Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: March 2022 (Page 1 of 4)

ToyLanta: The Toys

All right, I have to admit I’m slacking off a bit here. Today’s photo essay is nothing but toys we saw almost two weeks ago at ToyLanta.  Next week I hope to bring you some short videos, and tomorrow the plan is to show off the dioramas and custom figures, but today it’s all about the toys.

I’m talking reallly cool toys, like Aaron Luck’s 3-D printed miniature Adventure Team vehicles (seen right) and thousands of other cool action figures, dolls, robots and other cool things.

Face it, this is just pure, dirty, dirty toy porn.

Many of these pics were taken when we snuck in a little early to shoot photos of the dealers setting up, so if some displays seem a little disheveled, it’s because they’re a work in progress. I was still skittish about being in crowded rooms, so once the general public came in, I made myself scarce. Hopefully we’ll be back to normal enough next year for me to feel comfortable in crowds, but we’re not there yet.

I also made the sad discovery that the videos I shot on the final morning of ToyLanta, before we hit the road, did not come out in any usuable form. I will be posting about a couple of the folks I intended to spotlight in those in the coming weeks.

I’ll probably still be posting ToyLanta photos and video through next week, so I hope nobody’s sick of this stuff yet. We’ve been back more than a week, but it takes a long time to decompress from your first extended trip in over two years and we’re still finding our footing.  Today is all about the toys, so dig in…

I used this as the feature image for the Sunday Evening Video, but folks asked me to post it again, unsquooshed and without the logo.

Some dealers had cool Barbie stuff. Take note of that ’57 Chevy.

Cool 80s and 90s stuff.

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A FiestaWare Oasis In Alabama

Continuing our series of photo essays about our mid-March trip to ToyLanta, we have one more stop before the toy show. Actually, this was supposed to be our first stop before snow decided to mess with our original plans.

While we were headed South for ToyLanta, and we left early so Mel could visit her happy place of Senoia, Georgia, we had also learned of a magical place called The Alabama Dish Outlet, in Oxford, Alabama.

It’s just twenty miles or so from the Georgia/Alabama border, and Mel’s buddy, Jim Preece, who owns Table Talk in Senoia, told her about this cool place filled with FiestaWare, and that they had retired colors.

I checked Google Maps and told Mel we were going. It’d be foolish to be that close and not visit this place.

Alabama Dish Outlet is a very friendly place, packed tight with all things FiestaWare (plus Kit Kat Clocks and even some Blenko Glass). The building is smaller than the Fiesta Outlet in Flatwoods, but seemed to have about three times as much stock, neatly arranged in a maze-like floorplan that leaves you finding a new treasure every time you turn around.

I am not a FiestaWare expert by any means, so I’m not going to write captions for these photos. I will say that the vast majority of what you see below is FiestaWare. The store does carry a few complimentary brands other cool pieces, in addition to the Kit Kat Clocks and a shelf filled with Blenko goodness.

You can visit The Alabama Dish Outlet’s Facebook Page for more information, and if you’re in the South Atlanta area, it’s less than a 90-minute drive. Well worth it for the die-hard Fiesta collector.

I only took one photo in that back room, in case you were wondering how packed this place is.

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Barbie Beach: A Roadside Attraction

We made a discovery while on our trip to Georgia a couple of weeks ago.  While driving Route 16, between Newnan (Home of Full Circle Toys) and Senoia, both of us caught a fleeing glimpse of something called “Barbie Beach” by the roadside.

Mel and I both thought that we’d seen signs for a roadside attraction, and when we got back to the hotel that night, we checked the Google machine and discovered that we had, in fact, seen the entire actual roadside attraction.

It turns out that Steve and Linda Quick, a couple of residents of Turin (located along Route 16), decided back in 2006, in honor of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, to create a roadside sculpture garden in their front yard. The couple put out some sand, a backdrop, and created scenes using mainly naked Barbies and Kens, along with other inexpensive props.

In the 16 years since they began, they have added more dolls and action figures and Barbie-sized cars, and they change the display to reflect the season, or holiday, or commemorate a big even like the NCAA Tournament.  The scenes generally seems to involve a beach and naked Barbies partying at “Mort’s Bar.” And they seem to keep things fairly topical.

If they have any 12″ Will Smith figures, I imagine he’ll be in there slapping away in no time.

Mel and I knew that we had to go back the next day. Unfortunately, that night the area was hit with wind and rain, and when we got there, what had been set up to be a wild party scene for St. Patrick’s Day instead looked like the hungover morning after a wild St. Patrick’s Day party.  Even disheveled, Barbie Beach is pretty cool.

We got some fun photos to share, and had a blast.  We even found a cool Jem and the Rockers vehicle that’s now on Mel’s wantlist.

I can tell you that Barbie Beach will be a regular stop now, whenever we go to Georgia. It’s loads of fun and it’s also harmless, but it reportedly really pisses off their neighbors, which is an added bonus.

Mrs. PopCulteer even started pondering the idea of creating a SpongeBob display for our front yard, but we know that, in Dunbar, such a display would last approximately ten minutes before the local scavengers would pick it clean.

We’re hoping to go back and meet the Quicks, and maybe donate a few action figures to their display.

To get there, you basically drive down Route 16 in Georgia, between Senoia and Newnan, and when you see it, pull off and park by the tree. There is no admission fee, and you can stay as long as you want (within reason…I don’t think they want people sleeping in Barbie Beach). Don’t forget to visit the Facebook page devoted to Barbie Beach.

Here’s a look at the Beach…

…and here’s a short video profile…

Now let’s look at more pictures of Barbie Beach!

Off to the left, a group of three GI Joes (one of them being a knockoff) guard the perimeter.

I would imagine the St. Patty’s doll looked a bit better before being drenched in the storm the night before.

The view walking from where we parked.

A closer look at the main sign and backdrop. They change the scenes on a regular basis.

Mort’s Bar includes naked Barbies, Kens, a couple of Max Steel figures, a cool jukebox, and frog molesting a Barbie, and a drunken Barbie who has fallen off her drunk horse.

A line of Barbie car traffic (along with a smaller firetruck, and a wind-blown display with scattered dolls around it.

More of the post-storm carnage, plus that really cool Jem car, and some table-dancing leprechauns who managed to survive the wind.

One more look at Barbie Beach.

Barbie Beach was a fun little diversion, and PopCult thanks the Quicks for taking the time to put smiles on the faces of passers-by. Hopefully we’ll return soon and bring you more photos when the weather is better.

A Cobbled-together RFC and Rectifying A SNAFU on The AIR Tuesday

Over on our internet radio station,  The AIR, Tuesday is a day of cleaning up technical messes and slapping together a new , full-length Radio Free Charleston.  I’ll fill you in on the details below.  To hear all this stuff I’m talking about 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, unless you’re reading this on your phone.

At 10 AM and 10 PM you can hear one new hour of non-local music, and two hours of great live local music from our video archives.

The first hour of RFC is all-new, and we open with a the Ukrainian band, Beton, and their re-worked Clash cover, “Kyiv Calling.”  The rest of our first hour is packed with an eclectic mix of new, newly-reissued and classic tunes from a cool assorment of international artists. Because of the nature of this show, and yours truly still be wiped out from his recent trip, ther are no links to the artists in this week’s playlist.

Our second and third hours present a deep-dive into the Radio Free Charleston video archives. We offer up some previously-unheard recordings by QiET, Whitechapel District, The Snake and The Pot, Wiley Sonic, Mother Nang and Frenchy and The Punk in our second hour. Our Third Hour has a few tunes from Mother’s Nature, and then several songs by Whistlepunk, recorded at LiveMix Studio, probably circa 2008.

Check out the playlist:

RFC 083

hour one
Beton “Kyiv Calling”
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Not The One”
April March “Open Your Window, Romeo”
Colin Hay “All I See Is You”
Hall and Oates “Romeo Is Bleeding”
Joan Jett and The Blackhearts “Frustrated”
Soft Cell and The Pet Shop Boys “Purple Zone”
The Undertones “Joyland”
The Art of Noise “Dreaming In Color”
Beth Hart “Kashmir”
Royal Blood “Trouble’s Coming”
Franz Ferdinand “Darts of Pleasure

hour two live archives
Whitechapel District
The Snake and The Pot
Wiley Sonic
Mother Nang
Frenchy and The Punk

hour three live archives
Mother’s Nature

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Wednesday at 9 AM,  Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, Saturday at Noon and Midnight,  and  Monday at 11 AM, exclusively on The AIR. Now you can also 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.


Immediately after RFC, at 1 PM we replay last week’s new episode of MIRRORBALL. Then at 2 PM and 3 PM, due to technical issues that caused them not to be played in their regular timeslots Monday, we are going to run the new editions of Psychedelic Shack and Prognosis that we told you all about HERE.

That problem was a little mortifying and I suspect it’s more human error on my part than anything technical.

Later Tuesday check back as PopCult brings you a photo essay of an eccentric roadside attraction we encountered on our trip.

A Return To The Walking Dead Museum

Our first photo essay from PopCult‘s Spring vacation is a visit to The Official Walking Dead Museum in Senoia, Georgia. We have been here before, and documented it in photos and video (use our search box to the right to find those posts), but since we were last there, three years ago, things have changed.

The Woodbury Shoppe (the official TWD store) used to be located on the ground floor of 48 Main Street, a cool multi-story building in Senoia. In the back of the store there was a set of steps that led down to the lower level, where you would find the museum.

Since our last visit, the spot that The Woodbury Shoppe used to inhabit has been partioned, with the front part becoming home to a new business called Boots and Bling, and the back part becoming the new location of the TWD Museum. Now, you go downstairs to find an expanded Woodbury Shoppe, while the cool exhibits are mostly upstairs.

We’re going to take an updated look at the new space today. This is also where some new walking and golf cart tours devoted to TWD meet before they kick off.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

There’s a tour group just leaving. That means the place ought to be deserted so I can get good photos!

Peeking in through a window, I can see new cabinets with new exhibits.

Another window view shows a cool wall of stuff to examine. Also, you can see the rails for the stairs to The Woodbury Shoppe.

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Monday Morning Art: The Hotel At Sunset

This week I’m back from vacation and above you see a painting inspired by one of the many sights I took in on our trip. It’s a Hopperesque painting of the back porch/deck/patio of the Hotel where ToyLanta took place, and to be honest, it’s really sloppy. This is a small-scale study, acrylic on cheap canvas board, and it’s the first time I tried painting in over two weeks. I’m not happy with my line control, but I wanted to get the basic image down while it was fresh in my mind.

I’m going to need to get back in practice before I transfer this to a larger canvas. I am extremely happy with the paint-mixing, though.  I wanted to give the impression of a nearly-monochromatic image, while actually employing a rather large number of individually mixed colors. There are over fifty different shades in play here.

I probably should’ve spent more time on my line work than on the paint mixing, but that’s where my passion lay with this one.

If you want to see this one a bit bigger, just click on it.

Later today in PopCult check back for our first big photo essay devoted to our trip. Today we’ll go back to The Walking Dead Museum in Senoia, Georgia.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a new episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a 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.

Nigel Pye has assembled a tribute to the Temptations, whose psychedelic soul not only influenced tons of musicians like Prince and George Clinton, but who also wrote the classic tune that gave Nigel the title for his show.  This week’s Psychedelic Shack opens with its namesake tune, and presents a full hour of the early 1970s mind-expanding soul of The Temptations.

Check out the playlist for all the peace and love…

Psychedelic Shack 060
The Temptations Psychedelic Soul

“Psychedelic Shack (long version)”
“Runaway Child Running Wild”
“Take A Stroll Through Your Mind”
“Smiling Faces Sometimes”

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.

Following that hour of soulful Psychedelic joy, at 3 PM Herman Linte’s Prognosis will bring us two-hours of Genesis, featuring Phil Collins as their lead singer.  In an email, Herman explained, “I recently had the pleasure of seeing Genesis on their farewell tour, and it struck me that people have overlooked how, following the departure of Peter Gabriel, Genesis maintained their progressive rock credentials, despite also managing to have commercial success and hit singles. I decided to assembled a post-Gabriel Genesis mixtape to show that the band remained true to their progressive roots, up their last studio album.”

It’s a killer show, loaded with terrific prog-rock that many people have overlooked.

Check out the playlist…

Prognosis 088
post-Gabriel Genesis

“Dance On The Volcano”
“Mad Man Moon”
“One For The Vine”
“All In A Mouse’s Night”
“Burning Rope”
“Deep In The Motherlode”
“Who Dunnit”
“Trick Of The Tail”
“Duke’s Travels”
“Dukes End”
“Dodo, Lurker”
“Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”
“Land of Confusion”
“Dreaming While You Sleep”

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 bring you an episode of The Comedy Vault filled with an hour of classic tracks by The Bonzo Dog Band.  Wednesday evening at 10 PM, we’ll have another new episodeof our comedy showcase, but I haven’t produced it yet, so I can’t tell you what’s in it.

Then, at 9 PM we bring you an overnight marathon of Curtain Call, providing you with ten recent episode of Mel Larch’s showcase of the best of Musical Theatre.

Sunday Evening Video: ToyLanta Walk-through

A week ago today your PopCulteer was wrapping up his visit to ToyLanta, and beginning his journey home. I still have tons of photos and video from the trip to put together for you, but in the meantime we have this great walk-through of the dealer’s room at ToyLanta by our friend, Ricky from the Atlanta toy collecting scene.

Ricky has a cool YouTube channel called We Had That, and you can subscribe and enjoy a steady stream of cool, informative and entertaining videos about vintage toys and the hobby of collecting. He does lots of spotlight videos on specific classic figures and reviews of new toys as well.

Many thanks to Ricky for letting us share his video here, and check PopCult all week for our regular features, plus at least one photo essay every day about our recent trip. We’ll cover everything from ToyLanta to The Walking Dead, FiestaWare, a wild roadside attraction, and more. You may even learn about giant moose heads and see a beautiful sunset.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 91

This week we go back more than a dozen years, to the first Radio Free Charleston of 2010. “Bettie Page Shirt” features music from Highway Jones, Ryan Hardiman, and Blue Million. There’s also animation by Frank Panucci, a Plant Ro-Duction Mini-Movie, and a cameo by professional wrestler Daizee Haze.

For the full production notes, go HERE.

What I Did On My Spring Vacation

The PopCulteer
March 25, 2022

Your PopCulteer is back after almost two weeks. If all went well, you might not have even noticed I was gone. On March 9, I composed every post you read between then and two days ago. I also scheduled The AIR in advance, and hopefully those of you who enjoy your daily fix of PopCult didn’t feel deprived.

The reason for this was that, even though we hadn’t planned to leave until Saturday, the 12th, I had an article to finish for Non Sport Update, as well as packing and trip planning to handle. The original plan would have seen us spend Saturday night in Caryville, Tennessee, while Sunday would have involved driving from there to The Alabama Dish Outlet, and then on to Peachtree City, Georgia.

As you may remember, nature gifted us with eight or ten inches of snow Saturday morning, so our plans took a major hit. That Saturday I dug out the car as Mel hastily re-arranged our hotel reservations.

Sunday came and we went. I drove the first leg because Mel does not like driving in snow. By the time we go to Caryville, to a very nice Hampton Inn with cool stuff in and around it (the owner is an antique auctioneer), we were prepared for the rest of our trip. We were going to visit Senoia, where they film The Walking Dead, for a few days, then we checked into the hotel for ToyLanta.

Between Senoia and the Marietta/Atlanta Hilton, we managed to crowbar in a side-trip to Alabama, so we didn’t actually miss out on anything we’d planned, even though we lost a day of our trip.

While in the area of Senoia, we saw many cool sights, some of which will be redacted when I post them here, and others, like “Barbie Beach” we didn’t even know about until we drove by.

Next week I will be posting many photo essays from the trip. Expect at least one each day, ranging from cool things we saw on the trip to our last look at the wall of “Alexandria” from TWD to the aforementioned Barbie Beach and Alabama Dish Outlet, and winding up with lots of images and maybe even some video from ToyLanta. We even found a Buc-Eee’s, the mecca of sophisticated peeing and pooping in the South, along the way.

We did not take photos at Buc-Eee’s.

Today I’m just posting teasers for you. I had hoped to post photos of my ToyLanta toy haul here today, but it’ll have to wait because I haven’t had time to unpack yet. We returned home exhausted and overwhelmed by our first extended road trip in well over two years. We were a little out of practice.

As for how we handled this trip during a pandemic…we kept our masks on, avoided crowds as much as possible, took COVID tests with us just in case, and skipped the hugs and handshakes that we used to partake in.

And we still won’t feel completely out of the woods until we’ve been back a week without getting sick. With me being immuno-suppressed, we did what we had to do.

The trip was a blast–fun, exhilierating, relaxing and surprising. I picked up tons of toys. Mel got some retired FiestaWare. We both took time to chill out. We still aren’t dining in restaurants, but we managed to subsist on drive-thru, take-out and delivery.

But enough about us. Here’s some photos to give you an idea what you can expect next week…

The view from our hotel in Caryville, TN. We’ll be going back in the future.

Back in Senoia for the first time in three years. Hello, watertower!

Since last we were here, The Walking Dead Museum moved upstairs, while the store moved downstairs. It’s complicated. I’ll tell you about it next week.

They had lots of new props on display, though.

So…they were filming the series finale of The Walking Dead while we were down there, and we don’t want to spoil what they did to the windmill. The wall and windmill will be dismantled in June.

The side of a Mexican restaurant in Senoia. Sometimes you just post a photo to pop an art teacher friend.

This place will get their own photo essay next week.

This place will also get their own photo essay.

This is the new location of ToyLanta. I dont think I’m overstating things when I say that this is one fancy-assed hotel! Hopefully they take care of the elevator situation by next year.

Okay,  you get one sneak peek at ToyLanta. This was taken while they were still setting stuff up, and represents maybe five percent of the dealer space–which may be a high estimate.

The sunset as viewed from the back deck of the hotel. You can expect more photos, some video and probably a painting or three of this.

Capping off an extremely fun trip, we finally found the freaking SpongeBob PopSicle for Mel. She says they’re very tasty.

I did come back from the trip out of practice for writing. I wound up taking two full weeks off from blogging for the first time since 2007, and getting back into the swing of things is going more slowly than I’d imagined.

Personally, I’m placing some of the blame with Doordle.

By next week, I’ll be back into the swing of things, and photos (and maybe video) will flow forth every day. We also plan to have a bunch of new episodes of our music programs on The AIR.

Look Into The MIRRORBALL And Dance!

Getting back into the post-vacation swing of things, Friday sees a brand-new hour of MIRRORBALL on The AIR. That means you can hear a great new hour of Disco classics courtesy of my lovely wife, Mel Larch, debuting just in time to brighten up the end of your work week. So please enjoy this bright, shiny new episode of MIRRORBALL which will be followed by a very cool recent edition of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.  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 wild collection of classic The show always debuts on a Friday, so we kick things off with a very Disco song by the recently reconstituted ABBA.

Check out the playlist…


ABBA “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme”
Kool And The Gang “Fresh”
A Taste of Honey “Boogie Oogie Oogie”
El Coco “Cocomotion”
Peaches and Herb “Freeway”
Amii Stewart “Knock On Wood”
Carol Douglas “Doctor’s Orders”
Chic “Dance, Dance, Dance”
Donna Summer “Hot Stuff”
Ubass “My Disco”
The Jacksons “Dancin’ Machine”
Vicki Sue Robinson “Turn The Beat Around”
Van McCoy “The Hustle”

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 an encore episode of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.

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.

That’s what’s on The AIR Friday. Check back later in the day for a PopCult essay about what I did last week.

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