Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

VIDEO: John Hodgman promotes new book 'That Is All' with celeb cameos galore

John Hodgman, he of "The Daily Show" correspondent appearances and the PC in the long-running Mac vs. PC ad campaign, has a new book coming soon to bookstores near you (or, more likely, Amazon and e-readers) entitled "That Is All." He's promoting it in a new Funny Or Die video with music by masters of quirky They Might Be Giants.

The video features a wide variety of celebrities and assorted funny people, including Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, Brooke Shields, rapper Nas, Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen, 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer and fellow Daily Show correspondents Samantha Bee, Jason Jones and Kristen Schaal. It even features an appearance by the Mac from those Mac/PC ads, Justin Long. Craziest cameo goes to classic talk show host Dick Cavett.

Hodgman appears at Los Angeles's Largo at the Coronet to promote his new book on Friday, Nov. 4 with comedian Paul F. Tompkins, John Roderick from the Long Winters and Rich Sommer from "Mad Men." "That Is All," the last in his "trilogy of complete world knowledge," comes out Nov. 1. (Proof that Hodgman is a hipster: His official site is a Tumblr.)


Joss Whedon's new secret movie: Shakespeare via Santa Monica


The promo image for Joss Whedon's new movie "Much Ado About Nothing."

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Joss Whedon (L) with his favorite actor, Nathan Fillion (R).

Director Joss Whedon, best known so far for TV cult classics like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," soon to be known for directing "The Avengers," just shot another film. In secret. In 12 days.

It's a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," filmed in less than two weeks, in black and white, all in Santa Monica. Members of the cast started tweeting about it after principal photography wrapped.

A press release was issued giving details on the project, which is looking at being completed by early spring before moving to the festival circuit. That press release includes some of Whedon's signature deadpan self-deprecating humor, noting that the cast is committed to the idea that "the joy of working on a passion project surrounded by dear friends, admired colleagues and an atmosphere of unabashed rapture far outweighs their hilariously miniature paychecks."


Something else being pirated: Comic books

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Canon 9950F scanner

Showing that, if there's a thing that it's possible to pirate, people will do so, a piracy community has even sprung up around pirating comic books. Every Wednesday, when new comics are released, pirates will hurriedly scan all the new books and put them out on the Internet.

It's an interesting group as comic companies begin putting out their comic books for sale online officially; DC Comics made news recently by going "day-and-date digital" for the first time in September, releasing all their new comic for sale online the same day they're available in stores. They're still charging the same price as those paper copies, so there are still going to be plenty who refuse to pay those prices for their comic book fix. (Of course, there are some who, no matter how cheap the official source is, will never pay.)


Comedian Jeff Ross roasts Wall Street at Occupy LA

Comedy Central Roast Of Donald Trump - Show

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FILE: Jeff Ross at the Comedy Central Roast Of Donald Trump at the Hammerstein Ballroom on March 9, 2011 in New York City.

Comedian Jeff Ross, best known for being the king of cable TV roasts, went down to Occupy L.A. to lend his support. He took some friendly shots at the occupiers, as well as telling jokes about the "1 percent" the protesters are rallying against. Video was posted by liberal blog Firedoglake.

He defended the protests, often criticized as lacking "Doesn't matter why you're mad. It really doesn't. Desperation isn't always articulate, but we're out here for all different reasons."

Ross closed, saying, "I thank you all for your time, I appreciate your efforts, and I would stay here and camp out with you people, but I've got a big meeting at Comedy Central and I don't want to keep the executives waiting." He added a more serious note: "I'm just kidding. I love you all, I love what you're standing for, I love that you're taking patriotism by the balls and coming out here every day, so stay free everybody." He stuck around and interviewed a series of the protesters.


Los Angeles versus Portland - Which side are you on?

I just returned from a visit to the Portland area to visit family, and came back to see this Zócalo conversation on the merits of Portland versus Los Angeles. Director Gus Van Sant and architect Brad Clopefil, both based in Portland, spoke at UCLA's Hammer Museum about these West Coast cities and why they live in Portland instead of L.A.

Van Sant said that he lived in Portland because he wanted to avoid some of the ways his work could be influenced by living in L.A., while Clopefil said that the connection between L.A. and film is similar to the connection between New York and architecture, so living in Portland allows him to be outside that insular community. In Portland, "You're just hunkered down, able to do your work. It rains a lot," Van Sant said. "Down here, you feel like you need to go out and play in the sun."