September 10, 2016: Tokyo Travel Day! Enjoy the Dogs!

So, what did you all think of last night’s Dark Matter double-header?

Thrilling?

Touching?

Shocking?

All of the above?

Do tell!  Leave your feedback in the comments section.  I’ll peruse your thoughts once I land in Japan!

In the meantime, enjoy some dog pics.  Bubba, Lulu, and special guest star Petunia!

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April 2, 2016: Dog Day Afternoon!

Oh, damn.  Today, was our first early pre-flight weigh-in.  Bubba tipped the scales at a negotiable 20.4 lbs.  Lulu, however, was a robust 22.4 lbs!  They both have to trim down to an even 20 lbs before they can fly.  Fortunately for us, they have roughly two and a half months to get into shape!

Forget prep, production, and post – THE most stressful part of working on this show is transporting the dogs to B.C. and back.  And we only have two!

A few of you have asked, so I’ll be honest with you.  The day I adopt that third pug is the day I’ve decided to stay put in Vancouver.

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September 19, 2014: Japan Day #9!

Today, we had plans to meet up with our friend, Nihei, for a yakitori lunch but, unfortunately, a last minute meeting derailed those yakitori plans – and sent us to Butagumi, my favorite tonkatsu restaurant, instead!

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Tucked away in a little side street in Nishi-Azabu, the rustic restaurant offers varieties of tonkatusu (golden-fried pork cutlets) from all over Japan.

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We started with a double order of the San Mi Ni Pork – sweet, salty, umami and crispy, it goes great with rice.  I’ve been trying to replicate the recipe at home for years now – to no avail.  sad

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We ordered three types of pork.  Surprisingly, the tastiest was this Nattoku-Toni pork from GIFU prefecture.  I say surprising because it was the leanest cut of our three choices – yet proved equally tender and more flavorful.

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The two month aged Himuro-Buta from Gunma (pictured above) and Kashiwa-Gensou Pork from Chiba were also great, all nestled in an exceptionally light panko crusting.

Butagumi: 2-24-9 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo

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Passed this interesting sign outside a restaurant.  Not sure what it means.  Cool down with tempura on hot days?

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These cool state-of-the-art public urinals come with manual water flushing systems and soap dispensers! Took me a while to figure them out.

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Oh.  No.  Wait.

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In preparation for the cold east coast winter, we also got our dogs some down-filled coats as well.

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Then stopped by the baby section of Uniqlo and, for half the price, picked up Jelly a whole new winter wardrobe.

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Interesting metro print ad featuring Kyari Pamyu Pamyu.

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Mecha-gorilla outside a shop in Daikanyama.

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Akemi and her new friend.

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I’ll do the cutest thing on the menu, please.

 1Wow.  Small world.  It’s nice to know that, despite our cultural differences, we are united in our hatred of obnoxious cyclists.

For dinner tonight, I got a recommendation from a foodie forum and made a reservation at Sushiso Masa.  I was expecting a modest, lovely little meal.  Instead, we were treated to a mind-blowing feast featuring some 40+ different pieces of fish served in an unbelievable variety of ways.  Chef Masa kindly took the time to explain (to us, but really to Akemi who translated for me) the various fish, preparations, and his inspired approaches and philosophy.   We had three different sea urchins prepared three different ways, sashimis, nigiris, cookied specialties, arrangements and presentations I’ve never had before.

Some of the visual highlights…

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Spectacular.  This place has earned its spot into regular rotation alongside Sawada, Esquisse, and L’Effervescence.

Sushiso Masa: 4-1-15 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

 Tonight, I leave you with another video my sister sent me – this one of a snorky Lulu and her toy:

June 19, 2014: A busy day, but there’s always time for dogs!

A crazy day, chock full o’ tests of physical endurance, phone calls, emails, errands, reading, critiquing but, alas, no actual writing.  Damn.  I’ve been sitting on this pilot for over a week now.  Time to get it done!  Tomorrow, come hell or high water, I finally complete that elusive first draft.  Best decant the Knob Creek tonight.

Another reminder that we’ve kicked off our Stark Trek (the original series) re-watch!

1Next Wednesday, we’ll be reconvening to discuss the show’s first five episodes: The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Naked Time, and The Enemy Within.

Yes, technically, The Cage and the original version of Where No Man Has Gone Before fall earlier in the chronology, but we’ll save those particular episodes for a later viewing.

So tell your friends!  I’ll be sitting down to a back to back to back to back to back screening sometime this weekend.

Hey, while, you’re here, enjoy some pics of the gang…

Akemi and her boyfriend, Bubba, on Granville Island.
Akemi and her boyfriend, Bubba, on Granville Island.
Jelly in summer mode.
Jelly in summer mode.
Jelly (photo compliments of ace photog force).
Jelly (photo compliments of ace photog force).
Bubba (via gforce)
Bubba (via gforce)
Snoozing Lulu
Snoozing Lulu

April 16, 2014: Dog fight! Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Outsiders!

Dog fight!

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Outsiders!

1Hunh.  I assumed Akemi would enjoy The Lost Tribe, but she found it slow-paced and confusing.  I figured she wouldn’t like Outsiders, but she was entertained throughout.  While I wouldn’t rank it among her favorites, she did prefer it over the previous episode: “I felt quicker than last episode.”

Still, plenty of nitpicks of Outsiders:

When leader Elson sneaks back into town wearing a cloak to hide his identity: “Why he is hiding?  From who?”  Good question.

When Elson makes his pitch to “Shrekish-looking guy”, seemingly betraying the Atlantis team and the outsiders: “What?  Whatwhatwhat?!”  And then suspicious: “Why Jervis trusted so simply?”

When Beckett taunts the wraith, Akemi wondered why the wraith didn’t just feed on him.  And when, seconds later, he tries – and dies in excruciating pain: “Wraith is as dumb as I am.”

After Sheppard triggers the explosion, killing the wraith – as well as “Shrekish-looking guy” and his fellow townspeople: who, it turns out, were entrapped by Elson and Sheppard: “Why he did that?   He’s supposed to be hero?!”

When McKay figures out how to re-jib the dart so that it deposits him and Beckett on the planet rather than scoop anyone up off the surface: “How he figured that out?  Oh, right.  Because he is genius.”

On the with-only-seconds-to-spare escape through the gate: “Of course.”

And after “everyone” escapes: “They said six hundred to seven people in the village, but we only see forty escape.  What happened to everyone else?”  Hello?  Extras casting?

Speaking of unanswered questions: “What happened to the group that was delivered to gate first? Where did they go?”  Er.  Um.  Transported up to the hive ship?  No.  They escaped too?  Uh, no.  I guess they were killed?  “Usually the episodes make sense.  Here a bunch of actors and actresses are missing.”

She felt the episode was lacking a little something.  A little Robert Picardo: “I was sad the fact I couldn’t see Woolsey-Bob.”

Overall, however, she didn’t find the episode offensive and gave it this ringing endorsement: “Not bad.  I don’t mind.  I just hated Jervis.  Reminds me of Top Chef Canada contestant.”

October 20, 2013: I Hate Sundays!

I HATE Sundays.  I really do.  I used to love them back in the day when I would get those ice cream deliveries and – oh yeah – my Snow Monkeys were competitive.  Alas, those days are long gone and now, instead of enjoying home made ice cream while watching football, I’m reduced to raiding my chocolate drawer for forgotten pink peppercorn bars and cursing Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas.  Since the day couldn’t get any worse, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity for me to catch up on my quarterly tax installment payments.  And address some notes to a pitch document we’ll be going out with later this week.

On the other hand, the day was not without its highlights.  There was this –

1And this –

Suspicious
Suspicious

And these –

"You're kidding."
“You’re kidding.”
Really?
“Really?”
"Get outta here!"
“Get outta here!”

And, of course, this.  Jelly modeling her new outfit from Akemi Designs Inc.:

April 16, 2013: Dark Matter developments! Mailbag! My dog eating kale chips!

First things first!  My french bulldog, Lulu, eating kale chips.  Please raise volume to maximum before viewing:

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One of the worst kept secrets on this blog has been the identity of that scifi series Paul and I have been trying to set up.  As many of you know, back when we were working on Stargate, we started developing our own SF series in the hopes of rolling right into production with the same crew if and when Stargate ever ended.  The only problem at the time was that there was no end in sight.  Every time we thought Stargate would close up shop, the show would get picked up for another season.  It was a classy problem that allowed us to really flesh out the concept and characters of this prospective new show.

Unfortunately, when Stargate did end, the timing proved difficult. Instead of taking advantage of our terrific Stargate crew, we ended up having to put our project on hold while we took a job in Toronto.  But rather than relegate it to the back burner, we thought of an interesting way to go – and a great way to help sell the show.  We hooked up with Dark Horse Comics and launched the series idea as a comic book.

DARKMTR #1 CVRThe first four issues of Dark Matter garnered great reviews and, when the trade paperback came out in October, we used it as a calling card. Having worked in development, I was aware of, and wanted to draw on, the added appeal of an established property.  Also, half the battle of pitching is to help a potential buyer imagine the project you have created – and I could think of no better pitch document than that trade paperback.

DM4We went out with a story backed by some fantastic visuals compliments of artist Garry Brown and colorist Ryan Hill.  The response was incredibly positive.  Even more so after Paul and I delivered the pilot script.  Still, my concern was the budget, making sure we had enough money to do it properly (visual effects don’t come cheap after all!), so I was heartened by word from our producing partner today that the response in Europe has been equally great.

Now all that remains is for that final piece of the puzzle to fall into place.  Yes, we’ve been waiting a while but all indications are we’ll be receiving word soon.  If it’s positive, then things are going to get very busy very quickly.  If it’s not, then we’ll have to go elsewhere for that final piece – which will, of course, delay things.

But hopefully it all comes together as expected.  And, once it does, dare I say it…

No, better not.

Mailbag:

shinyhula writes: “And why no zombies on this list? Night of the Living Dead, 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland; what have the unliving done to deserve your scorn?”

Answer: I was listing Scariest Endings and, off the top of my head, none of the zombie entries came to mind.  Well, now that I think of it, maybe the original Night of the Living Dead would have been a good candidate.

ancuetas writes: “Is that you know what music is there at the beginning of the video.”

Answer: This piece of music, from SG-1’s Demons, was before my time (I joined the show in its fourth season), but it’s safe to assume that it was composed by the late, great Joel Goldsmith.

dasndanger writes: “Also, this whole thing with the shutting down of cell towers in cases like this? That’s why I still have a corded old timey landline tele-o-phone.”

Answer: Hmmm.  Good point.  I haven’t had a landline in four years.

RLAVILLA writes: “Recently there have been two new Stargate games for Android and iPhone, and I think that will be the new product line, which has been selected by MGM for Stargate franchise. How about converting “Stargate Extinction” in a game for these new platforms?”

Answer: Not my call.  That would be for the studio to decide.

Jen writes: “A tad random, but I went in on my birthday to have this done but the artist was booked up so I had it done yesterday.”

Answer: Great.  But I insist you draw the line at one of those Jaffa forehead tattoos.

baterista9 writes: “Just saw Cookie on Saturday at Sea World of Texas.”

Answer: Yes, he was there for his cousin Esmerelda’s wedding.

fsmn36 writes: “But the entire movie plays off the alcoholic!Tony arc from the comics and the Rhodey scene makes 20x more sense when you consider Tony is basically planning on suicide/knows he’s going to die. What seems a tacky action scene becomes a heart breaking fight between friends while Tony desperately gives everything he loves away to the few people that matter to him.”

Answer: Sounds terrific.  Unfortunately, none of that came across onscreen.

gforce writes: “Did you ever take Akemi up to Whistler yet? You should take her out to a nice dinner or even a weekend up there!”

Answer: I retired my krazy karpet years ago.

Seth writes: “How hard would it be to get the cast on board for a Kickstarter for the series or movies? Looks as if Veronica Mars just got 5.5 million in Kickstarter funds from fans!”

Answer: 5.5 million may seem like a lot, but consider that the previous SG-1 movies cost 7+ million each to produce – and those productions made use of existing sets and production personnel.

Tam Dixon writes: “Did you try one of the dog cookies for quality control? You did, didn’t you?”

Answer: I didn’t, but someone I know (hint: she’s Japanese) DOES taste test for quality control.

Tam Dixon also writes: “Anyways, what about another trip? New York, L.A. or maybe even go down South. I wouldn’t recommend Memphis, unless you bring a gun but what about New Orleans or Savannah, GA?”

Answer: Akemi definitely wants to go to New York and, after reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I’ve wanted to check out Savannah.  That said, both L.A. and Vegas are closer and more likely short trip destinations.  This, of course, is entirely dependent on our finding a dog sitter.

astrumporta writes: “I think you should bring Akemi to San Francisco for her b-day!”

Answer: It’s also on the list.  Good eatin’!  How goes, Michelle?

pennlynn writes: “You’re brave man Joe! I like having a nice drink but other than the whiskey I’m not sure I would try that haul of liquor!”

Answer: I tried the Nikka whiskey with Lawren last night when he came over for the American Horror Story marathon.  It was damn good, and much better straight up than on the rocks.  How went the t.v. interview?

December 9, 2012: Snow Dogs!

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Well, they would be – IF there was snow on the ground.  And IF they were outside braving the elements like those courageous pooches in that Cuba Gooding Jr. movie instead of just parking themselves under the Christmas tree in expectation of a treat.  All the same, they’re clearly in the holiday spirit – Jelly, lounging amid the tinsel, Bubba suspiciously sniffing presents, Lulu furtively snacking on low-hanging ornaments.

1No football for me today.  And I didn’t really miss it.  Akemi had a hankering for pancakes, so we headed over to De Dutch where she got her fix –

Banana Maple Nut style!
Banana Maple Nut style!

Then it was over to Home Depot where I was disappointed to learn they’d sold out of indoor Christmas lights.  As a result, this was the best we Akemi could do:

1She did a great job, decorating the tree with an even mix of the tasteful and tasteless.

1While Akemi wrapped gifts, I did a little work, finishing up the series bible and script outline for that SF series we hope will get the oh-so-elusive green light.  If not, then l may consider an alternate career path that will allow me to maximize my skills set (which includes speed reading, watching t.v. on DVD, and, as of today, making a mean chicken, eggplant and sweet potato yellow curry).

Well, because my bitterness knows no bounds, I’m no longer paying attention to the NFL.  But I did check in with our fantasy football league playoffs so that I could congratulate the following first-round winners: The Landsharks, Tebow Sucks, The Mighty Molsons and, in all probability, The Vinegar Strokes.  My, aren’t we successful?

These closing doggy photos compliments of Akemi (http://peasnatch.wordpress.com/):

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July 20, 2012: Doggly Matters!

I had a terrible 2011 in Toronto.  For many reasons.  One of the biggest was the cancer diagnosis for my pug, Maximus, and the subsequent attempts to treat the illness.  Once a week, Akemi and I would wake up at 7:00 a.m., bundle Max in the back of the car, and take the 90 minute drive to the Guelph Small Animal Clinic where my brave boy underwent radiation treatment and took his anti-cancer vaccines.  It was exhausting: the driving, the waiting, the daily medications, and the overall worrying, not just for him but for the other three dogs as well – Jelly, Bubba, and Lulu – who could surely sense something was up.

I remember stepping up to the clinic’s cashier one afternoon, disheartened and weary, reaching into my wallet for my credit card, and finding the above photograph.  Akemi had somehow slipped it in the previous night.  It’s a picture of my two eldest pugs, Maximus on the left and Jelly on the right.  Jelly had gone through a very rough time of her own the previous year when the effects of her hip dysplasia finally caught up with her.  Unable to stand, no longer capable of supporting herself on her rear legs, Jelly was in very bad shape.  But I refused to give up on her.  She had spinal surgery to correct a bulging disc, and then a series of stem cell transplants (via the folks at Vet Stem).  She battled back and finally regained use of her hindquarters. Wobbly and weak, but mobile nevertheless.  I was hoping Maximus could pull off a miracle of his own but, alas, it wasn’t to be.  My boy passed away in late January of this year and, as a tribute to him, he will forever grace the banner of this blog, overseeing these daily entries from up high.

As for that photo, it’s stayed in my wallet ever since.  Even when I travel and I empty my wallet of only the barest necessities, it remains.

Akemi has been incredibly patient and loving with the dogs, lending her unwavering support through the toughest of times.  Back in Toronto, while I went to work, and Bubba and Lulu spent their days at doggy daycare, Akemi would take of the older dogs back at the apartment, feeding them, taking them out, more often than not carrying them when they were too tired to walk.  Back in Vancouver now, she dotes on them.  Pretty amazing for someone who had never considered themselves a dog person – although, in all fairness, at one point, neither did I.

Akemi rewards Jelly for a job well done.
Jelly gets a solo walk that, due to the dysplasia, tends to last a half a block.  We go back home, harness the other dogs and, while I walk them, Akemi pushes Jelly along in her stroller so she can enjoy the afternoon as well.
Occasionally, Bubba will take a break as well.

Some dog-related links:

The Boycott Belfast facebook page is up and running, looking to hold Belfast City Council for their killing of Lennox the pitbull: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Belfast-until-it-frees-Lennox-and-addresses-its-BSL-failings/103153756437113

Closer to home, a German Shepherd found injured, lying in a Vancouver dumpster has died of his injuries.  Authorities are looking to question the dog’s owner who, so far, has not made himself available to police: Former owner of German shepherd found in dumpster comes forward

And another campaign to win the release of a dog who has been locked up for 15 months pending its day in court: http://www.facebook.com/ShadowVsRdco.  Outpouring of support for Shadow the dogwww.globaltvbc.comOutpouring of support for Shadow the dog

Here’s one with a happy ending!  Police Respond to Vicious Dog in Baltimore City

And another one: Stolen Basset Hounds Recovered After Five Years 

Finally, shocking news out of Colorado this morning.  Very, very sad.

May 23, 2012: Lulu scampers loudly and carries a big stick!

I was sidetracked today by an eye doctor’s appointment, several phone calls, and a slew of emails that kept me from the task at hand – that task being, of course, the SF (near future) miniseries I’m writing with Paul.  In order to keep to my act a day pace, it looks like I’ll have to work through the night, so this will be a short but undeniably sweet dog-focused blog entry.

Ooooh, lookit the doggies!

March 27, 2012: Pugs on the Beach!

With the warm(ish) weather upon us, I decided to treat the gang to a morning at the beach.  Coincidentally, the last Sunday of every month is Pugs at the Beach so it worked out perfectly – minus the biting wind and fact that only about a dozen pugs showed.

Bubba, impatient as always, couldn’t wait to get out of the damn car and hit the sand –

Like I said – about a dozen pugs in all.  I’m sure that once the weather warms up, the turnout will be better.  Still, Jelly, Bubba, and Lulu didn’t seem to mind –

Lulu charged around, harassing the big dogs and their sticks.
Bubba stuck close to Akemi and I. Big chicken.
Don't know this dogs name. I called her Bootsy.
In addition to harassing the other dogs, Lulu made it a point to sniff out ever bag and purse for treat, and then help herself to some loving by parking herself beside (and on top of) unwitting victims.

Jelly, despite being 13 and hobbled by bad hips, couldn’t resist trying to get into the action whenever the big dogs tussled –

One of the big dog owners felt so bad for her that, after getting knocked down for the twelfth time, Jelly got a lift.

Ashleigh and James showed with their pug, L’Eau.  An seemingly endless parade of dogs approached Ashleigh to say hi – and pee near her.  Not quite sure what to make of that.

Lulu helps herself to Ashleigh's lap.
Bubba and Ashleigh = hot couple. James was soooooo jealous.

 L’Eau moved so quickly I could barely keep up with her –

Ashleigh and James, dressed for the weather - unlike Akemi who wore flip-flops and froze her toes.
Jelly is done and ready for the ride home. Right after getting a lift to the car.

July 26, 2010: Romer’s Burger Bar! Jelly vs. Lulu! Dance moves of the future!

With the nausea gone and my appetite back, I figured what better way to celebrate my recovery from food poisoning than with gourmet burgers, pickles, two types of fries, and dessert.  Yep, I was right back on the bike today, riding into one of the newest additions to the West 4th restaurant scene: Romer’s Burger Bar.  I’d heard great things from Special Features Producer and Future Tokyo Culinary Wingman Ivon Bartok, and I trust this guy.  Not with my life, mind you, or any sort of financial investment, but certainly as far as lunch goes.

So, today, I met up with my friend Denise and we checked the place out.  Now, given its recent opening, I’m sure Romer’s will be making some minor adjustments to the menu in the weeks ahead as they fine tune some of the offerings and, oh yeah, add some conspicuous-by-their-absence items to the line-up – mainly, milkshakes.  I know, I know.  What goes better than burger and beer?  Well, if you’re under drinking age (which I’d wager a lot of the clientele at a burger joint is), don’t drink, or happen to be recovering from a case of food poisoning and don’t want to chance it, I’d say milkshakes would be the ready answer.  Alas, no shakes on this menu which I found passing strange.  And, according to fellow diners, I wasn’t alone.  I settled for a nice cold bottle of San Pellegrino.

The Magic Mushroom was magical

We split two burgers – The Magic Mushroom (all natural beef patty, locally-grown portabella mushrooms, arugula, herb and garlic Boursin cheese, and caramelized onions) and The Ultimate Kobe Classic (premium Kobe beef, foie gras pate, chanterelle mushrooms, onion strings, truffle mayo, and garlic mustard with a red wine demi-glaze on the side) – spicy Kosher dills, yam fries, and hand-cut double-cooked fries with truffle oil and Reggiano.

The buns were perfect – buttery, lightly toasted brioche with just a hint of sweetness.  The Magic Mushroom was one damn tasty burger, nicely complimented by the cheese, mushrooms, and onions.  The Kobe Classic, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment.  Although Kobe beef tends to be a more forgiving meat, even it isn’t immune to an over lengthy stay on the grill.  The patty was dry and measured up poorly against the juicier all-beef patty of the Magic Mushroom burger at half the price.  Instead of topping their patty with pan-seared foie, Romer’s offers up a modest pate that ultimately ended up lost amid the other additions.  Speaking of which – although the menu made mention of a red win demi-glaze being served on the side, my plate contained nothing but the burger.  It was also missing the promised garlic olives and pepperoncinis (Denise was kind enough to offer me a bite of hers).

The hand-cut double-cooked fries with truffle oil, dusted with Reggiano.

The hand-cut double-cooked fries with the truffle oil and Reggiano were so good and so plentiful, I kept eating them long after I should have stopped.  The yam fries were also very good.

The homemade mini doughnuts.

I didn’t want to push it, so I decided to go with two instead of the usual three desserts: apple pie a la mode and the home made mini doughnuts served with three dipping sauces.  The pie was great, crowned with a scoop of (unfortunately not home made) ice cream.  It was also served with a side of mascarpone cheese which, while offering an interesting textural combo, didn’t really add anything in terms of taste.  Had it been lightly whipped and slightly, I would have been all over it.  The mini doughnuts were perfect – ten in all, sweet and crispy – served with a trio of sauces: chocolate, maple-whiskey, and a limoncello that seemed out of place, delivering a mouth-puckering contrast to its much sweeter neighbors.

Overall, a promising start for the new kid on the block.  With some fourteen different burger variations on the menu, I’m already planning my return visit.

Hey, speaking of recoveries, look who’s on the mend.  Jelly’s the star of the video, but check out Lulu’s not-so-subtle attempts to steal the show…

Hey, speaking as a writer-producer of SF television, I know how tough it is to imagine future trends.  Ask yourself: What will fashion look like fifty years from now?  Or cars?  Or, uh, dancing?  Well, in the case of the latter, I’m sure it’ll look nothing like this…

July 18, 2010: Chocolate and dogs don’t mix! Except on this blog.

Last night, we sat down to a chocolate tasting.  The selection:

The entire Pralus line of dark chocolate bars.

We had 14 bars to get through, so we started early and finished late.  Following proper chocolate-tasting etiquette, we:

1. Made sure the chocolates were at room temperature.  The Zero Bars were kept refrigerated for a future tasting.

2. We studied the chocolate.  Shiny and smooth.  No blooming.  Aside from the obvious thumbprint on the Ghana bar, they looked great.

3. We broke each bar and listened for the nice, crisp snap which, I imagine, is the equivalent of a wine-taster sniffing the cork or a car buyer kicking the tires.  Not sure what it accomplishes outside of making you seem knowledgeable but it seems to be an unwritten rule.

4. We smelled the chocolate, picking up the subtle aromas – fruity, floral, nutty, roasted, sleepy, dopey, and Doc.

5. We popped a square into our mouths, allowing it to melt a little, then breaking up the pieces and discovering its nuanced flavors.  The Trinidad had a mild tobacco flavor; the Cuba possessed of a somewhat peppery undertone; the Caracas redolent of the laborer who picked the cacao, a fellow named Pedro of about 43 years of age who walked with a limp.

6) We made sure to cleanse our palates between bites.  Most chocolate-tasting guides suggest water or unsalted crackers.  We went with ice wine instead.

My assistant could only manage a nibble from each square.

These were her leftovers which, once I was done, weren’t so left over.

The results?  I was partial to the nutty Papouasie and fruity Equateur, while she preferred the woody Tanzanie.  Overall though, there isn’t a single bar in the line I’d kick out of bed for being eaten with crackers.

Next up, we’ll be taste-testing the Amano chocolate line.  For the record, it’s all part of necessary research for my planned Top 10 Favorite Chocolate Bars post.

All chocolated out, my assistant gears up for dim sum.

Bubba was thoroughly bummed when Lost ended.

Jelly finds Bubba very supportive during her recovery period.

Lulu practices earthquake preparedness.

Jelly – up close and personal.

Maximus on the lookout for trouble.  And dropped food.

I'm not woooorthyyyy!

May 21, 2010: The Dogs Days of Summer. How I got here. And some mailbag.

Well, even if it isn’t officially summer, my dogs seem to think it is…

Fondy left us this synthetic grass box for the dogs to relieve themselves on rainy days. On sunny days, Lulu likes to lie in it.

Jelly doing the usual: sitting down to watch the action.

Maximus doesn’t like the look of you.

Jelly surveys the scene.

For some reason, guests just seem to looooove goofy Bubba.

Maximus does his best Clint Eastwood.

Lulu stares you down.

Bubba ponders life's mysteries.

Jelly strikes a pose.

Hey, how did you guys end up doing what you’re doing?  Back when I was in elementary school, I had my heart set on being a writer.  And not just any writer.  I wanted to write short stories for a living!  When I hit high school, I revised my aspirations.  Clearly, I’d be hard-pressed to make a living writing short stories, so I set my sights on the far more lucrative career, that of the novelist.  Much to my mother’s horror.  She always made it a point to tell me that writing, while wonderful, was not a career.  It was more a hobby that people did to pass the time when they weren’t busy with real jobs like those held by doctors, lawyers, and parking lot attendants.  After much arguing back and forth, mom and I reached a compromise career, one that was both half-legitimate AND allowed me to continue my writerly pursuit.  It was decided that I would be a journalist.  Until I actually spent time with some journalists and decided against it.  I got off easy.  During one of those career day field trips, one of the girls in my class who wanted to be a vet was made to take part in a cat spaying procedure.  I believe she’s an accountant now.  But I digress.  Anyway, after much short story writing and soul searching, I finally decided what I wanted to be – or, more to the point, what I didn’t want to be much less than other things I didn’t want to be: a lawyer.  For about two months after which I realized most real lawyers didn’t make the type of money t.v. and movie lawyers made and if that was the case, what was the point?  No, I know, there would be the satisfaction of a job well done but, at the end of the day, if I wasn’t going to make any money doing what I was doing, why didn’t I, at the very least, do something I enjoyed.  And teaching was it!  Until I actually did some teaching.

Eventually, I wrote a terrible novel that a friend suggested would make a great movie.  So I picked up a book, learned the craft and, in a few short months, transformed that terrible novel into an equally terrible script.  Which was followed my another terrible script.  And another one after that.  Then, a good one I co-wrote with a friend and fellow creative writing classmate, Paul Mullie.  We went to L.A. and pitched it around town.  Many people loved the script.  Not enough to actually produce it, mind you, but the positive reinforcement fueled us.  Like would-be suicides emboldened by supportive “Jump! Jump!” chant of lookers-on, we took the plunge – into the wonderful world of television.

Actually, it was less of a plunge and more of a toe-dipping.  I went first.  Using our feature and a couple of t.v. spec scripts as my calling card, I secured my first paid writing gig, scripting for animation.  I’d found my calling.  Finally, a career that allowed me to write AND be immature.  I went from freelancing to an actual staff position at what was then Canada’s premiere animation house: Cinar (which took a mighty and spectacular tumble not long after I’d moved on.  But that’s a story for another blog entry.).  I was their Manager of Animation Development and, in addition to tracking down potential properties, developing shows, writing bibles and pilots, I also wrote scripts and, eventually, story-edited several series.  It was stable work, but it wasn’t exactly lucrative – certainly not in comparison to what some of the freelance story editors were making, freelance story editors who, on many occasions, I’d be rewriting for a third of their salary.

So, I quit and became a freelancer.  Needless to say, mom and dad were less than thrilled.  Their conservative upbringing dictated that the security of a job, no matter how menial, trumped the uncertainty of the unknown.  And there was no bigger unknown the wild and wonderfully frightening world of freelance writing, where you could be inundated with work one month, then go years without.  Fortunately, I was able to swing a deal with the company I had left, swapping out my full-time office position for that of a writer-for-hire.  I store and story-edited for them.  And wrote and story-edited for many other animation studios (Toronto’s Nelvana was one of my favorites for the type of shows produced and the people I dealt with on a daily basis).  My father wasn’t buying it, until I told him how much I would be making, roughly four times my previous salary.  He still didn’t buy it.  “You’ll be making more than the Prime Minister?”he challenged.  I shrugged back and honestly responded: “It’s not my fault the Prime Minister is underpaid.”

Using those spec scripts and animation work as a stepping stone, Paul and I ended up as writer-producers on a couple of teen sitcoms, then parlayed that into a couple of writing assignments on one hour adventure shows, one featuring mysticism and dinosaurs, another, far more bizarre, featuring strongly-accented foreign actors pretending to be Americans.  We used our one hour drama experience to get us an opportunity to pitch for Stargate, wowed ’em (or, maybe I should say “didn’t disappoint ’em!”) with out first script, Scorched Earth, were offered positions on the writing staff, adopted a siege mentality and have been entrenched in the far corner offices ever since.  I want to say it’s because we do good work but I suspect it could be because no one knows we’re back there.

Anyway, a two year gig (“The Stargate series will wrap after season five.”) turned into an eleven year run…and counting.

Mailbag:

Annie from Freemantle writes: “What do you think of Michael Crichton’s books?”

Answer: Haven’t read any.  No particular reason why not.  I’m simply inundated with books.  Rob Cooper is a big fan though.

Kelsey writes: “So after seeing “Lost” and a close up the Kino Remote, has any consideration bin put in to making a Kino Remote iphone app?”

Answer: It certainly would be cool.  Someone at MGM needs to get on that!

Jeremy writes: “Has the idea been discussed of keeping a copy of any long cuts of the show which the director is happy with before it has to be cut down to fit the allotted running time and the DVD being those long versions and not the broadcast ones? Or what are your thoughts about that if it hasn’t?”

Answer: My thought is that the director’s cut, like the subsequent producer’s cut, is one very important part of the overall process.

Tim Lade writes: “Any word on the re-cap music friend?”

Answer: Damn.  Remind me on Tuesday.

Arctic Goddess writes: “Please, Joe, photos of bouncing Carl? Can he do air somersaults yet?”

Answer: Can he!  During hiatus, Carl attends several Renaissance fairs.  His medieval persona is a circus tumbler!

aaroNIGHTS writes: “How was a standard Stargate located at Icarus Base able to locate and dial Destiny? […] How was it possible for a standard Stargate to make these calculations in order to connect to the Stargate aboard Destiny? How could the standard Stargate used possibly begin to know where Destiny could be?”

Answer: Given he fact that Destiny has been on the move for as long as it has, dropping in and out of FTL over the course of its lengthy journey, a MUCH greater distance than the effects of stellar drift, it’s clear that the onus on recalibrating the destination gate rests with Destiny once its particular address is dialed.  While the address dialed may remain consistent the gates location is not.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “Where do the strange looking glyphs for the ‘prototype’ Stargates come from? Are they a purely abstract symbol? Do these Stargates communicate with each other over subspace to give their position out before dialing? In one of the most recent episodes (UNI:‘Lost’) a dialing remote were shown to know all of the valid Stargates in range – including Destiny. Why do these prototype Stargates have the ability to determine what addresses are viable before dialing? It seems unfeasible that these prototype Stargates would have such advanced features yet subsequent Stargate networks constructed several million years later do not.”

Answer: We’ll be learning more about the gates as the series progresses but to answer your second question – yes, the gates communicate with Destiny. While the remote has the ability to determine what addresses are viable before dialing (those we are capable of securing a connection to), Destiny is also able to determine whether those viable gates should be locked out.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “Why do these prototype Stargates use relatively small handheld touch screen dialing devices, yet the far more modern Stargates in the Pegasus and Milky Way galaxies require far larger ‘Dial Home Devices’?”

Answer: Unlike the Milk Way and Pegasus galaxies, the Ancients weren’t looking to – for lack of a better way of putting it – “set up shop in the neighborhood”.  It would appear they weren’t interested in fostering a gate network similar to the Milky Way and Pegasus where DHD’s allow for interplanetary travel.  Also, the puddle jumpers were fitted with DHD’s, and I’d say that’s more advanced than any handheld remote.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “Why were Destiny and the seeder ships launched with prototype Stargates? Why would such a great and long mission be placing possibly millions of Stargates that are an inferior, prototype model?”

Answer: Because, clearly, that’s what they were working with at the time.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “It is a fact, then, that the majority of Destiny’s lifetime has existed before the Ancients ascended to a higher plane of existence. So much so that much less than 1% of Destiny’s life has been without the Ancients. If this is the case, then why is Destiny so far out and incapable of dialing home? Has that last 1% of its journey put it past the threshold of a viable solar powered Gate trip home? More over, if Destiny is such an important ship in the Ancients plans, why is it still running outdated technology? Atlantis had been around for Millions of years, but no Ancient ever thought of upgrading the technology aboard Destiny? Did they just abandon it?”

Answer: Yes, they did just abandon it.  Destiny was part of a very long-term project that was put in play millions of years ago.  What its mission way and why the Ancients abandoned it remains a mystery.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “Do these seeder ships fly into Stars and almost magically construct Stargates out of solar power?”

Answer: It’s safe to assume that they replenish their capacitors in much the same that Destiny does.  As for how it constructs Stargates – we’ll have to wait and find out, but it certainly would make sense that the ships possess the capability to source material from the planets it passes.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “Why didn’t the database have any information at all on what Destiny is? Did the Ancients in all their intelligence and glory just not bother to write anything down about it?”

Answer: Either that or the mission was of such a highly sensitive nature that its true aim was a closely guarded secret.

AaronNiGHTS writes: “Why would a race of people so heavily devoted to Science and “The systematic understanding of the physical world through observation and experimentation…[and] most of all, freedom of will” (‘Stargate: The Ark of Truth’) name something ‘Destiny’?”

Answer: Great question – which you’ll have to wait to find out the answer to.

Kevin writes: “I just realized that “Subversion” is airing on SyFy tonight but isn’t running on Space in Canada..we have to wait another week to see it when all along we’ve been watching it at the same time…”

Answer: Since SyFy is taking next week off for Memorial Weekend, I’m guessing Space decided to pre-empt a week early since, here in Canada, we’re celebrating St. Ignatius of Coca-Cola Day.  Two weeks from now, I’m sure they’ll all be back on track to simultaneously air the first part of the season one finale.

Joan0001 writes: “If the Destiny is a seeder ship, then presumably it reaches planets that don’t have stargates.”

Answer: Randomness already answered the question but, just in case you missed it – Destiny is not a seed ship.  Multiple seed ships were launched well ahead of Destiny and have been seeding planets with stargate in preparation for Destiny’s trailing journey.

ancarofl writes: “where do they get all the stuff that couldn’t have been on board of Destiny? Like leather couches, trainers, make-up, baby clothes?”

Answer: The furniture came with the place.  They look like leather but they’re of a highly advanced material that withstands breakdown.  Also, Destiny was featured in season two of Home Makeover and the entire place was redesigned.  As for the baby jumper Chloe gave T.J. – she made that out of shipboard material.  I snapped a pic of it – and the truck Riley made, also out of pieces from the ship.  I’ll scour the archives and upload pics of both in the coming days.

BoltBait writes: “When Eli and Chloe are looking at the wrecked ships computer and she points to the symbol that leads to the map, Eli asks her why she chose that symbol and she basically says, “I don’t know.”  Why?”

Answer: Why indeed?   There’s a reason – and you won’t have to wait quite as long for the answer…

dasNdanger writes: “Since the Wraith don’t dismember their victims or anything (that we know of), why does the Commander’s sword have a serrated edge?”

Answer: It’s more a weapon of incapacitation than a feeding utensil.