UpstreamReviews is back up

Last week the site went down because it was based on WordPress, which doesn’t have malware protection built into its platform for some incredibly stupid reason.

After looking into the options for remedying the problem, BossRob decided to move it over to Substack. So the old URL takes you to a dead page, and the new URL is upstreamreviews.substack.com.

I don’t know if Rob will connect the URL to the new site. Probably. I’ll holler here when it happens.

Anyway, Declan Finn is running the Substack, I think Rob is running the Twitter, and I’m now running the Instagram. Shaky legs so far, but I’m working out a rhythm for it.

Keep reading and sharing. We’re the alternative block for literary entertainment, friends.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK

Really freaking good movie. Why?

Lots of reasons.

–It’s a 36-year sequel to a classic from the 80s that neither negates, retcons, or destablizes its predecessor.

–While we don’t find out what happened with Pete and Charlie, we get enough context on Pete and Penny to know that she’s one of his other frequent flames from the intervening years.

–Tom Cruise is still a fun actor to watch

–The action scenes were incredible, and full of tension.

–Jeez, Miles Teller can act? Never saw that before.

–The respect for Val Kilmer and the way they worked him into the movie was superb. Bro has throat cancer IRL and apparently has to feed himself with a tube these days.

–I’m a sucker for multigenerational stories, especially when they’re done well. Rooster’s similarities to Goose were a little on-the-nose at times, but they had to be, I think; this is a dude who was a little kid in the first movie, lost his dad as a child, and now his mother’s gone. He’s clinging to what’s most important to him (his family) and that comes through beautifully over and over.

–Maverick and Rooster teaming up to overcome their greatest interpersonal obstacles in the third act is a thing of beauty. I’m so starved for good, masculine characters in popular entertainment these days. This was a bro movie for bros and bro-ettes alike.

–Zero postmodern politics is an absolute plus in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two. Kudos to them for keeping it out of the film.

I’ll leave you with Drinker’s video, with the usual content warning for strong language.

State of the Dread: June 2022

Writing

I didn’t write while I was in Kentucky, nor for the whole week after. The outline on HW is making me work for it. I keep having to go back and figure out what I need in order to get it right. I’m definitely there on the first half, and I’ll start writing before I worry about the second half.

Reading

Only did 5 books in May, I admit I’ve been following the Depp v Heard trial rather closely, thanks to Rekieta Law and some other YouTubers. It wrapped up last week and by the time this post goes live we might even have a verdict.

I finished two long audiobooks including SAINTS vol3, and finished re-reading AIRMAN to my kids. Got some bangers on the table for June.

Drawing

Mermay. It took a lot of focus and I didn’t finish on time, but that’s where my drawing energy went. Fun challenge, next year I probably won’t participate. Overall I need to spend time drawing DreadVerse things.

Fitness

Weight went up in Kentucky, that’s for darn sure. I bought a FitBit and started counting calories like I did ten years ago for my first Tough Mudder. Goal weight is 177.6 pounds, primarily for the memes.

Recording

Got a video or two up on the channel in May, my main priority in June is to do one on the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Other

Nothing. Get back to work.

I’m hearing excellent things about the new TOP GUN…

Haven’t seen it yet, but The Drinker couldn’t say enough good things about it. Language warning right off the bat.

I’m thrilled to hear that this movie’s so good. I’m going to see it this week. It’s not often in this day and age that we get a thirty-year sequel in the “win” column, so enjoy it.

If you liked it and don’t want to spoil it, sound off in the comments.

Armed Forces, Veterans, and Memorial

This will probably become my perennial Memorial Day post. It’s not the kind of thing that I’ll have a ton to add to, it’s just something we all need to do on the regular.

The book I think of most for Memorial Day is FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, by James Bradley. The review is above. It’s these books that will help us understand what it costs to create a nation and protect it from tyranny.

To me, that’s what Memorial Day is. Remembering the country we have, and what we enjoy in it, and those who died to give us that ability to enjoy it. They don’t get to have it. They just paid for it. We’re living on their work.

I touched on the idea of the price of a nation in HOWLING WILDERNESS, during a draft of the first chapter. This might not make it into the final version but that’s fine. The sentiment is there.

“Fifty years,” Lady Vandervoort said, her voice lowering just a touch, her eyes going distant. “None of it happened here. It wasn’t on Katahdin, it wasn’t in Maine. We trained in Virginia. Built mimics in the Ohio. Crossed Pennsylvania. Fell into a trap in New York. Finished the fight in New Jersey. This place…this place had nothing to do with it. But we are free here, because of what was done there. Fifty years I’ve carried the memories of that day, and all the hard days before it. Now here we are…finding this uniquely Merykan way to celebrate what we have.

“This? This is the anomaly. Life isn’t like this. Hasn’t been like this for most people in most places for most of the time we’ve walked the earth. Life is war and chaos and brutality and subjugation, speckled with tiny moments of peace along the way. This is peacetime. Enjoy it for what it is. Remember what it cost to get you all here. Have fun bombing around in the woods and the swamps, I guess, but know that you hold a diamond in your hand. It isn’t yours, it’s just yours to take care of. People died to find it, to pull it out of the ground and cut it and shine it up so you can look at it and see how pretty it is.

“Make sure it stays that way. One of you little bastards is going to win this thing and get a Council appointment. The diamond isn’t yours to spend. It’s yours to preserve. Think about that for the next two thousand miles.” She chuckled, lost in some distant memory. Then she sighed. “See you at the other end of this. Good luck.”

The cultured reader will know who Lady Vandervoort is from the original Engines of Liberty trilogy. If you don’t know, I won’t spoil the surprise.

Anyway. Celebrate well, and use this day for what it really means.

Channel Recommendation: Erik Grankvist

Every passing day I get a stronger urge to do more work with my hands, to be a maker, a real analog learner. I’m only getting closer to 40 and I haven’t achieved the more important stuff I set out to achieve in life.

My garage? Not a workshop. It’s full of mostly other peoples’ stuff, and bicycles. No workbench. One modest tool box and a cart with a bunch of junk on it.

I’m going to fix that this summer. In the meantime, look at this Swedish kid who bounced out of high school and started just straight-up DOING things. You want to talk about memes and masculine urges where you ditch society and build your own life in the wild?

He’s literally doing it.

Gotta get my arse in gear.

Thanks for 100, everybody

WordPress notified me that I have 100 followers on this blog. I don’t try to build up the audience here as much as I do on YouTube, but it still seems like a cool milestone to hit, so thank you guys for checking it out.

And if you’re new here, I am an author and an illustrator.

I post new episodes regularly to my audio show, the Radcracker Podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts. Or just stream it on your browser at this link.

Post-Kentucky Catch-Up

Hi DreadHeads,

I was in Kentucky last week. I spoke about it on the most recent episode of Radcracker.

Listen here in your browser: https://anchor.fm/radcracker/episodes/Graham-Spends-A-Week-In-Kentucky-e1ircht

Mostly I was there for work, but I had a hot minute to check out some local sights on Friday night. Gorgeous state, gorgeous scenery. It just rained a ton and turned everything green, and I liked that.

On the way back to LVille from Benton

Culbertson Mansion in New Albany, IN

Because Louisville is right across the river from Indiana, my branch is zoned for that part of the state, and I got to make a few deliveries in an old historical district.

And since I was close enough to it, I checked out the Louisville Temple. Wasn’t able to do a session, but I walked the grounds.

Louisville Temple

Anyway, I’m back in the saddle now and returning to work on HOWLING WILDERNESS.

More Howling Progress

I found myself with a rare pair of nights alone at home, since the wife is visiting her family for my SIL’s graduation. I’m using the time to get caught up on HOWLING WILDERNESS, which, like every damn thing I write, is resisting my efforts to make sense.

This last week has been quite productive though. In addition to reducing the length of the Appalachian Trail Classic, I’ve also figured out ways to make the main three characters bounce off of each other better.

One potential pitfall is that I have 26 racers in the Classic and I’m tempted to showcase them all equally. That’s not going to be possible, so some of them will just have to get a passing mention (although I’ll draw all of them at some point.) Tonight I outlined a scene with a character called “Ohio Pete” Hamden–he’s got an important role to play at the end, so it was necessary to set him up at the beginning, but really he’s a second- or third-tier character. So I’ve got to be careful.

As of this writing I’m still putting the final touches on the outline, but once I have those in place the drafting will be smoother than it’s been so far. I just keep hitting the wall every time I sit down to draft because I don’t have all the minutiae in order and that stuff matters in a book like this.

Okay, gotta go hit the sack now. Peace.