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My writing partner, Paul, got in yesterday for what should be a big week.  We’ve got budget meetings tomorrow, script meetings with Jay Tuesday and Wednesday, and a whirlwind trip to the SyFy offices in New York that will see us flying out early Friday morning and flying back later that night.  Today, we sat down with (well, actually, we all stood but you know what I mean) the Art Department, Costumes, and Props.  In the case of the latter, it was all about the guns, guns, guns!  And some swords and miscellaneous weaponry…

A veritable smorgasbord of firepower!

A veritable smorgasbord of firepower!

So we’re looking to use replicas of established guns as the base models for the futuristic sidearms and ordnance our crew – and everyone from Galactic Authority officers to Corporate Guards – will be packing.  Both Three and Six will wield big-ass guns and carry chunky holstered handgun variants (something along the lines of what you see bottom left).  One, Two and Four will go with sleeker shooters.  Holster options range from hip and leg to shoulder and back.

Yo, Slashy McStabberson!

Yo, Slashy McStabberson!

Apparently the longer swords are your go-to blades if you’re looking to decapitate someone – but you already knew that.  Four, our resident swordsman, would be adept with all four sheathed varieties – so we’ll keep all four in his quarters so that he can always have a choice.

And this lovely medieval pruning knife can be yours...if the price is right!

And this lovely medieval pruning knife can be yours…if the price is right!

The ship’s training room will house a variety of weapons, from simple training staffs to more exotic blades.  Here, Property Master Victoria Klein shows off a little something from her personal collection.

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Trevor gets mouthy with Alison.  She responds in kind.

1Our Props Buyer’s (Susan Woorts) shopping list will include: milk, eggs, cheese, and a half dozen fresh Berettas.

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Testing Alison’s reflexes.  Her rubber training sword is no match for my steel!

And you thought today was fun!  I can’t wait for tomorrow’s two hour script note session!

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Two down, one to go.  The Toronto and Vancouver second round casting sessions are in the books and only the L.A. session remains.  Be Vanessa and I won’t be able to attend, we’re going to live stream it to the production offices.  Theoretically anyway.  I imagine it’ll be sort of like those interactive video conferences that look so cool in the movies but never quite work out the way you want them to in real life, with participants dropping out, losing audio, losing video, the whole punctuated by the background caterwaul of children or dogs in desperate need of feeding.  Still, we’re going to give it the ole college try (let’s say more Devry than Harvard).  Festivities get underway at noon PST, which means we’ll be watching well into the twilight hours.  Guess we’ll be ordering pizza!

The plan is to have our selects, Top 3 for each of the seven roles, by early next week.  And that’s when the decision-making will get REALLY tough…

Paul delivered his first draft of episode #10, the first part of our late season two-parter.  He promises to have #11 to us before his weekend arrival – which means I’ll be able to do my pass on #12 (already written) have that out by early next week.  Leaving us with…only the grand (season one) finale to write.  Or, rather, finish since I’m already 15 pages in.

Meanwhile, no rest for our awesome construction crew who have been working their little tool belts off -

Right this way, step right up...

Right this way, step right up…

On our way to the bridge.

On our way to the bridge.

The crew of The Raza = Alison Hepburn and Trevor Finn

The crew of The Raza = Alison Hepburn and Trevor Finn. 

The bridge in its infancy.

The bridge in its infancy.

Corridor going one way.

Corridor going one way.

And the other.

And the other.

Hey!  We’re on instagram!  http://instagram.com/dark_mattertv

And facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darkmatterseries

And twitter:  https://twitter.com/dark_matterTV

Tell your friends!

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Well, it’s been about two weeks since the move to Toronto and I’m pleased to report we have more or less settled in.  We’ve met quite a few very nice people in that short time – also, a number of weirdoes.  But I suppose that’s to be expected. Toronto is a bigger city.  Also, unlike Vancouver, Akemi and I can’t simply live as recluses.  Necessity forces us to go out, encounter others and, in some instances, interact with them.  The fact that I’ll strike up a conversation with just about anybody helps (or hurts depending on the relative sanity of my impromptu conversation partner).

Jelly and Lulu, best of buds.

Jelly and Lulu, best of buds.

The dogs have also settled into a nice little routine that includes four daily visits to the local dog park where Jelly leaves her stroller to get in her short walks, Bubba does his best to avoid contact with other dogs, and Lulu stubbornly refuses to return home until she has visited the dog run where she too ignores the other pooches in favor of begging their owners for attention.

Dressed for the weather - Jelly in her Anna Suit ensemble

Dressed for the weather – Jelly in her Anna Suit ensemble

I do miss Darlene and the gang at The Book Warehouse in Toronto.  I’ve checked out  a couple of the local book stores and have left underwhelmed.  The sole exception is Bakka-Phoenix Books (84 Harbord Street), a terrific shop specializing in genre fiction.  I spent a good half hour chatting with the staff while Akemi sat patiently by, endlessly perusing an illustrated Miyazaki book.

After you!

After you!

Even though I vowed to stick to digital versions while here in Toronto, I couldn’t help myself and picked up a selection made up of staff member Leah’s recommendations and some titles that caught my eye:

Familiar with any of the above books?

Familiar with any of the above books?

Presently reading Norman Lear’s Even This I Get to Experience.  Just finished – and loved – the first volume of Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga, recommended to me by Prodigy Pictures Development Wunderkind Nat Cooper.  I swung by The Silver Snail and picked up volumes 2 and 3 yesterday.  And also brought home a bunch of other comic books and graphic novels Natalie sent me home with on Friday, among them Buzzkill by Donny Cates that I thought was pretty darn terrific as well. Speaking of comic book, it looks like it’ll be trade paperbacks only moving forward as Marvel has apparently wrapped up (canceled?) the only two single issue series I was collecting: The Thunderbolts and the awesome Superior Foes of Spiderman.  :(

The eating, meanwhile, has been good.  WAY to good.  Some of the highlights -

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The crispy prawn rice rolls at Luckee in the Soho Met.  I don’t even like rice rolls but thought these were great.  I’m not a huge fan of some of the entrees, but their dim sum menu items are uniformly great.

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The sautéed sweetbreads at Le Neuf Cafe (9 Clarence Square) which, by the way, makes the best desserts in town – everything from salted caramel eclairs to their tiny chouquettes that Akemi has become addicted to and now picks up on almost a daily basis.

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Wahlburgers (A Mark Wahlberg burger joint, 46 Blue Jays Way) opened her recently and I checked out their promising-sounding Thanksgiving Burger.  The patty was flavorful but the stuffing and roasted butternut squash were decidedly not.  The side of sweet potato tots (Actually made from yams.  For some reason, people in Toronto don’t know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato) was disquietingly sweet.  Everyone else in line ordered the signature Our Burger. Maybe I’ll order that next time.  Or just go Burger’s Priest which I’ve been meaning to do.

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After stocking up at the St. Lawrence Market this morning, we returned home where I made myself a bacon sandwich using two types of bacon (back bacon and peameal), Bourgogne cheese, and micro greens.

Tonight, we head out to a special event dinner at a local Italian eatery that is hosting a special guest chef from Vancouver: none other than our buddy Chef Robert Belcham (Fuel, Refuel, Fat Dragon, Camapagnolo, Campagnolo Roma).  I will, of course, report back.

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While we’re on the subject…

20030108a

SUPER DIMENSIONAL FORCE MACROSS

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ANDROMEDA ASCENDANT

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STARBUG

firefly-serenity-e1387241089451

SERENITY

2885991512105246

THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

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SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

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VORLON CRUISER

Moya

MOYA

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STAR DESTROYER

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ASGARD SHIPS

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THE BEBOP

500px-Ancient-Aurora-Class-battleship1

ANCIENT AURORA CLASS BATTLESHIP

captain_harlock_feature

THE ARCADIA

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THE USS SULACO

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THE MILLENNIUM FALCON

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THE DESTINY

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USS ENTERPRISE NCC-1701

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THE NOSTROMO

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KLINGON BIRD OF PREY

valdore-screen

ROMULAN WARBIRD

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charlie-evans-charlie-x-star-trekLet’s continue our Star Trek (Not Stargate!  I keep making that mistake!): The Original Series re-watch.  Today, Cookie Monster and I discuss Charlie X…

Me: A very strong episode this one, reminiscent of The Twilight Zone’s equally creepy “It’s A Good Life”, based on the short story by Jerome Bixby.  It stands the test of time and stands out as an incredibly suspenseful ride.  Sure, there are a few unintentionally hilarious moments, and the ending is a bit of a letdown, but it’s a powerful, seminal episode.

Cookie Monster: If monster said it once, me said it a hundred times: Kids Be Creepy! And monster have very bad feeling about dis one when he start making funny faces behind Kirk’s back…

charlie_X-e1346677255202Me: Yeah, I was like WTF?  The Captain of that other ship couldn’t get rid of him fast enough.  It was like: “Here you go, Kirk.  Enjoy your new passenger!”  And then, as he’s preparing to get transported back to his ship: “Sucker.”

Cookie Monster: More disturbing den creepy kid be Spock rocking out on Vulcan lute while Uhura belt out tune.  And everyone else in room pretend like dey enjoying demselves and not wanting to get back to private conversation.

charliexhd162

Me: Yeah, she reminds me of an ex-girlfriend who used to do that – break into song at parties.  “Food glorious fooooood!  Hot sausage and mustard!  While we’re in the mooood – !”

Cookie Monster: Shut de fuck up!  Me trying to enjoy a cocktail weenie over here!

Me: Exactly.

Cookie Monster: But scene effektively convey first rumblings of trouble with Charlie (ie. Uhura losing her voice).  Then, later it eskalate when sore loser Charlie melt chess pieces.

Me: Coincidentally, reminiscent of another ex-girlfriend.  She didn’t go quite so far, but would quit a game anytime it looked like she was about to lose.

Cookie Monster: You dated some crazies.

Me: I’d rather not discuss my personal life.

Cookie Monster: Hey, monster not de one dat brought it up!

Me: Anyway, back to the episode.  I feel obligated to point out that act breaks have come a long way in fifty years.  We learn that the Antares has been destroyed. You’d think that would be the act break.  Instead, it’s someone discovering real turkeys in the oven.  Dum dum daaaaaa!

Cookie Monster: Me feel more effektive akt break would have been first shot of Kirk in his tight red tumbling pants.  Dum dum daaaaaa!

charlie_x_kirk_roll

Me: Yep, that was quite a sight.

Cookie Monster: Speaking of sight, what wit de weird lighting?  Most of de scene take place in a brightly lit gym, den when we cut to close-ups, suddenly it be all dark and moody.

Me: Well, it certainly reflected the tone of the scene, especially after Charlie makes Sam disappear.  Although I had to wonder why Kirk didn’t request Sam’s return.  I mean, it couldn’t have hurt to ask, right?

Cookie Monster: Me tink he not want to antagonize Charlie further.  Kid have short fuse, as demonstrated later when he make Spock stroke out on de bridge.

Me: And, later, removes that woman’s face.  I remember being horrified by that scene when I was a kid.  Upon further review, maybe not quite as scary.  A lifetime of horror movies has inured me to faceless people.

Cookie Monster: Monster tink she look cute.  Like muppet.

Me: Until you realize that, without a mouth and a nose, she wasn’t able to breathe and presumably suffocated to death.

Faceless_woman_charlie_x

Cookie Monster: But dat okay becuz, in de end, benevolent super aliens come to de reskue and undo everyting.

Me: Ah, don’t get me started.  Yes, Kirk and co. have the problem solved for them. By episode’s end, everything is as it was before.

Cookie Monster: Even de chess pieces?

Me: Especially the chess pieces.

Cookie Monster: Lucky for de props department!

Me: Uh, yes.  So, all in all, a pretty damn good episode.  If it wasn’t for the Deus Ex Machina ending, I’d rate it in my top ten.

Cookie Monster: Monster like it too.  But, like most shows, it lose points for singing component.

So, what did everyone else think of this episode?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

And, tomorrow, let’s reconvene to discuss: Where No Man Has Gone Before!

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The-Man-Trap-star-trek-the-original-series-19286718-694-530

Hello and welcome to our Star Trek: The Original Series re-watch.  Cookie Monster and I will be your co-hosts.  We’ll open the casual discussion on the show’s first five episodes, then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

THE MAN TRAP

Me: A rocky start for the Enterprise and its crew in an episode that is at turns silly and confounding, yet enjoyable for the many classic elements established.  It’s an interesting premise with a nice emotional hook involving Dr. McCoy and his former love, but there are logic bumps throughout that make this one a little tough to watch.  For instance, the salt monster seems highly intelligent, yet can’t resist snacking on the unwary members of the away team, opening itself up to all sorts of trouble.  Presumably it wasn’t starving since the scientist shows Kirk his salt stores have yet to be depleted, yet it simply can’t help itself.

Cookie Monster: Me empathize.  If Enterprise crew bodies contain traces of cookie element, dey be VERY hard to resist.

Me: Still….

Cooke Monster:  Mebbe salt monster tink Kirk not bother to stick around since he have emergency pepper shipment to deliver to other planet!

Me:  Doubtful.  But you bring up a great point.  Throughout this episode Kirk demonstrates a wide variety of impressive abilities, from carefully hand picking peppers for delivery to some interesting evasive maneuvers -

But what I found most surprising about the episode was that a secondary character, McCoy, drives the heart of the story.

Cookie Monster: Who?

Me: Dr. McCoy.  Bones.

Cookie Monster: You mean Plum?

Me: Yes, Plum.

Cookie Monster: Plum on receiving end of best line in episode: “Stop tinking wit your glands!”

Me: Yeah, that horn dog!

Cookie Monster: And what about scientist on planet?  What kind of “arrangement” he have wit salt creature?  It be his planet wife?

M_113_Creature

Me: Possibly.  He did seem unusually attached and at one point all but says the creature requires salt…and love!  On the one hand, it’s a hideous alien creature that killed his wife.  On the other hand, it’s probably a great spooner.

Cookie Monster: Speaking of killing, it interesting to note dat original red shirt aktually wear blue shirt.

Me: Yes, the costume choices in the first few episodes are interesting.  It’s almost disconcerting to see Spock walking around in that beige turtleneck uniform instead of his science blues.

spock-3d-chess

Cookie Monster: And dat guy in beekeeper uniform.  What de deal wit dat? Enterprise have its own bee colony?  Me bet Kirk gather his own honey too!  Dere be nothing dis guy can’t do!

Me: Except use common sense to contact a fellow crew member.  Kirk and McCoy discover the second body, then walk around shouting for Green.  Is there any particular reason they couldn’t just use their communicators to contact him?

Cookie Monster: Could be Green not on Friends and Ship and Family plan.

Me: Can I just say that one of the high points of this episode is the introduction of Sulu.  George Takei is terrific and his character is an interesting and integral member of the crew from the get-go.

Cookie Monster: Gertrude, not so much.

Me: Gertrude being the alien plant.

Janice_Rand_and_BeauregardCookie Monster: Alien planet?  Sure.  But more likely just Chekov hiding under table wearing big pink glove.  He notorious practikal joker!  Anyway, it be very weird.

Me: Sure, but not as weird as Kirk on the bridge snacking on crudités before heading down to the planet’s surface.  I mean, really?  Couldn’t he have just swung by the mess hall?

Cookie Monster: Mebbe he be hypoglycemik!  Or he really need to carb up before big showdown wit salt creature!

Me: Actually, if anyone needed to carb up before the showdown, it would’ve been Spock.  Look at him deliver those two-fisted wallops!

“If she were Nancy, could she take THIS?!”  The ancient Vulcan alien-identification test?

Cookie Monster: And big twist come at de end when it revealed Nancy really…

image5 …De Abominable Snowman from de Land of Misfit Toys!!!

Me: Yeah, didn’t see that one coming.

Cookie Monster: Also, while we on de subjekt of toys…dose shots of de Enterprise in space!  Hooboy.

Me: Okay, yes, scifi television has certainly come a long way, but I nevertheless find those less-polished visual effects somehow endearing.  Which is how I feel about this episode in general.  A little rough around the edges -

Cookie Monster: And center!

Me: But nevertheless entertaining for its nostalgic elements.

So, what did you all think of The Man Trap?

We continue our Stargate TOS re-watch tomorrow when we’ll reconvene to discuss Charlie X!

Also, one week from today, we’ll begin discussion on the next five episodes on our viewing schedule: Mudd’s Women, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, Miri, Dagger of the Mind, and The Corbomite Maneuver.

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Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short.  In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.  Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal.  This year, I doubled last year’s score.  And, next year, I vow to do even better!

So, what were the standouts?  Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!

When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list.  After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!

Honorable mention goes to…

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A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.

Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).

http://www.chocolatearts.com/

#5…

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Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.com

#4..

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Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

#3…

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Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

#2…

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Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

#1…

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Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)

mink.chocolates

Congratulations to all the winners.  I’m hoping I’ll get to see you again soon.  REAL soon.

Continuing Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…The Eye!

1Ah, now this is more like it!  Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode.  She loved it.  Action!  Suspense!  Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects!  She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford).  She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard.  She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.

Overall: “I liked it a lot.  I’m getting used to this city.  At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.”  And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”

A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:

June 13, 2012: Dark Matter at Comic Con! Save Lennox the dog! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! The Eye and The Defiant One! Vote on our favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win!

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