State of the Dread: December 2021

May be an image of 1 person, beard, nature and tree

There’s a lot that I did better in 2020 than 2021, namely production on this site. I’ve had sprints where I scheduled posts every day, decided it was too much work, and then went months without anything at all.

At the end of those long stretches I always regret neglecting the site. It’s kind of my main thing. When I get yeeted off of every other platform due to being too spicy and/or based, I’ll need this to be my fallback. So I guess I’d better maintain it.

Here’s the skinny for now:

GENERAL:

I spent the first two weeks of November in Pennsylvania for work. No laptop, so little production, but I took my phone and managed a decent first draft of my current WiP, called SIGNATURE WOUNDS. I got through a round of edits on it and sent it to a friend for beta reading, once that gets back and I’ve implemented his feedback, I’ll get it recorded and put it on the podcast.

Other than that, work has been very demanding, what with it being the holidays. We’ve had a few guys quit because the time commitment is high. Sucks, but I get it. I did 50 hours in 4 days last week alone. I’m also making more money than I ever thought I’d make as a nurse, before I dropped out of college, lol. GO BE A TRUCKER.

WRITING

“State of the Dread” will return on a monthly basis.

The aforementioned SIGNATURE WOUNDS will be followed by a very short story in an anthology edited by Rob Kroese, whose books I enjoy a ton. I’m gonna stay mum on the details until it’s ready to go, there’s just a hard deadline on it so I’ve got to put it ahead of other stuff.

After that, the big project for 2022 will be the first installment in my Brimstone world, called THE KORBADELL JOB. It’s a blue-collar epic fantasy, a sort of Lord of the Rings meets Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’ve pitched it before as “blast crew goes to Mordor.”

Unlike earlier installments on the DreadPennies Adventure Hour, this one will be released in episodes of 30-45 minutes every week until the first one is done, just like you’d tune in for a TV show. That’ll give me time to generate some art for hype.

I also write book reviews over at UpstreamReviews.com. Excellent site, great people there.

READING

For the most part I’ve stuck to my goal of reading less in 2021, and I’ve only got 6 or 7 books on my “Best of the Year” list right now. I’m slightly disappointed, because that’s a success rate under 10%, but whatever. I expect that in 2022 I will keep this pace.

I’ll read fewer books, but they’ll be longer and more substantial. I actually finished DUNE in 2021 and got extremely into it. I like that feeling, I’ve really missed it. And there’s a ton of source material for me to get involved in down the road. My wife has read EYE OF THE WORLD a few times and I might take another swing at The Wheel of Time as a result.

VIDEOS/PODCASTS

This is a category now! Haha. Thanks to everyone who subscribed to my YouTube channel, I want to make more of this stuff. Nothing has gotten near as much traction as my Mayflower Pilgrim video, so it’s not the biggest priority in the world, but once or twice a month I’ll throw something up on there.

As for the podcasts, I think I’ve figured out what I’m doing there. DreadPennies Adventure Hour will be the primary vehicle for audio fiction, while The Radcracker Podcast will cover book and movie reviews, as well as thoughts I’ve had during my nonfiction reads. I’ve loved sharing that stuff since the days of the Brother Trucker Book Club podcast. It’s easy to record that stuff on the fly or when I’m multitasking, so it doesn’t take a massive time commitment.

DRAWING

Haven’t done as much of this as I might have liked, and I haven’t read a lot of the art books I’ve acquired in the last few years. I think one of the main reasons is that last year I did a Draw Every Day challenge, and this year I didn’t. So for 2022 I’m going to go through the exercises in my Etherington Brother books one by one, and post my progress on Instagram.

I’ve been focusing more on drawing my own stuff, for better or worse. A lot of guys on Insta get popular by drawing Marvel or Star Wars stuff in their own style, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I drew a Jeep with a Captain America paint job, thinking I’d do that for the entire Avengers lineup, and after one vehicle I asked myself What the heck are you wasting your time on this for…and didn’t have a good answer. So whatever I do, it’ll be strictly Graham Bradley/Dreadverse stuff, unless I’m telling a joke.

FITNESS

Got back into weightlifting for a few months in the spring, before life went ape-nuts crazy at work. It hasn’t stopped going ape-nuts crazy, I’ve just decided not to be a twit about it and get back into the gym at least twice a week, plus endurance exercises at home with my sons.

The other big thing is I’m going to get on the Intermittent Fasting wagon again. I’ve had a lot of success with that in the past and need to stop making excuses. Here’s a good book I read on the subject.

OTHER

Look, life is always going to be busy, and sometimes that’s a legit reason, other times it’s just a bad excuse. Proper planning prevents poor performance. Or as a great man once told me, “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” And he’s rich as h*ck, so he’s right.

Another thing I’ve decided to go cold turkey on is swearing. I really struggled with that in SIGNATURE WOUNDS, because the MC is an Afghanistan veteran, but I don’t care. I create work to magnify my talents and create an alternative to the mainstream, which sucks butthole. I guess that’s a form of profanity even though I didn’t say the naughty word. Progress, not perfection. I hold the priesthood, I should be better on that front.

Anyway, that’s where things are at for the final chapter of 2021. I’m going to work and enjoy Christmas. You do the same. Be rad, drive safe, see you out there.

The Hardest Part is the Concept

It would be pretty cool to come up with a home-run concept for a web comic that people could identify with, so that I could monetize it and make a trashload of money.

Nathan W. Pyle did it with his Strange Planet idea, and it has worked to great effect. There’s also the Heart V Brain stuff done by Awkward Yeti. Very relatable, very shareable, and so on. Both those guys have a million followers.

I think I finally stumbled upon something that I can make work, at least in principle. Gonna stick it in the old rock tumbler between my ears and see if I can’t knock the rough edges off. Maybe it’ll be a one-shot, maybe it will grow legs.

After all, Charles Schulz had no idea what the hell he was doing in the beginning, but he kept doing it, and 50 years later he was sitting on a mountain of new income year after year.

I think I finally know what to do with all of the lousy texts my brother sends me.

Anyway, cryptic as hell, but I don’t care. I’ve got a concept and I can do something with it. Get back to work.

Wow, I actually miss Netflix for once.

I canceled Netflix in January 2019 and never looked back. Closest I ever came to missing it was when S3 of Cobra Kai moved to that platform. I’m just not comfortable funding their overt pedophilia and sexual subversion, so I can’t bring myself to slang dollars at them.

When I heard they were doing a superhero series, I shrugged because meh, who cares? Everyone’s got one these days, they’re all vanilla at this point. (And thanks to the CW, they’re even becoming the kind of dreck that killed them in the 90s).

Then Jupiter’s Legacy dropped, and all the YT channels were talking about it, so I checked out vol 1 from my local library, and I was thoroughly impressed.

Jupiter's Legacy, Vol. 1 by Mark Millar

I remember thinking more than once that this didn’t feel like the kind of story you were allowed to tell any more in America. A story about country, family, legacy, and people who strive to do the right thing despite all the odds.

There’s nothing happy-g0-lucky about it either, as the hero team fails over and over. They used to be on top of their game, but their legacy is failing, they can’t control everything, and their families are suffering the most. All that’s just the beginning.

Vol 1 was awesome. Not a ton of language, one scene of sensuality, and a fair bit of violence at the highest emotional scenes. The story and characters were incredibly strong though, and I am really stoked to dig in to the rest of the series.

Still not gonna sub to Netflix again though.

HOMEWORLD is now live on your podcast machine! Listening is mandatory.

It’s finally ready! I’m excited to share this one with you. I mostly recorded it on my phone in my car whilst parked at work before my shift. Good acoustics in there, better than in my office, and doing it in chunks helped me to get the pacing and intonation right.

I’ve had this story swimming around in my head for years and years, so to finally have it out in the open is a relief. I hope you guys like it.

Patreon is here, to back the podcast financially.

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New Episode Monday! SLEEPLESS HOLLOW # 4 0f 4

This is it, gang! The end is here! Where did Josie end up? What do Silas and Kay do? Does Ichabod get away with it?

Find out in episode four!

And here is some artwork 🙂

Josie watches Silas die in 1776. I drew this one on a sketchbook in a pickup truck during a night shift.
The gang heads out into an exciting new future.

The latter part of the book didn’t have as much art as that middle part. 2019 threw a wrench in my plans pretty hard, what with family trials and the like, so I had to pare back the roster.

Hopefully in the future I can illustrate a few more pieces and release an “author’s preferred edition” or something. For now, I have plenty to get around to.

Episode one is here.

Episode two is here.

Episode three is here.

Find the show on Spotify, and tell your friends to subscribe!

Available on Apple Podcasts as well!

Behind-the-scenes podcasts are available to Patreon backers here.

Thank you everyone for tuning in this month! Next week, WITH ANSWERABLE COURAGE kicks off!

Are you doing everything you can?

This morning I thought about a man that I haven’t remembered in a while. Back in the days of my old blog I wrote about him once or twice and he deserves to have his story told a little more often, or at least, to have my part of his story told.

His name is Jim Heller, and he was an artist. He was also almost completely paralyzed; anything from the neck down was immobile, except for very slight movements in his right hand.

It was those movements that allowed him to become a precise artist. I got to see him work every now and then because we went to church together, and our ward would divide up service assignments to help him out.

On the 2nd of every month, my brother and I would ride our bikes down to his place and make him dinner. This was always a bit of a process because Jim was a slow eater. He would wheel his electric chair into the doorway of his kitchen and tell us what to pull out of the fridge or the cabinets, then have us nuke it in the mike.

We had to cut everything up for him and feed it to him one small bite at a time. He had to tell us every time he was ready for another bite, or a drink through the straw. It took a few hours.

Not that it was an imposition or anything; he was very easy to talk to and we had great conversations. Jim loved movies too, so we would put on a John Wayne flick, or a cheesy sci-fi, or a WW2 film. I watched Anaconda and Tora! Tora! Tora! while feeding him. The only time I’ve ever seen The Ghost In The Darkness was while I was spooning peas into Jim’s mouth. (Awesome movie, btw.)

In my teens I didn’t have a lot going on that wasn’t scheduled for me by my parents. Go to youth activities at church, go to piano lessons, go to Boy Scouts, go go go. When I had time to myself, I spent it ignoring my homework so I could sit at my drawing table while blasting KoRn or Offspring on my CD player.

The lack of a full schedule made it easy for me to visit Jim. I don’t remember seeing it as an imposition or anything, because what else was I doing with my life? Goofing off and daydreaming about girls who would never date me because I was the weird kid?

No, go take one night in thirty and feed someone. That’s a kind of service I don’t do any more. I’m too busy, too dialed in on my own stuff. Plus, obviously, I’ve got a wife and kids now, it’s just different.

But back then, I think it was really good for me to see up close the life of someone who had to rely on others for absolutely everything. Jim had a nurse come by who helped him with his medical stuff, his pill sorting, his bathing and dressing, getting in and out of bed, all that. He always had to have his remote on his tray and his LifeAlert right next to it.

One night he called his neighbor at 2AM because there was a bug chewing on the soft skin under his arm and the pain was excruciating. Jim tried to ride it out without calling and it just got to be too much.

Think about that next time you have an itch and you scratch it and it goes away. Think about a life where you couldn’t do that for yourself.

I never once, in the three or four years that I regularly visited him, heard Jim gripe about his condition, or pity himself. Dude got diagnosed with whatever had put him in a chair in his 20s. Doctors said he would probably die in his 40s. He made it to his 60s.

And to the utter extent that he was able, he worked to support himself.

Every time we came by, we wrapped up the night by setting his art supplies out on the tray on his wheelchair. Pencils and brushes with long sticks attached. Paint pallets with just a drop of this color here, a slight mixture of these two there. Throw some water droplets on to loosen up this shade here, I don’t need much.

He painted scenery, animals, westerns, faces. Indians and mountain men, cowboys and pioneers. Wolverines battling wolves for a kill. Lynxes in the wild. Temples. Christ. His friends.

A few times a year we would load his stuff into his big old van, then help him onto the ramp so he could get inside. Hook his chair to the floor with ratchet straps and drive him to convention centers so he could sell prints and originals. It was heavy and repetitive, and tiring in the Vegas heat.

Yet the whole time you’re doing it, you’re saying to yourself, what am I going to do? Cry about it to the guy who can’t walk? Can’t take a leak without help? Come on, man. Even when I was just a low-ambition punk@$$ from Henderson I could figure that part out.

There are still times that I feel bad about not being there when he died, in July of 2001. I had missed our appointment on the 2nd of that month because I finally had things on my calendar. I had a job (tire tech) and a sport to train for (cheerleading).

He called our house and asked if I was coming. It was 6:30. I apologized profusely, I can’t even remember what I was doing that night but I was busy. He said NBD, he would call his niece, she was over there all the time.

I said I would make it up to him next month. He died about two weeks later.

I made it a point to sing at his funeral. Felt I owed him that.

Often I make the mistake of assuming that everyone has had the same life experiences I have, that they’ve known the same kind of people and have shaped their expectations of life accordingly. I have to remind myself that that isn’t the case.

We’ve all had unique struggles, they just happen in the same vein sometimes. And there will always be someone who has it worse than we do–not that it’s a competition. The point is that someone else’s trials can help you realize not only your blessings, but the limitations you are putting on yourself.

Especially today, in the age of competitive victimhood, with social media being such an easy platform for you to scream your hardships into the void of the world, looking for validation.

When that temptation arises, think of men like Jim. He dealt with those demons at some point in his life, I’m sure of it. That kind of stoicism is usually a destination, not a starting point, and he got there.

I for one am very grateful that he did, and for what he taught me in our short time together. Men like that ought to be remembered.

Learn from that. And get back to work.

Buy my mom’s house in Henderson, NV.

For years, you’ve wanted to be a legit Old Hendersonian.
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You’ve wanted to live within walking distance of the Water Street District, where you can eat a different culture’s food every day of the week.
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Where old men in white smocks cut your hair with hand-sharpened scissors and tell you stories about The War.
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A place where whatever grocery store across from Wal-Mart is trying to survive this week. (Is it a Sav-On? It’s Albertson’s. No, it’s Haagens? No, it’s an Albertson’s again…)
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Well, you no longer have to dream about being closer to Target AND Walgreens AND Friendly’s Donuts AND Johnny Mac’s AND Cinedome 12, with its $4 Tuesday Tickets and the same ticket-tearing lady who’s been there since I was 11.
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Yes, all of this is within your reach, because a home just went up for sale in…THE TRIANGLE! Specifically, my mom’s house!
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the triangle.jpg
You can be the envy of your friends as you step out into your front yard, look west, and gaze upon the industrial masterpiece that is Timet Industries! They make titanium there, how cool is that?!
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And it’s right behind the James I. Gibson Library, which used to be by City Hall, but has since moved closer. About 90% closer. It’s on  your doorstep, giving you The Look, and jangling its keys. Once you own this classy, revamped, War-era house, you’ll have that last 10% right at your fingertips.
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Directly east of your new Legit Hendo House is the leggitest Discount Tire Store in the whole valley, designation “NVL01”. I worked there in high school when it was a much less classy outfit than it is now.
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A decade ago, many Triangle houses were derelict or outright abandoned. In just the last year or two, many of Mom’s neighbors have redone their houses, and the neighborhood on the whole is looking a lot better, which is why these houses have gone up in value. That, and the location.
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In fact, here’s a short list of what’s within a mile or so of your new place:
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-Walgreens
-St. Rose Hospital
-Capriotti’s
-Albertson’s (for now…)
-Chevron/Terrible’s
-McDonald’s
-Del Taco, El Pollo Loco, Subway, Jimmy John’s, Carl’s Jr. (same shopping center)
-Target, PetSmart, Staples, Marshall’s, and Big Lots (also same shopping center)
-The Henderson Convention Center
-The Farmer’s Market (every Thursday)
-Jack in the Box, Sonic, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Pep Boys, and the US Post Office…all next door to each other.
-And that’s not even counting the Wal-Mart on the corner of Lake Mead and Boulder.
For crying out loud, you’re less than two miles from Cinedome 12 (the cheap seats!), Johnny Mac’s (wings! pizza! ribs!), Friendly’s Donuts (JUST ASK ANYONE IN TOWN), and the Sunset Pizzeria.
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The only Old Henderson Landmark not inside that circle is the El Torito restaurant, which was teleported out of Mexico thirty years ago and is still serving the same recipes today. Deadpool himself would swear by these chimichangas, and we all know how Deadpool likes to swear.
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But enough about the neighborhood perks! What about the house perks?
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Well, my mom bought the place in 2009, after having to sell the house I grew up in off of Pacific and Horizon. Check out the B&A:
mom house
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You’re getting new paint inside and out.
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New windows, all up to city code.
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Plenty of new plumbing and fixtures (including for the kitchen, hall bath, and laundry.)
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Three of the rooms couldn’t even be used when she moved in. Now the house has 4 bedrooms and 2 renovated bathrooms, plus:
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A walk-in pantry
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A spacious living room and family room
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Tile and laminate flooring
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AC and a swamp cooler
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A 12′ storage shed out back
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And 2 driveways out front on either side of the property. (3, if you count the pull-through.)
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Heck, you’ve even got pomegranate trees in the backyard, and fertile soil full of fertilizer from Mom’s two hyperactive egg-laying hens. Those planter boxes have more chicken crap in them than Green Valley High School’s entire athletic roster.
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Mom’s been able to run a full-time business out of this house, with two 12-foot wide longarm quilting machines, the whole time she’s been there.
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The downside of that is that her house has been full of business-related stuff, and she’s the only one living there, so most people who walk through have only seen a house full of unidentifiable quilting stuff that might or might not be used to conceal the activities of a serial killer–and I can’t think of anything more Vintage Henderson than that.
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Not to worry, though–Mom’s bringing that stuff with her when she moves into my basement in Utah.
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So if you’re in the market for a Hendo House, seize your chance to own a legend! Her agents Sherrie ((702) 525-4316) and Mary ((702) 281-0322) will get you a showing.
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Or be a sweater vest sellout and buy a boxy little cookie-cutter shack in Green Valley that costs WAY more than it’s worth, plus an HOA. Don’t let me tell you what to do.

Colts Comic #1: JJ tries to call Andrew.


These will get more sophisticated once I move out of my friends’ basement and have my full desk set up.

For those who don’t follow the NFL, JJ Watt is a defensive player for the Houston Trailer Trash. His job is to try to sack Andrew “God Mode” Luck of the Indianapolis Colts.

The joke here is that Watt claims to spend the offseason in a Spartan cabin in the woods, with no tech, just weights. In truth, it’s a fancy forest house.

In contrast, Andrew Luck can’t FaceTime because he still uses a flip phone. Enjoy.