What could be better than an afternoon spent stuffing yourself with chocolate truffles and rich, dark hot chocolate? How about another afternoon spent stuffing yourself with chocolate truffles and rich, hot dark chocolate. You would think so anyway.

With my sis in town (she got in yesterday and we had late-night noodles), we headed out for a delightful drive around Vancouver’s side streets as we endlessly circled the various neighborhoods looking for parking. And while most of the day was actually spent in the car, I wasn’t complaining because the important thing wasn’t so much what we did, but that we did it together. Also, it was pouring rain outside. Still, we did manage to find cover long enough for us to check out a few interesting places – Petites Fours Pet Boutique being one (things were hopping when we dropped by), the Rex Hotel for another.

The Rex Hotel is a doggy hotel, spa, and daycare in one, the sort of place an overprotective dog-owner such as myself would look to board their dogs if they were heading out of town. Located at 760 Terminal Ave., the its decidedly industrial location belies a clean, sleek interior. In fact, the reception area is reminiscent of a lot of the high-end establishments I’ve stayed in and specifically the W Hotel (if the W Hotel was actually staffed by human beings instead of black-clad automatons). Owner Barrie Balshaw was on hand to show us around and, with him leading the way, we toured the facility: separate play and lounge areas for the big and small breeds included doggy play-sets and flat screen t.v.’s, a luxurious spa, exterior waterpark and deck, and separate “suite” accommodations for the solitary canine (group sleepovers for the rest overseen by an employee who actually beds down with the little furballs). It looks like a very nice place and the dogs we saw certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Since we were in the neighborhood, we decided to drop by Chocoatl on the way back. We sampled about a dozen truffles between the three of us (holy smokes is that whisky truffle good!) and some hot chocolate (the Ecuadorian denso for me, the Tanzanian denso for my sis, and the regular Peruvian hot chocolate for mom). We were on our way out when I noticed Themis plating a fantastic-looking slice of chocolate cake. I made a mental note to try some next time I was in. But as I said goodbye to Themis, he held up the cake and informed me that he had prepared it just for us. How could we refuse? And so, we returned to our table and ate the cake – which, it turned out, was as fantastic as it looked.

By the time we got home, I was piqued by the familiar cresting of the over-enthusiastic gourmand’s scourge (a.k.a.: I felt fucking sick to my stomach). On any other day, I would have had a cup of green tea and some low-fat cottage cheese for dinner, but these are the holidays and my mother and sister have only so many days in Vancouver. So I’ll still have that green tea but, instead of the cottage cheese, I’ll be steeling myself for tonight’s dinner at Fuel. We’ll be doing the cote de boeuf and, as Emily can attest, it’s a dish that requires exceptional focus and mental fortitude.

Let’s squeeze in a mailbag before dinner –

Constance Auclair writes: “Do you read Fantasy novels if so have you read the Wayfarer Redemption trilogy series from Sara Douglass?”

Answer: I haven’t read Sara Douglass but I do read a fair amount of fantasy. Come join this month’s book club. Read The Princess Bride and participate in January’s discussion, or read Sean Williams’ The Crooked Letter for a chance to one a copy of the second book in the series.

Charles Schneider writes: “Given that my birthday falls on the holidays, do you have an recommendations based on my dinner options?”

Answer: Nothing says Christmas like sushi.

Erin Anderson writes: “Have you ever watched Babylon 5?”

Answer: I watched the first three seasons on dvd.

Emily writes: “OMG. This is exactly like the SG-1 season 3 episode “Pretense.” Can’t you think of some original ideas???:

Answer: Our version will also include a villain in a ridiculous hat. Stay tuned.

Jenny Robin writes: “Wish me luck.”

Answer: Good luck!

Rachel writes: “Broken Ties? Are you doing a bondage episode?”

Answer: Apparently, I’m the Ties Guy, as I’ve written The Ties That Bind, Family Ties, and now Broken Ties.

Annie from Freemantle writes: “Do you have all the episode stories figured out before you start filming for the next season or do you invent as you go along?”

Answer: We usually have a third to half of the season written by the time we start production, and a good three-quarters of our story ideas “on the white board” along with a pretty firm idea of where we’re going with our major arcs (and where we’re going to end up by season’s end).

DJ writes: “Have you read “Her Majesty’s Dragon” by Naomi Novik?”

Answer: I did. Just do a search for the book’s title and you’ll find my write-up in the archives.

Erika writes: “Does Brad Wright like Vala?”

Answer: Brad, Rob – in fact all of the writers love the Vala character.

Fsmn36 writes: “ I have to ask, those events listed a few posts back. Those were real Vancouver events?”

Answer: 14 out of the 15 listed were, in fact, real events. One was a gag.

64 thoughts on “December 21, 2007: Parking Limbo, Doggy Heaven, and Chocolate Hell

  1. I must be getting old. I got stuffed just LOOKING at all that chocolate. The salivary glands did go into overdrive, so you’re now responcible for the drool shorting out my keyboard. At least I can understand why you would brave the holiday shopping crowd, with rewards like that. And if it keeps the family happy, all the better.
    Picked up the Crooked Letter from the store, and it’s under the tree at work so that I can begin it while everyone is stuffing their faces with the ham I’m tasked to cook. Thanks for answering the questions on the periodicals. I’ve not looked at New Scientist for awhile now,usually going with Scientific American and Discover. I might also suggest Mental Floss. It’s a bi monthly that is factoid filled and occasionally educational. Everything comes in small enough doses that its easy to put down and come back to later. At any rate, no questions since you’re busy ensuring Fuel remains the best patronized dining place in the city. (p.s. that was NOT a blush when I read your answer. it was, um. a delayed reaction to the heat from the oven when I was taking something out earlier in the day….)

  2. Will there be any actor-suggested episodes or storylines in Season 5?

    Anne Teldy (Sheppard-deprived but not forLorned:-))

  3. Answer: Our version will also include a villain in a ridiculous hat. Stay tuned.

    Sounds good, can’t wait.

    Please answer this question. What do you think of the Christmas song ‘The Christmas Shoes’? It’s the song about the little boy who wants to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mom for Christmas. Thanks!

  4. Erika writes: “Does Brad Wright like Vala?”

    Answer: Brad, Rob – in fact all of the writers love the Vala character

    Thank you I will pass that along to the Vala fans who are nervous that she won’t be included in movies after the first 2 there was concern and paranoia over this, it should help.

    Are you doing any commentaries for season 4? I really loved listening to MM and FT you and Paul were hilarious. I noticed you both were more talkative when it is just you 2.

  5. I just saw the Momoa interview with GW and I am wondering if Broken Ties has something to do with Ronon.
    Does the episode have something to do with him?
    Does Teyla miscarriage and then go darkside instead? As you had planned for a darker Teyla in season four, before the…”good news.”

    Answer “No comment” for “Yes” and “No comment” for “No”.

  6. Yes, the cote de boeuf does require incredible reserves of mental fortitude and exceptional amounts of focus. Both of which I, thankfully, have in abundance. If I recall correctly, I did out-eat you during the cote de boeuf course. I’m not sure I should brag about that.

    Answer: Our version will also include a villain in a ridiculous hat. Stay tuned.

    Sweet. Will he also have a handlebar mustache? And a cane? And have a funny walk? Actually, will he pretty much look like the evil magician in the Frosty the Snowman cartoon, but live-action? ‘Cause even though that wouldn’t be a totally original idea, I could overlook it. Once.

  7. I was gonna say that your sis looks like you with a wig on.. or you look like her with a really short do, but you and your sis would kill me, or worse still, ban my arse from your blog hahaha. *runs*

    Nah, seriously she does resemble you. Your mum’s eyes are dominant in her kids that’s for sure.

    Nice to know you’re a good bro, who considers just being together is more important than doing something together. That’s what it’s all about 🙂

    “…Our version will also include a villain in a ridiculous hat. Stay tuned…”

    Make sure he has a handle bar moustache, says “Drat, Drat and Double Drat” alot.. and has a snickering dog called Mutley.


  8. Answer: 14 out of the 15 listed were, in fact, real events. One was a gag.

    Which one was it?

  9. Looks like I am the first comment today….possibly? Anyways Joe, just cause I am stuck on the B5 questions, why’d you stop watching after the third season? IMO the fourth season has really stood out for me. Starting the fifth season this evening, though my husband swears I have already watched all the really good episodes.

  10. Joe, I would really like to know how you and the writers come up with the alien names for people, places and things….not to mention a language like Jaffa. It seems like it would be a difficult, brain racking task unless, of course, you have system. LOL Having written a small, no, very small amount of fanfiction I feel your pain.

    Can you give us an idea of how one or two of the names we’re familiar with evolved?

  11. Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. I’d say there’s one sushi bar in town that could compete with some of the sushi dishes you’ve posted pictures of on your blog. It’s called Haruno’s (not that you’re near Springfield often). I actually just took my sister there for lunch last month. Being that I’m still young and thrifty, I don’t get over there often.

    When you’re hosting family or any other out-of-town guests, do they usually let you decide what to do for most meals, or do you get a lot of specific requests?

  12. (a.k.a.: I felt fucking sick to my stomach)

    Heh. Ahhh, that’s how you know it’s christmas. I was actually thinking while I read that, “Oh my god, wouldn’t you be so sick after that???” and then laughed out loud at the above comment. Mind you, I plan to do the same with cheese tonight. And the rest of the Lindt coffee chocolate. Coffee, chocolate & cheese … three wonderful things that start with “c”. (Currently mucking around with the laptop while drinking far too much Lavazza & re-watching season 1 SG:A. That “invulnerable” scene is still laugh-out-loud funny, despite repeated viewings.)

  13. What a pleasure to read your blog again. I’d missed the food descriptions and pics and I’d wondered about the pooches. One question I’ve wanted to ask (and forgive me if you’ve answered this in the past) is what do you do while you’re exercising? Do you read, listen to music or simply concentrate on your world domination plans?

  14. Hello, Joe! I don’t have a question this time, miracle of miracles, I just have a comment. The comment is that I just wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas!

  15. Been catching up on the last few days blogs, as my wife and I have been in the hospital for the delivery of our 3rd child. On Wed., Dec. 19th, she gave birth to a boy, Nicholas Paul. Mother and baby are doing fine. Nick’s older sisters (ages 3 and 1 and 1/2) are enjoying the new “doll” we brought home. Anyway, enjoyed catching up, and hope you continue to have a good time with your mom and sister over the holidays.

  16. Hi, I have been season after season to see Ford come back!!!! Can you bring him back 1 time just to at least finish his storyline(Send him home to his grandparents)???? That is the only problem I have with the series, other than that the show is perfect!!! Plus any true fan knows he survived the events of the “The Hive”!!!! Just one more time, please??? Thanks

  17. If Sheppard had to take time off(for whatever reason)…What would happen to the team?
    In “Travelers” the rest of the team tried to track down Sheppard while (superhot) Larrin had him. But what if he wasn’t in danger and was on Earth. What would happen then?

    Presumably they would disperse and take time off. Unless ordered on a mission(save the galaxy). No?

  18. I know that Sheppard, and McKay would have met Jackson, but what do both Ronon and Teyla think about him?

    Further more, what does Sheppard actually think about Jackson, in the pilot he was just a fast talking Ancient “wiz”, and in Peg’Project he was a member of SG-1.

    I hope we get Jackson in for at the very least three episodes, one to explore the impressions of him amongst our team, and his relationship with Carter now. Does he feel abandoned maybe? Does he like the fact she had moved on? Is he impartial to the whole thing?

    The second episode I would hope, to be the start of a two parter, with him in the mix trying to find some Ancient toy, treasure, place. And of course walking straight in to a trap, awkward situation, or something.

    The third I would hope, would feature Jonas Quinn, as he read all of Daniel Jackson’s books, and had a lot of knowledge as well as insight in to how Daniel thought. He would naturally be the logical solution to try and find Jackson, and the lost team if something went wrong.-Along with his good Alien mate Teal’C.

  19. I also know that their is a lot of negativity amongst fans. They don’t want to make an SG-1 show out of SGA. However, if the story fits, I don’t believe their is anything wrong with that. I guess I mean; don’t have Jackson around because he is curious, have him around, because he is needed. + LOTS OF BANTER.

    Sorry I’m so picky Joe.

  20. Hi Joe:
    My family just recently re-watched the first half of Season 4, and it’s even better the second time around. We really appreciate all the time and effort everyone puts into it to make it such a great show, the writers, producers, actors, directors, the fantastic special effects and CG people, and the entire crew which gets overlooked so many times for all their work to make it such a wonderful viewing experience.

    May you and your family and all the cast and crew at Stargate Atlantis Have a really Happy and Healthy Holiday. And I hope Santa is really generous to you this year! Enjoy the season and try to take some time for yourself and not even think about work. Or are you more the “Scrooge-type”, and can’t wait for the Holidays to be over and time to get back to work? Well, at least here’s hoping you have some wonderful meals that can be shared with us and we can enjoy them vicariously.

  21. Hello,
    I hope you are not suffering from a too bad indigestion, peppermint essential oil rubbed on the stomach area might help a bit if you are in too much pain 😉

    As for a new question : many shows have seasons with 24 or 25 episodes, why is it not the case for Stargate (appart from the 2 or 3 first SG1 seasons) ? Is it a choice from the producers or from the Sci-fi channel ? Is there a particular reason for that choice ?

    Thank you, and take care of your stomach 🙂

  22. Hi Joe.
    My sister, who runs after her 6 and 3yr old kids all day/night has surprisingly asked me for a book for Christmas (when will she find the time?). Alas, she’s not a science fiction or fantasy fan, so I’m at a loss. Do you or Fondy have any recommendations? Perhaps a good crime thriller, bestseller etc?

  23. I’m groaning miserably at the thought of taking on a cote de boeuf, no matter how marvelous, after half a ton of incredibly rich chocolate, delicious though it all must have been. (and if you have the fries as well….) How can you do it?? And what is the next step beyond “fucking sick to my stomach”? The ancient Roman feasting practices come to mind. Oy.

    Your description brought up some pretty recent memories of dinners at my gourmet-cook sister-in-law’s house. Talk about the wages of overindulgence…. After some of her holiday meals, I have to sleep with a second pillow to prop up a stomach that feels like it needs to give birth to a large annex. If I dream of electric sheep, they tend to wind up as stuffed mutton chops. *feels faint*

    Zach, on the other hand, takes a couple of Zantac tablets and has a deep and untroubled slumber. I find that grossly unfair.

    This afternoon I placed an order with a high-end chocolate shop for whiskey, wine, and liqueur-filled extra-dark chocolates. Between those and everything else, I might not be able even to step onto a treadmill until after New Year’s. I hope you have a much, much better outcome. (Misery may love company, but it never really helps.) – I remember Keenan Ivory Wayans’ joke about a well-known Hollywood personality with weight problems: “I don’t understand why she has a problem with eating too much. She can afford to pay someone to slap that chicken right out of her hand.” lol!

  24. You know what they say Joe, all things in moderation 😉

    We watched Wormhole Xtreme last night for the first time in ages and, after reading your blog for the past year, it was great to finally get all those little gags!

  25. Hi Joe, I’m so glad you’ve got the blog up and running again! I hope you’ve survived your encounter at Fuel last night… can’t tell you how much I want to go to that restaurant, though as I live in London it’s not going to happen any time soon!

    One thing I’ve noticed about this season so far is that there haven’t been any episodes that followed the old formula of ‘team go off-world, team meet new people, something happens to team, team kicks butt/has butt kicked’ – are we gonna see any like that in the later half of the season, or in season five?

    Have a great time with your family, and Merry Christmas!


  26. All that chocolate is making my mouth water….hmm….i’ve been wanting to check out the chocolat shop for a while but havnt got the chance…next time im in town though….theres also another chocolate store but i dont know where it is haha…i know its on the esplanade….ill find it though….this nose can sniff out chocolate a mile away!

  27. Hi Joe,

    That chocolate looks fantastic. Hey, I have a question about Ronan’s costume. What’s the leather wrist support thingee for? I’m guessing that it is functional (unlike Joes sweat band 🙂 ) ’cause I’ve seen other characters wear them (like Brendan Fraser’s character in the Mummy)…. but what is it supposed to do?

  28. Hey Joe, loving the pics.
    I was just wondering if in SG-1 or SGA history the writers have ever been completely stuck for ideas after production has already started and if there’s been any panic about it? I can just imagine you all sitting there going “oh crap.”

    I was also wondering how Carl’s getting on with the picketing?

  29. Hi, Joe!

    Welcome to your new blog home! It looks very comfy…

    Downloaded the MGM Stargate trailer for BAMSR – Wow! It looks like we’ll need to wear seat belts to watch this episode! Hubba hubba!

    Best wishes to you and your family for a joyous Holiday Season!


  30. Hello,

    Thank you for the breakdown about “TMC”, it’s very interesting !
    I really like “TMC” despite the fact that I’m really deceived and sad that our real Elizabeth Weir is dead. (Is it sure ? really sure ??? I mean we have no proof and can we really trust replicaters ???)
    The episode was fun to watch and entertaining. I love what you’re doing with the nanites and the replicaters story.

    Well, now I’ll wait the next episode with Torri with impatience and hope to have the duplicate Weir coming on Atlantis in S5 !????
    It would be cool to have a nice replicater with the team !

    I miss her so much on the show !!



  31. Almost time to sit down with a cup of mulled wine and some hot mince pies with cornish clotted cream yum. I’ve been rushing around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get all the meat sorted out, we’re having Lamb, Beef and Pork this year with the requisite sundries that go with. The dining table has been reinforced as have the chairs for reclining (collapsing ) into afterwards. As most of teh family will be here with the exception of my eldest daughter who is spending this chrimbo with her fiance’s family in Poole, Dorset its going to be quite a housefull. I’ve cleared the shed for myself to hide in after I’ve fed them all. got my book and a heater, a camping stove and kettle. SORTED!

  32. I received an email saying that I won 552,000 pounds sterling in a UK lottery! What do you suggest I do with my newfound gains? Care to invest with me in something?

  33. I just read Jason Momoa’s interview at Gateworld and realized he’s already given you an out for losing the dreds. They get cut off after Ronon’s captured by (someone)- which could lead to his “darkside” story request.

    Yuletide Blessings… DD

  34. Joe,

    Have you read Vernor Vinge’s “Rainbows End?”

    I hear it’s a solid read and it won the Hugo.

    Any thoughts?


  35. I see that you have attempted to appease us animal lovers who wish to see an alien cat or dog on Atlantis.

    The grotesque animal depicted in the first picture is perfect. It has one eye – an eye that is a beautiful shade of purple. Massive ears which are out of all proportion to its body and a strange lemon looking tongue.

    Whoever designed this alien pooch is a genius.

    Is she related to Wraithdog Mars?


  36. If Amanda is willing to continue playing Sam, how many more years do you think we will see her in command?

  37. Hi Joe –

    Do you know what is on the Baron’s or Cookie monster’s wish list for Christmas? (besides world domination and cookies, of course …)

  38. 1)Is there more subtext to Larrin and the Travelers than we have already seen?

    2)Do Michael and Todd have prior knowledge of each other?

  39. Have an extra dose at Chocolatl for me.

    My brother just reminded me that two of the in-laws have much more restricted diets than I do. I’m therefore limiting the traditional order from the Fudge Shoppe (Flemington, NJ).

    Until the New Year,

  40. Oh dear, I hope you didn’t get sick after supper! Or, god forbid, AT supper. Yuck. Like that guy in Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life.

    Joe, it was minus 20 when I got up this morning to go out for breakfast. I’m very, very cold. But tomorrow it’s supposed to be warm and rain. And rain on Christmas eve. We’ve had a tonne of snow all December, and now with this rain it wouldn’t surprise me if it all went away, just in time for Christmas.

  41. When you get a chance, could you please give us a few spoilers/tidbits involving Daniel in season 5? Will Daniel get to be in more than one episode? Will he get to interact with most of the SGA cast? Will his episode/episodes be in the first half of the season? Will you be writing it?

    Since Daniel/Michael has not done an Atlantis episode since the pilot, Daniel Jackson finally doing an Atlantis episode is a very big deal. I’m also really looking forward to his interaction with Sam now that she is on Atlantis.

    As you can tell Joe, I’m extremely excited. I know it’s probably way too early to say much, but whenever you can………. *hugs*

    PS: Loving the pictures.

  42. Jumperpilot Says:
    Been catching up on the last few days blogs, as my wife and I have been in the hospital for the delivery of our 3rd child. On Wed., Dec. 19th, she gave birth to a boy, Nicholas Paul. Mother and baby are doing fine. Nick’s older sisters (ages 3 and 1 and 1/2) are enjoying the new “doll” we brought home. Anyway, enjoyed catching up, and hope you continue to have a good time with your mom and sister over the holidays.


  43. Hey Joe-

    Just returned from Combat Shopping with my older sister. My two sisters are my best friends, so I’m glad you get to be together with your sister over the holiday.

    If you were to buy a coffee table book for your friends this Christmas, what would you buy? (Mine would all get photo journals of Alaska.)

  44. LuLu is holding the tennis ball in her mouth but her eye is shut is she o.k. or does she have an eye problem??

  45. Hi Joe!

    Merry Christmas! Someone asked about the arcs for the season ahead – are the actors made aware of what’s in store for them arc-wise? Do they get input on them?

    BTW, my sis and I went out the day after Thanskgiving and ended up with 2 Wii systems – too bad she returned one 🙁

    Enjoy your holidays!!


  46. Heya Joe.

    I have just checked out the trailer for BAMSR on the MGM site, brilliant trailer, and the space battles is everything you promised and then some, can’t wait to see the whole episode.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family as well

  47. Joe,

    I was wondering if you could take pictures of the chocolates/desserts/sweets after you’ve taken a bite out of it. One day, you’ll be having a lovely designed tri-layered cake and I’ll be wondering how thick is each layer of chocolate mousse, cake, and cheesecake creme.

    Also, do you know if Chocoatl will be doing mail orders? There’s a website but it’s only a “Coming Soon” message right now. I’m quite interested in their drinking chocolate. Here, I’ve only got Starbuck’s Chantico.

    Lastly, is it possible for Todd/Sheppard’s Wraith to be the Wraith scientist that was tinkering with human genetics (Teyla’s ancestors) in order to make the feeding more efficient? And what did the “feeding efficiency” really mean? Easier and more fulfilling for the Wraith to feed on, or making the human stronger and able to cope with a feeding so that they don’t age and die?

  48. Hi Joe,

    how do you think, is there a ray of hope for Cam/Sam shippers? There is really great chemistry between Ben and Amanda, so don’t waste it, folks! 🙂

  49. Bon je vais au dodo Joseph =)

    Je vous fait de gros kisou, je vous adore!!!!!!!!!! vous êtes génial!

    petite question avant d’aller au lit:

    Dans stargate atlantis verra t’on Kanan? si oui, dans combient d’épisode??

    Voila, merci, I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. One more question: in Ripple Effect episode, which you wrote, Black Cam said “when the time comes, cut the green one”. Are we EVER going to see it in the future movies?

  51. Another question, sorry; I’ve been looking to read Neil Gaiman for a while now and two of my friends like his books. One is emphatically recommending that I read American Gods first, the other is equally determined that I start with Neverwhere.

    Obviously, a book-purchasing decision must be made… Have you read either and could you possibly tip the scale?


  52. So, have you found the Wii yet? You know….those “connections” and all! 😉 Does Fondy ever read your blog? If so, I guess you better not answer either way. If you found it, that would ruin the surprise and if you gave up, she will be ticked off earlier than Christmas! LOL

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  53. Hi Joseph,

    I was searching photos and videos of the set of Stargate SG1 and Atlantis on the web but nothing. You know, videos who show the set like on the MGM’s website.
    Do you have more videos like those are on your blog (Thoughts and Tirades, Rants and Ruminations )

    Thank you.

  54. Hi Joe….Hope you have a great holiday!!! Can’t wait for Atlantis to start up again…All of the episodes have been AWESOME!!…

  55. Oh cyn, thanks for that link! Those decorations are crazy! We never got ours out of the boxes this year–we’ve had too much ice to make decorating the yard sound like fun.

  56. So, Daniel Jackson… since he used Ancient tech in “The Quest,” Pt. 2 when he was inhabited by Merlin, does this mean he has the Ancient gene?

  57. Ahh, here you are. Finally.

    Happy holidays, Joe. I have no questions, complaints or snide remarks.

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