"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.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Michael Steele GOP Chairman

Michael Steele became the first black Republican National Chairman today.

From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – The Republican Party chose the first black national chairman in its history Friday, just shy of three months after the nation elected a Democrat as the first African-American president. The choice marked no less than "the dawn of a new party," declared the new GOP chairman, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Republicans chose Steele over four other candidates, including former President George W. Bush's hand-picked GOP chief, who bowed out declaring, "Obviously the winds of change are blowing."

From FoxNews.com:

Steele delivered a rousing speech after winning the race, pledging to re-establish the Republican presence in the northeast and win elections in regions across the country.

"It's time for something completely different, and we're gonna bring it to them," he said. "Get ready, baby. It's time to turn it on."

Steele said he would work to build the party to an unprecedented level and warned: "For those of you who wish to obstruct, get ready to get knocked down."

Steele was my preferred candidate as he can provide the GOP with a strong voice in the media and he has great ideas in modernizing the Republican Party, including the party's Internet presence (which badly lags behind the Democrats).

40th Anniversary of Boris Karloff's Death

Above, Boris Karloff and Marilyn Harris in Frankenstein.

This coming Monday, February 2 will mark the 40th anniversary of the death of famed horror star Boris Karloff.

From Wikipedia:

Boris Karloff lived out his final years at his cottage, 'Roundabout,' in the Hampshire village of Bramshott. After a long battle with arthritis and emphysema, he contracted pneumonia, succumbing to it in the King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, Sussex, England, on February 2, 1969, at the age of 81. He was cremated, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford Crematorium, Godalming, Surrey, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance. A memorial service was held at St Paul's, Covent Garden (The Actors' Church), London, where there is also a plaque.

Karloff was born William Henry Pratt November 23, 1887 in East Dulwich, London, England. His birthplace is now marked by a plaque.

He is best remembered as Frankenstein's monster in the groundbreaking film Frankenstein (1931) for Universal Pictures, directed by James Whale. He repeated the role two more times in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and in Son of Frankenstein (1939). He also was Imhotep in The Mummy (1932).

Above, Karloff throttles make-up artist Jack Pierce on the set of Son of Frankenstein.

Karloff always claimed he chose the first name "Boris" because it sounded foreign and exotic, and that "Karloff" was a family name. But his only child, Sara denies knowledge of any part of the family with the name "Karloff."

He never resented being typecast as a horror star, instead, he felt that it was a blessing. Before his big break in Frankenstein, Karloff was featured in minor supporting roles and often had to work as a truck driver to put food on the table.

Above, Bela Lugosi (left) and Karloff in The Black Cat.

His popularity continued three decades later and was active up to his death in 1969.

In 1998, Karloff was featured in a series of "Monster Stamps" issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

Gov. Sarah Palin Forms PAC

Source: Newsmax.com

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has formed a new political action committee, SarahPAC.

According to Newsmax.com:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says her new political action committee, SarahPAC, is not intended to enhance her profile as a major Republican player on the national stage or to signal that she is running for president in 2012, but rather so she can help raise money for other GOP candidates.

"No, not at all,” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News when asked about her presidential aspirations. “It's helpful to have a PAC so that, when I'm invited to things, like to speak at the Lincoln Day dinner in Fairbanks — to have a PAC pay for that instead of have the state pay for that because that could be considered quasi-political."

Palin, who was Sen. John McCain’s running mate when he ran for president in November, models her PAC after HillPAC, the committee Hillary Clinton formed during her presidential run in 2008, as did President Barack Obama and other candidates from both parties.

Following the 2008 election, I suggested on this blog that if Gov. Palin has any future political ambitions, or to be an influence in the GOP, she should follow the model of Ronald Reagan. Reagan, with leftover campaign funds from his losing bid for the White House in 1976, formed Citizens for the Republic (CFTR).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brad Sherman Voted For Socialist Pork Bill

California Congressman Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills voted for the "porkpalooza" stimulous bill yesterday.

The vote yesterday showed that the only bi-partisanship was the opposition vote. Eleven (11) Democrats joined the unanimous Republicans in opposing the stimulous bill. The 'yes' vote was totally partisan. Only Democrats voted for it.

The Wall Street Journal editorialized:

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."

So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic "stimulus," but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm's point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

Another "stimulus" secret is that some $252 billion is for income-transfer payments -- that is, not investments that arguably help everyone, but cash or benefits to individuals for doing nothing at all. There's $81 billion for Medicaid, $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits, $20 billion for food stamps, and $83 billion for the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax. While some of that may be justified to help poorer Americans ride out the recession, they aren't job creators.

To see the full WSJ editorial, go here.

As Jack Ryan wrote in the Post Chronicle:

Reports of what's in the new stimulus is causing tons of questions in the media and the people in America. According to reports, $335,000,000 is going towards sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs. I thought this was a economy stimulus bill?

Besides that, it is reported that the radical community organizer group ACORN is to receive billions from this bill. Economic stimulous?! This is nothing but a redistribution of wealth to Democrat/Leftist special interest groups.

FoxNews.com reported:

Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that ACORN, the low-income advocacy group under investigation for voter registration fraud, could be eligible for billions in aid from the economic stimulus proposal working its way through the House.

House Republican Leader John Boehner issued a statement over the weekend noting that the stimulus bill wending its way through Congress provides $4.19 billion for "neighborhood stabilization activities."

He said the money was previously limited to state and local governments, but that Democrats now want part of it to be available to non-profit entities. That means groups like ACORN would be eligible for a portion of the funds.

And, the Associated Press noted:

Undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for a Social Security number can file tax returns with an alternative number. A House-passed version of the economic recovery bill and one making its way through the Senate would allow anyone with such a number, called an individual taxpayer identification number, to qualify for the tax credits.

Most of the (arguably) stimulous spending won't even kick in until 2010, an election year. What are people supposed to do in the meantime?

And Brad Sherman, the congressman in my district, voted for it! His idiocy knows no bounds.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Coward Antonio Villaraigosa Won't Debate Walter Moore

Coward Antonio Villaraigosa Won't Debate Walter Moore

by Armand Vaquer

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa refuses to debate attorney Walter Moore on the issues during this year's mayoral campaign.

Moore is the only candidate who has qualified for matching campaign funds. Villaraigosa declined to participate in the matching funds program so he can't be forced to debate Moore.

Villaraigosa's horrid record as mayor should be debated and he should be forced to defend that record. By refusing to debate, Mayor Villaraigosa, besides being a lousy mayor, is also showing that he's a coward.

El Pollo Antonio!

Walter Moore For Mayor

Porkpalooza Passes, But House GOP Voted 'No'

"Porkpalooza" passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but the GOP caucus held firm with a near unanimous 'no' vote (one member didn't vote) and were joined by nearly a dozen Democrats.

FoxNews.com reports:

The House of Representatives approved an $819 billion economic stimulus package Wednesday, dealing the new Obama administration a legislative victory but also giving Republicans a chance to show their resolve as the opposition party.

The final vote was 244-188, mostly along party lines. All Republicans who were present voted against the bill. They were joined in their opposition by 11 Democrats.

Now the measure goes to the U.S. Senate. Now is time for everyone to contact their senators and tell them to vote against this fraud.

Thank you, Republican Congress members!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Japan Mini-Vacation

Above, the Asahi Beer Headquarters across the Sumida River from Asakusa.

A Japan Mini-Vacation

(Originally published in G-FAN #75, Spring 2006)

Text and photos Copyright and by Armand Vaquer

After getting my daughter a car and off to college this past summer, it was time to unwind and treat myself to a vacation. My obvious first choice was to head back to Japan. So, on October 15 [2005] I headed off for a vacation to Japan.

Since my last trip to Japan was with last year's G-TOUR, which was pre-planned and structured as an organized tour should be, I decided that I would just go to Tokyo and explore places that I haven't seen or just re-visit some familiar haunts. Since I only had a week's worth of vacation time, I tried to get as much in as possible. It was basically whatever I was in the mood to do. The weather was cool, but rainy on some days. Still it was worth it.

Asakusa's Nakamise Ave.

Above, Japanese schoolgirls are among the throngs of shoppers at Nakamise Ave. in Asakusa, Tokyo.

First, after checking into the Tsukuba Hotel in the Ueno section of Tokyo Sunday night, I went to Asakusa's Nakamise Avenue to do some shopping on Monday morning. We briefly stopped there during G-TOUR and I wanted to see more of it. While there, I bought a foot-tall Godzilla 2004 figure that roars, makes stomping noises and has dorsal spikes that light up with sound effects of Godzilla's oral ray, explosions and artillery shells. I also found some gifts for family members. Despite being rainy out, it was an enjoyable day. The stores were decorated in autumn colors. I found a statue of Ultraman guarding the front of the ROX department store in Asakusa. The store also has an Ultraman department where fans can buy Ultraman-related products.

Wandering around Tokyo.

Next on the agenda was a Tuesday morning visit to the offices of Kadokawa Herald Pictures, Inc. in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo to discuss the new Gamera movie now in production and to pick up the film's official press kit. Chiyoda-ku was an area of Tokyo that I never visited before, so it was an extra treat to enjoy the sights of this section of the city. I also paid a visit to the New Otani Hotel for a coffee break and to get out of the rain. The staff at the New Otani provided a map to the building that Kadokawa is located. They were a big help. As Richard Pusateri once said, "Describing [or in this case, finding] a location in Tokyo is like trying to swim the ocean." This is definitely a first-class hotel!

Kadokawa's offices were nicely decorated with posters of their films and had a friendly and cooperative staff. I gave them a copy of G-FAN for their records during my visit.

After my business with Kadokawa Herald Pictures was completed, I decided to make a trek to the Bandai Museum. The museum was next door to the Matsudo train station on the Joban Line.

Unfortunately, I found the museum closed that day and the next. So, I would have to return two days later to see the museum. It wasn't a wasted trip as I enjoyed seeing this section of Tokyo for the first time. After lunch near the Matsudo station, I headed to Shibuya and then Nakano to see what G-products the toy stores at the Broadway Mall had to offer. Unfortunately, they didn't have much. It seemed that the toy stores in Asakusa had a lot more G-toys to offer than did Nakano.

Following Nakano, I headed a few train stations down to meet up with fellow G-FAN contributor Daisuke Ishizuka for dinner in Kichijoji at a very nice Japanese restaurant there. As Yoshikazu Ishii was busy making a movie, he could not join us for dinner.

Down the Sumida River.

On Wednesday, I decided to make it a more leisurely day and took a boat cruise down the Sumida River. The weather was clear that day, which made the cruise very pleasant. The water taxi station was located at Asakusa and across the river from the Asahi Beer Headquarters. The cruise down the river took me to the Hama Rikyu Garden. Sights included Tokyo Tower and the bridge (above) that Godzilla knocked over in 1954 along with views of Odaiba. After exploring the Garden for a while, I made the return cruise up the Sumida back to Asakusa. The cruise was a pleasant one, although the company running it tried their hardest to sell snacks and toy models of their boats to the passengers.

I also had another, but unexpected, "ride" that night. A 6.2 earthquake hit around 9:00 PM and shook up Tokyo pretty good. I was relaxing in my hotel room when it hit. Since the epicenter was about 60 miles away, there were no injuries or damage. It was interesting watching the news reports on the quake and seeing it recorded by cameras positioned thoughout the city. Nothing like making a Californian feel right at home!

Visiting Toho International and Bandai Museum.

I paid a Thursday morning visit to Toho International in Hibiya Park to see our old friend and former Toho Los Angeles General Manager Masaharu Ina. As I got into Ginza/Hibiya Park about forty-five minutes early, I wandered over to the square where the Godzilla statue stands and where metal relief casts of movie stars (Japan's version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame) are set in the pavement around the statue. Several news crews surrounded a newly placed hand cast (of a Korean movie star) a few yards from the Godzilla statue and right next to Tom Cruise's (placed in 2004 following his film, The Last Samurai). I took out my camcorder and was recording the proceedings when I noticed that several cameras were aimed at me. I was then interviewed by a camera crew. I was asked if I am a Tom Cruise fan ("Not particularly," was my reply). I did manage to pull out a copy of the current issue of G-FAN and gave it a "shameless plug." Somewhere in Japan or Korea, G-FAN was proudly displayed on television!

When I got to Toho International's offices, Mr. Ina and I discussed the Godzilla franchise and enjoyed the view from the conference room of the Imperial Palace. Mr. Ina decorated the conference room with many Godzilla items as he did with the Toho Los Angeles office conference room. I gave Mr. Ina a copy of my video of Godzilla's Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony from November 2004. Before leaving, I was able to briefly visit former L.A. sales manager Tetsushi Sudo, who is now also working at Toho International. They were in the midst of getting ready for the Tokyo International Film Festival that was scheduled to open the following week. I was invited to attend their screenings, but I was due to depart from Japan before the festival began.

Since I learned how to get to the Bandai Museum (above) a couple of days before, it was a simple matter to go back there again to finally see the inside. I have to confess, it was impressive. The museum sits right next to the Matsuda Station (there's plenty of signs in the station pointing the way to the museum, so a visitor can't possibly get lost) and occupies several floors. Each floor has its own theme. One floor would have Ultraman displays. Another floor would have Gundam displays. And so on. Of course, I was most interested in the Godzilla displays and I was not disappointed. The museum is the Character's Hall of Fame and their History With Bandai Since 1950.

Above, Ultraman goes to battle at the Bandai Museum.

In the Ultraman section, there is a glass display case with all of the varieties of Ultraman helmets. All of Bandai's Ultraman toys are lined up along walls thoughout. In the Godzilla section, all of the Bandai Godzilla toys Bandai produced are lined up in display cases. There is also an actual Godzilla prop (below) used during a water scene in Godzilla x Megaguirus. One other Godzilla prop was the giant foot used in the scene in GMK where Godzilla crushes an occupied restroom.

On the Gundam floor (7th Floor), visitors can pose for pictures (for a few yen, photo below) in uniform provided by the museum (that is, if you can fit in one. Luckily, I did.) on the Gundam Lift. (I was able to remain in email contact with friends back in North America as my hotel had free Internet access. While doing so, Stan Hyde challenged me to get on the Gundam Lift in uniform, so that's how that came about.) If one should get hungry, food is served at the Gundam Cafe (8th Floor). Gundam toys can be bought at the G-Base gift shop, also on the 8th Floor. There is also a section where capsule toys can be purchased called Gashapon World. Godzilla toys can be purchased at another gift shop on the 5th Floor. I purchased the Bandai Museum King Goji figure while there. If you should ever take a trip to Japan, I would highly recommend a visit to the Bandai Museum. Before you go, be sure to call first to find out whether it is open that day or not. Their phone number is 047-331-7501. [Note: The Bandai Museum was closed down the following year.]


Friday was set aside as a more leisurely day. I spent most of the day wandering around the Roppongi section of Tokyo and had lunch at T.G.I. Friday's, the location of our G-TOUR dinner in 2004. I visited the Hard Rock Cafe in Roppongi and picked up a few items in their gift shop.

Later that evening, I decided to wander around Asakusa to see what it was like at night. The temple and Nakamise Ave. were beautifully lit. Since the rains ended the day before, it was nice to explore the area without having to worry about getting drenched. The "flame" sculpture atop the Asahi Beer Headquarters was lit up and could be clearly seen for miles.

Yokohama and the Landmark Tower.

Saturday was my last full day in Japan, so I decided to take the Tokaido Line down to Yokohama for the day. My visit to Yokohama included the waterfront section along with the shopping districts. As it was a Saturday, many of the shopping districts had street fairs going on. The topper was a visit to the Landmark Tower's observation deck. The elevator in the Landmark Tower is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the fastest in Japan. It was very comfortable riding it and the only noticable thing was the ear-popping when higher levels were reached. The elevator cars are egg-shaped to be more aerodynamic.

Although it was overcast out, the views from the Tower's observation deck (above) were spectacular. On clear days, Mt. Fuji can be clearly seen. 360-degree views can be seen from the deck. In case you were wondering, there were no photos of Mothra sitting atop the Tower from GMK to be seen. In total, I must have done six miles' worth of walking in Yokohama. Great exercise!

After returning to Tokyo that afternoon, I rested up for a while before I headed back to Roppongi that evening for a little nightclubbing to finish off the week before heading back to Los Angeles the next day.

All in all, despite some rainy days, my week's vacation in Japan was an enjoyable one. I was able to see some old friends and meet some new ones. I was also able to visit places in and around Tokyo that I hadn't seen before. You really can't beat Japan for their hospitality. If you've never been to Japan, you should do yourself a favor and take a vacation there. Perhaps this article will give you some ideas!

House Leadership Says "No" On Stimulous

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner.

House Leadership Says "No" On Stimulous

The House GOP leadership is finally showing some guts by urging their members to vote against the proposed Democrat stimulous package when it comes up for a vote tomorrow.

From Politico.com:

President Barack Obama is coming to the Capitol this afternoon to curry favor with congressional Republicans. But it appears GOP leaders have already made up their minds to oppose his $825 billion stimulus plan.

House Republican Leader John A. Boehner and his No. 2, Whip Eric Cantor, told their rank-and-file members Tuesday morning during a closed-door meeting to oppose the bill when it comes to the floor Wednesday, according to an aide familiar with the discussion. Boehner told members that he's voting against the stimulus, and Cantor told the assembled Republicans that there wasn't any reason for them to support the measure, according to another person in the room. Cantor and his whip team are going to urge GOP members to oppose it.

If the House Republican Caucus holds firm with a no vote, they should be commended. The stimulous package is a complete waste of taxpayers' money and would only benefit the Democrats.

Obama Gets The Mad Magazine Treatment

Obama: First 100 Minutes

President Barack Obama received the Mad Magazine treatment with a cover depicting his first 100 minutes, rather than his first 100 days, as very stressed-out over the probems he has to deal with (well, he asked for it).

For the full story, go to Swamp Politics.com

What, Barack worry?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Steven Kirk IS Gov. Rod Blagojevich!

Find more photos like this on Artists In Exile

My friend, actor Steven Kirk, has made some comedy videos with him starring as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Kirk is almost a dead ringer for Blagojevich.

For the videos, go here:

Artists In Exile Ring

Check 'em out!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Above, Rhona Mitra as Sonia.

by Armand Vaquer

I saw Underworld: Rise of the Lycans last night and enjoyed it, despite not having seen the previous two entries. Rhona Mitra as Sonia was definitely easy on the eyes.

The story, I am told, is more of a prequel (the previous movies were set in modern day) in which an aristocratic vampire coven (led by Viktor, Sonia's father played by Bill Nighy) enslaves the Lycans (some sort of hybrid of humans and werewolves) to work for them and to provide protection against the full-blooded werewolves who live in the nearby forest.

Viktor is a ruthless leader (I won't give away any plot points) who will stop at nothing to protect his coven and his power.

A Lycan (Lucien, played by Michael Sheen) is born to a captured werewolf and the vampires raise him to adulthood. He and Sonia fall in love, which is apparently a "no-no", that leads to an uprising of the Lycan slaves against the vampires.

There's a lot of action and the movie's slower points don't cause any boredom.

Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos (Godzilla (1998)).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Responds To President Obama

Source: FreeRepublic.com

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh responded to President Barack Obama's comment to GOP leaders to not "listen to Rush Limbaugh." He responded via Byron York at National Review Online.

Limbaugh replied in part:

There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier's plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.

Secondly, here is a combo quote from the meeting:

"If we don't get this done we (the Democrats) could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town."

To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.

To read Limbaugh's full response, go here.

Related story from the London Telegraph.

2008 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards

The 2008 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards season is nearing. As of last week, the suggested nominees for different awards categories are as follows:

No Nominees for
Best Restoration
Best Audio Site Or Podcast
Best DVD Company

Best Film
Diary Of The Dead
Hellboy II The Golden Army
The Orphanage (Is It eligible?)
Dark Knight
Iron Man
Let The Right One In

Best Indie Film
Spine Tingler -The William Castle Story
The Blind Date Of Coffin Joe
Dungeon Of Dr. Dreck

Best TV
Steven Mofatt's Doctor Who Two Parter SILENCE IN THE LIBRARY/FOREST OF THE DEAD?
Steven Mofatt's Jekyll (Is It eligible?)
Daives Doctor Who Midnight
Dead Set - UK Channel 4
True Blood
Pushing Daisies
Mark Gatiss' Crooked House

Horror Host (active)
The Manor
Karlos Borloff
The Ghouligans
Mister Lobo

Best Magazine
Little Shop Of Horrors
Mad Scientist (As Best Fanzine)

Best Article
Corman-Dan Heller yak-fest in Video Watchdog 138
Charles B Griffith Article Video Watchdog 141
John Fulton Bio - Monsters From The Vault
"Who Saved Hitler's Brain?" by Brian Albright, FILMFAX #118
Ted Newsom - Series That Never Was Little Shop Of Horrors 21
Joe Winters - Political Perils - Scary Monsters 68
Mark F. Berry - "Harry Redmond Jr: The Last Survivor of Skull Island," from VIDEO WATCHDOG #146.

Best Cover
Mark Maddox Little Shop Of Horrors 20 For The Amicus Issue
Bruce Timm Little Shop Of Horrors 20 (Back Cover)
Jeff Preston - Curse Of Frankenstein Little Shop Of Horrors 21
Frank Dietz - Curse Of Frankenstein Little Shop Of Horrors 21 (back cover)
Daniel Horne Monsters From The Vault vol 14 issue 26
Daniel Horne Monsters From The Vault vol 13 issue 25
Gabe McIntosh - G-Fan #83
No name given - Mad Scientist #17

Best Writer
Porfle aka blackbiped of HKFCN (as best dvd reviewer)

Best Book
Ray Harryhausen - Master of the Majicks
Martin Grams - Twilight Zone Book
Tom Weaver - I Talked With A Zombie
Sam Stall - Dracula's Heir
Tim Lucas - Videodrome
David Hedison - The Fly At Fifty

Best Comic
Wulf & Batsy
LOCKE & KEY: WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Best CD
The Creeping Cruds - Tennessee Bloodbath

Battle For Famous Monsters name and legacy
Midnight Marquee moving from print to web only
DVD Market Bottoming out
demise of xploitedcinema.com
Legend Films releasing Paramount catalog and poor distribution
Best Buy Exclusives From Legend Warner, etc.
London After Midnight Lost & Found & Lost Again
Will The Real Batman Please Stand Up
Was Bela Lugosi Filmed Behind the Ice in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man
dueling stuntmen issue in FMTW.
The Creature did do a cameo on Abbott & Costello's Colgate Comedy Hour

Best Event/Best Convention
The 25th Annual 24 Hour Ohio Sci-Fi Marathon
Schlocktober Film Fest NYC
World Zombie Day Pittsburgh
It's Alive 2008 Zombie Fest (As best convention)
Spooky Movie 2008 - The 3rd Annual Washington, D.C. International Horror Film Festival
B-Movie Celebration Franklin IN
Castle Blood Beallsville PA
The Haunted Mansion - Disney parks
The Jar Reunion at the University of North Alabama
G-FEST XV Mangled Skyscraper Award presentation

Best Website
Count Gore's Weekly Web Program
E-gor's Chamber Of Horror Hosts
Dwrayger Dungeon Presents: Monster Movie Music 1950-1969

Artist of the year
Kezilla58 (discussed as fan art)
Roger Koch (ZombieDad)

Best DVD
The Cartoon Adventures Of Major Mars (As best indie dvd)

Best Classic DVD
Icons Of Horror - Hammer Films
Night Galley - Season 2

The Mist in Black & White
Hellboy - In Service Of The Demon
Festival of Horrors Volume 1 Steve Niles take on Count Gore

Best DVD Commentary
The rapid-fire commentary track on 42nd Street Forever, Vol. 3

Classic Most In Need Of A Release
House Of Horrors (1946)

Best Toy,Model, Or Collectible
Amok Time Toys 12" Rondo Hatton Figure

Monster Kid Of The Year
Jim Miller for spreading the dvd love over seas
Joe Moe
Cameron McCasland/Larry Underwood/Linda Wylie/Michael Creason For Trash Day Of The Dead from The Go Green With Dr. Gangrene campaign
Dennis Druktenis - Editor Of Scary Monsters Magazine
Tim Lucas
Jim Clatterbaugh

Hall Of Fame
Count Gore De Vol
William Gaines & Al Feldstein Of EC COMICS
Carlos Clarens
Denis Gifford
Walt Lee
Alice Cooper
Michael Jackson
Screaming Jay Hawkins
Rankin & Bass
Gene Colan
Haruo Nakajima
Vic Mizzy
Rod Serling
Dick Bennick aka Doctor Paul Bearer
Taylor White
Bert I. Gordon
Jim Clatterbaugh
Donna & Tim Lucas
Bill Warren
Don Shay
Don Glut
Dick Klemensen
Jonathan Frid
Dan Curtis
Jack Pierce
Christopher Lee
Barbara Steele
John Landis
David Skal
David J. Schow
Bob Wilkins
Walt Disney
Ray Dennis Steckler
Dick Smith
Billy Van

Nominations with no categories given
Ted Newsom
Bob Furmamek

Discussion of New Categories
Best Hi Def/Blu-Ray
Splitting a best website / best blog categories
Best Fan Art

More suggestions have been posted since the above list was compiled. The final nominees will be chosen from fan suggestions. So, if you have a nomination suggestion for 2008, go here and post your suggestion!

A Dozen Fun Facts About the House Democrats' Massive Spending Bill

Yesterday, Minority Leader John Boehner sent out an email on the House Democrats' ridiculous $825 billion "stimulus" bill. It is worth reproducing in its entirety:

A Dozen Fun Facts About the House Democrats' Massive Spending Bill

1. The House Democrats' bill will cost each and every household $6,700 additional debt, paid for by our children and grandchildren.

2. The total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government.

3. President-elect Obama has said that his proposed stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. This means that this legislation will spend about $275,000 per job. The average household income in the U.S. is $50,000 a year.

4. The House Democrats' bill provides enough spending - $825 billion - to give every man, woman, and child in America $2,700.

5. $825 billion is enough to give every person living in poverty in the U.S. $22,000.

6. $825 billion is enough to give every person in Ohio $72,000.

7. Although the House Democrats' proposal has been billed as a transportation and infrastructure investment package, in actuality only $30 billion of the bill - or three percent - is for road and highway spending. A recent study from the Congressional Budget Office said that only 25 percent of infrastructure dollars can be spent in the first year, making the one year total less than $7 billion for infrastructure.

8. Much of the funding within the House Democrats' proposal will go to programs that already have large, unexpended balances. For example, the bill provides $1 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which already have $16 billion on hand. And, this year, Congress has plans to rescind $9 billion in highway funding that the states have not yet used.

9. In 1993, the unemployment rate was virtually the same as the rate today (around seven percent). Yet, then-President Clinton's proposed stimulus legislation ONLY contained $16 billion in spending.

10. Here are just a few of the programs and projects that have been included in the House Democrats' proposal:

$650 million for digital TV coupons.
$6 billion for colleges/universities - many which have billion dollar endowments.
$166 billion in direct aid to states - many of which have failed to budget wisely.
$50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.
$44 million for repairs to U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters.
$200 million for the National Mall, including grass planting.
$400 million for "National Treasures."

11. Almost one-third of the so called tax relief in the House Democrats' bill is spending in disguise, meaning that true tax relief makes up only 24 percent of the total package - not the 40 percent that President-elect Obama had requested.

12. $825 billion is just the beginning - many Capitol Hill Democrats want to spend even more taxpayer dollars on their "stimulus" plan.

Obama Now Fixated On Rush Limbaugh

Obama Now Fixated On Rush Limbaugh

by Armand Vaquer

The New York Post reported:

President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

During the campaign, Obama appeared to have a fixation on Fox News' Sean Hannity by bringing up his name several times. Now it appears that Obama is responding to Limbaugh's interviews this week with Hannity on Hannity's new show.

Limbaugh recently said:

"I've been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don't want them to succeed."

This indicates to me that Obama is an amateur and has a thin skin. A more experienced and seasoned politician would just ignore specific critics. This also tells me that Limbaugh has been scoring points and stung Obama with his comments.

One thing that Obama is wrong on, the GOP has not been listening to Limbaugh. If they were, we would not have had such big losses in last year'e election and would not have nominated John McCain.

The Democrats have indicated that they plan to silence talk radio by passing either a new "fairness doctrine," law or through the back door with a local programming rule. Clearly, Obama and his Democratic allies want to censor any opposition points of view.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dollar Still Weak Against Yen

I checked today's exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen and found that the rate has not improved since I last covered this subject.

The International Currency Converter website showed that today's rate is 1 US Dollar (USD) = 88.8475 Japanese Yen (JPY). This means that a visitor to Japan would get (provided he's a "high-roller") 88.8475 yen for every dollar that is exchanged. Ordinary visitors would get an even lower rate.

If a visitor somehow got the best rate (per above) and exchanged $1,500, he'd get 133,271.25 yen. I last went to Japan in April 2007 and I got a rate of 116 yen per dollar. I exchanged $1,500 and received 174,000 yen. That's a difference of 40728.75, roughly $400 less than two years ago.

If the planned stimulous package goes through Congress and is signed by President Obama, this could cause inflation and will weaken the U.S. dollar even more. If you think the exchange rates are bad now, just wait and see what could happen if the Democrats pass the stimulous bill as it now stands. It will actually stimulate nothing good, and inflation and a weak dollar is not good.

Unless you feel you can absorb the loss, you many want to put off travel to Japan until things improve.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fukuoka Yahoo Dome

by Armand Vaquer

(Originally published in G-FAN #81. Fall, 2007)

Fukuoka Yahoo Dome is Japan’s first retractable roof stadium. The Dome was featured in the 1995 movie, Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe when Japanese authorities attempted to capture three Gyaos birds. Gamera made his appearance at the dome after coming ashore from Hakata Bay to destroy the Gyaos. Gamera succeeded in killing one while the other two escaped after Gamera partially demolished the Dome's roof.

Above, Hakata Bay with Fukuoka Dome (behind the tall building) from Fukuoka Tower.

The stadium opened on April 2, 1993 and was originally named “Fukuoka Dome" until it was renamed the "Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome." Fukuoka Dome was renamed on February 2, 2005 when Yahoo Japan purchased the naming rights.

The dome was designed with an ancient Roman Coliseum motif and allows optimal viewing for spectators and state-of-the-art athletic field. The retractable roof makes the Dome an ideal venue for sporting events and concerts in any weather condition. The Dome seats 48,000 spectators.

While home to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks baseball franchise, it has 6,000 movable seats on both sides of the field which allow for a wide spectrum of sporting events to be held like American football games and super motorcross races. It is also a concert venue for big-name celebrities from Japan and abroad, including Whitney Houston, Eagles, the Rolling Stones and Billy Joel.

Nearby, Fukuoka Tower (spotlighted in G-FAN #80) is within easy walking distance from the Dome and the Fukuoka Hard Rock Cafe is a courtyard away.

Several hotels are clustered around the Dome and the shore at Hakata Bay is nearby.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dick Morris: Here Comes Socialism

Dick Morris: Here Comes Socialism

Former Bill Clinton advisor and current political pundit Dick Morris says we can expect socialism in the new Obama era.

In an article at The Hill.com, Morris writes:

Obama will accomplish his agenda of “reform” under the rubric of “recovery.” Using the electoral mandate bestowed on a Democratic Congress by restless voters and the economic power given his administration by terrified Americans, he will change our country fundamentally in the name of lifting the depression. His stimulus packages won’t do much to shorten the downturn — although they will make it less painful — but they will do a great deal to change our nation.

He will begin by passing every program for which liberals have lusted for decades, from alternative-energy sources to school renovations, infrastructure repairs and technology enhancements. These are all good programs, but they normally would be stretched out for years. But freed of any constraint on the deficit — indeed, empowered by a mandate to raise it as high as possible — Obama will do them all rather quickly.

Remember, elections have consequences!

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Flubbed Inauguration of Obama

I was on the road doing some insurance claims-related work and listened to the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

First off, I thought Obama's inauguration speech was rather bland. The first two thirds was a re-hash of some of his campaign speeches. Campaign speeches tend to wear thin after a while. He only saved it with the last third of it. Mercifully, it was only 17 minutes long.

Secondly, the oath of office was botched royally. I think it was the fault of Chief Justice John Roberts who apparently tried to give it from memory. Obama, no doubt, memorized the oath and was tripped up by Roberts.

The flubbed line was this:

"...that you will execute the office of President of the United States, faithfully..."

The correct way is this:

"...that you will faithfully excute the office of President of the United States..."

There were also reports that when President Bush entered the platform, some snide comments were made. Nothing like showing disrespect.

Now that President Obama is now in office, this is where the fun begins. He's now in the office where (as Harry Truman used to say), "The Buck Stops Here." Obama can't vote "present" anymore.

FINAL NOTE: This is my favorite part of Obama's inaugural address:

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sinister Landscapes

There's a new book collection of gothic short stories that you may want to check out.

It is called "Sinister Landscapes." A good friend of mine, Jessica Lynne Gardner, has one of the short stories, "The Widow's Curse", that the reviewer called "a strong entry." (To read the full review, go here.)

The reviewer also made a great point:

Short stories are a staple of horror literature and a big reason why it's so frustrating that so many filmmakers have turned their backs on what could be a huge source of inspiration. No, instead they'd rather remake, reimagine, or just plain rehash the same old stale ideas over and over again. Which is why Sinister Landscapes, a collection of "Gothic Tales," is such a welcome relief. It offers a respite from the tried and tired with some truly original ideas as well as fresh takes on a few old favorites.

That has been one of my main gripes about today's Hollywood. There's so much new and good material (such as this book) to draw upon that it's shameful that they'd rather remake something for the umpteenth time, most often with inferior results.

If you're a fan of gothic horror stories, you should check out "Sinister Landscapes"!

Lord Byron, from Bride of Frankenstein:
Look at her Shelley. Can you believe that bland and lovely brow conceived of Frankenstein, a Monster created from cadavers out of rifled graves? Isn't it astonishing?

Jessica Lynne Gardner

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Read The Stimulous!

The Democratic Congress is rushing to pass a "stimulous package." Unfortunately, it is larded with fat.

A new website has been set up so that citizens can read the components of the bill. It would be wise if as many people as possible read the proposed package and contact their representative to provide their input.

Remember, it is $850 billion of your tax money!

Go to: Read The Stimulous!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Phyllis Coates

Happy Birthday Phyllis Coates!

Actress Phyllis Coates was born in Wichita Falls, Texas as Gypsie Ann Evarts Stell.

She moved to California in 1941. Shortly afterward, Gail Getterman, a producer at MGM changed her name to Phyllis Coates. Mr. Getterman thought the name Phyllis sounded rather classy, and the name "Coates" came from the sign on a passing truck.

Among Phyllis's first works are Ken Murray's Blackouts in 1943 and 1944, but she is best remembered as Lois Lane (top photo) during the first season of the Adventures of Superman and the pilot movie, Superman and the Mole Men. She shared star billing with George Reeves.

Above, Phyllis Coates and Armand in Burbank, California in 2007.

Movie Industry Hospital and Nursing Home To Close

Movie Industry Hospital and Nursing Home To Close

The Motion Picture & Television Fund says financial problems will force it to shut facilities for aging entertainers in Woodland Hills by year's end.

By Lisa Girion and Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
12:31 PM PST, January 14, 2009

The Motion Picture & Television Fund said today that financial problems would force the industry charity to close a hospital and nursing home it operates in Woodland Hills for aging entertainers by year's end.

The fund said it would expand its existing network of community-based care and would relocate about 100 patients to area nursing homes. The fund said 290 workers would lose jobs in the closures.

The decision "reflects some sobering economic realities that are affecting healthcare institutions nationwide," David Tillman, fund chief executive, said in a statement. "With costs skyrocketing and government reimbursement declining, operating our own acute-care and long-term-care facility is draining our resources at an alarming rate."

DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation Board, said the organization had no choice.

"Although we are in good shape today," he said, "the acute-care hospital and long-term-care facility are generating operating deficits that could bankrupt MPTF in a very few years."

The organization said the nursing home transfers would begin in 60 days. The hospital will operate until later this year, the fund said.

The closures will not affect about 185 residents of fund independent-living and assisted-living facilities and six area health centers that serve about 60,000 industry workers.

The fund said that the hospital and nursing home had been running an operating deficit of $10 million a year and projected that to rise in coming years.

Today's announcement comes as hospitals across the state and nation are struggling with economic and financial problems. Dozens of hospitals in California have shut down in the last decade, and hospital industry experts say more are likely.

While the Hollywood elites are busy climbing all over themselves trying to get choice tickets to The Messiah's Inauguration events next week, an important asset to the community is falling by the wayside. Instead of worrying about being at The Messiah's shindig, going to Europe or the Bahamas, the Hollywood elites should chip in and keep the hospital going. They may need it themselves someday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Patrick McGoohan Dead At 80

Patrick McGoohan Dead At 80

Legendary actor Patrick McGoohan has died aged 80.

The American-born star appeared in a host of films and TV shows during a career spanning more than 50 years.

He shot to fame in 1960s British TV show Danger Man (known in the U.S. as Secret Agent) but is likely to be best remembered for his role as the title character in cult sci-fi series The Prisoner.

He also had several notable film roles including parts in classic comedy-drama Silver Streak and as Longshanks, King Edward I in Mel Gibson's Oscar-winning epic Braveheart. He was also the vindictive prison warden in Clint Eastwood's Escape From Alcatraz.

McGoohan, who scooped two Emmy Awards during his career, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles after a short illness.

He leaves a wife, Joan Drummond McGoohan, three daughters, five grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Corporate Logos

Category: Humor

A friend sent me an email of what some corporate logos will look like after the current financial crisis is over.

3M seems to have lost one of its Ms:

Adidas took a bad step:

Apple Computers seems have been nibbled away:

Best Buy is hoping for some customers:

Chrysler may not have fared too well:

I'd think twice before investing with Citigroup:

Dell may not have done too well and went to hell:

Ferrari's horsepower ain't what she used to be:

Ford didn't seem to be helped too much by the government:

This sums it up for Goodyear:

Nike was caught flat-footed:

Nokia got a wrong number:

Xerox's fortunes seems to have faded:

Yahoo didn't have anything to cheer about:

This summed up the year for Warner Bros. and many other

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Astroboy" Movie Teaser Trailer

The Den of Geek website has the teaser trailer for the new Astroboy full-length feature that's slated to hit theaters this coming October.

Check it out!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Haunted Patriotic Hall

Down on Figueroa Street near Washington Blvd. stands the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall. It is a familiar landmark in Los Angeles.

The Hall's history (from the Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs website):

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA)began with the purchase of a 3-story abandoned church building located on the side of the present staff's parking lot, prior to 1900. That building was remodeled and became known as Victory Hall. Following World War I, Victory Hall was soon outgrown and plans were laid to create a new multi-story building. Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, as we see it today, was opened to the public in September 1926.

Owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles, Bob Hope Patriotic Hall is a practical and living memorial to veterans. It was dedicated by the Board of Supervisors in 1926. Members of the Grand Army of the Republic, veterans of Indian Wars, Spanish American War veterans and World War I veterans were among the first to use the facilities. The building was designed by Allied Architects Association and has been awarded the Certificate of Honor by the Southern California chapter of the American Society of Architects because of its exceptional merit. Its design is Romanesque with fine vaulted arch construction in the lobby.

The Hall is currently undergoing renovation, which is scheduled to be completed in 2010.

One interesting aspect to the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall is that it is reportedly haunted. There have been some deaths at the Hall since its 1926 opening. One elderly veteran was found dead while seated in one of the upper floors during a social gathering not too long after the Hall's opening. Another reported death was the suicide of a female in one of the Hall's restrooms.

Recently, it has been reported that apparitions have been seen. One man saw a transparent woman dressed in red glide across the floor. Another person reported that an office chair in the Hall's lobby suddenly started rocking on its own. And two other people reported seeing a gray figure emerge from the first floor auditorium's doorway (the doors remained closed) and zip across the main lobby only to disappear into a corner.

Several security guards have experienced strange manifestations and generally try to avoid sitting in the Hall, preferring to sit in their cars instead.

I have been in the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall a number of times and never witnessed anything unusual. Maybe one of these days I might get lucky in an upcoming visit.

Trivia: Several scenes from the movie Flashdance were filmed in the Hall.

International Association of Turtles

A recent blog over at MySpace reminded me of something that I've known about since high school: The International Association of Turtles.

The Association's founding is described at this blog:

During WWII, group of American pilots founded The International Association of Turtles, in an English pub. The basic rules for membership: "You must think with a clean mind and you must be willing to stick your neck out for yourself and for other people in need."

We assume all prospective Turtles own a Jack Ass. On this assumption is the reason for the password.

This password must be given if you are ever asked by a fellow member, "Are you a Turtle?" You MUST then reply "You bet your sweet ass I am." If you do not give the password in full because of embarassment or some other reason, you forfeit a beverage of his choice. So always remember the password.

It is rumored (it may be true, but it may not be) that President John F. Kennedy was asked "Are you a turtle?" during a press conference. Kennedy, mindful of his high position on the national (and world) stage could not give the proper response, so he (allegedly) replied, "I owe that man a drink!" Anyway, it is a cool tidbit of Turtle lore.

Are you a turtle?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

G-Fest XV: Honoring Nakajima-san

G-Fest XV: Honoring Nakajima-san

by Armand Vaquer

Another year and another G-FEST is now in the history books. And what a G-FEST it was.

Chicago Here We Come!

As I was loading my car to get to the airport, I received a call from a Chicago area radio station. I gave them an impromptu interview (literally in the street) about the convention. Several conventioneers later told me that they heard the interview and many walk-ins found out about G-FEST from the interview.

I arrived Wednesday night at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and what greeted me was pouring rain. There were storms along the flight path from Los Angeles to Chicago, and my plane took off about an hour and a half late. Although there were storms, the flight was relatively smooth all the way.

G-FEST XV was held from July 4 through 6 with a bonus of two double features shown at the Pickwick Theater on July 3 for those who arrived in town early. In the afternoon, Destroy All Monsters was paired with Matango (a.k.a. Attack of the Mushroom People) and in the evening, Godzilla vs. Gigan was paired with Orochi, The Three-Headed Dragon. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) and Godzilla x Mechagodzilla (2002) were the Friday and Saturday night movies respectively.

I was planning to attend the evening screenings, but I elected to volunteer to assist Brett Homenick in picking up our very special guest Haruo Nakajima and his daughter Sonoe from the airport and bring them to the hotel.

Also attending G-FEST XV as guests were Don Frye (Captain Gordon from Godzilla Final Wars); last year's Mangled Skyscraper Award winner Don Glut; Robert Scott Field, returning as celebrity guest and as translator and assistant to the Nakajimas; and August Ragone, author of Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters.

As G-FEST XV was scheduled on Independence Day weekend, many conventioneers planned to attend early to beat the holiday rush, the double-double features at the Pickwick was set up for Thursday afternoon and evening to entertain them.

G-FEST Begins (Officially)

The official start of G-FEST XV was on Friday, July 4. J. D. Lees held an orientation session that morning to explain the details on the convention and to take questions to first-time attendees.

Next, G-Pardy Game One, hosted by J. D. Lees, started the convention with Godzilla trivia questions patterned after the Jeopardy game show. Elsewhere, a panel discussion on The Host by Philip Garnecki, Martin Arlt and Bill Mann Jr. was held.

The video room and Minya’s Place were opened for business.

August Ragone held a discussion on Ultraman that afternoon in the Main Hall, while in the Midway Room, Lewis Austin held a discussion on “The Space Giants Are Coming.” After these sessions, Vince Cornelius hosted a presentation on “Godzilla In The Grindhouse” and a panel discussion on “What Is A Kaiju?” featured Robert Dwyer, Bill Mann, August Ragone and Allen Debus was held concurrently.

Later, Lewis Austin held a discussion on plans for his TG2WAC Productions in the Midway Room.

That evening, the video gaming and dealers rooms were opened up for convention attendees. These were followed by G-Pardy Game Two and the Opening Ceremonies in which all of our special guests were introduced to the convention. Art and Artist Alley were opened up following the opening ceremonies.

Following the opening ceremonies, the conventioneers migrated over to the Pickwick Theater for the night’s screening of Godzilla vs. Biollante. Unfortunately, fifty minutes into the movie, a technical glitch with the theater’s equipment prevented the movie from being shown to completion. Attendees were given the option of a refund or finishing the movie in the Main Hall the next day (on reliable equipment). For the most part, theatergoers took the problem in good stride. A couple of fans got up on the theater stage with their Biollante and Godzilla figures and held a mock battle to the amusement of those present.

Following this, conventioneers returned to the Crowne Plaza Hotel to socialize, party or get some sleep in preparation for the next day’s events. As it was Independence Day night, we were treated to fireworks displays all around while going to and from the Pickwick.

More G-FEST fun on Saturday

G-FEST attendees woke up bleary-eyed after the festivities the previous day on Saturday morning with more fun things to do.

Our super-special guest Haruo Nakajima began the day with his two-hour session with panelists Brett Homenick and August Ragone. Robert Scott Field assisted with translations. Lots of good questions were posed and Nakajima gave a lot of great answers (some very humorous) in return.

Elsewhere, a panel discussion on “Japanese Superheroes” featuring Jay Johnson and Lenell Bridges was taking place.

Meanwhile, G-FEST Kids Programming was taking place in Minya’s Room; the gaming room was opened for fans who love Godzilla video games; Paul Gavins was hosting a “Building Manda” (costume) workshop; and the ever-popular dealers room was open for business.

That morning, a nice gal with the local ABC-TV affiliate showed up and was filming the convention. I asked her if she’d like to meet Mr. Nakajima. She said, “Sure!” So we had Sonoe go up to her room to see if her father was available or not. Minutes later, they came back down. The reporter with the television station said they didn’t need an interview, but just something she could film. So, I dashed into the Main Hall and snagged a few people (including Stan Hyde) and they did an impromptu “discussion” with Nakajima on the famous “Godzilla shie” for the television viewers. As the camera continued to roll, they attempted (with varying degrees of success) to do the shie. I hope someone taped this!

Noon usually means lunch for most folks, but at G-FEST, it means that a thrill-packed session was taking place in the Main Hall with Godzilla Final Wars star Don Frye along with questioning by Brett Homenick. Frye discussed his experiences in making the movie and his wrestling career as “The Predator.” Fans found Frye to be a genuinely nice and funny guy and eager to mingle.

Elsewhere, Lewis Austin was holding a session on “Monster Making” in the Midway Room and Artists Alley was opened up.

At 1:00, a G-Pardy session aimed at young fans (14 and under) was underway in the Main Hall.

In the Midway Room, August Ragone hosted a session discussing the career of special effects pioneer Eiji Tsuburaya accompanied by a slide show that spanned the Tsuburaya years.

Later, Don Glut held a session called, “Ask Me Anything” in the Main Hall. Concurrent to this, the Costume Parade Orientation for participants was held in the Kitty Hawk Room. After this, Game Three of G-Pardy was held in the Main Hall.

That afternoon, all of our special guests held a 3-hour marathon autograph signing session in the registration area. The lines for this event were huge, so much so that some attendees had to be turned away (but were given priority tickets for a continuation session held the next day). It is a wonder that the writing hands of the guests didn’t fall off their wrists! But they all graciously signed posters, photos, toys, buttons and programs and posed for photographs with fans.

Later in the afternoon, we attempted to show the Godzilla Music Videos. Unfortunately, some were unplayable due to format issues, so we ended up showing about half of them. [Note to those of you planning to make a music video for next G-FEST, please either have them in either VHS video or DVD formats (that are playable on any DVD machine) and not playable just on a computer.]

Franz Vorenkamp next attempted to show his latest (and complete) version of his Godzilla Zero Hour fan-flick. Due to unknown problems, he could not get it to play.

Randy Giesey held the Kaiju Swap Meet in Ballroom 4 for people who want to buy or swap Godzilla items.

At 7:00, the final round of G-Party tournament was held and last year’s winner, Jay Grymyr, won again. He’ll get to take the trophy back home to Las Vegas, Nevada for another year.

Following G-Pardy, the ever-popular Costume Parade was held to a standing-room-only crowd in the Main Hall. There were many creative costumes made by fans of all ages. After the parade, Amateur Videos were shown to the delight of the audience.

Thus ended the official G-FEST activities for Saturday at the Crowne Plaza. Fans then migrated over to the Pickwick Theater for the screening of Godzilla x Mechagodzilla, which originally was to screen back in 2003, but was replaced by Tokyo S.O.S.

Sunday: Honoring a wonderful man

A discussion panel on J. J. Abrams’ Cloverfield was held in the Main Hall. The panel (consisting of Philip Garnecki, Bill Mann, Robert Dwyer, Jay Grymyr and Armand Vaquer) were unanimous in their opinions of the movie: they all liked it. An audience member suggested that we should have a crew member of Cloverfield be invited as a guest to next year’s G-FEST (are you listening, J. D.?) to which the panelists agreed that was a good idea. The discussion was greatly enhanced by clips from the movie being shown.

After Cloverfield, a panel discussing American Kaiju was held with panelists Don Glut, Martin Arlt, Bill Mann Jr. and Allen Debus.

While all this was going on, elsewhere the dealers room, gaming room, and Art Room were opened. A panel discussion called After The Parade discussed the costume parade and took suggestions for future costume events.

At noon, Don Glut presented a session on Dinosaurs In The Movies in the Main Hall and Lewis Austin held a session on Latitude Zero: The Lost Classic.

At 1:00 o’clock, the Awards Luncheon was held in Ballroom 5 in which prizes for modeling, amateur video and other contests were awarded. But the highlight of the luncheon was the awarding of the “Mangled Skyscraper Award” to Haruo Nakajima.

During the presentation, several letters of congratulations were read (in English to the attendees and in Japanese to the Nakajimas) including one from Toho Pictures President & Executive Producer Shogo Tomiyama. Tomiyama’s letter said:

“I would like to congratulate Mr. Nakajima on his Mangled Skyscraper Award.

For many Godzilla fans around the world, there is no greater joy than seeing you looking great and healthy.

For 54 years since his birth back in 1954, Godzilla has been roaring in the hearts of the people around the world who love "Sense of Wonder".

Sadly, the creators of Godzilla, the producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, the director Ishiro Honda, the special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya and the composer Akira Ifukube are no longer with us, making you, Mr. Nakajima, a living legend in the world of Godzilla.

How fantastic is it that the American Godzilla fans inviting that living legend to Chicago and showing him gratitude and respect?

I would like to thank all of you Godzilla lovers who gathered here today.

Mr. Nakajima,

Please stop by at the Toho Studio with the trophy when you get back to Tokyo.

We would love to take a picture* of you in front of the Godzilla statue at the main gate.


Shogo Tomiyama
President and Executive Producer
Toho Pictures”

*We hope to obtain a copy of this photo for publication in G-FAN. [Note: We received the photos and they will be published in G-FAN #87.]

This was met with the biggest standing ovation for a “Mangled Skyscraper” recipient ever. Mr. Nakajima was visibly moved by this honor (I noticed tears in his eyes while reviewing photographs after I returned home). On a personal level, I am so happy that we were able to bestow this honor to Mr. Nakajima while he is still in good health. I can’t think of a more deserving person for this honor.

Following the luncheon, a panel discussion on the 40th Anniversary of Destroy All Monsters was held in which panel members included Danny Tokarz, August Ragone, John DeSentis and Greg Cordaro.

J. D. Lees then held his annual session discussing future plans for both G-FEST and G-FAN in the Midway Room. This was followed by Lewis Austin’s “How Not To Make A Blockbuster.”

Of course, no G-FEST would be complete without the final official event of the convention: Stan Hyde’s Kaiju Konfessions.

With the final note being sung at Kaiju Konfessions, G-FEST XV was then concluded. Despite some glitches, the convention went smoothly and the attendees had a great time. This also has to be the coolest G-FEST held. The outside temperatures averaged in the 60s (Fahrenheit) and rarely reached the 70s. It was noted during a staff meeting held Sunday night, the Crowne Plaza will be undergoing remodeling during the early months of 2009. We may see a whole different look to the hotel with the meeting rooms in different configurations when we return next July.

The unofficial/official meeting of the Titanosaurus Society (a.k.a. Dead Dog-zilla Party) was held in various locations at the hotel the rest of the night, with the biggest gathering being in the patio area featuring a “Godzilla Blood” concoction. This concoction was thoroughly enjoyed by all, including Don Frye.

We hope to see you all at next year’s G-FEST XVI. Until then, have a safe and enjoyable year.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rodan's Saikai Bridge - Then & Now

Above, Toho Studios's craftsmen faithfully re-created the Saikai Bridge under the direction of Eiji Tsuburaya.

by Armand Vaquer

(Originally published in G-FAN #80)

During my April 2007 trip to Japan, I made a stop at Sasebo City to pay a visit to the Saikai Bridge near the city that was featured in Rodan (1956). After checking into my hotel room in Sasebo City, I went to the nearby bus depot to take the bus line that terminates at the bridge. The bus depot is across the street from Sasebo's Japan Rail train station.

While my trip to Kyushu's Mt. Aso National Park didn't fare too well due to blizzard conditions, my trek to Saikai Bridge was quite the opposite. The weather was clear and views of the bridge were spectacular.

Above, the Saikai Bridge (the real one) as it appears today.

The Saikai Bridge is a fixed-brace arch bridge 244 meters in length and 1,927 meters tall. The bridge was completed in 1955. Today it has a companion bridge, the Shin-Saikai Bridge, that was completed in 2006.

The first, or Rodan's Saikai Bridge, spans the Hario Seto Straits which is noted for its swift sea current and whirlpools. At the time of its completion, it was the longest arch-type bridge in the world. The scene when the waters of the Ohmura Bay flow out through this narrow strait at ebb tide is very dramatic.

Nearby, the three Hario Wireless Towers, which transmitted the coded message that launched the attack on Pearl Harbor and triggered the Pacific War on December 7, 1941, can still be seen. These towers also could be seen in Rodan with one of the Rodans flying in the distance (above).

Below, the Hario Wireless Towers as they look today.

In Rodan, people were seen fleeing the bridge (above) and running to buses parked nearby. This area is now tree-lined and landscaped (below) and has sidewalk food vendors. There is still a parking lot at this location, but it does not look as it did back in 1956.

A visit to the Saikai Bridge is a must for Rodan fans.

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