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Hurrah!  The writers’ room is back on track!  Today, we tackled episode 7 and, while it was touch and go in the early goings, we did manage to finish breaking the entire story (tease, five acts, and a tag, natch), this despite a sluggish morning, an impromptu visit from an old friend and colleague, and a severe allergic reaction to something one of us ate (the suspects included improperly prepared chicken, brie, and the peanut butter-penicillin cookies I brought in).  I’m very pleased because, with this story in place, we have a spotlight episode for each of our crew members.

Next up is a tricky episode – but, if we can hammer it out #8 by Wednesday, I’m confident it’ll be smooooooooooooth sailing through the blustery #9 and the late season two parter before we hit our presently bare bones penultimate episode.

We wrap the room at the end of July and then, while they start designing ships and space stations in Toronto, I’ll be writing here in Vancouver.  I’m aiming to complete two scripts in August and another two in October (with time for a trip to L.A. next month and ten days in Japan in September).  Then, in November, I’m Toronto-bound where I’ll oversee set construction, casting, and the purchase of big down-filled coats.

So, who of you picked up those nifty Lost Tribe suits at auction?

member-lost-tribe

BTW – Just started Joe Abercrombie’s new book last night, Half A King, and it is brilliant.  If you’re looking to splurge on a hardcover, this is the one to pick up.

Mini mailbag:

Bailey writes: Oh and here’s a random bit of analysis of why SGA went off the air in a discussion of today’s slash fandoms: [...] “In other words, since the fanbase was too middle-aged, too female, and too prone to writing slashfic, the whole show had to go.””

Answer: “too prone to writing slashfic”?  Stargate Producer #1: “Forget that director’s cut!  We’ve got more pressing matters to discuss!  Gater1472 has written a story pairing Beckett and Zelenka!”

Deni writes: “How many of these have you had, Joey?”

Answer: I’ve sampled a few – thanks to the generosity and impeccable customer service of The Imperial Hotel.  Some seven years ago, on my first trip to Tokyo, my ex and I walked around for an afternoon and then returned to our hotel room where we placed a recent purchase (a $12 apple) in the refrigerator.  We went out for another stroll and, when we returned, we found an enormous fruit basket awaiting us with a note that read: “The chambermaid dropped your apple on the floor while cleaning the refrigerator.  Please accept this fruit basket in apology.”  Not sure how much it cost but I’m sure it was at least $300.  And it contained the best melon, strawberries and apples I’ve ever eaten.  The bananas were alright.

Sylvia writes: “WHEN will you be able to tell us about the tease for the reason you are building a spaceship, freighter, space suits…??”

Answer: Apparently, as soon as all of the contracts have been signed.

NarellefromAus writes: “Recommended reading? I’ll check out your recommendations in your side bar but is there anything that is a must read? “

Answer: The sidebar is a pretty good list of recent reads I heartily recommend. Tops of that list = Gone Girl, The Glass Castle, and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves.

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Tired of the same old apples and bananas?  Looking to top your corn flakes with something really special?  Well, cash in that 401k and fly on over to Japan to sample these unique fruit:

1YUBARI KING MELONS

A hybrid of two cantaloupes (Earl’s Favorite and Burpee’s Spicy), the Yubari King Melon hails from Hokkaido, Japan where they are grown in special greenhouses, each fruit (one to a vine – the rest are pruned) is outfitted with a  special hat to guard them from the sun.  They are usually sold in pairs but you can snag a single for a mere $100.

most-expensive-fruit-grapes-ruby-romanRUBY ROMAN GRAPES

Grown in Ishikawa prefecture, these ping-pong-sized grapes are sold under strict conditions.  Each must weigh over 20 grams and have a sugar content of over 18%.  Instead of splurging on a bunch, start with a solitary grape – that will set you back about $250.

Egg_of_the_sun

EGG OF THE SUN MANGOES

Earlier this year, a pair of these prized mangoes sold for a record $3000 at auction and then were promptly airlifted from Miyazaki in southern Japan to a department store in Fukoaka where they went on sale.  The average person can pick up one of these mangoes – that must weigh in at a minimum 350 grams and possess a sugar content of over 15% – for about $50.

dekoponbe

DEKOPON

These orange/mandarin hybrids were only available in Japan until several years ago.  They are grown in large greenhouses and then left to sit for 20-40 days after harvesting to mellow their citric character while allowing their sweetness to build. A half dozen will set you back about $80.

enhanced-buzz-1424-1370898298-1SEKAI-ICHI APPLES

Sekai-Ichi Apples translates to “World’s Best Apples”.  They are pollinated by hand and washed with honey.  In comparison to the other fruit on this list, a single apple is a steal at a little over $20.

1SQUARE WATERMELON

Grown in tempered glass boxes to ensure their perfectly cubic form, they are incredibly practical: easily stackable and an easy fit for small Japanese refrigerators.  Recent alternate versions include heart-shaped and pyramid varieties.  Get your own for $200 a pop.

densukeDENSUKE BLACK WATERMELON

Also grown in Hokkaido where a mere 100 are farmed each year, they are renown for their crispness and sweetness.   They go for as much as $5000 but, if you’re lucky, you may be able to find one at your local Sembikya fruit store for the rock bottom price of $200.

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WHITE STRAWBERRIES

Referred to as “Hatsukoi no kaori” (Scent of First Love), these beautiful strawberries are possessed of a high sugar content and run about $5 each.

japan-saga-honoka-strawberries

HONOKA STRAWBERRIES

Or, you can settle for a box of plump red strawberries from Saga, Japan.  Get your friends to chip in and pick up a box for $30.

iroiewremwsyuku1wywbGOKUSEN BANANAS

These $6 bananas weigh in at a hefty 200 grams and come packaged with serial numbers in their own special boxes.

106405110_470OKAYAMA WHITE PEACHES

$40 will get you one of these luscious, premium peaches grown in Okayama Prefecture in western Japan (a.k.a. The Land of Sunshine).

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To those asking: Yes, you’ll be able to watch my new show when it premieres in 2015.  Unless you live on the moon of course.  Which, I suspect, some of you do. But fear not.  I’m sure they’ll have found a way to stream it to your base by then.

Today, I finished a revision of the pilot episode – and spent my last full day with my old high school buddy, Cas, and his lovely girlfriend Su.  He’s here shooting a few days on a series and she was here for a photo shoot.  Also, both were here to spend quality time with Akemi and the dogs.  And eat A LOT.

1Last night, we got together with my writing partner, Paul, for dinner and drinks. Oh, and I got to practice my phoney photo laugh.  Look at how much fun I’m having!  Pictured from left to right: Paul, Cas, and me – or, as as we used to be known in the old D&D days Kato the Monk, Altov the Druid, and Delfoss the goblin thief.

1 Su and Cas took us out for dinner.  As is customary when I’m being treated, I ate to bursting, then stuffed my plastic wrap-lined pockets with the leftovers.

1We stopped off at this little corner bakery that makes these delicious coffee buns that, quite frankly, taste like uber-light pancakes (http://papparoti.ca).

1Last night, we visited Bella Gelateria for the best gelato in the world.  And a cup of strawberries.  Pictured above, Akemi and Gelato Master James Coleridge.

1Space suits.  Who’s up for a little EVA?

1My writing partner, Paul.  That’s who!

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The thing I miss most about my days on Stargate is the writers’ room: the camaraderie, the laughs, the heated discussions and, every so often, the occasional creative accomplishments.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was hard, sometimes frustrating work but, when all was said and done, they were productive sessions that generated some great television.  And fun times.  We were lucky.  A successful writers’ room has as much to do with talent as it does personality.  Being good at what you do is important, but so is getting along with others.  And, in the case of Stargate, we were fortunate in that respect.  We didn’t always agree, but we got along and, in the end, I like to think it showed in the shows we produced – while I was there, some 340 hours of television.

BUT while the writers’ room can offer exhilarating highs, it can also mete out crushing lows.  In the case of the former, take last week’s creative output for example.  We ended up breaking an episode a day, a blistering pace that is not only impressive but almost unheard of in most rooms.  On the flip side, you need look no further than today’s disappointing gathering that wasn’t just unproductive but actually counter-productive in that the basic story we agreed had merit last night suddenly evaporated over the course of the morning, leaving us with NO story heading into the weekend.

Yep, it can be damn frustrating, but it DOES happen.  And the reasons why it happens are the following:

1. The story is deemed too similar to something that has come before.

This is a tough one because, if you look harder enough, anything can be deemed similar to something that has come before – especially when you’re talking about science fiction.  The Purge was an episode of the original Star Trek series, but that didn’t keep it from making $64 million.  Elysium was another movie with similarities to an old Star Trek episode.  It made $93 million.  Hell, South Park even did in an episode called “Simpsons Already Did It!” in which we are reminded that, just like science fiction, the world animation is fraught with the dangers of unintended imitation.

Closer to home, one of our very first episodes of Stargate: SG-1, “Window of Opportunity”, was unabashedly inspired by the movie Groundhog Day, but that didn’t stop us from producing what turned out to be one of the franchise’s most beloved episodes.  And, in the end, the admitted similarities to Groundhog Day, while enormously entertaining, were less important than how OUR characters responded to them.

So, yes, stories involving time loops and bleak alternate realities and emotional robots have been done before.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t be done again – so long as you can make them unique to the world and characters you have created.

2. Logic issues.

Even in the far-out world of science “fiction”, you must operate within established parameters.  A theoretical FTL drive wouldn’t work that way.  You can’t perform an EVA without a space suit.  Difficult to argue against these.

3. Suspect character motivations.

This one’s a little tricky because it often comes down to a matter of opinion.  “I don’t believe this character would do that.” can be neatly countered with: “Well, I do.”  Sure, there are instances where certain actions would be completely out of character – but in these instances, you’re presumably dealing with an idea from a writer who doesn’t know the show.  For the most part, character motivations come down to proper set up.  Would mercenary Character X risk his life for the robot?  At first blush, probably not.  But what if the robot just saved his life – AND holds the key to solving the shipboard mystery that could pay off handsomely?  Then, maybe he just might.

4. Bias

Yes, it happens.  Sometimes, someone just doesn’t like the story or is grouchy and in a combative mood – in which case they’ll attempt to argue #1-3.

Two of the best writers I’ve ever worked with were Brad Wright and Robert Cooper who had two very different approaches in the room.  Brad always excelled at pinpointing the heart of the story and finding a way to make it work.  To him, the bells and whistles were less important than the emotional crux of the narrative (ie. how it affected our characters on a personal level).  Once he could identify that, he would work tirelessly to build a great episode.  Robert, on the other hand, was a straight shooter who never shied away from telling you what he felt wasn’t working – BUT, invariably, ALWAYS offered alternative solutions.  No one could spin ideas like Rob.

All this to say I miss those guys and could have really used their expertise today.

No story brainstorming for me this weekend.  I’m taking a break to revise the pilot and put together overviews of our first six episodes covering synopses and production requirements (sets, locations, significant props, and visual effects) for each.  It’s all preliminary but it’s designed to ensure we’re all on the same page moving forward.  And, hopefully, steers them in the proper creative direction as we head into prep.  After all, we’ve got a spaceship to build!

 

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I knew it!  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/10965887/People-who-claim-to-worry-about-climate-change-use-more-electricity.html

1

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/07/15/thor-is-now-woman/ On the one hand, it makes a hell of a lot more sense than Thor Girl.  On the other, I’m sure hugely disappointing for fans of the existing incarnation.

Making Cheesesteaks with Joe.  God Bless America!

Glassholes abound: http://nypost.com/2014/07/14/is-google-glass-cool-or-just-plain-creepy/

Three hanky alert!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/14/dog-last-day-robyn-arouty_n_5585074.html?1405362504&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular gforce.

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Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these!  Time to answer your hard-hitting questions…

Airelle writes: “What did you do with all the blueberries??”

Answer: I set aside a containerful for my houseguests, then froze the rest.  I’ll use them in my breakfast shakes.

Tam Dixon writes: “That picture with Lulu & Su is priceless! I suppose Su isn’t used to pets?”

Answer: She doesn’t have a pet, but she would LOVE a french bulldog.  I suspect Lulu knows this and has cranked up the cuteness to 11.

Fagate writes: “OK, you are finally working like us ordinary people.”

Answer: With the added bonus of arguing over subspace communications.  Or do you do that as well?

Fagate also writes: “Now, should we already begin to worry about the poor doctor member of the crew of your soon to be sci-fi series…will he die? Of course. The only problem is when!!”

Answer: To ensure we don’t fall back on old patterns, we have elected not to have a doctor on board the ship.

David Knowles writes: “Probably to much to hope it a Star Trek series, so here hoping it a show base on your dark matter comic book series or perhaps something entirely unexpected MGM getting it act together and commissioning a new Stargate show.

Answer: Star Trek?  No, they’ve already got that covered.  And MGM has Stargate covered as well with the planned reboot.  Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be seeing a new Stargate series for quite some time.

Gary Ansorge writes: “i doubt feeding a dog blueberries is really all that good for them,,,”

Answer: Oh, Akemi did the research.  They’re fine in moderation, providing the same antioxidants, fiber and phytochemicals we humans benefit from when we eat them.

dasndanger writes: “I had a dream about you last night, Joey. You gave me your phone number, then when I tried to call you never answered, and when you finally did answer you told me not to call! Then why did you give me your number?! Anyway, we decided it was best to keep our communication confined to the inter webs.  The dream made me feel sad and rejected. Big meanie.”

Answer: Well, that’s altogether bizarre because, as everyone knows, not only do I happily give out my phone number to anyone who will take it, I have also been known to foster needy Stargate fans as well.

Ponytail writes: “In that first picture up there, Akemi looks a little pregnant.”

Answer: It’s a sweatshirt with a pocket in the front for storing things.  No, not pregnant.  But I’ll pass along your well-wishes.

kabra writes: “Did I read somewhere here that you got a green light on one of your projects!!!??? “

Answer: Yep, it’s true.  We’re back at it – pitching, spinning, breaking and writing.  Soon prepping.  Eventually, producing.

Tam Dixon writes: “Is Jelly sleeping later than 5?”

Answer: Yes.  She does a little melatonin before bedtime and now sleeps through the night.  Previously, she would wake up at all hours and cry.  I’d have to lay my hand on her back and she would eventually doze off.  And then be up at the crack of dawn!

Mark writes: “I just rewatched the Vegas episode of Stargate: Atlantis and there is one question burning me up. Did the Sheppard of that reality die in the dessert or was he just passed out and later rescued?”

Answer: Depends.  What do YOU think happened?  Did he die?  Did the ambulance get there in the nick of time and save his life?  Did the ambulance get there in the nick of time but accidentally park on him when they arrived on the scene?  There are as many possibilities as there are alternate universes!

Tam Dixon writes: “Is it normal for a show to have that many scripts done so fast?”

Answer: No.  Which is why you have a lot of shows that start off strong and then peter out as the season progresses, the result of productions scrambling to produce last minute scripts in order to make their delivery dates.  This extra lead time is a great (and greatly appreciated) luxury that will allow us to plot a season full of set-ups and payoffs.  No making it up as we go along.  We can introduce all sorts clues, foreshadow, develop some terrific twists and turns, all enroute to our shocking finale.

Tam Dixon writes: “How was “The Lost Fleet”?”

Answer: It was fine.  Reminiscent of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series although the characters aren’t as well drawn.

Duptiang writes: “Q: Has the book of the month club adjourned for the Summer? I might have missed something.”

Answer: Yep, we’re adjourned for the time being.

Duptiang also writes: “.Q: if the ship is using a form of elector magnetic radiation for the sensors how can it detect something going the speed of light or near in time.”

Answer: It’s not, so FTL travel isn’t an issue.  Instead of sensors, the crew will simply rely on their intuitions.

Duptiang also writes: “So will your ships have W.C.s? “

Answer: Uh…depends.  What are W.C.’s?  World Cups?  Water Closets?  I’m going to say no.

I leave you with this awesome Grey Poupon commercial:

 

 

 

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1Food Truck Alley at the Kitsilano Day Festival.

1The French have foie gras, Americans have hot dogs, and we Canadians have the the beavertail.

1Working the takoyaki stand.  This would have been my summer job had my show not been green lit.

1An obviously inebriated Grimace is escorted off the premises.  Akemi: “I don’t like that purple one.  Looks very dusty.”

1The Market Meats team dish up lunch.

1Mighty awesome ribs.

1 I’m onboard the frozen yogurt train – 15 years later.

1Organic supermarket blueberries are better than regular supermarket blueberries.  And organic farmer’s market blueberries are better than organic supermarket blueberries.  BUT organic blueberries from the Angel Organic Blueberry Farm are THE BEST blueberries of all.  Just call them up and they’ll deliver right to your door!

1Seriously.  You won’t find better blueberries.  Anywhere.

1Bubba joins us for a visit to the farmer’s market.

1I challenged him to touch his tongue to the tip of his nose.

1My old high school buddy, Cas, is in town with his girlfriend, Su.  She and Lulu have really hit it off.  I’ve paired them in my new “SuLu” fanfic.

1Meanwhile, Akemi works on some blueberry dog biscuits.

Finished Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (highly recommended!), and even managed to get some work done as well.  Tomorrow, we begin discussing episodes #6-#13!

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As we head into the World Cup Final, news you need to know: The World Cup Flopping Rankings!

1http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-world-rankings-of-flopping-1403660175

And this: http://screamer.deadspin.com/the-world-cups-third-place-game-is-a-goddamned-disgrace-1603619746

Uh oh.  Blogger fined for writing negative review: http://eater.com/archives/2014/07/11/food-blogger-fined-3400-for-writing-negative-restaurant-review.php.  All I’ve got to say is you better LOVE my new show when it airs next summer.  I’m extremely litigious! :)

Reboot Fever!  Catch it!

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Via Buzzfeed: 33 Reasons Why Humanity Is Doomed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/were-all-screwed

1http://www.themarysue.com/facebook-shames-spielberg-for-hunting-triceratops/

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Well, I’m glad you asked – and yes, it IS a category.  The nominees are:

Apple – “Misunderstood”

Budweiser – “Heroes Welcome”

Budweiser – “Puppy Love”

General Electric – “Childlike Imagination”

Nike – “Possibilities”

So, which one are you voting for?

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9781455525836_p0_v2_s260x420

This book is the equivalent of that lamb kebab I ate one hot summer back when I was living in Montreal.  Like the Pendergast series to date, I quite enjoyed Indian food – until that wretched kebab.  It was bad.  So bad that I couldn’t eat Indian food against for years.  And, I suspect, it’ll probably be that long before I pick up another book in the Pendergast series.

White Fire starts off promisingly enough with a mystery set in a Colorado town. Pendergast’s protege, a young idiot named Corrie Swanson, gets into trouble while researching and studying (and breaking and entering) the bodies of some 19th century miners.  She is facing serious jail time until Pendergast shows up and turns the table on the community in spectacularly convenient fashion (locating a descendant of the dead who objects to plans to dig up a local graveyard, something the community failed to do even though, as Pendergast points out, she was remarkably easy to find).  Also coincidentally, wealthy locals start getting knocked off in grisly fashion, their multi-million dollar homes burned to the ground.  Why is this suddenly happening now when Pendergast comes to town?  Good question.  And one that’s never answered.  Who is responsible?  Er, if you guessed the character who doesn’t serve any real purpose in the story, you’d be correct!

As the town is gripped by the murders, someone begins to stalk Corrie: creeping around her place at night, killing her dog, taking a shot at her.  Corrie reacts like any level-headed person in her position would: by not reporting the incidents to the authorities and not telling her mentor (who is an FBI agent by the way) Aloysius Pendergast.  In fact, she seems more annoyed at Pendergast’s concerns for her safety than she is about her dead dog and almost getting shot.  While Corrie runs around town making one dubious decision after another, effectively moving the plot forward, Aloysius looks into the existence of an unpublished Sherlock Holmes story that may shed some light on the mysterious 19th century killings of a group of miners.  Fans of Sherlock scholars and fans have sought this rumoured manuscript for close to a century.  Enter Pendergast who locates it in a matter of days.

Blind luck, coincidences, and convenient developments abound to help a listless and uninspired Pendergast solve the case.  Yes, okay, he’s depressed due to the events in a previous book, but that doesn’t excuse the lazy way by which he works the case.  At one point, he attempts to blackmail an elderly woman to gain access to a property.  At another, he gains access to sensitive documents by barging into a house and setting a fire (which he later puts out with some gravy), causing everyone to conveniently clear out so that he can search.  At still another, he time travels through the power of his mind to listen in on a conversation between Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Yes, I know, this means of magical mental transport was set up in Still Life With Crows, but that doesn’t excuse it’s lameness. I hated it then and hated it here.

Ultimately, we learn that the murderer was rendered insane by mercury poisoning, something he was exposed to in the womb.  Oddly enough, we are told about one character who is exposed to the mercury while working the mines and it turned him into a babbling, deranged psycho.  Our murderer, who has been exposed since birth is, in contrast, a calculating serial killer possessed of the intelligence and rationale to hide his crimes.

And, uh, again, why does he just happen to start killing people when Pendergast comes to town?

Oh, almost forgot.  The book almost scored points for me late when it seems Pendergast is too late to save Corrie from being burned alive.  BUT, in yet another ridiculous twist, it is revealed that the charred remains don’t belong to Corrie but some other woman who the serial killer/arsonist happened to burn alive in approximately the save spot a little earlier.

A long way from Relic, the first instalment in the Pendergast series, this book was one bad lamb kebab.

This blog entry is (ironically) dedicated to Birthday Gal Das!

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