"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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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Obama Turning GM Into Yugo Motors

Above, Obama's vision of the future, a Yugo (only made in the USA).

Barack Obama says he has no intention of having the government run GM or Chrysler, but he forced GM CEO Rick Wagoner to immediately resign. This led to a big drop in the Dow Jones Industrials.

"We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish," President Obama said.

"What we are asking is difficult," he said. "It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognize that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts."

This comes from a man whose remedy for gasoline conservation is to properly inflate tires! He and his fellow government hacks know nothing about running the auto industry or any industry, for that matter. We might as well rename GM "Government Motors" or "Yugo Motors." (The former Yugoslavia, while under communist rule, produced a poorly-made car called the Yugo. It was a colossal flop.)

Obama claims that the government has no interest in running the auto industry, but what he's doing is nothing less than the beginnings of a government takeover of the industry. He has crossed the line of how much and how far the government will go in taking over private industries and making them government entities. Capitalism, as we've known it, is over!

Looks like that the U.S. auto industry will resemble the Yugo before it's all over.

Netanyahu To Obama: Stop Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Or We'll Attack

Source: The Atlantic

Before he was sworn in as Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu sat down for an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. In the interview, Netanyahu laid down the gauntlet to Barack Obama:

“The Obama presidency has two great missions: fixing the economy, and preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told me. He said the Iranian nuclear challenge represents a “hinge of history” and added that “Western civilization” will have failed if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”


Netanyahu stated that if President Obama doesn't stop Iran's nuclear weapons program, Israel will have no choice but to attack.

For the full article, go here.

Andy Hallett, Lorne From "Angel", Dies

Above, David Boreanaz and Andy Hallett.

Andy Hallett, Lorne From "Angel", Dies

I generally don't watch television these days except for news programs. But during the past 15 years, the only two shows I made a point to watch were Buffy The Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel.

Sad news has been announced. Actor/musician Andy Hallett, who played Lorne, the green-skinned night-clubbing demon on Angel passed away Sunday of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 33.

Apparently, Hallett suffered from heart problems the past several years.

Hallett's character, Lorne, assisted the detective agency run by vampire Angel (David Boreanaz) whose mission was to root out demonic and other supernatural threats to the world. The Lorne character added much levity to the show.

Hallett appeared in about 70 episodes of Angel. The show ran from 1999 to 2004 and was produced by Joss Whedon.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Angie Harmon Is Not A Racist For Opposing Obama



Actress Angie Harmon has been attacked by Obama supporters (or drones) for not supporting Obama. Many have accused her of being 'racist'.

Pop Tarts over at FoxNews.com reported:

"Here's my problem with this, I'm just going to come out and say it. If I have anything to say against Obama it's not because I'm a racist, it's because I don't like what he's doing as President and anybody should be able to feel that way, but what I find now is that if you say anything against him you're called a racist," Harmon said at last Thursday’s Los Angeles launch of a new eyelash-growing formula, Latisse.

"But it has nothing to do with it, I don’t care what color he is. I’m just not crazy about what he's doing and I heard all about this, and he’s gonna do that and change and change, so okay … I'm still dressing for a recession over here buddy and we've got unemployment at an all-time high and that was his number one thing and that's the thing I really don't appreciate. If I'm going to disagree with my President, that doesn't make me a racist. If I was to disagree with W, that doesn't make me racist. It has nothing to do with it, it is ridiculous."


It is a rare thing these days for Hollywood celebrities to come out politically with positions that are opposite of that the prevailing political thinking is, especially by someone of a new generation of celebrity. It is grossly unfair to disagree with someone and be labeled a racist for doing so.

Hollywood has long been a hotbed of liberal/leftist politics. There are some liberals who do, on occasion, tell the truth. Last year, Hollywood liberal Alec Baldwin hit the ceiling when Wall Street melted down. Only he directed his ire at the Democrats in Congress, particularly at Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Christopher Dodd for being instrumental in the problems of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with their subprime mortgage loans.

In my view, celebrities' political views shouldn't carry any more weight than does the political positions of the boxgirls at the local supermarket. But due to their celebrity status and easy access to the media, they spout their political views as their first amendment right. It doesn't really matter that some of these celebrities don't know what in blazes they're talking about. They are simply taking advantage of an audience.

Really, who cares what Hollywood libs Debra Messing or Mandy Moore think? (Except, maybe, for a good laugh, perhaps.) Or even Angie Harmon? Despite disagreements, each has the right to express their opinions.

But it takes real political courage for someone to go against the Hollywood grain. Many have had their careers suffer as a result. So a big kudos to Angie Harmon!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Los Angeles Baseball Minor Leagues

Steve Harvey has an interesting article in today's Los Angeles Times on some old minor-league baseball teams. In it, he describes several minor-league professional baseball teams and their stadiums. These were the days before major league baseball's Dodger and Anaheim Stadiums.

In the old days, the stadiums to go to in Los Angeles were Gilmore Field, the home of the Hollywood Stars; Wrigley Field, the home of the Los Angeles Angels; Maier Park, the home of the Tigers and others.

To read Harvey's full article, go here.

Speaking of Los Angeles' Wrigley Field, in 1940 there was a charity baseball game involving Hollywood's stars of the day. The highlight of the game was the appearance of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster.

Below, is a photo of Karloff up at bat.



And, here is another shot of Karloff at the game with make-up genius Jack Pierce standing by for any needed touch-up work.



I only personally remember Wrigley Field. I remember driving by it in the mid-1960s. It was located at 42nd Place and Avalon Blvd. The location is now the Gilbert Lindsay Recreational Center.

Superman's No. 1 Fan In Japan



Superman's No. 1 Fan In Japan

by Armand Vaquer

Following World War II and during the Golden Age of television, after the end of the American occupation of Japan, a little Asian man with a mustache would park himself in front of a television set to watch his favorite television program.

The little man was Emperor Showa (in life, he was known as Emperor Hirohito) (1901-1989). His favorite television program: the Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves.



American television programs were imported to Japan where they were dubbed into Japanese. These were referred to as "TV movies" due to their high production values. Besides Adventures of Superman, other American TV shows included I Love Lucy, Route 66 and Combat.

Click on photo to see full image.

Adventures of Superman was the most popular American television show and it was followed in popularity by I Love Lucy in Japan. The Emperor was such a fan of Adventures of Superman that he sent actor George Reeves a fan letter in 1958. Reeves's voice was dubbed by Toru Ohira (see Oakland Tribune article, above).

Before his death on June 16, 1959, Reeves contemplated making a tour of Japan, noting his popularity there. Too bad he didn't get the chance to go, I'm sure that had Reeves gone to Japan, he might have been invited to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to meet his number one fan there.

Scottish Castle Ghost Photo Puzzles Experts



A tourist took a photo (above) at a Scottish castle that appears to include a figure in 15th Century period dress peering out an upper floor barred window, the Sun in the United Kingdom reports.

Experts who have examined the photo state that it was not photoshopped and not a mannequin.

From the Sun:

The scary shot was unearthed during the biggest ever investigation into photographic evidence of ghosts.

Tantallon Castle, a ruined fortress dating back to the 14th century, stands on a remote rocky headland near North Berwick on the East coast of Scotland. It was badly damaged in an attack by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1651.

Christopher Aitchison, who took the photo, said: “I was not aware of anyone, or anything, being present in my picture."


The photo was taken last May.

The public was invited to submit their photos for the experts to analyze and the best ones were posted at www.scienceofhauntings.com.

To read the Sun's full article, go here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

U.N. Makes It Official: Global Warming Is B.S.



Aha! Just what many of us suspected. The plan behind the "global warming" fraud is just a scheme involving redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, tariffs, job losses and other delightful goodies to be administered by the United Nations.

Newsbusters.org's Noel Sheppard writes:

For years, climate realists around the world have been warning the international community that the entire man-made global warming myth and resulting hysteria is all a scheme to redistribute wealth under the pretense of saving the planet.

In a document obtained by FOX News, the United Nations has made it official.


FOX News executive editor George Russell reported Friday:

A United Nations document on “climate change” that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations “information note” on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009.

The 16-page note, obtained by FOX News, will be distributed to participants at a mammoth negotiating session that starts on March 29 in Bonn, Germany, the first of three sessions intended to hammer out the actual commitments involved in the new deal.


To read the full United Nations document outlining their plan of dealing with "global warming," go here.

To read the full FoxNews.com article, go here.

Thank God that more people are already catching on to this fraudulent conspiracy. This just gives the skeptics more ammunition to fight these plans.

Kaiju and Classic Films To Be Streamed To Televisions

Above, "Rodan" is one Japanese classic to be offered in new streaming service.

It has been announced that five Japanese movie companies have started "Maru Maru Eiga," a service to deliver Japanese classic films through Actvila Corp's "acTVila Video" video delivery service for TVs on March 26, 2009.

The films are also delivered through "acTVila Video Full," which supports HDTV video.

The five companies are are Kadokawa Pictures, Inc., Shochiku Co., Ltd., Toei Co., Ltd., Toho Co., Ltd. and Nikkatsu Corp. Each will select classic and hit films from their libraries of 12,000 movies and deliver six of them each month. The selected films will be available for purchase for six months.

The price (which includes tax) is ¥630 (approx US$6.45) for an HDTV film and ¥420 for an SDTV film. Prices are subject to change.

The movies to be made available in April 2009 include "The Inugami Family," "Yogoreta Eiyu (Dirty Hero)," "Casshern," "Battle Royale," "Daigaku no Wakadaisho (Bull of the Campus)" and "Eagle and Hawk."

In May, "Gamera," "Giant Space Monster Girara," "The Yakuza Wives," "Message from Space," "Giant Sky Monster Radon" and "Gappa, the Triphibian Monster" will be available.

Viewers will not be able to copy the movies to DVD or other media.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Godzilla Article At Japan Focus



I came across an article at Japan Focus on Godzilla by Yuki Tanaka, a research professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute. It is called, Godzilla and the Bravo Shot: Who Created and Killed the Monster? It was posted March 20.*

In his article, Tanaka describes the origins of the Godzilla character and his connections to the hydrogen bomb.

He also discusses the making of the Japanese original, the Americanization (with Raymond Burr) and the 1998 American production.

Some of Tanaka's points I have to take issue with. There are two glaring ones that immediately pop right out.

The first, Tanaka wrote:

Unlike The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, the original film Godzilla does not demonstrate the victory of science over nature.


Apparently, Tanaka must've stepped away from the screen whenever scenes of the oxygen destroyer (invented by Dr. Serizawa) from the 1954 Godzilla were shown. Obviously, the invention of the oxygen destroyer and its use against Godzilla was a victory of science over nature (or, rather, a gigantic mutated bit of nature).

The other glaring item was this reference to the 1998 American Godzilla:

Unlike the Japanese Godzilla, the American Godzilla is simply a giant dinosaur that eats huge quantities of fish and lays many eggs while its babies attack and cannibalize human beings.


A giant dinosaur? This is funny as Tanaka leads the paragraph just previous to the above with:

The second American Godzilla film, simply entitled Godzilla and produced in 1998, is the story of an iguana that was irradiated by a French nuclear test at Muraroa Atoll and somehow appears in New York as Godzilla.


Which is it? A "giant dinosaur" or an "iguana"?

There are many more statements in the Tanaka article that fans "in the know" would take issue with. I invite them to comment here once they read the full article. I detected no comment feature at the article.

To read Tanaka's full article, go here.

*This is a 1995 article, but reposted March 20 per Google.

Philip Kim Wins 'Famous Monsters' Injunction

Above, a vintage issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

David Colton at the Classic Horror Film Board is reporting today that Philip Kim has won a federal injunction against Ray Ferry and Connie Bean over the Famous Monsters of Filmland trademark.

Colton reported:

In a major turning point in the seven-year legal struggle over ownership of Famous Monsters, a federal court Wednesday issued a strongly-worded injunction against Ray Ferry and Connie Bean, ordering them to end all use of the "Famous Monsters" trademark and to stop operating their websites.

Granting a request from Philip Kim, a producer who purchased the Famous Monsters trademark for $25,000 at a bankruptcy sale in 2007, Judge Gary Allen Feess of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, concluded:

"Defendants are hereby ENJOINED from operating the famousmonsters.com, famousmonsters.biz, and filmlandclassics.com websites, and from marketing, selling, or offering to sell any goods or services that contain, or are confusingly similar to, the 'Famous Monsters of Filmland' trademark, or any derivatives thereof, including 'Famous Monsters,' until the present litigation has been fully resolved.

"Defendants failure to comply with this Order may be grounds for contempt sanctions, including possible imprisonment. In addition, Defendants are cautioned that they are not to impose upon this Court any further baseless or frivolous arguments that are directly contradicted or undermined by the evidence in the record, including those that the Court has expressly rejected in this Order.''


This Famous Monsters battle has been an ongoing and sad state of affairs ever since Ferry revived Famous Monsters magazine that later led to a falling out with former Famous Monsters editor, the late Forrest J. Ackerman over tradmark issues. Ackerman won his trademark lawsuits.

Will this prevent future issues of Famous Monsters from seeing print? Right now the matter is in a state of flux. Ray Ferry and Connie Bean don't plan to roll over without a fight.

I checked the Filmland Classics message board and found no comments from either Ray Ferry or Connie Bean. However, Colton quotes Connie Bean as saying:

"Right now we have no comment until we read it. Also, I caution you all to realize that we will have our day in court. We don't have to react to anything until we are served with it, so that is what we will do. I am assuming according to what I do know, that we move ahead with Shock and Freaky and go from there."

Apparently, neither Ferry or Bean have been served with the injunction at this writing.

It appears that this litigation will ultimately lead to a final resolution of the whole Famous Monsters trademark issue. The federal court seems to think that Kim has a strong case and will prevail.

To read the CHFB forum thread, go here.

Japan Prepares To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

Above, you can see the proximity of North Korea and Japan. This is from prior North Korean missile launch stories.

Japan is preparing to shoot down the North Korean missile should it or its debris imperil Japanese territory:

From Washington Post.com:

TOKYO, March 27 -- Japan ordered its military on Friday to destroy a North Korean missile or its debris, if the launch fails and falling pieces of the rocket seem to imperil Japanese territory.

Japan ordered two destroyers equipped with American-built Aegis anti-missile systems into the Sea of Japan, and said it would soon move Patriot land-to-air missiles to the country's northern coast, over which the North Korean rocket is likely to fly.

The orders punctuated a week of rising tensions in Northeast Asia, as North Korea moved its rocket to a launchpad and warned the outside world not to interfere or impose sanctions for its planned launch of what it describes as a "communications satellite." The launch is scheduled for sometime between April 4 and 8.


This is going to get interesting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

California Leftist Loons And Black Cars



The California leftist lunatics are at it again. Now they want to ban cars with black paint jobs! No kidding, this is not an early April Fool's joke!

This idea is coming from a so-called “cool paints” initiative from the California Air Resources Board. CARB wants to mandate the phase-in of heat-reflecting paints on vehicle exteriors beginning with the ’12 model year, with all colors meeting a 20% reflectivity requirement by the ’16 model year.

The theory is that black paint jobs absorb more heat than cars painted in lighter colors, thereby causing more people to use air conditioning and reducing fuel efficiency. Blah, blah, blah.

Don't you just feel secure that your friendly "nanny government" is looking out for you?

So if you want a car with a black paint job, you'd better get it while you can!

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Must Go!



Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Must Go!

by Armand Vaquer

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner must go. He has inspired no confidence (except, maybe, with Barack Obama) with the American people.

Before he became treasury secretary, Geithner was exposed as a tax cheat, a charge that prevented others from taking positions in the Obama Administration. They at least took the honorable route and withdrew their nominations.

In the words of Rep. Connie Mack, R-FL, "Well before Timothy Geithner became Secretary of the Treasury, he was working hand-in-hand with AIG and other financial institutions to provide them hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money as one of the key architects of the financial sector bailout. I was outspoken against the bailouts then, and I’m even more outraged now."

Geithner lied about when he knew of the AIG bonuses. He was well aware of them at least by March 3 and authorized them. He claimed he found about them later.

The Treasury Dept. is a mess. He cannot even get assistant treasury officials appointed.

Thanks to Geithner, tax dollars are being wasted. Geithner was also a major architect of the stimulus plan that has saddled our country with debt that will be near-impossible to pay off.

Some have wondered if Geithner is either a bad liar or just an incompetent. In my view, he's both.

Now he's seeking even broader powers over other financial insitutions.

Geithner must go!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brit PM Gordon Brown Skewered By Daniel Hannan


Above, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was raked over the coals by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan during Brown's visit to the European Parliament yesterday. What Hannan told Brown could easily apply to President Barack Obama as Obama's economic policies echo Brown's.

Above, MEP Daniel Hannan.

Here's what Hannan told Brown:

Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of the European politician, namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that. Who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British jobs for British workers’ and that you have subsidised, where you have not nationalised outright, swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks? Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words? Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country?

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child. Now, once again today you try to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls. But not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging; in other words – to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line under the accumulated weight of your debt We are now running a deficit that touches 10% of GDP, an almost unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary; countries where the IMF have already been called in. Now, it’s not that you’re not apologising; like everyone else I have long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you’re carrying on, wilfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year - in the last twelve months – a hundred thousand private sector jobs have been lost and yet you created thirty thousand public sector jobs.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on for ever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re ‘well-placed to weather the storm’, I have to tell you that you sound like a Brezhnev-era apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense! Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times. The IMF has said so; the European Commission has said so; the markets have said so – which is why our currency has devalued by thirty percent. And soon the voters too will get their chance to say so. They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government.


It is too bad that no Republican has the guts to tell President Obama the same thing to his face.

Newsweek Sports "Frankenstein" Cover



Source: Newscom.com

The current issue of Newsweek magazine (cover date March 30, 2009) features a photo from the 1931 Frankenstein showing the angry villagers with torches, dogs and weapons. The photo was used to promote the story "The Thinking Man's Guide To Populist Rage."

The cover shows Colin Clive (Henry Frankenstein) and Lionel Belmore, (the Burgomaster) leading the villagers in their search for the Frankenstein Monster.

UPDATE: A friend noted that Newsweek had to have obtained the photo from Getty Images and sent this along (note actor Michael Mark, who played the drowned Maria's father, at left):

Japan In Summer: You can weather it!

Above, summer means heat and humidiy in Tokyo, but you can find relief in air conditioning. Shinjuku from Tokyo Tower.

Japan In Summer: You can weather it!

Text and photos by Armand Vaquer

Some potential Japan travelers are reluctant about going there during the summer months as Japan can get hot and very humid. If you're from a mild climate, I can understand the reluctance. But it really isn't all that bad, provided you prepare for it.

Back in August 2004, J. D. Lees of G-FAN magazine led 60 Godzilla fans to Japan on a 10-day tour. It was hot and humid, but we handled it. We also knew ahead of time what to expect and planned accordingly.

For one thing, we packed light clothing. Most of us just wore t-shirts and shorts. I especially recommend cargo shorts with lots of pockets.

Above, the pagoda at Kyoto's Kiyomizu Temple. Kyoto is generally hotter as it is in a more southern latitude than Tokyo.

Second, we also drank a lot of water. Japan is a first-world country and their tap water is quite drinkable. You won't get any kind of "Montezuma's Revenge" drinking Japan's tap water. It was just as good as the tap water in the United States. However, if you'd rather have bottled water, you can find it everywhere in Japan. There are Lawson's, 7-11 and AM-PM mini markets everywhere. There are vending machines all over Japan where one can buy a variety of bottled waters.

Summer can also mean rain. Normally, I would recommend bringing an umbrella, but in Japan, one can buy one at a low price (around 500 yen or less) pretty much anywhere. It's just one less thing you'll need to pack.

Most public buildings such as museums, restaurants, shopping malls and stores are air conditioned. So it is easy to get relief.

After your day's explorations, you can settle down for a traditional Japanese bath at an onsen, public bath facility or at your hotel (below) or ryokan (Japanese inn). That'll help to cool you off!



So don't be afraid to visit Japan in the summer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Announced

The winners of the 2008 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards have been announced in a press release:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ARLINGTON, VA -- Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, TV's The Munsters and Ray Harryhausen's
7th Voyage of Sinbad were all winners Monday in the Seventh Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Announced which also honored the man who cared for sci-fi legend Forrest J Ackerman in the final years of his life.

But the biggest surprise came when a special "Hitchcock" edition of Barbie, dressed like Tippi Hedren and swarmed by miniature crows from The Birds, topped the Creature from the Black Lagoon in a showdown for Best Model, Toy or Collectible.

Not only did the 50-year-old doll from Mattel beat out the green-scaled Creature, but she outclassed models from The Exorcist, Invasion of the Saucermen and even an action figure of Rondo Hatton himself, the obscure 1940s horror actor who inspired the fan awards.

The Rondos are an annual celebration of the vintage monsters who sparked almost a century of horror films and sequels. The worldwide online survey by the Classic Horror Film Board, a 14-year old online community, is the largest in the genre and drew a record 2,932 emailed votes.

Beyond Barbie's latest triumph, winners ranged from the modern -- The Dark Knight was
voted best film of 2008, and Doctor Who favorite television show -- to classic horrors from the past:

-- A new edition of the 1960 film, Psycho, was voted Best Classic Horror DVD.
-- A collection of Harryhausen's 1950s science fiction films, including a colorized Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, was named Best DVD Collection, and the collected episodes of The Munsters was the favorite TV collection.
-- Criterion's painstaking reconstruction of Carl Dreyer's atmospheric 1932 chiller, Vampyr, was voted Best Restoration.

The most emotional moments came when it was announced in an online ceremony that a Los Angeles
producer, Joe Moe, had been named "Monster Kid of the Year,'' for his long years serving as a friend. adviser and caregiver for horror and science fiction collector Ackerman. The founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, Ackerman died this year at the age of 92.

"For his quiet, constant and unwavering stewardship of Forrest J Ackerman's final decade of life,'' the
Rondo citation reads, "Joe Moe revealed not only the man behind Mr. Monster, but the grace and
strength of the ultimate fan. For being there when we all couldn't, Joe Moe is Monster Kid of the Year.''

Moe, contacted by phone during the event, said, "If ever there was a time when I needed my monster
family, it's now. Thank you so much for validating the work I tried to do in a fashion that would make
all of you proud. I tried not to cry for Forry but now that he's gone, this honor from you, my pals, has me
in tears. Thank you so much."

Other winners included:

-- Best DVD Extra: "One for the Fire,'' a documentary about the making of Night of the Living Dead.
-- Best DVD Commentary: Makeup master Rick Baker, Bob Burns, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman and Brent Armstrong for The Mummy (1932).
-- Best Documentary: Spine-Tingler: The William Castle Story.
-- Book of the Year: The Twilight Zone by Martin Grams.
-- Best Magazine: Rue Morgue.
-- Best Article: "Coffin Joe Resurrected,'' a look at the legendary Brazilian filmmaker Jose Mojica Marins, by Scott Gabbey and Jovanka Vuckovic in Rue Morgue.
-- Best Magazine Cover: Rue Morgue #83, a portrait of Ackerman by longtime Famous Monsters artist
Basil Gogos.
-- Best Website: Trailers from Hell.
-- Best Blog: Video Watchblog.

-- Convention of the Year: Wonderfest in Louisville.
-- Fan Event of the Year: World Zombie Day.
-- Favorite Horror Host: Svengoolie, played by Rich Koz, in Chicago.
-- Best Horror Audio Site: Rue Morgue Radio.
-- CD of the Year: Soundtrack of The Blob by Monstrous Movie Music.
-- Best Horror Comic Book: Hellboy: In the Chapel of Moloch, by Mike Mignola.
-- Biggest controversy: An L.A. fan's disputed claim he had once examined the long-lost Lon Chaney
film, London After Midnight.

-- Writer of the Year: Tim Lucas, author and editor of Video Watchdog
-- Artist of the Year: Basil Gogos.
-- Favorite DVD Reviewer: Glenn Erickson of DVD Savant.
-- Vasaria Public Citizen Award: Cameron McCasland and Chiller Cinema for public service announcements by Nashville's Dr. Gangrene and Nurse Moan-Eek.

-- Monster Kid Hall of Fame inductees: European horror actor Paul Naschy, Jim and Marian Clatterbaugh of Monsters from the Vault magazine, painter Ken Kelly, the late Calvin Beck, founder of Castle of Frankenstein magazine, the late Lux Interior, lead singer for punk band The Cramps and an influence on the psychobilly horror rock movement, and the late Bob Wilkins, original host of San Francisco's Creature Features.

Many of the Rondo winners will receive Rondo busts, sculpted by Kerry Gammill and cast by Tim Lindsey, at the Wonderfest convention in Louisville on May 16.


G-FEST XV didn't win, but was an "honorable mention" (meaning, it "scored well") in a couple of categories:

BEST CONVENTION:
WONDERFEST (Home of the Rondos!)

Runner-up: Monster Bash

Honorable mentions: Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear; Chiller; G-Fest


BEST FAN EVENT:
WORLD ZOMBIE DAY

Runners-up: Dr. Gangrene's Chiller Theatre Live at WonderFest; Blob panic re-enactment at Blobfest

Honorable mentions: Addams Family Meets the Munsters at Monster Bash; Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima receives 'Mangled Syscraper' award at G-Fest.


Nearly 3,000 voters cast their Rondo ballots.

Obama Seeks More Power To Seize Firms



Here's something that would make Mussolini proud, the Obama Administration is seeking expanded power to seize other businesses.

The Washington Post reported today:

The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.

The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.

Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president's Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.

The administration plans to send legislation to Capitol Hill this week. Sources cautioned that the details, including the Treasury's role, are still in flux.


This is socialism, pure and simple. The government would then dictate a company's policy once it takes control of it. Some firms are already regretting accepting TARP funds as they are being dictated to by the Obama Administration. The Adminstration is couching it in terms that a move such as this would prevent further damage to the economy. Another example of soft tyranny.

If the Obamatrons get this power, they will stop at nothing in seeking to seize further power.

What's next? Martial law?

To read the full article, go here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Plane Crash At Narita



TOKYO (AFP) — A FedEx cargo plane en route from China crashed in high winds and exploded in a ball of flames Monday at Tokyo's Narita airport, killing both pilots, according to hospital officials.

The pair, said to be US citizens, were reportedly the only two people aboard the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, which was flying in from Guangzhou in southern China.

Television footage showed the three-engine wide-body airplane tip sideways shortly after touch-down in strong winds and then, as one of its wings clipped the ground at high speed, burst into a fireball.

"We confirm the deaths of the two pilots," Katsuji Komiyama, an official at Narita Red Cross hospital told AFP.

Fire engines and scores of fire-fighters in silver suits rushed to the crash site and doused the fire with foam as the gutted aircraft lay upside down billowing black smoke.

The crash, which happened at about 6:50 am (2150 GMT Sunday), closed down one of Narita's two runways, airport officials said.

The two pilots were reported to be US citizens by public broadcaster NHK.


This story caught my attention (you should check out the video of the crash) as I have flown into Narita six times over the past decade. It is interesting that they had such high winds, which are blamed for the crash.

New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport) opened in 1978, taking over almost all international service in the Greater Tokyo Area, and Haneda became a domestic airport. Recently, Haneda has been providing international service during the hours Narita International is closed.

The MD-11 is not a tiny plane. It is a cargo jet based on the DC-10 airframe. The DC-10, along with Boeing's 747 and Lockheed's L1011, were the first jumbo jets put into service in the early 1970s.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Dominator Shipwreck



On March 13, 1961, the Dominator, a freighter laden with a cargo of wheat and beef was on a voyage from Vancouver, B.C. to Los Angeles when it got too close to the rocks of Rocky Point on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County and ran aground. The crew thought their position was further south from where they were and thought they were headed into Los Angeles Harbor. Instead, they hit Rocky Point.

The Dominator was built in 1944 by Walsh Kaiser Company of Providence, Rhode Island.

Several salvage companies jockeyed (some violently) for the salvage rights to the ship's cargo. Within days of running aground, the Dominator began to be beaten to pieces by the relentless sea.

In the early 1960s, my family would go fishing with my grandfather on his boat. Sometimes, we'd head out from Redondo Beach and skirt near Rocky Point and get excellent views of the remains of the Dominator. Unfortunately, we didn't have any cameras with us to take photos of the shipwreck.

For years, on clear days one could see the silhouette of the hulk of the ship at the tip of Rocky Point from the Redondo Beach Pier.

Today, scant pieces of the Dominator are visible on the rocks of Rocky Point. Much of it is underwater, some of which is recognizable.

Below is an article from the South Bay Daily Breeze about the salvage efforts.



For more information, and see an excellent website about the ship, including photos and video of the Dominator, go here.

4,000 At Orlando "Tea Party"



About 4,000 people showed up for a "tea party" protest rally in Orlando, Florida yesterday.

The protestors are protesting the spending policies of the Obama Administration and the Democrat Congress.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

"We're really scared about what's happening in our country," said Debby Whisenand, 71, of Largo in Pinellas County. She waved a sign that read "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money" on one side, and "You can't blame Bush anymore" on the other.

"The goal was to get people united, to let people know that they aren't alone in their feelings on despair," Feroli said. "We want to speak out against the push toward socialization that we feel is taking place in our country."


For the full story, go here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kelsey Smith Act Passes Kansas Senate Committee

Right, Kelsey Smith. Her phone's pings led searchers to her.

The Kansas Senate Utilities Committee has recommended that the Senate pass Substitute for House 2126, known as the Kelsey Smith Act last Friday.

The bill, introduced by Representative Rob Olson (R), would require wireless telecommunications companies to release location information to law enforcement of a missing person’s cell phone in a timely manner in emergency situations.

Cell phones transmit signals, known as “pings”, whenever they are in use, while receiving or sending a call or message. The “ping” is received by the nearest cell phone tower of the phone's service provider. This allows investigators to pinpoint the general location of that cell phone.

The bill was prompted by Verizon's (Kelsey Smith's cell phone provider) foot-dragging in providing the "ping" data to law enforcement during their search for Kelsey. Greg and Missey Smith, Kelsey's parents, testified in hearings in the Kansas House and Senate.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation will be required to collect contact information for all wireless telecommunications companies authorized to do business in Kansas and then share that contact information with law enforcement agencies and 911 call centers. This requirement was an amendment added to the bill last week.

The bill now goes to full Kansas Senate for a vote. If passed, the bill will go to the governor for signature.

As Kelsey was found in neighboring Missouri, a similar law should be passed there as well.

UPDATE (3/24/09) from the Kelsey Smith Foundation:

The Kelsey Smith Act passed the Kansas Senate today by a vote of 40-0. The bill will now go to a joint conference committee to work out differences between the House version of the bill and the Senate version of the bill.

Once it clears the committee it will be voted on again by the House and Senate. The bill will then go to the governor for signature.

Science-Fiction & Horror Magazine Directory Started

If you scroll down this blog's page, you will note on the right that a new directory of science-fiction and horror magazine URLs has been posted. This is a handy one-stop location for those interested in perusing a listed magazine's website.

Sci-fi and horror magazines have been suffering lately due to the economy. This is one way to help promote and keep them alive.

Special thanks to Kerry Gammill at Classic Horror Film Board for the inspiration. Please support these magazines, particularly the small-press magazines.

Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Voting Ends Tonight


The Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards voting ends tonight at midnight (wherever you are).

Here's some recommendations:

11. Best Magazine of 2008

-- G-FAN

13. Best Magazine Cover

--G-FAN #85

15. Best Horror Blog

--The Good, The Bad and Godzilla (August Ragone's G-Blog)

16. Best Convention of 2008

--G-FEST XV (Chicago)

17. Best Fan Event

-- Godzilla-suit actor Haruo Nakajima receives 'Mangled Skyscraper Award' at G-FEST XV.

Don't be left out, make sure you cast your vote by midnight tonight! To access the ballot, go here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Krauthammer: Bonfire of the Trivialities

Charles Krauthammer, as usual, puts the current mess involving AIG, Obama and Congress into proper perspective:

That's $165 million in bonus money handed out to AIG debt manipulators who may be the only ones who know how to defuse the bomb they themselves built. Now, in the scheme of things, $165 million is a rounding error. It amounts to less than 1/18,500 of the $3.1 trillion federal budget. It's less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the bailout money given to AIG alone. If Bill Gates were to pay these AIG bonuses every year for the next 100 years, he'd still be left with more than half his personal fortune.

For this we are going to poison the well for any further financial rescues, face the prospect of letting AIG go under (which would make the Lehman Brothers collapse look trivial) and risk a run on the entire world financial system?

And there is such a thing as law. The way to break a contract legally is Chapter 11. Short of that, a contract is a contract. The AIG bonuses were agreed to before the government takeover and are perfectly legal. Is the rule now that when public anger is kindled, Congress will summarily cancel contracts?

Even worse are the clever schemes being cooked up in Congress to retrieve the money by means of some retroactive confiscatory tax. The common law is pretty clear about the impermissibility of ex post facto legislation and bills of attainder. They also happen to be specifically prohibited by the Constitution. We're going to overturn that for $165 million?


To read the full article, go here.

Democrat Liars: Known of AIG Bonuses Since March 3!



The Democrats have been whipping the country up in an frenzy over the AIG retention bonuses paid out last Friday. They claimed that they "didn't know" of them until recently.

Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com dug up video from C-Span showing evidence to the contrary. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) specifically mentions the upcoming payouts of over $162 million in bonuses to AIG execs and blames the Bush Administration for a lack of oversight on March 3.

In the C-Span March 3 video, Rep. Crowley said this:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to the committee, Mr. Geithner, and thank you for your responses so far. It never ceases to amaze me the level of apparent amnesia some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have had about how we got to this problem in the first place, and I thank you for answering Mr. Heller’s question in particular. By the line of questioning, you’re almost led to believe that because of a last month and a few days of a presidency we had the problem we have today, and thank you for setting the record straight. This didn’t happen overnight. This took eight years in the making of stagnant, at best, growth.

But yesterday, Mr. Secretary, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve announced a new fourth plan to rescue troubled financial services giant AIG. I do agree that AIG’s sustainability is the lynchpin for some of our recovery efforts, and it’s important for the federal government to work to keep it afloat. However, I must demand that AIG increase the accountability and transparency, something that was not done during the previous administration.

For example, just last month, AIG paid 343 employees of AIG FP — their Financial Products division that created the financial hole that AIG is in, and in turn a multibillion-dollar bill for American taxpayers — $56 million in bonuses and are slated to pay an additional $162 million in bonuses to 393 participants in the coming weeks. And there’s more. Further bonus payments totaling approximately 230 million (dollars) are due to 407 participants at AIG’s Financial Products division in March 2010. This makes no sense to my constituency.


To see the full article and video, go here.

What a bunch of liars! It is obvious that the Democrats had to know of these bonuses before March 3 for Crowley to utter his statement in the first place!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

POTUS (OR TOTUS) In Los Angeles



POTUS (OR TOTUS) In Los Angeles

President Obama was in downtown Los Angeles today for his town hall meeting at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center on Lucas Ave. at Third Street.

I was working at the time and had to get to East Los Angeles from mid-Wilshire. I got into downtown from 6th Street and found Figueroa Street to be completely congested due to Obama's security precautions. I slowly made my way up Figueroa to the Harbor Freeway on-ramp near 5th Street and got on the freeway. It was much better than Figueroa Street, although it was also crowded with traffic.

Looking down from the freeway towards Figueroa St. (where the Bonaventure Hotel is), I noticed that the police had Figueroa St. and the 2nd Street tunnel blocked.

Since we had a number of units on the road (doing security field supervisory work), I notified the commander of the traffic situation so he could warn the others away from downtown.

Soon, text messages were going out: "Stay away from downtown in the Bonaventure/Figueroa St. area. POTUS is in town" and "Keep away from Figueroa near the Bonaventure. TOTUS is here!"

What's POTUS, you may ask? It stands for President of the United States. What's TOTUS? It stands for Telepromptor of the United States. Easy, eh?

Later, Obama made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Talk about frivolity!

Gun & Ammo Shortage Since Obama's Election



Gun & Ammo Shortage Since Obama's Election

by Armand Vaquer

Gun owners are finding that there's a shortage of guns and ammunition at their local gun shops since President Obama's election last November.

This article from the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat is typical of what gun owners are finding:

Ammunition for firearms including pistols and rifles is exploding off store shelves in Sonoma County, where gun shop owners said they can’t keep bullets in stock.

The problem with ammunition is that “there isn’t any,” said Guy Markell, of Markell Inc., a Santa Rosa-area gunshop.

His ammunition stock is down 50 percent and his orders for more are not being filled by manufacturers. It’s hurting business and driving away customers, Markell said.

“When they see that there’s nothing, they walk out,” he said.

Various explanations have been given for the shortage, from rising material costs, increased demand due to military uses, and people stocking up as federal legislative proposals requiring ammunition to be engraved with a serial number move forward.

“Folks have been experiencing shortages all over the country,” said Rachel Parsons, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association. “Since the election there has been a great increase in firearms sales as well. Background checks are up, enrollment in training and safety classes is up, concealed weapons permits are up, gun sales are up. And ammo manufacturers can’t keep up with demand.”


Also, shortages are being blamed on increased police department demands for ammo. Police departments have priority for ammunition sales.

Gun owners became worried that a Democrat-led congress and Democrat president have the intent to change gun laws or in taxing ammunition. This led to a run on gun shops for guns and ammo.

The shortage is most acute on the more popular calibers such as .38 Special, .357 Magnum and 9mm.

It is going to take some months for gun and ammo manufacturers to catch up to meet the rising demand.

KGB Putin Spies On Reagan



It is no secret that Vladimir Putin was a KGB spy and official, but Sky News has unearthed a 20-year-old photo of President Ronald Reagan in Moscow's Red Square with Putin standing nearby disguised as a tourist.

Sky News wrote:

The 20-year old photo depicts two world leaders - US President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev - in Moscow.

But, according to the man who took the photo, it also captures Mr Putin disguised as a tourist.

Pete Souza, now President Obama's official photographer, captured the moment when he worked for President Reagan during the political thaw that soon ended the Cold War.

Mr Reagan took a stroll around Red Square accompanied by the Russian leader, who then introduced him to a group of tourists.


To see the full article, go here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama May Be Disarming Pilots



Reports are circulating that the Obama Administration is making moves to disarm airline pilots.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a federal program allowing airline pilots to carry firearms as a last line of defense against a hijackiing has been in place.

According to the Washington Times editorial of March 17:

After the September 11 attacks, commercial airline pilots were allowed to carry guns if they completed a federal-safety program. No longer would unarmed pilots be defenseless as remorseless hijackers seized control of aircraft and rammed them into buildings.

Now President Obama is quietly ending the federal firearms program, risking public safety on airlines in the name of an anti-gun ideology.

The Obama administration this past week diverted some $2 million from the pilot training program to hire more supervisory staff, who will engage in field inspections of pilots.

This looks like completely unnecessary harassment of the pilots. The 12,000 Federal Flight Deck Officers, the pilots who have been approved to carry guns, are reported to have the best behavior of any federal law enforcement agency. There are no cases where any of them has improperly brandished or used a gun. There are just a few cases where officers have improperly used their IDs.


This is just another instance in which the Obama Administration is displaying its September 10th (2001) mentality. Is this going to make air travel any safer for Americans? It seems that Obama is asking for trouble.

What's next? Removing TSA weapons screeners from the nation's airport terminals? The idiocy of this administration never ceases to amaze.

bin Laden is probably breaking out the champagne bottles now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sid Blumner Dutch Oven Cook-off (or How An ECV War Almost Started)

Above, the photo that almost started a Clamper war. (Click on photo to view larger.)

Nineteen years ago, a group of us at the Billy Holcomb Spring Clamp-out in Holcomb Valley near Big Bear, California perpetuated a little joke on a clamper friend of ours, Sid Blumner.

I had made a Dutch oven peach cobbler and Glenn Thornhill had the idea to take a photo of the Dutch oven with Gary Julian and me and send it to the then-clamper state newspaper, The Clamper saying we won the first annual "Sid Blumner Dutch Oven Cook-off." There was no Dutch oven cook-off and no such prize.

XNGH Thornhill recalls, "The 1.5 guys saw the photo and article and got pissed off at Sid! Seems they were originally going to call themselves the Vituscan Missionaries, until Billy Holcomb beat them to it. Then when they saw this article they assumed it was true and got pissed off, thinking Holcomb has again stole their thunder with the Dutch oven cook-off since they were planning that as a major Friday night happening at their 1.5 Clampouts."

Yes, I remember the reaction by the De La Guerra Y Pacheco chapter guys. I guess they couldn't take a joke. It is ironic that they belong to a fraternal organization whose specialty are practical jokes! At least they laughed later when they found out they were had.

It is even funnier since the perpetrators were from Platrix Chapter No. 2.

Obama Wants Private Insurance To Pay For Vet War Injuries

Above, Obama showing his phoney concern.

President Obama has angered veterans over his plan to make veterans use their private insurance policies to pay for treatment of service-related injuries.

From USA.com:

-- McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- Veterans object to administration's insurance plan: "The Obama administration is considering making veterans use private insurance to pay for treatment of combat and service-related injuries. The plan would be an about-face on what veterans believe is a longstanding pledge by the government to pay for health care costs that result from their military service. But in a White House meeting Monday, veterans groups apparently failed to persuade President Barack Obama to take the plan off the table. ... 'It became apparent during our discussion today that the president intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,' said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. 'He says he is looking to generate $540 million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.'"


Nobody should be surprised by this. It shows again how anti-military and anti-veteran the Democrat Party is. They are also hypocrites. Do you recall the outrage by the Democrats that Bush not funding veterans care adequately? Do you recall the Walter Reed Army Hospital scandal?

"It's a betrayal..." from the Buffalo News.

The Misdirected AIG Outrage



The Misdirected AIG Outrage

It is amusing to watch politicians in Washington beat their breasts in outrage over the retention bonuses paid at insurance giant AIG. These bonuses were exempted in the spendulous/stimulous/porkulous bill by Sen. Christopher Dodd. Now he's joined the chorus of "outrage" over the bonuses. They've known for months that these were in the works. This is just a deflection from the failures of the Obama Administration.

The Wall Street Journal notes that the outrage over AIG is misdirected and that the real outrage should be over what AIG did do with the bailout money they received.

The WSJ.com website editorialized today:

President Obama joined yesterday in the clamor of outrage at AIG for paying some $165 million in contractually obligated employee bonuses. He and the rest of the political class thus neatly deflected attention from the larger outrage, which is the five-month Beltway cover-up over who benefited most from the AIG bailout.

Taxpayers have already put up $173 billion, or more than a thousand times the amount of those bonuses, to fund the government's AIG "rescue." This federal takeover, never approved by AIG shareholders, uses the firm as a conduit to bail out other institutions. After months of government stonewalling, on Sunday night AIG officially acknowledged where most of the taxpayer funds have been going.

Since September 16, AIG has sent $120 billion in cash, collateral and other payouts to banks, municipal governments and other derivative counterparties around the world. This includes at least $20 billion to European banks. The list also includes American charity cases like Goldman Sachs, which received at least $13 billion. This comes after months of claims by Goldman that all of its AIG bets were adequately hedged and that it needed no "bailout." Why take $13 billion then? This needless cover-up is one reason Americans are getting angrier as they wonder if Washington is lying to them about these bailouts.


This is what people and politicians should be outraged about, not over some piddly bonuses.

To read the full WSJ editorial, go here.

Before they received their bailout, AIG was heavily into giving campaign contributions to our favorite politicians. Sen. Christopher Dodd was the top recipient:

Dodd, Chris (D-Conn): $280,238

To see the list of politicians and what they received from AIG, go here.

UPDATE:
Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Monday night floated the idea of taxing American International Group (AIG) bonus recipients so the government could recoup some or all of the $450 million the company is paying to employees in its financial products unit. Within hours, the idea spread to both houses of Congress, with lawmakers proposing an AIG bonus tax.

The move represents somewhat of an about-face for the Senator.

While the Senate was constructing the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009” -- which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are now seeking to tax.


To read the full article, go here.

UPDATE (3/18/09): Senator Christopher Dodd finally admitted he was instrumental in allowing the AIG bonuses.

From the Stamford (CT) Advocate:

U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd for the first time Wednesday acknowledged he was instrumental in creating legislation that cleared the way for disgraced executives at taxpayer-rescued AIG to walk away with more than $100 million in bonuses.

And the Connecticut Democrat had to explain the receipt of more than $100,000 in campaign donations in the last presidential cycle from AIG workers, vowing to return any tainted contributions from company executives.

But the campaign contributions issue will be dwarfed by whether Dodd eased the way for huge executive bonuses at AIG. In an interview Wednesday afternoon, the senator said he had hoped that an amendment he had drafted to limit executive pay under last year's Targeted Asset Relief Program would have ruled out hefty bonuses.

"I thought we covered that," Dodd said of the bonus issue. His amendment had passed the Senate but was later relaxed by the conference panel that works out differences between versions of legislation passed in the two chambers of Congress.

But later Wednesday, Dodd told CNN that he had agreed to change his amendment -- at the request of the Obama administration -- to ensure that previously enacted bonus contracts would be honored despite billions of dollars awarded to bailout beneficiaries.

"The alternative was losing the amendment entirely," he told the network. Administration officials feared that without the language the bailout measure would be deluged with lawsuits, Dodd said.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Story Behind The Hachiko Statue



The Story Behind The Hachiko Statue

There is a statue near the Shibuya, Tokyo train station dedicated to an Akita dog named Hachiko. Why a statue honoring a dog? Well, the story goes like this:

Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo brought Hachiko to Tokyo in 1924. Each day, Hachiko would see his master off to work at the university at the front door and would wait for Prof. Ueno's return at the nearby Shibuya train station.

This routine continued until Prof. Ueno suffered a fatal stroke at the university in May 1925 and didn't return on the train. Hachiko continued to wait at the train station each evening, even after he was given away to a new master. Hachiko would escape and head to the train station.

People noticed him waiting for Prof. Ueno and their hearts were touched. This continued for 10 years after the professor's passing until Hachiko passed away on March 8, 1935, of filariasis (heartworm). His stuffed and mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo (below).


Photo courtesy of Muramasa, Muramasa.

People in Japan, and around the world, were so touched by Hachiko's devotion to his master that a collection was taken up (including contributions from other countries) to erect a statue at Shibuya Station honoring Hachiko in April 1934. Hachiko was present for the statue's unveiling.



The original statue was melted down for munitions during World War II, but it was replaced in 1948. The Hachiko statue is a favorite meeting place in Tokyo.

After my arrival in Japan on my first trip there in November 2001, Richard Pusateri and I agreed to meet up at the Hachiko statue. Below is the first photo of my first trip to Japan.



UPDATE (3/19/09): Fuji TV is planning to place another statue of Hachiko in front of their headquarters in Odaiba, Tokyo.

1977 Schlitz Beer Sign Acquisition

My latest acquisition is this vintage plastic 1977 Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. hanging lighted beer sign. It has a stained glass look (but is plastic) that is beautiful when plugged in. And it works!



My aunt lives in Apple Valley, California and she recently put her home up for sale following the passing last year of my uncle. She had the sign in her covered patio and gave it to me.

According to Wikipedia:

In Milwaukee, [Joseph] Schlitz was hired as a bookkeeper in a tavern brewery owned by August Krug. In 1856, he took over management of the brewery following the death of Krug. Two years later he married Krug's widow and changed the name of the brewery to the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co.

The company began to succeed after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, when Schlitz donated thousands of barrels of beer to that city, which had lost most of its breweries. He quickly opened a distribution point there, beginning a national expansion. Schlitz built dozens of tied houses in Chicago, most with a concrete relief of the company logo embedded in the brickwork; several of these buildings survive today, including Schuba's Tavern at the corner of Belmont and Southport.

Schlitz died May 7, 1875, when on a return visit to Germany; his ship hit a rock near Land's End, Cornwall, and sank.

The company flourished through the 1970s, being ranked as the No. 2 brewery in America as late as 1976. But problems with its production, specifically its attempt to cut costs in the brewing process by using a high-temperature fermentation, which produced a product that the public deemed inferior, combined with a crippling 1981 strike by workers at the Milwaukee plant, led to serious financial difficulties. On June 10, 1982, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. was acquired by Stroh Brewery Company of Detroit, Michigan. The regular beer is still produced, though in relatively small quantities, by the Pabst Brewing Company, along with four malt liquors (Schlitz Malt Liquor, Schlitz Red Bull, Schlitz Bull Ice and Schlitz Very Smooth Lager).

Schlitz reintroduced the original 1960s formula, along with a new television advertising campaign in 2008, relaunching it in Chicago, Florida, Boston, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and more recently Milwaukee and New York. The beer has also become available in Ontario, Canada brewed by Stroh's Brewing, a subsidiary of Sleeman Breweries. On October 1, 2008 the original Schlitz was introduced into liquor stores and taverns in Madison, WI.


I checked eBay and found this sign listed with a "buy it now" price of $74.99.

Haruo Nakajima G-FEST XV Video



Haruo Nakajima G-FEST XV Video

A generous fan has posted a series of videos of Haruo Nakajima's G-FEST XV interview along with the opening ceremonies.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Godzilla Alert Cartoon

Godzilla and Co. are satirized in a new Bizarro cartoon:

Beach Boys Monument

Above, The Beach Boys Monument in Hawthorne, Califoria.

I was in the Inglewood, Calfornia area of Los Angeles this morning and had to go into Hawthorne (my former hometown) for some banking. I happened upon a sign pointing out the Beach Boys Monument in Hawthorne, so I decided to take a look. I had not visited the monument before.

I didn't have my camera with me, but did take some photos from my cell phone. Here they are:

Above, the monument's plaque.

Above, a view of the monument sculpture.

Above, the Cougartown.com brick. Cougartown is the website for Hawthorne High School alumni run by John Baker (Class of '62). The bricks on the monument were paid for by generous contributors.

Japan May Shoot Down North Korean Missile

If North Korea's missile launch sends its missile anywhere near Japanese territory, they can expect that Japan will shoot it down.

According to the U.K.'s Guardian website:

Japan today threatened to shoot down a satellite that North Korea plans to launch early next month if it shows any signs of striking its territory.

Tokyo's warning that it would deploy its multibillion-dollar missile defense system raised tensions in the region after North Korea said that it had identified a potential "danger area" near Japanese territory along the rocket's flight path.

The regime told the International Maritime Organisation that the missile would be launched during daylight between 4 and 8 April, and that its boosters would fall into the Sea of Japan – about 75 miles (120km) from Japan's north-west coast – and the Pacific Ocean.

Officials in Tokyo said they reserved the right to destroy any threatening object in mid-flight, despite North Korean warnings that it would consider such a move an act of war.

"Under our law, we can intercept any object if it is falling towards Japan, including any attacks on Japan, for our security," Takeo Kawamura, the chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.


Things may get a bit hairy in Asia. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pink Friday: A Waste of Time

California teachers are going out tomorrow for "Pink Friday" to protest the possible lay-offs of teachers. They are asking marchers to wear pink. Why pink? They say it is to symbolize the possible "pink slips" that may be issued laying off educators.

According to the organizers' website:

California's public schools, colleges and universities are facing more than $11 billion in state budget cuts. These cuts are going to impact an entire generation of kids and alter public education for years to come.

March 13 is the deadline for school districts to issue preliminary pink slips to California's teachers. Last year, more than 10,000 teachers got pink slips and nearly 5,000 lost their jobs. And this year could be much worse.

Please join us on Friday, March 13 and Stand Up for Schools.


Some people, particularly men, who are sympathetic to the cause recoil over wearing pink.

While it is well and good to support education, the fact is: California is broke! Taxpayers are paying the highest taxes in the country and adding more taxes on business will just drive them out of the state. Where do these people think they'll find the $11 billion?

The only way out of this mess is to reform the California budgeting and taxation system. Running around protesting may make one "feel good," but it does not solve the problem of financing.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nancy Pelosi Abusing Military Travel



The public interest watchdog group, Judicial Watch, found that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been abusing the priviledge of flying on military aircraft:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) detailing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's multiple requests for military air travel. The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), include internal DOD email correspondence detailing attempts by DOD staff to accommodate Pelosi's numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker's last minute cancellations and changes.


Judicial Watch has listed several instances of abuse by Speaker Pelosi and posted documentation to back it up.

"Taken together, these documents show that Speaker Pelosi treats the Air Force like her personal airline," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Not only does Speaker Pelosi issue unreasonable requests for military travel, but her office seems unconcerned about wasting taxpayer money with last minute cancellations and other demands."


To see what Judicial Watch has dug up, go here.

Register Now For G-FEST XVI!

Above, the costume contest and parade is fun for all ages.

Registrations are now being accepted for G-FEST XVI. G-FEST XVI is proud to have actor Kenji Sahara as this year's special guest.

From G-FAN.com:

G-FEST is the largest regular gathering of Godzilla and Japanese monster fans in the world. Held each summer, G-FEST typically attracts about 1000 attendees. In 2005, more than 1300 attended.

G-FEST is a family-oriented convention which caters to a wide variety of interests within the kaiju genre. G-FEST features presentations and Q & A sessions by actors and crew from the Japanese Godzilla films, fan presentations on topics of interest, contests and gaming, new and classic kaiju movies, the western world’s largest kaiju-oriented dealers room, and lots of fun and camaraderie.

THE 2009 CONVENTION
G-FEST XVI will be held from July 3rd through July 5th, 2009, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare (same site as last year). Registrations are now being accepted. Register by mail with the printable form, or online with your PayPal account. Explore Past G-FESTS to get an idea of the exciting things to expect at G-FEST in 2009.


More guests and movie information will be posted when finalized.

For more information and on-line registration, go to G-FAN.com.

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