Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

2010 Maltose Falcons Mayfaire homebrew competition

One of the more fun things to do if you love good beer like I do is attend a homebrew competition. Actually, this is even a better idea if you think you don't like beer.

Whether you live in beercentric cities such as Portland and San Francisco or far-off places such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a homebrewing club and competition is not hard to find.

Granted you're not an already an experienced beer judge, sign up as a steward once you find a competition. Stewards may take a little abuse, but they are rewarded for their efforts with all kinds of (usually) great tasting, alcoholic beverages from a slew of different styles: from experimental ales and lagers to traditional meads and ciders.

Maltose Falcons 2010 Mayfaire competition from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

The Maltose Falcons Mayfaire competition is where I first whet my steward’s whistle years ago. And if you’re like me and are easily impressed, you may decide being a lowly steward sucks and want to become a beer judge. I was hooked once I heard an experienced homebrewer start spewing knowledge about all kinds of styles of beer.


Los Angeles Art Association's 'Gem' exhibition

I attended the Los Angeles Art Association's Gem show Saturday night, featuring work by a variety of new and more experienced artists. Here are a few of the pieces that caught my eye:

"Haircut" by Meghan Quinn

Meghan's done a variety of pieces taking dolls and putting them in unusual but realistic situations. Her work takes them and makes them feel like real people.

"Sail" by Bob Poe

This one caught my attention due to its origin - it's an iPhone photo, printed on canvas.

"Fear" by Marika Krissman Tsircou

I loved the emotion shown in "Fear."

"King of Pain" by Jillian Kogan

While it doesn't really come across at a smaller size, this was actually made up of pill capsules, some with messages written on them, such as the top stripe being made up of pills saying "Uppers" and the bottom stripe filled with pills with "Downers" written on them.


Comedienne/ bedwetter Sarah Silverman at the LA Times Festival of Books

I had the chance this weekend to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. It was my first year out there, and I saw some diverse personalities, including second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin being interviewed by KPCC's Patt Morrison, as well as Pam Grier and a session on new media book publishing, which I'll likely be writing more about later this week.

My personal highlight was seeing comedienne/actress Sarah Silverman. She's out promoting her autobiography, "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee." Her self-titled Comedy Central show also just wrapped up its third, and likely last, season. Her book has a bit of her surrealist style, while also delving into all aspects of her life. She writes about her relationships, dealing with depression, and, as the title might give away, her bedwetting into her teen years.


Jon Stewart has words for radical Muslims making threats against South Park's creators

South Park has been in the news recently due to threats against its creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, from a radical Muslim website. They responded in an episode of their program and got in a dispute with their network, Comedy Central, over the network choosing to bleep several portions of the episode, including references to Islamic prophet Muhammad.

South Park's creators responded to censorship from the network with a statement, noting that in addition to bleeping Muhammad's name, the show's closing speech "about intimidation and fear" was also bleeped.

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart rallied behind his network-mates on last night's program. It seems like a daring thing to do, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it result in similar threats. Stewart used his power to do a segment like this, even after the network canceled previous plans to repeat even the censored version of the episode and isn't allowing South Park Studios to stream the unedited version on their website. (Warning: Adult language, while bleeped, is part of the segment.)


President Obama and others join 'American Idol' for 'Idol Gives Back'

"'American Idol' has always been about changing lives, on the stage and around the world." - Barack Obama

I always find it surreal to see politicians making pop culture crossovers. President Obama and the first lady appeared via video to open the "American Idol" special "Idol Gives Back" charity show, encouraging viewers to donate. The first couple even threw out references to Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell.

For me, the most touching moment of the night was the story of an AIDS orphan going from being skeletal to, with the help of AIDS drugs, looking like a healthy little girl.

Captain "Sully" Sullenberger, the famed pilot who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River, was among those who appeared on Idol Gives Back, along with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Bill Gates. There were also plenty of Hollywood stars, such as Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock, plus musical performances from the Black Eyed Peas, Jeff Beck, Elton John closing the night with "Your Song," and more.