Author: Tom Panarese

Help Chris Honeywell

On June 3rd, Chris Honeywell, one of the founders of the Two True Freaks podcasting network, and his roommate Trudy lost their home due to a fire. Chris, Trudy, and Bernice the Cat are all fine and healthy, but they lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Chris has always been one to give of his time and effort, and has provided many of us with hours upin hours of podcast entertainment, so now it’s up to us to help him. While their belongings were insured, there’s no guarentee how much of the value they will get, or when that check will arrive, so we at TTF wanted to set up this fundraiser to get them the money they need to get back on their feet. Any donation, even as little as $1, will go towards helping Chris and Trudy out during this difficult time. We thank you in advance for your generosity.

Please donate and spread the word. Chris is not only one hell of a podcaster, but he’s an amazing person. Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated.

You can donate here: GoFundMe Fundraiser for Chris Honeywell

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 143: JLMay 2023, The Brave and the Bold

It’s JLMay 2023! Join me as I take a look at issue #10 of the 2007 version of DC’s classic team-up series, The Brave and the Bold. The Challengers of the Unknown! Superman! The Silent Knight! Aquaman! The Teen Titans! It’s some Silver Age DC goodness brought to you by Mark Waid, George Perez, and Bob Wiacek! Plus, listener feedback!

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

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Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

Music in this episode was by Alexander Nakarada and was used under the Creative Commons license.

The opening track is “The Good Guys”:

The closing track is “Rise Up, Stand Up”:

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 142: Cover Songs (Part One)

It’s the first part of an EXTRA-SIZED CROSSOVER with Fire and Water Records! Ryan and Neil, The Brothers Daly, join me for a look at cover songs. What makes a good cover song? Which covers are iconic? What covers have surpassed the originals? Which ones do we personally love? Join us as we each go through a list of five cover songs and talk about what makes them stand out. Then, in May, go over to Fire and Water Records to listen to part two!

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

If you’re interested in listening to the songs that we talk about and are featured on this episode, here’s a YouTube playlist:

Fat Bats and Invisible Runners

Picture from Fixtures Close Up.

They were a sign of spring, popping up like tulips or daffodils out of their white pots, inviting every kid to grab one. The setting might have been different for each of us–a supermarket, a stationary store, a 7-Eleven–but we all saw the same skinny yellow stem with a red, white, and blue cardboard flower that read “Wiffle.”

I have no idea how many sets I owned as a kid but Wiffle ball had a constant presence my childhood, and was something that everyone wound up playing at some point or another. Very often, I’d be bored on a Saturday afternoon, get chased out of the house by my mom, and at some point, would rummage through my garage for the bat and ball with whichever friend happened to be around. Eventually, we’d get a game going with friends, neighbors, or even people we barely knew in whatever yard or empty street was available. Every game started the same way: we would plot out where the bases were using fence posts and bushes as bases and trees as foul poles, divide into teams, and play.

I never gave much thought to where Wiffle ball came from, and figured that it evolved from the games of stickball on the streets of Brooklyn that my parents’ generation played until they moved out to the suburbs in the 1950s, trading shadow of Ebbets Field to the shadow of a maple tree on the street of the same name. But it is a decidedly suburban game, created in the summer of 1953 in a Fairfield, Connecticut backyard. Two kids really wanted to play baseball, but the constraints—not enough people, not enough space, too much property damage—and made it impossible to get a good game going, so out of that, a new game was created. According to an account by David J. and Stephen A. Mullany on Wiffle ball’s official website, their father and his friend approached their grandfather—who himself played semi-pro ball—and:

He picked up some ball-shaped plastic parts from a nearby factory, cut various designs into them and sent Dad out to test them. They both agreed that the ball with eight oblong perforations worked best. That’s how the WIFFLE perforated plastic ball was invented. To this day, we don’t know exactly why it works… it just does!!

The ball they designed was easy to make curve and harder to hit, with lots of strikeouts. In our Dad’s neighborhood, a strike-out was called a “wiff”, which led to our brand name and federally registered trademark “WIFFLE”.

They also came up with a formal set of rules that designated distances for singles, doubles, triples and home runs, something I didn’t know about until recently because I don’t remember seeing any instructions with that sparsely packaged ball and bat. Plus, since there was no Internet, we just followed the rules of baseball when we played, putting as many people on the field as we could, and creating invisible runners when necessary.

Ah, the invisible runner, the universal placeholder for a small-sized team of kids, and the source of 99.9% of Wiffle ball arguments. I can’t count the number of times I hit the ball, rounded first, stepped safely on second and declared that another run had scored because I had invisible runners on second and third, only to have that disputed. Thankfully, most of those arguments were over quickly, but every so often I had to hear a sniveling “It’s not!” from That One Kid.

I don’t know how he always ended up in our group, but no matter the backyard or pickup game, That One Kid went 110%, pitching like he was Roger Clemens and swinging like he was Babe Ruth, although his only discernable skill was trash talking like the bear-drenched Yankees fan he was fated to become. I grew up hating this kid because it always seemed like he was out to make me feel terrible. Every remark he made had a snide tone of superiority, especially because of his athletic prowess or knowledge of the game. Plus, he didn’t seem to realize that we were playing for the fun of it. Wiffle ball allowed us to practice curve balls, sliders, and knuckleballs. Plus, if I really thought that we were playing the seventh game of the World Series, would I thrown so many eephus pitches (which we called “folly floaters”)?*

And by the way, since the ball was designed for better pitching, that made the game freaking hard. A good curve ball and an incredibly thin bat meant that we spent more time swinging and missing (with the occasional foul tip) instead of smacking the ball across the lawn. So when we got tired of sucking at the plate we would switch to “home run derby” mode, busting out the “illegal weapon”, which was a giant red fat bat left over from a preschool-aged baseball/softball set that had been in my garage next to the big wheels that were nearly destroyed and collecting dust. We’d ditch the rules and strand the invisible runners, designate a home run marker, and say “First to twenty wins.”

Well, that or whomever was winning when the ball got eaten by the huge tree in my parents’ yard. In those moments, I could step up to the plate and greet the underhanded pitch the way I wish I had been able to face the hardballs on the actual baseball diamond, hitting moon shot after moon shot and celebrating while my friends retrieved the ball from our neighbors’ lawn, not wanting it to end, even when it was getting dark and my parents were calling me in for dinner.

*Deep down, I knew that he wasn’t worth my aggravation, but the Little League years were hard for me and largely contributed to my insecurities in sports. In fact, years later, I would spend a lot of time in intramural and rec league softball hearing the voice of that one kid in my head as I tried desperately not to embarrass myself.

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 141: Shut Up and Sing While I Eat My Freedom Fries

It’s been twenty years since the United States invaded Iraq, a key moment of the last two decades. During the lead-up to war, there were controversies over opinions on the war and support for the military. In this episode, I take a look at two of the more well-known of those controversies: “Freedom Fries” in reaction to France’s opposition to the war, and The Chicks’ comments about President George W. Bush.

Content Note: Politics are discussed and my political views are voiced. Listener discretion is advised.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

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Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

And below, some extras …

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 140: My Batman Phase

If I can point the true origin of my comic book collecting career to one point in time, and especially one character, it’s the spring of 1990 and the character is Batman. For this episode, I’m going to take you through “My Batman Phase,” starting with how I first got to know the character, and walking through my experience with some of the biggest Bat-related events of the 1990s.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 139: The Uncollecting II: The Clutter Strikes Back

New Year, New You! At least that’s what they tell ourselves. Back in episode 96, I talked about my efforts to “uncollect” the piles of stuff I own. Well, it’s been a few years, so how is it going?

That’s what this episode is about. I talk about two books I read about hoarding and clutter, the Marie Kondo series Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo, and the “Curiosity Inc.” YouTube series before getting into my own experience with The Uncollecting. So come along and clear the clutter with me!

By the way, if you’re interested in the blog I have set up for The Uncollecting, check out theuncollecting.com.

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

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Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

And here are some extras for you.

Eve O. Schaub’s page for The Year of No Clutter.

The GoodReads page for Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.

The YouTube channel for Curiosity Inc.

The trailer for Sparking Joy With Marie Kondo:

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 138: Geek Yourself 2022

It’s been TEN YEARS since I started this podcast, and it’s time for my TENTH trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con. Once again, Brett cosplays up and joins me to meet creators and buy comics. I’ve got interviews with Bob Hall, Joe Staton, Jill Thompson, and a number of other creators as well as a rundown of what I did, what I bought, and how I prepared. Then, I take a moment to reflect on ten years of podcasting.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

And here are some extras …

(more…)

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 137: And Walked Off to Look

It’s third and final episode in a series of three episodes about America: its history, its people, and its culture. This time around, I am looking at walking across America through the lens of the seminal travel memoirs A Walk Across America and The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2 by Peter Jenkins and Barbara Jenkins. In addition, I take a look at the book their son, Jedediah Jenkins, wrote, To Shake the Sleeping Self. It’s the portrait of a journey, a country, and a family.

Content Warning: This episode includes me sharing my political views. Listener discretion is advised.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

After the jump, there are a few extras …

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 136: Teen TV Movies from 1988

In 1988, NBC produced three television movies starring a gaggle of teenage stars from some of the most popular sitcoms of the day. And for this episode, I sit down and talk about them. So strap in for “Crash Course,” get on the floor for “Dance ’til Dawn” and set sail on a “Class Cruise!”

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

After the break, here are some extras

(more…)