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Something weird’s been up with Lulu lately, and I’m not referring to her fashion sense.  She’s been up at all hours of the night, drinking a lot (water only as I keep the whisky bottles out of reach), and seems to have lost a lot of the bulldogly exuberance that made her alternately adorable and annoying.  She has also been experiencing some rear limb weakness and, as a result, we’re off to consult with a neurologist tomorrow.  I’ll suppress the urge to submit the above picture as evidence of her unusual behavior for fear they’ll forego any actual tests and just admit her to the nearest doggy mental hospital.

Last night, she was up continually jumping off the bed, pacing about, drinking water, asking me to help her back onto the bed in her imitable way.  And I was up for most of the night with her.  On the bright side, I finished the fourth act of my latest script and came up with two terrific ideas – one to pay off a story element set up earlier in the script, another to bring back a certain character introduced in season one…in unexpected and shocking fashion.  Who needs sleep?!

Otherwise, it was a relaxing weekend.  Yesterday, Akemi and I got together with Jodelle (aka FIVE), to hit up the local farmer’s market.  Akemi and I picked up fruits, veggies, and fish.  Jodelle…

Bubble tea and a tiny Hello Kitty frying pan - presumably for making quail egg omelets.

Bubble tea and a tiny Hello Kitty frying pan – presumably for making quail egg omelets.

After that, we hit the dog park where Lulu ignored the other dogs and an equally unsocial Bubba hung out with mom –

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This morning, it was brunch with most of the crew of the Raza.  I held off on the tasty-looking bread pudding and cinnamon rolls with whipped cream in favor of my one weekend cheat snack:

The dark chocolate truffle and pistachio eclairs.

The dark chocolate truffle and pistachio eclairs.

They were good, but Nugateau’s eclairs are still the ones to beat.  Their dark chocolate versions are unbelievably decadent while their take on the pistachio eclair is probably the best dessert bite I’ve enjoyed in a loooong time.

 

Back to it tomorrow.  Is this the week I finally finish this script?  Possibly.  But it own’t get any easier as I’ll be on and off set, overseeing production on Episode 204 (with director John Stead) and prepping Episode 205 (with director Ron Murphy).  Check ’em out in action!

John Stead directs!

John Stead directs!

Ron Murphy preps.

Ron Murphy preps.

And preps. (It's one of our bigger episodes!)

And preps. (It’s one of our bigger episodes!)

Most shows are fairly secretive about production.  Sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes tidbits are rare because TPTB fear the release of the dreaded “spoiler”.  And what, exactly, constitutes a spoiler?  Well, opinions vary but shows tend to err on the side of caution, preferring to keep most things under wraps.  That means no set photos, script hints, or concept-to-completion insights in the lead up to broadcast.  And I get it.  But, from my experience working on Stargate, I always thought it a shame to hold off on those cool and informative “extras” until after the episodes aired because, at that point, you’re just preaching to the converted.  I’d argue why not reward the converted with a few visual appetizers to bridge the lengthy gap between seasons?  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m the last guy who’d want to ruin your viewing experience by spoiling the coming surprises in store, but I’d argue that there’s a difference between “teasers” and “spoilers”.  I adhere to wiki’s definition of the spoiler: “an element of a disseminated summary or description of any piece of fiction that reveals any plot elements which threaten to give away important details concerning the turn of events of a dramatic episode“. You won’t find those on this blog.  Teasers, on the other hand, are tasty little visuals to tide you over.  Sort of like…

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We needed a distinct-looking building for an upcoming episode and the Dark Matter Art Department knew just the man for the job.  Illustrator Bartol Rendulic has contributed to the show since its inception, sketching a designing innumerable ships and space stations including our very own Raza.

In this case, Bart gave us a plethora of early concepts to choose from.  We all gravitated to #5, above, but I ultimately thought it would make a better starship. What do you think?

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#8 really stood out for us as well, an imposing building with a crystaline structure.

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Lots to love in this batch too.  #9 and #10 were favorites, although we thought #10 could use another tiny abutment higher up and to the right of the structure.

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Some pretty inspired creations that are somewhat reminiscent of actual far-out buildings in Dubai.

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Probably the most unique of the bunch.   I was drawn to #14 because I thought it looked like a rabbit.  Am I crazy?

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#17 looks particularly fearsome.  I’d imagine sky drivers getting impaled all the time.

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Also very cool, this bunch reminded me of the Fortress of Solitude.

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I tend to prefer symmetrical designs but there was something about these two.

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Beautiful.  For some reason, whenever I see these three, I imagine a trio of leggy woman in evening gowns.  Of course, I reviewed these after our whisky club meeting so…

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We ended up choosing #10 (with the minor alteration).  We needed it sketched, in-story, and this was the first go by 1st Assistant Art Director Roxanne Borris.  Ultimately, we decided we didn’t need to see the alleyway and should just feature the building.  We wanted the sketch to be a little more detailed and closer to the original.

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And Roxanne delivered (as usual).

Bart, meanwhile, brought his original vision to life in spectacular fashion:

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Gorgeous, no?

From here, it’s off to visual effects whose job it will be to model, build, and bring the building to life.

But that’s a teaser for another blog entry.

http://bartoleum.deviantart.com/

http://bartoleum.artstation.com/

http://drawcrowd.com/bartoleum/projects

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Check it out!  The pasta of the future!  Chef Mallozzi Spaghetti & Meatballs!  Perfect for those nights you don’t feel like taking the transport shuttle to the moon base market for a supply run.  Thanks to 1st Assistant Art Director and Graphics Maestro Roxanne Borris for immortalizing me in  Dark Matter art department lore (since this particular label will never actually make it into an episode).

Speaking of food – I’m pleased to report I’ve made significant progress on my new get fit program for 2016.  A combination of early morning workouts, protein shake breakfasts, sensible lunches and dinners (punctuated by the occasional cheat meal) have yielded impressive results.  Four weeks ago, when I tried on that suit I had made in Hong Kong back in 2004, I couldn’t close the outside clasp, much less the button on the pants.  Three weeks ago, I was able to close the clasp – but the button was still a no go.  Two weeks ago, I was able to close both button and clasp in highly uncomfortable fashion.  One week ago, the pants were a snug fit. Monday is the final “pants-in”.  I feel like one of those contestants on that reality show where people lose all that weight, take part in challenges, and avoid getting voted out in a bid to win the big cash prize.  It think it’s called Survivor.

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Check out our snazzy-looking 1st Assistant Director, Brandon Tataryn (named after the disease from Episode 1o7.  Or maybe the disease was named after him.  I don’t recall.).  Today, during our Playback meeting, VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson accused him of wearing a Christmas sweater in January.  Brandon claimed it was, in fact, a space-themed sweater and the design is a totally apropos depiction of dark matter.  Then, about an hour later, he claimed it was a star field.  I mean, what’s next?  Asteroid belt?

What do you think?  Please cast your vote below…

Can anyone identify the artist?

Artwork by Juanita Nakamura

This latest script is slooooooow going.  Incredibly, excruciatingly slow going.  In fact, I think it’s taken me longer to write this script than any one hour script I’ve ever written.  Or, at least it feels that way.  Usually, I’ll reach a point in a script where things come together, even briefly, allowing me to tear off a nice little run of 5, 10, sometimes 15 pages in a sitting.  That has yet to happen with this one and I suspect that my conservative ETD (Estimated Time of Delivery) of “End of January” was overly optimistic.

It happens.  Never to this extent, but it does.  And in situations like these, there’s only one recourse: distraction!  Read, eat, surf the net.  The latter is a particularly fine option as it allows you to easily switch up, from script to amusing Star Wars meme, with a single keystroke.

During a recent mini writer’s block (more of an annoying impediment than a block), I happened across a short documentary called Girl’s Best Friend, about a woman and her elderly pug.  We’re introduced to Doreen and Spanky on a beautiful day in the park and we learn that Spanky is 16.  We also learn that the poor old boy suffers from a laundry list of ailments including mobility issues that restrict him to a stroller for his daily outings.  As I watched, I couldn’t help but note parallels between Doreen’s experience with Spanky and my experience with my pugs, Maximus and Jelly.   Whereas some viewers may have thought “So much trouble for a dog!”, I was thinking: “What a great dog mom!”.  At one point, we see Doreen taking the subway with Spanky, struggling to pull the stroller up, step by step, and I thought if I’d been there, I not only would’ve lent a hand but paid for a cab ride home as well.

The parallels to my experience didn’t end there and, inevitably, Doreen makes the hard decision I too had to face twice before.  It was a gut-wrenching watch but empathetically familiar and, ultimately, very touching.  If you’ve got your hankies handy, and want to take a break from YOUR scripts, you can check it out here:

https://youtu.be/Z2nsfSIvbDM

On a somewhat related note, I came across an article that touched on the most common regrets people have at the end of their lives.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-23024/the-9-most-common-regrets-people-have-at-the-end-of-life.html

Among the nine in-retrospect wishes: “I wish I had not spent so much time working.”, “I wish I had taken more risks.”, and “I wish I had lived my own dream.”, I’d probably add: “I wish I’d adopted more senior pugs.”.  Which I won’t have to because I’m determined to adopt a couple on my return to Vancouver this summer.

Okay.  Going back to my script now.

Maximus

Maximus

Jelly

Jelly

 

Huzzah!  We (and I do mean the collective “we” as YOU all helped choose them!) have another episode title for Dark Matter’s second season.  Last week, you all voted and the winner was:

“Episode 14: Welcome To Your New Home”.

This week, you voted again and while the results were much closer, there was a clear winner despite a late rally by the “Hello, Pumpkin” contingent…

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“Episode 15: Kill Them All”

Thanks for taking part and making t.v. history.  Stay tuned to this blog for our Episode 203 title poll.

Hey, check it out!  I invested in a nest cam.  Now, I can keep tabs on both the dogs AND the prisoners on Hyperion-8!

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“Just a little further!”.  Line Producer, Norman Denver, forged ahead, his constitution fortified by boxing and scotch.  “Almost there!”

I scanned the trees to either side, then the winding pathway that dipped up ahead before curving and disappearing behind the dense brush.

“Watch your step!”warned Brandon Tataryn, skirting a deadly patch of ice and then scurrying to keep up.

I gave the frosted path a wide berth, then threw a look back at our two stragglers, Executive Producer’s Assistant Elliot Sokolsky and Director Ron Murphy, both of who seemed to be having second thoughts about this whole forest venture.

It was approximately 3 p.m., the temperature was dropping, and the lunch we’d enjoyed at Hamilton’s premiere Indian restaurant was not sitting pretty.  We’d spent the morning scouting locations for Episode 204, three different warehouses, when Norman suggested we squeeze in a forest stopover.  It seemed like a good idea at the time and when, after a cursory stroll through one area, Ron had suggested we check out another area “just a short walk down”, I’d thought “Why not?”.  In retrospect: “Because it’s cold and dangerous, you fool!”

Norman, our fearless leader, stepped off the path and pointed off in the distance. “There’s the parking lot.”  Sure enough, there it was, our final destination, less than fifty yards away.  And the only thing standing between us and sweet, sweet heat was a treacherously steep forty foot mud-covered slope down, an equally treacherous, equally steep forty foot mud-covered slope up – and the frozen river in between.

“We can always go back,”Ron offered, almost plaintively.  Elliot seemed to be in full support, throwing me a look that said: “Please?”  I turned to gauge Norman but, by way of a response, the wiry Englishman was already heading down the slope, crouched low, like a seasoned wrestler poised for battle .  Brandon, like any good 1st AD, was blindly following his line producer’s lead, arms stretched out for extra balance – or, presumably, to help break his inevitable fall.

I watched their descent, fully prepared to turn and run back the way we came for medical assistance the second one of them toppled – but when they reached the halfway point, I was forced to reconsider.  I glanced back at Ron and Elliot who were, clearly, not convinced, then decided “What the hell” and followed.  Arms out for balance, keeping my center of gravity low, I negotiated the slippery moss-covered rocks and followed them down, ever so thankful I’d decided to switch over to my winter boots that morning.

It was touch and go, but – amazingly – we all made it to the bottom without losing our footing.  Then, we crossed the frozen river.  Norman sat on a fallen tree and sort of scooched his way along to the other side,  Brandon, Elliot, and I jumped for our lives –

Yours truly in mid-flight

Yours truly in mid-flight (photo courtesy of Ron Murphy)

While Ron walked an impromptu bridge.

Careful...(compliments of Elliot Sokolsky)

Careful…(courtesy of Elliot Sokolsky)

Careful!!! (courtesy of Elliot Sokolosky)

Careful!!! (courtesy of Elliot Sokolosky)

After down and over, there was nowhere to go but up!

Deliverance selfie (courtesy of Norman Denver)

I like to call this a Deliverance selfie (courtesy of Norman Denver)

The ascent was only slightly less perilous thanks to the handy saplings lining the slope, perfect for support and balance –

So long, suckers! (courtesy of Brandon Tataryn)

So long, suckers! (courtesy of Brandon Tataryn)

– but hazardous when they become uprooted while using them to pull yourself up…as was Norman’s experience.

I’m happy to report we all made it back to the parking lot – and, subsequently, back from our first location scout uninjured.  Hard to believe.

So as not to tempt fate, I think I’ll skip tomorrow’s “seedy bar” tech survey.

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Last week, you all helped select a name for our season premiere (now titled Episode 14: Welcome To Your New Home).

Today, the voting begins for our second episode title of the young season.  Your choices are…

So, what’s it going to be?  Cast your vote!  Leave your mark on television history!

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Blue screen blues.

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Sample battered metal for…oh…something.

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Design plan for an upcoming build.

Oh, hey!  Welcome to Janah-12!  Let 1st Assistant Art Director Kelly Diamond be your guide!

Or just use this handy directory…

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