So, the day after Golden Boy Martin Gero sends me a pic of himself posing with copies of my comic book series, Dark Matter, in an obvious bid for a role in the potential Dark Matter television series, which came a day after my Toronto arch-nemesis, Tara Yelland, did pretty much the same thing, which came two days after Carl Binder’s did the same thing, which came the day after Alex Levine did the same thing, which came the day after Ivon Bartok started it all – I received an email from former Stargate script coordinator (and former roomie) Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.  No photos of him posing with copies of the comic book however.  Instead, Lawren elected to take another route. In the email titled “Sycophant I am not…Thespian I am.”, he writes:

“Okay after seeing everyone so transparently vie for a spot on what will become an obvious classic of the science fiction genre I would like to throw my hat in the ring with something a little more convincing than just proof that I bought a copy of Dark Matter (of which i bought issue 1 and 2 online for my ipad, i’ll ask you to please NOT sign my ipad screen however).

Obviously a photo of Carl, Alex, Ivon, Martin, or Tara holding the issue and smiling (or whatever that expression on Carl’s face is) doesn’t have much traction in the difficult world of casting. Sure Ivon as the precocious kid (using some Benjamin Button VFX) is a given. Alex as the analytical android oblivious of cultural niceties and therefore always putting his foot in his mouth seems the role he was destined to play (I see him doing it as a cross between Bob Newhart and 3CPO). Martin as the handsome guest star.  Tara, well she’ll just have to find the time to READ the comics before we assign her a role (although you’ve kind of written us into a corner with the lack a gender diversity, I can already see the studio’s diversity department having a problem with this). Carl…. well most of the characters seem crabby so he can have his pick. But for a well trained thespian like myself I think there are only two clear roles. And as you will see below I have the physicality and sincerity to pull both off.”

LBW as pretty boy ONE.
Or as the rough and ready THREE.

The email concludes with: ” My agent awaits your call….Lawren”.

So, what do you think?  I’ll give him points for originality.  But I’ll have to dock him points for the “lack of gender diversity” criticism and suggested casting of Ivon as “the kid” since the kid is a girl – something he would have discovered had he READ THE SECOND ISSUE!

I’ve decided that I’m going to cook at home more this year.  I’ll focus on fresh fish and veggies; start my mornings with oatmeal and a fruit shake.  I’m limiting my dine-outs to one a week.  On average.  Which means that, after this weekend, I’m not allowed to go to a restaurant until mid-June…

The Tan Tan noodles at Menya

One of the food items I didn’t get to sample while I was in Toko was ramen (because, of course, I was too busy sampling everything else). And so, the other day, when Akemi and I had a hankering, we headed over to our favorite ramen-ya, Menya (401 West Broadway).  Akemi had her usual soba while I went with the sesame-based spicy Tan Tan noodle topped with shredded pork and onions (I ordered garlic chips as well).

Then, last night, I met my friend Jacqueline for dinner at a restaurant that received all sorts of great attention in 2011 (while I was out of town for the year doing…whatever): L’Abbatoir (217 Carrall Street, Gastown).  We had a great meal.  How great?  I dare say “Tokyo level great!”.

I started with the Terrine of Duck Foie Gras on toasted brioche with quince and yogurt. Check out the beautiful presentation. The second this dish hit the table, I felt like I was back in Japan.
My second appetizer: Pan-fried veal sweetbreads on toast. Sauce gribiche with veal tongue. Loved the tender little morsels of veal tongue interspersed throughout.
Lamb loin and cheek meat cannelloni. Mint pistou, roasted pepper condiment, and romaine lettuce. While I wasn't enamored of the presentation of the cannelloni (they looked like raw, fresh pasta), they were nevertheless the highlight of a very good dish.
Dessert #1: The Chocolate Caramel Bar with banana ice cream and chocolate yogurt custard.
Dessert #2: The Pineapple Upside Down Cake with mascarpone cream (weren't we just discussing Pineapple upside down cake in the comments section?). The surprise here was the accompanying jellies. Outstanding. Our server was kind enough to pack some away for me. Akemi sampled them later that night and said they were comparable to Jean-Paul Hevin's gelees.

Thanks for the feedback on the second issue of Dark Matter!

An early entry tonight as we’re off for an early dinner with Ivon Bartok!  We’ll be going to a place that, some say, serves the best sushi in Vancouver.  You can expect a full report tomorrow.

33 thoughts on “February 17, 2012: LBW throws his hat (actually, his face) into the Dark Matter casting ring! Menya! L’Abbatoir!

  1. Okay I admit after bumping into you yesterday I got home from a wonderful dinner and for desert picked up where I had left off a few pages into issue 2. I was a little shocked when the child was referred to as “she”. I still stand by my casting, if in fact “she” is a young tomboy all the better for Ivon’s “rugged” looks to tackle the job. As far as diversity, Tara would be up for the ONLY role for an age appropriate woman on the ship, unless you plan to tell me the long haired ninja is also a woman. Yet another argument for the use of overly revealing costumes in comics so these mistakes don’t happen. No one ever questioned Emma Frost’s sex.

  2. Oooh, that all looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing…

    Warning, organ recital: I had my annual check up this morning. Good news is I am not diabetic and I don’t have high blood pressure. Yay! Bad news: high cholesterol. Now 217 is a manageable level, six months of meds, increased exercise, and decrease sugars and starchy carbs. Alas, I loooove me some sugar and starchy carbs.

    I’ll be licking the screen often.

  3. I don’t know… The presentation of your second appetizer and the entrée leaves something to be desired, don’t you think? The two appies don’t even look like they were plated by the same person. Or maybe two different people conceived of the appies, and the person who plated them both was just following their (very contrasting) visions. It just seems like the first appetizer is a work of art, while the second is a pile of food on a plate. I’m sure it was a very tasty pile, but still…

    Changing the subject, does anywhere in Vancouver sell macarons that are at least part of the way up to your standard of what a macaron should be? I’ve been reading about your Tokyo trips for 3 years now, and I still have no idea what a macaron is supposed to taste like. I’ve occasionally sampled things that look like the pictures you’ve posted, but those things were dry and chalky, so I know they can’t have been in the same universe as what you’re talking about.

  4. Ok, I understand the good old boy(and girl)system, but why not extend it in an entirely new direction? There are several of your dedicated fans and followers here who may not have the behind the scenes experiences of the former SG gang, but who are well read in the sci fi genre and might make some breakout casting choices! And for the record, I am excluding myself. Though the temptation of becoming a sci fi con regular guest has its appeals, things are busy enough here to require my full attention. I’ll bask in the knowlege that I might have paved the way for others though. The only question is who is best for what slot? Well, fellow readers?
    More seriously, I don’t think I can objectively say yea or nay to any of the Stargate alumnus yet. Only 2 issues in hasn’t given me the feel for the characters, though you Mr. M. have the advantage of both hind and foresight, and an unparalleled knowlege of both characters and real life people. But it isn’t too early to start with open bribery. Which I take Mr. Bartok is already engaging in, taking you out to dinner.
    Spartacus is about to start, so a good night and a good weekend to all, and as always taking time for the post and all the pics.

  5. I would think that Lawren would be getting a part by default. I mean, you must owe him for… something… right? I will say the gender confusion regarding the kid was pretty egregious, though. Perhaps with enough visual effects, Ivon could still pull it off… or maybe not.

    Tongue and sweetbreads? Not really my favourite on principle, despite the presentation. Everything else looked great, though!

  6. Lawren has an agent?

    Got my copy of Dark Matter 1 & 2 today. Be back with the verdict later.

  7. ROFLMAO, Lawren you got busted. Though the “for you to date” was very mean. Thank you both for laughs tonight.

  8. Those noodles look soooo good. And the pineapple upside down cake? So tasty looking. I’ll be heading to the noodle shop (conveniently across from the comic book store) to see if I can find something that even comes close to that amazing bowl.

  9. Well that was fast. These comic books are a quick read. After reading Dark Matter 1, I am very interested in the crew. Who are they, why are they there, etc. I like them too. When they were fighting “Whitey”, (braaawwwrrrr!, slap whap!, glang!, wham!), I was happy Whitey didn’t kill any of them. Not too crazy about the kid yet. (he will probably turn out to be the doctor) My favorite is the long haired guy. Cute! If Book 1 was a TV series premiere, I”d be watching! I will read Book 2 tomorrow. Can’t wait! Also, Garry Brown’s art is fantastic!!

  10. @Joe:

    (weren’t we just discussing Pineapple upside down cake in the comments section?)

    Yep…it was one of my recipes failures this year. I was trying to recreate a recipe that my mother never wrote down. It holds a bit of nostalgia for me as my mother would make it for Christmas Eve every year. It was a tradition started by my grandmother in the 50’s when my uncle was in the Navy. It was her way of honoring him at Christmastime when he couldn’t be home (he was stationed in Hawaii; hence the pineapples).

    Over the years they perfected it, but never wrote anything down as far as I can tell. Now they have passed away, I have tried a couple of times to recreate that recipe, but I failed miserably each time. Now I’m just trying to find something that is close and then I’ll try to take it from there…still looking for something close 😉

    I just reread this before posting and it occurs to me that I sound like a 50’s housewife…I do manly things too, I swear! Heck, I’m building stuff like…like…

    Oh, nevermind.

  11. I’m loving the banter on casting for Dark Matter. My second issue is on order. I went ahead and paid for 3 & 4….so things should arrive more timely.

    Love your food pictures. 💋

  12. So, only oats and fruits for breakfast? You don’t eat any proteins at all?

    For the last few years, my breakfast (of champions) has been raw oats with fresh fruits, almonds and a omelette made from half a dozen eggs. That is followed by a drink of 500 ml of water.

    Try it for a week and see if you don’t feel better. Try using as much fresh produce as you can. It may not be as tasty as, say, pastries and a cup of coffee, but it’s much healthier.

  13. JeffW: As I keep telling my hubby, “Cooking IS sexy for a man.”. Thanks for the laugh this morning.

    for the love of Beckett: I would love the recipe too! Please and Thank you.

    Mr. M.: The kid does look like a he to me also. Will the reason she is drawn that way be revealed later?
    As for the food, I would skip to dessert! They look delicious!!!

    Maggiemayday: I cut my number down by eating vegetarian and exercising more. You can do it but ….I wouldn’t lick the screen. With the kind of food he shows, it would add many, many points through osmosis. 😉

  14. @Tam Dixon:

    I also made an (almost) full British Breakfast for my family this morning including fried toast, fried mushrooms, rashers, fried tomatoes, white and black puddings, and of course, fried eggs. I left out baked beans (never a fan of these for breakfast), and bangers, since I haven’t found a source for the british sausages here in Chicagoland.

  15. JeffW: My mom makes a huge Southern breakfast: gravy (bacon, sausage, red eye or chocolate), biscuits, ham, eggs and fried potatoes. She thinks I’m a terrible person for not doing all that cooking for my family. However, my boys aren’t morning people and a huge breakfast would be wasted on them!
    I hope your family appreciated the nice British spread you put out for them. (I’m sure your wife did.)
    I do have to ask what are “white and black puddings” and “rashers”?

  16. @ JeffW – “I just reread this before posting and it occurs to me that I sound like a 50′s housewife…I do manly things too, I swear!”

    I love you for that 50’s housewife cooking you do. Marry me and we’ll run off together and make beautiful pizza’s together! And cheesecakes too! That is…you make ’em, I’ll eat ’em! 😉

  17. Hi Joe,

    I giggled all the way through this post, too funny! Of course, I think we, the viewing public, would like to see ALL of those worthies banded together as a creative team again, they can only make the soup richer!!!

    I’m having a lovely day with family, celebrating 43 years of life and enjoying every moment today. Had lunch with mom & dad, my sister-outlaw (as opposed to in-law) and my fab niece, and now we’re gonna kick back for a nap – a great luxury lately 😉 Later I’m going to read Dark Matter #2, which I have been saving for a time I could read without hurry or interruption. A perfect birthday!

    Smiles, Julie

  18. @JulieAloha: Happy Birthday!

    @JeffW: Getting marriage proposals, are you? A man in the kitchen is worth two in the…well, whatever.

  19. Joe, will the pilot show for Dark Matter pass The Bechdel Test?

    The Bechdel Test:

    1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it

    2. Who talk to each other

    3. About something besides a man

  20. Happy Birthday to JulieAloha! What did you have for your birthday dinner?

  21. If there’s enough amnesia floating around, you might be able to still claim gender equality if your pilot doesn’t pass the test for males, either.

  22. (Hi, Joe. Am posting here, so as not to clutter the next day’s blog.)

    With apologies to maggiemayday for the following…

    For JeffW (and Tammy Dixon), here t’is. It probably won’t match your Mom’s recipe, but it’s decent. This is a not a fancy cake at all, but it’s good enough for company. You can either plate the cake for presentation, or flip it, put it back in the cake pan, and serve that way. Feel free to adjust ingredients or technique later, according to personal preference.

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake


    Aluminum foil
    Non-stick pan spray
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 stick margarine or butter
    1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
    1 can pineapple rings, 1 cup juice reserved
    1 can pineapple chunks (optional)
    1 small jar maraschino cherries
    1 yellow cake mix
    Vegetable or olive oil


    1. Preheat the oven to temperature.

    2. Using a 9×13 cake pan, tear off a sheet of aluminum foil long enough to overlap the short sides by a generous amount. Line pan with foil, shiny side up. (It sticks less.) Spray pan with non-stick pan spray.

    3. Blend brown sugar and margarine (cut into bits) with pastry blender until crumbly. Mix in chopped nuts and set aside.

    4. Open can of pineapple rings, and reserve juice in measuring cup. Arrange whole pineapple rings in bottom of pan. Cut a couple rings into quartered pieces to fill in gaps in bottom of pan.

    5. Put maraschino cherries in center of each pineapple ring and any other gaps. (Whole or halved, doesn’t matter.)

    6. Sprinkle the brown sugar/nut mixture on top of the pineapple.

    7. Prepare yellow cake mix according to regular (not fat-free) directions with water, oil, and eggs. (Optional: drain pineapple chunks and mix into batter, reserving juice.) Pour cake batter back and forth over the bottom. Be careful not to disturb topping when smoothing out batter.

    8. Bake for recommended time, but allow for extra 10 minutes if using pineapple chunks. Start testing for done-ness 5 minutes early.

    9. When done, let cake cool for 15 minutes. Poke holes in cake with metal or wooden skewer. Spoon 1 cup pineapple juice over cake. (For variation, not to exceed 1 cup total, use rum & pineapple juice or the colorful cherry juice.) Let cake “marinate” for 10 minutes.

    10. If plating the cake: use an over-sized plastic presentation platter. (The cake will be heavy enough.) Lay platter face down over top of cake. With one hand under the cake pan and one on top of the platter, firmly pick up and flip the cake, setting it down on platter. Gently lift cake pan off and peel aluminum foil away from (new) top of cake.

    If putting cake back into the pan: Tear off another extra-long length aluminum foil. Lay the foil over the top of the cake, shiny side down. (It sticks less. The excess foil length makes lifting handles.) Lay platter over top of foil and cake. Carefully flip the cake, as above. Lift off cake pan and peel foil away. Using the 2nd piece of foil underneath the cake, lift by extra foil “handles” on each side and transfer back into cake pan.

    If not finishing cake that day (as with a group), cover and store in refrigerator, as cake is very moist.

    Hope it suits. 🙂

  23. P.S. Joe, I’d love to try the pineapple upside down cake that you had. It looked elegant and yummy! Almost everything did. How you can eat all these delicacies and keep your figure is, well, amazing.

    Hug the fur babies for us.

  24. The pineapple upside down cake looks great. I did come home from my trip to Dark Matter #2. Haven’t read it yet. Will try getting to it this weekend.

  25. @ Ponytail:

    I love you for that 50′s housewife cooking you do. Marry me and we’ll run off together and make beautiful pizza’s together! And cheesecakes too! That is…you make ‘em, I’ll eat ‘em!

    I came home from running errands to a marriage proposal:”> !

    My wife Barb may have an objection though…how about I send you the recipes instead? 😉

    @Tam Dixon:

    I do have to ask what are “white and black puddings” and “rashers”?

    The description may turn you off from ever trying it, but Black Pudding (also called Blood Pudding) is similar to sausage, made with a mix of pork blood and fillers, and put into sausage skins. White Pudding is similar but is made with fats instead of blood.


    Rashers are a thick bacon (without streaks), which is similar to salty ham slices.

    I found a local Irish store that imports all three and keeps them in a deep freezer. I bought some yesterday and cooked it all up this morning. It was delicious and it took me back to when Barb and I lived in the English West Country.

  26. It looks like I do not have Das’ talent for emoticons…I was trying to blush.

    for the love of Beckett:

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ll give it a try next month. I was wonderingabout the cake mix part since my mother never made it with a box mix; she made it from scratch instead. Any ideas? That part is where I think I running into difficulty replicating her recipe.

    My mom also used to use a cast iron skillet instead of a cake pan (still baking it in the oven though). I’ll stick to your recipe to start with, and then I’ll start experimenting. I wish I had been more observant growing up, but it should be fun playing with the recipe.

    Thanks again!

  27. For JeffW,
    Didn’t know you were looking for the old-fashioned, authentic Pineapple upside down cake recipe! Oh, well. However, the Joy of Cooking cookbook has the original recipe, complete with the scratch-made cake batter, and baked in a cast-iron skillet. Can’t find a J of C version online that stays true to both elements, so will e-mail the recipe.

    I’ll have to try the skillet version sometime, as we still have my great-grandmother’s iron skillet. It weighs a ton! 😯 The cast-iron skillet is also terrific for roasting pork or beef. Stapling a paper bag around the skillet to keep the juices in is my other grandmother’s trick. Usually 1-1.5 hours @ 350 degrees F. does it. If roast is frozen, 3 hours.

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