Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Pro wrestler Larry Sweeney dead at 29 - a look at the charismatic entertainer

I was saddened this morning to read about the passing of pro wrestler Alex Whybrow, better known as Larry Sweeney, at the age of 29. He's someone who wrestled for some small pro wrestling companies, portraying the hilarious, boisterous character "Sweet and Sour" Larry Sweeney. The Wrestling Observer and other soures report that Sweeney took his own life.

He'd had public battles with manic-depression and he exhibited behavior that seemed similar in some ways to the recent widely publicized erratic behavior of Charlie Sheen. Sweeney went from being a top act in the number three professional wrestling company, Ring of Honor, to quitting the company in 2009 amidst a breakdown (caused by not taking his medication) and staging pro wrestling matches in the streets, with people who knew him expressing deep concern.

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500 Pixar movie scenes in 7 minutes

This video takes 500 shots, culled from all 11 Pixar feature films, to produce this loving tribute:

Oh, so that's why we have the Internet.

Copperfield explains the tribute:

"Pixar's films have always been very important in my life. I was 6 years old when I watched Toy Story the first time, and their films made my childhood more happy. So this video is a personal tribute for, in my opinion, the best animation studio of all time."

It was produced by Brazil's Leandro Copperfield. Vimeo deleted the video due to copyright concerns, but YouTube's decided thus far to let it fly. Read Copperfield's response to the video being taken down from Vimeo here.

What's your favorite Pixar movie? Let us know in the comments.

(via the Ebert Club)

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'A-Z of Awesomeness 2: Japan' raising money for Japan relief

I've been following artist Neill Cameron for a while now. I first spotted his work when he did the A-Z of Awesomeness. He produced 26 pieces of art, each centered around geeky "awesome" things that begin with a certain letter of the alphabet, such as "Doctor Who Defeating Doctor Doom in a Deadly Disco Dance-off."

Well, he's doing it again, and this time it's to raise money for Japan. He'll be doing approximately a drawing a day (except, since he's European, on Bank Holidays) of awesome Japanese things until he hits Z. He'll also be soliciting donations to give to Japan relief.

Step 1 in the A-Z of Awesomeness 2: "A is for... Astro Boy Attacking Ayanami. In Atlantis."

You can find out more about Neill and this project on his blog, and you can also donate to the charity he's supporting, GlobalGiving's Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

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Does Zack Snyder's 'Sucker Punch' work?

I went to see Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" Saturday night. I've been curious about the movie for almost two years now. I first heard about it in July 2009, when, after a screening of the director's cut of "Watchmen," Snyder gave out Sucker Punch T-shirts to everyone in attendance.

Snyder's made a name for himself by directing material created by others. His first major film was 2007's "Dawn of the Dead," a remake of the George A. Romero zombie classic. Snyder followed that with "300" in 2007 and "Watchmen" in 2009, both adaptations of critically acclaimed comic books. He most recently took on an animated movie, "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," based on a children's book.

For the first time, Snyder took his own original story and brought it to life in "Sucker Punch." How did it turn out? If you're to believe scores from review aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, not too well - 21% and 35%, respectively. It also underperformed at the box office, making just over $19 million its first weekend and coming in second to "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules."

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Elizabeth Taylor's New York Times obituary written by reporter who's also dead

Showing you how prepared major media organizations are in the event of the death of a major newsmaker, Elizabeth Taylor's New York Times obituary was written by someone who's also dead. For almost six years.

It reminded me of my first exposure to this practice, which came when I toured NPR's Washington, D.C. headquarters in 2001. One of the stops on the tour was a room filled with racks of stories on audio reels (perhaps digitized since?), including shelves of obituaries ready to run on-air once important names have passed.

Saturday Night Live also did an excellent parody of preparing for the death of notable figures, with Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw reading different versions of an obituary intro:

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