Grab Bag – Dark Chocolate Egg Edition


Welcome to the post-Easter/Passover/Last-Possible-Day-in-April edition of the Grab Bag! For those of you stumbling upon this page for the first time, every month I  take a step back and just write quick blurbs about whatever I am thinking about and share a few links along the way. This edition is brought to you by my delayed Southwest flight and the free wireless at the San Jose International Airport, with an extra helping of pudding from, which is the most useful site ever if you find yourself flying a lot.  




I will make this brief, but I, for one, have been perfectly thrilled with HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones. I have been writing about this show for awhile now, and I must admit, it was kind of odd to be sitting down with a few friends watching the world of Westeros come to life in the startlingly awesome opening sequence, which is already beginning to change as the story gets going. I found the fantasy-meets-steampunk feeling of the sequence really appealing, and was thrilled that the actual show was as compelling as the credits sequence.  While we've only seen two episodes of the show so far, I enjoying it immensely and feel that the producers are really leveraging the ten hour format to tell the story the way it needs to be told. And while I am pleased with the quality of the production design, this is a story about people, about family. I cannot think of another project where I have been so focused on the casting…and they got it right. I predict that, at the very least, Peter Dinklage will get nominated for an Emmy—but I wouldn't be surprised if Thrones, which was renewed after the first episode for a second season, dominates many an award show later this year. Of course, it could all fall apart, but so far—right on.


I would be remiss if I didn't highlight HBO's marketing activities. While they have been getting some press for giving people a chance to sit on the Iron Throne and feast on squab and lemoncakes at their food trucks, they've always built an impressive amount of online content to help viewers wade through the many locations and seemingly endless cast of characters with their handy viewers guide.  I have also been impressed with their HBOGo service, which allows you to watch the show with "special features" — while it's not for everyone, they still went for it, and it's always cool to see people leveraging supplemental content in different ways. HBOGo is just a websitenow, but they are coming out with tablet apps as well, which is kind of cool. It makes the subscription fee for the service a lot more palatable when you can go online and watch most, if not all, of their content.  



But it's not all fantasy and heroics…or is it? While I am kind of looking forward to Thor, I haven't really made a point of "following" it, you know?  Same thing with Green Lantern. I really just want to go to these movies and just enjoy them. I can't say I am, like, super excited about either film…but…wait, why not? Why am I not super excited about them? You know what it is? It's that Phantom Menace syndrome. You know the one–the syndrome that exploits your childhood memories and modern day hopes, turns both up to full blast, then tears them asunder before doing an evil dance, waving a middle finger at your psyche while wearing an Indy 4 t-shirt?  That's the one.  But what do I know? Thor already has a sequel in the works (as does Captain America), with a cute commercial that's actually a spinoff of another cute commercial featuring a certain Lord of the Sith.  Plus, the $150 million movie is actually getting well reviewed!  Oh, and despite my fear of Indy 4 (I have tried several times and I still haven't finished it, I just can't get through it at all), I still consider Harrison Ford my inspiration for all things bad ass, and I was heartened to read his thoughts in this story about Cowboys & Aliens, especially when he discusses how "soulless" modern action-genre movies have become, because of their scale, "you stop caring at some point because you've lose the human scale, with the CGI, suddenly there's a thousand enemies instead of six…you don't need that. The audience loses its relationship with the threat on the screen." Too right.



Though I barely have time to read my comics, I still find myself getting emails from friends discussing the next videogame we're all gonna buy so we can play together.  The latest one is Portal 2, which I have not got yet, but it's one of those games that everyone seems to agree is pretty great, and I did enjoy the first one, but who knows. We'll see.  I'll have to enjoy this mashup of Portal and Mad Men in the meantime, I guess.  It's tough, because I really do enjoy playing videogames, but unless it's Mass Effect, I seem to lose interest if I can play the game in campaign mode with my friends online, which basically means that I am in a constant state of waiting for the next Gears of War game.  Borderlands was a lot of fun, but I guess I have to wait until E3 to see if there really is a sequel coming (I really hope so, I had a legitimately good time with that game). I don't have a Playstation 3, but if I did, I think I would be plenty upset with the problems the Playstation Network is having — as of this writing, it's been down for five days, with no estimate of its return (indeed, I'm reading how that the service is shut down indefinitely – mike).  The services went down on April 20, due to "an external intrusion on [their] system," which means someone hacked the crap out of their system.  While details are still hazy, there are 70 million accounts in the Network, and it is not clear whether or not their personal or financial records are in jeopardy (update: they are in jeopardy). Cloud services have been in the news quite a bit lately, with Amazon's datacenter having its own problems last week (we actually had a demo at work that we had to postpone because of the outage). While I must admit to being a bit leery of cloud services — I don't care about Amazon's digital music locker and find myself rather uninterested in the news that Apple is looking into a cloud based music subscription service – most experts seem to agree that there's no stopping these services from becoming a part of our lives, and that the recent issues bring reported should not make freak people out.  I dunno; I just never seem to be around a reliable internet connection, and I certainly am not going to stream music over 3G to play at a party. I like having the files. Of course, I still by blu-ray disks, so, as the man said, "It is too late for me, my son."


In other technology news, I loved seeing this VW Bus concept that leveraged an iPad to control various functions in the car.  We've already seen the iPad (and other iOS devices) become the "go-to" remote control for home automation systems and it's been interesting watching cars start integrating these devices as supplemental controls.  While I screamed in agony when I saw Chevy coming out with a car that lets you update your facebook status, I do like the idea of using your phone to monitor voltage and using software in ways that go beyond telling you when the car is about to overheat.  



I can't seem to escape from movie news! So much has been catching my eye of late, and, given that I'm running out of time (update: I just got home a few minutes ago…and it's late), it's gonna be rapid fire from this point on. The Hollywood Reporter has a pretty nice video roundtable   with some of the folks behind this summer's slew of blockbusters, while the LATimes discusses Ticketmaster's idea of making more popular movies more expensive to see, which deserves a quick rant: blockbusters are for everyone, blockbusters are one of the few community events that actually bring all kinds of people together! To price a movie differently because it is popular just seems particularly sinister to me.  But, the articles makes the point that, as time goes by, prices would go down…but still. There's something wonderful about one price for everyone (kids and old folks aside), so that everyone can share the experience together. But then again, I am a hopeless romantic for this kind of thing.  In brief: check out the kid's Lego figure inspired helmet that reads comics to you; wonder just what it means when James Cameron orders 50 RED EPIC-M cameras; wonder just what it means when an actor who fell 30' during a performance returns to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and revel in some gorgeous photography by the late Vivian Maier a virtually unknown photographer whose work was accidentally discovered and is now thrilling audiences with wonderful pictures of New York and other cities from the 50's to the 70's.


So that's it for April! I'll see ya next when I finally get a chance to talk about some trades!  Have a great week!


Mike Romo is available for filming in LA. Contact him via email, twitter, or bookface.


  1. Get Portal 2! You’re gonna love it. Especially at the halfway point where……(spoilers)

  2. I think the surprise of the month has been that Thor is actually getting good reviews. With that said…it didn’t matter. I’m going to see the movie if it’s well done or not.

    – Dom

  3. Great grab bag. Been reading game of thrones, and of course watching the show at your recommendation. Great stuff, and keep the grab bags coming.

  4. Is that William Burroughs face down in the surf?
    Add a little more hair, replace the flannel with an April Wine T-shirt, and set it at Myrtle Beach circa 1987, and you’ve got a piece of my personal history there.