"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Superman At The Iverson Movie Ranch

Above, an old Iverson Movie Ranch sign at the Valley Relics Museum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in the heyday of Hollywood, much exterior filming took place at the old Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth.

The movie ranch was located in the northwestern section of the San Fernando Valley in the area where the Ronald Reagan Freeway (California S.R.118) and Topanga Canyon Blvd. intersect.

The producers of the Adventures of Superman also made use of the movie ranch and Jim Nolt posted some clips from the show that featured exteriors filmed at the ranch. Episodes include "The Man Who Could Read Minds", "Panic In The Sky" and "The Big Squeeze" from 1953.

Loos Around The World

Above, a popular Japanese high-tech toilet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ever wondered what toilets look like and operate in foreign countries? Well, RocketNews 24 will answer that question for you as they posted an article with a video on toilet types found in different countries.

They begin with:
Love and music may not have borders, but neither do other universal concepts like the call of nature. 
Although Japan is famous for its modern toilet technology (there’s even a museum now), many non-Eastern Asians are often taken aback when they visit the country and have their first encounter with the older, squatting kind. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re a staple in most Japanese schools, parks, and stations. 
The fact that there’s such a gap in modern toilet technology got us curious about how toilet models and their degree of upkeep varies worldwide, and fortunately one brave soul has gone through the trouble of filming bathrooms across the globe to answer this very question.
The video, as it shows the different toilets, is set to Johann Strauss II's  "The Blue Danube," which is familiar to fans of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

To read more and see the video, go here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Queen Is About To Set A Record

Above, a screen capture of a scene from "A Ghost For Scotland Yard."

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is about to set a record for a British monarch. 

According to People.com:
She is about to break the record for the longest-reigning British monarch in history, and for Queen Elizabeth, it's all about consistency.  
The woman who came to the throne as a mother of two at age 25 in 1952 keeps her life just so in a routine that has remained amazingly unchanged through the 63 years that she has served as sovereign. 
The following year after she came to the throne, she was featured in an Adventures of Superman episode.

Sharp eyes will spot her image on a newspaper at a newsstand in the episode, "A Ghost For Scotland Yard."

To read more, go here.

Six Tips For Getting Around Japan

Above, tip number six is pictured. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan National Tourism Organization's "Only In Japan" website has posted six transportation tips for getting around Japan.

They begin it with:
From prepaid cards to help you breeze through train stations, to reliably prompt baggage services and on-board luxury like nowhere else—Japan has transportation options to help you move about with ease, comfort and grace. 
I am considering using tip number 4 next month when I am in Japan.

To see what they are, go here.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Ebook In Top 100 In Two Categories At Amazon

Above, Yuu Asakura with the print edition of The Monster
 Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

September is starting off on a good note.

The Amazon Kindle ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan has climbed up into the top 100 list of best sellers in two categories.

First, it is at number 23 in the Best Sellers in Japanese Travel category.

Second, it is at number 84 in the Best Sellers in General Japan Travel Guides category.

To order, go here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama: A New Spectator Sport

This whole Clinton mess (and I include the ex-President) is rapidly becoming an interesting spectator sport as maneuverings around the investigation and politics are beginning to see the light of day.

Monica Crowley has an interesting opinion piece on the Clintons's counter-attack against Obama. To read it, go here.

Next, it looks like Hillary's emails may have compromised spy satellite data on North Korea's nuclear assets.

The Washington Times reported:
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites.
The problems "Hilla the Hun" faces are mounting up and getting worse by the day. She may end up in jail instead of the White House before all this is over.

To read more, go here

Camping World Day

Above, The Beast at Camping World. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A better part of today was spent in Valencia, California at Camping World to get some warranty work done or get the ball rolling on getting it done. They are an authorized warranty repairer for Winnebago motorhomes and trailers.

I had one minor item taken care of (a faulty latch to the house battery door) and had the issue(s) inspected and reported to Winnebago's Customer Service department for approval.

The main problem is a ceiling vent that got "glued" shut and the crank to open it broke. This is not an unusual problem with all motorhomes and trailers of all makes.

I am now waiting to hear back from Camping World about the status of the approval process and to set an appointment to get the work done.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dodger Stadium

Above, a good crowd was on hand at Dodger Stadium tonight
 for the 7th inning stretch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the first time since 1994, I attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium.

It was interesting to see the changes in the old stadium (it first opened in 1962).

I liked the new scoreboards and the giant video screens. But, I didn't like all the advertising signs. It seemed like every square foot was taken up with lighted signage. I think it distracts from the game and makes the stadium too busy in appearance.

Above, a view of center and right fields. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

We had seats in the blue (reserved) level. Back in the old days (up to the 1990s), tickets cost $6.00 per seat. Today, those same seats cost $48.00. Dodger Dogs cost around $5.00 now. There's no more Carnation frozen malts. They have some other brand (and smaller) now for $5.25. I guess they have to pay for those multi-million-dollar players somehow!

How are families able to take in a baseball game without having to get a second mortgage? It now costs $240.00 for a family of five. It is sad to see this.

Still, it was fun going (the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 2 to 1). 

How's The Mileage?

The above photo was sent to me by a friend who is also a camping enthusiast.

He titled his message, "A True Class C".

No argument here!

Unintentionally Great Marketing!

Above, Yui Hatano.

A Taiwan transport company unintentionally (or maybe it was intentional) made a great marketing move by including a Japanese porn star's photo on a transport swipe card.

The Daily Mail reported:
A special edition swipe card for Taiwan's transport system featuring a Japanese porn star sold out within hours overnight despite a storm of opposition from women's groups. 
Taiwan's EasyCard Corp said on its website that it sold its full run of 15,000 card sets by 4.18am Tuesday after phone orders started at midnight. 
The stored value cards - also used for convenience store purchases - feature images of Yui Hatano, a 27-year-old Japanese woman who local media say likes Taiwan and wants to help the card company's charity donation scheme.
To read more, go here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

New Barbecue For The Beast

One of the joys of camping and eating is to grill steaks, chicken, hamburgers, fish or hot dogs on a barbecue grill at a campsite in the great outdoors.

Not too long after buying The Beast, I spotted a barbecue grill for around $17.00 at CVS. It seemed like a good deal, so I bought one.

Unfortunately, the old addage, "you get what you pay for" rang true in this case. My main beef (pun intended) was that the grill virtually sat on top of the charcoals. Even then, it only would fit one flat layer of charcoals.

Additionally, it made steaks tough to chew. It was about like chewing on a shoe. So I decided to get a better barbecue grill.

I checked around Amazon and settled on a Weber Smokey Joe Premium tabletop barbecue grill.

I ordered it last Saturday and it arrived today. It only took about 20 minutes to assemble. It is a beaut! I picked this model as it is perfect for travel as it has a locking bar that holds the lid in place.

I have had Weber barbecues before and I should have known better to get one instead of the one I did. They cook very well without turning meat into shoe leather.

Can't wait to try it out!

Japan To Levy 8% Consumption Tax On Ebooks October 1

For the past several months, my blog postings have brought positive news for foreign visitors to Japan when the subject is Japan's consumption tax.

This time, the news isn't so good, at least as far as residents of Japan are concerned. I received this notice from Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing division, who is handling the ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan:
Starting October 1, 2015 an 8% consumption tax will be applied to all ebooks sold to customers living in Japan. No action is required of you, but we are notifying you because you currently have one or more titles available through KDP that may be affected by this change.
If you are living in Japan and want to get the ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and avoid the consumption tax, now's the time to do it! You have from now until October 1 to get the ebook without being taxed at Amazon Japan.

To get the ebook, go here.

Return To Dodger Stadium and Major League Baseball

Above, the current standings of the NL Western Division.

The 1994 Major League Baseball strike was, according to USA Today last year, "the most embarrassing moment in MLB history." The strike lasted 232 days and it ended the 1994 baseball season.

Many fans (and some players) refused to attend (or play) in another MLB game since the strike. I haven't attended a baseball game since 1994. Prior to the strike, Dodger Stadium was almost a "second home" to me. I used to attend at least one game during every Dodger homestand. I also attended quite a number of Angel games down in Anaheim.

Well, that is about to end tomorrow night as I will be stepping inside Dodger Stadium for the first time in 21 years.

I will be attended tomorrow night's game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, who are battling for the National League Western Division Championship.

It will be interesting to see the changes that have been made to Dodger Stadium since Peter O'Malley sold the team.

It will be nice to have a Dodger Dog or two tomorrow night.

Dollar At 121 Yen In Tokyo

The dollar has risen a bit against the yen.

According to Jiji Press:
Tokyo, Aug. 28 (Jiji Press)--The dollar cut gains versus the yen in Tokyo late Friday after retaking 121 yen for the first time since Monday.
This follows the turbulent week where the U.S. stock market along with other stock markets around the world were down due to uncertainty in China's economy and other factors.

The U.S. stock market has made a recovery after several days of falling stocks.

The exchange rate between the dollar and yen was around 124 yen before the markets had their "correction".

To read more, go here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Black Lies Matter

Milwaukee Co. Sheriff David Clarke on Sean Hannity's show:
MILWAUKEE COUNTY SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE: Hillary, meet Frankenstein, they created this monster, now they realize that, if you cannot continue to feed the beast, the beast will turn on you and eat you. And that’s what’s going on here. Sean, let’s take a look at this group, this Black Lives Matter, which I have renamed ‘Black Lies Matter,’ and the reason I have is because, this is the bastard child, as you know, of the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot.’ The whole thing is built on a lie. The whole premise is built on a lie. But it’s a conglomeration of misfits, alright, you have the Occupy movement, you have organized labor in on it now, you have criminals, you have black racialists, you have cop-haters, and anarchists have now formed together this full movement, if you will. No longer in the United States, and I think that I’m living proof of that, no longer can blacks as a whole claim victim status, except for one situation. They are victims to the Democrat Party in the United States of America, and what modern liberalism has done to the black family.
For more, go here.

George Reeves "Superman" Costume Ensemble Up For Auction

A Superman costume, purported to have been worn by George Reeves during the 1953 (second) season of the Adventures of Superman television show of the 1950s, is up for auction this coming month.

The costume's colorization was tailored for black & white film for contrast.

Along with the costume, a "flying pan" device used for flying scenes is included with the costume.

They are being auctioned by Profiles In History.

Here's the auction's description:
1014. George Reeves “Superman” costume ensemble with fx “flying pan”. (Warner Bros. TV, 1952-58) This amazing Superman ensemble was worn by George Reeves in 26 second season episodes of The Adventures of Superman – the last year the show was shot in black & white. The gray knit wool suit (with Berman’s Hollywood label) consists of tunic with under-strap, leggings, dark brown trunks, tan leather belt with oval brass buckle, brown cape and brown leather suede boots with rear zipper closure. Stitched on both the chest of the tunic and back face of the cape is the signature stylized “S” insignia in dark brown on a field of crème. The muscle under-suit is constructed of a durable synthetic satin-like fabric with sculpted rubber torso, suggesting muscular pectoral, abdominal and bicep muscles. At the end of the first season, George Reeves was hanging by some wires in an effort to achieve a flying shot. One of the wires broke and George fell about fifteen feet. He told producers he would never use the wires again and that they needed to devise a better way of “flying” him. Several special effects men were asked to come up with ways to achieve the flying shots without risking harm to Reeves. Special effects specialist Thol Simonson, along with others on his team, developed the system of using a molded fiberglass pan to hold Reeves when he flew; he would lay on the pan with his costume over the pan to conceal it from view. The pan was bolted onto a hydraulic system that would move him up and down and side to side while a blue-screen projection was running behind him to simulate flight. This 35 x 16 in. fiberglass and steel “flying pan” rig – the magic behind Superman’s flight – is included with the costume and was used during Season 2 through to the final Season 6. Both the costume and the “flying pan” come with a LOA from Thol Simonson who kept the costumes following the production of the groundbreaking show. The costume is in unrestored condition exhibiting small areas of surface abrasion and minor tears and staining from production use. The muscle torso under-suit exhibits numerous stains and applied patching (during production) under the arms, yet the rubber still remains supple. The sequences of Superman in flight were the highlights of The Adventures of Superman legacy, and this hero Superman costume with special effects flying rig represents the finest, most complete and historic costume in the history of television to be sold at auction.
$100,000 - $150,000
Above, George Reeves in a 1953 season costume.

Both items are from the Thol "Si" Simonson (the show's former special effects director) estate and includes a certificate of authenticity (did Simonson sign it knowing that both would be sold at auction after his death?).

The auction, "Hollywood Auction 74" begins September 29 and will end two days later. It is indicated that the Superman items are to be part of the second day's (Wednesday) offerings. I am tempted to attend the auction as it will be held in nearby Calabasas.

The items estimated to bring in $100,000-$150,000. The starting bid is set at $100,000.

For more details, go here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

del Toro Wants To Include Godzilla In "Pacific Rim 3"

Above, Godzilla arrives in San Francisco in Legendary Pictures 2014 blockbuster.

Fans of giant monsters and giant robots have been treated to movies featuring both in recent years, most notably by Legendary Pictures. Toho Co., Ltd. is about to film a new Godzilla movie of their own in Japan.

Legendary Pictures' Godzilla (2014) was a worldwide hit as was Pacific Rim the year before.

The director of Pacific Rim wants to bring the two franchises together, according to an article in Cinema Blend.

They begin with:
We already know that when Pacific Rim 2 stomps through theaters in 2017, it’s going to be big. It’s a movie about giant monsters battling giant mechanical warriors, how can it not be massive? However, if director and mastermind Guillermo del Toro has his way, the franchise will get even bigger: he wants to bring Godzilla into the fold.
The possibilities are endless.

To read more, go here

Ginza To Get Airport-Style Duty-Free Shops

Above, a department store at the Yurakucho Mullion. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Foreign visitors to Japan who want to go on shopping sprees in Tokyo, but don't want to be taxed on their purchases, are in luck.

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) reported:
A series of new duty-free stores will open in Ginza, Tokyo, from this autumn to cater to the growing number of foreign customers coming to the shopping district. 
“Airport-style duty-free shops” — where not only the consumption tax, but also customs, alcohol and other taxes are waived — are scheduled to open for the first time in Tokyo. An influx of foreign visitors has brought a change of mood to Japan’s renowned shopping district, and progress has been made to create a place that will entertain both foreign and Japanese visitors.
To read more, go here

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sometimes, You Really Have To Scratch Your Head

Above, one of the residents of Yellowstone Bear World. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A recent visitor to Yellowstone National Park left this comment at one of the park's lodges:
To read more, go here.

It Was Probably Better During The Stone Age

How many of you have phone numbers memorized? How many of you carry a personal phone book (the "little black book")?

If your Smartphone's or flip phone's (if it still works) battery should go dead, and you are a few miles away from home and you need to let your ride know that you're ready to be picked up, do you have that person's phone number memorized to call? Do you have the phone number written down somewhere in your pocket or purse?

I would hazard a guess that the answer is "probably not".

People in this Age of Cell Phones are at a disadvantage if they face similar problems as the scenario above.

When I was in my teens, 20s and 30s (back in the Stone Age), we didn't rely upon a cell phone with programmed phone numbers. If we needed to call someone, we either memorized the phone number or carried a "little black book". People then didn't have to rely upon a cell phone with charged batteries. All they had to do was to find a pay phone or use someone else's land line phone.

This is one of the consequences of relying upon technology. If you haven't memorized the phone number or carry a "little black book" to call to be picked up and your phone's battery has gone dead, what would you do?

You're S.O.L.

The Greatest of Japan's Great Buddhas

Above, the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan has several "great Buddha" statues. They are in such locations as Nara, Kamakura, Gifu and Takaoka.

Japan Today has posted an article on Japan's giant Buddha statues.

They begin with:
TOKYO —Who says size doesn’t matter? In Japan, when it comes to showing piety and religious devotion, bigger is definitely better. Indeed, some of Japan’s Great Buddhas have iconic status, both in the country and overseas. 
“Great Buddha” is the English translation of “daibutsu,” the Japanese label for any Buddhist image that is more than life size. But among the greatest of the great are a number of statues that are several times life size.
To read more, go here

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hillary Takes "Responsiblity" (But Not The Blame?)

Hearing Hillary Clinton say she "takes responsibility" for using a private email account and server yesterday reminded me of an old comedy album (released in 1973) that I have by impersonator David Frye.

The album, "Richard Nixon: A Fantasy" (shown above), Frye portrays President Richard Nixon. During one segment, he is addressing the nation over the Watergate scandal. During the speech, Frye (as Nixon) says, "I accept full responsibility. But not the blame." He goes on to say, "Let me explain the difference. People who are to blame lose their jobs. People who are responsible do not!"

Maybe Hillary thinks taking "responsibility" will save her campaign, but taking "blame" will demolish it?

Dealing With Pet Illness

Above, Siren a year ago. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the things about having pets is that eventually, they will become ill and grow old. Just like people.

Today, Amber and I took our cat Siren, age 18, to the vet as she has been losing weight and getting weak. She's been eating like a horse, yet she has become very thin.

Fortunately, Amber works at a veterinary clinic and knows the main doctor and has a lot of confidence in him.

After listening to our descriptions of Siren's symptoms, he drew blood and gave her fluids (as she was a little dehydrated) and took x-rays. The blood test results should be ready later today.

His initial thought are that it is either feline diabetes or a hyper-thyroid condition that older cats develop. Luckily, if it is either one of these, they are treatable.

I just hope we are able to nip this in time and Siren will be hale and hearty again.

Japan For Cheapskates: Eat On The Cheap

Above, an Asakusa sushi restaurant. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are in Japan and don't want (or can't) to spend a lot of money on food, Inside Japan Tours has an article on where tourists can go to "eat cheap".

They begin with:
Just like anywhere else in the world, you can spend an awful lot on food in Japan if you want to. But if you’re travelling on limited means, it’s actually very easy to eat on the cheap. Unlike most other countries, the Japanese hold their eating establishments to very high standards – so whether you’re paying top dollar for a Michelin-starred meal or a couple of quid for a bowl of ramen, you can expect it to be delicious. 
To read more, go here

Japan Easing Up On Tattoos

Above, a Japanese bath. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Foreign visitors to Japan who sport tattoos on their bodies will be able to access some Japanese bath houses. But, there is a caveat.

According to the Japan Times:
Restrictions on tattooed customers at bathing facilities and resort swimming areas are being loosened around the country. 
A number of facilities allow people with tattoos to enter if the tattoos can be covered by stickers. This is aimed at treating foreign tourists, many of whom consider tattoos a fashion item, differently from gangsters, some of whom sport elaborate tattoos. 
With the Olympics and Paralympics scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, some facilities are calling for greater understanding of cultural differences.
I am assuming that the bath houses will supply the stickers. If not, I guess American travelers should visit their presidential candidate's headquarters and stock up on bumper stickers before heading for Japan. Imagine someone climbing into a Japanese bath covered with Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders bumperstickers.

To read more, go here

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