Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Stealing from the president (at least in NCAA basketball)

Offices around the country have pools going for the annual tradition of the best single elimination tournament in sports, the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament.

Having trouble making your picks? Well, you probably won't go too wrong taking some inspiration from a prominent person who knows his basketball – President Barack Obama. Even the president has filled out a bracket and posted it on WhiteHouse.gov.

Check out ESPN interviewing the president about his bracket here:

Obama picked the winner last year, along with five of the Elite Eight, and in 2008, while he missed the champion, he picked three of the Final Four. I fully admit to stealing large portions of his bracket myself, given that I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to college basketball, though I played it a bit more conservative than the president. Will Obama's daring pay off? We'll soon find out.

Read More...

New She & Him album available for streaming

NPR has a First Listen for She & Him's new album "Volume Two," available until the album's March 23 release. The collaboration between actress/musician Zooey Deschanel singer-songwriter M. Ward provides more indie pop reminiscent of Feist.

Deschanel's voice sounds like a wispier Regina Spektor. You probably know her best from her appearance in (500) Days of Summer, but she's been proving herself musically, including She & Him appearing on that film's soundtrack.

Check out the music video for the new album's single "In The Sun":

(Via Stereogum)

Read More...

Spider-Man and Superman: Bad journalists?

I thought I was the only one at KPCC writing about comic books, but Kitty Felde brings up an interesting point on her blog: Spider-Man taking photos of himself, then selling them to the Daily Bugle in his identity as Peter Parker, seems to raise a variety of ethical questions.

I've always winced a bit at scenarios like that, as well as whenever Clark Kent would report on the big story involving Superman.

One of Peter Parker's key motivations has always been to provide for his Aunt May, widowed by a common criminal who Peter failed to stop through his own inaction when he had the chance. It might not make Peter a good journalist, but it makes him a likeable character as he sells photos to help his poor and at times seriously ill aunt.

You can see the highlights of Peter's story in the trailer for the first movie in the recent Spider-Man trilogy:

Read More...

New albums from... Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash?

I opened my iTunes this morning and what do I see featured but a new album from... Jimi Hendrix. The album includes the original lineup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and the recordings come mostly from the period following the release of 1968's Electric Ladyland.

Another recent major posthumous album was Johnny Cash's "American VI: Ain't No Grave." In a beautiful bit of serendipity, the title song seems like the perfect leadoff for a posthumous album as Cash sings "Ain't no grave gonna hold this body down." You can tell that the song selection is a bit weaker this time around as the available material from the recording sessions which also spawned "American V: A Hundred Highways" ran out.

We've had posthumously released albums for years, but it seems there's been an upsurge recently. I expect it's largely due to technology making it easier to salvage older recordings and the Internet making it easier to distribute and get the word out about this material.

Read More...

Comic books coming to the iPad

In the latest round of categories listed for Apple's iBookstore, one of them is "Comics & Graphic Novels." With the iPad being such a visual presentation medium, it seems like a natural fit.

Comic publishers have been somewhat hesitant to make their content available online. Most offer a small selection of titles, most of them older releases. This has started to change a bit with comic book apps on the iPhone that offer more content from a variety of publishers. But the big boys of DC Comics and Marvel are still largely holding back.

Will the power of Apple be able to convince the comics giants to open their archives and sell comics (hopefully at a reasonable price) as Apple moves into the digital publishing game? As a comic fan, I'd love to see it (and would love to be able to store comics digitally rather than in box after box), but realize that institutional momentum can keep companies from jumping into the digital world with both feet.

Read More...