Protecting Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Protecting Icarus Base (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Back in the office today after the Labor Day long weekend. Another three full days of production on Pain and prep on Lost before we head off for yet another long weekend. That’s right. No sooner do I return to the friendly confines of my workplace than I am pulled away, like a child caught in a custody dispute, fraught with anxiety at the very thought of being separated from his loving co-workers and comfy office chair. I consoled myself with a lengthy morning-long conversation that touched on all the key issues: Vegas, casting for upcoming episodes, that hilarious article from FARKxcom, recent DVD viewings, and the sudden consensus realization that our buddy Marty G. has truly horrendous taste in movies. We also watched the Day 1 Mix of Light. Once all is said and done, it’s going to be a gorgeous episode. We capped off the day’s festivities with the Vosges chocolates Rob Cooper brought back from Vegas, along with the box of Peanut Butter Bon Bons he gave Carl as a belated birthday gift.

Director Peter DeLuise works his magic (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison)
Director Peter DeLuise works his magic (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison)

So last year I purchased a Garmin portable GPS navigator that I intended to use in Tokyo – which I never did get around to using because it turned out to be thoroughly useless. Apparently, you can purchase all sorts of maps at the Garmin website. Maps of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, U.K, Ireland, France, Greece, Italy, the Alps, Russia… What am I missing? Oh, yeah. Japan. And so is Garmin. I contacted them last year about the omission and they assured me they were working on it. One year later, and they still haven’t gotten around to making a Japan map available. What gives? Is the region really that complex that it defies proper cartography? Or is it altogether too much trouble? Well, as my buddy Bruce is fond of saying: “F ’em.”. I’ll rely on Google Maps instead.

I’ve penciled Garmin onto my shit list, just below Internet Explorer and shampoo that smells like oatmeal and cookies in the bottle but not in your hair after you‘ve washed it. Precariously close to making said list as well is my home theater projector that has taken to powering down at random, playing without audio, and displaying images upside-down or in garish purple and green hues. Like the last time something like this happened, I suspect mischievous gremlins or, more logically, the ghost of mischievous gremlins.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Well, people warned me that blogging would get me in trouble. I refused to believe it and now I have paid the price. After posting pics of my dinner with Ivon and Brian, I received not one but two miffed responses from co-workers who shall remain nameless (let’s call them Carl Folder and David Green), complaining about the fact that they hadn’t been invited – despite the fact that they weren’t even in town last weekend. I’ve extended fresh dinner invitations but have yet to hear back from either.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Reminder #1: Get those questions in for actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott). I’ll be sending the bunch his way at week’s end.

Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) patiently awaits your questions.
Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott) patiently awaits your questions.

Reminder #2: Also, get those questions in for author Matthew Woodring Stover who’ll be by later in the week in support of his novel – and September’s Book of the Month Club selection – Heroes Die.

Reminder #3: My birthday is October 16th. You should start planning now.

Speaking of which, let’s turn things over to some book club discussion –

Thornyrose writes: “There’s nothing like full immersion to pull the reader into the story.”

Answer: Agreed. This one hits the ground running and never lets up. It’s the kind of opening I often identify with short fiction in which the author has a limited amount of time to hook the reader. In the case of Heroes Die, however, the author wastes no time, throwing us headlong into the action, allowing us to catch a breather (and an explanation of exactly what the heck is going on) before plunging us right back into the action. It’s done repeatedly throughout the narrative, jumping back between the two worlds, and to great effect.

Thornyrose also writes: “Even though Hari comes from one of the lowest castes, I was a bit suprised we didn’t see a bit more of that part of this world.”

Answer: True. I thought what was essential to the story came out in Hari’s relationship with his father. Also, since the prime focus was on Otherland, it didn’t bother me as much. Perhaps something that warrants further exploration in the sequels?

Thornyrose also writes: “Kollberg in particular is a villian we love to hate.”

Answer: How interesting that the book’s biggest villain wasn’t the megalomaniacal tyrant or his ruthless guard, but a studio executive. Loved it.

Thornyrose also writes: “I find it interesting that such a society would allow a dissident as Hari’s father to live, even in a maximum level security prison.”

Answer: True, but I wonder if this had something to do with the fact that he was Hari’s father. After all, they want to ensure he stays happy.

Thornyrose also writes: “I also found it a stretch that a person subjected to that level of confinement would manage to hold on to any sanity at all.”

Answer: Yes, it’s also interesting to note that this guy who has been kept locked up for so long is possibly the sanest of the lot. Perhaps another commentary on our out-of-control society?

Thornyrose also writes: “Ma’elKoth is an enigma for much of the book, though I have to admit to being slightly disappointed to his origins/identity.”

Answer: I found his rags to riches backstory quite interesting, his rise from relative obscurity to despotic rule. Sort of a dark side American Dream come true. Good for him!

Thornyrose also writes: “In the parts involving demonstrations of his and Pallas’ powers, I got the feeling I had picked up the fifth or sixth book of the lensman series after glancing at the chapters of the first one. The sheer jump in magnitude of powers by Pallas smelled somewhat of a deux ex machina.”

Answer: I liked the surprising manifestation of her powers but I too felt their development felt a little too quick and convenient.

Thornyrose also writes: “The biggest letdown of the whole book is in how many loose threads were still hanging. On the other hand, those loose threads open the way to the sequels you mentioned, so the author followed the classical advice of always leave your audience wanting more. And I am definitely looking forward to reading those sequels.”

Answer: I thought Stover did a pretty good job of tying up the story specific loose ends while leaving the door open for future adventures. I curious as to what facets of the dual worlds introduced in this novel are explored in subsequent books.

Sylvia writes: “One thing that was a little off balance was what appeared to be Hari/Caine’s sudden “change” where prior to the first emergency transfer back he was much like a soldier of fortune who did not plot, plan, strategize in minute detail. He was someone who appeared to be an accomplished fighter, but very basic otherwise. In fact, one statement was that “…he’d always been a better tactician than he was a strategist.” When he was returned to the Overworld, he was a brilliant strategist – a very accomplished chess player in positioning people and situations to achieve a desired outcome.”

Answer: I saw him as more a injure/kill first, ask questions later type. However, when presented with a scenario that couldn’t be dealt with by mere brute force, he opted for an alternate approach – and succeeded, much to Kollenberg’s surprise.

RebeccaH writes: “In fact, the story was intriguing because I found myself wondering if real-life actors would view it as an allegory for their own careers in the entertainment industry. Certainly actors feel exploited sometimes, not only by the people above them in the hierarchy of entertainment (the money men, the Big Wigs and Cheeses, and their minions), but possibly by the voracious appetites of the audience (fandom). Shanks/Lamorak’s conclusion that his second-rate status is due to lack of marketing in particular, could be the lament of any struggling real-life actor. It was also intriguing to think what any Big Wigs and Cheeses, or minions would think of this book.”

Answer: I’m sure it was no accident, especially given that author Matt Stover is no newbie to the entertainment field. And as pathetic as he was, I counted Lamorak among my favorite of characters.

RebeccaH writes: “The undying, apparently unrequited, love of Hari/Caine for Shanna/Pallas seemed excessive to the point of unhealthy obsession, but maybe I’ve just become cynical in my old age.”

Answer: You coldhearted thing you. I found the romantic through line (Hari’s love for Shanna) worked quite well, going a long way toward humanizing Hari/Caine while adding significant depth to an otherwise quite violent, action-driven story.

Silver_Comet writes: “For me, the pace of the storytelling was too slow. 100 pages and we still weren’t in the main story, just at the beginning.”

Answer: Wow. Just the opposite for me. I was caught up in the action from page one.

Silver_Comet also writes: “I never cared for the main character(s) Hari/Caine. Somehow, I couldn’t believe that he is really able to have true feelings. I couldn’t picture him as someone who starts that adventure because he loves his wife. Not as the main reason anyway.”

Answer: As the novel progresses, we learn more about Hari and his relationship with Shanna so initial surface impressions inevitably give way to a deeper understanding of both his motivation and his character.

Silver_Comet also writes: “I didn’t like the detailed storytelling in certain scenes. For example, it’s enough for me to read that person A cuts off the head from person B. I don’t need further details apart from that.”

Answer: I suspected that some readers would take issue with the visceral bloodletting and, while I’m not a fan of violence for violence’s sake, I thought Stover’s detailed description of the various battle sequences made them seem all the more real. In fact, I’d dare these passages were among the best-written in the book, and this is in no way intended to disparage the quality of the rest of the narrative. He is simply that good at writing “combat prose“.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “And I never really liked any of the main characters: Hari/Caine was too much of a thug and Shanna just never seemed “real” enough for me to care about.”

Answer: Hari felt quite real to me, but it was Shanna who never quite came alive for me.

Sparrow_hawk also writes: “The second tier characters: Toa-Sytell, Kierendal, Ta-lann and even the King of Cant, were more sympathetic. But for the most part, I just felt sorry for most of the characters and that is not something that makes me want to read more about them.”

Answer: Some wonderful supporting character. Toa-Sytell, in particular, was nicely drawn – a dangerous man but honorable, unlike his rival Berne.

Guy writes: “There’s this rule somewhere, it goes show don’t tell. Well, that’s a load of crap; show it if it would be interesting to see, tell it if it isn’t. This is something Matthew Stover seems to understand very well.”

Answer: Yes, Stover maintains a nice balance throughout, showing for the most part but telling when necessary. And, yes, I agree. Showing everything and telling nothing can often be just as boring as telling everything.

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Trish (aka whovian)

Your birthday is October 16th? Heh heh. Now it’s planned into my phone. And I’m plotting. And planning.



Trish (aka whovian)

Um, I meant programmed into my phone’s calendar.

and I also meant to follow the mwahahahahaa with one of these guys ——> twisted

Like I said, I just finished Dragon*Con. I think the Scotish Stormtrooper Steam Punks stole my brain.



For some reason, I feel so much better about my problems after I read about yours. Not better as in ‘wow, my problems pale in comparison to yours’, but better as in ‘wow, my problems seem so much more serious in comparison to yours!’ grin

Thanks for the chuckles, sir. Have a good one!



So you all ate Carl’s birthday present for lunch?
Speaking of birthday presents…I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies today, which I will totally send you (already sent a bunch off to my sister in Pittsburgh). If you want some, you’ll hafta give me your address though…. I imagine the same is true for everyone else too! ;D


Have you tried to get google maps for your phone? Just make sure if you go over seas you have a data plan for over seas. it works ok on my blackberry and its free!


Apparently Brazil is also a no-Garmin zone. When my nephew, who lives in Belo Horizonte, contacted them about it, they basically told him not to hold his breath. At least they were honest! And by the way, Garmin International’s headquarters is just over a mile from my house. I could throw a rock or something at them for you.


There are other sources of maps that are Garmin compatible.

OSM (Open Street Map) has a lot of good data on japan, which has been turned into Garmin compatible maps by a number of people.

Here is one source

There are others. Here’s a partial list of download sites.

Note that OSM data is a work in progress, but looking at Tokyo, it seems to be in good shape.


I feel compelled to give a little defense of the garmin. I recently drove from Los Angeles to Montreal (and back), with stops on the way for sightseeing, and the garmin got us everywhere just fine.

One thing, though. The hash job the voice did on the french street names in lovely Montreal would make you scream: instead of Marie-Ville, we were directed to “Mary Villey”. Or Avenue des Pin Ouest came out as “avenue dez pins o”. Cotes des Neiges came out as Coats dez Neigayes. It was actually kind of funny sometimes. I can only imagine what it would do with the street names in Tokyo. And given how many streets and alleys in Tokyo don’t seem to have names…. !


questions for Brian Smith: 1. What attracted you to the SGU show and the role in particular? 2. Have you watched any of the previous Stargate episodes? Any favorites? 3. Are you aware of the passionate and loyal Stargate fan base and are you ready to be a part of its world? 4. What do you enjoy most about Vancouver? 5. What is your favorite thing about being a part of SGU?

otros ojos
otros ojos

You might want to consider using something in tandem with Google Maps. I’ve been to a considerable number of websites that advise the reader, “If you plan on visiting our farm (or whatever), don’t use Google Maps. You’ll get lost.” And in fact I’ve found a number of errors – or else routes that make you take the long way home – when checking out Google’s directions for places I’m familiar with, just to see what results would come up.

I’ll bet the dogs were also disappointed that your hair didn’t wind up smelling like oatmeal cookies. If you get something that works better on the olfactory front, instead of gnawing on that fleshy part above the elbow, maybe Maximus and company would all start licking your head instead. That could be an interesting way to wake up.

LOL re. the collective conscious deciding that Marty G. has terrible taste in movies.

October 16th is your birthday? — Man, I’m sorry, but my bro’s is the 18th; and if I try to remember both, my brain will like totally get fried or somethin’. I think I’ve already lost about half my synapses to the (supposedly) odorless polyurethane fumes I’ve been hanging out with lately. — Oh, okay, got an idea . . . jalapeños . . . capsaicin . . . *mumbles* Yeah, should work.


Today’s entry sooooo much better with pictures…thanks!

Re Garmin – depending on the “voice” chosen – meaning if you wanted English, your choices are Australian, US, and UK versions of speaking. The Aussey pronunciations were interesting on hispanic names/words. Initially, I liked that better – but ended up with “US Jack” cause it was confusing. You don’t always get a lot of space before a turn and when you cannot read the name as pronounced – can be scarey. When Dela Cruz becomes Dee Laa Cruise and the main highway – 101 – Highway 100 and 1. Sometimes it did make for a good chuckle.
Othertimes – it became a reaction of what the heck did “he/she” say? cause it does not register in the brain.

Oh and, cooool, another libra!

Narelle from Aus

It’s almost your Birthday again?! Guess that’s what happens when the Earth rotates.

I’m usually an extremely organised person but when it comes to Birthday presents I never think of what I want to get someone until the last minute. It’s not that I’m not thinking about it, I just never come up with something until the day before or day of or sometimes at 3am while you’re blissfully asleep your brain is doing the, “Pst. Pst. I’ve got an idea” and next thing you know you’re wide awake but at least have the present idea nailed.

My Husband enjoys playing with the GPS while I’m driving. He likes to test my linguistic skills by putting it on Spanish or Italian – shame I don’t know either of those languages which tends to have me yelling at it, “What do you mean turn izquierda at the next glorieta?”

Narelle from Aus

Gilder – Thanks for your kind words. I hope your MIL has a speedy recovery. A small fall can do so much damage.

otros ojos
otros ojos


In true HoloLeia form she would probably just keep on repeating over and over the same thing. . . .

Good point. After all, that’s a standard feature of Windows applications, and something I’m sure you’re well-accustomed to dealing with (just like husbands shuffling their feet and looking shifty, muttering things like, “I only went to that website because they said they had great pics of muscle cars for my desktop”).

For me, it works like this: (message window) Updates are ready to be installed to your computer. (me) I’m busy playing Wolfenstein XV. Remind me later. (message) Are you sure you don’t want to install the updates now? (me) Yes, because every time I let you install automatically, you screw up my video games. (message) Microsoft cannot guarantee the security of your computer if you do not install these updates immediately. (me) If I didn’t have Microsoft, I wouldn’t need a freakin’ gigabyte of security updates. Besides, you know you’re dumping cookies everywhere with each update. I’m tired of cleaning up after you. (message) I will notify you via pop-up every 3.5 minutes of the need to update. (me) I’m going to get a Mac. (message) Very well, I’ll go hide in your program files and pout. (me) You do that. But it’s going to hurt when the online virus scan pulls you out. (message) Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to shut down. We’re sorry (NOT! lolz) for any inconvenience.

*looks like Jack Nicholson on the cover of The Shining*


Your fecal roster is becoming almost as much fun as your other standards, like WFotD. While I’ve moved into the 21st century with some things, GPS is one I refuse to embrace. Paper maps and sun or moon for direction usually get me where I’m supposed to be. Though in the Ginza I can see why GPS might be attractive. No navigating by stars there.
Just a few more words on Heroes Die. I acknowledge that Hari’s superiors might keep his father alive to keep him happy, but then it becomes a case of close timing. Hari was off building Caine’s reputation “offline” for several years, during which Duncan got himself into trouble. But it’s ironic that the one person capable of seeing what needs to be done is the most helpless to impliment those actions. Instead, it’s left to Hari, who has long since learned to “go with it” to survive.
I’m also looking to see what happens with Ma’elKoth in “the real world”. Sure, he lacks his magical powers, but his physical attributes are intact, and presumably his intellectual ones also. Also, what happens to a society whose dependence on a particular entertainment is suddenly cut off, in that the Aktors in Otherworld are going to be in very short supply. And I loved the irony of how the Otherworlders figured out how to detect the intruders. The Actors are betrayed by their own conditioning trapped by not being able to say the one word taht would prove they are not what they actually are. Wee hours here, so I’ll end on that note. Thanks as always for the pictures and the chuckles. I do hope Mr. Folder and Mr. Green don’t drive you nuts until you can pacify them. Then again, as long as someone takes and posts pictures, what the hey.


Hey Joe,

Every year there has been and October 16th in it. Yet I could never decided what it was that was so strange about that date. You have solved the mystery. Every year I did not celebrate your birthday. How could that happen?
Aren’t you required to let “everyone” know…you forgot me. Hmm…maybe I’ll give you what I gave you last year. smile

Brian Questions:

Matthew is military. Does he wear the same thing everyday? I know, not for the *cough cough* scene.

An article mentioned how “young” the SGU actors are (after seeing the first three episodes). Thought it was intentional to speak to the “wrong people” angle. How do you feel about the key roles of a young cast? They compared you to 90210.

How did you feel the first time you saw the building size poster? Did you know about it before you saw it?

Thank you for the pictures Joe. The book discussion was great. As always you never disappoint.

Best to you Joe,

for the love of Beckett

Aw, dear Joe… Yesterday you gave us another picture of Paul McGillion (a.k.a. the darlin’ Carson). And hmm… right next to it a picture of the lovely Rachel Luttrell. Funny how our Pauly let slip his wish that Carson and Teyla had gotten together in a relationship during the blog Q&A in late June. And when you discussed teasers for the Atlantis movie, you hinted at a relationship of some kind, the kind that prompted Carl to note that there was a need for “a quiet moment for these two characters.” HMMM! And Paul and Rachel did have yummy chemistry in the “Starcrossed” movie within the David Hewlett movie “A Dog’s Breakfast.”

SO, Joe… are you going to let Teyla and Carson cozy up together in “Stargate Atlantis: Extinction”???

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, settling down now. Sheesh. I almost never got silly over anyone before watching Atlantis.

Sorry that I won’t be participating in this BOTM discussion. Horror and violence haven’t been favorites, though I did like “Whispers” in Atlantis’ season 5 and do love action, i.e. the Jason Bourne movies. In real life I’ve had a couple of scares that were only close calls (thank you, guardian angels!), but one dear friend did not survive hers. Especially since then, because violence does happen, I can’t get into hard core stuff. The October BOTM selection “Open Your Eyes” by Paul Jessup looks promising. The premise sounds a little bit like SGU…”savage lives rage and love on a small ship in the outer reaches of space.” Again with the hmmm!


Hey Joe,

Thought you might like to see this…it even has Vancouver.

The Top 10 Most Expensive Sushi in the World

Just a little Japan…

Best to you Joe,

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

I was wondering if there will be a Stargate Atlantis: The Ultimate Visual Guide? I have the SG-1 version and it’s wikid for a lack of a better term. lol It has a dvd on the front with some goodies on it and the entire book is full of blueprints and etc on everything in the sg-1 world. Being a Atlantis Nut, lol, I am truly a Daedalus FANATIC!!! lol and i truly would love to have blueprints etc on the Daedalus. I’ve tried to find, all over the net, the screens we see on the Daedalus, as in the screensaver like screens. Like the schematics of the daedalus espiecally. Is there anyway you all might put these things out there for us loving and loyal fans? lol


Hi Mr M!

Thanks for the great photos.

Re: Reminders, way ahead of you Chief! Spotted something back in January. One of the tribe (a fan of The Princess Bride) spotted said article and said….”Jomallozi (all one word in her vocabulary) would like that Dada”. So, trust me when I say a 6 year old picked this out! Will be in the post to arrive before 16th October. As I mentioned before you are just 15 days ahead of Her Royal Highness.

@Das : Yes, The Chieftains are good too. And interestingly, in a past life, I was a “guardian” of the Dulcimer. I worked as a National Tour Guide for the Office of Public Works here in Ireland (now called the Heritage) which gives guided tours to the National Monuments. I worked in 3 sites, dating from 1250 to 1890. Best – job – ever!
One of the sites had a dulcimer. Check out Davy Spillane for some haunting low-whistle music (Atlantic Bridge in particular)

And finally Mr M. there is a book out which I think you’d like. I heard the author on our national Radio 1 this morning Not sure I agree with the premise of his view, but I’d say it’s a good read!

Best to all


Oh and PS: Congrats to the winners of the cool SGU posters as provided by a certain Brian J Smith over in Twitterland! I think they are both blog regulars here! Well done guys!

Ashley RV
Ashley RV

Speaking of Birthday, do you have a PO box or something like that? Cheers,

– RV

Charlie's Angel
Charlie's Angel

Two long weekends in a row? I don’t know how you stand it …


On Heroes Die:

I suspected that some readers would take issue with the visceral bloodletting…

Yeah, I can almost hear the little voice in your head, Joe – another violent book: Sparrow_hawk is gonna gripe about this one! I can accept a certain amount of it as long as it moves the story along and doesn’t get in the way of it, but in this particular book the violence is the story. It is the reason that the audience “watches” Hari’s adventures. And it is the reason that the studios have cultivated chaos in Ankhana.

And I really liked Lamorak, too. A very interesting and complicated character who I suspect reflected the feelings of a lot of professional performers. I really hoped he would manage to redeem himself in the end once he learned how he had been used, but he wasn’t given the time. In the end he got used by the author as well – just a plot device.

As for questions, I would just echo artdogspot’s question: Hari learns to use (relatively) non-violent manipulation of people instead of overt violence to “inch toward success” as his father advised him, in order to rescue Shanna. Hari/Caine goes through a transition from honest but violent thug to a man who lies to and manipulates friend and enemy alike with no (apparent) qualms or regrets to achieve his ends. Did you intend for us to feel good about this change in his character or to feel regret for or at least ambivalence about it? (I guess from the way I phrased the question my own feelings are painfully obvious but I really am interested in knowing the author’s intentions in taking the character in this direction.)

@das: Thanks for sharing those links to Albannach – I went to their site and ordered one of their CDs! I also love Bothy Band and have a couple of their CDs on the shelf along with Capercaillie, Kevin Burke and Michael O Domhnaill, Tannahill Weavers and Kornog.

@Narelle: I just had to laugh when I read your posts about requests to fix people’s computers! And can I come to your next reunion, too? I’ll kidnap das and dose her with Jagermeister. wink

Sherry Harris
Sherry Harris

Have you seen the pic of the SGU poster on the side of the hotel in Beverly Hills featuring Brian J Smith? Oh so very cool!


Thanks for the Atlantis pics, especially the Shep one.