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Today marked the end of our final week of prep before the holidays – and despite the fact that it wasn’t all that busy (it WILL get busier), I’m exhausted.  Some of that may be attributable to the last mad dash to get pink drafts of episodes #101 and #102, and production whites of #107, #108 and #109 out before the production offices close.  Or the late night meet and greet dinner and drinks.  But I mainly blame that early Thursday morning location survey that saw me getting up at 5:45 a.m. so that I could catch the 7:00 a.m. tour bus to Waterloo and Hamilton.

All aboard!

All aboard!

I mean, it was still dark outside when we left the production offices.  Dark!

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Oh, it may not mean all that much to you now but, when the episodes air, you’ll refer back to this blog entry, and this particular picture, and say: “Hey!  This was them scouting the location for that initial confrontation with the Ferrous Corp. soldiers!”

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“And this is the area where our crew first encounters the miners.”

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“And…well…I don’t remember this room.”  Well, that’s because we’re not using it on this particular shoot – but I snapped a pic anyway because I found it exceptionally creepy.  Maybe we’ll come back when we film that horror movie.

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The reactor room – scene of the final showdown – and our Butch and Sundance moment.

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I’m ready to do my imitation of Lulu doing an imitation of a boneless ham.

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

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

The Art Department meeting

The Art Department meeting

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

The Concept meeting

The Concept meeting

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

The Stunts/SPFX meeting

The Stunts/SPFX meeting

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

The VFX/Graphics/Playback meeting

The VFX/Graphics/Playback meeting

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

Remember this?

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And this?

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Next week  = more meetings and mayhem!

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Errands, errands, and more errands.  And I still didn’t have time to get around to a couple of them.

Despite the fact that our apartment is an island of dog beds, that hasn’t stopped us from picking up a few more.  Like this one we thought might be too tiny and tiny but Lulu manages to squeeze into all the same -

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I suspect she’s just hiding out in case Akemi decides to make her wear a silly hat for her walk.  Although, to be fair, as silly as that hat may look on her, Lulu’s got nothing on this dog we met this weekend -

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Rather  than leave anything to chance, I decided to test the Bourbon Brown Butter Cookie recipe I want to use for the upcoming Dark Matter cookie exchange (When: Monday, December 15th. Where: The Raza docked at Space Station 41-11B).  And good thing I did because the recipe was, in a word, crap.  Even with the addition of extra butter, bourbon, and eggs, it didn’t bind properly, resulting in a test batch of what looked more like scones rather than cookies -

1They tasted okay and I actually preferred the plain ones over the ones with the milk chocolate chunks because the chocolate masked the bourbon flavor.  A subsequent batch using white chocolate was much better, but the texture was still disappointing – dry and crumbly over the soft and chewy I was gunning for.

And so, we’re starting over with an all new recipe and all new batch.  We’re going to chill the dough overnight and will experiment with the new, improved version of our (Maybe Maple?) Bourbon and Brown Butter (with white chocolate/milk chocolate and nuts?) tomorrow.

Speaking of bourbon, Dark Matter Visual Effects Supervisor swung by my place today for a day of football.  His Mighty Hyphens and my Snow Monkeys are two of eight teams battling out in our Fantasy Football League first round playoff weekend.  He’s in a hard-fought battle while I am hoping Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb play lights-out tomorrow night to give us the win.  Anyway, Lawren came over bearing an early Christmas gift -

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I’ll open it tomorrow night to celebrate my Snow Monkeys victory and advance to the semi-finals against The Mighty Merkins!

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Apparently, some Brazilian doctors have developed a test that predicts mortality. It’s a “simple” sitting-standing exercise that measures flexibility and your chances of dropping dead soon.  Real soon: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2858804/Can-exercise-test-predict-DEATH-People-struggle-sitting-rising-test-five-times-likely-die.html

Here’s it is:

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 6.22.02 PM

1. From a barefoot standing position, lower yourself down to a cross-legged sitting position without using your hands (or any other body part) for support.

2. Stand up again, once more without using any other part of your body for support.

The sitting down portion is scored out of 5.  And the standing up portion is scored out of 5.  Dock 1 point every time you use another part of your body for support. Dock 1/2 point every time you lose your balance.

According to the study, a scored of 8-10 is great;  a score of 7 or lower suggests you’re twice as likely to drop dead within THE NEXT SIX YEARS.

So, I had Akemi try it.  “Sit down,”I said and she sat down, smoothly transitioning to a cross-legged sitting position.  “Now stand up,”I said.  She planted her feet and stood up, just as smoothly.  It was as if I’d rewound a video of her sitting down.

I took this test to work and, amazingly, every one of my co-workers who tried the test passed.  In fact, pretty much everyone passed.  Except for one single person.

Me!  I had no problem sitting down but when it came time to standing up…  It’s not that I had trouble doing it.  I simply COULDN’T do it.  There is NO WAY I can stand up from a cross-legged sitting position.

All this to say, given the five year outline I have for the show, it may behoove the production office to have a back-up plan for the show runner position, just in case.

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We interrupt the previously scheduled blog post for this important announcement. Monday, December 15th will be the very first Dark Matter cookie exchange. Participants are required to make a half dozen cookies for every other baker in the exchange “plus a half dozen or so extra for the rest of the (lazy) office to sample!”

I’m in!  Or, rather, Akemi will be in!  But I’ll on hand to assist and come up with the concept.  Maybe 70% Madagascar chocolate chunk cookies?  Or 80% dark chocolate with SOMA caramelized white chocolate chunk cookies?  Or bourbon-laced pecan cookies?  I think we can only make one kind.  I’ll have to consult the official rules and regulations tomorrow.

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That’s it.  The post-season match ups are set!  My Snow Monkeys snagged the #2 spot and will take on desean’s dedouche in first round action next weekend.  Meanwhile, Tio’ s Petunia Power meets first-place powerhouse Clueless while Rob’s Landsharks battle it out with Lawren’s The Fighting Hyphens and Ivon’s Running Dead take on Thobias’s The Mighty Merkins.  It’s going to be an exciting weekend of action on the field.   And an equally exciting week of preparation which will necessitate I cancel all non-fantasy football-related business until the championship.  Wonder who I’ll be meeting in the semis?

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And finally – Come on!  I have enough trouble completing a workout as it is!

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Robot Dance Japan:

Wanderers – a short film by Erik Wernquist:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/108650530″>Wanderers – a short film by Erik Wernquist</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user13714879″>Erik Wernquist</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Best Snow News Bloopers Ever:

Black Friday shoppers, take note!  This is how to line up in an orderly fashion:

This reminds me that I’ve got to start work on my costume for next summer’s Comic Con:

Quick and easy 3-second ebi fry:

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1. My Home Gym

I’m not the most motivated guy when it comes to working out and yet, when I was living in Vancouver, I would schedule two-a-days: a 45 minute run in the morning and a 45 minute weight workout at night.  How did I manage to pull off such an ambitious routine?  Well, having a home gym (treadmill, elliptical, and weights) in my basement helped.  A lot.  It was as easy as going downstairs.  No driving.  No looking for parking.  No waiting for equipment to free up.  And, best of all, I could multi-task: exercising and catching up on my shows.

Here in Toronto, the gym is always packed mornings and closes t 10:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on weekends!  I can watch whatever happens to be on the wall-mounted t.v.’s but, unfortunately, can’t hear anything so have to follow along by reading the subtitles.

Since moving east, my workouts are down roughly 75%.

2. Fresh Fish

Please, don’t try to recommend me “the best sushi in Toronto!” because, without a doubt, Toronto’s best sushi is Vancouver’s middling sushi (which, to be fair, is worse than Japan’s worst sushi).  The sad fact is the fish here is just not that good.  Oh, sure, we hit our local markets and pick up fish whenever we can, but it’s just not the same.  The other day, we picked up some “fresh” scallops that ended up releasing a crazy amount of liquid in the cooking process, the telltale sign of being previously frozen.  I truly miss Brian and the gang at Seafood City on Granville Island.

3. My Kitchen

With its big island, wide counters, and varied kitchen utensils.  And extra work kitchen.  Here in Toronto, our kitchen is so tiny only one of us can cook at a time. It’s tight, there’s not enough shelf space, and the knives are dull (we ended up having to purchase a new knife set).  As much as it annoys me, my irritation pales in comparison to the Akemi’s monsoon of frustration every time she attempts to prepare dinner.   She really, really hates this kitchen.

4. The Weather

It rains all the time in Vancouver!  Yes.  And the temperature usually stays above freezing.  When I go out improperly dressed for Vancouver weather, the worst I can expect is to get wet.   Here in Toronto, it’s frostbite and the loss of feeling in my extremities.

5. A Backyard

In Vancouver, “taking the dogs out” required little more than opening the back door or, Jelly’s case, carrying across my back porch and setting her down in the grass. Now, it’s a whole song and dance – morning, afternoon, evening, and night – bundling the dogs up, taking them to the park, and back.

6. Sweet Potatos

For some reason, people here don’t know what sweet potatoes are – or have been living under the delusion that yams are sweet potatoes – because wherever I go, I see yams being sold as “sweet potatoes”.  It wouldn’t be so bad if they just called sweet potatoes something else, but they simply don’t exist here.

7. A Good Bookstore

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I miss the gang at The Book Warehouse.  They were my second family, their book shop my home away from home I would visit on a weekly basis to chat about recent reads and purchase a pile of new reads.  Here in Toronto, it’s slim literary pickin’s.  There’s a pretty good genre book shop (Bakka Phoenix) but nothing in the way of a book store offering general fiction.  I’ve checked out a few but they’re maddeningly cluttered and simply not  conducive to a pleasure perusing experience.

[My co-worker Natalie Cooper has taken offense to this particular item and has supplied me with a list of “great bookstores” in the city.  After discounting used book shops, specialty bookstores, and bookstores I’ve already visited and eliminated, I am left with three options.  So, let’s just say that – so far, I’ve yet to find a good bookstore in Toronto.]

8. My Books!

My towering to-read pile (last I checked, three rows wide and thirty books deep) will sit untouched until my return in June.

9. The NFL Package

I’m now back to the old days of having to watch the crappy Giants and even crappier Jets while far more superior teams (read: almost every other team in the league) play far more interesting games on channels I can’t watch.

10. My Friends!

Of course.

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