Monday, August 28, 2006
To celebrate, I'm going to revisit a few memorable posts from the last year, and tell you about the new PopCult and Radio Free Charleston CafePress stores, but for now, Let's go all the way back to the very first post. You can see it right here.
Not much, was it? But at least it was mildly amusing, and that should count for something. I'm shooting for ten posts today, just to see how much of a strain I can put on the Blogger interface. Cut yourself a piece of virtual cake (it's orange cake with milk chocolate icing), pull up a chair and enjoy!
By happy coincidence, PopCult shares it's birthday with comics legend Jack Kirby! You can read about Jack Kirby Day at Mark Evanier's blog.
Thanks for sticking around this long. If you're looking for the link to the latest episode of Radio Free Charleston, you can find it here. It's been a kick, the way this blog has evolved over the last year. Who would have thought that after spending ten years making a point of not having any photos of myself on the internet, I'd be hosting an internet video show? Let's dive into the self-indulgent semi-nostalgia.
This shirt dates back to 1989, when I was working for WVNS Radio, and preparing to launch the original incarnation of Radio Free Charleston. I was not an enthusiastic supporter of the Sternwheel Regatta--working in Charleston, but living elsewhere, and having to reroute my commute for two weeks was about as appealing then as the user fee is today. Sadly, being an employee of the radio station that was sponsoring some of the events meant that I had to put in a token appearance, even though I always avoided the Regatta like the plague. I just don't care for crowds, and the choice of musical acts is rarely to my tastes. Plus, I think the whole idea of Charleston being a "river town" is more than a little contrived.
So I had this shirt made up, and wore it to the station events. Oddly enough, it was the hit of the party! Even city officials were so burned out on the Regatta by the time it actually got underway that they felt pretty much the same way. Ironically, I had a great time at the Regatta that year. I got to meet and hang out with Cheap Trick, and watched most of their concert from the roof of the covered driveway at the Charleston House Holiday Inn. I don't think I've been back to the Regatta since--quit while you're ahead, I guess.
As for why this shirt was rejected from the current Radio Free Charleston video podcast, well, it wasn't a matter of taste--it was a matter of timing. I had planned to wear this for episode five, but now the production schedule has slid somewhat, and episode five won't be posted for your enjoyment until after this year's Sternwheelless Regatta is over. So I present this shirt here, for your amusement, and will find a new one to wear on the next show.
Day One: The Riverfront. The controversial plan to bulldoze Kanawha Boulevard into the river and plant trees or something has seemingly stalled. The only thing new on this front is the grudging acceptance of the powers that be that large numbers of people still like and use the Boulevard. Nothing much has happened, and that's a good thing.
Day Two: Smoking. Following a landmark report from the Surgeon General about the effects of second-hand smoke, the Kanawha County Board of Health has begun making noise about expanding the ban on smoking to all indoor public places, including bars and restaurants. Not only does this make me extremely happy, but you can't beat the entertainment value of smokers trying to play the victim after years of them inflicting their addictive poison on the rest of us. Their whiny cries of persecution is music to my ears. After years of being told to "suck it up," when I was forced to be around tobacco smoke, I love watching the tobacco addicts squirm. Hey guys, my right to breathe supersedes your right to indulge in your dirty, dirty addiction. It has been fun watching the same Restaurant owner/pro-smoking advocate go crying to the media about how the smoking ban has ruined his business. Hey fella, I tried eating at your restaurant once, the reason your business is down is because, now that you're smoke-free, people can actually taste that crap you try to pass off as food.
Day Three: WHCP's Newscast. It wasn't pretty. The newscast bit the dust in a very public way back in February, and the station changed their call letters. No word on if Mark Hunt has put together another newscast for the local market. You can read about the ugly end here.
Day Four: Vandalism! Somebody defiled the most delicate part of the Davis Square horsey statue, placing a sticker on its privates. I wrote about this last year. IT'S STILL THERE! SEE! Shouldn't there be some user fee money left over to pry this sticker off of the equine unmentionables?
Bonus Rant: Metro Gubmint. The user fee was upheld by a court-ordered vote wherein a tiny percentage of Charleston citizens voted to tax people who live outside the city. And the sensible dream of a Metro Goverment that would combine Charleston with the rest of Kanawha County scoots that much farther out of reach. When it comes time for the citizens of Kanawha County to vote to merge with Charleston, the politicians will learn just how long people's memories can be.
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch
You may remember Plastic Man from the wretched Ruby-Spears animated cartoon of the 1980s, but the character is actually one of the greatest comic-book creations of all time. Created by the genius, Jack Cole, Plastic Man has been celebrated in a book by Pulitzer-prize winner Art Speigelman, and stars in a series of DC Comics Archives which sell quite well despite their fiffty-dollar price tag.
Heidi MacD0nald has an embedded movie clip in her blog, The Beat, so you can see how close we came to getting a top-notch Plastic Man cartoon that was worthy of the history of the comic book. You can see it here. Heidi's blog is one of our everyday stops, and is an invaluable source of comics industry information.
Cartoon Network passed on this show, another in a long line of moronic decisions that CN has made concerning cartoons based on properties owned by their sister company, DC Comics. The show was developed by Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants, and was designed and storyboarded by Stephen DeStefano, who drew Popeye on the Spinach package that Rudy wrote about here.
In May, we had Andy Prieboy Week, where I wrote about one of my favorite musician/composer/novelists. I also told you about the Beatles Bootlegs Podcast.
Also in May, and then again in June, I turned evil.
Back in February, Mark Evanier linked to my rant about the decline of Radio Shack, as it deteriorated from nerd Mecca to cell phone Hell. To update things, the Dunbar Radio Shack, where I had been shopping since it opened 35 years ago, was one of the stores closed in the company-wide purge. I couldn't even manage to feel sad, since the service there had been so poor for so long.
Also in February, David Williams of the Gazette wrote a review of the Symphony Pops concert that I disagreed with mightily, so I wrote a review of his review. I stand by my criticism that his piece was poorly written. In the comments, Williams tried to rebut one point by claiming that I didn't understand that he was providing context with one of his irrelevant asides. He even seems to compare himself to Hector Berlioz at one point. Sadly, it's just proof that Mr. Williams still cannot tell the difference between context and pointless trivia.
In January, I attempted to listen to Howard Stern's new satellite radio show. It wasn't pretty.
Last December, I knocked myself out, writing 9,000 words of a Holiday Gift Guide in one week. You can read highlights here, here, and here.
Back in November, Melanie and I wrote about our old pal, John K. the creator of Ren and Stimpy. Since this post, John has started his own blog, and the unreleased episodes of the Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon have been released on DVD. He's currently working on the animated title sequence for the upcoming Tenacious D movie.
In October of last year, I presented a week of my own creepy musical compositions, since Halloween is the only time of year that people can stand to hear my low-rent horror movie score noodling. Two of the more listenable examples are here, and here.
Earlier in that month, I wrote about my new favorite movie theater. And I put TiVo in its place!
Not a bad batch of posts for my first year blogging. Now I have to see if I can top them in the next twelve months.
The second big change involves something I wrote in my bio, lo those many months ago: "I may tee off on comic books, toys, movies, animation, health care, food, television, or anything else that strikes my fancy. I'll also share some of the artwork, photography, and music that I've been working on these last few years. Maybe along the way I can reconnect with some of my old Radio Free Charleston co-conspirators."
"Reconnect with some of my old Radio Free Charleston co-conspirators".....Check! When I started writing PopCult, I had no idea that it really would lead to me being able to revive my long-lost and beloved radio show. Now we're in production of episode five of the new video version of the show, I'm working with some of my best friends from the old days, and I'm happier than I've been in a long time.
So keep reading PopCult, maybe even buy some of the cheesy crap in my Cafepress Stores. You might enjoy the ride.
On Location With Rick Lee features the work of world-class photog Rick Lee, who may be the most prolific photo blogger in town. He posts a wide variety of images, from his professional work, to his intriguing "produce blogging" shots taken in local grocery stores and tons of other amazing artworks.
Plaedaddy is Stephen Beckner, award-winning photographer and a fine musician and songwriter. Steve's work is pretty cutting-edge, and is really innovative.
Entropy showcases work by Scott Mitchell. Scott's got a great eye for nature and architecture, and always puts a smile on my face.
Through The Lens brings us the work of MShane, from Shane Evans Photography. He does terrific landscapes and great portraits, but like all the photo bloggers listed here, he's not confined to any one genre.
Amanda Miller Photography, by the artist of the same name, brings us an array of wonderful photos, including high-speed shots, tinted photos, and interesting still life. I wish she'd update more often.
So go check these photoblog links out, and if you know of any other cool local photoblogs, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starting this week, I'm experimenting with something new. Since I've been doing the Monday Morning Art thing for a while now, I decided to see if anybody would want to buy any of this stuff. So I've opened a few shops over at CafePress. Each week, in the Monday Morning Art store, you will be able to purchase T-shirts, prints, and other cheesy merchandise featuring that week's Monday Morning Art. The products will only be available for one week, and then they'll be replaced by the next week's art. I've also opened a PopCult Shop, featuring some of the previous pieces of artwork that I've posted here over the last year. If you have more money than taste, rush on over and buy my stuff.
In observance of our anniversary week here at PopCult, our pick for Cool Toy Of The Week is one of my favorites from my childhood. In fact, I wrote about Captain Action and his nemesis, Dr. Evil, last year right here and here. The reason I'm picking Captain Action again is because Robby Reed, over at Dial "B" For Blog, is in the midst of a six-part series of articles on the good Captain, and I can just link to it, and let him do all the work. Read the first installment here, the second here, and then check back to his blog every day for the next four parts!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Raymond Wallace is the first musical guest, and you can read more about him and check out his Songs Of The Week here. We brought him into the studio and put a guitar in his hands and let the cameras roll. He'd barely touched a guitar for two years, and it's a kick seeing him playing again after all he's been through.
Our animated short this week is "Zachery Bop," an experimental CGI piece that my brother Frank made on primitive coal-fueled computers over ten years ago. Frank also composed the music on an electric abacus.
Under The Radar gave us our SOTW just yesterday, and they tear up the LiveMix studio with "Me, The Boys And Jack," a rock 'n' roll song about the exploits of the crew of the PT 109 during World War Two. Be sure to give a listen to their take on Gershwin's "Summertime," while you're digging their music.
The shirt I'm wearing in this show features The Blue Guy, AKA The Blue Meanie of WWE/ECW fame. Meanie performed at the IWA East Coast show in June, and I snapped up one of his shirts to wear on the show. That's me and Meanie at the IWA EC after show party, in a photo by Daniel Boyd. If you want one of these shirts for yourself, you can check out Meanie's post here, for details on how to order one.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
With any luck, the next episode of RFC will be posted as early as tomorrow. After I write this, I'm off to edit the show, and then tonight we'll be taping a band for episode five. Tomorrow look for production notes on the show four, so you can learn all the backstage dirt on our little internet TV-type show.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Click the screen above and you'll be treated to our Fearless Leader, singing U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday," spliced and diced into existence by RX at PartyParty.com. Looks like GWB may have a new career ahead of him. Heck, maybe if we're lucky, he'll quit his job and go on tour!
Only if he takes Dick Cheney with him as a backup dancer, though. If you want to make your own version of the Preznit crooning, go check out the George W Bush Public Domain Audio Archive for tons of clips that can be rejiggered and manipulated so that he'll say anything you want. It's the same thing that Mr. Bush does to the Constitution!
You'll notice that most of the time I go a few stages beyond the piece I decide to share. You have to make a few wrong turns before you find the right way to go. click to enlarge
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Raymond recorded three songs for us, and our SOTW is one that won't be on the next show. "Shine On Harvest Moon," performed in Raymond's Leon Redbone-influenced style, will make you feel like you're hanging out in a New Orleans whorehouse, circa 1910. Leon Redbone is one of Raymond's heroes, as you'll see on the show, and he draws a lot of inspiration from him and other legendary bluesmen like Muddy Waters.
As a bonus, You can listen to Raymond playing "Variations On Kotke," Raymond's take on a piece he heard Leo Kotke play on Mountain Stage. This tune was recorded with Raymond playing my cheap 12-string, on the very computer that I use to write this blog. My guitar never sounded better. The next episode of RFC, featuring Raymond and Under The Radar, should be posted here at theGazz.com next week.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch
It's link week in Animated Discussions, as we slack off and let other people do the work for a change.
Heidi MacDonald, at the Beat, tells us about the new Adult Swim import from Japan, Shin Chan the adventures of a rude five-year-old boy, and how it will probably rock because Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer are writing the English scripts for the series.
Mark Evanier posts an embedded YouTube compilation of Quisp and Quake commercials made by Jay Ward (Bullwinkle) in the 1960s. Not only is this cool because of the animation and the background info Mark provides, but also because Quisp is the food of the Gods--the finest cereal ever crafted by human or alien.
Toonzone interviews Mark about the episodes of Superman: The Animated Series that he wrote, notably the tributes to legendary comics creator Jack Kirby.
Miles Thompson, an animator and designer who's worked on countless of our favorite TV cartoons dating back to 2 Stupid Dogs has a way-cool art blog.
Meanwhile, Donovan Cook, creator of 2 Stupid Dogs, is currently working on an animated feature, Space Chimps, due out in a year or two. His last major project was Mickey, Donald and Goofy as The Three Musketeers, which you can read about here.
Monday, August 14, 2006
However, GI Joe has always inspired a healthy group of fellow travelers, compatible toys made by competing companies. One of the best of these is the Power Team Elite World Peacekeepers line of 12" action figures made by M & C Toy Centre. You can find Power Team figures at Big Lots, Kay Bee Toy Stores, and in the JC Penney Christmas catalog. Unlike the 12" GI Joe, Power Team is still going strong! They have a ton of new product coming out and they put a tremendous amount of effort into their design and play value. Their current body design sports some of the most realistic articulation of any 12" action figure, and is able to imitate nearly the full range of motion of the human body.
Our "cool toy" this week is the Power Team Elite World Peacekeepers Combat Engineer, which includes one fully-articulated figure, with interchangeable hands, and a huge assortment of cool 1/6 scale diorama pieces, including a garbage can, barrel, extending ladder, chainsaw, "wood" planks, a crate and a tool kit. The tool kit includes scale tools like a hammer, screwdriver, wrenches, pliers, facemask, axe, shovel, circuit tester, and eye protection. One of the major attractions of the Power Team line is that it provides such a wide variety of cool accessories in the proper scale for hobbyists who build dioramas. This set is a gold mine with tons of potential for that purpose.
Best of all, this set has been spotted in Big Lots just last week. So if you're a GI Joe collector who's depressed over the lack of cool Joe stuff in retail stores, look in the direction of Power Team. They're still holding down the 1/6 scale fort.
We kick off the new week, rested and refreshed after some birthday weekend slacking, with a digitally-assaulted photograph from last winter. This is a shot of barren tree branches, which has been a recurring motif in my work for over twenty years. I like the way they look. As always, click to enlarge. Later today I'll be catching up on my weekend off, with Cool Toy and Animation posts.
I wasn't slacking the entire weekend. Friday night Mel and I split our time between the Open mic night at the Unity Church and the CD launch party for Holy Cow at Capitol Roasters. I was out recruiting bands for future episodes of RFC, and found quite a few talented area musicians. We were particularly impressed by Holy Cow, whose new CD can be found at Budget Tapes and Records in Kanawha City and Fret & Fiddle in St. Albans. (and at CD Baby, online).
Thursday, August 10, 2006
A native West Virginian, Pettigrew has lived in the Charleston area for the past twenty years, having moved to the capital city to pursue a career as a professional musician and university music instructor. She was also the classical music critic for The Charleston Gazette for a number of years. Since 1990, after receiving her Master of Science degree and making a career shift, she has been an environmental geologist in hydrologic and groundwater protection for mining.
A childhood experience with a band of Gypsies established a lifelong fascination with the Roma that is manifest in nearly every piece of fiction she writes, as is an obsession with pirates and the romance of the tall ships that is almost as long-standing. She is currently working on her next novel.
My own fascination with Pirates has been well-documented in this blog, and I'm looking forward to reading the well-reviewed "One More Breath." Pettigrew will be signing copies of her book at Taylor Books, 226 Capitol Street in Charleston, at 6:00 PM Saturday August 12. You can also pick up one of the 1,000 Keys To The Treasure Chest at the same time.
I picked this song this week because the latest episode of the BRAND SPANKIN' NEW video version of Radio Free Charleston is online, and features a vintage video of Three Bodies performing "Shingles and Tar." That was already a song of the week back in March, so this time I'll give you the band's "theme song."
Be sure to check out the latest RFC, which also features Eduardo Canelon, Pentagram Flowerbox, and The Alien Threat. Plus there's goofy dancing. Go to the Gazz TV page and explore.
Monday, August 07, 2006
We have a wonderful musical guest, Eduardo Canelon, who ran off to host a music camp before we had a chance to find out what the piece of music he performed was called. Evidently, this music camp is being held somewhere with no cell phone coverage. I'll update you on Eduardo's music as soon as he gets back. He's the mastermind behind Latin Music WV and we'll be telling you more about that in PopCult in the coming weeks. Eduardo is also the leader of Comparsa, an eight-piece Latin band that will appear on a future episode of RFC. He treats us to a very cool, laid-back Spanish number, performed on the Radio Free Charleston studio fire escape.
Our other musical guest is Three Bodies--no mean feat, since they haven't performed together in over fifteen years. "Shingles And Tar" is a vintage music video, which was hastily assembled in the summer of 1990, the day before it was due to be shown at a film festival. I got a call from Brian Young, and headed down to an editing bay at West Virginia State College with a handful of tapes of stock footage. We combined the stock footage with a short film Brian had made starring Kris Cormandy, the lead singer of Three Bodies, and wound up with a decent little music video. As the night wore on, and the deadline loomed, we slacked off and ended the video with what may be a world record for the most nuclear explosions ever used in a rock music video.
For reasons of copyright and ox-mistreatment, this video was re-edited last Friday. Brian hasn't seen this version as I write this. Hope he's not mad. Since we were dealing with fifteen-year-old videotape, and a short production window for RFC, there is one glitch in the show. At the very beginning of "Shingles And Tar", the audio is a little warbly. You can find an MP3 of the song here, which is all clean and neat and warble-free.
We wrap up the show with a public service announcement of great importance.
After we finished the show, we noticed that an unintentional theme had emerged. The show seems to be a bit hot. Perhaps subconsciously influenced by the record heat we've had in the valley of late, this episode of Radio Free Charleston has a recurring flame motif. In fact, the heat is the reason we used a green screen, instead of shooting on location. We actually shot the host segments twice. The first time, we had audio problems that were insurmountable. This was actually a good thing, because I was experimenting with my "look" for the show, and the particular combination of facial hair and old fedora that I tried for the first shoot imbued me with a look not unlike that of a fat Jed Clampett.
So we rescheduled the host segments for two days later. When faced with the prospect then of shooting on a rooftop in 104 degree weather at two in the afternoon, my resistance to the idea of using the green screen melted away, and we absconded to the secret RFC studio. I prefer shooting on location, but I think the show looks all right this time. In many ways, this is our hottest show yet! We've got fiery Latin balladeering, a neighbor from Hell, lots of nuclear explosions, and an oppressive heat which we defiantly flip off by shooting in an air-conditioned studio. Watch for episode three of Radio Free Charleston later today at the Gazz TV page.
click to enlarge, right-click to taste (if your computer is equipped with the special tasting hardware)
Thursday, August 03, 2006
It's another dip into the Radio Free Charleston archives this week, as we revisit the April 1990 "Beatles For Easter" show, which featured songs about the Fab Four, as well as cover versions of Beatles tunes by international and local artists. For some reason this week, I've been desperate to hear good cover versions of Beatles' tunes. I have another reason for posting these songs this week, since these are in-studio performances by one of my best friends, John "Sham Voodoo" Estep, late of legendary Charleston bands The Defectors and Clownhole. I've lost touch with Sham--the last I'd heard he was living in Columbus. If anybody knows how I can contact my old buddy--and the co-host of the Beatles tribute episode of RFC, please let me know by leaving a comment below.
We have two songs this week. One really good one, and one that is tainted by my singing. First, the good one: "Cold Turkey" was John Lennon's harrowing primal scream epic about withdrawing from heroin. This is performed by Sham solo, with just his fender, recorded live in the Radio Free Charleston studio. Despite my prompting, heard at the end, Sham did not do the primal scream finale of the song.
The other song is unfortunately marred by my attempted singing. This was at Sham's prompting , and because Stephen Beckner went to sleep instead of coming to the studio at 2 AM to join Sham on the show. This was a medley of Beatle songs, with a few solo tunes added in the mix. I've edited out a few gaffes to try and make it more listenable--I would start laughing when one of us forgot the lyrics, and Sham would get the giggles if I accidentally hit the right note, so it had to be tightened up in order not to be completely awful--aside from that, this is largely as it went out over the air, live at 3:45 AM, on RFC. Most of the transitions between songs are exactly as they were on the original show--and they hold up pretty well considering that it was past 3:30 AM, Sham and I had never rehearsed, and I had no idea what song was coming next.
This medley also includes my infamous Reggae rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine." This was a staple at the jam nights at the old Charleston Playhouse. "Reggae Imagine" was born out of my suggestion that somebody could have a huge hit if the covered "Imagine" with a light Reggae touch. In the drunken spirit of playfulness that inhabited the Playhouse, this got turned into a full-blown hardcore Reggae version, complete with Rastafarian references and "I and I" talk.
Near the end of this medley, which is really only recommended for the most masochistic of Beatle fans, Gary Price and Tom Medvick of the Swivel Rockers wandered into the studio and can be heard, along with Sue Gaines, joining in at the very end. So if you really want to torture yourself, take a listen to "Stars On RFC". And again, apologies for my singing.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
For bloody spectacle, IWA is serving up three matches, each promising to be more brutal than the previous one. First up, the intense Bull Pain will be taking on Brain Damage. At the last IWA EC show Brain Damage competed in a "Cheese Grater on a pole" match. Bull Pain was last seen at an IWA EC show painting the walls with Ian Rotten's blood. To top the Bull Pain/Brain Damage match, J.C. Bailey and Toby "Mr. Insanity" Klein will face off in a match to see who can staple the most dollar bills to the other's body.
But even that match pales in comparison to the main event. "Baka Gaijen." the team of Mad Man Pondo and 2 Tuff Tony, will seek revenge against the Hane Brothers in West Virginia's first 200 Light Tube Death Match! 200 fluorescent light tubes will be inside the ring. Mayhem will ensue. This will be one of the most memorable matches in IWA East Coast history, so fans of extreme violence will want to be there. Eye protection and closed-toe shoes are recommended.
Also on the card: Indy high-flyer Ricochet takes on Ashland's Juggulator. "Omega" Aaron Draven faces Chuck Taylor. We'll also get to see Tracy Smothers, Warpig and Dr. Max Graves, Crowza and Woody Numbers. Plus, as usual, we can expect a few surprises.
If you go: The show takes place on August 2. Bell time is 7:00 PM at the South Charleston Community Center, 601 Jefferson Road, in South Charleston. Tickets are $15 for ringside, and $10 for general admission.