"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.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Here Comes December

Above, one of the highlights of the trip: Monument Valley. Here I am with The Mittens and Merrick Butte.

Incredible as it seems, today's the last day of November. This month flew!

It was one month ago today that I started out on my cross-country trek in The Beast to Metropolis, Illinois for Noel Neill's celebration of life services.

The trip lasted exactly three weeks and despite the little tire problem in St. Louis, it was a good trip and I got to see many places along the way. It was a good experience. The tire problem made the trip about four days longer. The good thing is, since I am retired, I was in no hurry. I found a very nice (and reasonable) RV park in Topeka, Kansas and hung out there until my finances could permit me to press ahead.

Above, The Beast with the TV antenna up to watch the election returns. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It was interesting to spend Election Day at the Double J Campground near Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois and watch the returns that night. Thankfully, I had good television reception (The Beast has a built-in TV antenna).

I am not sure if I would attempt another three-week trip. It all depends. At least I know that The Beast can handle it.

But shortly after getting home, it was Thanksgiving Day. It was good to visit with family after the trip.

Before we know it, it will be Christmas and then 2017. Hopefully, 2017 will be a much better year than 2016.

This sums it up:

Neal Adams' "The Coming of the Supermen" Hardcover

I haven't bought a new comic book in ages, but this is tempting me very much!

It appears to have been released a couple of weeks ago (while I was on my road trip).

13th Dimension wrote:
Coming of the Supermen, Neal Adams’ raucous 6-issue DC miniseries, is collected in hardcover this week. Pick it up. 
The premise isn’t particularly new, with concepts DC has played with even in the last 10 years: Some surviving Kryptonians show up on Earth to help out Superman, sort of as a junior Supersquad. They’re learning the powers but Darkseid and his minions are the opposition and all hell breaks loose. Plus there’s a hidden planet on the other side of the sun in an orbit opposite ours. And Superman bleeds.
Above, yours truly with Neal Adams at the 2012 Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles.

From what I am seeing, facially, Superman looks like Superman again. And, Adams has given Superman his red trunks back!

To read more, go here

Watched "The Searchers"

Above, the Three Sisters in Monument Valley. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last night, I decided to watch the 1956 John Wayne classic, The Searchers, since I recently visited the locations of that movie in Monument Valley with the Goulding's tour company.

Above, John Ford directs John Wayne with the Three Sisters in the background.

While watching it, it dawned on me that I had met two actors of The Searchers: Henry Brandon (Comanche Chief Scar) and Hank Worden (Mose Harper).

Above, Henry Brandon as Chief Scar.

I met both at various functions of the Los Angeles tent (Way Out West Tent) of the Laurel & Hardy fan group, The Sons of the Desert back in the 1980s.

Above, Hank Worden as Mose Harper.

Henry Brandon was a regular attendee of the Way Out West Tent as he starred in Babes In Toyland (1934) as the evil Barnaby. Worden attended one of the tent's annual banquets at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City.

Above, John Ford's director's chair at the Monument Valley Visitors Center. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Another Monument Valley location in The Searchers was Chief Scar's camp with the Totem Pole rock formation in the background.

Above, The Mittens and Merrick Butte. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, from left, Ward Bond, Jeffrey Hunter and John Wayne with the Right Mitten and Merrick Butte in the background.

Visiting Monument Valley was an enjoyable excursion. I recommend it!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

10 Reasons Why Left-Wingers Cut Ties With Trump Voters

Above, Yuu Asakura and Armand in Culver City in 2010.

Have you been cut off by a family member or a friend for being a supporter and voter of President-elect Donald J. Trump?

If you haven't, then you're lucky. As for myself, only one person has cut me off (see above photo), and she's a Japanese national and not an American citizen (as far as I know). It doesn't make sense. She started a Facebook thread on the election and one response contained a broad-brush attack on right-leaning people. I responded that the Clintons are corrupt. She went ballistic and started attacking me on the thread. I tried to soothe things over in private messages, but she would have none of it. Well, I tried. (I have other left-leaning friends, but we have a prior agreement that politics between us is a taboo subject, which is fine.)

National Review has an interesting article on this phenomenon. It is "Ten Reasons Left-Wingers Cut Trump Voters from Their Lives".

They begin with:
Many Hillary Clinton voters have ceased communicating with friends, and even family members, who voted for Donald Trump. It is so common that the New York Times published a front-page article on the subject headlined “Political Divide Splits Relationships — and Thanksgiving, Too.” 
The article begins with three stories: 
Matthew Horn, a software engineer from Boulder, Colo., canceled Christmas plans with his family in Texas. Nancy Sundin, a social worker in Spokane, Wash., has called off Thanksgiving with her mother and brother. Ruth Dorancy, a software designer in Chicago, decided to move her wedding so that her fiancé’s grandmother and aunt, strong Trump supporters from Florida, could not attend. 

The Times acknowledges that this phenomenon is one-sided, saying, “Democrats have dug in their heels, and in some cases are refusing to sit across the table from relatives who voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump.” A number of people who voted for Trump called my show to tell me that their daughters had informed them they would no longer allow their parents to see their grandchildren. And one man sent me an e-mail reporting that his brother-in-law’s mother told him that she “no longer had a son.”
To better understand why left-leaning people do this kind of thing and right-leaning people don't, read the full article, especially the ten reasons.

To read more, go here.

Two Most Important Japan Travel Tips

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

Over the years I've posted tips and links to tips on traveling to Japan.

Well, here's another link to some handy tips on Japan travel. This time, there's only two tips, but Kyo Tours Japan goes into great detail on why they are so important.

They begin with:
Before coming to Japan, our guests ask us about all sorts of things. From what to pack to hot spring etiquette, travelers to Japan seem uniquely concerned with making sure their vacation goes smoothly. Guests also ask us for any unconventional travel wisdom we can share with them before they arrive. So in the spirit of sharing, here's a couple of great tips. In fact, we're gonna go so far as to proclaim these the Two Most Important Japan Travel Tips... of all time!
To see what the two tips are, go here


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Monday, November 28, 2016

NPS May Hike National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass Fee

Above, Grand Canyon National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last February, I got my National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass when I turned 62.

The pass itself only cost me $10, but there were associated processing fees that boosted the bill to around $20. Still, this was a good deal and I have used it at Yosemite National Park (twice) and at Grand Canyon National Park. The savings (around $30) at Grand Canyon were more than the total amount I paid for the pass, so it essentially paid for itself.

At the Grand Canyon, all I had to do to enter the park was to hand them my pass and drivers license at the gate to look over and verify that I am the person on the pass and that the signatures matched.

Now, the National Park Service is considering raising the Lifetime Senior Pass fee to raise more money to help with the maintenance backlog that has been mounting.

According to RV Life:
Millions of Americans are still celebrating the centennial America’s National Parks. With nearly $12 billion in deferred maintenance projects as of February 2016, the National Park Service is examining every angle to raise additional funds for 2017. While there have been certain National Park Service fund raising tactics proposed recently, one strategy they are now considering is raising the National Parks Lifetime Senior Pass Fee. 
In addition to the annual $3 billion in routine operations costs the National Park System must fund every year, it must also find a way to pay for critical fixes in each location. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the maintenance backlog is long. It includes everything from fixing leaky roofs at the Santa Fe National Historic Trail Landmark, to adding ADA access at Valley Forge National Historic Park. Advocates for the parks argue that one way to make the work happen is by boosting the National Park Service Lifetime Senior Pass fee from $10 to $80.
Ouch! If this passes by an act of Congress, raising the fee from $10 to $80 is quite a jump. I am glad that I got mine when I did.

To read more, go here.

Shops and Elvis Exhibits Near Graceland

Above, when one sees this sign, they know they're in the right place. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Photos by Armand Vaquer

During my recent visit to Memphis, Tennessee, I stayed at the Graceland RV Park, which is situated behind the former Heartbreak Hotel (now closed).

The RV park is close enough to hear Elvis music coming from the souvenir shops along Elvis Presley Blvd. that surround Presley's mansion. The music ended around 8:30 to 9:00 PM.

Also, some storefronts also were additional exhibits of Elvis memorabilia. Some of them were included in the price of the Graceland tour. The photos below include an exhibit of Elvis Presley's concert jumpsuits in one of the storefronts. There is also a tour of the Lisa Marie jet, but it is not part of the official tour and here is a separate admission charge. Since I toured the jet in 2001, I skipped it this time.

One store offered reproduction Elvis jumpsuits for around $2,700 for those who just want one or wish to start a "career" as an Elvis impersonator.

Here's a sample of some of them:

Below, is my "over the fence" photo of the Lisa Marie, Elvis Presley's personal jet.

According to the Elvis Australia website (they are the "official" Elvis Presley fan club of Australia):
On April 17, 1975 Elvis bought a Convair 880 Jet, recently taken out of service by Delta Airlines, for the then-substantial sum of $250,000. After refurbishing, the total exceeded $600,000. 
He immediately rechristened it the Lisa Marie.

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