Summer 2011 Grab Bag!



And suddenly, the year is almost half over! While the brings me a bit of stress, I am happy to say that it also brings me the latest Grab Bag, where I go through the web, plunder the bits and pieces that I hope you'll find interesting…




Let's start with the boob tube news: while we can debate whether or not there's anything on that we actually want to watch on it, the rumors of Apple getting into the highly competitive consumer television market seem to be firming up, with analysts saying their entry into the space add $6 billion to their coffers. A "real" AppleTV could be very interesting, but if Apple's history with display pricing is a guide, it's probably going to be more expensive then similarly outfitted units.  But I bet Apple's implementation of TV app store with media services would result in a pretty solid experience — as long they provide a remote with more than four buttons.  If I did get a new AppleTV, I bet you the upcoming Star Wars series on Blu-ray are going to look pretty good – check out the Digital Bits' update here, which shows the cover art for the different boxed sets (the one above is from the second set–pretty nice). One feature I hope the set does not have would be the Yahoo! Connect TV technology that delivers advertisements based on your viewing habits.  Who watches the watcher, indeed!  For those of you who still buy movies on shiny discs, you might be pleased to read this review of The Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition, which is finally out on Blu-ray.  Lastly, I do know what I will not be watching on it–this $999 Limited Edition of Scarface, which comes with a hand-crafted humidor for your cigars.  




I went out an purchased a new camera (the Olympus PEN E-PL2) a few weeks ago, and let's just say that it's a little bit trickier than the iPhone I've been using. While I was familiar with terms like "shutter speed" and "aperture," actually leveraging those concepts to create good photos is turning out to be a process–a welcome one, to be sure, but a bit intimidating all the same.  For inspiration, I've turned to sites like, which has a lot of great photographs, a well as a really cool interactive iPad book app (iBook would be the right term, but that means something else) called Lights, Camera, Capture!  by lighting guru Bob Davis. Produced by a company called inkling, this is a fully interactive book, with videos showing the reader how a specific shop was made and various video tutorials to keep things clear. San Francisco-based inkling, by the way, is a very cool company (my friend works there) and a development platform for making interactive books–you can download the iOS app here. Oh, my buddy Tom told me to check this guy's work out as well – if you are into photography and know of any good sites/books/tips…please let me know via the comments or drop me a line, I am really enjoying the new camera, and after my trial runs out, am thinking I am going to pick up Aperture, which sells for $79 on the Mac OS App Store these days, and seems pretty legit – that shot above is a crop of a larger photo I took the other night and messed with a bit using a few filters.



On the video game side of things, apparently Star Wars Galaxies is going to shut down in December. I never played the game (which is about turn 8 years old), and it sounds like I am not alone–though it once had over a million users, it apparently dipped to around 10,000 at one point.  I guess there is another Star Wars MMO game coming out, so gamers need not be too sad. In the meantime, it is suggested you check out Star Wars "Operation" — it's the old game that you remember as a kid ("it takes a very steady hand!") but instead of operating on some dude, you are fixing up R2-D2!  And, while I haven't had any time to actually play video games, I still am interested in titles like Gears of War 3, which has been in the news as of late, from giving cool perks to previous players as well as some discussion of new "Beast" modes and "Horde 2.0" here. I have been a fan of the Xbox for awhile, mostly because I've been impressed how they've added different media services (including NBC News, I guess?  ) to make the box "more" than just a game box.  That being said, if you are a hard core gamer, it sounds like you may want to check out this crazy controller addition called "The Avenger" — it looks pretty insane… 



In the "really random videos" department, I found a few entries that I had to share. First was this video of a mirage in China, which shows buildings and mountains floating in the mist. I don't really know what else to say other than check it out  . Really kind of amazing.  Not as amazing (more like a marketing trick?) but still kind of cool, is this video of a seagull flying off with some guy's GoPro camera. Somewhat related (in terms of something flying to space and landing a bit jerkily), my favorite video, by far, has to be the latest visualization of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity landing  (Wired also has a nice writeup, along with a shorter, narrated version here.) Some of you might remember how Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity landed, or bounced, onto Mars–this new landing procedure is vastly more complicated. Definitely worth a look. 



Let's empty out the Grab Bag with some rapid fire action.  First we have the new teaser for Pixar's upcoming film, Brave, which…well, it's a teaser, that's why it's called that, there's not much to actually see, but still–it looks pretty good. Nice red hair, green grass, Braveheart-y music – I will check it out.  The Hollywood Reporter talks about DC's plans to produce a sequel to Green Lanternor not.  Personally, I would rather see a sequel to Thor, I have a feeling that if DC doesn't watch out, they'll have a Hulk problem, where a few people are just convinced that they should stick with the character despite pretty clear signs that folks ain't interested. Speaking of sequels, Transformers 3 is already getting terrible reviews, which I find a bit disappointing, though not surprising, having bought the first one because I enjoyed it so.  (I admit, I have't actually watched it again, but, you know, I had good intentions.)  Speaking of more sequels, Tom Hanks seems to think that there will be a Toy Story 4, which makes no sense to me at all (I was one of the three people on the planet that didn't love the last Toy Story; I thought the ending was ham fisted and just too long).  And, finally, because I actually booked a commercial and I have to get up really early to shoot tomorrow, I will just leave you with Lego Mordor.


So, that's the Suddenly Summer edition of the Grab Bag! Thanks for reading and have a great week!


Mike Romo is an actor in LA who is actually acting in LA tomorrow. For the record, he still hasn't finished HBO's Game of Thrones, even though he loves it and has seen several other episodes more than once. You can follow him on twitter, face him on facebook and email him here.


  1. The discovery that Star Wars: Galaxies is eight years old makes me feel older than anything has made me feel in quite some time. I’m remembering friends of mine playing the beta and realizing that was like three houses ago. Ugh!

  2. This past semester I took a class that dealt heavily in photography, so I can relate to the almost overwhelming feeling when it comes to getting the right settings to take a good picture. 

  3. Why don’t people realize that Scarface is a shitty movie with shitty performances and a shitty script? Are people that convinced that anything Pacino does is gold? WTF?

    And good call about the Hulk, Mike. 🙂