"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, April 18, 2015

See Japan In A RV

Above, an Isuzu Elf motorhome.

Most articles on vacationing in Japan generally focus on hotels, ryokans, airlines, attractions and food. But I found something different.

I recently came across an article on an interesting way to see Japan: by RV.

No, it is not about getting a giant raft with enormous pontoons and engine to take your recreational vehicle across the Pacific to Japan. RVing in Japan is a concept not too many people here have thought about, but it is one that is gaining in popularity.

iRV2.com website posted an article on seeing Japan by recreational vehicle.

They wrote:
Camping in Japan seems like an unbelievable concept to the average Westerner but did you know that renting a RV is one of the more affordable ways to explore Japan’s lush countryside and hidden tourist gems? 
If the number of Japanese camping car shows are any indication, the popularity of exploring Japan by recreational vehicle is a growing phenomena among citizens. In America and Europe, homes on wheels are known as “RVs” but in Japan these tiny rolling houses are called “Camper Cars.”
 To read more, go here.

Cramped Airline Seats Dangerous?

Above, a United Airlines Boeing787. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Airlines have been reducing the amount of space each passenger has (especially in economy) so they can cram more seats into every jet.

This practice as led to concerns that it just may be unhealthy to the traveling public.

According to an article in Japan Today:
WASHINGTON —The shrinking space on airplanes is surely uncomfortable, but it might also be dangerous for passengers’ health and safety. 
Planes are filled with more passengers than ever before. Fliers are older and heavier. Flight attendants warn about an increase in air rage, and experts question if having rows of seats packed closer together might make it harder for passengers to evacuate after a crash. 
A consumer advisory group set up by the Department of Transportation dove into all those issues Tuesday at a public hearing as part of its role to make non-binding suggestions to government regulators.
My flight to Japan last year was aboard an United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. While I was not too impressed with the food and some aspects of their service, I did mention previously that I had no complaints regarding legroom.

There's a good reason for this, as the article stated:
Many passenger jets today have less legroom. For instance, United Airlines has 30 inches of room, known as pitch, on some jets; Spirit Airlines offers 28 inches.
The article also covers the subject of being able to get out of airline seats to walk around to avoid blood clotting. (This is also covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, by the way.)

To read more, go here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jim Beaver's "Verdigris"

Above, Jim Beaver at last summer's Superman Celebration luncheon. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A nice note was received this evening from actor/writer (and George Reeves fan) Jim Beaver (Deadwood):
I don’t know if you’re aware that my play VERDIGRIS is running at Theatre West. We’ve played 5 weeks and only have 2 left (we close April 26). The reviews have been rather extraordinary, and I’m deeply, deeply proud of this production.  In addition to writing it, I’m in it, too.

I should have sent this weeks ago, but I’m always running behind.  I hope, though, that you can manage to see this.  It’s something I would be deeply grateful for.  We have particular need of a strong audience this weekend, especially Sunday the 19th at 2 pm.
I wasn't aware of Jim's play until I received his note. In checking the website for Theatre West, I found the play to be interesting and I am going to try to attend Sunday's performance.

If you are in Los Angeles and would like something to do and have a good time doing it, you ought to head over to Studio City (the theater is across the 101 Freeway from Universal City).

For details, go here

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Lucy and Superman" In Color May 17

Above, photo collection assembled by Brad Shey.

CBS has announced a one-hour special broadcast of two colorized I Love Lucy episodes on Sunday, May 17.

According to Deadline Hollywood:
The network said today it will air two newly colorized episodes of its popular 1950s series from 8-9 PM Sunday, May 17. William Holden guest stars in “L.A. At Last!” (1955), and George Reeves — who was starring on TV’s Adventures Of Superman at the time — reprises his role as the Man of Steel in “Lucy and Superman” (1957). Superhero tie-in nicely played, CBS.
CBS has broadcast colorized I Love Lucy episodes before, usually during the holiday season. They are doing so in May as a way to "fill holes" in their broadcast schedule as the season will be ending at that time.

For more, go here.

Rondo Voting Ends Sunday Night

Above, from the Los Angeles Daily News.

Only a few more days left before the end of the balloting for the 2014 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

According to the awards adminstrators:

Balloting ends Sunday night at midnight, April 19. Many categories remain too close to call. So you can still make a difference.

Vote for the Superman Celebration (Ballot Item #21) as "Best Fan Event."

To vote, go to: http://www.rondoaward.com/

Ten More Days Until "In The Footsteps of Godzilla"

Above, Godzilla approaches the Kachidoki Bridge on the Sumida River in 1954. Photo: Toho Co., Ltd.

Ten more days from today is the Japan Society of Northern California's "In The Footsteps of Godzilla" event in San Francisco.

The April 26 event begins with a screening of the original Godzilla (1954). It is in Japanese with English subtitles. Following the movie screening, I will be talking about Godzilla movies with a focus on the locations and landmarks used. After this, we will be migrating to the Izakaya Roku Japanese restaurant for a V.I.P. dinner.

I will have copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan available for purchase.

Here's the schedule:

This event benefits the Japan Society of Northern California as it will help to fund future programs.

As we are nearing the date of the event, now is the time to purchase your tickets while you still can.

For further information, including tickets, go here.

Affordable "Must-See" Places In Tokyo

Above, Shibuya Crossing at night. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Suppose you have traveled to Tokyo, Japan but are on a limited budget. You want to see and do things but worry that the cost may be out of your reach.

Japan Info has six affordable "must-see" suggestions for consideration.

They start it off with:
Tokyo may be expensive to some people who loves all the luxury Tokyo can offer, but it does not mean it is not affordable to those budget travelers. As long as you know where to go and how to get there, Tokyo could be an affordable place to travel. Take these must-visit places in Tokyo as part of your itinerary. They are not just affordable but they constitute the complete Tokyo experience.
To see what their six affordable "must-see" places, go here.

April 15 Blog Post Pick-ups

The fine folks at The Japan Daily picked up three blog posts for sharing with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

There's More To Do In Ginza Than Just Shopping

Above, the Wako Department Store (left) at Ginza Crossing. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is likely that Ginza first came to the attention of Godzilla fans when the great beast stomped through the district in 1954.

Since then, Ginza has become more familiar as Tokyo's prime upscale shopping district.

However, as an article in Japan Info states, there's more to do in Ginza than just shopping. They list six things to do in Ginza.

They begin with:
Ginza has been labeled an expensive district around Tokyo. With the upscale shopping centers, grand restaurants and high end fashion stores, the district is living to expectations. But there are more to Ginza than shopping. So if you are looking for other things to do in Ginza aside from shopping, might as well try these activities around the district.
To read more, go here

Dollar At ¥119.50

Weak U.S. retail sales data has made Japan's currency traders in Tokyo a bit skittish.

According to The Japan Times:
The dollar was easier around ¥119.50 in Tokyo trading late Wednesday following an overnight plunge to near ¥119 in overseas trading on weaker-than-expected U.S. retail data. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at ¥119.50-50, down from ¥119.86-87 at the same time Tuesday.

To read more, go here

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Keisei Free Wi-Fi For Foreign Visitors

Above, the Keisei Skyliner at Narita International Airport Terminal One. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's good news for foreign visitors to Tokyo. The Keisei Electric Railway Co. has free WiFi for foreign visitors.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO):
Starting 8 April 2015 Keisei Electric Railway Co., Ltd. has introduced a free Wi-Fi service for foreign visitors. The Keisei network includes the Skyliner, which connects Narita International Airport with downtown Tokyo. The network also includes connections to many popular sightseeing spots including Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, the Ueno district and TOKYO SKYTREE. 
Keisei also offers a route search service for foreign visitors to Japan on the foreign language section of the Keisei website, which provides access information to and from Narita Airport.
For details, go here

Monday, April 13, 2015

U.S. Air Carriers Get Bad Marks In Study

Above, the United Boeing 787 I flew to Japan in. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If my Japan trip experience with United Airlines is any indication, I'd say that service provided by U.S. air carriers has greatly deteriorated over the years.

As I posted previously, I found United's food mediocre (at best) and the way they canceled my flight for the return trip home (due to maintenance) and the replacement flight(s) with numerous stops very unnerving. Luckily, a nice United ticket clerk at Narita International Airport got me a good direct flight home to L.A.

According to an article in Japan Today, two university researchers have found that service provided by U.S. air carriers have gotten worse and complaints are up.

They wrote:
DALLAS —Think flying is getting worse? A pair of university researchers who track the airline business say it’s a fact. 
More flights are late, more bags are getting lost, and customers are lodging more complaints about U.S. airlines, government data shows. Dean Headley, a marketing professor at Wichita State and one of the co-authors of the annual report being released Monday, said passengers already know that air travel is getting worse. “We just got the numbers to prove it.”
They then the study's findings. What they found is not very pretty.

After last year's experience, I decided that I will only fly to Japan on Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines or Korean Air. No more U.S. carriers for me on international flights.

To read the report, go here.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hillary's Boring "Hospital" Logo

So Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her campaign (surprise!) for president in 2016.

Politics and ideology aside, her campaign logo has to be one of the most boring and unimaginative I have ever seen. It looks like a sign you might see on a street or freeway indicating that a hospital is nearby. The only thing different from such a hospital sign is the red arrow pointing to the right. Does this mean Hillary is moving to the right?

Is this the best that "Madame Big Buck's" campaign team can come up with?

Here it is:

Key To Happiness

Gaijinpot: What To Do If You Fall On The Train Tracks

Above, a commuter train at Kumamoto Station. The yellow line is there for a reason. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The subject of standing or walking safely on a train or subway platform is not one that I would immediately think of blogging about. But, apparently Gaijinpot.com feels otherwise and they posted an article on "What To Do If You Fall On The Train Tracks."

They begin it with:
Anyone who has squeezed onto a crowded Tokyo platform has probably had this thought: what should I do if I fall on the tracks in Japan? As it turns out, we have several options in this worst-case scenario. In this article, you can read about preventing falls, the several common safety features of Japanese train platforms and how you can use them in case of a fall.
The tips Gaijinpot provides can also apply to subways and train platforms in the U.S. or other countries with these transportation systems.

To read the full article, go here

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nomadic Fanatic On YouTube

Above, Eric "Nomadic Fanatic" and Jax on the road.

Recently, I began following the boondocking road travel adventures of Eric Jacobs (known as the Nomadic Fanatic) and his cat Jax over on YouTube. I find them entertaining and, at times, very educational.

When I began following Eric's travel adventures, he was driving an older model Class C Tioga motorhome. Unfortunately, the Tioga (that he named Tilly) developed some mechanical problems and Eric had to sell it down in Panama City, Florida.

Luckily, a fellow RV enthusiast gave Eric a Ford camping van. After some modifications to make the van more suitable to his needs, he's back on the road again.

In recent weeks, Eric took his viewing followers to the Jack Daniels brewery, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Nashville and other places of interest.

As Eric is not a rich man (he creates advertising for clients in his vehicle), he also had to rely upon contributions from followers. He recently felt he had to cease doing this (via PayPal) as some malcontents were posting attack messages on the comments section of his videos. Eric isn't hurting anyone, so I have a difficult time seeing why some idiots have to go out of their way to cause trouble. Maybe they're jealous that they are stuck in their mother's basement instead of being on the road like Eric.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with having an avenue for contributions. He is entertaining over 25,000 subscribers and he's not holding a gun to anyone's head to make a donation. If he is paying his taxes and everything's on the up and up, what's the problem? I think he should reinstate his link to PayPal and ignore the assholes. But that's my opinion.

I've noticed some recreational vehicle ads have been attached to Nomadic Fanatic's videos lately. Frankly, I think Eric ought to get a share of the advertising from them.

I have been enjoying the adventures of the Nomadic Fanatic and if you are into road trips, you might want to take a look for yourselves.

Below, is a recent video that Eric posted:

NOTE (4/12/15): I have received several comments on this post. Since all comments have to be approved by me, none that I consider vile and slanderous/libelous will be approved.

Unless you can prove what you are contending, you would be well-advised to keep your remarks to yourself and go elsewhere. 


Above, Traci Lords. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Christine Nguyen. Photo
courtesy of Christine Nguyen.
Avery Guerra sent me a message on a movie that he's serving as publicist for: Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre.

It reads:
Hey Armand! Check out Christine Nguyen's latest film, directed by Jim Wynorski, that I'm publicist for! She co-stars alongside Traci Lords, Dominque Swain, Cindy Lucas,and others! A women's prison flick crossed with a mutant shark movie!

Here's a link to Dread Central's write-up on the movie which includes a synopsis and trailer video.

Inside Japan Blog: Making Sense of the Tokyo Metro

If you are planning Tokyo, Japan anytime soon, you'll want to learn how to use the Tokyo subway system.

In actuality, it is not difficult to master and I consider it easy to use. In case you feel intimidated by using the Tokyo subway system, fear not! Inside Japan Blog has posted an article on "Making Sense of the Tokyo Metro."

They start it with a map of the subway system (this is a clearer image than the one they use):

They then post:
You see that spaghetti dinner up there? That’s the map for Tokyo’s subway system, Tokyo Metro. Although it may look daunting at first glance, with a little explanation (and a lot of pictures) you’ll be riding the underground like a true Tokyoite in no time!
If you want to learn more, go here

Friday, April 10, 2015

No More Billy Boy's Cafe

Above, Billy Boy's Cafe during better times.

From the San Fernando Valley, the most convenient route to get to Interstate 15 to go to Las Vegas is via the Pearblossom Highway (then to the Victorville Road) in the Mojave Desert near Palmdale. The highway goes though the town of Littlerock and then through the town of Pearblossom. That was the route my daughter and I took to go to Las Vegas several days ago.

While we were driving through Pearblossom, we noticed that one of favorite eateries, Billy Boy's Cafe, was closed down. We used to stop in for breakfast whenever we went to Las Vegas or to Apple Valley. The prices there were reasonable, the food good and with generous portions.

It had been a few years since I last drove on the Pearblossom Highway. It appears, from what I have been able to ascertain, Billy Boy's Cafe has been closed for at least a year or two. The building is in a state of disrepair.

I will miss Billy Boy's Cafe. It was a convenient stop while driving through the desert.

DC Comics Closes New York Offices; Moving To Burbank

Above, DC Comics will be located near Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

DC Comics is closing their New York offices today and moving to Burbank, California.

Former DC president Paul Levitz posted the following at Facebook reflecting on the move:
DC is officially closing it's New York offices today, climaxing the progressive move to Burbank over the last few years. They've been kind enough to invite me to a final lunch at the office with so many old friends to commemorate the occasion. 
Rather than write about what the DC office in NY has meant to me personally, let me take today to write about what it's meant to NY, and vice versa. 
The various DC offices over the past 80 years have been a gateway for New York's young people, originally mostly from immigrant or disadvantaged backgrounds, to bring their gifts to entertain the world. Kids like Shelly Mayer, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino, Alex Toth, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Irwin Hasen--and in a later generation, Neal Adams, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Howard Chaykin, George Perez, Denys Cowan--and so many, many more, came knocking on the doors and found an outlet for their talents. Based in a city that long opened its doors to the world, DC opened up to people with passion for creating stories and artwork, and to a generation or two of people who came to New York "to get into comics." It wasn't the only comics company that did this, but it was the most consistent presence--the only leader in the field to have stayed in the front of the pack for over 75 years, creating opportunities in the greatest city on our continent. 
It's not only writers and artists who came through the DC offices and prospered. A tally of the young New Yorkers who spent an early part of their careers at DC and went on to interesting lives would include publishing pioneer Byron Priess, a host of editors, leading licensing executives, and graphic desgners. 
The offices have also been a magnet for business change in the comics field. The idea that comics could be original periodicals was first made real and practical in a DC office, as was the first truly successful graphic novel publishing program in America. And would comics have been that same if NY English teacher Phil Seuling hadn't had easy access to offices to pitch his direct sales idea? The comic shop may have been born in California, but the systems that fed it started here. 
Has all this connecting been made obsolete in the era of the Internet and global interdependency? Maybe. There's certainly an argument that today you can run anything, anywhere. 
But New York won't be quite the same without a DC Comics, and as a New Yorker whose life was shaped by his city and by the DC offices, I can be sad about that.
During my days as a regular reader of DC's line-up of comics back in the 1960s, the address their editorial offices were located was 575 Lexington Ave., New York, New York. For some reason, that address always stayed with me.

16 More Days To "In The Footsteps of Godzilla"

The Japan Society of Northern California jumped on the news about Godzilla's "appointment" as tourism ambassador for Shinjuku, Tokyo over at Twitter. Their Tweet is shown above.

In only 16 more days, their "In The Footsteps of Godzilla" event will be held in San Francisco that includes a theatrical screening of the original 1954 movie that started it all, a discussion of Godzilla movies (with an emphasis on their real-life locations and landmarks) and a V.I.P. dinner.

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

Speaking of movie locations, I will have copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan available. If you want to get a copy, this would be a good time to do so!

For more information, including tickets, go here.

Dollar Firmly Around ¥120

After a bit of a dip in trading in foreign exchange during the past week, the dollar is again solidly in the ¥120 range in Tokyo.

According to the Japan Times:
The dollar held firm around ¥120.50 in Tokyo trading Friday, backed by solid U.S. economic data and early gains in Japanese stock prices. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar was at ¥120.49-51, up from ¥120.27-27 at the same time Thursday.
To read more, go here

Ambassador Godzilla Makes Big Media Splash

The news about Godzilla being named as Shinjuku, Tokyo's tourism ambassador hit big-time in the media.

Media sources such as The Huffington Post, ABC News, The Guardian (U.K.), New York Post, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post and many others covered the story.

A little while ago, I was watching the Redeye show on the Fox News Channel and the show's last story was on Godzilla being named tourism ambassador.

Luckily, they announced that it would be their last story before going into a commercial break, so I was ready with my cell phone camera to shoot a few shots as the story was being played. The photos accompany this blog post.

April 9 Blog Post Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily has picked up several blog posts from yesterday for sharing with their readers.

They include:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Godzilla Named Tokyo Tourism Ambassador

Godzilla has been known for many things over the years. He has been a destroyer of cities, a nuclear menace, defender of Earth, an anti-pollution message-giver and even a shill for various products. He now has a new, and official, title.

Godzilla is now tourism ambassador.

According to an article in the Huffington Post:
TOKYO (AP) — Fire-breathing, building-stomping Godzilla was welcomed in part of Tokyo on Thursday as a sign of prosperity, not destruction. 
The irradiated monster was appointed special resident and tourism ambassador for Shinjuku ward, known for its down-home bars and noodle restaurants. 
A Godzilla-size head towering 52 meters (171 feet) above ground level was unveiled at an office of Toho, the Japanese studio behind the 1954 original. Toho is shooting a comeback film this year after a decade-long hiatus.

At an awards ceremony next to the giant Godzilla head, an actor in a rubber suit waddled to Shinjuku Mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi. However, Toho executive Minami Ichikawa had to accept the residency certificate in Godzilla's place, since the suit's claws aren't designed to grab anything.
To read more, go here

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