In advance of my official Days of Stargate Universe Past trip down memory, how about a little something to whet your appetite? Ah, this takes me back! The Resurgence Art Department package accompanied by visuals from various points in Stargate: Universe’s two-year run…
The Gate Room…
The control interface room…
The apple core…
In his quarters, Varro gets the red card for making the moves on Colonel Young’s ex:
The Destiny mess – last day, final scene
So, there you go. Everything you need (minus the construction material, equipment, manpower, and money) to build your very own Destiny! Check in next week and let me know how it’s coming along.
In Stargate: Universe’s second season, the crew finally discovers Destiny’s bridge. From a creative standpoint, holding off the discovery until then allowed for some great drama: Rush’s attempts to hide it from the rest of the crew, the subsequent attempts to control the ship, etc. Also, waiting until season two permitted us to give it a truly worthy. singular reveal rather than lumping it in with the rest of the ship. From a production standpoint, holding it off the discovery made even more sense. The portions of the Destiny built for season one cost several millions and we simply couldn’t afford to include a massively expense bridge as well. And so, rather than settle for something simple, we waited a year until we had the money to do it right. And, boy, did it we ever. It was, simply put, a thing of beauty:
The bridge was located in Stage 5 on and what made it all the more impressive was the fact that it was a raised, massive second level structure. Directly below it stood the mess and shuttle.
James Robbins did a terrific job designing the bridge, and our construction department went above and beyond the call to build it. But the work didn’t stop there. It had to be properly lit and, of course, we needed the Playback Department to work their magic. “What’s the Playback Department?”you ask. Well, whenever you see an onscreen image be it a holographic map or computer data or scrolling alien script, you can thank the Playback Department. On the surface, it seems like such a small thing but, in reality, those incredible, painstakingly detailed graphics go such a long way toward setting the mood. Some of the stuff they come up with was downright incredible.
To give you an idea of the great work of our Playback Department, check out the designs for the onscreen visuals – then check out the finished product…
Sorry. Couldn’t track this one down. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
So how successful could a Stargate movie campaign prove if it attempted to follow the successful five-step strategy he outlines? Well, according to Paul, “There are a number of factors at work here, and they’re worth exploring in order to understand if this kind of thing can or will happen again…”
Okay, proper planning is key but, in this case, it requires MUCH consideration. In the case of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell approached the studio and cast first, and THEN started their campaign. Which is, of course, what would be required here. So, how interested would MGM be in a Stargate movie? That’s the biggest question. And the answer all comes down to economics. Would it be worth their while (aka – not only financially feasible but lucrative)? Will the potential rewards outweigh the risks? Five years ago, the answer would have been a resounding “Yes!” given the fact that Ark of Truth and Continuum surpassed expectations. But, of course, that was before the bottom fell out of the DVD market. Could alternate viewing platforms make up the shortfall? Streaming? Broadcasters? Maybe the big screen treatment?
Which brings us to another question – “What does MGM have planned for Stargate? – because, let’s face it, as one of their most successful franchises, it’s not going to lie fallow for long. Do they already have something in the works?
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say, it’s a best case scenario for fans of SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe. The studio proves amenable to the idea. Next up is ensuring we have a cast in place. So, which cast? SG-1? Atlantis? Universe? Or would it be a selective amalgamation of all three (which was Brad Wright’s original idea for an SGU movie)?
3. Offer rewards people want
Now this one is much easier to deliver on. I, for one, would be more than happy to send you a signed script, arrange a set visit, or deck you out in prosthetics before blasting you out an airlock if it would ensure your support.
4. Leverage social media
Are you kidding? Stargate fans are the kings (and queens) of social media. We’ll get word to them and they’ll get word to EVERYONE.
And finally 5. Understand that not everyone will be able to do this
Why not? Well, some former cast members may well be too busy to participate (Robert Carlyle now stars on Once Upon A Time while Jason Momoa has been burning up Hollywood post-SGA) while others may have simply moved on. Still, provided we manage to cross this particular bridge as well, there’s the question of money. To put it bluntly, we would need A LOT more money to produce a Stargate movie. A LOT more to pay for the construction of new sets (alas, the Destiny, Atlantis, and Stargate Command are no more and would have to be rebuilt from scratch) and visual effects (I haven’t read the script, but it’s unlikely the Veronica Mars movie will feature much in the way of space battles), not to mention other related costs like cast, crew, and the onset aerobics instructor for my pug, Bubba.
So, conservatively, three out of five aint bad – unless you’re looking to make a Stargate movie in which case it aint good either. Even if you could convince MGM to get onboard – and that’s a mighty big IF – there’s still the matter of the amount of money that would be required to produce a scifi movie. How much? Well, ballpark, I’d say significantly more than the 3 million dollars the Veronica Mars campaign has raised to date, but somewhat less than the $39 million dollars the Forbes article claims Serenity cost.
Certainly not impossible but, damn, them’s long odds!
The hard work and contributions of so many individual went into making one of the greatest SF franchises in television history. Over the course of this blog’s run, I’ve invited various members of the extended Stargate family to talk about their experiences on the show(s). We’ve spotlighted writers, producers, directors, actors, stunt coordinators, VFX and FX supervisors, and many more.
Today, we turn the spotlight to Mark Nicholson, a longtime prop builder for (and, it turns out, fan of) Stargate. Mark has kindly taken the time to field your question – AND offer up some visual aids!
Take it away, Mark…
Patricia Stewart-Bertrand writes: “As for a question for Mark Nicholson – my question: I’d like to know if you needed any special education or training to get into your current field. Did you want to work in the entertainment industry so looked for a job you could do and enjoy within it, or did you have an affinity to creating props and the rest naturally followed?”
MN: Special education or training? Sort of. I don’t believe there’s any places here that specifically teach people how to make movie props as a course. Most of the people I worked with did have a lot of special training, or a lot of experience in something before bringing it to this industry. I worked with people who went to school for Pottery, Engineering, Photography, Graphic Design, Sign making. It’s kind of a weird industry.
While I never specifically set out to work in Film, I did always want to work in entertainment, starting with computer animation when I was young (I blame Reboot), and later video games (which I did for a while before Film, and still want to get back into). I most certainly didn’t have an affinity for creating props, and my first year really felt like an apprenticeship, spending a lot of time helping more experienced builders with parts of their builds and learning a lot of ropes.
gforce writes: “Question for Mark: How much input/freedom did you have in designing the items for the franchise? Were you able to have a lot of creative leeway or were things pretty much drawn up for you already?”
MN: Input varied. You can find a lot of production concepts here on this blog in fact, and many times, what we delivered was exactly that. Sometimes when things were rushed we’d get a ‘paper napkin drawing’, which is like it sounds, and while the important aspects are laid out, you do end up getting the freedom to interpret it.
We also had things like working from established themes. By season 10 of sg-1 and season 3 of Atlantis, looks like ‘Ori’ and ‘Wraith’ were already established, and while we would sometimes have a lot of freedom with the specific prop, it would still have to be known instantly as ‘Wraithy’, so sometimes we couldn’t deviate too much. SGU was my favorite show to work on because we got to spend a lot of pre-production making up a lot of stuff with a lot of new tools and technology, and allowed us to establish a lot of neat building systems.
JeffW writes: “Did you also make the electronics (lights) for the props, and if so, was it mostly LEDs, incandescent, or electro-luminescent? (Sorry in advance if that was too technical).”
MN:We had a full time electrical engineer who did nothing but build electronics. As for what kinds of lights, I think at one point we used everything, but mostly LED, and second probably goes to small fluorescent tubes (often handled by the lighting department for larger, stationary things, like ships consoles, or the 1/3 section of Atlantis gate for ‘The Shrine’). My favorite was side-lighting laser engraved acrylic.
Ponytail writes: “Hey Joe could you post a few pictures of Mark Nicholson’s handiwork so I know who I am talking to and have a better idea of questions to ask him. Did he help make that minature Destiny?”
MN: I had a very small hand in the miniature Destiny (though, that hand is the one in the pictures holding it while I make flying noises
Choopy 49 writes: “Question for Mark – What equipment/technology/weaponry did you hope the crew of the Destiny would eventually discover on the ship had the show continued?”
MN: I should start this by saying I LOVED WATCHING SGU. I was a big fan of it, and as a fan was crushed when it was cancelled (let alone the fact that it was also my favorite employment ever). What would I have liked to see? or BUILD!? Either way, a Jeep or ATV would have been cool (the whole on foot all the time thing bothered me about the franchise as a whole). More adapted 3rd party tech (not human, or ancient, but from other sources that they could only reach once), especially weapons. Making weapons was fun.
Joe, why didn’t they have jeeps and atv’s?
(I would love a detailed answer to this, apart from the obvious $$)
JM: Yes, part of it was $$$, but in my mind given that the teams would be heading out to make first contact or exploring a new planet’s eco-system OR, later in the series, heading into potentially dangerous situations that would require stealth, being on foot would make more sense. Then, after that initial foray, IF transportation was needed, they could always go back and pick up a vehicle. It just so happened that in most cases (well, all the ones we saw), there was either no time or necessity for vehicles, mainly because the civilizations they encountered were always located close to the gate – which made sense.
DP writes: “Questions for Mark Nicholson…It’s hard not to hit duplicate questions this late in the game. What tools, materials, techniques, and resources are available now that you wish were available earlier in your work on Stargate?”
MN: Honestly, I can’t think of anything for this. We had a pretty high tech group, with several CNC machines, a 3D printer, a 3D scanner, and a laser engraver/cutter. I am not aware of any specific manufacturing technology that has been made available since that would have been handy.
“Is there anything that was available then that’s not available now?”
MN: I recall hearing that the quality of some Latex today isn’t as good as it was in the 60’s, due to tree farming practices, but I haven’t found any facts to back this up.
“How thoroughly were the needed props described?
MN: The function and role of most props could be described to us rather quickly, maybe 10 minutes to understand what it is they wanted (along with the concept art). But that’s also coming from my own perspective at the bottom of the chain. Prop meetings where it would be discussed what they wanted to have, and what was possible/affordable/deliverable were not things I attended, an were very long.
“Who did you go to for clarifications when you weren’t sure what was being requested?”
MN: Being off-site, it was a very rare day we would ever see a Production Designer directly. Often, we would see the Prop Master, but 95% of the time, I’d just go to our Lead Prop Builder.
“What’s an inexpensive thing to build with the help of a seven year old? If he can get plenty of big muscle movement during the build, during the use of it, or while destroying it, all the better.”
MN: I have no idea! …after some time thinking on it, I might suggest doing what my dad did, cut swords out of wood with a jigsaw (we did guns too, but that isn’t as well received today as it was then). Or candy glass.
“What examples of serendipity happened in your prop-building?”
MN: Ok. So you know that Jaffa Staff Weapon? The one that opens to fire? They only ever had one that actually opened. And it was only the front half of the staff weapon anyway. After Sg-1 ended, MGM expressed an interest in having a full, working staff weapon. So the working half weapon was pulled out, the back half was put on, it got a fresh paint job, and a custom box for shipping. It was finished, and out the door an hour later, never to be seen by any outside of MGM head office. So there was only ever a working staff weapon we could see and use for an hour. I just happened to get my brother from out of town a tour of the shop in THAT HOUR
“Did you think Lord of the Rings included too many visual details?”
MN: NO. Not ever. They did awesome work, and I would never wish them to do less, ever. And related to that, once you make a bunch of this stuff in movies, and really see what things look like, and how fake it really is, you pick it up when watching it in the theatre, or at home on TV. It then looks fake to you, ALWAYS. So getting to see something that manages to not look totally fake all the time then becomes one of the few movies you can watch and actually forget that it’s all fake. Captain America was another good example. The story was ok, and the acting was…eh. But the props and sets, those were always AMAZING.
Pontytail writes: “First some questions for Mark Nicholson then I have to watch The Shrine then I’ll be back for comments on that…much later.
1. Okay, Mark Nicholson, just answer the question. Did you make the mini Destiny as seen here on Joe’s blog on Aug. 28, 2010?”
MN: I did not make it, but I did make the stand and case for it, and did get to play with it, and make whooshing space noises flying it around the room.
“That model was the coolest thing ever! If you made it: a. how long did it take?”
MN: I think my co-worker Jay spent a week turning the VFX model into something printable, and another two days to print the 5 parts (4 quarters and a shuttle), paint and assembly was a couple hours.
“b. what was it used for?”
MN: Ask Joe! It was asked for so directors could plan shots and explore what it actually looks like in depth, in 3D.
(seriously Joe, feel free to chime in here and talk about it’s fate)
JM: Alas, I am unaware of its fate (or the fate of most of those props with the exception of a handful of those Scourge bugs and the pain stick sitting in my garage) but, yes, you’re correct – the model was used to plan shots and sequences.
“c. was it your proudest moment?”
MN: No, but it was one of the coolest things we made. We also did some test prints of a Wraith Dart and an F-302.
“2. What was the funnest item you made, and why?”
MN: Anything we did for 200. Weapons, and webbing, and incredibly acurately detailed uniform details including campaign badges for O’Neill, Carter, and Hammond, all at 1/3 scale.
“3. Do you ever hang out on set just to see your art in use?”
MN: Every chance we got, which were unfotunately few.
“4. Do you get to keep anything you make?”
MN: Technically, no. On rare occasions, we would make samples that would not get used, and it was okay if those went missing. One of these was a spare of Tyre’s sword, made of ABS plastic, to see if the material was viable for stunt work. It was too wobbly, and thus discarded and sat in a room for a few years. It now hangs on the wall of a friend of mine who introduced me to Stargate, and is a huge fan.
“5. What have you made that got the most attention from the cast or crew?”
MN: Ironically, the same thing got the most attention both positively and negatively. The Asguard Suits in ‘The Lost Tribe’ and ‘First Contact’ got the most positive, and the same suits got the most negative attention in ‘Water’, when actors had trouble breathing in the new helmets.
“6. What was the craziest thing you ever were asked to make?”
MN: So tough to answer. Many things were crazy, and more importantly, I can’t even remember half the stuff we made, so I’ll just list what I can think of that was rather out there:
Wraith Ultrasound Device
1/3 of an Atlantis gate (for the water scene at the beginning of ‘The Shrine’, no movable version of the Atlantis gate was ever built before this, it was all camera trickery and cg).
The Ark of Truth (or as those frustrated with it by the end called it, THE ARK OF LIES!)
A ‘Space Dishes Rack’ for The Destiny
A ‘Wraith to USB’ adapter
And I know I’m forgetting so many ridiculous things we did.
“7. How do you feel about seeing your work pictured on Joe’s blog?”
MN: Happy Memories, every time.
“8. Where are you working now?”
MN: Kodak, which is boring compared to making props, but reliable. (see Joe’s post last week about the state of the film industry in Vancouver)
for the love of Beckett writes: “Mark Nicholson — How cool was it being a Prop Master for Stargate? And now your creations are collectibles! A different kind of question would be about the overall style or look of each show, and getting the props to match the set and scene. What were your points of inspiration? It looks sort of like there’s an Art Deco feel to Atlantean objects, but still sci-fi. I liked the tall, copper standing piece of art in Woolsey’s office that Joe liked. Also, I’m not normally big on weapons, but Ronan’s/Jason Momoa’s big ol’ gun that charged up with sound effects was my favorite. Did you get to design that?”
MN: I was a prop builder, not the prop master, and it was VERY COOL. Most of the design feel came from the production designer, and coming in later in SG-1, and Atlantis, many themes were already established. We got a lot more leeway with SGU, and it was so liberating and fun to get to design things from scratch. I’m quite sure the tall copper thing in the office was done by the Set Decorators, who tend to handle things in the background that never get touched. Ronon’s gun was cool, and I didn’t get to design it. I did get to repair it a few times (and repair the rubber stunt ones even more. Rumor has it Jason didn’t like carrying the real ones, which were much heavier).
Mike from Canada writes: “I have questions for Mark Nicholson, if he doesn’t mind. I’ll repeat the questions I had on the shotguns with drum magazines if that’s OK. How did you make them, what did you use, fiberglass? Actual metal parts? Did you base them on actual firearms? How long does it take you to make them? Did you make each one a one off, or did you make molds? Do you weight them so they feel more realistic?”
MN: Those shotguns are AA-12’s, and were cast from real ones. Real ones were used on set. I recall hearing not many exist tho, and they’re hard to find. We aim to make things as light as possible.
“New questions: Do you make all your props pretty much the same way? How did you get started building props? Are you working on any other shows these days?”
MN: Yes, most were made with a lot of pre-established techniques.
How did I get in? Like most of the people I worked with, we never intended to be there, it just sorta happens through opportunity. My initial contact was through the model shop asking my old school for any grads who could help with 3D scanning tech they were testing.
I am not currently working in the Film industry.
Mike from Canada also writes: “Hey Joe. I thought of another question (or two or three or four) for Mark Nicholson. Was there any projects that Mark was particularly proud of?”
MN: The Replicator Chip Merek uses in ‘Ark of Truth’
The backs of the chairs in SGU (I got to do whatever I wanted with them)
The Universe gate
Destiny’s bridge consoles
“Was there any that he particularly detested, that were a mess, or screwed up terribly?”
MN: The Ark of Lies (formerly the Ark of Truth) was built in 7 days.
“If there was any show he would really like to work on, what would it be?”
MN: Tron Legacy. We were asked to help, and had to decline, as we were in pre-production for SGU, and currently building the Universe Gate. (Second place goes to A-team, which I DID get to work on :D)
“Does he work on any software based graphic tools or such for his work? Maya, Vue, cad program, photoshop, etc.”
MN: YES. All of it, lots! Solidworks and Rhino were comonplace, as well as a lot of Corel Draw. And at some point we tested out anything that would help. I prefer 3ds MAX and Zbrush for 3d modelling too.
“How did Mark wind up doing this kind of work?”
MN: Like everyone else, through strange circumstance and lots of luck.
“Did you work on the sets/stages as well as props?”
MN: Not as such. But we did often work on detailed components that would get integrated into sets, like consoles and special panels.
“What is your current favourite TV show?”
MN: Top Gear.
“Have you read anything lately you would recommend? Fiction or nonfiction.”
MN: I just finished the last book in ‘The Wheel of Time’ series. Also, Zoe’s Tale (from scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War’ series, which has gotten plenty of attention here), and my favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo.
“Can we see pictures of your workroom?”
MN: Keith almost gave me a heart attack when I came back to see this guy, sitting there, all sad with his coffee (and again the next morning when I walked in, having forgotten about him).
“Sorry if I repeated any of the questions, or if I’m too late, or if I’m getting carried away. Curious monkeys want to know!”
MN: No, it’s good. We love monkeys!
BMc writes: “Mark Nicholson – are you AKA confracto? I’ve enjoyed your comments here! What was the most used/re-used/re-adapted piece of equipment you made? And, were you involved with those great suits worn by the Pegasus Asgard, which I believe later re-appeared as Ancient EVA suits on the Destiny?”
MN: Yes, confracto is my online handle. It was the result of ‘Hey Mark! What’s the weirdest word you can think of!?’. We were bored and checking out what domain names were free and taken years ago. Confracto.com will take you to some of my work.
Most re-used peice? Probably all the knobs and buttons for Destiny.
Yes, I was involved with those suits. It was actually one of the best building experiences, since it took 100% from everyone for weeks to do, and really bonded the team. I have never felt more accomplished than seeing those go out the door. My wife tells me I have to mention that I missed our anniversary one year for these suits, due to working 14 hours that day. But they look so cool!
Thanks to Mark!
And today’s entry is dedicated to birthday gals mamasue9 and Ganymede!
Well, MGM may have pulled the plug on Stargate – or, if you prefer, placed it on indefinite hiatus – but it’s nice to see that interest in the franchise remains strong. A recent google search turned up the following Stargate-related news items…
It was only a matter of time. Apparently, China has started their own Stargate program:
At a cost of a mere $16 million dollars, 115 foot tall steel gate weighs in at 3 000 tons and includes 12 000 LED lights.
What amazing otherworldly entities will pass through its event horizon? No idea, but some Chinese net users have a few guesses:
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a writer. And so, I sought out opportunities, worked hard, persevered and, today, I’m a writer. This story would be impressive if not for the fact that, in addition to wanting to be a writer, I also wanted to be a famous detective and a starting cornerback for the Oakland Raiders. Still, one out of three aint bad and, in retrospect, I picked the right one.
I may have realized that particular dream but there are many more that, for now, for whatever reason, remain on my life’s on-deck circle. So what are they and what’s taking me so long?
1. THE DREAM: Write a novel.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME?: I’m very disciplined when it comes to writing under a deadline, but not so much when I have all the time in the world. Also, writing prose fiction is A LOT harder than scriptwriting. Believe me, I know.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?: Good. I already have one work of (relatively) short fiction under my belt, the short story “Downfall” for the Lou Anders-edited Masked superhero anthology. Granted, it took me about nine months to write, which doesn’t bode well for a comparatively longer work, but I’m sure I could get it done if I approach it with the same discipline I apply to writing scripts. I already have a terrific idea for a mystery novel. All I have to do is spend a month outlining it before embarking on a chapter a day pace.
2. THE DREAM: Becoming fluent in Japanese.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME?: My poor comprehension skills are a problem. Unlike most language students who have an easier time understanding the language than speaking it, I’m the time opposite – which severely inhibits my ability to learn. I’ve been studying Japanese on and off for years now and yet, in that time, have only achived the verbal skills of a very polite four year old Japanese boy. Yes, I have a Japanese girlfriend and that could help – IF she didn’t insist on speaking to me in English so that she can improve HER language skills.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?: Fair to good. Either I move to Japan for a year (highly unlikely given the fact that it would be next to impossible to fly the dogs over with me) or start taking comprehension classes.
3. THE DREAM: Cooking classes.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME?: Sure, I can cook, and cook creatively, but I have yet to really master basic knife skills and sauces. When I was on Stargate, I kept saying that, once the show ended, I would take a year off to attend cooking school. As it turned out, I got busy with other matters and cooking school was never a realistic option.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?: Good. Akemi is equally keen to take some cooking courses so that should force me to make the time.
4. THE DREAM: Travel.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME?: This year was supposed to be my travel year and, while we did hit Vegas and are planning to head back to Tokyo, many of the cities on my list will go unvisited in 2012: Hawaii, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco. I also briefly toyed with the possibility of doing a foodie road-trip, but had those plans quashed by an, uh, opportunity in Toronto.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?: Good. Oh, I’ll get there eventually but it’s all work-dependent. This year, I wanted to take it easy and focused on freelance writing over producing opportunities. 2013 is supposed to be the year I get back to full-time production but, hey, who knows? If things don’t pan out, I’ll have the free time.
5. THE DREAM: Writing for comic books.
WHAT’S KEEPING ME?: Despite the year off, I’ve actually been surprisingly busy, trying to wrap up certain elements of my personal life. At this point, it’s simply a matter of prioritizing.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES: Fair to good. With the four-issue opening arc of my comic book series, DarkMatter, under my belt, I feel confident approaching (or, rather, having my agent approach) some of the big publishers. Again, this will all come down to timing – and the relative interest of the decision-makers.
So, do tell. What’s on your yet unrealized To-Do list?
Our latest Stargate poll is off to a rousing start. I asked: What was the best comedic episode in Stargate history?
So far, 230+ fans have voted and SG-1’s Window of Opportunity has the early lead. But there’s still time to rally behind your favorite episode.
Head on over here and cast your ballot, then leave a comment for a chance to win a signed Stargate script:
Some of you were wondering about my sister’s dog, Aspen, who made an appearance in yesterday’s blog – a video of him following his post-chemo treatment, clearly feeling a little zoned-out. Well, here’s the update. In early June, the poor boy was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had metastasized to his bladder and lymph node. He started chemo and, after a full round, he was switched to daily leukeran chemo pills. Pictured below, Aspen following one of his treatments, receiving some TLC from his buddy Roxy.
A recent ultrasound showed a slight increase in the size of the mass on his prostate and lymph node so his treatment was again changed. He is now receiving a high dose of mitoxantrone every three weeks. Another ultrasound in six weeks should reveal whether he responds to his new treatment.
Compounding the problem is the fact that he also suffers from autoimmune issues and takes medication for that as well. The side effects of these meds include frequent urination, which requires sis to line to cover the floor and beds with pee pads (which must be handled with extra caution because of those chemo treatments). Despite all this, sis and Aspen are in high spirits. Hopefully we’ll hear some good news in late September.
Not sure whether it was yesterday’s video of Aspen or just coincidence, but I dreamt of my boy Maximus last night. As most of you know, Max (pictured in the blog banner) passed away early this year after being diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in July of 2011. Like Aspen, he underwent a series of treatments, radiation rather than chemo, in addition to an anti-cancer vaccine. It was expensive and exhausting and, ultimately, still wasn’t enough to save him in the end, and yet I don’t regret having done it. Rather, I’m sure I would have regretted NOT having done everything I could have at the time.
Anyway, yes, I dreamt of Maximus. But it wasn’t the sick, tired Maximus in the last few months of his life or the laid-back, chunky Maximus of most of his adult life. It was puppy Max. In the dream, I happened to look over and there he was, happy to be back with us. And, as I went over to pat his head, he sat up and started to gently nibble on the tip of my fingers with his front teeth. It was something he used to do all the time when he was a puppy, something I’d completely forgotten about until I was reminded about it in my dream. How weird is that?
I’m dedicating this entry to all of the furry four-legged friends who are no longer with us. Tell me about them. Post a pic if you have one.
Continuing the melancholy theme of this blog, I’d like to remind everyone to cast your vote for The Most Heartbreaking Moment in Stargate History. And leave a comment on the poll page for a chance to win a signed script! Polls close Sunday night.
Aspen apparently feeling uber-relaxed following his latest chemo treatment. Fingers crossed it helps!
It never fails. Every night, Akemi and I work out while watching one of the food shows, be it Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Chuck’s Day Off, Chef Academy, or Around the World in 80 Plates. And, every night, we go to bed craving whatever dish happened to be featured on that evening’s show. The other day, it was souffle. Akemi had a hankering for a nice, airy, chocolate version of the dessert. I hopped online and was surprised to discover that Joeys, a casual eatery in the downtown area, offered a chocolate lava souffle. A chocolate lava souffle? At Joey’s? It sounded too good to be true. And, alas, it was. Good, but also too good to be true.
I was expecting something like this –
But ended up being served this instead –
This isn’t a souffle. It’s a chocolate lava cake. It was good, but not a souffle – which is what Akemi had her heart set on.
The search continues.
As usual, I cast a wide dessert net. In addition to the souffle chocolate lava cake, we had –
Joining us on this outing were my friend Marsha who was visiting from out of town with her friend Brett –
Afterwards, we walked back to my car where I discovered some douchebag had parked his motorcycle mere inches from my front bumper. I felt the urge to put my car in drive, knock it over, then drive over it, back over it, and drive over it again – but restrained myself because I knew that, if I did, I would be the one held responsible! It’s like these namby pamby laws that prevent me from installing that in-car security system that delivers a 50 000 volt jolt to any car thieves foolish enough to attempt to hotwire my SUV. I need me one of those after-market add-ons they sell in South Africa, built in flame throwers to discourage car jackers and squeejee kids.
Anyway, I was somewhat hearted because, the next day, Marsha sent me an email explaining that, after seeing us to our car, she and Brett stopped by the market. On their way back, they came across this little scene –
The offending motorcycle being ticketed. In retrospect, not running it over was the right choice.
Quick! Cast your vote on The Most Heartbreaking Moment in Stargate History (and leave a comment) for a chance to win a signed script!
A new poll and another chance to win a signed script!
What, in your opinion, was The Most Heartbreaking Moment in Stargate History? In coming up with the list of candidates, I tried to consider the events in context. For instance, while Universe’s final episode was heartfelt, it was only heartbreaking insofar as the audience knew the show wasn’t coming back when the episode finally aired. The same goes for Atlantis’s more upbeat finale which, in retrospect, was bittersweet given that fact that it turned out to be the show’s finale. Similarly, the last appearance of (the real) Elizabeth Weir which sees her seemingly sacrifice herself so that the team can escape is also much more heartbreaking with the knowledge that she doesn’t come back after Lifeline.
And so, considering these moments within the framework of their individual stories, here is my list of The Most Devastating Moments in Stargate History.
Ascension of the Abydonians (Stargate: SG-1 – Full Circle)
SG-1 is unable to save the Abydonians from Anubis but, in a bittersweet turn, we discover that Oma Desala has helped them ascend. “Death is only the beginning of one’s journey,”Skaara reminds O’Neill before disappearing.
Jacob’s Passing (Stargate: SG-1 – Threads)
A dying Jacob Carter receives a new lease on life after taking a symbiote, but, it turns out, even symbiotes are vulnerable to the ravages of time. Jacob dies peacefully, a grieving Sam by his bedside.
The Death of Janet Fraiser (Stargate: SG-1 – Heroes I and II)
Dr. Fraiser was a mainstay at Stargate command, a familiar and friendly face we’d drawn comfort in over the course of SG-1’s seven years of adventuring – so the moment she was killed by an errant staff blast was not only shocking, it was downright heartbreaking.
Goodbye Daniel (Stargate: SG-1 – Meridian)
The moment of Daniel Jackson’s death is heartbreaking in itself but an even more poignant moments comes at episode’s end when he appears to Jack in his ascended form.
“So, what?”asks O’Neill. “See you around?”
“I don’t know,”says Daniel as he turns and walks up the ramp.
“Hey… where are you going?”
“I don’t know,”replies Daniel and then disappears through the gate.
Lives Unlived #1 (Stargate: SG-1 – Unending)
SG-1 live out the rest of their lives, trapped aboard the Odyssey cocooned in a time dilation field. They grow old together. Relationships are developed. Carter eventually figures out a way to turn back time, but it will undo the experience they’ve shared, the memories they hold. Ultimately, they make the decision to sacrifice it all – and only Teal’c will bear witness to what happened.
Farewell to Carson Beckett (Stargate: Atlantis – Sunday)
Following a solemn send-off for Atlantis’s lovable Chief Medical Officer, a grieving Rodney is paid a visit by the recently deceased Dr. Beckett.
“Take care of yourself, Rodney,”says Beckett.
“Goodbye, Carson,”says Rodney as Beckett fades away.
Solitary Man (Stargate Atlantis – Vegas)
Johnny Cash’s Solitary Man is an appropriate theme song for this alternate reality’s Detective John Sheppard, a very familiar Shep whose life has taken a very unfamiliar term. He cracks a dangerous case, saving who knows how many lives in the process and, in the episode’s final moments, dies alone and unsung in the desert.
Lives Unlived #2 (Stargate: Atlantis – The Last Man)
Sheppard travels to a future Atlantis where he uncovers the sad tale of what befell the Atlantis expedition: Teyla murdered by Michael, Carter sacrificing herself in battle, Ronon and Todd falling to Michael’s army of hybrids, the city of Atlantis abandoned. But the worst if yet to come for Rodney who at first finds some solace in his relationship with Jennifer Keller, only to have that taken away from him when she falls ill. Tests discover traces of the Hoffan drug in her system. She dies three days later.
The Death of Riley (Stargate: Universe – Aftermath)
One of the most heart wrenching deaths in Stargate history comes early in Stargate Universe’s second season. The shuttle crashes and Sgt. Riley is pinned and mortally wounded. Two moments – first, his conversation with T.J., then Young’s mercy killing – leave the viewers (and our surviving characters) completely devastated.
Lives Unlived #3 (Stargate: Universe – Epilogue)
This time it’s the Universe crew’s turn to offer a There But the Grace of God. Happy outcomes for some, far sadder for others, T.J. in particular. In one of the most heartbreaking sequences in Stargate history, we see her deterioration as the disease ravages her body, leaving her bedridden and unable to feed herself. And then, she is gone, leaving her husband and young children to mourn her absence.
So, what do you think? What gets your vote? Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed script!
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.
Holy crap do I have a lot of crap! I mean stuff. Well, stuff and crap. It’s a fine line. I spent much of today going through my office, throwing away paperwork I’ll never need again and filing away paperwork I may – just maybe – need some time in the distant future. While skyping with my buddy Alex the other day, he advised me to throw away anything I haven’t used in a year. Hmmm. On the surface, it seems like a good rule of thumb. I mean, I’ve got boxes sitting in my crawlspace that I haven’t opened since I moved into this house – back in 2004! Still, just because I haven’t needed it in eight years doesn’t necessarily mean I eventually won’t. Alex was quick to concede the point, recalling a stack of script notes he discovered and subsequently threw out since it was from a project that had moved on without him a year earlier – only to be contacted days later and told they wanted him back and could he resume his work?
Anyway, a few of the things I came across during my late spring/midsummer cleaning:
Oh, I know. The first thing that crosses your mind is “Stalker Alert!”, but I assure you these aren’t mine. They were actually left behind by our former Stargate script coordinator (and, before that, former producer’s assistant) Lawren Bancroft-Wilson whose job it was to coordinate the signing of posters, team pics and, evidently, dreamy photos of a young RDA. Either that or HE’S your stalker!
Now this is kind of interesting. It’s a brand usage manual put out by the studio back in SG-1’s ninth or tenth season.
Check out all the SG-1 taglines. How many do you remember?
A list of the aliens SG-1 has encountered over the course of their many off-world missions. I’m sure there were more.
Vehicles and weapons. Hey, where’s the pain stick?
Oh. Here it is!
And the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Sci-Fi Show!
AAAAH! It’s the bugs from The Scourge!
Hey hey! Check it out.
I’m Danger Beckett!
Let’s go with Dr. Mallozzi. Or MacMallozzi.
Heeey. I remember this script. I’ll share in more detail when our trip down Stargate: Atlantis memory line takes us to the end of season 5. Oooh, in fact lots of interesting tidbits to discuss around that time.
Sadly, that was more or less it. No zat guns. No kino. No puddle jumper. Though, in all fairness, I’ve yet to do a thorough search of that crawlspace.
Only hours left to cast your ballot for The Greatest Season-Ending Cliffhanger in Stargate History!
Vote now and leave a comment for a chance to win a signed script and official (looking) Stargate security badge.
Use this one to visit the ruins of the Icarus Base, or get into Homeworld Command where you can use the communication stones to check out Destiny and give Eli a break from figuring out how he can get one of the damaged stasis pods working again.
Or use this one to visit Stargate Command and see how the old gang is doing. Maybe join Sam, Cam, Daniel, Teal’c, and Vala on an off-world adventure. Say hello to General Landry. Steal Walter Harriman’s lunch.
Or use this one to gain entrance to Atlantis where you can pitch in with the science team and help get the city back to the Pegasus Galaxy!
A HUGE thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on yesterday’s entry. Akemi and I greatly appreciate each and every one. Next week, amid the documentary evidence of our relationship that I’ll be sending out will be said blog entry – and all of your accompanying kind words. It’s been a bit of a frustrating/maddening/depressing week on my end (fodder for a terrific blog entry some day) so your responses and support were greatly appreciated. And yeah, I’ll admit it, kind of touching.
So thanks again.
And, as a thank you, I’m thinking of doing something a little difference for an upcoming blog entry. I think I’d like to go interactive in the form of a (sort of) chat. I’m going to pick a date and time and have a little real-time Q&A session in the comments section. Post your questions and I’ll answer. Post any follow-up questions and I’ll answer those as well. To make things easier for our friends overseas, I’ll probably do this more than once. The session (s) will last for about an hour and, once completed, I’ll publish the whole as a dedicated blog entry.
Sound good? Alright. I’m thinking sometime next week. Since many of you work, maybe weekends would be better? Evenings? Let me know.
Hey, a reminder to vote for The Greatest Season-Ending Cliffhanger in Stargate History! Cast your ballot and then leave a comment on the poll page for a chance to win a signed script or one of these Stargate security badges that should grant you access to Stargate Command, Atlantis, or Homeworld Command. Provided you look anything like the picture:
Polls close tomorrow at midnight:
Another little reminder, this one from resident film critic Cookie Monster, who reminds everyone that our Supermovie of the Week Club (in which we watch, review, and discuss a difference superhero-themed movie every week) will reconvene on Monday when Monster will review Mystery Men. He is downright excited at the prospect that “Dis one may not suk!”.
Seriously. How can anyone say no to freshly baked cookies, even if it means having them for breakfast? In retrospect, they were the perfect food for what lay ahead, full of the carbohydrate and sugar energy I would need to get me through a grueling day of eating.
Akemi and I met up with our foodie friend, Simon, aka JYS, for a little culinary excursion, Vancouver-style. The plan was to check out the new pasta place in Gastown, but it was closed, so we opted for my favorite sandwich place in town: Meat & Bread. And, as usual, whenever I go, I always get…
One of the many great things about this sandwich (beside the juicy pork, salsa verde, and fresh bun) are the bits of crisp crackling. I know, I know. I’m sure the daily sandwiches are equally fantastic – but I go with what I know.
We strolled over to Vancouver’s best dessert shop, Cadeaux Bakery, for lunch – only to discovery it was closed as well. So we hopped into my cover and motored on over to Cordova Street for a sweet one-two (three, four) punch.
We started at Giovanne Cafe (better known as G) for three terrific desserts:
And, since we were right next door, we decided to check out the best gelato place in Vancouver: Bella Gelateria.
I don’t mind admitting that, by this point, I was stuffed. So instead of going with a particulate-heavy selection, I decided to go with a light palate-cleanser…
Well, I had planned to launch into that rant today but an early morning skype session with my old friends, Alexander and Sarah, temporarily defused much of the simmering anger. I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time before it comes to a boil though so don’t mope, the rant has been postponed, not cancelled. Anyway, it was great to catch up with Ruemy and Sarah. She, sweet and upbeat; he, bitter and blase. They’re the romantic equivalent of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Akemi and I were hoping to go down to Berlin for the wedding and maybe do a little Madrid and Paris (actually, a lot of Madrid and a little Paris) but it seems unlikely we’ll be able to swing it. Still, I’m hopeful we can make it work later this year. And, hopefully, Alex and Sarah will be able to reschedule their wedding accordingly.
A reminder to cast your ballot (and leave a comment for a chance to win a signed script) in our Greatest Season-Ending Cliffhanger in Stargate History poll. Vote!
A reminder to cast your vote for The Greatest Season-ending Cliffhanger in Stargate History for a chance to win a signed script and a nifty Stargate security badge –
Head on over here, pick a cliffhanger, then leave a comment for a chance to win:
To whoever asked – yes, I’ll be continuing my trip down Atlantis memory lane, starting sometime in August to coincide with Gateworld’s Stargate: Atlantis season 3 rewatch. Speaking of Gateworld, head on over here (Atlantis Season Two Awards: Vote Now!) to vote for your favorites in the category of season 2’s: Best Episode, Best Sheppard Moment, Best McKay Moment, Best Weir Moment, Best Ronon Moment, Best Teyla Moment, Best Beckett Moment, Best Alien Race, Best Individual Individual Villain, Coolest Ancient Technology, Coolest Alien Technology, and Best Guest Star.
For some reason, Akemi’s name baffles most English speakers who seem incapable of pronouncing it correctly, often offering a variety of erroneous renditions: Acme, Kimmy, Akenny, Ankimo, etc. Nowhere is this more frustrating than at Starbucks where the person at the counter not only mispronounces her name, but writes it down incorrectly as well. But I’m pleased to report the Starbucks has gotten better. Witness the evolution of the Akemi cappuccino…
And, tonight, I head out to dinner with my writing partner so that we can spin some new series ideas. We’re heading down to L.A. the first week of August to pitch (is that NEXT week?!) and it would be nice to have something to talk about beside the weather.
Tomorrow, this blog resumes its originally scheduled programming when our Supermovie of the Week Club resumes with Cookie Monster’s review of Steel.
“I am melty sleepy” – Akemiism. Translation: I’m REALLY sleepy.
It was nice today, so we ended up checking out the local farmer’s market with Jelly. On the way home, we happened to come across a street festival so we parked, hopped out, and too that in as well.
On an unrelated note – ooooh, I feel a rant coming in. Best to let it simmer for a couple of days and then really let loose, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday.
So, like the title of this entry says: What was the greatest season-ending cliffhanger in Stargate history?
Within the Serpent’s Grasp: After being forced to kill Klorel/Skaara, SG-1 looks on helplessly as death gliders are launched toward Earth.
Out of Mind: The team is captured by Hathor who intends to implant one of them with a symbiote.
Nemesis: The replicator-infested Asgard ship is destroyed, but one replicator has survived – and has reached Earth.
Exodus: The team finds itself stranded, four million light years from home – with Apophis.
Camelot: The Ori kick ass, one of the Earth ships is destroyed, Carter is left floating in space while Vala, pregnant with the Orici, looks on helplessly.
The Siege II: Atlantis is about to fall to the wraith while Sheppard makes a suicide run against a enemy hive ship.
Allies: The wraith are headed to Earth – with Ronon and McKay in tow!
First Strike: Elizabeth and Ronon are injured, Atlantis is stranded in the middle of nowhere, and the zpm has only enough energy to power the city for twenty-four hours…
The Last Man: In an effort to locate a pregnant Teyla, kidnapped by Michael, Sheppard unwittingly leads a rescue team into a trap. As the base collapses in on our heroes…
Incursion II: Scott and Greer are trapped outside the ship, Kiva, Telford and a pregnant T.J. are shot, the Lucian Alliance prepares to execute Young and the rest of the military personnel.
Gauntlet: The rest of the crew goes into stasis for what could be three to three hundred years, leaving a solitary Eli to figure out a means to save his own life.
Head on over and vote:
Polls close at midnight next Saturday (July 28th). Leave a comment here or on the poll site for a chance to win signed scripts and one of these nifty Stargate security badges I picked up at Comic Con…just for you guys!