This blog received its 750 000th visit today. And so, the first person to post after this milestone visit, and the winner of the Win a Virtual Dinner with Me is…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Exciting, no?………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Cut to commercial……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..Back from commercial…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Incidentally, my dogs love tandoori chicken………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………You think this is bad? Imagine how I felt hovering over my laptop all day today, watching the counter makes its slow yet inexorable progress toward 750 000 .……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Yeah, there was a little anxiety, but nothing like what I felt last night lying wide awake in bed until well after 3:00 a.m.. That’s what I get for dealing with obnoxious agents……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….and eating an entire 72% dark chocolate bar at 9:00 p.m……………..……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Hey, do you ever notice how whenever you‘re trying to will yourself asleep –
EMILY! EMILY WON! CONGRATULATIONS TO EMILY!

Now, all that remains is to decide on the time and what kind of food you’d like to go out for. As I mentioned when I first presented the idea for this contest, we will chat for an hour during which time only your questions and comments will be approved. Once dinner is done, I will transfer our conversation to the blog proper and once again permit comments from all. So, what do you feel like? Are we going somewhere fancy?

By the way, I finished Alas, Babylon last night. Given that it was written in the late fifties at the height of the Cold War, it is somewhat dated, but it’s neverththeless an interesting reflection of the times. It reminded me of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower in that it presented a post-apocalyptic societal degradation from a very human perspective. Unlike The Road, which has been getting a lot of media attention owing to Oprah’s stamp of approval, Alas, Babylon (and the Butler works) is effectively engaging because of the characters, and our protagonist in particular. Very real people dealing with a realistic nightmare scenario. Even though the story takes place in what feels like an almost alien world with its segregation and blatant sexism, the circumstances are horrifyingly real as the end of the Cold War has not necessarily meant an end to the threat of nuclear weapons. Frank offers up a fascinating and frightening account of the devolution of modern society as what was once considered valuable (cash, jewelry) is rendered worthless, comforts long taken for granted (electricity, transportation, communications) disappear overnight, and life suddenly becomes a struggle for survival. A great book.

Finally, thanks to all of the new visitors/long-time lurkers who took the time to weigh in with their thoughts on season four. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to talk about in the days to come…

Today’s mailbag:

Susan the Tartan Turtle writes: “Are you doing something different when you are uploading the photographs?”

Answer: That wasn’t one of mine. It was a pic that Marty G. uploaded to facebook that he allowed me to publish. Has the man no shame?

P.S.: The answer is no.

Thornyrose writes: “ Any of those ongoing production developments you might share with us in the near future?”

Answer: No can do. However, I will say this: I suspect my blood pressure was through the roof over the past week.

Thronyrose also writes: “How many movies do you watch in say, a month, as opposed to the number of books you read?”

Answer: Not that many at all.

Anonymous #1 writes: “When does filming actually start for season 5?”

Answer: Mid-February.

Tepring writes: “As an avid reader, do you ever see yourself getting a digital reader?”

Answer: I prefer the look of a full bookshelf.

Doodleydog writes: “How do the writers keep it all straight when spinning stories for a whole season, since character development depends on those major story beats?”

Answer: We put the episode titles up on the big white board and, as we develop and beat out stories, we are mindful of the various season arcs and through lines we are working toward. As we break, we ask ourselves: Is this a good episode to service this throughline? How are we going to pay off this arc? A lot of the time, we have a firm idea of our starting and ending point, but the journey only takes shape as the season develops. There are also times when, after a script has been written, the other writers may suggest ideas for layering in scenes or character moments that will service these bigger arcs. In the case of the missing Athosians storyline, for example, we knew very early on how the mystery would inevitably unfold – but we were even surprised at the extent to which other stories dovetailed into this major arc.

Jon K. writes: “Any picks for the cfb bowls?”

Answer: Sure. How about LSU 37 OSU 10?

Dovil writes: “How about firing the cast and replacing them with your dogs?”

Answer: I tried. The studio said no.

Anonymous #2 writes: “To keep haranguing Tapping, Shanks, and Judge to save Atlantis in seasons four and five is just pathetic.”

Answer: Yes, yes, it’s easy to make Carter (and SG-1) the scapegoat but, at the end of the day, there are a certain fans who would be upset regardless of who took over for Weir. If you’re not complaining about Carter today, you’d be complaining about someone else tomorrow.

Anonymous #3 writes: “Yet you have two things that are supposed to be romantic in this season of Atlantis, i.e. Teyla/Father of her baby and Sheppard/Larrin”

Answer: With regard to Sheppard/Larrin – I saw flirtation there, not romance. Re: Teyla/Father – Um, that’s where babies come from. Honest, I’m not making it up.

Anonymous #4 writes: “Well, Joe F. has said that a romance is being written between Sheppard and Larrin, if you’ve read the Con Reports.”

Answer: Well won’t you both look silly when it doesn’t materialize.

Ascended Tauri writes: “What’s your dream vacation?”

Answer: An eating tour of Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Monica writes: “Since I’ve shared my favorite book with you, what are your favorites (children’s and/or “grown-up”)?”

Answer: Favorite children’s books – George and Martha by James Marshall, and Lizzie’s Lion by Dennis Lee.

Anonymous #5 writes: “Can you tell us yet when you’ll be attending the ‘special screening’ for AOT? Will Michael, Amanda and Chris be attending too? Could you take pics for us and post?”

Answer: The date and location of the screening are very hush-hush. Only two people know for sure – the chauffeurs who will be taking everyone there, but even they will be blindfolded for the entire drive. Still, I will be sure to take lots of pics. And, to the best of my knowledge, Michael, Amanda, and Chris will be in attendance.

Alipeeps writes: “In the latest novel, which arrived today, reference is made in passing to Ronon’s immunity to the Wraith feeding process.”

Answer: Then consider that particular novel part of an AU storyline because, in fact, Ronon IS NOT immune to the wraith feeding process. In Runner, the wraith moves to feed on Ronon and hesitates, not because he is unable to feed, but because he is amazed by Ronon’s defiance and fearlessness. It is this spirit that makes him an ideal runner in the eyes of the wraith.

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