Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.


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.


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.


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.


Conan O'Brien's online ghost

NBC has started scrubbing references to Conan O'Brien from their Web sites since Conan was forced out of his Tonight Show hosting gig. The most notable one so far is probably Hulu, where if you do a search, you'll no longer find clips or episodes of his run on The Tonight Show. Conan's Tonight Show Web address, TonightShowWithConanOBrien.com, now redirects to NBC.com.

They've even redirected Conan's humorous HornyManatee.com site to NBC.com instead. (Not sure if this is the term I would want associated with my network, but to each their own.) Our own site was affected by this, as the Hulu video posted on this blog a few weeks ago in order to share Conan's eloquent farewell speech now shows you this:

You can, however, still view the farewell on YouTube:

Jay Leno is also moving on, with the last episode of The Jay Leno Show airing tonight at 10 before he makes his less than triumphant return to The Tonight Show. According to Variety, NBC is trying to keep the series finale low key as they work to rehabilitate Jay Leno's image in the wake of the contentious late night wrangling between NBC, Leno, and O'Brien. They're also embracing new media, using Jay Leno's Facebook page to hold a contest to find audience members for Leno's re-debut at 11:30.


Activists develop computer games as a fun way to inform the public

As a person who grew up with video games, I still enjoy games where I take on a persona and go around fighting evil, whatever it might be. I played Super Mario, for the N64, until I actually broke my game console and my dad had to fix it (which, honestly, he had to fix quite often over the years). There is something meaningful about playing a game and ultimately being the hero.

Never did I think that it would also be a way to help activists bring life to the problems that they see around the world.

An article in FLYP magazine brought activist gaming to my attention; people are developing computer games that put the player into real-life situations happening all over the world.

Among the many games is one called Darfur is Dying, where the player becomes a person from a village in Darfur who has to get water, grow food and ultimately survive while being targeted by the militia who is targeting them. Not only is it a game, which is actually pretty fun, but it also gives facts about what happens to the people who live in the villages and even ways for us to help.