Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

'Guardians of the Galaxy' hype asks if audiences want superheroes they've never heard of

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - Trailer 1 (OFFICIAL)

Marvel Entertainment (via YouTube)

The trailer for Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy."

The hype for Marvel's big summer space opera "Guardians of the Galaxy," in theaters Aug. 1, went into overdrive this week with the trailer for the film premiering on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and additional videos going up on Marvel's YouTube account. The trailer sets out to answer the question in almost everyone's minds: Who or what exactly are the Guardians of the Galaxy?

It's a collection of the lowest profile Marvel comic book characters to headline a movie as part of Marvel Studios' current string of films, beginning with 2008's "Iron Man." Those previous films, based around established properties like Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America, weren't guaranteed hits, but they at least had a place already carved out in the culture.

The new trailer acknowledges this, spending most of the time with John C. Reilly's character reading down the vital statistics of all of the team's members. They're presented as being about action while also being about goofy fun as they try to appeal to a broad audience, with the trailer finishing up with scenes set to "Hooked on a Feeling." Marvel also followed up Thursday with more videos offering short profiles of each member with brief soundbites from the actors, which you can watch below.


Sochi Winter Olympics: Jimmy Kimmel pranks Olympic fans with fake wolf video from California Olympian

Epic #SochiFail: Wolf in my hall

katehansen92 (via YouTube)

Video posted on Kate Hansen's YouTube page that allegedly shows a wolf but was actually part of a prank by Jimmy Kimmel.

Kate Hansen, a local Californian Olympic luge competitor, tweeted a video Wednesday — allegedly filmed on her cell phone — showing a wolf roaming the hallway outside her Olympic Village room in Sochi. However, it's actually a prank courtesy of ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel, "Inside Edition" reports; several outlets report this has been confirmed by the United States Luge Association.

Tweet from Kate Hansen

The description on the video posted to the 21-year-old Hansen's YouTube page reads, "I'm pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi." It played upon the popular #SochiProblems and #SochiFail hashtags with various perceived problems with the city and its accommodations, along with Sochi's reputation for having stray dogs walking its streets. Hansen, who hails from La Cañada, is reportedly set to Skype with Kimmel for a taping of his show "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Thursday.


When the Kickstarter engine fails to turn over — From Veronica Mars to NPR


The Veronica Mars Movie Project was fully funded on Kickstarter.

The "Veronica Mars" movie comes out next month, which was one of the highest profile Kickstarter-funded projects to date and raised $5.7 million, but Kickstarter projects often aren't so immediately successful.

There can be a lot of reasons for that — maybe the rewards for supporters aren't set up properly, without enough motivation for small donors. Maybe there isn't the faith in the creators behind the projects, which video game site Kotaku says could have contributed to two failed Kickstarters for the video game "Shadow of the Eternals." Some are so woefully bad ideas that there's a popular Failed Kickstarters Tumblr documenting them. Or maybe there just isn't the mass enthusiasm needed to draw enough donors to bring the project to life.

So far, 44 percent of Kickstarter projects have been successful, which isn't a bad success rate — but that does mean that almost 73,000 projects have failed to achieve funding, according to the organization.. Kickstarter asks a variety of questions to try to make sure that the type of dreamers who want money for a project also have at least a little idea of the business questions they'll need to sort out if they do get their project funded, but those questions can only go so far.


Brooks Wheelan cast on SNL halfway through yearlong video diary


brooks wheelan (via Vimeo)

"Saturday Night Live" cast member Brooks Wheelan's video documenting his past year as he went from L.A. engineer to SNL star.

New "Saturday Night Live" featured cast member Brooks Wheelan decided early last year to start keeping a video diary, recording one second of video a day of something interesting and putting it all together into a music video at the end of the year, which he posted earlier this week. He started the year as an engineer who did comedy at night in Los Angeles, and ended it living in New York City and working on SNL.

It's not an original idea — people have been doing photo a day journals for a while now, and the video idea has gained more prominence in recent years as shooting video gets built into our phones and other devices. Wheelan himself notes that he stole the idea from fellow comedian Rory Scovel, who did a similar video in 2012.

Wheelan describes the experience:

"I picked a very lucky year to film. I started it off as an LA stand up comic with an engineering day job, and through a crazy turn of events, I ended it working at Saturday Night Live. This was a very fortunate year."


Hollywood's Meltdown Comics starts taking Bitcoin

pinguino k/Flickr Creative Commons

Meltdown Comics' store manager tallies up a Bitcoin order using a Bitcoin merchant application on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.

Meltdown Comics started taking the buzzworthy currency of the moment, Bitcoin, at its store on Thursday, joining the growing but still small in number ranks of physical stores that take bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a "cryptocurrency," essentially serving as digital currency that's protected by cryptography. It's been tied to illicit activities due to the ability to bypass traditional routes that could lead to transfers being tracked, but it's also been gaining some mainstream acceptance.

While comics have been sold on online sites for bitcoin, Meltdown says that it's the first brick-and-mortar comic book store to accept bitcoin.

Meltdown Comics tweet

The first purchase via Bitcoin was "The Death-Ray" by Daniel Clowes (who you may remember being in the news lately after getting allegedly ripped off by Shia LaBeouf), purchased by a correspondent for Bitcoin site Spelunk.in who was also a longtime customer who convinced the store to take the currency, according to an interview on the site. That same correspondent went back for another purchase later, which included an "Adventure Time" trade paperback.