What are you doing reading this blog? Shouldn’t you be watching SciFi Friday? And if it’s too early to start watching, shouldn’t you be out and about telling people to watch? And if you’ve already watched, what did you think?
Well, I’m finally down to my fighting weight – essentially what I weighed when I first joined the Stargate production some eight years and eighteen pounds ago. Looking back over that time, I can pinpoint several reasons for my chronic chunkymonkitis: a more sedentary lifestyle, delicious catering, and all those damn birthdays and their requisite supermarket-special artificially-sweetened butter-fat frosted creations. I can only assume it started innocuously enough and with the best of intentions… Someone in the production office learns its a fellow co-worker’s birthday and thinks it would be a good idea to throw them a surprise party. Everyone else in the office supports the wonderful idea because this person, let’s call her Imogene, is much-loved, so the plans are made and, come the fateful day, the surprise sprung. Imogene is touched, everyone downs a piece of cake, end of story. Until word gets out that someone else’s birthday is just around the corner – Aldo from accounting who is not as well-liked as Imogene but, gosh, it wouldn’t be right to ignore this poor schlub’s birthday after having gone through so much fanfare for the infinitely more likable Imogene. And so, once again, the plans are made and the surprise spring, the cake is eaten, and everyone is happy. Until the next birthday – another co-worker, maybe even one of the producers (!), and so again the party-planning committee gears up and someone inevitably trundles off to Safeway to retrieve one of those remaindered sugar-whipped Crisco logs – and on and on it goes, birthday after birthday to the point where hardly two or three days go by without someone poking their head into your office to gleefully inform you something like: “Hey, it’s Charlie the office-dog’s birthday today! We got a carrot-cake in the shape of a milk bone!”.
After a while, I would just casually stroll up to the kitchen in time to join in the final refrain of the Happy Birthday sing-along, and then turn on my heels without missing a beat and head back to my office before the eating began. Even though I’m fairly certain those cakes were made up of one hundred percent synthetic ingredients that passed right through my system undigested like Olestra or Fondy’s friend’s Chicken Parmesan, I don’t think it was mere coincidence that I began to lose weight around the same time I started skipping the polyurethane devil‘s food rolls. In the end, it wouldn’t have really mattered as someone, no doubt fed up with the endless celebrations, thankfully put an end to the proceedings, making the production offices a “birthday party free” zone.
In retrospect, the real problem with these planned events weren’t so much the cakes or even the singing which could be easily avoided, but those damn cards which proved all but impossible to dodge. And, to everyone’s frustration, it wasn’t limited to birthdays. “Hey, would you mind signing this big oversized card for Penny? She’s going on maternity leave.” or “Herve the assistant boom mike operator is in the hospital with a fractured fibula and we’re sending him a card to wish him a speedy recovery. Would you mind signing?” Well, I can’t be expected to know everyone who works on the show. On the surface, wishing Herve a speedy recovery would seem like the right thing to do but, in truth, I wouldn’t know Herve the assistant boom mike operator from Lamont the substitute third best boy. What kind of man is he? For all I know, he leaves the set everyday to set fire to warehouses in his neigborhood and watch them burn. Really, is this the type of person I want to wish a speedy recovery?
And the worst part is that, as a professional writer, you’re expected to produce witticisms to far surpass those of the “less poetically-gifted” masses – which is incredibly annoying because, really, professional writers make for the worst of card-signers. Hemingway was a notoriously terrible well-wisher and it’s rumored that T.S. Eliot’s postcards from his Club Med vacations were damn near unreadable. Still, expectations run high and the cards are dropped off, then set aside and ignored along with the Rigging/Lighting Manpower report, yesterday’s hot cost sheet, and that movie script you were asked to read as a reeaaallly big favor. And then 4:00 p.m. rolls around and someone comes by to pick up the card and you suddenly, in instant of true inspiration, you come up with: “Best Kawooshes and Have a Gate Day!”. Proust would’ve been green with envy.
No mailbag today as I’m off to tend to my sick wife, but I have included some pics: Dr. Zelenka and Chuck the technician kicking back during the Tabula Rasa shoot, extras and crew on the move, the “piano” all lit up, the gate, Carter and this episode’s extra-special guest villain, Carl “racing” down the stairs, McKay finally gets his hands on that Scalzi book.