Grab Bag – April Showers Edition


I was all ready to do "3 Trades" column, but then I looked at my calendar and realized that April is somehow almost over and I still haven't done a Grab Bag article, so here ya go. Let's see what we've got for ya…I have a feeling this one is going to be way extra grabby.
Let's start things off with a bit of a perspective check that maybe you don't need, but, as I sit here across from four moving boxes containing stuff that I apparently don't need at all given that I haven't opened them yet, I realize I sure as hell do. As crazy as our lives get, it can be really easy to just lose sight of how, well, insiginificant we are.  Happily, Xeni Jardin points to a photo released by NASA awhile ago  of Earth taken from Mars, courtesy of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, back in 2004  (that I had never seen, which makes me look really bad considering my wife actually works at NASA, with people who actually release photos from the rovers and actually writes the captions for said photos, so yeah, I suck).  
Speaking of exo-planet interests, you may have heard that Stephen Hawking's thinking that if there are alien races out there, chances are they would probably be less than friendly, explaining, "..If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."  I am not really sure what to think; I guess my intitial gut reaction would be to hope that things would be more like Star Trek, where the Vulcans were like, "Hey, how's it going, race-who-just-discovered-faster-than-light-travel?" and less like Independence Day (I mean, where ya gonna find an old Powerbook to inject that virus to blow up their ship, you know?) , but, I mean, Hawking's actually been on Star Trek, so maybe he knows something that I don't.  
For awhile it seemed like I couldn't do an article without mentioning Battlestar Galactica, and then I promised I wouldn't talk about it for awhile…well, "awhile" is officially over. For those of you who bought the boxed set of BSG and have been less than thrilled with the fantastically oversized box with its many idiosyncracies, the least of which is being unable to actually pick the actual discs out of the actual packaging without risking scratching the damn things…well, you're in luck. You can get completely new packaging — for free!  I will tell you, I was really kind of skeptical; as much as I hated the old packaging, it was still original packaging, and, as such, must somehow be inherently better than anything else that came after it because it was the first edition of the set.  Of course this is the same kind of thinking that had me trucking nine boxes of comics that I never read into a closet that seemed very large before I realized I had to actually put stuff in it…Anyway, I think I am going to take advantage of this offer, especially after seeing this review of the new packaging over at The Digital Bits. It looks lie the slip case is metallic looking cardboard (but maybe its real metal, it looks cardboard to me), with four cardboard and plastic Digipack cases, one for each season, plus room for the Plan, which I think I bought but now I am not sure. I think I did.  Did I?  Jeez. Yeah, I had to.  Anyway, my biggest rant about the original packaging was that there was no booklet that told you what was actually on the actual disks, and I went crazy when I heard they were not including a booklet with the new packaging, but I guess they label everything on the cases themselves. Color me satisfied with relieved highlights.  
Speaking of revisiting stuff you watched long ago, I guess Ridley Scott is thinking of doing two Alien prequels, both in 3-D. Sounds rad to me. 
With the new office/den slowly figuring itself out, I am looking forward to hopefully playing more Xbox and get back into Mass Effect 2, which I really was enjoying before life started happening with such suddeness.  Of course, I used to play World of Warcraft, and I am always getting invited back into Azeroth by Blizzard–of course, the last time I tried to play that game I ended up downloading updates for the game for almost two days, which left only a few week days to actually check out the game again, which was inhabited by lots and lots of people who were way better than me and I ended up riding around old areas that I had sworn I would never go back to–like that desert place? with all that sand and the walking? hate that place — and I just getting frustrated and never getting back into it. Well, I guess Blizzard's back on the case, with a few stories in the news, including this new deal where players who successfully rope one of their friends back into the game can get a "cool" rocket ship mount where two characters can ride the thing simultaneously. Which is a huge deal, we're told.  I bet the new friend has to ride in the back.  (Mildly related: check out these print ads for a furniture store in Australia featuring WoW-inspired characters shopping for their new digs. Tee hee–elves.) 
Just because I haven't been able to play games with the Xbox or my Mac, doesn't mean I am a complete troll; it just means that my relationship with time and, well, fun has been freaky as of late (I will spare you how far behind I am on comics). I actually have been using my iPhone as a game platform a lot more than I would have ever thunk, enjoying games like Peggle and Doodle Jump, which apparently just rocked over 4,000,000 installs so far. Doodle Jump is a pretty good game, one of those simple platformers that can be fun even if you only play it for a few minutes.  I tend to play it a lot when I am waiting for Whit to get ready when we are going out, which means I play it a lot.  Speaking of iPhone games, I know that Pocket God is supposed to fun and all, but the thing just stresses me out. I mean, have you tried playing? It's not a game–it's freaking work–those islanders need a god who is going to give a crap about them, you know? And that god ain't me.  
In entertainment news, I have not been able to watch Kick Ass or The Losers, both of which are apparently having "box office troubles", I guess.  The Losers, which I was really looking forward to (mostly because, I admit it, they wisely decided to base their posters on actual covers of the comic, which I thought was just awesome), had a bad opening weekend, though, hey–with The Losers at #4 and Kick Ass at  #5, I think the producers have plenty to be proud of! I mean, gimme a break–these are movies based on The Losers and Kick Ass, you know? In the top 10!  Can you imagine, honestly, this happening a few years ago?  (By the way, if you haven't read Josh's article regarding Time Out New York's review of The Losers, please do.) I am going to see if I can swing seeing both this weekend, because, honestly, I am really tired of not having fun. Speaking of not having much fun, the folks at 20th Century Fox were all super stoked to scream that Avatar's Blu-ray sales over the weekend were record-breaking, but no, not really.   At least, not yet.  Right now, the record is still The Dark Knight with 2.9 million Blu-ray discs sold…but of course, that took sixteen months, so, only four days in, Avatar will probably beat that this week.  I normally don't really care about sales numbers, but I gotta say, as much as I enjoyed Avatar–and I did, though I am fully aware of all the problems and stupid things in it, I just had fun watching it in 3D at the Cinerama Dome–I really didn't expect people to buy this version, which is in 2D and is on a disc that features a total of zero extras.  Wow.  I guess people really don't care about all that extra stuff that much.  For the record, I say I do, but rarely watch them, and even when I do, I am oftentimes disappointed–I finally sat down and watched the making-of documentary for the latest Star Trek movie–which I was looking forward to watching, I might add, and sacrificed watching an episode of Mad Men, which I am way, way behind on– and I thought it was terrible! But still, when the big blizzard of 2013 hits Los Angeles and we are all snowed in for days and days? I have a ton of stuff to watch–a ton.
In the cool gadgets (and more) department, I had to share this Helivideo…video. Just check it out. Basically, it's this remote control rig for the Canon 7D camera…remote control helicopter rig, that is! The video is pretty cool and yet again is one of those forehead slapping ideas that someone else is always seeming to come up with.  Completely and utterly unrelated, this iPhone Retrophone thing came at a good time for me–I wasn't able to find my phone for awhile (I am one of those people that still has a home phone–I just prefer a full duplex conversation, sue me) and this was mildly tempting–but I appreciated the effort.  And, not a gadget at all, but cool nonetheless, I really liked this gallery of images from the so-called golden age of air travel, when you would actually look forward to traveling by air.  The closest I have ever come was flying to Europe on Lufthansa, and all the people working on that plane was just…cool looking. Right now, I am usually flying back and forth from LA to San Jose, and that has all the glamor of a city bus, you know?  
And finally, in a rare moment where a few of my many lives come together at once, I helped work on this digital comic book (and some other stuff) for Norton, which is part of their "exclusive" Iron Man 2 promotion.  It was an interesting experience; I didn't get to work directly with Marvel but was able to review the scripts and give feedback on using the right language and even suggesting some plot points (that they actually used)–I even lobbied to get John Cassaday or Steve Epting to do the cover but was told they were "busy"!    It was super fun and I think the site will be updated with other stuff once the movie comes out, but wow, was it an interesting experience trying to get people to talk about technology without using the word "cyber" every other sentence..  I have been sitting on this for awhile, aching to tell someone about it, and then just today I saw a banner ad for it, so I guess I can talk about it now.
All right–I think that's it for this month–I hope you enjoyed it! I'll be back next week with that 3 Trades article that is burning a hole in my brain. Have a good one!

Mike Romo is an actor in LA and that reminds him, he needs to pay his SAG dues tomorrow. He can be reached via email and he tries to give good twitter.


  1. Nice to see someone is as behind on Mass Effect 2 as I am.  Stuff has just crept up on my as well. (A new house will do that to you.)  I’m starting to get back in the swing of things. Good article Mike!

  2. I guarantee I’ve got you both beat on "not being able to play Mass Effect 2."

    Not that it’s a competition.

  3. Hmm, I still have Mass Effect 2 wrapped in the plastic I bought it in. I’ve been waiting until I beat ME1, but I’m way behind on getting that accomplished.
    I almost want the BSG Blu-Ray box set, but I have most of the series on regular DVD, already. Now, if I could just track down 4.5 when I actually have money on me, I’d be set.

  4. Pfft, Amateurs! I am so good at not-being-able-to-play-Mass-Effect-2, I haven’t even started it yet. I am still only halfway through Dragon Age. 🙁

  5. Not only are Losers and Kick-Ass in the top 10, but Kick-Ass has already turned a profit and the Losers will probably end up profitable too.  There’s distinct advantage to making a movie for a smaller budget. 

    It might not be a big enough success for a string of sequels (at least not until DVD numbers come back) but they will make money.

  6. Get on the ball Mike, Mass Effect 2 was so January! 😉 Jk. It’s a slow but good burn.

  7. Gobo your calculations are wrong. It’s not just the budget they have to make up.  Kick-Ass spent 40 million on marketing and print costs.  And don’t forget the theaters get their percent. It won’t be profitable for a looooong time.

  8. I’m still playing Fallout 3… #OldMan

  9. Just find a week or month or like an entire year or something when your not really doing anything important and put in like two hours or like 7 hours or whenever the game feels like letting you go. The game is so good it will devour your life

  10. @Mike, Jestr and Josh – Isn’t this one of those "No matter who wins the Stalled-Finishing-Mass-Effect-2 competition, you both/all three lose" sorts of things?

    I dunno. I still havent’ had the change to buy the darn thing.

  11. I want to see The Losers cause of the hype especially around the fanboy world, but the trailers makes the movie look so plotless and awful that I don’t think its worth the "investment" of a movie theatre ticket. 

    As far as the Avatar stuff, I used to only buy DVD’s with extra discs and then i realized i was wasting money on stuff that i never watch. I only buy the stripped down versions now. Avatar is my first Blu Ray and it looks pretty awesome.  

  12. @fnord Kick-Ass has already made $65 Million worldwide, even factoring in your extra 40 million it’s close to being profitable.  Plus (at least at Canadian theatres) they get FAR less than 50% of the sales in the first few weeks.

  13. This Stephen Hawking thing has become a real bone of contention for me. Is he seriously trying to sell us on the idea that a species capable of interstellar travel wouldn’t be able to provide itself with resources in any way other than genocide? Crossing the Atlantic for gold I understand. But why wouldn’t an alien race be able to find resources on uninhabited planets? They’re basically Galactus then, right? Ok, I grant maybe greed and desire are greater motivating factors than idle curiosity, so I can see the logic of not wanting to invite trouble. But it just seems weird. 

    Oh! And speaking of delayed consumption of entertainment, I just finished GTA IV this past week. I’ve got to say that although a lot of it is standard video game fare, some of the story points were pretty darn good. The bank-robbing mission made me think of Criminal.

  14. @OttoBott: I want to finish so I can move on to others like Bioshock 2 and No More Heroes 2.