Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Time running out for Bukowski postage stamp

Time is running out for fans of the late Charles Bukowski who were hoping to gather 10,000 signatures and have the U.S. Postal Service issue a postage stamp in his honor.

The online petition kindly reminds the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee that Bukowski is the Post Office’s second most popular former employee, after Benjamin Franklin.

In fact, the petition language describes Bukowski’s novel, “Post Office,” as a “wry portrait of the inner workings of the service where he was employed through age 49.” (Insert laugh track here). That’s kind of like calling “Apocalypse Now” a touching melodrama about U.S. foreign policy.

The drive will end March 1, and to date nearly 800 supporters have signed the petition. Eight hundred? Eight hundred is a pretty paltry number considering that Bukowski enjoys international fame, a plethora of imitators, and has several profiles and fan pages on Facebook that total over 150,000 fans. Even Hank Chinaski, his alter ego and the protagonist of “Post Office,” has a profile.

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'A Serious Man' & St. Olaf College

Best Picture nominee "A Serious Man" shot several scenes at my alma mater, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. The movie's a period piece, set in the 1960s, and the Coen brothers' search for a 1960s-era lecture hall led them to St. Olaf.

The most memorable image shot at the school is likely the blackboard that takes up an entire wall of the lecture hall, filled with physics formulas. Showing a real attention to detail, they enlisted the aid of a retired St. Olaf College professor who, working with an artist, filled the blackboard with physics equations that would have been appropriate in a '60s classroom. Another retired St. Olaf professor, James Cederberg, designed the blackboard used in another scene, with the aid of '60s books and journals.

Now St. Olaf is trying to make some money off their moment in the spotlight. A portion of the blackboard will be auctioned off (along with the oh-so-important Coen brothers-signed letter of authenticity) to raise money to benefit current students.

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Asterios Polyp makes LA Times Graphic Novel Book Awards nominee list

The Los Angeles Times has, for the first time, added a Graphic Novel category to their annual Book Prizes. This year's finalists are Luba (A Love and Rockets Book) by Gilbert Hernandez, GoGo Monster by Taiyo Matsumoto, Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O'Malley, and Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco.

While on the indie side, it's still an eclectic mix, from the longtime contenders like the latest from Love and Rockets, GoGo Monster's manga style, or the frenetic pace of Scott Pilgrim (soon to be a major motion picture starring Michael Cera), but one book I'll personally vouch for is Asterios Polyp.

Asterios Polyp tells the story of an architecture professor, the great love of his life, and what happens after it all falls apart. It's a beautiful book, with inventive art that show the best of what comics as an art form can be. The layouts surprise you while still being completely logical, drawing you in. The book uses color, but does so sparingly, using it to express emotions and ideas rather than trying to be lifelike.

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Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths

I had the chance to attend a screening of the new DC Comics direct to DVD animated film, Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths. As a comic fan, I've seen a lot of animated and live action superhero films, but I felt this was the best of the recent run of these films.

It's epic and over the top in all the best ways, with a story spanning universes. It tells the story of an alternate universe where good and evil are turned upside down, with Lex Luthor and Joker are on the side of the angels and their version of the Justice League, known as the Crime Syndicate, rules with an iron fist, featuring twisted versions of classic DC heroes like Superman, Batman and Green Lantern. The Luthor of that other dimension seeks out the help of the Justice League in defeating the Crime Syndicate, and ultimately saving the existence of all universes.

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Curling!

The Simpsons pulled one of their trademark feints this week. The show started off looking like a Valentine's Day story, but they pivoted into delivering an episode about... curling.

As a typical American, I'm not one who's ever felt they've had a good grasp on the rules, history, or appeal of curling. Still, it was a fun show and made curling actually sound fun.

When I went to the gym yesterday and someone put curling up on one of the televisions, I thought that perhaps I could figure out a bit more of it thanks to my Simpsons education.

I was so very, very wrong.

Still, it has me a bit intrigued, and I promise not to instinctively change the channel the next time I see it come on during Olympics coverage.

Check out the Simpsons' "Boy Meets Curl" below.

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