Archangel Gabriel. The show runs the remainder of this weekend and next weekend, so you’ll want to make sure you get your tickets early at Showclix. 

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Twenty-Ghosts of Gift Guides Past

Today being Black Friday, a day many people are out of the office and therefore not reading PopCult at work, I have decided that this is a good day to revisit some gift suggestions that I’ve made in previous years. These are all for stuff that is still available, and one or two of the items have been updated, so they’re sort of new. It’s rerun day in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide.

ACP COMICS-Forbidden Gallery and More!

First recommended in the 2016 PopCult Gift Guide we have one of my favorite independent comics publishers, ACP Comics, who have put out the horror anthology, Forbidden Gallery, and earlier this year a great Funny Animal comic, Cavalcade.

Existing outside of the world of Diamond Comics Distributors, Forbidden Gallery, published by ACP Comics, is the brainchild of Editor/Publisher, William Mull. Mull gathers together a diverse collection of veteran creators and newcomers to produce very entertaining old-school comics.

When I heard that ACP was working on a Funny Animal anthology featuring public domain characters like Tubby the Scout, Bruno Bear, Pudgy Pig, Timmy the Timid Ghost, Hucky Duck, alongside new anthropomorfic creations, I was in. Much of ACP’s crew from Forbidden Gallery also worked on Cavalcade.It’s a great mix of veteran creators and newcomers. This is a fun throwback to the days when every comic book didn’t have to be a test balloon for a movie or TV series.

At the ACP Comics website, you can order the first four issues of Forbidden Gallery, plus the first issue of Calvalcade, plus you can pre-order issue #5 of Forbidden Gallery, which will be coming out very soon. These all make great gifts for the connoisseur of fine comic books.

A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection
written by Steve Martin, drawn by Harry Bliss
Celadon Books
ISBN-13 : 978-1250262899
$28.00 (discounted at Amazon)

A late, last-minute entry in last year’s PopCult Gift Guide, I’m recommending this book again because it’s so damned funny.

In a recent New York Times profile, Steve Martin was described as ” an aspiring cartoonist with no artistic ability. ” Having spent many nights between 2 AM and 4 AM jotting down ideas for cartoons, Martin asked Harry Bliss, a famed New Yorker cartoonist who probably owns a mansion and a yacht if he would be interested in bringing his ideas to paper.

According to the Times, “Bliss was interested. Over the next six months, they created around 200 cartoons, many of which appear in their new collection, A Wealth of Pigeons.”

This would be a great gift for the die-hard Steve Martin fan who started buying his books over forty years ago with Cruel Shoes. Bunches of other people will like it, too.

You can order A Wealth of Pigeons: A Cartoon Collection from any bookseller by using the ISBN code, or you can save find it now for less than half the list price at Amazon.

LIghts Of Broadway Show Cards

I’ve mentioned these cool Broadway-themed trading cards in previous PopCult Gift Guides, and I’ve even written about them for Non-Sport Update Magazine, but they’re such cool, unique gifts, and they are about to unleash new editions, that I’m telling you about them again.

The Lights of Broadway Show Cards feature the artwork of Broadway’s reigning caricaturist, Squiggs, and present the stars, theaters and shows of The Great White Way in trading card form. This is the absolutely perfect gift for the theatre fanatic on your holiday shopping list.

The Lights of Broadway Show Cards celebrate Broadway theatre. The stories and the storytellers, the art and the artisans, those who make it all possible and the community embracing it. Shows, actors, directors, writers, designers, and all else in the spotlight or behind the scenes who keep the theatrical world spinning.

Over at The Lights of Broadway website, you’ll find special deals where you can pre-order packs of their new 2021 Edition, with dozens of new faces showing up in the series for the first time.  While this is a pre-order, you can expect these to begin shipping within the next week. You’ll also find deals on binders and starter kits (which include an illustrated binder and several packs of cards), plus lots of new special edition cards that have helped bridge the gap during Broadway’s dark year. Also new this year is the Lights of Broadway Playing Card Deck, which will be a pre-order for a few more days at a great price.

Single packs are only five dollars, and you can be a little more generious and get your giftee multiple packs. They’ll fit in a stocking, trust me. Some cards are more rare than others and there are many super rarities to be found. Each pack contains five cards. You can’t find a better stocking-stuffer-priced gift for the theatre buff on your holiday shopping list.

Our last two gift suggestions today are for the Beatles fan on your shopping list. Because of the interest stirred up by the new Get Back documentary on Disney+, I think these might just help flesh things out for the Beatle fan craving more.

The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert
by Ken Mansfield
Post Hill Press
ISBN-13: 978-1682617571
$28,00 (discounted at Amazon)

When I first suggested this book three years ago, it had just been published in time to mark the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ famed rooftop concert at Apple. This book, penned by the former manager of Apple Records’ US division, is a great gift idea for the die-hard Bealtemaniac on your holiday shopping list who didn’t get enough information on the rooftop show from Get Back, or the accompanying book.

The Roof: The Beatles’ Final Concert, was written by Ken Mansfield, billed on the cover as “The Man In The White Coat.” It’s all about the January 30, 1969 concert that closed the movie, Let It Be, Mansfield gives us new details on how this strange and epic event came to happen.

In this book, Apple Records former US manager Ken Mansfield takes a touching and comprehensive look back on one of Rock’n’Roll’s most significant events, while bringing an insider’s perspective to the days leading up to those 42 fascinating minutes of the Beatles monumental Rooftop Concert.

There are moments in time that cause us to stop and take notice of where we were and what we were doing when they happen in order to commit the experience to memory—how it made us feel, who was there with us, why it felt important. January 30, 1969 was one of those moments. As the US manager of Apple, Ken Mansfield was on the scene in the days, weeks, and months leading up to this monumental event. He shares his insights into the factors that brought them up onto that roof and why one of the greatest bands of all time left it all on that stage. Join Ken as he reflects on the relationships he built with the Fab Four and the Apple corps and what each player meant to this symphony of music history.

Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years

Where Get Back shows The Beatles struggling to mount their first live concert in almost three years at the end of their career, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) – the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim.

Ron Howard’s film explores how John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr came together to become this extraordinary phenomenon, “The Beatles.”  It explores their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music and built their collective career together – all the while, exploring The Beatles’ extraordinary and unique musical gifts and their remarkable, complementary personalities. The film focus’s on the time period from the early Beatles’ journey in the days of The Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966.

It dovetails nicely with Get Back, since it shows the various pressures and stress that led the band to quit touring, which in turn led to their most creative period in the studio.

Featuring rare and exclusive footage, the film is produced with the full cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison.  The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years consists of two discs, Disc One has a running time of 106 mins, while Disc Two runs 100 mins. DISC TWO contains over 100 minutes of special features covering all aspects of The Beatles early career right up to 1966 and it includes five rarely seen full length performances.

This two disc set is packaged in a digipak in a slipcase which also holds a 64 page booklet with an introduction from director Ron Howard, an essay by music journalist and author Jon Savage and rare photos from The Beatles’ private archive.  You can still find it at Amazon, or almost anywhere that videos are sold.

 

The Day After Thanks…Comes The Madness

The PopCulteer
November 26, 2021

All right, it’s not so much madness as it is rampant consumerism run wild the day after we’re supposed to give thanks for all the stuff we already have.

However…it is the day after a holiday, and PopCult‘s readership is always low on this day, plus I’m still a bit tryptophaned-out from a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for two at home, which has become the the tradition of late for your cocooning PopCulteer and his lovely wife, so this is going to be a really, really short post.

No way in hell am I going out shopping today. I will leave that to the young and foolish.

This weekend brings a couple of marathons to The AIR.  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 if you’re reading on a desktop and your Firefox Browser isn’t acting like a jerk.

Starting Friday at 10 AM  we are going to run a marathon of every episode of Mel Larch’s MIRRORBALL, which will wrap up Saturday at midnight. Of course, this is only natural because, as everybody knows, the day after Thanksgiving is officiall the start of Disco Season, as all the kids start singing traditional Disco songs and the networks show specials like “A Charlie Brown Disco” and “Rudolf The Disco-Dancing Reindeer.”

Some folks will even rush to put up their Disco tree.

Anyway, that’s most of Friday and all of Saturday, and then at midnight Saturday Radio Free Charleston takes over for a 24-hour marathon, which isn’t quite as big a deal, since the show is three hours now and that’s only eight episodes.

This is all to give your PopCulteer a little break as he heads into the final entries of The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide, which will wrap up next week. Speaking of said Gift Guide, later on Friday check back for  five more gift suggestions with the theme “Ghost of Christmas Past,” as we dig into the PopCult Archives and recommend five cool gift ideas that we told you about in previous years, which are all still available, and still great gift ideas.

And come back over the weekend for our regular features. Your PopCulteer always offers up fresh content every day, even when it means working Thanksgiving night when he’d rather be napping.

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Nineteen-Turkey Gifts

Today is Turkey Day (AKA Thanksgiving), and breaking with our tradition of not really suggesting gift ideas on this day, The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide offers up five horrible gift ideas, which some may consider “turkeys,” and others may call “white elephants,” but for folks with just the right sense of humor, these are great gift ideas that prove that it’s the thought that counts, even if those thoughts are a little dark. Some might call them “gag gifts,” but others might find them to be the greatest gifts of all time.

HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE WELCOME MAT
from Archie McPhee

What says “Happy Holidays” better than a welcome mat emblazoned with one of the most famous near-quotes from famed jolly existential philospher, Jean-Paul Sartre?

You could get a sign that says “No Soliciting,” but this Hell is Other People Doormat does the job better! If you don’t have a moat and drawbridge in front of your house, you need something to let people know how you feel about interruptions. As Jean-Paul Sartre cheerfully said, “Hell is other people.” When we read that, we thought it would make an excellent “welcome” mat! Okay, so maybe it’s more of an unwelcome mat, but those have their uses too. If you know a grump, put this 22-1/4” x 14-1/2” PVC mat outside their door to warn visitors that the person inside would rather be alone.

Currently on sale for under ten bucks, but even at its regular price it’s a steal!

Yodeling the Classics
by Mary Schneider
Available from Amazon

You probably have somebody on your holiday shopping list that deserves this album. Let me tell you about the singer…

The youngest of five musical children, Mary Schneider’s father died when she was one year old. She began playing the ukulele at age four and caught the yodeling bug at six, probably from her German/Bavarian background. All her brothers and sisters would sit around the kitchen table every night and sing wonderful four-part harmonies. Music was important in their household. As a child, she would practice yodeling while sitting up in a mango tree in the backyard of her Queensland Australia home.

Mary began singing professionally at age 11. Her performing career really began when, as the Schneider Sisters, Mary and her sister Rita had an Instrumental/Vocal Variety Act. They first recorded regularly for EMI Regal Zonophone and then had a long and successful career together. They appeared regularly on TV and at Venues and Clubs throughout Australia and Overseas.

Through the years, Mary developed into an accomplished musician and singer, taking operatic training and working on TV and Radio all over Australia and the Far East as a Jazz and Country singer. Her love of jazz developed through her brother who was a jazz guitarist in the style of Django Rheinhardt.

With an unquenchable combination of a powerful voice and vibrant personality, she has been in constant demand for personal appearances and recordings. However, a frantic schedule of stage and media work kept her away from recording for many years until the 80s when she was persuaded to return to the studio to cut some yodeling albums. These featured a mixture of Country, Novelty and European songs which not only established Mary internationally as a yodeler of top quality but also triggered a yodeling revival. Mary has been recording ever since, and at present, is in the midst of a new Album.

A major turning point in Mary’s life began when one night she dreamt she was walking down a marble staircase – not only singing an Operatic Aria but yodeling it as well. “Yodeling The Classics” was born! A WORLD FIRST! “Yodeling The Classics” has been an important step in her career and made her a cult figure throughout the World. Mary’s Albums have earned her gold and platinum status and she has been featured in the prestigious Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

This is the album which, depending on your tastes, is an astonishing work of art, or something you could use to clear your house of unwanted guests…or maybe strip paint off the walls.

Just listen to this sample…

Emergency Underpants Dispenser
from Archie McPhee

One pair of Emergency Underpants is great, but what if, um, you like, uh, have another emergency? Don’t fret, you’re partially covered with the Emergency Underpants Dispenser.

These 3-1/2″ boxes look a lot like tissue boxes, but instead of tissues, they dispense polyester underpants! If you want to be extra safe, you should keep one by your bedside, one at work and one in the car. Each box contains five pairs of disposable unisex underwear that will fit most adults.

We all know somebody who could probably use this.

Even if it is giving underwear as a Christmas gift.

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (DVD)
from Kino Lorber

Okay, some movies are so bad that they’re good, and some movies are just bad. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians probably falls into the latter catagory, but it is a holiday favorite for some ungodly reason, and for sheer “gag gift” yucks it can’t be beat.

Just make sure you leave the party before somebody pops this in to watch.

According to prestige movie reissue label, Kino Lorber…

Renowned as a holiday cult classic, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is one of the most amusing films ever made.

Made in 1964, this sci-fi holiday treat entered the cult canon when it was featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It tells the story of the depressed children of Mars, who can only be brought out of their funk through the jolly cheer of Old St. Nick. So the Martian leaders travel to Earth and kidnap two local kids (one played by an 8-year-old Pia Zadora) and Kris Kringle himself. Brought back to the Red Planet, they are forcibly installed in a factory to make toys. But you can’t manufacture happiness, with Santa having to teach his alien overseers the true meaning of Christmas.

Filled with kitschy set design, outrageous costumes and amiable acting, SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS is nonstop fun, and is worthy of its status as a holiday staple.

So they say it’s good, and I say, maybe not. You’ve been warned.

The Ed Wood Collection – A Salute to Incompetence
Available at Amazon

You probably have a film buff on your shopping list who would be downright mortified to receive this as a gift.

Ed Wood is, of course, the celebrated master of making movies so bad that they are hilarious to watch.

This collection includes fan-favorites such as “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and the gender bending “Glen or Glenda”. It also includes “Night of the Ghouls”, “Bride of the Monster,”  “The Violent Years” and “Jail Bait.” The movies run the gamut from hilariously bad to only mildly amusingly bad.

This DVD also includes a bonus feature, with interviews of close friends of Ed Wood Jr., including Johnny Depp (who never actually met Wood, but did play him in Tim Burton’s movie about Wood).  While it’s a brilliant gag gift for an aspiring filmmaker, there is much to be learned by watching Wood’s work…and never, ever trying to do anything the way he did.

There are your bad gift ideas. Just remember, as I said above, you’ve been warned. This might result in your giftee being extremely amused, or they might as cause you to be disinherited.

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Eighteen-Miscellany

It’s yet another day with no theme in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide. As we get close to the end of this year’s guide, you can expect at least one more day of miscellany. Today we have music, reading material, apparel and a plumbing fixture.

Down the Rabbit Hole
by The Dollyrots
Order from their website, with a variety of bundles available

You may have heard music by The Dollyrots in movies, TV shows or commercials, or even on Radio Free Charleston. Now the band has a new compilation of rarities and this punk band with more than twenty years under their belts has tons of other cool items that tie into it, which you can find at their website.

Down The Rabbit Hole is a 24-track collection of rare B-sides and cover songs with a Dollyrots twist. The package includes a deluxe 2CD digipack with fold out poster, designed by SBAM.

The album will be available Worldwide at retail outlets and streaming platforms via Wicked Cool Records on January 7, 2022. But you can get it directly from them with Christmas delivery

The CD comes with a digital download, and the band will even autograph it for an extra five bucks.

To make sure you get it in time for Christmas in the US, you want to order before December 17. International orders are a bit of a gamble, but if you get your order to them by December 6, they’ll do their best.

Down The Rabbit Hole track listing:
DISC 1
Too Fun for My Health
Cloud Ten
Just Like All the Rest
Vibration
Little Miss Impossible
Get Radical (Dark Version)
Be My Leia (Electric)
Rebel Angel
Super Mega Ultraviolet
Valentine’s Day
Penny (Alt Version)
Nobody Else (Alt Version)

DISC 2
Breed
Stay
Ruby Soho
High School Never Ends
Walking on Sunshine
Da Doo Ron Ron / I Wanna Be Sedated
Punk Rock Girls
American Girl
Earth Angel
Dancing With Myself
Teenage Kicks
Do You Love Me

Wash ‘N’ Roar Shower Head

Okay, so this one is left over from dinosaur day. I’m doing my best to limit each post to five items, so this one got bumped, but it’s so delightfully goofy that I figured I’d drop it in here.

It is a shower head in the shape of a T-Rex skull. This might be a gift that goes a long way to promote good hygiene among the dino-obsessed kid (or adult) on your holiday shopping list.

After a hard day exploring, you’ll dig getting clean with Wash ‘n Roar Shower Head. Modeled after a real T-Rex skull, and made of durable, sturdy plastic, this carnivorous cleaner is made to fit any standard shower. Be a part of prehistory and always come out clean.

You can order it from FunWares.

Nympho Lodge
A Tokey Wedge Swinger
by Jack Lynn
published by Grizzly Pulp
$9.95

This is a good gift idea for your crusty old uncle who prefers whiskey and cigars to hot chocolate and mistletoe. It’s a hard-boiled, over-the-top, slightly naughty detective story, and it’s the first in a series.

Grizzly Pulp has resurrected one of the stars of the sleazy adventure pulps, Tokey Wedge. I have to be honest with you, I’d never heard of the character before I got this book, and it took quite a bit of research to convince myself that this was not a very cleverly-concocted modern day hoax/parody.

But it’s real. Tokey Wedge was the star of about 20 cheap pulp novels that were originally published back in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Cranked out by proflic “Men’s Adventure” writer Max van derVeer under his “Jack Lynn” psuedonym, these were originally put out by Novel Books of Chicago, reportedly a mob-connected publisher of sleazy pulp fiction who distributed them not through traditional bookstores and newsstands, but through an underground network of bars and establishments that kept them behind the counter.

Essentially, these books were “grindhouse” for folks with no access to a grindhouse theater.

The first book in the series, the subtly-titled Nympho Lodge, is loaded with gunplay, detective-novel tropes and lots of hilariously non-explicit sex. I have to give you a warning here: These books are politically incorrect, to say the least. The Tokey Wedge adventures are more than a little rapey, and they’re jokey about it. They do not treat women as much more than sex objects. There is also plenty of racism and homophobia on display. In the spirit of the stories, I would say that Tokey could star in a book called “My Trigger Is Huge.” The overwhelming amount of mysogyny, coupled with no small amount of racism and a boat-load of double-entendre made me have to do a double-Google to make sure I wasn’t reading a parody. However, this might make it the perfect gift for the hard-boiled detective fan on your shopping list.

This is a cheesy, soft-core adventure porn story filled with fast-paced action and characters who aren’t exactly as emotionally well-developed as the heaving breasts of the women are. There are a lot of descriptions of women in various stages of uncladenness, but in terms of explicitness, these books are like the “adult” movies of the era, where nobody takes off their underwear and the sex is all implied or happens “off-screen.”

Warnings aside, Nympho Lodge is a brisk, intentionally and unintentionally funny book that can be enjoyed as it was intended, or as a pretty bizarre and amusing artifact of its time.

Grizzly Pulp has done an amazing job here, recreating the look and feel of a cheap pulp novel, with thin cover stock and grayish pulp paper. The book is in the traditional cheap “pocket book” size around 4″ by 7″.

Nympho Lodge is not without its charms. It’s crass and crude, without being explicit, and that gives it an air of sleazy innocence, if that makes any sense. There’s a reason Tokey Wedge has a cult following. This one lands squarely in the “guilty pleasure” pile. If that sounds like a good gift for someone on your shopping list, I believe that Grizzly Pulp is currently running a special half-off sale, if you act fast and use the code SALTYSEAMEN)

Toy Ventures Magazine Bundle

If you act really fast, you can snag a bundle of the first five issues of Toy Ventures Magazine for the rabid toy collector on your holiday shopping list. You need to act fast because the first issue is almost sold out, and they have to be shipping from Canada, which can add a few days to the package’s trip. You can order the bundle HERE.

Toy Ventures is the grand revival of the toy magazine, something which had disappeared from the face of the Earth for a few years.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m old. In fact, I am old enough to have begun my toy-collecting life as an adult in the time before there was such a thing as “The Internet.”

Back in those days, toy collectors got their news from magazines. There were several on the stands back in the early 90s: Jim Main’s Collectible Toys & Values, Lee’s Action Figure News and Toy Review, Tomart’s Action Figure Digest, Kalmbach’s Classic Toys, Toy Trader. I’m probably leaving out a few, but those were the leaders in the field.

Some of these magazines offered detailed, in-depth articles, printed on cheap newsprint, while others presented high-quality photographs of rare toys on expensive slick paper. They all filled a reference niche that the book market hadn’t quite caught up with yet. This was how you learned the history of the various toy companies and kept up with the hobby.

Then the internet happened and eventually they all went out of business.

Those classic toy magazines peddled nostalgia, and now those of us who were old enough to read them have nostalgia for them.

Happily, the nostalgia-merchants at Plaid Stallions.com (which is really Brian Heiler of MEGO Museum fame) have created a new toy magazine, Toy-Ventures, and I’m happy to declare that it’s an absolute treat.

Among the five issues you’ll find article on MEGO figures, The Lincoln International Monsters, The Outer Space Men, Rack Toys, toys based on Planet of the Apes, Space: 1999, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” The Munsters, Star Trek, KISS, Godzilla, Doctor Who, and tons of other cool toys from years past.

Most issues have cool premiums included for the folks who order quick, and premiums included in this bundle are the Mr. Rock balsa wood Flyer, Mad Monsters Pennant and Monster Squad Trading Cards.

There’s hours of great reading material that’ll be perfect for the toy-lover on your shopping list.

Beam Me Up Shirt

We have another cool shirt design from Thomas Wheeler here. Available in black or white on a variety of shirt colors, “Beam Me Up” is the perfect gift for a hard-core Trekker who might find themself someplace they’d rather not be.

They can show off their fandom and make a snarky comment about every at the same time. It’s the perfect shirt to wear to political rallies they don’t agree with, or if they really want to be anti-social, it can be worn to family gatherings, high-school reunions, or weddings and funerals.

Available sizes are small to 3 XL, and the shirts are currently on sale for a really low price (act fast). You can go with the white design on a dark shirt, or the black design on a light shirt.

Tomorrow The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide will offer up five ideas for “Turkey” gifts, in honor of Turkey Day. As for what that means, you’ll just have to wait to find out.

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