First thing I did when I got in this morning was pop my head into my writing partner’s office and chime: “Who wants to go to a playback meeting?!”

Paul sat back in his chair and looked skyward as if considering.  A few seconds of not-so-serious contemplation and then: “No, I don’t think so.”

“I hear they’re bringing cookies,”I said.

But he wasn’t convinced.  And so, I had to go it alone: an early stunts and special effects meeting that blew by, a laborious hour and a half long playback meeting, and an equally long and involved visual effects meeting.  When VFX Supervisor Mark Savela presented us with the visual effects budget for the episode, I thought Producer John Lenic was going to pass out on the spot.  My buddy (and Exec. Producer) Carl wasn’t fazed when he heard the number.  He merely shrugged and said: “Hey, we knew it was going to be big.”   Well,  yes.  Big.  Not BIG!   And so, to ensure we have enough money left to make the remaining fourteen episodes (or alleviate the need to make that special clip show three-parter), Director Andy Mikita and I spent an hour going through the script, tightening up here and there, trimming where we could, and shaving down that number.  As a result, the VFX budget for Awakening now falls somewhere between big and BIG.  BIg I guess.  But what an episode it’ll be!

Later that afternoon, Director of Photography Jim Menard invited us down for a little show and tell.  Would love to dial you guys in, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy.  Which means I can’t tell – but no one said anything about not showing…

I left Andy, Jim, and the rest of the gang to their animated discussion of gobo’s and headed next door where watched Director Will Waring work his magic.  Three of the actors flagged me down to tell me how much they loved Trial and Error.  Especially scene 61!  I thanked them, but told them that episode 6 was all Paul.  And I have to agree with their assessment.  Trial and Error is, in my (and Carl’s) opinion, the best script Paul has ever written.  And, to date, he’s written some damn terrific ones for Stargate: Universe = a significant pass on Justice, then Divided (one of my personal favorites), Subversion, Intervention, and Trial and Error.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Paul is at the top of his game.  I’ll be interested to hear what you all think when Divided airs this Friday on SyFy and Space.

Also ran into Exec. Producer Robert Cooper who took me to task for not providing the correct answer to the question: “How were the aliens able to penetrate the shield?” in episode 11, Space.  The correct answer: They were able to penetrate the shield because the area they land on is unshielded.  Moments earlier, Lieutenant James cuts power to that section in order to save the lives of those trapped in the corridor, unwittingly giving the aliens their opening.  So there ya go.

Tonight, at Ashleigh’s insistence, Carl, Lawren, the Girl Wonder, and I had dinner at a vegan restaurant.  For those who don’t know, veganism is to vegetarianism as lobotomizing is to trepanning.  The benefits derived from submitting to either is highly debatable.

Carl and I got there early.  Lawren stumbled upon us quite by accident, walking in to what he assumed was “some warehouse” to ask for directions and discovering the warehouse WAS the restaurant.  Finally, Ashleigh arrived and the festivities were underway!

We perused the menus…

Carl Binder in "Everything Looks So Good!"
Lawren was somewhat dubious.
While I was my usual joyously positive self.
For her part, Ashleigh was all business. She's a professional after all.

After enjoying some very good vegan cocktails (a.k.a. protein shakes), we were served our appetizers…

Ashleigh, Carl, and Lawren had the home made bruschetta served with a Peruvian olive medley.

It was unlike any bruschetta I’ve ever eaten (or care to eat ever again).  Carl likened it to eating pressed cork.  The medley, the waiter explained, offered a tasting of the various stages in the life of an olive – which seemed from young to mummified.

Lawren discovers just how sharp and olive pit can be.
I went with the carrot avocado veloute with creme de coco. It wasn't bad, but was closer to mousse than soup.

Carl scooped up a spoonful just as the waiter came by and parked himself, tableside.  Carl paused, waited for him to move on.  He didn’t.  Instead, he grinned widely, looked on expectantly, and waited.  No doubt his internal monologue went something like: “Put it in your mouth.  That’s it.  Now swallow.  Swallow!”  Carl finally did, and managed a brave face.   Satisfied, the waiter left us, allowing Carl the freedom to proclaim my chilled veloute “terrible”.  But that didn’t stop him from suggesting Ashleigh sample some “before it gets cold.  Or colder.”

At one point, one of our initial reactions to something we tried was so hilariously horrific that Ashleigh started to choke and had to get and leave the restaurant.

Moving on to the mains…

Carl Binder in "What the Hell Did I Order?"

Ashleigh had the Creamy Zughetti - zucchini spaghettini with fresh cashew dill sauce. She enjoyed her main. Of course, she also enjoys those dessicated root vegetables some people try to pass off as chips.
Carl was horrified to discover the lasagna he ordered contained neither pasta nor cheese and, for some reason presumably other than pure spite, was cooked to a temperature not exceeding 140 degrees. Still, it wasn't as bad as he expected - although he wasn't a fan of the zucchini.
Lawren had the Jumbo Thai Coconut and Pear Roll served with kelp noodle salad. Holy smokes, was this not good! On this outing, however, Lawren did NOT end up with the worst dish of the night.
That distinction went to me and my Masala Cakes - almond cakes infused with Indian masala mix and chutney. "They scratch my throat!"I protested. "They'll scratch something else coming out,"was Carl's response as he eyed the dry little lumps sitting uneaten on my plate.

Despite everyone else’s protests, I insisted we order dessert.  “After all,”I said, “when’s the next time come back?”  I could have answered that question after the appetizers – but, anyway, for dessert we had a so-so apple cinnamon torte, an alright chocolate-cashew cheesecake, and a surprisingly great ganache…

Moist and chocolatey. We ended the meal on a high note!

My only other complaint about this place (besides the food and ambiance) was the caustic atmosphere that had our eyes watering throughout the meal.  It was as though, as Carl put it, someone was slicing a giant onion at our table.  Ashleigh suspected it was a byproduct of the dehydration process the restaurant put much of their ingredients – including onions – through, which I suppose is more plausible than my “the place next door is a chemical factory” theory.

All in all, pretty bad.  Short of force-feeding us potting soil and balsa wood shavings, I can’t imagine Ashleigh doing any worse by us. Of course, in all fairness, I’ve yet to sample her home cooking.

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to our friend Deni.

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Harold
Harold

how dose the visual effects budget work, didn’t MGM recently start their own in-house studio?

jd
jd

i hope you stopped for a burger after that meal. seriously.

Shiningwit
Shiningwit

Deni, no words just love and prayers X

paloosa
paloosa

@Deni I’m just so sad to hear about your pup. And I can’t image what your family must be going through. Sometimes there just aren’t words. But my heart goes out to you and I’ll be thinking of Elway and hoping for the best.

arcticbook
arcticbook

Going through previous post it seems like a few people have a creative side to them and I bet all of us Stargate fans are always coming up with ideas about the show.

Have you ever thought about letting us fans give input on an episode? Whether it be just something that happens in an episode, or even giving us some guide lines and letting us come up with an entire episode our selves. I’m not saying you guys aren’t doing an excellent job on the episodes or anything (which I happened to very much enjoy the first half of SGU season 1). I just thought it would be an interesting idea. It would almost be like the fans choice dvd of Stargate Atlantis.

However that might be a lot harder to do than it sounds……

Deni
Deni

@Das, PBMom, sorrykb: Good to know you’re there, thank you so much for the kind thoughts. I keep hoping this is a nightmare. I’m up, watching Elway sleep next to me, and I can’t begin to imagine life without him. I cough, he wakes up to check on me, and when I tell him I’m ok, he wags his tail and gives me sleepy kiss. I’m amazed by him, at how he loves and how much he gives me every single day. I’m still hanging on to the last shred of hope, hey, who knows?

susan the tartan turtle

@Deni – cyber-hugs to you and your family at this difficult time. cry

Susan

puss-in-pants
puss-in-pants

oh my, that choco cake makes me melt. nyum~

Belouchi
Belouchi

Hi Joe,

Hope all is well. I got a quick question buddy:

How the hell did the blue aliens get a hold on a long range communication stone?

Also is it true that each season the Destiny is travelling through a new galaxy?

Thanks buddy

Ellie
Ellie

“Also ran into Exec. Producer Robert Cooper who took me to task for not providing the correct answer to the question: “How were the aliens able to penetrate the shield?” in episode 11, Space.”

Did you shout, as he left, “At least I know you read my blog!”

I would have …

pg15

Alright, this is getting ridiculous.

First she wins the NCAA thing, and now you guys willfully followed her to a Vegan restaurant? Why? What are you guys thinking?

First of all, the restaurant looks like a warehouse. Does anything good ever come out of warehouses? NO! It’s always been the hideout of thieves, kidnappers, murderers, the Trust, Athena’s operatives, and mega-high ratings for the Syfy channel!

Secondly of all, did you really think there’d be something GOOD at the restaurant? Perhaps you had hoped that they’d accidentally slipped some kobe beef into the many salads that they have? That they’d laced the, um, other salads with foie gras? That those olives were secretly eggs dyed a different colour (which was what I thought they were before I read anything)? I mean, you guys are pretty much playing out the aloof-guys-acting-dumb-around-smart-and-successful-and-sexy-girls stereotype that you see in every single commercial today. It’s not right. We are smart! S-M-R-T! Smart!.

I mean, I expected Lawren to go because everyone knows that he has a crush on Ashleigh; I suppose we expected you to go because we know that you know that your suffering hilaritizes us. But Carl? Why Carl why?! I thought you were smrt.

Alright look, time for revenge. How about inviting Ashleigh to Refuel so you can eat an entire pig’s head in front of her? Actually, I’d say eat a pig’s head regardless, just to cleanse your system of all this vegan nonsense.

Do you know why it’s “vegan”? Because vegans don’t have enough energy to say the entirety of “vegetarian”. That’s 3 syllables too many! Besides, they need that extra energy to protest stuff and/or act like they’re better than the rest of us.

I mean, you need a lot of energy to make hot air, you know what I mean?

Ok, obviously that was all tongue in cheek. Hopefully no one was offended.

Oh, do you know what’s delicious? Tongue and cheek, preferably from a pig’s head. grin

sylvia
sylvia

Deni….{{{Hugs}}}

Joe, was really trying not to make a comment about your main dish…but your comment and Carl’s just kinda say it all and then to look at the platter – one has to laugh. It looked worser than medium poor plus there was a sprig of mint to boot. sad……

The chocolate thingey does not look like it could salvage the evening, however given the other dishes just about anything with chocolate would inject some hope.

Hope Ashleigh appreciates the great effort you guys exert to try something different.

Which of the night’s choices would you have submitted as a WFP? Well, maybe not…that would have been mean to Ashleigh.

Duneknight
Duneknight

“Clip show three-parter?!” NO! Please no lol – Joe, arnt you the least worried that MGM might auction off the franchise to people who dont care for it? What if the budget you’re talking about gets drasticly reduced?

Paula

You have got to stop eating out with Ashleigh. That stuff looked (and sounded) nasty!

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

So very sorry Deni! You did the right thing for Elway and I know how hard it was to put him first.

noelm
noelm

I used to make a really yummy summer lasagna that used thinly sliced zuchinni for the noodles. No meat, but real cheese. Mr. Noelm was not amused.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

Also, my sympathies to Ashleigh, for couple of hours she wasted with you bozos wink .

I could never go Vegan. What is wrong with using eggs? If you get the eggs with humane methods, who gets hurt? It keeps the chickens employed.

Matthew RD
Matthew RD

1) I noticed that the jump countdown bears some similarities with that hatch clock in Lost, particularly the locations shake when the Stargate doesn’t close/numbers aren’t inserted. Is this merely a coincidence, or not?

2) Change of topic, now that the Jaffa no longer believe in their “gods”, does this now make them a bunch of Atheists?

Craig
Craig

I think the point about the shields being down in that area of the ship (and the fact that Chloe’s quarters were in that particular area) should have been mentioned in some of the dialogue as it never really came through on screen. I may have to watch the episode again in re-runs or dvd in the future just to verify that though, as we had a crowded house that night and a few things were lost on me while watching the episode.

In regards to your most recent (out-of-the-office) adventure, I applaud the bravery (and open mindedness) of yourself, Carl and Lawren for at least trying something different. Personally, while I do enjoy eating at new restaurants from time to time, my great fear is that nothing on the menu will look appetizing and anything I order will not be worth the price I paid for it and I’ll walk away hungry or possibly even sick.

Thusly, I am content to live vicariously through your experiences. Many thanks for always providing pics of the food in question as well. But doesn’t everyone else at the table get a little annoyed when your taking pictures of their food (or what their faces look like when sampling the food)?

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ “They’ll scratch something else coming out…”

lol Sometimes I really love Carl! lol

RE: Veganism. I honestly don’t get this. Mebbe it’s my belief in God, and the [Biblical] fact that he gave the Israelites a land flowing with ‘milk and honey’ – as a blessing – that I just can’t buy into this extreme animal-free diet. And yes – I’ve heard all the arguments (‘it’s not natural to consume animal milk, the milking process is painful and inhumane, honey is meant for bees and is indigestible for humans, etc…”), and I’m still not sold on the whole vegan thing.**

(**I could easily be a vegetarian, save for the fact that I really love bacon and a good burger… especially bacon ON a good burger – with bleu cheese! Ah, yes, the bane of the bacon bleu burger…with fries and a pint of Guinness… aaaaaaand… now I’m hungry. razz )

That said – HOW DOES A VEGAN SCREW UP VEGETABLES??! I’ve had vegetarian lasagna and it’s delicious! Okay…it had cheese, but still…it also had egg-free PASTA! I’ve made some delicious vegan-esque sandwiches and salads…it’s just stuff you can’t screw up! And bruschetta? It’s – what? Tomatoes…onions…basil…so far, no animal products…olive oil…and bread. Okay – you can use oil instead of butter when baking, and there are vegan egg substitutes that mimic what eggs do in baking…which might be better than using tofu, or something. You can’t screw up bruschetta if you’re a professional preparer of vegetarian/vegan meals!

Only a bad cook with bad taste buds can make a bad vegetarian/vegan meal.

Oh, and those ‘dessicated root vegetables some people try to pass off as chips’ ARE good. You won’t get me agreeing with you on this one. I mean…a potato chip is just a ‘dessicated root vegetable’, too. wink

You guys (and Ashleigh) just need to find a good vegetarian restaurant. (Is Ashleigh vegan or vegetarian?) For vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs, the possibilities are endless! Some really good stuff out there. Hell, come over to my place, and I’ll whip up a tasty salad of rice (brown, red, black, white…your choice – I have it all!), seasoned black beans, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, mebbe some corn and/or jicama, hot peppers (your choice), garlic…a bit of olive oil and just enough lime juice to give it a little bite, without the puker. Salt and pepper to taste. I mean – you canNOT screw that up! Unless, of course, you’re trying too hard to be ‘fancy’.

Have a good day, sir! And for crying out loud – hurry up and eat some brains, or cod sperm, or something, before you waste away to nothing!

das

crazymom1

After these vegetarian/vegan outings, do you have to go somewhere and eat?

Bryan M. White
Bryan M. White

Hello Joe.

Sorry about the meal. I have to give you credit. You are a braver man than I. I wouldn’t have the guts to go to a vegan restaurant. I fear the people there might think me an anorexic. wink

Throw a porterhouse in front of me, on the other hand, and I will show you a magic trick. I will make the steak disappear, replaced by a clean bone, that you can take home for the dogs.

Thanks for the production update. “BIg” huh? Sounds interesting, I can’t wait to see it. Thanks again for keeping us up to date.

Best wishes,

Bryan

Line Noise
Line Noise

G’day Joe.

My girlfriend and I have decided on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Paris this weekend. I fully intend to visit Pierre Hermé and finally sample these fabled Macarons of which you gush.

Any recommendations on flavours I should try?

lis
lis

do you have any good Ethiopian restaurants in your area? They’ve been consistently an amazing place to go for good vegan food – my meat eating cohorts generally do not realise the menu does not contain meat until after we’ve eaten.

Joan001
Joan001

Okay… back to pig’s head…

Are you familiar with the dish from the Caribbean – Barbados, specifically – called Pudding and Souse? The way the hubster’s family did the souse was to boil a pig’s head or feet marinated in and served with a cold pickle of onion, cucumbers, limes, parsley and hot and sweet peppers.

The pudding is made from the intestines of the pig which are stuffed with highly seasoned sweet potato.

There are quite a few recipes on the net and any part of the pig can be used.