May 212013


The next panel I attended was Michael Shanks. He’s starring currently in Saving Hope, just renewed for a second or third season, but most of the people at the panel are fans because he played Daniel Jackson on Stargate for 10 seasons. I thought Shanks was fantastic. Again, I was struck by how different it was from what I expected — I expected moderated “panels”, and what I got was one-man stand-up Q&As. I love the Stargate show, not a big enough fan to watch every week but I do have a bunch of seasons on DVD. Some highlights from his session:

  • He was asked if he ever studied archaeology before playing Daniel, and he told an amusing story that he had a month to prepare for his audition. During that time, he went to the ROM to look at their ancient Egypt section, watched the movie several times, etc. thinking it might help. Of course, it didn’t, and it wouldn’t have anyway since they bastardized the history of Egypt anyway;
  • He was asked if he didn’t play Daniel, who he might have wanted to play (I think the question was supposed to be other characters on the show), and his answer was a very obvious “Indiana Jones”;
  • Asked if there were any things he hated (more or less) about the show or some of the things he had to do, and his least favorite scene for dialogue was from Season 1 with Hathor (a Goauld who wants to impregnate all the males to create a new race) and who uses pheremones to capture them (okay, even typing that seems stupid), but his dialogue line at one point was to look at her like a puppy dog and say, “It’s like she’s a Queen bee”. He tried to get it dropped from the episode but the producers wanted it to explain to the audience the metaphor of what was happening…he did the line, but he said you can almost see the pain on his face doing it;
  • Someone asked if he liked working with Amanda Tapping again (he cameoed on Sanctuary), even though she’s long haired, brunette and with an accent now, but he said it was just Amanda, and he sees her everyday anyway (their kids go to the same school and they see each other at drop off);
  • It was noted that in all of his shows, he’s in constant peril of dying (SG, Burn Notice, Saving Hope) and he joked at least on SH he hadn’t died … yet!;
  • A woman asked him the geekiest question of the session, about whether his character was a jerk in the first season, since Daniel had had romances despite being married to Shar’e, who had been kidnapped by the Goauld. Shanks responded that Daniel wasn’t being a jerk, it was like they were on a “break”;
  • Given that Shanks apparently is a Canucks fan, and they were out of the playoffs, someone asked him if he would cheer for the Sens now. His response was that he had been in Toronto earlier that week when the Leafs had won a game (just a game, not a series or the cup!), and he said, “There’s nothing more obnoxious than a happy Leafs fan.” So, yes, he was willing to cheer for the Sens now;
  • In terms of things or gadgets he liked, he said he loved firing the guns. He used to call his buddies on days when they were doing huge gun firefights and ask them how their office jobs were going, cuz he was being paid to fire guns all day (which he noted gave him wood, so to speak);
  • Someone asked him about who he thought was the baddest villains (Baal and Hadria) and best race (Asgard). However, I never knew he had done the voice of Thor, the main Asgard they meet regularly. He noted that when he started doing the voice, it came out more like Hal from 2001 and ended up near the end like Stewie from Family Guy. Great impressions of all three included;
  • Someone asked him about working on Stargate: Unleashed (video game) and how he liked working with the cast again, but he noted that they actually didn’t work together — they all go into the studio and record their bits separately, which is why some of the dialogue doesn’t seem to line up completely in the game (some scenes apparently don’t flow for dialogue as well as others because they changed the wording slightly as they did it); and,
  • A person asked him about acting and if he missed doing more “respected” acting like Stratford etc. but Shanks noted that his decisions these days are all about how long he’ll be away from his family when he’s on set. A friend had asked him about doing Stratford, but it would have been a 9 month commitment. Even SH is costing him six months-ish per year and he finds it hard. On the other hand, while he doesn’t have an Emmy or an Oscar, he does have a Leo award and the Daniel Jackson action figure, which his wife (also an actress — Lexa Doig, formerly on Andromeda where he met her and now on the kick-ass show Continuum) is jealous of (i.e. him having an action figure of himself). He calls it his nerd oscar.

Overall, I thought we got a pretty polished session, with some glimpses into the real Shanks. Funny, upbeat, comfortable in his skin without “putting on a show” (as Filion seemed to be doing). As noted earlier, there are some pics attached to Part I. Next up — Wil Wheaton!


May 212013
Experiences -- Ottawa Comic Con 2013 -- Part III of V -- Batman 1966

A “big” draw this year was the cast from Batman 1966. Unfortunately, Adam West hurt his back recently and was unable to travel, so it was down to Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman). Burt Ward was a youthful 20 year old when Batman was taped, so he’s still in pretty good shape 45+ years later. Julie Newmar, however, was 33 when she filmed, and she turns 80 this year. Remember her Catwoman? A [...]

May 202013
Experiences -- Ottawa Comic Con 2013 -- Part II of V -- Firefly, Nathan Filion

Saturday morning, I was there bright and early. The “big” guest of this year was Nathan Filion. He would have been the official guest-of-honor but he confirmed late in the process (only a few weeks before). While I enjoy his work on Castle (and was disappointed before that when the show Drive was cancelled after only a few episodes), most of his fans are from the Joss Whedon universe — seeing him originally playing the [...]

May 192013
Experiences -- Ottawa Comic Con 2013 -- Part I of V

Before I get to reviewing my first Comic Con experience, I have to confess something. I’m not really that into the full Comic Con mindset. Honestly, I probably represent the softest form of the soft-core fan. Generally, I like the TV and movie elements, would never dress up in costume, don’t collect all the fan gear, and am happy to sit in the big hall and listen to the actors tell behind-the-scenes stories. I don’t [...]

May 192013
Experiences -- Ottawa Comic Con 2013 -- Part V of V -- Wil Wheaton & Conclusions

Sunday was a slow start for me. I figured I would be late for Gillian Anderson, so I went shopping for a Mother’s Day gift instead. Gillian (X-Files) had been the official “guest of honour” for the Show, but I’ll maybe catch her panel on the ComicCon’s Youtube channel later (they were all digitally recorded). I somehow completely missed the scheduling of a celebrity Q&A with Nathan Filion by himself for the Sunday (I must [...]

Apr 192013
Personal -- Help with a statistical question

So I need help with a statistical question. It starts off relatively easy, and then I complicate it with two aspects that result in my having no idea how to handle it at all. Let’s start with the easy part. Let’s assume there are two ranked lists, and in the first instance I’ll just do five things in the list: List One List Two A B C D E D E C A B What [...]

Apr 162013
Government -- Can I talk about development in less than 1000 words?

One of my commenters on a previous post noted that it is easy to go into detail and nuance when I have my own blog with posts as long as I want them compared to the limit of 750 words for an Op Ed.  Which seemed like a good challenge to me — can I take the 7500 words I wrote on “What is development?” and crunch it down into something semi-nuanced while staying closer [...]

Apr 122013
Government -- Two cultures separated by a common language

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging about the merger of FAC and CIDA and some of the implementation issues that I think they’ll face. In the short-term, it’s probably mostly about basic implementation and structural questions. In the medium-term, there’s a larger question about “what does ‘development’ mean in a Canadian context”, how the new DFATD sets priorities, and even how to potentially modify legislation that appears to be narrowly focused on development [...]

Apr 112013
Government -- Articles about when democracy starts looking weird

For those who know me in person, you know that I’m pretty much a government-wonk. Not in the “I care deeply about politics”, because I don’t. Generally, I think there are a lot of good people out there who do care about those things, and care deeply about the policy direction of various parties etc., but my policy interests are a lot more narrow. However, I do have very strong views about how things are [...]

Apr 092013
Publishing -- Article about self-publishing disrupting the industry

I admit that I have developed an almost unhealthy fascination with the publishing industry’s changes over the last five years. Separate from my own vested interest, I am also interested from an analytical perpective. People argue that “self-publishing” or “ebooks” are the changes that are sweeping their way through the publishing world, but I personally feel that it is more about the disentanglement of a previously integrated and controlled business model. In the past, you [...]