"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.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Friday, November 27, 2015

JAL Launches English Mobile Site For Domestic Flights

For English-speaking foreign visitors to Japan, a new mobile site has been introduced by Japan Airlines to make things a little easier.

Japan Today reported:
TOKYO —Japan Airlines (JAL) has launched a mobile site in English for domestic flights, providing English-speaking customers with more convenience including the domestic flight booking and purchase, and view reservation functions found on JAL’s website for domestic flights in English (www.jal.co.jp/en/).
To read more, go here

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Noel Neill's Birthday Media Coverage

Above, Noel with Jack Larson at her 85th birthday celebration. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is nice to see that actress Noel Neill received some well-deserved salutes on some television stations on the occasion of her 95th birthday. This is especially so since there are very few remaining stars of the golden age of television that are still with us.

Two stations in Tucson, Arizona broadcast tributes to Noel yesterday.

Here's one of them:

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Amazon.com's Black Friday Deals

For the past few weeks, all I've been hearing is "Black Friday".

Now Amazon.com gotten into the act when they posted an ad on Facebook.

But I'm not complaining, as their ad involves the Kindle Store ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The interesting thing about it is that I haven't used this particular notebook computer for several days and just logged on with it, so I can't say it was cookie-generated.

Travel + Leisure's World's Best Airlines For Customer Service

Above, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at LAX. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Travel + Leisure has posted the results of their survey of air travelers on which 25 airlines provides the best customer service.

They begin their posing with:
The business of flight is notoriously tough: airplane employees have to transport, entertain, and serve passengers—who are essentially captive in a giant tin cylinder hurtling through the sky—for sometimes more than a dozen hours straight. There are no pit-stops, no roadside attractive, and, for most travelers, no choice. When it comes to overseas transportation, options are typically limited.  
Some carriers, however, have eschewed the notion that airplanes should be little more than oversized buses in the air. Instead, they're focusing on creating memorable (even desirable) customer experiences. Take Singapore Airlines, for example, which swept all the No. 1 categories in this year's Worlds Best survey. Readers have applauded the airline for its food, value, and service: customer service and in-flight service. 
As previously posted, we flew to Japan last month aboard Singapore Airlines. While they provided generally good service (except for one aloof flight attendant) and food, I thought they were better 11 years ago when the first G-TOUR flew with them to Japan.

There is one other international air carrier who made the World's Best list that I flew with to Japan.

To see the results, go here.

A Message From Larry Ward, Noel Neill's Manager and Biographer

Above, Larry Ward at last year's Superman Celebration. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Larry Ward, Noel Neill's manager and biographer, sent Jim Nolt the following message within the last hour:
I received this e-mail from Larry Ward a few minutes ago: 
Hey, Jim - I wanted to let you know that all of Noel's impressive-looking flowers and Teddy Bear arrived yesterday. I took them - along with a ton of birthday cards - over to her this morning and she was simply thrilled. And she wouldn't let go of that bear, for crying' out loud. Well, you all sure did make her day. 
And I hear that at least two television stations here will be doing pieces on Noel's milestone birthday today. All wanted to do interviews, but you know that unfortunately that can't happen. Regardless, they're going to do those pieces anyway. I'll let you know if they're any good. 
Again, thank you for making Noel's special day a very happy one. 
It is great to hear that we made her day! 

Noel Neill Turns 95

Above, Noel Neill and Armand at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration in 2001.

Actress Noel Neill, who originated the screen role of Lois Lane in two Columbia Pictures Sam Katzman serials, was born November 25, 1920 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She later reclaimed the Lois Lane role in television's Adventures of Superman in 1953 when Phyllis Coates opted to do a different television show.

Over the years, before advancing age and health problems forced her quit, Noel made many convention appearances around the country. She began by giving presentations at college and universities, often having audience members come up on stage to re-enact scenes from Adventures of Superman from the show's scripts.

Above, Noel Neill and George Reeves.

I first met her in July 2001 at the Superman Week celebration at the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

She will be receiving a big surprise today, as fans contributed almost $600 for flowers for her birthday and they will be delivered to her assisted living home in Arizona.

Happy Birthday, Noel!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movies For Thanksgiving

In two more days it will be Thanksgiving Day.

If you do not plan on spending the holiday consuming turkey with family or friends, you may want to consider a couple of movies now out in release to enjoy.

Spectre, starring Daniel Craig at Ian Fleming's James Bond. The new M and Miss Moneypenny return as do Skyfall's director. We also get introduced to a new Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Unfortunately, Spectre pales in comparison to Skyfall. Sure, it was a tough act to follow, but when you figure that since director Sam Mendes did such a great job with Skyfall, Spectre should also be a great movie. It isn't. It isn't a "bad" movie (such as several of Roger Moore's and Pierce Brosnan's Bonds were), but it was a bit of a letdown to me. I actually enjoyed the much-maligned Quantum Of Solace more.

Still, it was entertaining and I would give it a B grade.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Donald Sutherland is the forth (and, I presume, the last) in the series of "science-fiction dystopian adventure films." I missed the second and third sequels, but I kind of liked the first one. I saw this one today and even though I missed the sequels, I enjoyed it. A lot of action, explosions, creepy scenes and political intrigue were featured in this movie. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I seen the second and third installments. Sutherland is always great when he sinks his teeth into a meaty role, and he did quite well here.

Despite missing two of the movies in the series, I have to give this one an A.

Japan-Guide's Kyoto Autumn Color Report

Above, some autumn coloring at Kinkaku-ji last month. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When we visited Kyoto last month, the trees in the city were barely just starting to go into fall color mode. We toured Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera and saw some, but little, evidence of autumn coloring.

Japan-Guide.com has posted a report on the current state of autumn colors.

Above, the foliage around Kiyomizu-dera had some hints of fall coloring in October. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

They begin their report with:
Today I headed out west to pick up the autumn color (koyo) coverage in Kyoto. The peak colors around much of western Japan appear to be slightly delayed this year, probably due to the abnormally warm, overcast weather that they have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks. As a result, the timing of this year's peak in Kyoto has shifted a week or so later than normal. That puts it more in line with the progression of the colors around Tokyo, whereas in a normal year Kyoto tends to peak ahead of Tokyo.
To read more and to see the photographs they posted, go here


Japan Hotel, Ryokan, and Tour Booking Made Easy
http://www.japanican.com/en/?utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMtoplogo http://www.facebook.com/JAPANiCAN http://twitter.com/jtbjapanican
  http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/?utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMgnavihotels   http://www.japanican.com/en/ryokan/?utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMgnaviryokan   http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/?utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMgnavitours   http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ty=timesale1&typecd=PRA&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMgnaviextras   http://www.japanican.com/en/japaninfo/?utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMgnaviinfo  
1-Day Snow Monkey Tour from Tokyo
from JPY 21,510
http://www.japanican.com/en/special/campaign/cybermonday/index.aspx?utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMtour2 http://www.japanican.com/en/special/campaign/cybermonday/index.aspx?utm_source=151124utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMtour3
1-Day Gala Yuzawa Ski Tour from Tokyo
JPY 12,510
1-Day Mt. Fuji Area Family Ski & Snow Play Tour
JPY 11,070

Noboribetsu, Hokkaido
Dai-ichi Takimotokan
Japanese-style Rooms from
JPY 17,010
Odaiba, Tokyo
Grand Pacific Le Daiba
Twin or Double Rooms from
JPY 13,100
Hida Takayama
Twin Rooms from
JPY 13,200
Uehonmachi, Osaka
Sheraton Miyako Hotel Osaka
Premium Double Rooms from
JPY 16,800
Hakata, Fukuoka
Hotel Nikko Fukuoka
Superior Twin Rooms from
JPY 12,800
http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ar=A27&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMtokyohotels http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ar=A41&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMkyotohotels http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ar=A09&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMosakahotels
http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ar=01&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMhokkaidohotels http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ar=A32&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMmtfujihotels http://www.japanican.com/en/hotel/list/?ar=A31&utm_source=151124&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=151124MMhakonehotels

Monday, November 23, 2015

Condé Nast Traveler: The Airlines With The Most Legroom: A Tall Traveler's Guide

Above, the Economy section of Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last month, I reviewed my flight experience during our October trip to Japan aboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380.

Part of my review included my complaints over the meager amount of legroom. To read my review, go here.

Condé Nast Traveler has posted a guide of what airlines, foreign or domestic, who offer the most legroom and those who offer the least. It is a guide to the best & worst in legroom for the tall traveler.

Not surprisingly, Singapore Airlines was not listed as an airline offering the best legroom. But, they also weren't listed as an airline offering the worst either. It is probably safe to assume that they fall somewhere in the middle.

Condé Nast Traveler began their article with:
Newer and more efficient airplanes means airlines are offering longer and longer flights, but can you handle 13 hours with only 30 inches of space? Condé Nast Traveler reports which airlines, both domestic and international, offer the best (and the worst) legroom. 
"Pitch" isn't just a term used in baseball. The word is also thrown around quite a bit in air travel, where its definition is the measurement of the distance from a seat to the one behind it. The more popular, not to mention maligned, term is "legroom," and, yes, some airlines offer more of it than others. Condé Nast Traveler's rankings are not universally inclusive; only major, recognizable airlines were taken into account in our survey. Because airlines are constantly updating their cabins and fleets, the figures listed below are subject to change.
 To find out what airlines have the best and worst legroom available to passengers, go here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

New Article Submitted To JapanTravel

Above, Geoff Day (far left) and Armand (far right) at lunch with the JapanTravel team last year.

Now that I am getting (somewhat) comfortably settled into my retirement (although I've been told it takes about three months to really get used to it), I now have time to tend to other avenues of writing.

Finally, after several months, I submitted a new article at JapanTravel.com.

JapanTravel began two years ago as JapanTourist and has steadily grown since that time with a great stable of contributors. I've been with them pretty much from the beginning.

Last year, while I was in Tokyo, I met for lunch with operations manager Geoff Day and two other members of the JapanTravel in Roppongi Hills.

Once the new article is approved, I will post a notice on this blog.

Dollar Around ¥122-123

For those who are considering a trip to Japan, the U.S. dollar is hovering around ¥122-123 in Tokyo trading.

According to the Jiji Press:
Tokyo, Nov. 20 (Jiji Press)--The dollar eased to around 123 yen in Tokyo trading on Friday, pressured by position-adjustment selling and sluggish performance of Tokyo stocks. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at 123.00-01 yen, down from 123.36-37 yen at the same time Thursday. 
To read more, go here. 

Godzilla Wind-up Toy

This is a Godzilla wind-up toy that one of my dinner party guests gave me last month at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo:

Sierra, my new kitten, is still leery of it to chase it.

New Multilingual Megaphone Being Used At Narita Airport

Above, Narita Airport's Terminal One Arrival Lobby. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Leave it to the Japanese to come up with new inventive devices to make life just a little bit easier.

The latest is a megaphone which automatically translates Japanese words into English, Chinese and Korean.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:
Foreign travelers to Japan who do not speak the language need no longer worry should a disaster occur while they are passing through Narita Airport, thanks to a new translation device being launched by Panasonic Corp. to ensure that information is smoothly relayed in a number of languages. 
Dubbed "Megahonyaku" -- a play on words using a portmanteau of "megaphone" and "honyaku" (which means translation), as "phone" and "hon" have similar pronunciations in Japanese -- the devices were unveiled to the press on Nov. 13 by Narita International Airport Corp., which has begun deploying them on a trial basis.
To read more, go here

Travel + Leisure: 12 Mandatory Fees That Outrage Travelers

Above, a United Boeing 787 at LAX. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today's travelers, whether they are taking a vacation domestically or internationally, loathe the prospect of paying extra fees to hotels, resorts and, especially, airlines.

Travel + Leisure has posted the findings of a survey of travelers.

They begin with:
Travelers loathe fees that they have no choice but to pay, including charges to connect to the Internet, check a bag on their flight, and connect to a cellular network abroad. That's according to a new national survey of fee-paying U.S. travelers commissioned by MileCards.com.
When I travel, I confine my luggage to one checked-in suitcase and two carry-ons (a camera bag and laptop). In doing this, I can avoid those extra baggage fees the airlines tack onto the cost of flying. It is interesting that the fuel surcharge fees are still going up despite the fact that oil prices have been dropping.

I've posted before that United Airlines is the most notorious in adding fees.

To see what ticks off travelers the most, go here

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 18, 1992

Good ol' Jim Nolt has a way of making one feel old.

He posted a couple of days ago that it was 23 years ago (November 18, 1992) that Superman #75 hit the stands.

What's so significant about Superman #75? It was the famous "Death of Superman" issue wherein the Man of Steel is killed by the villain Doomsday.

Besides the above pictured newsstand edition, DC Comics also put out a special bagged edition with goodies inside, including a black armband.

Comic book fans lined up at comic shops, newsstands and everywhere else that sold Superman comic books. I made the excuse at work that I had to go to the bank and proceeded to Golden Apple Comics on Melrose (I worked a mile or two away at the time) and waited in line to buy one of each (that was their limit) of the bagged and newsstand editions. My dad ended up buying about a dozen more of the bagged editions, of which I have inherited.

As luck would have it, it was a slow news day, which benefited Superman and DC Comics as all the major news outlets covered the story of "The Death of Superman". I was interviewed (anonymously) by the Los Angeles Times for their story at Golden Apple. I was quoted as giving "I have to go to the bank" excuse in the article.

Those were the days where DC's comics were still worth reading. At that time, my comics buying was confined to Silver Age issues (more for investment purposes).

It is hard to believe that 23 years have passed already.

Japan Government Panel Looking Into New Rules For Rentals of Private Lodgings

Above, Godzilla in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan's Regulatory Reform Council is looking into new rules involving private rentals to foreign tourists and anti-terrorism measures.

The Asahi Shimbun reported:
New rules to govern rental properties for tourists in Japan that may include anti-terrorism measures are being hashed out by the government’s Regulatory Reform Council. 
One idea is to establish a notification system or licensing system for agents or renters of private accommodation due to a growing number of complaints made about such services. 
Motoyuki Oka, chair of the council, also said anti-terror measures should be considered during a meeting on Nov. 19. Oka, also an adviser to Sumitomo Corp., noted that the suspects behind the terror attacks in Paris were believed to have rented long-stay accommodation. 
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to expand the rented private lodging sector as the nation does not have enough hotel rooms to accommodate the steep rise in foreign tourists.
Since the influx in foreign tourists is straining the availability of hotel accommodations, it would be my recommendation to go visit now before the strain worsens and prices are hiked (remember the law of supply & demand).

To read more, go here

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Abe Urges Strengthening of Border Controls

Above, the meeting point for arrivals at Narita International Airport's Terminal One. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Unlike President Obama, who seems to run to the nearest golf course in the aftermath of a terrorist attack and who allows refugees into the United States which may include ISIS terrorists, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to beef up border controls.

According to The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun):
It is urgently required to establish a system to gather intelligence on foreign terrorists, and to prevent terrorist attacks in Japan. 
Immediately after returning from a summit meeting of the Group of 20 major economies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a meeting of the National Security Council. “I want all of you to implement every possible measure to prevent a terrorist attack from occurring,” Abe told the council. 
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group, which carried out the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris last week, has named Japan as one of its targets. Given that Japan will host the Ise-Shima summit meeting of Group of Seven nations next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the implementation of effective countermeasures cannot be put off any longer.
To read more, go here

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Japan May Reach 20 Million Tourist Goal Five Years Early

Above, the Dotonbori restaurant district of Osaka. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan Times reported that foreign tourism numbers in Japan for the month of October hit a new record, which was blogged previously.

Along with October's figures, it appears that Japan is on track to meeting its annual goal of 20 million foreign visitors, five years ahead of schedule. All this is due to the huge influx of Chinese tourists.

As we were in Japan in October, we did notice quite a number of Chinese tourists. I met a Chinese fertilizer salesman from Shanghai at the Narita International Airport. He said he travels to a number of foreign countries, including the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal reported:
TOKYO—Chinese tourists have pushed Japan within reach of its ambitious tourism target—five years ahead of schedule. 
Japan has attracted 16.3 million foreign tourists already this year, beating its previous full-year record of 13.4 million as the number of Chinese visitors has more than doubled, according to data released Wednesday by the Japan National Tourism Organization.
It will be interesting to see if Japan does indeed reach 20 million foreign visitors this year.

To read more, go here.

Japan Sees Record Number of Foreign Tourists In October

Above, Shibuya Crossing. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan's foreign tourism numbers for October are now in and it hit a new record, according to an article in the Japan Times.

They wrote:
A total of 1.82 million people arrived in Japan in October, a record high and up 43.8 percent from the same period a year ago, the Japan National Tourism Organization announced Wednesday. 
The increase was aided in part by the continued depreciation of the yen and a surge in the number of Chinese visitors. 
During the 10-months through the end of October, the number of arrivals reached 16.31 million, also a record high, which means arrivals for 2015 could hit the 20 million mark, the highest annual number ever.
When we went to Japan in October, we did notice quite a number of Chinese tourists. I spoke with one at the Narita International Airport, a fertilizer salesman, and was in Japan on business.

To read more, go here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

RocketNews 24: 10 Factors That Make Japan A Safe Country

Above, an Asakusa convenience store. They are always operated by two workers. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For years, people have been hearing that Japan is either crime-free (not true) or safe (true). There is some crime in Japan, but compared to other first world countries, it is a pretty safe place.

There are several reasons for this and RocketNews 24 has posted an article with ten of them.

They begin with:
We’ve all heard about how safe Japan is. But unless you live here, you may not understand why Japan is considered so safe. The uninitiated may presume that safety is enforced through a rigid society that doesn’t allow freedom of expression, that Japanese people are too worried about losing face to commit a crime, or that the government comes down unnecessarily hard on people who step out of line. In reality, none of these rings true. 
But we can’t deny that there’s one thing that Japan does better than anyone else. Join us after the jump for some insights and our own observations.

The one thing Japan does better than anyone else is that it puts a strong focus on crime prevention. In addition, safety of its citizens is paramount. Here is a list of some factors that we believe help Japan be free from danger.
To read more, go here

Search This Blog