Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Month: June 2023 (Page 2 of 4)

Fun At The Marx Toy & Train Show

Your PopCulteer is back from a trip that included a day at the Marx Toy and Train Collector’s Show , which is held each year at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling. Your humble blogger and his wife had a great time at the show, and I brought you a small batch of photos yesterday, but today we’ve got a couple dozen more, and you can probably expect even more pictures, plus video, later in the week.

I want to take a moment to thank the folks at The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum for putting on such a cool toy show each year. Mel and I are planning to return there next month for an exciting new addition to the museum that ought to bring more folks to this gem of a toy and pop culture mecca, tucked away in Northern West Virginia.

I do have to confess to something that I was keeping quiet at the show: I was not at 100% for this year’s show. It’s been hotter than usual over the past week, and that heat instigated one of the worst Myasthenia Gravis flare-ups that I’ve had in some time. I had to miss most of a really amazing Show and Tell at the hotel Friday night because the extra meds I had to take made me fade pretty fast. Next year I plan to try to videotape that meeting, if they have one.

On top of that, a couple of months ago my left knee got into a serious disagreement with gravity and a car door, and as such, was pretty much held together by Salonpas and Kinesiology tape. I’m fine if I can stay off my feet…which isn’t going to happen at such a cool toy show.

Despite that, I had a great time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones and buying really cool toys that I don’t have room for in the house. In a few day’s I’ll show off what I got (with one preview below) but today we’re going to look at some of the people I saw and a few of the cool toys for sale.

On Saturday we bypassed the second day of the show to do a little retail adventuring around Canton, Ohio.  I will tell you about this later in the week, but I don’t have a lot of photos to share from that part of the trip. I decided to do most of it as a civilian. However, I made a discovery there that will likely neccessiate a return trip with cameras rolling later in the year.

For now, while I’m still recovering from the trip, here’s a batch of photos from last Friday at The Marx Toy & Train Show, devided into two catagores…


Super-Johnny West Collector, Terry Ryder, shooting me her “If you take my picture I will kill you” glance, at the table behind some of her awesome “bronzed” Johnny West figures.

Mark Hegeman, who always has tons of cool vintage toys for sale…more than we could fit in our car.

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The Marx Toy Show 2023: First Look

Your PopCulteer is still on the road followiing a fun visit at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum for the annual Marx Toy & Train Show.

However, even though I’m not home yet, I am breaking in my new mobile office, so I can share just a few photos from the show.

You can expect several dozen more photos and even some video in the following days, but for now I’m just bringing you some random images to give you a taste of how much fun this awesome toy convention is.

Expect a bigger photo essay on Tuesday, while we’re in the midst of a Radio Free Charleston marathon over on The AIR. Right now, from an undisclosed location somewheres in Ohio, here’s the first post made from PopCult‘s new mobile headquarters, which is a work in progress. The plan is to eventually have things set up to post video from the road.

But now, on with the photos…

It occured to me that I haven’t posted a full-on shot of the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum for a while.

A crowd shot of the playset-heavy main room.

Wheeling and dealing in the world of plastic.

A quick look at Professor Jim Fuller’s table. There will be more to see in the coming days.

As usual, Dave Roth had the full sprectrum of rare Johnny West figures.

You never know what might turn up at this show. If I’d been looking for these, nobody would’ve had them.

James Wozniak had a cool assortment of stuff, and even had some goodies from Brad Curry’s Bee-Active Toys.

And finally, your humble blogger poses with the legend, Big Loo.

Monday Morning Art: Unfinished Pencil City

Your humble artist/blogger is still in a New York state of mind this week as our art is a pencil rendition of the Manhattan Skyline, as seen from our hotel window a few weeks ago, nestled firmly within the Times Square region.

To be honest, this one is unfinished. I started out trying to do a detailed pencil drawing, using my trusty Blackwing Palamino plus a cheap mechanical pencil for cross-hatching and a little bit of charcoal pencil for thick lines.  As you can probably tell, MG made my hands crap out during the first wave of cross-hatching (I was also using a ruler), and I just sort of gave up and declared it done.

This was done using photo reference, on paper for pens.

After scanning it, I eliminated a lot of smudges in the sky. With Myasthenia Gravis, you have good days and you have bad days, and sometimes you have to recognize a bad day for what it is and quit while you’re ahead. If I do go back and revisit this piece, I’ll probably try painting over it or something.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Over on The AIR, we are celebrating Juneteenth with a 24-hour marathon of our musical specialty shows that are devoted to African-American artists. You’ll be able to hear episodes of MIRRORBALL, The Swing Shift, Curtain Call, Psychedelic Shack, The Comedy Vault and more.  It starts at 7 AM, Monday, and runs until 7 AM Tuesday.

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

Tuesday we’ll have a 24-hour marathon of the eight most-recent episodes of Radio Free Charleston because A) Hardly anybody reads PopCult on a holiday, and Tuesday is West Virginia Day and B) Your PopCulteer will have spent the weekend running around at cool places like The Marx Toy & Train Show and points West, so I’ll probably take it easy and just post a few photos from the trip or something.

Sunday Evening Video: Shatner Sings…Sure, Whatever

Above you see Animated Star Trek Levity, with Joe Jackson, Pulp And The Soothing Crooning of Mr. William Shatner. This was an installment of Sunday Evening Video almost exactly fifteen years ago. In fact, it was among the first videos in this long-running regular PopCult feature. It’s a video of William Shatner performing the Pulp song, “Common People,” produced and accompanied by Joe Jackson.

In the intervening years since that first post, the embed code for this video changed, and no longer worked, so the original post just has a big empty white space with a bit of code where the video should be.

I have fixed that with this post.

As for why I ever posted it in the first place, I have no freaking clue. It must have seemed funny at the time.

Catchy tune, though.

The RFC Flashback: Episode Thirty

This week we go back to November, 2007, for a show that featured the Radio Free Charleston debut of Mark Bates, who has recently become a full-time member of The Carpenter Ants. In this classic show, he’s heard solo, recorded at the old Unity Church, during one of Ron Sowell’s open mic nights. This is one of the shows that I just got around to remastering a few months ago, after it had been offline for way too long.

Our other musical guests were most of The Voo Doo Katz, recorded live at the La Belle Theater in South Charleston, and RFC regular John Radcliff, performing in the kitchen at LiveMix Studio. We also feature animation and the first installment of “The Android Family.”

You can read the original production notes, bum links and all,  for this episode right HERE.

Your PopCulteer Unmasked!

The PopCulteer
June 16, 2023

The above headline does not indicate that your humble blogger has been harboring some secret identity or non-de-plume and is finally set to reveal his true self to the world.

That’s a topic for another column. Today I’m talking about how, finally, after three years and three months, I feel comfortable going without a mask in public. Sometimes. I’ll still keep one on my arm in case it gets crowded or folks start coughing or sneezing around me.

I still don’t feel that the pandemic is entirely over, but I think the risk is low enough that even someone like me can shed the mask as long as I’m up to date on my boosters and remain careful.

What I mean by “someone like me” is that I’m a high-risk person. I have Myasthenia Gravis, an auto-immune disorder, and the treatment is for me to take a heavy-duty immuno-suppressant. Also, I’m now past the age of 60, and dealing with a couple of other medical issues that are COVID warning flags.

I have been very careful, and I have not had COVID. In fact, since I started masking up and going out less, I’ve barely had a sniffle or sinus infection. Seasonal allergies got me this Spring, but aside from that, it’s been smooth sailing.

Like everyone else, I got tired of wearing the mask, but I had good reason to stay masked up: I don’t want to die.

When Mel and I went to the Lexington Toy & Comic Show back in March, I stayed masked up. was glad to see we were not the only folks there wearing masks.

Two months later when we went to New York to see Gavin Lee at Birdland, I was newly-boosted and felt comfortable going without my mask on the train and at the famed Jazz club. In the ensuing weeks, Mel and I both cut back on wearing masks everywhere we go. We still keep them nearby, just in case, but for the most part, if you see us out now, you’ll probably get to see our full faces.

Last Tuesday Mel and I ate in a restaurant in Charleston for the first time since March, 2020. I’m not going to name the restaurant because we were basically only there for a FestivALL event, and only ate because it was handy, but it was nice to dine out in our hometown again.

Not eating out so much has actually been very good for both of us, so I don’t expect to do this more than once a month or so, but it’s nice to have the option again.

Since the pandemic began, when I’ve run a STUFF TO DO column, I’ve included a disclaimer asking people to be kind to those of us wearing masks. This will not change. There never was any excuse to act like an asshole to people who are wearing masks. They’re obviously doing it because they feel the need, and they know way more about their personal situation than you do. That disclaimer will continue to run here in PopCult.


It’s been a rough week for culturally-important icons. Over the past few days the world has bid farewell to Cormac McCarthy, John Romita Sr, Treat Williams and Glenda Jackson.

I don’t have enough space here to properly eulogize these folks, so I’ll just briefly summarize their amazing lives and offer condolences all around:

Cormac McCarthy was, according to the NY Times, “a formidable and reclusive writer of Appalachia and the American Southwest, whose raggedly ornate early novels about misfits and grotesques gave way to the lush taciturnity of All the Pretty Horses and the apocalyptic minimalism of The Road” I have to admit that aside from the movies based on his work, I was most familiar with McCarthy due to his depiction as a Centaur in the cartoon, Mike Tyson Mysteries.

“Jazzy” John Romita was a legendary Marvel Comics artist who basically defined Marvel’s “house style” following the exits of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. He had a long career and was Stan Lee’s “go-to” artist from 1966 to his retirement in 1996. Many people think of Romita’s art when they think of Marvel Comics, post-Kirby.

Treat Williams was a gifted actor who went from being a leading man to establishing a long career as a versatile character actor who brought depth to every role he touched.

Glenda Jackson was a phenomenal actress who transitioned to politics in her fifties and then back to acting late in life. Mel and I were very lucky to see her on stage twice, in Three Tall Women and in King Lear, where she played Lear. Despite being a multiple OSCAR, BAFTA, Olivier and Tony award-winner, she remained down-to-Earth, and even insisted on getting a photo with Mel when we met her in New York back in 2019.

And that is it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check back for our regular features, plus notes on special programming on The AIR next Monday and Tuesday.


The March To The Marx Toy Show

This blog will be running on autopilot for a few days because the Marx Toy and Train Collector’s Show is happening again this year, and the dates are this Friday and Saturday at  The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling.  Your PopCulteer is thrilled to be going back to this toy show, which is one of the most enjoyable in the country and something your humble blogger and his lovely wife look forward to every year.

This year, we’re running up for the first day of the show (and the evening before), and then we’re bypassing the second day so we can go have some kind of retail misadventures in the wilds of Canton, Ohio.

I’ve been covering the Marx Toy Convention for more than a decade, and you can find an index to most of that coverage HERE. You can see our coverage of2021’s show HERE and HERE. Last year’s coverage was spread across a few posts, HERE, HER E, HERE, and HERE.

You can expect a lot of photos and video next week in PopCult.

Anybody who grew up with Marx Toys, or anybody interested in West Virginia industries, or just folks who love toys, should make it a point to go to this show and check out the wonders of The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum. It’s a real gem.

Here’s the video from last year’s show…

Pre-Solstice STUFF TO DO

Okay, it’s time once again for your guide to things you can do in and around Charleston and the Mountain state as we enter the second weekend of FestivAll along with, for West Virginians, a four-day weekend and a big old baseball-slide into Summer. In this week’s edition of STUFF TO DO, we’re going to start off with a radio note, and then just skim a few of the hundreds of things going on in town. There is so much STUFF TO DO in Charleston this weekend that your PopCulteer is sorry that he won’t be here for any of it. I’ll be telling you about the Marx Toy Show in Wheeling tomorrow.

Wednesday afternoon’s Curtain Call on The AIR is the radio note I mentioned. This week Mel Larch presents her annual highlights show featuring the Tony Award winner for Best New Musical. In this case, as awarded just last Sunday, it’s Kimberly Akimbo.

The musical comedy Kimberly Akimbo stars the 60-plus-year-old Victoria Clark as a teenage girl with a medical condition that causes rapid aging. Based on a play by David Lindsay-Abaire, the show features music by Jeanine Tesori, the Tony-winning composer of Fun Home; a book and lyrics by Lindsay-Abaire, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Rabbit Hole; and direction by Jessica Stone, a longtime actress making her Broadway directing debut.

In addition to winning for Best New Musical, Kimberly Akimbo also picked up Tony’s for  Best Lead Actress in a musical,  Best Book,  Best Score and  Best Featured Actress in a musical.

So Wednesday at 3 PMCurtain Call will let you sample this acclaimed Tony-winner.  You can tune in at the website, or you could just stay right here and  listen to the convenient embedded radio player lurking elsewhere on this page.

In Charleston, FestivALL wraps up this weekend, and rather than repeat the many, many things I’ve written about this cool arts festival in Charleston over the years, I’m just going to point you to their website, and let them do all the heavy lifting.

Part of FestivALL is the Charleston Light Opera Guild production of Little Shop of Horrors, at the Guild workshop on Charleston’s West Side. Mel and I got to see this production on Sunday, and it’s loads of fun and very well done. Mel gives the show her stamp of approval, which is no small honor since Mel was the Guild’s first Audrey, back in 1987. You have three more chances to catch this show.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. They’re bringing in the big guns this weekend. Friday it’s The Carpenter Ants. Saturday Spencer Elliott entertains the crowd at Charleston’s beloved Bookstore/Coffee Shop/Art Gallery.

The World Famous Empty Glass Cafe has some great stuff through the week to tell you about.  Thursday from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM, Swingstein and Robin play fiddle and piano and sing swing and early jazz standards. Each week they donate their tips to a local nonprofit or worthy cause.   Later on Thursday, at 10 PM, Kenny Booth hosts “Shred Night” so metallically-inclined peoples can come out and jam and not worry about upsetting the folk singers. Friday Tim Courts plays during happy hour.   Check the graphics below for other cool shows at the Glass.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet. It’s still a going concern. And now there are seasonal allergies, the flu, raging wildfires, global climate castrophes, alien invasions, disgraced former presidents and other damned good reasons to be careful. Many people who have very good reasons are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you’re up for going out, here are a few suggestions for the rest of this week, roughly in order, but with some theater stuff listed first…

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Three New Hours Of RFC With Scarlet Revolt, BRRO, Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns, Joey Ferris and More!

RFC blasts forth with a thematically organizized collection of music this week on The AIR  as we premiere three full hours of new Radio Free Charleston! You simply have to point your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay here and  listen to the cool embedded player elsewhere on this page.

Rather than revive some of our pre-2020 programming this week, we decided to just build a new three-hour show that you can hear at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday. We have lots of new music, lots of local and independent stuff and some mystery bonus tracks at the end that have to be heard to be believed.

The show opens with newly-released music from Scarlet Revolt. In advance of the new lineup of the band, with Johnny Compton stepping in as frontman, the band has remixed their Cold Town album from 2017.  This new remix is out now, and includes two songs featuring their former lead singer, Eve Marcum Atkinson that were previously unleased. We’ll bring you the other hidden gem in our next episode and of course we’ll bring you the new music from the reconstituted band as soon as we have it.

We also have some great artists making their RFC debuts this week, Joey Ferris, BRRO and Puddles Pity Party show up for the first time. Plus we have new tracks from Buni Muni, Golden, Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns, Novelty Island and M.

This week I made an effort to present the music in themed sets, so that we have an Americana set, a soulful set, a rockier set, a more elctronic set, and by the third hour I just gave up and returned to my normal method of thowing stuff against the wall.

Due to the holidays next week, RFC will probably present a marathon of recent episodes Monday and Tuesday. So the next new show will be in two weeks.

Check out the playlist below to see all the goodies we have in store (links will take you to the artist’s pages)…

RFCv5 134

hour one
Scarlet Revolt “Casualty of You”
Joey Ferris “Wild Side”
Annie Neely “Old Scratch”
The New Relics “Until It Feels Right”
Paul Callicoat“Clown Face”
Bob Dylan “The Wicked Messenger”
Sierra Ferrell “Made Like That”
The Heavy Hitters Band “Lie To Me”
David Bowie “Right”
Hybrid Soul Project “Ain’t Nobody”
Buni Muni“Peaches + Dynamite”
The MFB “Thigh Gap Mishap”
Lady D “Times Like These”
Greta Van Fleet “Sacred The Thread”

hour two
BRRO “Geek”
Matt Berry “Devil Inside Me”
The Wearing Hands “Venom”
Dave Strong “Little Girl”
The Dirteez “Strong”
Payback’s a Bitch “If You Don’t Love Me…(Johnny Dazz live at Wembley, 1977)”
The Inmates “Tell Me What’s Wrong (live)”
M “Maniac”
Bane Star “The Aperture”
Kylie Minogue “Padam Padam”
David Synn “Dali’s Kaleidoscope”
Linfinity “Miles”
M “Close The Window”
John Bunkley & His Secondhand Souls “Heavyweight Champion”

hour three
Matt Mullins and The Bringdowns “Homesick”
Golden “Ocean Size”
Novelty Island “Over & Over”
The Anchoress “Tender”
The Aquabats “Baby Baby”
Puddles Pity Party “Crazy Train/Let It Go”
Verdeant “Don’t Tell Him”
The Polkamaniacs“Ride On The Weinermobile”
Ann Magnuson “Old Enuff 2 B Yer Mom”
The Heavy Editors“You’re Breaking Up With You”
Logical Fleadh “Banish Misfortune”
Weezer “Mr. Blue Sky”
Ben Folds “Exhausting Lover”

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 2 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.

Then at 1 PM we have MIRRORBALL, followed at 2 PM by Curtain Call. At 3 PM two classic episodes of The Swing Shift arrive.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 8 AM, Thursday at 9 AM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday afternoon, only on The AIR . You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Monday Morning Art: Sloppy Times

Today’s art is another look at Manhattan, inspired by a recent whirlwind trip to The Big Apple.

This week is a really quick, sloppy rough watercolor of what I think is the New York Times building. It was a bit of an oppressive presence leaning over our right shoulders as we gazed out on our panoramic view of New York City from within the famed skyline.

I mean, we were on the 44th floor, and that giant lummox of a building was just looming over us, standing in our way of having a clear view of everything.

Still, I can’t stay mad at it. After all, that’s where they keep all the Wordle.

This was done in watercolor and cheap markers that bleed too much. of course I also used a straight-edge and photo reference. The painting itself is rather tiny, so if you click the link below on a computer screen you’ll probably see it larger than actual size. This is a study that I may revisit someday on a larger canvas.

To see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Over in radioland, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a classic episode of Psychedelic Shack, and then at 3 PM a classic 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 elsewhere on this page.

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. 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 you can hear an hour of ranuchy 1950’s comedy from famed nasty old broad, Rusty Warren, on The Comedy Vault.

Tonight at 9 PM the Monday Marathon presents ten hours of progressive rock courtesy of Herman Linte and Prognosis.

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