Musings & Thoughts for Monday, January 16, 2023, or: A Quick Preview of Things to Come on ‘A Certain Point of View, Too’

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Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s Monday, January 16, 2023 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the United States – and here in Lithia, Florida, it is late morning. It’s chilly – 57°F/14°C under sunny skies – and even though it’s going to warm up to 67°F/19°F and the afternoon will be sunny and nice, I will hold off on writing the long-promised review of Code-Name Downfall until the temperature rises a bit more. The even chillier temperature before sunrise woke me up – at 5:33 AM – to answer the call of nature, and even though I was able to get an additional two hours of sleep after my return from the bathroom, it was still an unpleasant wakeup.

So instead of a review, today’s post will be a “coming attractions” sort of thing. After all, the cold snap will end and temperatures will rise to the mid-70s/20s by Thursday, and even though I am not the kind of writer who likes formal outlines or ironclad plans, I do like having a general idea about what I’ll want to write about in A Certain Point of View, Too.

(C) 1995 Simon & Schuster

Obviously, the one “sure” item on my agenda is the review of Code-Name Downfall; I have already set my mind to writing that, and I’ve done some preliminary (and boring, and time-consuming) work on it. All I need is warmer weather and I’ll be good to go, so to speak.

Digital image credit and (C) 2021 Hasbro & Lucasfilm Ltd.

Other likely blog posts will include:

  • A review of a Star Wars The Black Series six-inch scale action figure
  • Remembering the start of Operation Desert Storm (January 17, 1991)
  • A possible discussion of the various Mobile Defense skirmishes I have played on Regiments
  • A tentative review of Groundhog Day, which I watched on 4K UHD disc yesterday

I will cut this post short here; I ate some Honey Nuts Cheerios earlier, but I have not brewed any coffee yet. Cold weather often – not always – makes me drowsy or less inclined to be active, and I’m not fully functional unless I have had at least one cup of coffee in the morning. So I will soon be in the kitchen brewing some Folger’s Coffee and maybe reading or watching TV for a while.

So, until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, warm, and healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, January 15, 2023, or: Winter in Florida – Nice, Sunny, But a Bit Chilly

Midmonth Chill

Hi, there, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in Lithia, Florida, on Sunday, January 15, 2023. A cold front passed through the area yesterday morning, and even though temperatures today are higher than they were 24 hours ago (53°F/11°C under sunny conditions as I write this), it’s still chilly – at least for this Florida native son.

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on

Since I’m still affected by the cold temperatures – one effect being that my kidneys work overtime, and I must go to the bathroom more often – I will not even attempt to write a review of Code-Name Downfall today. I am at my best – as a writer, anyway – when I can focus on a task for a long time; but when I’m distracted or interrupted by outside forces (in this case, the temperature), I can’t concentrate. Good writing requires a single-minded focus and attention to detail, especially when I’m trying to convey why a particular media product (be it a movie, TV show, music album, or book) is good or bad.

Coping with the Cold

(C) 1995 Simon & Schuster

I did make a separate document file on my Notepad app with a list of chapters from Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan- And Why Truman Dropped the Bomb. I don’t always include chapter lists in my book reviews; they’re usually not necessary and I’ve never seen one in a newspaper’s book review. Still, since Operation Downfall is a complex subject, I think a look at the book’s chapter list will give readers a good outline of the 1995 book by the late Thomas B. Allen (the father of science fiction author Roger McBride Allen) and frequent coauthor Norman Polmar. So I am going to include most of the table of contents in my review.

In my younger years, especially when I was in college, I had a slightly higher tolerance for cold weather and could do most of the things I needed to do for school or the occasional English composition tutoring gig. Of course, when I was on campus at Miami-Dade Community College – South Campus (now known as Miami-Dade College – Kendall Campus), the classrooms and the student publications office were heated during the Winter Term, and even at my former home in East Wind Lake Village, my room faced due west and got extremely warm in the afternoons, so if I had to write something on my first home computer for school when I was not on campus, I still could function because I wasn’t fretting about how cold it was.

Sunny (but Chilly!) Spain

Photo by Diego Sierra on

The coldest place where I lived and studied as a young adult was, of course, Sevilla, Spain. I went to school there for one semester in the autumn of 1988, and even though it wasn’t freezing when I arrived in September, it did get chilly and sometimes rainy around mid-October. And, of course, since Spain is farther north than Miami, cold fronts seemed to be chillier there than the ones I was used to. Plus, in most European countries most houses and apartment buildings didn’t have either central air conditioning or heating, so our house mothers often provided us with space heaters.

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on

Again, because I was 25 going on 26 in the fall and early winter of 1988, I was able to keep up with the coursework in the five classes that I signed up for when I joined the Semester in Spain program, but it was a tad more difficult than it was at my home campus. I still remember using a Brother battery-operated typewriter (with thermal paper!) while writing articles that I had to send back to Miami for publication in the M-DCC South Campus student paper, dressed “in layers” except for my hands. It’s hard to type with gloves on!

Lithia in Winter

It’s not freezing in the house where I am now, but the lower overall temperature does affect my thought process and it makes my kidneys go on overdrive. This is an odd bit of medical info handed down by my half-sister Vicky, who sometimes did get along with me and would share the things she’d learned as a nurse. Since I started this blog post, I’ve already “had to go” twice to the john, although part of the reason is the two cups of coffee that I consumed at breakfast this morning. Caffeine is a diuretic, so between that and the low temperatures…. Well, let’s just say I’m glad the bathroom is just across the hall from my room.  

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on

I’m also still feeling a bit unwell from that nagging little cold I have, but I seem to have that under control with Vitamin C supplements and doses of Vick’s DayQuil gel caps.

Oh, and I just remembered that today is the 32nd anniversary of the UN Security Council’s deadline (January 15, 1991)  for Saddam Hussein to withdraw his military forces from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in the late summer of 1990. I still recall watching television coverage on NBC News and CNN about the ongoing crisis, hoping Saddam would back down and leave Kuwait without a shot being fired, but suspecting that he would not.

(C) 1993, 2023 Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

In other news, I still haven’t watched Groundhog Day. I might watch it later this afternoon, although I’m just glad I was able to snag it in a Limited Edition steelbook and in three formats (digital copy, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD Blu-ray).

I did attempt to watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition, which (in my mind, anyway) is the best version of Robert Wise’s 1979 film, but cold weather also makes me drowsy, so I fell asleep early and almost ended up waking up for good at 3:30 AM. Thankfully I was able to fall back asleep and didn’t wake up again until 7:30 AM, but for a while there I thought I was going to have one of those long bouts of “wee hours” insomnia again.

Aside from that, I don’t have much to tell, so I will close here. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, stay warm, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Saturday, January 14, 2023, or: Low Temperatures, Cold Symptoms Put the Kibosh on a Planned Book Review

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A cold front passed through Central Florida between yesterday afternoon and early this morning, so the temperature in Lithia (as I write this) is 47°F/8°C under mostly cloudy skies on Saturday, January 14, 2023. The house is warmer than that, thank the Force, but I still have that nagging cold, and the combination of low temperatures and minor cold symptoms is not conducive to analytical writing, which is the style/mindset I need to be in when I write a review.

I have been taking both DayQuil gel caps and Vitamin C supplements to deal with the cold, and that is working. I don’t have a sore throat, congested lungs, a fever, or anything beyond a dull headache, occasional powerful sneezes, and a vague sense of tiredness. I’ve dealt with more serious respiratory illnesses in the past, and this kerfuffle with a cold virus is a walk in the park compared to those episodes.

(C) 1995 Simon & Schuster

Nevertheless, I still don’t feel like writing the long-planned review of Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan – And Why Truman Dropped the Bomb, a nonfiction book that examines the U.S. planned invasion of Japan, the preparations by both Americans and Japanese for what would have been the last campaign of World War II, and how Operations Olympic (the invasion of Kyushu) and Coronet (the landings on Honshu, near the Tokyo metro area) were canceled by Japan’s acceptance, on August 15, 1945, of the Potsdam Declaration’s terms for peace.

I have been a World War II buff for most of my life, and although the entirety of the conflict interests me, I am drawn to some topics more than others.

In brief, my favorite topics related to World War II are:

  • Aerial warfare
  • The D-Day (June 6, 1944) landings and the Normandy campaign
  • The campaigns to liberate Western Europe, starting with North African campaign and ending with the Allied advance into Germany and to the Elbe River
  • Naval warfare
  • Operation Market-Garden
  • The Battle of Midway (June 4-7, 1942)
  • Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941)
  • The war in the Pacific (1941-1945
  • The Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945)
  • The Guadalcanal campaign (August 1942-February 1943)
  • Operation Downfall and the dropping of the Bomb
Map showing the outline plan of Operation Downfall.

I became interested in Downfall back when I was in college; I bought the paperback edition of Alfred Coppel’s 1983 The Burning Mountain: A Novel of the Invasion of Japan at my college campus’ bookstore during my freshman year at Miami-Dade Community College.

(C) 1983 Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

A what-if novel in the vein of a Harry Turtledove novel, The Burning Mountain was based on the Japanese Ketsu-Go 6 plan for the defense of Tokyo and the Americans’ Operation Coronet. Coppel, who had trained to be a pilot during the war and was spared from seeing combat over Japan due to the war’s end in late summer of 1945, blended careful research into the real-life plans and preliminaries for Downfall with his ability to craft a story with believable fictional characters and the use of historical figures (such as President Harry Truman and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur) as players in the story.

One of the coolest things about The Burning Mountain is how Coppel changes history so that instead of having atomic bombs ready for use by August of 1945, the United States must carry out Downfall. If you haven’t read The Burning Mountain – it’s sadly out of print, but you can still sometimes find a copy on Amazon or in used bookstores – I won’t give it away. I will say that Coppel’s scenario is both Shakespearean and plausible.

I own three nonfiction books about Operation Downfall, including Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan- And Why Truman Dropped the Bomb. The Allen-Polmar book was published first (in 1995), but paradoxically I bought it after I purchased Richard B. Frank’s Downfall: The End of The Imperial Japanese Empire and Hell to Pay: Operation Downfall and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947, by D.M. Giangreco.

The invasion of Japan, especially the often quoted “one million U.S. casualties” estimate that many critics of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb attacks say is exaggerated, is a fascinating topic, so I hope that I can beat this annoying cold so I can do that review of Code-Name Downfall.

On Blogs & Blogging: It’s Nice to Be Noticed – A Tempus Fugit Piece is Featured in a Sevilla-Based Study Abroad Program’s Blog!

Whoa! My Tempus Fugit piece from December got “reblogged” by the International College of Seville!

Hello, again, Dear Reader.

In my haste to write, edit, and publish my previous post, I totally forgot to mention a bit of good news.

Not earthshakingly good news along the lines of “I met someone who is interested in dating me…” or “I shook off my irritating cold and wrote a review of Code Name: Downfall,” but still a positive development.

Last month (on December 18, to be exact), I wrote a Tempus Fugit piece about my last morning in Sevilla, Spain, which was on December 18, 1988. It was cold on the day I wrote it, and the low temperatures here in Florida prompted me to write about the equally cold day 34 years past.

The student activities director at ICS, Lisa Dolan, is one of the few people from my stint there that I am still in contact with, and since I share some of my posts on Instagram, Lisa read the blog post, Farewell and Adieu to You Fair Spanish Ladies, shortly after I published it.

She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she asked if she could adapt it for ICS’ The Porvenir Times blog.

Cathedral and La Giralda u2013 Seville u2013 Spain u2013 Catedral y La Giralda u2013 Sevilla u2013 Espau00f1a u2013 WorldPhotographyDay22 by Eduardo J. Cabaleiro is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

I, of course, said, “Of course,” and I gave Lisa permission to tweak it so that it would fit the space she planned to publish it in. As a result, it’s a tad different from the original post on A Certain Point of View, Too, but it worked out nicely.

The ICS blog version can be read here.

On Movies & Movie Collecting: ‘Groundhog Day’ Arrived Safely; Other Pre-Orders Canceled or Pending Review

The steelbook features a new twist on the original 1993 poster art. (C) 1993, 2023 Columbia Pictures & Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Phil: I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters.

[Ralph and Gus snort]

Phil: That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get that day over, and over, and over…

Bill Murray stars as the self-centered, sardonic, and cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman Phil Connors (C) 1993. 2023 Columbia Pictures/Sony Corp.

My Amazon order of Sony Home Entertainment’s Groundhog Day: 30th Anniversary Limited Edition steelbook arrived last evening here in Lithia, Florida, along with my order of over-the-counter cold medication and Vitamin C supplements. It arrived a bit later than usual – at 5:53 PM Eastern Standard Time – and I didn’t retrieve it from the front porch till after 6 PM. Consequently, I decided to simply check the metal case for dents and scratches (there were none), activate the digital copy code (done), and go to my account’s Collection and mark Groundhog Day as “Owned.”

Unlike my “regular” Blu-ray collection, my 4K UHD collection still fits in one page in my account’s Collection section. Mostly because of box sets. Jurassic Park, Star Trek, and Star Wars titles tend to dominate.

From the Package’s J-Card Blurb:

(C) 1993, 2023 Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Bill Murray is at his wry, wisecracking best in this riotous romantic comedy about a weatherman caught in a personal time warp on the worst day of his life. Teamed with a relentlessly cheerful producer (Andie MacDowell) and a smart-aleck cameraman (Chris Elliott), TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the annual Groundhog Day festivities. After a surprise blizzard traps him in small-town hell, things get even worse; Phil wakes the next morning to find it’s GROUNDHOG DAY all over again… and again… and again.

(C) 1993, 2023 Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

My 4K UHD Collection

The arrival of this two-disc set (1 4K UHD Blu-ray, 1 “regular” Blu-ray) of Groundhog Day means that I now own 105 4K UHD titles (including a few repeats due to purchases of backup sets of The Skywalker Saga and updated box sets of franchise films such as Star Trek and the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World series. The tally does not include The Fabelmans, even though I have it on my Collection page in the Ordered category.

Since I am still – knock on wood – moving sometime in the near future (don’t ask me when; I have not been told, and none of my things have been packed yet), I canceled a couple of pre-orders that were due to be released this month, including the release of another limited edition steelbook. This one was of a movie I did not see in theaters back in the 1980s – Young Sherlock Holmes – which was produced by Steven Spielberg and featured some of the earliest CGI effects in a Hollywood film. I canceled it because (a) I need to cut down on “for fun” expenses and (b) it’s not really a movie that I have a must-own yen for. It’s not directed by Spielberg, although he did produce it, so it was an easy cancelation to make.

I still have the “regular” Blu-rays of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Season One and Black Sunday on pre-order; Strange New Worlds will “drop” on March 23, and Black Sunday will be released one week later. Depending on where I am and how different my budget will be then, I might or may not cancel one or both.

I really want The Fabelmans, though, so even though I don’t know when Universal is releasing the 4K set with a regular Blu-ray and digital code added for extra value, I am reluctant to cancel that order.

Well, that’s all I have to share with you for now, Dear Reader. If I feel up to it, I might go ahead and start reviewing Code Name: Downfall. We’ll see, though; the cold I have is more of an irritation than it is incapacitating, but it still affects my desire to create anything. So, until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Musings & Thoughts for Thursday, January 12, 2023, or: A Quick Update!

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on

Hi, there, Dear Reader.

Today’s post will be a “quickie” because I am still sick. My cold symptoms have not gotten worse; I don’t have a fever, my throat is not sore, and I don’t sneeze all that much. However, I do have a mild headache, my nose is stuffy, and I feel tired and achy all over, even though I slept well throughout the night and woke up comparatively late (at 8 AM).

Last night I watched the last three episodes of Jack Ryan’s third season on Amazon Prime Video. I’m not sure if I like the story of this penultimate batch of episodes, which has Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (played by John Krasinki) facing off against a conspiracy by Russian hardliners seeking to restore the Soviet Union and start a Third World War against the West.

The acting by the international cast is good, and the series’ production values are excellent, but I am not sure if the storyline, as well as the depiction of the Russian government leadership, made any sense.  Maybe I don’t “get” the plot because I’ve been watching Jack Ryan late at night and falling asleep before an episode ends, and maybe I’ll feel different about this season’s eight-episode story arc when I rewatch it. Right now, though, I’ll just say the show is “meh” despite its impressive location shooting in Europe, Canada, and the U.S.

(C) 1993, 2023 Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

And speaking of Amazon, my package (or packages) with my orders of Groundhog Day’s 4K UHD 30th Anniversary release and the DayQuil gelcaps I need to ease the symptoms of the cold are being processed in Lakeland, Florida, and will be delivered by 10 PM.

 I don’t think I can write a review of Code Name: Downfall today because of those annoying cold symptoms. However, I did some prep work by making a list of the book’s chapters and four appendices on Microsoft’s Notepad app. That should reduce the amount of time spent writing the review once I feel up to the task. I was hoping that I’d be able to do it today, but I think I should take a break from sitting at my desk all day and rest for a while.

On that note, Dear Reader, I’ll close for now. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Thoughts & Musings for Wednesday, January 11, 2023, or: Well, There Go My Plans to Write a Book Review!

Photo by Pixabay on

Today I woke up feeling a bit under the weather – just a garden-variety cold, judging by the symptoms – so I won’t be writing the planned review of Code Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan – and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb, by Thomas B. Allen and Norman Polmar, which had been on my to-do list for the day.

I ordered a package of Dayquil/Nyquil gel caps from Amazon last night; I started sneezing and getting a headache late yesterday afternoon, and so far, the symptoms are mild and thus tolerable. My order won’t arrive till tomorrow, though, so I’ll have to muddle through today by taking Tylenol for the headache, keeping some tissues handy, and resting as much as possible. (I don’t know about you, but I tend to get a runny nose whenever I must focus intensely on a specific task…which makes writing long articles of any kind a bit of a downer, at least for me.)

Andie McDowell and Bill Murray star in Groundhog Day, a rom-com from director Harold Ramis. (C) 1993/2023 Columbia Pictures and Sony Home Entertainment

I did get a bit of good news this morning: my only movie purchase for January, the 4K reissue of Groundhog Day: 30th Anniversary Edition, will arrive tomorrow (along with my OTC cold medications). Amazon had previously estimated a delivery date of January 27 (even though I pre-ordered it late last year and its “street date” was yesterday.

(C) 1993, 2023 Columbia PIctures/Sony Home Entertainment

I have this movie on DVD, and I had not planned to upgrade Groundhog Day to Blu-ray; I don’t watch the few “rom-coms” in my video library that much, and in any event replacing everything on a one-for-one basis is expensive and impractical. Having said that, since the 4K version comes with a 2K Blu-ray, the digital copy code, and a steelbook container, I thought the upgrade – which will be my only “just for fun” purchase this month – was worth making.

As for the Blu-rays that I already own, last night I watched a few episodes of Star Trek: Discovery – Season Four. I was in the mood to watch science fiction, but I didn’t believe I could sit through a full-length movie, so I decided to watch at least one episode of Discovery. I ended up watching several episodes, thus blowing my “I can’t watch a movie because I don’t feel up to it” thesis out of the water.

Maybe I was engrossed in the story, or it’s because I’ve already seen most of my SF stuff a few times already; I don’t know. But despite some issues with the pacing of serialized Star Trek, the story in Season Four is interesting, at least enough that I did not watch “Just one” episode of this Paramount+ original Star Trek series.

As I said, I planned to write a review of Code Name Downfall, which is one of the two books about the planned invasion of Japan that are part of my current TBR stack. But even though my cold symptoms are mild and tolerable, they are present, and they do affect my daily routine, so I’ll just put aside writing anything that requires more work than a slice-of-life blog post until my meds arrive tomorrow.

Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things   

On Movies & Movie-Watching: My (Tentative) TBW List for January 10-14, 2023

Photo by the author.

On My To-Be-Watched (TBW) List:

Even though I have an extensive movie collection on Blu-ray and DVD (105 4K UHD Blu-rays. 526 2K Blu-rays, and 248 DVDs), I don’t have a literal TBW stack. I do have lots of shelf space, so when I say I have a “TBW List,” it’s often a mental and highly aspirational selection of titles – regardless of the format – that I’m inclined to watch. That is, assuming that I am in the mood to watch something and that I choose an appropriate time to watch a feature film; starting a movie after 10 PM like I used to when I was younger just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

Movies I’ve Watched

(C) 2004, 2019 Paramount Pictures/Paramount Home Media Distribution

Since the last time I posted a TBW List on A Certain Point of View, Too, I have watched three feature films from fade in to fade out.

This is why I rewatched Mean Girls not too long ago. (C) 2019 Quirk Books

They are:

  • Mean Girls (2004)[1]
  • The Searchers (1956)
  • Don Jon (2013)

Movies I’ve Tried to Watch

(C) 1953 Paramount Pictures

I have also attempted to watch:

  • Shane (1953)
  • The War: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick (2007)
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)[2]

I’m a bit tired after a restless night, so if I am smart, I’ll take a shower, shave, get dressed, and come back into my room to watch one of those three titles. We’ll see what happens, though.

And on this note, Dear Reader, I will let you go. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

[1] I am reading, in dribs and drabs, Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Mean Girls (2019. Quirk Books), and I recently bought the Blu-ray, so I had a good excuse to rewatch this comedy written by Tina Fey and directed by Mark Waters.

[2] I have Nicholas Meyer’s second Star Trek directing gig in four formats: DVD, Blu-ray, 4K UHD, and digital. The DVD version, which I’ve had since 2004, only has a Director’s Cut and doesn’t include the theatrical version. The 2009 Blu-ray, which Paramount did not do a good job with re the transfer, is the reverse: it has the theatrical release but not the Director’s Cut. The 2022 4K UHD and remastered Blu-ray present Star Trek VI as “one movie, two cuts.”

Old Gamers Never Die: A Discussion of Mobile Defense Skirmishes in ‘Regiments’

Warsaw Pact (East German, in this case) troops advance toward Allied positions under fire as NATO troops, including units from the American 3rd Armored Division, carry out evacuations of various Objective Zones in a Mobile Defense skirmish. This is a screengrab from an actual gaming session and not a slick promo image. Game design and graphic elements in this and other screenshots are (C) 2022 Bird’s Eye Games and MicroProse,

“Be extremely subtle even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

About Regiments

At this stage in the battle, I have already been given all the task forces I’ll ever get from Division; units marked in blue are deployed and are ready for further action. Units in darkened icons have either been destroyed and are being reconstituted or are too “expensive” to buy with the 44 Deployment Posts available. I do have 564 Supply Points, plus 64 Tactical Aid points (see the vertical sidebar on the left), so even though I am a bit shorthanded at the moment, I can still call in some air strikes or artillery fire missions.

If you’re a regular reader of this space, you will doubtlessly recall that gaming is one of the ways in which I fill my empty hours when I’m not writing. Depending on several variables, including weather, my morale, and my whims of the moment, playing games on my desktop computer is my main form of coping with ennui and loneliness.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the destructiveness of modern warfare and play games with different visuals. (C) 2018 Dr. Pink Cake

Although I play games from various genres – including NSFW adults-only ones such as Acting Lessons, FreshWomen, and Being a DIK – I will admit that the frustrated tactician in me prefers war games, especially those that are set during the Second World War and hypothetical Cold War-turned-hot scenarios pitting the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization against the Russian-led Warsaw Pact.

On December 25, 2022, Bird’s Eye Game updated the game and added some tweaks, including British units, rebalancing task forces to better reflect the armies of 1989, and even changed the title to “Regiments: Second Wave.” The first DLC set is free; further DLC updates must be purchased on Steam.

One of my favorite titles in the latter category is Regiments, a tactical-level real-time strategy (RTS) simulation of land combat in late 1980s West Germany. Developed by a small European studio called Bird’s Eye Games and published by the revived MicroProse in late August, Regiments puts you in command of a regiment/brigade-sized unit from either the Allied side (the United States, West Germany, the United Kingdom (Great Britain), and Belgium) or the Warsaw Pact side (currently limited to the Soviet Union – Communist Russia – and East Germany).

Here’s the original MicroProse trailer video from 2021. As someone who owned many MicroProse games from the original company’s heyday of the mid-1980s to late 1990s, I knew I had to get Regiments.

Like many similar RTS games, Regiments has two major play modes:

Skirmish, which allows you to fight individual engagements as either the NATO or Pact commander in three types of battle: Attack, Mobile Defense, and Meeting Engagement.

Operations, or the Grand Campaign game broken up, like chapters in a novel, into a series of engagements that tell a story – Rashomon-like, if you will – of an alternate 1989 where glasnost and perestroika never took root behind the Iron Curtain and a rebellion inside Communist East Germany leads to a war between the Warsaw Pact and NATO in West Germany. These Operations are often divided into phases, each of which must be completed before the player moves on to the next, and the point of view shifts from the NATO alliance’s units to that of the Pact’s.

There is, of course, a third play mode – and the first one you should tackle before moving on to Skirmishes or Operations – that serves as Basic Training in Regiments. It’s called Tutorials, and they cover the basics of the game, starting with learning how to move the game’s camera, then moving on to how to deploy units, use your engineers, “retreat” damaged platoons, and set up defensive positions.

A Warsaw Pact unit, probably East German because its helicopters (which are being shot at and the crews inside are panicking ) are Mi-8TVs, encounters heavy resistance in a Mobile Defense engagement. Note that the time of day is Sunset and that several Warsaw Pact vehicles and at least two of NATO’s are burning because of the heavy fighting.

On Mobile Defense

Judging from the trajectory of the tracer round that nearly bisects the image above, this enemy unit is being ambushed by a U.S. M3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicle that caught it as it crosses open ground and fired at it from its left flank. Two Soviet-built BTR series APCs have been hit and are aflame, while two others are bracketed by near-misses from American defenders.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I have been playing Regiments since it was released on Steam on August 16. In the months hence, I have attempted to play all of the modes in the game, starting with – natch – Tutorials and gradually moving to Operations (on Easy difficulty settings). However, because the grand campaign has different rules than Skirmish mode and is less forgiving of a commander’s mistakes, I have played mostly the single battle Skirmishes, primarily the Attack ones, and usually from the  Allied point of view.

A pre-release video made by the game’s developer and released way before the game’s design was completed. The final version of Regiments is much, much different.

Each of the three modes in the Attack category (Attack, Mobile Defense, and Meeting Engagement) requires a different, mission-oriented thought process since what works well in one, like aggressive and fast movement in the Attack scenarios, might not necessarily do the same in Mobile Defense.

Roles & Missions

Here you can see various details that are present in Mobile Defense scenarios, including OZs that need to be evacuated (you can see a U.S. Transport unit heading to OZ Bravo just to the right of the airbase), Allied units (denoted in green) and the mission time elapsed clock shows there are still 33:08 minutes remaining in the game.

In Mobile Defense, your role as a brigade or regimental commander is to deploy your task forces in a defensive role near a series of objective zones (OZs) that the enemy force wants to capture. Your mission, as defined by the three bullet points on the upper left-hand side of the game screen, is threefold:

  1. Escort the Transports to the Objective Zones
  2. Protect the Objectives During the Evacuation
  3. Return the Transports to the Starting Zone
Warsaw Pact forces under fire at the edge of a U.S. airbase (you can barely make it out because the minimap is in the way, but you can see a parked A-10A Thunderbolt II on a hardstand at upper right corner of the screenshot. This is as far as the enemy got, though.

Mobile Defense also starts differently from Attack missions. Before combat begins, you are given 60 Engineer Support points that you can spend by setting up barbed wire obstacles, mortar positions, observation posts, anti-air defenses, and anti-tank positions. You can only use these points in the pre-mission stage, and you can’t build the defensive positions – each of which has a different point value – outside of your faction’s perimeter.

Oh, and in the pre-mission stage, you can place units in your first – or “core”- task force on the desired location on the battlefield (again, within your own lines and not “just anywhere”) provided you have enough Deployment Points (DPs), which is Regiments’ in-game currency that allows you to “pay” for deployable platoons or companies during a Skirmish.

Again, you only have 60 Engineer Support points to play with, so it’s not like you can put up a 1989 version of the Maginot Line with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) or mobile anti-aircraft (AA) guns. You, of course, are the one who will choose how and where to use Engineer Support teams, but my advice is to “buy” a mix of observation posts (Ops), defensive positions, and ATGM/AA posts.

The map helpfully shows you likely avenues of the enemy advance. You won’t see the enemy’s units until one of your OPs or defensive units “spots” them, but at least knowing from whence they’ll come will give you some idea of siting your defensive add-ons and first units before the battle begins.

“He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

While I do not want to delve into every detail of the Mobile Defense missions, I will say that a wise commander will deploy the core force in terrain that favors the defense, usually in wooded areas, small towns near the Objective Zones, and other ground where a mechanized force will have difficulty in moving. If you have the initial amount of Deployment Points to maximum when setting up your game, use them all and place all your platoons on the field.

You will note that unlike in Attack skirmishes, Regiments also has, in static positions that you can’t command, other NATO units on the field already sited and ready for battle. This allows you to “spread your platoons around” and ensures that your task forces are not the only ones who will deal with the enemy on their own. They are designated by green-colored NATO unit symbols, and although you can resupply, reinforce, and repair these allied units (but not replace any of their destroyed vehicles), you can’t issue orders to them. (The AI will not move them, even in situations where a real-life commander would order a platoon to retreat to fight another day.)

Another “early in the game” shot (you can tell it’s only about a few minutes into the battle because I only have my “core” task force deployed and the game won’t release another one for 17 more seconds. Already, though, the enemy is making his presence known; there are three T-64VB main battle tanks and one ZSU-23-4 mobile anti-aircraft vehicle approaching.

Of course, as a battle progresses, you accrue deployment points continually and replace the ones you spent during the initial stage of the skirmish. Use these DPs to buy reinforcements from new task forces when they become available, or to re-deploy platoons that you retreated and underwent the repair/replace/resupply process.

Your main objectives in Mobile Defense are:

  • Use the two Transport units assigned to your regiment and send them both to Objective Zones that are clearly marked with a “flag” and an OZ named after a letter in the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc.). Regiments only allots two Transport units during the Skirmish, and it only designates two active evacuation zones at a time in randomly selected OZs. Each one of those active evac points is worth 100 victory points, which I think translates in real-life terms as 100 evacuees. Once an OZ has been evacuated, you can forget about it and not have to revisit it with your Transports. However, the game will then designate another OZ as an evac zone, so as soon as you unload one Transport unit in your starting area, send it pell-mell to the new OZ (which, of course, will have a “flag” and a NATO phonetic alphabet letter name).
  • While your combat forces hold off enemy attacks – which are more impressive, I think, than the static defenders in Attack missions, perhaps because the game spawns larger task forces for the attacker and makes them more aggressive – your Transports must move quickly to the evac zone, then stay there till the trucks are fully loaded, and then return to your starting areas.
  • Use new task forces as reserves and either place them in defensive positions as a shield in front of potentially vulnerable OZs, or launch counterattacks against enemy attackers stalled in front of strong points that are bleeding them dry. Remember, though, that Regiments does not reveal every enemy unit in the area; just the ones in your units’ line of sight or are detected – rarely – by electronic intelligence (ELINT) or signals intelligence (SIGINT). Just because your AH-64A Apache gunship can’t see a Soviet or East German ZSU-23-4 Shilka doesn’t mean it’s not there.
  • The game ends either when the mission clock (which can be set from a minimum of 20 minutes to a maximum of 60) runs out or you earn (on Easy difficulty, at least) 750 victory points.
Statistically, this has been my best score in a Mobile Defense skirmish. I usually lose many helicopters; at times, I’ve lost as many as six in one Attack battle. Here, I lost only one.

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I shouldn’t have to say this, but as a commander in Regiments in a Mobile Defense skirmish, you must figure out how to save as many evacuees as possible while inflicting more casualties on the attacking force than the enemy inflicts on yours. Strike a fine balance between purely defensive moves and bold counterstrikes, set up ambushes with your ATGM-equipped mech infantry and attack helicopters, and learn the timing between the time that you call in an artillery strike and the time the first rounds hit the target area.

I have discovered that I’m a decent commander in the defensive and I lose less men and vehicles than the AI-controlled enemy units do. I still lose more helicopters than I’d like, but not as many as I do when I carry out Attack missions.

These guys advanced to the edge of the airbase, and if they had had tank support, they might even have prevailed. Alas, unsupported infantry does not fare well against dug-in mechanized infantry. Judging from the mission clock and the type of Tactical Aids available to me, this was early in the game because I only had two task forces available.

Also, I think that the graphics in this game are fantastic. The scale is not perfect, and I don’t believe Regiments depicts vehicle and troop dispersals with 100% accuracy; I think that tanks and the various armored personnel carriers (APCs) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) tend to bunch up too closely together.

That having been said, I do like it when I remember to zoom in with the game’s camera onto a unit and get as close as possible to see small details on individual tanks, vehicles, and even helicopters, such as national insignia or regimental markings and distinctive camouflage schemes. You can even see the recoil effect of a tank’s massive cannon when it fires a round, and soldiers wear distinctive uniforms and gear that are accurate to the period (mid-1989) and their nationalities.

Let’s face it…the quality of the game graphics in many adult-only titles is pretty darned good. This one is from one I have not even mentioned in my blog…Lust Academy, which can loosely be compared to a mashup of the Harry Potter series and FreshWomen. (C) 2022 Bear in the Night.
Actually, now that I think of it, this was my finest hour.

Regiments is, perhaps, my favorite game of the ones I bought last year. As I said earlier, as much as I appreciate the art in the adults-only games I bought on Steam in 2022, wargames are my go-to games, especially when I am struggling with loneliness and stress. Part of me will always regret that my physical disability precluded my choosing a military career, so Regiments, along with M1 Tank Platoon, Cold Waters, and Crusade in Europe, allow me to indulge the inner George Patton, Charles Lockwood, or Creighton W. Abrams in me.

“When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, January 8, 2023 – Special Tempus Fugit Edition

Image Credit: Gina Seva, Talk in Chalk Etsy store

Hi, there, Dear Reader. On this lovely, cool – for the subtropics, anyway – midday on Sunday, January 8, 2022, I find myself reflecting that 2023 marks a plethora of significant anniversary dates.

Mixed Feelings

I don’t have a decent face shot taken recently, so you’ll just have to see this one from July of ‘2022.

Some, like my birthday – March 5, for those of you who want to pencil it in their social calendars – are significant perhaps just to me and people who care about me to some degree or other. Barring an unexpected eventuality, I will be 60 years old in 56 days.

Photo by Natalie Bond on

I have mixed feelings about the occasion. On the one hand, I am thrilled that – again, knock on wood! – I have lived to see the Big Six-Oh, which is something that I can’t say about my father (who died only a few months after his 45th birthday), my first cousin Mauricio, who was in his late 20s when he died in Bogota almost 50 years ago from a heart condition, and many of my friends from elementary, junior high, and even high school. And as uncertain – and even depressing – as my immediate near-future seems, what with my move to Brandon and all, I often say that living to see 60 in relatively good physical health beats being dead.

On the other hand, I am not thrilled about seeing my 60th birthday on the horizon and knowing that I don’t have a girlfriend or even a “friend with benefits” to spend time and make special memories with. I might not be the world’s most gregarious person – one reason why I think writing is the profession that suits me best is that I don’t mind solitude for reasonable amounts of time – but I am a social animal. At least, in my old life back in Miami I felt comfortable walking around East Wind Lake Village and connecting with my neighbors.

The Trouble with Socializing

This guy (I never did learn his name) was a retired doctor who, like me, went out for a walk every evening before the sun went down. We used to chat as we walked around the “Big Block” that is at the core of East Wind Lake Village.

In the brief time that I lived semi-independently at my old house after Mom’s death (roughly eight months and three weeks), I didn’t make a pest of myself by visiting anyone in the complex every single day just to stave off loneliness, but I still went for my daily walks, and I still dropped in occasionally to see the friends in East Wind Lake Village who had no connection to my older half-sister Vicky, from who I am estranged.

A Blue Dot in the Red Sea

Here, because I live in a politically deep-red segment of the otherwise blue Hillsborough County, I have been reluctant to mingle with the neighbors. During my first three election cycles as a registered voter in my new home county, I noted that most of the folks here tend to be conservatives who voted for Trump twice and elected wealthy businessman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) to Congress three times in a row.

As I may or may not have said in previous posts about Fish Hawk Ranch, many residents here are either active-duty military personnel assigned to the various posts (MacDill Air Force Base, Central Command, Joint Special Operations Command, and the Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg) in the Tampa Bay area, members of various law enforcement agencies or are retired LEOs and/or veterans. And even though there are liberals in both the military and law enforcement, conservatives tend to dominate the ranks of those professions.

And because conservatives tend to support either Trump or Vern Buchanan (who, by the way, is among the top 10 richest members of the U.S. House of Representatives), I think it’s prudent to avoid interacting with folks who fly Trump 2024 flags on their front porch or wear red (and “made in China”) baseball-style caps with the Make America Great Again logo.

So, yeah. I have more obstacles to socializing here than I used to have in Miami. And even though quite a few are by choice – I mean, it is possible to be sociable with people without injecting politics, right? – I think the United States is so fucking polarized over politics and social change that I’d rather not try to meet people. At least not here in Fish Hawk.

Anyway, enough about that stuff.

Happy Anniversary?

Photo by Pixabay on

As I was saying, this year will see quite a few anniversaries aside from my 60th birthday, including:

Photo Credit: Pixabay
  • The 50th Anniversary of the end of the U.S. combat role in the Vietnam War
  • The 50th Anniversary of the Yom Kippur War
  • The 50th Anniversary of American Graffiti, The Sting, and Live and Let Die (which I own on Blu-ray)
  • The 40th Anniversary of the M*A*S*H series finale (Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen)
  • The 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, which was the first of the live-action Star Wars films that I saw on Opening Day
  • The 40th Anniversary of my high school graduation
  • The 40th Anniversary of the Soviet Union’s shootdown of Korean Airlines Flight 007
  • The 40th Anniversary of The Day After
  • The 35th Anniversary of my Semester in Spain study-abroad college experience in Sevilla, Spain
  • The 30th Anniversary (in December) of my last trip overseas – to visit family in Bogota, Colombia. It was also the last overseas trip I went on with Mom
  • The 20th Anniversary of the death of my beloved Labrador retriever, Mary Joe Cacao
  • The 20th Anniversary (in December again) of my joining Epinions, the now-defunct review website where I wrote over 1,000 reviews for over a decade (eBay, Epinions’ corporate owner, closed the site down in February of 2014.)

I don’t have much in the way of personal news, so I will close for now. Until next time, Dear Reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

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