"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.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and ComiXpress

In a more serious vein, ComiXpress is located in Dumont, New Jersey, which was in the path of Hurricane Sandy.

Two days ago (October 29), ComiXpress posted this notice on their home page:

We’re not sure if everyone is aware of the situation, but being based in Northern NJ, ComiXpress is in the path of Hurricane Sandy. This is a 900-mile wide storm dubbed ‘Frankenstorm’ and is expected to bring 85mph winds and impact more than 50 to 60 million people. A State of Emergency has been declared in several states – including NJ – and power outages are all-but guaranteed in large areas. 
We had a small crew come in this morning in the hopes of getting some work out ahead of the storm, only to find that nothing can ship today as there won’t be any pickups by the post office or UPS. 
We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this is going to cause, and we will work with everyone to the best of our ability to catch up on orders and emails as quickly and efficiently as possible once the worst is over.To anyone in the path of the storm, stay safe, and we’ll see you on the other side!

There has been no further updates from ComiXpress.  Much of Northern New Jersey has no power or Internet services and there had been flooding in the region.  Power lines are down in the Dumont area and people have been told to remain indoors for their safety.

Last week, I re-ordered a new supply of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan for the Christmas season and for the Mad Monster Party Convention that will be held March 22-24, 2013 from ComiXpress.  No doubt, the damage from Hurricane Sandy will delay ComiXpress's orders a bit.  Fortunately, I have enough copies of the travel guide on hand that should be adequate for any Christmas orders.

"Laurel and Hardy" In New Jersey

When I saw this photo earlier today, my first thought was "Laurel and Hardy."  Tonight, talk-show host Mark Levin said he thought the same thing when he saw it.

Classified Cable Tells of Emergency Meeting In Benghazi One Month Before Attack

The Obama Administration's claim that the 9/11 attack on the Benghazi consulate came "without warning," an emergency meeting conducted a month before undercuts those claims.

The key passages by Catherine Herridge in Greta Van Susteren's website at Fox News include:

The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News. 
Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.
 According to a review of the cable addressed to the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Emergency Action Committee was also briefed “on the location of approximately ten Islamist militias and AQ training camps within Benghazi … these groups ran the spectrum from Islamist militias, such as the QRF Brigade and Ansar al-Sharia, to ‘Takfirist thugs.’” Each U.S. mission has a so-called Emergency Action Committee that is responsible for security measures and emergency planning.
While the administration’s public statements have suggested that the attack came without warning, the Aug. 16 cable seems to undercut those claims. It was a direct warning to the State Department that the Benghazi consulate was vulnerable to attack, that it could not be defended and that the presence of anti-U.S. militias and Al Qaeda was well-known to the U.S. intelligence community.

Despite the above, the Obama Administration did nothing to beef up security for the consulate in Benghazi, especially for the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.  Heightened security and alerts for all consulates in the Middle East should have been automatically done.

To read the full story, go here.

Disillusioned With Obama

The following opinion piece arrived in an email.  According to the sender, he is surprised that I made it into the editorial pages of the liberal Washington Post.


I, Too, Have Become Disillusioned

By Matt Patterson (columnist - Washington Post, New York Post, San Francisco Examiner)

Years from now, historians may regard the 2008 election of Barack Obama as an inscrutable and disturbing phenomenon, the result of a baffling breed of mass hysteria akin perhaps to the witch craze of the Middle Ages. How, they will wonder, did a man so devoid of professional accomplishment beguile so many into thinking he could manage the world's largest economy, direct the world's most powerful military, execute the world's most consequential job?

Imagine a future historian examining Obama's pre-presidential life: ushered into and through the Ivy League despite unremarkable grades and test scores along the way; a cushy non-job as a "community organizer"; a brief career as a state legislator devoid of legislative achievement (and in fact nearly devoid of his attention, so often did he vote "present"); and finally an unaccomplished single term in the United States Senate, the entirety of which was devoted to his presidential ambitions.

He left no academic legacy in academia, authored no signature legislation as a legislator. And then there is the matter of his troubling associations: the white-hating, America-loathing preacher who for decades served as Obama's "spiritual mentor"; a real-life, actual terrorist who served as Obama's colleague and political sponsor. It is easy to imagine a future historian looking at it all and asking: how on Earth was such a man elected president?

Not content to wait for history, the incomparable Norman Podhoretz addressed the question recently in the Wall Street Journal: To be sure, no white candidate who had close associations with an outspoken hater of America like Jeremiah Wright and an unrepentant terrorist like Bill Ayers, would have lasted a single day. But because Mr. Obama was black, and therefore entitled in the eyes of liberal Dom to have hung out with protesters against various American injustices, even if they were a bit extreme, he was given a pass. Let that sink in: Obama was given a pass - held to a lower standard - because of the color of his skin.

Podhoretz continues: And in any case, what did such ancient history matter when he was also so articulate and elegant and (as he himself had said) "non-threatening," all of which gave him a fighting chance to become the first black president and thereby to lay the curse of racism to rest?

Podhoretz puts his finger, I think, on the animating pulse of the Obama phenomenon - affirmative action. Not in the legal sense, of course. But certainly in the motivating sentiment behind all affirmative action laws and regulations, which are designed primarily to make white people, and especially white liberals, feel good about themselves.

Unfortunately, minorities often suffer so that whites can pat themselves on the back. Liberals routinely admit minorities to schools for which they are not qualified, yet take no responsibility for the inevitable poor performance and high drop-out rates which follow. Liberals don't care if these minority students fail; liberals aren't around to witness the emotional devastation and deflated self-esteem resulting from the racist policy that is affirmative action. Yes, racist. Holding someone to a separate standard merely because of the color of his skin - that's affirmative action in a nutshell, and if that isn't racism, then nothing is.

And that is what America did to Obama. True, Obama himself was never troubled by his lack of achievements, but why would he be? As many have noted, Obama was told he was good enough for Columbia despite undistinguished grades at Occidental; he was told he was good enough for the US Senate despite a mediocre record in Illinois ; he was told he was good enough to be president despite no record at all in the Senate. All his life, every step of the way, Obama was told he was good enough for the next step, in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.

What could this breed if not the sort of empty narcissism on display every time Obama speaks? In 2008, many who agreed that he lacked executive qualifications nonetheless raved about Obama's oratory skills, intellect, and cool character. Those people - conservatives included - ought now to be deeply embarrassed.

The man thinks and speaks in the hoariest of clichés, and that's when he has his Teleprompters in front of him; when the prompter is absent he can barely think or speak at all. Not one original idea has ever issued from his mouth - it's all warmed-over Marxism of the kind that has failed over and over again for 100 years.

And what about his character? Obama is constantly blaming anything and everything else for his troubles. Bush did it; it was bad luck; I inherited this mess. It is embarrassing to see a president so willing to advertise his own powerlessness, so comfortable with his own incompetence. But really, what were we to expect? The man has never been responsible for anything, so how do we expect him to act responsibly?

In short: our president is a small and small-minded man, with neither the temperament nor the intellect to handle his job. When you understand that, and only when you understand that, will the current erosion of liberty and prosperity make sense. It could not have gone otherwise with such a man in the Oval Office.


Halloween 2012

Photo: Universal Pictures, 1948.

Back in the 1960s, one Halloween tradition was to watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

KNXT-Channel 2 (now known as KCBS) in Los Angeles used to have an afternoon movie program called "The Early Show."  It came on somewhere around 3:00 or 4:00 PM.

Above, Bud and Lou meet Frankenstein at the 2011 
Monsterpalooza Museum.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Every Halloween, "The Early Show" played Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. It was the perfect movie to get kids in the Halloween spirit before heading out for trick or treating after dinner.

Above, the "Wizard of Oz" characters didn't fare too well at this Tarzana residence.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Some people in the neighborhood used to go all-out on Halloween and set up mini-haunted houses with monsters, spider webs and blacklights (these were the days before blacklight posters were in vogue in the late 1960s).

Above, someone met a dead end in Tarzana.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Today, very few kids (in comparison to the numbers who went out when I was a kid) go out for trick or treating.  It is just too risky these days with real-life monsters out there.

So, in keeping with the old tradition, I'll be watching Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein today.

Japanese Capsule Hotels

You're in Tokyo, you find yourself stranded in the middle of the night as the subways and trains have stopped running.  You need to find a place to sleep off the cocktails you consumed during the evening.  What are you going to do?

Or, you are in Japan on an extremely tight budget and don't want to spend too much on a hotel room.  What are you going to do?

Here's a solution!

News On Japan has an article (with video) on uniquely Japanese places to stay: capsule hotels!

The article begins with:

Tokyo is known for being densely populated and crowded. Living space is at a premium; hotel rooms are small or expensive or both. Enter the capsule hotel, where a tube-like pod barely bigger than a coffin offers a bed for the night at low cost. 
Personally, I've never stayed in a capsule hotel, but I've heard of them for years.  To see the article and view the video, go here.

"House of Dark Shadows"

Just in time for Halloween, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971) have been released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 30.

I ordered the Blu-ray House of Dark Shadows on Amazon.  I am skipping Night of Dark Shadows (at least for now) as it isn't the once-promised restoration.  It is is the original theatrical jumbled up mess with missing scenes that would have improved the story had they been included.  I remember not liking the movie when I saw it in the theater in 1971.

However, House of Dark Shadows is a gem of a vampire movie.  It features most of the Dark Shadows cast members.  It is a re-telling of the original Barnabas Collins story.  It expands and includes a few twists to the story.

According to Wikipedia:

House of Dark Shadows is a 1970 feature-length horror film directed by Dan Curtis based on his Dark Shadows television series. Filming took place at Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York, with additional footage at nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

It stars Jonathan Frid as the guilt-ridden vampire Barnabas.  Other cast members include Grayson Hall, Thayer David, Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds, Nancy Barrett, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Roger Davis, John Karlen and Donald Briscoe.

House of Dark Shadows was so successful in its initial theatrical release that it virtually rescued the financially-strapped MGM.

Although it has been 42 years since House of Dark Shadows was released, I still remember the trailers on television with the tag line, "See how the vampires do it!"

I would recommend watching House of Dark Shadows before seeing the new Johnny Depp Dark Shadows.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney Buys Lucasfilm For $4.05 Billion

The big fish are swallowing the small(er) fish.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the Walt Disney Company has purchased Lucasfilm, Ltd.:

The Walt Disney Company has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock, and announced a new Star Wars movie to be released in 2015.
To read the full story, go here

Mad Monster Party Convention: 5 Months Away

The 2013 Mad Monster Party Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina is only five months away.  It'll be here before we know it.

They have a special rate with The Blake Hotel, which is the convention hotel of $99/night.  For information on reserving your room(s) and the promo code, go here.  I've already made my reservations.  As the number of rooms are limited, I recommend that you make your reservations as early as possible.

Note:  There are no shuttles from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to The Blake Hotel.  The cab fare from the airport to the hotel is about $30.00 (according to The Blake Hotel).

The original Godzilla suit-actor, Haruo Nakajima is headlining the big list of guests (new guests are being added each week).  To view the guest list, go here.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan will be available in the Vendors' Room.

This is one convention you don't want to miss!

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" No. 44

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan ebook edition in Amazon.com's Kindle Store is at number 44 (out of 100) in Amazon's "Best Sellers In Japanese Travel" list.

The list is "Our most popular products based on Sales.  Updated hourly."

Considering the competition the guide is up against, it is nice it is still in the top 50 out of 100 titles.

Not bad!

U.S. Kindle Store Takes Lead Over U.K. For Monster Japan Travel Guide Sales

The "Battle of the Kindle Stores" goes on.

At least as far as the ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is concerned.

The U.S. (or Amazon.com) Kindle Store has taken the lead for the first time this month in sales from its United Kingdom counterpart (Amazon.co.uk).

The newly launched Japanese Kindle Store (Amazon.co.jp) has yet to get on the board sales-wise.  This is not surprising as the Japanese Kindle Store has only been in operation for about a week.

The ads by Amazon are still showing up.  It appeared this morning at the top of the Drudge Report (above the main headline and photos of damage from hurricane Sandy).  See screen capture above.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

"On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "Reanimator"

On the way back from some business in Chatsworth today, I stopped off at Best Buy in Northridge and picked up a couple of Blu-ray movies.

The first was 1969's James Bond outing, On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  In this movie, George Lazenby plays Bond for his first and only time after Sean Connery called it quits after You Only Live Twice (1967).  He does a good job, considering his limited acting experience.  Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas co-star.  It is one of the best of the Bond movies and it is pretty close to the Ian Fleming novel, which is a rarity of the Eon Productions Bond series.

The other movie I bought was 1985's Reanimator.  An odd new student arrives at a medical college and some strange experiments on re-animating dead tissue ensues.  This is a classic horror flick that has a big cult following.  I have an old VHS copy, but it needed replacement.  With Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott and Barbara Crampton. 

East Coast Storm

This just in from the East Coast:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

U.S. and U.K. Sales Now Even For Monster Japan Travel Guide

For most of this month, kaiju fans from the United Kingdom took the lead in sales of Amazon's Kindle Store ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

American fans have roared back and sales are now even between U.S. Amazon.com and at Amazon.co.uk.

All I can say is: thanks to all!

The 30th Congressional District

The election is down to the wire.  I have decided on the people and issues I will be voting on.  There was one race that I had not made up my mind on and was sitting on the fence.  Until now.

That is the race for the 30th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley.  This morning, I received the following email:

Dear Friend,
As the San Fernando Valley’s only Republican elected official, I can appreciate Democrats who are willing to cross political boundaries and work together with Republicans to solve common problems. 
In these tough times we need to elect representatives who will fight for the Valley’s fair share. 
That’s why I am supporting Brad Sherman for re-election to the U.S. Congress. 
Brad has worked to hire more police officers in the Valley and played a leadership role in securing funds to add a new lane to the 405 and the two new lanes on the 5. 
Brad Sherman had the courage and integrity to stand up to the leaders of both parties and fight to stop the $700 billion TARP bailout of Wall Street. Brad Sherman believes that capitalism means that no business can be “too big to fail.”
Brad Sherman also Co-sponsored the Line Item Veto Act, to give all future Presidents the power to eliminate pork barrel spending and earmarks. 
His Democratic opponent, Howard Berman, voted for the TARP bailouts and against the line-item veto. Because Berman doesn’t want to talk about these issues, he is using doctored pictures to exaggerate an incident that the LA Times correctly calls “a silly spat”. 
We should focus on the issues, and on who works hard for the Valley. 
You should know Sherman has been endorsed by my friend Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is a conservative commentator dedicated to the legacy and philosophy of his father, Ronald Reagan. Michael Reagan is also a long-time Valley resident, active in our community. 
For me, this is an easy choice. Brad Sherman is an outstanding member of Congress. Join me in voting to keep him there. 
Yours truly,

Mitchell Englander Los Angeles City Councilmember Chair, Public Safety Committee Reserve Los Angeles Police Officer 

P.S. Please join me, Councilmember Dennis Zine (the only registered independent elected official in the Valley), former Republican Councilman Greig Smith, Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth (who represents the North Valley), and over 30,000 frontline law enforcement officers in supporting Brad Sherman for Congress.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I have been critical about Rep. Brad Sherman.  Well, that can go for the whole Democratic Party as a whole.  That party has been virtually taken over by radicals who are hell-bent in transforming this country into a European socialist state.  That kind of system has never worked and will never work, but the radical Left are still pushing it.  

The race, thanks to the cockamamie system that is now in place, pits two Democrats against each other.  There is no Republican candidate to vote for (unless one does a write-in). Rep. Howard Berman's district was reapportioned out of existence and he is now in a district that contains a majority of Sherman's current district.  Berman is running a mud-slinging campaign against Sherman.  

Although there is little difference on the issues, except those that Councilman Englander mentioned above, between Sherman and Berman, at least Sherman does go out into the district to meet with constituents by holding regular "town hall meetings."  

Berman is a 71-year-old dinosaur.  He needs to be retired.

Accordingly, although it goes "against the grain" for me to vote for a Democrat, I will be voting for Brad Sherman on November 6.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tonight's Book Raid

After dropping my roomie off at work, I headed over to The Iliad Bookshop in North Hollywood for some book-buying.

After getting her some culinary/cooking books, I proceeded to buy some books for myself.  I found two to my liking.

The first is a Signet paperback edition (as shown above) of Ian Fleming's Octopussy.  This edition contains three James Bond short stories: "Octopussy," "The Living Daylights" and "The Property of a Lady."

The second book I bought was Monica Crowley's Nixon Off The Record (above).  This was Crowley's first book on former President Richard Nixon following his death in April 1994.  It contains her recollections of his candid commentaries on people and politics.  

Jay's Tee Vee Blog

Above, Jay's Tee Vee is into (heavily) anime, among other things.

There's a new addition to my blog list.

It is Jay's Tee Vee, a Ohio-based blog site that focuses on anime, kaiju, politics, current events, television (naturally), movies, cartoons and other topics.

To visit it, go here.  Stop by and tell 'em Armand sent ya!

Kumamoto, Gateway To Mt. Aso Volcano National Park

Above, commuters waiting to board a train at Kumamoto Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in April 2007, I visited Kyushu, Japan to see several locations used in Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies.  Next to Tokyo, Kyushu has the highest concentration of locations and landmarks featured in the movies.

In Rodan (1956), Fukuoka, Sasebo and Mt. Aso were prominently featured.  In Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Fukuoka was featured (Hakata Bay and Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome).  In Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla (1994) the area surrounding Fukuoka Tower was the battlefield.   These are covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan (hard copy through ComiXpress.com and ebook at Amazon.com Kindle Store).

It was pretty much an all-day trip to Kyushu from Tokyo aboard the bullet train (with a change of trains at Shin-Osaka) and then a ride between Fukuoka's Hakata Station and Kumamoto Station aboard a local commuter train (Hohi Line) of the Kyushu Railway Company.  Thankfully, all these train rides were covered by my JR Rail Pass.

Above, Kumamoto Station.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In 2007, I stayed at a ryokan (Japanese inn) in Kumamoto, as Kumamoto is "the gateway to Mt. Aso Volcano National Park."  The ryokan I chose was the family-run Kumamoto Kajita Ryokan.  My room cost was only ¥4,000 (a room for two cost ¥7,200).  They also serve excellent meals.

The trip to Kumamoto was for visiting Mt. Aso Volcano National Park.

It was springtime in Kyushu, but someone forgot to tell Mt. Aso Volcano National Park as it was in blizzard conditions when I visited it.  I couldn't really see much.  At least the park's museum had excellent exhibits. Still, it was a fun adventure taking the snowy bus ride (photo above) to and from the park.  Mt. Aso was the location used for Rodan.

Above, the view outside of the Mt. Aso ropeway station.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Besides Mt. Aso, there's also the Ultraman Land park near Kumamoto.  I didn't visit it on the trip, but to see their website (in Japanese), go here.

Above, yours truly inside of the Mt. Aso ropeway station.

Kumamoto is a nice city to visit.  They have their own webpage of attractions and other tourist information.  To view it, go here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Revenge of the Clintons: Hillary Throws Obama Under The Bus

The cover-up of the tragedy in Benghazi is unraveling even further.

It has been revealed that Secretary Hillary Clinton requested more security for the consulate in Benghazi, but it was turned down by President Obama.

Fox Nation reports:

Last night, it was revealed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had ordered more security at the U.S. mission in Benghazi before it was attacked where four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens were murdered by Al-Qaeda but President Obama denied the request.
Former President Bill Clinton has been urging his wife to release State Department documents to prove she requested additional security.  He wants Hillary to run for president in 2016, but if Obama hangs this scandal around her neck, it would thwart those efforts.  Bill wants to make sure that people know his wife is blameless.

Read more: http://nation.foxnews.com/hillary-clinton/2012/10/26/report-hillary-asked-more-security-benghazi-obama-said-no#ixzz2ARiMTP7W

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More Ad Appearances

The Amazon ad for the ebook Kindle edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is popping up in more places.

I spotted it today at a website of links to Japanese news outlets:

As previously posted, it showed up at The Hill.com (below) and over at Reuters.com (bottom).  I also saw it pop up at Drudge Report.com today.

Elect Greg Smith To Kansas Senate District 21

In less than two weeks, Kansas voters in the Kansas Senatorial District 21 has the chance to elect a proven conservative leader.  That man is Greg Smith!

From his campaign website:

Greg is running for the Kansas Senate in 2012. The date of the election is November 6, 2012. He needs your help to change the culture of the Kansas Senate. He is running for a new senate seat in Johnson County, Senate District 21. Greg is the Republican candidate for Senate District 21. He has served in the Kansas House and is a proven leader.
If I lived in Greg's district in Kansas (Overland Park), he would definitely have my vote.  Instead, I have sent a contribution to his campaign committee.  You can do the same by going here.

Please join me in electing Greg Smith to the Kansas Senate for District 21!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Now Available At Amazon's Japan Kindle Store

Earlier today, I blogged that Amazon has entered the Japanese market for their Kindle ebooks.

I joked at the time, "Maybe I can entice them to carry a certain Japan travel guide."  Meaning, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

While checking my Amazon account a little while ago, I noticed that Amazon.co.jp has been added.  I then checked and found that the Kindle ebook edition of the "certain travel guide" is now being offered at the Kindle Store to Japanese kaiju fans.

It is nice to be a part of Amazon's new venture.

Did Amazon.co.jp see my earlier post and rushed to get it added?  [Add winking smiley face here.]

To go to the page, go here.

Amazon's Kindle Entering Japanese Market

Amazon's Kindle is entering the Japanese market, according to an article in Japan Today.

They wrote:

TOKYO —Online shopping giant Amazon said Wednesday that it will launch a Japanese-language version of its hugely popular Kindle next month as it looks to break into the largely untapped Japanese e-book market. 
The retailer’s long-awaited announcement comes a day after Apple unveiled its new iPad Mini, the latest volley in the battle for the multi-billion-dollar tablet sector. 
U.S.-based Amazon said in a statement that it would begin selling 50,000 Japanese-language titles from Thursday, while its Kindle Paperwhite became available for pre-order on Wednesday. It is expected to start shipping on Nov 19. 
A Japanese-capable Kindle app will be available for computers, tablets and smartphones from Thursday, the company said.
Maybe I can entice them to carry a certain Japan travel guide.

To read the full story, go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Ad Appears In Reuters.com

When I first went over to Reuters.com to read the story on the emails showing that the Obama Administration knew within 2 hours that the attack on the consulate was by a terror group, I saw an ad by Amazon.com for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Here it is:

American Crossroads Ad Featuring Clint Eastwood

New ad from American Crossroads featuring Clint Eastwood:

Obama Doesn't Deserve Re-election, He Deserves To Be Removed From Office

Emails obtained by Fox News and other news outlets show that the Obama Administration had the information showing that the attacks on the Benghazi consulate were terrorist-related (with no protest over a video involved) and with the identity of the group claiming responsibility within 2 hours but did nothing about it.  The attack was about five (5) hours long.

There are only two possibilities here.

1.  Incompetence.  Either Obama wasn't given the full information or was told but did nothing.

2.  Lies.  Obama knew and lied to the American people for five days and blamed a protest over a YouTube video for political purposes.

In either case, he does not deserve re-election.  He deserves to be removed from office.

To read the full Fox News report, go here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Re-stocking "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan"

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

With Christmas just a couple of months away and the Mad Monster Party Convention three more months beyond that, I've ordered more copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.  So there will be plenty in  stock available.

For information for ordering directly from me, go here.

If you wish to order a copy directly from ComiXpress, go here.

If you wish to get the ebook edition from Amazon.com's Kindle Store, go here.

Great Crop Year!

This year's crop check arrived yesterday and just as I hoped, it was nearly 40% more than last year's!

The corn crop came through in fine shape (no drought problems) and the yield was great.  Plus, the corn commodity prices were high.

This allows me to pay off many bills and still have plenty left over.  

Japan To Join Currency Wars?

There may finally be some action on the Japanese yen as Japan's exports have fallen into a slump.

Besides making vacations more expensive to foreigners due to the poor rate of exchange (currently, the U.S. dollar is trading at 79.86 yen per dollar), it is also choking Japan's exports.

News On Japan reports:

The yen has risen 30 percent against China's yuan, 65 percent against the euro, and 80 percent against Sterling since 2008. Tokyo is itching to fight back. 
Yen strength is Japan's curse. It rises on safe-haven flows during global downturns, choking the economy. This stems from Japan's bitter-sweet role as top creditor with $3 trillion of net assets.

If the Japanese devalues the yen on the foreign exchange, it will boost their exports (making them more affordable) and will give their tourism industry a shot-in-the-arm in giving foreign visitors more yen for their money.

To read the full article, go here.

2013 Monsterpalooza: Jessie Lilley Is On The Job

Monsterpalooza has itself a real go-getter in Jessie Lilley.  She is in charge of getting the convention's program book advertising in and already she is getting April's advertising squared away.

She contacted me about putting another ad into the April show's program for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, and I responded that I would (since the ad rates are quite reasonable) and she promptly got a contract/invoice to me and it has been signed and returned (to reserve space).  As mortician John Carradine said in The Shootist, "The early worm gets the bird!"

I will be putting in the same business card-sized ad in as this year's (image above).

Monsterpalooza puts out one of the nicest convention program books I've seen.  There's no crappy newsprint programs here!  Monsterpalooza uses high-quality slick paper stock and it is in color.

Monsterpalooza will be held April 12-14, 2013 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center.  Son of Monsterpalooza will be held this month (October 26-28) at the same location.

Mark your calendar!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Romney: "Presidential"; Obama: "Angry Challenger

The third and final debate between Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is now in the history books (and in upcoming newspapers).

The impression I get in this is that Romney acted presidential and Obama acted like a challenger, and an angry one at that.

There were no "knockout punches," but Romney nailed Obama on his "apology tour," education and Iran.  Obama wrong on Romney's position on the auto industry bailout.  The fact-checkers are backing Romney.

Obama rambled through his closing remarks. Romney's closing statement was strong and positive.

Bob Schieffer did a good job as moderator.

What I Look For In Japanese Hotels

Above, my room in Sasebo, Kyushu.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

What do I look for in accommodations in a trip to Japan (or anywhere else, for that matter)?

First, the price.  A hotel or ryokan has to be reasonably-priced.  For a single person traveling, I feel rooms should be around ¥4,000 to ¥6,000.

Second, the location.  The hotel/ryokan should be close to a subway/train station for easy transportation to other points in the city.  If a traveler has a lot of luggage, a train/subway station needs to be within easy walking distance.

Third, cleanliness.  Who wants to stay at a hotel/ryokan whose housekeeping leaves a lot to be desired?  Who wants to sleep in a bed that has someone's DNA smeared on the bedding?  This one can be tough unless a traveler carries with him/her their own personal CSI/blacklight kit.  Check for reviews on the hotel/ryokan you are interested in.

Fourth, food.  I prefer hotels who have their own restaurant for breakfast.  I generally eat elsewhere for lunch and dinner as I am touring around.  But, quick access to breakfast is a plus in my book.  The Hotel Asia Center of Japan in Tokyo has their own restaurant where a good breakfast buffet is available for about ¥900.  Travelers have a choice of either western-style (bacon, sausage, eggs, toast, croissants, juice) or Japanese-style (fish, rice, ramen).  Sometimes, I sample some of each.  Good coffee is a must!  It is nice that Japanese hotels/ryokans have complimentary green tea in the rooms, but I require coffee.  At ryokans (Japanese inns), I sometimes will have dinner there to try out some home-cooking (as most are family-run).  I've had many great meals while doing this.

Above, Dormy Inn in Niigata, Japan.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fifth, Internet access.  It can be via WiFi in the room or a computer in the lobby.

Sixth, laundry facilities.  Although I have a huge rolling suitcase (that I call "The Monolith"), having laundry facilities available to me at a hotel is a plus.  This allows a traveler to pack 50% less as they can launder their clothing for re-use.

Seventh, close proximity to convenience stores and eateries.  I've made good use of nearby eateries and convenience stores that are near my hotel/ryokan.  Some include a Yoshinoya, Lawson's or AM-PM mini-marts, Tully's or Starbucks coffee shops, photo developing (in case I decide to use my old Olympus OM-1 35mm camera) and other businesses.  The convenience stores are great for picking up pre-packaged sushi snacks, in case I get an attack of the munchies.

I don't choose hotels in Japan for any kind of special views.  I go to Japan to see the country, not to just sit in a room and look out the window.

Hotel/ryokans who have complimentary amenities such as bottled water, combs, brushes, toothbrushes, shampoo, dryer, soaps, maps and brochures are tops in my opinion.

You may have your own requirements in a hotel/ryokan, but these are mine.

"26 Amazing Things About Japanese Budget Hotels"

Above, Tsukuba Hotel, a budget/business hotel in Ueno, Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan Today has an article on "26 Amazing Things About Japanese Budget Hotels."

They start it with:

TOKYO —Having a hard time deciding the accommodation for your holiday in Japan? Tight on budget, but don’t want to sacrifice comfort? Don’t worry, because Japanese budget hotels are cheap (usually about 3,000 yen per person, per night) and yet provide top-notch service. You probably won’t find anything that is more value for money than this in other countries.

The 26 items are interesting, but I and most of the people commenting on the article disagree with some of those items.  None have found budget hotel rooms for ¥3,000.  They are more like ¥4,000-7,000.  I did find a ¥3,000 room in Kyushu (generally ryokans can be found at this rate outside of Tokyo, but a lot of seaching is necessary).  

The Tsukuba Hotel in Ueno (pictured above), a budget/business hotel, was around ¥4,000 when I stayed there in 2005.  It is near the Inaricho subway station on the Ginza Line.

Still, the article is worth a look.  To read it, go here.  Be sure to read the readers' comments.

L.A. Times: A Dumb and Dishonest Endorsement of Obama

A long time ago (that is, back in the late 1970s), I worked as a telephone solicitor for the Los Angeles Times in Redondo Beach, California.  My job was to contact residents via reverse telephone directories and ask them to subscribe to the paper.  (I also worked as a free-lance photographer for the L.A. Herald-Examiner.)

Quite often, I would get turned down with this reason: "The Times is too liberal."  To be quite honest, I agreed with them (although I couldn't say so).  This was the time that the paper was under the leadership of Otis Chandler.

The Los Angeles Times wasn't always a liberal paper; it was a conservative paper under Harry Chandler.  But as time went on, the newspaper got progressively more liberal in its editorial stances.  They would endorse an occasional Republican, but most often they would endorse Democrats for various offices.

The Chandler family eventually sold the Times to the Tribune Publishing Company of Chicago. 

Well, guess who is currently in the White House and is also from Chicago?  You got it!  Barack Obama.

I opened the October 21 edition of the Los Angeles Times and found that they have endorsed for re-election Barack Obama, formerly of Chicago.  

The sub-heading of the endorsement reads as follows:

"The nation has been well served by his leadership.  And Romney has shown he is the wrong choice."

Say what?!  On what basis is Romney "the wrong choice"?

While they note that the country is "deeply in the red" (thanks to the irresponsible spending of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika, but they don't mention that), they feel that Romney's proposals to cut taxes on middle-income people would further drive up costs on the middle class.   They seem to think that taxing "the rich" is a responsible policy and borrowing more money from China is the prudent thing to do. 

Hello, Earth to the Times!  Taxes were cut in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan and the government actually received more revenue as a result of the economic boom that took place.   This was the same policy that President John F. Kennedy advocated back in the 1960s.  He said, "A rising tide lifts all ships."
The editorial accuses Republicans of "obstructionism" (although Obama had a free hand during the first two years of his administration), accusing Obama of being a socialist (the record speaks for itself along with his associations with radicals like Bill Ayres) and challenged his legitimacy of his birthplace (the "birther" thing was pursued by people on the fringe, not by mainstream Republicans) among other things.

The Times cites ridiculous things in their endorsement, too numerous to go into here.  They ignore the fact that Obama set out to "fundamentally transform" (his words) the country.  That is why the "Great Recession" is still with us.  They ignore that, too.

The Times is "troubled" that "we still don't know what [Romney's] principles are."  Yet, they fail to mention that Obama has not even stated what he plans to do in a second term.  But, that doesn't seem to bother them. 

It also doesn’t seem to bother the Times that Obama picks and chooses what laws he enforces and not enforces.  It doesn’t bother them that Obama rules by edict and by-passes Congress when he finds it convenient. 

Obama's foreign policy is in shambles.  He projects weakness, not strength.  He has alienated allies like Israel.  But that's okay, according to the Times.

It shouldn't be a surprise, the Times is just another fellow-traveler in Obama's leftism.

The Los Angeles Times, owned by the Chicago-based Tribune Publishing Company, has jettisoned the remaining bit of credibility it had. 
To use a line Ronald Reagan used at the 1980 GOP National Convention, can anyone honestly say, "keep up the good work" and "let's have four more years of this" in relation to Barack Obama? 

Not hardly.  Theirs is a dumb and dishonest endorsement. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dud WWII Bomb Found and Removed In Tokyo

Above, the Hotel Asia Center of Japan.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

More than once during my trips to Tokyo I've wondered if there were any unexploded bombs in the city left over from World War II.

News On Japan reports that a dud bomb from World War II was located and removed near Akasaka Mitsuke Station.  The station was partially closed today during the bomb's removal.  The dud bomb was found September 20.

Akasaka Mitsuke Station is only a stop away from Aoyama-Itchome Station, which is the stop for the hotel I usually stay at while in Tokyo, the Hotel Asia Center of Japan.

To read the article, go here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Ads At The Hill

Being the "political animal" that I am, I went to the political news website The Hill to read an article on plans by a United Nations "do-gooder" watchdog group's plans to monitor some polling places in the upcoming elections.

When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see some Amazon.com ads for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan ebook edition plastered on the page.

Here's the top of the page:

And further down:

It is nice to see that Amazon is doing such a great job in promoting the travel guide throughout the Internet.  

Superman Costumes: Bad To Worse

Here's a comparison of recent Superman costumes.

On the left, Brandon Routh's costume from Superman Returns.  On the right, is Henry Cavill's for the upcoming Man of Steel.

Routh's is somewhat faithful to the original design by Joe Shuster, whereas, Cavill's is based on DC Comics' "New 52" design.

As bad as Routh's costume is, Cavill's is much worse.  They both are terrible!  

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