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We released our official writer’s drafts of episodes 1 and 2 today.  Paul and I co-wrote #1 (the pilot), but I did the solo honours on #2.  After some discussion, we’ve decided to start writing separately.  In truth, we’ve been writing separately for years now, but this is the first time we won’t be sharing the onscreen writing credit.  Or Exec Producer credits as we’ll be both be prepping the show through the start of principal photography, but only I will travel to Toronto to oversee production.  That’s the plan for season one anyway.  Who knows how things will shake out if and when we get that season 2 pick-up.

Delivered notes on episode #3 and hope to have a revised draft by Monday.  I’ll jump on it and then send it Paul’s way.  He’s going to do a pass on my first draft of episode #4 tomorrow and Friday and then, by end of next week, we should (hopefully) be able to release official writer’s drafts of both of those scripts as well.

Paul has a busy September ahead of him writing episodes #5 and #6.  I’ve already sent Robert Cooper the first two scripts as well as a link to the series overview.  I’ll be sending him outlines – including the outline to his story, episode #7 – by this weekend.  Trevor has already started thinking about episode #8.

I’ve almost 40 pages into the script for episode 9 and I hope to have that done by this weekend as well.  A real character-driven story this one, quite dark at times but darkly humorous too.

We’re deep into discussion on directors.  There are a few I’ve worked with in the past that I’d REALLY like to work with again.  The fact that we’ll be shooting the show in Toronto somewhat complicates matters in that respect – and as far as casting goes as well – but I’m sure we’ll see some familiar faces both in front of and behind the cameras all the same.

Speaking of which – I offered my thoughts on the casting breakdown for our seven roles.  We are wide open in terms of age, ethnicity and, in the case of one character, gender.

Next week, we’re going to get on a Skype conference with our production designer in an attempt to hammer out the ship and space station designs.  As I mentioned in a previous post, details like the locations of the airlock and the shuttle shell needed to be decided.  As far as the look of the space station goes, we’ve seen some incredibly inventive concepts, but we still need to address issues of scale and those all important docking procedures.

I spoke to Vanessa today about the official announcement.  Apparently, we’re almost there.  Hopefully sometime in September – before I leave for Japan.

Finally, in addition to working on the new show, I took the time to reading a truly awesome book, This Is Where I Leave You by Jonahthan Tropper – highly recommended, and watching a truly awesome series, Fargo created by Noah Hawley who wrote all ten episodes of the show’s self-contained first season – also highly recommended.  Hannibal is up next!

Vegetarian Week was a resounding success – insofar as I went seven full days (plus one for good luck!) without eating either meat or seafood.  And, surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard.  I didn’t miss it my old eating habits nor was I tempted to fall off the wagon at any point.  So, after a week+ of vegetarianism, what’s the upshot? Do I feel any better?  Did I lose any weight?

Nope.  I feel exactly the same.  Absolutely no different.

While I’m pleased with my herculean achievement, I’m not so sure I could have lasted much longer.  As I said, I was never jonesing for a hit of ribeye or looking score a kilo of pork, but I attribute much of that to the fact that I kept my meals varied and interesting.    But there’s not doubt that, sooner or later, I would have exhausted my bag of culinary tricks.

Still, it was a nice run.  Some of the highlights…

1Akemi’s cream of mushroom soup topped with roasted oyster mushrooms and truffle oil.

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Garlic-roasted oyster mushrooms.

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Crispy oven-roasted artichokes.

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Akemi’s button mushroom risotto.

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And Akemi’s curry cauliflower risotto.

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Carrots tossed in olive oil and thyme, roasted and honey-glazed.

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Roasted (notice a theme here?) blow-your-lungs-out hot peppers tossed in olive oil and minced garlic.

1Fried garlic scapes.

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Crispy ceci (chickpeas).  I served them with conchiglie (shell pasta).

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Akemi’s vegetarian Thai-inspired soup with tofu.

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Mom’s savory navy bean and garlic recipe.  I served this with piccolini (mini wheel pasta).

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Eggplant parm sandwich.

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Garlic-fried eggplant.

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Lentils with carrots, onions, garlic, and bay leaf.

***

And then, today for lunch, I ate about a half pound of deli beef tongue.

Like me, my dogs are homebodies.  Jelly is dog bed-ridden while Bubba and Lulu…don’t play well with others.  Oh, sure, Jelly enjoys her daily half-block walks.  Bubba loves his trips to the farmer’s market.  And Lulu may be ambivalent to other dogs, she likes nothing better than to meet people.  And so, when I heard that the local French Bulldog Meet-Up group was having a birthday part for one of their own, I thought it might be a great opportunity for Lulu to get out and socialize.

A rundown of the festivities…

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Her M.O. is so predictable.  The first thing she does when she gets through the park gate is to hop onto the nearest bench and crawl onto someone’s lap.

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Partygoer at the refreshment stand.

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The hostess brought refreshment for the adults – and loot bags for the kids!

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And, of course, cake.

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This handsome fellow wanted to make sure I got a shot of him for the society page.

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Vino, the birthday boy.

Lulu does the weird sloppy-slidey-shuffle whenever she’s on gravel.

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Laid back reveller.

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Sniffing out trouble.  And cake!

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Lulu making the rounds.  She’s always go that “Yo, lookit me, bitches!” expression.

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Party patrol.

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Oh, yeah.  Who’s gettin’ some?

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Always on her best behavior when treats are involved.

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Handsome boy.

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I would have put Lulu’s hat on, but she’s got such a small noggin’ I was afraid she’d paper cut her eyeballs.

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The birthday boy and mom pose for the pre-cake cutting ceremony.

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Akemi makes a new friend.

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After some hard partying, Lulu and friend seek the comfort of the shade.

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Lulu subtly hints she’s done.

This list requires some explanation…

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#10. Candied Fruit

Okay, not really a fruit per se, but I include it at number 10 to round out the list – and because my grandmother would always serve us these when we were kids and I always hated them.  Tooth-achingly cloying with a weirdly textured “rind” possessed of an almost inorganic quality.

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#9 Cantaloupe

I actually like the taste, but I it makes the list because I always experience a weird reaction whenever I eat one.  It always feels as tough a thousand tiny scalpels have been taken to the roof of my mouth.  Guess I’m mildly allergic.  Not that big a deal as it’s not a flavor I crave.  At least it’s better than being (in the words of many of today’s youth) “lack toast intolerant”.

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#8. Honey Dew Melon

Elicits the same physical reaction as cantaloupe, but minus the deliciousness.  A mainstay of every fruit platter ever served, it’s always just-not-quite-ripe.

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#7. Currants

They’re always adorning otherwise tasty desserts, like needy wingmen accompanying handsome friends.

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#6. Blackberries

Blackberries will find their way off this list and onto my Top 10 Favorites the day someone finds a way to produce a blackberry free of those annoying little seeds that get stuck between your teeth that you keep spitting out for hours after.

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#5. Passion Fruit

The inedible seed to edible fruit ratio is way off.

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#4. Pomegranate

It too suffers from a terrible inedible see to edible fruit ratio, with the added bonus of being difficult to eat.  It also stains your hands.

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#3. Durian

Sure, it could’ve been lower but for the fact that the initial flavor is actually quite nice: custardy sweet.  The aftertaste, on the other hand, is like a gas leak in your chest.

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#2. Cranberries

Apparently, they’re good for urinary tract infections.  And not much else.

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#1. Kiwi

People insist they’re sweet but every single one I’ve tasted has been tart.  Also, this one is like The Guardians of the Galaxy of fruit.  It’s okay, but nowhere near as fantastic as fanatics make it out to be.  And, for that reason, it gets the #1 slot.

In order of awesomeness…

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#10. Coconut

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#9. Pear

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#8. Papaya

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#7. Miracle fruit

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#6. Yuzu

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#5. Cherry

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#4. Watermelon

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#3. Blueberry

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#2. Avocado

Bunch of bananas

#1. Banana

5 days into my 7 day Vegetarian Week, I’ve far surpassed expectations.  And, by “far surpassed”, I mean actually doing it.  Unlike Pescaterian Week that saw me fall off the wagon four times, I’ve yet to have any meat or meat-derived products (ie. stocks, animals fats, or delicious bacon bit toppings).  To be perfectly honest, it hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be.  I attribute my ongoing success to: 1 part inner strength and personal determination, 12 parts varied recipes from mom’s home kitchen, and fifty-two parts having a massive fruit and oatmeal peanut butter after my morning workout so that I don’t have to worry about lunch.

Last night, Akemi and I took a break from our vegetarian home cooking to check out one of Vancouver’s most lauded vegetarian restaurants: The Acorn Restaurant & Bar that boasts “vegetarian, vegan, & gluten-free dining”!

Okay, come on.  Let’s not go crazy here.

So, here’s how it went…

Akemi rarin' to go.  They have zoodles on the menu!
Akemi, rarin’ to go.  They have zoodles on the menu!

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We decided to forego the appetizers in favor of three main courses.  We placed our orders and waited for the feast to begin!

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But first, this amazingly delicious non-alcoholic cocktail!  Sur Une Plage (On a Beach): Coconut + Chardonnay Reduction Syrup, Vanilla, Fresh Lemon Juice, and Sparkling Water.  You know how certain restaurants have that stand-out item you go there to order?  Well, in the case of The Acorn, this drink is it.  The Chardonnay reduction syrup imparts a delightfully unique flavor.  It made me wonder if I could pull off something similar with a bourbon reduction.

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Main dish #1: Beer battered halloumi, zucchini and potato pancake, smashed peas, mint yogurt, and lemon balm.  I was very pleasantly surprised by this dish – crisp and crunchy with a lovely balance of fresh flavors highlighted by the mint and lemon.  Akemi accused me of cheating by ordering something deep-fried.

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Main dish #2 (Akemi’s zoodles): Raw zucchini linguini with mint and walnut pesto, arugula, grape tomatoes, lemon zest, and pine nuts.  It was advertised as vegan, raw, and gluten-free – and, I thought,  pretty much tasted like it.  Akemi enjoyed the dish.  I enjoyed that mint and walnut pesto that accompanied the “zoodles”.

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Main dish #3: Papardelle pasta with chanterelle mushrooms, sweet corn garlic, and basil.  This was a good dish that could have been great had they swapped out the papardelle with a more texturally interesting alternative like, say, rigati, ruote, or even  conchiglie.

And then, it was on to desserts.  We had a a choice of three and decided to try all of them.  How’d I like them?  Well, here’s a video of me trying all three in succession: first the raw cashew lemon cheesecake, then chocolate-quinoa zucchini cake, and finally the roasted plums with thai basil panna cotta…

I mean, honestly.  There’s no excuse for screwing up dessert.  It’s not as if you’re hamstrung by all those classic meat-dessert recipes.  How bad were they?  Well, let’s just say they were so bad I regretted the fact my buddy Carl wasn’t in attendance so I could have had the pleasure of watching him try them.

Two more days of vegetarians and then I’m going to try the paleo diet wit the help of my dietician (and former Stargate Special Features Producer) Ivon Bartok.

Pray for JoJo.

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First off, I’d like to direct your attention to a GoFundMe campaign organized by blog reader Lorinda.  Her daughter’s service dog, a 12 month old Rottie, requires surgery to repair ligament damage in both knees and it’s a pricey procedure.  If you’d like to donate, head on over here: http://www.gofundme.com/roxysknees.   And if you’re unable to donate (many may not be in a position to do so), then you can certainly help out by spreading the word and sharing on twitter and Facebook. Thanks! [P.S. - Lorinda, PBMom has offered a lot of great suggestions in this blog's comments section].

Another blog reader, (you may remember) Bethany – and her own service dog, Madoka – have some events upcoming including a silent auction at the end of August.  Bethany’s mom, Jennifer, asked me if I could donate something and I suggested a signed script…

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Since I’m not in regular contact with the actors and, sadly, can’t just pop by set and get everyone to sign it, I offer my modest signature…BUT, in addition, the script is annotated.  Each page of the writer’s draft includes my notes on everything from script changes and trivia to personal anecdotes and insight into “What the hell I was thinking?”.

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My pug Jelly, meanwhile, is a service dog only insofar as she requires constant service from me in the form of lifts in and out of the house, up and down the stairs, off of and onto the bed, hip massages, distribution of daily meds, and general cuddles and attention.

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She’s doing okay but her hip is clearly giving her problems.  Still, she insists on going out for her daily walks, barking at me until I take her out front for her 20 foot/minute (treat-studded) stroll.  Yesterday, she was full of beans, getting all the way to the corner before I had to pick her up and carry her back!  Today, she barely made it to that little tree in front of my neighbor’s house.  :(

A rare photo of the elusive pugnicorn.

A rare photo of the elusive pugnicorn.

Also, today was her first acupuncture treatment.

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It’s supposed to relax her and increase blood flow to the problem areas.

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Next up: Hot Stone Massage and a Pedicure!

Mini mailbag:

Mike A. writes: “You know, Joe, with all this talk of scripts, ships, exteriors, space stations, and people we’ll recognize and “know and love”…..if it ain’t Dark Matter, I’m going to be pissed!  And if it’s not some of the “old guard” from SG working on it and directing it, I’ll be even more pissed!  Let me tell you what I want to see with your new series:

I want to see Mike Dopud in a lead role.

I want to see Amanda Tapping, Andy Mikita, Martin Wood, and Peter DeLuise all directing an episode each. I’ll also accept WIll Waring. ;)

I want to see Brad Wright and Rob Cooper either write an episode together or one each.”

Answer: Well, I’m trying my darndest.  Casting is still a couple of months away, but I do have some “familiar faces” in mind.  I’ve reached out to a few Stargate script veterans, but much will depend on their respective schedules.  As for directors – we’ve generated a preliminary list and, yes, you may recognize a few names.

susiekew writes: “hi joe – one question about your super-secret project … can you at least tell us if it being made for USA or Canada tv? and, maybe, what network?”

Answer: When the series premieres in 2015, it will in the U.S., Canada, Europe and…elsewhere.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which networks yet.

Purple-Ultra SG Fan writes: “What is the subject of the new SF show coming in 2015?”

Answer: Oh, the usual (for me): Rogues, renegades, redemption, and the value of friendship.

marcstynen writes: “Hi, do you know if Brad Wright or Rober C Cooper has anything in development?”

Answer: Yep, both Brad and Robert have multiple projects in various stages of development.  I expect they’ll be making their own grand announcements before year’s end.

Stargate writes: “Re: The Stargate movie reboot. If the new movie(s) does at least okay is there a chance of either a new show in the TV canon or a reboot of the TV show(s)?”

Answer: Unfortunately, I suspect it will be a lose-lose scenario for fans of the television series.  If the big screen feature does well, then there’s a possibility they may produce a television series based on the reboot.  If it doesn’t, then I suspect the studio will shelf the franchise for a while with an eye to yet another big screen reboot down the line.

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