"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, July 18, 2019

Japan Foreign Visitors Top 16 Million In January-June

Above, a view of the Sumida River from the Tokyo Skytree. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The numbers of foreign visitors to Japan are breaking and setting new records.

Already, the number of foreign visitors to Japan have passed the 16 million mark.

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) reported:
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The estimated number of visitors to Japan in January-June grew 4.6 percent from a year before to a record high of 16,633,600, topping the 16-million threshold for the first time on a first-half basis, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Wednesday. 
Visitors to Japan continued increasing thanks chiefly to a rise in the number of flights. 
But visitors from South Korea decreased 3.8 percent to 3,862,700 in the first half of 2019, apparently reflecting the deterioration in the bilateral relationship, partly over the issue of wartime labor. 
Total visitors from mainland China surged 11.7 percent to 4,532,500, accounting for the largest share by country or region. 
Visitors from the United States rose 13.1 percent to 875,200 and those from Australia increased 10.7 percent to 326,900. Visitors from Germany were up 11.7 percent at 118,500.

To read more, go here.

Movie Posters At G-FEST XXVI

Above, the one-sheet for the U.S. release of Godzilla vs. The
Smog Monster (Godzilla vs. Hedorah). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Along with anything kaiju (toys, etc.), the G-FEST XXVI Dealers Room had movie memorabilia such as lobby cards, one-sheets and half-sheets posters.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, since I saved some cash), the only ATM in the Crowne Plaza was out of cash by Friday night and, so I heard, ATMs in surrounding hotels and businesses were also out of cash. Some dealers were able to make transactions with Visa and MasterCard.

Had the ATM in the hotel had cash in it, I would be very tempted in getting some of these.

Above, a vintage one-sheet poster for House of Dark Shadows (1970). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, this poster was bought not long after I posted a picture of it on Facebook. It starred
Robert Shayne (Inspector Henderson of the
Adventures of Superman). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, I thought this one-sheet poster was interesting as the robot looked a lot
 like "Mr. McTavish" in the
Adventures of Superman episode, "The Gentle
Monster" in 1957 with some modifications. Photo by Armand Vaquer

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

G-FEST XXVI Miscellany File

Below are some photos that I hadn't posted, but they don't fall under any specific catergory. Just call it the "Miscellany File".

Here we go:

Above, goodies for sale in the Dealers Room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the U.S. release poster for Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, there were plenty of cosplayers at G-FEST. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a nice model with built-in lights. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Godzilla teapot without its head in the tea ceremony room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a vintage movie poster. Is that robot Mr. McTavish? Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, "Notzilla" strolls though the halls. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Destroy All Monsters in Murray Bros. Caddyshack bar. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Yoshikazu Ishii singing the praises of Shusuke Kaneko. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the Chicago skyline from my room at Candlewood Suites. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

G-FEST Stuff

Above, toys galore in the Dealers Room. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Genre conventions usually have many things for attendees to see and do. These include panel discussions, movies, dealers room, games and other activities for people to spend their time and part with their cash.

Here's some of the things that G-FEST XXVI had:

Above, Godzilla in the Murray Bros. Caddyshack bar. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Akira Takarada in the hotel lobby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Mothra looks different. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Dealers Room

Autograph Tables

Above, Akira Takarada. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, directors Shusuke Kaneko and Yoshikazu Ishii chat. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Modelers Room

 History of G-FEST Room

Panel Discussions and Interviews

Above, Akira Takarada interview panel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Shusuke Kaneko interview panel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Collect All Monsters panel. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Bringing Godzilla Down To Size with Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

American Airlines and Cancelled Flight Ordeal

Above, O'Hare Int. Airport's Terminal 3. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I left G-FEST XXVI Sunday afternoon to go to the airport, I was looking forward for a trouble-free flight with American Airlines to Albuquerque. Alas, that was not in the cards.

When I got to O'Hare International Airport, I looked at the Departures board to check the status of my flight (which was to leave around 6:30). It said it was "on time". So, after getting a drink and snacks, I headed to the gate and waited.

The sign at the gate also said "on time". But there was chatter among fellow passengers about a lot of flight cancellations on the Departures board. I took a look, and sure enough, there were a lot of cancellations. Our flight still said "on time". Many, if not most, of the cancellations were due to Hurricane Barry that was making shore near New Orleans.

About a half hour before we were to board our flight, a fellow passenger was on his laptop and said that the plane we were supposed to board originates from Raleigh, North Carolina. But, he said it hadn't left the ground.


At about 15 to 20 minutes before our scheduled boarding time, the flight sign at our gate flickered off from "on time" for about 2 seconds and then came back on with Cancelled.

Since I had some experience with cancelled flights, I knew right away that I needed to get online a.s.a.p. to find another flight. This I did. But it was for two days later. I then went to the ticket agent and he found a flight for the next day around 6:30, but it had a stop/transfer at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW is a main hub for American Airlines). I paid for a nonstop flight.

But since "beggars can't be choosers" with airlines, I grabbed it anyway. The ticket agent said that my luggage would be transferred to the new flight(s).

So, I spent the night at Motel 6 (just down the street from the Crowne Plaza).

Above, at Motel 6. 

The next day, after spending some time at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, I went to the airport. After a while, I got a text message from American Airlines stating my flight has been delayed. Since I have a connection flight from DFW, I thought this may cause me to miss it. Then, no sooner than I thought that, I received another text indicating that I may miss my connecting flight. I then immediately headed to the Customer Service Desk.

There, they found me a direct flight to Albuquerque, but it doesn't leave for another two hours. No problem! I took it.

Above, at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I finally reached Albuquerque International Airport at around 11:00 PM (a day late). But my suitcase didn't reach it. I received a notice that the airline would send it on another flight and deliver it. So, I headed to the airport parking lot via shuttle to pick up The Beast and headed home. I reached home at around 1:45 in the morning.

I received several messages yesterday that the baggage delivery people were trying to get my suitcase to me, but failed for a variety of reasons. They were supposed to attempt a delivery at around 9:00 last night. Nobody showed up.

Finally, at 3:30 this morning, I received a call from the delivery guy stating that he would bring it over at 5:30, two hours later. I thought it was rather "cheeky" of them to call me at 3:30 in the morning. But, they delivered the suitcase at 5:30.

Above, the gate for the flight that got me home on Monday. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Thankfully, I had nothing of extraordinary value (except for my $200 boots) in the suitcase. I had the foresight in having my medications with me in my camera bag, just in case something like this occurs.

What a trip!


A G-FEST wouldn't be complete without an awards ceremony for the guests (and others).

Awards included "G-FAN Hall of Fame", "Lifetime Achievement" and the "Mangled Skyscraper Award". These were awarded on Sunday morning.

Here's a sampling:

Above, it was an emotional moment when Sonoe Nakajima (center) received a G-FAN Hall of Fame
Award from David Nunes for her work in supporting her late father, Haruo Nakajima, in his
 convention appearances around the world for nearly 20 years. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, actor Akira Takarada receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from J. D. Lees. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, director Shusuke Kaneko receives the Mangled Skyscraper Award
 for 2019. He said the award came as a surprise. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Candlewood Suites O'Hare

Above, the kitchen area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Since the Crowne Plaza (where G-FEST is held) was fully booked up by the time I tried to book a room, I stayed a few miles away at the Candlewood Suites.

Above, the desk and television area. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The price was about the same as the Crowne Plaza, but I had a suite that included a kitchen. This was a big help in saving money on meals. I had all my breakfasts there as the hotel has a small store that sold Quaker Oatmeal packets for fifty cents.

Above, a nice, comfortable bed. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I got to & from the convention and Candlewood Suites with Uber. That was a lot cheaper than taking a taxi!

The kitchen had a microwave oven and dishware, so I was able to have my usual oatmeal (great for fighting cholesterol) breakfasts in the room. The food at the Crowne Plaza was pricey as ever, so this was a big savings for me. There's also a refrigerator in the room to keep a bottle of milk inside.

Above, since it was a smoking room, I was able to enjoy a stogie. 

I would recommend Candlewood Suites near O'Hare International Airport if one wants to save on their travel food costs.

Yosemite Iconic Names Restored In Settlement

Above, the sign renaming Curry Village as "Half Dome Village" in 2016. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

During my trek to Chicago for G-FEST XXVI, I caught the news report that a settlement had been reached between the federal government and Delaware North over the trademark issues on Yosemite National Park.

This is excellent news!

According to the Fresno Bee:
Yosemite National Park will get the historic names of its properties back in a civil lawsuit settlement reached between the National Park Service and Yosemite’s former concessionaire, DNC Parks and Resorts at Yosemite. 
Place names to be restored include the Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village, the Wawona Hotel, and Badger Pass Ski Area, Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said. 
Some place name signs in Yosemite Valley were returned within hours of the settlement being signed Monday morning, including the Curry Village sign, which was hidden by a covering that said Half Dome Village.

This lawsuit should never have happened. I, for one, am glad that it is finally over.

To read more go here.

Some G-FEST XXVI Reunions

Above, Yoshikazu Ishii and the poster to his new move,
Attack of the Giant Teacher. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

G-FEST XXVI is now in the history books. This was the first G-FEST I've attended since 2009. There's been a lot of changes and, generally, all for the better.

It is still a fan-run convention and very family-friendly, just bigger.

I managed to see a number of people who I haven't seen in years (some, for many years) and the reunions have been enjoyable as we'd catch up on life's twists and turns.

Friends include Steve Ryfle, Archie Waugh (who created the cover to The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan), Lenell Bridges, Jeff Horne, Stan Hyde, Jessica Tseang, Sonoe Nakajima, Gary Guinn, Carol McCants (who, as I found out, lives in New Mexico), the Martin Arlts, Dave Nunes, Yoshikazu Ishii (I last saw him four years ago in Tokyo at the dinner party I held) and many others.

Some I met for the first time, even though some are friends on Facebook, including Tony Isabella and Tetsuya Takarada.

Some remembered me, but I am perplexed when I try to remember some names (that's always been a curse of mine). One fellow, Melvin and I had a long and enjoyable discussion about the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes. I think his last name is Moore. (If it isn't, sorry, Melvin!)

Robert Scott Field was unable to attend due to a schedule conflict and his presence was missed.

Some photos:

Above, Stan Hyde. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Diane Dougherty of Clawmark Toys. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Steve Ryfle and Jessica Tseang. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, "Prince Archie" Waugh. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Lenell Bridges and Armand.

Above, Jessica Tseang and Armand. Photo by Steve Ryfle.

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