Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Eat, drink and give to charity

My all time favorite kind of beer is... free beer.

Which would explain how I found myself waking up early on a Saturday morning to volunteer at a charity event in Ventura. Working a four-hour shift got me out of paying the $60 admission price to the Salute Beer Festival at the San Buenaventura State Park. It was originally my brother's idea to volunteer, but it didn't take him much arm twisting to convince me to go.

The event was hosted by a local food bank, Food Share of Ventura County, and featured over 60 brewery and food vendors. We signed up for the morning shift and somehow ended up commandeering a golf cart. The majority of our time was spent delivering kegs, ice and food to the the various vendors before the event opened to the public. (We were sober - volunteers had to finish their shift before they could start sucking them down.)

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The Best of E3

E3 2010 has come and gone. The show dazzled, with big players Sony and Microsoft demonstrating new motion-sensing games and accessories. Nintendo displayed new games in established franchises and allowed attendees a chance to get hands-on with the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS. With all these new devices, it's hard to know what the best things were at E3. Here are my picks for the best of the show.

Nintendo 3DS

This was the best item at the show, in my opinion. News had been leaked previously that Nintendo was going to debut a 3D handheld at E3, and this was the first opportunity for people to get their hands on it. Amazingly, the 3D effects are achieved without the use of bulky glasses. One merely needs to look at the screen straight on. There were no playable demos, but there were videos of upcoming games such as a new Metal Gear, Mario Kart, Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, and even Kid Icarus. There was a 3D Disney movie as well, leading me to believe that the system will also be used as a 3D movie player. The 3DS even includes two camera lenses on the outside for taking 3D pictures. All in all, it was a great device, and I cannot wait to see it in stores.

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Defeated superhero sculptures

As both an art and comic book fan, I was fascinated by this series of sculptures depicting superheroes in a vulnerable, defeated state. It includes statues of Superman, Batman and Wolverine. Superman is depicted trapped, in a pose reminiscent of classic depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus.

Superhero origin stories often begin with tragedy. Superman's home planet Krypton exploded and Superman was left as the lone survivor; Batman's parents were gunned down in front of his eyes; Spider-Man's Uncle Ben was murdered by a thief whom Spider-Man had callously let get away earlier because it didn't concern him.

You can see more photos of these sculptures at this French website.

(via iFanboy)

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Free wi-fi coming to Starbucks

Not that Starbucks doesn't already have a lot of business, but they're reaching out to the growing mobile crowd. Starbucks will be offering free, unlimited wi-fi in almost 7,000 locations starting July 1.

Starbucks is also going to be offering more free content to customers on their network, including access to the paid area of the Wall Street Journal and free downloads.

Starbucks has pursued an aggressive online strategy, using social networking to make their brand even bigger than it is currently. For example, they've been offering users of social location tool Foursquare discounts if they're frequent visitors.

The free wi-fi is going to be provided by AT&T, and it's actually a win-win for them as it will free up bandwidth on their 3G network, used by more and more devices (notably the Apple iPhone and iPad). AT&T has an interest in making wi-fi more widely available, as it will keep users happier since they won't have to deal with network connection over 3G.

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