Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Review - 'Wolverines: Reflections on Red Dawn' by Ryan Lewellin


Well this is a brief review of the first book that really read this year as the previous book, A Frozen Hell, was about 90% read in 2013.  So in a nutshell, it is interesting and worth a read at least once, especially for the price.  Don't expect earth moving revelations about the movie, even the author will admit to that. 

Without go into a huge review, the author has 23 independent essays that cover various topics about his interpretations for the movie, Red Dawn.  The key thing is to remember that these are independent essays, otherwise it might seem that he is repeating himself at times.  But if one is read the chapters out of order or only to read those that interest the reader, it makes prefect sense why he repeated some things in some the different chapters.  Some of his observations were items I didn't catch before, like early on one of the actors was wearing a Star Wars hat and what it might have meant.  The author comes off as very well read and have watches movie for their content and not some beer drinking hillbilly who thinks Joe Dirt is Oscar material.  So his observations and interpretations are actually pretty meaningful.  I only caught one error in one of the essays, unfortunately I forgot to make a note of where it was, but he accidentally states only one time that it was Toni & Danny that survive the movie, when it was actually Erica & Danny.  But he has it correct every other time in book.  It was clearly an accidental editing error for that one sentence.

For the most part I agree with a lot of his interpretations, but will disagree (partially) in two subjects, that being the Communist invaders were oppressive baddies and about the meanings of needing of armed individuals to secure our freedoms.  Back when I was much younger, I would have agreed with him pretty much without question, now over the years of being jaded and cynical, I would disagree.  Basically, it not because I agree with the Communist invaders cause, but I don't see how they were any more different then some of our own or our allies actions in wars, although he does touch on Col Bella being human and sort of touches on it again about the invaders as a whole in another essay.  Quite honest, I am more impressed with Red Dawn's image of the invaders or the baddies being humans with different agendas vs the nameless and oppressive baddies in many other movies like Invasion, USA, (1952), War of the Worlds, or Saving Private Ryan for an example. 
If these are the armed individuals that are to resist the Communist invader, all I have to say is "Hello, Comrades!  May I serve you some vodka and put on my Red Elvises' album, 'Russian Bellydance' for you?"
As for the armed individuals, I actually saw it the reverse of when the scene of paratrooper prying the pistol out of the hand of a dead civilian after seeing the jingoistic bumper sticker about how some can take the owners guns away.  I have always seen the rights to bear arms by the individuals as needing to be well-regulated and trained, much in the line of the Minutemen or Alarm Companies of the 1700's or Switzerland today, or even the small mid-western towns' bank robbers reaction posses of the 1920s-30s, for the lack of better terms for them (if you would like to know more, I can type up a brief entry about that).  If an individual wants to keep military grade firearms, they must be regulated and trained, as a militia and be prepared to be called out to assist the government as needed.  But by not being regulated, the individuals can not be expected to be of any use to maintaining freedom or society (I am also lumping survivalists and what is called 'militias' today in with this).  By not have a regulated militia of citizens there was no serious threat to invaders, but just some untrained loser that dies alone. 

Anyways,  I enjoyed it and it is worth a read.

As a special treat, I am adding a YouTube clip of the Red Elvises' hit, "I Want To See Your Bellydance"


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where There Is Discord Update

I am happy to announce that the third printing of Fifth Column Game’s, “Where There Is Discord”, is now available.  But I am also sad to say that they have already sold out!  I was lucky enough to have pre-ordered it months ago (maybe a year ago?) through Noble Knight Games.  So I am one of the lucky few to be getting a copy (I already got my email confirming that it has shipped)

I was not aware that it finally was released until late on Sunday when I saw my email from Noble Knight Games about getting their copies from Friday and asking for my payment.  I meant to post this on Monday, but I got too busy with work (like getting a promotion).   Today, I went to Fifth Column’s website to copy down the link for letting people know what the game is all about and saw that it was sold out!  That was pretty fast!  So if you didn’t get to order one already, you are probably out of luck.  But you still might have luck at Noble Knight Games (Link).

“Where There Is Discord” is a solitaire board game of the 1982 Falklands campaign, where you play the Task Force commander.  It has been highly rated by just about everyone who has played the game and it can be reviewed on (Link).  When I get home next, I will bring it back to where I am working to do a more formal review of it and post-game AAR.  But if you want to look at the official website for the game until then, it is at this link.

Riding on the high remarks and success of three printing of “Where There Is Discord”, I decided to pre-order though Noble Knight Games the upcoming Fifth Column’s game, “Codeword Cromwell”.  “Codeword Cromwell” is also another solitaire board game where you play the British defenders at the Battle of Birkham Stokes during Operation Sea Lion in 1940 (yes, it is a fictional battle).  What is really neat is that this game is the first public release from an actual training manual from the UK’s Combined Forces Military College used to train officer cadets in 1941!   Being a joint adventure with Fifth Column Games, this should be a pretty and well written solitaire board game.  Go to this link to see the official site for the game.

Be Seeing You


Friday, January 10, 2014

2014: Commitments to the future

Well, one of my first commitments is not be so high reaching as I was last year with my commitments!  I am going to be more down to earth on this year.


Weight loss: To weigh 10 lbs lighter by the end of year, but to strive for more.

Orienteering Society:  If I am relocated to a major city that has an orienteering society, I will join it and be involved in at two events, more if possible

Clearing out the house:  I will take a week off in March/April/May, weather & job dependent, and get a “Got Junk” dumpster delivered to get the old furniture out of the basement & garage, then go to my aunt’s and do the same in her garage.

Inventory / Sell books:  Complete my inventory and sell/give away to charity at least two banker books of books

Record with books I read:  Record which books I read over the year for a review at the end of the year.

Blog:  Make at least one post a month, but with the goal of doing three a month.  The subject and length is not important, get me to keep with some regular activity is important.

Sight-Seeing/Events: Go to the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Pilot Knob, Missouri.  Also visit the Cahokia mounds.  Take one week off to travel to both western Missouri and eastern Kansas for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War’s Price’s great raid, plus Bleeding Kansas sites, or travel down to eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee and Mississippi to see various Civil War sites.  If the finances and work are good, take one week off to go to New England to see American Revolutionary sites and Lovecraft’s territory. 

Game Related:

Gaming area:  After the removal of the junk furniture in the basement, clear off my table space and run a game at my house no later than June 7, 2014 (incidentally, I am planning to run a D-Day game on that day for the 70th Anniversary), but earlier would be better.

Inventory/selling “Lead Mountain”:  To completely sell off everything 15mm WW2 that is not specifically for my core company size forces.  To completely sell off everything of my 10mm WW2 project, except specific pieces for display.  To completely sell off everything of my 15mm Plains Indian wars.  To start inventorying and selling off my 25mm projects/figures that are not part of any project that I really want to keep.

Painting:  Commission out my 25mm Winter War figures and finish off my 20mm projects first.  Anything beyond that will be part of my 15mm WW2 projects.

20mm Anarchy in the UK project:  1) Buy the needed vehicles from BW Models before they close for good.  2) Buy more civilian vehicles from Oxford / other sources.  3) Finish making my base cover for the urban environment and have enough buildings done to do a 4’x4’ game in an urban area. 

25mm Winter War project:  1) Build the bases for the forest sections and work on game mat. 2) Paint (or commission) at less one platoon for both sides (see above)

Run games:  Run at least four games, at least one at my house: 1) 20mm WW2 D-Day using TFL’s Chain of Command; 2) 20mm Falklands using TFL’s Chain of Command; 3) 20mm Anarchy in the UK to be determined (could be two platoons skirmish, Gangsters/Police, Humans/Zombies, etc); and 4) 10mm Vietnam using either Charlie Don’t Surf or Tour of Duty.

1/6000 Falklands project:  Paint and base the ships

15mm Ridgeway project:  Read Vronsky’s “Ridgeway” and take detailed notes.

Be seeing you

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Year in Review: 2013

Well another year has pass and I am still getting older…

I am still working long hours every week, but this project has been better than most and I have been only averaging 60 hours a week for most of 2013. 

I finally paid off my mini-SUV earlier in the year and I am increasing my payments on my house to try to get it paid off in just 10 years in total.  I hate being in debt to anyone.

I worked in two different states in 2013, Georgia and South Carolina.  I got to see some of the Civil War sites during some of my time off in both of them.  I also got to see a 150th anniversary Civil War reenactment for Marshall, MO. 

I went to GenCon for the first time in ten years and got to play in some fun RPG games and attend some good seminars, especially on the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Unfortunately, I was not able to attend any other gaming conventions, which is normal anyways.

I played in several fun WW2 miniature games put on by Steve H & Curtis T back in St. Louis.  I also played in a two modern Shipwreck games while I was in Savannah, GA, with Christian & James (Click on their names to see their blogs).  Plus, I ran two 10mm Vietnam games in 2013!  One was with TFL’s Charlie Don’t Surf and the other was with Battlefront’s Tour of Duty.  Personally, I prefer CDS, but ToD is simpler and would be good for people whom hate the friction element of war.  I will probably use CDS for a select group of gamers and ToD for conventions (if I go to any!) or with gamers outside of my CDS circle.

I violated my “No more 28mm projects” promise by backing the Winter War Kickstarter.  I still have not received my first shipment of figures as of now, but should be seeing them in the next month or so.  I will stand strong and not back the upcoming Kickstarter for 28mm WW2 Balkans by the same company for my own sanity, other than a token dollar or two to show my support to idea. 

I have read several books (I didn’t keep track of how many) over the year on various topics.  Those topics varied from hardboiled detective fiction, to the Civil War in Louisiana, then the personal accounts of mercenaries in the Congo during the ‘60s, and finally with the Finns standing against the Soviets during the Winter War.

Finally, I made several (actually, quite a few) commitments for 2013 on my blog either in Dec. ’12 or early Jan. ’13.  So I going to go through the list below, needless to say, I failed in most of them.


Lose 30-50 lbs by Jan. 1, ’14:  Failed – I did lose some more weight over the first half of the year, but I gained almost all of it back by the end of the year.  I am still lighter than a year ago, but not by much.

Join an orienteering society as part of losing weight:  Failed – I did looked in to it and found a society at home, but there were none near where I am working at which where I really need them to be located.  So I tabled it for next year, depending on where my next project takes me.

Paint my bedroom white:  Done

Add additional book cases to my bedroom/library:  Done by adding three more cases

Inventory/catalog books in my collection:  Not complete, but mostly done (75-85% complete)

Make list of which books I want to sell and start selling:  Failed, but did give a couple books away

Install display cases for my miniatures in my bedroom: Incomplete, one case is up and filled.  Another case is ready to go up next time I am home.  But I am still waiting for the handcrafted, custom case to be finished that will hold the bigger items.

Gaming Related:

Clear out my gaming area in the basement for table space to game on:  Failed, but most of major steps have been done.  I have the repair work done on one wall, including having an outlet installed; bought more shelving units for the area; bought more storage boxes that stack nicely (unlike most of the ones I had before); and bought two more tables.  I now have the storage boxes on shelves and out of the walkway.  Also, I now have all four 2’x4’ tables up to give me a 4’x8’ gaming surface, with room to move around the table and chairs, plus I have overhead lighting for gaming.  But, as of right now, I still have a bunch of crap (unpainted miniatures) spread out on the tables as part of my reducing lead mountain.  I also have several items of furniture that needs to be thrown out so to have a clear path to the gaming area, so those two items is pretty much what is holding me up from having games in my basement. 

Inventory and starting selling off “Lead Mountain”: Failed, but I just started on this at the beginning of December. My emphasis will be on inventorying and selling off my 15mm WW2 first that is not part of my forces that I am keeping (see below).  I already made a nice size dent in inventorying the Germans stuff that is to be sold off.   I also traded off my 15mm WW1 Middle East project (see below).

15mm WW2 projects:  Failed, but I did finally get the ball rolling on sorting through my US stuff to get most of a US infantry company together to be painted (still missing the 60mm teams; I got them, just need to find them).  I asked Steve H to paint them in between his Germans & Russians.  They will be based for Flames of War as that seems to be the most popular system and TFL’s IABSM has no basing size.  I still have to go through the rest of my US stuff to down size that to only having platoon sized elements for support to my infantry company.  I located most of my German paratroopers, which will be one of the other company size forces that I am keeping.  It appears that I have a little over a platoon, plus support, so I will need to pick up some more to have a full company. I plan to use them against my US company in Normandy or for Operation Sea Lion.  With that note, I also located most of my early war British and Home Guard forces.  It looks like I have almost two platoons, but I have a ton of improvised armored vehicles for Operation Sea Lion from SDD.  Matter of fact, I think I have too much improvised armored vehicles and might be selling some of them off.  So I will need to buy a few more items for that company.

15mm WW1 Middle East project:  Failed, but I came to the realization that I not be able to do this project with all of my projects.  As I still had not invested too much into it, I decided to completely abandon it and I traded them off.

20mm Falklands project: Partial failure; I did get more figures painted by Northumberland Painting Service and got more terrain (including Steve H painting me up some rock formations), but I did not get a game in this year.  Some figures need touch up paint, which I still have to do.

10mm Falklands project:  Failed; I have pretty much everything that I need now to do Battalion size games (1 stand = 1 platoon), but they are still unpainted or based

1/6000 Falklands naval project: Failed;  I have all of the ships for the Argentine navy and the Royal Navy, plus the Chilean navy, but I was not happy with my original basing.  So I just recently order clear bases to mount the ships on and still have to paint everything pass them being primed.  I am also now debating on whether to go to 1/3000 to see the ships better, but I really am not convinced that everything is available like the 1/6000 line.

20mm Zombie project:  Done; my 2013 goal was only to get them painted, which was done by Northumberland Painting Service. 

20mm Anarchy in the UK project: Partial failure; I made several commitments to this project, and some got completed.  1) More figures painted: Done by Northumberland Painting Service; 2) Add more buildings: Done as I built some more Metcalfe buildings; 3) Get more civilian vehicles: Failed, I did however just renewed my club membership for Oxford diecast cars; 4) Get more BW Models: Failed, I really need to get jumping on this as they are closing shop for good soon; 5) Decided which rules to use for  the project: Failed, but did read through the various rules sets, but did not playtest any of them to find what works well with on the board.  I did however narrowed down the individual skirmish games to Two Hour Wargames, Flying Lead, Savage Worlds’ Showdown, 7TV, and Geezers, Shut It!  For platoon size actions, I am sticking with TFL’s Chain of Command

20mm Post Apocalyptic project: Partial success, since I only planned to have it started and get a small force painted by Northumberland Painting Service.  Right now, I have been getting various foot figures done.

15mm French & Indian War project: Failed, as I never got them sent off to be painted nor did I get another game in

15mm Congo War project: Partial success, as I was only thinking about doing it as a non-primary project.  I have a number of African rebels painted and rebased, but the bases have not been worked on.

1/300 Pentomic project: Fail, but this was to be a non-primary project and only to be done if I felt like it, so the fact that I didn’t do anything does not bother me.

15mm Ridgeway project: Fail, but this was also a non-primary project.  I still have to read “Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle that Made Canada” by Peter Vronsky, first so I can redo all of my figures to have the correct uniforms and flags.  I need to do this before the 150th anniversary.

Stay tune, next entry should be my 2014 commitments!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Whimsical Wednesday – A Tribute to a King

This Whimsical Wednesday is dedicated to the Big E on his 79th birthday.  

 (If you have to ask, I can’t explain…)

First off, this is a video of my favorite song by him

Next, a song by Mojo Nixon that explains why we all must praise the King

Now a video by one of the best imitators for matching the voice in my opinion, with James “The King” Brown's cover of Nirvana's classic, "Come as you are"

One more time for James "The King" Brown, with the best song that I really thinks has the spirit of the King in voice, tempo, and style
This is the best imitation I have ever seen on film and Bruce Campbell should have gotten an Oscar for his acting and voice for this role...if you get the DVD, listen to audio commentary by Bruce Campbell in character!

Andy Kaufman was allegedly the King's favorite of all of the imitators, so I must show a clip of Andy's
We follow up that video with his one by Steve Goodman that is a tribute to all of the King’s loyal knights

And here is the Jimmy Buffett's cover the of the same song

Here is a more somber song about the King from the late and great Warren Zevon (oh, how we miss your lyrics too, maestro)

Finally, I have to leave with this one last video.  It is the song that placed the golden crown of his majesty’s head with much credit to Mae Axton & Tommy Durden.  LONG LIVE THE KING!