"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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Thursday, May 26, 2016

"Plan Nine" Cemetery To Be Plaqued Monday

Above, Bela Lugosi in Plan Nine From Outer Space.


This weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which means that people will either be heading out to points unknown or staying around town and barbecuing.

For me, I have no plans for the weekend. So I am essentially just going to hang around home.

But, on Monday (which is Memorial Day), Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus will be erecting a plaque at the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar, California. A number of notable pioneers in Los Angeles history are buried there. I'll be attending.

It is said that some 600 people are buried at the cemetery, but there's only a few headstones there. The cemetery was abandoned for a number of years and the tombstones fell victim to neglect and vandalism. In recent years, the cemetery has been under care by historical groups.

The cemetery is noted for a particular movie production: Ed Wood's Plan Nine From Outer Space (1959). The movie was shot around 1956-57, but not released until 1959.

According to IMBD trivia on the movie:
The cemetery used for filming is the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar, CA. It still stands, although many of the grave stones were stolen or vandalized. 
Bela Lugosi appears in footage shot just before his death, but with no script in mind. Edward D. Wood Jr. wrote the script to accommodate all the footage shot in a cemetery and outside Tor Johnson's house in the new production. Lugosi was doubled by Tom Mason, Wood's wife's chiropractor, who was significantly taller than Lugosi, and played the part with a cape covering his face.
The cemetery was near Tor Johnson's home.

The plaque dedication will take place at 11:00 at the cemetery at 14451 Bledsoe, Sylmar.

If you miss this, you're stupid, stupid, stupid!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DVD Acquisitions Today



Today was spent running around shopping with my former roommate, Jessica.

The places we shopped at included Dickies, Target, Big Lots and Bed, Bath & Beyond. By the end of the day, I was pretty worn out. It almost felt like we went Christmas shopping.

I made a couple of DVD acquisitions today.

First, was the sixth season of Big Bang Theory. I've seen all episodes through season five.

Second, I picked up the DVD set of the first (1966) season of Batman. I haven't seen these in ages. I watched the first two episodes this evening (featuring Frank Gorshin as The Riddler).

Right away, I noticed a familiar face from the Adventures of Superman. Richard Reeves, who played crooked wrestler "Bad Luck Brannigan" in "No Holds Barred" in 1951 (he appeared in several other episodes as different crooked characters), had a cameo in the first Batman episode as a nightclub doorman.

It looks like I'll have plenty to watch for a while with these DVD sets.

Dollar Firmer Above ¥110 In Tokyo



The dollar is performing better in Tokyo trading.

Jiji Press reported:
Tokyo, May 25 (Jiji Press)--The dollar gained ground to rise above 110 yen in Tokyo trading on Wednesday, chiefly aided by higher stock prices in Japan and abroad. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at 110.03-03 yen, up from 109.53-53 yen at the same time Tuesday.
To read more, go here

Definitive Guide To Japan's Theme Parks

Above, a show at Tokyo DisneySea. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Generally, whenever I've visited Japan, including a visit to an amusement park had not even registered on my radar.

Last year, since I brought Denise and her son Aiden with me to Japan, I included a day at Tokyo DisneySea on the itinerary. Denise is a big fan of amusement parks (particularly Disney parks) and wanted to see it.

We went to Tokyo DisneySea on a Saturday and had no luck in being able to get on any rides as it seemed that half the population of Tokyo was there. But, we had fun anyway when we wandered around and saw some shows. It would be much better to go during a workday.

Inside Japan Tours has an article on the best theme parks in Japan that you may want to consider if visiting one is one of your priorities.

They begin with:
Theme parks aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying that they’re a hit with the kids – and Japan has an excellent haul of weird and wonderful ones. Though many of Japan’s theme parks closed down after the country’s economic bubble burst, the biggest and best weathered the recession to remain in operation today.

You might not want to plan a whole trip around theme parks (like we’ve done here) but including one or two amusement parks in your itinerary is a sure-fire way to delight your kids and an excellent tactic for breaking up the sightseeing. Below is our whistle-stop (and certainly far from exhaustive!) tour of our favourite theme and amusement parks in Japan, so you can decide which is best-suited to your family.
To read more, go here.


Travel Agent Tips On Saving Money On Air Travel

Above, the moon over Waikoloa, Hawaii. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning a summer trip somewhere and want to save money on airfares, Japan Today has posted some tips that you may want to check out.

They posted several money-saving tips, but here are three of them:
NEW YORK —Travel experts have tips for booking summer travel: 
— Sign up for fare alerts from the airlines and fare-tracking websites. Some of those sales end quickly, so you may have to act fast. 
— Use flexible-date searches available on many airline websites including those of United, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue. 
— Look at one-way fares. Most airlines now sell those at half the price of a round trip. Because of the quirks of pricing and scheduling, you might save money or get a more convenient itinerary by flying one airline out and another one on the return leg.
To see more, go here

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bath Storage Problem Solved!

Above, the bathroom linen cabinet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Beast has a small, three-tiered linen cabinet that sits in a corner and is triangular. This poses no problem for towels and other things, but as far as toiletries and grooming products, it is hard to keep things in place when the vehicle is in motion. Thus far, the only way to hold things in place is to set bigger items on top of smaller items.

Today, I decided to give the local Bed, Bath & Beyond store a visit. If anyone had something triangular that would work to keep things in place, they would.

So, I headed over to Woodland Hills, where the store is located, and took a look around. At first, I could not find any container that is triangular in shape (roughly 12 x 12 x 15") that would work. So I was going to get a rectangular plastic organizer that would fit inside.

Above, the rack before taking the packaging off. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After getting it off the shelf, I decided to take another look and went to an aisle that I had apparently missed. Lo and behold, there was a triangular metal rack with two suction knobs that is made for showers. That would work if it fit inside. But, I needed to measure it. I went over to customer service and asked if they had a measuring tape handy. They did and I found that the rack would fit inside the cabinet.

I gave them the plastic organizer and then went to the check stand with the rack.

Above, the rack inside the cabinet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I got home, I was going to take the suction knobs off, but decided to leave them on to use for bracing the rack inside the cabinet. It fit in nicely.

I then placed it in the cabinet (I also did a little re-arranging) in the center tier. Problem solved!

Japan Planning Tohoku Tourism Campaign

Above, the statue of Date Masamune at the site of Sendai Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the most picturesque areas of Japan is the Tohoku region. Matsushima is often compared to Carmel, California in scenic beauty.

Unfortunately, since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the region hasn't fully recovered as a tourist draw to this date, despite that the rest of Japan is seeing record tourism numbers.

However, the Japanese government is planning to fix that problem.

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) reported:
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan will start a campaign to attract more foreign visitors to the Tohoku region, transport and tourism minister Keiichi Ishii told a press conference Tuesday. 
The action will be taken as the number of visitors to Tohoku has not returned to levels before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the region.

To read more, go here

News From JAPANiCAN

Japan Hotel, Ryokan, and Tour Booking Made Easy
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Condé Nast: Memorable Moments In National Parks

Above, Upper Yosemite Falls. Photo by Armand Vaquer.


As this year the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial, more articles on the national parks are coming out.

The latest is from Condé Nast Traveler. It features national park "memorable moments" of several writers.

It begins with:
You’ve probably car-camped in one with your family, contemplated rock formations with friends in another while high as a kite, or hiked through their ancient trees and desolate peaks. Our national parks are turning 100, and today this vast network of rugged landscapes, biblical weather swings, and roving wildlife represents some of the last places where we can still come face-to-face with a vision of America as it once was. Here, a few vocal partisans (some of them from our archives) testify to the parks’ continued power to shock and awe.

To read the stories, go here

Dollar Sags To ¥109 In Tokyo



Hopefully, this is just only a hiccup.

Jiji Press reported:
Tokyo, May 23 (Jiji Press)--The dollar sagged below 110 yen in Tokyo trading on Monday after U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned against possible yen-selling intervention by Japan at a weekend meeting with Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at 109.51-56 yen, down from 110.27-28 yen at the same time Friday. 
To read more, go here

Obama In Hiroshima

Above, the Atomic Dome in Hiroshima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Barack Obama is going to Hiroshima, Japan.

He has said that he will not apologize for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, as an article in  Japan Today indicates, he will weigh in on the debate on whether or not the bombings were justified.

If he does, he's walking into a landmine. A more deft politician like a Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or even a Bill Clinton would not walk into such a landmine. But Obama, during his nearly eight years in office, has shown no depth or any expertise in foreign affairs. He has caused more problems since he first took the oath of office. The world is not a safer place than it was seven and a half years ago.

Japan Today posted:
TOKYO/WASHINGTON —Japan and the United States are presenting U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima as an affirmation of a strong alliance and a step towards world denuclearisation, but critics see selective amnesia and paradoxes on nuclear policy. 
Aides have said Obama will not apologise when he becomes the first sitting U.S. president to tour the site of the world’s first atomic bombing next Friday, accompanied by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 
Nor is Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 partly for making nuclear non-proliferation a centrepiece of his agenda, expected to address the debate over whether the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified. 
The bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945, killed thousands instantly and about 140,000 by the end of the year. Nagasaki was hit on Aug 9 and Japan surrendered six days later. 
A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save U.S. and Japanese lives, although many historians question that view. Most Japanese believe they were unjustified.
I would be pleasantly surprised if Obama kept his trap shut over the justification of the atomic bombings. It's a sad state of affairs if that is the best we can hope for.

To read more, go here

New Shiba Park Hotel To Open August 1

Above, the Shiba Park Hotel in 2004. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in 2004, G-FAN magazine organized the first G-TOUR.

The tour visited Tokyo, Koriyama, Kamakura, Hiroshima, Atami, Hakone, Kyoto and Osaka. During its Tokyo portion, the tour was housed in the Shiba Park Hotel, which is within walking distance of Tokyo Tower.

The Shiba Park Hotel is no more and a new facility constructed on the site is set to open August 1.

Japan Today reported:
TOKYO —Shiba Park Hotel will be opening Shiba Park Hotel 151, its new facility, currently under construction on the hotel’s original site, on Aug 1, 2016. 
Shiba Park Hotel is easily accessible from Haneda and Narita airports and is located near Zojoji and Tokyo Tower, symbolic of Tokyo. The hotel consequently has a high proportion of foreign guests, with the average accommodation rate rising to 71% in 2015. 
In order to create a hotel mainly targeting international tourists whose numbers are expected to increase further, the main building of the Shiba Park Hotel which had hosted many guests since 1960 is now under construction. It is due to re-open as the Shiba Park Hotel 151. 
Based on the concept “Hospitality from the moment you book”, Shiba Park Hotel 151 151 offers services to provide Japanese inn-style hospitality.
To read more, go here.

To see what the new facility will look like, go here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Japan's New Passport Design

Above, a bullet train view of Mount Fuji. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To prevent forgery, Japan regularly changes its passport design.

They have done so again, and this time Mount Fuji is the subject in the new passport's stamp pages.

Travel + Leisure reported:
Japan is known for it’s natural wonders and modern design, so it’s no surprise that their passport would reflect the same aesthetic. The Foreign Ministry announced this week that they would be issuing a new series of passports that will feature landscape images of “thirty-six views of Mount Fuji” for the stamp pages.

To read more, go here

"A Personal Guide To Japan For First Timers"

Above, Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Guides for going to Japan have been cropping up in different countries. It is a popular place to visit right now and any help, no matter where it originates, will make your trip there much more enjoyable.

I have been to Japan eight times. Lydia Koh, the writer of an article, "A Personal Guide To Japan For First Timers", in The Malay Mail of Malaysia has been there four. But, she has some good tips.

The article's focus is on Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

She begins with:
TOKYO, May 22 — Want to visit Japan but don’t know where to start planning? Well, you are in luck because this guide is on Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. 
Having been to Japan four times, including a month-long home stay programme during the winter of 2001, it’s safe to say that I know the place pretty well. 
The first thing you should decide is where you want to go and also which season you would like to visit. The best season, in my opinion, is spring because of the lovely cherry blossoms. Also, you can shop for spring clothes that suit our weather better.
To read more, go here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Elvis IS Alive!

Above, Elvis Presley's grave at Graceland. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A friend made a Facebook post about some "Elvis Is Alive!" conspiracy nuts.

I couldn't resist making this reply:
I visited Graceland back in 2001 and I used my x-ray vision to look into Elvis's grave. He's in there!
I also couldn't resist sharing this here.


Hadley Merlot Wine Steak Sauce

One of the best products I've discovered in recent months (if you want to call last November "recent") was at the Hadey Fruit Orchards store in Cabazon, California.



When my family used to visit my grandmother in 29 Palms, we would stop at the Hadley store on the way home for some date shakes and buy some fruits and nuts to take home.

Last November, I stopped in while on my way home from the General Patton Museum and the Joshua Tree National Park.

I spotted bottles of Hadley Merlot Wine Steak Sauce on a counter and I decided to buy a bottle of it to try out.

To say that the steak sauce is "fantastic" would be a gross understatement. This stuff is the BOMB! (As the younger generation would say.)

While at the Ventura Beach RV Resort this week, I cooked some steaks on the barbecue and used the steak sauce. My bottle is almost half empty, so I thought I would go to the Hadley online catalog and order some more. Unfortunately, it isn't listed. So I called them and left a message.

A little while ago, a nice lady from Hadley called and said that the sauce is such a new product that it hasn't yet made its way to the catalog, but I could order some through her. She asked how many do I want. I said ten.

She just about fell out of her chair. I started laughing. I told her that the sauce is that good and I was planning to give some to friends. Unfortunately, she said they only have ten bottles in stock. I took them.

My order will be going out on Monday.

I highly recommend it!


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