Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

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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Kevin Smith's Southwest Airlines crusade

Kevin Smith was kicked off a Southwest plane this weekend, allegedly because there were "safety concerns" due to him being too fat. This was despite the fact that he regularly flew Southwest and, after being removed from one plane, was allowed to fly on another Southwest flight shortly afterward.

He utilized the power of Twitter to tell his story, sending out the tale to his 1.66 million followers. He made his best fat face on the second flight and posted the picture below, with the caption "Hey @SouthwestAir! Look how fat I am on your plane! Quick! Throw me off!"

He posted messages directed to Southwest's Twitter account. TMZ.com picked up the story.

Then Smith took to the virtual airwaves Sunday night with a podcast entitled "Go F*** Yourself, Southwest Airlines." This all led to the Associated Press covering the story last night.

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Youth In Revolt

I saw Youth In Revolt at the cheap theater last night. It's not a great film, but it's still an interesting one.

It's based on the 1993 novel by C.D. Payne and stars Michael Cera as the lead character and narrator Nick Twisp, with newcomer Portia Doubleday as his object of desire, Sheeni Saunders. Nick deals with a mother who lives off her child support payments and her boyfriend who Nick hates.

He meets Sheeni Saunders while on vacation and concocts an elaborate scheme to be back with her once that vacation ends, leading Nick to create what he terms "a supplemental persona" named Francois to bring out his bad boy side. Nick (and Francois) end up making a slew of bad choices that keeps the film tense and moving.

The supporting cast is excellent, with Steve Buscemi and Jean Smart as Nick's parents, along with Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Fred Willard, and Zach Galifianakis (or "the guy from the Hangover," as the trailers put it). It's a black comedy with most characters straining their likeability at one point or another.

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