September 25, 2016: Dark Matter DON’TS and Dogs!

So, what do you NOT want to see in Dark Matter’s third season?

I always get requests for the things fans WANT to see in the show but rarely do I ever hear about what fans DON’T want to see…until after the fact.  So, weigh in. I’m asking.  I’m curious because at the beginning of every season, there will often be some…creative disagreement.  I like to think that, having spent 15+ years of my television career writing and producing SF television, I have a fair notion of what scifi fans do NOT want to see.  BUT – I could be wrong.  So here’s your chance to confirm my suspicions…or set me straight.  Please leave your rejections and repudiations in the comments section.

The long overdue doggy update…


We first noticed that something was up with Lulu when we used to go to the dog park.  Whenever she would hit a gravely pitch, she’d drag her hind quarters as if paralyzed.  It would only happen on gravel so I didn’t give it much thought.  But gradually, we noticed she had started to slow down and didn’t seem as enthusiastic about her walks as she used to.  We brought her to the vet and then a neurologist in Toronto, and neither could pinpoint a problem.  Maybe it was old age.  But then, a couple of months ago, at a french bulldog meet-up, someone informed me that these movements could be an indication of some neural abnormality and I should really get a second opinion.  So, we did, visiting another neurologist whose initial tests suggested, yes, it could be a neural issue.  We’re set up for another round of tests.  Tomorrow, Lulu will go under a mild anesthetic so the clinic can do some x-rays, an ultrasound, and run some bloodwork.  If the initial findings warrant, she’ll undergo an MRI soon after.  And, if the MRI confirms the initial suspicions, she’ll have to undergo surgery – which can hopefully be scheduled before our return to Toronto, next Tuesday.  While under general anesthetic, she may also have corrective surgery on her soft palate because we’ve noticed she’s been having trouble breathing lately, occasionally having to sit up a few times a night to catch her breath.


Last year, Bubba had a lump removed from his head.  The initial biopsy suggested it was malignant but a post-surgical analysis revealed it was benign.  Then, a couple of months ago, we noticed a couple of new lumps on his head.  The vet, again, suggested we have them removed so we scheduled surgery at a local clinic. Days later, we noticed a lump on his leg.  We had that tested as well and the results of that proved inconclusive – but it was strongly recommended that we have that lump removed as well while he was in for the surgery.  So, we requested the vet forward the information and request to the clinic.  They said they would. But it was only after Bubba’s surgery that we discovered the information was sent after the fact.  The lump was not removed.  We were referred to an oncologist who suggested Bubba be given an anti-cancer vaccine – but only after he goes in for an ultrasound (Tuesday) to make the situation isn’t any worse.


To those wondering about my Snow Monkeys, they are headed to a blistering 0-3 record in fantasy football league play.   A combination of bad drafting, poor management decisions, and plain bad play have all contributed to our anemic start. It’s been truly a team effort.

September 24, 2016: Back in Van!


My last meal in Tokyo was an unagi don at Chikuyotei in Ginza.


My first meal in Vancouver was duck confit, buttermilk biscuit, with onion gravy and a fried egg at Mission in Kitsilano.


And their crazy-delicious french toast.


Then, over to Beta5 for a Butter Beer Sundae: chocolate stout ice cream, butterscotch ripple ice cream, chocolate wand casting a cotton candy spell, feathers of owl, wizard’s hat, chocolate cake, vanilla chantilly.

img_0748A little something I picked up at Narita Airport – Wasabi KitKats.  Surprisingly subtle – and tasty!


Akemi excitedly awaiting her luggage.

The dogs model their new stuff!  Lulu in her new bomber jacket…

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Bubba sports his new backpack –


Double trouble –


Akemi and Bubba, reunited!

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Now, it’s Bubba’s turn to go on vacation –


I’m exhausted.

Tomorrow, I start reviewing script notes.  Hurray.

September 24, 2016: Sayanora, Japan!


Well, it’s been a fun two weeks in Japan and, while I’d hoped the time away would prove restful, I’m actually more wound up and stressed out now than I was upon my arrival two weeks ago.  My bid to “get away from it all” proved fabulously unsuccessful.  And so I’ll return, vexed, seething, and extremely cantankerous.  Woe to those who choose to get on my bad side.  I’m gearing up for battle!


Or, if you prefer the classics…


Let’s do this!

Well, for our last day of fun, Akemi and I hit a bunch of places…


And early(ish) morning walk through Tsukiji.  Check out the levels of marbling on that wagyu!


Soba lunch in Omotesando at a restaurant that was nowhere near as popular as the others in the neighborhood with their snaking lines, but was delicious nevertheless.



A little shopping in Ginza.


A terrific final dinner at Sushi Taichi, located down a dark, sketchy-looking alley in Ginza.


Then, hey, just like old times!  A stopover at Star Bar for a drink.


Yoshida-san recognized me despite my three year absence.


Then, a short walk to Star Bar’s second Ginza location, Star Bar Ties where our old friend Yamasaki-san was helming the bar.


We cap our evening with a late night snack in the form of sake-kasu cheesecake in a cup.  We had six to choose from, eventually going with the one described as: “Sweet and refreshing flavor. And a lot of females like it.” (according to Akemi).  Winner!


Another farewell – this one to Toshiba-san who has been taking great care of us at the hotel for many years.

 Okay, off for lunch at Chikuyotei, one of Akemi’s favorite eel restaurants, then check-out, the 90 minute ride to the airport, the two hour wait to board, the eight and a half hour flight, and, finally, back in Vancouver for 9:35 a.m. (1:35 a.m. Tokyo time) refreshed and ready to start my day!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular maggiemayday.  Wishing you a speedy recovery!

September 23, 2016: Tokyo Day #9!

Today marks our last full day in Japan.  Tomorrow, we head back to Canada and I have very mixed feelings about that.


Yesterday, we met up with Akemi’s sister, Hiromi, at Tokyo Midtown.  While waiting for her to show, I ate one of the largest pistachio cream puffs I’ve ever encountered.


It was…indescribably good.  I was even thinking about ordering a second but Akemi suggested I just share with her sister.  Share?  SHARE?!!!  Upon her sister’s arrival, she elected to go with the pistachio cream puff as well but, as I’d hoped, insisted she couldn’t possibly eat the whole thing.

Then went ahead and ate the whole. thing.😦


The Aota sisters, a contrast in styles.


From Midtown, we headed back to Ginza where we checked out more dessert stops, a toy store, various tableware (I’m thinking of getting myself a dedicated sake cup because I think I’m going to need it), and a kimono shop.


Akemi and friend.


At one point, Akemi was browsing the purse section at one of the high end shops when the sales lady tried to sell her on a clutch she was considering…

Her: It’s not unreasonable.  It’s less than two thousand dollars.

Akemi’s eyes widen.

Her: It’s also great for instagram!


Ah, now THIS is more my speed.  And just in time for Halloween!

Last night, we had a magnificent meal at L’effervescence.  It was Akemi’s first time and she loved it!

On tap for today – a final round of sushi, shopping and, possibly, sweets.

September 22, 2016: Tokyo Day #8!

“Blow a gasket”.  I’d always heard that quaint turn of phrase but could never really envision it, or apply it to my life…until this morning when I woke up to an email that made me, well, “blow a gasket”.  I mean, holy shit.  Really?  REALLY???  I am presently seething and should progress to a nice little simmer by the time I return to Canada, then a full blown boil the week after.


Yesterday, we checked out the Dali, Venetian Renaissance Painters, and TeamLab exhibitions.  Today, our Tokyo museum tour continued with a visit to…


The sole satellite Snoopy museum outside of California.

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Although my sister was the big Snoopy fan growing up (and still is), the Peanuts gang still holds a special place in my heart.  Not quite Flintstones and 1967 Spiderman cartoon level – but still.


The tickets were vintage comic strips from this day in Peanuts history.


The entry room featured video displays, photos of Charles M. Schulz, his family and various dogs, and this giant 3D art piece…


Actually made up of hundreds of comic strips.

From there, we were ushered into a second room to watch a four minute intro to the Peanuts comic strip and the museum.

Then, we moved onto another room featuring a history of the Peanuts comic strip.


The next room held hundreds of vintage Peanuts toys, sketches, and cells.  Boy, it took me back.

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We finished off with a visit to the gift shop…


I dropped about $50 on strictly Snoopy-related merch.  My sis in for a treat!


The Men’s Room.


If you’re feeling munchy, there’s a Peanuts-themed eatery, The Blanket Cafe, as well as a Peanuts-themed food truck.


I’m on vacation.


On our walk back to the subway, I stop to take a photo of this giant silver crab.


And, on our work through Omotesando, snapped a photo of one of my favorite structures in Tokyo – the Prada Building.

I then headed off and met up with my friend Moro-san for lunch.  I was having a fine time…until they ran out of the dessert I requested.  Sensing my disappointment, Moro-san took me to a cafe in Ginza where she ordered one of the most hideous desserts I’ve ever seen.  Ingredients included beer jelly, black truffles, dill, and parsley.


Hey!  It’s my new favorite Japan character – Gudetama.  He’s an egg!

Dinner was at Teatrino Da Salo and featured an Italian multi-course extravaganza.

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Consider me suitably wowed.


Sayanora to my friend Moro-san.  Farewell for another year.  Mata ashita!

Tagged: Snoopy Museum, Snoopy Museum Tokyo

September 21, 2016: Tokyo Day #7!


Typhoon Malakas rolled through Tokyo late last night and most of yesterday was one long wet preamble to the storm.  To be honest, I didn’t mind so much.  It cleared out the crowds, clearly dampening many Tokyoites enthusiasm for shopping, and also cooled things down a few degrees.  Also, hey, I’m from Vancouver.  I love the rain.


So, while most of Tokyo was indoors, battening down the hatches, Akemi and I braved the elements – hatches brazenly unbattened – and hit Akihabara, aka Electric Town, aka Electrical Town, aka Anime Central, aka Geek Heaven.  Our two hour tour in photos –


Lots and lots for discerning, and perhaps not so discerning, anime fan to check out.

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A little something for your cosplay closet.

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Home decor for everyone’s tastes!


Human-size pillows for those lonely nights.  I’d like mine in Olivia Wilde, please.


Creature-themed sake.  Monstrously good!


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Neon Genesis Evangelion Gendo Ikari cookies.  Bittersweet, no doubt.


I’m not sure, but I have a feeling Das will take all three.

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We take a break from the action.


While walking around looking for a lunch spot, I noticed this delicious looking pizza place.  What is that they’re serving up on that woman’s back?  Rosemary, cranberries, and fontina cheese?

Tonight, we had dinner at Sushi Tokami whose young chef has been wowing locals with his inventive, sometimes brazen ways.  Like offering paper thin sliced onions as a side dish.  Or serving uni two ways, raw and cooked, in the same bite.  And ending the meal with a unique take on the traditional tamago, served brûlée style.

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Can I just say how much I love sake.  My good friend Ivon Bartok will vouch for this.  I’m not a wine guy, enjoy the rare beer, and even whisky is one (okay, maybe two) drink max.  But sake…  You know, what’s amazing?  How a mere two bottles can loosen up the storylines knotted in my head, allowing me to more effectively piece together the grand narrative puzzle I’ve designed.  As I’ve often said, I know where I’m going but, occasionally, figuring out how to get there is the challenge.  But, after last night, two big Holy Shit! character backstory elements snapped clearly into place.  But more of that in season 3.

Or, more specifically, Episodes 7 and 12.


September 20, 2016: Tokyo Day #6!

Well, I spent most of the day thinking and worrying about my french bulldog Lulu and how best to proceed with her soft palate surgery, then the other most of the day thinking and worrying about the show’s third season.  In the case of the latter – I mean, sure, I know where I want to go, have worked out all of the character and story progressions, but actually getting there is always the challenge as, invariably, you get these inevitable curveballs thrown your way.  It’s alway so unnecessarily complicated.  It shouldn’t be but, really, welcome to show business.

But I’ll save that little rant for another time.

Tokyo!  Day #5!  Another 22k_ steps!  We covered a lot of ground today!


Apparently, outside of Tsukiji Market, there’s not all that much to do in Tokyo early morning.  Rather than hang around our hotel room, Akemi and I decided to take a walk through Hibiya Park – a little oasis in the heart of the urban mayhem.


We’ve been missing our dogs so much that we’ve resorted to pestering local dog owners for some time with their pooches.  Pictured above – Akemi and her now pal.


We arrived early in Naka-Meguro, about an hour and a half before lunch, so we took a stroll through the neighborhood and came across this little dessert(ish) shop.  Akemi had apparently heard about it.  The shop’s owner incorporates vegetables into all her desserts in an effort to get kids to eat their veggies.  A few of the menu items on display…


Not so strawberry shortcake, in which the strawberries are replaced with Japanese tomatoes and greens.


Avocado cheesecake!


And the intriguing but daunting asparagus tiramisu.

I know, I know.  Perfect Weird Food Purchase of the Day potential.  But I didn’t want to ruin my lunch.


We ended up at my favorite pizza join in Tokyo – Pizza Seirinkan.  Your choices here are simple.  You can have the Margherita.  Or you can have the Marinara.


One of the cheapest meals of this trip and one of the best.


Akemi agrees.


For dessert, a stopover at Jean-Paul Hevin.  Despite the triple chocolate order, our waitress professed her faith in our ability to polish them off.  Her confidence in us proved well-founded.


I picked up this terrific Crayon Shin-Chan t-shirt at the T.V. Asahi store.  This way, there will no longer be any confusion when I visit set.


With the entire afternoon in front of us, we decided to broaden our artistic horizons by checking out some of the local exhibits.  First up: The Dali exhibition and a Venetian Renaissance Paintings exhibit at the National Art Center.


Then, we walked over to The Mori Art Museum for The Universe and Art, part of the TeamLab exhibitions Akemi was very eager to check out.  This one was more her speed.  Some of my highlights…


Part of artist Laurent Grasso’s Studies into the Past.


Artist Jia Aili’s “Hermit from Planet Dust”.

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Jules de Balincourt: “Cosmic Chaos” and “Space Investors”.


Sorayama Hajime’s “Sexy Robot”.


Artist Neri Oxman’s “Saturn’s Wanderer”: “Saturn’s Wanderer is created to adapt to the vortex storms on Saturn. It has a large surface area that would contain bacteria that converts the planet’s hydrocarbons into edible matter.”  Love it!


A little something to add to Melissa O’Neil’s wardrobe in season 3?


SEArch/Clouds AO: “Mars Ice House” – 3D printed resin model with wood base, internal light.

And then there was an amazing, full room video experience from TeamLab.  A small excerpt:

With that done, we headed to Roppongi Hills for a little more walking.  And I happened to come across these DC comics-themed characters –


Hey, check it out!  It’s Jason Momoa!


Finally, for dinner, we went to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.


The sea urchin in lobster jelly with cauliflower cream to start.


And a chartreuse souffle with pistachio ice cream.

Today, we head to Akihabara – Electric Town – Anime Central – Geek Heaven.

Perhaps another Periscope coming your way?

September 19, 2016: Tokyo Day #5!

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I love Tokyo at night.  The bright lights.  The flashing neon.  The sights.  The sounds.  Throw in the time difference, a touch of jet lag, and you have an almost surreal experience Anthony Bourdain once likened to the sensation of dropping acid.


After wandering about for half an hour, looking for somewhere to eat, Akemi and I finally ended up at a modest little Korean restaurant.  Pictured above: Akemi stares longingly at my hot plate.


Yatta!  Her salad has arrived!


I ordered a hunk of beef.  First, they rendered the fat, then they seared the outside of the meat.  Every two minutes or so, a different staff member would stroll by and give it a flip.  I left the cooking to the professionals.


And voila.  Served with two different dipping sauce – and the option to sear it up a little more for a well-done consistency.


Wait!  Don’t go in here!  We’re going to Daikanyama instead!


I love the Daikanyama neighborhood because, on any given day, you’re likely to encounter about a dozen dogs out and about.  Today was no different and, although we did run into another french bulldog, our trip so far has been disappointingly pug-free.


This little guy anxiously awaiting his mom.

After lunch at one of Sushi Sawada, we decided to check out Nakana Broadway.  It was billed as a one-stop-shop for all my anime needs (as opposed to the more dispersed Akihabara neighborhood) and, while I did appreciate the four floors of fun, I still prefer Electric Town!


Considering a career as a Mexican wrestler?  This place has you covered.




Kinniku (Muscle) Man!


Don’t recognize this guy from anything, but he was my favorite.  Had a sort of rock ’em sock’ em robot feel.


Vintage astronaut?


Robotman.  Of course.




Thor?  Is that you?


Randomness, a little help here identifying?

And then there were the oodles of creepy dolls…


It’s like the eyes follow you.




Still following…


Perfect for your haunted home.


The otaku Holy Grail – a mural art of over a hundred anime girls!

Finally, last night was dinner at Esquisse – another old favorite.

On the home front, sis reports that the dogs are doing fine but believes she has found the root of Lulu’s infrequent vomiting and gas.  What at first we took to be the symptoms of a bad stomach is, my sister believes, is the result of her soft palate issues that cause her to breathe in water when she’s drinking.  She recommends the surgery to address the issue.  It’s something I’ll have to look into asap.

My poor gal.


And old boy.


September 17, 2016: Tokyo Day #4!

So, that finale…


I’ll avoid commenting suffice it to say we are hard at work, providing answers to a few of the, uh, outstanding questions we were left with at episode’s end.  And, I guarantee you – BIG answers coming your way in season 3.

But, for now, I’m still enjoying Japan with Akemi.

Yesterday, we were super lazy, sleeping in (after our 40+ piece sushi extravaganza) and only getting out of a bed a little after 7 am.  Then, we headed to Tsukiji Market where I did a little Periscope session –

Tsukiji Market Periscope

Still getting the hang of these damn things.  At least I know to title them before starting.  Now, all I need to do is keep them to around 5 minutes – oh, and, uh, avoid saying “basically”, “actually”, and “uh” and they’ll be perfect.  Stay tuned!

So, after breakfast, Akemi and I went our separate ways.  Temporarily.  I headed off to a regular (annual) lunch favorite of mine, Butagumi, with my friend Moro-san.


This appetizer is unbelievable and, dare I say it, the best thing on the menu: crispy pork, garlic, green onions, soy and shichimi spice.  I always get a double-order.


Three types of pork – Iberico, natta-buta, and a third one I can’t remember…that was actually my favorite.

While I was at Butagumi, Akemi was in Shinjuku checking out the sights:

“There are a bunch of geek people taking pictures of this wall…”


We got together again in Omotesando where we paid another visit to La Maison de Chocolat.  Not pictured – my ice cream sundae.


An ad for what looks like a new yakuza cooking show.  Akemi suggests we could do our own version: “Cooking with THREE”.


Checking out the Belgian beer festival in Roppongi.  Akemi stops to admire the giant fries.


The city is dotted with “kobans”, police boxes (more like kiosks).  They update a daily count of the city’s injuries and fatalities.


A walk through a surprisingly quiet Harajuku yields this fabulous find: Transformer longboards.

Yesterday saw us shattering our previous step count record by racking up an impressive 25k+ steps

Tagged: #DarkMatter, #Joepan2016, Dark Matter, Tokyo

September 17, 2016: Tokyo Day #3! Oh, and that Dark Matter season finale!


Tonight, following the season premiere of Z Nation, it’s the season 2 finale of Dark Matter.

This episode changes everything.  Trust me.  Fans are going to be feeling passionate after this one.

And, while you’re all watching Dark Matter, I’ll be continuing my Tokyo travels.

Yesterday, we took the shinkansen from Osaka (arriving in a lightning 2.5 hours).  Check out the view outside the window…

Zippy, no?

We did a lot more walking, this time through Roppongi, before finally ending up at our very favorite sushi restaurant in the world: Sushisho Masa.  Now, the thing that differentiates Sushisho Masa from every other high end omakase sushi restaurant is the sheer inventiveness and variety of sushi.  All other places will serve a set number of pieces of nigiri, between 12 to 18, all usually top quality and fantastic. Masa, on the other hand, serves roughly 40 sushi bites, ranging from the grilled octopus shirako to melt-in-your-mouth tuna nigiri.  Last time we visited, Akemi could barely walk after her meal.  This time, she asked for the “josei portion” and, while she did leave the restaurant feeling full, she only insisted on an hour long post-meal walk.

Some of the highlights:

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Masa-san does something I’m never seen any other sushi chef do.  Before serving o-toro, the prized, highly marbled top end tuna belly, he carefully trims the paper thing individual fat layers.  He claims this results in a much more pleasurable taste and textural experience.  I’d have to agree.



Masa-san and part of his team.  ’til next year!

Well, I’m off to the Tsukiji Market.  If I have time, be prepared for a live Periscope!