"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, May 31, 2012

Republican Endorsements In Democrat Primary In 30th Congressional District

Left, Howard Berman.

The Democrat primary contest between two congressmen, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, is interesting.

Above, Brad Sherman.
Berman has been sending out mailers touting endorsements from Republican office-holders such as Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe, Galpin Ford owner Bert Boeckmann and former Mayor Richard Riordan.


Today, I received a mailer from Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in support of Brad Sherman.  Rohrabacher wrote that Sherman opposed the TARP bailout and doesn't "automatically vote with Nancy Pelosi."

It'll be interesting to see if any more Republican politicians get involved.

To me, the Sherman/Berman race is nothing more than a race between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  I am still voting for Mark Reed.  But, if the race for the general election is between the two Democrats, I may get involved.  It is a matter of determining "the lesser of two evils."


Today's Anemic Economic News


President Obama has been avoiding running on his record.  But who can blame him?

Here's the latest economic news:

Private sector added 133,000 jobs in May, according to ADP, fewer than the 150,000 expected by economists.  (Source: Wall Street Journal
Private sector adds 133k jobs in May, ADP reports. Forecast was for 148k gain. (Source: Fox Business News
2nd read on U.S. GDP shows economy grew at annualized rate of 1.9% in 1Q. Matching forecast, but slower than 1st estimate of 2.2%. (Source: Fox Business News)
And, the Rasmussen Poll shows that 59% say U.S. currently in a recession.  Forward, indeed.

UPDATE (6/1/12):  U.S. employers created 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April, the first increase in 11 months.

The dismal jobs figures could fan fears that the economy is sputtering.  (Source: Washington Post)

Top 20 Japanese Travel Destinations For Foreign Travelers

Above, Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto, Japan.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Japan Today has posted the top 20 Japanese travel destinations for foreign travelers.  It is from the tourism website TripAdvisor.com.

The article begins with:


TOKYO —The Japanese arm of tourism website TripAdvisor gathered user comments and evaluations from the past year and used them to rank the Top 20 travel destinations in Japan over that time. Hiroshima Prefecture maintained its popularity with two destinations in the Top 5 while five Kyoto sightseeing spots made the list.

I've been to several of them including the number one destination, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  I've also visited Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto, Hakone Ropeway in Hakone and Miyajima (Itsukushima Shrine) Island in Hatsukaichi City.  It is surprising that Matsushima Bay didn't make the list.

Abovethe "floating" torii gate at the Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is listed at TripAdvisor.com.

To see the list and each destination's ranking, go here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

L.A. Weekly: "Howard Berman's Last Stand"





Above, Armand with Mark Reed on Election Night 2010.
L.A. Weekly has an interesting article on the Howard Berman/Brad Sherman contest in the 30th Congressional District.

I have a long memory, and there's no way in hades that I would become a "Republican For Howard Berman" as some prominent Republican office-holders have.  Berman put up carpetbagger candidates in districts over the past 40 years to run against Republican incumbents.  He did so in the old 53rd Assembly District of Paul T. Bannai.  Luckily, he was unsuccessful there.

As I won't check my principles at the door, I am voting for Mark Reed next Tuesday.

To read the full article, go here.

Thanks to Mark Reed for the tip on the article!

Obama Awards Medal of Freedom To Marxist

Some things just can't be made up!

While the mainstream media were clamoring that Mitt Romney denounce Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh over the weekend (actually following in lockstep the script provided by the Obama campaign), they completely ignored the fact that President Obama was awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to an avowed Marxist.



Above, Dolores Huerta.

The medal was awarded to Dolores Huerta (82), a labor activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union.  She is also an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America who calls itself “the largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International.”

And, as mentioned above, a self-described Marxist.

This is telling.  Obama's mask is off and the media is protecting him!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

An Omission To Correct



It is indeed a thrill to have a publication review in a national magazine, newspaper or website.  I was fortunate enough to have The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan be reviewed in The Japan Times last Sunday.

In the review article, there was this paragraph (highlights mine):

English-language literature on Godzilla and all the other monsters that followed is rather scarce, probably due to film company Toho's legal actions that in the past have successfully blocked the publication of a number of books. Among the titles worth mentioning, there are Stuart Galbraith IV's "Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo" (1998), Steve Ryfle's "Japan's Favorite Mon-star" (1998), and Peter H. Brothers' "Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda" (2009). Now Godzilla lover and writer Armand Vaquer has come up with a guidebook for all those fans who want to turn a trip to Japan into a pilgrimage to the places that were cinematically trashed by the Big G, Mothra, Gamera and their friends.


To have the travel guide in the company of the aforementioned authors and titles is, indeed, quite an honor.   I personally know each one, and even though some of them and I may have had a disagreement or two over the years, I would feel quite comfortable to sit down with any of them for a friendly chat over beer, wine and cigars.

There was a glaring omission in the paragraph, one that I had nothing to do with.  However, I would like to make mention of it as the author and publication rightly deserves to be mentioned.  That would be the book, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters and its author, August Ragone.  Ragone's book (I think it is now out-of-print, but copies can still be found here and there) on Japan's special effects pioneer is one of the best English-language books on Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies to be published.

All of these books are important sources of information for fans or movie historians.  Not including any or all of them in one's personal library of cinema books would make that library an incomplete library, in my view.





The Nine Worst Cinematic Portrayals of College Life



An interesting item showed up in the mailbox this morning.

It is, "The Nine Worst Cinematic Portrayals of College Life" in the movies.  It's an interesting list.  Before getting into the list, the article starts with:


Let’s start here: you were cooler than you think in college. Although movies often rest on the assumption that their viewers will suspend disbelief for a few hours and fall into their world, some films fare better at this than others. This is not to argue that movies should all be hyper-realistic — they’re pieces of art, and there’s real life for that. But there’s something to be said for the hyper-ridiculous setting. Enter: the universities portrayed in the movies. And because no one wants to be bored with a list of bad flicks, we’ve found instead the most ridiculous. While college life may be a time of wild partying, barely making it, and coming of age, these nine movies feature the most unrealistic (“the worst!”) cinematic portrayals of the subject. Sit back, relax, and thank your lucky stars that you didn’t get your degree in one of these nine worlds.
To view the list, go here.

Weekend Reflections

Memorial Day was a good laid-back day.  We spent almost half of it sleeping.  I had some sleep to catch up on, as I worked the graveyard shift in my "parachute" job Thursday night/Friday morning in Burbank and immediately had to go to Bakersfield from there for a mandatory settlement conference on a subrogation claim.

I was thinking about going to Riverside National Cemetery but was too tired to go and didn't feel like fighting traffic (or pay $4.30/gallon of gas).

However, we did treat ourselves to steak and crab legs for dinner (with ice cream for dessert).  Following dinner, we watched two rental movies: Dinner For Schmucks and Office Space.  Those were entertaining comedies.
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It is frustrating for someone who is willing, able and eager to work, but is having a hard time getting work.

Tony Isabella is a comic book writer and columnist who created Black Lightning for DC Comics.  He's a little older than me.  We're poles apart politically, but he's a real cool guy.  He currently has a write-up on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan in the Comics Buyers' Guide (CBG).  He's also a Godzilla fan.

His writing career has hit the doldrums of late.  It is hard enough to get work past 50, and it is even harder to get writing gigs in comics at that age.  The comic book companies seem to think that 20-to-30-year olds are what the comics writing market seems to require.  I really have to doubt this as older writers have more life experiences to tap into for great writing.

Anyway, Tony could use some writing gigs.  I like helping out friends and he's one of them.  Today, he posted at his blog:

A couple friends/readers seem to think I won’t accept work-for-hire
jobs.  That’s simply not the case.  I’m open to almost anything as
long as its work I think I can do well...that pays a decent wage or
has other benefits to make up for low pay...that doesn’t violate my
moral code.  I do believe I can do my best work when the editor’s
hand is the lightest.
 If you are in need of a writer for a comic book (or whatever), kindly give Tony Isabella a shot!  You can reach him through his blog at http://tonyisabella.blogspot.com/.
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This has been a great weekend for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.  On Sunday, it was reviewed by Gianni Simone in The Japan Times.  Thanks to Simone and The Japan Times!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Story From Luke Air Force Base

Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting thatit was there long before they were... A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back. Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.

When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:
'Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base:

Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 A.M, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyn's early bird special?

Any response would be appreciated. 


The response: 


Regarding 'A wake-up call from Luke's jets' On June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m
. , a perfectly timed four- ship fly by of F-1 6s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.

At 9 a. m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend. Based on the letter writer's recount of the fly by, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured
..
A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force gives to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.

The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning air show'? The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you....Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.


s/Lt. Col. Grant L. Rosensteel, Jr. 




Los Angeles County GOP Voter Guide




You are likely to receive in the mail several flyers labled "Voter Guide" or saying "Attention Republicans" or seeming to be sent by the Republican Party.  Those flyers are not official voter guides, many are deceptive claiming to be from Republicans when, in fact, they are sent by Democrats.  The only official voter guide of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County is this one.   Please print it out and take it with you to the polls on June 5th! *Also, please scroll all the way down for a list of headquarters locations throughout the county.

US Senate Endorsement:
Elizabeth Emken

LA County DA:


LA County Board of Supervisors:

Mike Antonovich
Don Knabe
Congressional Endorsements Inside LA County:
CD  23      Kevin  McCarthy*
CD  25      Buck  McKeon*
CD  26      Tony  Strickland
CD  27      Jack  Orswell
CD  31      Gary  Miller*
CD 34       Stephen Smith
CD  39      Ed  Royce*
CD  47      Gary  DeLong
State Senate Candidates Inside LA County:
SD  21        Steve  Knight
SD  27      Todd  Zink
SD  29      Bob  Huff*
State Assembly Candidates:
AD 41       Donna Lowe
AD 43        Greg Krikorian
AD  44      Jeff  Gorell*
AD 45        Chris Kolski
AD 46        Jay Stern
AD 48        Joe Gardner
AD 49        Matthew Lin
AD  50      Brad  Torgan
AD 52        Kenny Coble
AD 53        Jose Trinidad-Aguilar
AD 54        Keith McCowan
AD  55      Curt  Hagman*
AD 57        Noel James
AD 58         Patricia Kotze-Ramos
AD 60         Eric Linder
AD 62         Christine Vinquist
AD 63         Jack Guerrero
AD 70         Martha Flores-Gibson
LA County Endorsed Candidates:
CD 30         Mark Reed
LA County Endorsed Judges:
Office No. 10: Sanjay T. Kumar
Office No. 65: Andrea C. Thompson
Office No. 114: Berj Parseghian
Office No. 78: Kenneth Hughey
Propositions:
State Proposition No. 28:
NO
State Proposition No. 29:
NO
  

JUST A FEW DAYS LEFT TO PAINT THE COUNTY RED!



"Paint it Red Days of Action" will be happening EVERY DAY until the election, call your local Republican Headquarters and find out how YOU can help paint LA county red, one voter at a time.
We need YOUR help TODAY!
Contact one of our County HQ locations below and find out how YOU can help paint LA County Red...one voter at a time!

Arcadia: 43 E. Huntington Dr. Suite C Arcadia, CA  91006
Hours: M-F 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Phone: Betty Flippen (626) 447-3534

Burbank (CRP HEADQUARTERS): 1903 W. Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91506
Phone: (818)558-7600

Claremont: Coming Soon!   

Covina:  200 E. Rowland Ave. Covina, CA
Hours: M - F10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Phone: Kathy Howard (626) 919-0864(626) 331-0738

Glendora: Opens in August   Email:lindashirleyboyd@aol.com

Pasadena: 2306 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA  91107
Phone: (626) 793-2018
Email:pasadenarepublican@gmail.com

Pasadena:600 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91101
Phone: (626) 793-2018

Santa Clarita: 26523 Carl Boyer Drive, Santa Clarita
            Phone: 661-310-0920 
Email: lynn@lagop.org 

South Bay: 3920 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Phone: (310) 545-2042
            Hours: M-F 11:30-5:00 
            Ccchief.wilson@gmail.com
If you have any questions about the voter guide, or about specific candidates, including Republican Central Committee candidates, please send an email to info@lagop.org.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Burton and Depp Bring Their "Dark Shadows" Roadshow To Tokyo

Abovethe original "Dark Shadows" cast in England to film their cameo scene. From left, Jonathan FridLara ParkerDavid Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott.  Japanese audiences probably have no clue as to who they are.


Director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp have taken their Dark Shadows "roadshow" to Tokyo, according to Metropolis magazine.

They wrote:


For moviegoers, the mere mention of Tim Burton summons up frightful scenes of grimacing jack-o-lanterns, corpse brides and headless horsemen. Yet the director whose very name is synonymous with gothic imagery had never tackled a vampire movie. Nor, for that matter, had his frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp. That has all changed with Dark Shadows, a fresh, comedic take on the bloodsucking genre that the dark duo recently flew into Tokyo to promote.


I am not aware if the original ABC-TV Dark Shadows soap-opera (or spook-opera) was ever telecast in Japan back in the late-1960s/early-1970s.  If not, the Japanese audience will probably be unaware of the back-history of the movie.

To read the full article, go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Sale Ends In A Week!



One week from tomorrow the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will end.

If you want to get the travel guide at a 20% discount orders postmarked up to and including June 4 will be entitled to it.

Here's the original press release with the details:


Tarzana, CA, April 20, 2012-- Armand Vaquer, author of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan," announced a pre-vacation season discount of 20% off the guide's cover price, making the cost of the book $12.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling
This special offer is offered directly from Vaquer, not from ComiXpress, the publisher. 
"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" is the world's only Japan travel guide tailored to fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy films. 
"Vacation season is just around the corner. Those who are fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies can use the guide to plan their visit to Japan," stated Vaquer. "Also, tour operators can use the guide to plan special tour packages of monster locations of the movies." 
Orders postmarked April 25 through June 4 are entitled to the discount. 
For ordering, send to: 
Armand Vaquer                                                           
18618 Collins Street, #105
          Tarzana, CA 91356

Wopular Picks Up Review of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan"

Above, a view of Fukuoka, Kyushu from Fukuoka Tower.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.


Wopular.com has picked up The Japan Times review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

What is Wopular?  Here's their description:


Wopular.com (blog) is a news aggregation site. Use this site to get a summary view of the top headlines and search results from the top newspapers and online news sites. Think of this as an online newspaper rack, except with an editor who supplements those headlines with featured stories
To view the site, go here and scroll down to "Ask News."

Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher Lee!



AboveChristopher Lee as Dracula.

The actor who played Count Dracula in a multitude of movies and Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), Sir Christopher Lee, turned 90 today.
Above, Christopher Lee in "The Man With The Golden Gun."

Remarkably, he is still actively making movies.  He currently appears in the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie.

Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher Lee!

GirlJapanese.net's "News On Japan" Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Review




GirlJapanese.net's "News On Japan" website picked up The Japan Times' review on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The website provides "Daily News On Japan In English."

To visit the site, go here.

Also, World News.com has picked up the review article.  To view it, go here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Monster Japan Travel Guide Reviewed In Japan Times





The Japan Times Online now has the review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan posted.

Here's an excerpt:


English-language literature on Godzilla and all the other monsters that followed is rather scarce, probably due to film company Toho's legal actions that in the past have successfully blocked the publication of a number of books. Among the titles worth mentioning, there are Stuart Galbraith IV's "Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo" (1998), Steve Ryfle's "Japan's Favorite Mon-star" (1998), and Peter H. Brothers' "Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda" (2009). Now Godzilla lover and writer Armand Vaquer has come up with a guidebook for all those fans who want to turn a trip to Japan into a pilgrimage to the places that were cinematically trashed by the Big G, Mothra, Gamera and their friends.


To see it, go here.

Japan Through The Monster's Eye

The Japan Times will be publishing a review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan in tomorrow's Sunday edition.

The writer, Gianni Simone, was kind enough to send a .pdf version of the article.

Here it is (converted to .jpeg):


My thanks to Gianni Simone and the Japan Times.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ban On Plastic Bags: L.A. City Council Is Packed With Morons



Most supermarkets in Los Angeles will no longer be able to provide plastic bags for shoppers under a ban approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.  The vote was 13-1.

Besides the ban on plastic bags, shoppers would be charged 10 cents per paper bag one year after the ban goes into effect.

This is a typical "feel good" environmentalist wacko idea.  They claim that plastic bags won't degrade for many years and they end up being eaten by marine life.

Is there an epidemic of sea animals dying from eating plastic bags?  Show me the evidence!

Most people re-use those plastic bags.  They use them to pick up dog droppings, line small waste baskets and for other things.  

They are expecting us to use those reusable canvas bags to bag up our groceries.  That presents another problem.  Those bags are carriers of bacteria that can contaminate food products.  They have to be frequently washed.  Plus, people just toss them in pantries, in the back seats of cars or in the trunk.  Animals get into them, causing further contamination.  There's been cases where serious illnesses have been traced back to those canvas reusable shopping bags.

The proposed ban sounds nicey-nicey until one looks into it a bit further.  It is just another stupid law from a municipal body who can't get their own house in order.

Whenever congress adopts a law that originated from a state, it is usually from the moronic state of California.  Beware, America!  You're next!





Thursday, May 24, 2012

Endeavour Set To Arrive In L.A. On October 13

Above, shuttle prototype test vehicle "Enterprise" at Edwards Air Force Base.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Endeavour, the space shuttle that replaced the Challenger, is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles to take up permanent residence at the California Science Center on October 13.

Above, the modified 747 (or one like it) that will fly Endeavour to LAX.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It will be flown on the back of a modified Boeing 747 to Los Angeles International Airport.  It will later be transported to the Science Center in Exposition Park (near USC).  It is roughly a twelve-mile trip from the airport to Exposition Park.

I attended the Endeavour's landing at Edwards Air Force Base following its maiden flight into space.  I will mark my calendar to save the date to view the shuttle as it is moved to Exposition Park.

United To Fly From Denver To Tokyo


AboveTokyo's Akihabara "electric town."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Good news for residents of the Rocky Mountain states!

United Airlines has begun selling tickets for flights from Denver to Tokyo.

Japan Today reports:


CHICAGO —United Airlines started selling tickets for its first 787 flights on Tuesday, saying it plans to start service between Denver and Tokyo.

As of Tuesday those will be the first commercial 787 flights on a U.S. airline. Boeing delivered the first 787 late last year to Japan’s All Nippon Airways. Airlines have been eager for the fuel-efficient, midsized plane.

At one time, Continental, which merged with United in 2010, had planned to introduce 787 flying from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand. Its 2010 merger with United Airlines put United at the front of the line for U.S. airlines waiting for that plane.
For more, go here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Year Almost Half Over Already?!

Abovethe TA truckstop at the Grapevine.  I'll be stopping there Friday.

It seems like only yesterday that it was New Year's and now we're fast approaching Memorial Day weekend.  Time flies when you're having fun (or being busy as hell).  So far, no plans as yet.  I may go out to Riverside National Cemetery to put flowers on my parents' grave.  

Thus far, it has been a good year in sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.  Sales are up over at ComiXpress.com and the current pre-vacation season sale (through me) has brought in many orders.  A thank-you to all.

Claims work is picking up again.  I have to be in Bakersfield this coming Friday morning for a settlement conference.

*******************************

I saw an article at FoxNews.com about extra fees some airlines are planning to charge people for aisle or window seats (or to just sit with family members or traveling companions).  This is getting ridiculous.  The traveling public is already getting gouged in baggage and fuel fees already.  Frankly, I wouldn't fly with an airline who would charge extra for an aisle (my preference) or window seat.   I don't like being boxed in.

*******************************

I read the transcript of Sean Hannity's interview with Gen. Colin Powell.  Very disappointing.  Hannity just tossed softballs and didn't really go after Powell over his 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama as he should have.

*******************************

The New York Times is reporting that Obama is using video from the bin Laden raid in new campaign ad.  Shameless!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ANIME EXPO 2012 WELCOMES VOICE ACTRESS MONICA RIAL AS AN OFFICIAL GUEST OF HONOR

Source:  Anime Expo Press Release




LOS ANGELES (May 21, 2012) – Anime Expo (AX), North America’s largest anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture celebration, today announced “Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt” voice actress Monica Rial as an Official Guest of Honor, when it returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 29 – July 2, 2012.   Rial, who is the voice of Stocking, will participate in a meet-and-greet, autograph signing and a focus panel with Jamie Marchi, the voice of Panty.

Monica Rial has been working in the anime voice over industry for over 13 years. She has lent her voice to over 250 anime including “Baccano!” (Chane), “Black Butler” (Mei Ren), “Black Cat” (Kyoko), “Negima” (Konoka/Kazumi/Satsuki), “Soul Eater” (Tsubaki), “Witchblade” (Maria), and many more. She can be heard on the Cartoon Network in “ShinChan” (Ai), “Fullmetal Alchemist” (Lyra/Dante), “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood” (May Chang), “Case Closed” (Amy), and “Trinity Blood” (Vanessa). You can also catch her on Nicktoons and the CW as Bulma in “Dragonball Z Kai.“  Rial is also an ADR script adaptor and occasionally a director for Funimation Entertainment.

Monica Rial joins the previously announced Anime Expo 2012 line-up that includes composer Yuki Kajiura/"FictionJunction," anime-inspired heavy metal band ANIMETAL USA, Culture Japan’s Danny Choo, popular voice actors Jamie Marchi and Steve Blum, Japanese pop star LiSA, dolldelight designer Cyril Lumboy and the Gallery of Fantastic Art.

About Anime Expo

Now in its 21st year, Anime Expo is North America’s larges celebration of anime, manga and Japanese pop culture. Anime Expo gives fans the rare opportunity to meet and hear from some of the most famous anime, manga, musical, game, and fashion artitsts from Japan. AX 2012 will feature and exciting schedule of exclusive screenings; artists’ panels; live concerts; cosplay; dance parties, karaoke, and video competitions; non-stop video gaming and unsurpassed shopping from more than 3,000 vendors. AX 2012 takes place June 29-July 2, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. To register or for more information, please visit www.anime-expo.org. Connect with Anime Expo on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

About the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to popularize and educate the America public about anime and manga, as well as provide a forum to facilitate communication between professionals and fans. This organization is more popularly known by its entertainment property, Anime Expo®. For more information, please visit www.spja.org.

The 10 Best Movie Scenes About Business Travel

Above, Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo.  It was featured in one of the movies on the list.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

An interesting item came across my desk this morning.  It is a list of..."The 10 Best Movie Scenes About Business Travel."

It starts out with:
Hollywood loves a good travel movie. Even a third-rate cinematographer can make a gorgeous beach or a breathtaking mountain peak something audiences enjoy looking at. But these movies usually involve people vacationing and taking trips for fun. There are far fewer films telling the story of the working man, the traveling businessman. So we dug deep and found the funniest, most accurate, or otherwise best scenes that involve people working hard out on the road, just tryin’ to make a dollar.
To see the list, go here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Catholics Sue Obama Administration Over ObamaCare


The Chicago thugs who occupy the White House and the machinery of the Democratic Party thought they could make the Catholic Church capitulate to them over ObamaCare.  They thought wrong.

CNSNews.com is reporting:

The Archdiocese of New York, headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., headed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the University of Notre Dame, and 40 other Catholic dioceses and organizations around the country announced on Monday that they are suing the Obama administration for violating their freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. 
The dioceses and organizations, in different combinations, are filing 12 different lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country. 
The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. has established a special website--preservereligiousfreedom.org--to explain its lawsuit and present news and developments concerning it. 
"This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference," the archdiocese posted on their website. "It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to facilitate and fund services which violate their religious beliefs."
The only thing bullies respect is when the victim(s) fight back.  A mighty big one is fighting back. 

U.S. Has Own "Hachiko" Statue

Aboveyours truly with the ShibuyaTokyo Hachiko statue in 2001.

The United States now has its own Hachiko statue.

The statue was unveiled last Saturday in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  The location was used in a 2009 movie starring Richard Gere.

The original statue stands outside of Shibuya station in Tokyo.  Hachiko was an Akita dog who waited for his master to return from work at the station years after his master died.

The Shibuya statue is a popular meeting place in Tokyo.

Korean Air Announces New Ticketing and Baggage Policies

Abovethe plane I took to Japan in 2010 being readied at LAX.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.


The last several trips I took to Japan (Los Angeles to Narita) had been with Korean Air.  The reason: cheaper air fares.  Their service has been good as has been the food they serve.  Plus, they've shown Astro Boy cartoons on the flights.

I received the best airfare prices from them through GatewayLAX.

They've now announced a new system on ticketing and baggage.

From Japan Today:

Korean Air has launched a ticket booking option on its Facebook fan page. Savvy social media users can now conveniently book tickets on all Korean Air’s international flights and find the best deals available online. 
In addition, from May 31 (based on ticketing date), Korean Air will convert its baggage allowance system from the previous Weight System, to Piece System, which will see an increased weight allowance in all classes of travel.
To read the full article, go here.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Annular Solar Eclipse

The sky over the San Fernando Valley was dimmed a bit today during the solar eclipse.

It wasn't a total solar eclipse here (according to the L.A. Times: "Those in the direct path of the eclipse will see the moon nudge its way into the center of the sun, leaving a ring of fire visible around the moon's edge. Scientists call this an annular eclipse. ("Annulus" means "ring" in Latin.)").  The sun was a crescent in L.A. with 85% of it blocked by the moon.

The photo below was of a wall during the eclipse.  Crescent-shaped images were projected by gaps in the tree foliage from across the street onto the wall.  The photo was taken with my cell phone in the hills above Tarzana.


Obama and The Titanic



A friend's daughter came across this quote:

“Re-electing Obama would be like having the Titanic back up and having another run at the iceberg.”

Onizuka Monument In Little Tokyo



Last month, I blogged about the Ellison Onizuka/Challenger monument that was recently refurbished by the artist.

This morning, while my roommate was working to promote Ronald McDonald House charities at the L.A. Convention Center at the ACN training event, I spent my time wandering around Little Tokyo.  While there I took the accompanying photographs (with my cell phone) of the refurbished monument that stands next to Weller Court.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Pre-Vacation Season Sale





Tarzana, CA, April 20, 2012-- Armand Vaquer, author of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan," announced a pre-vacation season discount of 20% off the guide's cover price, making the cost of the book $12.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling.

This special offer is offered directly from Vaquer, not from ComiXpress, the publisher.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" is the world's only Japan travel guide tailored to fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy films.

"Vacation season is just around the corner. Those who are fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies can use the guide to plan their visit to Japan," stated Vaquer. "Also, tour operators can use the guide to plan special tour packages of monster locations of the movies."

Orders postmarked April 25 through June 4 are entitled to the discount.

For ordering, send to:
Armand Vaquer
18618 Collins Street, #105
Tarzana, CA 91356






Lara Parker: Dark Shadows Movies "Will Be Reissued"

AboveLara Parker at a Dark Shadows Festival in Burbank.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.


At about the time the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie was announced, it was stated that the two Dark Shadows movies would be released on DVD.   Those movies are House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971).

Rumors have swirled about regarding restorations of missing scenes, dialogue and other facets of the two movies.  But I haven't seen anything definitive.

Today, I was reading Lara Parker's latest blog post and this paragraph caught my attention, particularly the highlighted part (by me):


Those fans who are disappointed should remember that the show they loved inspired a major motion picture with first class talents. Because of the movie, Dark Shadows will live another day, another year, another decade. Because of all the renewed interest, the DVDs have been reissued, the two films will be reissued, my books were reissued, Kathryn has written another book that is selling extremely well along with all her others, and Dark Shadows will not fade away. The legacy has been resurrected one more time.
My feeling is, "if anyone should know what's going on, she's the one" (along with Kathryn Leigh Scott).

I have a copy of House of Dark Shadows on VHS that I recorded back in the 1980s from television.  It is heavily-edited.  I am looking forward to having a pristine, complete and clean copy on DVD (or, better yet) or on Blu-ray.

Let's hope an announcement of a release date is made soon!

To read Lara Parker's blog post, go here.

(By the way, no matter how one feels about the new movie, it benefits the Dark Shadows fandom as Lara Parker stated.  She's right!  I still have to go out to see it.)

ACCLAIMED COMPOSER YUKI KAJIURA RETURNS TO ANIME EXPO FOR A LIVE CONCERT



Source:  Anime Expo Press Release



LOS ANGELES (May 18, 2012) – Anime Expo (AX), North America's largest anime, manga and Japanese pop culture celebration, will feature a live concert by acclaimed composer and producer Yuki Kajiura when it returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 29 – July 2, 2012.   Kajiura brings her unique fusion of Japanese and European styles to AX in “FictionJunction,” her music project featuring the composer on keyboards and a special vocalist.

The multi-talented Yuki Kajiura began her music career performing in the female trio See-Saw. She has gone on to establish herself as a solo musician, composing music for other artists as well as producing for TV, commercials, films, anime and games.  In 2002 she had a major hit with “Annaniisshodattanoni,” the ending theme song of TV anime “Mobile Suit Gundam SEED” and featuring See-Saw.  In 2004 she launched her “FictionJunction” project.  In 2007 she produced the music for “the garden of sinners” theatrical series, and since then she has produced the popular group “kalafina,” whose latest album “After Eden” reached No.3 in ORICON weekly chart. 

Kajiura has produced music for diverse areas of entertainment including the film “Achilles and the Tortoise” directed by Takeshi Kitano, the NHK historical documentary “Rekishi Hiwa Historia,” (soundtrack), and the soundtracks for TV anime “Puella Magi Madoka Magica”, “Fate/Zero”, and “Sword Art Online.”  Last year she released “FICTION II”, the sequel to her first solo album “FICTION.”  Kajiura previously wowed Anime Expo fans in 2003 when she performed songs from “FICTION.” The date and time of the “Yuki Kajiura/FictionJunction” concert will be announced shortly.

Yuki Kajiura/"FictionJunction" join the previously announced Anime Expo 2012 line-up that includes anime-inspired heavy metal band ANIMETAL USA, Culture Japan’s Danny Choo, popular voice actors Jamie Marchi and Steve Blum, Japanese pop star LiSA, dolldelight designer Cyril Lumboy and the Gallery of Fantastic Art.

About Anime Expo
Now in its 21st year, Anime Expo is North America's largest celebration of anime, manga and Japanese pop culture. Anime Expo gives fans the rare opportunity to meet and hear from some of the most famous anime, manga, musical, game and fashion artists from Japan. AX 2012 will feature an exciting schedule of exclusive screenings; artists' panels; live concerts; cosplay, dance parties, karaoke and video competitions; non-stop video gaming and unsurpassed shopping from more than 300 vendors. AX 2012 takes place June 29 – July 2, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. To register or for more information, please visit www.anime-expo.org. Connect with Anime Expo on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

About the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation
The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to popularize and educate the American public about anime and manga, as well as provide a forum to facilitate communication between professionals and fans. This organization is more popularly known by its entertainment property, Anime Expo®. For more information, please visit www.spja.org.

Tohoku Tourism Halfway To Full Recovery

Abovethe Godaido temple at Matsushima Bay.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.



The Daily Yomiuri has posted an article on the status of tourism in the Tohoku region that was hit hard last year by the earthquake and tsunami.  The article is entitled,

Tohoku tourism halfway to full recovery


In the article, they wrote:
Tourism in the Tohoku region is still only halfway to recovering to the levels seen before the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. 
 Areas affected by the March 11, 2011, disaster have had difficulty rebuilding businesses as accommodation facilities and transportation systems have not been restored.
Tourism businesses in the disaster-hit areas face the need to urgently complete preparations for hosting tourists since the inflow of people will aid reconstruction.
To read the full article, go here

Friday, May 18, 2012

Donna Summer, R.I.P.



When word came that the "Queen of Disco" (a term she didn't really care for) Donna Summer died yesterday at age 63, my mind flashed back to the summer of 1977.

That summer, the first Star Wars was released.  Elvis Presley died at Graceland.  I was dating three girls.  I came down with an infection (not related to the girls) that caused me to lose 30 pounds.  I saw The Spy Who Loved Me at the Studio Drive-In Theater in Culver City (paired with Logan's Run).  Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" was a big hit on the Top 40 charts.

Summer's "I Feel Love" was an amazing song with great vocals, a pulsating electronic rhythm and whip-sounds from a synthesizer.  Her song, to me, was the "theme" for that summer.

She purportedly died from lung cancer.  Much too young.

For Bond Lovers Only

Rummaging in the Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood a couple of weeks ago, I found a paperback copy of For Bond Lovers Only (1965, Dell Publishing), compiled and edited by Sheldon Lane.

This book came out in the midst of Bondmania that erupted following Goldfinger (1964).

For Bond Lovers Only contains a treasure trove of trivia on MI6 secret agent James Bond 007.  Some of which includes:


  •  "007 and Me," which "candidly reveals the dangers and delights of having an alter-ego who lives in a world where beautiful girls and pulse-pounding excitement are always available."


  • An interview with actor Sean Connery.


  • Georges Simenon and Ian Fleming discuss "The Thriller Business" which compares perils, intrigues and pleasures.


  • Raymond Chandler, creator of private eye Philip Marlow, faces "the fascinating question of what would happen if Marlow was ever up against 007.


  • Bond's girls and weapons.  


  • 16 pages of photographs.


And, a whole lot more.

One interesting tidbit from the book:
Ian Fleming thought Connery perfect for Bond.  "He has done it wonderfully," he said.  "It was a great piece of casting.  He certainly looks like 007, and I don't know who could have done it better."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Barack Obama...born in Kenya"


This interesting item was unearthed by Breitbart.com via The Drudge Report:

Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama's then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."  
The booklet, which was distributed to "business colleagues" in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.    
It is interesting that this 1991 promo was used until 2007 with no apparent request or demand by Obama to "correct" it.  Also, it is interesting that the mainstream media didn't report on this in 2008.

To read more, go here.

Tokyo Skytree Hoped To Be A Lure For Shoppers

Abovethe Skytree in December 2010.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
More articles on Tokyo's new Skytree tower are popping up as we are days away from its official opening.

Bloomberg's Businessweek.com has one such article:

The 634-meter (2,080 feet) structure in eastern Tokyo sits in a retail complex housing more than 300 shops and restaurants, a planetarium and an aquarium. Developer Tobu Railway Co. (9001) expects the project to draw 32 million visitors in its first year, surpassing the numbers at Tokyo Disney Resort. Tobu, whose revenue has fallen for five years, will also get a 28.3 billion yen ($352 million) sales boost in the year ending March 31, according to Kazuhiko Hirata, a general manager for finance.

I saw the Skytree a year and a half ago during my trip to Japan to promote The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.  Although it hadn't yet reached its full height at the time, it was still a pretty imposing and impressive structure to see.

The Skytree has two observation decks with the lower deck already fully booked through July 11.  The cost for a trip to the lower deck will be ¥2,000.

As the article indicates, even though the Skytree is booked up, the Tobu Railway Co. hopes the shops, restaurants and attractions in the Skytree complex will still draw many visitors.

To read the full article, go here.

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