May 7th, 2014


Kill. Die. Repeat. Repeat.

Another day. Another Amazon package. Another pre-ordered new release.

This one was an impulse purchase. I am not a comic aficionado, though like video games and D&D I know enough to be conversant and enjoy some of the inspired movies. I draw a line between comics and graphic novels -- I own a few of the latter, including two Batmans and The Crow. I found the movie version of The Crow to be the best film interpretation of a graphic novel I have ever seen. Oh, and Maus.

But I know Nick Mamatas from online. And I have been excited about his current job to bring some Japanese SF to America. So having already pre-ordered the novel, this was an easy sell.

All You Need Is Kill [Graphic Novel] / Based On The Novel by Hiroshima Sakurazaka, Adapted by Nick Mamatas, Art by Lee Ferguson.
San Francisco: Haikasoru, (2004) 2014.

Didn't I just write this review? No, you're not in a time loop. It was just a week ago that I got the movie tie-in paperback and enjoyed it very much. So... how's the graphic novel?

It's gorgeous. I saw a comparison shot of the artwork with the Japanese manga, and I have to say I like this one better. The colors are rich and dark. The feeling of motion, practically dancing with their armor -- it's far thinner and graceful than it has any right to be in real life, but that's the artistic vision.

The story is cleanly edited down, almost spare, but many key scenes and lines are included. I read the novel a week ago. It would be a very different experience to swap the order. And the same between the original story and the movie which comes out June 6th. Of course, Keiji Kiriya is Japanese here -- I have no idea if they are going to try to spin Tom Cruise as Japanese or not. Still, Keiji isn't drawn aggressively Japanese. So if you want to paste Cruise in your mind, this graphic novel won't cause a cerebral hemorrhage.

It's a slim volume, but it's beautiful.

Recommended -- as a companion to the novel

Dr. Phil

PS -- Of course Nick is now talking about how he's a military science fiction author. Er-rrr, it's nice work, but it's an adaptation from a translation. Not quite the same thing as coming up with it from your own mind. (grin) Though of course Nick might point out he got paid for it. (double-grin) So he wins that round...


May the First -- May Day
May the Fourth -- Star Wars Day (May The Fourth Be With You)
May the Fifth -- Cinco de Mayo (May The Fifth)

To all these celebrations, we now add:

May the Sixth -- the Anniversary Of The Year Without Summer

It was Monday 6 May 2013 that a wound specialist with Spectrum Home Nursing took one look at my foot and said, "You're going to the ER." I couldn't even get up off the floor, I'd gotten so sick and weak, and the Allendale Fire Department came, put me on a canvas sheet and pulled me through the house, into the garage and onto the gurney from Life Ambulance. I wouldn't be released to go home until 19 October 2013 -- 5½ months later.

Mrs. Dr. Phil, whose summer was equally long and did heroic duty holding everything together AND visiting me nearly every day, proposed we go to this Mexican place she found last summer, near the one hospital, have dinner and thumb our noses at the hospital. I proposed that we go to Baldwin Street and Bangkok Taste in Jenison MI -- she'd just talked about needing a run there to get the seafood dish she gets nearly every time we go there. I get duck nearly every time.

It wasn't a hard sell.

Dr. Phil celebrating May The Sixth NOT in the hospital. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Mrs. Dr. Phil celebrating May The Sixth by NOT having Dr. Phil in the hospital. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Our feast:
Cream cheese and crabmeat wrapped with wonton skin, served with sweet sauce.

SP3 NOODLE SOUP (with vegetables)
Noodles, bean sprout, onions, lime juice, beef flavor, black pepper, hoisin sauce and chili paste.

Crispy catfish slice topped with green peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggplant and coconut milk in a red curry.

Half duck Thai style barbequed, served with Thai special sauce.

The innocent sounding Noodle Soup, medium hot, was spectacular and HOT. They had us at lime juice -- and there really was a strong lime flavor, especially the mushrooms.

The fish and the duck always change, but the BBQ Thai special sauce was lovely and the duck slid off the bones. I would normally try some of Mrs. Dr. Phil's fish, but the soup was a huge soup for two and we both had two bowls. So we were full.

Our main courses... I killed the built-in flash and jumped up to ISO 1600 to make it look more like food. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Just as I started to back up the Bravada after dinner, the Low Fuel light came on, so when we got to Allendale we stopped for gas. Now Friday gas was $3.63.9/gal. And it was $3.42.0/gal this morning at 9am -- so what the hell happened that it was $3.78.9/gal at 7pm?

Still, I got a nice shot of the pink flowering trees we pased this morning. Of course they were backlit this morning. (grin) You shoot with what you've got. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

It was a lovely day for driving around, though the thunderstorms have just hit at 2am. But all in all, a fine May The Sixth celebration. A new tradition in our household. Y'all are free to celebrate May The Sixth, too, hospital stay optional.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

Huh. The Future Looks Remarkably Like Now.

Several waves of thunderstorms rolled through last night. The 3am storm was particularly noisy, plus a few rounds of heavy rain and possibly hail. The 7am storm provided entertainment for breakfast.

Gotta watch out for these storms.

You think Dorothy had it tough -- We're living in the future now!

Mrs. Dr. Phil had glanced at the VCR, which though it no longer plays a tape does serve as a living room clock.

It says it's 5:16am. 05/16/2043. It's a Wednesday.

Well of course it is. Who knew?

As a side note, now we better understand why we had to kick (restart) the DSL this morning.

Anyway, the VCR clock has been reset -- you have nothing to fear, the world of today has been restored. I'll be 84 when the future rolls around again on 16 May 2043 -- 29 years from now. A lot of my family on both sides has made it into their 90s, so there's a good chance I shall see 2043. Again. Hopefully I won't be surprised to see me sitting in my living room chair. And I'm sure my younger self will tell my older self, "Been here, done that." (grin)

I didn't notice any flying cars in the future. Damn. Sorry.

Dr. Phil

Diverse Writers Grant and Diverse Worlds Grant

Since I turned 50, I have been applying for Speculative Literature Foundation's Older Writer's Grant. Haven't won it yet, but I did earn an Honorable Mention in 2009. So now the SLF is going after diversity -- both in terms of writers and the worlds they write about:
Dear writers, editors and publishers:

The Speculative Literature Foundation is now accepting applications for our inaugural Diverse Writers Grant and Diverse Worlds Grant. Both grants are intended to foster the creation of speculative fiction work rich in diversity.

Applications for the Diverse Writers Grant and the Diverse Worlds Grant will be accepted from May 1, 2014 until July 31, 2014. The winners for both grants are expected to be announced by September 15, 2014

More information about the Diverse Writers Grant and Diverse Worlds Grant is copied below and can be found at the following link:

Please feel free to share this information. Thank you.

Kind Regards,


Malon Edwards
Managing Director and Grants Administrator
Speculative Literature Foundation
2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grant application period: May 1 - July 31

More details:
The Diverse Writers Grant is intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, including writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, and those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing and/or publishing process.

The Diverse Worlds Grant is intended for work that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.

Writers may apply for either or both grants; however, one's writing sample does not need to center on identity issues. The Speculative Literature Foundation is looking for writing that offers deep characterization, complex cultural landscapes, and strong literary quality overall – not token characters or roles.

Currently, we are offering one $500 Diverse Writers Grant and one $500 Diverse Worlds grant annually.
To be blunt, one thing I like about these two grants is that the second grant isn't exclusionary. There's a simmering background resentment towards aiming grants for diversity, which totally ignores the advantages of privilege. Drives. Me. Nuts.

But in encouraging ALL writers to not whitewash their worlds, don't we all win? I mean I try. I need characters and the damned Central Casting in my mind defaults to white males with names ending in -son. It's like a vast 29th century interstellar fleet is populated completely from Minnesota. Not realistic. So I try to expand. Sometimes fail. Maybe mostly partially fail, but I'm working on it. I have been published in a lesbian themed anthology -- "Under Suspicion" in Tangle Girls (Blind Eye Press), which I'll be reading from at WisCon the end of the month -- and not everyone can say that.

And it doesn't hurt to encourage this. And make both the stories and the masthead reflect who we are in all our diversity.

Spread the word.

Dr. Phil

Penguicon 12.2 -- Midday

Other than driving to work, which isn't trivial in my case, especially with THIS winter, the day trip to Southfield MI was my first long solo drive and my first con in over a year. Thing is, I have the typical-photographer's lament -- never any pictures of me -- so one goal I had was to publish a Proof of Life photo.

My usual photographer, 2004 Clarion and 2008 WOTF friend Al Bogdan, wasn't around. Turned out later he WAS at Penguicon, but he apparently didn't bother to read my blog saying I was planning to come and I'd asked if he was. And we never spotted each other. Thwarted.

So before I left the Cory Doctorow reading, I asked the guy nearest to me if he'd mind taking my picture.

It's always tough to hand a camera off to a random stranger and hope the settings and automation can handle it. I've mentioned the harsh lighting conditions and there were ceiling spot lights over my row and I was all the way up to 1/100th of a second, so you have this wide dynamic range, an early professional DSLR ramped up two stops beyond the highest normal ISO setting. The result clearly shows Dr. Phil, but it's a little harsh. I tried to tilt up the hat so as to not mask my eyes, but I couldn't NOT have a hat on at a con! Back in the day of wet photography, I'd be masking and dodging -- I'm not trying to do that in Ulead PhotoImpact. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

One thing I didn't see in either the lovely main program or the compact session and grid schedules was any mention of hotel WiFi. I had thought of powering up haiku on Friday, our Verizon pay-as-you-go credit card sized 3G hot spot, but decided against it. And I couldn't remember if the Westin Southfield's website had said free WiFi or not. And of course, checking the webpage was out... (grin)

I'd thrown the Kindle Fire HD into my messenger bag, leaving it in airplane mode. So in between morning sessions, I'd turned on the WiFi, selected the Westin site -- and the signal indicator still had an X in it. Must be a paid WiFi. Sigh.

So after Cory's reading and wresting with the stiff spring on the door to the restroom with two handicapped stalls -- I am learning SO much about how "good" ADA compliance is -- I decided to stop by Ops and ask about the WiFi situation. Nick at Ops was super on top of things.

If I hadn't been on the WiFi settings screen, I might have realized that the hotel just had the usual sort of Terms of Use gateway page. Just hadn't been out in public with the Kindle much. (grin)

Nick went for the dramatic pose and up tight on him at 24mm (35mm FX equivalent), the wide angle made for a decent image. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I had two more questions for Nick. Do you always wear a suit? Yes. I wasn't trying to insult him, but at most cons I've been to, someone in a neat suit coat works for the hotel -- it was very chic and professional in appearance. Second, is that a Burning Man lapel pin? YES.

Turns out Nick runs the Burning Man Post Office. Come the end of August, you can send mail to Burning Man at ZIP+4 Code 89412-0149. Really. How cool is that? I promised to send him a postcard.

Anyway, armed with new information, I sought lunch. Now when I came in I passed a bar set up in the front walkway connecting the lobby with the first floor conference rooms. At 1:15pm it was getting busy. A small sheet in front of one unit said it was a Bar and Grille, then listed a few items like hot dogs. With prices in Tickets.

Now I can understand that in the chaos of uneven demand loads, not handling money is clever, especially considering how dirty money is. But folks, if you're going to charge tickets, you need to make it obvious where you're going to BUY tickets. And in the crush of people, navigating with the wide body 777 of walkers, I couldn't see said money exchange point, nor any signs directing me to same and I wasn't going to randomly wander.

Next up -- I did see a kiosk with a sign proclaiming they served Starbucks coffee and Boar's Head Meat sandwiches. Now we're talking. The sign out front said a roast beef sandwich with avocado was $4.95 or so. Great. Except on Saturday they weren't doing sandwich service. I guess they were being smart, by not competing with the grille right outside the door. But would it hurt to put up a sign saying No Sandwich Service today? Hell, for all I know, maybe the person behind the counter who said no sandwiches today sold Tickets. (evil-grin)

So, third attempt at lunch -- the hotel restaurant. Now there were signs pointing out that Gaming and Paint-and-Take, or something like that, had swapped space and the latter was now in the restaurant. Hopefully that was just PART of the restaurant. (hungry-grin) Anyway, the restaurant was open and it was pretty slammed. And here I was with a walker and wanting a table for one.

I pointed out a free table for two in the middle along an angled wall to the step-up level, with enough open space that me and my walker could be reasonably out of the way. From the posted menu outside, I already knew what I wanted -- the cheeseburger, no onions, Coke and fries with sea salt. Not cheap, but comfortable and out of the lobby chaos.

Opened up the Kindle Fire HD to send Mrs. Dr. Phil an email saying I'd arrived safely and all. Decided to send a Proof of Life photo from the Kindle:

This is where the previously posted picture of Dr. Phil and the antennaed hostess come in -- shot on my Kindle Fire HD.
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And by the time lunch was done, it was time to scurry off to the 2pm session.

The restaurant staff was slammed and cheerful, and the food was great. I left them a nice tip. Always want to encourage the con hotel. (satisfied-grin)

Dr. Phil

Penguicon 12.3 -- Afternoon

Worst part about maneuvering through the throngs of people was the edge between tile and carpeted floor. It was thick enough that the lead wheel on the walker mostly missed the jump up. Annoying, as the edge was curved in an arc and had to be traversed several times to get through people.

I didn't try bellowing RAMMING SPEED! to see who got out of the way.

1400 How Did We Get Cool? The SFF Explosion on Screen Windover
Ernie Cline, Sean M. Davis, Michael Cieslak, Nicole Castle, Jim Leach, John Scalzi
--In a world where some of the most watched shows deal with SFF themes or have been adapted from SFF material (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, The Avengers et. al.) where does the "mainstream" line get drawn? Why is it suddenly acceptable for the SFF genre to be viewed? Has this translated over to the written word? Side question: why has mystery always been more or less accepted but SFF is a more recent explosion?

I came back into Windover just about 2pm. Alas, the obvious parking places for a bulky Dr. Phil and his widebody 777 of walkers were taken. So I wheeled up front, hoping to adjust a chair in the second row when someone graciously insisted I take the right side first row seat, where I could put my walker in front of me, out of the way.

Previously I had found that people were generous with space to a man with a cane. A walker? Man, you could write your ticket if you were a jerk -- I was just grateful. And happy to be able to be there at all.

Scalzi is an amusing host and an effective, if a bit hyper moderator. Pretty much ran a tight ship, trying to give everyone on a large panel time and reining in the talkative Ernie Cline. (grin) For a man who in the past has been obsessed with Coke Zero, what WAS in that green bottle with the label removed? Diet Dew? Well, it IS a LINUX Open Source con in part, and Mountain Dew IS the programmer's choice. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

A shared moment of levity. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Nichole Castle is an English professor. She's about to teach a course in the fall where the reading list is The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale. Oooh COOL! Which is, I suppose, the point of this panel. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Jim Leach pointed out he has a philosophy degree to counter Nichole's English degree. Here he pleads his case on a point to Scalzi, who I should point out was a philosophy major at The University of Chicago, so can hold his own, when not being amusing or charming. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Ernie Cline excitedly talking about everything. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

1500 Why Do We Love The 80s? Windover
Ernie Cline, Ferrett Steinmetz, Angie Rush
--Our GoH Ernie Cline discusses the Greatest Decade Ever, its role in his creative work, and why we still have a soft spot for it, 30 years later.

Ernie made it back in time (grin), having run out just before the panel because of some pictures with his Delorean. (double-grin) I wonder if I could even FIT in the driver seat of a Delorean. Anyway, the author of Ready Player One was talking about his growing up in the 80s, ages 7-17, and how he thought only people from the 80s would love his book. Instead, kids today read it as an ebook with a browser open to pick up all the references. Ah, living in the future. And Ernie talks with his hands. (double-handed-grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I hadn't taken any audience shots, partly, as you could see here, I was still fighting the lighting. Partly because with my mobility issues, hard to turn around. All the panels I went to were well attended. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

1600 What About The Happily Ever After? Hamlin
Jim Leach, Ferrett Steinmetz
--There was an insane Internet reaction to the Red Wedding from those who were watching Game of Thrones but hadn't read it (to the reader's delight). Is this indicative of an expectation among television and movie audiences that established characters survive? Has Hollywood created the expectation of a happy ending, even in the harshest of fictional environments? Is it more acceptable to kill off a character in print? How do these expectations differ amongst genre fiction?

Up to the second floor for the last session of the day for me -- I figured 5-ish was a good starting time for the drive home. Keep it mostly in daylight.

So... Game of Thrones Red Wedding episode on HBO, ending Season 3 as I understand things, was the Wedding Guests From Hell. Sort of like the evil emperor in Heavy Metal, "The boy dies, the girl dies, everybody dies. Die, die, die." Or something like that.

Do we need happily ever after? (I am NOT going to say, "Do we need happy endings?" Nope. Not going there.)

Small room, Jim Leach and Ferrett Steinmetz sitting comfortably apart, kicking back and having a great late afternoon panel. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Though the panel wasn't all about Game of Thrones, the majority of the audience was familiar with books, show, both -- or in my case, much of the buzz and at that point, half of book one. (grin) Ferrett warned that there'd be spoilers abound -- we had been warned.

Ferrett making a point, while munching a cookie, looked like. He asked two questions at different times. First, how many were upset that Joffrey bought it in the Purple Wedding at the opening of Season 4? No hands raised. Uh-huh. Second, how many people think George RR Martin is going to neatly finish the series -- books or TV? Zero. Oh, interesting. (Click on photo for larger***.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And then it was time to hit the bathroom, then the road. After hours in dark rooms, the sun was pouring into the west glass wall of the front of the Westin.

Dr. Phil

*** Ferrett had posted that his pretty princess nails for Penguicon were awesome -- they were Spiderman. And they were. Enlarged grainy/noisy B&W doesn't do them justice. (grin)