To be perfectly honest, there was only one thing I missed during my trip to Japan. And it wasn’t the food or the television or the general comforts of home. It was the dogs. Even Akemi, who admittedly never “got” dogs before coming to Canada, could think of nothing but her dear Bubba those last few days in Tokyo. It was nice to know that they were in great hands. Our dog-sitter, Christine, stayed at the house with them, sending us daily updates and, occasionally, photos.
As I struggle to readjust back to Pacific Standard Time and scramble to tend to the 101 things that magically did not get done while I was away (This isn’t like Stargate where I could always rely on the infamous script elves), I thought it might be nice (and relaxing) to dedicate this entry to the gang – in pictures (most of them compliments of Christine):
Here I’ve been wracking my brain, wondering how I could make a living if moved to Japan – when, suddenly, opportunity comes a-knocking: Japan suffers sumo wrestler shortage. The way I’ve been eating of late, I figure I should be ready for action in about two months.
As much as I’m enjoying myself here in Tokyo, I do miss the dogs back home. Fortunately, I’m receiving daily updates on the gang from our dog-sitter, Christine – daily updates in the form of email, texts, and, best of all, the occasional pictures…
We’re slowly adjusting to Tokyo time here, sleeping through most of the night and waking up at a not ungodly hour. One more week and we should be perfectly synced – just in time to head back home to Vancouver. Anyway, we went for another morning walk through Ginza. We had lunch reservations in Roppogni at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Akemi likes it for it’s “cost performance” – in other words, it’s a great deal) for noon. Rather than walk around for two hours on an empty stomach, decided to pick up a little breakfast. And by little, I do mean little – specifically a little katsu burger:
I picked it up in the basement of the Mitsukoshi department store. If you’ve never been, you have got to check it out. The entire floor is packed with sweet and savory ready-to-eat food items, from the casual aforementioned mini katsu burger to high-end pastries. Just grab your take-out and head up to the ninth floor snacking area. It’s incredibly child-friendly as well. Kids even get their own bathroom:
We headed over to Roppongi Hills for another fabulous meal. Some of the highlights:
Foie, double sea urchin, cream – Akemi expressed concern about my high cholesterol meal. I explained that I actually suffer from low cholesterol and actually need to eat like this to stay healthy.
As I familiarize myself with more areas of the city, the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place, giving me a fuller picture of Tokyo. Last night, for instance, I accompanied Akemi to Daikanyama (I call it Dogkanyama because it seems to be pooch central) and happened across Tableaux, one of the very first restaurants I visited on my very first trip to Tokyo some five years ago. Back then, I had no idea where the place was located – and neither did our cab driver who had to stop and consult a map. As it turns out, it’s just a few blocks around the corner from the subway station.
A large part of the familiarization process requires me to walk everywhere. And such was the case later in the night when, after dropping Akemi off for her dinner with the gals, I headed to Omotesando for dinner with my friend Tomomi. She suggested I take a cab but I decided to hoof it instead, relying on the seemingly crystal clear directions offered up in a Japan Times review of the restaurant. Use the B1 Exit out of Omotesando station and walk down Aoyama dori, then hang your first left at the lights on Kotti Dori and walk for ten minutes until you hit Roppongi dori. Take a left at the Fuji Building then wind right down the side street and L’Effervesence will be on your right. Great. Except that, in Tokyo, you’ll be lucky to find a street sign, much less an actual address. Which way was “down” Aoyama dori? Was that first street actually Kotto dori? Which street was Roppongi dori? Miraculously, I managed alright (although, to be precise, the turn is “before” Fujifilm rather than the more nebulous “at”). I soon found myself walking down a dark alley. Headed toward me was a middle-aged woman pushing a baby stroller. If I was writing the horror movie, she would approach me and ask me to help her baby. Then, the second I approached, a small man who leap up out of the stroller and pierce my eye with a knitting needle. End scene.
Fortunately, my night was much less harrowing. I dare say, it was downright amazing. But the details will have to wait as I’m off to catch the bullet train to Osaka. Wonder what they’ll serve?
Finally, my sis makes the hard decision for her sweet dog, Aspen, soon. Sending positive thoughts their way:
The dogs make the most of the remaining days of summer:
And we continue our look back at Stargate: Atlantis’s third season with…
Hot on the heels of the creepy, horror-like Submerged comes the equally creepy mini creature-feature guest starring the villainous Michael. Turns out he didn’t perish in that hive ship battle way back when. Either that, or he got MUCH better. Well, he’s back and he’s mighty pissed. He’s also brilliant (a deadly combination) and has put all that energy to work on a little experimentation. And when the team investigates the general well-being of some old friends, the Taranians (last scene in Inferno), they end up experiencing the fruits of said experimentation up close and personal.
Love Connor Trinneer as Michael and also love the character’s increasingly erratic and, arguably, evil turn. Still, he retains that flicker of humanity and vulnerability thanks to Carl Binder’s writing and Connor’s nuanced performance.
On the other hand, the monsters were well-served by the quick cuts and dark lighting that left much to the viewer’s imagination. I recall watching the dailies and laughing every time THIS fellow high-stepped his way across the screen:
Cookie Monster asked me to remind everyone that this week’s Supermovie of the Week Club selection is X2: X-Men United, the sequel to a move he actually liked! Can the sequel equal the original, or possibly even surpass it, in monster’s eyes? Check out Monday’s blog for his review to find out. Oh, and watch the movie so that you can take part in the discussion.
Today, I was up at the crack of dawn – ish, at a little after 9:00 a.m., so that we could pack up up all three dogs and head on over to the beach for the monthly Pugs on the Beach gathering. Lately, there hasn’t been much of a turnout, but that hasn’t stopped the Jelly, Lulu, and Bubba from enjoying the sun and sand…
Lulu was particularly excited today, scrambling up onto every lap in sight, charging up and down the sandy expanse, and even venturing into the water. A first!
We brought the dogs home, gave them a quick bath, then headed over to the Kitsilano farmers market. As is often the case, we were on a mission to locate a food item we’d watched someone prepare on Food Network the previous night. In this instant, it was zucchini blossoms. And I’m proud to report we found them! More on their preparation below.
For brunch, we stopped off at Fable Kitchen where I enjoyed –
On our way out, we stopped to talk to former Top Chef Canada contestant Curtis Luk, the man behind the restaurant’s outstanding desserts (including the killer lemon pot de creme and assorted macarons), who suggested I check out a recent addition to the dessert menu, chocolate pudding (!), the next time I’m in. Most definitely.
We returned home and got right to work – washing, slicing, cooking, seasoning…
We didn’t have enough mayo so I ended up making a batch:
I stuffed the zucchini blossoms with a mixture of crab, mayo, sweet onions, choco-sweet peppers, and zucchini stems, rolled them in olive oil, then baked them for about twenty minutes at 350.
Akemi made a crab mousse (my mother’s recipe), a wonderful corn soup –
And a kohlrabi salad. I sauteed the leaves with a little garlic.
I spent the rest of the day putting together the package for Immigration Canada – printing up more photos and blog entries, asking more friends to write letters confirming our 2+ year relationship, and even gathering up last year’s Christmas cards that were addressed to both of us. My trip to L.A. has been pushed – and it’s just as well. I have a busy week ahead.
But, hey, enough about me. What of you? Specifically, those of you who won signed scripts and the security badge of your choice in the Greatest Season-Ending Cliffhanger in Stargate History poll.
There were a little under 800 total votes cast, with one season-ending cliffhanger receiving the lionshare. The winner with 41% of the vote, more than tripling the 13% garnered by second place Camelot (SG-1, season 9):
Gauntlet (SGU, season 2) !!!
And the winners of the signed scripts and security badges are:
Drop me a comment with your email and choice of security badge and I’ll get the ball rolling.
Congrats to the winners and to everyone else – don’t despair! Plenty more chances to win! Later this week, we continue our trip down Stargate: Atlantis memory lane as the focus shifts to SGA’s third season.
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.
I hit play on the DVD and, as a fifth season episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia started up, I took a seat and tested the dumbbells. It was my triceps day so I figured I’d start with flat bench extensions, move on to overhead extensions, then to close grip press, and finish up with kickbacks, interspersing my workout with some weighted dips. I grabbed the dumbbells, fairly light to start, lay back flat, then extended my arms (not fully of course because I didn’t want to risk a hyperextension), turned my wrists slightly and started the downward progression. At which point the two and half pound metal bar inside the dumbbell I was holding in my left hand slid out, dropped the two foot distance, and bounced off my face, first catching my upper cheek just below my orbital bone, then hitting my lower lip before thumping onto the carpeted floor beside me.
I was momentarily stunned. The impact was jarring. My head thrummed, my eyesight blurred, and I could feel a burning sensation snake down from the point of impact to my lower jaw. I sat up and my first thought was: “I’ve knocked out a tooth. How the hell can I go to Comic Con with a missing tooth!”. I checked the canine. It seemed to have survived intact. On t.v., Sweet Dee was still trying on wedding dresses, oblivious to my distress. How typical of her. I switched it off, then hurried into the bathroom to assess the damage.
A small cut where the bar had struck, some swelling, a little bleeding from my canine but otherwise, not bad. An inch higher and it would have hit me square in the eye. An inch lower and that canine, along with a couple of incisors, would have surely been splintered. I’d gotten off lucky!
I went upstairs where Akemi took one look at me and ordered me to the hospital. I applied a cold compress and assured her it wasn’t a big deal, that boxers get hit like this all the time and three Tylenols would do the trick. But she wasn’t having any of it. She made me promise I would go get it checked out. Sigh.
I stopped by the clinic near my place and, following a thirty minute wait, saw a doctor who tested my vision, checked the cut, and informed me I would be fine – but would be sporting an impressive shiner for the next week or so.
So, if you spot me at Comic Con wearing shades indoors, understand it is not an affectation.
The cape on the other hand…
Oooh, check it out. Stargate matches. Just like the kind followers of the Ori used to set fire to offending books, towns and, occasionally, heretics. Along with some signed scripts and the SG-1 100th episode commemorative photo frame and keychain, yet another Staragte-related item I’ll be giving them away at Comic Con this Saturday afternoon. I’ll be there, of course, signing copies of my comic book series, Dark Matter, at the Dark Horse Booth (#2615) between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. after which I’ll change into my costume so that I can stroll the floor as…AQUAMAN! The green tights keep cutting off the circulation to my groin so I’m bringing back-up leggings just in case.
The dogs are enjoying the summer sun, especially Lulu who has taken to sprawling out on the back patio to soak up the rays. Looks to be a lazy summer for them…on the heles of a lazy spring.
And cooling off:
Let’s continue our trip down Stargate: Atlantis memory lane by helping me remember the following episode:
A fine episode sandwiched between two great episodes.
Hmmm. At a bit of a loss on this one. I mean, it was solid stand-alone episode. The only elements I recall from the production are the impressive visual effects (of the lava claiming the stargate) and Carl’s frustrating quest to find a name for the planet that everyone could agree on.
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.
Whereas most adults my age are either dropping their kids off at school or picking them up from school or buying them clothes and toys, or attending their various extracurricular activities, I’m dropping my dogs off at doggy daycare or picking them up from doggy daycare or purchasing them leashes and toys, or attending various pooch-related functions. Like this past weekend, for instance, when we attended back to back dog-themed event, the first for French Bulldogs, the second for Pugs.
Jelly and Bubba crashed the former and Lulu the latter. After they got home, they slept for two days straight.
Lulu captured the attention of this amorous fella…
Following the French Bulldog get-together, we headed over to the beach for a far more restrained pug to-do.
Lulu gets in on some of the pug action…
They grow up so fast. And, before you know it, they’re off to college.
My dogs have a way of laying on the guilt trip. Whenever I put on my jacket to go out, my thirteen year old pug, Jelly, transforms from an arthritic perennial lounger to a pup at heart, hopping up and bounding about, tail wagging, barking. It’s her way of saying: “Finally! We’re going out! Allow me to lead the way!” And then parks herself in front of the door, waiting. If it isn’t immediately opened for her, she’ll glance back at me and bark, clearly annoyed. “Come on! What’s keeeping you?!”. There are times when I feel compelled to explain to her that every time I put on my jacket doesn’t necessarily mean I plan to take her for a walk. My other pug, Bubba, uses a more impassioned version of the same approach. He’ll spin and howl, happily jump and down. In contrast to Jelly’s more matter-of-fact “Yeah, we’re going out – as expected” attitude, Bubba opts for outrageous appreciation. “Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyou!”he’s no doubt saying. “You’re the greatest. Thank you so much for this walk.” And then adopts a quizzical head cocked, brow furrowed look when I shut the closet door without retrieving his leash. “Huh? Oh, I’m sorry. I mistook you for someone who cares.” And, finally, there’s my french bulldog Lulu who prefers the more subtle approach. She’ll just park herself in front of the big window and stare longingly out at the street. “Yes, sirree,”her little tableau seems to say. “Sure would be nice to go out for a walk. Yep. That’d be mighty nice.”
In addition to taking them out to the backyard, we make it a point to walk all three dogs every day – weather permitting. And, if the weather is especially nice – like it was yesterday – one dog will be treated to a special excursion. Yesterday, it was Bubba’s turn to go out and about. We took him downtown so he could ham it up for passersby, then over to Granville Island where he showed some seagulls who was boss.
When we got home, he was so excited he actually took on the usually dominant Lulu, leaving her totally bewildered.
And, to reveal the big mystery in yesterday’s blog – that picture Akemi drew besides Bubba’s name was not his rear end (as I assumed), but his tooth. It was a reminder that Bubba had to go in for his dental today. They removed two teeth and sent him home – groggy but as hungry as ever. Below, my post-op boy –
While Bubba was at the vet’s and the ladies were home missing him, I was on a conference call with my writing partner and agents. Over the course of our conversation, we discussed the game plan: Dark Matter, the pilot, the horror script, in addition to a number of opportunities. Paul and I have decided to pull the trigger on one, a near-future mini-series that we begin spinning next week, and have more in depth discussions about a fantasy pilot that, should all go as planned, will go to series here in Vancouver. But, of course, this being show business, nothing ever goes as planned.
Speaking of plans, I hear that some of you are coming to town for a Renaissance Fair or Farscape covention (or something). Will I be running into any familiar faces downtown? If so, be sure to come armed with dog treats!
With Fondy heading out of town for the week, Akemi and I assumed temporary possession of her house. And dogs, Brie and Stewie. As a result, we’ll be hosting a veritable pooch party for the next little while…
Slow progress on the script rewrite front. It seems that whenever I sit down to tackle Act III, I’m distracted by meetings, requests for 1 liners, 5 liners, character descriptions and approvals. I finally put everything to bed and redirected my focus to the rewrite – only to have Trevor walk in with a first draft of Carl’s new script.
Thanks a lot, CARL!!!!!!!
Things were much brighter on the lunch front today. Following a somber offering of pasta so thoroughly cooked that fully fifty percent of blind taste testers would have certainly identified it as wallpaper paste, we got barbecue today!
Later in the afternoon, I finally sat down to work on that rewrite. And then, just as I was about to start, an alarm that sounded very much like Donald Sutherland in the last shot of Invasion of the Body Snatchers went off – only a hell of a lot louder…
Not sure what the problem was, but I suspected it may have had something to do with THIS –
Got some great photos of series director Andy Mikita in action, manning the fire hydrant but, alas, none of the pics came out (time for a new camera). Anyway, after being informed the fire department had been called, I decided to leave early – not to go home, mind you, but to double-check and make sure the firemen were, in fact, on the way. Also, as I explained to Andy, I probably wouldn’t be back because, as so often happens in these situations, I invariably end up staying to help volunteer put out a few fires before eventually calling it a night. I’m just that kind of guy.
Bubba update! We took him back to the vet’s for a second visit, this time getting him checked out by a second doctor. We explained that he’d been quite lethargic of late and, every so often, was given to brief trembling bouts. The vet informed us that this was a sign he was in pain and proceeded to test his range of motion: pushing, pulling, tapping, and tweaking. Ultimately, he discovered that Bubba was displaying discomfort along his upper spine and shoulder area, suggesting he may have twisted or pulled something at daycare. So now, he joins Jelly on the metacam train. Hopefully he’ll be back to his old high-strung self in a couple of weeks.
My friend (and former Stargate Special Features Producer) Ivon Bartok is on his way to Banff. And what will he be doing in Banff? This! = http://www.banffmediafestival.com/deal-makers-live-with-jonathan-torrens.php#contestants Ivon is one of the eight lucky finalists in Deal Makers Live competition that will see him present a 30 second on-stage pitch of an original show idea. Ivon and his seven co-contestants will “go head-to-head in a high-profile, high-tech battle for the hearts and minds of both our expert panel and the live BANFF audience”. You can follow my buddy’s progress here: http://twitter.com/ivonbartok Wish him luck!
Damn! Visited a couple of the local comic book shops yesterday to discover the exclusive Randy Bowen Modok statue has sold out. One less villain to add to the office decor.
Today, we took in Toronto’s annual Woofstock festival with two of my four dogs. Since Jelly has a hard time getting around due to her bad hips, and because Bubba is generally high-strung and anti-social in crowds, we elected to take Lulu and Maximus out for the day…
Dogs in silly outfits…
Dogs in strollers…
Pitbulls doing their best Hannibal Lecter…
And various sights…
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to blog regular Lisa R.’s husband. Well, she’s the regular. Anyway. Good luck!
And GO MAVS!
squishy writes: ”
In Ripple Effect (one of my favorite episodes!) when the ‘bad’ SG1 team is leaving, the bad Mitchell turns around before the Stargate puddle and says to the ‘good’ Mitchell: ‘When the time comes, cut the green one’. Enlighten me please?”
Answer: Among the notes I received on the script’s first draft from my fellow writer-producers was a suggestion from Damian Kindler that alt. Mitchell should throw out a cryptic line like: “When the times comes, cut the green one.”. I loved the idea and put it in the script. It wasn’t a set-up to any specific pay-off but, having said that, it was something we certainly could have touched on had the show gone another season.
dasndanger writes: “I’ve been meaning to ask how your mom and sister are these days. Are they glad to have you closer to home?”
Answer: They’re all fine. I’ll be seeing them this Christmas, provided they don’t come up to visit me earlier.
fsmn36 writes: “I wondered about your thoughts on Marvel as a great comic book connoisseur. What were your favorite issues of X-Men (I figure you must have read some at one point)? Did you read the ones written by Joss Whedon? And ultimately…DC or Marvel?”
Answer: My passion for comic books ebbs and flows. I’ll pick up every title out there, then start dropping them as I lose interest. Eventually, I’ll drop the last one and go months without buying anything – then go out one day, pick up every title out there, and start over again. My favorite X-Men were the new incarnation introduced in Uncanny X-Men #94/Giant Size X-Men #1 (well, “new” back then). My favorite issues = #132-137, the end of the Hellfire Club storyline and the Dark Phoenix saga. Haven’t checked out Astonishing X-Men yet but have eyed the omnibus. Recommended? DC or Marvel? Depends on who’s writing. TPB I’m reading now: Chew (Image), The Walking Dead (Image), Scalped (Vertigo), DMZ (Vertigo), Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), Secret Six (DC).
@iom666 writes: “How about cats ? Did you ever have a cat ? What do you think of ‘them’ ? ”
Answer: I’ve had cats and love ’em as well.
Patricia-Stewart Bertrand writes: “My sister’s dogs are terrified of rain, and thunder and spiders and cats. They are two very large and friendly Border Collies. Any suggestions to help them conquer their fears?”
Answer: Just sit with them, pet them, reassure them. Having the t.v. on helps as well.
Sebastian Meyer writes: “So you write /block the chase and stunt sequences yourself as the episode’s writer? Not all shows do that. How detailed do you get and did you do the same on Stargate?”
Answer: When writing a script, we do try to craft creative action sequences that will serve as a launch point for our stunt coordinators. Realistically, they’re only guidelines because, when the time comes, what can or can’t be done will be entirely location dependent. On Transporter: The Series, for instance, fight coordinator Cyril Raffaelli and car stunt coordinator Michel Julienne will no doubt use the scripted sequences as inspiration, but won’t be beholden to what’s on the page. So why do we write them into the script? Well, they do offer some insight into what we are expecting in terms of action. Also, some people who read scripts have a hard time imagining “the good version”. If I was to simply write “a car chase ensues and Frank gets away” the response I would no doubt receive would be something alone the lines of: “BOOOORING! Can’t we come up with something better?”.
Randomness writes: “Have you had a chance to watch Spice and Wolf yet?”
Answer: Not yet. Season one is sitting in my DVD room back in Vancouver.
Randomness also writes: “Also how are your Japanese skills coming along?”
Answer: Last night, Akemi and I went out to eat. Over the course of our meal, we conversed in Japanese. Our waiter marveled at my command of the language. I told him I only sounded proficient because he didn’t understand Japanese. I possess the verbal skills of a very polite four year old Japanese boy.
Randomness also writes: “Code Geass has 2 movies in Japan on DVD/Blu Ray, they basically cover Season 1 and 2, and have some new footage here and there, they’re Japanese only with no subtitles, but if you want to watch Code Geass abridged, its something you might want to pick up from Japan next to you go Joe.”
Answer: One of Akemi’s favorites. Already watched!
Randomness also writes: “And lastly any plans to get Chris Vance to do a blog appearance?”
Answer: Would love to have him come by and do a Q&A but, realistically, I don’t think he’ll have the time. He’s going to be VERY busy.
chupeto writes: “Are the people who made the Ascension (like Alterans, or like the people of Abydos) called : “The Others” or “The Ancients” ?”
Answer: Sorry, I don’t understand the question. If you’re asking whether all Ascended beings are Ancients, the answer is no.
paloosa writes: “So starting Monday, I’m headed to the Death Valley of the Valley…Woodland Hills. No studios nor even production companies. Despite the name, the Warner Center is just a bunch of boring corporate industrial buildings. I’m happy to still have a job, but it’s three times the mileage, cost and time. And over 100 degrees most of the summer.”
Answer: We’re following parallel paths! Good luck!
Tim Hendrix writes: “Joe, I have a couple of dog questions. I had to leave my house last week because of impending tornados and my dog, Rhet, companion of 13 years, had a seizure in the car and I had to have him euthanized 2 days later. I lost his sister 2 years ago and it kills me to go through the experience. When I tell people that I stay with my pets through the procedure they think I’m crazy. They wonder how I can put myself through that. My thinking is that being with friend of 13 years during his last moments is damn near an obligation and I think it’s pretty gutless to just walk away because it’s a difficult experience. You seem to be a great dog parent and I just wondered what your take is. The possibility does exist that I’m totally out to lunch on this and have lost touch with reality. Also, I had stated many times after I lost Scully, Rhet’s sister that he would be the last dog I’d ever own. His care and upkeep the last couple of years were exhausting. He was deaf and nearly blind and needed help with everything but I don’t regret the effort at all. I now find the emptiness almost unbearable. I’ve had canine companions for 13 years and I find I don’t know what to do with myself. Friends and relatives seem to think this is a bad time to decide on a new dog. Your thoughts would be appreciated.”
Answer: Let me preface my response by repeating one of my long-held beliefs – that those who like dogs are generally good-hearted people, while those who don’t are jerks at best and serial killers at worst. Having said that, there are very good reasons why some may prefer not to own a dog. Hell, to be perfectly honest, I never wanted one – surprising given that I now have four of them. It wasn’t that I didn’t like dogs. Quite the opposite. I loved them. But I respected them enough to know they were needy creatures that required a lot of attention. Unlike some of the douchebag fairweather pet guardians I’ve had the displeasure of knowing over the years, I see dogs as a full-time commitment – which is why, some thirteen years ago, when my wife told me she wanted to get a dog, I strongly objected. But she was persistent and, eventually, I gave in and we welcomed our first dog. That was Jelly –
And you know what? I was right. She turned out to be a huge responsibility. But I didn’t mind because I loved her and she was our one and only.
Until my wife started thinking that, maybe, Jelly could use a companion. I, of course, tried to shoot down the idea immediately. One dog was more than enough. I couldn’t imagine taking care of two. We argued and, again, I lost the argument. And so, we ended up getting Maximus –
And having two pugs proved doubly demanding. But I didn’t mind because they were my dogs and I loved them.
We got Maximus from a breeder but Jelly was a pet shop buy, purchased before we knew any better. While I would never again buy a dog from a pet store, I don’t regret getting Jelly because I know that there is no way she could have ended up in a better home or lived a better life. And the same goes for all my dogs. Like our third pug, Bubba –
Who was supposed to be a present for my wife’s brother. But, in keeping him those two weeks before we dropped him off in Montreal, I felt for Bubba what I’d felt for Jelly (and Maximus): that no matter how wonderful the person I’d be leaving him with, Bubba would be far, far better off with me. And so, this time I was the one to make the executive decision. We kept Bubba and my wife’s brother got a toaster oven instead.
Three dogs was a lot more work than two, but I didn’t mind because, again, they were my dogs and I loved them.
And when my wife decided she wanted to get a french bulldog, I already knew exactly what was in store and rather than argue, I saved my energy for the long drive to Langley were we picked up our latest addition, Lulu –
Crazy? Maybe. Demanding? You bet! But, eventually, I got used to it. In those last few years on Stargate, we had a little routine going. Every morning I would wake up and take the dogs out, then feed them, then drop them off at doggy daycare. Every evening, I would pick them up from daycare, bring them home, feed them, and take them out for their last walk of the night. I would make sure they got their supplements, take them to the vet, and administer the tacrolimus medicinal gel directly onto their eyeballs. Eventually, when Jelly’s hips got too bad and Maximus’s knees to weak, I would carry them up and down the stairs. When my wife and I separated, my first concern wasn’t the house or any cash assets – it was the dogs. And, fortunately, I got to keep them and the five of us made the best of things, settling in each night – Jelly on the pillow to my left, Bubba on the pillow to my right, Maximus at my feet, and Lulu right beside me. FINALLY dogs were allowed on the bed!
Tim, I can empathize. People will tell you you’re nuts. That they’re only dogs; not people! But I’ve discovered something, a secret that many a dog owner is privy to as well: That dogs aren’t people. More often than not, they’re better. Unlike most folks who pass through your life making little if any impression, or prove themselves to complete and utter asses, dogs are special. They’re loyal. They’re loving and lovable. They’re possessed of personalities that make them unique and endlessly entertaining. And all they ask in return is that we take care of them, from the time they enter our homes as big-eyed little runts who can’t recognize themselves in a mirror to the time they leave it for that final journey. It’s a trifling request given the years of affection, amusement, and unquestioning allegiance they offer in return over the course of their all-too-short lives.
So, to finally answer your question – No, you’re not out to lunch for caring for your long-time companion and wanting to be with them in their final moments.
One of my biggest regrets in life is the fact that I wasn’t able to do the same for our family dog. The night after he’d been hit by a car, we went to visit him at the animal hospital on our way to my high school band recital. His hindquarters had been paralyzed in the accident and yet, upon spotting us, he immediately perked up and started barking excitedly. Unfortunately, he was in bad shape and the decision was made to put him to sleep. We said our goodbyes and then headed off to the recital. To this day, I’m haunted by what our dog must have thought as we walked out that door, or during those final few lonely moments of his life. We should have been there for him.
That experience has admittedly influenced my decisions regarding Jelly these past two years. My gal has been suffering from hip dysplasia and arthritic elbows and shoulders that make walking very difficult. Last summer, her condition deteriorated to the point where her back legs could no longer support her. I consulted various vets and made my decision. Jelly underwent stem cell therapy followed by spinal surgery. Those surgeries cost me more than my annual Tokyo trip and, even though there were no guarantees the procedures would be successful, I decided to go ahead with them because, at the very least, I’d know I did everything I could for her. And, at the end of the day, I’m pleased to report that they WERE successful and, although she still has trouble getting around, Jelly is able to squat and take care of business like she used to. Obviously, not every dog owner can afford to pay for this kind of medical treatment – nor would many choose to even if they could – but it’s something I was able to do for her and I’m glad I did.
On a recent visit to an animal hospital here in Toronto, the vet examined Jelly and, in going over her recent behavior (waking up in the middle of the night, crying), suspected she may be suffering from cognitive dissonance, what he termed an early form of canine alzheimer’s. Aside from those isolated incidents, she seems otherwise unchanged, her usual playful, bossy, vocal, hungry self. But I know that things can change very quickly and, when the time comes, I will be there for her.
I can’t tell you whether you should get another dog. That decision is yours. But, given their relatively short life spans, I have given some thought to what I would do if I eventually found myself alone (as opposed to me kicking off early and the four of them cashing in on my premature demise to the tune of kurobuta pork breakfasts and kobe beef dinners well into their twilight years). And I decided that, after a short period in which to properly mourn them, I probably would get another dog – or maybe two – or more – because, like I said, for all the love and humor and companionship they’ll provide, I’ll compensate them with a home life very few can offer.
Whew! What a day! I had three appointments, three scheduled conference calls (all of which I missed – the first because my phone kept on dropping the call, the second because I was busy, and the third because I misread the email and called in six hours late), notes to deliver, lots of errands to run, and that script to write. I had planned to pick up my SG-1 season 5 musings and tackle the controversial (temporary) death of Daniel Jackson, but I’m afraid it will have to wait for another day. I’m going to try to finish up my script tonight so that I can ruin everyone’s weekend by giving them something to read for Monday.
And so, I leave you with a quickie mailbag and, best of all, videos of my dogs eating peanut butter (except Maximus who, surprisingly, doesn’t like the stuff):
Edwina Karch writes: “Will you please put the interviews with the actors on an extra DVD for SGU, and are there any more of the kino episodes I havn’t seen one in a long time.”
Answer: Sorry. I have no control over what ends up on the dvd’s. That’s a studio call. But, for what it’s worth, the interviews would be owned by Canada’s Space Channel since they produced them for broadcaster.
majorsal writes: “what fate Sam&Jack?”
Answer: I’m sorry to say there will be no canon confirmation of the relationship between Sam & Jack. But, in my mind, they’ve been an official couple since Threads.
Fancy Trav writes: “Obviously Stargate Universe is over after 2 seasons. Is that a definate that it is over forever? Has a good run and support so may be able to get it back on? Another network “may” pick it up? Or am I hoping too much and its over for good??”
Answer: Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it is over for SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe.
irish pete writes: “Could Brad give an outline of how he wants to end the series to an author for 1 book or maybe a handful?”
Answer: That would be up to Brad – and MGM.
archersangel writes: “count me in the camp of wondering what RDA didn’t like about prometheus? are you saving that for your season 6 reminisce?”
Answer: Yep. You’ll have to wait until I finish reminiscing my way through SG-1’s fifth season.
JeffW writes: “Still curious if Peter DeLuise was referencing someone’s proclivity for large explosions when he was yelling “Bigger!” for more of a fireball (perhaps a running gag?), or was it just an ad-lib?”
Answer: I believe it was a reference to his own proclivity for bigger BOOMS!
Don Matthews writes: “Are we gonna find out that the drones are an outgrowth of Destiny’s decendants?”
Answer: Alas, we will not. Of course, that’s not say we wouldn’t have.
Maria writes: ” Mr. Mallozzi, are you ever going to get another puppy?”
Answer: Maybe when I get a bigger a house. Or move back to the one I already own.
I leave you with another pic of maternal Jelly and puppy Maximus…
Today, we were back at the production offices/killing fields to finish beating out episode 2. We arrived to find Rob waiting for us. Also waiting for us was our second treat in as many days, compliments of Mr. Cooper. This time: bagels, cream cheese, and rugelach that, as far as I could tell, came in five different flavors: delicious chocolate, delectable cinnamon, tasty apricot, alright cherry, and abysmal crisco. Then, the wonderful Anna, who gifted us with an assortment of chocolates on Tuesday, gifted us with another assortment today. As I munched on dark chocolate-covered marzipan, thoughts turned to lunch and the veal cutlet sandwiches we’d heard so much about from California Sandwiches. It was at this point, that Alex launched into one of his most entertaining rants of the week –
According to Alex, he’s never met people so food-obsessed. If we’re not talking about what we’re going to eat for breakfast, we’re talking about what we want to eat for lunch. If we’re not talking about what we want for lunch, we’re talking about what we’d like to have for dinner. And if we’re not talking about what we’re planning to eat, then we’re talking about what we recently ate. Alex felt the need to point out that we’d enjoyed the hotel’s breakfast buffet followed by bagels with cream cheese and rugelach followed by chocolate followed by, in all probability, a veal cutlet sandwich for lunch! He made it clear that while he would accompany us to California Sandwiches, he would, in all probability sit out lunch.
We returned from lunch to discover more treats awaiting our arrival: chocolate chip cookies and chocolate toffee brittle, compliments of Anna again!
As I started snacking on the cookies, an incredulous/disgusted Alex declared he couldn’t watch and was going out to walk off his sudden onset queasiness.
Amateur. Give him two months with me and he’ll be eating like a pro!
Anyway, besides eating, we did manage to finish breaking episode 2 which is going to be A LOT of fun.
Later, we were joined by Sue, Klaus, and Matthias (who was delayed a day by the “snowstorm”. Apparently, Air Canada had informed him that they were under no obligation to get him on another flight to Toronto – this despite the fact that AIR CANADA had cancelled his original flight!) and we spent several hours discussing scripts, scheduling, stunts, visual effects, and North American vs. European location shoots. We’ll be picking up the conversation tomorrow but, regardless of how that chat goes, Paul and I have a pretty good idea of our game plan at least. For now, all we have to do is write two scripts and a bible in two weeks. Oh, and, hopefully, get a deal in place.
Tonight, I had dinner with Fondy. Alas, Black Hoof (they of the brain ravioli) don’t take reservations and Fondy didn’t want to chance heading down and risking an unbearable wait. I guess I’ll have to save Black Hoof (they of – if a certain Toronto foodie is to be believed – the “hipster doucebag” clientele) for my return visit. Instead, we had okay thai, then followed up with tea and some tea place. I got to check out the T.O. property and, as a superfantastic bonus, also got to see kids…
JeffW writes: “This has probably been asked before; what happens if you walk into the BACKSIDE of a gate with an active wormhole? Disintegration? Or is the field “Bi-directional” (i.e.-it will translate an object from the front or back)?”
Answer: Actually, I have answered this one before. The gate is not bi-directional so anyone walking in through the back of the puddle will step out into the front of the puddle. If they attempt to retrace their steps, they’ll end up traveling through the wormhole. Another similar question I get asked is “What happens if you enter an incoming wormhole?” The answer – You’ll be spat back out at a speed relative to that at which you entered it.
tidusspear08 writes: “It’s my first comment on your blog! Yay! I just wanted to tell you that I’m really glad to see Jelly recovering from surgery.”
Answer: Jelly says thanks. And what took you so long?
Tim Gaffney writes: “Is it completely random who you swap with if more than one person transfers at a time?”
Answer: Nope. Each stone has a specific slot in the device and a counterpart stone and slot on the other side (wherever that “side” may be).
Major D. Davis writes: “We’ve heard a lot about Extinction and SGU, but what about Revolution? Has it been shelved till this whole situation has been sorted out, or is progress still being made with the studio?”
Answer: At present, the focus is on SGU.
DeanGrr writes: “Could Dr. Rush still sacrifice the crew like he did in “Air”, i.e. risk their deaths in pursuit of knowledge, or has he changed a bit?”
Answer: It would appear that he has changed (in fact, they all have) but one wouldn’t know for sure unless Rush was put in that position.
DeanGrr also writes: “It may be off base, but it seems that a group of producers could launch a company, produce a modest internet pilot and then sell, say memberships to a “Wormhole Xtreme club”(bad example?!) and people could buy memberships at $50 or whatever they want to give, until $X million is reached to produce the next few shows: control is then in hands of producers, not as much network/advertisers.”
Answer: Sure, they could – and if this untried longshot method isn’t successful, then they lose whatever money they’ve invested in producing the project.
DeanGrr also writes: “To raise ratings: perhaps, turn a broadcast into an event with a realtime Q&A with an actress or writer(!) from the show.”
Answer: Done. Select cast member live-chatted with the fans during episodes. Made no difference to the ratings.
DearGrr also writes: “Can there be a good marriage between drama and scifi, and go beyond a niche audience?”
Answer: Hard to say. I think a lot of people are predisposed to turn off at the prospect of Science Fiction. Speculative Fiction (shows with less techy or futuristic elements) seems to have more success in bridging that gap.
Chad writes: “I noticed that the CW is running re-runs of SGU…any chance they may pick up the show and give it a third season?”
Answer: Highly unlikely.
fsmn36 writes: “I’ve always wondered why you haven’t been on Iron Chef as a judge.”
Answer: As I told Mark D. – I’m better on paper. That said, you all might think otherwise once Ivon has finished editing together that video of me in Tokyo, consuming four Seven-Eleven chocolate eclairs during a sake outing.
for the love of Beckett writes: “How have you been feeling lately? Have you been able to pinpoint anything as a culprit?”
Answer: Feeling better. I think it was stress-related. As the prospect of that other job got pushed, most of my symptoms magically disappeared. Also, the fact that my doctor – who presumably received the results of my blood tests last week – hasn’t called me up in a panic suggests I’ll be okay.
hal ehlrich writes: “I was wondering how often you eat out per day ?”
Answer: There was a time I used to eat out twice a day. In fact, the only times I ever ate at home was when I ordered in. Nowadays, I’ve been cooking at home. Still, I manage to get out 2-3 times a week.
hvn writes: “While I’m craving for (positive) Stargate news, for now just a food question: have you ever tried Dutch ?”
Answer: Does the Doetch Pancake House count? If so, then yes.
Ian Z. writes: “Here is what I sent Mr. Cohen of MGM as my idea to reduce the cost of SGU to enhance it’s likelihood of survival. What do you think?”
Answer: I think that, while I appreciate the effort, the show’s producers would be in a better position to suggest cost-cutting measures if the show’s budget needed to be reduced.
Josh writes: “Thank you so much for that update on the future of Stargate. I am really glad to hear that things are looking good right now. I was just wondering though if you could maybe give us some more details on what is actually going on with the process?”
Answer: If I was able to offer more details, I would have.
Chris L. writes: “Were the ships of SG1, Atlantis, and SGU all CGI or were their models?”
Answer: They were all CG. There was a model of the Destiny created, but it was designed for show-and-tell purposes in the concept meetings.
Jason967060 writes: “In light of the update you recently gave us about the Stargate franchise (a hurdle being cleared) would you still say that the Atlantis movie is still on hold indefinitely or are things looking up on that front?”
Answer: No movement on the Atlantis movie.
dasNdanger writes: “And that was the end of my dream. I think this is like the third or fourth dream I’ve had about you, Joe. Kinda scary, no???”
Answer: What was I eating? Did I like it?
John R writes: “I have a brief proposal for you that can save the SGU series and add extra revenue for the TV network and yourself.”
Answer: While I appreciate the offer, this is an MGM issue.
Gilder writes: “Do you like your baked cornbread sweet, unsweet, with jalapeños?”
Answer: Sweet. Jalapenos.
BoltBait writes: “Joe, when you write an episode with a musical interlude, do you have to write the words to the song? Or, is that handled by someone else?”
Answer: I script the montage sequence. If we decide to add music, it will either be composed by Joel, we’ll use an existing cue, or the director may suggest an original piece.
Bailey writes: “If you were ever to do a SGA movie, do you think it would be possible to get Jason Momoa to come back as Ronon?”
Answer: Sure. I know Jason enjoyed playing the role.
Rodger writes: “Any idea when we get to see the second half of SGU season two? How about the first ten on dvd?”
Answer: Sorry. No and no.
joan001 writes: “Who exactly has called a halt to SGU and has any reason ever been given… or have I missed something?”
Answer: SyFy, the U.S. network that airs the show, has elected to not pick it up for a third season. With SyFy withdrawing its support for the series, the production finds itself short the licensing fee paid by the network – a not insignificant sum. Without the money to make the series, prep on a third season has been halted.
dasNdanger writes: “1. How are you feeling, Joe?”
“2. I know you like sci fi and thrillers, but what genre of books don’t you like?”
“3. Have you ever accidentally walked outside naked?”
Answer: Not that I can recall.
“4. Have you ever grown a beard?”
Answer: Full beard or mustache? No way.
“5. Any word on the comic book front?”
Answer: Early 2012 release date. Paul and I will be breaking issues 3 and 4 next week.
“6. If you had the choice between having dinner with a big-boobied ditzy blonde who just giggled all the time, or with a guy who was an interesting conversationalist, which would you choose?”
Answer: Having dinner? The latter.
“7. What is your personal food staple, the thing you eat on a daily or near-daily basis? (Besides crow. )”
Answer: Chocolate, natch!
Joel413 writes: “Have you ever considered striking out and developing a food show hosted by Jewel Staite?”
Answer: Oh, I like that idea.
Rex Carter writes: “Hi Joe hope this is not spolier for the Atlantis movie script but in Enemy At The Gate did Atlantis drain all 3 zpms fighting off the zpm powered wraith ship and subsequent crash landing on Earh?”
Answer: Hoping to answer all zpm-centered questions in the very near future. And probably not on this blog.
Jason writes: “In the Atlantis episode “The Return”, do you view the arrogant dismissal of humans and the faulty assumption that the Asurans would have never overcome their “shall not kill Lantians” programming a character flaw of the Captain, or was it an overall flaw of the Ancient race which was the real reason they were losing the war?”
Answer: I don’t know if I’d call it a flaw, more hubris on the part of not only the Captain but the race as a whole.
StygianInq writes: “In SGU, where do they get the materials to repair parts of the ship (i.e. the dome room, shuttle, etc)? Is there a source of them on board?”
Answer: For those initial repairs, they cannibalized inessential sections of the ship.
Answer: Actually, it’s pretty obvious what show Ausiello is referring to and it aint SGU. The “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” line is a line from Hamlet, uttered by Marcellus after spotting the ghost of Hamlet’s father walking the ramparts at night. The blind item all makes reference to Tru Calling, another ghost-centered show. The titled of the article: “Which dead drama series suddenly has a pulse?” is also a clue. I’m going with Ghost Whisperer.
Andrew Jung writes: “Oh, btw, what great sandwich place in Gastown are you referring to in the previous post?”
Answer: Meat & Bread.
scott_land writes: “Would you mind briefly walking us through the politics of who owns the future of Stargate Universe?”