Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Comic-Con: San Diego no more?

As a huge comic book fan, I finally made the visit to geek mecca Comic-Con in beautiful San Diego last summer, along with 126,000 other fans. However, the buzz over the last year has been about whether this cultural phenomenon has finally outgrown its homeland, with the current contract running through 2012, leaving the convention on the open market for 2013 and beyond.

Other contenders being talked about include Los Angeles, Anaheim and Las Vegas. The event brings in tens of millions of dollars of spending, so it's a coveted gem for any city.

In order to keep the event in San Diego, local hotels are offering to double the dedicated hotel space from 7,000 to 14,000 rooms and offering 300,000 square feet of free meeting space from 2013 to 2015. A citizens task force has also approved expanding San Diego convention center, though that plan may not be put in action.


American Idol & the butchering of Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'

Brief thoughts on last night's butchering of "What's Going On" by Mr. Jermaine Sellers:

Attention singers of Earth! Please, please, please, do not try to do Marvin Gaye. I once heard it said that you should never do Marvin Gaye at karaoke because, as good as you are, you ain't Marvin, and those words have never been truer than they were on last night's American Idol as Jermaine Sellers murdered Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."

Jermaine's failure:

The judges' comments:

As Simon notes, this is one of the all time great songs, and you don't need to screw around so much with the arrangement. (Leave Marvin alone!)

Check out the greatness of the original:

Related story: 'Idol' judges give male semifinalists praise


Comic book icon Stan Lee guest stars on 'The Big Bang Theory'

I still haven't managed to check meeting Stan Lee off my list of life goals, but I did love his appearance last night on CBS's "The Big Bang Theory," quite possibly the geekiest sitcom on network television.

One other great thing about "The Big Bang Theory" is that it's thoroughly centered in Pasadena, with local landmarks often getting discussed. The show centers on three physicists and an engineer who work at Pasadena's Caltech, along with their bubbly neighbor Penny who works at The Cheesecake Factory.

It's filled with inside references for the geeks in the audience, while still telling compelling, heartfelt stories. It's also fun to have a television show less centered around pretty people than the majority of network fare. The characters can be a bit abrasive to begin with, but their quirks quickly become endearing.


Sen. Scott Brown's daughter Ayla Brown's new EP

Bringing together two current cultural motifs, Ayla Brown, 21-year-old daughter of new Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, NCAA basketball player, and former American Idol contestant (top 16!), just released a new EP. Her first single is "Pick It Up."

Her association with Scott Brown helped lead to several appearances on Fox News, including this Web exclusive acoustic performance of the song "No More":

As a longtime American Idol fan, I enjoyed her appearance on the show and was rooting for her until she got voted off. I've yet to pick any favorites this year; has anyone caught your eye in the remaining 20 Idol hopefuls?

Finally, Ayla Brown's American Idol appearance, performing "Reflection" by Christina Aguilera:

Link: American Idol
Link: Ayla Brown's American Idol profile page


Haiti and the return of the charity single

The tragedy caused by the Haiti earthquake has led to a resurgence of a pop culture phenomenon we've seen far less of in recent years - the charity single. Last year's American Idol winner Kris Allen got in the act last night with a stirring rendition of "Let It Be," along with video footage of his trip to Haiti, with proceeds going to benefit Haiti relief efforts. They also announced the return of Idol Gives Back on April 21st, raising money for a variety of charities.

We've also seen the return of one of the classic charity singles, "We Are The World," updated with new artists for 2010, as well as a cover version of "Everybody Hurts" put together by American Idol producer Simon Cowell with a more European-flavored collection of artists.

There was also the excellent Hope For Haiti concert featuring artists like Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Taylor Swift and many others.