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Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

The other night, I was awakened by a kerplunk (!), the unmistakable sound of a portly, elderly pug falling off the bed.  I sat up to discover 15 year old Jelly, struggling to stand up on the polished hardwood floor.  She seemed surprised but otherwise okay.  Just in case though, I brought her out to the backyard to make sure.  She did her business and seemed perfectly fine, so I scooped her up and we headed back up to bed.  This was the first of several incidents involving my old gal who has seemed notably crankier of late.  Akemi suspects it’s because Jelly senses my impending Toronto trip and is demonstrating her displeasure by acting up. Apparently, when I’m away, she is uncharacteristically quiet, sleeping through most of the day and only getting up for meals.  This is in sharp contrast to her demanding,  downright “diva-esque” attitude when I’m home.  Nary an hour goes by when she isn’t whining or crying or barking at me to pick her up, take her out, give her a snack, or generally demanding my undivided attention.  I’m amazed she’s able to get along without me and I wonder how she’ll do while I’m away.  I suppose she’ll be fine so long as Akemi remembers to keep her updated by reading my blog entries aloud to her.

Whoa, where do you think YOU'RE going?

Whoa, where do you think YOU’RE going?

Yes, I’m headed to Toronto for a few days to discuss strategy and come up with a game plan for my new scifi series.  We fly out early tomorrow morning and get in with plenty of time to have dinner with a former fellow Stargate writer-producer. Then, on Thursday, it’s all day meetings re: budgets, locations, visual effects, and deliveries.  I figure we’ll assemble a writers’ room here in Vancouver for a month in July-August and hammer out our 13 stories, then disperse and retreat to our respective lairs where we’ll write 10 of those 13 scripts.  I’m assuming we’ll go to camera sometime in early 2015.  This will give us plenty of time to prep what should be one hell of a twisty, turny, suspenseful, spectacular, action-packed, character-driven inaugural season.

Friday, I’ll be fly out of Toronto and head to Montreal for a day to visit with mom and sis and then, Saturday night, I’m homeward bound!

Of course this blog will be traveling with me.  I needn’t remind you that, tomorrow, we kick off our Star Trek: The Original Series re-watch.  Me and my fellow reviewer, Cookie Monster, will be weighing in on episode #1: The Man Trap!  Watch the episode and join tomorrow’s discussion!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular whoviantrish.

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A crazy day, chock full o’ tests of physical endurance, phone calls, emails, errands, reading, critiquing but, alas, no actual writing.  Damn.  I’ve been sitting on this pilot for over a week now.  Time to get it done!  Tomorrow, come hell or high water, I finally complete that elusive first draft.  Best decant the Knob Creek tonight.

Another reminder that we’ve kicked off our Stark Trek (the original series) re-watch!

1Next Wednesday, we’ll be reconvening to discuss the show’s first five episodes: The Man Trap, Charlie X, Where No Man Has Gone Before, The Naked Time, and The Enemy Within.

Yes, technically, The Cage and the original version of Where No Man Has Gone Before fall earlier in the chronology, but we’ll save those particular episodes for a later viewing.

So tell your friends!  I’ll be sitting down to a back to back to back to back to back screening sometime this weekend.

Hey, while, you’re here, enjoy some pics of the gang…

Akemi and her boyfriend, Bubba, on Granville Island.

Akemi and her boyfriend, Bubba, on Granville Island.

Jelly in summer mode.

Jelly in summer mode.

Jelly (photo compliments of ace photog force).

Jelly (photo compliments of ace photog force).

Bubba (via gforce)

Bubba (via gforce)

Snoozing Lulu

Snoozing Lulu

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“I ate like a garbage box.” – Akemi, the other day, after a particularly filling meal.  She has a way with words, no?

These are some of the inspired dishes she’s been packing away…

Summer salad with olive oil, ginger balsamic, and chive blossoms

Summer salad with olive oil, ginger balsamic, and chive blossoms

Pea soup

Pea soup

Onion pie

Onion pie

Eight-hour octopus slow simmered in herbs and olive oil

Eight-hour octopus slow simmered in herbs and olive oil

Last night, we elected to take a break from the kitchen and headed over to our favorite Japanese restaurant: Yuji’s (2083 Alma St. Vancouver).  Some of the highlights of our meal…

Akemi's favorite = the salad rolls.

Akemi’s favorite = the salad rolls.

The maguro-avocado crepe.

The maguro-avocado crepe.

And the sushi.

And the sushi.

We were driving back home when we spotted a dog walking around by his lonesome.  I slowed down and we watched him sniff around, trot across the street, sniff around some more.  There was no owner in sight.  So, I pulled over and we approached the handsome fellow who turned out to be incredibly friendly.  I checked his collar and, fortunately, he had a tag, a name (Ollie!), and a phone number.  I called but got an answering machine, so I left a message and was just loading him into the backseat of my car (Ollie seemed really eager to go for a ride) when my cell phone rang.  It was the owner.  She was in Vietnam!  She thanked me for corralling her dog and gave me her address so I could drop him off.  Her husband was home.  Or so she assumed because when we went over, no one answered the door.  We ended up bringing Ollie back home – our dogs weren’t quite as warmly receptive as we were – and ended up walking him back to his place once the owner’s son got in touch.  Such a great a walker.  He puts my gang to shame.

Ollie needs sunglasses

Ollie needs sunglasses

Speaking of houseguests, tomorrow we say goodbye to Judd after ten happy days. Akemi will miss him.  And he’ll miss our backyard…

The gang

The gang

 

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Last night as the game headed into overtime…

Me: “Who are you rooting for, the Chicago Blackhawks or the Minnesota Wild?”

Akemi: “The Minestrone Wild.”

Alas, it was a sad night in Minestrone.  The Wild ended up losing and were eliminated from playoff contention.

Well, we’re Vegas-bound for a few days.  I was hoping to have everything wrapped up on this new project by now but, of course, things are progressing at a glacial pace because…well, welcome to show business.  That awesome lead time we were looking to take advantage of is gradually shrinking away.  There may come a point when my enthusiasm to face the challenges ahead will wane and I’ll simply have to move on.  Not there yet but if this goes on much longer without definitive word, or I lose any of my key players while we’re waiting, then I’m going to have to start looking southwards.  Again.  And, when I do, I think I’ll be looking at a changing of the old guard.

On the one hand, it’ll be nice to get away.  On the other hand, we’ll certainly miss the dogs.  Especially Akemi who has…maybe not quite “lost her mind” but certainly “shown alarmingly elaborate creativity” in preparing their various snacks and meals, to wit:

Bear cookies (peanut butter, sesame, oats, cinnamon, nutritious yeast, and dried cranberries).

Exhibit A: Bear cookies (peanut butter, sesame, oats, cinnamon, nutritious yeast, and dried cranberries).

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit C

Finally, since we’re on the topic of suspect culinary creations – Akemi has taken a liking to the offerings at a local eatery featuring “health conscious” cuisine, everything from veggie pot pie to chocolate-beet cake (Why you would do that to a perfectly good chocolate cake?).  She’ll stop off every Wednesday, while I’m doing the rounds of my local book and comic book stores, and grab herself at oat bran square or a day-old muffin (Not because she can’t afford the fresh ones but because she actually prefers the drier leftovers).  The other day, she decided to go off-book and picked up one of their cookies.  Check it out:

1As my father was fond of saying: “Who did THAT in THERE?!”.

 

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Today’s inane conversation with my Japanese girlfriend:

Zombies In Cars Getting Brains (c/o Eloise J. Knapp)

Zombies In Cars Getting Brains (c/o Eloise J. Knapp)

As we pulled into the underground parkade…

Akemi: That looks like zombie car (indicating an old, tarp-covered sedan).

Joe: What’s a zombie car?

Akemi: A car that zombie hide in so it can eat people. (Obviously).

Joe: What do you mean?  They drive around offering lifts to people and then when someone gets in the car with them, they eat them?

Akemi: Of course not.  Zombie’s don’t drive.  They walk ten kilometers every day. That’s why so thin.  Try to be healthy I guess.

Joe: Also, their eating habits.  They’re on the paleo diet.

Akemi: Like Ivon.  Just fresh meat.

Joe: No processed foods.

Akemi: What about sugar?

Joe: No sugar either.

Akemi: That’s tough.

That’s the price of looking so good.

Bubba is practically back to his old self.  Akemi lent him her hair band to ensure he doesn’t scratch at his stitches.  Very stylish.  And he seems to like it!

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Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watchwith…Identity!

1Ah, now this is one of those instances where past Stargate-watching experience paid off.  The second Neeva looks in the mirror and sees Keller’s reflection staring back at her, Akemi shouted: “The communications stones!”.  And then she was onboard for the rest of the fast-paced episode.

When Neeva comes across the framed picture of Jennifer and her father: “What the f*ck!  Carl Binder is Jewel’s dad!”

When Ronon Shoots Neeva, saving McKay in the puddle jumper: “Heh heh.”  Much excitement here.

On the gorgeous establisher of the city at night: “Wow.  Beautiful.”

As the magistrate delivers Keller’s death sentence: “Why accent?”  And, later, when he is overseeing her execution: “Why British people so evil?”

After Neeva outruns the Atlantis team in the forest and Ronon loses her: “But he is runner!  Not as good as Mike Dopud I guess.”

Although she didn’t like Keller’s outfit in Brainstorm, she had high praise for the one she wore in this outfit (actually Neeva’s): “I don’t know if it’s efficient, but very nice.  I like a lot.”

During the McKay and Keller moment at episode’s end: “Love.  I feel like I’m watching Disney movie!” ???

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to birthday girl Airelle.

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1Bubba had his surgery today.  Before…

And after…

1The bandage conceals a nasty cut-and-stitch that looks like a wound he may have sustained in a  knife fight.

1

Thanks for all the well-wishes.  He’s on the mend and already eating like crazy.

Robert Cooper forwarded me the following link under the email heading: “Where were these guys when we were making the show?”

http://www.neatorama.com/2014/04/21/This-Model-Stargate-Spins-Lights-Up-Kills-Anyone-Standing-Too-Close-to-It/#!FgIaJ

It’s apparently one of a several Stargate-themed entires in hackaday.com’s Sci-Fi Contest Roundup.  Others include a staff weapon and a life signs detector.  Check ‘em out:  http://hackaday.com/2014/04/20/sci-fi-contest-roundup-stargate/

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

1This one was a lot of fun – and a lot of complicated as well for someone who missed all those episodes about the retrovirus.  Still, it moved along at a fair clip and Akemi always finds the wraith hive ship set particularly creepy, especially, in this case, with all the “zombie wraith” running about.  Her comments on the episode:

When they receive Todd’s first choppy transmission: “It’s like he is in prison and only gets one call.”

When the mutant wraith springs out of the wall toward the red shirt: “WAAAAAAAAH!”

When the mutant wraith springs out of the darkness toward Sheppard: “WAAAAAAAAH!”

She is really enjoying the Todd character: “Has a sense of humor.  But his face hard to read.  Hard to tell if he is trying to be funny or not.”

She didn’t think that leaving Keller alone with Todd was a good idea.  But, if she was going to be eaten, at least “Jewel looks better than in other episode.  I like her straight hair.”

When Sheppard refuses to help Todd: “Why so mean?”

As the hive ship breaks in two: “Beautiful!”

But as the hive ship lands in the water: “Not great computer graphics.  I fee like I’m watching Final Fantasy 9 instead of Final Fantasy 14.”

Overall: “I liked this episode so-so.  Chotto complicated.”

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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.”

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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…

1

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.”

 

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What an incredibly productive day.  I had to wake up at 7:00 a.m. this morning to bring Jelly out but, rather than go back to bed, I elected to stay up and get some work done on one of my new pilots.  The plan was to complete a single flashback sequence but one scene led to another (as they’re supposed to do), I got on a bit of roll and, before I knew it, I’d finished a little over 15 pages and reached the top of the third act.  I would honestly feel better about it if I knew the crucial details of Acts IV and V, but I’m not going to be greedy.  I do like what I have so far.  It’s crazy.  In a great way.  Hopefully, a network out there will love it as well.  But, if not, I think I might actually upload this one to the blog.  It’s too much fun not to share.

In addition to writing, I also made time to bring Lulu to the local bulldog meetup. Some of the highlights…

1

Lulu  seeks attention #1.

Lulu seeking attention #1.

Lulu seeking attention #2

Lulu seeking attention #2

Lulu seeking attention #3

Lulu seeking attention #3

1

Lulu seeking attention #4

Lulu seeking attention #4

11111

Lulu needs braces

Lulu needs braces

11And the inevitable pawsticuffs…

And this interesting move…

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