Never let it be said I don’t make sacrifices for you blog readers.  For the past several weeks, I’ve made the ultimate sacrifice – sampling and reporting on the various (60+) flavors being offered as part of this year’s Vancouver Hot Chocolate festival…so that you can sip and experience vicariously through me.  You’re welcome!  Today, it’s a David and Goliath battle pitting two new flavors from two previously visited location: Thierry, which served up one of my early festival favorites (The Chocolate Trio), and Bel Cafe that definitely did not (Peppermint Patty).  So, how did the two new offerings fair in our head to head taste-off?


The Ampamakia: The base of this hot chocolate is Ampamakia 68% chocolate – a premium chocolate from a special plantation of Valrhona and only available at Thierry.  Served with a marshmallow dipped in 80% chocolate.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe, 1059 Alberni Street

I have marshmallow-averse (Also allergic to feathers apparently) so the chocolate-covered sweet sponges didn’t sway me – although Akemi is a fan and loved them.  It was all about the hot chocolate and, once again, Thierry delivers a wonderful cup. Very good – but not as good as their Trio of Chocolate.


Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

I loved the Banana Split as passionately as I disliked the Peppermint Patty.  The banana bread was good (although I prefer the Bella Gelateria/Erin Ireland version) and the marshmallow was as fine as a marshmallow could be, but the hot chocolate itself was spectacular.  Sweet, silky, and substantial.

Verdict: Close, but the underdog pulls the upset here.

Winner: Banana Split (Bel Cafe).

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…Suspicion!

suspicionAlmost every series starts off a little rough before, eventually (hopefully), finding its way.  Sure, there are strong elements in those first few episodes, moments that keep you coming back with the promise of bigger and better, but it’s usually further down the broadcast line when THE episode airs, the REALLY GOOD ONE if not the GREAT ONE, the one that makes you shout “I love this show!” and start recommending it to friends.  And episode #4, Suspicion…

It aint it.  But like the preceding episodes, it has its moments.  And Akemi liked it well enough, again because of the humor (McKay rubbing his numb foot received special praise) and those establishing shots of Atlantis on the water.  In fact, if we followed this episode up with an episode entirely made up of lingering establishers, I suspect it would prove her reigning favorite.

So, what else did our Japanese Stargate newbie think of Suspicion?  Well…

On Bates’ attitude throughout the episode but during the Teyla interview in particular: “Why he so rude?  So unprofessional!”

On Weir’s civilian outfit during said interview: “Why she not wearing uniform? Casual Friday?”

On angry Halling: “Jinto is crazy because his father is crazy.”

And when the Athosians decide to leave the city: “Hurray!”  Evidently, not a fan.

On the black-clad wraith’s first appearance: “Beautiful hair!”

All in all, not a bad episode in her eyes.  In her estimation, better than 38 Minutes but not as good as Hide and Seek.  Still, after SGU, she’s having a difficult time adjusting to the shift in tone: “Maybe because of old and dynamic of the shooting scenes but feels like watching a kid’s show.  Chotto sad.  Anyway, good!”

My past write-up on the episode here offers  a little insight into the episode, my writing partner’s failed attempt to come up with lyrics for the theme song, and a rare recorded duet of the SG-1 theme song with lyrics: June 9, 2012: Dark Matter! Comic Con! Days of Stargate Past – Stargate: Atlantis! Suspicion and Childhood’s End!

[Kathode informs me that link to us singing the theme to Stargate: SG-1 no longer works.  Try this one instead:]


Jenny Horn writes: “Jinto should have been about 8 years old. It would have made his antics more believable, and it would made one line from his father far less creepy. It’s the line about nothing being as big as my love for you. Cute when said to an 8 year old. Kinda creepy when said to a kid who looks about 12. My Nephew is 12, so….yeah….”

Answer: YES!  When we watched the episode the other night, I remember thinking: “AWKWARD!”.

Majorsal writes: “joe/Answer: As I said, if I sat her down to watch SG-1′s first season, she’d probably excuse herself and then secretly hop on the first plane back to Japan. That was a rocky first season with some very rough visual effects.

what about just showing her a few episodes from each season?”

Answer: No.  Again, it has everything to do with the look of the show – and, the visual effects in particular.  I think I need to slowly acclimatize her, like a lobster in a  pot.  I started with SGU and follow with SGA, then SG-1 seasons 9 and 10 and the movies, then SG-1 season 4-8, and finally SG-1 seasons 1-3.

Deborah Rose writes: “Good scripting. But things like the McKay/Sheppard horse playing and many of the other points could have easily crashed, had the actors not pulled it off.”

Answer: Ah, true enough, but the writer scripts the moment imagining the best-case version of what he has written, having full confidence in the actor’s ability to pull it off.  And, in this case, it was confidence well placed.

gforce writes: “Update – Brio (the budgie) seems to be doing much better today. I guess he just didn’t want to eat while I was away?”

Answer: Well, great to hear.  Separation anxiety maybe?

DP writes: “  Ha! I’d heard Gaiman was working on a script for this. Just because he’s never written a pilot script only makes it MORE likely he’d do it.”

Answer: Don’t know if he’s ever written a pilot script, but Gaiman certainly has scriptwriting experience.  In addition to episodes of Dr. Who, his screenwriting credits include Stardust, Beowulf, and Neverwhere.

arctic goddess writes: “As a Stargate writer/producer, were you ever surprised at how popular it was with female viewers?”

Answer: When I first joined the production at the start of SG-1’s fourth season, I was surprised.  After all, SF is traditionally seen as a young man’s preferred genre.  But it quickly became apparent to me that viewers may initially tune in for the bells and whistles – the action, adventure, dazzling visual effects, the star – but they’ll only come back for one thing: the characters.  And, at the end of the day, the show’s characters and relationships seemed to resonate more with female viewers…which is not all that surprising.

skua writes: “Have you seen? Shingeki no Kyojin: Ilse no Techou; Attack on Titan: Ilse’s Journal. OVA”

Answer: Not yet.  Is it available on Crunchyroll?

35 thoughts on “February 5, 2014: The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival tour continues! Rounds #14 and #15! The Ampamakia vs. The Banana Split! Our Stargate Atlantis rewatch continues with…Suspicion!

  1. So we’re on Suspicion.

    Do you think had the situation been a lot less desperate that the attitude from some of the officers towards the Athosians may of been different? And maybe they would have been less suspicous? I think that the immediate threat from the Wraith combined with a lack of support from Earth(And no way to go home should the Wraith attack) naturally had a stressful effect on the Atlantis team at the time.

  2. I did find “Suspicion” to be one of those more workhorse episode that while not really great, did move along the overall story arc and served its purpose. Not much more to say about it than that. It was good to get rid of the Athosians – I can’t imagine how their continued presence would have been handled as the show went on. Was it always planned to move them out of the city?

    I wish I could say Brio was still doing as well – by end of day yesterday and this morning he was not that great. He hasn’t been eating much at all, and he was still “twitchy” – little spasms with his head and wings. I actually wound up taking him today to the nearest available avian vet at which I could get an appointment. Which happens to be 150kms away. In a snowstorm. But, no matter, off we went and it he was checked out and the doctor really couldn’t find anything major wrong. (Heart, lungs, nose, throat, eyes, chest all checked out fine. Feces looks perfectly normal so probably not digestive.) He is just finishing moulting and she speculated that may be causing him considerable discomfort. Recommended giving him a good bath when we got home, which I did and he does seem a bit more comfortable and even ate a bit. Here’s hoping for a better tomorrow!

  3. Suspicion is not my favourite sin the series. The second and third time I watched the series I skipped it. It does have a few memorable spots. Ford’s “I got better things to do then cruise around the planet on a spaceship.” And he brought the turkey sandwich, which has been established that the puddle jumper is unable to create via Sheppard’s mind control.

    And lets not forget the continuing gag of Ford not being allowed to name things. In this case, the planet “Atlantica”.

    I like the line Sheppard gives to the wraith “…we can’t meet your dietary requirements”. I think the actor playing the wraith did a good job. I think the understated method was better then the way the female wraith was played in the pilot.

  4. The YouTube video of the SG-1 theme song (now, with lyrics!) is no longer available. Sad panda!

  5. Here:

    Try Log Horizon (first i think is a little meh but i like)

    100% with the “the show’s characters and relationships”
    but also bear in mind the goodvs bad duality; one thing that some fans dont take well in SGU is that some of the team are good or bad some times or semibad and some of the good dont look so good at times. you know mines must be the most good good guys. A total mesh. 😆

  6. Joe, thanks for suffering thru the hot chocolate for me, what a guy!! Enjoy seeing the photos and hearing about your favorites, who knew there were so many varieties. And hey, glad you put the you tube of the singing Stargate lyrics back up, such talent, where did those guys go?!?
    I have to tell you, when I first got the Terms of Enlistment book, I looked at the number of pages and thickness of the book and said,,hmmm, do I want to start this.> >>>and I am almost half way done, I hope I can remember it for our book report, hard to put it down, a great read so far, thanks.

  7. Just went to Thomas Haas the other day to try its two hot chocolates. Shane hadn’t had any hot chocolates yet, so I convinced him to take part in this festival at least a little. We loved, loved, LOVED Passionista! So delicious! I even liked the little jelly candies that came with it. As for Campfire, Shane really liked it (but not as much as Passionista), but I thought it was too conventional. I liked the caramel and sea salt, but I thought they were a tad overwhelmed by the chocolate. On the other hand, the Chocolate Sparkle “cookies” that came with the Campfire were out of this world. Like chocolate crack! It’s a good thing they’re crazy-overpriced (about $2 per small cookie), or we would’ve bought a ton of them to take and bake.

    In other news, my dog Sadie is getting a spa day. The Aussie Petmobile van is parked out in front of my house, and Sadie’s been in there over 100 minutes so far! I think this is the longest groom she’s ever had. The poor woman grooming her must be blow-drying and brushing her out, seeing the piles of hair continue to come off of her, and thinking, “Good God, when will it END?!?” Now I’m wishing I’d gone for my running session when she took Sadie, but I thought she’d be done before I got back. I could not have been more wrong.

  8. Suspicion wasn’t one of those eps that stuck with me, I had forgot about it. None the less I was still intrigued with SGA.

  9. And Joe, thanks for tasting all that hot chocolate for us,I know it’s been rough for you the past few weeks.

  10. I can’t say that I missed the Athosians much when they departed either. They really would have just been in the way since they could not have contributed too much other than hunting and gathering and maybe a knife fight. Then Sheppard and crew would have not needed to look for food and would never have met the Genii. Or…maybe met them in another way that might not have led to the bad feelings between the two communities.

    This was your and Paul’s first script for Atlantis. Can you walk us through the concept for this episode and how you pitched it to the other writers? Or did you chose it from a group of show ideas?

  11. QUOTE
    On Weir’s civilian outfit during said interview: “Why she not wearing uniform? Casual Friday?”

    If I remember correctly (without re-watching), Weir was still transitioning from being a high-powered civilian bureaucrat, with a fair amount of autonomy /independence, to a team leader and member. I’m guessing y’all were still costuming her as the former in early S1 to subtly indicate the transition.

    WAY off topic, but makes me happy: Some of you will remember the “legacy” air carrier, Eastern Air Lines, which ceased operations in 1991. I’m pleased to report that the Eastern falcon should fly again before the end of this year. See for more info.

  12. I keep forgetting–thanks to a January visitor, I have several packets of Canadian cocoa mix. Hot chocolate with maple flavor, here I come!

  13. Hehehe. First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team.

    I’m starting to question the leadership of the Atlantis expedition. In the pre-title teaser we have an off-world activation of the Stargate and the guards in the gate room take up position ready to shoot anything that comes through the gate. When the shield is lowered the guards start to dodge the Wraith shots seemingly before the shots have emerged from the gate! Why are these prescient soldiers on guard duty instead of being members of FART in off-world missions? And when FART finally comes through the gate what do they do? Do they immediately hit the deck or dodge sideways to avoid the shots that will no doubt be following? No, they calmly stand right in front of the Stargate until Rodney gets hit in the head!

    Not to worry, at least it was a bit of action before the next 30 minutes of talking, chatting, the occasional argument and indignant storming and then more talking.

    I agree with your earlier assessment about how much you set up in this episode. I think that’s probably why this episode doesn’t work as well as it could . . . there’s too much exposition of stuff that doesn’t pay off until much later.

  14. Joe, you’re positively a saint for trying all that hot chocolate. Such suffering. And all those marshmallows! A saint, yep.

  15. 1. Akemi is really hung up on fashion, isn’t she? I hope she never meets me with my hobo wardrobe. 😛 I’ve never quite gotten the whole ‘fashion’ thing, with its what’s in and what’s out and stuff. The only person who dictates to me what to wear is…me, not society. Actually, Akemi’s criticism of Weir’s fashion sense is making me like Weir even more – she’s her own woman, not restricted by the confines of society’s latest style whim.

    2. Akemi does, however, have great taste in Wraith hair. 🙂


  16. @baterista9:

    That was so cool, thanks! What routes/equipment did your dad fly? I used to fly Eastern (as a passenger!) on the east coast during my early engineering career, mostly down to Florida for meetings with IBM-Boca. My boss at the time got stranded in Florida when Eastern shut down (1991 I think?).

    I’m hoping they get it re-launched, but the limiting factor for them will be the routes. They’ll need to get gates at other airports, and at airports like Chicago, LA, and New York, those are apportioned like cabbie medallions. i.e. – it’s who you know and who you fund with campaign donations that counts. They’ll need to have a big campaign donation fund.

  17. Great comments from Akemi! How many cocoa’s does make? Love seeing the reviews for the chocolate and SGA’s.

    I’m at the hospital with my Mom. It’s amazing how tired I am from just sitting! Plus when I head to her house I’ve been covertly cleaning. I’m too OCD to live with a hoarder. Heading home tomorrow to avoid the snow storm. I miss WiFi, my bed, my hubby and my kitties. There’s no place like home……

  18. I hate these telemarketers who call and don’t say anything, so lately I’ve been singing (rather poorly, I might add) a little ditty in my best Jim Morrison voice…

    Hello, I love you
    Won’t you tell me your name?
    Hello, I love you
    Let me jump in your game…

    They usually hang up first. 😀


  19. The chocolates sound like they are getting better and better, though I am also not a fan of the whipped sugar floating globules. Congratulations on your dedication and percentage of samplings achieved.
    Suspicion is an episode I didn’t enjoy much on the first viewing, but has moved up in my estimation. It certainly achieved a number of things. Resolved the Athosian situation, at least temporarily. Established Teyla’s destiny, with her decision to follow the expedition’s crew. Our heroes take the initiative finally, instead of reacting. And of course, Zelinka makes his first modest appearance, Added to the humor, this episode is definitely not one to be ashamed of. Anyways, time to rush off and watch the next episode in order to be ready for the next posting.

  20. You are indeed a saint, trying all those hot chocolates. I definitely wish I lived in Vancouver at the moment.

    You never did get around to naming the teams, did you? I suppose that’s why, much like Lorne’s first name, fans ended up coming up with their own. 🙂 Also, I’m kind of surprised by the dislike of the Athosians here as most fans I’ve known have always liked them as a vital part of Atlantis – something that sets the expedition apart from Earth (in a good way) and SGA apart from SG1 which had allies, but aside from Teal’c never integrated them completely.

  21. What do you want, some sort of medal for trying all those hot chocolates? And let me guess, it should be made of chocolate as well, right? Ok, that’s not a bad idea….

    Possible flaw with your plan on showing Akemi the SG franchise in reverse order: she’ll always feel lost with the characters. She won’t know their histories, their proclivities, their nuances, anything. For someone who says that the main driving focus to any successful show is the characters, I’d think a proper way of telling the story of a character would have to begin at the genesis of the series.

    How else is she to relate to the story behind a particular person or understand the significance of why someone said something or did something at a given moment that had some sort of implied importance(as evidenced by the music or camera shot)?

    I just think that when you start seasons 9 and 10 of SG1, she’ll feel lost about all the characters and when you jump back to seasons 4-8, the confusion will abound. Jessica Steen will probably throw her off a bit. Same with the backwards nature of telling Senator Kinsey’s run through the series.

    I say just start off with season 1 of SG1. Her opinion of “bad” VFX be damned. They really weren’t all that bad, or dated. They did very well living within their means. Besides, it’ll only get better as you progress through the seasons(instead of it getting “worse” watching in reverse).

    Then again, I don’t have to live with her…. 😉

    -Mike A.

    PS. Is is safe to assume she won’t watch any kind of classic sci-fi TV from the 60’s-90’s, then?

  22. I support skua referral for Log Horizon. I am really enjoying it, more than Sword Art Online. I like how the show goes back and forth between action and character development. I also like how there are many main people in the show, and doesn’t focus on just one person.

  23. I’ve never seen Log Horizon but do know that the Sword Art Online Alicization arc will blow it away when it eventually gets an anime. It’s crazy long and I can’t see them doing it unless they continue it through a third season.

    I’m just hoping they cover the Mothers Rosario stuff from Book 7 after the Gun Gale Online stuff, it’s mostly an Asuna related story. Would likely take a few episodes to do.

  24. About “Childhood`s End”:

    Akemi mode on ( Why in the name of the Holly Smorgasbord (Brad Dixit) you change the hair of Rachel 5 times in choto 6 episodes? Akemi mode off

    I really love David interaction with the kids. 😆

  25. I do agree with Akemi about Bates. His character seemed to be overly reactive which begs the question why she would place him in such a position since he would be so adverse to her personality? It would also cause conflict as was seen in and episode about loyalty of command as the most senior officer was on “recon” duties. While I thought Bates was not as pointed and rude as in other scenes, I did notice Teyla’s “I know a functionary when I see one” attitude then reenforced by Wier’s obliging engagement. Akemi’s eye for fashion seems a universal famine trait. Fortunately, we do not get to see Wier’s shoes.

    I almost did not see the banana bread on the serving board as the colors blended together so well. It looks delicious at a closer view.

  26. RE: 12 year olds and innocence. I don’t know… I found it added to the believability! You have to think- our kids grow up MUCH faster because of TV, radio, the internet and other wonders of modern technology. Think back to Little House on the Prarie.

  27. Jeff really despised the Athosians except Teyla. He made such fun of the character Jinto. I actually liked this episode. There are three things that I like in a story: Kick-ass action scenes, great visual effects, and a deeper level of interpersonal relationships. Yours and Paul’s were more the kick-ass episodes and Carl Binder was more of the emotional ones (in general). And Rob Cooper has no category. LOL.

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