I Remember #PowersBoothe and #RedDawn

Actor Powers Boothe died this week. Although he had a long career in Hollywood, the movie I remember him most in is Red Dawn:

In 1984, the year Red Dawn came out, I was just entering my senior year of high school. As a wargamer, I had read many books and played many games about the Cold War. Red Dawn fit right into my world of 1984.

Courtesy Goodreads

Amongst the many books about the Cold War I had read, General Sir John Hackett’s The Third World War: August 1985 stands out in my memory. I read this one over and over again because I wanted to learn how the Cold War in Europe would go hot! The other book that I remember well is War Day and the Journey Onward (Whitley Streiber & James Kunetka). War Day tells the story of America after the mushroom clouds. It came out the year after the movie The Day After which I had watched in fascination (and with a bit of fear). I kept asking myself, what would I do?


Courtesy BGG

In 1983 and 1984 I also got several wargames that shaped how I viewed the Cold War. Most importantly, I got a copy of Harpoon II. H2 was my first game in the Harpoon-series of modern naval combat and is a system I still enjoy today. This was how the Cold War at Sea was going to be fought! At this same time, I started collecting (and playing) Assault-Tactical Combat in Europe: 1985 which taught me modern combined arms combat. At the operational-level of war, NATO: The Next War in Europe landed on my gaming table. I also played more than a few games of Firefight (the 1984 TSR version) and even built up a collection of Supremacy (nukes and lasersats!).


Red Dawn released in August, 1984. This would of been just before my senior year started. I seem to remember going to see it in the first week of release.  It really hit close to home because it took place in Colorado – where I was living. I saw so many of my friends in the movie it became very real in my mind.

Courtesy RPGGeek

All my Cold War mania culminated at Thanksgiving with the release of the Twilight: 2000 roleplaying game from Game Designer’s Workshop. This game, by the designer’s of my beloved Traveller RPG, put the players as members of a US military unit cut off in Europe after the Cold War Goes Hot. This RPG mixed role-playing and the military together in one package. It also allowed me to use the knowledge I had gained from books and wargames and bring it to life. Eventually, T2K would go so far as to link to wargames like Harpoon 3 for naval combat, Last Battle: Twilight – 2000 for ground combat, and even Air Superiority for the air war.


In many ways, Powers Boothe’s character in Red Dawn, Lt Col Andrew ‘Andy’ Tanner, was the T2K character I always wanted to play. For some reason, I drew great character inspiration from this scene:

Col. Andy Tanner: [using a crude diorama, the Wolverines prepare for an assault on the Calumet Drive-In, which is now a Russo-Cuban “Re-education Camp”] All right. Four planes. Cuban bunker, Russian bunker. munitions dump, troop tents. Four machine gun bunkers. Back here by the drive-in screen are your political prisoners. We’ll cause a diversion over here… cut holes in the wire here, fire on all these machine gun positions. The B-Group comes across this area in a flanking maneuver… and when you reach this bunker, you lay down grazing fire on this defilade. I think that’s pretty simple. Anybody got any questions so far?
Aardvark: What’s a “flank?”
Toni: What’s a “defilade?”
Robert: What’s “grazing fire?”
Col. Andy Tanner: [out loud, to himself] I need a drink.

Courtesy IMDB

Rest in Peace, Mr. Boothe.


Watchmen – Japanese Style

A new Japanese preview for the upcoming WATCHMEN movie shows us more of the altermate history:

If you haven’t read the WATCHMEN graphic novel, you really have missed out on a real piece of American literature history.  Now we wait (like we have for the past 12 years) to see if the graphic novel can make the jump to the big screen.

Clone Wars – or Star Wars finally reaches Saturday morning

Took the kids (and Mom) to see the Star Wars: Clone Wars movie a few weekends back.

Boy, how much has changed since 1977.

The original Star Wars (I still cannot call it Episode IV) was space opera at it most original.  This was (barely sustained through Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  The second (first?) trilogy started placing action over story.  The cartoon Clone Wars still was good, carried mostly by a decent story.

The Clone Warsmovie, however, has moved the Star Wars franchise squarely into the cheesy Saturday morning cartoon crowd.  Nowhere is this more evident than in how the Battledroids act.  Like buffoons; total idiots; incompetent.  All in the name of humor.


Really pathetic.

A technologically advanced society that can build droids that are heroic (R2-D2) yet they can’t remember a numerical sequence?  An advanced society that uses WWI-era attrition warfare doctrine and tactics?

I had hopes for Clone Wars.  I hoped we would get a return to the space opera.  Instead, we got sent straight to the low-intelligence banter that is best suited for a 10 year old.

The larger Star Wars Universe still has potential.  As I have stated before I am less drawn these days to the Camelot in Space it has become.  My interests are narrow…the rebellion era.  There are few vestiges of the Jedi but not much.

So after 30 years of being a Star Wars fan I feel less and less attached these days.  The kids still love Star Wars (especially Jr.) but it just gets harder for me.