Thursday, September 28, 2006

Radio Free Charleston Trailer

UPDATED: Episode Six of Radio Free Charleston is online NOW! Follow this link.

The new Radio Free Charleston, episode six, "Chris Hero Shirt," will go online in a matter of hours. Until then, sate your RFC addiction by repeatedly watching the trailer above. Then go buy RFC merchandise at our store, and sign up to be a friend at our mySpace page.

Dip-ta, dip-ta...yahooo!

Radio Free Charleston Production Notes: Episode Six

The new RFC should be online tomorrow. We wrapped it on Tuesday and I delivered it yesterday between changing flat tires on my car. You can see a snippet of Professor Mike's performance in the new GazzTV show, "What's Going On." Show number six cranks up the hyperactivitization level a bit as we bring you our loudest band yet, the aforementioned Professor Mike, and the mysterious musical cabal known as Two Watts Of Power, who also give us our song of the week in the post below this one. Episode Six is titled "Chris Hero Shirt," named after the shirt I'm wearing in the show (The shows are named after my shirts, you may have caught on to that by now). Chris Hero is the reigning Heavyweight Champion of IWA East Coast, and it's a really cool shirt.

We've also got a movie trailer featuring The No Pants Players. I shot their footage back in June or July, but there were so many technical issues (on my end) that it took until now to work out the bugs and edit the piece that you see on the show. The RFC "Yahoo" guy joins the troupe, unofficially and against their will, for one brief cameo. The NPP will be appearing at the Labelle Theater with their Halloween show later this month, but Friday night three members of the troupe will be onstage at the Labelle performing Shakespeare of a sort.

Professor Mike came into the LiveMix Studio last week, and we bring you the exciting results. They perform an electrifying version of their own song, "Greater Good." It was a blast meeting the guys, and we'll probably be seeing them again on RFC real soon. They were certainly one of the loudest bands we've had on the show, and I was really knocked out by their sound. If they ever didn't win a battle of the bands, it must have been rigged. Professor Mike is at the Sound Factory Friday night, and Mel and I will be zipping over to see them after we catch "The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" at the Labelle.

LiveMix Studio is our production facility and in the coming weeks I'll be writing more about Charleston's coolest Audio/Video production house. It's time for the boys to take a bow. We'll be doing a photo essay here in PopCult, and a behind-the-scenes video may even turn up somewhere.

GI Joe returns to Radio Free Charleston in this episode, too. You can almost see an Action Marine sitting astride Bob Dobbs' head in the background of Professor Mike's performance. You can also check out an Adventure Team Astronaut menacing The Red Baron. Toys are fun. Oh, and I can now let the cat out of the bag--the GI Joe Adventure Team Land Adventurer with Kung Fu Grip, as seen in episode five of RFC, will be available exclusively from Hot Topic this November.

Be sure to check out our MySpace page, and go ahead and sign up to be our friend. Also, watch the news, because if I ever find the guy who designed the interface, I'm going after him with a bludgeoning oar. If you happened to read this post before 9 PM Thursday, you may notice that the second half of it has been completely re-written. Guess why.

Song Of The Week: Two Watts Of Power

One of the featured bands on the next episode of Radio Free Charleston will be Two Watts Of Power, a collective of three artists who collaborate over the internet. Until recently none of them have met face-to-face, and two of them still haven't met the third member.

Our SOTW is Pandora's Box, by Two Watts Of Power. You can check out more music and video by these guys at their website, here. Their music can best be described as electronic montage, with synthesizer, guitar and drums blended with found vocals from a variety of sources.

The new Radio Free Charleston will be available here at tomorrow, and later today I'll have detailed production notes. In addition to Two Watts Of Power, we'll also have Professor Mike , the No Pants Players, and more! Professor Mike will be appearing live at the Sound Factory Friday night, and next week, our SOTW will be their cover of 311's "Beautiful Disaster."

Check back later today for the production notes.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Shakespeare At The Labelle

Friday night there will be a ONE NIGHT ONLY performance of "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) " at the Labelle Theater on D Street in South Charleston. Tickets are ten bucks for adults and seven dollars for students. The show stars Kevin Pauley, Jason Dunbar, and Duncan Stokes from the No Pants Players, and just played to rave reviews a couple of weeks ago at Camp Washington Carver.

"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" is exactly what it says it is: 37 of the most legendary plays in English history performed in 97 minutes. The show was the longest running comedy in London during its run and, according to the N.Y. Times, is "full of gung-ho vitality."

From two men performing all of the major characters of "Romeo and Juliet," to "Titus Andronicus" done as a cooking show, to "Othello" being done as a rap, the show is full of energy and runs at a breakneck pace. It concludes with "Hamlet," which is done normal, fast, faster and backwards!

Tara Phares-Pauley directs for Everyman Players. The show stars Jason Dunbar, Kevin Pauley and Duncan Stokes, all of the No-Pants Players comedy troupe. Everyman Players is a non-profit group that brings theater programs and workshops to area schools for little to no money. This show is a fundraiser for the group to continue this mission here in the Kanawha Valley and abroad. This comedy will only be performed for one night, so be sure to make plans to attend.

If you go: "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" starts at 8 PM, Friday September 29 at the Labelle Theater in South Charleston. Tickets are $10, or $7 for students.

Monday Morning Art: Warmask

It's been a long, long time since I sat and actually drew anything using real paper, so Sunday, as I watched my Steelers lose another game, I pulled out some cheap paper and a Bic Permanent marker and started doodling. Satisfied with the results, I scanned it and colored it in the computer. Now, for your enjoyment or ridicule, here's Warmask. If you're crazy enough to want it on a shirt or something, click here. Other PopCult stuff can be found here.

click to enlarge

Update: I noticed after the fact, that this is the 300th post in PopCult! Oh boy, quantity!

Star Trek and the Holy Grail

Mark Evanier posted this on his blog this morning, and it was so funny I had to steal it and share it with you. Just watch it. It's work safe.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Radio Free Charleston News

I finally got around to starting a RADIO FREE CHARLESTON MYSPACE PAGE, so if any of you want to be my "friend" (God, that sounds so much like something Casper the freakin' Friendly Ghost would say) click the link and add me. You won't really get much in the way of bonus material, since I post all the behind-the-scenes production notes here at PopCult, but you will get to have that nifty icon over there showing up in your "friends" list.

In other RFC news, we're deep in production of episode six. We have taping sessions scheduled for tonight and Monday, with the goal of delivering the show next week. We're also doing preliminary work on the Halloween episode(s). More on that, later. Keep checking back here for more info on Radio Free Charleston, and if you're interested in performing or contributing to the show, drop me an email here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Song Of The Week: Punk Goodbye Earl

Me First and the Gimme Gimme's specialize in doing punk covers of inappropriate songs. They've skewered singer/songwriters, R&B, Broadway show tunes, and 60s pop. Now they're setting their sites on country music. "Me First and the Gimme Gimme's Love Their Country" is due out October 17th, but the fine folks at Fat Wreck Chords have posted a teaser, the Gimme's cover of the Dixie Chick's "Goodbye Earl. "

The Gimmes have a lot in common with the Dixie Chicks. Just as the Chicks have become pariahs in some parts of the country for stating the obvious about the president, the Gimmes are now persona non-grata in Pittsburgh, due to some questionable booking by the folks at PNC Park.


I should have known this would happen. Every time I cave in to an indulgence it quickly becomes an obsession and then an addiction. Now I'm hurtin'...bad. Longtime readers of this blog know of my dependence on Spinach. Not just any spinach, but pre-packaged, washed, and currently-unavailable fresh baby spinach. It's been a week now since I've had my leafy green fix. Thus far, the E Coli break out is one of those unexplainable phenomena, like the way the Sears store in the Charleston Town Center always stocks Cleveland Browns merchandise to the exclusion of all other teams during football season. I'm pretty sure it's a Republican plot to steal the upcoming midterm elections.

But all the conspiracy theories in the world won't get me a bowl of my favorite veggie. I mean, where the HELL am I supposed to get my folic acid? Vitamins are NOT an option!

So I'm going to have to go slumming. You'll see me in the seedy neighborhoods looking for the house that has Popeye's shoes tied together and slung over the power lines out front. I'm not proud, but I needs my spinach! I know, they'll give me the first bowl for free. Then they start charging. I don't care, I'm already hooked! I'd even buy a bag if it had a sticker that read "Now With 50% More E Coli!"

I've come to the conclusion that anything I decide to eat will eventually be declared unhealthy.

Cool "Toys" of the Week

This week, instead of picking a cool current toy, I'm going to bring you a short film called "Toys". This film, made by Grant Munro in 1966 for the National Film Board of Canada, starts out showing kids looking at a window display at a toy store during Christmas time. It seems innocent enough, and you can see all sorts of great vintage toys. But when they get to the GI Joes, the Joes spring to life, and start acting out violent real war scenarios via stop-motion animation. Now, at the time, the Vietnam War was raging, and this was supposed to be a striking anti-war message. Nowadays it stands as an example of some of the coolest vintage GI Joe animation ever made! Some of the toys shown here are worth more than some automobiles, if you can find them. So whether you prefer the anti-war message, or the cool animated GI Joe action, check out "Toys."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Morning Art: Riverbank

This week's art is an image that I've used before, but never quite in this form. It's a digitally-assaulted photograph called "Riverbank." This was taken from a window in the Union Building about a year ago. In previous incarnations it's been used to illustrate a rant and a song of the week. Here it is newly-recropped and altered. Anyone interested in owning this image can click here. Primo former examples of Monday Morning Art can be found here.

As always, click to enlarge.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


In response to my post on Baron Von Redberry, Noise Reducer asked "What next, Freakies?"

Okay then....Freakies.

Link courtesy of Bubblegum Fink.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Song Of The Week: Midget Spider-man Dance Party

The end sequence of Episode Five of Radio Free Charleston (go here to catch up on them) features the widely-acclaimed dancing skills of the internationally-renown master terpsichorean known as "Dancing Midget Spider-man."

We were thrilled that he agreed to be on the show, and even more excited that he chose to dance to a piece of original music composed and performed by my brother Frank and me. Our SOTW is that piece of music, presented uncut, it's "Dancing Midget Spider-man Fantasia."

A Healthy Part Of This Complete Breakfast

Thanks to a link at Bubblegum Fink, I discovered a cool blog called Waffle Whiffer Zone. It's dedicated to the packaging and premiums from kid's food items from the 60s and 70s. Lately he's written about Pizza Hut Pete, a long-forgotten mascot for the pizza chain, and Big Yella, the mascot of Kellogg's Sugar Corn Pops. This blog is a gold mine for fans of cereal and fast food from the golden age of mascots. He had me at Baron Von Redberry. I loved Baron Von Redberry. It wasn't exactly because of the taste. This was basically Frankenberry with different shapes. I've just always been a fan of the Fokker Triplane.

My sister preferred Sir Grapefellow. Me, I never much cared for grape cereal. Evidently, not too many other people do, either. If they did, there'd be all kinds of grape-flavored cereals. And don't even talk to me about Grape-Nuts. They're about as grape-flavored as Apple Jacks are apple-flavored.

The Day Of Double Damage!

Saturday September 16, IWA East Coast, West Virginia's premiere hardcore wrestling federation(as seen on Radio Free Charleston) will hold TWO tournaments at the South Charleston Community Center. At 2 PM, the Zero G Tournament kicks off with the following high-flying match-ups in the opening bracket:

M-Dogg 20 will face Ruckus; Lotus will take on Chuck Taylor; El Drunko, with Crowza and Woody Numbers, will meet Omega; and TNA star Sonjay Dutt will wrestle Zac Vincent. The finals of the Zero G Tourney will feature the two toughest competitors in a ladder match.

Then, at 7 PM, the Masters Of Pain Invitational kicks off, featuring hardcore lunatics from around the world, competing in a series of twisted contests. Each match will feature a different gimmick, including a bed of nails match, an electrified light tube match, a barefoot thumbtack match, and more beastly match-ups that could make Dr. Mengele wince. The first four matches in this bloodbath of a tournament are the following:

A No Rope Barbed Wire/Mystery Pit match will see Big Japan Star "The Crazy Monkey" Jun Kasai face off against "Mr. Insanity" Toby Klein; The first-ever "Fantastic Four Match" pairs up IWA EC Icon Mad Man Pondo against "The Deranged One" Coke Haine; In the oddly-named "Garden Of Eden" match, Brain Damage takes on Corporal Robinson: and a crowd-pleasing "Fans Bring The Weapons Match" sees 2 Tuff Tony take on JC Bailey.

These tournaments are a huge deal for IWA East Coast. They're treating this as their "Wrestlemania." It'll be interesting to see if local fans have the stamina to sit through a full day of intense wrestling action. The ranks of the local fans will be swelled somewhat by visitors from around the world, as IWA EC reports ticket sales to fans who are coming from Germany, Japan, and California.
There are a variety of ticket prices that cover package deals or tickets to the individual shows. But tickets will now have to be purchased at the door. For more information, check the IWA East Coast website.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No Pants Weekend!

The No Pants Players return to the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston this Friday And Saturday. The family-friendly improv shows begin at 8 PM, and are guaranteed to be a treat for all in attendance. The No Pants Players are West Virginia's Only Improv Comedy Troupe. The group's comedy styling is very similar to the popular television show "Whose Line is it Anyway" The fast-paced nature of their performances forces every member of the troupe to completely rely upon the abilities, and most importantly, the instincts of their fellow players

IF YOU GO: The No Pants Players perform Friday September 15 and Saturday September 16 at 8 PM. Tickets are $5.00. For more ticket information call 1-877-467-7689 .

Annoying TV

You've all seen the commercial

"Head On, apply directly to the forehead!
Head On, apply directly to the forehead!
Head On, apply directly to the forehead!"

Widely proclaimed to be the most annoying television ad in history (no mean feat, mind you).

Thank God they don't make a hemorroid cream.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday Morning Art: Tracks East Revisited

Back in April, I posted a different version of this digitally assaulted photograph. This week I'm giving you a more bold, graphic version, with the aspect ratio changed and a new color scheme. This is also called "Tracks East," but it's a different take.

Our experiment with Cafepress is still ongoing. Visit the Monday Morning Art Store for your chance to buy this design on a variety of T-shirts and cheesy items. We've lowered prices and added some new products, so you should check it out to see if you want to buy anything with this design, or just make fun of me for thinking anyone would want to do that. You can check out the PopCult and Radio Free Charleston Shop, too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Radio Free Charleston Production Notes: Episode Five

Episode Five of Radio Free Charleston, featuring Kevin Duffer, The Appalachian Celtic Consort, Pentagram Flowerbox, and cut-ins by IWA East Coast, is online now. We had lots of adventures producing this show, which is a departure in many ways from our normal format. It's our longest show so far, by five minutes, and we're trying several new things. Without any further ado, let's go behind the scenes.

The host segments were shot by Melanie Larch on Labor Day in South Charleston. Mel was just hired to sing the role of Mercedes in the upcoming production of the opera "Carmen" by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Yes, it's Bizet in the hizz-ouse. What other internet video shows can say they have famous opera singers running camera? I don't know if it shows, but I was not quite at 100% during production of the new RFC. I've been fighting a food-allergy problem for a couple of weeks, and I think it's a bit obvious.

On top of that, my wardrobe for the show didn't exactly work out like I thought it would. I was going for a semi-military revolutionary look. In reality, I seem to look more like some sort of demented Radar O'Reilly from "M.A.S.H." The shoot itself went fairly smoothly, except for some unfortunate background noise from traffic and crickets. Usually, there aren't many out-takes from the host segments--I'm a bit of a one-take guy-- but for this show there were several times when I had to stop doing my introductions to curse the crickets, who seemed to be attempting to do backing vocals. Also of note for this show: GI Joe makes a cameo appearance! We shot in front of the South Charleston Community Center and on top of the famous Mound! If I seem to be a bit subdued for the show, there are reasons.

Another departure for this show is the inclusion of footage shot on location at the Empty Glass back in 1990. Normally, we don't like to use location recordings on the show, but this is a special case. Kevin Duffer, who is featured in this archival recording, passed away in 2003. Kevin was one of the few musicians from the old Radio Free Charleston days that I kept in touch with while I was semi-reclusive, caring for my mother for much of the last decade. He was always positive and told me that, eventually I'd find some way to bring Radio Free Charleston back, and then he'd come on the show and perform. It was a bit of a bummer that Kevin didn't live to see the show return.

At the right, you can see a photo I took of Kev the last time I saw him, about a week before he passed away. 2003 was a lousy year, on many levels, not the least of which was the loss of my good toy-hunting buddy. I always felt that Kevin didn't get the exposure that his songwriting deserved. However, a few weeks ago I was digging through my archives and I found an old VHS tape labeled "Kevin and some Fysshes at the Glass". It was footage I'd shot at a bachelor party at the Empty Glass in 1990. Kevin played, backed by Todd, Joe, and Keith from Strawfyssh. The video was painfully dark, and I didn't think I would be able to use any of it on the show. Back in those days I had this humongous camcorder. It had a great light unit, but if you turned the light on, it would suck the battery dry in ten minutes. As I watched the tape, memories of the night I shot it came flooding back to me. I remembered that Kevin asked me to come out and record him because he had a new song that he was really proud of. It's called "Harder Days" on the video tape box, but I wouldn't be surprised if that title changed a few times over the years. This was the first time that he performed the song in front of an audience, and it was still a work in progress. When he started to play that song, I turned on the light. For the duration of that song, the video was good enough to use on the show. The audio and video are not quite up to our usual high standards for RFC, but this is the only chance I'll have to play Kevin's music on the show, and I thought that makes up for the technical shortcomings. It's a little self-indulgent of me to put my friend on the show, but Kevin was important to the history of Radio Free Charleston, and his music deserved a wider audience. I hope you enjoy his song despite the dodgy video and audio.

On a less somber note, The Appalachian Celtic Consort also appears on the show. I ran into Pat Weigand by chance at the book signing for Pavanne Pettigrew's "One More Breath" which I wrote about here. Being the nosy sort I am, I overheard Patrick talking about his band, and I quickly butted in and gave him one of the famous Radio Free Charleston business cards. A few emails later, and RFC had our first Celtic band all miked up and ready to go at the LiveMix Recording Studio. Microphone placement was an adventure, with six acoustic instruments plus voices to record. Pat, Mark, Dewey, Neil, Mark and Dave gave us three virtuoso performances, two of which we're saving for future episodes of Radio Free Charleston. We feature the Consort as our Song Of The Week, so go down there and follow the links to their website so you can buy their CDs and catch their upcoming shows.

Episode Five also features a new installment of Pentagram Flowerbox. This time we see the dark lord of Hell having trouble keeping the cat prints off his Prius.

Another cool departure is our special guests, Kevin "Pimpdragon" Pauley and Frank Manhattan, the voices of IWA East Coast. They storm onto the show to bring us all the details about the upcoming wrestling tournament on September 16. In the afternoon, area grappling gourmands will be treated to the Zero G high-flyer tournament, featuring acrobatic aerial assaults. The evening show sees the Masters Of Pain hardcore tournament, featuring an international line-up of the toughest men on the planet, who will come together in a bloodbath of hard-hitting, bone-crushing action to determine who is the craziest, meanest, toughest S.O.B. around.

I'm not going to go into great detail about the way the show ends. Let's just say that the people who have seen it keep tossing around David Lynch's name. The end credit music is a collaboration between me and my brother Frank. I recorded some absolutely horrid guitar licks, and then Frank managed to edit them into something that sounds musical. It was quite a feat.

We're going to take some extra time to recover before episode six, so you can look for it the week of September 25. Hope you enjoy the show. Meanwhile, go check out the newly-revised Radio Free Charleston Store, now with improved designs and lower prices!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Song Of The Week: Celtic Artistry

Our SOTW today is a preview of episode five of Radio Free Charleston. One of our guests is The Appalachian Celtic Consort, who blend traditional Irish and Scottish music with Appalachian instrumentation. On the show they treat us to their arrangement of "Johnny Jump Up/Monaghan's Jig." As a teaser, we're bringing you their arrangement of "Gary Owen/Brian Boru." Just lick on the link to give it a listen, then visit their website for information on their CDs and upcoming performances by this talented group.

Barring any technical setbacks, the new episode of Radio Free Charleston, clocking in at nearly seventeen minutes, will be posted later today. Check back for production notes and a remembrance of our other musical guest, the late Kevin Duffer.

Wrestling With Locals

We've got a big week coming up for area wrestling fans. First up, tomorrow night at WVSU, you can see Professor Danger, Danny Boyd himself, in action as AWA-Apex presents "September To Dismember". Melanie and I wrote a preview of the event for the Gazz, which you can read here. I also chime in with my personal observations about Danny's quest for honor in the ring, here. The illustrations accompanying this post are photographs by Lisa Bragg that I digitally-assaulted. The top photo is Danny, in a bad way during a match. The bottom picture is Danny applying an arm bar to Flex, who will also be in action Friday night. Late word is that Beautiful Bobby Eaton of the Midnight Express will be at the event Friday, despite having minor surgery earlier this week. It's going to be an interesting night.

Next week, IWA East Coast gives us not one, but TWO world-class tournaments at the South Charleston Community Center. Later today, episode five of Radio Free Charleston will be online. It's our biggest episode ever, and the voices of IWA East Coast, Kevin "Pimpdragon" Pauley and Frank Manhattan join us with previews of both tournaments, the Zero G high-flyer tourney, and the Masters Of Pain Invitational. We'll get two flavors of professional wrestling: high-flying action in the afternoon, and sheer brutality in the evening. Kevin and Frank will tell you more about the event on RFC, and I'll be blogging about the show all next week.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Monday Morning Art: More of the Scape series

We kick off the shortened by Labor Day week with another in my series of digital abstract landscape painting variants, "Scape number 10", which you can see at the right. As usual click to enlarge.

We're also continuing our experiment to see if there's any demand for my digital art in wearable or framed print form. So if you like the design, and want to buy it on a shirt or some other knick-knack, go to the Monday Morning Art Cafepress page, and do some shopping. Remember, this design will only be available for one week, then it'll be displaced by the next Monday Morning Art. If you're in the mood to spend money on this stuff, be sure to check the PopCult Store and Radio Free Charleston shop, too.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Songs Of The Week: Strike Anywhere

Richmond Virginia punks Strike Anywhere unleash a powerful new album, Dead FM, featuring high-energy politically-active melodic power punk next week. Veterans of the Warped Tour, Strike Anywhere formed in 1999, and still features their original line-up. You can check out the video for the title track from Dead FM on MySpace, but if you want to preview their music, just click on the song titles below.

"Instinct" seems to be a letter to their fans, whose grass roots support has been key to the band's success. It's a fine slab of hot punk, with a deceptively mellow opening before they unleash the bombast.

"Prisoner Echoes" is an intense political commentary that is not really work safe, but it is pretty strong stuff, reminiscent of Green Day's "American Idiot."

Strike Anywhere's new album is available from Fat Wreck Chords and you can read their bio and check their latest tour dates here.