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I can’t believe September is almost done and, in a few weeks, I’ll be making the BIG move to Toronto – just in time for what’s predicted to be (and I quote) “the T-Rex of winters” (http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/t-rex-of-winters-in-store-for-canada-old-farmer-s-almanac-1.2012804#).  Of course, I’ll be spending most of it on a nice, cozy spaceship set.  Or, in a nice, cozy car on my way to a nice, cozy spaceship set.  On the one hand, the highway driving may be icy and treacherous; on the other hand, all of the lane shutdowns happening in Toronto will ensure that nobody will be going fast enough to suffer any real damage.

The plan is for Paul and I to fly over to Toronto the week of October 6th for some meetings covering everything from casting and scheduling to DOP’s and editors. I’m going to try to pack everything I’ll need for my 7 month Toronto stay into two suitcases I’ll be bringing with me on that initial trip.   Just the bare essentials: shirts, suits, ties, cufflinks, laptop.  I’ll try to buy everything else I’ll need – towels, toiletries, dog beds, workout wear – while I’m there that first week.  Between approving ship designs and interviewing Directors of Photography, I’ll be hitting the Eaton Center for dress socks and warm underwear!

We fly back to Vancouver at the end of that week and then I’ll have all of the following week to get my local affairs in order, hand off the house keys to my former dog sitter who will become a house sitter until May of next year, and then make the final trip eastward (for 2014 anyway), dogs in tow the weekend of October 18th.  Our friend Jeff has kindly offered to help transport the pooches so, once we firm up a date, I’ll get on the phone with the airline and book the flight with the roomiest under-seats.  I believe the rules allow for only one dog (as carry-on) per person, and limit pets to a mere two in business class and two in coach.  If that’s the case, Jeff (and Lulu) will be flying in style while Akemi, Bubba, Jelly and I squeeze into economy.  I’m considering purchasing extra seats, just in case.  I have to admit, getting my dogs cross-country is the most stressful aspect of this whole Toronto production.

I’m aiming to have 9 of our 13 first season scripts completed by the time we land in Toronto, October 6th.  Paul did a brilliant job on the delightfully creepy episode #5 that went out today and is presently revising episode #6.  Rob is working on his first draft of episode #7 while I do a pass on Trevor’s draft of episode #8.  And, of course, I already completed episode #9 which sits, patiently waiting to be read.

We’ve approached the first season like a book, the thirteen episodes the equivalent to chapters in an extended story.  We set up a big mystery in the opener, one we’ll develop over the course of the first year and, eventually, pay off BIG in the finale. The great thing about having all 13 episodes in advance (besides the obvious production advantages) is that we’ll be able to read the entire first season from beginning to end, tweaking where necessary to ensure a gripping, well-developed narrative layered with intriguing set-ups and surprising/satisfying pay-offs.   It also allows our Visual Effects team (lead by former Stargate VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and this show’s VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson) and Playback department to get a jump start on those visual effects and awesome onscreen images.  And having those nine episodes in the bank for early October also allows us to choose the perfect sides for each character audition – and there will be plenty: six crew members plus that, uh, non-human character.

We’ve got half our directors in place and you’ll, no doubt, recognize a few familiar names.  Very much looking forward to working with them again.  It’s been WAY too long.

My biggest point of focus from now until mid-December will be those sets. Construction begins on the ship, shuttle, and space station in late October and I need them to look truly awesome.  Also, I’ll need to make sure the shuttle is heated, with a  roll-out bed and working bathroom because chances are, if the shoots run late, that’s where I’ll be spending most of my nights.

Monster spend last few months on vakation where me bone up on cursive writing, try all tree boardings – wake, paddle, and water for first time (Me MUCH prefer first two!), and generally healing from mental scars inflikted by 94 straight weeks of Supermovie reviews.  Now me back after much-needed R&R (Rest and Remi Martin) and rarin’ to go!

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Watching dis movie be like taking in spectakular fireworks show.  In sepia.  While your girlfriend breaks up wit you over de phone.  For two and a half hours.

Movie open on alien world Kripton where scientist Kal-El inform ruling council planet be doomed because of environment (Al Gore-El was right!).  Meeting interrupted by rebellious General Zod and co. who stage coup.  He offer Kal-El to trow in wit him, but Kal-El refuse.  Den have to eskape and get chased back to his home (Couldn’t he have just said “Okay, me wit you?” and den snuck back nice an easy?  No?) where he launch his son away in a space ship wit someting called “De Codex”!

Zod and co. be captured and punished by getting encased in giant vibrators before being fired into De Phantom Zone.  And den Kripton explodes.

Nooo!  Don't banish me to de sea of vibrators!

Nooo! Not de vibrator rockets!

aheJ4oP

On Earth, years later, Kal-El’s son grow up to become Clark, handsome shirtless guy who save co-workers from oil rig fire before washing up on shore somewhere and steal somebody’s clothes (THIEVERY!  SUPERMAN BE A THIEF!).

His shirt got burned off in de fire.  His beard and pants be just fine tho!

His shirt got burned off in de fire. His beard and pants be just fine tho!

Flashback to young Clark who get picked on all de time, saves skool bus full of kids, and be super-hypersensitive to EVERYTING – like dat time monster ate 6 boxes of Oreos and suddenly able to hear people’s hair grow.  And bee farts.

Flashforward to Clark working at diner.   Customer give him a hard time.  So he destroy guy’s truck (MALICIOUS DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY!  SUPERMAN BE A VANDAL!).

Military discover strange objekt buried in 20 000 year old ice in Arctic.  Dey be VERY sekretive and maintain AAA security, only letting ONE snoopy reporter (Lois Lane) onto site and one guy who presumably wander on wit no background check (Clark), and den allowing BOTH to get on buried objekt…which aktually be a ship! Clark awaken it, save Lois from floaty cobra robot, den drop her off before flying ship away to somewhere inept military unable to track it (say, other side of de mountain).  Hologram of Kal-El fill Clark in on his backstory after which Clark puts on super suit, flies around, and crashes.  Dis be de ONE fun beat in otherwise bleak movie.

Flashback to young Clark fleeing tornado wit his family.  Dad goes back to save dog in car and injures ankle.  Cars and tankers get blown around by wind but, for some reason, dad rooted to spot like he built into ground.  Clark wants to save him but Dad waves him away.  Naaah, don’t bother.  So he die.  And Clark left feeling guilty for not helping.  Tanks, Dad.

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Flashforward to news reports.  Space ship heading for Earth!   Creepy cool message from General Zod demand Earth turn over Clark.  Clark turn himself into military – who turn him over to Zod.  And Zod demand Lois as well.  Why?  Beats monster.

Clark taken up on ship where become weak and experimented on.  Lois locked up but, luckily, she have Kal-El hologram device dat Clark slip her (Guess he had hunch to bring it along and give it to her – just in case!).  Hologram Kal-El save her.  Ish.  She get in pod and plummet to Earth.  Clark regain super strength for reasons monster not exaktly clear on,  den save falling Lois IN DE NICK OF TIME!

Turns out Zod plan to terraform Earth and repopulate it wit Kriptonians kept in “De Codex” much like plot of dat episode of Stargate, Scorched Earth.  After all, if dey keep Earth as is and not terraform, dey would ALL be a bunch of supermen – and who wants dat?

Clark fly to town and take on Zod’s soldiers, getting into fistfight at IHop just like us regular folks!

While Zod initiate terraforming machine and start killing thousands of citizens, Superman on other side of planet destroying another tingie (Yo, super dude. Priorities!).  Military manage to destroy terraform machine on their own (Tanks for nothing!) and Lois plummet from back of plane.  Clark sweep in and save her IN DE NICK OF TIME!

Superman to de reskue...uh, too late.  Never mind.

Hurray!  Superman to de reskue…uh, too late. Never mind.

Showdown wit Zod!  Mayhem!  Destruktion!  Thousands more killed!  (Yo, super dude.  Couldn’t you take dis somewhere else?  Space?  De desert?  Out over de ocean?)

Finally, he defeat Zod by cleverly…breaking his neck.  Wait!  What?!  Superman kill Zod?!  (KILLING!  SUPERMAN BE A MURDERER!).  Okay, okay.  Mebbe dis be new version of Superman.  He killed Zod and clearly anguished about it.  Rest of movie will explore heavy burden of murder on his conscience.

Or not.

Clark gets job as reporter working wit Lois.  (OBSESSED!  SUPERMAN BE A STALKER!)

De End.

Overall, everyting make story sense (more or less) and performances pretty good, but dis be filmic equivalent of having to attend an uncle’s funeral at Six Flags.  Wit unbelievable romantic B story tacked on.

VERDIKT: Dis not your father’s Superman. Or your grandfather’s superman. Hell, when it come right down to it, dis not Superman at all. It be a movie about some other guy with super powers.

RATING: 6 chocolate chipped cookies.

Here are a few of the new shows I’ll be checking out…

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GRACEPOINT

Premieres: Thurs., Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. on FOX

I loved the premise of the original, Broadchurch, but was disappointed in the finale.  Apparently, this one is the same premise – with a different solution.  And it’s a self-contained 10 episode mystery.  I’m intrigued.

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GOTHAM

Premiered: Tonight (Monday, Sept. 22 at 8:00 p.m. on FOX)

Okay, I’m not a fan of prequels, but I was a fan of Gotham Central, the comic book series that focused on the unsung heroes of the Gotham PD.

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CONSTANTINE

Premieres: Fri., Oct. 24 at 10:00 p.m. on NBC)

Another comic book-based series.  The subject matter is dark and perfectly suited for cable.  How will it fare on network?  I’m on the fence.

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THE MISSING

Premieres: Sat., Nov. 15 at 9:00 p.m. on Starz)

Another limited mystery series, this eight episode drama is told in two parallel time frames, focusing on a father’s search for his young son who went missing while on holiday in France five years earlier.

So, what are you watching?

Both Akemi and I managed to sleep through most of our 9 hour flight back so that, by the time we landed at 9:30 this morning, we were well-rested and rarin’ to go! Well, I was anyway.  Akemi decided to lie down for a little while and, seven hours later, came downstairs looking like a hurricane survivor – hair-disheveled, a stunned look on her face.  She’s wide awake now and I have a feeling she’ll be wide awake well into the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

The dogs were thrilled to see us.  Bubba was especially vocal, howling with delight and then crawling into bed and snoozing the afternoon away with Akemi.  Lulu sunbathed and Jelly modelled her new outfits:

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Finally, my Snow Monkey clawed out their  first win of this young Fantasy Football season, improving their record to a note entirely unrespectable 1-2!

Tomorrow…back to work!

Hey!  Go bid on this signed, annotated script: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Stargate-SG-1-Script-034-Ripple-Effect-034-Signed-by-Producer-and-Writer-Joe-Mallozzi-/141415299954

We were standing at the hotel reception, purchasing our tickets for the shuttle bus that would take us to the airport.  The middle-aged Caucasian guy beside us was purchasing a ticket of his own.  “What’s your room number?”asked the staff member.  The guy looked around anxiously, then leaned in conspiratorially and whispered his room number.  “And your name?”requested the staff member.  A couple of furtive glances left and right, and the guy answered: “I don’t want to say out loud.”

Don’t want to say out loud?  Seriously?  Had he recently been featured on a repeat telecast of America’s Most Wanted?  I edged over to get a peek as he signed his name and – HOLY CRAP – I may have misread but I think it said “Beyonce”!

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One of the newest additions to our travel accessories was this handy pocket wifi from Global Advanced Communications. Just go to their website, place an order, give them your dates, and the device will either be waiting for you at the airport upon your arrival or can be delivered to your hotel.  I can’t tell you how awesome it was to not have to worry about roaming fees and have continuous web access.  Before leaving the hotel, we simply put the devices into the self-addressed, stamped envelope provided, dropped it off at the nearest mailbox, and we were done.  Super convenient.  Highly recommended for your next trip.  http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html

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Akemi’s sister, Hiromi, stopped by our hotel room this morning to drop me off a six pack of matcha (ceremonial green tea) of various grades.  When we last visited Japan for Hiromi’s wedding, we met a tea grandmaster who swore by the stuff, maintaining he drank seven cups a day to keep himself fit and mentally alert.  He looked pretty damn spry for an 80-something year old, so I may want to follow his lead.  On the other hand, what do I need to be spry for when I’m 80-something?  I imagine that, by then, it’ll be all fine dining and reading.

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I was disappointed that we’d gone the entire trip without seeing a pug or french bulldog until we met this porky little fellow on our way back to the hotel after today’s soba lunch.  He was a pretty energetic three year old, and just what our Lulu needs – a younger man who can keep up with her.

Since you all mentioned it – yes, I did experience that earthquake the other day.  Sort of.  We were perusing one of the gift shops at Namco Namja town when Akemi asked: “Feel the earthquake?”  “When?”I asked.  “Now,”she said.  And, sure enough, I did feel it – a low, sustained trembling like a massive convoy rumbling by.  It was over in seconds.  Good thing too. I was THIS close from shouting “Every man for himself!” before hurtling the baby strollers blocking the exit and making good my flight to freedom.

And, finally, I should mention the fact that Akemi was stalked by a ghost girl on the subway the other day.  For some reason, this creepy-looking (maybe 3 or 4 year old) kid  just fixated on Akemi and stared at her throughout our ride.  She and her mother disembarked at the same station and then, after we thought we’d lost them, she and her mother doubled back and seemed to follow us out the exit and through Roppongi.  I thought it was hilarious, but Akemi was unnerved until we seemed to lose the kid for good.  But then, as we were walking into the mall (and this Akemi failed to notice and I didn’t want to mention it for fear of creeping her out), a young woman walked past us going the other way and she too gawked at Akemi – and she looked just like a grown-up version of that creepy kid on the subway!  When we went to lunch, I advised Akemi to check under her chair – just in case the ghost girl was in hiding underneath, waiting to surprise her.

About to board!  See you in Vancouver!

I love Japanese department stores – not only for the quality and scope of their products, their terrific customer service, and their impeccable gift-wrapping, but for the little things.  Like the fact that, right around closing time, they always play Auld Lang Syne to let everyone know it’s time to clear out.  And, I discovered today, the fact that they play Tear Drops Keep Falling on My Head to inform the staff it’s raining outside and to offer customers plastic bags for their purchases.  And, I also discovered today from Akemi who used to work at Takashimaya, that they also have a special theme song they play whenever suspected shoplifters are in the store to warn their employees to be extra vigilant.  Akemi can’t remember what, exactly, is played, but I suspect it’s either Take the Money and Run by Steve Miller or the theme from The Fugitive.

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Japan has the creepiest department store babies.  It’s like an elderly man put on a onesie and crawled into a child seat, just waiting to be noticed.

Our last full day in Japan draws to a close and, tomorrow, we’re Vancouver-bound. I made the most of it by packing in another couple of great meals – and various snacks.

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Following last night’s 40+ piece sushi extravaganza, we had a comparatively more restrained – but no less delicious and interesting – lunch at Sushi Tsu in Roppongi.  Chef Daisuke Fujinaga, a former private chef to the Chinese President, has sushi preparation down to a science, continuously testing and refining his process to deliver optimum taste, texture, and flavor combinations.  I sampled a number of preparations I’ve never tried before and look forward to coming back and trying the dinner menu when Chef really lets loose.

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We dropped by Akemi’s favorite chocolate shop, La Maison du Chocolat, for a little snack: two types of chocolate macarons and a pistachio (and chocolate) macaron for me.

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Then we tracked down the Only In Japan For A Limited Time Only Kuro Burger – that basically tasted like a slightly saltier, more peppery cheeseburger.

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Then we hopped on the metro where I snapped this picture of a print ad for what I believe is a hair removal clinic.

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Then back to d’un rarete in Omotesando for some baked goods.

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Our haul…

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I had a little work to do this afternoon and so, while I was holed-up in my hotel room, Akemi went shopping.

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And bought me a pistachio-heavy assortment from Wako.

After distributing various gifts to some of our Tokyo friends (Moro-san at Pierre Marcolini Cafe, the gang at Star Bar, the hotel personnel who coordinated our various outings), we ended the evening with Akem’s sister, Hiromi, and her husband, Hiroshi, at Esquisse where we enjoyed a tremendous (another) tremendous dinner.

And, that’s that.  We’ll squeeze in one more lunch tomorrow and then we catch a 5:00 p.m. flight out of Narita that should get us into Vancouver for 10:00 a.m. local time.  I plant to sleep through the entire 9 hour flight and reach Canada well-rested and ready for my various conference calls and script reads.  Things are about to get real busy, real fast…

Today, we had plans to meet up with our friend, Nihei, for a yakitori lunch but, unfortunately, a last minute meeting derailed those yakitori plans – and sent us to Butagumi, my favorite tonkatsu restaurant, instead!

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Tucked away in a little side street in Nishi-Azabu, the rustic restaurant offers varieties of tonkatusu (golden-fried pork cutlets) from all over Japan.

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We started with a double order of the San Mi Ni Pork – sweet, salty, umami and crispy, it goes great with rice.  I’ve been trying to replicate the recipe at home for years now – to no avail.  :(

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We ordered three types of pork.  Surprisingly, the tastiest was this Nattoku-Toni pork from GIFU prefecture.  I say surprising because it was the leanest cut of our three choices – yet proved equally tender and more flavorful.

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The two month aged Himuro-Buta from Gunma (pictured above) and Kashiwa-Gensou Pork from Chiba were also great, all nestled in an exceptionally light panko crusting.

Butagumi: 2-24-9 Nishiazabu, Minato, Tokyo

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Passed this interesting sign outside a restaurant.  Not sure what it means.  Cool down with tempura on hot days?

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These cool state-of-the-art public urinals come with manual water flushing systems and soap dispensers! Took me a while to figure them out.

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Oh.  No.  Wait.

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In preparation for the cold east coast winter, we also got our dogs some down-filled coats as well.

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Then stopped by the baby section of Uniqlo and, for half the price, picked up Jelly a whole new winter wardrobe.

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Interesting metro print ad featuring Kyari Pamyu Pamyu.

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Mecha-gorilla outside a shop in Daikanyama.

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Akemi and her new friend.

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I’ll do the cutest thing on the menu, please.

 1Wow.  Small world.  It’s nice to know that, despite our cultural differences, we are united in our hatred of obnoxious cyclists.

For dinner tonight, I got a recommendation from a foodie forum and made a reservation at Sushiso Masa.  I was expecting a modest, lovely little meal.  Instead, we were treated to a mind-blowing feast featuring some 40+ different pieces of fish served in an unbelievable variety of ways.  Chef Masa kindly took the time to explain (to us, but really to Akemi who translated for me) the various fish, preparations, and his inspired approaches and philosophy.   We had three different sea urchins prepared three different ways, sashimis, nigiris, cookied specialties, arrangements and presentations I’ve never had before.

Some of the visual highlights…

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Spectacular.  This place has earned its spot into regular rotation alongside Sawada, Esquisse, and L’Effervescence.

Sushiso Masa: 4-1-15 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

 Tonight, I leave you with another video my sister sent me – this one of a snorky Lulu and her toy:

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