Yes, you read correctly.  Actor Jamil Walker Smith, Stargate: Universe’s explosive Master Sergeant Ronald Greer, has kindly agreed to swing by the blog and field your questions – in exchange for my recommending him a couple of good local French restaurants with the understanding that if they fail to impress, he plans to call me out during his Q&A.

Stargate: Universe, Air III (photo courtesy MGM Televsion).

I’ll be gathering questions for Jamil over the next few days and plan to send him the batch sometime next week so that he’ll have something to do…besides learning his lines.  Oh, and acting!

For a while there, I lost my reading mojo – and just when it seemed like it was gone for good came a succession of pretty damn fine books that restored my mojo AND ensured many more nights would be spent finishing “just one more chapter” instead of getting some much-needed sleep.  So what follows are my stand-out reads of the past month (excluding Book of the Month Club picks I’ve already covered), titles I would STRONGLY recommend to all you avid readers out there…

The Somnambulist, by Jonathan Barnes

One of the things that makes such a terrific site is that it is entertaining yet informative across a broad spectrum of genres and works, offering everything from articles dealing in science fact to feature op. ed.’s from some of the most fascinating people working in SF, Fantasy, and Horror today.  One of the latter – specifically, SFSignal’s ongoing Mind Meld – is a terrific source for book recommendations, like Jonathan Barnes’ The Somnambulist which would have never made my reading radar had it not been suggested by Eos‘s Executive Editor Diana Gill.

Edward Moon, a former grand illusionist suffering through the ignoble tail-end of his career, is enlisted by dark forces in London’s shadow authority to investigate a conspiracy hatched by even darker forces in London’s underbelly.  With the help of his hairless, seemingly indestructible stage assistant, The Somnambulist, Moon must save the city from a nefarious plot that threatens to overturn established society and usher in a horrific new order.

At turns macabre, bizarre, thrilling, and hilarious, Jonathan Barnes’ first book is a superb read.  It’s weird yet wonderful, one of those books that’s so much fun it keeps you up into the wee hours of the early morning.  The unique nature of the narrative makes for some surprising and rewarding developments although, ultimately, the unreliable narrator also yields some unsatisfying returns.  Still, a book head and shoulders above most first-time novels.  Devilishly witty.

Just After Sunset, by Stephen King

In my opinion, Stephen King is under-appreciated.  “What’s that?”you say.  “Under-appreciated?!”  Yes, under-appreciated because despite the innumerable awards and the 350 million + books sold worldwide, I still run into people who dismiss him as a hack for no other reason than the fact that the man is prolific.  I say “no other reason” because if anyone has ever read Stephen King, they’d be hard-pressed to deny he is an incredibly talented writer.  Granted, his work may not be to everyone’s tastes (I, for one, didn’t like his Dark Tower series), but you’ve got to give credit where credit is due and King deserves credit for crafting some of the best fiction being written today.

Just Before Sunset is a change of pace for King, his first collection of short stories since 2002’s Everything’s Eventual.  Surprisingly, the first tale off the top, Willa, is the weakest of the bunch, but the ensuing stories go from strength to strength.  The Gingerbread Girl focuses on a woman’s harrowing encounter with a potential serial killer.  Harvey’s Dream is a disquieting peek at one family’s potentially prophetic experience.  The Things They Left Behind is a touching story that focuses on a survivor of the 9/11 attacks who must come to terms with the haunting memories of his deceased former colleagues while, in a similar thematic vein, The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates tells the tale of a recent widow who receives a phone call from beyond the grave.  Capping the collection is my favorite of the bunch, A Very Tight Place, that delivers a terrifying account of the ordeal suffered by a man trapped in a toppled outhouse.  Not for the faint of heart!

A marvelous collection.  The Death of Grass, by John Christopher

Probably the most frightening dystopian novel I’ve ever read owing not so much to the hardships faced by the survivors of a global catastrophe but the lengths these people will go to in order to survive, sacrificing their very humanity to ensure the safety of their loved ones.  Published back in 1956, the book paints a scenario so deeply unsettling that it rivals any contemporary work of apocalyptic fiction.

A virus has wiped out grass and crops in Asia leading to mass starvation and civil unrest, but the English authorities appear to have things under control, assuring the populace that they are close to perfecting a counter-virus that will leave them unscathed.  But when those best-laid plans come for naught, panic sets in.  As the government wrestles with the ethical dilemma of bombing major cities in order to pare down the population and ensure food and social order for the survivors, a desperate group, tipped off to the looming danger, escape London in a bid to reach a distant farm in a remote, defensible valley.


This morning, I swung by the post office to pick up a package.  I was surprised to discover that it was from my friend and former house-guest Akemi (presently in Perth studying English), then even more surprised to discover the contents: a very heartfelt card thanking me for being such a wonderful host and – these…

Teddy Bear cufflinks!

I love ’em!

The package also contained business cards for the Hotel Okura – conveniently enough located in Akemi’s hometown of Osaka, should I just happen to find my way to Japan later this year.  I’d say chances are good.

What a sweetheart!

43 thoughts on “March 6, 2010: Actor Jamil Walker Smith wants to hear from YOU! My February Top Reads! And a surprise in the mail!

  1. Cute cufflinks! I didn’t like the Dark Tower series either. Funny(ish) story re Stephen King. My daughter was an avid reader as a young girl and loved Stephen King. I figured if she could handle all the scary stuff (she was about 12 years old at the time) and not have nightmares, let her read whatever she wanted. However, I didn’t always read the books before she got to them. She picked up “Gerald’s Game” and holy sh*t was I shocked when I read it. Probably not something for a 12 year old! I decided that rather than making a big deal out of it, I’d wait to see if she asked me anything about the contents of said book, and she never did. Oi! Haven’t read “Just After Sunset”, but heading to the bookstore tonight and I’ll pick it up. Haven’t found anything lately that gets/holds my attention, but that’s probably just me.

    Have a good night!

  2. Question for Jamil: As an actor, how do you prep yourself on a daily basis to get into the mindset of somebody like Greer who tends to be a bit unpredictable (to me, at least) and do you prefer to stay in character throughout the day or can you just switch back and forth between yourself and the character between takes?

  3. Questions for Jamil: How did you get started in acting? What’s your favorite thing about being an actor? Are there any similarities between you and Greer?

    Thanks for being willing to do this Q&A!!! =)

  4. What CUTE cufflinks!

    You made an impression, Joey. 😉

    Will have to think of questiongs for Jamil…exhausted right now because I spent the afternoon doing yard work. Still have a LOT to do, but at least the front yard is a bit presentable. Just tired, though.

    Have a good evening, sir! 🙂


  5. Ok never mind I got the questions.

    Questions for Jamil.

    1. What is your favorite episode(aired or unaired) of SGU? What about it made it your favorite?

    2. What is the hardest part of playing Greer?

    3. Have you ever thought of joining the military in real life? 

    4. How scary was your first day on set? What was the first scene you ever shot for SGU? 

    5. Will you be doing any DVD episode commentaries for the back half of season 1? (they are always hilarious) 

    6. How did you get so ripped? I heard Elyse say on one of the commentaries you don’t even lift weights yet you look like you can beat Rambo at arm-wresteling? How is this?  

    Thanks so much for doing this q&a Jamil!!!!!

    And thanks Joe for hosting it!!

  6. Here’s my questions:

    1. What kind of references do you draw on to play the character of Greer?

    2. You also write and direct. If you were to write an episode of SGU, what would be the plot?

    3. If you were female, what one female role would you want? (Or would you just want to play a female Greer?)

  7. I soooo did not wanna get outta the shower…

    BUT, I did…and just wanted to say that I finally watched the new trailer, and it’s looking GREAT!

    Now. Let’s hope the new eps live up to the tease. 😉

    Nitey, nites!


  8. Ooooo! Jamil! My very favorite SGU actor.

    Such a sweetheart too. Jamil, to me, you will always be Mr. Grumpy. Although, in hindsight, I really should have called you Master Sgt. Grumpy. So, did you ever wash your hair after I gave you a kiss on the head? LOL.
    Seriously, Jamil, I’m glad you and the rest of the cast are back for a second season. Now that you are back, what sort of development of your character would you like to see? As your career moves forward, do you think you will explore other avenues of creativity such as writing or directing? Who do you see as a role model in your acting? If you could guest star on any current television series, which one would you choose?
    Thanks for your willingness to answer questions on Joe’s blog. Keep on peddling!!!


  9. Joe, have you ever tried Haighs chocolate? Most chocolate makers all over the world, even the super expensive ones, base their chocolate on Couverture which is all mass produced by a couple of major companies (as I’m sure you know). But Haighs is one of the very few who create their chocolate from scratch starting with the cocoa bean.
    I’d love to know your thoughts on it.

  10. Here’s where I get that hackiness vibe from King – when I come across elements that seemed tacked on for effect. I get to places where it feels like he went “oh, not enough creepiness in the last 50 pages, time for a vision with stuff transforming into monster mouths or a creepy psychic message”.

    Really, it’s not a fair vibe just because he writes so much that I’m going to run across something that feels like that eventually. It also stands out more because it’ll echo something else he’s done before. I guess that flows from the prolific comment you made, but it’s a more specific beef – still not fair to him, I know.

    There really are authors who push out poorer quality during their more prolific periods. Maybe they’re chasing that next advance check. Things might improve now that meth is so cheap.

    I’m going to have to start a reading list just to remember to read Death of Grass.

  11. Hello Jamil,

    Welcome back for season 2. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for hosting my visit to the Set of SGU in October last year. You were very sweet and gracious with your time. The other Patricia (Arctic Goddess) and I had a most enjoyable day! I was wondering, did you happen to bring back from LA the model of the Marine Harrier Aircraft I gave you for placement in your trailer? Just wondering… because I have the most awesome picture of you with that model!

    BTW I will be in town April 15-19th so if you and Carol are still up for it, dinner at Re-Fuel or the French restaurant of your choice is on me! If dinner doesn’t happen to work out with your busy schedule, how does drinks at the Hilton sound? I can’t wait to see the second half of season 1, especially Incursion! God speed with Season 2!

    Patricia Lee

  12. Question for Jamil: Were you a Stargate fan before you got this part? Also, what was your reaction when you heard the good news?

    Also: Greer is my favorite character! Keep up the good work in the rest of season 1, season 2, and many more!

  13. cool 8)
    Now you’re probably wondering what is it that I find so cool!
    could it be :
    1.the questions and answers with Actor Jamil Walker Smith.
    2. the fact that you’re receiving cufflinks from Akemi who’s currently in Perth
    3. the new stargate trailer
    4. seeing recent pictures of the SGU actors. so sad that all that hair will need to come off in a few weeks !!
    5. all of the above ❓
    6. I found 10 bucks in my pants’ pockets ( I just made that one up 😀 , if i find money in my pockets I hope it’s at least a 100$ 😀

  14. Thanks for the video Joe. I was thinking that I would have to attack YouTube.

    Ooh, teddybearcufflinx!

    One day scorpions, the next day teddy bears? You want people to actually trust you now? Riiighht. 🙂

    Question for Jamil.

    Have you ever visited Africa? Wanna come? We’d love to have you!

  15. Question for Jamil
    How much leeway are you given for your character. Do you get to bring a little of your true self into the show/ad your own 2cents…….spice it up a bit? Have fun/good luck in season 2!

  16. a terrifying account of the ordeal suffered by a man trapped in a toppled outhouse

    Eww! One of my ancestors died after climbing into an outhouse pit to try to rescue another guy overcome by the fumes. They had the inquest on site that afternoon, with the authorities and the families standing right there over the 5 bodies. In St. Louis in July. I can’t even imagine.

  17. Love the teddy bear cuff links! Adorable, but still classy.

    The Death of Grass sounds very interesting. I love apocalyptic stories.

    I’ll try to write up some questions tomorrow evening for Jamil. What a wonderful opportunity!

  18. Ah, darling cufflinks!

    I’ve liked Stephen King from the first time I picked up The Shining. No attempt to put it on film has been as creepy as the images rising from the printed page. I even got the red leather bound series, and was quite disappointed when they stopped publishing the books bound that way. They’re lovely books. My friend Genius dismisses King as a hack because he’s commercially successful, but I disagree. Sure, he’s not Vonnegut, but not every writer needs to be. How boring other wise!

    As usual, my brain goes into a stall when I try to think of relevant questions, so I’ll stick with, “Hey, Jamil, you rock!”

  19. Hey Joe,

    Wow a present…what a fun day for you. I am sure they are special because of who they are from. She is so very sweet. Such a nice way of saying thank you.


    Wow, such a great character. So dramatic…always fun surprises. Of course you not only know the back-half…but have seen scripts for Season 2. OMG…you are the “macho” in SGU.

    Tell us one thing about Greer that we don’t know. Tell us one thing about YOU that we don’t know. That is it. *smiles*

    Best to you Joe,
    Cheryl 🙂

  20. Coucou ! ça va bien Joseph ?? Moi super … dernier jour de vacance pour moi !^^

    Yaahhh alors voici mes questions pour Jamil.

    1- Avez vous certains traits de caractère en commun avec Ronald Greer ?
    2- Avez vous une petite anecdote d’un moment drôle sur le tournage de sgu a nous raconter?
    3- Si vous devriez d’écrire Joseph.M en trois mots, qu’elles seraient t’il?

    Voila 🙂

    Trop gentil le cadeaux d’Akemi 🙂 Ces nounours sont vraiment adorables !!!

    Gros bisou!

  21. My question for Jamil –

    Your lines are always so originally delivered. Do you improvise or think everything through?

  22. To Jamil,

    Welcome to Joe’s blog!

    Before I ask you a Q, want to congratulate you on a great performance of Greer. I loved to hate him at the beginning when he was being a prick with the water bottle, but loved the fact that he elicited such a strong emotion from me! Good work on doing that heheh…

    My Q is – who is the most fun person (cast ) to hang out with when you’re waiting to be filmed..?

    To Joe – Steven King is one of the few authors who, when I read one of his novels, you have to pry me off the chair with a crow bar to get me do anything else. I won’t move until I finish it. His writing style is fun, so visual and effortless.. fave novels would be “Tommyknockers’ and “The Stand”. Brilliance!!

  23. Questions for Jamil:

    1. In one sentence only, what’s your response to the silly notion that Greer is “just the angry black man” character of SGU?

    2. Wacky question: Beef, chicken, pork, fish or turkey.
    Which of those do you like the most?

    3. Why did Greer strip naked in his quarters in the episode “Light”, when the Destiny was going to fly into the star? Was he just very hot (temperature wise), or was a deep philosophical process going on in Greer’s mind?

    4. Have you ever been asked to tone down Greer’s awesomeness?

    5. Ever tried surfboarding?

  24. hey Joe, how about this book: LAMENTATION by Ken Scholes, for next next next book club thing thing.

    and question for Smith:

    —- What made you want to audition for a stargate role?

    —- Do you think Ronald Greer is essential to the survival of the crew or a liability or a mixed bag?

    —- How did you first approach this character?

    i’ll think of more later

  25. I said sometime before, that you were always so angry… But after re-watching the first part of SGU, I have to say that I like the little sparks of humour and sarcasm that sometimes comes through when you’re serious (or angry). It is what defined SG1 (…still not over it, but nevermind for now…) and I hope it keeps up in your character as well as some of the rest. I love the show and watching it over again – I see parts that I missed. I am looking forward to seeing the second half – it looks like a real wowser.

  26. Do you know what’s missing? A photo of YOU wearing the teddy bear cuff links Joe. Don’t be shy, let’s see you model them! Akemi is a sweetie.

    Anxiously awaiting April 2nd here, when SGU season 1, part 2 begins.
    The trailer does look good!

    Does anyone have an idea of what to bring (as a guest) to a St. Pat’s Day party at friend’s house? In year’s past I have brought a bottle of Irish Cream liquor, but thought it was time for a change. The hosts provide the food, right down to dessert.



  27. @Joe – You are such a doll! Thanks for getting Jamil to do a Q & A! I am looking forward to this. Thanks:0)

    @Jamil – Hello:0)

    Q1. Are you happy with your character so far, and are you happy with where you see him going in season two?

    Q2. Will you please name something about your character that you like, and something that you dislike or would like to see change about him?

    Q3. Do you think that your character has the ability to problem solve and second guess orders that might not be in the best interest of the crew and the civilians of the Destiny, and do you believe Greer can be caring and compassionate?

    Q4. How would you like your character to grow and develop over time?

    Q5. I promised Joe that I would watch his episode, Space. Are there any good Greer moments in that episode that you can hint at or speak of, and what do you like most about that episode?

    Q6. How are you doing, and do you have any other things going on in your life that you would like to mention aside from Universe?

    Q7. Do you think that Greer has the ability to stay cool under pressure, and exhibit leadership qualities while managing a tough situation successfully?

    Q8. As a follow up to Q7, are we going to see any of this happen with Greer during the second half of this season or in season two?

    Q9. Is there anything that didn’t happen for Greer in season one that you know will happen in season two, and can you give or hint at some examples?

    Q10. A lot of Stargate characters are good at many things, but they are also known for having a major strength that their other team members don’t have. Sheppard was the best at flying anything, Teyla could beat the Wraith mentally, Carter and McKay could fix things quickly… What would you say that Greer’s unique strength is, and how would you like it to be built upon in the future? What would you like it to be if you think that he hasn’t shown one as of yet, and again, how would you like it to be built upon?

    Q11. As an open question, is there anything that you would like to say to the blog readers and Stargate fans in general?

    You are a very talented and gifted actor, and you seem like a really wonderful person. I hope you know that there are a lot of people that are rooting for you and your character. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer any of these question:0)

    Peace & Love,


  28. Question for Jamil:
    Jamil, Do you approach doing a voice role for a cartoon (You played Gerald in “Hey Arnold” I used to watch it when it was on) differently than you would for an acting role?

  29. Question(s) for Jamil:

    1) I don’t know if you can/are allowed to, but, you’ve got an episode coming up called ”LOST” can you tell us anything about it?

    2) I remember you from ”Bones” in its first Season, how does working on a show like Stargate compare to working on a show like ”Bones”?

    3) LOVED the ”Now THAT is one sweet potato!” scene, any chance of seeing Greer have more classic comady moments like that scene from ”Justice”

  30. I haven’t read Stephen King in a long time. As I remember, he is one of those easy going writers that make it seem so natural. Like you are talking with a friend or something over a drink. Dean Koontz is like that, also.

    No questions for Jamil, just a comment. I enjoy his work as Master Sergeant Ronald Greer!

    Mr. M, love the cuff links!


  31. uh, Stephen King scares me a bit with his stories, so not sure I can sit and read one…
    -That was very nice of Akemi to gift you< I hope she is having a better time in Perth, the weeks will fly by and she will be off again.
    –Question for Jamil.
    -Favorite NFL team?
    -Do you get to do some action-packed scenes in the new season? (fighting aliens,friends,etc)
    (really bad ?'s i know, I am in awe and can't think…)really!!!)(*blushing*) You are doing a wonderful job with your character. thank you.

  32. Question for Jamil:

    If you were in control of your character what is something you would like him to do or have done? And, what kind of attitude or appearance change would you make? (i.e. has a life-changing event and becomes paranoid, or decides to grow a beard for the latter)

    Question for Mr. Mallozzi:

    I asked you about sending an email to you, and you said you are unable to read unsolicited emails. Is there a way I can get you to read it? Its only 4 pages long.

  33. Figure out that I would post my comment under yesterday’s post because I haven’t read the book. I felt that rather then being among the first one to post and talk about something that has nothing to do with the book like how nice it was in MTL today, I’ve decided that it was better for me to post here so I can blend with the crowd 😀
    Beside, I have nothing interesting to say today.
    Will work on my questions …. tomorrow.

  34. Defintiely agree on the Stephen King, I was going to ask you what you thought as I’ve just read ‘Sunset’ too. TBH I nearly put it down after ‘Willa’, because if I’d written that I would have stuffed it away in a drawer and made sure it never saw the light of day… an unfortunate start. But some of the others were fab. The Things They Left Behind was pure genius. I liked ‘N’ and Gingerbread Girl too, and ‘Stationary Bike’ was…interesting, but I think the story was too long for the concept. It felt a little stretched for a while – my red pen was getting twitchy.
    The problem I most have with Mr.King is inconsistency. You could feel it here, and definitely in the Dark Tower books. Sometimes his work is great, and at other times, to coin a cliche…he just loses the plot. Literally. It’s almost like reading the work of two separate people, sometimes (which is perhaps the problem with ‘Tunnels’
    (Gordon/Williams)which I had a bit of a pop at (kindly!) on my blog recently ).
    Perhaps Stephen is partly possessed by another writer! Ooh, I feel a book coming on! 😉

  35. First post-love SGU!

    Had to comment on Steven King, just finished “Under the Dome” and was very moved by it. He always shows us at our best and our worst and reminds you of what we all can be capable of(good and bad). Had to move on to some fluff to read to clear my head!

  36. @Jamil: You had a part in the pilot of Supernatural. If you were asked to return to Supernatural (and it didn’t conflict with SGU, of course), would you?

  37. Hi Jamil.

    You are a terrific actor and I love your character Greer. In another interview you alluded to like reading a great deal. What is your favorite genre and what are your favorite books? You have directed and written your own projects, would you like the opportunity to direct an episode(s) of SGU and are you interested in one day being a Hollywood blockbuster movie director? What are some of your other interests? Thanks for your time and keep up the good acting.

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