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So much for the Christmas spirit.  Today, Akemi did something she rarely ever does.  She actually bought herself something.  The girl hardly ever spends on herself but, this afternoon, she made an exception when she came across a cup emblazoned with the letter A at a local shop.  Being a big tea drinker – and having a name that starts with the letter A – she thought it would be perfect, so she bought it.  About an hour later, she was getting off the subway, when some guy, in an obvious rush, bumped into her, knocking her purchase out of her hand.  The guy didn’t even slow down, jumping into the car and heading off, leaving Akemi to check on her cup – which was, of course, shattered.  Her disappointment was apparently so apparent that a subway employee consoled her with a shoulder pat and some words of encouragement.

Still, in good spirits.  And silly slippers.

Still, in good spirits. And silly slippers.

Well, two more days until we depart for the holidays – which means roughly a week’s worth of ground to cover before we go.  In addition to tomorrow’s early EARLY morning tech survey (which leaves the production offices at 7:00 a.m., meaning I’ll have to leave my place at 6:30 a.m., meaning I’ll probably have to wake up for 5:45 a.m.), I’ve still got to do another pass on scripts for episodes #103, #104, #105, and #106, incorporate Jay’s notes into #107, #108, and #109, and get notes from Paul on #112.  Oh, and then there’s the meetings.  And the camera tests!  Today, Lawren, our VFX Supervisor, showed us some preliminary FTL (fast than light) effects as well as some animatics of the ship – and the missile pursuit.  Very cool.  I’m making a note to keep everything on file so that I can share with you all in time.

Meanwhile, the production offices are embracing the Dark Matter theme…

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I need to place this on my dash, otherwise Vanessa will knock off my side mirror with a baseball bat.

I need to place this on my dash, otherwise Vanessa will knock off my side mirror with a baseball bat.

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Adorning the walls of the cafeteria

Adorning the walls of the cafeteria

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Please note our strict no Facebook, no twitter, no photo policy.

Bon Appetit!  Please note our strict no Facebook, no twitter, no photo policy.

One more day for our Dark Matter Holiday Toy Drive!

And one more day for our Dark Matter Holiday Toy Drive!

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I’ve only been working with her a couple of weeks and I already a huge, HUGE fan.

“Why?”you may ask.

Well, why don’t I just let her a few samples of her work answer that question…

Choices for the GA (Galactic  Authority) emblem

Choices for the GA (Galactic Authority) emblem

Choices for some of the multi planetary (corporate) logos

Choices for some of the multi planetary (corporate) logos

"Caution" sign in English and our version of intergalactic Esperanza

“Caution” signs in English and our version of intergalactic Esperanto

Personally, I always find red goes a long way toward implied danger.

Personally, I always find red goes a long way toward implied danger.

The galaxy is full of danger - often clearly marked.  We opted for the one on the right.

The galaxy is full of danger – often clearly marked. We opted for the one on the right.

She also designed our future currency – but those pictures are on my other laptop.  Do remind me to show you next time.

Kyle - our master of ceremonies

Kyle – our master of ceremonies

The plan was to make my dough the day before, allow it to chill overnight, and then wake up early Monday morning and bake my cookies so that they could be fresh and warm for the 10:00 a.m. cookie exchange.  In retrospect, a late decision to test-bake a batch probably saved my ass.  Given the size of my kitchen, the single baking pan that came with the apartment, and the fact that I had to bake 13 dozen cookies, I probably would have had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to be ready in time.  As it was, I was baking until bedtime last night.

78 cookies later and I'm ready for bed.

78 cookies later and I’m ready for bed.

This morning, I was the first one to present my Drunken Uncles (TM Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and/or whoever actually came up with the Drunken Uncle name) at the first annual Dark Matter cookie exchange.

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 Akemi included a tag with each bag of cookies.  A nice touch, I thought (note the careful attention to red noses).  And then I saw the little tags on the cookies presented by our 1st Assistant Art Director and Graphics Maestro Roxanne Borris:

Pretty awesome, no?

Pretty awesome, no?

We gathered in the production office where we laid our cookies out for the photo op -

Two of our bakers M.I.A.  Note my endearingly natural smile.

Two of our bakers M.I.A. Note my endearingly natural smile.

After which we helped ourselves to the cookie selection – 12 half dozen varieties.  I sample every one of them.

Lunch!

Lunch!

And then shut my office door and napped until it was time to go home.

Can’t wait until next year!

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My Fantasy Football team, The Snow Monkeys, are on life support following a career worst performance by Green Bay Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  And subpar performances by Tre Mason, Steve Smith, and Adam Vinatieri didn’t help.  We’re down 96.82 to 71.2o heading into tomorrow’s Monday Night game.  Do you think my final player, running back Matt Forte, has 27 fantasy points in him?  He did it once before this season, in Atlanta.  Can he do it at home against the New Orleans Saints?  I’m staying positive!

Drunken Uncles!

Drunken Uncles!

In addition to bemoaning my Snow Monkeys inevitable defeat, I spent much of the weekend refining my recipe for Monday’s Dark Matter cookie exchange.

"A watched cookie never bakes" - old proverb

“A watched cookie never bakes” – old proverb

All told, I will make approximately 80 of my Bourbon Brown Butter Cookies with Roasted White Chocolate Chunks (a.k.a. “Drunken Uncles” – thanks to Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, a fellow Fantasy Football weekend loser, who came up with the name), six for each cookie exchange participant plus leftovers for the innocent bystanders.

A dejected Lawren heads home, depressed by his team's elimination from fantasy football playoff contention - and the fact that there's already a drink called a Drunken Uncle.

A dejected Lawren heads home, depressed by his team’s elimination from fantasy football playoff contention – and the fact that there’s already a drink called a Drunken Uncle.

And when she wasn’t helping me bake cookies, Akemi was making the dogs breakfast…

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This morning, for instance, it was banana pancakes.  Yes.  The dogs had a banana pancake breakfast.  They can file that one away in the “pro” column.

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And this one under “con”.

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Well, turns out I’m not the only one who is going to have to get used to deep freeze here in Toronto.

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Due to her hip dysplasia, arthritic shoulders, and advanced age (almost 16!), Jelly gets a free ride.   Literally.  She gets shuttled from the hotel to the park and back in a special dog stroller.  Pro: The comfy trip.  Con: She pays the price by having to wear the Santa Pug outfit.  Akemi insists: “The dogs LOVE to dress up!”.  I remain unconvinced.

In emergencies, the patio offers a great back-up to the long and involved trek to the park.  Snow can complicate matters though!

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For the rest of the gang, who don’t have the luxury of stroller rides, it’s socks and boots (and jackets and Christmas bells)!  Getting them dressed is a two-person job.

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But once we’re done, it’s a stylin’ all systems go!

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Although, in retrospect, the addition of hats might be advisable.

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Alternately, dialing down the fun ensures a mercifully quick and much less snowy stroll.

Lulu, however, always makes the best of even the worst situations.  If life gives you snow, make snowmanades.  Or just chase down a ball.

We are officially in prep on episodes #101 and #102 of Dark Matter.  The train has left the station and is barreling down the tracks.  There’s no turning back now. We’re making a t.v. show!

As we creep ever-closer to our first day of shooting, the days grow longer, the pace more frenzied, and the meetings just keep on coming…

The Art Department meeting

The Art Department meeting

Production Designer Ian Brock and his team guide us through ongoing and upcoming construction and builds.  The corridors, now textured and painted, are looking awesome.  Following a small adjustment to the layout of the forward consoles, work has resumed on the bridge’s walls and monitors.  The ship’s lower deck section is pretty damn impressive, with its dark blue metallic multi-level look. And we finally signed off on our shuttle (the Phantom Class Marauder) which will start coming together in the coming weeks.

The Concept meeting

The Concept meeting

Holy Smokes, it’s really happening!  The various department heads gather to cram themselves into our conference room and discuss the game plan for our first two episodes.  For those of you not familiar with production – or who may be new to this blog – the concept meeting is the very first meeting of prep week.  The 1st A.D. (assistant director), in this case Brandon Tataryn who I’ll be introducing you to in the coming weeks, goes through the script to ensure everyone knows what, if anything, will be required of them in each scene.  For instance, Costumes should have an idea for what our crew will be wearing when they first come out of stasis, while Props should know how many guns we’ll need for the final shootout.

The Stunts/SPFX meeting

The Stunts/SPFX meeting

SPFX stands for Special Effects, and that includes everything from squib hits to explosions, sparkage to steam.  Our stunt coordinator, John Stead (another guy I’ll be introducing you to in the days ahead), has his work cut out for him as he’ll be choreographing a few big throw-downs, from the opening bridge fracas to the longer and more involved 4 on 1 encounter with the ship’s “security protocol”.  Then, in episode #102, things get real down and dirty – and bloody! – on the planet.

The VFX/Graphics/Playback meeting

The VFX/Graphics/Playback meeting

Oh, yeah!  We’re a scifi series, and that means stunning visual effects.  A familiar face from our Stargate days, Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, is on hand to supervise sequences like “the missile pursuit” and those FTL jumps and exits.  And, of course, graphics and playback are going to be key to telling our story and ensuring the show maintains that cool, SF visual style.

Remember this?

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And this?

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Next week  = more meetings and mayhem!

Back before Stargate, before my years on teen sitcom Student Bodies, before my time story-editing for the CBS Saturday morning lineup, I was the Manager of Animation Development at an animation studio in Montreal.  It’s been a long while, but I still keep in touch with a few of my former co-workers and even get together with them on occasion.

Like yesterday, for instance, when Anne-Marie Perrotta flew in for super-secret business.  And dinner with us.  At Patria, a Spanish tapas restaurant on King Street that came highly recommended from Prodigy Picture’s resident foodie, Natalie Cooper.

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Also joining us on this night was another former face from my animation days, Natalie Dumoulin, now Vice President Creative Affairs at 9story Media Group.

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What we had -

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Piquillo peppers with oxtail and manchego.

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Octopus and potatoes

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And, of course, the paella.  With cornish hen and serrano ham.

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The dulce de leche churros

In addition to about a dozen other dishes including blistered pardon peppers, chorizo bombas, goat cheese with orange blossom honey and fig, patatas bravas, empanadas, roasted cauliflower, and chocolate pudding with olive oil and sea salt.

Patria: 478 King St. West

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Akemi gets acquainted with Natalie’s dog.  

After dinner, we headed over to Natalie’s place for drinks – although, to be fair, she’s the only one who did any actual drinking, opening up a bottle of red to celebrate our re-connecting after all these years.

Just like old times!

But with more tapas.

And less voice actors.

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