December 20, 2011: Maximus! My Holiday Gift Reads!

On the heels of bringing Maximus in to see the vet on Monday, I’m faced with a tough decision.  The fact is, he’s not going to get any better – this despite the special diet, the radiation treatment, and the anti-cancer vaccine.  He only has a little time left.  Of course, one could argue that, relatively speaking, we all have little time left.  How much “little” is the question.  Maximus has hung in there despite the odds. The vet calls him “a tough little guy,”.  True, but he’s a tough little guy fighting a losing battle and I have to decide when it’s time to throw in the towel.  The decision isn’t as simple as it may seem to the impartial observer.  While he has been lethargic since his diagnosis back in July, it’s not exactly out of character for Maximus who has always been the laid-back type, preferring a cozy snooze over an afternoon walk.   Also, the vet suspects that this lethargy may have more to do with the tramadol he is taking for the pain than the pain itself.  As for his loss of appetite, the fact that he’s still drinking suggests his unwillingness to eat isn’t wholly pain-related either.  In fact, the vet informs me that loss of appetite is common in cancer patients.

And so, because Maximus can’t talk to me and let me know exactly what’s going on, how he’s feeling, and what he’d like to do, I’m at a loss.  Yes, given that I am leaving for Montreal this Friday, it certainly would be easy to make the final call over the next few days, but I won’t make a decision just because it’s easier for me.  I want to make a decision that gives Maximus the most quality time available to him.  I don’t want to ever look back and consider the possibility that, even subconsciously, my decision was dictated by my personal comfort.  Max may be ill but he has nevertheless continues to demonstrate flashes of his old self, looking downright happy and excited when some kids came to the house the other day (and, notably, whenever he’s LEAVING the vet’s).

It would be easier to leave him back at home with the dog-sitter, or at the vet’s, but in the likely event that these are his last few days, I think I owe it to my buddy to be there for him.  And so, I’ve arranged to bringing him along with us to Montreal.  He’s always been a great traveler, sitting quietly in his sherpa bag for the duration of previous flights.  The last time he stopped eating and I assumed he was on his last legs, the change of scenery from Toronto to Vancouver seemed to give him a second lease on life.  Here’s hoping the switch from Vancouver to Montreal does the same.

Well , I’m pleased to report that I’ve covered everyone on my Christmas list.  Figuratively speaking.  The task of the literal covering has fallen to Akemi who gift-wraps with all the professionalism and artistic sensibility of – well, someone who has worked retail in Tokyo.

I’ve elected to go with a balance of personal and impersonal gifts this year.  Sure, it’s easier to go with various scented soaps (see above), but I figured I’d also roll the dice this Christmas by offering some reading suggestions in the form of a few of my favorite non-genre books.  It’s tough because almost everything I read is genre fiction (either SF, fantasy, or horror), but there have been a few exceptions…

The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten

You may know him as one of Iron Chef America’s most hard-to-please judges, but he’s also been Vogue Magainze’s food critic for the past twenty-two years.  Along the way, he’s written countless food-related essays and these two books collect some of his most humorous pieces.  Endlessly entertaining even for non-foodies.

City of Thieves by David Benioff.

Before becoming a writer and show runner on HBO’s Game of Thrones, David Benioff published this wonderful coming of age novel set in Leningrad during the second world war.  Two young men are charged with the seemingly impossible task of locating a dozen eggs for the wedding of a Russian Colonel’s daughter.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Another humorous collection, this one an assortment of personal essays from one of the funniest writers out there, David Sedaris.

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon.

Yes, I said non-genre but this book’s near-future setting and endearing protagonist make it incredibly accessible.  One of my top ten favorite reads.

Fool by Christopher Moore

King Lear told from the fool’s point of view.  You don’t have to be familiar with the bard’s work to thoroughly enjoy this riotous novel.  A terrific introduction to the wild and wonderful world of author Christopher Moore.

Finally – mom just finished Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and is looking for another book along its quaint and comical lines.  Any suggestions?

August 1, 2008: My Top 5 July Reads

Well, July is behind us and, as promised, I looked over all the books I read over the past month and come up with a list of My Top 5 Favorite Reads for that period. The various Book of the Month Club selections had already been given the spotlight on this blog, so they were deemed ineligible for consideration. Instead, I picked from among the almost 20 non-BOTMC books I read in July and came up with following favorites…

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

by David Sedaris

The title refers to part of the hotel safety instructions author David Sedaris encountered during a trip to Japan. It’s just one of the countless humorous observations that pepper the author’s hilarious anecdotal reflections. From his awkward encounters with a neighborhood pariah in the French countryside to his hapless attempts at learning Japanese, Sedaris offers up a collection of tales that is both uproarious and occasionally very touching. The stand-out for me was That’s Amore which details his love/hate relationship with a colorfully crotchety neighbor named Helen.


by Charles Stross

It’s the 27th century and our protagonist, Robin, has very little on his mind, the result of a mindwipe that effectively erased his traumatic memories of the recent Censorship Wars. Unfortunately, Robin’s rehabilitation is complicated by an attempt on his life. Who is trying to kill him and why? Alas, those memories he lost would have certainly helped answer those questions. Faced with the prospect of further assassination attempts, Robin volunteers for an experiment intended to recreate the dark ages of 21st century society. The next thing he knows, HE is now a SHE, a suburban housewife, and one of hundreds of subjects in an isolated three-year trial where the dangers Robin sought refuge from may well reside.


by John Wyndham

When their adopted son Matthew forms a friendship with an imaginary companion named Chocky, his parents are understandably concerned. Even more so when Chocky’s influence begins to manifest in eleven year old Matthew’s sudden fascination with binary code and interstellar travel. Is their son suffering from an overly active imagination? Is he exhibiting signs of mental illness? Or is something decidedly otherworldly at play here? Chocky is a whimsical little story that, interestingly enough given that it was written in the 60’s, turns out to be a critique of our dependence of foreign oil. The whole is made all the more enjoyable by Wyndham’s polished Brit writing style.

Make Room! Make Room!

by Harry Harrison

Years before Charlton Heston discovered the horrifying origin of that mysterious food ration known as Soylent Green, author Harry Harrison published this book which became the basis of the aforementioned movie. The film deviates greatly from the source material which focuses on the lives of the various inhabitants of a dystopian, overcrowded New York. The murder of a gangster named Big Mike sets the stage for an investigation headed by police detective Andy Rausch. Complications arise in the form of the dead man’s mistress, a Taiwanese boy on the run, a corrupt judge, and the unrelentingly grim backdrop of future New York. A terrific noir SF thriller.

The Ophiuchi Hotline

by John Varley

In the five hundred years since an alien invasion destroyed all Earth technology in 2050, humanity has made great scientific strides thanks to a mysterious data stream from the Ophiuchius constellation. The source of the transmission is a mystery but Earth’s leaders haven’t felt necessarily inclined to find out more about their alien benefactors. Until the day they send a message demanding payment for a half centuries’ worth of information. Enter Lilo, a rebel geneticist sentenced to death who, in exchange for her life, agrees to assist the enigmatic Boss Tweed in investigating the matter. Along the way, she discovers that she is a pawn in an attempt to strike back against the alien invaders that attacked the planet hundreds of years ago.

If you’re looking to supplement your Book of the Month Club selections with some additional reading material, I highly recommend any of the above. And, if you do end up checking out any of the titles, let me know how you enjoyed them.

Also, a reminder that writer-Supervising Producer Alan McCullough has agreed to come by and submit to your grilling. If you have any questions about tonight’s episode The Daedalus Variations, past McCullough episodes, or anything Stargate-related or of a highly personal nature, make sure to post them this weekend because come Monday, it’ll be too late!

Today’s blog entry is dedicated birthday boy Jason Momoa, birthday girl Andria (my sister), and a stranded Patricia.

Inpa writes: “Will you or do you get any hints from the network about what their future plans are for the series (I.e. new series, cancellation ect) or do they just ‘wait’ until they tell you officially what the decision is. Are there any ratings for episode 2 or 3 that you know of yet either?”

Answer: No hints until they make the decision. As for the ratings, the early numbers had The Seed matching last season’s premiere with a 1.1 (not bad considering we were up against the biggest box office opening in history) and Broken Ties upticked to a 1.2 (matching last season’s higher back-half average). Yes, to date, season 5 has been outperforming season four. All very heartening but, again, I caution fans from assuming a decision on the show’s sixth season will be solely ratings-based.

A. loquita writes: “1. Why is it that both Mitchell and Carter are listed as Lt. Colonel in the credits?”

Answer: That was a mistake. They are both full-bird Colonels.

A. loquita also writes: “Daniel exists in an alternate reality where another Daniel is still alive. Why doesn’t entropic cascade failure happen?!?”

Answer: A distinction is being made here between an AU (alternate reality) Daniel, and a time-traveling Daniel from the same reality. Of course this opens up a can of worms about the rules of time travel. Some past musings on the subject here:

Telikeneticforceblast writes: “That should also be asked when in atlantis when “Rod” came from the alternate reality where the exotic particles got came in. Now that you mention it, I can remember quite a few instances in Stargate where entropic cascade failure doesn’t occur…”

Answer: Check out Ripple Effect for further discussion on this topic.

Linda Gagne writes: “As a writer do you put yourself into the character shoes a lot if at all? or am I just imagining it?”

Answer: When I’m writing dialogue for them? All the time.

Jenks writes: “On the subject of the back story of Col. Cam Mitchell that was written and narrated by Ben Browder, is that to be considered canon?”

Answer: I suppose you can consider it canon – until we decide otherwise.

Masterchief writes: “I thought the back half of season 5 was supposed to air next year. Am I wrong?”

Answer: All indications are that, yes, you’re wrong.

AnnaLeo writes: “Dr. Beckett has a family back home right? Wouldn’t he want to let them know that he’s not dead, even though he won’t know how long he may live?”

Answer: There a bit of dialogue I wrote for Whispers that touches on this very subject – Beckett’s improbable return from the dead and the reaction back home. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall if it survived the cut. If it didn’t, I’ll be sure to include it was part of the post-episode wrap-up.

Davidd writes: “Will you ever do an episode which features a specific Earth holiday? Like Christmas or Halloween?”

Answer: Nope.

Khalidur writes: “are you purposefully planning the season finale to also take the place for a series finale if needs be, or do you plan on making a movie/feature length episode to tie up loose ends?”

Answer: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – the end of the series will not spell the end of Stargate Atlantis.

Michelle writes: “Joe, will you be going to Vegas along with Rob and the gang?”

Answer: Alas, I will not. We’re just going to have to trust that Rob will be able to control himself and not blow the show’s budget on all the spectacular sequences he has in mind – or on 22 black.

Tim Gaffney writes: “Does anyone know why there is no Atlantis next week(August 8th)? Is Sci-Fi trying to avoid going up against the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, or is it something else?”

Answer: If I was to make an educated guess, that would be the reason.

DownUnder writes: “As Teyla introduced herself in season 1 as “Teyla Emmagan, daughter of Tegan” I assumed Tagan was her father’s name…. so how is Torren named after Tagan?”

Answer: Of course she could have been referring to her mother.

Ganymede writes: “ If Jason Momoa is on the Lot tomorrow [Friday] and if you read this tonight [Thurs], please, start baking! It’s his birthday! There is a select group of us that lurk around this blog who would like to see a birthday photo of him!”

Answer: Sorry. Company day off today. Jason is back home with his family.

AnneTeldy writes: “I’ve started an online petition in the form of a letter to Mr. Flanigan to see if we can get him to change his mind about a Special Features Profile…”

Answer: Good luck with that.

JimFromJersey writes: “The Atlantis teams do not have designations ie: SG-1/SG-11 etc. Why is that?”

Answer: Hate to say it, but I’ve answered this question before. The Atlantis teams are numbered. Sheppard’s team is First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. Lorne’s team is Second Atlantis Reconnaissance Team. And so on.

SmileyFace_06 writes: “Where will Stargate’s People’s Choice Award go?”

Answer: To be fair to everyone, the award was paraded around the lot and then subsequently destroyed.

Fran writes: “When the gang films in parks, forests, and such do you have to get permission or a permit from the city and province?”

Answer: Always.

Jessica writes: “Why is McKay allowed to fall for a different woman each season.”

Answer: For a grand total of two?

TBA writes: “Any clues, or cryptic hints, to this ‘guest star that will have boards buzzing’ of #518, Identity?”

Answer: A guest star that will have boards buzzing? Beats me. Let me know though.

Trish writes: “When the vet came, though, Sebastian still could not walk or even sit up. The vet said it was time to put him down. So all four of us sat around him and told him we loved him and said good-bye.”

Answer: Hey, Trish, this is really heartbreaking. Hope you and Allie are okay and know that a lot of people are thinking of you right now.

Stan writes: “Mr. M are you telling us that 2008-2009 will be the final season of SGA?”

Answer: Nope because at this point I honestly don’t know.

Alainaross writes: “In the seed, when Carson said “I’m scheduled to leave this afternoon.” To what was he refering, returning to earth or returning to stasis, and will he be comming back in the near future?”

Answer: Beckett returned to Earth for some much-needed R&R after the events of The Seed. He’ll be making his triumphant return to the Pegasus Galaxy in Whispers.

Morjana writes: “IGN had very nice comments about The Daedalus Variations.”

Answer: I love those guys!