"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.)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Godzilla vs. Megalon" To Get Official Release

Above, the U.S. release poster featuring the World Trade Center, a scene that never took place in the movie.

August Ragone posted today that Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) will see its official Region One release by Media Blasters.

While Godzilla vs. Megalon isn't one of my favorites, it is, admittedly, entertaining. I have two (ahem) boots of it: one with a very poor source print and one with a better source print.

Rather than have me prattle on about the release, go see Ragone's excellent write-up on it by going here.

Now, all we need is Return of Godzilla (1984) (a.k.a. Godzilla 1985) and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) released on DVD.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Fun Evening!

Above, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan." Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was a fun evening tonight during the chat party at the Classic Horror Film Board as David Colton posted the winners of the 9th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

The chat was filled with many regulars of the forum and with hysterical quips from many! It had a party atmosphere to it and the sound effects on the chat (screams, snores, etc.) was often-hilarious touch.

It was an honor just to have The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan nominated in the "Best Book" category. It didn't win (I didn't expect it to), but according to Colton during the chat party, it did well in the voting.

A big tip of the hat to David Colton for all of his hard work with the Rondos as well as a moderator/administrator of the Classic Horror Film Board.


I am looking forward to next year's Rondo Award announcement night. One winning item I am happy to see was Dark Shadows: The Night Whispers (right), an audio dramatic reading, based on the classic ABC-TV series and featuring Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins. It was named "Best Horror CD." This was Frid's first portrayal of Barnabas since 1971.



Now that that's done, the next big item on the agenda is my presentation at Monsterpalooza on April 8 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. All I have to do is to get my narrative written on 3 x 5" cards. The slideshow is already completed.

Rondo's "Best Book" of 2010


The Rondo vote results are in.

The winner of the "Best Book" category was Marcus Hearns' The Art of Hammer.

According to David Colton, "[David] Kalat's [A Critical History of Toho's Godillaseries] and Armand's [The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan] did well also...a very healthy category."

Again, thanks for your support! And, congratulations to the winners!

To see the complete list of Rondo Award winners, go here.

Obama Signs Secret Order Aiding Libyan Rebels; al-Qaeda Involved?


President Obama signed a secret order supporting rebels in Libya. The problem is, there may be elements of al-Qaeda involved with the rebels. We are supposed to be at war with al-Qaeda for the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Left, an al-Qaeda commander urged Libyans to overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime and establish Islamic rule.

According to a Reuters story posted at the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, according to four U.S. government sources familiar with the matter.

Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA and the White House declined immediate comment.


The rebels may have been infiltrated by al-Qaeda according to the United Kingdom's Telegraph:

Libyan rebel forces may have been infiltrated by al-Qaeda fighters, a senior American military commander has warned.

Admiral James Stavridis, Nato's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, said that American intelligence had picked up "flickers" of terrorist activity among the rebel groups. Senior British government figures described the comment as "very alarming".

The admission came as the American, Qatari and British Governments indicated that they were considering arming rebel groups, who yesterday suffered a series of setbacks in their advance along the Libyan coast towards Tripoli.


And, from the Christian Science Monitor:

Since Libya’s popular uprising began in mid-February, Col. Muammar Qaddafi has repeatedly declared that this rebellion is different: He is not facing pro-democracy activists who want to end his four decades in power, but Al Qaeda militants determined to make Libya a base for global jihad.

“This is the Al Qaeda that the whole world is fighting,” warned the Libyan leader, who demands that the Western-led alliance help him fight a common enemy instead of decimating his military apparatus.

While most experts agree that Qaddafi is grossly exaggerating the Al Qaeda threat to discredit his opposition, eastern Libya has had a history of Islamic militancy. Documents captured by the US military from Al Qaeda in Iraq show that eastern Libya – and especially the city of Derna – provided per capita far more foreign fighters in Iraq from August 2006 to August 2007 than anywhere else in the world.


If al-Qaeda is a part of the rebels in Libya, and if we arm them with advanced weapons, those weapons can be used against us.

Before we dig ourselves deeper in this Libya matter, we need to know who the rebels are, who finances them and whether there are elements of al-Qaeda within the rebel organization.

30 Years Ago: Shots Fired

Above, a photo taken by a White House photographer at a reception for the California Delegation in June 1982. I am in the background at left. Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy is in the powder blue suit at right. McCarthy took a bullet in the assassination attempt on President Reagan.

30 years ago today, I was working as a claims adjuster at United Pacific/Reliance Insurance Companies. I was working at my desk when one of the company's underwriters approached and said, "President Reagan has been shot!"

It was a stunning moment and I felt as if the color from my face drained away.

It was well-known at the company that I was a Ronald Reagan California delegate at the 1976 and 1980 Republican National Conventions. In fact, the company news magazine, The Gryphon, carried the story with photos (of co-worker Arleigh Kerr and me) about the 1980 GOP national convention.

I don't remember if we were allowed to leave early due to the anxiety the country was feeling over the assassination attempt. I do recall that a collective sigh of relief came when we were told that President Reagan would fully recover from his wound.

A day or so later, I was interviewed by the Gardena Valley News about the assassination attempt. I stated that the silver lining in this is that Reagan's economic program would have a better chance of being passed by a sympathetic congress. I was right.

A little over a year later, I was invited to a White House reception for the 1980 California Delegation. My hotel was a few blocks away from the Washington Hilton, the scene of the assassination attempt. I took the Hilton's airport shuttle from Dulles International Airport to the Hilton and then walked to my hotel. The scene at the Hilton looked the same as it did a year ago. I took a few photos.

At the reception the next day, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy (who took a bullet during the attempt) was present. Many attendees thanked him for his heroism.

Reagan's eldest son, Michael posted an article on that day 30 years ago. To read it, go here.

Ten Most Terrifying Bosses From TV and Film

Ever worked for a "bad boss"? Most everyone has had a bad boss to some degree (I've had a few myself).

This was brought to my attention this morning: "Ten Most Terrifying Bosses From TV and Film."

The folks compiling the list said:

Many people have experienced the unfortunate situation of having a bad boss. Fictional characters in particular seem to have the worst of them. Self-serving, sleazy, and even downright evil bosses have been portrayed on TV and film. Here, we'll take a look at the worst of the bunch.


Who are the top ten bad bosses? Go here and find out!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monster Japan Travel Guide Discount At Monsterpalooza



Monsterpalooza is just ten days away! Things are proceeding fast and furiously in getting my presentation ready and having The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan available.

A table will be outside the doors of the theatre Friday evening for The Guide. It will be available before and after the presentation. The "Scene To Seen" presentation begins at 8:00 PM Friday, April 8.

(Click on image to view larger.)

Additionally, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will be discounted 20% off the cover price! This means it will be available at $12.00! That's a $3.00 saving!



For additional information on Monsterpalooza, go here.

"Gorgo" Released 50 Years Ago


Today marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. release of the giant monster movie, Gorgo.

It was on March 29, 1961 that "England's answer to Godzilla" was put into general release around the country.

The story: A giant dinosaur-like monster is captured off the coast of Ireland. It is taken to Piccadilly Circus in London, England for exhibition as "Gorgo."

What people weren't aware of, until it was too late, the monster was a baby. Gorgo's mother appears in Ireland and then follows its scent and attacks London to retrieve her offspring in superb Japanese-style suitmation and miniature work.



Gorgo starred William Sylvester and Bill Travers. It was directed by Eugene Lourie.

I remember seeing Gorgo at the Rio Theater (located at Western Ave. and Imperial Highway in Los Angeles) with my cousins. It was paired with Babes In Toyland (the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon version, not the classic Laurel and Hardy one).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joanne Siegel's Letter To Time-Warner

Above, former DC Comics President Paul Levitz and Joanne Siegel in 2001. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The fight over the rights to the Superman character has been ongoing for years. Joanne Siegel, the widow of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel, died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital at age 93 on February 12.

Last December 10, Mrs. Siegel wrote a letter to Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Time Warner Inc. It is unclear if she actually sent it (the article says she "prepared" it).



It is a very touching letter and it expressed hope that a resolution for all parties could be reached without further enriching the attorneys.

To read Joanne Siegel's letter, go here.

Right, an early-1960s issue of Superman.

Rondo Awards Vote Results To Be Revealed Wednesday Night



The voting for the 9th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards ended last night at midnight.

Thanks to those of you who voted for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan (Best Book) and Monster Island News (Best Blog).



David Colton, the Rondo's man-in-charge, posted the following at the Classic Horror Film Board (CHFB) forum:

The voting is over.

More than 2,900 people voted this year, about the same as the last two years, in the NINTH ANNUAL RONDO HATTO CLASSIC HORROR AWARDS. Thanks to everyone, whether you voted in one category or many.

Tallying the final results -- I still need to collate it all -- will take a little time, as will uploading photos and images, so the plan is:

-- As is tradition, CHFB members will be the first to know as the results are revealed, category by category, in a live chat in the Blind Hermit's Hut here at the CHFB. Time: 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday night.

-- An hour later, at 11 p.m. ET Wednesday night, full results and press release will be posted here and at rondoaward.com.

-- We hope to giive out a few statuettes at Monsterpalooza in two weeks, but the bulk will be awarded at WonderFest during the annual Rondo Awards Ceremony in Louisville on May 15 (5 p.m.).

Some winners are obvious, but other contests are so close I still won't know who won until I add up the various count sheets. So even I may be surprised.

Again, thanks to all and be here Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET for the exciting reveal!


Wednesday works out great for me. I'm off that night, so I don't have to wait until after work to see the winners list.

Obama's Oil Hypocrisy

Above, George Soros.

As we see our gasoline prices creep towards $5.00/gallon and our oil industry is being prevented from drilling for oil by the Obama Administration, flaunting court orders ordering otherwise, Barack Obama is saying, "Drill baby, drill!"

Only in Brazil.

It has been no secret to conservatives that Obama is anti-U.S. oil industry. That was made plain ages ago. But he is a big supporter of oil drilling in other countries. He has gotten so blatant in his hypocrisy that even the Washington Post editorialized about it:

Just over a week ago, when President Obama joined political and business leaders in Brasilia in hailing the fact that their newly discovered offshore petroleum reserves might be twice as large as those in the United States. Americans “want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” Mr. Obama said.

As for offshore drilling, Mr. Obama’s enthusiasm for punching holes in the ocean floor off Brazil is hard to reconcile with his decision, announced Dec. 1, to keep the waters off the East and West coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico off-limits to exploration indefinitely.


A big reason why Obama is all for Brazilian off-shore oil drilling, but not here: Billionaire leftist George Soros.

According to Human Events:

Indeed, George Soros has given millions of dollars to leftist causes, including Moveon.org, which ran an ad that mockingly referred to General David Petraeus as “General Betray Us,” National Public Radio, which in recent years ran programming mocking the Tea Party movement and made light of Michelle Malkin’s missing cousin. Soros also funds Media Matters, an organization that tries to find a right-wing boogeyman in every word uttered by the center-right; he also funds the Center For American Progress, which is the hub of often left-wing, statist policies advanced by the Obama Administration, and America Coming Together (ACT), a liberal 527 organization that seeks to get liberals to the polls.

Soros has a lot invested in Brazilian oil production. His puppet, Obama announced that the U.S. would be investing and trading in Brazil’s oil development. Of course, Obama doesn’t want to drill here in the U.S. The connection is very clear.

Since Soros is out to destroy the USA like he has other countries, all of the organizations he funds are nothing but puppets for him, just like Obama. Obama went to Brazil to protect the Soros investment there in Petrobras.


So, the next time you go to the gas pump and you see the high prices you're paying, just remember who is keeping our oil industry from increasing our supplies and lowering prices and who is helping foreign oil production and why.

OSAC - U.S. Dept. of State Japan Travel Advisory

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) - U.S. State Department has a website of the latest travel advisories for U.S. citizens planning to travel to Japan.

This is a result of the Tohoku Earthquake and the ongoing problems of Japan's nuclear power plants.

To access this site, go here.

Fukushima Radioactivity 100,000 Times Normal

Above, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The news this morning on the status of the radioactivity problem in Japan isn't good.

The Washington Post is reporting:

TOKYO — As radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reached a new high Sunday, workers contended with dark, steamy conditions in their efforts to repair the facility’s cooling system and stave off a full-blown nuclear meltdown. Wearing respirators, face masks and bulky suits, they fought to reconnect cables and restore power to motor pumps the size of automobiles.

Leaked water sampled from one unit Sunday had 100,000 times the radioactivity of normal background levels, although the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, first calculated an even higher, erroneous, figure it didn’t correct for hours.

Tepco apologized Sunday night when it realized the mistake; it had initially reported radiation levels in the leaked water from the unit 2 reactor as being 10 million times the norm, which prompted an evacuation of the building.

After the levels were correctly measured, airborne radioactivity in the unit 2 turbine building still remained so high — 1,000 milli­sieverts per hour — that a worker there would reach his yearly occupational exposure limit in 15 minutes. A dose of 4,000 to 5,000 millisieverts absorbed fairly rapidly will eventually kill about half of those exposed.


There is a leak of radioactive water that is draining into the ground and into the ocean off Fukushima. The leak into the ground makes its way into the underground water table and it eventually makes its way into peoples' tap water faucets and crops. If the water table is badly contaminated, this would be the worst possible scenario for the Japanese people.

Also, it has been reported that traces of radioactivity has been detected in rainwater in Massachusetts.

Obviously, this has world-wide implications.

To read the full Washington Post article, go here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

1950s Sci-Fi Presentation Added To Monsterpalooza

A presentation on 1950s science-fiction movies has been added to the opening day (April 8) Friday night line-up of Monsterpalooza:


(Click on image to view larger.)

The presentation features Bill Warren, Ted Newsom and "Mr. Dino" himself, Donald F. Glut.

Above, Don Glut and Armand in 2007.

It will take place following my presentation on Japanese monster locations, but in the AFM room at 9:00 PM at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.

For more information on Monsterpalooza, go here.

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service"

Above, Diana Rigg and George Lazenby.

One of my favorite movie genres is the James Bond series.

I was first introduced to James Bond in the persona of Sean Connery back in 1963 when my parents took me to see a double bill of From Russia With Love and Dr. No. I was hooked!

My family and I made it a point to see each subsequent Bond movie on its initial release in theaters.

I was disappointed when Sean Connery announced that he no longer wanted to play the role following You Only Live Twice. After all, he was James Bond!

Then, I saw a Life magazine article on the men Eon Productions had in consideration to be Connery's replacement. Of all of them, I thought Lazenby had the right look. Sure enough, Eon picked him to be the new James Bond.

The Bond movie scheduled for release, and featuring Lazenby's debut, was On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. This was one of Ian Flemming's best Bond novels and it tells of Bond's tragic marriage. The screenplay by Richard Maibaum was written with Connery in mind, but Connery had other plans. What an amazing movie it would have been if Connery were paired with Diana Rigg instead of Lazenby! Rigg was already a favorite of mine with her role as Emma Peel in The Avengers. Plus, it had one of the best, if not the best, John Barry Bond scores.

As it was, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the best of the Bond movies and I thought Lazenby, despite his limited acting experience, did well. I certainly would have preferred him to Roger Moore in later movies. But he had a falling out with producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli and he never starred as Bond again.

Connery was coaxed back to Bond in the following movie, Diamonds Are Forever. He had a pet charity in Scotland and Eon offered a sizable donation if he returned. This was an offer he could not refuse! Unfortunately, the movie itself was a bit of a letdown after On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Still, it was good to see Connery back. After this, he hung up his Walther PPK and turned the role over to Roger Moore.

What prompted this blog post was a retrospective article on On Her Majesty's Secret Service at Big Hollywood I just finished reading. I am in agreement with the reviewer's opinions. To read it, go here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Scene To Seen" Slideshow For Monsterpalooza Completed

Above, Armand with the Godzilla statue at the main gate of Toho Studios. The presentation will discuss this and other places of interest in Japan for monster fans.

The last two hours were used to finish up the slideshow for my "Scene To Seen" presentation at this year's Monsterpalooza. I figured that I'd best get it done now. One never knows what may pop up if I waited to almost the last minute to wrap things up.

I will be showing over 70 photographs of kaiju (monster) locations in Japan. I will be following the general format of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. I start it with the northern island of Hokkaido and then move south along the main island of Honshu and finish off with locations on the island of Kyushu.

The final task is to write up the narrative for the presentation. I hope to keep it informal enough to allow for questions from the audience.

Monsterpalooza will be held April 8-10 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, across the street from Bob Hope Airport on Hollywood Way.

(Click on image to view larger.)

My presentation will take place on opening day, April 8 at 8:00 PM. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will be available before and after the presentation.

For additional information, go here.

Rondo Awards Voting Extended



The voting for the 9th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards has been extended one more day.

David Colton has extended the voting to midnight tomorrow night (wherever you are).

To vote, go here.

Another Wet Saturday

Above, Miki Hayashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It's Saturday and another rainstorm is about to hit Los Angeles.

I had some insurance claim work to do in Norwalk this morning and I managed to get there and back before the rains start. I also made a stop in West Los Angeles on the way back to the San Fernando Valley for some The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan business.

Speaking of which, voting ends tonight (at midnight) for the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. The Guide was nominated in the "Best Book" category. Thank you for your support!

Anyone can vote, just copy and paste the ballot with your votes onto an email. Just go to http://www.rondoaward.com and follow the directions on voting.

Geraldine Ferraro Dead At 75

Above, Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin on election night last November.

I just received this bulletin from the Washington Post:

Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro, 75, passed away Saturday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital, surrounded by her family. The cause of death was complications from multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that she had battled for 12 years.

Ms. Ferraro earned a place in history as the first woman and first Italian-American to run on a major party national ticket, serving as Walter Mondale’s Vice Presidential running mate in 1984 on the Democratic Party ticket.


That's really sad news. She was a Fox News contributor and was reasonable.

UPDDATE: Former Alaska Governor and V.P. Candidate Sarah Palin issued this statement:

My family and I would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Geraldine Ferraro. When I had the honor of working alongside Geraldine on election night last year, we both discussed the role of women in politics and our excited expectation that someday that final glass ceiling would be shattered by the election of a woman president. She was an amazing woman who dedicated her life to public service as a teacher, prosecutor, Congresswoman, and Vice Presidential candidate. She broke one huge barrier and then went on to break many more. The world will miss her. May she rest in peace and may her example of hard work and dedication to America continue to inspire all women.


- Sarah Palin

Friday, March 25, 2011

Monsterpalooza "Scene To Seen" Presentation Two Weeks From Now

(Click on image to view larger.)



The presentation of Japanese monster movie locations, "Scene To Seen" for Monsterpalooza is taking shape. I've assembled about 90% of the photographs I plan to use during the one-hour presentation on Friday, April 8 at 8:00 PM (exactly two weeks from tonight). Mark your calendars!

I was stuck at home waiting for a phone call on an insurance claim matter the other day, so I put the time to excellent use working on the presentation.

The presentation is based on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, which will be available before and after the presentation. I will be assisted by model Miki Hayashi (below). I will be following Peter H. Brothers' presentation on Godzilla director Ishiro Honda.



Monsterpalooza will be held on April 8-10 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, which is located across the street from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank at 2500 Hollywood Way.

There will be plenty of things for kaiju fans and non-kaiju fans at Monsterpalooza this year. The original Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima will be in attendance and will have his autobiography available. Also, giclees poster prints celebrating Nakajima's career will be available. The full amount of these giclees will be going directly to the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund.

It is shaping up to be a great show just like the first two previous Monsterpaloozas. It is the best monster and horror show I've ever been to. Do yourself a great favor and attend!

For more information on Monsterpalooza, go to their official website.

Remembering Lyn Nofziger


It is hard to believe it is almost five years (March 27, 2006) since Ronald Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger passed away.

Matt Lewis & The News posted a tribute to Nofziger today in commemoration.

In it, Lewis wrote:



Nofziger, the rumpled old reporter turned Reagan aide, was the man who addressed the press – and kept Americans calm – after the assassination attempt on President Reagan (Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the attempt).


I remember those times. I also sent Nofziger a letter thanking him for the job he did during those hectic hours following the shooting of President Reagan. Somewhere in my file cabinet, I have the reply letter from Nofziger (on White House stationery) thanking me for mine.

Lewis posted a collection (or, "greatest hits" as Lewis called them) of Nofziger's quotes in his article.

There is one Nofziger "greatest hit" that I witnessed and remember with fondness.

It happened during the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri when former Governor Reagan challenged President Gerald Ford for the GOP presidential nomination. Every morning during the convention, the California Delegation (I was a California Delegate at age 22) would hold a delegation meeting for strategy and information from the officials of the Citizens For Reagan campaign as we were the home delegation for Reagan.

Above, Ronald Reagan with the California Delegation at the 1976 Republican National Convention. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

At one meeting, Nofziger was addressing the delegation and during the question and answer portion, he was asked, "What should our demeanor be towards the Ford people?"

Without missing a beat, Nofziger replied, "Da meaner, da better!" The whole delegation broke out in laughter.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/03/25/lyn-nofziger-a-reagan-aide-remembered/#ixzz1HeeIb7a7

Matsushima Status

Above, one of hundreds of tiny islands in Matsushima Bay. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ever since the March 11 Tohoku Earthquake and the resulting tsunami, I was wondering if the coastal section of Matsushima Bay (near Sendai) survived. Of particular concern were the Godaido Temple and the Zuiganji Temple.

Both survived with some damage. The latest news came arrived from Viet Nam's Saigon GP Daily.

They wrote:

The town's more famous neighbour, Matsushima, escaped the wrath of the waves, sheltered by the pine-covered islands in its bay that draw so many of the region's tourists.

Only minor damage caused by flooding was apparent when AFP journalists visited the resort.


To read the full article, go here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Not The Same Girl

Above, Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan." Photo taken in March 2010 by Armand Vaquer.

Someone recently asked me if Yuu Asakura, who was my first model for promoting The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, is the Japanese porn star. Since the subject came up previously, I said no and promptly forgot about it.

Today, The Tokyo Reporter posted an article that Yu Asakura won the "best actress" award at the Sky PerfecTV! Adult Broadcasting Awards 2011 this month in Tokyo's Chiyoda district.

Above, Yuu Asakura and Armand at the press and kick-off party for the play, "Utsutsu" in November 2010. Yuu was a featured player in the production.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the article and the pornstar Yu Asakura looks nothing like Yuu Asakura (I've seen pictures of her before and she is pretty, but I think Yuu is prettier). Also, note how their first names are spelled differently.

Hopefully, this will put to rest the confusion over the two.

To view the article and see what Yu Asakura looks like, go here.

InterExpat.com Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Article

Above, Miki Hayashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan Visitor review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan was picked up by the InterExpat.com website. What is it?

According to the site:

Interexpat.com - The Expat Guide - Practical information and real life experience from expat blogs and news around the world.


And:

InterExpat.com it is a selection of the best blogs and news about expat experiences, relocation, cultures and lifestyle overseas.

We strive to help you find the best information during your relocation process or while living abroad.




To view it, go here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tohoku Quake & Tsunami Hit Japan's Fishing Industry Hard

The accompanying photographs of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo were taken during my December 2010 trip to Japan.



Source: Tom Baker, The Daily Yomiuri

The buzz out of Japan is that high-end seafood prices since the Tohoku Earthquake (and tsunami) have dropped.

According to a Twitter tweet by Tom Baker:

As demand plunged since quake, Tsukiji fish market says high-end seafood prices are dropping. Sea urchin is down 50%.




After reading this, I checked around and found that there are many reasons for this. The infrastructure in Japan's seafood industry has been damaged. Some fishing fleets were destroyed. Also, there are fears that seafood from northern Japan has been contaminated by radiation (it hasn't, but try to convince some people otherwise). Some of these rumors are even being spread by fishermen. And, restaurants simply aren't buying due to a lack of customers.



Japan's $2.5 billion annual fishing industry plays a big role in world distribution of seafood products as a buyer and processor. The quake caused a major disruption in the industry.



According to a Reuters story:

The tsunami that hit Japan this month took such a huge toll on people, equipment and fish that supplies of some seafood could be cut off for a year or more, industry workers said on Tuesday.




The Tsukiji Fish Market auction in Tokyo has been closed to tourists.



The neighboring sushi restaurants to the Tsukiji Fish Market now sit half-empty. Normally, they are packed with eager tourists who sometimes have a two-hour wait to be seated. (I had no problem being immediately seated. Then again, I was there at about five o'clock in the morning last December.)



It is hard to believe that four short months ago that the famed bustling fish market I visited has been hit this hard. The industry will eventually recover. Whether it is a full recovery or drastically changed is an open question.



I hope these people are able to bounce back soon. These are hard-working and friendly people and I enjoyed hanging out with them.

Above, a worker from the Sushizanmai sushi restaurant near the Tsukiji Fish Market and I during happier times.

UPDATE (3/25/11): More from The Daily Yomiuri.

Rondo Awards Voting Ends Saturday Night!


A reminder from the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards' David Colton just came in:

A reminder to all CHFB* members that voting in the 9th Annual Rondo Hatton Awards ends Saturday** night. A ballot can be found at the Classic Horror Film Board, or at rondoaward.com. Thanks for all your support of the CHFB over the years.




So, if you haven't voted yet for the Rondo Awards, go to www.rondoaward.com and vote! Make sure you follow the posted directions so that your vote will be counted.



The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and Monster Island News blog received nominations for Best Book and Best Blog respectively.

To vote, go to www.rondoaward.com

*Classic Horror Film Board
**It was originally reported that voting ends Sunday night.

A Drunk Driver On Pacific Coast Highway



It was an uneventful night of work patrolling in Malibu last night in my "parachute" job.

The fun started after work as I headed home down Pacific Coast Highway. No sooner than I started down the six-mile southbound drive from Point Dume to Malibu Canyon Road when a white Toyota sedan came along side of me. He was in the fast lane and I was in the slow lane. My initial thought was, "This guy is awful close."

I slowed down a bit to put some distance between him and me. I then noticed that he was weaving into the painted center divider and my lane and would apply his brakes for no apparent reason. He appeared to be under the influence of something.

I then called 911 and told them of this driver and gave the operator the vehicle description and license plate number. The operator kept me on the line so I can give him our location on the highway.

During this, another car came up in the fast lane and its driver seemed to notice the erratic driving of the white Toyota. He also kept back from the car.

The 911 operator told me that they have sheriff units at Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road. A minute or so later, I saw a sheriff vehicle parked on the northbound shoulder of Pacific Coast Highway about a quarter mile north of Malibu Canyon Road.

The Toyota then went into the left turn pocket for Malibu Canyon Road and stopped. I thought, "If this guy goes on Malibu Canyon, he'll most likely go over the side and down into the canyon." No sooner than I thought that, the sheriff vehicle made a u-turn and swooped in behind the Toyota and pulled him over.

While it is too bad the driver had to be placed under arrest (I've no idea if it was a male or female driver) for DUI, at least he/she won't be putting himself/herself or anyone else in jeopardy from their stupidity.

Who knows? I may have saved someone's life last night!

I have to give the Malibu sheriff big kudos. The time between the start of my 911 call to when the sheriff pulled the drunk over was 6 minutes, 27 seconds. Not bad!

Elizabeth Taylor Dies at 79



"The Last Movie Star" Elizabeth Taylor died at age 79 in Los Angeles.

The U.K. Daily Mail reported:

Actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor has died at the age of 79, her publicist confirmed in a statement today.

The star passed away from congestive heart failure in hospital last night having suffered from the condition since November 2004.

She was admitted to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles 'for monitoring' last month.


She was definitely one of a kind.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1369176/Elizabeth-Taylor-dies-heart-failure-hospital-aged-79.html#ixzz1HRGzaWm3

Monday, March 21, 2011

a t & T-Mobile


Consumers are wondering whether the acquisition (subject to government approval) of T-Mobile, by telecom giant A T & T will be good for them or bad.

I am a T-Mobile customer and have been since 2005. I like their service. I've a plan that suits me just fine and costs me under $60/month. Their customer service has always been cooperative and if, on extremely rare occasions, I had a beef on their billing, they resolved it to my satisfaction.

A T & T is my land line provider. I mainly use it for my computers and taking recorded statements in my work as a claims adjuster. I've a plan with them that also suits me just fine. I've had no problem with their customer service either.

According to ABC News.com:

While the two companies will have to work out some technical differences in their telecom marriage, analysts said that the combination of the two networks would likely provide a strong nationwide network.

"Merging the two networks means that you're going to have a nationwide 3G and 4G network that's really able to serve almost Americans," said Sascha Segan, lead analyst for mobile at PCMag.com. Rural T-Mobile residents could benefit from AT&T's network, and city-dwellers (yes, even those with iPhones) could get a boost from T-Mobile, he said.

But in a blog post written today, Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds said the two carriers' data networks are "literally on different wavelengths, which might pose compatibility problems." The smartphones for the different carriers run on different parts of the wireless spectrum, he pointed out.

An AT&T-T-Mobile deal also likely means the end of T-Mobile's lower prices and friendly service, analysts said.


This makes me wonder: Will I have to buy a new phone? Will my rates jump for the same service plan? Will I be able to keep my service plan? Will I be forced to take features I have no interest in? Will there be hidden charges?

The jury is out on all of these. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knut, Berlin Zoo's Famed Polar Bear, Dies

Sad news to report.

From MSNBC.com:

BERLIN — Berlin's beloved polar bear Knut, who rose to stardom when he was hand-raised by zoo keepers after being rejected by his mother rejected at birth, died on Saturday, a zoo official said.

The world-famous bear died alone in his compound, bear keeper Heiner Kloes told The Associated Press.

"He was by himself in his compound, he was in the water, and then he was dead," said Kloes. "He was not sick, we don't know why he died."


An autopsy will be performed.

To read the full story, go here.

Statement From House Speaker John Boehner

From Houuse Speaker John Boehner's website:

WASHINGTON, DC (Mar 20)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the situation in Libya:


“The United States has a moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people. It’s unacceptable and outrageous for Qadhafi to attack his own people, and the violence must stop.

“The President is the commander-in-chief, but the Administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is, better explain what America’s role is in achieving that mission, and make clear how it will be accomplished. Before any further military commitments are made, the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved.”


# # # # #


Authorization from the Congress would also be a big help, since we weren't attacked. President Bush obtained authorization from the Congress before we went into Afghanistan and Iraq.

Meanwhile, a group of hard-core liberal Democrat House members are also raising a stink over Obama's actions in Libya:

Source: Politico

A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.


To read the full Politico story, go here.

Monster Fan Japan Tourists: Minimal Effects From The Tohoku Earthquake


The full effects of the Tohoku Earthquake of March 11, 2011 on the Japanese tourism industry won't be known for some time. Fortunately, its effects on monster fan tourists will be minimal.

Left, "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" will show tourists the way to monster locations.

The damage from the quake and the resulting tsunami was mainly confined to the northeastern section of Honshu (Japan's main island) where very few monster movie locations could be found. In the Tohuku region, the biggest city is Sendai, which was the location for Gamera 2 and briefly, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. Both of those movies primarily featured Sendai Station, which still stands.

The main locale for daikaiju eiga movies was primarily Tokyo, which suffered minimal damage. The subways and trains are still running and life is rebounding back to normalcy, with the exception of possible rolling blackouts due to the hits two nuclear power plants took.

According to Breaking Travel News.com:

While painstaking rescue and recovery efforts continue in the severely struck Tohoku region, the capital city Tokyo has been recovering from a strong shock, and western Japan is unharmed.

Both Narita and Haneda airports have been reopened, although public transportation in and around Tokyo is not running at full capacity due to power shortages. Other popular destinations such as Kyoto, Osaka, Sapporo, Kanazawa and Hiroshima, didn’t receive any impact from the earthquake.


They also add:

Hokkaido, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu are unharmed, and tourism facilities and transportation service are operating as usual.


Some potential Japan travelers may be frightened by the hysterical fear-mongering of the U.S. media over the nuclear power plants. But those, too, are far north of Tokyo and won't present a problem for tourists. Just don't go into those affected areas and you'll be fine.

Persons wanting to visit Japan in the upcoming months can feel free to do so without fear. As stated above, Tokyo came out of this okay (as did neighboring Yokohama) and such locations as Mt. Fuji-Hakone, Atami, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Sasebo, Mt. Aso and Nagasaki were untouched by the quake and tsunami.

Whether you're planning a trip to Japan on your own or with a tour, the Tohoku Earthquake won't mar your enjoyment of the country. Go in confidence!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Monsterpalooza's Kaiju Kick-off

Left, Peter H. Brothers. Right, below, Armand Vaquer.




Monsterpalooza's official website now has the events of the show arranged by date and time.

Monsterpalooza will be held April 8-10, 2011 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center (across from Bob Hope Airport).



Monsterpalooza kicks off with Peter H. Brothers' presentation (above) on Godzilla director Ishiro Honda at 7:00 PM Friday, April 8. My presentation on Japanese monster movie locations immediately follows at 8:00 PM.



Pete's book, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fanstastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda and my Japan travel guide, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will be available before and after our presentations. We both will be happy to autograph them for you!

Remember, also, "Mr. Godzilla" himself, Haruo Nakajima will be at Monsterpalooza!

Above, Haruo Nakajima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To view the events page, go here.

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