"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Superman Over Los Angeles



Superman Over Los Angeles

by Armand Vaquer

Over at The Adventures Continue website for devotees of the Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves, Lou Koza posted a photo (above) of Superman (George) flying over Metropolis (i.e., Los Angeles) from the 1953 season in his article entitled, 2009, A Year In Review.

In the photo, there are many buildings in the background below Superman. There are three distinct buildings in the photo that are still standing.

Below is the photo Lou Koza posted. I added letters on the three buildings to point them out (click on photo to see larger):



A. This is the Los Angeles City Hall. Built in 1928, this was once the tallest building in Los Angeles. It also served as the Daily Planet Building from 1953 to 1957.

B. This is the U.S. Federal Court House. This building appeared in several episodes of the Adventures of Superman. It is still in use as a federal courthouse. However, a new federal courthouse is in the planning stages for Los Angeles.

C. This is the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice. This building was built in 1925 and appeared in many episodes of Perry Mason. This building once housed the sheriff's office, county coroner, county jail, county superior court and the district attorney. George Reeves was just one of several stars who were autopsied in this building when the coroner was located there. The County is planning to renovate the building and a feasibility study currently being undertaken.

Rush Limbaugh Hospitalized

Word is out that the "King of Talk Radio" Rush Limbaugh has been hospitalized for chest pains.

From his website:

Rush was admitted to a Honolulu hospital yesterday and is resting comfortably after suffering chest pains. Rush appreciates your prayers and well wishes. He will keep you updated via RushLimbaugh.com and on Thursday's radio program.


UPDATE: Substitute host Walter Williams said that it has not been confirmed that Rush had symptoms of a heart attack and that he is in "good condition."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monster Madhouse Beginning and End Titles

This video is of the intro and end credits to Monster Madhouse. You will note a familiar name in the end credits. This was a nice surprise by Jerry Moore, a.k.a. Karlos Borloff (or is that the other way around?).



Note: You'd have to turn off the music (at bottom of page) on the blog first to hear the video.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bits and Pieces...

Bits and Pieces...

Comixpress posted a couple of notices that they experienced some technical difficulties last week and that those have been resolved. I received no messages indicating that The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will suffer any delays. So, as far as I know, the January 4, 2010 availability date is still operational. If there's any changes, I'll advise.



I spoke briefly yesterday with Richard Pusateri. We will met up this coming Saturday at Crazy Tokyo Sushi for a little get-together. We haven't done this in a while and we usually have good conversations over sushi. He was one of many who sent me words of encouragement in the aftermath of the "Christmas Day Massacre."

I ended up working some overtime last night and will do so again tonight. I generally have my laptop with me at work while out in the field. I use it to check for claim assignments and misc. items while on my lunch break via WiFi. Isn't modern technology great?!

Some are wondering why I haven't deleted the notices on Akira Takarada's G-FEST appearance here and at Monster Island News. Takarada is not to blame for any of the mess and he is coming out to meet his fans. He should be given a rousing welcome in gratitude for the years of entertainment he provided us. Also, I'm not a petty person. The crux of the "massacre" were my efforts to benefit the convention, not to hurt it. I'm not going to start on the other path now.

With the events over the weekend taking my full attention, I haven't commented on the big news story over the weekend of the attempted terror attack aboard a jet in Detroit. It's good that the attempt failed (leaving the Islamic terrorist with burned genitals, which won't help him any when he meets his 70 virgins). But how did he get past security? The system didn't work. President Obama, who has to get his mug in every television news show and newspapers, didn't issue a statement until days later. There's a big disconnect going on here.

Word just came in that my good friend Greg Cordaro's dad passed away. My condolences to Greg and his family.

That's it from here.

P.S. Haruo Nakjima's 81st Birthday is coming in 3 days (actually two days, Japan is a day ahead of us). So if you want to post your birthday wishes, go here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: "Bringing Godzilla Down To Size"



Now that the shackles have come off, I can now comment and review items that I felt "constrained" not to.

A year ago, Classic Media released a DVD set of Rodan and War of The Gargantuas. The set included an extra called, "Bringing Godzilla Down To Size: The Art of Japanese Special Effects."

This was a documentary on the traditional style of Japanese monster filmmaking and techniques and featured many of the big-names in Japanese special effects movies, past and present.

Included are director Shusuke Kaneko, suitmaker Shinichi Wakasa, actors Yoshio Tsuchiya, Hiroshi Koizumi and Ryuji Honda, son of director Ishiro Honda and producer of Tsuburaya Dream Factory.

The documentary begins with scenes of today's Tokyo that are juxtaposed with scenes from past monster movies. This montage of images was effectively done by the documentary's director, Norman England. The documentary was also enhanced by the narration provided by director Alex Cox (Repo Man and Sid and Nancy).

Other interesting items included Toshio Aoki's demonstration of creating miniature trees and a reunion of the three primary Godzilla suit-actors: Haruo Nakajima, Kenpachiro Satsuma and Tsutomu Kitagwa. While some others wore the Godzilla suit in the movies, these three men were the primary Godzilla suit-actors during their eras. Each demonstrated their style of performing as Godzilla.

The capper of the documentary was a demonstration of creating volcanic smoke in a water tank by Yasuyuki Inoue.

Normally, I am not very impressed with much of fan-produced DVD extras, but this one was well-made and the principals are to be commended for the end result. It was both entertaining and informative. I met with G-fan Richard Pusateri for lunch at Crazy Tokyo Sushi in Tarzana last year, about the time of the DVD's release, and told him at the time, "Not bad!"

While most would purchase this DVD set for the movies, the inclusion of a documentary of this calibre is a big added bonus. Too bad the "Spirit of Godzilla" hasn't been made available with English subtitles in the U.S. One of these days...

My grade: A.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Fine Day



I made good use of today by going to the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles to pick up a 2010 calendar at Kinokuniya Bookstore and spend some of my Christmas money. Got the calendar. I prefer Japanese calendars because, 1.) they look nice and, 2.), they have two months per page instead of one. This makes scheduling a whole lot easier.

At Kinokuniya, I picked up Yoshikazu Ishii's Cool Dimension. As soon as am done viewing it, I'll post a review. Also, I picked up a Volume 3 DVD of Astro Boy (2004). Besides this one, they also had Volumes 4 and 5. But I figured I'd get 3 first (I still need to get 1 and 2). Kinokuniya also had a box set of the original 1960s Astro Boy cartoons. Unfortunately, they wanted over $125 for the set.

Following my purchases, I had a sushi dinner, which was very good. It was a bento box and it included eel. Yum!

After dinner, I paid a visit to Rebeca, one of my co-workers. We tried out the Astro Boy DVD on her player. She wants to eventually borrow it for her kids to see. She also wants to see Cool Dimension.

She gave me some tamales that she made. I don't think tamales would mix well with sushi, so I'll wait and have them for breakfast. We spent a good amount of time hanging out and the time just went by rapidly.

We had a good laugh while viewing the Astro Boy DVD. We once had a female co-worker named Elia. When I first met Elia, I looked at her (she was a cute Latina ) and I thought she looked like someone familiar, but I just couldn't figure out who.

One night, I was talking with Elia and another girl. Then it hit me. After Elia left, I told the other girl that she reminded me of someone but I couldn't figure out who until that moment and then it hit me. She asked me, "Who?" I said, "Astro Boy!"

She stopped and thought for a minute and let out a big laugh and agreed. Since then, many of us at work referred to Elia as "Astro Boy." Elia looked more like Astro Boy than the recent CGI Astro Boy.

Well, tonight when we watched the Astro Boy DVD, Becky said, "Wow! Astro Boy (Elia) does look like Astro Boy!" Yes, the only thing missing were the red boots.

It was a fine day!

UPDATE (12/29/09): The tamales Becky made were great! Had them for lunch yesterday.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aftermath

Above, J D and Armand during better days.

The following was sent in reply to a friend as a Private Message at the Monster Zero Message Board. I liked the end result so much that I thought I'd post it here as it reflects my feelings of what transpired during The Christmas Day Massacre of yesterday:

Thank you very much for your kind words. They are very much appreciated.

Well, sh*t happens. There's no use in crying about it because it is plainly obvious who's the loser.

Besides being press officer for the convention, JD used my address for the convention's liability insurance as he's not a US citizen; I was the go-between JD and Toho for the movies (in fact, they seem to be ignoring him now and he was going to have me do the transactions); I did the music video contest (hated it, but I did it); and other misc. tasks. Poof! There goes all that!

When this came down yesterday morning, I was determined that the news would go out on my terms. JD's big thing was not to air our "dirty laundry" in public. So sacking me was going to help? It just brought everything out into the open. As I've said, this has been building for some time and "fearless leader" is going stand in the rubble of his demolished empire and ask, "What happened?"

I gave him my "John Dean "There's a cancer growing..."" speech some months ago. But my words went unheeded. He'll find out that he made a major blunder, if he hasn't already. I feel sad for him, not anger. My anger is directed where it properly should be.


JD made his rash decision without bothering to stop and think about what I was trying to tell him. My position was for the betterment of the convention, not to hurt it. He could have stopped to think for a couple of days, instead he hurled the ax on Christmas morning. That hurts. He also didn't think of the consequences that may occur when taking his action. Bridges to some prominent G-fans have been burned. The goodwill that has been built up since the end of the "fan wars" of years ago has been blown. It reminded many of the "bad old days."

The person whose troublemaking antics that caused all this is now gloating, or so I've been told, on his blog. I know enough of what was posted to confidently say that it says a lot more about him than it does me.

As I said in my announcement of The Christmas Day Massacre (my sense of humor did surface when I came up with that title), I hope that once this all cools down, JD and I can speak once again as friends. I truly mean that. I told him years ago that he reminded me of me in my younger days. I can be impulsive (still am to some degree) and stubborn (must be from the Swedish blood from my mom).

I am deeply appreciative over the overwhelming support I've received since yesterday morning. Some notes of support came from unexpected sources. Go over to the Nice To Know I Still Have Friends blog to see how the sentiment has been expressed. They were heartwarming and, occasionally, hilarious. Humor is the best medicine for times like this.

Again, thank you for your expressions of support and it's onward and upward to better things!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Great Christmas!



Despite of (or because of, perhaps) other matters, I had a great time at my aunt's today (above).

My daughter Amber gave me a great gift: Universal Monsters: Legacy of Horror. It contains lots of great, and rare, photographs from the classics.

The icing on the cake today was that the 65-mile drive (both ways) from the San Fernando Valley to Mission Viejo in Orange County was relatively traffic-free! It was like driving the freeways back in the 1970s or 1980s. I think I averaged 70 mph in both directions.

UPDATE (3/31/10): After getting off the phone with a couple of G-FEST committee members this morning, I was perusing the blog posts from this period. Little did I know on Christmas Day last year that it would be the last with my mom. She passed away on January 15.

Nice To Know I Still Have Friends

In reaction to the "Christmas Day Massacre," I received this message from Peter H. Brothers, author of Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda:

Armand:

My friend, what can I say? This is an enormous loss to all of G-Fandom. Your contributions have been enormous, how can they be discarded so thoughtlessly?

I certainly understand your position and completely and wholly support you in this matter.

This was worse than a poor decision by JD, it is a disastrous one.

I would like to get-together with you ASAP to allow you the opportunity to vent; however I will be tied-up for the next two Saturdays but we can meet on the 9th at our old haunt if that's okay. Of course, you may call me at anytime, I shall have my switchboard operator give you top priority!

And all this is happening just before the joyous occasion of your book being published.

We all need time to ingest this sad situation. Hang in there and don't let it get you down.

You're the best.

---Pedro


It is nice to know that I still do have friends out there.

UPDATE: It is gratifying to know that people do recognize hard work, honesty, forthrightness and will stick with you through "thick and thin." Here's a sampling of messages that have been posted:

*****

Very classy message from Mr. Brothers! Hang in there and enjoy your Christmas, Armand!


*****

I can't say this surprises me. JD can be pretty low and he's treated some people like dirt and I've seen him have multiple falling outs over the years, like Norman Englund and even Shusuke Kaneko. I can't say I'm too surprised about this... JD seems like the kinda guy that would fire someone on Christmas.


*****

Wow. What fantastic conflict resolution skills. The last part where he effectively said, "It's my party so too bad, so sad" was particularly telling for me. Of course there are two sides to every story, but I know from being on this board that G-Fan and G-Fest were very important to you. For that to (seemingly) be totally disregarded and discarded is not right.


*****

The maturity (or lack thereof) of some of the figureheads in this fandom (in this case, JD) always fascinates me. This is supposed to be by fans, for fans. It should be fun, not a bunch of fussy drama queens. To see someone like Armand who has been nothing but loyal to the con, the mag, and the fanbase (and stuck of for G-Fest, G-Fan and JD in some controversial times) get dismissed basically over NOTHING at all is very disheartening.


*****

That stinks to high heaven. Merry F****** Christmas, huh.


*****

I've also received emails, here's a couple:

That all stinks to high heaven. Sorry your Christmas got dumped on.


*****

I too am sorry to hear this had to come down on Christmas. It's always sad to see hard-working people get shafted by schemers, but there it is. "Whatever will be will be..." whatever that means.

You have plenty other ways to express your interest in these Japanese monster movies.

I'm sure you are hanging in there.


*****

Hi Armand,

I'm sorry to hear about what happend. I can't believe J.D. would be so petty. I know XXX and XXXXX don't care much for the guy but I always thought they were exaggerating. You're the glue that holds it all togther and I'm sure J.D. will come to realize that soon enough. Try not to let it get you down brother.

Take care and Merry Christmas


[Note: I had to "bleep" out a couple of names so that they won't be subjected to retaliation. - A.]

*****

Nice to see the f*cking a**hole (you know who) took over the whole show.


[Note: I had to edit this one for obvious reasons. - A.]

*****

Sorry to hear about that, Armand. It is glad to hear that you quickly got back up on your feet and that it didn't ruin your Christmas!


*****

Boycott! Screw those pricks! If they can treat Armand, who is a valuable asset to this fandom, like dirt, they'll treat anyone like dirt. I am all for voting with our pocketbooks even though I would like to meet Akira Takarada. Hominick has been a nuisance ever since he got involved in this fandom. He causes nothing but problems.


[Note: I have never called for a boycott except for one last week against an anti-car club shopping center. I'm not calling for one now. People have the right to make up their own minds. - A.]

*****

So in a time when there's barely anything Godzilla-related to cover as it is, JD decides to sever ties with his Godzilla magazine's primary contributor over an ego headbutt on a Yahoo newsgroup?

That's thinking with your dipstick, Jimmy!


*****

Wow...

I'm glad I don't read his crummy magazine or go to his pathetic little convention anymore.

Sorry to hear that, Armand.


*****

Nor would I read it [Brett's blog] if I were you. The best part about that is while you are ignoring his, you KNOW he is reading yours.


[Note: Yes, I KNOW he does. It's an obsession. He posts stuff in response to what I post here on message boards. I can substantiate anything I post. - A.]

*****

Don't forget, it's "his" convention and we're all just pieces of crap. For the life of me I can't understand why JD keeps this little weasel around. Yutaka does most of the work in getting the guests anyway.


*****

Holy f*ck! This is almost beyond belief!! I gotta call jeff, man.


*****

Well looks like the a**hole got his way. Can't wait to see who kisses ass and who decides to salvage their dignity.


*****

"I do not have words at this time except for OMG"


*****

This really is J.D.'s loss. You've been a great contributor to the fandom, Armand.


*****

I already sent Armand my condolences, but if JD wants the con to keep going he NEEDS to get rid of a certain big mouthed (and nosed) person who thinks he's king of the world every time G-Fest rolls around. Anyone who says "this is my convention and you're just OH GODZILLA! WHAT TERRIBLE LANGUAGE" should be kicked off the G-Fest committee.

Armand is / was a great contribution to the mag and the convention over the years.


*****

Armand, you have always been a gentleman to me and my friends. I've enjoyed your friendship and company for many years. Unfortunately by the time JD learns the error of his ways, it will be too late. The magazine and the convention will never be the same without you. Don't let this ruin your holidays.


*****

The way it's going Big Bird is gonna ruin that convention.


*****

i dont even know how to put my thoughts and feelings on all this in to words that would make any kind of sense yet... What i will say now is that im sorry. Stay tuned to what i do next. Demonic possesion is a terrible thing. And im in a giving mood suddenly. Oh, just you wait...


[Note: Is demonic possession legal? - A.]

*****

Wow, I never imagined Lees would actually cut out the voice of his own fanzine! Although I haven't really enjoyed the thing in about 10 years, I'll certainly miss those posts of yours attempting to defend and exploit it.

Are you wondering if he is going to dot out your eyes like he did with JRR?


[Note: I would think he'd matured since those years. Even he and JRR reconciled long before JRR's passing. This is a different situation and I am not angry with him, just deeply disappointed. - A.]

*****

Great, now we get to enjoy only interviews with people who barely remember these movies and respond that they "can't remember" every other question. Or we get to read three whole pages of filler dedicated to a guy who had one line in a movie. How did you prepare for your role as the guy who looks up with his mouth open yelling? Did you study other people that look up in the sky and yell?" Great journalism.


*****

I'm very late to this party, but what bullsh*t!

I mean, I don't think I can groan hard enough at the blatant idiocy that drives some of those actions.

Anyhow, sucks to be G-Fan, as your efforts for the magazine and whatnot have always been very evident.


*****

Seems to me like JD has elevated him past the point of no return. Especially considering one of the reasons I gave up reading the magazine was because of the "Brett...and then everyone else" vibe it gave off.


*****

Screw this bullsh*t! I'm thinking about canceling my subscription! Doing this on Christmas is the most despicable thing I've ever seen.


*****

The new direction of the magazine..it will be geared towards males who have never gotten laid before and think only of Godzilla all day!!


*****

Great...I look forward to more interviews with someone who no one gives two f*cks for and maybe had one line of dialogue and cannot remember sh*t if his/her life depended on it.


*****

Disgusting! Armand, JD and Homenick aren't good enough to smell your sh*t!

[Note: Where have I heard that line before? - A.]

*****

The following preview has been approved for all audiences.

He may be a gas station attendant in Palm Springs, but every year....for one week....he gets to be in charge! That's right, Brett Homenick stars in....

FROM GAS TO G-FEST!... See More

Watch as he smiles for pictures with dignitaries, totally unaware that he is a stain on an otherwise wonderful picture.

Watch as the year 1967 calls his hotel room looking for it's wardrobe.

Watch as he convinces himself that he is important and of celebrity caliber. The red carpet has never seen anything like this.

Watch as he is wholly unaware that the boss of the show is the only person that actually likes him...for now.

Watch as the other hard working members of the committee get headaches looking at him...and ulcers after they are forced to talk to him.

Customers have given him the shaft, and now he's mad as hell....and NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE. Lookout Chicago.

FROM GAS TO G-FEST! Coming soon.


*****

Wow, I was quite shocked to read this. Armand, so very sorry to hear about this. I always enjoyed reading your stuff.


*****

ARRRRRR-MAND !!!! MAN....MONSTER MADHOUSE TV SHOW SUPPORTS YOU AND ALL YER' FINE WORK !!!!


[Note: I just had to add this one. - A.]

*****

Alright, thanks for the sentiments, but I am going to have to cease posting them. It's time to move on. - A.

The Christmas Day Massacre

In life, there are smooth roads and bumpy roads. Unfortunately, this week a major bumpy road was hit and in all things in life, all good things must come to an end.

My association with G-FAN and G-FEST has ended.

For the past nine years, since the 2000 G-FEST, I have been the publicity chairman for the G-FEST committee, later joined by the capable Jeff Horne.

We achieved a lot of good results in the print and electronic media. We've obtained a lot of media interest in the convention and that brought in many walk-in attendees. Although we were in the midst of the worst recession in my lifetime, we managed to keep our attendance numbers stable while other conventions had drops in attendance.

Back to the problem at hand.

This was not an instantaneous occurrence, it has been building up for some time. It began earlier this year when an individual in the committee and I had a falling out and I was threatened with blackmail. This individual in subsequent months would engage in taunts and usurpation of duties I conducted over the years, such as the G-FAN summaries posted online.

I kept quiet about them specifically, but I have never been one to take guff from people lying down. If someone crosses the line, I will respond.

The announcement of Akira Takarada as this year's G-FEST guest was "the straw that broke the camel's back." J.D.'s position was posted on the G-FEST Commitee Yahoo Group after he and I had a conversation which seemed to settle the matter. The conversation, while tense at times, ended friendly and thoughtfully. Then he posted this:

Brett and Yutaka got Takarada to come. Brett (with my permission, naturally) posted it on his blog and then on this board to let everyone on the committee know. (G-FAN went out today, BTW.) Brett is not usurping publicity duties, as there is a big difference between blogging the news and sending out news releases to media, various websites, etc. Having said that, I would hope that everyone on this committee, and in the entire kaiju community, would try to disseminate this news to everyone they think would be even remotely interested. We have the most important G-guest ever, and instead of saying "Awesome!" or "Thanks for landing him!" I see "Who is doing the publicity, you or me?" type stuff. Why would anyone think they had the "right" to break a bit of fantastic news that someone else did all the work to bring about?

We have come from a potential calamity earlier this week to the launch of what promises to be a milestone convention. I am insisting that we please focus on the positive and work as a team, rather than trying to protect territory or settle old scores.


I responded to him in an email last night as follows:

Chief:

I am sorry that you chose to level an attack instead of speaking more thoughtfully as you did in our telephone conversation tonight.

In a few minutes, you will see how it should have been handled, I am in the midst of posting it at the Rancho. - A.


So I posted an announcement here and at Monster Island as it should properly be posted online. And then I posted this at the Group:

Rather than arguing over whether a blog is a website or not, here's how it should be done:

http://robojapan.blogspot.com/2009/12/g-fest-lands-akira-takarada.html


I also told J.D. this in a very late-night email:

The issue, as we discussed, is having your publicity people in the loop (as a courtesy (at least) and for input on how the message should be sent (suggestions, etc.)) on what goes out by someone else (i.e., Brett). What he sent out was amateurish and not befitting the stature of Mr. Takarada. The average Joe Schmoe will think a bunch of kids are running a show rather than something presented professionally. I've been doing this stuff even before Brett was a gleam in his father's eye. So Brett got Takarada and that entitles him to send out amateurish messages?!

This is more than just "turf." The bottom line is either you allow us to do our job as it should be done (and has been done up to now) or Jeff and I will walk. He is in agreement with me on this. We worked hard to build our credibility as the spokespeople for the convention and we cannot allow amateurs to send out incompetent announcements.

I really don't wish to be harsh, but this has riled me up. - A.


In response to my last post at the G-FEST Yahoo Group (as exhibited above), I received this message from J. D. this morning:

No, I don't like it. [Note: I was referring to the posts announcing Takarada here and at Monster Island News as something that he'd like.] I made my position perfectly clear on the phone, and my last post on the planning group was to end the sniping. Within five minutes or so, you've posted a message at least partially intended to prolong the problem. I wrote that "I am insisting" that it end, and you immediately defied me in front of the committee. I cannot have people on the committee completely disregarding my decisions and requests, and as I said before, the sniping has to stop. Since you are unwilling to comply in either case, I'll just say that I'm truly grateful for your efforts on behalf of G-FAN and G-FEST, but I've decided to end your participation on the committee. You are not authorized to act as a representative of either the magazine or the convention. I'm sorry it has come to this, but, as blunt as it sounds, it's my mag and my convention, so my decisions have to be respected. - J.D.


So now dissent and bringing problems to the committee are no longer allowed. Things must be swept under the rug. Committee members must now be obedient drones and keep quiet. How can problems be resolved if they aren't discussed?

Unfortunately, as I said, this has been building up for some time and things just came to a head. People will take things for so long before something blows. Brett has a habit of taunting people and one attendee decided last summer to not take it anymore and a physical altercation resulted. People also say things they normally wouldn't out of anger. Other things have gone on behind the scenes that threaten the convention committee unit, but I will not go into them here.

I don't know what Jeff is going to do, but he did express to me on the phone that he backs my position.

I have always strived to be honest and forthright in my work. If I see something wrong, I'll say so. My late dad used to have a funny saying, "Don't let 'em shit on you, open your mouth."

Many things have been accomplished over the years in G-FAN and G-FEST that I am proud of. Apparently, some people are more indispensable than others. That's okay, I'm a big boy and can handle it.

I am grateful for the many kindnesses J. D. has extended over the years. Perhaps when this all cools down, we can talk again as friends.

Unfortunately, he has concluded that I am of no further value to G-FAN and G-FEST.

In writing this, I am being my usual honest and forthright self. This is just my side of the story.

UPDATE: Nice To Know I Still Have Friends

Akira Takarada To Attend G-FEST XVII



G-FEST is pleased to announce that the special guest for G-FEST XVII this coming July in Chicago is none other than Akira Takarada.

Takarada has appeared in many Japanese science-fiction movies beginning with Godzilla in 1954 and most recently in Godzilla Final Wars in 2004.

From Wikipedia:

Takarada was born in Harbin, China. His father worked as an engineer on the South Manchuria Railway. After the war, he remained in Harbin, China, the city of his birth. He is able to speak Mandarin Chinese and English.


He is still an active actor at age 75 and is set to perform in a play this summer. He managed to squeeze in his G-FEST appearance just before he is to begin rehearsals.

For more details on G-FEST, go to G-FAN.com.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas To All!

Above, a "White Christmas" scene at Mt. Aso in Kyushu, Japan (even though it was April at the time the picture was taken).

Merry Christmas To All!

by Armand Vaquer

This year, I have to pass on sending out Christmas cards, so this will be my "card" for this year.

Another year has come and is almost over and we're now on the eve of Christmas Day. I hope all had a prosperous year. For me, it has been a mix of highs and lows.

Thankfully, I didn't have to attend any funerals this year. I hope that holds true next year. There's been too many of them over the past several years and it seemed like I was attending an average of two a year.

The year started out well with me holding two jobs. One, a "parachute" job working as a field supervisor for Securitas. Years ago, I had to work security as the insurance claims job market was in the doldrums. However, once I was able to land steady employment in the claims field, I still maintained all my security-related permits "just in case." My last insurance supervisor laughed when I had to do my bi-annual gun requalification shoots. He asked, "Why bother?" I told him that they are hard to get and you never know when you might need them. It turned out that I did need them as the insurance claims job market tanked due to the recession. The work I do is to drive around and supervise our guards and weapons-screeners at different L.A. County facilities. One nice benefit is the many friends I have gained through this job.

At the end of last year, I landed a job working for an independent adjusting company. The amount of work wasn't enough to quit the Securitas job, so I arranged my work schedule to work claims in the morning hours and on weekends. Work has slowed during the last few months. Hopefully, once insurers get their 2010 budgets worked out, we'll see more assignments coming in.

I managed to do a couple of interviews this year: one with actor David Hedison for G-FAN and one with actress Christine Nguyen for Monster Island News. Hedison was one of my favorites in such films as The Lost World, The Fly and the television series Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea. Nguyen is a rising star who seems to be getting busier and busier. She will appear in the upcoming Green Hornet Movie. She and I share the same birth date, February 4. Maybe a joint lunch is in order to celebrate?

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, which I started in early 2008, while I was on unemployment, is finished and scheduled to be available at Comixpress January 4. I learned a lot about getting things written and published. I had a lot of help from G-FAN's boss, J. D. Lees, who did the interior layouts and from Archie Waugh, a 20-year graphics designer, who did the cover. I was referred to Comixpress by Mad Scientist magazine's editor and publisher, Martin Arlt. My deepest gratitude to each for their valuable assistance!

I also learned, unfortunately, that someone I considered a friend (who shall remain nameless) wasn't. One night, a misunderstanding arose in relation to the aforementioned travel guide and I was seething mad. This individual (not related to the misunderstanding) happened to call me that night and I vented. Fortunately, the matter (funny, I don't remember what it was) that ticked me off was resolved within days. Unfortunately, this so-called "friend" stuck his nose into something I was doing earlier this year and an argument ensued. He then threatened me with what I had vented about a year earlier with what could only be described as, by definition and legally, "blackmail." With that, I severed our friendship.

There's a lesson that can be drawn in this: don't take phone calls from people while in anger and, also, choose very carefully what you say, even if you're just thinking aloud, to people who have character flaws and have their own agendas. Such is life.

As things were going good financially during the spring and summer months, I was able to go to G-FEST XVI in Chicago and meet actor Kenji Sahara. I had a great time and got many photographs.

For the first time in my life, I am now a union member. Co-workers at Securitas, dissatisfied with the benefits (or lack of them) we are receiving, began a campaign to sign up everybody for union representation with SEIU (Service Employees International Union). Ironically, this is the same union who is the biggest backer of President Obama, who regular readers of this blog know I have no use for. The first contract negotiations with our new union, Securitas and L.A. County are set to begin next month.

Family-wise, my daughter just graduated from Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California with a B.S. in Biology. We're all proud of her. My mom has some medical issues that need to be taken care of, but she's hanging in there. Her digestive system seems to be out of whack. But she responds well to Japanese food! Go figure!

Unfortunately, due to finances (stemming from having to deal with two car accidents, one by my daughter and one from a hit & run driver, and the related deductibles that needed to be paid for the repairs) and scheduling, I had to miss this year's Platrix clamp-outs. I hope I can go to them next year. The cars are now in top shape (including mechanically).

This month marked the tenth anniversary of my dad's passing. In many respects it seems like only yesterday that he passed away. He is still missed. Thankfully, I have many video tapes of the good times.

Health-wise for me, I managed to shed a few pounds. During the time I had to tighten my financial belt and brown-bag my lunch to work instead of hitting fast-food joints, I trimmed up. Sometimes "poverty" has its benefits. I've no physical ailments, so I am counting my blessings.

What's in store for next year? I will be kept busy with the travel guide for a while. I am considering making it an evolving travel guide with updates and revisions as the years go on. We'll see how the first edition goes before making any decisions. G-FEST XVII will be held in Chicago in July. That'll be another highlight to look forward to.

If the job and financial pictures greatly improves, I hope to return to Japan and gather more material for G-FAN and, maybe, later editions of the travel guide.

Will 2010 be better? As an optimistic person in general, I think so. This year wasn't bad, it wasn't great either. But I've endured worse.

Have a safe Merry Christmas and New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Hope and Change" Didn't Help The Wyndham O'Hare

No doubt you've read the news at the Monster Zero message board and in the media that the Wyndham O'Hare is shutting its doors on January 1. This was to be the 2010 hotel for G-FEST. According to the article below, the cause was the rotten economy.

The Daily Herald wrote:

The suburban hotel industry took another major hit Tuesday as the Wyndham O'Hare Hotel in Rosemont prepares to close by Jan. 1.

The quick shutdown surprised the Unite Here Local 450 union, which received written notice that its 107 workers will be out of a job due to a lack of financing, said Bill Biggerstaff, secretary/treasurer for the union that represents workers at the Rosemont hotel and two others that have or will close in Arlington Heights and Oak Brook.

"Talk about a kick in the stomach," Biggerstaff said. "We had about 250 members out of work in just a blink of an eye."

The property is independently owned and operated under a franchise agreement with Wyndham Hotels and Resorts in Parsippany, N.J., said Wyndham spokeswoman Evy Apostolatos.


While this is not good news for G-FEST, it is not so bad that we are left without alternatives. We can go back to the Crowne Plaza if we choose. But we are looking at other area hotels who have facilities comparable to the Crowne Plaza or Wyndham O'Hare. I just got off the phone with J. D. and he's on top of the situation.

There's no need for panic. The show will go on. One way or another. Any announcements will be from J. D. Lees. The next issue of G-FAN will contain news about our special guest. It is going into the mails this coming week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Health Care Constitutionality Vote

Senator Jim DeMint issued a press release on Twitter:

Ensign, DeMint to Force Vote on Health Care Bill Unconstitutionality

December 22, 2009 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and John Ensign (R-Nevada), raised a Constitutional Point of Order on the Senate floor against the Democrat health care takeover bill on behalf of the Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. The Senate will vote tomorrow on the bill’s constitutionality.

“I am incredibly concerned that the Democrats’ proposed individual mandate provision takes away too much freedom and choice from Americans across the country,” said Senator Ensign. “As an American, I felt the obligation to stand up for the individual freedom of every citizen to make their own decision on this issue. I don’t believe Congress has the legal authority to force this mandate on its citizens.”

“Forcing every American to purchase a product is absolutely inconsistent with our Constitution and the freedoms our Founding Fathers hoped to protect,” said Senator DeMint. “This is not at all like car insurance, you can choose not to drive but Americans will have no choice whether to buy government-approved insurance. This is nothing more than a bailout and takeover of insurance companies. We’re forcing Americans to buy insurance under penalty of law and then Washington bureaucrats will then dictate what these companies can sell to Americans. This is not liberty, it is tyranny of good intentions by elites in Washington who think they can plan our lives better than we can.”

Americans who fail to buy health insurance, according to the Democrats’ bill, would be subject to financial penalties. The senators believe the bill is unconstitutional because the insurance mandate is not authorized by any of the limited enumerated powers granted to the federal government. The individual mandate also likely violates the “takings” clause of the 5th Amendment.

The Democrats’ healthcare reform bill requires Americans to buy health insurance “whether or not they ever visit a doctor, get a prescription or have an operation.” If an American chooses not to buy health insurance coverage, they will face rapidly increasing taxes that will rise to $750 or 2% of their taxable income, whichever is greater.

The Congressional Budget Office once stated “A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”

A legal study by scholars at the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation concluded: “An individual mandate to enter into a contract with or buy a particular product from a private party, with tax penalties to enforce it, is unprecedented-- not just in scope but in kind--and unconstitutional as a matter of first principles and under any reasonable reading of judicial precedents.”


###

Monday, December 21, 2009

CHET, THE CHRISTMAS PARROT

CHET, THE CHRISTMAS PARROT


One day a husband decided to go to a pet store and get his wife a bird for Christmas. He knew she loved animals, birds in particular, and decided this would be the perfect gift for her.

He goes to the pet store and asks the manager if he has anything special in the way of birds. The manager tells him that in fact he does, it's a bird named Chet who sings.

The guy is very interested and asks to see Chet. The manager brings him over to a beautiful bird and tells the husband that this is Chet. The husband asks what is so special about him and the manager tells him that Chet can sing, and that he'll show him.

The manager then takes a cigarette lighter out of his pocket and lights it a few inches underneath Chet's right foot. Chet begins to sing, "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way..."

The husband says that it was great and asks, "Does Chet sing anything else?"

So the manager then lights his lighter under Chet's left foot, and Chet begins to sing, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know..." The husband is very impressed, sure that his wife will absolutely love this bird, so he buys Chet.

He brings the bird home and presents it to his wife as a Christmas gift. She is very happy and says the bird is beautiful. The husband tells her that the bird can sing, and he takes his lighter and lights it beneath Chet's right foot, and Chet begins to sing, "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way..."

The wife is thrilled and asks if he can do anything else. The husband then lights the lighter under Chet's left foot and Chet begins to sing, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know..."

The wife is overwhelmed and asks, "What would happen if you put the lighter under both of his feet at the same time?"

The husband says that he doesn't know, but they could try it. So the husband puts the lighter under both of the bird's feet and the bird begins to sing, "Chet's nuts roasting on an open fire...."

Godzilla Comes To Southern California



Los Angeles has the Godzilla star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Godzilla, King of the Monsters! plaque at the Frank del Olmo Elementary School. Now, Los Angeles has the living, breathing Godzilla of baseball.

Sports Network reported:

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have come to terms with outfielder/designated hitter Hideki Matsui on a one-year contract.

Although financial terms were not released, the New York Times reported earlier in the week that the deal was believed to be worth $6.5 million.


Above, here I am in Toho International's conference room with Matsui's Yankee baseball jerseys in the background. Toho will now be able to add his Angels jerseys to their collection.

It is starting to look like Los Angeles is the most Godzilla-laden city outside of Tokyo, Japan.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Seven Bank No Longer Accepts MasterCard At Their ATMs In Japan

Source: Otaku News and Seven Bank

Obtaining cash from ATM machines in Japan just got a little more difficult for foreign travelers.

Seven Bank ATMs in Japan will no longer accept foreign-issued MasterCard credit cards. This also includes balance inquiry services.

According to Seven Bank's bulletin, this is "in response to a revision of conditions by MasterCard that it does not sustain the viability of the services from Seven Bank's perspective."

However, Visa, Diners Club, American Express and Discover cards are still welcome at Seven Bank's ATM machines.

Seven Bank hopes to continue dialog with MasterCard in the hope that they can restore services for MasterCard cardholders.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sen. Ben Nelson Caves In: Will Support Socialized Medicine

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced that he will support the health care package put-together by Sen. Harry Reid and other Democrats behind closed doors and without Republican participation or support.

The Washington Post is reporting:

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, announced to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.

"We're there," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), as he headed into a special meeting to outline the deal.

Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with him on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.

The package closely tracks the $848 billion measure Reid (D-Nev.) drafted this month, before he entered into negotiations aimed at winning the 60 votes he needs to avert a GOP filibuster, aides said. Since then, Reid has made numerous concessions to moderate Democrats, scrapping an effort to create a government-run insurance plan and beefing up prohibitions on spending federal funds for abortion coverage, a change demanded by the final holdout, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Instead of a public option, the final product would allow private firms for the first time to offer national insurance policies to all Americans, outside the jurisdiction of state regulations. Those plans would be negotiated through the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that handles health coverage for federal workers and members of Congress.


So it appears that the Democrats are on track to shove this monstrosity down our throats, despite opposition by an average of 61% of the people in recent polls.

My family has property in Nebraska and family connections there. I, for one, will do what I can to see that Nelson is defeated for re-election.

No doubt there will be legal challenges (including the constitutionality of the bill) that could tie this up for years.

UPDATE (12/20/09): A website has been set up seeking the defeat of Ben Nelson in 2012 called Give Ben The Boot.

Showa Gamera Movies Licensed By Shout Factory



Shout Factory is on the lookout for a 35mm scope print of the U.S. version of Daiei's 1965 feature Daikaiju Gamera, released here as Gammera The Invincible.

Shout Factory has licensed this film along with the 7 other early Showa Gamera films from Kadokawa Pictures, who now owns the Gamera character. Unfortunately, Kadokawa does not own a copy of the U.S. version.

Shout Factory plans to release these movies in HD transfer along with new subtitles and many extras.

The last Gamera movie was Gamera The Brave, released in 2006 by Kadokawa Pictures.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A New Graduate In The Family

Above, Armand and Amber Vaquer.

Raising a child nowadays is a challenging task for parents. Some aren't fully successful, as per the headlines one reads in the newspaper and news reports from your favorite television news outlet.

Other parents are very successful in raising children who are credits to their families.

Thankfully, I belong to the latter group as I am writing about my daughter Amber, who just earned her B.S. Degree in Biology at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. She is making all of us proud.

We'll get to celebrate this achievement next May when the graduation ceremonies will be held.

Well done, Amber!

So. Calif. Jewish Center Needs Better Singers

I have many Jewish friends, so what I am writing is not anti-Semitic.

There's a radio ad that plays in Southern California markets for the Southern California Jewish Center in Westwood. The ad has male singers who sing the ad's jingle:

"Your gift of hope is a great deduction...Southern California Jewish Center."


The ad's message is innocuous in itself, but I find the singers annoyingly effeminate. Couldn't they find singers for the jingle that don't sound so wussy?

I don't see how they can motivate anyone to donate anything (except, perhaps, "here's a donation to get better singers").

Dan O'Bannon Dies At 63

Screenwriter, director, special effects supervisor and actor Dan O'Bannon has died at age 63. He had been in ill health recently and had been in a hospital.

According to Examiner.com:

O'Bannon was responsible for some of the favorite sci-fi/horror myths of our generation. He wrote the screenplay for a little film called Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, (you may have heard of it), and worked on all the sequels. He was also responsible for The Return of the Living Dead, the amazing George Romero zombie satire, and he worked on the Total Recall script and created the B-17 sequence in Heavy Metal. Not only that, but he provided the screenplay and served as Special Effects Supervisor on the John Carpenter flick, Dark Star, and he worked on a film called Star Wars.


Dark Star is one flick that I still find hilarious, especially the "beach ball" alien.

He had been working on an Alien prequel prior to his illness.

O'Bannon was a sci-fi giant of our generation. His talents will be missed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boycott Regency Centers and El Camino Shopping Center in Woodland Hills

The following message was received this morning:

As Of Yesterday, Village Coffee Roaster Closed It’s Doors

And Moved Out of the El Camino Shopping Center


Since Regency Shopping Centers (who own/run the El Camino Shopping Center in Woodland Hills) caused this, all I can say is to Boycott Regency Centers and El Camino Shopping Center in Woodland Hills for their thuggish behavior in this matter.

It appears that rather than spreading goodwill and cooperation with its tenants and the car clubs, their paying customers, they prefer to drive business away and they don't really deserve anyone's patronage.

They used harassment, intimidation and legal actions against customers and tenants. That's nothing but gestapo tactics in my book. If anyone has information on the "brownshirt" security company who harassed customers at the center, send me the information and I'll post it.

UPDATE: Here's the information on the "brownshirt" security company and the tactics they used:

Standing in the center of the parking lot, the security guards and a large dog have approached the classic car drivers as they drive in. One has operated as the process server, and with a stack of copies of the lawsuit and attempts to serve the drivers.

O’Linn Executive Security Services, the Agoura-based business hired by Regency Centers, would not comment on the allegations for this story.


O'Linn is located at 30423 Canwood Street Agoura Hills, CA 91301-4315 - (818) 707-4597.

They are licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs - B.S.I.S. in Sacramento. Call them at (916) 322-4000 if you wish to file a complaint against O'Linn Executive Security Services.

UPDATE #2: This letter appears in today's Daily News:

Never go back

Re "Classic court battle" (Dec. 16):

A few weeks ago my wife and I decided to pick up a few items at the Vons in the El Camino Shopping Center. Being that my `32 Ford high boy was in the driveway, we decided to take her out. As I pulled onto the lot, we were stopped by a very unruly and unkempt security guard who verbally accosted us.

Never in my 66 years have I heard such language. He had no reason to talk to us that way. I tried to explain that if we are not welcome we'll leave. But no, he had to slap his hands down on my hood, and when I told him to take his hands off the car I was told "get out now or you won't be able to get out when I'm done with you."

We left, and as far as I am concerned, we will never go back to the El Camino Shopping Center again.

- HARVEY APPARIS

Canoga Park


The guard who accosted them isn't too bright. I guess he assumes that if someone drives into the center's parking lot in a vintage vehicle that automatically they must be there for a rally. Also, he made a threat to the writer, which is against the law. Definitely grounds to have his guard permits revoked and his employer sued.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

G-FEST Movie Screenings and Complainers

It gets tiresome to have to explain to people multiple times that when we screen movies via DVDs at G-FEST it is only because prints just aren't available.

We have lists of available films in 35mm prints.

This issue cropped up again at a Godzilla message board. One poster posted that he didn't want to drive a long way to see movies projected from a DVD. Well, we don't really want to resort to them either. This year, we had to screen some movies via DVD because 35mm prints featuring our special guest, Kenji Sahara, weren't available. I had to arrange special permission from Toho to screen them via DVD as, per Toho's policy, they don't allow screenings of their movies from DVDs. They agreed to allow it as Mr. Sahara was the guest.

Also, some of the decisions were made at the last minute as we "scoured the earth" for any available prints, including some from collectors right up to the last minute. So we were unable to immediately post whether they are prints or DVDs as we didn't know either.

This was explained several times, yet it doesn't seem to penetrate some folk's thick skulls! Yeesh!

Sometimes we just have no choice in the matter. If anyone doesn't want to attend a screening if it is by DVD projection, that's within their right to do so. But they have to understand that to have screenings with the special guest showcased, we have to go with what's available to us.

It is also interesting to note that those who gripe the most never come up with any ideas themselves.

Fascism In America: Car Clubs Banned At Woodland Hills Shopping Center

Above, vintage Mustangs on display at a past car rally at the El Camino Shopping Center in Woodland Hills, California. Photos by Armand Vaquer

Fascism In America: Car Clubs Banned At Woodland Hills Shopping Center

Sources: The Daily News and Atty. Tom Cotrel

The All-Mustang and Ford Club, of which I am a member, and other car clubs are no longer welcome at the El Camino Shopping Center in Woodland Hills, California.

(excerpted from today's L.A. Daily News)

Lawsuit bans car buffs from shopping center

It was 6:15 a.m. on a Sunday when Tom Bellows pulled his treasured 1979 yellow MGB into the parking lot of a Woodland Hills shopping center and prepared to hang out with other classic car aficionados, as they had for years.

But instead of being greeted by longtime friends, he said, he was surrounded by four security guards hired by the owners of El Camino Shopping Center, who ordered him off the premises.

"They told me to get the blankety-blank-blank out," said Bellows, 71, a family therapist from Northridge. "They said I couldn't park my car there because it was a classic."

It was a startling way to learn of a lawsuit filed Oct. 19 on behalf of Regency Centers, the Delaware-based owner of El Camino Shopping Center. The lawsuit targets the classic car lovers and the Village Coffee Roaster, a tenant that had spearheaded the informal Sunday gatherings.

Filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges trespassing and nuisance, and serves as a restraining order against the motorists, listed anonymously as John Does 1-500.

It claims that the owners of the Ferraris, Porsches, Mustangs and other classic cars hog too many parking spots at the 135,883 square-foot, Vons-anchored shopping center off Mulholland Drive near the Ventura Freeway.

Regency Centers would not comment, citing the pending litigation, said spokeswoman Bonnie Hayflick.

Ernie Park, an attorney representing Regency Centers, also would not comment. Vons, with its corporate headquarters based in Arcadia, did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit has forced the classic car lovers to abandon the Woodland Hills strip mall and instead gather for coffee and socializing on Sunday mornings at a shopping center in the 19000 block of Plummer Street in Northridge.


Fascism in America has arrived! To read the full Daily News story, go here.

From Marlon Mitchell of The All-Mustang and Ford Club:

Sunday Morning Cruise-In

“Cars, Coffee & Bagels”

EVERY Sunday, Good Weather Permitting


This is NOT an Organized Car Show, It’s A Cruise-In Place Where Other Car Enthusiasts And people

From All Walks Of Life Gather For Great Coffee And Breakfast @ All Of The Stores & Restaurants

We Gather There for coffee & To Head Out For Our Lunch Cruise Event

WESTERN BAGEL, STARBUCKS COFFEE & JAMBA JUICE CRUISE-IN

19500 Plummer Street

Northridge, CA. 91324

Information Contact: 818-970-2359 ( Marlon )

Cruise-In Hours: 6:30AM to 9:30AM

Store Hours: 5:00AM TO 8PM

Between Corbin Ave. & Tampa Ave.

Corner Of Plummer St. & Shirley Ave.

Click Here For More Great Pictures:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/navymailman/sets/72157622597825889/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

L.A. COUNTY HALL OF JUSTICE TO BE DEMOLISHED?

Above, the Hall of Justice sits next to the uncompleted Hollywood Freeway in the late 1940s.

L.A. COUNTY HALL OF JUSTICE TO BE DEMOLISHED?

by Armand Vaquer

The Los Angeles County Hall of Justice, an ornate building that has been sitting vacant in Downtown Los Angeles for fifteen years, is allegedly to be demolished.

The building once housed the county courts, jail, district attorney, sheriff's office and county coroner. Many celebrities were autopsied there including Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and George Reeves. Charles Manson and his family of killers were housed there while on trial.

Tonight, workers with the Asplund company, contractors for the L.A. Department of Water and Power, told a co-worker and I that they were cutting off electricity to the L.A. County Hall of Justice in preparation for the building to be demolished by explosives. They did not specify when this is to take place.

This is contrary to recent reports that the Board of Supervisors ordered a study on restoring the building.

No lights were on inside the building, although we can hear the buzz from a generator somewhere.

The Hall of Justice was built in 1925 and it has sat unoccupied for earthquake retrofitting since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. The interior is completely gutted and it has been slated to become the headquarters of the Los Angeles County Sheriff.

Millions have been spent so far on the building, so it seems peculiar that it would be set for demolition after these expenditures.

According a December 1 motion by the Board of Supervisors, the building is structurally sound. It was said that current lower construction costs could also reduce the price of the restoration project by about 20% or more. Also, low financing rates and available federal funds could make the project feasible, according to a Board spokesman.

The Chief Executive Officer of L.A. County is to report back to the Board within 45 days on the cost of the project along with a cost-comparison to detail the savings of transferring departments back to the building.

Further investigation will be conducted. Someone is either misinformed or maybe a decision has already been reached by the Board.

The Hall of Justice is a great building that deserves to be restored to its original splendor.

Happy 81st Birthday Haruo Nakajima!

Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Happy 81st Birthday Haruo Nakajima!

January 1, 2010 will mark the 81st birthday of a giant in the movie business: Haruo Nakajima.

Above, Haruo Nakajima in action in "Godzilla" (1954).

Mr. Nakajima is the original suit-actor who portrayed Godzilla from the first movie of 1954 to Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972).

We were a little late in getting birthday greetings to Mr. Nakajima when he attained his 80th birthday. Still, thanks to many of you, we were able to send him a lot of birthday wishes.

This year, we are starting it earlier so he can receive a lot of greetings on his birthday. So please feel free to post your birthday greeting to Mr. Nakajima by using the comment thingy below. I'll see to it that he receives them via his daughter Sonoe.

Thanks.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How "The Guide" Is Reaching The Masses

Googling around, I reviewed websites who carried the news release on the publication of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Some of them I have no idea at how they picked up the story or even heard of before. But there it is!

One of them is this one:

Citmag.com

Here's the one at Anime News Network.

This was posted at Webwire.com.

Tri-cities Anime Fest was one who picked up the feed from Anime News Network. Their posting is here.

TokyoinTulsa.com (Oklahoma, I presume) also picked up the ANN feed. They've posted it here.

And Crunchyroll.com also picked up the ANN feed. They have it in a sidebar on this page. It is to the right of the Beck's Beer Hello Kitty article.

Webwire fed it to Limaclubs.com, a travel-oriented website. They posted it here.

However the story got there, or how it is posted, I am extremely grateful. Thanks, all!

Media Blitzing



As we're about a half a month away from the publication of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, word is now getting out from several sources over the Internet.

One such source is the Anime News Network. They posted news last month of Peter H. Brothers's new book, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda. I noticed that ANN's reach in the anime world was enormous and even some Japan-oriented websites (not necessarily anime-related) picked up their feed and carried the story.

I submitted the first news release on the Guide to them last month and received widespread coverage. Since I found that the Guide will be published on January 4, a second release was sent to ANN (along with wire services and other locations). ANN posted it almost immediately and I noticed the tentacles of the feed to other sites within hours. It's too bad that kaiju fandom doesn't have a similar source for news and news feeds.



One additional potential benefit on getting the news out about the Guide is that G-FAN magazine will be getting some publicity as it is mentioned and linked. Many of us associated with G-FAN may assume that "everyone knows about G-FAN." But we have found that many people have never even heard of it. By having it "shamelessly plugged" in the news release on the Guide, we may get some anime fans aware of it and possibly new subscribers. I'll check with editor and publisher J. D. Lees to see if he's noticed any positive "blips" in subscriptions or retailer orders in the weeks ahead.



One additional note on Brothers's book (above) on Ishiro Honda, it is now being offered on Barnes and Noble's (a big book seller) website. So anyone wanting a copy can now go through the pubisher, AuthorHouse, Amazon.com or at Barnes and Noble's website.

NEWS RELEASE



NEWS RELEASE


For Immediate Release

LOS ANGELES, CA - December 13, 2009 - A new travel guide targeted at fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies is being released by Armand Vaquer, contributing writer for G-FAN magazine, called "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan." It is scheduled to be published on January 4, 2010 by Comixpress.

The guide will be in magazine format and will include the locations shown in Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies over the past 55 years. It will tell how to get to each location, where to stay and what tourist attractions are nearby.

""The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" is the first travel guide tailored to Japanese monster fans," said author Armand Vaquer. "There have been plenty of books about the movies, but nobody has ever put together a guide for people to go see the locations shown in the movies until now. This will be a useful tool in planning a Japan vacation and for tour operators who may want to arrange tours for Japanese monster fans."

The guide will be 52 pages long and will also include travel tips and articles on Japanese customs and immigration policies and information on currency exchange, weather and other topics.

It will retail at $15.00 a copy.

For additional information, log onto http://armandsrancho.blogspot.com/.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rainy Night In L.A.

It appears that the drought in California may be over. It all depends upon whether we get a good snowpack in the Sierras to know for sure.

In Los Angeles, we are now in storm number four for the week.

I checked the Los Angeles Times weather almanac and it said we're now at just over eight inches of rain so far this season (which starts July 1). We had just over eleven inches for the last rainy season in total. So we're doing good.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Monster Travel Guide To Japan Available Jan. 4



I was perusing my account at Comixpress to get more information on the status of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and noted that it is to be available on January 4, 2010.

Also, I noticed in their FAQ section that if the format submitted is not to their specifications, they would notify me within seven days. Today is day 8, so it appears that all's well and J. D. Lees (interior layouts) and Archie Waugh (cover) did a great job.

Any additional news will be posted here.

Gene Barry Dies At 90

Left, Ann Robinson and Gene Barry in "War of the Worlds."

Actor Gene Barry, best-known as the dapper Bat Masterson, died at age 90 in Woodland Hills.

Barry, who also starred in the television series "Burke's Law" and "The Name of the Game," died of undetermined causes Wednesday, according to his son Frederic James Barry said. He died at age 90 at a rest home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills.

He had starred in the science-fiction classic "War of the Worlds" in 1953 in which earth is invaded by Martians. The movie was based on the H. G. Wells novel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Another Magazine To Cease Publication

As I mentioned in my blog post on the new beginning of Famous Monsters of Filmland under the ownership of Phil Kim, in this economy it is amazing that someone dares to start publishing a magazine.

Now the Associated Press reports that the 108-year-old journalism trade magazine, Editor & Publisher, is ceasing publication.

The Nielsen Co. is the current owner of Editor & Publisher and is also selling off its other business-related magazines including Billboard (music) and The Hollywood Reporter (movie industry).

This is sad news indeed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Interview By William Shatner

I caught William Shatner's interview with talk-radio giant Rush Limabaugh last night and I came away greatly impressed with William Shatner's abilities as an interviewer.

Rush also did a great job with his answers.

Here's the interview video:



NOTE: Before playing the video, you may want to turn off the music from the control gizmo at the bottom of the page so you can hear it.

Famous Monsters of Filmland: It's Alive!


Famous Monsters of Filmland: "It's Alive!"

Source: Famous Monsters of Filmland Press Release

Those were the immortal words of Dr. Frankenstein (pronounced Frahn-kun-shteen!) portrayed by Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein. The line embodied the passion and sheer exuberance of a man who had just taken a famous monster, once thought to be gone forever, and returned it to life (and given it the ability to do some sweet musical numbers). Today, we share those sentiments as we announce the return of Famous Monsters of Filmland, the print magazine.

While we’re well into development on the first issues, we’re going to be keeping mum on a lot of the details. Here are a few pieces that we can share with you right now:

- In order to make sure that FM gets as wide a release as possible, we’ve teamed with IDW Publishing. Not only are they one of the largest comic publishers in the country, recipient of Diamond Distributor’s “Publisher of the Year” award 4 times, publisher of such hit comics as 30 Days of Night, Joss Whedon’s Angel, Locke and Key, and Transformers; they also happen to be huge monster kids.

- Our editor-in-chief will be Michael Heisler, a 20-year veteran of the industry who brings a wealth of experience, along with his enthusiasm, to the relaunch.

“FM was far and away my favorite magazine when I was a kid, and there has been nothing quite like it since,” said Heisler. “Our goal is to update that magic for a modern audience, with coverage of current horror in all its forms, while continuing to pay tribute to the classic films that started it all. Personally, I’m thrilled to be taking this step down the road that Forry Ackerman and ‘Chilly Billy’ Cardille put me on so many years ago.”

-The magazine will begin its run in the summer of 2010 and be released quarterly. We haven’t set an exact date for release yet but we hear there’s some kind of big event in the summer where over 150,000 people dress up in costumes and head to San Diego. Just a rumor, probably.

Over the coming months we’ll be bringing you plenty of updates. From details on the covers to content and contributors, you’ll see it all here first. Make sure to check back and sign-up at our social networking sites (those icons in the upper right on the front page) as we’ll be releasing different info on all of them from time-to-time.

Last but not least, we’re counting on you to leave us comments and tell us your thoughts on what you’d like to see in the new FM. This is the time to make your voice heard and help forge the path that the magazine will take. Don’t be shy; all are welcome.

“I’ve always loved Famous Monsters, and when I discovered an opportunity to reinvent the brand for modern times, I jumped at it,” said Phil Kim, FM’s Senior Manager. “Knowing the legacy and the great expectations that came with this iconic trademark, I looked long and hard for a suitable company with an impeccable reputation for quality and respect. After a two-year search, I am proud to announce our partnership with IDW.”


This is good news for monster movie fans as many magazines are failing. It is great that a magazine dares to start up in these economic times. Good luck to Phil Kim and company!

Obama: What A Liar



President Barack Obama is either living in a fantasy world or is the biggest liar to have ever resided in the White House.

In a speech this morning at the Brookings Institute, Obama said that he is "restoring fiscal responsibility" and that the deficits were caused during the past eight years.

Excuse me, but Obama has spent more in his one year in office than President Bush did during his entire eight years. Also, the deficits were built up over years from both Democrat and Republican administrations and Obama voted for most of the spending during Bush's years when he was in the senate.

While trying to blame Bush and the GOP for the economy, he omits the fact that it was the policy of the Democrats, starting with Jimmy Carter, to extend sub-prime loans to people who had no business taking out loans. This was led by Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd through Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.

He also claims the "expansion" of the economy is the largest in three decades. What expansion? Incredible!

Again, Obama is habitually blaming his problems on the prior administration. This is both childish and unbecoming for a president to act.

Ah, I Can Breathe Again!

Thank goodness for the first winter storm in Los Angeles. After months of ash from the fires, heat, dust and pollution floating around in the air, my alergies were giving me fits.

When the rain started, I immediately noticed a big difference in my breathing. My sinuses cleared up and I could breathe without having to blow my nose several times a day.

We're supposed to get more rain this week. Good! Bring in on!

Ah, I can breathe again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Universal Monster Legacy

As the new version of Universal's The Wolf Man is scheduled to be released in theaters on February 12, 2010, the studio has a new website called The Universal Monster Legacy.

Here, film clips and rare still photos (along with music) are presented of the past Universal classic monsters.

The rare photos includes this one of Boris Karloff from Frankenstein (1931):

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reminded of My White House Visit

Above, here I am (with much more hair on my head) at the presidential podium in the East Room of the White House.

The current news story about the White House "party crashers" at Obama's first state dinner brought back memories of when I was invited to the White House in 1982.

The occasion was a reception for members of the 1980 California Reagan Delegation to the GOP National Convention that was held in Detroit, Michigan. The reception for the delegates was most likely delayed due to the assassination attempt on President Reagan in March 1981.

We were invited to the White House in June 1982. The invitation had the official invitation card (that I had President Reagan autograph at the reception) and an R.S.V.P. card in which we had to complete (including our Social Security number) and return for a background check. If there were anything that should come up, I'm sure we would have been notified before buying our plane tickets to Washington, D.C.

On the day of the reception, I stopped first at the Veterans Administration headquarters as my former boss, Paul Bannai (who was my area's state assemblyman) was working as head of the memorials department of the VA (in charge of the national cemeteries, etc.). As the VA was within walking distance to the White House, we went on foot to the reception. We had to go to a special entrance once we got there.

We had to show our identification to the Secret Service personnel and be checked on the list of invitees. We also had to go though metal detectors. Mr. Bannai had to submit to additional inspection (it was amazing since he was a part of the Administration) as his belt buckle set off the metal detectors. I stood by on the other side of the checkpoint and waited for him (I cleared with no problem). I just had my camera with me.

This is why I believe that the current "party crasher" story seems a little bogus to me. I think there's more to the story than what has been said so far.

Once Bannai was cleared, we went into the White House. Food and drinks were set up buffet-style in the State Dining Room. We were free to wander about in all of the first floor rooms, including the Grand Foyer, Red Room, Blue Room and the East Room.

The presidential podium was set up on a platform in the East Room for President Reagan to give his remarks to the gathering. Some of us got up behind the podium for photos. The presidential seal is installed within moments of the president's arrival, so when we took our pictures behind it, the seal was not yet put into place.

Soon it was announced that President and Mrs. Reagan arrived at the reception. I don't recall if "Hail To The Chief" was played or not. The Reagans mingled with the guests shaking hands and signing autographs.

Above, this White House photo shows President Reagan in the East Room signing an invitation. I am on the left just above someone's shoulder in a white suit.

After a while, President Reagan went behind the podium and addressed the reception. Following this, he mingled some more with the gathering before heading upstairs to the official residence.

We mingled around after the Reagans left with members of the Administration, including Sec. of Defense Caspar Weinburger and others.

When the reception was about over, we exited the White House from the North Portico and left the premises.

I only spent three days in Washington, as that was all the time I had available to me. I took the "redeye" flight to Dulles International Airport and from there I took the Washington Hilton's shuttle van into Washington. The Washington Hilton was only a few blocks away from my hotel. I think the price was only ten dollars.

I crammed a week's worth of vacation into three days. I visited the Air & Space Museum, Library of Congress, Ford's Theater and the Petersen House (where Lincoln died), The Capitol Building, Arlington National Cemetery (I was amused that Arlington had the same type of tour buses as did Universal Studios) and Mt. Vernon (George Washington's home). I took a boat from Washington down the Potomac River to get to Mt. Vernon and back.

I said to myself that I'd like to return to Washington, but thus far, I haven't yet. Maybe one of these days I will.

Media Cover-Up Of Climategate



A tale of destroyed documents, fraud, conspiracy and the misuse of millions of government dollars would seem to have all the juicy ingredients of a scandal that journalists would kill to cover. However, the mainstream media apparently doesn't think that Climategate is news. ABC News hasn't deemed the story newsworthy. Neither has CBS nor NBC. If Americans only got their news from the networks, they would not know about the global-warming fraud or would merely think there was a simple misunderstanding about what scientists meant in some vague e-mails.


Thus began an article from the Washington Times on the lack of news coverage by the mainstream or, (as Rush Limbaugh calls them) the state-run media, on the growing scandal over the hacked emails of scientists who manipulated data on global warming.

It is obvious that the media is in bed with the liberals on the climate change issue and would not cover any news that exposes the issue as a fraud. A lot of public policy hinges on whether or not alleged climate change is caused by man, if it is even happening at all. (There's been no global warming since 1998.) Obama's cap-and-trade (i.e., cap and tax) legislation is dependent on the climate change issue.

To read the full article, go here.

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