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Feast your eyes!  Aint it glorious?  The Snow Monkeys are 2017 League of Accommodations fantasy football champions.  Final score…

In all fairness, it’s all thanks to Todd Gurley and the Carolina Panthers D truly stepped up for my Monkeys.

Ah, victory tastes as sweet as a double chocolate mocha!

So, I’m blazing through my final reads of the year in preparation for my annual Best Books of 2017 blog post.  This has been my best reading year since 2014 with a lot of great candidates, but I’m vacillating over how extensive I should make the list.  When all is said and done, I’ll have read a staggering 250 books on the year, 125 of them 2017 releases.  So, I’m thinking a top 25?  What do you think?

Since touching down in Montreal, Akemi and I have settled into a nice little routine. Every morning, we wake up at 6:00 a.m. with Suji who, unlike Lulu, is not a sleeper-inner, and then lie in bed, hoping against hope that she eventually drifts off and allows us a few more hours of snooze time (Spoiler alert!  She never does!). Then, after taking the dogs out, we hop in the car, laptops in tow, and head over to a quaint little coffee shop in Pointe-Claire Village (Victor Rose, a cafe so quaint that Akemi says it reminds her of something out of Ghibli movie) where we update our online lives over London Fogs (for her) and double chocolate mochas (for me!). Then, back to mom’s for lunch and whatever she has planned (Today, for instance, it’s a double-dose of visits with the relatives).  We usually culminate our evenings with dinner with my sister and Daisy, then it’s home for an early bedtime and two hours of reading.

Just between us, you know what I really hate?  New Year’s Eve.  Growing up, no event was more overrated than the ringing in of the New Year.  I hate champagne. And, as I’ve matured, my bedtime has gotten earlier and earlier.  Last year, I could barely keep my eyes open.  My attempts to observe UK Greenwich Mean Time, just for this single occasion, have been roundly dismissed.  This year, I’m going to try setting the house clocks ahead three hours, play a recording of 2016’s New Year’s Even Live and hope nobody notices.  Wish me luck!

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It’s not quite a final, but up 65+ points with only one player to play against, we can give my Snow Monkeys the W and stamp their ticket to the big dance.  Next week, it’s the championship game and my Snow Monkeys have opened as slight 3 point favorites.  And with a starting lineup like this, who’s gonna bet against them?

I have to give it up to next week’s opponent, Steve.  He hustled, made some bold moves, pulled of some terrific trades, then came on strong in the back half of the season.  He won’t win the championship but it doesn’t matter because he’s won the next best thing: my respect.

But not the championship.

Anyway, that was my day.  Also, I revised an outline and finished reading my 239th book of 2017.  And here I was, worried I wouldn’t be able to hit 250 by year’s end.

Okay, I’ve got three shopping days left before we’re Montreal-bound once again, this time with the dogs in tow (including Lulu who has been doing a fine imitation of a neutron star of late – a shockingly dense little package she is!).

Who dat?

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Look who’s smiling now

I think we can all agree that, amidst all this talk about Hollywood and television production and the pitching of various projects, we often lose sight of what’s truly important: fantasy football.  Well, I’m pleased to report that following twelve hard-fought weeks in which I lost my #1 draft pick to season-ending injury, had to drop another four draft picks due to underperformance, picked up and dropped and instantly regretted when somebody else picked up Bills tight end Charles Clay, my Snow Monkeys secured their first playoff spot in ages.  With one more week to go in the regular season, we’re sitting in 5th place with a record of 7-5, the most points scored, and poised to really make a post-season splash.  I mean, look at this team –

Gurley, Kamara, Hyde and Peterson in the backfield.  Brees leading the likes of Hopkins, Funchess, Adams, Davis, and Shepard.  Doyle and (the oft-injured) Reed at the TE position.  And a fearsome Panthers D feasting on opposing offenses.  We’re unstoppable!

With the exception of weeks 1, 5, 7, 8, and 10.

Oh, in addition to managing my Snow Monkeys, I also caught two movies: Killing of a Sacred Deer and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  The first boasts a terrific premise and is well-directed with some truly unnerving scenes, but is somewhat undone by a discordant score and awkward dialogue that, at first, lends to the film’s underlying uneasiness but, after all awhile, just gets annoying and borderline comical.  The movie ratchets up the suspense in increments, slowly but surely building towards a truly terrifying climax.  Still, to fully appreciate this one, you need to throw logic out the window.  It’s one of those movies that leaves you stunned – and then, upon further consideration, somewhat dubious.  A brilliant performance by Barry Keoghan.

Speaking of brilliant performances, Three Billboards is full of them.  Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell blow the doors off the Oscar bus. An incredibly compelling story with wonderful moments of humor – oh, and one unfortunate scene involving a coincidental overheard conversation.  Still, highly recommended.

For the rest of the week, it’s lunch, dinner, and in-between meetings.  Some sit-downs with a couple of authors.  The creative gear-up for next week’s writers’ room.  And a phoner with one of the Big Ten regarding a couple of proposed book-to-screen adaptations.  The plot thickens…

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Quick, get in!  Next stop = Slumber Land!

Hey, if you’re thinking of making our dogs new outfits, Akemi offers up the following doggy measurements.  I think she does a fairly good job of capturing Suji’s trademark wide-eyed wonder, and Lulu’s general furtiveness.

Who feels like kaka for dinner?  Pardon me?  Happened across this sign for a new Japanese restaurant a little while ago.  Debatable name aside, not sure how a restaurant that has yet to open can claim to be the “No. 1 rated all-you-can-eat sushi in Toronto”.  Who voted?  Time-traveling nigiri-enthusiasts from the future?

I’m sure we can all agree that, next to politics and religion, there is no subject more controversial than marzipan.  Its mere mention will incite a tirade so impassioned from my former writing partner you’d think almond paste had somehow played a role in the tragic passing of a loved one.  I, on the other hand, love the stuff, so you can imagine my delight the other day when I happened upon a Danish Pastry House pop-up and discovered the above pictured delicacy – some unpronounceable North Germanic confection comprised of marzipan, chocolate, sliced almonds, and assorted umlauts.  Delicious!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends.  May you be as generous as the Mark Sanchez-led Jets offense, and as thankful as the New England Patriots defense five years ago today.

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It’s all over but the crying (as my dad used to say).  Despite a valiant effort, and an impressive win in their last week of regular season play, it looks like my Snow Monkeys will come up one game short in their bid to grab that last playoff spot. There were a lot of missed opportunities this year, one of the biggest being our 1 point loss (a single point!) early in the season.  Ah well.

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Suji, meanwhile, has settled in and was showing off some surprising team colors early this morning.  Apparently, she’s a HUGE Drew Brees fan.

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Because she’s a little unsteady on her hind quarters, slippy-sliding across the hardwood floor, we’ve outfitted her with grippy doggy boots to help her negotiate her new surroundings.

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Lulu has taken a particular interest in her, intrigued by the interesting-smelling newcomer.

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They’ve even been hanging around together.

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But Suji seems to prefer human company.  She’s a lap dog in the truest sense of the term.

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Today, we hit the park.  Here’s Suji, ready to take flight.

And she’s off!

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A quick trip to Homesense snagged us three new doggy beds and this stylish festive hat.

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Ah, that sense of wonder…

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She’s growing more comfortable in her new home.  This afternoon, she even padded up to the patio door and asked to go out to pee.  At least I think that’s what she was doing.

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Enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Like most pugs, she enjoys lazing about.  But she’s also pretty spunky, jumping out of bed to greet us when we come home, and running the carpet from our apartment to the elevator like a dog half her age.  She also LOVES to sleep in, which is something we have in common.

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Lulu breaks in the new dog bed.

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Relaxed.

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Suji took a trip to Homesense, Lulu got to go to the dog park, and Bubba joined us for a visit to the pet shop.  After every light he crosses, he’ll sit down on the sidewalk and patiently await his “good walking” reward.

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14 and still going strong!

Well, back at it tomorrow for me.  Main unit is at “the warehouse” while 2nd unit shoots (and I do mean that literally) in The Raza underbelly.

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Noooooooo!

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Nooooooooo!

SUMOTO, JAPAN - MARCH 17:  A 20-year-old Japanese macaque monkey named Monday scratches her eyes while suffering an allergy to pollen from the cedar tree at Awajishima Monkey Centre on March 17, 2013 in Sumoto, Japan. Many monkeys are suffering the effects of hay fever at this time of the year, with the typical symptoms being the same as with humans.  According to Awajishima Monkey center this year hay fever is higher than last year, the pollen season is from February to April.  (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

 (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images) 

Nooooooooooooo!

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My Snow Monkeys were trounced in week 12 fantasy football league play, blowing an opportunity to secure a first round bye in the upcoming playoffs.  Relegated to third place following this humiliating loss, my team must win next week AND hope This Ones For John loses in order to avoid a potential first round post-season match-up against either the red hot Tramp Stamps or the Ivon Bartok’s dominant Running Dead.

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Sad monkey.

On the bright side, tomorrow, official prep begins on Dark Matter’s second season.  On tap tomorrow – director Amanda Tapping leads the proceedings with:

9:45 – 10:00 : Episode 202 Props Meeting – Re: The Claw

10:00 : Set walk-thru

15:00 : Episode 201 – Concept Meeting

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Yeaaaah!   The young NFL Fantasy Football season is off to a rollicking start with an atypical week 1 win for my Snow Monkeys.    The highlights included stellar performances by WR1 DeAndre Hopkins, RB1 Jeremy Hill, the top-ranked Panthers D, and QB Andrew Luck who may have played below expectations but still managed to rack up a respectable 22 points in a winning cause.

With a 1-0 record and the #1 waiver wire pick (Come to poppa, James Jones!) the fearsome Snow Monkeys appear primed to make a championship run!  Check out the gory details…

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So, how did YOUR fantasy teams do in week 1?

In what you’ll no doubt consider comparatively less exciting news, I also found time – between researching free agent players and considering my week 2 lineup – to convene with the rest of the writers to continue our discussions on Dark Matter’s second season.  Familiar names (Titch, Alexander Rook, The General, Jace Corso) were being bandied about alongside some unfamiliar though no-doubt-destined-to-be-just-as-memorable names (Nyx, Arax, Devon, Reynaud, Chief Inspector Kierken).

The directors’ schedule will start to solidify in the coming weeks with, again, some names familiar and unfamiliar (and familiar for other familiar shows ;)).

 Conference call tomorrow to discuss that 16-point season 1 post-mortem after which it’s smooooooooooooth sailing!

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