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1Sigh.  Here we go again.  Last month, a routine check at our local vet clinic revealed that Jelly had a mast cell tumor that would have to be removed.  Given their advanced ages, and the fact that they are pugs, surgery always worries me as much as whatever it is they are being treated for.  But despite being 16, Jelly came through with flying colors and the surgery was a complete success.  Tomorrow, it’s 11 year old Bubba’s turn.  Akemi noticed a lump near his ear last week and I didn’t think anything of it at first.  It was significantly tinier and harder than the one I discovered on Jelly.  Still, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have it checked out and so, yesterday, we brought him in and had a sample taken.  And, this morning, we got the results.  Another mast cell tumor.  He goes in for surgery first thing tomorrow morning.

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

1This one was a lot of fun – despite all the gobbledegook.  Whenever the conversation turned to the gate bridge, Akemi’s eyes seemed to glaze over.  But they were bright and alert for all of the McKay-Keller moments.  “Some part is very boring, talk about global warming.  But I laughed a couple of times.  I found funny. And I liked the romantic scenes.”

Note for the costume department from Akemi: “Didn’t like Jewel’s dress and boots.”

She loved the Carl Binder Memorial Theatre but wondered why Carl got the honours and not, say, Brad or Robert who no doubt wondered: “Why my name is not on the theatre?”

On the burgeoning romance: “I liked the fact McKay and Jewel loveoo loveoo.”

But she wasn’t a fan of the practical ice effects: “Looks fake.”

On the moment where McKay sweeps up a wet and freezing Keller, gets her to safety, and then the two exchange a kiss: “Titanic!”

Overall: “Like it, but not very Stargatety.”

Wow.  This has been all over the news here:

1http://www.petsearcherscanada.com/stolen-french-bulldog-in-vancouver-do-you-recognize-this-woman2/

If you live in the Vancouver area, check out the video and maybe help identify this sorry excuse for a human being.

Capsule reviews of all the books I read last month…

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Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem

A southern gothic tale that alternates between the 1930′s and the present day.  It tells the parallel stories of a women and her grandson and their respective battles against supernatural forces in the southern Appalachians, all related to a mysterious crate buried deep in the kudzu-infested grounds of their family property.  Moody and effectively atmospheric but, at times, slow-moving and disjointed.  It starts strong, lags in the middle, and then culminates in an explosion of frenzied horror.

1In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

A young man who specializes in guiding foreigners on red light tours of Tokyo begins to suspect that there may be more to his latest client than meets the eye. Is this strange American merely eccentric, or could he be the serial killer responsible for some recent gruesome murders?  As the mystery builds and our protagonist is drawn inexorably deeper, things begin to take a turn for the bizarre. Incredibly engaging and unnerving – until the sudden and inexplicable supernatural twist late in the hitherto grounded book.  That’s when the wheels come off.

1The Barrow by Mark Smythe

A rousing fantasy actioner in the spirit of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series. Violence, humor, and colourful characters abound in this tale of a group of unlikely heroes on a quest for a fabled sword.  It’s a gritty, lively adventure and a hell of a fun read, but my enjoyment was seriously hampered by some explicit sex scenes that, quite frankly, read like submissions to Letters to Penthouse.

1Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

As is often the case with collections, this one is a mixed bag – but there’s no denying the inventiveness of the strange stories contained herein.  Like the tale of the reformed vampires who have retired to the Italian countryside where the juice of fresh lemons slakes their thirst for blood.  Or the one about about the exploited mutant female workers of a Japanese silk factory.  Or the one about the young boys who discover a scarecrow that eerily resembles someone they used to bully…  Recommended for those who appreciate inspired, slice-of-life narratives (and, FYI, “slice-of-life” is writer code for “doesn’t have an ending”).

1The Walking Dead (volume 20) by Robert Kirkman

“All Out War”, Part 1.  Well, “Preamble to All Out War” would probably be more accurate.  Rick and co. and their newfound allies take the fight to Negan’s doorstep.  And things get ugly – with the promise of still uglier things to come. Darker, deeper, and, frankly, better than the television series.

1Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Two years after the mysterious disappearance of his six year old daughter, a man returns to his family home on a remote island – and discovers the community hides a dark secret.  Chilling, at times unnerving, the novel is somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s grounded small-town horror.  Unique in certain respects but, overall, not quite enough to set it apart in a very crowded field.  Still, an above-average horror read.

1The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The book opens with our narrator, Jeannette, on her way to a New York City function, when her cab stops beside a homeless women rooting through the trash. Upon closer scrutiny, Jeannette realizes that homeless woman is, in fact, her mother.  And so begins one of the most amazing books I’ve read in recent memory. The blurb on the back of the jacket does it an enormous disservice, painting it as a bleak autobiographical account of woman growing up in an abusive family.  It’s actually quite touching, uplifting – and incredibly funny, reminiscent of David Sedaris at his very darkest.  One of my Top 10 books of all time.  Go read it!

1Peter Panzerfaust (volume 1) by Kurtis J. Wiebe

It’s Peter Pan in WWII as Peter leads a group of young orphans from Calais to Paris.  Complicating matters for them = nazis!  No magic but certain aspects of the story stretch credulity.

1The Circle by David Eggers

Our young heroine lands a job working for The Circle, a cutting edge internet company that is Google, Facebook, and Yahoo rolled into one.  Before she knows it, she is at the forefront of a wave of technological advancements that will revolutionize social interaction.  But at what price?  A smart, scary book that explores the potentially insidious consequences of our increasingly “connected” lives.  It takes a while to get going and the big “surprise reveal” at book’s end isn’t all that surprising at all, but it nevertheless delivers a powerful message on our increasing willingness to relinquish privacy and freedom in exchange for convenience.

1We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Inspired by an experiment in the 1930′s in which a husband and wife research team raised a baby chimp in their home as a member of their family, this novel offers a fictional account of a similar experiment run some sixty years later – and its heartbreaking effects on those involved.  Our narrator is Rosemary, a woman who reflects back on her childhood, growing up with a human brother and chimpanzee sister – until the dark day her sister, Fern, was taken away.  The loss of their beloved family members has far-reaching consequences for all of them. Some fifteen years later, Rosemary reflects back on her time with Fern and tries to learn the truth about her sister’s fate.  It’s rare I read a truly great book, even rarer for me to read two back to back, but that’s exactly what happened.  Right after reading Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, I picked up this book – and was equally bowled over.  Humorous and poignant.  A wonderful book.

1Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell

A monkey of another kind is the titular hero of this alt history romp that features a royal conspiracy, nuclear-powered airships, VR ninja nazis, and poachable portable souls.  It’s silly fast-paced fun, but the sloppy villains and a maudlin love story really throw a wrench into the works.

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

1I approached the re-watch of this episode with some trepidation, not because I was worried that Akemi wouldn’t like it but because I feared that I wouldn’t.  After all, I’d been reviewing my episodes in particular with very critical eyes and, to be honest, I’m a lot less happy with the results now than I was years ago.  Back in the day, this one had been a personal favorites, so I was curious as to how it would survive the test of time.  As it turned out – quite well.  Of all of the episodes I wrote for the last two Stargate incarnations (SGA and SGU), this one ranks as one of my faves.  It still holds up.  And it was especially satisfying watching this with Akemi who, despite English being her second language, greatly enjoyed it.  In fact, she declared it: “My favorite of your episodes. ”  High praise indeed.  She loved the humor, the quick pacing, and was delighted by the unexpected twists – especially the final one in which it is revealed that McKay had been fooled all along as well…

Ever-appreciative of the trademark Stargate humor – and a certain Robert Picardo: “I find many funny scenes.  Especially with Bob.”

On the admittedly talky reveal: “That scene was difficult but cool.  I like it.”

On when her suspicions were first raised that maybe something was up – and Kolya’s punching prowess: “I was wondering.  Bad guy punching him thirty times and he’s still alive.  Just scratches.  Not losing teeth.  Guy is not good at punching people.”

On another red flag: “I thought too expensive for Sheppard without hand for rest of series.  Not like old man on Walking Dead.  Major character.  DingDingding!  Price go so high.”

Overall: “I like it.  Funny.   Not too scary.”

 

Akemi’s birthday…

Picking up a selection of home made marshmallows at Achimallows pop-up stand.

Picking up a selection of home made marshmallows at Archimallows pop-up stand.

The selection

The selection

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Birthday lunch at Bel Cafe.  Banh Mi for me.

Birthday lunch at Bel Cafe. Banh Mi for me.

And spicy chicken salad and a matcha latte for Akemi.

And spicy chicken salad and a matcha latte for Akemi.

And some hazelnut drags to go.  I'm a sucker for those complimentary samples.

And some hazelnut dragees to go. I’m a sucker for those complimentary samples.

New running shoes, a.k.a. new chew toys for Lulu.

New running shoes, a.k.a. new chew toys for Lulu.

Then, over to Main Street to check out the Candy Meister truck.

Then, over to Main Street to check out the Candy Meister truck.

1

And, of course, her favorites - and the reason we chase this truck around town - the handmade marshmallows.

And, of course, her favorites – and the reason we chase this truck around town – the handmade marshmallows.

An afternoon walk/roll with the dogs.

An afternoon walk/roll with the dogs.

Doggy bath time.

Doggy bath time.

Sushi dinner at Miku Restaurant

Sushi dinner at Miku Restaurant

Drinks.  For her, some sort of Yuzi liquor.

Drinks. For her, some sort of Yuzi liquor.

For me, the sake sampler.

For me, the sake sampler.

And the "lotus root salad" that was served, completely devoid of lotus roots.  When I asked about this, I was informed that they were out.  Really?

And the “lotus root salad” that was served, completely devoid of lotus roots. When I asked about this, I was informed that they were out. Really? On the bright side, our sushi was served with the expected fish.

And, instead of birthday cake, Akemi opted for birthday gelato at Bella Gelateria.  Yes, it's that good!

And, instead of birthday cake, Akemi opted for birthday gelato at Bella Gelateria. Yes, it’s that good!

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…The Prodigal!

1Another Carl Binder-san spectacular.  I loved this episode even more on repeat viewing.  It’s got action, humor, and high-stakes developments with all of our characters in play (even Zelenka, Lorne, and Amelia Banks).  Fast-paced fun!

And Akemi agreed.  She laughed out loud a couple of times, jumped at others, and seemed just as anxious as Teyla when she was in hiding with her baby.  The night time establishers of the city all lit up never fail to amaze, and the “really cool fighting scenes” in this one wowed her as well, especially the final showdown at the top of the tower (Again, thanks to Mark Savela and our VFX crew and James Bamford and our stunts crew).  Her only quibble with this episode: “I’m so sad I didn’t see any scenes with Jewel.  Where’s Jewel?”  I dunno.  Night off?

She was at her most animated when Sheppard almost tumbles off the tower and is left dangling: “Now Mike Dopud can take over team!”

When Teyla approaches Michael hanging on by his fingertips: “Kick him off.”

And when she does just that: “What?!  He isn’t really dead, is he?”  And when I informed her that, yes, he was: “Wow.  Michael die.  Are you sure?  Who will they fight?”  No one!  The last six episodes of the final season will feature scenes of them sitting around, talking about their feelings.

And a closing observation as the end credits started to roll: “Sheppard never die, ne?  Don’t you think so?  Why not?”

Hey!  Great news, Mrs. Doubtfire fans.  21 years later, a sequel is finally in the works: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Mrs-Doubtfire-2-Works-42606.html

It will follow in the rich tradition of Basic Instinct 2, Blues Brothers 2000, Escape from L.A, and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights – as sequels that were released after over a decade had passed since the original graced the big screen.  Here are some notable others…

The Evening Star, sequel to Terms of Endearment, released 13 years later.

The Two Jakes, sequel to Chinatown, released 16 years later.

An American Werewolf in Paris, sequel to An American Werewolf in London, released 16 years later.

The Rage: Carrie II, sequel to Carrie, released 22 years later.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, sequel to Wall Street, released 22 years later.

Psycho II, sequel to Psycho, released 22 years later.

The Odd Couple II, sequel to The Odd Couple, released 29 years later.

And here are some sequels  either rumoured to be in the works, in production, or coming soon to a theater near you…

Bad Santa 2 (11 years later)

Beetlejuice 2 (16 years later)

Blade Runner 2 (22 years later)

Dumb and Dumber To (20 years later)

Goonies 2 (29 years later)

Independence Day 2 (18 years later)

Rounders 2 (26 years later)

Shakespeare in Love 2 (16 years later)

Top Gun 2 (28 years later)

Trainspotting 2 (18 years later)

Triplets (sequel to Twin – 26 years later)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit 2 (26 years later)

Zoolander 2 (13 years later)

Which one are you looking forward to the least?

The afore-mentioned lists got me thinking about some of the great movies that REALLY need sequels.  Dear Hollywood, if they’re not already in the works, might I suggest:

The Sixth Sense 2: The Seventh Sense

Apocalypse Now 2: I Love the Smell of Napalm at Night Too!

Forrest Gump 2: Still Running

Casablanca 2: Play It Again, Sam

Better Off Dead 2: I Want my Two Dollars!  Plus Interest!  Which Would Now Make it About Two Fifty!

A Few Good Men: You Couldn’t Handle the Truth So We Apportioned it over Two Movies

Titanic 2: My Heart Still Going On

On the Waterfront 2: The Contender

Taxi Driver 2: Are You STILL Talkin’ to Me?

Field of Dreams 2: If You Produce It, They Will Come

Gone With the Wind: Tomorrow is Another Movie

Citizen Kane 2: Charlie and Rosebud, the Early Years

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

1Clip show alert!  Clip show alert!  Alas, the notion of the money-saver was completely lost on Akemi who, partway through Inquisition, turned to me, brow furrowed and remarked: “Just replaying parts of episodes we’ve already seen.”  Well, yes.  That’s the point of the clip show, the high point of any season.  It’s a very special episode that, in its short run time, manages to pack in all of the very best of what has come before.  It’s like a bowlful of only the red skittles.  That have passed, undigested through the alimentary canal of an Asian palm civet cat.

Apparently, they don’t do that sort of thing in Japan.

Surprisingly, however, this episode went over quite well, owing to the fact that many of these repeat clips were actually new to Akemi who missed seasons 2 through 4.  Plenty of “oohs” and “aaahs” throughout those amazing space battles.

“Toby!” she called when actor Thobias Slezak – and occasional guest to our home during the football season – showed up on screen.  Although it was, I thought, a sizeable enough appearance, she was somewhat disappointed: “Toby’s part is very small again [a reference to his turn as the doomed Peter in SGU's Visitation].  Too small!”

And a minor quibble for the prop department.  She hated the glasses Woolsey and Sheppard were drinking whisky out of at episode’s end because we own those very same glasses and it shattered the illusion: “Same glass as you are drinking almond milk out of.”

Overall, even though she had a hard time following (and I had an equally hard time explaining): “I liked it.  I was happy to see so much computer graphics.  I liked the fact it summarized everything because I missed so many episodes.”  And, she’s up to date!

Dog fight!

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

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

Still, plenty of nitpicks of Outsiders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1

I’m a fairly adventurous eater and I’m always up for trying something new.  I may not like everything I sample but I will, for the most, give it a go.  Seafood City, in the Granville Island Public Market, can always be counted upon to have a few surprises along with their regular, more mainstream assortment of oysters, clams, crab, sea bass, rainbow trout, various salmons, etc..  It’s my go-to place for fresh fish and seafood AND the occasional unique offerings.  Like the other day when I happened to come across the above-pictured Goose Neck Barnacles on display.  Sure, I thought, they look ugly.  But why the hell not?  And, after getting  quick rundown on their cooking and preparation, I headed home with a handful to check ‘em out…so YOU don’t have to.

The instructions were fairly straightforward.  Boil them for five minutes in salted water, rinse with cold water, then remove the outer layer that will unfurl like…well, let’s say a sock.  Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice and, voila, they’re ready to eat…

1

Mmmm.  Tasty-looking, no?

Not bad, but a little sandy.  And, while interesting, it doesn’t rank up there with the equally special likes of sea urchin or skate wing.

Agree?  Disagree?  What’s your take on them?

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…The Lost Tribe!

1Hunh.  Interesting.  As much as she enjoyed the first part of this mid-season two-parter, Akemi couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for this one.  I think the problem was that, while Part I was incredibly fast-paced and raised many questions, Part II bogged down in the answers – many of which went right over her head: the Asgard, their cloning issues, the Travellers, Larrin, etc.  “This episode feel so long,”she sighed at one point.

When McKay and Daniel have a lengthy discussion regarding how the device affects wraith hyperspace drives, the gates, and how they can stop it: “Don’t talk.  Just do it!”

When the Asgard revealed himself: “Oh, so cute!  Look at him!”

And during the inside the suit Iron Man POV: “Cool.”

This episode’s final space battle was the first she didn’t enjoy: “I couldn’t tell which ship was which.”

She questioned the suddenly verdant Atlantis in a later scene: “Why so green?”

And, finally, she was quite disappointed that the Ronon-McKay romantic rivalry fizzled out so quickly: “So handsome guy so sad because Jewel doesn’t like him?  I wanted to see geek vs. handsome guy situation!”  :(

Awww, this is sweet.  And salty.  And  risky!  http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2014/04/14/kfc-chicken-corsage-prom/7705419/

World’s Fastest…cat?  Wheel of Fortune’s Worst Contestant.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/04/14/wheel-of-fortune-contenstant-cant-solve-filled-in-puzzle/7710211/

And in science news: http://www.theonion.com/articles/study-finds-earth-located-in-lamest-part-of-univer,35688/

Cat burglars beware!  Dog summoned for jury duty.  http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/weird/Dog-Chosen-for-Jury-Duty-255184841.html?_osource=SocialFlowFB_PHBrand

And we continue our SGA re-watch with…First Contact!

1Hey!  Another great episode.  We’re on a roll!  Lots to love about this fast-paced episode (compliments of golden boy Martin Gero) but, of course, at the top of the list is special guest archaeologist…Dr. Daniel Jackson.  Loved the rapid-fire interplay between him and McKay.  But, again, who cares what I thought.  What did Akemi think?

She took an immediate shine to Daniel (“He is handsome!”) who she thought looked kind of familiar (“He looks like Jeff from Community.”).

Less a fan of their super quick dialogue which she had trouble following, eventually giving up with: “Faster!  Faster!”  Still: “He is very nice looking guy.  Just speaks too fast.”

After Rodney was whisked away by the aliens, leaving Zalenka to lead the science charge: “Now’s his chance!”  I pointed out that if he really impresses and takes over the science team, what would become of McKay?  A fair point.  She’s a fan of Rodney McKay as well – although she doesn’t like the fact that everyone calls him Rodney now instead of McKay.

She continues to enjoy Robert Picardo’s turn as Richard Woolsey: “Bob is funny.  I like his character.  Nice and warm.”

And misses Mike Dopud: “Too bad Mike Dopud is not in this episode.”

Another round of compliments to Mark Savela and the VFX team, especially for the “shield guy scene” that was, in her estimation, “very Final Fantasyish.”

Overall, a most enjoyable episode – though maybe a little too fast-paced: “So manny things happening.  Hard to organize my brain.”

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday gal Jovanna!

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