March 24, 2010: Oh, a whole bunch o’ stuff including the return of the mailbag!

Hey!  Look who dropped by the production offices today!  Bugsy and Marilyn!  And, oh yeah, Peter Kelamis (SGU’s Adam Brody) who tagged along with his lovely wife Alannah.

Peter and Marilyn.
Peter and Marilyn.
Alannah presents...Bugsy!
Peter and Marilyn.

Also dropping by the office this afternoon…

Hey, it's Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James).

Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Master Sergeant Ronald Greer) is speechless.

Today, we broke Linda’s story (episode 13), which explores the relationship of two of my very favorite characters, and also discussed the Awakening blue draft.  I had a major breakthrough on that tricky opening scene and finally got some work done on episode 10, Resurgence.  I would have accomplished more but was forced to leave early after receiving several complaints that my boisterous disposition was interrupting the hallowed solemnity of the DVD commentary being recorded down the hall.  On my way out, I poked my head into Ashleigh’s office to say goodnight and she responded with a whisper so hushed you’d think she was hiding out from a serial killer.  Honestly, is this what our work environment has come to?  A place where the production of DVD extras takes precedence over artistic expression, animated debate, and uproarious laughter at a video of Jean Claude Van Damme’s futile attempts to hide his untimely erection on Brazilian t.v.: http://www.cracked.com/article_15819_5-movie-martial-artists-that-lost-deathmatch-to-dignity_p3.html.

And what did you accomplish today?

Fellow SGU Exec. Producer Carl Binder offers up a suggestion for a future Book of the Month Club.  It’s called The Ghoul: http://the-haunted-closet.blogspot.com/2008/09/nightmares-poems-to-disturb-your-sleep.html

I love spicy peppers.  Let’s hope Indian protestors do too: http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100323/D9EKA7GG1.html

Staying with India – Indian guru tries to kill skeptical t.v. host with the power of his mind.  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article7067989.ece

Cracked.com presents the Do’s and Don’ts of Cosplaying: http://www.cracked.com/funny-2626-cosplay/

On the NBA front, a ref officiating a Denver Nuggets game calls the rarely called traveling-through-time foul: http://www.theonion.com/articles/carmelo-anthony-called-for-traveling-back-in-time,17057/

Over at thechive.com, 10 Meals That Make Your Heart Scream Redrum: http://thechive.com/2010/03/23/10-meals-that-make-your-heart-scream-redrum/ I want me some of that Guinness chocolate pudding!

A trip down memory lane with the Atlantis gang and an episode called Ghost in the Machine…

Whoa, whoa. Easy fellers. You've got the wrong guy. Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine. (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Lighting 'em up! Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Richard Woolsey calling the shots. Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Everyone's favorite Canadian, Dr. Rodney McKay. Stargate: Atlantis Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Downtime between takes. Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Elizabeth? Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Destination unknown. Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Showdown. Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
Doctor Z. Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, Ghost in the Machine (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

Back by popular demand – the mailbag…

RebeccaH writes: “Do you ever wonder if human beings got smarter because they ate smart animals?”

Answer: No, but there is anecdotal evidence that suggests certain animals got smarter because they ate humans.  Apparently, scientists have discovered a cluster of wicked scrabble-playing komodo dragons in Indonesia.

Maggiemayday writes: “The pig’s head probably tastes better than it sounds.”

Answer: Guess I’ll find out tomorrow night.

tiki god writes: “is there any hope for a stargate tech manual or blueprint set?”

Answer: There’s always hope – especially if the studio feels there’s a market for it.  Let ’em know you’re interested!

Charlene writes: “I’m sure SGU will do wonderfully and find an audience all it’s own but I will miss the others and will hold out hope that some new show will come on that captures the essence of what the SG1 and SGA characters did.”

Answer: Looking forward to hearing your opinion after the back half has aired.

crazymom1 writes: “Did you see Bourdain’s “Obsessed” episode? I think the two of you should get together and eat pig sometime.”

Answer: Sure.  Have him drop me an email the next time he’s in town.

K8T writes: “I don’t usually eat the crab or lobster when we go out for family dinner, IMO it’s too much work for the reward.”

Answer: Ah, but the beauty of ordering the king crab at Sun Suit Wah – as you can see by the photos – is that they cut it up for you before serving.  All you have to do is scoops and eat.

Jadeski writes: “Is Akemi still in Perth? If so, how’s she surviving?”

Answer: Akemi is eating a lot of pizza and, apparently, weathering a recent rainstorm.   She’s settled in, made friends, but is looking forward to making a return trip to Vancouver in the coming months.

Rich S writes: “People used to eat that in the past because they had to and couldnt afford to waste anything, you dont have to any more, we are affluent Westerners :p”

Answer: So maybe stick to hot dogs?

Thornyrose writes: “And have you by chance any idea of when you might do your road trip, and which part of the country/countries you may drive through?”

Answer: Nope, it’s still up in the air – as is my annual Tokyo trip since production will take us to the end of November.

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Is Rob directing Aftermath?

2. Is Will directing Awakenings?”

Answer: No and no.

Gen writes: “Making the rounds today is a memo written by David Mamet from when he was executive producer on “The Unit”, addressed to the writers on the show: http://www.movieline.com/2010/03/david-mamets-memo-to-the-writers-of-the-unit.php

Was just wondering if you had seen it, and had any thoughts.”

Answer: Love it.  I’ve always been a firm believer that, when it comes to writing, “less is more” and that the audience doesn’t need to be spoonfed every detail of a story in order to enjoy it.  Viewers are much smarter than most give them credit for and they enjoy the challenge of a developing storyline.

DasNdanger writes: “1. Did you ever check out that cheeseburger site? If not, you gotta! http://www.cheeseandburger.com/

2. How’s the aches and pains today?? I’ve noticed that you didn’t start complaining about pain until you amped up your workout. Have you taken it down a notch, just to see if that helps?

3. How’s mom and sis?

4. How’s Carl?

5. Refresh my memory – what are the flavors you do NOT like? I know mint is one, and I thought maybe lime/citrus…but I’m drawing a blank on the rest.

6. A loooooong time ago I asked if you would share your baby/childhood pics with us…any chance of seeing one or two anytime soon?

7. Do you like the smell of puppy feet?”

Answers: 1. Yes, I did.  And I’ve bookmarked the site.  Thanks.  This weekend, I’m making me a Miss Daisy.

2. I’ve switched up my workout, focusing more on cardio and losing weight training entirely in favor of bodyweight crossfit training.  Still a little achy.

3. Sis is fine.  Mom is back in the hospital (as of last night) dealing with an ulcer.

4. Carl is well.  He handed in his first draft of The Greater Good this afternoon.  I invited him out for pig head tomorrow night but he refused.  You think he’s mad at me?

5. Flavors of what exactly?  If it’s chocolate, I steer clear of mint and anything with fruit or liquor filling.  If it’s ice cream, same thing – except for the liquor part.

6. I’ll have to dig some up next time I’m in Montreal.

7. Sure.  Jelly’s feet smell like Doritos.

Narelle from Aus writes: “Ever made/had Blue Swimmer Crab Spaghettini?”

Answer: I haven’t.  But I want some now.

Harold writes: “are you guys ever looking for suggestions for the show?”

Answer: If you’re asking whether we’re looking for new writers, the answer is no, we’ve got a pretty full roster this season.

March 4, 2010: The Stargate: Universe Cast Dinner at La Quercia! Check out the new network SGU 1.5 trailer!

BEST – CAST DINNER – EVER!  And I’m not just saying that because I ended up sitting at a table with Alaina Huffman, Elyse Levesque, Jennifer Spence, and Julia Benson.

Okay – maybe that had a lot to do with it.   They were lovely company and, as an added bonus, were completely stuffed after the pasta course, leaving me to tackle the entire pork platter all by my lonesome.

Elyse Levesque (Chloe), Jamil Walker Smith (Greer), and Patrick Gilmore (Volker) – best of buddies?
Director Will Waring says: “Hey, it’s Carl Binder!”
Brian J. Smith (Scott) and Patrick Gilmore (Volker).
Louis Ferreira (Young) and Rob Cooper (creator, writer, director, exec producer)
The waiter came by and offered us some veal appies. “You mean veal tongue,”I said. Yes, indeedy. Veal tongue. And delicious.
Kaleena Kiff (co-creator of Riese).
The always awesome Alaina Huffman (Tamara).
The sablefish – which Brad likened to butter.
Julia Benson (James).
Saffron risotto. Carl's favorite!
Our main course: the porchetta.
Jennifer Spence (Park)
Elyse Levesque (Chloe).
Michelle Mullie, Paul Mullie, and Carl Binder.
Michelle enjoys the vino while Paul feels a migraine coming on.
Jen Spence wonders where the hell dessert is.
Oh, there it is. As usual, these desserts are served with never-quite-enough ice cream and/or cream. In the case of our table, it was cream but in the case of the other tables, it was ice cream - which, quite frankly, I would've preferred. What gives?
Brian J. Smith says: "Good night."

And finally – Hey!  The new network trailer for the back half of SGU’s first season is up at SyFy.  Head on over to the SyFy website to see out and check out the other goodies (http://video.syfy.com/shows/universe/promos_trailers_4/the-ride–stargate-universe/v1206467#self) or scroll down to the bottom of this blog’s right sidebar.

MGM studio trailer to follow.

Tomorrow will be your last day to get your questions in for Cherie Priest!  Post ’em if you got ’em.

Today’s entry is dedicated to our friend and blog regular MaggieMayDay.

February 10, 2010: Actor Patrick Gilmore Answers Your Questions!

Before I turn things over to Patrick Glimore (SGU’s Dale Volker), I feel obliged to mention that Carl came by my office this morning and requested I make a public retraction.  He took offense to my assertion that he is an American trying to be Canadian.  In fact, he claims he has dual citizenship.  It’s possible and I’d be more than happy to make a public retraction – provided that Canadian Immigration Services, who I’ve tipped off to his little game, clear him of any wrongdoing in their upcoming investigation.

Secondly, check out this brilliant piece by Linda Holmes titled The Double-Edged Sword of Devotion: ‘Chuck’ Vs. The Entitled Fan Base: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2010/02/the_doubleedged_sword_of_devot.html.

Okay, that’s it!  Over to Patrick…

PG: Hi everyone.  This Q&A got a bit long so I’ll skip the intro and just get into it.  Why don’t we start with a doozie…

Scott in Ottawa writes: Question for Patrick Gilmore (a two-parter):

1. Why has your older brother called you “Princess” since you were thirteen?

PG: This is a fact.  I’ve always assumed it was a classic example of an older sibling reacting to the obvious favoritism the parents show towards the younger child.  My brother received his Masters at The London School of Economics. My brother is one of the founders and is the Executive Director of the NGO ‘Peace Dividend Trust.’  My brother, Scott, who lives in Ottawa, will often have one of his three young children call and ask for “Aunty Patrick.” My brother is 38 years old.

2. And how do you account for your total inability to get a date with a real live girl (as opposed to a dakimakura Japanese hugging pillow, for example)?

PG: I can’t.  I won’t.

Moving on.

3. What did Joe really say to get you to do this? (Cherluvya)

PG: Joe shot me an email over a month ago about doing a Q&A.  I was out of town, but when I got back Joe says I ‘sauntered’ into the offices, however…

4. What kind of walk was it?(Cherluvya) / So . . . saunter or sashay? (Cat4444)

PG: …I MOSEYED on into the Stargate offices to say hi, and Joe reminded me.  So here we are.  I find actors to be self-indulgent at the best of times.  I’ll try hard not to perpetuate the stereotype.

5. Google search yielded an old Irish composer by the same name. Any relation? (Poor Old Edgar Derby)

PG: None. Fun Fact: Patrick S. Gilmore wrote ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home.’ Isn’t it deflating when you realize someone in the world has the exact same name as you?  Precious snowflake, my ass.

6. Your twitter voice is like haiku, but cool. Do you talk like that in real life? (DP)

PG: I sure don’t.  I’m a harsh critic of twitter.  I find the whole process indulgent, self-serving, and deliciously addictive.  It is entertaining and has been an invaluable connection with the fans, but I try to keep my tweets irreverent and fun.  I have somehow reached 1000 followers but suspect most of them are spam, which allows me the freedom to tread the line between funny and crass.  I dream of a day when I have over 100,000 followers with the ability to sway award shows.

(http://twitter.com/PatrickGilmore)

7. Who’s your childhood hero? (Chevron7)

PG: As far as public figures go, it’s always been Harrison Ford.  The reluctant-hero archetype made an early impression on me.  He also has an admirable balance of work and privacy. When I discovered the power of making girls laugh, I became influenced by the likes of Chevy Chase, Burt Reynolds, Bob Newhart, Steve Martin and Bill Murray.  In later years I began to appreciate the stoic strength of Paul Newman, Brando, and recently Russell Crowe.  But it’s always been Indiana Jones.

8. How did you know that you wanted to become an actor? Would you recommend it as a career for someone who is just getting started? (Arctic Goddess) / When did you realize that you could do this acting thing for real and pay the bills with it? (Penny) / How did you get into acting? Was it always something you wanted to do? (Chevron7)

PG: I’m a big daydreamer.  Hours as a kid spent recreating scenes from movies with my G.I.Joe.  My Dad brought home a video camera one day and I began filming sketches with my friends.  In high school I had no clear sense of direction and my football coach happened to be the Drama teacher.  He said it was possible, so I told people I was going to be an actor but I didn’t know how to get it done.  I went to University, got deeper into theater, graduated with a degree in English Literature, got a job in labor and kept telling people I was going to be an actor…but not really believing it.  I did a play, the director passed my name on to a casting director, I auditioned, I landed a role, which got my name to a producer, I auditioned, and landed a TV movie that took me to Costa Rica for two months.  That was 2001, and the next year I moved to Vancouver.

It’s such an unforgiving industry and I keep expecting it all to go away.  And the fact is, it might, it often does.  In January 2008 I was shoveling brick.  Two years later I’m a regular on a TV show.  I have no idea what 2011 will bring, or where I’ll be in 2020.  It’s a lifestyle that doesn’t suit everyone; it rarely suits me.  I would never want my kids to be in Film/TV, but who would I be to dictate their dreams?

9. Favorite ice cream flavor? (Grapes of Wraith)

PG: Chocolate Peanut Butter from Baskin Robbins.

10. What was your first acting job? What about first job overall? (Chevron7)

PG: I played Santa Clause at an old folks home in Kindergarten.  I volunteered just to make my best friend Jeff Oxamitny laugh.  But when the day came, I was paralyzed with fear and my teacher said, “C’mon, Patrick, what does Santa say?”  I stared at the smiling audience and they all encouraged me with “Ho, Ho, Ho, right?”  Terrified and wide eyed, I stayed silent and went from old person to old person, giving them the gifts we made that I had in my Santa sack.  15 years later I got paid $50 to act in a PSA about riding your bike to work, my first paid acting gig.  My first Job overall…my Dad and Uncles employed me every Spring Break and holiday, usually mowing lawns or construction.  Most of my ‘civilian’ jobs have been in that vein.  Though, a few years back I managed a used bookstore.

11. Have you done any theater work and do you prefer it over TV or films? (Poor Old Edgar Derby)

PG: Edmonton has one of the richest theater communities in Canada.  The acting high is never stronger than when I’m on stage.  If I could make a living in theater, I would.  I miss it.  I haven’t been on stage since getting into Film/TV.  The unpredictable schedule doesn’t allow it.  If there’s an SGU Season 3 in my future, I’ll hopefully do a play this coming year.

12. You’ve built up a respectable list of credits, according to IMDb. Which would you say was the most enjoyable project you’ve done, not counting SGU? (Poor Old Edgar Derby)

PG: A TV movie called ‘100 Days in the Jungle.’ We filmed in Costa Rica and it was considered a hellish work environment.  But I was new to film and I loved every second.  It was an adventure of a lifetime that I have yet to top.  I always laugh when speaking of ‘100 Days,’ because it was my second ‘professional’ gig ever and it took me to Central America.  I thought, ‘This is acting? Sign me up.’  Since then, the furthest I’ve worked is an hour away from my front door.  Looking back, ‘100 Days’ was a moment that took my life in a direction I had never planned on.  Too many stories to tell about that project.

Me and Aidan Devine filming in Costa Rica for ‘100 Days in the Jungle’

13. Had you been an SG fan before you got the role? (Simon)

PG: Aside from the Pilots and the episodes I did, I never watched SG1 & SGA.  I was, however, a big fan of the original movie.  Jackson deciphering the Stargate at the beginning is one of my favorite sequences.

14. I see your dad played for the Oilers.  Do you still pull for them? Are they your favorite team? (Kabra)

PG: He did.  #10, Right Wing. I will never cheer for another team.

15. Who is your favorite NHL player? (Kabra)

PG: I don’t know if I have a favorite anymore.  Gretzky obviously, ‘The Boys on the Bus’ (look it up), Ryan Smyth.

16. Do you play in your spare time? (Kabra)

PG: I don’t.  My parents put us in Skiing instead because it was something we could do as a family. I played hockey briefly and loved it, but I was always a better skier.

17. Do you ever think that the Oilers will return to the glory days where they can actually win a game? (Laura)

PG: In a long enough timeline anything’s possible.  But my word, what a disaster 2009/10 has become for the Oil.

The 3 Gilmore Boys wearing #10

18. You, Alex Zahara, Dean Marshall and John Billingsley were in the movie ‘2012’ and you are all Stargate Alumni. Did you have the chance to talk Stargate with each other while filming? If so, what experiences did you share? (Arctic Goddess)

PG: I filmed ‘2012’ in December of 2008, more than a month before I even auditioned for SGU.  I’ve known Alex for sometime.  John and I shared a funny on screen moment (the cane slapping), but I’m not sure if I’ve ever met Dean.  There were so many people, and the Ark was a chaotic set.  My friend Geoff Gustafson was also in ‘2012’ and one day Alex, Geoff and I had drinks after work and Alex regaled us with stories of Prosthetics and Sci-Fi conventions.  But, again, at that time, Stargate was just a twinkle in my eye.

19. How did you get involved with SGU? (Grapesofwraith)

PG:  I auditioned. Twice in fact, back in January 2009.  Truthfully, it was just another audition and like all auditions I had forgotten about it within days, until my agent called and told me I got it. Fun Fact: I was in fellow actor Dan Payne’s living room, visiting his newborn son, when I got the call.

20. What were your thoughts when you found out you would be in SGU, making SGU the 3rd Stargate series you have made a guest appearance in? (Laura)

PG: It never occurred to me until someone online wrote about it. I was interested to see what would be done differently.  I like being part of Stargate trivia.

21. Which actors have had speaking roles in all three Stargate series? (DP)

PG: That’s a question I should ask you guys. I’m sure there are a few now.

22. If starfish have no brain, how do they walk? (Chevron7)

PG: The Starfish is made up of nerve cells that control its functions. It’s a primal instinct sorta thing.

23. Was acting with an injured arm more of a challenge or annoyance to you? (Michael)

PG: It was kind of a pain in the ass. My arm would get numb and my shoulder would ache.  Though it was easy for Sound to mic me, they’d just lay the pack in my sling.

24. What was your favorite scene to film from the first season? (Grapesofwraith)

PG: It’s in the episode ‘Pain.’  You’ll know when you see it.  Good times.

25. If SGU was real which character would you look up to most? Which one would you probably hang out with? (Major D. Davis)

PG: I’d admire Young’s leadership.  I’d respond well to his fair but strict nature. I’d recognize TJ’s humanity and want to be around her most, but would probably hang with Eli and pine over girls while we talk movies.

26. Who’s the toughest scientist on the Destiny? Who should I put my money on in a fight? (Chevron7)

PG: Well, Franklin is not in fighting shape right now.  Sorry Riley, but you’re out Round 1. We forfeit Park because when she’s done hooking up with the military she may come our way. Brody’s got some bulldog fight, but ultimately falls to endurance.  Volker is stubborn and would fight beyond his breaking point, ultimately falling to a pen in the neck from a maniac Rush.  Put your money on the dirty fighter, Rush.

27. What’s it like working with someone like Robert Carlyle?  (Simon)

PG: A career highlight.  He’s a generous actor and such a warm person.  You’ll hear nothing but praise from me when speaking of Mr. Carlyle.  It’s sometimes hard to do your work when you’re busy studying his.

28. How is the craft services for SGU? Good food? What’s your favorite? (Airelle)

PG: It’s decadent.  No one needs that many choices.  I’ll stand at crafty for 10 minutes just deciding what kind of cookie I may want.  I’ve said this before, but I think I’m the only person on the Destiny to GAIN weight.  My fave is the late afternoon chocolate tray.  Gotta get there early to grab the Reese Cups and Kit Kats.

29. Have you played any pranks on any other cast members? Or had any pranks played on you? If so, who? (Andrew) / Have you participated in any SGU pranks/been pranked? (Delynn)

PG: I’ve managed to skirt any prank involvement, but Kelamis and I have absconded with the AD’s golf cart for joy rides around the studio lot a number of times.  We loop around the buildings pretending we’re 70’s cops, or singing ‘Journey’ at the top of our lungs.  We park, and then fear that the front offices saw us and are now looking over our contracts.

30. Tell us something Joe doesn’t want us to know. (Cherluvya)

PG: Joe’s all-time favorite snack is processed cheese slices microwaved on Salted Premium Crackers.  Fact.

31. Did you have an idea of who Dale Volker was as a person before shooting started on the series, and did that picture change over the course of the first season? (Iamza)

PG: The line in Air II “He didn’t even mention me.” was my first glimpse into who Volker could become.  It made me laugh.  I had a general outline going in of what I wanted to bring to him, but of course things change when the environment comes into play and you start reacting to choices the other actors bring.  You find your place and your balance.

32. What’s your take on the character of Volker? I’m not quite sure what to make of him so far. He has to have brains to be with the Stargate program, but he also seems to lack direction and flounders when he doesn’t have someone to tell him what to do. / Do you think that Volker is simply so far beyond his comfort zone, and where he expected to be that he hasn’t really come to grips with the situation on Destiny and is kind of lost at the moment? / How do you think Volker sees his role on Destiny? (Cat4444)

PG: Volker is a confident scientist.  On Icarus his job was clear, he knew his place, and loved his job.  Volker is intelligent and perhaps, at times, a bit cocky.  So he may have come across as caustic, but once you got to know him you understood his way of communicating, his humor, etc.  Then we land on Destiny.  Everything changes.  No one knows their place or what to do.  As the situation becomes more and more dire Volker withdraws into himself and loses his confidence.  At least he can retreat into his work to keep his head above water.  He perhaps hasn’t fully acknowledged how helpless they all are.  Volker keeps his head down, goes about his job, wherever he’s needed, and finds solace in his work and the emerging friendships.  But the Destiny is taking its toll on everyone.  Bottom-line, I think Volker feels alone.  At least that’s my take.

One of my favorite pictures of Volker on the Destiny

33. Did Volker work for the SGC or Area 51 or both? (Chevron7)

PG: I’ve always thought he was contracted through SGC.

34. When Rush was flipping out on Volker in “Darkness”, what do you think Volker would have been thinking since he was stuck between Young, who was telling him to help Rush, and Rush, who was yelling at him to get out? In leaving, was he picking the “lesser of the two evils” because, let’s face it, Rush was definitely going off the deep end there, and Young’s a lot more mellow? (Cat4444)

PG: Well, Young was more reasonable.  Volker knew it was of no use, but that blow out was his first glimpse at something darker in Rush.  It’d be demoralizing and scary to think the one person who may be your best shot at getting home is “a whole new crazy.”

35. When I watched “Darkness” for the first time, I was knocked down by the intensity of how Rush dressed down Volker. I know situations like this in real life and I felt for Volker.  How was it to play this scene? / How can you keep your distance from emotional interactions like this one during the scene? (Nina K.P.)

PG: The more real a scene gets, the more satisfying it feels when it’s over.  Robert got my adrenaline going.  This scene was like a gift for me.   I didn’t want it to end and I skipped all the way home.

36. Would Volker sit in the ancient chair for the sake of Rush’s research? (Before knowing what happened with Franklin) (PBMom)

PG: I never thought so.  Volker’s self-preservation would keep him from being so influenced at such a risk.  Like I said, Volker feels alone and he needs to look out for himself, not Rush’s agenda and any circumstantial hypothesis.

37. FYI, we are using Volker’s trepidations “Yaa-aay!” (in response to congratulations for being placed in charge of the mission by Wray) as our new quotable expression, family – wise. (Pastrygirl)

PG: I love it!

38. With Rush out of the picture, at least for awhile since I’m going to assume that some time has passed between “Justice” and “Space” how do you think Volker would have reacted? Since he seems to take direction from Young or Rush, without Rush around and Young not having a scientific bent, who would he look to for direction, or would the loss of Rush be the impetus to enable him to find his footing? (Cat4444) / Is Volker happy, sad or indifferent to Rush being gone? (PBMom)

PG: There is the idea that Volker would be able to express himself a little more in his work, but Rush’s ability to ‘communicate’ with the Destiny has become invaluable. But losing Rush is another blow to Volker’s hope of getting home. And let’s face it, there’s a line forming in the sand between the Civilians and the Military.  Maybe now Volker will force himself to find some of the confidence he had before Destiny.

39. What do you think is Volker’s greatest strength? (Iamza)

PG: See #36

40. What surprised you the most about Dale Volker? (Michael)

PG: After watching the first 10 episodes of SGU I was surprised that Volker’s walk reminded me of Bill Murray going down the stairs to the Library basement in ‘Ghostbusters.’  There’s something so ‘laissez faire’ about the two of them.  Now I like to think there’s a lot of Dr. Venkman in Dr. Volker.

Dr. Venkman & Dr. Volker

41. How much do you share in common with your character? Any similarities? (Major D. Davis)

PG: There’s a certain self-reliance that I think we share.  I’m more stubborn, but less educated.

42. OMG when will Volker get laid? Okay, you don’t have to answer that one. JOE, (((hello)))) when will Volker get laid? (Cherluvya)

PG: Joe…?  Carl?  Anyone?

43. This might be a question for the wardrobe department, but have you been wearing the same actual suit all season? (Poor Old Edgar Derby)

PG: They have a number of versions in the event that I spill coffee on myself during a break.  They also break down versions to show the passage of time wear and tear in the same clothes.

44. Have you requested that Volker finds a change of clothes yet? (Poor Old Edgar Derby)

PG: Naw, I love my wardrobe.  We can have many combinations with Shirt, Vest and Jacket. I did wear workout gear in one episode.

Now let’s get these Kelamis questions out of the way:

45. Do you, like Kelamis, do stand-up in your free time? (Delynn)

PG: I don’t.  I’d love to try, but it’s a mental block.  It terrifies me.

46. Just so I get this right, I’ll pose this question verbatim as it was suggested: when you are playing Wii Frisbee golf…when you sink a hole that is even better than a Birdie, and an Eagle, what is that called? (DP)

PG: A f**king fluke.  Or, if you prefer, it’s called “A Man, Much, Much Older Than Me, Who Still Plays Video Games and Brags About the Outcome in International Forums.”

47. Have you ever seen Kelamis doing his pet psychic work? (Gilder)

PG: When I stayed with Peter and his wife in LA last November I slept at the foot of their bed.  Their two dogs kept trying to sleep on me.  I assumed it was because Kelamis psychically told them to annoy me.

48. Who has the biggest trailer…you or Peter Kelamis? (Chevron7)

PG: Did he tell you to ask this one?  Peter does. It’s twice the size of mine.  However, Julia Benson and I have adjoining trailers…so, score one for Gilmore.

49. Another suggested one, not so verbatim: Who was not able to hold his liquor at the “Regal Beagle” charity golf tournament? (DP)

PG: I did not pass out on the 17th green.  While Kelamis and his buddies were drooling like idiots over the bikini clad beer girls, I closed my eyes for a brief moment.  I don’t care what the Course Marshall said.

Once again, moving on…

50. And about “Riese the Series”. Great WebSeries. How did you learn about “Riese”? (Nina K.P.) / Was it a regular casting or are you part of the creating team? (Nina K.P.)

PG: Kaleena Kiff, one of the creators, approached me about casting the project.  Through the casting process the producers and I developed a relationship. When all was said and done they wrote Trennan for me and just asked me to join.  I had no idea what the scale of ‘Riese’ would be, but I loved the crew and would have done anything for them.  I’ve been so lucky, the show has exceeded my expectations, and they’ve become great friends.

51. Can you see through your Riese eye-gadget? (Delynn)

PG: I couldn’t for Ch.1, so I rehearsed a Bo-Staff fight scene with a patch over my eye for Ch.2.  But production actually made a new eyepiece that I can now see through and has a functional iris.

52. Do you enjoy the web series concept? What’s the future for it? (Chevron7)

PG: It’s still so new to me.  The great thing about the web series is that there are fewer cooks in the kitchen.  The creators can still maintain 100% creative control.  Though if Riese were ever brought to TV, it would bring in a wider audience.

53. When will we see more of REISE the web series? (Sheryl)

PG: The first episode of Chapter 2 was released in early February, but all episodes had to be pulled because Riese is inking a deal with a distribution company and until all the paperwork is done we’ll have to wait.  But the deal is great news for Riese, it’ll be distributed overseas and hopefully with your support we’ll film Chapter 3 soon.

‘Riese’ promo shot of Trennan

54. Why do Koalas not fall out of trees? (Chevron7)

PG: In fact, Koalas DO fall out of trees occasionally. More so when they’re young, at about 6 months old.

55. IMDB has you listed as an actor in the upcoming movie “Dear Mr. Gacy”. That sounds really scary. Was it scary to be in a movie that dealt with a serial murderer? (Jim of WVa)

PG: I play a man who escaped Gacy (played by William Forsythe.)  There were a few scenes that flashback to my kidnapping, torture and rape.  For the week after these graphic scenes were filmed I admit to being ratted and unfocused.  It was hard to shake the intensity and brutality of what was done.  Keep in mind, while the camera is rolling, it’s not just me living these scenes.  I had a man who was living as Gacy pretending to brutalize.  Too real, but a fulfilling creative experience.

56. Is the Gacy film based on one of the books? I must say Brian Dennehy creeped me out with his portrayal in one of the earlier TV movies. Will I be creeped out by this one too? (Chevron7)

PG: ‘Dear Mr. Gacy’ is based on the book ‘The Last Victim’ by Jason Moss.  William Forsythe is an intense man.  I was terrified filming it.

William Forsythe and me in a scene from ‘Dear Mr.Gacy’

57. What’s the most challenging part of approaching a role? (Chevron7)

PG: It’s kind of a non-answer, but the most challenging part of approaching a role is deciding how to approach it. At this point I’m still testing my comfort zones and finding my strengths and weaknesses as an artist.  With every new role I attempt something different.  Whether it’s on or off camera, I’m forming a work ethic and process.  I’ve got a long way to go, but I’ll never perfect it, I’ll never be satisfied.  Mediocrity scares me.  The threat of it keeps a fire under my ass.  Again, kind of a non-answer.

58. Can you watch the finished product? (Chevron7)

PG: I watch my work with one foot out the door.  I’ll critique every gesture and inflection; take in what I need to know, and what I can learn from, like a game film.  I rarely revisit it.

59. What are those little facial expressions called in acting jargon – the ones you throw out during and between your lines that suggest there is more to Volker than stereotypical science guy trapped on a spaceship? Are those expressions written into the script? Do you like for those expressions to be written into the script? How can I learn to flash those expressions in regular conversation so people will know that I’m interesting? (DP)

PG: I’m not sure what specific expressions you’re talking about. ‘Character?’ ‘Reactions’?  The filming style of SGU is one in which you don’t know if you’re going to be on camera because they’re roaming the entire scene with more than one camera.  So you better be involved in the scene and be reacting appropriately according to your character.

60. What kind of scenes are your favorite to act in – ones where you are emoting and interacting with other actors, or ones that are more action-driven and you are reacting to FX? (Pastrygirl)

PG: I like person to person acting.  FX shots always feel a little awkward to me, but when you’re eye to eye with a great actor you can lose yourself in the moment, and that’s where the rush and the high of acting comes in.  With Green-screen there’s always a little echo in the back of your head reminding you that you’re an actor and not an astrophysicist…

61. Which ones are more fun to shoot? (Pastrygirl)

PG: – …that’s not to say FX acting isn’t fun.  I used to sit in a tree house pretending it was the Millennium Falcon & now it’s my job.  Fun Story: Not really an FX story but it involves FX: in the SGU Season 1 finale I had a mouthful of jargon to say while pointing at a non-existent holographic monitor.  It was late in the evening, everyone wanted to get home, the entire cast was in the Apple Core, and for the life of me I couldn’t get through my speech.  Take 1,2,3,15…I was on the verge of tears and stubbornly insisted that I could nail it.  It’s all a blur now, but I remember Bobby hugging me, Andy Mikita assuring me we got the shot, and driving home convinced I was fired.  That day I hated FX shots and science lingo, but I loved the people I worked with.

62. Do you prefer to stick to what the director gives your for your character? Or, do you try to run with it as much as possible? (Ian)

PG: I’ll do what I have prepared and if it runs contrary to the director’s vision, we’ll discuss it.  It’s a very trusting relationship and I’ve never had any serious disagreements.  When playing a recurring character the directors trust you to have a keen sense of motivation.  They give you the creative freedom as long as it doesn’t take away from the story or the moment.

63. What episodes are your fav from Season 1 and which one do you think the fans will love most? (Major D. Davis)

PG: Some of my favorites are in the first half.  I have fond memories of episodes like Darkness and Life.  It was in those episodes that we were figuring out our characters.  The second half of S.1 is jammed packed and moves pretty quickly.  I think the fans will enjoy the pace.

64. Will you get more screen time during the second half of the first season? (Jim of WVa)

PG: As the season progressed we all found our place and the writers knew how to use us more effectively. Though it all depends on editing.

65. Which actor or actress on SGU would you like more screentime with? (PBMom)

PG: There was a scene in ‘Faith’ that had to be removed for pacing, in which Jamil and I would have had a funny exchange. I was looking forward to that.  Jamil is an actor I watch with awe.  He never reads a line the way you expect it.  I’m also curious to see every specific relationship develop between Volker and the rest of the cast; some friends, some rivals.  There’s so much opportunity with such a big cast.

66. Who would you most like to do a DVD commentary with? (DP)

PG: Any one of the directors or writers.  I love hearing about the conception of ideas and storytelling techniques.

67. Have you ever had any trouble crossing the U.S.-Canadian border? (DP)

PG: Nope.  Though the American Customs agents at the airport are a cheery bunch, aren’t they.

68. Met you and Peter K. at the LA con. Did you get recognized, did you enjoy the con? (Sheryl)

PG: Shockingly, yes, we did get recognized. Peter and I were a little taken aback by the response.  We had a blast, but it was a bit overwhelming.

69. I must confess that with that hat you were wearing in Los Angeles (at the convention) it disguised you well. Or was that the plan? (Arctic Goddess)

PG: My ‘disguise’ consisted of a baseball hat and sunglasses.  It wasn’t planned.  We weren’t there officially and didn’t want to crash the party. We just kept our heads down.

70. I met you [at the LA Con after Ryan Robbins was on stage.] How did you guys get to know each other? (Arctic Goddess)

PG: I work as a casting reader when I can, and I’ve met and acted opposite countless Vancouver actors.  I met Ryan this way and then we worked together in a short film called ‘The Masculine Mystique.’  We became fast friends and it’s exciting to have him on Riese.

71. Would you ever do the cons.? (Sheryl)

PG: I think so.  Things are a little busy right now, but one day I’d love to travel somewhere fun and meet you guys face to face.

72. What kind of developments or changes would you like to see Volker experience on Destiny? (Pastrygirl) / What do you hope to see for your character as the series progresses? / (Michael) What are you most looking forward to about season 2, in terms of your character? (Iamza)

PG: I’d like to see Volker throw a punch. I want him to woo a girl.  I want him to dive head first through the gate.  I want him to use his outdoor voice and tell someone what’s really on his mind.  I think it’d be funny if he broke his arm again.  I’d like Volker to (see #42)… Or, how about just a haircut.

73. If you could create one story for you character what would it be. Would you have him visit earth? Would you have him save the day? (Major D. Davis)

PG: I think everyone wants to be a hero for a day.  I would honestly just like to get into the guts of who Volker is and why he is that way.  I wanna get to know him, so he becomes more real.

74. If you could play any other character on SGU, which would you choose? (Jill)

PG: I’d play TJ and insist on Psych evaluations every once in a while, like M.A.S.H. would do the documentaries. Or I’d play Rush, and bitch out Volker.  Aside from that, I’m pretty happy with my role.

75. If you (the actor) could use the communication stones with anyone on Earth (modern day), who would you choose and why? (PBMom)

PG: My family. Parents, Brother, Sister-in-law, Nieces, Nephew, barista.

76. How do you feel about the overall response from the fanbase about SGU both positive and negative? (Simon)

PG: Before there was internet, I bet there was a blissful ignorance among actors and fan reactions.  But now every voice has a forum and if you want to find the haters, it’s not hard.  When SGU started it was tough to balance the fan reactions.  I mean, if we choose to ignore the haters, why should we choose to believe the folks who love it.  So I stopped looking, and, for the most part, the only voices that have sought me out have been positive.  Fandom is a bit overwhelming and daunting, but I’m excited by the support and proud to be a part of the Stargate family.

And that’s it…Thank you so much for your questions and interest, and thank you Joe for allowing me a soapbox to spout my propaganda.

December 24, 2009: My New Writer’s Room. You Can Quote Me. And Back In Montreal.

I’ve finally discovered my “writing zone”, that oh-so-elusive long sought-after artistic sweet spot, a place that marries private serenity and social dynamism, where focus sharpens and creativity blossoms.  I refer, of course, to the Air Canada lounge in the Vancouver Airport where, yesterday, I hit the 35 page mark, and concluded Act III of my script.  At one point, when I was on my feet and pacing, running the dialogue in my head, an elderly traveler uncertainly approached and motioned to my open laptop.  “Are you done?”he inquired.  I wanted to tell him he’d have to wait to watch the episode like everyone else, but went with “No, sorry.” instead.  He shuffled off and eventually found a seat at one of the public computers.  In retrospect, I wonder – had I said yes, would he have finished the last two acts for me?

I was able to get some writing done because, despite my apprehension, it turned out to be a surprisingly smooth travel day.  No endless line-ups.  No frenzied crowds.  I walked in and right up to the counter where I presented my passport and information.  At first, the woman at the check-in informed me that I had missed my flight, then realized she had me on an earlier departure from the same gate and that I was, in fact, hideously early.  Security turned out to be a breeze, the anticipated Christmas travel rush nowhere to be seen, so that by the time I hit the lounge, I had a couple of hours to kill.  And, really, what better way to spend them than finally putting that tricky third act to bed.

We return to the offices on January 12th,  but I’m hoping to get this script finished sooner since my friend Tomomi, in Canada from Japan to visit with family for the holidays, will be swinging by Vancouver for a couple of days.  Back in Tokyo, we dined at Il Ghiottone and Yamada Chikara where we enjoyed two excellent meals so I’m going to have to go with the heavy hitters for her two-night stay on my turf.  I tried to book Lumiere through Opentable but was informed I would have to give them my Visa information to complete the reservation.  Well, yes , I could go through the trouble of doing that – or, I could simply click off Lumiere and click on West and go with an equally great and far more convenient choice.  At a time when the fine-dining scene is hurting, I want to make it a point to help out Vancouver’s local restaurants as much as possible – but if I’m going to have to leave my Visa information every time I want to book a table at Lumiere, I’m going to assume they’re doing just fine and focus on other places.

You know, it’s always nice to be quoted, especially when what you said was mature, intelligent and/or witty.  For example, my memorably astute one-word summation of the lovely Elyse Leveseque, simply “Yowza!”, that found its way into Mike Moody’s “…Eleven Babes Worth Watchin…’” Christmas countdown for TV Squad ( The Twelve Days of Festivus: Eleven babes worth watchin’ – TV Squad).   Mike offers up a great list – to which I would add: Ming-Na, Alaina Huffman, Jennifer Spence, and Julia Benson (whose name continually leads the list of Search Engine Terms  used to find my blog, well ahead of “Stargate”, “Joseph Mallozzi”, and, curiously, “smile now cry later”).

Well, back in Montreal and reunited with mom, sis, the dogs, and he’s-so-ugly-he’s-actually-cute Baby cat.

Felix (mom’s neurotic dog)

Roxy (sweetheart)

Aspen (the loud one)

Baby (the…er…cute one?)

Sis

Mom

And a couple of surprises from sis…

Located in downtown Montreal, run by a young couple who clearly know their chocolate, it’s considered the best chocolate shop by many local foodies.

Dark chocolate foie gras truffles – made to order. Incredibly decadent.

Another Montreal maker of fine chocolates…

An interesting mix of chocolate and alcohol (One apparently not approved by the FDA in the U.S.? Did I hear correctly? If so, that's one of the craziest things I've heard.) . My dark chocolate sake shooter was a winner.

Finally – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

November 11, 2009: Tech Troubles x 2! Get your questions in for Adam-Troy Castro! Mailbag!

Thanks to everyone who has offered up informed advice, hopeful suggestions, and strongly worded remonstrations on my ongoing tech problems.  The battle continues on two fronts.  First, there’s the internet issues with my new Macbook.  Despite repeated attempts to log on to my home network (I can make a connection just fine at work), I keep getting the “This computer was unable to join the AirPort network you selected.  You may have entered an incorrect password…” message.  My online tech support suggested I try changing the network name and password – which I’ve been reluctant to do since, the way my luck has been going, it’ll no doubt end up screwing the internet capabilities of the laptops that CAN still get a connection.  Hmmm.  Maybe I’ll give it a try later tonight, but only after I’ve uploaded this entry.  If no comments are approved after this entry is published, you can be sure I’m royally screwed.

Then, there’s the issues with my damn Blackberry.  This one is particularly infuriating because, unlike my laptop, I can’t use the damn thing.  Oh, sure, I can scroll up and down and side to side, but I can’t click down on the trackball.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  I CAN click down on the trackball, but it requires me to set the tip of a pen against it and then press down with my full body weight.  Needless to say it’s a highly inconvenient method of communication.  I was at Fuel last night and Tom informed me that he experienced the very same problem.  And so had a number of his friends.  And so had A LOT of other people as my subsequent online research revealed.  Apparently, it’s a problem with the hardware, NOT the software (as my cell phone provider would have me believe).  Unfortunately, the phone is over a year old and no longer under warranty so my only options are to: a) purchase a new phone and start a new contract, or b) suck it. 

I figured that, after my many years as a Rogers customer, I would be rewarded for my loyalty and offered some sort of deal.  Perhaps a discount on an iPhone?  Some free weekends on my new contract?  A coupon for a free McChicken if I purchase a sandwich of equal or greater value?  Nope, sorry.  Longtime Rogers customers aren’t as important as relatively new customers who have less than a year remaining on their contracts.  THEIR business, Rogers wants to keep.  YOUR business – they‘ve already got.  What’re you gonna do?  Well, like I said, you can purchase a new phone at full price and sign up for another three year contract (and hope the same thing doesn’t happen to you a year from now) or you can suck it.  Or…

You can pay a penalty and take your business elsewhere, see what kind of deals a rival cell phone provider can offer that will hopefully offset the cost of breaking your contract.  And, if you’re feeling pissed off enough, start a contest on your blog that would automatically enter anyone who drops Rogers in favor of a rival provider in a draw to win a round-trip airfare for two to anywhere in the world of the winner’s choosing.  And offer a similar incentive to anyone willing to drop Blackberry for an iPhone.  Also, new customers who sign up for an internet provider OTHER THAN Rogers or purchase an iPhone over a Blackberry would also be eligible.  I haven’t quite worked out the details, but give me a couple of days.

And, of course, Rogers and Blackberry can suck it instead.

Hey, Stargate science consultant Mika McKinnon () will be giving a talk next week about working as a science consultant, science in science fiction, and the science portrayed in Stargate.  If you’re interested, head on over:

Monday, 3pm, running at least 15 min but not more than 1 hr.
Earth & Ocean Sciences seminar room (EOS-Main 330A), UBC campus

A reminder to all you Book of the Month club participants who read Emissaries from the Dead and have questions for the author – Post ‘em!  You have until tomorrow night!

Mailbag:

JYS writes: “I found out about the closure too on facebook…sucks…cause I never got a chance to try the duck or belly confit.”

Answer: There’s still time.  You have about three weeks until the changeover.  And I’m sure there’s a strong possibility the duck and the belly confit will make an appearance on the new menu at some point.

Ron writes: “So theoretically dialing the gate while in the sun would have worked but Rush somehow managed to stop them?”

Answer: Rush may have been able to pull one over on Telford and his crew, but it’s unlikely he would be able to do the same to Eli who is in a better position to check and either confirm or deny Rush’s assertion.

PoorOldEdgarDerby writes: “Who has you beat on Fuel visits?”

Answer: Some guy who used to go in for lunch all the time (I personally think dinners should count for more).  Anyway, I went in for my own lunch visit today and tied him.  One more visit should put me over the top.

Flygirl writes: “No Fuel?!! What will we do?!! It’s always one of my first stops, when I’m in Vancouver! Rats! It’s those darn protesters fault!”

Answer: Ha, I guarantee that the protesters are deluded enough to think this was all them.  But fear not, Flygirl.  The reimagined Fuel will be taking its place and I’m confident the food will be a terrific as ever.

Jmanzione writes: “Regarding Fuel; the name change, menu change, and emphasis on “more affordable” tells me that your city, and probably your country, is being hit with the same economic destruction that the USA is experiencing and at least your friends at Fuel still have a company and their employees won’t be tossed to the curb.”

Answer: That’s it, I suspect.  All of the city’s fine dining establishments have taken a hit and several have shut down operations entirely.

Paloosa writes: “Since Destiny is elderly, will there be some breakdowns now that the crew is taxing its systems?
Can “Time” be considered a stand alone episode?
Will there ever be an episode where the crew of the Destiny can rally against something together, instead of against each other?”

Answers: 1) Possibly.  2) Yes. 3) I’d say they rallied together at the end of Earth with Brody and Volker following Rush’s plan to rid Destiny of Telford and co.

Cat writes: “I am saddened to hear of Fuel’s closing also. Unfortunately I’ve never been, as it’s a bit out of my price range, but I had been planning on selecting it for my celebration dinner when I finally complete my undergrad (the parents would foot the bill for the meal in that case).”

Answer: The reimagined Fuel will be more casual and more affordable from what I hear, so you can still check it out.

Matt Boesch writes: “at the end of justice will we see a to be continue logo?”

Answer: Nope.  You’ll just have to trust us!

Anais33 a ecrit: “=) je veux posé des questions à Maximus!
1) Où êtes vous née?
2) Avez vous eu dàja des disputes avec vos camarades chiens? Qui? et pourquoi?
3) Que pensez vous de Joseph?”

Maximus repond: 1) Calgary, Alberta.  Canada.
2) Oui.  Brie.  Et Lulu des fois.  Elles sont mechantes.
3) Il est toujours en retard avec mon dîner!

Flappo writes: “So may I ask what Animes do you watch?”

Answer: The last two I watched were Death Note and When They Cry, both of which I enjoyed.  Some of my faves include: Berserk, Cowboy Bebop, Now and Then Here and There, Utena, Ninja Scroll, Read or Die, Samurai 7, Samurai Champloo, Kino’s Journey, Last Exile, Azumanga Daioh, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Excel Saga, Infinite Ryvius, Patlabor, Love Hina, Video Girl Air.

Extra Ordinary Teenager writes: “Hey Joe, what is the episode composition for sgu? is it still 5 acts and the tease like sga?”

Answer: Yes, same as it was for both SGA and SG-1.

Anubis91 writes: “I would like to know if we could see those “un”official lists of adress that has been done in the past ?”

Answer: I’ll look into it for you.

Shelsfc writes: “any chance we might see you make an appearance there btw? It’s apparently gonna be the last Gatecon “

Answer: It always comes down to scheduling for me.

D writes: “A) Why did you chose to put this type of content in the Kino videos, and why wasn’t more of this type of content included in the show?
B) Since these first intro episode are about the audience getting to know the ship and cast why aren’t we seeing a bit more of how they’re setting up life out there and learning to live around the technology of the ship (beyond just *it’s broken right now*):
Picking rooms, morning exercise routines, exploring places like the medlab, making revelations about the ancients, etc.”

Answers: A) Some of this content has been incorporated into the show (Darkness comes to mind and this week’s episode, Time, is a great example).
B) We’ve already done a fair amount of set-up and will be exploring how the crew is settling into their new lives over the course of this season.

Bailey writes: “Closing Fuel and opening a new restaurant with the same owners is wierdly like how Stargate was “reopened” with SGU.
Hope you like the new place.”

Answer: Oh, I know I will.  But, in the unlikely event I don’t, I’ll demand changes and if they don’t come about instantly, I’ll organize a boycott and try to shut them down – just for spite J

Simon writes: “1) What’s the deal with the one worded titles this season? Not complaning, just curious as to what the insperation was behind that chose.
2) I know this has been asked COUNTLESS times, but, when are talks with MGM about the SG1/SGA movie going to continue?
3) How many Nic Rush-centered episodes are we going to see this season?
4) Will we see who/what attacked the Destiny? And does it involve ‘the pod’ from ”AIR (3)”?”

Answers: 1) I suggested one word titles for season one, hoping we would do two word titles for season two.  So far, the two word titles thing hasn’t exactly caught on.
2) There are no “talks”.  It’s up to the studio to decide when the movies move forward.
3) Depends what you mean by Rush-centered.  If you’re talking specifically Rush-centered, only one comes to mind: Human.
4) Stay tuned.

DasNdanger writes: “Joe – quick question about Fuel. jmanzione did a good job at pointing out the probable economic reasons for the change, but do you think such things as the foie gras protesters had any bearing on their decision?”

Answer: Not at all considering the fact that foie will no doubt be on the new menu as well.

Scary writes: “# 1 Does the SG1 movie have a title like SGA does?
# 2 When you get the “call” do you think that both movies will be made at the same time or will they only make one at a time?
# 3 How long do you think you will get to shoot each movie?
# 4 Who is tentatively slated to direct each movie?”

Answers: 1) Stargate: Revolution
2) I wouldn’t even dare hazard a guess.
3) 3-4 weeks for each movie would be great.
4) I know that Andy Mikita is slated to direct Stargate: Extinction.

Melendwyrwrites: “What were the most important scenes from the first six episodes of SGU?”

Answer: That’s a matter of opinion.  The examples you gave from other shows are not moments I would consider “important” in comparison to others.

Earndoggy writes: “What exactly is time shifting? If that means recording it and then watching it later….”

Answer: That’s exactly what it means.  And Maximus says hi!

C. writes: “1. How do the Kino webisodes fit with the show’s continuity?”

Answer: Some kino scenes will be episode-specific while others will be more general.  They’re added material so, no, you don’t have to watch them to follow what’s going on in the show – however, they do offer insight into ship life and certain characters that someone who only watches the episodes won’t be privy to.

2. I’m really liking Becker and an IMDB search tells me Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman had a role as unnamed server on the SG-1 episode “Momento Mori.” It took me a little while to remember that was the one where Vala lost her memory and was working at a restaurant — which is I’m assuming where he played that character.
Did you guys notice that once you cast Bowyer-Chapman and could Becker be considered the same character?”

Answer: Nope.  He got the role based on his audition.

Montrealer writes: “Is the remaining episodes similar to aired episode arc? Or will the look and feel of the show changes?”

Answer: As I’ve been saying, the next three episodes to the mid-season break (and the four following) are terrific and definitely more action-oriented featuring alien encounters, ship to ship battles, the shuttle in action, suspense, intrigue, and double-crosses.  It all starts this Friday night with Robert C. Cooper’s masterpiece Time.

Sheryl writes: “Hey Joe, did ya get the chustnuts?”

Answer: Hey, Sheryl.  Yes, and thanks!  They were a hit in the office.

DasNdanger writes: “Speaking of which – you said last year that you would be heading back Sushi Kanesaka this year? Any plans of doing so?”

Answer: Although it’s not on my itinerary, I think I might.

Daniel Hardy writes: “My question would be, obviously you’ve spoken about how there have been a lot of changes from how SG-1 and SGA where written/produced/shot etc, are these things you know look back and thing, “wow, we should have been doing it this way all along.”

Answer: Oh, sure.  I enjoy the cohesiveness and running throughlines of SGU and, while we did a bit of that in SG-1 and SGA, I think both shows could have benefited from more sustained arcs.

Tammy Dixon writes: “ Condolences on the loss of Fuel. I hope all the staff have found other positions?”

Answer: Same positions.  Same place.  Just a different concept for the restaurant.

Guy writes: “ It’s the responsibility of people in the United States to voice their opinions.”

Answer: Really?  It’s a responsibility to have an opinion on everything?  So you’re suggesting it’s un-American to NOT comment on the heavy-set guy wearing the orange shorts sitting across from you on the bus?

Guy also writes: “The show is rather flat, and that’s not a personal opinion, that’s an opinion of someone who has done a decent amount of acting, and has written a few skits…”

Answer: Alright, so now that we’ve established you’re expert credentials, go on…

Guy also writes: “Being “argumentative” means you argue with facts, and logic. Being “verbally aggressive” means you attack people and their ideas.”

Answer: Ideas are off-limits?  Ideas as in “ideas we have for the show and write into scripts” or “ideas everyone else has like, say, an opinion on an idea we had that we incorporated into the show”?  Also, saying you like or dislike something is an opinion – which you’re of course entitled to, but I hardly see how an opinion ca be grounded in logic.  You’re baking analogy is all well and good, but it doesn’t deal in facts.  I mean, you can say you feel the characters aren’t compelling and I can disagree and say I feel they are compelling, but I don’t think either of us have logic or facts on our side.

Guy also writes: “And the portrayal of the women characters seems to non-verbally say, that Chloe likes to have sex…”

Answer: Yes, Chloe seems to enjoy sex.  And, from all indications, so do Scott, Young, and James.  And, I’m willing to bet, a lot of people, some of whom ARE women.

Guy also writes: “… …”, Young’s wife is willing to have sex with some strange body (because remember, she sees Telford, not Young like we do)…”

Answer: True, but the individual occupying the body is no stranger to her.  It’s her husband.

Guy also writes: “…Wray is passed over for promotions in the I.O.A.”

Answer: So what?  You only assume it’s because she’s a woman in an effort to shoe horn this example into your argument.  There is no indication that was the case.

MrsB. writes: “Will Rush develop a soft spot for any of the crew members? Or have a single friendly encounter with anyone that turns around on him, sending him further into his shell?”

Answer: We’ll be exploring Rush’s vulnerabilities (and his backstory) in the second half of season one.

Cook66 writes: “I wonder… Did any of the other shows, or any shows, ever create as much hostility?”

Answer: Oh, yeah.  SG-1: shippers vs. non-shippers, fans upset at Daniel Jackson’s departure, the rise of the anti-Jonas faction, complaints of not enough team, complaints of not enough gate travel, complaints of too many Earth-based episodes, Carter fans vs. Vala fans, Carter fans vs. Mitchell fans, fans who hated seasons 9 and 10 because they felt it was no longer Stargate.  Atlantis: Fans upset at Weir’s departure, fans upset at Beckett’s departure, fans upset at Carter’s inclusion, the anti-Keller faction, complaints of not enough team, complaints of not enough gate travel, complaints of too much emphasis on McKay/Keller.  Those are just some of the lightning rod issues I can remember off the top of my head.   Scifi fans are, by their very nature, extremely passionate about their shows.

Belouchi writes: “Thanks for answering my questions. I was wondering if you know any good restaurants in Boston because I’m planning a little romantic get away with my girlfriend.”

Answer: Sorry, I’m unfamiliar with the Boston restaurant scene.  Hop on Chowhound and get some recommendations.

ACW writes: “Which I would certainly expect you to dispute, but please do so on your own (or your colleagues’) behalf, rather than claming to be defending the actress.”

Answer: My original comment was not a defense of the actress.  Feel free to read it.

ACW also writes: “But no, calling Lt. James “Lt. Rack” (which I note has happened less since the writers started to let her keep her uniform on, and occasionally to do something non-rack-related even if it’s still All About The Guy) is not demeaning Julia Benson, any more than calling Lt. Uhura “Lt. Hailing Frequencies” would be demeaning Nichellle Nichols.”

Answer: You’re kidding, right?  The first is a reference to the actress’s physical attributes.  The latter is a reference to the character.  It’s no different than someone criticizing a scene for being racist while using racist terminology to make his point.  Like I said, by doing so you risk not being taken seriously.  You can feel free to disagree and assume people will respect your opinion regardless but I made the point as a result of what I was seeing and not simply stating a personal preference.

Hithere writes: “We’ve seen in SG-1’s S09E20 ‘Camelot’ an emulator of the subspace link generated by the stones which showed an analog signal. Now, I’m going to take this as intended cannon for my next question.
Why don’t they constantly interrupt the signal in order to send a data stream?”

Answer: 1) They don’t know how to use the stones to transmit a data stream and 2) What exactly would they be sending?

DP writes: “Is Rush’s name a tribute to the band?”

Answer: No.

Candace writes: “So okay…I still loved it…but I never remember hating a book so much at one point…LOL”

Answer: Given your response, I can’t wait to hear your reaction to the end of the next book.  My advice is to make sure there are no toss-worthy hot beverages within reach.

October 29, 2009: Rescheduling My Rant! Final Day of Production! More Mailbag!

I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep.  Even though I’m exhausted by the time I turn off the lights, I’m so wound up that it takes me forever to actually doze off.  And, when I finally, I’m only out for an hour or two before I’m awake again. I’ll eventually drift off again and wake up an hour later.  Drift off.  Wake up.  Drift off.  Wake up.  And so it goes throughout the night.  Surprisingly, I get out of bed feeling fairly well-rested – but it eventually catches up with me.  Right around, oh, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m., about the time I settle down to work on my blog.  Which is a shame since, earlier today, I was all fired up to deliver a rant certain to make Lemming-Gate pale in comparison.

Oh well.  I’ll get around to it eventually.  In the meantime…

Today was the last day for everyone else – Alaina Huffman, David Blue, Brian J. Smith, Patrick Glimore, Jennifer Spence, Peter Kelamis, Haig Sutherland, and Julia Benson – all incredibly talented and wonderful people.  I advise them to rest up well this hiatus because, based on what we’ve come up with so far, they’ll be VERY busy in season 2.

Well, those who survive the season finale anyway.

This morning, Robert Cooper was on Stage 5, directing some scenes owing from Lost.  Then, this afternoon, Ivon Bartok was on Stages 2 and 4 directing the last of the kino scenes.  For those of you who weren’t there (Where were you?!), here are some of the highlights:

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Art Department package featuring kino director Ivon Bartok (cover design by Chris Beech).
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Carl pulls a Martin Gero. Fortunately, no stitches are required.
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Guess the mystery man.
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Director of Photography Jim Menard and Director Ivon Bartok - best of buddies. I think.
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On set with Director Ivon Bartok.
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Actor Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker) regales Ashleigh and me with a tale involving coffee, magazine thievery, dubious heroics, and suspect use of the term "hotshot". Get the details here: twitter.com/patrickgilmore
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Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody) has joined the dark side = twitter.com/peterkelamis
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David Blue got me a going away present. And, as is customary, I weigh the gift. Oooh. Heavy!

Mailbag:

Ytimynona writes: “But then Young asks him if her knew that the lottery was pointless anyways, and Rush doesn’t answer him. So now I’m wondering if Rush is as evil as I thought he was in the first three episodes.”

Answer: Or, at the very least, wants to have everyone entertain the possibility that he is.

Chad writes: “The Ori/Ancient Home Galaxy..does it have a name? How far away is it from the Milky Way? And do you guys ever plan to revisit it in a new SG-1 movie?”

Answer: I believe Ark of Truth was the final chapter in the Ori storyline so, no, I don’t think we’ll ever be revisiting it in a future movie.

Chad also writes: “And have you ever heard word that they may finally answer that question about humanity’s origin or creation and why exactly we are called the “Second Evolution” of the Ancients when we seem to be less evolved really…except the subconscious?”

Answer: This is another matter – that we may or may not be touching upon in the new series.

Me writes: “Not really, but I think the stories of both SG1 and SGA were more about what they experienced, what happened wherever they went, rather than ‘will they survive?’.”

Answer: Which is ultimately what this series is about – the experiences of these characters and this microcosm of society in the heat of adversity and the struggle for survival.

MaggieMayDay writes: “How is Mom? Any updates?”

Answer: Still undergoing tests.  Thanks for asking.

Thornyrose writes: “The only redeeming fact for her is that Young was the only one to witness this. But he is also the highest authority on the ship, and I can’t imagine him giving her some of that authority after her attempt to sway him.”

Answer: Well, that really depends on Young.  As the ranking military officer on board Destiny, he is the logical choice to lead.  That said, there are plenty of civilians on board who may chafe under military rule and they may look to someone who best represents their interests – and, at first blush, this may well be Wray.  If this does turn out to be the case, what does Young do?  Does he dismiss Wray based on their experience in Light or  does he take the high road and honor the choice made by a rival and potentially hostile faction?

Erik writes: “will we be finding out a lot of information about the Ancient/Alteran timeline in SG-U? Or will they eventually fade into the background and new alien races pop up to take the forefront?”

Answer: While we do touch on the Ancient/Alteran timeline, the greater part of this series will focus on the exploration of new alien encounters.

Narelle from Aus writes: “Chicken or fish? Should I take a coat or not? Do I avenge the death of my pet rabbit from when I was 10 by holding the culprits hostage in a cage for weeks and see how they like being made into stew?”

Answer: Chicken, yes, and without a doubt.

Skye writes: “I was wondering if u can dedicate your posts on Nov.1 to my dad Rodger for his 62nd birthday and Nov. 3 to my Mom Toni for her 60th birthday please. They have been married for 36 years and counting.”

Answer: Sure, but please remind me on the day.

DasnDanger writes: “Scott shined in Air III. Maybe I was the only one, but I was very moved by Brian’s performance in that episode.”

Answer: Brian J. Smith is equally amazing in tomorrow night’s episode, Water.

DasNdanger also writes: “It seems to me that Eli is like this – am I right in seeing it that way, Joe, that he has purposely been written as socially awkward?”

Answer: Yep.

Herbertsommerfeld writes: “Today was my last day of extra work on season 1 of SGU. I feel blessed to have been one of the few to have been on the Destiny all year.”

Answer: And it was great having you aboard, Herb!

Pastrygirl writes: “Loved the shuttle model – any chance of getting pics of the Destiny model? I’m assuming there is one, or is it all CGI?”

Answer: We talked about building a model but, for now, it’s all CG.

Cody writes: “I have a question, to take advantage of your culinary expertise Joe. Are there wine/chocolate pairings?”

Answer: Alas, I’m not a wine guy.

Flappo writes: “Something I also want to ask, are we going to see more of TJ?”

Answer: Yes, definitely.

K-Man writes: “1. When you wrote your first script for SG-1 were you a fan of the show first, or was it just a job opportunity for you and Paul?
2. If there is a 2nd season will Marty Gero be contributing a script, or is he officially done?”

Answers: 1. No.  I’d watched a season one episode, Emancipation, and it – uh – “didn’t do it for me”.  Fortunately, I did get to read some much better episodes and scripts prior to pitching.  2. Marty G. is busy on the second season of HBO’s Bored To Death.  If he does find the time, however, we’d love to hear any ideas he may have for SGU.

Logan writes: “My criticism of this episode is that the solar powered stuff was fairly obvious, and despite your explanation that they had to approach it as a life or death scenario, it seems that someone (Rush/Eli) should have broached this possibility, only to be told that it was a possibility they couldn’t afford to entertain.”

Answer: It appears that Rush DID consider the possibility but chose not to share his find with the others.

Amac251 writes: “Did you and the other writers/producers ever think/wonder (before this episode aired) that the scene would get a big response like this from the fans?”

Answer: Oh, we expected (and continue to expect) wackier.

Matthew Stoner writes: “Is there only one Stargate-dropping ship ahead of Destiny, or were other ships also launched before Destiny?”

Answer: There were several seed ships.

DasNDanger writes: “When did you start reading Wolverine?”

Answer: I picked up every title about a year ago and dropped titles as I lost interest.  Still loving Aaron’s work.

Rednor writes: “ But if so many people are saying that they find certain characters to be shallow or self-centered or immature, you need to listen to how they are being received, especially if it’s not how they are intended.”

Answer: I disagree.  With all due respect, it may seem like “so many people” but, in truth, this the opinion of a tiny portion of online fandom which is, in turn, a tiny portion of overall viewership.  It’s food for thought in many cases but certainly not a reason to rethink or change direction.

Rednor also writes: “The Stargate world, to this point, has been populated with very smart, very disciplined, very interesting people. They have not all been perfect.”

Answer: Actually, they were pretty damn close to perfect and were generally beyond reproach.

Montrealer writes: “Was wondering if the Destiny is organic in the same way like the Wraith Hives and ships so that worn out parts gets replaced over time.”

Answer: Nope.

Gilder writes: “…do you know of any situations where an actor auditioned well but could not deliver in production?”

Answer: It’s been a while but, yes, I have.  Thank goodness for great editors.

Abby writes: “Okay, another question. Is there a set amount of time between each episode or does the amount vary depending on the episode?”

Answer: It really depends on the individual episodes.  In the past, a season has roughly equaled one full year.  However, this first season of SGU will cover a significantly shorter stretch.

Dakota writes: “When do we get to see a good ol’ fashion firefight on an alien planet?”

Answer: Soon, soon.

Shadow Step writes: “Do you keep a bible of all things said on your blog, and the individual developments the posters go through, so that you might later catch them in a slice of humanity and snicker at them?”

Answer: No need.  It’s often the same people who seize on preliminary character or story descriptions, imagine the worst, scream bloody murder, and then conveniently disappear once they’re proven wrong – only to reappear later with some other axe to grind.  You say “humanity”.  I say “idiocy”.  You also say “snicker at them” while I say “Call them on their bullshit histrionics”. J

Simon writes: “1) Can you give us a list of which actors will be doing audio commentaries for the split season(?) DVD?
2) Still no word on the SG-1/SGA movies?

Answers: 1) I can’t give you a list because I haven’t been keeping track.  So far, I’ve seen David Blue, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, Ming-Na, and Louis Ferreira.
2) None.”

Airwolf writes: “I’ve noticed many people stating “this is not Stargate” and wonder to myself why it wasn’t simply named “Destiny?” […] Rather than having Stargate in the name. Some people are downright irate about this!”

Answer: Who cares?  While it’s admittedly very different from the previous shows, it’s still Stargate – whether certain fans like it or not.  And, for the most part, they DO seem to like it.  Yeah, even those fans who claim NOT to like it.  In fact, I’d say especially those fans.

Shadow Step writes: “Not to make you paranoid but I guarantee that there are people in your life who have done much, much worse than have sex out of wedlock. ”

Yeah – but she didn’t have to see it.”

Answer: Uh, yeah, nice try, but we weren’t talking about being affronted by the sex scene.  We were discussing pigeon-holing characters on the basis of blanket moral convictions.

Shadow Step also writes: ”

“Hooking up with two people does make you a horn-dog. It makes you a perfectly normal twenty-something male.”

That presupposes that the avertage twenty-something male isn’t a horn-dog.”

Answer: I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you’re neither male nor twenty-something.

Shadow Step also writes: ”

“Basically, we’re not nearly far enough into this series to have the audacity to think that we know the ins and outs of all these characters.”

What I fear is the audacity of soap – “who will sleep with whom! All new SGU!”

Answer: I know!  It’s taken up almost a whole minute of the 225 minutes aired so far!  I’m surprised you haven’t already been driven mad by the experience.

Shadow Step also writes: ”

“I can’t believe so many people had problems with the Chloe/Eli/Scott thing. The end of Air, Part 3 was all I needed to know those two were attracted to each other,”

Yeah, well some of us were asleep by then.”

Answer: Well thank goodness you were able to wake up in time to watch the subsequent episodes otherwise I would really miss out on this insightful input.

October 25, 2009: The SGU Season 1 Wrap Party!

So, last night was the Stargate: Universe wrap party.  The writing department kicked things off with dinner at Blue Water.

Consulting Producer Martin Gero flew in from New York where he is working on the second season of HBO's Bored To Death.  He's looking well.  And beardlier.
Consulting Producer Martin Gero flew in from New York where he is working on the second season of HBO's Bored To Death. He's looking well. And beardlier.
Executive Producer Carl Binder was not a fan of the rice.  Turns out it was couscous.
Executive Producer Carl Binder was not a fan of the rice. Turns out it was couscous.

We lost my writing partner Paul and his wife somewhere between main course and dessert (he was feeling under the weather) , then headed up the street to Goldfish, the site of the bash.

Director of Photography Jim Menard takes advantage of the favorable lighting.
Director of Photography Jim Menard takes advantage of the favorable lighting.

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Special Features Producer and recent Hogwart's graduate Ivon Bartok weaves is magic.
Special Features Producer and recent Hogwart's graduate Ivon Bartok weaves is magic.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody) takes a night off from the control interface room to unwind.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody) takes a night off from the control interface room to unwind.
Actor Patrick Glimore (SGU's Dale Volker) invites you to sit down and join him for a drink.
Actor Patrick Glimore (SGU's Dale Volker) invites you to sit down and join him for a drink.
SGU Art Department Draftsman Kate Heslup and Art Director Chis Beach
SGU Art Department Draftsman Kate Heslup and Art Director Chis Beach. Point and smile.
Prop Master "Evil" Kenny Gibbs
Prop Master "Evil" Kenny Gibbs shows off his evil new do.
Executive Producer Carl Binder seconds prior to his spotaneous combustion.
Executive Producer Carl Binder seconds prior to his spotaneous combustion.
Production Coordinator (and wrap party organizer) Tanja Balic.
Production Coordinator (and wrap party organizer) Tanja Balic.
Karen, Carl, and Ming-Na.
Karen, Carl, and Ming-Na.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) and Consulting Producer Marty G.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) and Consulting Producer Marty G.
Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Second Lieutenant Vanessa James) and husband Peter Benson.
Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Second Lieutenant Vanessa James) and husband Peter Benson.
Actor Josh Blacker (SGU's Sgt. Spencer) comes in for the K.O.
Actor Josh Blacker (SGU's Sgt. Spencer) comes in for the K.O.
Sassy Stargate Production Coordinator Kerry McDowall
Sassy Stargate Production Coordinator Kerry McDowall
Actresses Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) and Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieuetnant Tamara "T.J." Johanasen
Actresses Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) and Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieuetnant Tamara "T.J." Johanasen).
Super-suave Script Coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.  What's not to love?
Super-suave Script Coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson. What's not to love?
Exec. Producer's Assistant Ashleigh and her guy James.
Exec. Producer's Assistant Ashleigh and her guy James.

Around 11:30 p.m., Martin Gero staggered by clutching a bloodied towel to his hand.  He wasn’t exactly sure what had happened but did confirm it involved him dropping a glass.  He was headed to the hospital.  It was way past my bedtime anyway so I offered to drive him.

I run into VFX Supervisor Mark Savela while waiting for the valet to bring my car around.
I run into VFX Supervisor Mark Savela while waiting for the valet to bring my car around.
Marty G., delirious from blood loss.
Marty G., delirious from blood loss.

I dropped him off a little before midnight.  Showcasing the flipside of the Canadian healthcare system, he was seen and stitched up within the hour, giving him plenty of time to head back to the party.

Tonight, Marty G. and I are having dinner at Fuel (just like old times) after which I’ll be driving him to the airport.    Then, it’s early to bed for me.  I’m exhausted and need to be on my A game tomorrow when we start spinning SGU’s second season.

October 22, 2009: Julia Benson! Jennifer Spence! Birthday Swag! The Weird Food Purchase of the Day!

Well, hey!  Look whose IMDB starmeter has skyrocketed 360% this week!  None other than SGU’s Second Lieutenant Vanessa James, Julia Benson (formerly Anderson).  Yes, she’s gorgeous – in addition to being a total sweetheart.   AND a wonderful actress, which you’ll find out for yourself in the coming weeks.

Julia Benson (Second Lieutenant Vanessa James)
Julia Benson (Second Lieutenant Vanessa James)

Anyway, in addition to joining the ever-growing SGU twitterati (http://twitter.com/julia_benson), Julia has also started a blog.  Check it out: http://www.juliabensononline.com/

Also, actress Jennifer Spence (SGU’s Lisa “Earthquake Girl” Park) joins twitter (http://twitter.com/SpenceJen).

Two of my favorite Jen Spence picks – and not just because I’m in them…

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Hey, another big thanks to all those who posted or emailed birthday wishes.  Special thanks to Shirt’n’Tie, Anais33, Polly, For the Love of Beckett, Sara Nice, and Quade for the cards and gifts.  “What gifts?”many of you may ask.  Well, check out my birthday swag…

Birthday cards.  The one on the very left, sent by Anais33, sports a pic of my three pugs (Bubba, Jelly, and Maximus).
Birthday cards. The one on the very left, sent by Anais33, sports a pic of my three pugs (Bubba, Jelly, and Maximus).

Big paw magnet.
Big paw magnet.
Chocolate rocks and framed pic of two of my faves (Carl and Jelly).
Chocolate rocks and framed pic of two of my faves (Carl and Jelly).
Carl claims possession of my gift.  It now sits atop HIS desk.
Carl claims possession of my gift. It now sits atop HIS desk.
Bacon gumballs, a picture/frame, and hot sauce.
Bacon gumballs, a picture/frame, and hot sauce.

By the way, the Dragon’s Blood hot sauce is made from Naga Bhut Jolokia Peppers, purported to be the hottest in the world.  How hot?  Well, Quade helpfully provided the following Scoville scale breakdown (offering comparable ratings for other, less fiery peppers):

0 = Bell Pepper

5,000 = Jalapeno Pepper

200,000 = Habanero Pepper

1,000,000 = Naga Bhut Jolokia Pepper

Was it really THAT hot?  In a word: YES!  Check out the video of Carl and I sampling the goods (Camera work by Lawren Bancroft-Wilson)…

Bacon-Chocolate chip cookies.
Bacon-Chocolate chip cookies.
Taaaaaaasty!
Taaaaaaasty!

October 17, 2009: A Big-Time Jump! A Doggy Dilemma! Some Atlantis Stills! And An Extra Chunky Mailbag!

Well, hoowee!  I just checked my blog stats and discovered that my traffic has jumped by a whopping 40%.  What gives?  Strangely, nothing out of the ordinary in the referrers or incoming links.  And then I noticed the 2800+ visitors who came to this blog via a search engine.  And the search term used?

Stargate: Universe?

Nope.

Rosie the Riveter?

No, it only brought in a mere half dozen.

Julia Benson?

Correct!  Julia, who plays the role of Second Lieutenant Vanessa James on Stargate: Universe, has obviously captured the attention of more than a few casual viewers.  Great!  She’s not only a wonderful actress, but a total sweetheart.  And she’s apparently joined the ranks to the Twitterati, so if you want to get the latest updates on all-things Julia, head on over here: http://twitter.com/Julia_Benson

Hey, after Air I and II, we got the “Hey, why didn’t the kino push the buttons to seal the shuttle door?” questions and after Air III we got the “Hey, why didn’t the kino find and test for water?” questions, so I’m surprised that, after Darkness aired, we haven’t seen the expected “Hey, why didn’t the kino figure out the ship’s power issues?” questions.  What gives?

My attempts to find a dog-sitter for over the Christmas holidays have come up empty.  I thought our Production Coordinator Tanja had a lead the other day when she told me about a quiet, middle-aged woman who would have been perfect for the job.  “She ‘s a bit of a spinster,”Tanja informed me.  I asked her what she meant given that the poor woman was described as “middle-aged” (which, last time I checked, aint exactly spinster territory so far as I’m familiar with the term).  “Oh,”she explained.  “She’s middle-aged, a homebody, and her life revolves around dog.”  Then, helpfully adding: “Sort of like you.”  Which, I guess, makes me the male equivalent of a spinster (a spinsthim?).  I haven’t given up hope and will continue looking but, as a last resort, I might have to board the gang at the local doggie hotel.

The pugs huddled together to catch that lone strip of sunlight.
The pugs huddled together to catch that lone strip of sunlight.
The Frenchies post-party crash.
The Frenchies post-party crash.

Hey, since someone asked, here are some publicity stills from Atlantis’s fifth season.

Ronon in action.  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Ronon in action. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Rumor has it Jason has been cast in HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones mini-series.  Cool, no?  (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Rumor has it Jason has been cast in HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones mini-series. Cool, no? (Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
A couple of most unlikely action heroes (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).
A couple of most unlikely action heroes (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television).

AND an extra-chunky mailbag:

Matt Boesch writes: “What Episodes are you guys on currently working and prepping for?”

Answer: We’re done prepping.  We’re shooting Incursion I and II.

O6untouchable writes: “Just curious – is this another one of Ivon’s contributions to the franchise this year, or is it something that Brad and Rob cooked up?”

Answer: Those segments were shot by Andy Mikita as part of the opener.

Qsoaiein writes: “Do you know how the people that make Stargate decide how old a particular character is in the show? Like when they were born, because I’ve noticed it seems to differ from their actor’s age sometimes.”

Answer: No, we never assign an exact age or date of birth to the characters.

Joel413 writes: “The face shown in the sand, was that an ancient or was that the face of the priest that raised the Lt?”

Answer: That was the priest.  See the video in yesterday’s entry.

MrsB writes: “ 1) Is anyone onboard the Destiny severely mentally unbalanced?
2)Will there be any surprising relationships formed this season?”

Answers: 1) Oh, the strain of being stranded so far from home will exact a psychological toll on many of the crewmembers.
2) I’m not sure what you would consider surprising.

Matt Tyler writes: “Also, where did you find Jamil? He’s absolutely amazing!”

Answer: That he is!

Sean writes: “Do you think the concept of the edge of the universe might eventually apply within the Stargate Universe series?”

Answer: It certainly sounds cool, but I don’t think there is an “edge of the universe”.

Hestia writes: “It’s a stupid question but we all are curious to know if SGU will have a song for it’s opening credit.”

Answer: Unfortunately, it won’t.

Jlgrand writes: “What is the best way to show my support for SGU?”

Answer: 1. Watch the show.  2. Tell everyone how much you’re enjoying the show.

Michael writes: “Can I ask who is the cg artist responsible for making the destiny ship for Stargate Universe and does he have a website.”

Answer: Production Designer James Robbins designed Destiny.

RandomQ’s writes: “Any indication yet as to whether or not during the SGU hiatus the SG1 & SGA movies will move into production?”

Answer: Alas, given that we’ve received no word about either movie by this point, it’s unlikely we’ll be shooting them in November.

Quade1 writes: “I’m watching Dragon’s Den right now on CBC, actually a pretty good show. you catch any episodes Joe?”

Answer: I don’t, but the guys at work do and enjoy it.

Brian writes: “…is it true; that if Extinction succeeds the SGA series will be picked back up?”

Answer: There is absolutely not truth to this.  Even if the movie does well, it will definitely not result in the series being revived.  It would, however, increase the likelihood of more movies.

Hitman writes: “Run a scandisk of the drive and see if it detects any faults.”

Answer: I did!  And it did!  And my laptop is functional once again.  But I’m still getting a new one.

Littleravenhawk writes: “Matt Stover….like Matthew Stover…the best Star Wars author????”

Answer: The one and only.  Check out the recent Q&A he did for us: http://josephmallozzi.com/2009/09/18/september-19-2009-author-matthew-woodring-stover-answers-your-questions/

Mel writes: “Everyone is talking highly of the ratings, however, they aren’t that good, are they?”

Answer: They’re actually very good, especially when you consider SGU’s winning the night in key demos.  Of course you can compare the show’s number to other shows, but you can also bring up the fact that we’re airing Friday nights (the least watched night on television) and in the Fall where we’re up against network competition.

Jenny writes: “Also, I got so much GREAT footage up there last week and cannot wait to get started.”

Answer: It was nice chatting with you on set, however briefly.  Ivon speaks very highly of you.

Ytimyona writes: “ Any word yet on whether we can look forward to actor commentaries on SGU???”

Answer: Yes!  The actors have been in and out of the production offices these past few weeks working on their commentaries.  Coming soon to DVD!

Scarym writes: “So what is your idea of the perfect birthday cake?”

Answer: I’m going to go with dark chocolate pistachio.

Kathode writes: “Okay, here’s a question for you: where in Vancouver can I find good cannoli?”

Answer: Hmmm.  Good question.  I’d check out some of the shops on Commercial Drive.

Ravenfur writes: “Do TV networks take into account their online viewers when they consider how popular a series is?”

Answer: They might, but advertisers generally don’t.

Tim Gaffney writes: “I know you want to get LDP into these episodes, but it strains credability that he is the one who always is there when Young returns to the Pentagon.”

Answer: That goes to Telford’s determination and desire to get on Destiny.

Tim Gaffney also writes: “And come on, I can maybe buy that Sen. Armstrongs wife was informed of the situation. She could have high clearance. But Young’s wife?”

Answer: Over the course the many years the Stargate program has been in operation, more and more people have been informed of its existence.  In the interest of ensuring the psychological well-being of the Destiny crew, many civilians WILL receive clearance so that they can visit with their loved ones.

Tim Gaffney also writes: “And if Telford reports that Young should be removed from command, who would possibly replace him. Rush just had a mental breakdown, Scott would be the only other possibility and he is only a Lt.”

Answer: Scary, no?  Let’s hope Young is able to stay cool under pressure.

Df2506 writes: “Young goes to visit his ex-wife?”

Answer: Why not?  Given the technology at their disposal, why deny these people the opportunity to visit with loved ones, allow them at least a glimmer of comfort and open an otherwise bleak situation?

Montrealer writes: “Who is the ranking officer after Colonel Young?”

Answer: In the event Colonel Young is unable to fulfill his duties, Lieutenant Scott will step in.

Quade1 writes: “Do the actor’s have to visualize the Kino or do you guys have like a green ball hanging from a rope on a stick?”

Answer: The kino is usually CG and for tracking purposes it is usually a “ball on a stick”.

Joshua Meyers extraordinary teenager writes: “ Are there any moments ahead where Telford challenges Youngs command or something, or anyone challenges his command(this question is limited to people stranded back on earth only)??”

Answer: It certainly looks like that’s where things may be headed.

AceNZ writes: “will the crew ever be able to explore the full extent of Destiny?”

Answer: Exploring Destiny will be a priority in the coming months.

Kevin writes: “At the beginning of the episode when they’re in the mess hall. Everyone is casually sitting around and having a conversation…but in the back of the room…there’s a soldier in full gear…carrying his rife at the ready.”

Answer: Given that that’s where much of the food is stored, it makes sense that there would be guards posted to ensure nobody tries to help themselves.

HBMC writes: “Will the characters we saw be developed further in this way (not necessarily via Kino diaries).
Take Lisa Park as an example – I think she’s adorable, and seems to be the kind’ve person who rambles a bit when given the chance. Is this present in her character further down the line, or just something done in this episode?”

Answer: We will develop our secondary cast of characters as well, in the episode and in the kino sequences that will be appearing online.  Soon.  And, yes, I’m a big fan of Jennifer Spence’s work as well.  In the coming months, watch this blog for upcoming guest Q&A’s for the likes of Jennifer (Lisa Park), Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker), Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody), Haig Sutherland (Sgt. Riley), Mark Burgess (Franklin), and Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James).

Aboleyn24 writes: “Why not have scientist that are experts on ancent tech swap with someone in board Destiny and try and solve some of these problems. They can’t expect Rush to do it all and its not like they don’t have access to capable people that might be able to assist them.”

Answer: Rush and Eli are certainly the best and brightest.  Rush, in particular, would be in the best position to know what kind of help he would need.  That said, the issue of using the stones in this regard will be addressed in an upcoming episode.

October 1st, 2009: Only 1 Day to the Stargate: Universe Premiere! A Handy SGU Cast Primer! The Mailbag!

Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Only one day to the explosive SGU premiere!  And, in advance of the big event, I offer you this handy visual guide to our extensive cast of characters:

Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) - photo courtesy and copyright SyFy
Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) - photo courtesy and copyright SyFy/MGM Television
Camile Wray (Ming-Na) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Camile Wray (Ming-Na) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison
Colonel David Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Televison
Colonel Everett Young (Louis Ferreira) - photo courtesy and copyright SyFy
Colonel Everett Young (Louis Ferreira) - photo courtesy and copyright SyFy/MGM Television
Sentor Alan Armstrong (Christopher McDonald) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Sentor Alan Armstrong (Christopher McDonald) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Eli Wallace (David Blue) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Eli Wallace (David Blue) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Lieutenant Tamara "T.J." Johansen (Alaina Huffman) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Lieutenant Tamara "T.J." Johansen (Alaina Huffman) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Lieutenant Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Sergeant Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Sergeant Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Vanessa James (Julia Benson) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Vanessa James (Julia Benson) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Adam Brody (Peter Kelamis) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Adam Brody (Peter Kelamis) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Dale Volker (Patrick Gilmore) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Dale Volker (Patrick Gilmore) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Lisa Park (Jennifer Spence) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Jeremy Franklin (Mark Burgess) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Jeremy Franklin (Mark Burgess) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Sgt. Riley (Haig Sutherland) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Sgt. Riley (Haig Sutherland) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Sgt. Spencer (Josh Blacker)
Sgt. Spencer (Josh Blacker)
Dr. Caine (Tygh Runyan) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Dr. Caine (Tygh Runyan) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Darren Becker (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman)
Darren Becker (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman)

Andrea Palmer (Christina Schild)
Andrea Palmer (Christina Schild)
Curtis (Bradley Stryker)
Curtis (Bradley Stryker)

Whew!

Mailbag:

Christine writes: ““If it’s successful do you think it could restart Stargate Atlantis?
“No – that’s done, I can tell you one thousand percent!”
Any comment on the above statement by Robert Carlyle. How can he be so certain that SGA is done when fans keep getting told that a movie may still be made.”

Answer: You’re misinterpreting what he said .  Te interviewer is asking about the chances of SGA returning as a SERIES – which, as Robert pointed out, is not going to happen, something I’ve said several times in the past.

Sebi Meyer writes: ““The finish line is within sight!” Odd way to put it. It STARTS on Friday, it doesn’t end.”

Answer: It starts for the fans this Friday night, but the finish line for the show’s first season of production is within sight – only on more month!

Thornyrose writes: “Though speaking of pics, when are the pooches going to post another on their Twitter account?”

Answer: They did last night.

O6untouchable writes: “SGU: best birthday present ever!”

Answer: Happy early birthday!

Fuchsia writes: “Joe, please tell my husband Graham to stop being boring and to watch SGU with me on Friday night.”

Answer: Graham, stop being boring and watch SGU with Fuchsia tomorrow night!

DasNdanger writes: “Joe…are you nervous about the premiere, or excited?”

Answer: Let’s go with “cautiously optimistic”.  I think that Stargate: Universe is a great show and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.  Still, if there’s one thing I know about predicting fan response it’s that it’s impossible to predict fan response.   I’m continually amazed by the wonderful shows that fail to capture an audience and end up being canceled well before their time (Firefly and Arrested Development come to mind), and equally amazed by the truly atrocious programming that DOES manage to find viewers and survive (too numerous to mention).  So that said, I’m thinking positive thoughts, not so much for myself (after ten years with the franchise, I think I’ll be okay) but for the many, many incredible individuals I’ve been fortunate enough to work with on SGU this year.  They’re good people and I wish them nothing but the best – like, say, another four seasons.  At least!

September 26, 2009: Six Days to the Stargate: Universe Premiere! A Sneak Peek for the Cast and Crew!

Yep, only six days until the world premiere of Stargate: Universe!  Have you told everyone?  And I mean EVERYONE?  Your pharmacist?  That ex-girlfriend you dumped in college?  The Hungarian woman in Accounts Receivable from your last job?  No?!!!  Well, what‘re you waiting for!

We’re not waiting.  For October 2nd that is.  Today, we held a special matinee screening of SGU’s first three episodes – Air I, II, and III – for the cast and crew.  I’ve gotta say, there’s nothing like seeing it on the big screen.  The performances were spectacular, the visuals stunning, and the last ten minutes of Air III had me on the edge of my seat (despite the fact that I’ve already watched it about a half dozen times).

IMG_4737x

Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh.  Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee.  About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?"  A moment later, I received her response: "No.  It's Saturday.  You're free."  Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot.  The premiere is today.  I hope you can make it in time."  I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.
Lawren, Ashleigh's guy, and Ashleigh. Before leaving the office on Friday, I asked Ashleigh to text me a reminder about the matinee. About an hour before the matinee, having received no reminder text, I texted her: "Hey, am I supposed to be somewhere today?" A moment later, I received her response: "No. It's Saturday. You're free." Later, I received a follow-up text: "Oh shoot. The premiere is today. I hope you can make it in time." I got it about five minutes after I'd taken my seat beside her in the theater.

The eccentric Carl Binder and my writing partner Paul Mullie.
Producers Carl Binder and Paul Mullie grow increasingly anxious for the movie to start.
Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.
Actor David Blue (SGU's Eli Wallace) scopes the crowd prior to the screening.
I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers.  Zis seazun zebra iz in!
I look like one of those eccentric European fashion designers. Zis seazun zebra moccassins are een!
A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.
A candid shot of David Blue enjoying a little popcorn.
Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening.  "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane.  You WILL be towed!"
Show Creators/Executive Producers Robert Cooper and Brad Wright give a speech before the screening. "The blue honda hatchback, license number 987 DFJ - you are parked in a fire lane. You WILL be towed!"
SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose.  Then remembers too late he is camera shy.
SGU Director Will Waring strikes a pose. Then remembers too late he is camera shy.
Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissing at intermission.
Actor Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) intermissin' at intermission.
The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan.  Do I sense a little magic in the air?  Oh, no, sorry.  I think that's flare from the black light.
The lovely Kerry McDowall shows off her Irish beau Alan. Do I sense a little magic in the air? Oh, no, sorry. I think that's flare from the black light.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU's Sgt. Ronald Greer) wonders whether I'm going to keep the camera after I'm done.
The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.
The ever pleasant Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (SGU's Airman Darren Becker) shows off his stylin' headwear.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.
VFX Supervisor Mark Savela supervises the crowd at intermission.
Yowza!  Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.
Yowza! Actress Elyse Levesque (SGU's Chloe Armstrong) reminds me of those beautiful starlets from the 30's and 40's.
Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.
Director Andy Mikita and his better half, wife Candace.

Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)
Actress Julia Benson (SGU's Lieutenant Vanessa James) and actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Airman Darren Becker)
Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).
Actress Julia Benson (Lieutenant Vanessa James) with husband and fellow actor Peter Benson (playing himself).
Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.
Exec. Producer Robert Cooper snacking it up before Air III.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).  And rumored french bulldog owner.
Actor Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody). And rumored french bulldog owner.
The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.
The beautiful Ming-Na (SGU's Camile Wray) with hubby.
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok.  Hey, where's his camera?  Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?
Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok. Hey, where's his camera? Shouldn't he be getting all this for the DVD extras?
Check out the hot couple!  Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.
Check out the hot couple! Actress Alaina Huffman (SGU's Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) and husband John.
The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).
The lovely Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park).
Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo.  This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.
Actor David Blue let me post the first two goofy pics so long as I posted at least one good photo. This one's going to be my desktop wallpaper.

Finally, as I was driving today, listening to the radio, I heard a radio advertisement for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in which they mentioned some upcoming performances,  among them Itzhak Perlman and Lang Lang.  Seriously!  Lang Lang!  Who wouldn’t pay to see a panda play the cello?  I can’t wait!

September 5, 2009: Dinner with Ivon and Brian! Julia Benson! Braving the Tokyo subway system!

Ivon considers his menu options.
Ivon considers his menu options.

Last night, I went to dinner with Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok and actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lt. Matthew Scott). We ended up at Quattro (now Q4) on West Fourth for an Italian extravaganza. We ordered and were immediately presented with a wonderful little amuse-bouche of bacon-wrapped sablefish (?) served with a sundried tomato pesto.

IMG_4348x

Then, we moved on to our first course – the house antipasto platter that included, among many other things, a heavenly grilled radicchio-wrapped mozzarella and proscuitto in cherry vinaigrette.

IMG_4349x

Then, we moved onto a second course served family style – a double pasta portion – the house special Spaghetti Quattro (black beans and lots of garlic!) and the not-on-the-menu-but-you-should-ask for it-anyway Fettuccine Tartufati (Portobello mushrooms and truffle cream). The latter, by the way, has the Carl Binder seal of approval.

Fettuccine Tarufati (left) Spaghetti Quattro (right).
Fettuccine Tarufati (left) Spaghetti Quattro (right).

 Speaking of Carl – the first few times I took him out to dinner, he would ignore my recommendations, much to his regret. Eventually, he got into the habit of actually listening to me when I said “Try the crispy duck!” or “Get the squash agnolotti with black truffle butter!”. Last night, both Ivon and Brian went with my suggestion for their mains – the Galleto al Mattone (marinated de-boned Cornish game hen grilled with Riviera herbs, garlic and pepperoni), another house specialty. Needless to say, no one regretted the choice.

IMG_4359x

For dessert, we decided to go with a platter comprised of four selections: house tiramisu, warm chocolate cake with home made ice cream, a vanilla crème brulee, and the sour cherries with phyllo and mascarpone cheese. After seven long sugarless weeks, I finally partook.

Desserts!
Desserts!
Ivon is stunned!
Ivon is stunned!
Brian is overwhelmed!
Brian is overwhelmed!
I'm armed and ready!  Note the crazy eyes.
I’m armed and ready! Note the crazy eyes.

All around, a most satisfying and delicious meal. I believe I counted about a half dozen “Wow!”’s from Brian.

Brian J. Smith is hankering for a fan Q&A.
Brian J. Smith is hankering for a fan Q&A.

Anyway, in addition to food and the wine, we talked – about the show, the franchise, and the future. Yesterday, I mentioned that the people who worked with Zac Efron described him as “very professional, incredibly focused, grounded, courteous and kind”. Well, the exact same words could be used to describe Brian as well. Thoughtful and well-spoken, he’s also surprisingly low-key, not at all interested in the trappings of celebrity. Rather than partying it up, he prefers quiet time spent reading, watching a good movie, or working out. He expressed a desire to do some stage work this winter. I’ll keep you all posted should you find yourselves in the New York area in late 2009 and early 2010.

Brian, by the way, is super keen to do his own fan Q&A on this blog.  So, once I’ve organized and sent off the questions for David Blue, I’m going to start taking questions for SGU’s very own Lieutenant Matthew Scott!  So, what would you like to ask him?

Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Julia Benson (Lt. Vanessa James) – photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Speaking of our impressive cast, I want to make mention of yet another recurring player who has really stepped up over the course of this first season. Julia Benson (formerly Julia Anderson – She claims the name change was the result of her recent marriage but I suspect it has more to do with that whole fugitive from justice thing. But I digress.) plays the role of Second Lieutenant Vanessa James and, like much of our supporting cast, impressed early and continues to do so with performances that have won her the respect and confidence of the entire writing-producing team. I mention Julia because we were watching the director’s cut of Pain the other day, an episode in which she delivers one stunner of a scene. I’m also looking forward to her nice, meaty moments in an upcoming episode.

Running through a scene with stunt coordinator James Bamford.
Running through a scene with stunt coordinator James Bamford.

Well, with my Tokyo trip a mere two months away, I’m putting the finishing touches on my travel plans. On past visits, I’ve relied on the city’s cab drivers to get me where I want to go – with varying degrees of success. On this visit, however, I’ve decided to be a little more adventurous and hazard the Tokyo subway. Last time I was in town, my friend Jessica took me through the paces (http://josephmallozzi.com/2008/12/01/december-1-2008-tokyo-travel-day-9-my-big-subway-adventure-checking-out-the-iron-chefs-dark-digs-and-i-take-the-day-off/) so I sent her an email today requesting her input. I wrote:

“I’m thinking of using the subway and wanted to now about that all-inclusive card you had. Does it allow you to travel everywhere in the system? For how long? What is the cost?

Thanks,

Joe

P.S. Tokyo Times article, February 12, 2010 = “Remains of Tourist Found”: Yesterday, transit officials discovered the desiccated remains of a Canadian tourist almost two months after his mysterious disappearance. It is presumed he got lost on his way to eat some matcha opera cake at the Sadaharu Aoki Patisserie in Roppogni and perished after getting stuck in a turnstile on the Hibiya line. Next of kin have been notified.”

Hey, check it out. Stargate: Universe made the list of TV Guide’s 10 Most Anticipated New Falls Shows: http://www.tvguide.com/News/10-Anticipated-New-1009428.aspx

Pics of Zac Efron with actress Ming Na (SGU’s Camile Wray): http://twitpic.com/gcrz4

Some on set photos from Stargate: Atlantis’s fifth season:

Actress Leela Savasta (Captain Alicia Vega) at gun school with armorer Rob Fournier.
Actress Leela Savasta (Captain Alicia Vega) at gun school with armorer Rob Fournier.

NUP_115978_0425x

Today’s entry is dedicated to DemonHunter’s niece Hannah (Happy Birthday!) and Netty (Happy 1st Anniversary!).

April 26, 2009: The Best Chocolate Party Ever!

Speical Features Producer, Ivon Bartok, sports the prep school look.  Executive Producer Carl Binder pretends to be sociable.
Ivon Bartok sports the prep school look. Carl Binder pretends to be sociable.
Script Coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson in happier, less nauseous times.
Lawren Bancroft-Wilson in happier, less nauseous times.
Carl's wife Karen is on hand to keep her husband in check.
Carl's wife Karen is on hand to keep her husband in check.
Executive Producer Robert Cooper goes over his chocolate strategy.
Robert Cooper goes over his chocolate strategy.
Actor Brian J. Smith grabs a photo op with Producer John G. Lenic.
Brian J. Smith grabs a photo op with John G. Lenic.
Our friends Duc and Lily settle in for the feast.
Our friends Duc and Lily settle in for the feast.
Watercress Veloute with spring garlic custard and croutons.
Watercress Veloute with spring garlic custard and croutons.
Special Event Photographer Lawren Bancroft-Wilson caught in the act.
Special Event Photographer Lawren Bancroft-Wilson caught in the act.
Globe Artichoke Salad with fava beans, smoked pork shoulder, and organic olive oil.
Globe Artichoke Salad with fava beans, smoked pork shoulder, and organic olive oil.
Actor Jamil Walker Smith just happy he made it to the party.
Jamil Walker Smith just happy he made it to the party.
Roasted Prime Rib and Lamb
Roasted Prime Rib and Lamb
Actress Alain Huffman yuks it up with husband John.
Alain Huffman yuks it up with husband John.
Ricotta and Egg Yolk Ravioli with fava beans, french breakfast radishes, and black truffles.
Ricotta and Egg Yolk Ravioli with fava beans, french breakfast radishes, and black truffles.
Polderside Farms Spring Lamb with morels, sauteed ramps, and english peas.
Polderside Farms Spring Lamb with morels, sauteed ramps, and english peas.
Roasted Rib of Dry Aged Alberta Prime Beef wth black truffle bearnaise, potato fondant, and young leeks.
Roasted Rib of Dry Aged Alberta Prime Beef wth black truffle bearnaise, potato fondant, and young leeks.
Actress Alaina Huffman and husband John.  Camera loves these two!
Alaina Huffman and husband John. Camera loves these two!
Whipped Camembert with raisin brioche, spiced almonds, and fine herbs.
Whipped Camembert with raisin brioche, spiced almonds, and fine herbs.
Kerry says hi.
Kerry says hi.

 

Assorted sorbets.
Assorted sorbets.
Jean Paul Hevin Cave a Chocolat featuring twelve of his most famous creations.  Basically, a briefcase full of chocolate.
Jean Paul Hevin Cave a Chocolat featuring twelve of his most famous creations. Basically, a briefcase full of chocolate.
Oriol Balanguer's Collection 72 and 12 piece assortment including their hugely popular Mascleta with pop rocks.
Oriol Balanguer's Collection 72 and 12 piece assortment including their hugely popular Mascleta with pop rocks.
Oriol Balanguer mini tubes.
Oriol Balanguer mini tubes.
Jin Patisserie 24 piece jewelry box.
Jin Patisserie 24 piece jewelry box.
Jin Patisserie 20 piece silk box.
Jin Patisserie 20 piece silk box.
Payard masterpiece collection.
Payard masterpiece collection.
Payard muscadines.
Payard muscadines.
Payard vanilla rum truffles.
Payard vanilla rum truffles.
Debauve & Gallais 54 piece assortment.
Debauve & Gallais 54 piece assortment.
La Maison du Chocolat 122 piece Coffret Maison.
La Maison du Chocolat 122 piece Coffret Maison.
La Maison du Chocolat Habanera Gift Box.
La Maison du Chocolat Habanera Gift Box.
Richart Tribal Ballotin
Richart Tribal Ballotin
CocoaNymph 32 piece collection.
CocoaNymph 32 piece collection.
Mink Chocolates 9 piece Artist Series Presentation Box.
Mink Chocolates 9 piece Artist Series Presentation Box.
Joel Durand Alphabet des Saveurs 200 piece collection.
Joel Durand Alphabet des Saveurs 200 piece collection.
Mariebelle 100 piece blue box.
Mariebelle 100 piece blue box.
Mariebelle Croquette au Chocolat.
Mariebelle Croquette au Chocolat.
Wen Chocolates Bananas Foster Truffles.
Wen Chocolates Bananas Foster Truffles.
Wen Chocolates truffle assortment.
Wen Chocolates truffle assortment.
Wen Chocolates assorted truffles.
Wen Chocolates assorted truffles.
Pierre Marcolini Conoisseur Collection.
Pierre Marcolini Conoisseur Collection.
Michel Cluizel
Michel Cluizel
Michel Cluizel
Michel Cluizel
Amadei porcela and chuao bars.
Amedei porcelana and chuao bars.
Martine's Chocolates 72 piece selection.
Martine's Chocolates 72 piece selection.
Chocoatl drinking chocolate - milk chocolate.
Chocoatl drinking chocolate - milk chocolate.
Chocoatl chocolate fountain and assorted dipping goodies.
Chocoatl chocolate fountain and assorted dipping goodies.
Christopher Norman Grand Mosaic Box.
Christopher Norman Grand Mosaic Box.
Christopher Norman Luxury Tea Collection.
Christopher Norman Luxury Tea Collection.
Christopher Norman Coconut Snowball Collection.
Christopher Norman Coconut Snowball Collection.
Christopher Norman Blue Cheese Box.
Christopher Norman Blue Cheese Box.
Patrick Roger 75 piece assortment, ganaches, and pralines.
Patrick Roger 75 piece assortment, ganaches, and pralines.
Jacques Torres champagne truffles and 50 piece assortment.
Jacques Torres champagne truffles and 50 piece assortment.
Vosges smoked applewood bacon truffles.
Vosges smoked applewood bacon truffles.
Vosges assorted truffles.
Vosges assorted truffles.
Vosges Peanut Butter Bonbons.
Vosges Peanut Butter Bonbons.
48 piece assorted collection.
Tesucher 48 piece assorted collection.
Christopher Elbow 21 piece chocolate collection.
Christopher Elbow 21 piece chocolate collection.
Ivon keeps David's gal Holly company.
Ivon keeps David's gal Holly company.
David Blue mentally prepares himself for the chocolate blowout.
David Blue mentally prepares himself for the chocolate blowout.
Director Alex Chapple and Carl Binder.
Director Alex Chapple and Carl Binder.
Brad Wright with wife Debbie.
Brad Wright with wife Debbie.
Jamil's hat looks better on Alaina.
Jamil's hat looks better on Alaina.
The chocolate buffet is...open!
The chocolate buffet is...open!
Chocoatl chocolate dessert.
Chocoatl chocolate dessert.
Will Waring and David Blue talk shop.
Will Waring and David Blue talk shop.
Duc and Lily.
Duc and Lily.
Ted takes a break.
Ted takes a break.
David Blue and truffle.
David Blue and truffle.
Brian about ready to tap out.
Brian about ready to tap out.
Julia Anderson and fiance Peter Benson.
Julia Anderson and fiance Peter Benson.
Actor Justin Louis, son, and girlfriend Mary.
Actor Justin Louis, son, and girlfriend Mary.
John Lenic feeling the chocolate buzz.
John Lenic feeling the chocolate buzz.
Lawren takes up the challenge.
Lawren takes up the challenge.
Smooth sailing.  At first.
Smooth sailing. At first.
Beginning to draw a crowd...
Beginning to draw a crowd...
Slowing down...
Slowing down...
"What have I gotten myself into?"
"What have I gotten myself into?"
"He's not gonna make it..."
"He's not gonna make it..."
Rob gives the sick boy a round of applause.
Rob gives the sick boy a round of applause.
Lawren is comes up short.  He's done!
Lawren is comes up short. He's done!
Jamil looks pretty done too - but is consoled by Elyse Levesque.
Jamil looks pretty done too - but is consoled by Elyse Levesque.
Julia and Kerry.
Julia and Kerry.
Fuel's Tom Doughty and Chef Rob Belcham.
Fuel's Tom Doughty and Chef Rob Belcham.

 

David and Ivon (photo compliments of Kerry).
David and Ivon (photo compliments of Kerry).
Alan and Teresa (photo compliments of Kerry).
Alan and Teresa (photo compliments of Kerry).
Me experiencing a chocolate rush (compliments of Kerry).
Me experiencing a chocolate rush (compliments of Kerry).
Julia and Kerry
Julia and Kerry
Alan, Teresa, Kerry, and I.
Alan, Teresa, Kerry, and I.
I know, I know. I said the same thing about last year’s chocolate party – and, at the time, it certainly was The Best Chocolate Party Ever! Until yesterday’s chocolate party of course.
This was the second year in a row I hosted the party at my favorite Vancouver restaurant, Fuel. After some discussion with Tom, Rob, and Ted, we decided that unlike last year when we went whole hog (quite literally, we had foie grass and black truffle sausage-stuffed roast suckling pig AND crispy duck), we would opt for a lighter menu so that our guests would still have room for chocolates. To that end, Tom, Rob, and Ted put their heads together and came up with a spectacular menu that, while certainly not light, was substantial and satisfying without overwhelming.
First up was the watercresss veloute with spring garlic custard and croutons. It was a beautiful presentation and a lovely contrast in textures – creamy, firm, and crunchy.
The next course was a globe artichoke salad with fava beans, smoked pork shoulder, and organic olive oil. Now I’m usually not a salad guy but I thought this one was spectacular – and many of my fellow diners agreed.

Next up were our mains. For the vegetarians among us a tasty-looking ricotta and egg yolk ravioli with fava beans, French breakfast radishes, and black truffles. It looked so good this was one of those rare occasions when I actually wanted the veggie selection.

I went with the Polderside Farms spring lamb with morels, sautéed ramps, and English peas. Wonderfully tender and flavorful.

Fondy, meanwhile, went with the roasted rib of dry aged Alberta prime beef with black truffle béarnaise, potato fondant, and young leeks – and this dish blew the doors off the place. Everyone was raving about it, especially a certain Mr. Carl Binder.

Next was a whipped camembert with raisin brioche, spiced almonds, and fine herbs. Nice, not overly sweet. Jamil in particular enjoyed this one.

We capped the meal with a gorgeous presentation of assorted sorbets served atop carved ice blocks. Unbelievably good, especially the coconut that seemed to be everyone‘s favorite.

After dinner, we moved on to the main event: the chocolates. Last year, I brought in a selection from fourteen different chocolatiers worldwide. This year, it was 21.

JP Hevin’s 96 piece Cave a Chocolat made a return appearance after so impressing last year. Twelve of Hevin’s most famous creations collected in a stunning briefcase. Loved them last year and loved them just as much this year. (http://www.jphevin.com/?lang=en)

Barcelona’s premiere chocolate designer and chocolatier, Oriol Balanguer, makes his first chocolate party appearance with a stunning assortment. These were a bit of a deal to bring in but they were well worth the effort – refined and utterly delicious. Some of the stand-outs included the delicate filled mini tubes, hot toddy, chestnut and nougat, and a Mascleta with pop rocks that my friend Steve couldn’t stop talking about. (http://www.oriolbalaguer.com/)

Speaking of refined, Jin Patisserie made it two years in a row with a delicate and distinguished assortment beautifully presented in silk and jewelry boxes. They were reluctant to ship to Canada last year but, after much pleading relented and their chocolates turned out to be a huge hit. This year, they shipped no problem and, again, their creations had the room buzzing. (http://www.jinpatisserie.com/)

This was a first year for Payard as well and, in addition to a chocolate assortment, they amazed with their vanilla rum truffles and, my personal favorites, their muscadines (dark chocolate ganache dusted in powdered sugar, Grand Marnier, and sugar powder). Even after I’d reached my limit, I couldn’t help ending the night with a couple of the latter. (http://www.payard.com/)

The most expensive chocolates hailed from France’s Debauve & Gallais, chocolate-makers to the French royal court. “Buddy, there is no royal court in France,”my writing partner Paul informed me as he sampled a chocolate. “They had a little something called the French Revolution. Maybe you’ve heard of it?”. Well, over the course of its rich two hundred year history, this company has served the likes of King Louis XVIII, Charles X, Louis-Philippe – and now, us. Fantastic chocolates I won’t hesitate to re-order for my next bash.
(http://www.debauve-et-gallais.com/v1/)

This is my fourth annual chocolate party and La Maison du Chocolat has made an appearance at every one. An incredible assortment of world-class chocolates including their Habanera Gift Box made up of dark chocolate perfumed with vine peaches, and milk chocolate infused with Mirabelle plums. John, Alaina’s husband, was blown away by the subtle milk chocolate/plum combo. (http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.com/en/#/home)

Richart offers up an unbelievable selection of their marvelous creations grouped into different flavor families (balsamic, roasted, fruity, citrust, herbal, floral, and spiced) in addition to dark and milk chocolate samplers ranging from rich milk chocolate to intense darks. (http://www.richart-chocolates.com/)

New York’s Mariebelle is another heavy hitter than never fails to impress with its beautiful blue box collection. Their croquettes – crispy and crunchy buttery European cookies in milk or dark chocolate – always draw A LOT of interest. I ordered four boxes this year – and all four were finished by night’s end. (http://www.mariebelle.com/)

I decided to check out of some of the local flavor and picked up an assortment from Vancouver’s own CocoaNymph. Owner Rachel has been at it a year and a half and obviously puts much love and imagination into her creations. My favorite was one she had me sample when I dropped by her shop – a remarkable blueberry and balsamic. (http://www.cocoanymph.com/)

Also hailing from Vancouver and making their first chocolate party appearance was Mink Chocolates and their exciting collection that included a pear and rosemary with milk chocolate ganache in dark chocolate. In addition to the bonbons, they also boast an intriguing line-up of inspired chocolate bars. (http://www.minkchocolates.com/)

Speaking of inspired, French chocolatier Joel Durand’s Alphabet des Saveurs offered up a range of extraordinary combinations, from A (Gold Square – dark chocolate, 70% cocoa) to Z (Almonds Praline – 40% milk chocolate with home made praline from Provence almonds). Some other surprisingly good letters of note included F (dark chocolate and Corsica arbutus bitter honey), P (Provence almond praline and black olives from “Les Baux” Valley), and W (dark chocolate and fresh Provence thyme). (http://www.chocolat-durand.com/)

What would a chocolate party be without a contribution from my buddy Will Poole and his shop, Wen Chocolates, in Denver, Colorado? I first glimpsed his Bananas Foster truffle creations on Food Network’s Road Tasted and have been a fan ever since. In addition to the Bananas Foster (“It tastes like Christmas!”someone enthused), other truffles to garner the Oooh and Aaah reaction included Mint Julep, Kaffir Lime, and California Bay Leaf. (https://www.wenchocolates.com/)

Another perennial favorite is chocolatier Pierre Marcolini. A wonderful collection that took me back to my last Tokyo trip when I would while away the afternoons at the Pierre Marcolini location in Ginza, enjoying his marvelous chocolates, ice creams, and hot cocoa. (http://pierremarcolini-na.com/)

Michel Cluizel’s line of chocolate bars is simply terrific – and what better way to enjoy them than with a sampler of some of his most popular offerings. In addition, Cluizel offers a Once Upon A Bean presentation box that treats novices to an overview of the chocolate-making process, from cocoa bean to finished product. (http://www.chocolatmichelcluizel-na.com/)

Hey, speaking of chocolate bars, I figured no chocolate party would be complete without my very favorites: Amedei’s porcelana and chuao bars. I personally think you’d be hardpressed to find better. (http://www.amedei.com/jspamedei/index.jsp?lang=en)

Martine’s Chocolate makes yet another chocolate party appearance with their varied 72 piece selection. My wife’s favorite. (http://martineschocolates.com/)

I don’t think you can find anyone more passionate or as knowledgeable about chocolate in Vancouver than Themis Velgis, owner of Yaletown’s Chocoatl. This year, in addition to making some dark and decadent desserts, he supplied milk and dark drinking chocolate, milk and dark chocolate fountains, and oodles of delicious dunkables. (http://www.chocoatl.com/)

Christopher Norman is another chocolate party mainstay owing to the quality of the product and the beauty and care that goes into their presentation. Their hand-painted Grand Mosaic Box is stunning and, while oft-copied (Vancouver’s most famous chocolatier comes to mind), nothing comes close to the original. The luxury tea collection is a sublime mix of unique tea flavor profiles (green tea, tropical mango, China Rose, and Lapsang Souchong), chocolate ganache, and dark chocolate. This was the first year I had the pleasure of enjoying their Coconut Snowball Collection in addition to their Blue Cheese Chocolate Truffles. The latter were an acquired taste. Brian found them surprisingly subtle while David was quick to politely but vehemently disagree. Of all the chocolates I brought in, these Blue Cheese Chocolate truffles were the ones that Ashleigh was most excited about. Alas, no leftovers but I thought it might be nice to surprise her with a box later in the year. In lieu of a Christmas bonus. (http://www.christophernormanchocolates.com/)

Hey, speaking of acquired taste, Vosges is always a chocolate party favorite in large part due to their bold, out-there flavor combinations: wild Tuscan fennel pollen and milk chocolate, sweet Hungarian paprika and dark chocolate, horseradish, lemon zest, and dark chocolate. But my personal favorite has to be their smoked applewood bacon milk chocolate truffle. Also, last year, I brought in two boxes of their creamy organic peanut butter bonbons topped with sea salt – and they were the first to go. This year, I brought in four boxes – and they didn’t last any longer. (http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/)

France’s Patrick Roger has been described as an up and coming chocolatier. Judging from the creations I sampled last night, I think it’s safe to say he’s arrived. Incredibly accomplished chocolates that had Chef Rob, in particular, singing their praises. (http://www.patrickroger.com/index_en.html)

I’ve wanted to bring in Jacques Torres chocolates for years but, every time I contacted their shop in New York, I was informed they didn’t ship to Canada. Then, this year, I included a link to my last chocolate party with the request. Well, a company representative contacted me and informed me they were willing to ship for the special event – and, boy, are we glad they did. Wow! The chocolates were superb and those champagne truffles outrageously good! (http://www.mrchocolate.com/)

Christopher Elbow’s artisan chocolates are a sight to behold – and they are as tasty as they are dazzling. In addition to chocolate pieces, Elbow also makes some mighty unbelievable bars and, in all likelihood, the best coffee/chocolate bar out there. (http://www.elbowchocolates.com/)

And, finally, this was the first year for Teuscher.  I ordered the 48 piece assortment.  Excellent chocolates, but the truffles were unbelievable!  (http://www.teuscher.com/)

Whew! It was a chocolate extravaganza. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves although some definitely overdid it. Take Lawren for instance. After attacking the chocolate, he was offered a significant sum of money if he could finish four sinfully rich chocolate desserts in twenty-five minutes. Well, despite the fact that he was chocolated-out, he decided to give it a try. He put the first dessert away no problem, making everyone else at the table mighty nervous. As he put the second one away, he began to draw a crowd and, by the third dessert – which took him a good ten minutes to get through – he had his own cheering section. By the time he started on that fourth dessert, the entire room was crowded around him, shouting words of encouragement and, in some cases, discouragement. He got halfway through the fourth one when, with five minutes to go, he threw in the towel. According to Tom, he had dialed 9 and 1 and was waiting to dial that last 1.

Well, he may not have won the cash but Lawren won the respect of many of those in the room – who would respect anyone crazy enough to try and put away four decadent chocolate desserts after maxing out on a chocolate buffet.

Thanks to the gang at Fuel, the wonderful participating chocolatiers, and, of course, my guests.

So, yeah – Best Chocolate Party Ever!

Until next year of course.