Fondy’s aunt passed away several days ago and her funeral and wake happened to coincide with our trip to Montreal. And so the extended Tam family gathered yesterday at one of Montreal’s plethora of unremarkable Chinese eateries for a pre-wake dim sum. On hand: everyone. A lively affair and, as always, my mother-in-law was the life of the party, hamming it up for the camera as she packed it away. The various nieces and nephews were in attendance as well, giving me the delightful opportunity to annoy, confound and, on occasion, amuse them. As we were eating, little six year old Anthony proudly offered up a joke: “What did the Ocean say to the Beach? Nothing. He just waved,”. I immediately seized the opportunity to school the youngster in the fine art of counter-productive discourse on the off-chance he someday find himself defending his vision to a “creative executive”. I, of course, played the part of the creative exec.: “I don’t get it.” “The ocean waved,”the poor kid tried to explain. “You know. Like waves.” He mimicked the surging water. “Were they mad at each other?”I asked. He blinked back in confusion. “Because that’s something I can relate to,”I followed up. “You know, you’re friends with someone and then you have a falling out and you end up not speaking to each other for the longest time. But then you happen to run into each other and you don’t want to seem like a jerk so you sort of wave from across the room. Something like that, right?” He nodded uncertainly and then tried: “No, but it’s just a joke. The ocean waved. You know – with its waves.” “No, no, I get that,”I insisted. “I’m just saying a lot of people who’ve gone through a similar experience – friends, not friends, not talking, courtesy wave – may not find it funny at all. Instead, it would be something they could relate to. But let’s mix it up a bit. How’s about this. Instead of the ocean waving, let’s make it the beach. That would be totally unexpected.” “Uhhhh,”was his response. “You know how people build sandcastles?”I asked. “Well what if someone built a sand hand. And when the wave came in, it fell in on itself but in a way that looked like it was waving. How’s that.” “Uhhhh…okay,”he replied, clearly worn down. “Alright, let’s go with that!” I sent him on his way stunned way but infinitely better prepared should he consider pursuing a career as a writer.
After dim sum, we arrived at the funeral home. Since it was open casket, everyone thought it best that the little ones wait in the car with their aunt Grace. As we piled out, I instructed the kids: “There’s three days of food in water in the trunk of the car. If after three days we don’t come back, you’ll find some cash in the glove box. Go across the street to get yourselves something to eat at McDonalds, then use a quarter to call for help.”
Now I’ve never been a big fan of open casket affairs (as if to imply there is a fandom for this sort of thing) and this one was no exception. As is the custom, we approached the dearly departed and bowed three times in respect. I studied the body. It looked like it had been caved out of wood. After we’d passed along our condolences and made our way back to the cars, Fondy vowed: “No open casket for me!”. For my part, I had already made my last wishes perfectly clear. But in the event mixing my ashes in cookie dough and feeding them to my unwitting friends and family is an impossibility, I’d like to be prepared for viewing. However, rather than the staid lying-in-the-coffin standard, I’d prefer to be standing in an action pose pursuing some skillful exercise that may have eluded me during my life – like belting out a tune on the saxophone or solving one of those sudoku puzzles.
We returned to the Tam family residence where I caught up on my blogging and even found time to impart some sound advice to young Elizabeth who, at age seven, is already contemplating a career as a dentist. “Why not be a dentist-detective?”I suggested. “That way, you can have the best of both worlds: cleaning teeth AND solving mysteries! And you can use your dentist business to help you out on your various cases. For instance, Mrs. Haversham comes in for an appointment and, while you’re giving her the fluoride treatment, you happen to mention the theft of Lady Montague’s priceless Ming vase. And, of course, this jogs Mrs. Haversham’s memory and she mentions seeing Lord Montague leaving the estate by the back entrance a little after midnight on the evening in question. So, naturally, you follow up the lead, recover the vase, arrest the guilty party, AND charge an exorbitant amount for Mrs. Haversham’s bridge work.” The kid was sold. I would’ve made a terrific career counselor.
We got back to the West Island where my mother – who has been suffering from migraines of late – had just returned from her very first visit accupuncture session. To say that she was unimpressed would be to undersell her opinion of the experience. “It did nothing for me,”she informed us. And then, later, while combing her hair, fished out a solitary overlooked needle still attached to her scalp.
For dinner, my sister made reservations at a cozy little restaurant in Pointe Claire Village: Comme Chez Soi. Lots of wild game on a menu with numerous intriguing choices. So many, in fact, that we decided to skip the appetizers and order two main courses between the four of us to start before moving on to the proper mains. The entrees-turned-appies: deboned quails stuffed with foie gras, and beef and onions braised in dark beer. Both were excellent, especially the sweet and savory beer sauce that laced the beef and onions. My sister and Fondy also split a hearty bowl of French onion soup. For the proper mains, my mother had the rack of lamb with rosemary broth – which, to my horror, she ordered medium instead of medium-rare. To no one’s surprise, it came overdone – but still flavorful. My sister had the wild boar filet with brandy sauce which was very good but perfumed with an herb I couldn’t identify and, frankly, didn’t quite like. Fondy’s wasn’t a fan of her rum-flambed sweetbreads, preferring the pan-fried treatment for these delectable morsels. I had the kangaroo steak because it was there. Good, but not something I’d order again. For dessert, we shared a cheese platter, a delicious brie baked in phyllo pastry topped with maple syrup. Although very tasty, it was something I thought would have served better as an appetizer. Fondy’s vanilla ice cream sundae was alright while my chocoate mi-cuit was decadently delicious. We also had two outstanding Stella Artois mini cheesecakes for the table.
So, what’s on everybody’s mind?
Allison writes: “How ’bout that ‘Today’ show, eh?”
Answer: What happened? I missed it. Is Katie Couric back?
Shawna writes: “Possibly more character death? Haven’t we had enough already? At this rate there won’t be any of the original characters left.”
Answer: Okay, but I want to suggest something in the way of some very cool substitutes. Bear with me…Sentient Gorillas! But here’s the twist – they’re voiced by our original actors!
Josef writes: “I am curious for what major decisions with Stargate over the past two years you think were good decisions. I see more that do harm not good mostly.”
Answer: Alas, I can’t go into details but I will say there is never one hundred percent agreement in the writers’ room when decisions are made. In the end, you either support the decision or learn to live with it. There were decisions that I agreed with that fans hated, decisions I agreed with that fans loved, decisions I disagreed with that fans hated as well, and, yes, even decisions I disagreed with that fans adored.
Anonymous #1 writes: “And good luck with the special guest casting you mentioned a few blogs ago.”
Answer: We are pursuing a wonderful actor for a guest spot in an upcoming episode. If we get him, you’ll all be the first to know. Well, after the actor and our casting director.
Anonymous #2 writes: “I read on Gateworld that when Atlantis returns for season four that it will be on Mondays at 9PM. Can you find out if that’s correct or not? That would be pretty bad, as it’s the same time that Heroes is on.”
Answer: Yeah, that WOULD be suicidal.
Vikitty writes: “Just curious… do you or the other writers/decision-making people ever get headaches from reading all the ‘Weir VS Carter’ comments?”
Answer: It’s annoying but if fans really feel the need to turn it into a silly Weir vs. Carter debate, then there’s not much to do but ignore them.
Vikitty also writes: “What’s your favourite Japanese restaurant in and around the Lower Mainland? And, what’s your favourite Japanese dish?”
Answer: Yuji’s on 4th. Get the Meguro avocado crepes and the deep-fried spicy tuna rolls.
Anonymous #3 writes: “1) I’m in Burnaby for work in early May for about a week, can you recommend a good Italian restaurant in the Burnaby/Richmond/Vancouver area?
2) What’s your take on latter half of season 3 airing in Canada first? I know alot of American fans that are absolutely livid about it…, 3) Why don’t human ships include more Ancient tech? Asgard shields seem to be inferior to that of the Ancients for example…”
Answers: 1) For Italian in Burnaby, check out Anton’s on Hastings for huge portions at reasonable prices. For higher-end Italian in downtown Vancouver, check out CinCin on Robson (but beware, they are losing their head chef). 2) Ideally, the shows would air at the same time. 3) It’s not from lack of trying.
Vaberella writes: “1. Are you a headdesk or a headwall person, JM? 2. Will you ever touch upon why Athos had a sister city-ship and if there are Athosians with the ATA gene? We never did a full tour or check for drones. 3. Any chance of Ms. Luttrell singing this season?”
Answers: 1) I’m a head laptop person. 2. Possibly. 3. So far, no plans.
Anonymous #4 writes: “Out of the nine episodes titles of season 4 we fans have been made aware of which is likely to: 1. Be the hardest ( utilizes new techniques never before employed in past seasons) to film. 2. Coolest in all aspects 3. Most proud of to be included in season 4. 4. fans will most likely love the most.”
Answers: 1. Hmm. That’s tough as we try to bring something new to every episode. In terms of story-telling techniques – Tabula Rasa. 2. Coolest in all aspects? Adrift. 3. For me – Reunion. 4. Doppelganger.
Someday Scientist writes: “Why has Rodney never mentioned Timmy’s or RRoll up the RRim?! The guys’ Canadian, and he loves Coffee – surely he mustn’t have forsaken the great old Canadian tradition! Is it trademark issues?”
Answer: I’m not a coffee guy so I never considered it. But now that you mention it, it would be kind of cool to have a Tim Hortons on the base.
Anonymous #5 writes: “So long and thanks for all the fish
So sad it had to come to this…”
Answer: Bye, Porpoise-Man. May your celestial wings carry you far on your cosmic journey.
Arctic Goddess writes: “As a writer, and now a Show Runner, are you in the same place professionally, when a show ends? Do you contribute to other productions so that you would be able to move over to another show should yours go under for some reason? The very nature of television – it’s uncertainty as a job you can depend on – must be a worry to some people in the field. How do you deal with it? How do other members of the cast and crew deal with it?”
Answer: Paul and I have a couple of pilot scripts written and waiting to go in the event Stargate ever ends. And if there is some downtime between jobs, I can finally work on that novel I’ve been dying to write. Or live with a different fan family every month as I try to get back on my feet (How cool would that be?! A real live t.v. producer sleeping on your couch and eating your food!!!).
Anonymous #6 writes: “About the spoilers which recently appeared on GateWorld for season 4 episode ‘Reunion’, was that leaked by the production and/or the network ? Is it a way of advertizing season 4 ? Because if this was intended it sucks. Teasers are great but I don’t see the point in giving out the complete plot months before it airs on TV. Why can’t people just wait and see ?”
Answer: Good question. Teasers are great and spoilers do suck but in the desire to out-scoop each other, fans and websites search for increasingly detailed information regarding upcoming episodes. Yeah, it’s annoying and we’ve tried to stopper potential leaks but, at the end of the day, there’s not much to be done.
Anonymous #7 writes: “I was just curious, what things do you and the rest of the writers take into consideration when killing off either a major or recurring character? With the recent trend in television right now of killing off main characters, I always wonder what the discussion among the writers is like when coming to that kind of decision.”
Answer: It really depends on the character.
Anonymous #7 writes: “Which show has been the most fun for you to write: SGA or SG-1?”
Answer: I’ve done most of my writing for SG-1 so, at this point, I’d have to say SG-1. But I have a feeling that could change.
ScottishPirate writes: “People from the Save Carson Beckett campaign managed to get the banners shown on camera a few times on the “Today Show”. I heard that you told the campaigners if they got a banner shown on the “Today Show”, Carson could make a possible comeback. Is this now going to happen?”
Answer: Hmmm. Well, technically I asked for ET or Access Hollywood…
Anonymous #8 writes: “Do you think we will get to find out how the wraith reproduce?”
Answer: You will.
Anonymous #9 writes: Anonymous 4 writes: “So, can you confirm Carter indeed comand her own spaceship?” Answer: I cannot. Why not ? You’re a scriptwriter !
Answer: You’re not understanding my response. I can’t get anymore convoluted that that.
Anonymous #10 writes: Answer: The big argument was exactly how to kill him. Carl wanted to go with rabid space squirrel while Martin wanted to stick with the tried and true exploding tumor. I thought it would be cool to have him done in by a whipped lemon curd. Tune in to season four and find out what we eventually decided to go with.
That doesn’t explain why you said that he died in Adrift whereas he is alive in Lifeline. So why did you say that ?”
Answer: Well, he dies in Adrift and is replaced by a robot McKay who is in turn killed and replaced by a Rodney McKay from the future – but he is killed as well and finally, in Lifelife, is replaced by AU Rod from last year’s McKay and Mrs. Miller. He too dies in Lifeline but is resurrected by Teyla making use of the Ancient evolution machine from Tao of Rodney. So on the one hand we have AU Rod alive and on the team but on the other hand we have an ascended Teyla who has lost corporeal form – which is kind of cool as it allows her fly around and through walls, gaining access to enemy headquarters and such. UNTIL – the wraith find their own Ancient evolution machine and the wraith queen evolves herself to an ascended being and descends Teyla. The ascended wraith team kills Sheppard and AU Rodney, not counting on the fact that they too will ascend and, teaming up two against one, descend the wraith queen. Then, they destroy the wraith’s ascendometer. The Ancients grow disillusioned with the abuse of ascendly power and descend Sheppard and AU Rod – but not in their original forms – remember what I said about sentient gorillas, right? Then they destroy their ascendometer so that Atlantis will never make use of it again. Which prompts some other Ancients, annoyed at their interfering in human affairs, to descend these ancients who will appear as goldfish in Dr. Keller’s lab in episodes #3-#12 until a drunken Zelenka, staggering home from an after-op party, will stumble into their fishbowl home, knock it off Keller’s desk, and shatter it into a million pieces. The descended Ancients will die a horrible suffocating death reserved for earthly fish (or “Fishes” as Jonas used to say) but there will be no one around to ascend them. Zelenka will have no memory of the event and be so hung over that he’ll wish he could ascend. No dice. Gorilla Sheppard and AU Rod, meanwhile, will continue to contribute as keys members of the team – until they return to Earth at the end of season four to receive a special commendation – only to be shot by poachers. Cliffhanger!
Anonymous #11 writes: “So are you going to Japan in September to collect your Hugo?”
Answer: Would love to (Go Bay Stars!) but we’ll be eye-deep in production at the time. Plus, we face some very stiff competition (That “Girl in the Fireplace“ was pretty damn good).
C.M. writes: “I will watch season 4 but, in all honesty, do you think that I (as a Weir and Torri fan) will be able to like Season 4 ?”
Answer: It really depends. If the only reason you watch the show is for one specific character, then you’ll no doubt be disappointed. If, on the other hand, you watch the show because you enjoy Atlantis, the series – you’re in for a treat.
Gate Geek writes: “You mentioned Ender’s Game as a book to get back into reading Sci- Fi. Having read it recently and enjoyed it immensely, did you read any of the sequels and are they worth reading?”
Answer: Haven’t read any of the sequels but from what I understand they are quite different.
Trialia writes: “So long, and thanks for all the fish. So outta here.”
Answer: Farewell, Dolphin-Girl. May your fins of fury continue to mete out interstellar justice amongst the distant stars.
Anonymous #12 writes: “My question is as someone who is concerned about the inclusion of carter..can you please at least assure me that the focus will definately be on shep’s team and not to heavy on sam??”
Answer: Carter will play a support role on Atlantis. The focus will remain on Shep’s team. However, Carter’s science and military background will allow her to play an active role should the need arise.