Bradley’s Eleven: The Disney Job

en]Danny Ocean's 11 vs. Fluent Home Smart Security System | Fluent ...

Me and the homies broke into the Disney Vault over the weekend to liberate a copy of Song of the South. Here’s what you need to know:

Song of the south review | Disney Amino

 

This movie is one of those mixes of animating and live action. If you’ve ever heard stories about Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch, then you’re familiar with the cartoon characters that make up half the movie. The stories of Brer Rabbit were written by Joel Chandler Harris in the late 1800s.

Joel Chandler Harris (1848 - 1908) - Genealogy

Harris was born in Georgia and was only 13 when the Civil War broke out, so his formative years were steeped in the conflict of ending slavery in this country. Small wonder then that he would go on to write stories about how happy people were in the post-war South, especially considering the improved conditions for black people.

Yes, yes, there was still a lot of headway to be made on that front, calm yourselves. They weren’t exactly living in the same mansions as white folks. They were no longer property though, and their quality of life was improving every year.

Naturally he wanted to reflect that in his writings, and so the character of Uncle Remus came to dominate his pages.

James Baskett-HSB Noticias / Cine

Now, I’ve gotten my hands on some of Harris’ books, and they haven’t aged well. He does that thing that writers are told not to do when it comes to dialects and accents: he writes phonetically, to the point where it tires the eyes as you try to read it. I didn’t make it to even the 5% mark on one.

Apparently that wasn’t a problem in the 1940s though, because Disney still thought there was enough value in the property for them to make a movie out of it. James Baskett (above) won an Academy award for his portrayal of Uncle Remus, and the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” also won an Academy award.

This is all kind of interesting when you consider the timeline. The 1940s were only 80 years after the 1860s, so there were still people (although few in in number) who had lived through the Civil War. Plenty of the older generation in the 40s had grown up with parents who saw it all up close.

It’s kind of like 2020’s relationship with World War Two, which is fast approaching the 80-year mark in historical distance. My grandfather fought in WW2, but he was 90 when he died in 2015. In the national conscience it still seems to feel kind of recent, though. The fingerprints are still fresh on the present day.

That being the case, Song of the South was a mark of ideological progress in its day, the kind of progress that tends to jump ahead of itself, look behind at its wake, and say “I’m embarrassed of all that road behind me.”

Disney has all but been outright ashamed of it in the intervening decades. They never released it for home media in the US. They did, in the late 80s, build the Splash Mountain ride around a Brer Rabbit theme at Disneyland, because those animations had remained popular. But they adamantly refused to give Song of the South any more place in their lexicon of entertainment.

There are a lot of things I could say about this, but they’re best left in the capable hands of Disney historian Jim Korkis. He covers it in this book:

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My favorite part of this book was actually the forward, written by animator Floyd Norman, whose career has run from 1959 to to the present. He’s my grandma’s age and his career is as old as my mom. This dude is living history, and he has a lot of things to say in defense of Song of the South.

Also he’s a black dude. I’d love to sit in a room with this gent and listen to his stories. Fortunately it looks like he’s written a lot of books, and I want to get to them.

Floyd Norman's 9 Wild Stories From the Making of The Jungle Book ...

Back on track though: the movie itself takes place in the Reconstruction Era, which is important to understand because a common criticism is that it depicts “happy slaves.” While the demeanor displayed by the white characters toward the black characters wouldn’t fly today, it was a far cry from the master-slave relationship that blacks were forced into for so long before that.

I’m not going to sit here and pick apart every criticism of it though, because that would be tiresome and a waste of time. The most frequent attack leveled against Song of the South, the attack that has kept it locked in the vault for decades, is that it is racist (a term that loses a little more of its meaning every day based out how people throw it around.)

No, the main problems with Song of the South have more to do with the fact that it is 1) poorly constructed, and 2) boring.

Johnny, the main character, has to stay at his grandma’s plantation with his mom. His dad has to go back to Atlanta for undisclosed reasons. All we know is that he’s writing things in the newspaper and people are pissed off about it. His departure makes Johnny sad.

Johnny finds new friends on the farm though, including a white girl named Ginny and a black boy named Toby. They hang out with Uncle Remus and listen to his stories. That’s…pretty much it, for a while. Eventually Johnny sneaking off to chill with Uncle Remus makes his controlling mother sad, and she tells Johnny not to see Remus anymore.

Blah blah blah, Remus goes to leave the plantation, Johnny takes a shortcut through a bull pen to stop him, a bull tramples him, he almost dies, but Remus comes back to tell Johnny another story and he survives. Johnny’s controlling mother lightens up, and his dad comes back from Atlanta, the end. Remus walks into an animated sunset with all manner of cartoon critters hanging around him.

If that sounds kind of flat, the on-screen execution is a little flatter. Don’t get me wrong, the set pieces are beautiful, the animation is fine, and Uncle Remus has a warm and friendly demeanor. The in-between scenes are just kind of devoid of life and make it a chore to watch. Set this movie in any time period with any cast and you’d have the same problem.

Which is a shame, because there’s a lot you could do with the source material. Too bad Disney will never reboot this and do it better. They’re trying to make more hay out of their “cash cow” animated flicks. They’re even replacing the Brer Rabbit stuff at Splash Mountain with a Princess and the Frog theme.

At the end of the day…eh. I know where to get a copy of the movie, I’m not a hundred percent sure it was worth the excursion into the vault, but if Disney ultimately doesn’t want me to own it, that’s enough reason to get my hands on one.

Get back to work.

 

July 2020: State of the Dread

It’s July!

The Podcast

This week episode 9 of “Welcome to the Faro” went live. It’s the 2nd of a 3-episode arc that covers my time in Tarragona, the hardest stretch of my mission.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts here, or look it up on your preferred podcast app. As of right now almost 20 episodes are recorded, and it will have 25 in all.

The Brother Trucker Book Club Podcast comes back this month as well, airing weekly on Wednesdays.

The Writing

I have two semi-finished drafts of different books, HOMEWORLD and FOOL’S SILVER. Right now I’m reading the former to my wife, and her feedback is helping to tighten it up. She’s been really supportive of my storytelling, going all the way back to our dating days 10 years ago.

When I can, I pick at WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE too. I’m not in as much of a rush with that one, but I don’t want to dawdle either, as it needs work.

The Artwork

Still drawing every day over on Instagram, and I finished the rough inkwork for the WAC cover (above). Digital art is similar to traditional, different in a few ways, and really crisp overall. I quite like it.

The Reading (and the Watching…)

I’ve been getting more DVDs from the library for background noise, Turn is a really interesting show, if historically inaccurate in spots. Par for the course with the genre, I’m liking it for the most part, it’s just too horny sometimes.

There’s an old flick from the 50s on Disney+ that I started to watch and it mentions the novel JOHNNY TREMAIN by Esther Forbes, which I never read. Grabbed an audio copy of it from the library, and I will read it this month along with BUNKER HILL.

The Fitness

My wife has a subscription to some online workouts that I like so far. Intense stuff but the results are really great. My back is popping a lot more, haha.

I also did over 2,000 pushups in June. So that feels pretty good.

The Rest

I have to keep reminding myself not to surrender to malaise, there’s just a lot of it going around. Everything is a matter of perspective though. Maybe I haven’t been tried hard enough or in the right ways. God knows what He’s doing.

Chin up kiddos, the best month of the summer is now upon us. Get back to work.

Character web study: Pirates of the Caribbean

Buscamos ser Diferentes: Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy[2003 ...

Over the last few weeks I have rewatched Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, the last two good movies in the Pirates series.

Parallel to my study of John Truby’s “The Anatomy of Story,” I couldn’t help building a character web in my head so as to chart the collision of motivations each character brought to the table.

In doing so, I realized who the most important character was as far as these two movies go. It’s not Will, it’s not Elizabeth, it’s not Barbossa. It’s not even Jack.

It’s Tia Dalma.

TIA DALMA FROM PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN DEAD MAN`S CHEST ...

Every other character ties to her more than anyone else. How?

Well, remember that she is not just some shack-dwelling Obeah priestess on the isle of Pelegosto; she’s literally the goddess of the sea, Calypso, bound in human form. Davy Jones fell in love with her, she broke his heart, he sold her out to the Pirate Lords.

This happened a long time ago, and all we know of the method is that it involved creating nine talismans (the fake pieces of eight) to entrap her. These were handed down to different pirate lords until two of them ended up with Barbossa and Jack Sparrow.

Everything that happens across the first 3 movies webs outward from this event, and ties the characters together.

Hector Barbossa | Heroes Wiki | Fandom

Barbossa: he was resurrected by Tia Dalma, and wanted to stay alive. To placate her, he needed to rescue Jack and find an answer to the Davy Jones/East India Company problem.

Davy Jones | Pirates of the caribbean, Davy jones, Davy jones pirates

Davy Jones: he was cursed by Calypso/Tia Dalma, as a result of his dereliction of duty to ferry souls to the afterlife.

Lord Cutler Beckett | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Lord Beckett: he had found a weakness in Jones’ curse and exploited it for power in the Caribbean.

Will in a red shirt, I should have known he'd die. | Pirates of ...

Will: This one is a few steps removed, but saving his father from Davy Jones is directly related to Jones’ relation with Tia Dalma. This also forces him to make choices with regard to Elizabeth.

fantasycasting | Pirate woman, Pirates of the caribbean, Elizabeth ...

Elizabeth: while the writing on her character was a bit of a mess, her choices are again a few strands removed from Tia Dalma, but still tied to her. Beckett wants Jones’ heart so he can have power in the Caribbean, and to get it, he leverages Will and Elizabeth so he can corner Jack.

Jack Sparrow's compass | PotC Wiki | Fandom

But it isn’t Jack that he wants, it’s his compass. Which, as we learn from Dead Man’s Chest, *was a gift from Tia Dalma.* If you want power in the Caribbean, you have to go through the sea goddess.

Even the Brethren Court convened in order to release her, and change their way of operation. They had bound the sea goddess for themselves, but it also allowed in the EITC, so they figured eh, we’ll just work hard and create a meritocracy because we don’t think this corporation can hack it when it comes to hard work.

The more I think about it, the stronger the analysis confirms the theory. Pirates of the Caribbean has a strong character web, and at the center of it all is the source of all sea power, Tia Dalma.

DGA Quarterly Magazine | Spring 2016 | Shot to Remember - Pirates ...

Phoenix Downer — Pirates of the Caribbean in Kingdom Hearts 3:...

Snippets of Jack: "I Release You From Your Human Bonds"

Even when her powers were limited, she could still flex. Once she was in Davy Jones’ locker, it was she who dragged the Black Pearl off the salt flats and into the water again. It’s no coincidence that her goddess-form turned into a mass of stony crabs, the same crabs that carried Jack’s ship over dry ground.

There’s a lot for me to learn in studying this.

As much as I didn’t care for On Stranger Tides or Dead Men Tell No Tales, at least the latter paid lip service to this notion with the whole “Trident of Poseidon” thing. They just went with lazy writing and made it into a McGuffin, instead of writing a complex background character that had her finger in everything. (And don’t even get me started on how they butchered the backstory of Jack’s compass.)

Anyway, I thought that was fascinating. Get back to work.

Don’t waste good time on bad ideas.

Hannibal Barca was Rome’s greatest military enemy. He almost toppled their republic during the Second Punic War, and The Ghosts of Cannae explains the history in dry detail.

Popular history remembers Hannibal as the guy who led an army across the Alps to Italy, a huge fighting force that consisted mostly of foot soldiers, but also included cavalry and war elephants. When asked how he intended to do this, he famously said:

We will find a way, or we will make one.

Hannibal “Suck It” Barca

Of the many takeaways in this book, the one that sticks out the most in my mind is Hannibal’s fixation on elephants in combat.

Tank warfare didn’t exist yet, but he clearly envisioned having heavy, powerful units on the battlefield that could crush enemy troops. He was so hooked on this that he had the elephants trained for it despite the fact that they were expensive to find, train, and transport.

Economic resources were a lot more real back then too. You couldn’t just buy things on a credit card, you had to either pay for things, conquer them, or enslave their producers.

Even worse, the elephants were not effective on the battlefield. A lot of them died in the Alps, and the few survivors spooked when attacked.

Ultimately the vision didn’t match up with the reality. No matter how much he wanted it to work, it was a huge waste of resources and he couldn’t force that to change.

Makes me wonder what I’m doing in that same vein. What ideas and methods am I committed to in my craft that sound cool but don’t work?

I need to reflect on that. Need to find the answer and change tactics.

Get back to work.

Success costs. What’s your currency?

I read this book a few weeks ago called THE DINOSAUR ARTIST by Paige Williams. It’s part of my paleontology kick because I want to know more about the science and its practice.

In exploring the world of black market fossils, Williams uncovers an even more fascinating cautionary tale in the life of Erik Prokopi, swimmer-turned-fossil hunter, and how his world got turned on its head.

First, a point that needs to be made: success costs. Sometimes it costs money, or time, or your pride. It can also cost you relationships if you’re not careful.

In Erik’s case, it cost him his entire net worth and then some, a few years of his freedom, and his marriage.

Williams lays out the story quite fairly, and I should be quick to say that her portrait of Prokopi is not that of a bad guy in general. Rather I think he fell for one of the oldest errors in history, where he put himself just a little too close to temptation.

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the point I want to emphasize ties in heavily with the philosophies taught in that faith. One of the things that the prophets have taught us continually since the Restoration is that we ought to avoid debt.

There is a such thing as a wise use of debt, and doing so to create wealth can be a great tool for blessing our lives and the lives of others. Prokopi was pretty wise with his capital early on in his career as a treasure hunter, digging up Native relics in the swamps of Florida.

But as time went on and he started to find old fossils, he realized there was a market for them, and he started to make more and more money off his recoveries. He went from success to success and started putting together dinosaur skeletons shipped to the States from all over the world.

Now, while there were laws on the books about removing natural history relics from other countries and taking them to America, Williams notes that these laws were scoffed at, ignored, and not enforced, to the point where a robust black market had surfaced and anyone could buy dinosaur bones from anywhere. (Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicholas Cage were two such buyers.)

But between a change in some laws in the US, and the drive of a Mongolian national to protect her country’s natural history, a case was built against Prokopi right when he was at a peak level of vulnerability.

He had acquired too many assets, taken on too much debt, reached just a little too far. His wife was also taking on a lot of debt for a house-flipping business that she ran. While they were successful, they also had a high overhead, and the financial crash of 2008 came down on them hard.

When the market dies and you have $11,000 per month in liabilities, you tend to show hampered judgment.

Fortunately Prokopi had a big job land in his lap. Unfortunately, he was about to get arrested by the Law and charged with all manner of crimes that now had teeth to them.

That’s not the worst part of it though: that came when it surfaced that Prokopi had been having an affair with one of his assistants, a woman who’d been helping with the assembly of an illegal dinosaur skeleton.

His marriage ended, his business was ruined, his finances were destroyed, and he served time in a low-security prison for a few years as part of his sentence.

It was a tragic end, not just to a really fascinating career, but really to what sounded like a beautiful marriage and family. It had to be hard to go through it, then re-live it all for a writer who wanted to put it in a book for the whole world to see.

There is, I think, a positive takeaway for the rest of us though:

Success. Costs.

How do you define success? What will it take to achieve that? Are you willing to pay that?

These are personal questions and the answers will most likely be personal too.

For my money, I’m not willing to do anything to hurt my wife or kids, no matter how badly I want to be a professional artist and full-time writer. Or even how badly I want to be financially affluent. Or physically dominant. Or whatever.

If I fail my family, nothing else will matter.

I’ve learned this repeatedly as I’ve read bios about great men, men whose accomplishments will be remembered for years and decades to come.

Johnny Unitas, legendary Colts quarterback. He won four rings back when “playing defense” and “assaults & battery” were the same thing. He also cheated on his first wife with a woman who his kids hated, and would go on to marry her. His son’s book THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM was heartbreaking in that regard.

Charles Schulz, one of the greatest American cartoonists of all time, creator of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. Cheated on his wife after a quarter of a century, paid for his daughter to get an abortion in Japan, and had to sell his home and start over somewhere else. His kids found out about the divorce on the radio. Just tragic.

Alexander Hamilton was another one. Dude might have been President of the US someday, but he cheated on his wife and compromised himself politically, which was disappointing enough but still didn’t approach the level of failure in the home.

All of these men are remembered, and they accomplished great things in their lifetime.

I can’t imagine that being good enough to replace an unfaithful spouse or an absent parent. Not when you’re the one in that marriage, you’re the one in that family, trying to make sense of the hole that is suddenly there.

Success costs.

But.

It can also cost too much.

So be careful of the actual cost. Read the fine print. Use your debt wisely, tactically. No matter the currency, don’t overpay.

Some things, like your family, are not worth paying.

June 2020: State of the Dread

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Summer is upon us! Wherever and however we may, let us roll the top back and put the hammer down, for beyond us lies ADVENTURE!!!

 

The Podcast

Welcome to the Faro has been a great project so far, and it’s now on Apple Podcasts! I’m recording these several times a week but they only go live on Mondays, so I’ve got a bit of a buffer in case things go crazy.

The Brother Trucker Book Club is still scheduled to resume in July, but there will be a special bonus episode for THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES by Suzanne Collins. Schaara and I finished reading it and we’ll team up for a discussion about it. (We both loved the book.)

Scholastic on Twitter: "RETURN TO THE HUNGER GAMES! THE BALLAD OF ...

The Artwork

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I’m up to #9 on a list of presidential puns that I came up with a year ago. (I tweeted them all out with GIFs in an epic thread starting here.) The ones I’ve drawn are mostly the same as the ones I tweeted, but I’ve changed a few because they worked better visually.

This particular theme will run its course right around the 4th of July, maybe a little sooner, we’ll see. As we head into Month 6 of 2020, I feel the need to structure my sketchbooks a little better, and work on particular weaknesses of mine. When I’m done with the presidential puns I think I will grab one of my old artbooks and go through the exercises to sharpen my skills. That or I’ll work on Figurosity poses. I don’t know, the options are limitless.

The Writing

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Oh MAN this is picking up! Once the Faro podcast starts to wind down, I have a new podcast on deck tentatively called the DreadPennies Adventure Hour. My writing at the moment is focused on generating content for that new show. I finished the cover art for the first short story I will feature, called HOMEWORLD. Add it to your Goodreads list!

This one will last about three episodes. The following short story will be called FOOL’S SILVER (completely unrelated to anything I’ve written so far). That will also be three episodes, and the third story will be WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE, my Thanksgiving epic fantasy.

Whether I will immediately have another story ready in December or not remains to be seen. More details as the year unfolds, because it’s hard to predict my schedule with certainty right now.

The Fitness

JUNE IS THE MONTH I GO ON A SUGAR FAST. I will probably spam my Insta with daily reports, we’ll see.

In addition to doing pushups almost every day in May, I did decently well on my food intake. I have no way of knowing whether I hit 205 on my body weight because my scale died and funds are, let’s say, frozen at the moment, so replacing it isn’t a priority. Nevertheless I shall improve my eating and also work out every day but Sunday, because this train never stops and I WILL weight 177.6 this year.

Doesn’t look like it will happen by July 4th, unfortunately, but it will happen. All my pants are fitting looser and my pecs only bounce when I tell them to. Things are going well.

The Rest

The country is going insane and I refuse to be a part of the problem. I’m gonna be a good neighbor, a good father, a good husband, and a good artist. Summer is upon us and we can still make it a good one for ourselves and the people we care about.

That’s it, get your butt back to work.

May 2020: State of the Dread

No photo description available.
The Mascot of May!

We are 1/3rd of the way through the year! Here’s what’s up:

The Podcast

The BTBC Podcast is on hold until mid-July at the earliest. I’ve wanted to take a break for a while, and I’ve been more excited about a different podcast idea, so I’m tackling that instead. The WTTF Podcast (Welcome to the Faro) is a new podcast wherein I recap my experience as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Find it on whatever platform you use for podcasts and subscribe! I’m really proud of how it’s coming together so far.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, possible text that says 'Welcome to the Faro! Missionary Training Center A Chronicle of My Mission to Barcelona, Spain'

YouTube!

I was only able to record the first 5 chapters of REBEL HEART last month. You can find them on my YouTube playlist here. Right now the view count is pretty low, and filming/uploading is time-consuming, so unless more people are interested I will be leaving that alone for now. Too many irons in the fire. (A frequent problem of mine.)

The Artwork

Image may contain: 2 people

I’m up into the 120s on my #draweveryday challenge. This huge commission was for my friend Lisa, who’s been having a rough go of it even without the WuFlu coming at her. Here’s a bunch of her friends (including yours truly as the Winter Soldier Brother Trucker) wearing Marvel skins.

Image may contain: drawing

This one, though…this one I’m very very pleased with. It’s only a small portion of the cover for WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE (coming November 2020!) but man alive, I LOVE digital drawing! Steelpunk Myles Standish is so much fun to write and draw, too.

As always, follow my Insta for the daily drawings and sketches.

Writing

I’ve been alternating between two short stories that will be the inaugural fare for my StoryTime podcast. The first one is HOMEWORLD, the second is TORERO, both are working titles. I won’t have interior art for them for a while, but I will have cover art before I narrate either. Each one will comprise about 3 episodes of 30 minutes or so. More on that as it develops.

By the end of May I will have a ready script for HOMEWORLD, as I think that’s the stronger of the two stories, and the closest to the greenlight.

Fitness

You may not care, but I do.

My shoulder is back to about 95%. The rest is just details. I can hammer out pushups like before–hell, even better than before, as I don’t have any pain in that shoulder. Pull-ups are another story and I can do about 2.5 before my form collapses, so I need to focus on that direction to get my strength back.

By the end of May, I will weigh under 205 pounds.

Okay now get back to work.

April 2020: State of the Dread

The Podcast

I put out 4 episodes last month, despite everything. Look up the Brother Trucker Book Club Podcast wherever you subscribe to those!

YouTube!

To contribute to home entertainment during COVID-19, I’ve been reading chapters from REBEL HEART on YouTube. So far the first 4 are up, and number 5 drops Friday. The whole playlist is here.

The Artwork

Yup, still drawing every day. Caption this one with a lie Pinocchio might tell in order to make his nose grow on purpose!

What Else?

This pandemic will end. We should all figure out how we will use this rare downtime to better ourselves. We can do it.

Okay now get back to work.

March 2020: State of the Dread

Hey there, DreadHeads! 2 down, 10 to go. Here’s what happened in February and what’s going down in March.

The Podcast

3 more episodes last month, and there will be another 3 this month. I’m still organizing content for the eventual DP StoryTime podcast, that one isn’t in production until I have my current book farther along. Find the podcast wherever you subscribe, and follow along!

The Artwork

Myles and Rose Standish, With Answerable Courage

29 pieces done in February, including 3 for my next big release. I’m using AutoDesk Sketchbook to do digital art for that book, and I love how it is all coming together. I am also drawing the cover for this one, it is going to be fantastic. Can’t wait to share it with you!

The Writing

Blogging is all but dead, I only keep this page going as a placeholder for an eventually larger, sexier, more powerful website.

I did finish a draft of WAC, it’s rough but very workable, and once I finish the art I will polish the text.

I also picked at a story called HOMEWORLD which will be one of the first DP StoryTime adventures once that gets underway. Having a few ideas in process helps me to keep the wheels turning in case I stall on one.

Once this thing gets moving it’s going to be a ton of fun.

The Unfattening

Yeah I lost zero weight in February. Well, maybe a pound or two, but life was just a kick in the pants. We had a baby last month so we’re still in adjustment-and-new-sleep-schedule mode at House Dread.

I’m going all-out tyrannical on it for March and I will weigh 205 pounds by the end of the month. Mark it.

Whatever Else

During my art sessions I either listen to podcasts or watch B-minus programming on Amazon, and this show has been pretty interesting so far. It’s about Prohibition in the south and the lasting impact it has had on the region.

It’s good research for a future project I have. 🙂

That’s all, folks. Get back to work. 👍

February 2020: State of the Dread

Hey Dreads, what’s kraken?

Celebrate with me, January is finally over! One of the two most miserable months of the year, the other one being August. The first is cold and joyless, the second is hot and joyless, it is what it is. Here’s what I did last month:

Brother Trucker Book Club

THE PODCAST

Putting out 3 episodes proved to be much better than doing 13. So far I like that format. The first two episodes saw the passing of Mike Resnick and Christopher Tolkien (who I have read) and the third episode dropped right at the passing of Mary Higgins Clark (who I have not). A solemn month for legendary writers in their genres.

Right now I’m reading an old Resnick title that I never got to, and I’m already enjoying it tremendously after one chapter. The man uses dialogue like surgeons use scalpels.

Be sure to subscribe to the Brother Trucker Book Club Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you, listeners!

 

THE ARTWORK

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My #draweveryday challenge was a success! 31 new pieces of varying quality made it into my sketchbook, or into the digital archives as the case may be. Check out instagram.com/dreadpennies to follow along. 

The above image was by far my favorite. I got to sit in a safety class for three days at work, and had this idea after seeing an article that said Texas legalized the hunting of feral pigs from a hot air balloon. Story Idea! 

So I drew it as I listened to the instructor drone on about the importance of not running people over with your truck. (I had heard this information before.)

As for this challenge in February, check out the video below:

 

THE WRITING 

I admit I wish I had finished a draft of WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE this month. To be honest I’m having trouble finding a balance between the new job at Krakengard and my responsibilities at home, but I think things are finally clicking. Just gotta grab life by the face and slap it around a little bit.

That said, I’m three chapters away from having a draft down, and then I’ll switch gears to the illustrations. Still looking at a post-Halloween release date.

I’m also–and this is very tentative, I don’t have details for you–beginning the preliminary stages of developing an audiobook for SLEEPLESS HOLLOW. Cannot wait to have that one out there in my favorite format.

 

THE UNFATTENING

Last year I lost 20 pounds and then found them again in about 5 months, so believe me I’m pretty mad about that. I blame the new job, which is exceptionally less physical than the old one. I’ve finally figured out what to do about that, and if you care to follow along my fitness journey, check out @batteringraham on Insta.

 

WHATEVER ELSE

Really we’re just gearing up for the baby to come, which feels like it’s taken forever, and I’m not even the one who has to carry her all the time. Ugh you guys, my poor wife…almost there. Home stretch.

In the meantime, GUYS check out this great YouTube Channel I found and totally love: it’s called Ambient Worlds, and the guy puts together these hours-long videos of movie soundtracks with nice sound effects in the background. For example, he’s got mood music for each of the Hogwarts House common rooms, with fires crackling and whatnot. He also has videos for Gondor, Rohan, the Shire in Middle-Earth, or stuff for the Hunger Games, I mean…everything. It’s just beautiful. I’ve been writing to it and I love it.

Okay time to get back to work. If you’ve read any good books lately, comment below! I’m always on the hunt for a recommendation. I’m trucking full-time, last month I read 15 books, I can probably get to yours 😀