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Oh, it’s on!  This Sunday, come cheer Lulu on as she puts her undefeated record on the line (note: she’s never participated before so she is, technically, undefeated) in the Running of the Bulls at Pet-A-Palooza!

Looks to be a busy day because, in addition to that, there’s this:

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And then this:

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Finally, here’s Akemi’s take on that vegetarian restaurant (guest-starring yours truly):

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I brought Jelly in to see a specialist last week.  After a careful study of the x-rays and the my old gal, he reversed the initial diagnosis of a separated hip. Apparently, upon closer scrutiny, it looks bad – bad it isn’t THAT bad.  So that was great news.  And then, Tuesday, she was unusually energetic, walking all the way to the corner – and halfway back – before settling down on the grass and insisting I carry her!

1That’s the good news.  The bad news is she apparently has another bladder infection which means she’s back on antibiotics.  But it’s given Akemi the opportunity to buy her some fashionable new duds – including suspenders!

Who wants to hug Poopy, the exhibition mascot?

Who wants to hug Poopy, the exhibition mascot?

I’m researching interesting events in advance of my Japan trip in September and came across this interesting exhibition called “Toilet?!  Human Waste and the Earth’s Future”: http://www.tokyoweekender.com/2014/07/tokyo-museum-opens-a-special-exhibition-featuring-toilets-and-poop/

“If you’re still uncomfortable with the topic after entering the exhibit, a choir of singing toilets with friendly faces on the lids might help soothe your nerves, as well as a series of poop samples from different animals to assure you that you’re not alone in the act. You can also recreate the poop you had this morning with blobs of clay and play games involving a target and a urinal.”

Running until October 3rd!

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Some Japanese-style fast-food to look forward to.  Rice burgers!  https://www.yahoo.com/food/what-the-heck-is-a-rice-burger-95211558931.html

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Meanwhile, this opened in Osaka last month: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/10968074/Harry-Potter-in-Japan-260-million-Wizarding-World-theme-park-opens-in-Osaka.html

I was kind of hoping to take in a Hanshin Tigers home game while in Osaka or check out the Grand Sumo Championship while in Tokyo, but Akemi is balking. :(

Maybe she’d like to check out this place instead: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/11044864/Insect-lovers-swarm-to-a-bug-eating-club-in-Tokyo.html

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.

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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

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