Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

The Wikileaks cables in three minutes and change

The Wikileaks debacle is impossible to avoid, but there's been a heckuva lot of media coverage on, around and about its effects - so much so, the actual revelations have been glossed over in favor of awkward White House responses and Julian Assange's sex life.

Fortunately, Joe Sabia of Google's annual Zeitgeist put together a slick narrated video to rapid-fire illustrate just what the heck those cables said about leaders from the rest of the world. For the attention-deficit newsconsumer, your Internet-morphed medium has arrived.


Celebrities staying off Facebook, Twitter fails to raise money for World AIDS Day

A group of celebrities with large online followings "killed" their digital selves for World AIDS Day this week. The concept is that, until they raised $1 million, they wouldn't post updates on Twitter or Facebook. The Digital Death site characterized it as being "a few days" that they'd be away.

However, after 24 hours, they'd only raised around $100,000. As of this writing, the total stood at just over $162,000. The YouTube video advertising this has more views than that, so it looks like this wasn't a particularly great incentive to inspire generosity.

It looks like the public really doesn't want more celebrity tweeting and Facebooking. The "dead" celebrities include Usher, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Serena Williams, Kim and Khloe Kardashian and others.

It seems unlikely that the pace will significantly increase, since they can't publicize it themselves online anymore since that's the whole premise of the thing, and with World AIDS Day over, the amount of publicity for this event will likely go down. You also have the holiday season meaning that people may have their minds elsewhere. Will they even reach $1 million by the end of the year? Will they actually donate their own money instead of asking the public to do it for them?


Hanukkah begins tonight (an excuse for me to share comedy song 'Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?')

Hanukkah begins tonight. It's considered a minor Jewish holiday internationally, but a pair of Cincinnati rabbis developed and publicized a new celebration for children at Hanukkah in the second half of the 1800s. You can hear more about it in this NPR story.

The celebration helped Jews fit into American culture during the Christmas season, while maintaining their Jewish identity.

As a comedy fan, this is my opportunity to share one of my favorite songs from Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central Christmas special, "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" (The exclamation mark is part of the title, though it does make me excited.)

There are several Hanukkah comedy songs, most notably Adam Sandler's "The Chanukah Song," but the one I wanted to share today is "Can I Interest You In Hanukkah?" In it, "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart tries to sell Colbert on the Jewish holiday. My personal highlight is probably the potato pancakes reference, but there are plenty of gems in the lyrics. Here's the video, and you can read the lyrics below:


"We Are The World 25.75" brings comedians together for charity

You may remember "We Are The World," the charity single recorded by a cadre of '80s superstars back in 1985, raising money for African aid. Produced by the legendary Quincy Jones and written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, "We Are The World" raised over $63 million. A 25th anniversary update was released earlier this year to raise money for Haiti.

Previous versions of the songs also generated parodies, and showing that the comedy well is not dry, there's a brand new one! We Are The World 25.75 (commemorating the 25.75th anniversary of the original) is out, put together by comedy show Comedy Death-Ray. It features Sarah Silverman, actor Kurt Russell (holding an Oscar) and numerous other stars, most from the comedy world. My personal highlight: Paul F. Tompkins' excellent line reading of "by turning stones to bread?!"


Cookie Monster auditions to host Saturday Night Live

Sesame Street is launching an Internet campaign on Facebook to get Cookie Monster chosen to host "Saturday Night Live." The campaign already has over 56,000 Facebook fans and almost 290,000 views on YouTube. Check out the video below:

So, are you pro or con on the puppet host? If the Internet can get Betty White to host, why not? I'd be curious to see if the Muppets would be willing to work a little blue (no Cookie Monster-related pun intended) to blend in with the SNL sensibility or if it would have to be a relatively tame episode.

My top three personal highlights:

  • Monologue: "Blah blah blah, cookie joke cookie joke cookie joke..."
  • The Lady Gaga impression (Cookie Face!)
  • Best of all, Cookie Monster doing air quotes when talking about Facebook "friends"