The PopCulteer
April 5, 2024

As with tens of thousands of my fellow West Virginians, I am still without power (as I write this).

Updating this, my power actually has been restored and I’m back in the house, but I was stuck in the hotel all day Wednesday and didn’t have anything else to do, so I put this together while I had the free time.

I’m quite lucky. My house did not sustain any damage. My neighbors didn’t fare as well. That drone photo you see at the right, which came from WCHS-TV, is just a couple of blocks from my house. It’s one of a few billboards in the area that just snapped in the high winds. It’s a miracle that nobody was killed or even seriously injured during Tuesday’s storm.

But the power did go out. Mel and I absconded to a local hotel that did still have power and wi-fi and I took advantage of the downtime to write ahead on the blog because I know I’ll have plenty to do when we do get power restored.

We’ll have to toss out almost everything in the fridge and freezer for one thing. I hate doing that, especially since some of it is leftover pizza.

Throwing away leftover pizza is like killing a mockingbird.  It’s a sin.

Where we holed up, we had a scenic view of the still-vacant Toys R Us at Southridge, and apparently that parking lot is being used as a staging area for all the power company repair trucks, most of which are coming to our rescue from other states. Trucks were coming and going all day, and the lot filled up and emptied out several times. At points it spilled over and filled up the parking lots for Chuck E Cheese, Quaker Steak & Lube and the now-vacant Bojangle’s.

These folks are why power will be restored as soon as possible.

I want to thank those guys. Your hard work is appreciated.

However, since I need to get some posts written, and I don’t have access to all my resources, the rest of this week’s PopCulteer is a rewrite of a post that originally ran in this space on September 7, 2012. I’m updating it and replacing the art and video and many of the references, but it’ll still serve as a good introduction to this blog. That’s the advantage of having over 18 years worth of archives to mine for content.

Seven Things That Make Up PopCult

This post, in its original form, was a PopCulteer that ran a week after this blog marked seven years of exitstence. The idea was to explain what PopCult is about. There’s no easy answer. I sort of have free reign to write about whatever I want as long as it’s related somehow to Pop Culture, and since that covers just about every aspect of modern life, I get to run a little wild here.

But in order to try and explain our existence, I came up with seven things that help make up PopCult. They are Art, Music, Comics, Theater, Wrestling, Toys and Animation. This week we’re going to revisit some examples of each of these and how they frequently intersect.


Since the beginning of this blog, I have posted examples of my digital art. Starting around the first anniversary of PopCult, I started posting my art regularly, every Monday Morning, hence “Monday Morning Art.”  In the beginning most of my art shared here was digital or manipulated photography.  After my 2016 diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis, and the treatment that allowed me to start sharing actually physical art, I began posting more paintings and drawings and stuff.  Here’s a couple of examples of both…


Hallelujah! It’s time for a hamburger!

I also apparently backed into the role of Art Critic, as my December, 2009 examination of Albert Paley’s “Hallelujah” sculpture that sits in front of The Clay Center, wound up projected on a huge screen at a panel discussion Paley attended.

I missed that event, which might have been a good thing, since I don’t know if they discussed my follow-up piece where I suggested alternative sculptures for the site.

I mean, I don’t know how much of a sense of humor the guy has. Considering how much he charged for “Hallelujah,” he might be laughing all the way to the bank.


This should solicit a “Duh” from my regular readers. I’ve always covered music here in PopCult, but I also steered many good CD reviews to the now-defunct “Newsounds” blog at The equally defunct Gazz, where they seem to be lost to the ages, so I can’t link to my reviews of Roger Waters’ French-languaage opera, “Ca Ira,” or my reviews of albums by Wynton Marselis, Regina Spektor or The Aquabats, but I can link to Andy Prieboy Week and my review of the book he co-wrote, “The Psycho Ex Game.”

And then there’s the matter of local music, and Radio Free Charleston.  Here, try a few randomly-plucked video samples…

Now that The AIR is part of PopCult, Radio Free Charleston is just one of the music specialty programs you can listen to on our sister radio station, which you can hear on the player elsewhere on this page. If you’re a regular reader, you know you get new shows every Tuesday.

Contrary to the belief that I love all the music that I hear, I also reviewed Steely Dan when they came to The Clay Center.


Comics are a huge part of my life, and I’ve written about a ton of them here in PopCult. I’ve gone on about my love of classic comic strips, like Popeye and Dick Tracy.  I also looked at old and new takes on Superman. I’ve also examined some of the greats of undergroud comics like Kim Dietch and Harvey Pekar.  I’ve also raved about the work of newer masters of the form, like The Hernandez Brothers and Alan Moore. Plus we’ve celebrated some truly great works like “Starstruck,” by Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta. Lately we’ve been following the emerging talent of Anthony Stokes.

Comics will continue to be a big part of PopCult. I wish I had time to cover them even more.


Thanks largely due to the influence of my beautiful wife, Melanie Larch, I have become a fan of live theater, and even get to write about it occasionally. One of those occasions was when I reviewed Dan Kehde’s brilliant piece of surrealistic naval-gazing, “Bert Hellmun Fights The Demons Of The Stage.”

More recently, I was able to share my reactions to some shows by Tracy Letts, as well as The SpongeBob Squarepants Musical, Boop! and just a few months ago, Stephen Sondheim’s final work, Here We Are.

And we also feature Musical Theater on Mel’s show, Curtain Call, on The AIR, every Wednesday.


Sometimes I go off on certain topics. I’m a stong advocate of smoking bans.  I don’t want to see Kanawha Boulevard shut down or shrunk.  I’ve type-blabbed about the death of Michael Jackson and the 2012 movie theater shooting in Colorado.  But one of my favorites rants, named after a Frank Zappa song, is “Dumb All Over,” from September 2009, where I took on one of the biggest threats to our country’s future…old comedy routines coming true…

“We have brought sophisticated, edgy, Lenny Bruce-type shock values to lowest-common-denominator humor. A pie in the face has been replaced with oversized plastic genitals bonking someone on the head.”

Over the years I’ve also addressed more personal topics, like getting married, being diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, several obituaries of friends and other things that aren’t really pop culture related, but they do make PopCult what it is.


So I’m a toy collector. Maybe I never grew up, but I love toys. I collect action figures, toy cars, robots and board games, along with anything else that strikes my fancy. I’ve written about Captain Action and Johnny West and GI Joe. I’ve gone on at length about The Batmobile. I’ve brought you news and reviews of cool new toys.

I’ve also made pilgrimages to Wheeling to The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum for MEGO Meet and The Marx Toys Convention. Since the original version of this post, I’ve made regular visits to JoeLanta/Toylanta and Kentuckiana, and even took a rather crazed road trip last year to cover two toy shows in the same weekend.


My working relationship with the Charleston Gazette began in the early nineties when Melanie Larch and I  started collaborating on “Animated Discussions,” the only regularly scheduled animation column running in a daily newspaper at the time.  We started out writing about our then favorite show, “Ren and Stimpy,” and within a year, we began doing more in-depth coverage that garnered national press attention.  From there, we continued to write about television animation and branched out into reviewing animated feature films such as “The Lion King,” “Toy Story,” and what turned out to be our swan song as movie reviewers “Wallace & Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”

In the summer of 2005, the Charleston Gazette shifted their freelancer budget around and decided to stop carrying locally written movie reviews.  That money was funneled into the Gazz blogs, which are now also a distant memory, and I decided to make the jump to blogger status. I and PopCult eventually left the Gazette-Mail, which is why you’re still able to read these words today.  Animation is still a large part of PopCult and you can expect more coverage of new animated projects as soon as they add more hours to the day.

That’s it for this bit of self horn tootery. It actually took more effort to re-write this piece and fix broken links and graphics than it would have to written an all-new post,  but with my brain preoccupied, this was the PopCulteer of least resistance. Check back for fresh content every day, even if some of it isn’t so fresh.