Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, March 13, 2021, or: Mixing Movie-Making Magic with Submarine Mayhem on My Day Off

If all goes well, we’ll be seeing this family (and a few other characters!) in a new production from Popcorn Sky!

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s mid- to late afternoon (depending on your definition) on Saturday, March 13, 2021. Here in New Hometown, Florida it is a nice late winter day (again, depending on one’s perception of “winter); currently, the temperature is 83˚F (28˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 39% and the wind blowing from the east-northeast at 8 MPH (13 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 82˚F (28˚C). The high today was 85˚F (29˚C) and the rest of the afternoon should be nice; the forecast calls for mostly sunny skies. Tonight, we can expect mostly clear skies and a low of 58˚F (14˚C).

Photo by cottonbro on

Since today is Saturday, I decided to not make this a full working day, even though the gang at Popcorn Sky Productions and I are commencing work on a feature-length sequel to Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss. That’s not to say that I have not done any film-related work today: I replied to some story development-related emails from our lead actor/director/editor, Juan Carlos Hernandez regarding the characters’ backstory and relevant info that will help everyone with the creation of the screenplay.

I also checked on our film-related fundraiser, which I mentioned yesterday in this blog. We have, happily, received some donations, and since in addition to being one of the screenwriters for this project, I’m also an associate producer, I took some time to write “thank you” notes to our first donors. And, of course, I’m trying to put the word out, so it’s not like I didn’t work on the project.

A Soviet transport, part of an amphibious group bound for Norway, is targeted for a torpedo attack by USS Portsmouth. Screenshot from actual gameplay. (All elements from Cold Waters are © 2017 Killerfish Games.)

Aside from that, though, it is the weekend, so after I did my bit for the film, I decided to play Cold Waters, the 2017 submarine simulation game from Killerfish Games that is the spiritual heir to MicroProse’s classic 1988 game Red Storm Rising.

As I wrote earlier this week, I’m playing through the game’s North Atlantic 1984 campaign. This is a depiction of a hypothetical World War III that breaks out one month after Ronald Reagan’s re-election as President between the Soviet Union and NATO. As in the South China Sea 2000 scenario, this campaign begins at a real point in world history (in this instance, the really tense last years of the Cold War), then tweaks reality so that the fictional war between East and West can occur.

All things being equal, I have improved my submarine command skills a bit; I have only failed to complete three or four of 13 assignments (I don’t keep a log of my game sessions, so I’m not sure). However, my success-to-failure ratio is far better in North Atlantic 1984 than in South China Sea because I know what I’m doing now.), and in one of those missions (an intercept of a surface action group), I lost my boat because I encountered the Soviet ships at too close a range when I “came out of” the Strategic Transit Map and into the engagement zone. (Luckily, the USS Salt Lake City was in shallow water and within rescue range of friendly forces, so most of my crew and I survived.)

The Strategic Transit Map.

In all honesty, though, I still lose more boats than I would like; so far in this war I’ve put to sea in four 688’s (Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines). They are:

  • USS Salt Lake City (SSN-716)
  • USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN-708)
  • USS Portsmouth (SSN-707)
  • USS Dallas (SSN-700)

Because my success-to-failure ratio in North Atlantic 1984 has been better than in South China Sea, the Third World War did not become a see-saw where the balance flipped from NATO to the Warsaw Pact then back again regularly. The Soviets made some gains in Western Europe in December of 1984, but by Christmas, NATO pushed the Red Army mostly out of West Germany and out of Denmark in early 1985. In fact, even though I lost Portsmouth while intercepting a Soviet amphibious force – my second such attack on an invasion force, I still sank all of the ships in exchange for my boat.

As a result, when I accepted command of USS Dallas[1] at Holy Loch, Scotland, I received orders to go after a Soviet “boomer” – i.e. a ballistic missile submarine.

As in Red Storm Rising, going after a strategic asset like a ballistic missile sub is the last mission of the campaign. I saved the game at that point, so I guess I’ll finish North Atlantic 1984 either tomorrow or Monday.

Speaking of tomorrow, if you live in the U.S. and the territories that observe Daylight Saving Time, don’t forget to set your clocks one hour ahead.

Well, this is a good place for me to stop, so I’ll close for now. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] Dallas is the Los Angeles-class sub made famous by Tom Clancy’s 1984 novel The Hunt for Red October and its 1990 film adaptation by director John McTiernan. The real Dallas doesn’t exist anymore, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on April 4, 2018 after being in active service for 36 years, 8 months and 17 days.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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