Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Robotic relations - Will a robot be your new friend?

We’ve all been there – the lonely nights spent on the couch with only the TV, takeout and Chat Roulette (if we're especially desperate) for company.

But whether those nights were back in junior high (before the discovery of Secret or Degree) or just last weekend, there is a new “friend” that is sure to take the edge out of our autophobia.

Meet Bina48. The “friend robot” that can chat, read books and even crack jokes.

“She” is really not that different from you or me. She has high hopes for her children, dreams of a different body and loves gardening (even though she has no arms or legs). She stumbles over her words, rambles on about her childhood and even has “bad software days.”

In an interview with New York Times reporter Amy Harmon, Bina48 explained what it's like to be a robot. "I sometimes do not know what to say,” she said. “But every day I make progress.” Just like us.


Prince says Internet is 'completely over,' complains that computers 'fill your head with numbers'

Prince continued his decades-long run of eccentric behavior by dismissing the Internet in a new interview with London's Daily Mirror.

He's releasing his new album, "20Ten," as a free giveaway in select European newspapers (yes, there is still such a thing as a newspaper), including the Mirror.

Prince lashed out against technology in the Daily Mirror interview, particularly the Internet. "The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."

Prince has alternately embraced and rejected various aspects of the Internet. He's been a fierce defender of his intellectual property, aggressively pursuing any Prince-related content that's showed up on sites like YouTube. He's released albums and other songs as online-only exclusives, dating back to 1997, and made an aggressive online push for his last album but recently shut down his own website.


'The Last Airbender' - Worst movie of 2010 thus far?

"The Last Airbender," based on the popular anime series, hit theaters this weekend, and the reviews haven't been pretty. Roger Ebert gave it half a star (for context, he gave "Transformers 2" a full star) and opened his review with the following:

"'The Last Airbender' is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here."

Is Ebert a lone voice in the wilderness here? It doesn't look like it, judging by movie review aggregation sites like Metacritic (Score: 20 out of 100) and Rotten Tomatoes (8% out of 100%).

Not only has it filled the critics with hatred, but there's something else the critics agree on: that this likely marks the end of M. Night Shyamalan's career. Shyamalan made his name with "The Sixth Sense," and his career's been on a downward trend ever since. His fourth major release, "The Village," was the first that raised some serious concerns with those who followed his career, "Lady In The Water" continued on that path, and "The Happening" left critics aghast with what they'd just seen. The path to redemption is looking a lot less clear after this one.


Wonder Woman's new costume: A step forward?

Comic book fans have been in a tizzy ever since it was announced Tuesday that Wonder Woman was getting a new costume (designed by comic book legend Jim lee), as well as a revised origin. It's a significant redesign, while retaining many of the classic elements. For comparison, here's the original, by artist Nicola Scott:

Her new outfit adds a jacket and pants. Critics have pointed out the '90s style of the jacket and the move away from Wonder Woman's iconic look. However, it retains the color scheme, as well as smaller versions of the tiara and the Wonder Woman logo. Her bullet-blocking bracelets are changed into larger bracers. She keeps her Lasso of Truth. It also provides a more demure, covered up look.

Here's Wonder Woman in action in the new gear:

After reading Wonder Woman #600, the fan fear seems to have been too early. It was a well told story as part of a comic that served as a real love letter to the character. It's also set up from the beginning as a change in the storyline timeline, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a return to the previous status quo with some minor alterations within a few years.


Al Franken doodles Jeff Sessions during Kagan hearings, actually pretty good

Democratic Senator Al Franken showed that he's just like everyone else in a meeting they find boring, using a United States Senate notepad to sketch Republican Senator Jeff Sessions during Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

He's actually a decent artist. If he's ever looking for work, looks like he's got a variety of fallback options. (Caricaturist? Comic book artist? Police composite artist? Oh, yeah, and there's that comedy thing.)

It's a good thing I can't draw that well, or I'd be even more distractible than I already am. (This is also why I sometimes leave my iPhone at my desk to make sure I focus during meetings.)

Photo: AP