So, going through my list of everything I read in 2016, I note there were a lot more misses than hits last year.  This, in itself, shouldn’t all that surprising.  After all, I’m an admittedly tough reader.  What IS surprising is the disproportionate number of misses resulting from my being foolish enough to place my faith in some of the Best of 2016 lists compiled by various major websites and critics.  Yes, of course, your mileage may vary – but I’m not talking about recommended or starred books that failed to live up to potential or simply “weren’t my thing”.  I’m referring to overwritten, contrived, plodding, clumsily plotted narratives that had no business being on anyone’s “Best Of” list.  Books so bad they seriously had me wondering whether the person praising them even bothered to read them.

I take shitty book recommendations personally.  I invested time and money on a suggested read, time and money that could have been spent discovering better books.  What’s even more infuriating is the traction these critics and websites will continue to give these subpar authors, hooking other unwitting readers with their disingenuous reviews.  Look, I get it.  Your buddy or former co-worker or friend of friend could use the shout-out.  Or the publishing house would REALLY appreciate some good word of mouth.  But, next time, do me a favor and just shill these crap titles as part of your average entry.  By placing them on a Best Of list, you overplay your hand.  And as a result, you end up proving untrustworthy at best; a complete idiot at worst.

As I say: “Fool me once and I’ll never forgive you nor forget it and, someday, I will have my revenge.”

We have a new episode title!

The people have spoken.  And the winner is…


“Episode 30: All The Time In The World”

Thanks to everyone who voted.  You’ll get another say in another episode-naming poll next week!

Today marked Bubba’s first day since starting the Palladia treatment and we’re not sure if it’s drug, the cancer, or some other influence but he seemed off today. Slower to eat, reluctant to walk, and, perhaps most alarmingly, no longer interested in his treats.  We’re going to monitor him these next couple of days and, if these presumed side effects persist, we’re going to discontinue the Palladia.  In the end, we’d rather back 2-3 good months with him than 3-5 medium to bad ones.

As promised in yesterday’s blog entry, here are your choices for the Episode 304 titles.  Select one…


Do you notice a, uh, recurring theme?

Vote!  Polls close in 24 hours!

I’ve started compiling my Best of 2016 lists in preparation for the the third annual Rogue Star Awards.  Over the course of the next week or so, I’ll offer up my favorites in the following genre categories:

Best Short Story (31 shortlisted)

Best Novelette (7 shortlisted)

Best Novel (16 shortlisted)

Best Comic Book (13 shortlisted)

*Best Horror Film (contenders still under review)  *denotes a new category this year


Big day for Bubba.  This morning, he was the opening act in our family trip to the vet.  Dr. Batruch at the Front Street Animal Clinic is truly amazing and took us through the recent test results, our options, and the pros and cons of the Palladia treatment we’d been considering.  Following the visit, we decided to proceed with the Palladia and carefully monitor our boy.  We’ve also made an appointment to visit a homeopathic vet.


Suji rode shotgun on this one.  She was mainly there for moral support.


We swung by the bank today so I could pick up my replacement VISA card after the last one was compromised (No, I did NOT use my card to try to purchase gas in Phoenix the other day).  I’m a creature of habit, often frequenting the same restaurants and retailers, so when something like this happens, I tend to zero in on the out-of-the-norm places I recently used my card – and come up with two possibilities: a local restaurant and a pay-parking machine at a local lot.  My suspicions lean toward the lot.  I’m almost tempted to use another card to test my theory.


Apparently, Bubba’s life expectancy is 2-3 months but, aside from his hacking old man’s cough, you wouldn’t even know he’s sick.  He walked a good ten blocks today, his appetite is healthy, and he seems in great spirits.


Bubba’s Bucket List begins and ends with food.  Today, we took him to a place he’s been wanting to try for months – Bang Bang Ice Cream – where he shared some purple yam ice cream and a waffle cone with Akemi.  I had a toasted hazelnut ice cream and chocolate chip cookie sandwich.  That was some fine ice cream.


My third and final batch of hot sauce (habanero, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, smoked Chilean merken pepper, organic apple puree, apple cider, honey, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar) is a lip-smacking (in both senses of the word) masterpiece.  It’s a scorcher…but delicious as well.  A true culinary capsicum achievement.  I don’t know whether to eat it by the spoonful or smear into the eyes of my enemy.  It’s THAT good!


Today, I had lunch with Dark Matter Episode 305 director (and Bitten Executive Producer) J.B. Sugar, a guy who’s as gracious and good-hearted as he is talented. It was a sit-down to review his experience on the show which, I’m happy to report, was nothing but great.  Like his episode, a manic adventure chock full of action, humor, bittersweet character moments, and the Android’s most bizarre undercover guise yet!

On our way, we happened across this familiar fellow adorning some sidewalk art in support of the local Canadian film scene…


Why, yes, it’s none other than Cowboy Bruce McDonald, indie film auteur and occasional Dark Matter (Episode 107, 202, 206, 302, and 312 so far!) director.


Speaking of the Android – she is also enjoying a well-deserved break from all the shipboard mayhem.  Pictured above in relaxed mode.

Hey, who feels like voting for another episode title?


Another day, another hot sauce.  This one is a cascabel pepper and yellow bell pepper base with shallots, garlic, salt, apple cider vinegar, pear juice, honey, dehydrated organic Japanese pepper, and dijon mustard.  Surprisingly, a touch hotter than the cayenne pepper-based sauce I made yesterday.  But it will no doubt pale in comparison to tomorrow’s habanero-based hot sauce.

P.S. My new-found appreciation for things spicy comes from reading this book by Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo:


” Set in an alternative historical present, in a “eusistocracy”—an extreme welfare state—that holds public health and social stability above all else, it follows a young woman whose growing addiction to illegal chili peppers leads her on an adventure into a world where love, sex, and free will are all controlled by the state.”

My favorite read in recent memory.

img_6698 img_6697

Today, we brought Suji in for her first training session.  I know, I know.  She’s 11.  But she has a few bad habits – like barking at other dogs, people, balloons, cars, carrier bags, the occasional light reflection, and poopy bags being blown about by the wind.  In all fairness, she WAS raised in a barn.

Two days into my horror-fest and I’m four movies deep.  Last night it was Hush, about a deaf woman being stalked by a deranged killer (well-directed but there were a suspect character motivations that gave me pause).  This afternoon, it was Under the Shadow, an Iranian movie about a mother and daughter living in an abandoned apartment complex that may be haunted by a djinn (interesting but a little slow).  And then, tonight, it was The Witch, about a 17th century New England family targeted by supernatural forces (eerie and unsettling; the best of the bunch so far).

Thanks to everyone who has sent us well-wishes for Bubba.  He remains in good spirits.  Today, he actually walked the three blocks to the pet shop!


Then he ran out of steam, so we ubered it back.


There are still some rewrites to do, a couple of polishes to finish, and a series finale to break but, for now, I’m taking it easy.  For now, it’s all about the dogs.


We broke out the stroller for the dogs while Lulu managed to limp her way to the dog park long enough to say hit to all the dog owners before calling it a day.  Suji got to put on her wheels and motor around the park as well while Bubba, as usual, preferred to spend quality time with mom –


So, we’re wrestling with indecision regarding Bubba.  The oncologist recommended a drug called Palladia which is a chemotheraphy medication.  It seemed simple enough: give him a single pill every other day with his meal, alternating with Prednisone, a corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory.  But, when we got home and read the special handling instructions, Akemi instantly had second thoughts.  Always use gloves when handling the pill.  Always wear gloves when cleaning up after your dog and be sure to quickly bag and dispose of your dog’s feces.  Keep pregnant women, children, and other dogs away from your dog’s waste…which, on the surface, seems simple enough unless you consider urine which isn’t really covered in the handout.  Also, we have to other dogs.  What are we to do if Bubba has an accident in the house?  Do we have to start crating him?

Sure, there are answers, but they all lead to one big question: Is it worth it?  We tried to do everything we could for our boy Maximus and he was pretty damn miserable in the end.  Maybe the Palladia will buy Bubba more time, but will it be good time?

So far, he seems in good spirits and his appetite remains typically voracious, but Akemi has noticed changes in him.  He still gets excited at the prospect of going for walks but, the boy who used to love his lengthy strolls now only manages half a block before we have to pick him up and carry him home.  He’s had accidents in the apartment, once even finding Akemi before doing so as if trying to send her a message.  He doesn’t so much nap as he does drift in and out, which makes us wonder what kind of discomfort he is experiencing.  Akemi says she feels like, every days she’s losing him a different way.

I’m looking into some homeopathic and alternate treatments as well.  Chinese herbs.  Mushrooms.  Someone even recommended cannabis oil.  As for the Palladia, we’ll make a decision on that after the weekend.


I made another batch of hot sauce today using cayenne peppers, vidalia onions, garlic, salt, apple cider vinegar, apple cider, apple puree, brown sugar, hot smoked Chilean merken pepper, organic tomatoes.  Pretty damn tasty.  Akemi thought it mighty explosive (She describes it as “painful on the throat”) but I found it just so-so.  Tomorrow, I make another batch, but this time with the fresh habaneros I picked up from the farmer’s market.

I kicked off 9 day horror-fest with a viewing of The Invitation.  Although I guessed where it was going, I liked how it eventually got there.  A promising start.

photo courtesy of Roger Cross

photo courtesy of Roger Cross

And that’s a wrap on Dark Matter Season 3 Production Phase II.  The third and final phase commences a little over a week from now.  Until then, it’ll be R&R&R (Rest and Relaxation and Reading) for me.


Unfortunately, not everyone made it to the hiatus.  But those that did have earned a well-deserved break from 7:30 a.m. crew calls and 7:30 p.m. wraps.


A rare shot of the bridge from fake space.  This is usually where the actors kick back between scenes.

(Security feed playback courtesy of 1st Assistant Art Director Sumeet Vats and 2nd Assistant Art Director Victor Mare)

Hey, do me a favor and keep an eye on The Raza nest cam while we’re away!

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