Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Game

This video hit my geek sweet spot today. It combines two things I love: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and 8-bit video games.

It's sadly not a real video game, but it's an entertaining video for anyone else who loves these two things. Check it out below:

You can even download the soundtrack.

As long as we're talking about Dr. Horrible related geekiness, a brief look at what Dr. Horrible costar and the dream girl of every geek in America Felicia Day is working on:

She writes and costars in the Guild, a Web series about people who play a World of Warcraft-like game. You can check out the first episode of season three here:

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&amp;fg=Xbox_Channel_guild_player_final&amp;vid=6f31eb66-4360-439a-ad62-f2bdf28f550e" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 1: Expansion Time">Video: Season 3 - Episode 1: Expansion Time</a>

A Guild comic book just launched; you can check out the first seven pages here, or read a review here.

(via io9)

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Weakening resistance to the iPad

Before the iPad came out, I was skeptical. Now that it's out and I've read reviews, heard from friends who bought one and seen some of what the thing can do, I am now immensely jealous of everyone who has one. I am currently busy summoning all my willpower to not go click "Buy Now" on Apple.com immediately.

As a comic geek, the first item to pop out to me was the Marvel Comics iPad app. There's been a lot of talk online about the potential for comic books on the iPad (including right here), but I actually didn't expect Marvel to make such a quick impact. It's one of the top featured apps on Apple.com, including this demonstration video:

Boing Boing did a review, including this video look at the app:

Still, I've got my concerns that continue holding me back. In general, I'm a fan of waiting until the second generation for all the kinks to be worked out of a new technology; I also think there are some philosophical concerns with the way Apple is inviting users into this world. Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow did an excellent job explaining this, with hundreds of comments (786 as of this writing) full of debate both pro and con.

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Twitter vs. earthquake in a footrace - who wins?

If you're about 100 kilometers out or more, Twitter! Webcomic xkcd points out how posts about earthquakes can start hitting the Internet within 20 to 30 seconds of the quake, and despite that lag, it's possible for people to be reading about a strong quake before it hits their area.

Check out the comic strip below:

The USGS also has an automatic earthquake notification system that you can set up to tell you about any earthquakes you may be interested in, though there's some delay between the quake and the notification. I found a series of these in my e-mail caused by yesterday's initial quake and the subsequent aftershocks, and just received information on another aftershock from last night in my e-mail as I was writing this.

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My first Passover Seder

I attended a Passover Seder this week for the first time. It's a ceremonial meal which commemorates the Jews' exodus from slavery in Egypt, with the name "Passover" marking God passing over the homes of the Jews when killing the firstborn of the Egyptians.

It's an event filled with symbols, all meant to explain the story and the sacrifice. (And any event with everyone being required to drink four glasses of wine is probably going to inspire some revelry.)

I found the most striking element of the Seder to be the palpable sense of hope. Even through all these symbols of pain, such as salt water symbolizing the tears of the Jewish people, hope shines through. There's the empty chair and the opening of the door for the prophet Elijah, hoping for his return; there's the conclusion where everyone proclaims "Next year in Jerusalem!"

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Explaining death to a child

I went to Phoenix this past weekend to see Wrestlemania, and on my way to the show, I ran into a father and his 9-year-old son visiting from Mexico. We naturally began talking about wrestling, and a wrestler named Umaga came up. I'd just visited a local restaurant owned by a former wrestler he used to be associated with.

The father asked me if Umaga was still wrestling. I paused, trying to think of how to delicately tell him the answer, particularly with the boy there. I explained to the father that Umaga had passed away last year, at 36 years old.

The boy overheard and exclaimed, "Umaga died?! They killed him? When's he coming back?"

I awkwardly explained that, no, they didn't kill him, and no, he's really not coming back. I tried to think of how to explain that he'd had a heart attack after mixing prescription medication. However, the father and son were already off on a related conversation.

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