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

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunday Comics

A friend sent over a little collection of political cartoons.

Here's the best ones:













Legendary Pictures Godzilla: Get It Right, This Time!



After settling down from taking care of some banking and buying a new microwave oven, I sat down and perused the news reports on Legendary Pictures' announcement of their planned Godzilla co-production (with Warner Bros.) that is slated for a 2012 release.

The wire service Reuters carried the story and this quote was included:

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."


This gives me hope that the new American version of Godzilla will stay true to the character. Obviously, the Sony/TriStar Godzilla from 1998 was not what the fans hoped to see. Fans are still smarting over that one.

If you were to ask fans on what they'd like to see, they'd say that, 1.) Godzilla has to be recognizable as Godzilla. They wouldn't quibble over some tweaking of the design here and there (as long as it looks "cool"), but the design has to look like a credible Godzilla to make it work for them. 2.) Godzilla has to be the nuclear terror that serves as a metaphor for The Bomb or war itself. 3.) No campiness! Camp humor and nuclear terror are not a good mix. Keep it serious. No Siskel and Ebert lookalikes or actresses who can't convincingly cry, thank-you! 4.) A good storyline. If Godzilla is to appear in America, there has to be a good reason (plot-wise) for him to do so. Make a scary giant monster movie. It can be done, Cloverfield proved that! 5.) The special effects have to be top-notch. TriStar's special effects in their 1998 film were good, but some were not so hot (like the CGI baby Godzillas in Madison Square Garden). The effects have to be realistic and dazzling to the eyes. 4.) More screen time for Godzilla. The TriStar misfire had Godzilla disappear for a long stretch. If a company is willing to pay for the rights to use the character, then USE the character! 5.) If Godzilla is to be killed off at the end, don't make it happen so easily as TriStar did (a few missiles from fighter jets, c'mon!). His demise has to be extraordinary. Better yet, don't kill him (think sequel). 5.) As a fan, I want to see an American Godzilla movie that I can point to with pride and be able to tell people, "Hollywood finally got Godzilla right this time!"

Some fans would like to see Godzilla fight another monster. I am against this for one reason: they need to concentrate on getting the Godzilla character right. If they succeed, then they can do a monster vs. monster story in a sequel.

To see the full Reuters story, go here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Legendary Pictures' Godzilla Plot Leaked!

Above, a shrunken and helpless Godzilla is befriended by a Japanese girl vacationing in Los Angeles.

The plot to the upcoming Legendary Pictures Godzilla movie has been leaked!

The scenario of the story is that Godzilla has been rampaging in Japan and a scientist by the name of Haruo Fukuda invents a shrinking ray (shades of Brainiac in the Silver Age Superman comic books).

The script opens out on the open sea off Japan's coast where two Japanese whaling ships are harassed by a Greenpeace vessel. The whaling ships' navigators note an enormous blip on their sonar screens. They radio their captains and the ships are ordered to turn around and immediately leave the area.

The Greenpeace crew thinks they scared off the whaling ships and congratulate themselves when Godzilla surfaces just below them, causing their ship to capsize and sink.

Fukuda later successfully shrinks Godzilla to about eight inches tall. Although Godzilla is rendered helpless and could easily be killed due to his small size, the Japanese government agrees to allow American scientists to bring Godzilla to America for study. A Japanese girl vacationing in America takes pity on the creature and protects him.

However, the shrink ray proves to have only temporary effect and Godzilla regains his full size and rampages through Los Angeles.

What Shogo Tomiyama Didn't Say


Re: Legendary Pictures To Produce Godzilla Movie

Let's harken back to the scene on Hollywood Blvd. in November 2004 when Toho Executive Producer Shogo Tomiyama said that Godzilla will be revived by a new generation of filmmakers.

The only thing he didn't say was that the new generation of filmmakers would be Americans.

Denise Smith Geriminsky

Above, Mitch and Denise at their Cruiser Motor Sports Store in Moreno Valley, California.

2010 is not starting off on a good footing of late.

I learned earlier today that Denise Smith Geriminsky, wife of my friend Mitch, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away yesterday in Moreno Valley.

According to Mitch's sister Sheila, Denise fractured her hip and went to the hospital on Saturday night. She then had surgery on Sunday (yesterday). That went well, but then she had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot to the lung).

Understandably, Mitch is in shock (I've been there with the passing of my mom in January, and it is not fun) from this turn of events.

Mitch and Denise own Cruiser Motor Sports car accessory store in Moreno Valley, California. If memory serves, Denise graduated from Redondo Beach High School in 1972. Mitch graduated from Hawthorne High School in 1972.

Your prayers at this time are appreciated.

Monster Business...

Above, the iconic Godzilla. Don't mess with an icon! Photo copyright 1954 by Toho Co., Ltd.

...or, A Memo To Legendary Pictures

Alright, word is hitting Godzilla fandom like a rocket throughout the Internet. This is a good thing. For if the G-fans aren't excited, then the fortunes of any new movie, American or Japanese, would be dealt a severe blow.

Naturally, there's some apprehension on whether the new Legendary Pictures Godzilla movie will be a turkey like Sony/TriStar's of 1998.

To avoid the hostility of the fanbase, Legendary (along with their partners Warner Bros.) has to keep a few things in mind:

1. Keep true to the spirit of Godzilla. Even as a super-hero or as a nuclear terror, Godzilla has always been the product of mankind's unleashing of nuclear power. In other words, let Godzilla be Godzilla.

2. Make sure Godzilla looks like Godzilla. While it may be a good thing to change the appearance of a character, it is folly to mess with an iconic image. The TriStar design wasn't bad, it just wasn't Godzilla. The planned Nicholas Cage Superman never got past the drawing boards as the costume that was contemplated looked nothing like Superman's. Neither did the proposed actor, no matter how good a toupee they give him. The fans rebelled and the plans were shelved.

3. Godzilla must act like Godzilla. The TriStar version strayed from this and paid a price in bad word-of-mouth. They portrayed him as a monster who flees the military, can be too easily killed and an egg-layer. Godzilla always advances, never retreats.

4. Cut the camp! The campiness of Sony/TriStar's Godzilla made a bad movie even worse. It is fine to have some occasional situational humor, but the extremes that the Sony/TriStar's movie took drove the stake into the heart of the picture.


If Legendary and Warner Bros. keeps these things in mind (is that too much to ask for?), and have a good script, then they should have a successful movie that will please general audiences, as well as the fans.

More Monster Business...

My shipment of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan arrived and the orders I already received were immediately sent out. This includes an order for two copies to the Australian college professors who will be in Tokyo next month to do some Godzilla research.

Godzilla's Coming Back And Legendary Pictures Got Him!

Above, Godzilla in 1954 from the landmark movie. Photo copyright Toho Co., Ltd.

See? I told you so! I knew that something was up when I spoke to Toho-L.A. General Manager Yukio Kotaki! You may recall that when I questioned Mr. Kotaki about the rumor of the Legendary Pictures project, he couldn't say but gave a noticable giggle. Legendary Pictures announced today that they will be co-producing and co-financing with Warner Brothers a new Godzilla movie that will be re-imagining the Japanese monster. It will not be connected to the Sony/TriStar feature with Matthew Broderick. Thank God!

Variety is reporting:

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.


This is great news, provided the movie turns out to be faithful to the spirit of Japan's Godzilla rather than the abomination that TriStar's 1998 Godzilla turned out to be. That movie is commonly known as GINO (Godzilla In Name Only).

Memory Lane: New Hollywood Godzilla? Wait and See

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Monster Japan Travel Guide In Southern Caliornia

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My shipment of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is only a few miles away in Vernon, according to the shipment tracker from United Parcel Service. I checked it a few minutes ago and it arrived a little before 8:00 this morning.

Once it arrives here tomorrow, I have to make a bee-line over to the post office and ship some copies out, two of which are going to a couple of Australian college professors studying Godzilla and will be in Japan early next month.

If you want to order a copy, go to the "About The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" link at the top of this page and it will give you all necessary ordering information.

UPDATE (3/29/10): The shipment arrived this afternoon and I filled the pending orders, including an order of two copies for a couple of Australian college professors who will be in Japan early next month doing some Godzilla research.

MALIBU!

Above, Malibu beach and Pacific Coast Highway.

One of the benefits of living in Southern California and working in the seaside community of Malibu is to be able to enjoy the beach and the spectacular sunsets.

To see them in a larger size, just click on the images.

I remembered to bring my camera with me yesterday and took these shots:

Above, beachgoers are already coming to the beach and March is not even over.

Above, the setting sun and one of the channel islands on the horizon.

Above, another view of the island and the sun.

Above, the Malibu coastline.

Above, the coast as darkness had already set in with cars on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Above, the Pacific Coast Highway.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bette Shayne Memorial

Above, the memorial booklet from yesterday.

Yesterday, I attended the memorial for Elizabeth "Bette" Shayne at the Motion Picture Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills. This was the first time I stepped foot there (although I've passed by it many times). It is an interesting place with memorabilia of the motion picture industry displayed throughout the facility.

The memorial was a celebration of Bette's life and was light-hearted and had more of a party atmosphere rather than something funereal. I find this preferable than something mournful.

I have to admit being a bit apprehensive about attending as my own mom's death is still fresh. When Stephanie Shayne Parkin greeted me, I suddenly started developing a "baseball in my throat" and felt on the verge of tears. I thought at the moment, "Maybe it wasn't a good idea for me to come." But that soon passed, thank God!

It is amazing at how we are kindred spirits right now, both of us are in (roughly) the same age group and both lost our moms. Stephanie held up pretty well. In fact, she's downright funny! She got up and mentioned that actor/writer Jim Beaver came all the way from a film shoot in Vancouver, British Columbia(?) to speak at the memorial and said something about doing a "cruise ship" thing about getting a show of hands of "who came the farthest."

One thing that struck me was how much Bob and Bette Shayne's grandson Colin resembles Bob. He almost looks like a young Bob Shayne!

The memorial started with a photo show of Bette's life. Included in the show were a couple of shots from the "Superman Week" celebration from July 2001, one of which was a group shot of Bette and Stephanie with some of us. It was fascinating to see Bob Shayne with his family. As you may know, Bob was "Inspector Henderson" on the Adventures of Superman television show (1951-1957) starring George Reeves.

I noticed a similarity between Bette and my mom. Both were women who always dressed and looked their best, no matter the occasion. That's a big difference I've noticed of women of our mothers' generation compared to the women of succeeding generations. They had a sense pride in their appearance. They took more care of themselves.

After the speeches, a toast to Bette was led by Stepanie's husband Pete.

It was a nice gathering and many said that Bette would have enjoyed it.

After the memorial, I headed off to Malibu to work. The photo below was taken last night from Malibu after the sun set below one of the channel islands. I took it with my cell phone as, for some reason, I keep forgetting to bring my camera with me.

Maybe today I'll remember to bring it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dollar vs. Yen: No Real Improvement



It's been a while since I took a good look at the exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the Japanese Yen.

Unfortunately, things haven't improved much.

Today's rate (per the Universal Currency Converter) is:

1 USD = 92.6710 JPY / 1 JPY = 0.0107909 USD


The dollar is still weak against the yen and I foresee no signs of real improvement.

My last trip to Japan (in April 2007) I received 116 yen for every dollar exchanged.

In 2007, I exchanged $1,500 for yen and I received 174,000 yen. Today, $1,500 would only get a traveler 139,006 yen. That's a difference of 34,994 yen (roughly a $350 loss of value). In other words, I'd have to exchange $1,850 to get the same amount of yen as I did in 2007.

Regardless of the situation with the exchange rates, I am contemplating a visit to Japan either this summer or fall to gather more material for possible future editions of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Maybe the exchange rate will improve a tad, especially if the GOP re-takes Capitiol Hill and repairs the damage caused by the Democrats. We shall see.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dingell: "Control The People"

Ed Morrisey at Hot Air.com noted a "Freudian Slip" on the part of Rep. John Dingell:

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) defended the ObamaCare bill on WJR’s Paul W. Smith show yesterday when the host wondered why Democrats wait until 2014 to stop people from dying through lack of universal health care coverage. Dingell tells Smith that it takes a lot of hard work and preparation to create a system that will “control the people.” Freudian slip? The American Thinker transcribed the answer (via CentristNet):

Let me remind you this has been going on for years. We are bringing it to a halt. The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.


"Control the people" is what their scheme has been all about. Finally, a Democrat is telling the truth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chuck Norris On Obamacare



Chuck Norris has weighed in on the passage of Obamacare:

Why can't Washington see that the main problem with Obamacare is not its costs, coverage or faulty projected savings, but that the federal government should not be involved in the health care business at all?! According to the Constitution, such a matter should be left to the free market, citizens, local communities and states.


To read Norris's full column, go here.

Health Insurers: May Last 2-3 More Years



Rush Limbaugh has a regular caller from the health insurance industry named Stacy from Atlanta, Georgia. She called in today and said that the private health insurance industry has about 2-3 years of life left before they go bust under Obamacare.

Here's part of the transcript of her call to Rush:

CALLER: I've gotta revise my estimate. We may last two to three years, tops, and let me tell you why. The 85-15 provision that has just been signed into law an hour ago --

RUSH: Yeah?

CALLER: -- by definition of every state and federal insurance regulator makes us financially unsound.

RUSH: All right, now, I have to take a break here and I want to ask you if you can hold on 'til the top of the next hour where we will get your details on this without any time constraints. Can you hang on?

CALLER: I'll skip a bit of a meeting, sure.

RUSH: You tell 'em it will be worth it.

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: Tell 'em it will be worth it, and if you can't, you tell Snerdley and we'll call you back when you have time, okay?

CALLER: Okay, thank you, dear.

RUSH: You bet.


BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Now, we welcome back from "in hiding" in Atlanta Stacy, who works for an insurance company who's been keeping us updated throughout this past year on the fate of her industry should this thing pass. Now it has passed. Give us the lowdown, Stacy.

CALLER: Um, we're going to make it two years, three tops.

RUSH: Explain why and start at the beginning.

CALLER: Okay. For time immemorial, both state and federal regulation -- and also just the industry standard -- has been a 65-45 percentage arrangement: 65 in claims payment and 45 for administration and claims expense. Withholding that you store for, you know, a major catastrophe or something.

RUSH: This is to pay your claims?

CALLER: No, 65% is to pay the claims. Forty-five percent is for everything else.

RUSH: That means 45% is salaries, administration costs, and the offices, all the paperwork, that kind of thing?

CALLER: It's that as well as, you know, we are required to keep a certain amount of cash on hand as a percentage of our claims exposure to pay claims.


The money an insurer is required to keep in reserve to pay claims is set by state and federal regulators. It was 65%. (Remember the word reserves.)

If an insurer is unable to keep adequate reserves to cover claims in any given year, it is considered insolvent. The Obamacare bill changes the percentage amount of reserves health insurers are required to have. The percentage was raised to 85%. This leaves very little (15%) for insurers to cover overhead costs and will render them insolvent, thereby possibly exposing them to government takeover.

In the short run, insurers would have to raise insurance premiums (beginning January 1, 2011) to keep afloat. This was all by design by the Democrats to cause private health insurance companies to fail or to get out of the business. Therefore, the socialist "single-payer" scheme the Democrats have been salivating over for years would be forced on us, even though there's no single-payer provision in the new law. They will be getting it through the back door.

Sneaky little bastards, aren't they?

To read the full transcript, go here.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Shipment

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Shipment

As mentioned previously, I have a big order of copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan that was originally expected to be shipped to me on March 18. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond ComiXpress's control (i.e., an Act of God), there was a storm-related power outage in their area around March 15-17 that shut down their operations for two days.

I received the following message from Jodi at ComiXpress today:

I do apologize for the wait and production let me know that these will be shipping today. The downtime definitely put us off schedule but the guys have been great about working long hours to get caught up. :)

Watch for tracking info this afternoon!


Accordingly, I am now offering The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan directly from me, while supplies last (actually, there will be plenty as I can re-order anytime).

Go to the link, "About The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" (below the "Armand's Rancho Del Cielo" masthead) at the top of this page (and above the Ronald Reagan quote) for ordering details.

The price is $15.00 per copy plus $2.00 shipping and handling (for domestic orders).

Constitutionality of Obamacare Challenged



Twelve states are challenging the constitutionality of the newly-signed Obamacare law according to ABC News:

Twelve state attorneys general, all of whom are Republican, have already filed suits to block the health care billon the grounds that its requirement that everyone have health insurance is unconstitutional. Four state legislatures have already passed laws blocking the bill. On Wednesday, Virginia's GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell will sign the bill into the state's law, making it illegal for the federal government to require Americans to purchase health insurance.

Republicans across the country are specifically challenging the mandate in the health care bill that requires every individual to have health insurance, charging that it is unconstitutional.

The individual mandateis an "unprecedented overreach by the federal government forcing individual citizens to buy a good or a service for no other reason then they happen to be alive or a person," Republican governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty said today on "Good Morning America."


To read the full article, go here.

Many individuals, including me, will not comply with the law as it is not constitutional.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another Fine Week In The Making?

This week is starting out good like last week.

I did my mom's and my taxes today and I was on pins & needles going in. However, the news the tax preparer gave me couldn't be better!

For my mom: no taxes need to be paid!

For me, I get a refund from the federal government, but only have to pay $9.00 to the State of California.

Hope the rest of the week is as good!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Noel Neill Spring Appearances Cancelled

Above, Jack Larson and Noel Neill at her 85th birthday celebration in 2005. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Larry Ward, Noel Neill's biographer and manager, has cancelled Neill's spring convention appearances due to illness and injury. This was reported today at the Superman Homepage.

She has recently been fighting a bout with a cold/flu and is slowly recovering from that. However, it was reported that she also recently took a fall and injured her right hip and leg. Thankfully, she sustained no broken bones, but it was a deep bruise and Ward told the Superman Homepage that "Traveling is not an option."

It has been reported at the Superman Homepage that her appearance at the April WonderCon is among the cancelled appearances. Noel Neill will be 90 this November.

Best wishes to Noel for a speedy and thorough recovery!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Fine Week!

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tomorrow, I'll be starting my new "parachute" job that will help make ends meet whenever the insurance claims work slows again. The swing shift hours will make it more convenient for me to do insurance work during the day. I don't have to be there until 5:00 PM.

I'll be patrolling around in an exclusive gated community near the beach in Malibu. How's that for nice scenery? I hope the patrol car has a CD player so I can play my Beach Boys CDs in it.

This has turned out to be a good week. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is selling (no word yet on my shipment); insurance claims work is coming in; money is flowing in; I scored a victory over a knuckleheaded CHP cop in traffic court; and now a new job. Plus, had an enjoyable evening last night at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society meeting.

I spent most of today in an orientation class at the new company. I was the only one who showed up on-time (actually early by about 20 min.) while everyone else in the class showed up 15-20 min. late. Nothing like making a good first impression to a new employer!

I wouldn't mind having more weeks like this. A fine week it was!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peter H. Brothers and LASFS

Left, Peter H. Brothers as he gave his presentation to the L.A. Science Fantasy Society. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera and had to rely on my cell phone for this shot.

Peter H. Brothers spoke on his book on Japanese director Ishiro Honda, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda, tonight before the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in North Hollywood, California.

He spoke on how he decided to write a biography/filmography on Honda and the journey he took in getting it into print.

His talk was well-received by the members of the organization, which has their own "clubhouse" property consisting of two buildings at 11513 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood.

Joining us at the meeting was long-time kaiju historian Richard Pusateri (who had me sign his copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan). I also ran into a friend from my college days at the meeting.

Peter introduced me to the audience and had me hold up my copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Fess Parker Dies At 85



Another icon of our youth is gone.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

Fess Parker, who starred as the racoon-skinned Davy Crockett in "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier," becoming a lifelong star to young Baby Boomers, has died of natural causes, according to reports. He was 85.


Parker, in recent years, ran The Fess Parker Winery up near Santa Barbara, California. He is best known as Davy Crockett in the 1950s television show. That show was so popular, that it was fashionable for people to wear coon-skin caps.

Walt Disney requested a screening of the movie Them! as he was considering James Arness for the role of Crockett. But his eye was caught by Parker, who had a bit role in the movie about giant mutated ants.


In 1956, Parker, along with Disney's Mouseketeers, made Westward Ho The Wagons. The movie also co-starred another baby-boomer icon, George "Superman" Reeves.

Following Davy Crockett, Parker played another historical American figure on television, Daniel Boone from 1964 to 1969.

The Hollywood Reporter adds:

Subsequently, however, he attained wealth not in entertainment but in real estate, hitting gold in Santa Barbara with his winery and sprawling, beachfront resort just east of the Santa Barbara pier. Through his hotel, Parker was supportive of the arts, donating rooms to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and the Fess Parker Winery served as host to Shakespeare Santa Barbara for several years.


He will be missed.

ComiXpress Had Power Outage

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It appears that my shipment of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan may be delayed due to recent storms over the last two days that knocked out ComiXpress's power for a couple of days.

ComiXpress posted on March 16 (which was day two of the outage):

ComiXpress’ Offices in Dumont NJ continue to be without power due to the recent storms. Power is slowly being restored throughout the area, and a representative of the Electric Company PSE&G has recently given us an estimate that power should be restored to our area late today.

Thanks again for your patience as we ride this unforseen storm out. Please know we look forward to being able to roll up our sleeves and return to work full force as soon as possible!

Logan


Then, yesterday, they posted:

Looks like we’re enjoying a bit of Luck-o-the-Irish here! Power was restored to the grid including the ComiXpress Offices sometime overnight, and we’re back in business! We obviously have a lot to wade through today, including emails, printing, digital production and more – but everyone here is planning 25 hour work-days until things get back on track.

Thanks again to everyone for their patience and understanding during this unfortunate time.

Okay, in the words of Adam West: “Atomic batteries to power! Turbines to speed!”

Logan


(It's been a while since I watched the old Batman television show, but I seem to recall that it was Burt Ward who said the above quote, not Adam West.)

I hope the shipment isn't delayed too long, I have some orders to fill (a couple with a deadline as a couple of college professors are expected to be in Japan April 4 doing some Godzilla research).

Another classic television quote comes to mind in all of this. It is from Captain Binghampton (Joe Flynn) from McHale's Navy: "Why me? Why is it always me?"

Maybe they ought to consider re-locating to Southern California. But the way things go, they'd probably be knocked out by an earthquake if they did.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010



Tomorrow night, I'll be attending Peter H. Brothers's talk on his new book, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.

Pete says this about the meeting:

I have graciously been invited to give my first public speech about my MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN book at the March 18th meeting of the LA Fantasy Science Society, the oldest such club in the US. The meetings are casual affairs that meet every Thursday evenings at 8p.m. I will be showing brief clips from Honda's films and talk mainly about how I came to write the book and the significance of Honda's movies in my life. Talk should start somewhere around 8:45 and last some 30 minutes. Seating is limited (about 50) so please come early. I will be selling copies of my book, autographed of course!


I won't be selling any copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan (after all, it's Pete's night), but I will bring one along to show to the gathering.

Get "Godzilla vs. Biollante" On Region 1 DVD


A fan-generated effort is now underway to get Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment to release the 1989 feature, Godzilla vs. Biollante on DVD.

Godzilla vs. Biollante was the follow-up movie to 1984's Return of Godzilla (Godzilla 1985) in which Godzilla is released from the crater of Mt. Mihara on Oshima Island.

It is available on Regions 2 and 3, but not here in the United States (Region 1).

The idea is to saturate (as much as possible) the suits at Disney (who bought out Miramax and their film library) with cards and letters to get them to release Godzilla vs. Biollante on DVD. The movie was released on VHS video tape back in the 1990s, but it has not been released on DVD here. It is about like trying to listen to your favorite rock album on 8-track tape today.

So send your cards and letters to:

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521


Please be polite and business-like when writing. You will catch more flies by using honey instead of vinegar!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Democrats Hell-Bent On Political Suicide



Democrats Hell-Bent On Political Suicide

by Armand Vaquer

The House and Senate Democrats are hell-bent on committing political suicide by trying to ram through Obamacare. A majority of American steadfastly oppose Obamacare.

According to the Augusta Chronicle:

The numbers say it's a path to political suicide: a whopping 58 percent of the public oppose the congressional Democrats' health-care proposals; 48 percent strongly oppose, while only 19 percent strongly support it -- and 61 percent say scrap the Democrats' cockamamie plans and start over.


They are considering a complex parliamentary strategy that would allow House Democrats to pass the Senate's health care legislation without actually voting on the bill itself.

This would allow Democrat House members, who don't like the Senate bill, to vote on a rule concerning debate that deems the bill passed once a smaller package of "fixes" also had passed. Republicans are solidly in opposition to the bill.

The pressure is on wavering Democrats as President Obama said he will refuse to make any fund-raising visits during the November elections to any district whose representative did not support the health care bill.

According to the U.K. Telegraph:

By a process known as "reconciliation," Democrats would frustrate Republican filibuster obstruction tactics in the Senate and allow the health care overhaul to be finalised before Congress takes a two-week break on March 26.

The Democrats have been forced to unorthodox tactics after losing their filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the Senate in a Massachusetts by-election.


This is tyranny in action.

UPDATE (3/17/10): Talk show host Mark Levin said that if Obamacare "passes" via Rep. Slaughter's scheme to "deem" that the Senate bill passed the House, he will file suit through the Landmark Legal Foundation. For more on this, go here.

Monster Movie Japan Travel Guide Shipment Expected

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A big batch of copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan are expected to be shipped to me on March 18.

Once I receive confirmation that they've been shipped, I will post information on how to directly order from me. This will make it easier for you to get a copy a lot faster instead of waiting for ComiXpress to print up your order. That's the one drawback of print-to-order publishing. Otherwise, it works out pretty well.

So, keep watch on this blog for further details and announcements over the next several days.

Old Newspaper Clipping

While cleaning out my mom's apartment back in January, I came across this old newspaper clipping from the South Bay Daily Breeze from 1978:

Ronald Reagan Billboard In Minnesota

Ed Morrisey of Hot Air.com (see links on this page) posted an article on this billboard in Albertville, Minnesota:



The billboard company said that a group of private individuals paid for the ad.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Karlos Borloff Receives Monster Movie Japan Travel Guide

Above, Karlos Borloff (Jerry Moore) with the original Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Word has been received that Jerry Moore, a.k.a. Karlos Borloff of the Monster Madhouse Show, received his copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

This message just came in from him:

JUST GOT IT TODAY !!!!! LOOKS AWESOME....WOW, YOU DID A FANTASTIC JOB ON THIS !!!


And, over at Facebook he posted:

GREAT BOOK !!!


Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ides of March: So Far, So Good!

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today is March 15, commonly known as The Ides of March.

On this day in history, according to Wikipedia:

The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae) is the name of March 15 in the Roman calendar. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months. The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held. In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date that Julius Caesar was killed in 709 AUC or 44 B.C.

Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in the Roman Senate led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus and 60 other co-conspirators.


So far, today has been pretty good for me. I received and worked one new insurance claim assignment and received payments for some orders for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, one of which was from Australia (for two copies).

As I said, so far, so good!

UPDATE: The day finished on an upward note. Karlos Borloff (Jerry Moore) received his copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan today and was very pleased with it. Also, the mailman delivered more checks (non-travel guide-related) and more orders came in at ComiXpress. I wouldn't mind more of these kinds of days!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

6.6 Earthquake Rocks Eastern Honshu, Japan



The east coast of Japan was hit by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake today.

The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean between Sendai and Soma, Japan. The depth was 39 km (24.2 miles) below the surface.

80 km (50 miles) SE of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
95 km (60 miles) E of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
100 km (60 miles) NE of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
285 km (175 miles) NE of TOKYO, Japan

Peter Graves Found Dead



The Los Angeles Times is reporting that actor Peter Graves has been found dead:

Actor Peter Graves was found dead Sunday at his home in Pacific Palisades, according to law enforcement sources. Graves, who stared in "Mission: Impossible," "Airplane!" and Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17"--apparently died of natural causes, the sources said.

Graves was 83.


Graves starred in the 1955-1960 television series Fury and was most recently the host of A & E's Biography. He also was in the 1950s science-fiction movies It Conquered The World and Beginning of the End.

Peter Graves was the younger brother of Gunsmoke star James Arness.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Godzilla 1985" Addendum

Above, the Yurakucho Mullion Buildings.

As an addendum to yesterday's blog about Godzilla 1985 (or Return of Godzilla), it should be mentioned that the main action between the Japanese military forces (with its Super X fighting machine) and Godzilla takes place in the Shinjuku section of Tokyo.

The buildings shown appear to be generic and not easily recognizable. However, Godzilla does take another stroll through Ginza and Hibiya (his first was in 1954).

One main building to note was the Yurakucho Mullion building. There is a scene in the Japanese version of Godzilla approaching the building and his reflection is visible on the side of the building. Unfortunately, this scene was not included in the Americanized version. Both versions do show Godzilla clawing at the side of the building as he loses his balance when his foot collapses the street below him.

The site where the Yurakucho Mullion building stands was where the Nichigeki Theater once stood. It was featured in the 1954 original when Godzilla steps on some electified train tracks, causing his tail to whip about and hit the theater.

The Yurakucho Building was also featured in another Godzilla movie. This is covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.



Godzilla eventually meets his "doom" in the crater of Mt. Mihara, on Oshima Island. Today, there is a stone Godzilla statue at the Hamano Hot Springs resort on Oshima Island. Oshima can be seen on clear days from Atami (photo above).

Friday, March 12, 2010

25th Anniversary of "Godzilla 1985"



2010 will mark 25 years since the release in America of the first Godzilla movie of the second (or Heisei) series to theaters.

The summer of 1985 saw the release of the Americanized Godzilla 1985. The movie is known in Japan as Return of Godzilla. It was produced in 1984 by Toho Co., Ltd. and released in America by New World Pictures.

This new series of Godzilla movies ignores all of Godzilla’s adventures from Godzilla Raids Again (1955) through Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). Essentially, it is a sequel to the 1954 original.

Actor Raymond Burr was tapped to reprise his role from the 1956 Americanized Godzilla, King of the Monsters! as reporter Steve Martin. To avoid confusion (or snickers) with the then-popular comic Steve Martin, Burr’s character was called either “Steven Martin” or just “Mr. Martin.”

The movie opens with a fishing trawler that gets swept near a volcanic island in a storm. As the boat closes in on the island, a menacing, enormous figure bursts (unseen to the audience, though) from the volcanic rock.

Days later, reporter Goro Maki (Ken Tanaka), while out sailing, comes across the fishing boat and he finds it in a damaged condition with seemingly no crew. However, he finds the withered corpse of a crewman and a huge sea louse, which attacks him but is killed by the sole survivor of the vessel.

The survivor relates the story of how they were swept near the island and Godzilla appeared.

Unfortunately, the Japanese government put a clamp on any news of Godzilla’s return to avoid a nationwide panic, so the reporter is unable to have his big scoop published.

As a consolation, the Maki’s editor tells him to do some background on the story and sends him to see Dr. Hayashida (Yosuke Natsuki), who just happens to employ, as his assistant, the sister of the boat's survivor.

Eventually, the news of Godzilla’s return is broken wide open as he attacks a nuclear power station and feeds on the nuclear material in the reactor. But, Godzilla provides a clue to the professor as he is led back to the ocean by a flock of seagulls. Figuring that dinosaurs are distant ancestors of today’s birds, he comes to the conclusion that if a device can emulate the frequency of bird chirping, they can lead Godzilla to his doom.

Return of Godzilla marked the first performance of suit-actor Kenpachiro Satsuma as Godzilla. He would continue to play Godzilla through to Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995).

At the time of the release of Godzilla 1985, I was house-sitting for a friend in Canoga Park, California and on a week’s vacation. One warm summer night, after seeing off my then-girlfriend (and later spouse) home, I bee-lined it to the Van Nuys Drive-In Theater (now demolished) to catch a late screening. This was the first theatrical screening of a Japanese Godzilla movie I went to since King Kong vs. Godzilla in 1963.

Godzilla 1985 was released on August 23, 1985 to 235 North American theaters. It initially wasn’t a hit for New World, but it eventually became a minor money-maker for the company through home video sales.

Although it is somewhat dated and has corny jokes, it plays better today than many of the later entries in the series.

Godzilla 1985 has not been released on DVD as its rights ownership is somewhat in limbo (a long story, believe me). It can be found occasionally on Anchor Bay’s VHS tape through eBay and other sources. It was paired up with the short subject Bambi Meets Godzilla.

It is hard to believe that it’ll be 25 years (this coming summer) that Godzilla 1985 was released.

Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention News

FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #251 TO PREVIEW AT THE FIRST ANNUAL FAMOUS MONSTERS CONVENTION

FMC Secures Second Ballroom For The Increasing Number Of Attendees

LOS ANGELES, CALIF., March 11, 2010 - Famous Monsters of Filmland announces today the official launch date for the historical Famous Monsters of Filmland Issue #251. The collectable magazine will preview at the official Famous Monsters Convention to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 9-11, 2010.

Thomas (The Mist, Punisher) Jane, Derek Mears and additional cast members from this summer's 20th Century Fox release Predators, a Night Of The Living Dead reunion featuring eight original cast members, and a Nightmare on Elm Street series reunion with Heather Langenkamp and Mark Patton are among the initial line up of guests FM has invited for the first annual FMC. Horror legends Tom Savini, Bill Moseley, and Herschell Gordon Lewis will also be in attendance to celebrate this memorable FM launch. A complete guestlist can be found at www.famousmonstersconvention.com.

To accommodate already increasing demands, Famous Monsters has secured additional convention floor space for our monstrous event. "Friday night's VIP Blood Red Pool Party and the Beauty Pageant sponsored by Girls and Corpses are just a few of the highlights for the weekend," said Philip Kim, Senior Manager of Famous Monsters. "The winner of the beauty pageant will receive a photo spread in an upcoming issue of both Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and Girls and Corpses magazine."

The Famous Monsters Convention will be held at the Wyndham Indianapolis West, located at 2544 Executive Drive, Indianapolis, IN. Ticket pricing, hotel accommodations, and a schedule of events are available at www.famousmonstersconvention.com.

About Famousmonsters.com

Famousmonsters.com represents the web entity of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Visitors can quickly and easily navigate between op-eds, video, news and reviews from our staff, exclusive interviews and columns from industry insiders and professionals, photo galleries, and much more.

FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND (words and distinctive lettering design) is a registered trademark of Philip Kim. Reproduction or use of the FM name or logo in any manner, including but not limited to internet "tribute" sites without express prior written permission from the trademark owner is strictly prohibited. All contents of website ©2008 Philip Kim. For more information visit: www.famousmonstersoffilmland.com.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Transam Associates Scam

There's an old axiom: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Today, I received an email from a company called Transam Associates. They say they are a medical transcription company. Their email reads as follows:

Job Alert

Hello, Armand

Thank you for your sharing your Job Network resume for this work at home Job Alert! We are a medical transcription company.

After reviewing your resume we are interested.

Transam Associates provides precise medical transcription of voice files that doctors dictate for hospitals, clinics and doctor offices.

Transam Associates also conducts its own training program that prepares individuals for the medical transcription profession. This training is done online in the comfort of your own home. A personal trainer is provided to guide individuals in the training program through a Live Chat environment.

As a recruiter for this national transcription service, I am seeking full-and part-time, home-based medical transcriptionists. We are committed to providing a work environment where medical transcriptionists can grow and be respected for the professionals they are.

This is an entry level opportunity and if you are not yet qualified, we'll provide tuition FREE training and a personal trainer that you'll need to become qualified. Once you meet our criteria, which will be defined for you before you begin, you will be certified by us as an accomplished medical transcriptionist and can begin to work for Transam Associates, Inc.

The pay is good. After completing the training program, people seem to do quite well and as you get more experience, people seem to earn $1,000 to $2,000 a month working about 20-30 hours a week. Some make $3,000-$4,000 a month, full-time 40-48 hours a week (This does not happen overnight). If you want to work more, you'll earn more. If you want to work less, you'll earn less. The choice is yours.

We will provide to you a great working environment where you can make a difference. Our medical transcriptionists start as contractors and are eligible for raises. Whether or not you have experience, you can find rewarding work as a medical transcriptionist.

If you are interested in a job interview please email: XXXXXXX@transamassociates.com

We are looking forward to working with you.

Thank you!
Kimberly Carson
Regional Recruiter


Sounds good, doesn't it? Their email was titled, "Medical Transcription - Will Train - No Experience!"

What they don't tell you that if you "pass" a little transcription test, you will then be able to join their training program.

But there's a catch:

You will need to purchase their MT software at a price of $462.00 and their foot pedal and adapter for $135.00. I checked around and people who have caught on to this scam, after paying, requested their money back but Transam refuses to refund it.

Also, there are complaints that people are forever stuck into the "training program."

If a company is willing to hire you for a job, even as an independent contractor, they shouldn't be asking you to pay for their program. All you have to do is Google "Transam Associates" and the word "scam", you will find plenty of complaints.

Another thing that caught my eye, I never heard of a job website called "Job Network." There may be one, but I have never signed up with it.

Made It!

Well, I made it through today, which would've been my mom's 77th birthday. I wished her a Happy Birthday anyway. I know of a lot of other people who did as well.

I basically spent it working on a art project for Glenn Thornhill and the Platrix Chapter of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus. One thing I noticed, I am way out-of-practice (I used to be an art major and drew all the time). I do doodle, but I haven't done anything for a long time that required a bit more precision, until now.

I guess that was a good way to honor my mom's memory. She was artistically inclined as was my grandfather. I guess I inherited that from them.

One bad note: I had to replace my coffee-maker. The clock on the old one works, but it would not heat up and brew any coffee. So, I had to get a new one.

If that was the worst thing to happen today, I guess I made out pretty good!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Birthdays



One of the toughest things for people who have had an immediate family member pass away is to endure anniversaries, holidays and birthdays that involved that person.

On Thursday, March 11, my mom would've celebrated her 77th birthday. She was born in Los Angeles at the old Methodist Hospital in 1933. This was one day after the Long Beach Earthquake. My great-grandfather (who was a retired doctor) quipped at the time, "It took an earthquake to get her born!"

A funny thing about my mom and her birthday: Back in 1983, there was a bit of a hoopla over the fiftieth anniversary of King Kong. That same year, my mom also turned 50. All the noise in the media over Kong annoyed her. She said at the time, "That just only reminds me of my age!"

I pretty much had the same feeling when Godzilla's fiftieth anniversay was celebrated in 2004. I turned 50 that same year. This year's birthday was somber as it came only weeks after my mom died.

Another oddity that I just found out tonight: Stephanie Shayne Parkin, the daughter of Robert "Inspector Henderson" Shayne (from the 1950s Adventures of Superman), lost her mother Betty last week. This Thursday, March 11, Stephanie also will celebrate her birthday (I won't give away her age here). She's been having to deal with receiving birthday cards that are mixed in with sympathy cards in the mailbox.

It is strange how things work out.

I don't know at this point how I will handle this Thursday. It may be depressing, or it may not affect me at all. I'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE (3/10/10): I received this nice note from Stephanie:

You are so dear, Armand. Thank you. We’re in it together, friend. March 11 this year will be sad for both of us.

Hugs,
Stephanie


She's exactly right, we're in this together. I know quite a number of people who've lost a parent over the past six months.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

World's First and Only Japan Travel Guide For Monster Fans

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is the world's first and only Japan travel guide for tourists who are also fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies.

And, it is a useful tool for travel industry professionals who can use it to tailor special tours of monster movie locations.

To order, go here.

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