August 2010 Grab Bag!


I am a little off cycle, but I kind of like having the Grab Bag a little earlier in the month. There has been a lot going on in the past week, especially with media and entertainment, so I start off a little heavy with that stuff, but I try to even things out by the end.  Hope you enjoy it!


So, I took the plunge for you, dear reader, and paid $9.95 to check out Hulu+, the newish premium service from Hulu. I have heard quite a bit about the service on the HTGuys  (if you are into HD or home theater stuff, you should listen to their excellent podcast) and wanted to see what all the hubub was about.  

All in all, the service is great–it does what it promises. High quality (720p) video to your computer, which you can the plug into your TV (waiting for a cable to come in, will update this article with a report–update – look at my comment, below, to see how I fared) and basically give a prominent middle finger to your cable/satellite TV.  As you can imagine, the service also works (and works well) with an iPhone and iPad–what I didn't expect was how good the video looked when streaming over 3G.  So, if you are waiting around and want to catch up on episodes of Emergency!–here's your solution.

I know there is a lot of stuff that Hulu doesn't carry, but their library of what they do have is pretty exhaustive.  While they do offer quite a few movies, this is really kind of a network backup of old and recent TV shows that you can turn to if you forget to record something or just want to catch up on a show. I really liked how they had untranslated anime there (like the always awesome Captain Harlock, above)–really took me back.  And, of course, if you stop watching on your computer, you automatically pick up where you left off when you log back in, regardless of device.

Of course, all of this costs money, in this case, the aforemrentioned $9.95 a month.  is it worth it?  Hard to say. Like, I don't have the time to read all of my comics let alone watch more than a few hours of TV a week, and I just don't see myself turning to the service every moment I have a moment to make this worth the money, especially since I am paying for DirecTV.  But If I had a MacMini and put some effort into making a nice media server, I think it would be worth it, sure–but that's because I prefer to watch TV on a TV. If that experience is not important, then this could be the perfect service fo you.  My only real gripe is that you still get commercials,. I have the same gripe with this as I do with commercials in movie theaters–look, I already paid! Stop!  But, to be honest, the commercials are not that intrusive and you can always mute them, like in the days of yore, and I still have commercials for with DirecTV, so I guess…well, I don't care–I still don't like 'em!  At $9.95, it's fun to check out for a month or two, but if I went any longer, I think I would drop pay TV completely.  Which I should do anyway, I know. 

Hulu is doing their best to match Netflix's availability, and we're already seeing Hulu on TV's and Blu-ray players–and the PS3.  XBox 360 support is coming early next year, apparently.

Hulu's making a lot of the right moves with this high quality service, but they have to if they want to compete with the ever-popular (and ever growing) Netflix, which recently closed a huge deal with the EPIX channel, meaning that Netflix will have the rights to stream movies from MGM, Paramount and Lionsgate (though not in HD initially!!) for five years.  

I did a little more research today and found some other nuggets–more proof that everyone wants to make watching their shows as easily as humanly possible.  Cheggit:

– HBO gives the finger to Netflix and wants to pipe their shows to the iPad and other devices themselves within about six months with a new version of  HBO Go, their current streaming service, which is available only to Comcast and Fios users (lame!).   Gigom talks about the HBO app here, as well.

– Not to be outdone, TimeWarner is developing an iPad app as well, to do remote scheduling (wow, so 1998). I had TimeWarner cable for awhile, and the DVR interface was just so terrible–this seems like a pleasant alternative, but still, who knows when this will be out? And who actually cares?

Of course, all this is great, but so far, none of the services provide extra hours in the day to actually watch all this crap.

Finally, I thought you might enjoy these two links. Check out how to combine two IKEA TV stands into a one much ore functional one here, and if you are looking for cables, there's an alternative to fan favorite,, which has a crazy deal on a mini to mini cable that goes for $25 at Apple for 80¢.  How do you like dem apples, er, Apple?




Lots of Star Wars news coming out of the most recent Star Wars Celebration. has a nice write up here, but here are a few of the things that lit up my lightsaber:

Star Wars in Blu-ray in 2011.  Not really a surprise, and certainly one that I am reacting to with a sense of resigned duty–this will be the fifth or sixth time I have bought the damn movies–but, still, maybe, just maybe, this will be the last time I…nah, like Yoda said, "There will be another." The movies will come out in a single boxed set for the 35th anniversary of A New Hope (or, as I like to think of it, Star Wars). There will be the requisite bonus features and some extra scenes (one of which is here).  Lucas will not release the original films in HD because, apparently, it would "cost too much" — like…really? What–no one's going to buy them? You can't afford it? Whaaaa?  Whatever.

(Bill Hunt muses about possible extras in his column at the Digital Bits here, if you are interested.) 

– A new Star Tours ride was announced, which I think is kind of cool, though really, really late. When the first one came out in Disneyland, I thought the whole point of the Star Tours ride was that you could change the sequence up pretty easily, and the ride would constantly be changing to keep the crowds coming. Last time I went to Disneyland (last year), there was zero wait to get into the ride–and this was the middle of the day.  Crazy.  

– There were other announcements, but I can't even get excited about them. I don't care about the Clone Wars and, in a way, I just find myself done with the whole thing–though I'll be the first in line to audition if they ever really do a Star Wars-based live action TV show…yes, I am a sell-out–in the best way possible.



I'll be the first to admit, I haven't played a single Marvel videogame.  I haven't even played Arkham Asylum on my XBox, which is supposed to be singularly awesome.  (I will, though, once I can get sound from my XBox (long story, but suffice to say, the component video adaptor for the early XBox 360? How it blocks the audio output?  Very lame.) Joystick Division has a list of the Top 10 Greatest Marvel Video Games, which I thought some of you guys might be interested in.  Let me now in the comments if you agree with the list and if there's a specific Marvel game for XBox 360 that I must experience.  

Let's end with the rapid-fire round!

– Set pictures and video footage from the Captain America movie set.  Apparently this was the USO set, with a bunch of stuff and it means something, but who knows.

– Chad wants you accept the fact that there will be a Watchmen 2 movie, that it's just a matter of time, and you are going to like it, dammit.

Ain't It Cool News has a bit about Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class casting.  I didn't really know much about Vaughn, but after Kick-Ass and Layer Cake, I am actually pretty excited about what this could look like because he knows how to film a scene and seems to be pretty adept at casting. 

iO9 has some news/rumors (newmors?) regarding the Superman Reboot (ouch, that's gotta hurt), Judge Dredd, Green Lantern and other flicks here

– One of my life goals is to be in a movie where Drew Struzan, the awesome movie poster guy, does a poster for a movie I am in with me in the poster. It's a specific life goal, but that's how you get things done in this town.  When I finally meet him, I am going to want to make sure I have seen the movie about him (I wonder if he will do the poster?), which apparently does not have distribution yet.

– If you have been reading my articles for awhile (and if you have, I owe you a drink and my eternal gratitude), you may notice that I a theme that I keep coming back to is lack of time.  I always marvel at my friends who seem to know all the cool videos on the web and always feel really late to the game with, you know, Internet stuff.  I mean, I literally just watched that Double Rainbow movie the last week–I thought everyone was talking about the ice cream shop in San Francisco.  I had heard the audio in a very different version of the film, but hadn't actually seen the whole deal in all its glory yet. Well, I think the folks at Devour had me in mind when they launched their curated video site-it's just, apparently, the best of the best videos floating around on the web (and most, if not all, are in HD), and so far, the selection is pretty cool.  I like what they did with their home page–it's amazing how good design can just make everything feel better.  Speaking of cool videos, check out Starship by Bernard Gigounon…neat what he does here with reflections and music.

– Feeling old?  You'll feel older when you read the annual list of what the world of kids just now entering college is like.  I don't know if this list is annoying, or depressing, or even if it's funny–but you gotta know your enemy, right?

– Like bad guys?  Adam Sidwell certainly does. He did an illustration a week for a year of various bad guys from all kinds of movies, TV shows and video games, and now he's got posters of them. I think they're pretty awesome, there's one, above. 

– I never did see Grindhouse when it came out in the theaters, and, being the snob I am, refused to see Death Proof and Planet Terror as separate films until I could relive the theatrical experience on my couch, no matter how long it took.  Well, it took this long–it's being released in October and has everything but the Machete trailer, 'cuz there's a real movie for it coming soon.

– Finally, If you were at Comic-Con this year and went to some of the Marvel panels, you might have seen some videos with Guy Levine, super agent to the super heroes, which were fun ways of getting the word out about Marvel's Digital Comics..  I actually had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Lehr, the producer of these shorts  ("Meet Guy Levine" and "Goodbye Ruby Thursday") at Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy meetup, and he dropped me a line to tell me that another video was posted, along with Guy's website.  I wish my agent worked as hard, I gotta say.  

Okay, so that's the Grab Bag for August! Glad we had this time together–thanks for reading and I'll see ya next week!

Mike Romo is an actor in LA who is a little worried about all the dead bees in his side yard–there are a lot of them.  You can email him here or follow him on twitter!


  1. I’m surprised that Spider-Man 2 didn’t make the list.  That game was huge back when it came out, and it’s been the blue print for every Spider-Man game since. 

    Also, those Mega Man villain posters are awesome.

  2. I agree with Neb Spidey 2 should definitely be on that list. And high up too.

  3. "those Mega Man villain posters are awesome." 

  4. I’m glad that I have the Grindhouse bootleg DVD since the upcoming release is Blu-Ray only. Looks like I’m going to end up buying the official DVD film releases soon…

  5. Quick Man, Air Man and Metal Man poster is easily the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long long time.  Nice report for Hulu, but Mike, I’m pretty sure your verdict is that its not a cable replacement?  I’m very interested to see what its like for the consoles.  Definitely glad to hear about Grindhouse in its propers form.  I would have to imagine that both the remastered and original trilogies will be on the same disc.  I’m not a fan of Greedo shooting at Han or Haden Christiansen making his way into Jedi.

  6. I will never buy another DVD/Blu-ray/whatever the next medium is of Star Wars unless it includes the original unaltered versions. I’m not going to be annoying or whiny about it, but I simply refuse to fork over more money to Lucas & Co. for his "vision" of Star Wars. I’m just resigned to the fact that the Star Wars I grew up with is pretty much gone and will likely go extinct.

  7. hey ato220–

    As far as cable replacement goes, I think it depends on your system–like, this stuff is not in surround sound or anything like that, and, if you don’t a fast internet connection, you might get frustrated.

     But I think it could be a cable replacement if you were okay with getting some stuff on disc after they come out–check out hulu’s content list and see what you think.   The cool part is that you can go month-to-month, so you can try it out, like, really, unplug your cable box for a week and see how you use it; if it doesn’t work, you can always go back. But with Hulu+ and Netflix combined, I you’d be pretty hooked up, I gotta say.

    Maybe the boxee box will have a Hulu agent+interface? that would be awesome.


    @Paradiddle — I hear ya; I got a version of the new crap with the original version on DVD (2 CD pack); I think that’s the last time we’ll ever see the original stuff avaiable, to be honest. Our generation’s passion for what we saw in the theater just doesn’t really matter that much anymore, I guess.


    thanks for reading!


  8. That list of top 10 Marvel Games is wrong. That wolverine game was nothing but a cheap God of War clone, barely worth a rental, and Spider-Man: Web of Shadows wasn’t even worth that. There are good games on that list, Spider-Man 2 is the best superhero game of all time, it didn’t even make that list.  

  9. hey guys–
    a little update here. I tried Hulu+ on my TV, connecting my not-that-old MacBook Pro (2.6Ghz Intel Core Duo, 4GB of RAM, fast enough download speed), connecting video through DVI->HDMI to TV, optical toslink to receiver for audio, and it was just terrible.  Lipsync issues, choppy video…total bummer. I assume it has more to do with my machine than the service, because it looks fine when I just play it through my computer, but still–lame.  I will keep testing and do a article as a followup.