"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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Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Clean-Up Job Is Coming For Tokyo Bay

Above, a view of Tokyo Bay from Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If science-fiction were real life, all Japan would have to do to kill off most organisms in Tokyo Bay would be to drop an oxygen destroyer into the water. Still, the garbage that has accumulated over the years would have to be removed conventionally.

But being that it isn't, the Japan government is planning to spend ¥3.6 billion to clean up Tokyo Bay in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

According to The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun):
The Environment Ministry plans to clean up the water of Tokyo Bay as part of efforts to promote Japan’s environmental technology and natural scenery ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. 
The ministry included about ¥3.6 billion in its 2015 budgetary request for measures to help put on an Olympics that is sensitive to environmental problems. 
Tokyo Bay is planned to be used for the swimming leg of triathlons at the Olympics, but the quality of the water declines during the summer. 
To read the full story, go here

"Godzilla" At $25.6 Million In Japan

Above, the Godzilla statue in Tokyo's Hibiya district. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Godzilla has made $25,634,942* in Japan as of August 17. This is in stark contrast to Toho Co., Ltd.'s last Godzilla outing in 2004, Godzilla Final Wars.

It is estimated that Toho spent $20 million on Godzilla Final Wars. However, it only made an unprofitable $12 million at the Japanese box office. Small wonder why Toho decided to put Godzilla into retirement for ten years.

While I was entertained by Godzilla Final Wars, fan reaction to the movie was mixed. To me, it was a welcome departure from the prior two Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla movies in which those movies centered on characters dealing with varying degrees of emotional problems and personal issues. It would have been more logical for them to visit their local psychologists instead of running around fighting Godzilla. Plus, I found them duller-than-dishwater with nothing much to pique my interest.

Unfortunately, it has been announced that the sequel to Godzilla has been bumped up to 2018. I shudder to think of how old I'll be when it finally hits theaters.

We can look forward to the DVD/Blu-ray release of Godzilla in a month or so to help tide us over.

*According to Box Office Mojo.

Now...To Other Things

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

Now that the Superman Celebration 2014 is in the history books, I can now concentrate on other things.

One of which is filling several orders of the print edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. It seems the interest in the Superman festivities brought people over to this blog and some of them started ordering through PayPal.

Thanks, all!

For ordering information on the print and ebook editions, go here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

More Superman Celebration 2014 Photos

Here are more photos from last Saturday's Adventures of Superman plaque dedication and luncheon.

Above, fans gathering for the plaque dedication in Tarzana. The word was that Inspector Henderson
came by earlier and put up the police tape but had to leave on a call. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Jim Nolt being interviewed by Dana Bartholomew of the Daily News. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Jack Larson greets Beverly Washburn. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Stephanie Shayne Parkin addresses the gathering. Photo by Steven Kirk.

Above, Laura Siegel Larson addresses the dedication attendees. Photo by Steven Kirk.

Above, Superman luncheon attendees in line for the registration table at the Beverly Garland. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Jack Larson's 56th year reunion with John Hamilton, Jr. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, author Gary Grossman autographing copies of his book, Superman: Serial To Cereal. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo Skytree Radio Waves May Predict Downpours

Above, the Tokyo Skytree. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This news item caught my attention.

The Japan Times is reporting that radio waves transmitted by the Tokyo Skytree may predict localized heavy downpours.

They wrote:
Radio waves emitted by Tokyo Skytree may help make it easier to predict a heavy downpour in the Tokyo metropolitan area by the time the capital hosts the 2020 Olympic Games, according to research by the Tokyo-based National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. 
The transmission speed of radio waves for digital terrestrial broadcasting slows down when there is a large amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, according to Seiji Kawamura, senior researcher at the institute. 
By analyzing the delay of radio waves transmitted by the world’s tallest tower, which is situated in Sumida Ward, it may be possible to find out how much water vapor is contained in the atmosphere in a specific area.
To read the full article, go here.

Palm-sized Radiation Detectors In The Future?

Above, Geiger counters on display at the Lucky Dragon No 5 exhibit in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

With the Daiichi Nuclear Power Station radiation leaks in Fukushima, Japan still fresh in mind, the desire to have one's own radiation detector is increasing.

According to an article by Eric Becker in The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, a palm-sized radiation detector for consumers is not too far off in the future.

Becker wrote:
After the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan, which breached reactor containment systems and resulted in the evacuation of about 150,000 people living within 20 kilometers of the site, many people in Japan and elsewhere were concerned about contamination outside the evacuation zone. The amount of radioactivity in seafood, for example, was of particular interest. 
Although Japanese authorities instituted monitoring and restricted the distribution of products from certain areas, many people wanted to know whether their food was safe to eat. Also, some people distrusted the Japanese government’s assurances that specific areas were safe for human habitation. These worries sharply increased demand for a device that could provide accurate radiation dosimetry measurements but was also mass-marketable and low-cost. Many radiation detectors appeared on the market in the months after Fukushima—some standalone, some ready to plug-and-play with smartphones, and some even incorporated into smartphones
With the help of associate nuclear engineering professor Abi Farsoni, I developed one such detector at Oregon State University. Still in the prototype stage, it is a proof of the concept that a small, low-cost radiation spectrometer is possible with off-the-shelf technology.
Besides the Japanese, people in the United States, Europe and elsewhere may want to have such a device handy as well. Since the southern border of the United States with Mexico is not being secured by the current administration, any terrorist can sneak into the U.S. with a radioactive "dirty bomb" and set it off in a city. Therefore, the need and desire to have a personal radiation detector on hand comes into play. As the article states, a palm-sized radiation detector is "not your grandfather’s Geiger counter."

To read the full article, go here.

Latest In Blog Post Pick-ups

The nice folks at The Japan Daily picked up three blog posts from yesterday to share with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Godzilla Is Really...Batman?!

Have you ever noticed that just when you thought you've "seen it all," someone comes along to dispel that notion.

Rocket News 24 came across a blog with some interesting ways Godzilla is portrayed.

In their article, they wrote:
We have a hard time imagining that anyone but the dimmest Gotham City resident would be especially shocked to learn that mysterious millionaire and occasional shut-in Bruce Wayne was the man behind the Dark Knight’s mask all along, but we doubt anyone saw this coming. 
This series of fantastic photos taken by a blogger known only as Gigabeetle features modded Godzilla figures in a variety of hilarious poses. As well as revealing the true identity of the Big G, the pictures show a side to the monster that we never knew existed, catching him dancing around wearing top hats, doing his best Sailor Moon impressions, and, um, indulging in a little bit of nose powder
Who would do such a thing to undermine Godzilla's dignity? I know of several Godzilla fans who have done so over the years. I had some fun with the Hibiya Godzilla statue on two occasions. First, in 2001, having the statue appear to be carrying a Clamper bag and, earlier this year, I put a pair of gloves on the statue (below photos). But those were nothing compared to what Gigabeetle did.

To read the article and see the photos, go here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Limousine & Subway Pass

Above, train or Airport Limousine? The Airport Limousine counter is at right in the
Terminal One arrival lobby of Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For those who prefer taking an Airport Limousine bus from either Haneda Airport or Narita International Airport to Tokyo instead of a train, the "Limousine & Subway Pass" may just be the thing for you. Since I've never rode the Airport Limousine bus from Narita International Airport, I can't give any reviews.

According to an article in News On Japan:
The “Limousine & Subway Pass” is a new special combination ticket for Airport Limousine buses + Tokyo Metro + Toei Subway lines for visitors arriving at Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda International Airports. 
Two combination ticket packages are available: “Narita Airport Set”, and “Haneda Airport Set”. 
To read the full article, go here.

For ticket information, go here.

Keisei Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket Package

Above, the Keisei Skyliner ticket counter in Narita Airport's Terminal One. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A new transportation combo deal is now being offered. It is the Keisei Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket package.

According to an article in News On Japan:
The Keisei Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket package combines either a one-way or round-trip ticket for the Keisei Skyliner (a train that connects Narita Airport to mid-Tokyo in under 40 minutes) and a Tokyo Subway Ticket which allows unlimited free rides for 1-3 days on the nine Tokyo Metro and four Toei Subway lines. 
To read the full article, go here.

For ticket information, go here.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Daily Planet

by Kirk Hastings

Japan Hit Record Number of Foreign Visitors In July

Above, the business district near Tokyo Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Foreign visitors to Japan hit a record high in July, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

News On Japan reported:
The estimated number of visitors to Japan in July rose 26.6 pct from a year earlier to 1,269,700, the highest figure ever for any month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday.
The article goes on to state that the visitor total for the first seven months was 7,530,100, which is up 26.4% from the same period last year. This is the fastest Japan had reached 7.5 million visitors on record.

To read more, go here.

Take A Cinematic Tour Of Tokyo

Above, Shibuya Crossing, featured in Lost In Translation and other films. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Visiting places used in past Godzilla and other kaiju over the years in Tokyo and other places in Japan has been the primary focus of this blog and, of course, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. But non-kaiju movies over the years have also used Tokyo.

Time Out Tokyo has an article on taking a cinematic tour of Tokyo that will take movie fans to locales on film.

Such films include Lost In Translation, Kill Bill, The Wolverine, EmperorYou Only Live Twice and others.

To read the article, go here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

One Fan's Memories of the Superman Celebration

Above, Jack Larson autographing a comic book for five-year-old Cisco Sanz-Agero. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the best websites for "all things Superman" is the Superman Super Site. They have posted a new article on last weekend's festivities.

Adventures of Superman fan Chris Brockow from New Jersey wrote up the article with his reflections on the Superman Celebration weekend in the Los Angeles area (primarily Tarzana, North Hollywood and the Benedict Canyon section of Beverly Hills). The article's title: "August 19, 2014: Memories Made at "Adventures of Superman" Plaque Unveiling."

To go directly to the article, go here.

Superman Plaque Location Submitted To Roadside America.com

Above, Stephanie Shayne Parkin addresses the plaque dedication ceremony attendees. Photo by Steven Kirk.

There was one last (at least I think it's the last) task in relation to the Adventures of Superman plaque I did today.

I submitted the plaque for listing at Roadside America.com. It is a fun website to locate and visit "offbeat tourist attractions" around America. They have listed the Godzilla plaque that was placed at the former home of Visual Drama, the studio in Los Angeles where Raymond Burr's Godzilla, King of the Monsters! scenes were shot in 1956.

The location is now the Frank del Olmo Elementary School and the Godzilla plaque is at the school's main entrance.

Hopefully, they will soon list the Adventures of Superman plaque. I submitted three photos to go along with the listing. This will let Superman fans know where to visit the plaque.

European Godzilla Posters

Most everyone who are fans of Godzilla are familiar with the Japanese and U.S. posters, like the above U.S. poster for Godzilla 1985. But how familiar are they with Godzilla's European posters?

Rocket News 24 has a gallery of European Godzilla posters spanning several decades. Some of them are rather strange-looking (to put it mildly).

Rocket News 24 begins their gallery with this:
Ever since he attacked his first village in Japan in 1954, Godzilla has been broadening his horizons. Seeking out mightier foes and playing to bigger audiences, the giant monster has done what other beasts could only dream of – garnered a following as huge as himself, with fans still spreading across decades and continents around the globe. An impressive feat for a beast. 
One continent certainly went above and beyond when welcoming the giant to their corner of the world, as these vintage posters show. From Poland to France, we take a look at some of the most amazing Godzilla artwork from Europe. We’ve never seen Godzilla look so different!
To view the gallery of European Godzilla posters, go here

Videos of Jack Larson's Remarks Adventures of Superman Plaque Dedication

Last Saturday, we held a plaque dedication ceremony in Tarzana honoring George Reeves, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and over 60 years of the Adventures of Superman.

Actor Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen) spoke at the dedication. Here are parts one and two of Larson's remarks shot by Steve Brant.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Post Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily posted two of today's blog posts for their readers' enjoyment.

They were:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Superman Plaque Dedication Print Edition Daily News Article

The Los Angeles Daily News published their article on the Adventure of Superman plaque dedication in yesterday's edition, beginning on page A3.

For those of you either out of the Los Angeles area or in Los Angeles, but didn't get a copy, here's a scan of page A3 of the article:

Superman Plaque Dedication Group Shot

One of my favorite photos of the Adventures of Superman plaque dedication was taken by the Daily News staff photographer John McCoy. Here, just after the plaque was unveiled, a group of us posed with the plaque.

Photo: John McCoy, Daily News staff photographer.

Standing from left are actor Jack "Jimmy Olsen" Larson, Superman celebration committee member Steven Kirk, Jacqueline Hamilton (granddaughter of John "Perry White" Hamilton), actress Beverly Washburn, Superman celebration committee head honcho Jim Nolt and your truly. Kneeling, from left, is Stephanie Shayne Parkin (daughter of Bob "Inspector Henderson" Shayne) and Laura Siegel Larson (daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel).

A big "thank-you" to the Daily News, especially reporter Dana Bartholomew and John McCoy, for their excellent coverage of the plaque dedication!

L.A. To Tokyo Airfares Begin To Drop As Vacation Season Is Soon To End

Above, Hozomon Gate at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It looks like airfares between Los Angeles and Tokyo had peaked and are now headed downward as we head into the final weeks of summer (and the kiddies are back in school).

As reported during the past two weeks, the Los Angeles Times Travel section found the low and high end airfares between L.A. and Tokyo to be at $1,204 to $1,794. These prices are before any taxes and fees are tacked on.

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times Travel section reported finding the low end and high end airfares to be at $987 to $1,574. Again, these prices are before any taxes and fees are added.

We'll see next week if this trend continues. I'd hazard a guess that the prices will continue to drop as the end of vacation season nears. Autumn is one of the best times to visit Japan.

Exploring Tokyo On The Yamanote Line

Above, Shibuya is one of the stops on the JR Yamanote Line. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The train line that encircles central Tokyo is the JR Yamanote Line. The line's cars have a distinctive green coloring (they are currently in the process of getting new train cars).

The JR Yamanote Line comes in quite handy after taking the Narita Express (N'Ex) from Narita International Airport into Tokyo. I usually get off the Narita Express at Tokyo Station and take the JR Yamanote Line to another station where I can catch a subway line that will take me near my hotel.

Gaijinpot.com has an article on one person's adventure in taking the entire route of the JR Yamanote Line. According to the article, a complete loop takes one hour and stops at 29 stations. I have ridden the entire route of the Yamanote Line, but not all at one time.

They wrote:
The Yamanote Line is a rapid transit line operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) that connects many of Tokyo’s major urban centers. The Tokunai Pass allows unlimited rides on local and rapid JR East trains within the 23 Wards of Tokyo.
If you have a valid JR Rail Pass, you can use it on the Yamanote Line.

To read the article, which also includes a good video on exploring Tokyo on the Yamanote Line and plenty of photos, go here

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Other Newspapers Carrying The Superman Plaque Dedication News

Above, Jack Larson and yours truly. Each paper is running this and other photos by Daily News staff photographer John McCoy.
We're saturating Southern California!

The Daily News article on the Adventures of Superman plaque dedication in Tarzana made it into the paper's Sunday edition on page A3.

Also, other newspapers (they all must be part of a chain) have also published the Daily News article. They include the South Bay Daily Breeze (Torrance and surrounding cities), the Pasadena Star News, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the San Bernardino County Sun, the Redlands Daily Facts, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario) and the Whittier Daily News.

To read the article that all of them are running, go here.

The Superman Luncheon At The Beverly Garland Hotel

Above, Jack Larson talks with Jacqueline and John Hamilton, Jr.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Another event took place on Saturday following the Adventures of Superman plaque dedication. A luncheon was held at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood to celebrate the show and honor George Reeves, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for their 100th birthdays this year.

Above, screenwriter (Hollywoodland) Paul Bernbaum and Armand in the hotel bar.

The luncheon was attended by 200 fans and celebrities. They included actor Jack Larson, actresses Ruta Lee, Beverly Washburn and Stephanie Shayne Parkin and actor/stuntman/wrestler Gene LeBell. I sat with LeBell during the luncheon and we talked about my dad's meeting George Reeves at a Los Angeles area gym where Reeves practiced judo and my dad boxed. I can see why George Reeves liked LeBell, he's quite a character!

Above, Gene LeBell and Armand.

Before the luncheon, I talked with Hollywoodland screenwriter Paul Bernbaum in the hotel bar. It was a good and lively conversation and we were joined by Don Rhoden, who started The Adventures Continue fan magazine.

Above, Gary Grossman chatting with Jack Larson. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The luncheon was an enjoyable event. Each attendee was given a commemorative coin that included the images of Reeves and Siegel & Shuster.

Above, the video greetings by Alejandro Vacio. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Speakers included Beverly Washburn, Laura Siegel Larson, Ruta Lee, Brian McKernan, Paul Bernbaum, Jim Beaver, a video greeting by Alejandro Vacio (whose father was George Reeves's best friend, Natividad Vacio), Stephanie Shayne Parkin, Edward Lozzi, Larry Ward, Bruce Dettman and Gene LeBell. The program ended with video clips of some of the best scenes of Jack Larson and John Hamilton.  Following the video, Jack Larson addressed the luncheon.

Above, Jack Larson talking with Ted Newsom and Jim Beaver. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The luncheon was also attended by John Hamilton, Jr., his wife and daughter. This was the first time Jack Larson has seen John Hamilton, Jr. since 1958. The Hamiltons seemed to enjoy the program.

Above, some of the displays of Superman and George Reeves memorabilia. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Actress Ruta Lee spoke of the Superman episode she appeared in. She appeared as a teen dancer in the 1953 episode, "My Friend Superman."

Above, actress Ruta Lee. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Actor Jim Beaver spoke on what George Reeves has meant to him over the years.

Above, actor/author Jim Beaver. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Screenwriter Paul Bernbaum spoke of the making of Hollywoodland and of his disappointment that the movie didn't show George Reeves's benevolent side, although that was in the original script.

Above, screenwriter Paul Bernbaum. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Stephanie Shayne Parkin spoke of her father's role as Inspector Henderson and what it was like to visit Disneyland when one of her parents was a big celebrity.

Above, Stephanie Shayne Parkin. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Edward Lozzi spoke of his life living at the estate of Toni Mannix and brought along a brochure that Toni Mannix helped design for George Reeves.

Above, Edward Lozzi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Wrestler/stuntman/actor Gene LeBell spoke on his friendship with George Reeves.

Above, Gene LeBell. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Biographer Larry Ward spoke of the current life of Noel Neil, who now lives in an Arizona assisted-living home at age 93.

Above, Larry Ward. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Actress Beverly Washburn spoke on working with George Reeves twice during her career.

Above, Beverly Washburn. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Laura Siegel Larson spoke on what Superman has meant to pop culture, her father's enjoyment in writing on the Bizarro World in the early 1960s for DC Comics and of her father's influence on her writing.

Above, Laura Siegel Larson. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Jack Larson spoke on his work as Jimmy Olsen on the show and what it was like to have to adjust to becoming famous virtually overnight in New York once the show began airing on television.

Above, Jack Larson. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The luncheon also included displays of Superman and George Reeves memorabilia.

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