Grab Bag – June Gloom Edition

Well, the lazy days of summer are upon us…but that's not gonna slow down the Grab Bag! For those of you don't know, the Grab Bag was inspired by Herb Caen's articles in the San Francisco Chronicle. In a way, he was the prototypical blogger, writing little blurbs about what he thought was cool.  Once a month, I try to do the same thing, with a delicious variety of results. Let's see what we've got for this month!
This has been a month of gadget madness, methinks.  I'm off to get my new iPhone tomorrow (I reserved one last week; we'll see if the system actually got my order or not), which is exciting, but with the announcement of the new XBox 360, the new MacMini and the fact that I keep seeing more and more iPads around me, I am forced to think that there is some kind of techno-conspiracy to drive me crazy with longing.  I am looking forward to the phone and can't wait to see how comics look on the new screen.  I'll probably do another mobile comic book app rundown in a few weeks once I have lived with the device a little.  The MacMini finally has HDMI, so it can be considered a bit more of a home theater device than before, though Apple seems hesitant to market it as such.  Still, it's pricey ($699), and without a blu-ray player, I wonder if folks will pick it up in droves.  I would love to get one as a media server/backup machine, but I am gonna have to wait.  The new XBox 360 sports a nice new case and a big hard drive, but other than that, it's going to be hard to justify getting one to replace my current box…so shiny, though!  (Though apparently it can still overheat… And, I still want an iPad–and I am still going to wait for the second revision and some kind of large kettle of cash to appear at my front door.  We went camping this past weekend and it was funny to see so many people huddled around the campfire..playing Dragon's Lair on my friend's iPad. Who knew?
As I wait for the Green Hornet trailer to load on my browser, I can't help but be a little nervous.  With the apparently (relatively) disappointing box office results of Iron Man 2, the dreadful reviews of Jonah Hex and the general malaise in the summer box office in general, it seems clear that summer audiences are expecting something else to spend their hard earned dollars. Yes, Toy Story 3 did great, but what did you expect?  Check out Jim's article, Oh, No: A Comic Book Movie on the sudden realization that perhaps we are indeed entering a glut of comic book-inspired movies that, if we aren't careful, could ruin the chances of actual quality renditions from being made in the future.  We all thought that this might happen–hopefully as producers look at future films they realize that it's not enough to "just" bring a comic book character to life–people want to watch great stories, too.  Of course, the lackluster performance of these movies is emblematic of movies on the whole, and we're seeing the entire industry shifting to adjust to audience's demands.  Suddenly, it looks like you'll only have to wait a month or so to see a new film available via Video-on-demand, which is really a seismic shift, so much so that NATO (not that one, the Nation Association of Theater Owners) ran a full page ad complaining about the shift in VOD timelines.  Increasingly, it is the time after the box office release that is more important, with studios trying hard to figure out how to deal with outfits like Redbox, which make it very easy to rent recent films for just a buck–obviously way less than full ticket price.  Last week, Paramount bucked what its competitors were doing (forcing kiosk companies and Netflix to delay their releasing DVDs to kiosks 28 days after the DVDs are available via retail) and making their new releases available on the shelves and in kiosks at the same time.   I wonder–given how busy you have been these days, do you think you are just going to find yourselves waiting a month or so after a film comes out to watch in on demand?  I mean, obviously, a few films require a theatrical viewing…but I bet a lot of us are going to realize, "Yeah, I think I'll just wait."  Stay tuned–the world is changing quickly.  (For the record? I can't wait to see Scott Pilgrim and Inception in the theaters. But that…that's about it. You?)  
I like toys, but I honestly wonder if I like the idea of toys more than the toy itself…especially after moving, toys resemble just hunks of molded plastic that either end up in my cube at work or given away to Goodwill.  However, I might have to make an exception for these Tron toys, because, like, that cycle is driving up the freakin' wall, man!  Check out the video that Harry Knowles's posted here — these are much hotter than the original Tron figures, seen above.  Lots of cool effects in all of the pices-I love the way the action figures light up with the faces!   Pretty much solid "I want" territory.  Kotaku has a good roundup as well.  
I am rapidly becoming the only guy I know without this summer's real must-have accessory–a baby. But that doesn't stop me from working hard to get my friend's kids the coolest toys imaginable.  I think I am going to stock up on these 8-bit quilts for winter gift-giving…I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Q*Bert, I gotta say.  .  Of course, a kid's gotta have a cape–check these custom jobbies here.  Man, being a kid is so much cooler now than when I was a lad!
I've been to a few car shows, but never an airshow–but they certainly look cool.  I used to love Fleet Week every year in San Francisco; when I was a kid we would go on my grandparents' roof and watch the Blue Angels fly by, so close that I could actually see the heads of the pilots as they screamed by! I know I am going to go to an airshow sometime, but in my heart of hearts, I would much rather check out the sci-fi airshow, which basically taunts the 9 year old kid in me with virtual realizations of what the year 2011 was supposed to be like. 
And, finally, a bit of art to close out the ol' bag. During my move, I bumped into a lot of cassette tapes that were waiting to be digitized or destroyed–it was kind of frustrating, knowing that I had so much music from latter days just literally falling apart before my eyes. I've been steadily digitizing as many tapes as possible, but never thought to use them as art–look at Erika Iris Simmons' artwork–she's taken that unrolled tape problem to a different level with her cassette-tape portaiture.  Pretty damn cool. 
So, that's it for this month's Grab Bag! Next month we'll be getting ready for San Diego, so we might skip out on July for more con-oriented material.  We'll see! Regardless, hope you enjoyed this month's assortment — see ya in seven!

Mike Romo is an actor and writer in LA–still. You can reach him via email or check him out on twitter.


  1. I’m most excited for the final volume of SCOTT PILGRIM. I’ll still seee the movie, but SCOTT PILGRIM was a clinic in redsiscovering the joy of Comics and that’s how it will remain for me.

    I am excited about the impending Book  discussion on Kavalier and Clay this month. Come Join!

    I am enjoying how long it’s taking me to read the WENESDAY COMICS Hardcover this month. Just so much great content, it needs to be studied, not read.

    I got to see Rufus Wainwright, Maria Wainwright and The National play an outdooe concert last friday. Life is good!

  2. I feel your pain with the technology.  I feel like a swarm of new gizmos have arrived to pluck at my heart strings.  I think I’d be ready and willing for an iPhone by now, but I just don’t know if I want AT&T’s service, although Sprint has been annoying of late.  Also, Smartphone plans are expensive compared to what I currently roll with. 

    Oh, and that new Xbox looks sweet.  I’m not worried about mine red ringing anymore because that will be a most excellent replacement.

  3. Those Tron figures bring back memories.  I remember having the red guy with the staff.

  4. Those cassette tape portraits are amazingly cool!

  5. I both cannot justify and must have an 8-bit Qbert quilt.