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

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ANA's Business Class Special: Europe To Japan

Above, the Wako Dept. Store in Ginza, Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
European G-fans are in luck!

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has a special offer for a Japan vacation originating from European departure points:


Looking for a special summer holiday inspiration? Why not plan a trip to Japan in comfort of ANA's award winning business class service at a special price? Book your tickets more than 60 days before your departure date (14 days from France):
From Belgium,  Germany,  Italy, The Netherlands and Spain from 1,999 euro 
From Austria and Portugal from 2,199 euro
From France from 2,999 euro
From UK (regional airports) from 2,199 GBP
From Switzerland from CHF2,999
Valid for Jul. & Aug. 2013 departure. 
Book now from each country's home page 
http://www.ana.co.jp/asw/LocaleSelectServlet?cid=EMMLON20130429EURFB
* Above return fare includes taxes and charges, including fuel surcharge, passenger service charge and airport facility charge, to Japan (as of Apr. 2013). Offer valid till 7 May 2013, or 9 Aug. 2013 (for France). All fares are subject to availability at the time of booking. Fares and conditions are subject to change without notice.



Looking for a special summer holiday inspiration? Why not plan a trip to Japan in comfort of ANA's award winning business class service at a special price? Book your tickets more than 60 days before your departure date (14 days from France):

From Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain from 1,999 euro
From Austria and Portugal from 2,199 euro
From France from 2,999 euro
From UK (regional airports) from 2,199 GBP
From Switzerland from CHF2,999
Valid for Jul. & Aug. 2013 departure.

Book now from each country's home page

http://www.ana.co.jp/asw/LocaleSelectServlet?cid=EMMLON20130429EURFB

 * Above return fare includes taxes and charges, including fuel surcharge, passenger service charge and airport facility charge, to Japan (as of Apr. 2013). Offer valid till 7 May 2013, or 9 Aug. 2013 (for France). All fares are subject to availability at the time of booking. Fares and conditions are subject to change without notice.


"Vanloads" of Illegal Aliens Getting Food Stamps



Judicial Watch posted an article on the massive food stamp fraud that is knowingly being encouraged by the benevolent federal government and covered up.

Illegal aliens are receiving food stamps by "the vanload."

The money being handed out are our tax dollars.  Barack Obama is currently promoting the program "like there's no tomorrow."

It starts with:

For decades the U.S. government has knowingly given illegal immigrants food stamps, according to a former certification case worker who denounced the costly practice back in the 1980s but was essentially ordered to keep a lid on it. 
The retired assistant case manager, Craig McNees, was in charge of vetting food-stamp applicants in north Florida and Indiana in the ’80s and says the program was infested with fraud and corruption that was perpetually ignored by management. “Illegals would come in by the vanload and we were told to give them their stuff,” McNees said. “Management knew very well they were illegal. It was so rampant that some employees would tell their illegal relatives to come get food stamps.”
To read the full article, go here (if you DARE).

Godzilla and The Yurakucho Mullion

Going through some photo albums, I found a photo of Harumi-Dori looking towards Ginza from Hibiya.

I took it back in 2001 as I recalled a similar shot in Return of Godzilla (1984) (a.k.a. Godzilla 1985) in which Godzilla is about to approach the Yurakucho Mullion Building and pick up a shinkansen from its tracks after collapsing the street and clawing the Yurakucho Mullion.

Above, looking towards Ginza from Hibiya down Harumi-Dori.  The
Yurakucho Mullion Building is the big building on the left.  Photo
by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a scene from "Return of Godzilla" has the Big G strolling towards
the Yurakucho Mullion Building.  Toho Co., Ltd.
Before the Yurakucho Mullion was built, the property was once occupied by the cake-shaped Toho Nichigeki Theater (featured in the 1954 Godzilla).  Inside the Yurakucho Mullion Building, there a modern Toho Nichigeki Theater.  I screened Space Battleship Yamato in this theater in 2010.

Above, the Yurakucho Mullion Building from a different angle.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
This location is covered on pages 28-29 in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Today In Gamera History...

Above, the tickets for the premiere.

Thanks to a Facebook post by The First Church of Godzilla (Reform) Pastor Tony Isabella, I was reminded that on this date in 2006, Gamera: The Brave premiered in Tokyo.

Above, a large plush Gamera.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The premiere took place at the Piccadilly Theaters in the Yurakucho Mullion Building.

Above, the stars of the movie appear on stage.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I timed my 2006 trip to Tokyo in order to attend the premiere.


Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo 2013

Above, Tom Franck, Jessica Tseang and I at the 2012 Comikaze Expo.

Just got back from a good and productive two-hour meeting with Jessica Tseang on the upcoming 2013 Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center set for November 1-3.

We kicked around some ideas for panel presentations of the world of kaiju for the convention.

Once we decide on what we're going to do, an announcement will be made on this blog.

David Selby: From Quentin To Lincoln


Above, David Selby as Abraham Lincoln.

Actor David Selby burst upon pop culture history with his portrayal of Quentin Collins on the the daytime soap, Dark Shadows.

Above, Jonathan Frid and David Selby in "Dark Shadows."

The Quentin character was introduced in 1969 as a vengeful ghost.  This prompts Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) go back to the year 1897 to solve the mystery of Quentin Collins and a werewolf curse.

Above, Selby as Lincoln.

At the time, Selby in 1897 garb looked strikingly like a young Abraham Lincoln.  Now 40+ years later, Selby has been getting rave reviews appearing as Lincoln in various stage productions (he even appeared as Lincoln at Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot).


Hell's Kitchen, Etc.


Living with a culinary student has exposed me to cooking shows on the ol' boob tube. There's a number of them available for viewing and she even brings home food/cooking DVDs for viewing.

Three of my favorites are with Chef Gordon Ramsay: Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef.  Master Chef will begin its new season on May 22 (go here for more info).

Currently, Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen are airing.

Ramsay also has another show, Hotel Hell.  Like Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay goes to troubled hotels to see why they are failing and to try to straighten them out.  I've watched the show (and will probably watch it when it returns), but I think Ramsay is out of his element in this and I am just focusing on the cooking shows here.

As the name implies, Kitchen Nightmares has Ramsay going to troubled restaurants to see why they are failing and to try to straighten them out.

Hell's Kitchen pits two groups against each other, a women's group (in red) and a men's group (in blue).  They are put up to cooking challenges with the winning group getting rewards and the losing group getting punishing tasks.  Through the elimination process, members of each group are removed for mess-ups.  Ultimately, the last (standing) members of each group have a chance to become a head chef at one of Ramsay's restaurants.  The winner last season was probably the most attractive member of the red group, but she was a lesbian. (Go figure.)  This season has the most inept group of male cooks/chefs I've seen.  I find myself wondering if any of them have real cooking talent.

Master Chef has cooks and chefs compete to become a Master Chef.  All are given cooking challenges and are judged by Ramsay and two others.  Last season, a blind Asian woman won.  This is probably my favorite of Ramsay's shows.

The joke (at top, with Chef Ramsay) was sent out to friends a few weeks ago, I was surprised at how many of them watched Ramsay's shows when I received their responses.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Big Lizard Statuary: More Godzilla Statues In Japan

Above, the "Big G" stands guard at the entrance to Toho Studios.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fans are familiar with the two Godzilla statues in Tokyo: one in Hibiya and the other at the entrance to Toho Studios in Setagaya.

As previously mentioned, there's a Godzilla statue at the Hamano Hot Springs Resort at Izu Oshima, which is a two-hour hydrofoil ride from Tokyo.

This link will take you to a photo of it.

Above, the Godzilla statue in Hibiya.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Also, there is a Godzilla statue in Morioka in the Tohoku region of northern Japan, which is 77 miles northeast of Sendai.  At the time I was putting together The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, I was unable to confirm its existence (the most recent post on it was in 2006) or get information on its location.  I wouldn't want to send fans on a "wild goose chase" to see it.  If I am able to confirm its existence and location, I would include it in an updated version of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

I am currently checking with a person who went to see it.  I will report further once I hear back.

In the meantime, here is a link to a photo of the statue in Morioka.

Izu Oshima Beckons

Above, Izu Oshima Island can be seen from Atami's harbor.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The end of Return of Godzilla (1984) (also known as Godzilla and Godzilla 1985) has Godzilla lured to Mt. Mihara on Oshima Island and toppling into the volcano, seemingly to his doom.

However, Godzilla escapes the confines of Mt. Mihara in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) to wreak havoc in Japan.

The formal name for Oshima Island is Izu Oshima.  According to Wikipedia:
Izu Ōshima (伊豆大島 Izu-ōshima?) is a volcanic island in the Izu Islands.[1] The island is administered by the Tokyo Metropolitan government, Japan, lies about 100 km south of Tokyo, 22 km east of the Izu Peninsula and 36 km southwest of Bōsō Peninsula. Ōshima Town (大島町 Ōshima-machi?) serves as the local government of the island.

 On Mt. Mihara itself, Wikipedia says:

Izu Ōshima is most famous for Mt. Mihara (764 meters), which last erupted in 1990. Izu Ōshima is also a popular site for tourists from both Tokyo and Shizuoka due to its close proximity to the mainland. 
There are a number of ferries which leave from Takeshiba Sanbashi Pier, near Hamamatsuchō, Tokyo. Ferries also leave from Atami in Shizuoka.
Back in November 2001, I took a bullet train (shinkansen) from Tokyo to Atami.  Izu Oshima can be seen from Atami's harbor area on clear days.  Fortunately for me, the day I went to Atami was a relatively clear day and I was able to see Izu Oshima.

What prompted me to post this was an article in Japan Today, "10 Travel Ideas Slightly Off The Beaten Track."  One of the ten ideas was Izu Oshima.

They wrote:
Izu Oshima – This volcanic island, technically part of Tokyo, is a 2-hour hydrofoil trip from Tokyo Takeshiba pier (three daily departures between 7 and 8 a.m.) or take an overnight ferry departing at 11 p.m. The island is just over 26 kilometers in circumference; rented bicycle is a great way to explore the whole island. Geology—the volcano, the beaches, the rocks — and botany — farms and camellia groves — and a chance to just slow down and relax. This is a nice little overnight getaway.
To see the other nine ideas in the article, go here.

Also on the island, there is a stone Godzilla statue at the Hamano Hot Spring Resort.  [Izu Oshima and Atami are covered on page 35 of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.]

Perhaps the next time I visit Japan, an excursion to Izu Oshima may be taken.  A ride on a hydrofoil sounds like fun!



Saturday, April 27, 2013

Monster Japan Travel Guide Orders Coming In

Above, from Anime News Network (ANN).

Orders are coming in since the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan started a week ago today. They started coming in Wednesday and they are currently being filled with the ones paid by money order are mailed out right away.

The sale goes on through Saturday, June 8.

Orders postmarked on or before June 8 are entitled to a 20% discount ($2.00 off the $15.00 cover price) for a total of $14.00 (that includes shipping & handling).

Make checks/money orders payable to Armand Vaquer and send to 18618 Collins Street, #105, Tarzana, CA 91356.

Monster Madhouse Returns

Above, this photo of Karlos Borloff meeting Haruo Nakajima (taken in 2008) is
one of Borloff's prized possessions.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Monster Madhouse has been on a break since last September.  On April 19, it has returned.

Terror From Beyond The Daves has posted an article on the show's return.  According to the article, the break was made necessary as the cast and crew were exhausted.

Above, Karlos Borloff gets a chest hair inspection by Haruo Nakajima as
Robert Scott Field looks on.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Now that they're tanned, rested and ready, Monster Madhouse has returned with show host Karlos Borloff (Jerry Moore) and his cadre of misfits including Frank N. Stein, Lizard Man, Stabsalot, Ultra Mam, Dr. Finger, Freaky Daddy and more.

The opening show presented the 1950s sci-fi flick, Giant Gila Monster.

Borloff had kept himself busy in the interim by selling Godzilla caps, toys and t-shirts (by the way, I am still waiting for mine) and coming up with new material for use in future shows.

Above, yours truly with Karlos Borloff who is shown
here disguised as mild-mannered Jerry Moore.
Now that they've been rested, they are back in the game again and having fun doing it.

To read the full article, go here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Japan: The Time Is Right!

The time is right to take that dream vacation to Japan.



First, the dollar has gained ground against the Japanese yen in exchange in Tokyo.  Right now, the dollar buys about ¥98-99.  This is the best rate in over three years!



Second, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been cleared to resume passenger flights (after problems with the plane's lithium ion batteries that caused the plane to be grounded were resolved).  This will add more available flights from the U.S. to Japan.  The planes are expected to be fully operational in June following installation of new safety systems.



Third, I am currently running a pre-vacation season sale on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.  It is now available through me for $12.00 per copy (plus $2.00 shipping and handling).  This is 20% off the cover price!  Orders postmarked up to Saturday, June 8 are entitled to the discounted price.  Ordering details here.

So, what are you waiting for?

Japan's Tourism Sets New March Record

Above, Lake Ashi in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.


The Japan National Tourism Organization has reported some good news about the Japanese tourism industry.

According to an article posted on UPI.com:

TOKYO, April 25 (UPI) -- The Japan National Tourism Organization said 857,000 tourists visited Japan in March, a record for the month. 
The previous record for visitors in March was 731,600 in 2008, Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday. 
The jump in the number of visitors was attributed to a sharply falling yen and pent up demand. 
Visits dropped sharply after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that severely damaged a nuclear power plant in northeast of Tokyo.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2013/04/25/In-Japan-and-through-Asia-tourism-is-up/UPI-92381366917599/#ixzz2Rb1Wp0Y9

Congress Orders Obama Administration To End Furloughs


Above, Cleveland International Airport's control tower.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The furloughs of air traffic controllers will be ending soon as Congress passed a bill ordering the Obama Administration to make cuts elsewhere in the Transportation Department.

The Washington Times reported:
Moving with striking speed and overwhelming bipartisanship, Congress on Friday ordered President Obama to cancel the furloughs of air traffic controllers, making the second big dent in the budget sequesters. 
Congress approved a bill ordering the Transportation Department to move money to the Federal Aviation Administration in order to put air traffic controllers back on the job — and requiring Mr. Obama’s team to make cuts elsewhere in the department.
The sequester was the Obama Administration's idea and it is turning out that people are getting wise to the fact that the "painful cuts" were all politically generated and totally unnecessary.  Democrats are getting "wobbly" as they see this turning into a public relations fiasco.  Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/26/congress-tells-obama-stop-faa-furloughs/#ixzz2Raq5BcWC
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

*******
In other air travel news, Japan has authorized the resumption of Boeing 787 Dreamliner passenger flights in the country starting Friday.  After installation of new safety systems in all 787s, the plane is expected to be fully operational in June.

Happy Birthday Tomoyuki Tanaka

Above, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka in front of the Yurakucho
Mullion building in Tokyo with a couple of friends in 1984.


Today in 1910, Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was born.

According to Wikipedia:

Tomoyuki Tanaka (田中 友幸 Tanaka Tomoyuki) was a Japanese film producer, most famous for creating the Godzilla series. He was born in Kashiwara, Osaka, Japan on April 26, 1910, and died in Tokyo on April 2, 1997. Tanaka was married to the actress Chieko Nakakita (1926 – 2005). He died of a stroke at the age of 86.

Let's raise a glass in honor of Mr. Tanaka! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Huell Howser Archive At Chapman University




The late travelogue host Huell Howser willed his California Gold and other travel shows to Chapman University in Orange, California.

Howser passed away last January of natural causes at age 67.

Along with his travelogue tapes, he also donated his memorabilia to the university.

The shows are now all available for viewing at HuellHowserArchive.com.

California Food Police Wants To Tax Soft Drinks




The Looney Left Report

The left wing food police in California's legislature are now proposing an "obesity tax" on sugary soft drinks.
The tax will fund "obesity programs" in California, i.e., which means the money collected will just be wasted.
  
Unless they hire thousands of coaches with whips to force obese children and adults to exercise, this is will just be a colossal waste of taxpayers' money.

The proposal will add a one cent per ounce to soft drinks.  Under this proposal, if someone buys a 32 ounce bottle or cup of Coca Cola, then 32 more cents will be added to the price of the drink.

This hokum is just another example of the nanny state that liberals are trying to foist upon people.  While they claim to not want government into people's bedrooms, they are now imposing government into our stomachs.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shirley MacLaine Turns 79



Actress Shirley MacLaine is celebrating her 79th birthday today.

From Wikipedia:
Shirley MacLean Beatty (born April 24, 1934), known professionally as Shirley MacLaine, is an American film and theater actress, singer, dancer, activist and author. She has won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy twice, for her roles in The Apartment and Irma la Douce, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama twice for Terms of Endearment and Madame Sousatzka. She was honored with the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1998. She was nominated for an Academy Award five times before winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1983 for her role as Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment.
She is also the sister to actor Warren Beatty.

I met Ms. MacLaine three years ago while on patrol in Malibu.  The story of our encounter is recounted here in one of my "Tales of Adventure In Malibu" blog posts. She's quite a character!

Happy Birthday, Shirley!

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" News Posted By PR-Canada.net

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

PR-Canada.net has posted the news on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

PR-Canada is a part of PR-USA:
We are a team of 18 motivated editors, helped by thousands of corporate PR-managers that send us their releases every day. PR-USA is a FREE press release service and we do not require any subscription, monthly payment, etc. We are fully ad-supported. Any article can be submitted for a review. Anyway, to be published, it must be a press release or a news-article. We do not publish promotional articles, SEO-articles, marketing texts, etc.

To view the site, go here.

New Mike Oldfield CD

A new Mike Oldfield CD is now available for ordering:

http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=8930783&style=music&meid=14014&x=2696722992831 Mike Oldfield
Moonlight Shadow: The Collection
Releases April 30

Sale Price: $10.20 https://www.cduniverse.com/checkout/cart.asp?pid=8930783&style=music&meid=14014&x=2696722992831

El Rushbo On The Proposed Internet Sales Tax



Rush Limbaugh on the proposed Internet sales tax at Facebook:

I want to specifically address people who responded to my last post in opposition to internet sales tax by saying it “isn’t fair” to small business. The reality is that I don’t think small businesses should have to pay sales tax either. In fact, there actually is no national sales tax; each and every sales tax is state imposed – the bill before the senate allows states to impose sales tax on internet business. The states of our nation went the first 150 years without imposing a general sales tax, and I want to do it again. Smaller government, less taxation. In fact, the Whiskey Rebellion took place because of taxation on a specific commodity (as did the Boston Tea Party, the namesake of an organization to which a large number of you belong). 

I cannot support a new tax just because other people have to pay an old tax. I cannot support strangling a new type of business because an old type of business is already being strangled – I support rescuing the old type of business. 
With that said, those who fundamentally oppose the concept of internet sales as “unfair” are misguided. Selling goods and services over the internet is not unfair, it’s innovation. It’s an improvement of efficiency, it’s a goodness to consumers. In the same way the assembly line and the cotton gin and roads, automobiles, trains and airplanes streamlined business, increased competition and reduced cost to the consumer in years past, the internet does as well. What’s fantastic about the internet, though, is that it’s free. Any small business owner on the planet can open their doors people halfway around the world without hitting their bottom line. The internet doesn’t hurt small business, it only revolutionizes it. 
Yes, people who run traditional brick-and-mortar shops will have to step up or step out. But it’s not “unfair” to small business, it’s a tool of success that can dramatically increase profits for those willing to adapt. 
Isn’t that what we want? A competitive market that changes and revolutionizes, updates and inspires and moves our great national engine forward, all while saving consumers money? Or are we going to whine and drag our heels as time pulls us into the future, and claim that not taxing other people is “unfair?” If we did that, we’d sound awfully like Democrats.
 Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Chili My Soul, R.I.P.



One of my favorite eateries in the San Fernando Valley was Chili My Soul in Encino.  It embodied the best of the many chili cook-offs I've attended.

I first went there back in 2001 to meet up with fellow G-fan Richard Pusateri to plan an upcoming trip to Japan. Chili My Soul had many different varieties of chili dishes (the menu changed every day) to choose from. The chili ranged from very mild to flaming hot.

I often met up with Richard and other friends at Chili My Soul over the years, most often to have a meal before heading off to a movie.

In the last year or two, while shopping at the nearby Smart & Final store, I noticed that Chili My Soul was gone.  Finally, I decided to see of they moved or what happened.

Unfortunately, the owner (and the heart and soul) of the restaurant, Randy Hoffman, passed away about three years ago and the restaurant closed.

Too bad that a family member could not continue the business following Hoffman's passing.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" In Aruba Vacation Videos Site

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

Aruba Vacation Videos has picked up the news release on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.  They appear to have picked up the feed from Anime News Network along with the release from my press release service.  (Double whammy, eh?)

The articles are in their Vacation Guide section.  Aruba Vacation Videos covers more vacation news and information besides Aruba.

To view the site, go here.


Japan: Living There Is Not The Same As Visiting It

Above, an apartment building along the Sumida River in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Occasionally, I read different forums where people express the desire to move and live in Japan.  Quite often, they decide they want to do it before even visiting it in the first place, usually with the flimsiest of reasons.

One recent post went like this:
We are considering the remote possibility of relocating to Japan. My husband and I both love the cultures, history and Anime of Japan. Our children are 4 yrs and 2 yrs old and we know if we are going to do this, the sooner the better.
Naturally, neither have visited Japan before and neither is/was a Japanese national.  So they don't have any idea on what they'd face there.  While going over there for a visit will give one a good idea on deciding they still would want to live there, visiting does not tell people how they will function on a day-to-day basis.  How will they pay their bills?  Can they even read the bills?  At least people who have married a Japanese national are able to function by using him/her to handle living matters.

This was clearly stated in a reply by one of my friends who lives in Japan and is married to a Japanese national:
Imagine where you are right now that you woke up one morning and couldn't understand what anybody was saying and couldn't read anything. What are you going to do when daycare/school calls and says your kid is sick? What about when any of you have to go to the hospital? Reading your bills? Finding anything whatsoever? Communications from school? The list is endless.
As for the reason these people wanted to move there (loving "the cultures, history and anime of Japan"), he had this reply that came right to the point:
You'd think Japanese nuts if they wanted to move to Anaheim because they like Donald Duck cartoons. Liking Japanese cartoons isn't any better a reason to move to Japan.
People really need to think long and real hard about moving to a foreign country.  Visit it first, at least.

Anime Expo Reveals 2013 Program Guide Cover Art


Source: Anime Expo News Release


Anime Expo proudly reveals the cover to our 2013 program guide! Max, the official mascot of Anime Expo, is depicted in a boldly energetic piece illustrated by our artists in Japan and evokes the exciting experience awaiting attendees at our annual convention.

Our current Guest of Honor lineup for AX 2013 includes:

Voice Actors Eric Vale, Kyle Hebert, Christopher Sabat, and Johnny Yong Bosch with his band Eyeshine, Screenwriter Mari Okada, and Japanese electro/club scene DJ Ram Rider. We also welcome as industry guests J-Pop group Starmarie. Be sure to follow us on our social media channels, because we have more guest announcements on the way!

Anime Expo will be held July 4-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

For more on the 2013 Anime Expo, go here.

Internet Sales Tax Making Its Way Though U.S. Senate



The ever money-hungry and money-grubbing Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate is trying to impose a sales tax on Internet purchases.

According to Yahoo! News:


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tax-free shopping on the Internet could be in jeopardy under a bill making its way through the Senate. 
The bill would empower states to require online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. The sales taxes would be sent to the states where a shopper lives. 
Under current law, states can only require stores to collect sales taxes if the store has a physical presence in the state. As a result, many online sales are essentially tax-free, giving Internet retailers a big advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. 
The Senate voted 74 to 20 Monday to take up the bill. 
Supporters say the bill is about fairness for businesses and lost revenue for states. Opponents say it would impose complicated regulations on retailers and doesn't have enough protections for small businesses.
Under this bill, you will have to pay taxes on purchases made at Amazon.com or eBay, just to name a couple.  Contact your senator or congress member to tell them you oppose any new taxes.

To read the full story, go here.

The Sequestration Furloughs: The Not-So-Friendly Skies

Above, the Cleveland International Airport.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The chaos at some U.S. airports are causing delays in flights with wait times of two hours or more.  This is all allegedly due to the sequestration where the rate of budget hikes were cut, not the cutting of the actual budget.

The Japan Times is reporting:

After months of inside-the-Beltway drama, the impact of sequestration cutbacks moved to center stage America on Monday as the aviation system was slowed by the furlough of 1,500 air traffic controllers. 
With about 10 percent of the controllers who direct 23,000 planes a day scheduled to be off daily until October, both industry and government officials forecast the effect would snowball as the nation enters peak travel season.


Sequestration was President Obama's idea when an impasse over the budget occurred last year between the Democrat Senate and Republican House.  Obama also signed it.

GOP lawmakers have been critical over the furloughs, saying that the FAA has not looked into other means to trim costs but are politically forcing the furloughs to make the sequestration more painful.  It also jeopardizes public safety.

To read the full story, go here.

Additionally, from Fox News:


Lawmakers from both parties urged the Obama administration Tuesday to postpone or cancel the furlough of air traffic controllers, with some accusing the Federal Aviation Administration of playing politics as the cuts contributed to airport delays across the country. 
The furloughs went into effect Sunday, and the impact was felt almost immediately. The FAA reported more than 1,200 delays due to the sequester-tied cuts on Monday. On Tuesday, the agency reported "challenges" at airports in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 
The FAA claims the furloughs were unavoidable. But lawmakers say the agency could find the money elsewhere, by cutting spending on consultants and grant programs and in other areas.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/04/23/lawmakers-urge-faa-to-reconsider-furloughs-as-travelers-encounter-mounting/#ixzz2RK7Wya4Y


Monday, April 22, 2013

"Godzilla x Megaguirus: G Annihilation Strategy" Movie Book

Above, the cover.
In January 2001, Japanese publisher Shogakukan published their TV-kun photo book on the 2000 Toho feature, Godzilla x Megaguirus: G Annihilation Strategy (ISBN 4-09-101475-5).

The movie premiered in Japan on November 3, 2000 at the Tokyo International Film Festival.  Its initial release was on December 16, 2000.  It was directed by Masaaki Tezuka.

Above, the photo of the "Godzilla Week" ceremony that appeared
in the "Godzilla x Megaguirus" Shogakukan movie book.

Shogakukan has a history of publishing high-quality photo books that are loaded with rare photos from the movies and production stills.  This one was no exception.  It contains photos of props, monster suits, wardrobe, miniatures and statistics, besides scenes from the movie.

Above, the "Godzilla Week" proclamation
scroll by the Board of Supervisors.
One item of interest (at least to me) included in the book was a group photo of the "Godzilla Week" ceremony that was held in July 2000 at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration.  The ceremony was held at the Board of Supervisors meeting and a proclamation declaring "Godzilla Week" was sponsored by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and signed by all the Board members.  The idea for the ceremony was to draw media attention to G-FEST 2000 (to be held that week in Hollywood) and the opening of Godzilla 2000 the following month.  Toho even shipped over an event suit for the occasion, but Jaime Geller of Sony/Tri-Star Pictures nixed the appearance with the flimsy excuse that Sony/Tri-Star had the "publicity rights" to Godzilla 2000 and the suit "detracted from the grandeur of Godzilla."  It was more likely that she wanted to control this fan-generated event with the usual "Hollywood knows best" attitude. As it turned out, Sony/Tri-Star was conspicuously absent from the ceremony.  They sent no representatives.  Thankfully, we had the full support of Toho's Los Angeles office.

Once fans learned of the "sabotage" of the event due to the cancellation of the suit's appearance (we went ahead with the ceremony anyway), the "fit hit the shan."  Fans raised holy hell with many irate emails directed to Sony/Tri-Star.  Had the suit been allowed to appear, it may have helped a little with the boxoffice take of Godzilla 2000 (it earned a measly $10 million) as people would have been able to see the new Godzilla "Millennium" design up close for the first time.  Sony's saving grace was that they provided hundreds of Godzilla 2000 cloisonne promo pins and mini-posters to hand out at the event and at G-FEST.

Above, my autographed group photo of the "Godzilla Week" ceremony.  Photo courtesy of
the office of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

The Godzilla x Megaguirus: G Annihilation Strategy book is currently out-of-print, but it can still be found at eBay and some Japanese online bookseller websites.  At the time of publication, I bought two of them (one for myself and one as a "thank-you" gift to Supervisor Antonovich).  It is amazing that over 12 years have passed since "Godzilla Week" and the publication of the movie book.

Dollar Inching Towards ¥100 In Tokyo



The U.S. dollar is inching towards 100 yen in Tokyo.

According to Jiji News:
Tokyo, April 22 (Jiji Press)--The dollar rose above 99.50 yen in Tokyo trading on Monday, after the Group of 20 top financial officials' statement was taken to show their understanding of the Bank of Japan's bold monetary easing.
We should see the dollar top 100 yen by the end of this week (or, as Criswell used to say, "I predict!").

To read more, go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guide News Picked Up By Puhah.net

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


Puhah.net, which appears to be a Korean-based news aggregator, has picked up news on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The news they cover include the economy, lifestyle, entertainment, IT, travel, sports, reviews and science.

To view the site, go here.

CollectionDX's Otaku Section Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Sale News

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

The Otaku Culture section of CollectionDX has picked up the news on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan from Monster Island News.

About CollectionDX:
CollectionDX is your source for Reviews, News and Collections of the latest Japanese Toys, American Toys, Robots, Designer Toys and Action figures. Add your collection today!
To view the site, go here

Sunday, April 21, 2013

EIN News Picks Up Press Release On Monster Japan Travel Guide Sale

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

EIN News has picked up and posted the news on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

EIN News is:

EIN News covers all countries in the world as well as hundreds of topics ranging from politics, business, industry to society & culture. Read news online, by email or via RSS. 
Since 1995, EIN News has served thousands of business, industry, academic and government customers from organizations such as CNN, World Bank, EU, ExxonMobil, Daimler Chrysler and many more. It is published by the Washington, DC-based IPD Group, a provider of media monitoring and press release services.

To view the site, go here.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Huff Post: "9 Rules Westerners Should Remember When Visiting Japan"

Above, a Shibuya street. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Huffington Post's Travel page has an article on "9 Rules Westerners Should Remember When Visiting Japan."

I looked them over and I found that I haven't "violated" any of them.

As an example, here's number five on the list:
5. There aren't any trash cans around, so if you generate much in the way of rubbish over the course of wandering then be prepared to lug it around. Despite this, the city sidewalks are relatively spotless. Never did figure that one out.
During my first trip to Japan in 2001, I noticed that there weren't any handy trash cans around (I found this to be less so during subsequent trips.  Either that, or I just learned to know where to find them), yet the streets and sidewalks were very clean.

To see the other nine rules, go here.

The (Almost) Never-Ending Battle of Superman's Copyright

Above, Bob Shayne, Noel Neill, Jack Larson and George Reeves in the "Adventures of Superman."

As this month marks the 75th anniversary of Superman, it is a good time to take a look at the most recent decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last January granting total control of the Superman character to Warner Bros./DC Comics.

According to Wired.com:
Warner Bros. scored a huge victory in the long-running and byzantine legal battle over the copyright to Superman yesterday, thanks to a ruling by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that cements the studio’s control over the lucrative superhero character. The decision drew, in part, on precedent established in a lawsuit against Facebook by the Winklevoss twins and held that a 2001 agreement between the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and Warner Bros was indeed binding and that a district judge in a 2008 case had “erred” in granting the Siegel heirs partial copyright. 
This decision follows a ruling last October that denied any part of the copyright to the heirs of Superman’s other co-creator, Joe Shuster. Shuster and Siegel famously sold their creation to DC Comics for a mere $130 in 1938, long before the character went on to become a multi-billion dollar franchise for the studio, thanks to the success of numerous Hollywood blockbusters, television shows and other merchandise. 
The recent ruling on the fate of Superman hinged upon a 2001 agreement between the Siegel heirs and Warner Bros, which the Siegels had claimed was not finalized and therefore not enforceable. In their decision on the case, the 9th Circuit repeatedly cited a lawsuit involving Facebook as precedent, wherein the Winklevoss brothers — who sued the social media site for allegedly stealing their idea – had similarly claimed that an earlier mediated agreement was non-binding. The court disagreed, and found that under California law, a “term sheet” agreement could be enforceable “even though everyone understood that certain material aspects of the deal would be papered later.”
After this ruling, DC Comics (owned by Warner) can proceed unhindered with Superman projects and products.  That is, unless Laura Siegel Larson decides to appeal this to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Too bad that a screwy California law was the driving force against Jerry Siegel's heirs.

To read the full Wired.com story, go here.

UPDATE (4/22/13):  The Siegel Estate is still pursuing litgation:

The Siegel heirs have mounted a new attack on the agreement, according to Hollywood Reporter, alleging that even if the 2001 agreement that the court ruled was valid was indeed a contract, that DC did not perform under the contract. “DC anticipatorily breached by… demanding unacceptable new and revised terms as a condition to its performance; accordingly, the Siegels rescinded the agremenet, and DC abandoned the agreement,” the latest filing says. 
The Siegels are also arguing that the Copyright Act does not allow contractually agreeing to transfer terminated copyright rights before they are terminated, a theory that has worked in some cases, but not in others. 

To read more, go here.

And, the judge ruled that DC Comics owns Superboy:

A federal court ruling on the final issues in the longrunning litigation between DC Comics (and parent Warner Bros.) and the heirs of Superman co-creator Jerome Siegel has come down in DC’s favor, according to Deadline. U.S. District Judge Otis Wright III ruled that the rights to Superboy and some Superman advertisements were sold to DC in a 2001 settlement agreement.
To read more, go here.

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