Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, January 4, 2023, or: Things That Brought Me Some Joy in 2022


My Star Wars The Black Series 40th Anniversary Legacy Pack display stand. It came with the 40th Anniversary figure of Darth Vader; I had to buy the other 11 figures to complete the display.

Although I will not remember 2022 with a great deal of fondness, I can’t say that the year was devoid of its momentary joys and pleasures. After all, I’ve watched some great movies (on home media, unfortunately, but I still watched them), read some interesting and entertaining books, listened to music I had not listened to before, and played cool computer games – some of which were from my usual fare of mainstream games and simulations, while others…were not

I even acquired some cool new Star Wars figures for my Star Wars The Black Series collection, so even though this year I’ll be celebrating my 60th year, I can sometimes find a way to relive the joys of starting my original Kenner “micro-action figure” collection 45 years ago this March.

So, without further ado (I must go to the store and get more ado since I am fresh out), here are the Top  Things that Brought Me Joy in 2022:

Movies

The 4K UHD Blu-ray release of The Fabelmans will probably be released in March of 2023. (C) 2022, 2023 Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures.

I don’t go out to the movies in the traditional sense of leaving the house and watching, say, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans at a nearby multiplex; the double-whammy of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and a breakup ended my “let’s go to the movies” days for the time being, so if I want to watch it. I must wait till the studio – Universal, in the case of The Fabelmans – releases it on home media.

(C) 2022 20th Century Studios via Target

That’s what happened with Spielberg’s reimagined version of West Side Story, a movie that I longed to see ever since before either the pandemic or the dissolution of my relationship with my now ex-girlfriend put the kibosh on going to the theaters in Riverview or Gibsonton. Originally scheduled for a December 2020 release, Spielberg’s take on Jerome Robbins’ 1957 Broadway musical that takes Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and transports it to late Fifties Manhattan’s West Side is grittier, more grounded, and hews closer to its source than the Robbins-Robert Wise version released by United Artists in 1961.

As I wrote in my review back in March:

To his credit, Spielberg loves all West Side Story’s incarnations, including the 1957 original stage show and the 1961 film. He plays many tributes to both, including setting his film squarely in 1957 (the year the show opened at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway) and casting some of the actors from the 1961 film either in blink-and-you-miss-them cameos (Harvey Evans, David Bean, and Bert Michaels, all who portrayed Jets gang members in the first film, appear as extras in this one) or, in Rita Moreno’s case, a new character in place of another. Moreno, who also served as one of the movie’s executive producers, plays Valentina, the widow of drugstore owner Doc, West Side Story’s Friar Laurence stand-in.

Although – sadly – West Side Story did not do well at the box office thanks to the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is a wonderful film. Tony Kushner insisted on being true to the original stage show, and even though some of the cast members were in their 20s when the film was made, they all did their own singing and dancing, and they all look “age appropriate.

Books

I have been a reader ever since I was a toddler – true story! – so I am not happy if I don’t do at least some reading during the day. I’ve explained elsewhere why I don’t read as much in Lithia as I used to do in Miami, and once I move I will probably cut down on book purchases, but I am like Thomas Jefferson, who once said, “I cannot live without books.”


It’s hard to choose just one book that I enjoyed above all the others that I acquired in 2022, so I’ll list my Top Five titles. Some of them are also on my current To Be Read list, so if you’ve read my “TBR” posts on this blog, you might be familiar with:

Music

(C) 1971, 2021 MGM/UA, Capitol Records, and La-La Land Records

I purchased a handful of new albums on compact disc – perhaps the best audio home media format ever invented- in 2022, including the expanded soundtracks to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Fiddler on the Roof, and Jurassic Park.

(C) 1982, 2002 Paramount Pictures, Atlantic Records, & La-La Land Records

But if I had to choose one piece of music that brought me joy in 2022, it would be W.A. Mozart’s Flute & Harp concerto, K 299 – 2nd movement – Andantino.

I will admit that the melody did “trigger” the entire Remembering Cheryl T series of posts, which as you know caused me to relive an episode of my childhood that can be best described as bittersweet. I don’t know why the melody of the Andantino’s “main theme” reminded me of my first (and briefest) romance, which is now half-a-century in the past. Maybe the loveliness of the musical motif reminded me of how cute Cheryl was when I knew her back in 1972…

Computer Games (Mainstream Category)

(C) 1985, 2022 MicroProse/Atari

Although 2022 sucked in many aspects, it was a good year for the gamer in me.

Not only did I get to purchase the slightly remastered versions of the original MicroProse’s Crusade in Europe and M1 Tank Platoon, but I also bought one of the first titles published by the “new” revived MicroProse: Regiments.

A screengrab from a gaming session shows how detailed the graphics are in ‘Regiments.’

While it is not perfect, Regiments is a cool, fun, and exciting Cold War-turns-hot game that depicts combined arms combat in an alternate history in which the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invades West Germany in the summer of 1989 and kicks off a war against NATO. It gets my vote for “favorite game of the year.”

Computer Games (Adults-Only Category)

(C) 2020 Dr. PinkCake

Although I have long known that there are adults-only computer games with explicit sexual content in existence (and have, for a long time), I never owned one till curiosity (and extreme horniness) got the best of me last July and I decided to buy Being a DIK – Season 1 and Acting Lessons, both of which were created by a developer who goes by Dr. PinkCake and are set in the same universe.

Although I’ve only been able to play through Acting Lessons from start to finish – it has no mini-games or quests added like in its multi-season sequel, Being a DIK, I love the graphics in these adult visual novels. As I say in my review of Acting Lessons:

I enjoyed the story in the first playthrough, even though I was shocked when one of the main women in the cast had to die and I had to deal with a psycho murderer in one of the later episodes.

I also – in all honesty – love the graphic sex scenes, even though they’re less varied (so far, anyway) than in the later (and more complicated) Being a DIK game. I like the mindfulness Dr. PinkCake lavishes on his representations of consensual sex between young – if straight out of Central Casting – adults. You can even choose what sexual positions you perform and how long the sex lasts. (Be warned, though, the animation in the sex scenes is good, but it’s limited and after a while repetitive, so don’t make them last longer than necessary!) 

I also must point out that just like in Being a DIK, there is more than sex, sex, sex. There is a storyline in Acting Lessons, one that delves into the nature of relationships, whether they are sexual, platonic, or “brotherly friends” (as in the subplot between Liam and Jonas/your character). The game explores the bonds of friendship, the pain of lost love, the price of being dishonest, and the rocky path to redemption and true love.

Star Wars The Black Series Action Figures

A recent photo of my Ikea BILLY shelves, with most of my Star Wars The Black Series on display.

I have been collecting Star Wars stuff for 45 years; ever since I received my first two Kenner 3 ¾ inch action figures (C-3PO and R2-D2) and the Landspeeder Vehicle for my 15th birthday (my first one at my former home in East Wind Lake Village), I have bought – or received as gifts – at least 200 of the small figures and over 50 of the newer, larger Star Wars The Black Series figures.

Image Credit: Hasbro Promotional Image. (C) 2022 Hasbro & Lucasfilm Ltd.

I wasn’t going to start collecting the Star Wars The Black Series 6-inchers because they’re not inexpensive and I don’t have a lot of spare room where I live now. But when my then-girlfriend gave me some of them as my Christmas present in December of 2017, I was bitten by the collecting bug again.

Image Credit: Hasbro. (C) 2022 Hasbro and Lucasfilm Ltd. (LFL)

Even though I didn’t know that I would be moving to Brandon at some point soon, I cut back on my figure buying last year. I only purchased four figures; two Lucasfilm 50th Anniversary Archives carded ones with Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Hoth gear, Figrin D’an, and George Lucas (in Stormtrooper Disguise).

Did the Star Wars figures magically transport me away from my situation in Lithia or help me meet a more suitable life partner? Did they make me a better, more productive person? No. Of course not. And I am sure that during the move to Brandon, they’ll be a source of short-term stress, as I will be worrying if they were properly packed, if they were misplaced somehow, or where they will be displayed in the new house.

However, while I will be 60 in 60 days (serendipity strikes!), I still get a kick out of my Star Wars figures. I may not be (or look like) a 15-year-old anymore, but the movies, books, soundtracks, and other collectibles do make me feel young.

So, there’s that.

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.

2 thoughts on “Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, January 4, 2023, or: Things That Brought Me Some Joy in 2022

  1. Alex, thank you so much for featuring my book again and putting it on your top five list with a link to your incredibly supportive review. I really appreciate your kindness and all the help you’ve given me along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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