Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Weakening resistance to the iPad

Before the iPad came out, I was skeptical. Now that it's out and I've read reviews, heard from friends who bought one and seen some of what the thing can do, I am now immensely jealous of everyone who has one. I am currently busy summoning all my willpower to not go click "Buy Now" on Apple.com immediately.

As a comic geek, the first item to pop out to me was the Marvel Comics iPad app. There's been a lot of talk online about the potential for comic books on the iPad (including right here), but I actually didn't expect Marvel to make such a quick impact. It's one of the top featured apps on Apple.com, including this demonstration video:

Boing Boing did a review, including this video look at the app:

Still, I've got my concerns that continue holding me back. In general, I'm a fan of waiting until the second generation for all the kinks to be worked out of a new technology; I also think there are some philosophical concerns with the way Apple is inviting users into this world. Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow did an excellent job explaining this, with hundreds of comments (786 as of this writing) full of debate both pro and con.


Twitter vs. earthquake in a footrace - who wins?

If you're about 100 kilometers out or more, Twitter! Webcomic xkcd points out how posts about earthquakes can start hitting the Internet within 20 to 30 seconds of the quake, and despite that lag, it's possible for people to be reading about a strong quake before it hits their area.

Check out the comic strip below:

The USGS also has an automatic earthquake notification system that you can set up to tell you about any earthquakes you may be interested in, though there's some delay between the quake and the notification. I found a series of these in my e-mail caused by yesterday's initial quake and the subsequent aftershocks, and just received information on another aftershock from last night in my e-mail as I was writing this.


My first Passover Seder

I attended a Passover Seder this week for the first time. It's a ceremonial meal which commemorates the Jews' exodus from slavery in Egypt, with the name "Passover" marking God passing over the homes of the Jews when killing the firstborn of the Egyptians.

It's an event filled with symbols, all meant to explain the story and the sacrifice. (And any event with everyone being required to drink four glasses of wine is probably going to inspire some revelry.)

I found the most striking element of the Seder to be the palpable sense of hope. Even through all these symbols of pain, such as salt water symbolizing the tears of the Jewish people, hope shines through. There's the empty chair and the opening of the door for the prophet Elijah, hoping for his return; there's the conclusion where everyone proclaims "Next year in Jerusalem!"


Explaining death to a child

I went to Phoenix this past weekend to see Wrestlemania, and on my way to the show, I ran into a father and his 9-year-old son visiting from Mexico. We naturally began talking about wrestling, and a wrestler named Umaga came up. I'd just visited a local restaurant owned by a former wrestler he used to be associated with.

The father asked me if Umaga was still wrestling. I paused, trying to think of how to delicately tell him the answer, particularly with the boy there. I explained to the father that Umaga had passed away last year, at 36 years old.

The boy overheard and exclaimed, "Umaga died?! They killed him? When's he coming back?"

I awkwardly explained that, no, they didn't kill him, and no, he's really not coming back. I tried to think of how to explain that he'd had a heart attack after mixing prescription medication. However, the father and son were already off on a related conversation.


Live perspective on American Idol top 10 TV taping

I achieved a dream last night. Yes, I attended a taping of American Idol! (I have strange dreams.)

The afternoon began with hours of waiting in line, followed by waiting in line, more waiting in line, and then waiting in some different lines. However, we were then led into the promised land of the Idol studios.

As far as the actual performances went, I had a conflicted night, as my favorites didn't do as well as I would hope for, and the ones I've previously disliked were, unfortunately, good.

My personal favorite, Siobahn, opened the show with "Through The Fire" by Chaka Khan. She's got a weird, quirky personality that makes her feel real and likeable, and she showed a little of that off camera before her performance. She did a brief impersonation of Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher bit from Saturday Night Live. However, she went off-key and never found her way back on.