Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Author: Rudy Panucci (Page 1 of 558)

Rudy On The Racks

Just a quick post to let you know that the newest issue of Non-Sport Update should be hitting newsstands now, if it’s not already out. This is the bi-monthly magazine about collectible trading cards that don’t feature sportsball players on them. I’ve been a contributor to NSU for over 25 years now, and it’s still a treat to see something with my byline available on magazine racks.

The cover feature is an in-depth look at the next set of Star Trek: Discovery trading cards. There’s also a great speculative piece on missing cards from a 1957 Topps “Hit Parade” set; a look at a 2008 Donruss celebrity set; a profile of sketch artist/cosplayer Lindsay Greyling and  much more.

This is the annual preview issue, which gives collectors a heads-up on what to expect from the major trading card manufacturers over the next twelve months.

And my contribution is a detailed look at RRParksCARDS’ second set of Ultraman Trading Cards.

That’s all in the new issue, plus there’s all kinds of news, the regular price guide feature and a cool bonus trading card that previews an upcoming set on Roman Emperors.

Look for Non-Sport Update at your local newsstand or bookstore, or order it directly from the publisher. 

And that is this week’s self-horn-tootery from your humble PopCulteer.

A Gentleman’s Guide To North American Knock-Off Spotting

The PopCult Toybox Bookshelf

Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures
by Brian Heiler
PlaidStallions Press
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0991692262
$24.99

I don’t recall ever describing a book as “adorable” before, but dammit, I adore this book. Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures is the second book by Brian Heiler, the mastermind behind Rack Toys and Plaid Stallions and a driving force behind MEGO Meet.

I have a couple of disclousures here: Brian is a friend, and I’m a big fan of his work. Also, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. A quarter-century ago, when I was writing for Toy Trader Magazine, and later MasterCollector.com, I wrote a feature called “Cheesy Knockoff of The Month.” It was, like this book, a celebration of the bootleg, knockoff, unlicensed glory of the world of cheap-assed toys. I’ve even posted the occasional cheesy knockoff here in PopCult, because it’s so much fun writing about them.

Knock-offs, in case you don’t know, are those cheap, unlicensed toys you find in discount stores, flea markets and other “off the grid” retailers that are inexpensive imitations of popular toy franchises. You’ve probably seen “Spider-Hero,” “Space Wars,” or “Ranger Powers” at some point.

I love this outlaw segment of the toy industry. It’s usually hilarious, often borders on parody, and it’s ultimately validation that the original toy was successful enough to imitate. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and some of that flattery is absolutely hysterical. When you find a knock-off of a toy, that almost always means the original toy was a huge success.

Brian has wisely chosen to let the pictures do most of the talking here. In most cases, there is little to offer in terms of background information as the makers of the toys operate in the shadows. Oftentimes the manufacturers are anonymous Chinese toy factories who sell their product to distributors who may, or may not, sell them under a particular brand. Brian does a great job of introducing the chapters, and usually says everything there is to say about the toys in the captions. The photos are big, clear, well-lit and make for a great-looking book.

I mean, look at that imitation Hulk porcelin doll on the front cover. What more could you say about that?

Sometimes the exact same toy will be sold by multiple distributors under many different names. That’s a big part of the fun of collecting knock-offs, aside from the fact that they’re almost always cheap, there usually isn’t a definite paper trail or solid answers to the questions about who made what. Who knew there were so many knock-offs of RoboCop?

Brian does a great job covering different eras, too. There are knock-offs in the book dating back to the 1960s, and much more recent things, like the multi-figure packs that combine heroes from Marvel, DC Comics, Pixar and The Power Rangers. Different chapters cover different topics: superheroes; monsters; space toys; movie knock-offs. He devotes the last chapter to “art” knockoffs made by people like Sucklord and Mr. Dan, who make small-runs of bootleg toys, usually for a higher artistic purpose (or parody).

The remarkable thing about Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures is that it covers such a wide time period and crosses over so many genre. Brian must have a huge collection of knock-offs, bigger than mine, and I’ve been collecting knockoffs for over 30 years.

In fact, of all the hundreds of knock-offs in this book, I think I only have three or four of them. Maybe I need to write a book that’s a knock-off of this book. Better yet, I’ll wait until Brian does volume two.

Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures is an absolute treat for a toy lover with a sense of humor. This stuff is supremely entertaining and you’d have to be totally joyless not to enjoy this book.

You can order Knock-Offs : Totally Unauthorized Action Figures directly from the publisher, from Amazon, or from any bookseller by using the ISBN code.

The Defectors and more on RFC, Legitimate Swing on The Swing Shift.

We’re going to heat things up on the first big snow day of the new year on The AIR  we deliver a  new episode of Radio Free Charleston and a new,  edition of The Swing Shift. That’s two new programs totalling four hours of great musical enjoyment that might just melt the snow off your sidewalks (note the word, “might”).  You simply have to poke 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 (If you’re reading PopCult on a desktop, that is. Phone readers have to go to the website).

We have a  killer new Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.  This week we open with a long-lost track from Charleston’s first New Wave Band, The Defectors. John “Sham Voodoo” Estep and Lynne Sandy have been digitizing their archives and doling previews out on Facebook, and we have a couple of vintage tracks for you this week.

This is apretty epic show filled with new music from Elvis Costello, The New Relics, The Dollyrots, Hellblinki and more. Plus we have our usual free-form radio scattershot playlist that still all manages to flow nicely.

Check out the playlist below to see all the cool tunes (live links will take you to the artist’s pages)…

RFCV5 075

hour one
The Defectors “God Bless America”
J Marinelli “Dinosaur Dan”
Elvis Costello “The Boy Named If”
Hazel O’Connor “Eighth Day”
Cassius At Best “Lord Of Rats”
Skafish “Sign Of The Cross”
Red Audio“One Percent”
Emmalea Deal “On And On”
Dewa Budjana “Blue Mansion”
The Dollyrots  “Get Radical”
David M. Stowall  “Moderation”
The Swivel Rockers “Fall”
Unmanned “Make Out Bandit”
The Specials “Get Up Stand Up”

hour two
The Defectors “Unable”
The New Relics “Some of Mine”
The Stranglers “And If You Should See Dave”
Mark Beckner “Human Satellite (Ode To Doris Day)”
Eric Burdon and The New Animals “Sky Pilot”
Ann Magnuson “Sky’s A Cryin”
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies “Concrete Man Blues”
Hellblinki “Dee”
Lucifungus “The Dawn Patrol”
Lost Decades  “Come Ruin”
CHVRCHES “How Not To Drown”
Safetybelt “Sun”
MInd Garage “Asphalt Mother”
David Synn with Matthew Fitzwater “The Dreamer”

hour three
Elvis Costello “The Man You Love To Hate”
Jordan Andrew Jefferson “Ruler Of The World”
Joseph Hale “Tear-stained Eyes”
Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox “Every Breath You Take”
KIng Crimson “Three of a Perfect Pair”
Sierra Ferrall  “In Dreams”
Paul McCartney “Hey Diddle”
Superfetch “Charlie Hebdo Blues”
Membrane Cell “Insignificant Other”
Edison’s Children “The Tempest”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, 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.

After RFC, stick around for encores of MIRRORBALL at 1 PM, and NOISE BRIGADE at 2 PM.

At 3 PM we have a brand-new episode of The Swing Shift. This week the show is inspired by an email conversation I had last week with Tyler Pedersen. He was very complimentary of our most recent show, and used the phrase “Legitimate Swing,” which stuck with me, so I opened this week’s show with a track from Tyler and tried to fill the rest with tunes that live up to that label.

Check this playlist.

The Swing Shift 124

Tyler Pedersen “Swing 53”
Fletcher Henderson “King Porter Stomp”
Benny Goodman “One O’Clock Jump”
Gene Krupa “Thanks For The Boogie Ride”
Brian Setzer Orchestra “From Here To Eternity”
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy “Always Gonna Get You”
The Atomic Fireballs “Spanish Fly”
Bryan Ferry “Reason or Rhyme”
Lily Wilde and Her Jumpin’ Jubilee Orchestra “No More Love”
Joe Stilgoe “Nobody Cares Like Me”
Hot Swing Sextet “When The Quail Comes Back To San Quentin”
Jack’s Cats “Topsy”
The Monkey Swingers “St. James Infirmary”
Pink Turtle “Money, Money, Money”
Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers “Blow Me A Fat Note”
Glenn Miller “The Five O’Clock Whistle”
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga “It Don’t Mean A Thing”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesdays at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 7 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: Urban Canyon

January is still Edward Hopper homage month here at PopCult, and today we have a study (acrylic on board) of a scene from a trip to Chicago a couple or three years ago. I altered the composition a bit from my photo reference to be a bit more Hopperesque, and I think I’m getting closer to understanding his interplay between shadow and light.

When I blow this up on a real canvas, I’ll probably rearrange and remove some of the vehicles.

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

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we attempt to warm your frozen cockles with a new episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a new 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.

Nigel Pye dipped into his archives for another primo stash of amazing psychedelic rock, expanding your minds as he always does.

Check out the playlist for all the trippy music man…

Psychedelic Shack 056

The Seeds “900 Million People”
Santana “Black Magic Woman”
Davie Allen & The Arrows “Cycle-Delic”
The Deviants “I’m Coming Home”
Dom “Dom”
The Rubber Memory “All Tegother”
Finch “Nothing In The Sun”
Magi “Win Or Lose”
Negative Space “The Calm After The Storm”
Zane “Damage”
Changin’ Tymes “Blue Music Box”
Music Machine “Talk Talk”

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 Psychedelic sweetmeats, Herman Linte’s Prognosis will bring us two hours of Tangerine Dream performing live in 2014, highlights from the recently-released 3 CD set that documents the band’s final tour with their late founding member, Edgar Froese.

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 eleven hours of fine programming from our friends across the pond at Haversham Recording Institute.  You’ll hear early episodes of Psychedelic Shack, Sydney’s Big Electric Cat and Prognosis, to get you through the night.

Sunday Evening Video: Screwball Squirrel

It’s cold and nasty. A major winter storm is attack much of the East Coast. What better way to stay warm than with a slapstick absurdist cartoon by Tex Avery?

Be warned, it’s not exactly sensitive toward those suffering from mental illness. Luckily, nobody watches Tex Avery cartoons to learn about mental illness. This is definitely a product of less-enlightened times, but hopefully the humor holds up, even if the cultural attitudes don’t. Screwball Squirrel (later “Screwy Squirrel) was so over-the-top and frantic that after six cartoons, Avery killed him off…on screen at that.

Stay safe and stay warm.

 

The RFC Flashback: Episode 81

This week we jump way back to September, 2009, and pick up chronologically with the second Beatles tribute episode of Radio Free Charleston. For the next several months the plan is to bring you the episodes in order, filling in a huge gap we had from a few years back when a big chunk of our online archives disappeared along with everybody else’s MySpace videos.

In this episode we bring you rehearsal footage of Charleston’s Beatles tribute band, Rubber Soul tackling a pair of Fab Four songs, plus we captured Captain Crash and The Beauty Queen doing a Beatles tune at Taylor Books, and we have my animated take on Under The Radar’s version of “Eleanor Rigby.” Our animation is the promo video for Beatles Rockband, which was thing, back in the day.

You can find the original production notes HERE.

Thank God It’s Disco On The AIR

The PopCulteer
January 14, 2022

Your humble blogger is currently in deadline heck with a looming magazine article that’s giving me fits, so all I got for you today is notes on a new episode of MIRRORBALL on The AIR.

Luckily for you, it’s a great new hour of Disco classics courtesy of my lovely wife, Mel Larch, debuting on the afternoon after the 33rd anniversary of the night we met. 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 the title song from the Deeeeesco movie,  Thank God It’s Friday, and then we boogie on from there.

Check out the playlist…

Love and Kisses “Thank God It’s Friday”
Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip “I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper”
Average White Band “Let’s Go Round Again”
KC & The Sunshine Band “Baby Give It Up”
Frantique “Getting Serious”
McFadden & Whithead “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”
The Isley Brothers “It’s A Disco Night”
John Davis & Monster Orchestra “Ain’t That Enough For You”
Barry White “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love”
Chic “Everybody Dance”
Donna Summer “Hot Stuff”
Cheryl Lynn “Got To Be Real”

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 that  brings you New Wave music from Scotland. You can find the playlist HERE.

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, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back because we have a fresh post every day and next week I plan to catch up on stuff I didn’t have time to tell you about this week.

Thursday Morning Art

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…Isn’t it supposed to be Monday Morning Art?

Normally it is, but your PopCulteer is deep in research for a magazine article and doesn’t have time to craft one of my carefully-prepared and patented PopCult posts for today. So, since I was able to crank out a number of Monday Morning Art pieces last weekend, I decided to dip into that pile to bring you one of those instead. It was either do this, or go a day without a fresh post, and nobody wants that to happen.

This is another acrylic-on-board study for a larger canvas piece, inspired somewhat by the work of Edward Hopper. It’s untitled, and some of you may recognize the area as part of Charleston’s West Side. I used some fifteen-year-old photos for reference.

With luck, we’ll be back to what passes for normal around here tomorrow.

A Pair Of Cool Kickstarter Campaigns

We have two cool Kickstarter projects to tell you about today. Both are from proven creators that we’ve plugged here in the past. So let’s just jump in, because these are really nifty things, indeed.

First up we have a new graphic novel from local boy made good, Jason Pell.  I’ve been a fan of Jason’s for some time, and I’ve told you about his Pinpricks illustrated books and graphic novel, all of which easily met their goals and were funded and delivered promptly.

This time Jason is handling the writing, while the art is provided by Jok, and the story, Bear Skin, is about a small West Virginia town that gets wiped out by a serial killer. Is the man in the bear suit the killer, or is he defending the town from other monsters?  Check out this cool preview video…

With a local creator, localish setting and a murderous guy in a bear suit, how can you go wrong?

You can find out how to support Bear Skin and get this intriguing graphic novel in your hands in time for Halloween at this link. 

Next up, we have another giant grab-bag of Madman goodies courtesy of Christopher Irving and The Drawn Word.

Last year I told you about the Madman Ginchy Glider and the Madman Activity Book, all based on Mike Allred’s beloved offbeat Superhero, and now we have Mike Allred’s Madmania Saturday Morning Cereal Box Fun Pack!

Check out this message from Christopher…

This is the dream of every kid my age. It’s a big cereal box with NO CEREAL. It’s filled with “toy surprises inside” instead.  As they say, “Get the Madmania cereal box with NOTHING but prizes inside, including yo-yos, a sticker, postcards, and more!”

This campaign is already fully-funded, and every time a stretch goal is met, another cool item gets added to the Cereal box. As I write this, the box will contain four yo-yos emblazoned with Madman characters, one whoopie cushion, and two lobby cards. The next stretch goal will see the addition of one more lobby card and TWO POGS! With three weeks to go and more people kicking in every day, this may be one of the most impressive fake cereal boxes filled with toy surprises ever Kick-started.

Follow this link to go to the Kickstarter page for this way-cool, fun-filled project.

There are three or four weeks left in these campaigns, but don’t sleep on them. You don’t want to miss out on the rampant coolness.

Radio Free Charleston Is 33 1/3 Percent NEW!!!

Once again we have come to Tuesday on The AIR  and you know what that means. Today we deliver unto you a one-third-new, three-hour  episode of Radio Free Charleston.  You simply have to poke 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 (If you’re reading PopCult on a desktop, that is. Phone readers have to go to the website).

We have a  hybrid edition of Radio Free Charleston at 10 AM and 10 PM Tuesday.  This week we open with a full hour of non-local music, from all over the world, with a mix of independent rising stars, grizzled veterans and even a New Wavish oldie or two.

However, the reason no local artists are in the first hour is because the second and third hours of our show bring you a classic, all local (ish) episode of Radio Free Charleston Volume Four, from six years ago. This hasn’t been heard for over five years, so consider it a really cool time capsule of the local scene.

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

RFCV5 074

hour one
The Stranglers “Water”
The Dollyrots “Vibration”
Guitarmy of One “Overtones of Hercules and Holmes”
Red Spot Rhythm Section with Claire Liparulo “Breakdown”
Ringo Starr “Just That Way”
The Lickerish Quartet “Bluebird’s Blues”
Tautologic “Covered In Grit”
Andy Prieboy “Heaven or Anaheim”
Tyler Pedersen “T-Boneasaurus”
IDKHOW “Lights Go Down”
Lene Lovich “Nightshift”
Ghost Twin “Blue Sunshine”
PM “You’re Too Much”
Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox “Video Killed The Radio Star”
Deep Purple “Let The Good Times Roll”

hour two
Hybrid Soul “Hate On Me”
Chuck Biel “The Other Side”
TriElement “Mind Frenzy”
Mark Wolfe “Gypsy Rant”
Punk Jazz “Eminence”
Mother Nang “Buy The Farm”
Some Forgotten Color “High Chair”
Spencer Elliott “Some Forgotten Color”
Superfetch “Sheen Dinner”
Three Bodies “Gardens Of Hope”
Larry Groce “What do You Think About”
Jordan Andrew Jefferson “Beyond Words”
Ann Magnuson “Disassociation”

hour three
Red Honey “Backs To The Wind”
Time And Distance “Live A Lie”
Westerberg High “Walking With A Ghost”
Hellblinki “Rust”
Charlie West All Stars “Frankenstein”
Charlie West All Stars “Snortin’ Whiskey”
Haulden Caulfield “The Field Still Burns”
The Nanker Phelge “Killer Took A Holiday”
Joe Vallina “Haven’t Got Enough”
QiET “Hirundieans”
Mike Morningstar and Rick Roberts “East End Bar”
The Swivel Rockers “Chemical City”
The Company Stores “Rollin’ In”
J Marinelli “Acceptable Faces”
Bobaflex “You Don’t Wanna Know”
The Renfields “Forbidden Planet”

You can hear this episode of Radio Free Charleston Tuesday at 10 AM and 10 PM on The AIR, with replays Thursday at 3 PM, Friday at 9 AM, 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.

 

After RFC, stick around for encores of MIRRORBALL at 1 PM, and Ska Madness at 2 PM. At 3 PM we have two recent episodes of The Swing Shift.

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