"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.)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Japan Travel Guide Slideshow Video At Travel Movie Clips.com

Updated 3/23/23

Travel Movie Clips and other travel sites have picked up the YouTube slideshow video I made and put it on their websites.

To see  the video, go here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Japan Travel Guide Sale Ends Tuesday

Above, Yuu Asakura.

Thanks to those of you who ordered The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan during the 20% off May sale. You still have until Tuesday, June 1 to take advantage of this offer. Since Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day, a national holiday, I will honor those orders with a June 1 postmark with the 20% discount.

So if you are sitting on the fence, here's your chance to receive the discount.

I just put a bunch in the mail today, so those will be arriving in your mailboxes this coming week.

Jonathan Frid's Website

Above, actor Jonathan Frid at a Dark Shadows convention in 1984. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's an interesting website for those of you who may be fans of the old ABC-TV afternoon spook-opera, Dark Shadows.

Actor Jonathan Frid, who portrayed the guilt-ridden vampire Barnabas Collins on the show, has his own website in which he ruminates about his career, takes questions from fans and hawks merchandise items.

At times, Frid seems to try to avoid the Barnabas Collins period of his career, and at other times he embraces it. To him, being Barnabas was just a job at the time and had no inkling of the impact his portayal had on his loyal fans. That is, until he started getting around 5,000 fan letters a day.

Frid prefers to discuss his career before Barnabas and his career post-Dark Shadows. Still, he has a dry sense of humor about it all, and he describes his notorious flubbed lines or nervousness. Occasionally, he finds that certain episodes of Dark Shadows contain great scenes that he is proud of.

Now in his 80s, Frid is still sharp as a tack and is planning to appear at the Dark Shadows Festival in Burbank this summer.

To visit Jonathan Frid's website, go here.

Additionally, Frid is to reprise his role as Barnabas Collins in a new audio drama.

From the press release from Big Finish Productions:

Big Finish Productions is proud to announce that Jonathan Frid will be returning to the role of vampire Barnabas Collins for the very first time in The Night Whispers, an all-new Dark Shadows audio drama. As reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins, Jonathan Frid helped establish Dark Shadows as a pop culture phenomenon.

Geoffrey's Restaurant

A restaurant called Geoffrey's Restaurant in Malibu picked up my Twitter Tweet on my "Tales of Adventure: Where's Your 16-Year-Old?" story and posted the link to it on their website.

Looks like I'll have to give Geoffrey's Restaurant a try!

Here's the link to their site.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper Dies At 74

The Pop Eater website is reporting that actor Dennis Hopper of Easy Rider fame died this morning at his home in Venice, California of prostate cancer:

Dennis Hopper, whose unmistakable presence graced the silver screen for five decades in classics like 'Easy Rider' and 'Apocalypse Now,' died on Saturday after a grueling battle with prostate cancer, a friend of the actor told Reuters. The actor was surrounded by family and friends when he died at his home in Venice, California shortly after 8 AM, according to the friend, Alex Hitz. Hopper was 74.

To read the full story, go here.

Tales of Adventure In Malibu: Where's Your 16-Year-Old?

This latest one is the topper (at least, so far), and we're not even into summertime yet!

Tonight, I was making my rounds at one of the gated communities in Malibu. I have to check the community's clubhouse and pool area on an hourly basis. Tonight, I made my eight o'clock rounds at the pool area. I generally check the men's and women's sauna/shower room every other hour. The first stop was to check the women's.

I knocked on the door and yelled "security" and a male voice from inside said, "come in." Huh? So I entered and found two teens in the sauna, one male and one female. Both were wearing swimsuits. I told him that he can't be in there and told him to leave. Although he complied, something told me that he'd be back inside as soon as I left. As I was walking out, I noticed he was outside watching me leave.

After completing my checks of the facilities, I left to take my lunch break. While having my lunch break near the community's laundromat, I met up with one of the general managers of the community (i.e., our client) and mentioned the incident and asked him what our parameters are in those situations. He said that those facilities are for the community and people have the reasonable expectation that they can enter them without encountering any inappropriate behavior. He told me to keep watch on the saunas and to "be a pain in the ass" to those who violate the rules. Okay with me!

After lunch, I made my nine o'clock rounds that included a check on the clubhouse and pool facilities. This time I saw a kid, about 16, sitting on a chase lounge near the sauna rooms and jacuzzi. He said nothing. So, I went into the men's sauna/shower room (in order for me to make use of the restroom part of it). I heard one of the showers on and I heard a male voice and what I thought was a young child. So, as I relieved myself, I heard mainly the male voice coming from the shower, but then the other voice became more distinctly a female one. Oh-oh! Here we go!

After I finished, I stood with my arms folded near the entry door to the men's sauna/shower room and the sinks (about six feet from the showers). Within a minute or two, both the male and female came out of one of the shower stalls in their birthday suits. They didn't notice me right off, but when they did, they scurried into separate stalls.

Although I felt like laughing, I maintained a professional demeanor and told them to get their clothes on and step outside. The girl, a blonde, came out in a bikini and the guy came out in his swimming trunks. It was obvious that something was going on as he was still in a full state of arousal and the trunks did not even begin to conceal anything. The general description in such cases is "pup tent." It is not too surprising since sixteen-year-old boys would get excited while "looking at linoleum" (as Xander once said on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer).

Outside, I questioned them and they told me their names and that they were guests of the kid that was sitting on the chase lounge. Then they told me they were both sixteen (!).

They apparently were guests of the third kid (he came forward and told me and confirmed their ages) and they didn't live at the community. I proceeded to put "the fear of God" into the shower couple's heads. I told the boy (at 16, he's still a boy) that this may possibly constitute statutory rape as the onus is generally on the male, even though they are the same age. I mentioned calling the sheriff (and they will contact their parents) if they didn't cooperate, which was received by two very audible "gulps." That did the trick!

After questioning, I told them they could leave. I then had to write an incident report and notify our company dispatcher. As my friend Jeff Horne might say (he's done so before), my incident report may read like a "PG" version of a Penthouse Forum letter.

Naturally, the gate house guard thought the incident was hilarious (well, it was). He later gave them a ride to a bus stop on Pacific Coast Highway at the end of his shift. If there was a conversation on the way to the bus stop, it might have been an interesting one.

At least I can say that working in Malibu in this "parachute" job isn't dull!

Where's your sixteen-year-old tonight?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman Dies At 42

Word just came in that Different Strokes star Gary Coleman has passed away at age 42, in Utah.

Coleman apparently sustained a brain injury in a fall Wednesday night. He was on life-support but his condition deteriorated and his family decided to shut off the life-support.

Christine Nguyen, A Real Sweetheart!

Photo courtesy of Christine Nguyen.

A funny thing happened the other night.

I was about an hour and a half away from going off-duty in my "parachute" job as a security patrol officer when I stopped at the guard shack at one of the gated communities I patrol in Malibu.

Inside, the guard had on television the Poorman's Bikini Beach show. The show was about ten minutes away from ending and they played a teaser (just before a commercial break) of their hotline segment with a panel of three bikini-clad lovelies who would answer callers' questions. One of them was very familiar to me, but I wasn't sure as the teaser whisked by.

After the commercial break, segment came on and one of the panelists was Christine Nguyen! Hot damn! (Ahem.) It truly is a small world.

I told the guard of Christine and he was very impressed with her. He hadn't heard of her before, and he comes from a show-biz family (his uncle was comedian Billy Gilbert from the Hal Roach Laurel & Hardy comedies (see "The Music Box" or "County Hospital") and his mother acted in many Gene Autry westerns) He also has acted and is a card-carrying SAG member. I sent Christine a text message telling her that we just saw her on the show.

Minutes later (around midnight) she text her thanks. Tom, the guard I was with, speculated that she may have been up watching too.

The next day, I followed up by telling Christine the circumstances on how we happened to see her on the show. I won't post what she said in our exchanges (at one point she did say I made her "blush"), but Christine is one real sweet lady! (I knew this before, as she was the first to send me a condolence message the morning of my mother's passing.)

It is Christine's natural sweetness and humor that comes through in her acting and model work. One cannot avoid being drawn to her. That shouldn't be too difficult to understand: she's an Aquarius! Christine and I both were born on February 4.

Besides being a fan, it is an honor for me to also be a friend of Christine Nguyen. She's a real sweetheart!

California GOP Primary and Propositions Recommendations - Part 2

Here, as promised is the California GOP Primary and Propositions Recommendations - Part 2. Some are repeats of previous recommendations.


Governor: Meg Whitman. Not my idea of a great conservative but far better than Poizner who is worse than she is. A part of my rationale is that her money could possibly help other GOP candidates on the ballot that are in close races by bringing out more Republicans and like-minded independents to vote.

Lt. Governor: St. Senator Sam Aanestad. He has been endorsed by major conservative groups. Need another reason? The current Lt. Governor, Able Maldonado is a lying liberal wienie.

Secretary of State: Damon Dunn. The other guy is a lunatic birther! Not just a lunatic birther but a big-time lunatic birther!!!

Controller: Tony Strickland. A conservative, who knows how to campaign. Best shot at wining in November. A hack politician, but a good guy and we have to get over our fears of hack politicians if they are good guys!

Treasurer: Mimi Walters. Currently a Republican state senator, and more importantly, the only GOP candidate running for Treasurer.

Insurance Commissioner: Brian Fitzgerald. Best reason? He's not Mike Villines, a well-known wienie.

United States Senator: Carly Fiorina. Not nearly as conservative (especially on social issues) as Chuck Devore, but Chuck Devore will go down the tubes big time in November if he is the GOP nominee. Just a fact. Tom Campbell is a liberal! His campaign using Ronald Reagan's name and image is disgusting to me. Another reason for Carly Fiorina is she can and will finance her own campaign with what it takes to run a great campaign. And like Whitman, the money she spends to draw out voters could help other GOP candidates.

Board of Equalization, District 4: No GOP candidate filed to run. No recommendation.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: You are on your own here. I'll probably vote for Karen Blake because she says she will end bi-lingual education. That's a good start. But I haven't had time to research the candidates for this office and have found no endorsements for anyone yet.


Prop. 13. Seismic Retrofits. YES: Earthquake proofing your house shouldn't trigger a tax increase until you're ready to sell. Any questions?

Prop. 14. Distorted Primary. NO: (Note: Beware of the deceptive language in the title of this Proposition) Instead of voters of each party putting their best candidate forward, this jerry-rigged system is designed to disguise the difference between the parties and force those pesky third parties off the general election ballot entirely. It could result in run-off elections between two Democrats rather than a Republican, a Democrat and other third parties. Political parties should have the right to choose who their candidate is. This is a bad proposition for the possibility of electing Republican (or third party) candidates in the future.

Prop. 15. Taxpayer Funded Elections. NO: The real purpose of this measure is to allow the legislature to tap taxpayers to finance political campaigns. Jefferson said it best: "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Prop. 16. Utility Elections. YES: Cash-guzzling city governments have been taking over the territory of utilities through eminent domain and PG&E wants to put it to a vote. This measure gives you the choice upon whose mercy your future electricity bills will depend: the monopoly of city hall or the monopoly of your utility. Here's a better idea: restore the freedom of individual consumers to choose among competing providers who actually have to earn their business. Alas, that part was left out by the suits at PG&E.

Prop. 17. Insurance Rates. YES: A simple question: should drivers be able to take their "continuous coverage" discount with them when they change insurance companies? A simpler question: why are our laws such a micro managing mess that we have to vote on something as self-evident as this in the first place?


Prop. E. LAUSD Parcel Tax. NO: The LAUSD is proposing a parcel tax of $100.00 per household for additional school funding. LAUSD has been unable to manage its funds efficiently, has made no efforts to significantly decrease its wasteful spending. We believe that no parcel tax should be imposed on already over-burdened homeowners. Let LAUSD do the work of reducing spending before it asks homeowners to bail it out.

Judicial Recommendations (from the California Republican Party)

The following are our recommendations for Los Angeles County Superior Court Judges. This is based, for the most part, on the recommendations of Craig Huey on his site, Judge Voter Guide.

Judge-Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 28
Kim Smith

Judge-Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 35
Soussan G. Bruguera

Judge-Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 73
Laura A. Matz

Judge-Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 107
Tony De Los Reyes

Judge-Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 117
Pattricia M. Vienna

Judge-Superior Court; County of Los Angeles; Office 131
Maren Elizabeth Nelson

Thanks to Glenn H. Thornhill, B.A., ECV, noted political analyst, for his assistance in compiling these recommendations. For the races not mentioned, go to Part 1.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Antonovich Calls Proposed Arizona Boycott "Stupid"

Above, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich called the proposed boycott of the state of Arizona over its new immigration enforcement law "stupid."

The proposal by Supervisor Gloria Molina is a typical knee-jerk reaction by liberals. They've thrown up phoney issues such as "profiling" and "free speech violations." The law does nothing of the kind.

Molina's proposal would "ban most county travel to Arizona and cut off future business with the state."

Antonovich stated in his press release, "As elected officials, we take an oath to uphold the federal and state constitutions. To boycott a state for enforcing our federal laws is in direct violation of that oath. The propaganda by both the media and others is intentionally misleading because Arizona's law mirrors federal law."

Antonovich added, "This knee jerk reaction to support law breakers at the expense of law-abiding legal immigrants and other residents is irresponsible. A divestment and a boycott is a disingenuous show of perceived political correctness that will only backfire and will shoot us in the heart -- not in the foot."

The Arizona immigration law goes into effect in July. It encourages police to check the immigration status of people that are detained or arrested.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is dominated by liberals with only Don Knabe as the only other conservative on the Board with Antonovich.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Proof Is In The Mailer

The mailer with the proof photo of my daughter's graduation from California Lutheran University arrived today.

Here's the official photo of Amber's graduation:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Slideshow Video

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan Slideshow Video:

Before viewing, you may want to shut off the music at the control panel at the bottom of this page.

Angel's Walk L.A.: Any "Miracle Mile" Plans?

Last year, I tried contacting the Angel's Walk L.A. people to see if they would note the E. Clem Wilson Building (pictured above) on their walk stanchions if they should create a "Miracle Mile" walk.

To date, I have not received any word from them and the current email address is no longer usable. With all the budget problems with the city, I wouldn't be surprised if the Angel's Walk office has been closed down.

So, I forwarded this message through City Councilman Tom LaBonge's office:

Dear Ms. Molloy:

Are there plans for a Miracle Mile walk? If so, you should consider placing the E. Clem Wilson Building on the northeast corner of Wilshire and La Brea on your list of historical buildings to be given recognition.

More on the E. Clem Wilson Building: http://armandsrancho.blogspot.com/2009/06/first-daily-planet-building.html

Armand Vaquer

If I hear anything further, I'll post it here.

UPDATE (May 26, 2010): I received this note from Doug Mensman of Councilman LaBonge's office:

I've left a voicemail for them to see if I can get another email address.


We'll see if we get a reply with a new email address.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Superman and The Mummy's Kiss: Something Shared

Above, the E. Clem Wilson Building, something that the "Adventures of Superman" and "The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty" have in common.

Superman and The Mummy's Kiss: Something Shared

by Armand Vaquer

After I posted my spotlight feature on actress/model/language instructor Yuu Asakura on Monster Island News, I was in the mood to watch Don Glut's The Mummy's Kiss Second Dynasty tonight. In the movie, Yuu Asakura had a bit part as Marie, the assistant to the tabloid editor. Christine Nguyen played the tabloid's ace reporter who gets wrapped up in the mummy story.

For the first time, I watched the movie with the commentary track on and noted Don's comment that he wanted to use the E. Clem Wilson Building on Wilshire Blvd. at La Brea Ave. in the movie as the tabloid office so he could correct an error in the first (1951) season DVD set of the Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves.

Above, the E. Clem Wilson Building as the Daily Planet Building in 1951.

In the set's commentary track, Glut said that both commentators in the Superman DVD identified the building used for the Daily Planet Building was Los Angeles City Hall. In actuality, the E. Clem Wilson Building was used as the Daily Planet in 1951. Starting in 1953, City Hall was used as the Daily Planet until the show ended in 1957. Both Gary Grossman (Superman: Serial To Cereal) and Chuck Harter made the same error in their commentaries.

I guess we can now deem the error corrected, thanks to Don Glut.

Graduation Candids

Amber's friends were on hand during her graduation from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California and took these photos:

More Malibu "Tales of Adventure"

Last night was uneventful, until I had to lock up one gated community's sauna/shower rooms.

I first went to the women's sauna/shower room. I knocked and yelled "security" and received no response. So I went in, checked it out, found nobody inside and locked it up.

After locking it up, I heard female laughter. I turned around and unlocked the women's sauna/shower room and still found nobody inside when I went back in. So I locked it up again.

I then went to the men's sauna/shower room and several guys were inside and they immediately left. I again heard female laughter. Only it was inside the men's shower area. So I went back and, lo and behold, there was a petite brunette with a guy in the shower.

She and the guy came out (she was in a bikini) and I looked at her and asked, "What are you doing in here?" She just gave a sheepish smile and left.

Summer hasn't even arrived yet and already things are getting wild in Malibu!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Autographed Photo of George Reeves As Superman

Here's another autographed photo of George "Superman" Reeves that's up for auction:

This one's valued at $3,000-$5,000. It is interesting that the auction house is not too far from me in Calabasas Hills, California.

Many people don't realize that autographed photos of some celebrities are very rare, especially when one takes into consideration the age of the item (this one is, at most, about 55 years old), the death of the celebrity (Reeves died on June 16, 1959) and that some short-sighted moms may have tossed out the cherished items into the dumpster (talk about throwing away money!). These were before celebrity autograph collector shows sprung up around the country. So anytime one of these shows up for sale, a wise investor should jump at the chance in obtaining it. The value of the item would only go up (provided the item is kept in good condition).

I have a few items of George Reeves's personal belongings. One is a record album (from his record collection), a couple of unsigned 8 x 10" photos of Reeves as Superman and an 8 x 10" photo of Reeves as Clark Kent with Sterling Holloway. Superman/George Reeves historian Chuck Harter was able to obtain many items of George's though Toni Mannix's sister Florence.

To see the auction page, go here.

I have always been a fan of the show, but my interest was heightened when I found out that my dad worked out at the same gym as Reeves (my dad boxed in his younger days and Reeves was doing his judo workouts) and met him there. Noel Neill (Lois Lane) told me in July 2001 that George kept in shape through his judo workouts.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Graduation Photo

One of Amber's friends took this shot of Amber and me at her graduation last weekend. Nice shot!

This week sure flew by!

George Reeves Autographed Photo

One of the best, if not the best (in my opinion), examples of an autographed photograph of Adventures of Superman star George Reeves is this one:

It appears to have been taken in the 1940s.

It is currently up for auction and it is estimated to bring $2,000-$3,000. If I had the money right now, I'd bid on it in a heartbeat!

To see the auction page, go here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Estate Matters Closed! Whew!

Word has just been received that all matters pertaining to my mom's estate are now final and closed. Whew! Talk about "The Mother of All Roller-coaster Rides!"

All matters concerning her estate in California have been closed since March, now my attorney in Nebraska informs me that everything there is full and final. So, for the first time in my life I own real estate.

I do have to admit that I've learned a lot in the process. Now I have to concentrate learning more about farming, Dept. of Agriculture, crops, commodities, trading, etc. This should be interesting (to say the least).

Now I can get on with my own life and plan for the future.


I also received my first royalty (I guess that's what it's called) check from ComiXpress for sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. I could have received one sooner, but I plowed the initial payment into purchasing copies of The Guide for direct sales, which are going good.

"Monster Madhouse" Expanding!

Above, Karlos Borloff (Jerry Moore) meets Haruo "Godzilla" Nakajima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Jerry Moore, more famously known as Karlos Borloff, announced (or strongly hinted) that his show, Monster Madhouse will be expanding to stations across America.

Moore posted this on Facebook:


Moore has been a big promoter of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, of which I am extremely grateful! Likewise, several ads appear in The Guide promoting Monster Madhouse.

Currently, Monster Madhouse is broadcast in the Washington, D.C. market.

As soon as details are received, they will be posted here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Looney Left Report: L.A. Boycott of Arizona May Turn Off The Lights

Looney Left Report: L.A. Boycott of Arizona May Turn Off The Lights

An Arizona power commissioner sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa yesterday stating that if L.A. goes ahead with their boycott of Arizona after that state voted to enforce U.S. Immigration laws, they will pull the plug on providing power to Los Angeles.

NBC Los Angeles is reporting:

In a letter to the city of LA, a member of Arizona's power commission said he would ask Arizona utility companies to cut off the power supply to Los Angeles. LA gets about 25 percent of its power from Arizona.

"That is one commissioner who has that idea -- whether he can do that or not is another idea," said LA Councilman Dennis Zine. "They are the ones who have to make the move, not us."

The commissioner's power grid play is in response to the city's approval of a resolution directing city staff to consider which contracts with Arizona can be terminated.

Part of Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce's letter reads as follows:

If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation.

I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.

Is the Los Angeles City Council willing to lose 25% of the city's power supply over politics? I doubt it. But you never know just how stupid the City Council can be.

I should also mention that the Los Angeles City Council is dominated by left-wing Democrats.

Spotlight On Yuu Asakura

Above, this shot of Yuu is my personal favorite.

Some have wondered who the model is holding a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan in several blog posts on the travel guide. Some thought she looked familiar, but couldn't quite place her.

Her name is Yuu Asakura, and according to Wikipedia:

Yuu Asakura (born in Kawanishi, Hyogo, Japan in 1976) is a Japanese actress, dancer and language instructor based out of Los Angeles, California, USA.

She moved to Los Angeles after graduating from Tokyo University in 2000 with a B.A. in linguistics and area studies. She has worked as a translator for Hollywood production companies and tutored students at various stages in speaking Japanese, including a series of short clips released on the website expertvillage.com on basic spoken Japanese. She taught English in Japan for many years and views her work in language training as offering a "communication tool for better understanding for one another."

I first noticed Yuu in Don Glut's The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty (that stars Christine Nguyen) in which she had a bit part as Marie, an assistant to a tabloid editor. I needed an Asian model for a publicity photo shoot for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and was able to obtain Yuu through Don. When we first met for the shoot at Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley (we were going to do it at the Japanese Gardens in Van Nuys, but a recent storm made the place unusable due to mud), I mentioned first seeing her in The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty and she responded with a giggle.

I found Yuu very easy to work with and she obviously knew how to pose without much direction by me.

As mentioned above, Yuu is also an actress and has appeared in several movies besides the Glut mummy movie. To see her IMDB listing, go here. There's another Yuu Asakura who appears in Japanese porn movies, so don't get confused. The other Yuu Asakura does not even look like this Yuu Asakura.

Left, one of several photos of Yuu Asakura Don Glut sent me when I was deciding on a model for the photo shoot.

Yuu has her own website and it is one of the links on this blog. But, to save you time hunting it down, just click here. Here, one may contact her for arranging Japanese language instruction as well as modeling and acting work (naturally, she'd direct the people making the query to her management company).

She's a member of SAG and AFTRA and is represented by Infinite Talent Agency ((818)955-8662).

Would I recommend Yuu Asakura to anyone in need of a Japanese model? I sure would!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Then & Now

After going through Amber's graduation photos, I dug around for some old photos.

It is amazing how time flies and seeing the changes that take place in the aging process.

I found one photo taken eighteen years ago. The photo was taken in 1992 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. It is of my wife Sue (we separated a year later), Amber, stepson William and me.

Then there's this photo taken last Saturday at Amber's graduation at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. Coincidentally, the CLU campus is about three miles down Olsen Road from the Reagan Presidential Library.

I guess growing old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative.

Greg Smith For Kansas House of Representatives

Right, Greg and Missey Smith with daughter Kelsey.

There is one candidate for a state legislator's seat whom I have endorsed this year. Generally, I don't get myself involved in other states' issues or with their candidates, but one man has earned my admiration and respect.

His name is Greg Smith, who is a candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives from Overland Park, Kansas.

Greg and his family caught my attention three years ago when his daughter Kelsey was kidnapped and murdered. This also caught the attention of the national media.

In the aftermath of Kelsey's murder, Greg and his family rolled up their sleeves and started the Kelsey Smith Foundation so that young women in Kansas and other states can be educated in self-protection to prevent more abductions and murders.

Greg is a former law enforcement officer and teacher. I was not surprised to learn that he his a conservative Republican, given the way he has worked around the country to get The Kelsey Smith Act enacted in other states. The Act mandates that cell phone providers fully cooperate with law enforcement in cases of kidnappings where a cell phone's "ping" can lead to a rescue or recovery of a kidnapping victim.

Greg recently wrote of his philosophy on taxes and fiscal responsibility as well as the differences of R.I.N.O. Republicans (Republicans In Name Only) and those who share his philosophy:

Granted, if you look to see if there is an "R" or a "D" behind the name of those who voted in favor of raising taxes and increasing spending, several of the legislators do have an "R" behind their name but they do not have the political philosophy of a conservative Republican. Take for example, Senator Tim Owens of Overland Park. He has an "R" behind his name. He's even my senator but he does not share my philosophy on spending and limited government. Senator Owen consistently votes to raise taxes and expand government. In the Kansas House, my representative, Lisa Benlon (and my opponent in the upcoming election), has a "D" behind her name. She also votes consistently for higher taxes and the expansion of government. I expect that from a Democrat. I can respect her for voting that way even though I disagree with it.

I've already endorsed Greg Smith for the Kansas House of Represatives. We need more candidates like him to hold the line on excessive taxation and spending.

For more on Greg and his campaign, go here.

California GOP Primary and Propositions Recommendations: Part One

Tuesday, June 8 is Primary Election Day in California. There are a number of candidates to choose from in the GOP Primary.

If you are confused on whom to vote for and what ballot propositions to support or oppose, here's some recommendations for the GOP Primary. More recommendations will be posted at a later date.

For Governor: Meg Whitman. Whitman is a strong fiscal conservative who may be able to straighten out California's financial mess. Steve Poizner is no conservative, despite what his ads say. Whitman also would have the financial means to conduct a winning general election campaign against former Governor Jerry Brown (a.k.a. Governor Moonbeam).

For Attorney General: Tom Harman.

United States Senator: Carly Fiorina. Carly Fiorina would be a strong voice in the U.S. Senate for gun owners. So would Chuck DeVore. But Fiorina would have the financial means to wage a vigorous campaign against Barbara Boxer. Boxer has shown what she would fight from the gutter in past campaigns. Fiorina would be able to overcome that. Tom Campbell has cast many anti-gun votes during his political career. So he's no friend to gun owners.

U.S. Representative, 27th District (San Fernando Valley): Mark Reed. Navaraj Singh was the GOP nominee for congress two years ago and did not mount much of a campaign. Mark Reed has entertainment industry ties and may be able to raise the funds to mount a campaign against Brad Sherman. Although the district is heavily Democrat, there may be enough angry Democrats over the socialist votes Sherman cast since Obama took office to vote Republican. Let's give Reed a chance and see how he performs.

The Propositions:

Proposition 14: No. This is just a scheme to rig California elections so that the top two vote-getters square off in the general election. The top two could be Democrats, thus leaving Republicans with no candidate!

Proposition 15: No. Public financing of candidates for California Secretary of State. The state is already broke, need I say more?

Proposition 13: Yes. Limits on property tax assessment. Prevents reassessment of existing properties (i.e., higher taxes) that are retrofitted to meet seismic regulations. This will prevent seismic improvements to cause existing properties to be reassessed at a higher value, causing higher taxes.

Proposition 16: Yes. Imposes new two-thirds voter approval requirement before local municipalities can get into the electricity provider business. Definitely one to vote for!

Proposition 17: Yes. Allows auto insurance companies to base their prices on a driver's history of insurance coverage.

Los Angeles Unified School District Special Election:

Measure E: No. Another tax increase scheme. If this passes, and if you are a renter, your landlord would be pressed to raise your rent to pay the tax. Over the past 13 years, the LAUSD lived high on the hog with voter-approved bond measures. Now they want even more money!

There are other offices where there is a contested primary campaign. Those will be covered in a future post.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" and Cal State Long Beach

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Lately, I've been very fortunate (or lucky) in some things, while other things haven't worked out so well.

This afternoon, I got home from grocery-shopping and visiting friends and found a message from the External Communications Editor, Office of Public Affairs California State University, Long Beach. I had recently updated my information for the CSULB "In Touch" section of the alumni news magazine, The Beach Review and mentioned The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. (Nice "shameless plug!")

The message I received:

Hello Armand,

Thank you for the information. We can include your new book in our "Fresh Ink" alumni authors section of the fall Beach Review.

Can you provide a brief summary about the book, along with publisher information and a high-resolution (large file size) photo of the cover? (Web photos are too small.)

As requested, I sent them the information along with a large photo of The Guide's cover.

Sometimes, when it's least expected, good things do occasionally happen!

Monday, May 17, 2010

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" 20% Off Sale Ends In Two Weeks

Two weeks from today will be the end of the May sale on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, the world's only Japan vacation travel guide focusing on Japanese science-fiction and fantasy locations.

Orders received with a May postmark will be able to get The Guide 20% off the $15.00 cover price.

With summer vacation season approaching, now's the time to take advantage of this offer. So don't just sit there...

...get The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan at $12.00 per copy (plus $2.00 shipping & handling) and then you can sit and read it!

To order, go here.

NOTE: Since May 31 is Memorial Day, a national holiday and the post offices will be closed, I will honor the 20% discount on orders postmarked June 1.

Even More Graduation Day Photos

More photos from Amber's graduation at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California:

Above, father and daughter.

Above, me with Amber's boyfriend Darrell.

Above, Amber and Darrell at the post-graduation science dept. reception tent.

Above, a final photo of Amber and me before she headed off for a celebratory gathering at the beach at Paradise Cove.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation Day

Today was graduation day for my daughter Amber from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.

The crowd witnessing the graduates as they received their degrees must have been around 10,000 to 15,000.

It was a great day as Amber received her Bachelor's of Science degree in biology. It was also bittersweet as my mom should have been there. She was looking forward to attending, but a higher authority had other plans for her.

Following the graduation ceremonies, we migrated to the science department reception tent. Thank goodness they had cookies there, I had no breakfast and was starved.

A few shots of the day:

Above, a lucky zoom shot of Amber receiving her degree.

Above, a proud dad congratulates his daughter on her achievement at the science department reception tent following the graduation ceremonies.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Gift In The Mail

Above, Rhodes Reason and Armand.

Yesterday, I received a nice item from Oriental Cinema publisher Damon Foster, a two-disc DVD collection of rarities. Damon intended to hand me the set at G-FEST in July, but due to the "Christmas Day Massacre," I won't be attending the convention. So he mailed me the DVDs.

Disc one contains highlights of the 2007 G-FEST in Chicago that had actor Rhodes Reason, actress Shelley Sweeney, actor Robert Scott Field and filmmaker Don Glut as guests. Much of it was behing-the-scenes pranks that Damon pulled on unsuspecting convention attendees. Lots of funny stuff!

Included were the convention's staff introductions. When I introduced myself, Shelley Sweeney made a quip about us meeting up for coffee in Tokyo (we did this twice). I had completely forgotten this.

Disc two contains a trailer for Korea's Tae Kwon V, N.O.T.L.D. on E.T. (featuring Vincent Price), a Ureme movie trailer, a Tsuburaya music video, and other items. I haven't watched disc two yet.

I did watch disc one, and I could not help but think how nice it was when everyone got along on the convention staff, before blackmail, egos and personal agendas got in the way. A letter from Damon accompanied the DVDs which said, "I guess G-FEST, like all gatherings of humans, will always have its drama, politics, rivalries, etc." How true!

Thanks, Damon for the DVDs! Maybe we'll meet somewhere along the trail sometime in the future.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Video

Jerry Moore, a.k.a. horror host Karlos Borloff of Monster Madhouse, produced this YouTube video on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan:

You may want to shut off the sound to the music at the control panel at the bottom of this page so you can hear the video without any distractions.

If the video doesn't show up on your screen, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4-Rm31wySQ
Thanks, Jerry!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Take Godzilla Survey

Dr. Craig Norris, School of English, Journalism and European Languages of the University of Tasmania is conducting a study in Japan on Godzilla and the locations associated with him. Regular Rancho readers know that Dr. Norris and his colleague purchased two copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan to aid in their research.

Later, Dr. Norris was kind enough to send me the photo above of him at the Godzilla statue in Hibiya, Tokyo while holding The Guide.

He is also conducting an online survey on Godzilla. In the survey's information sheet, it begins with:

This project will investigate how and why Godzilla has been related to specific locations in Japan.

I just took the survey and had fun with it.

If you wish to participate in the survey, go here:

Godzilla Survey

Bizarre School News

Two stories are being bandied about concerning some, ah, student activities. One occurred in Oxnard, California (about 40 miles from me) and the other took place in Texas.

Here's the first (from the Los Angeles Times):

Parents in Oxnard are outraged over allegations that two students engaged in oral sex during class while some students watched and others took video and photos of the incident.

KTLA reports that the incident allegedly took place at Haydock Intermediate School on March 26 and involved an eighth-grade boy and seventh-grade girl during a reading class. The teacher has been placed on administrative leave. The district is investigating.

A parent at the school told KTLA that she saw a video of the incident. She alleges that the teacher knew what was going on, but did nothing.

And here's the other (from the U.S. Constitutional Free Press):

A Texas 3rd grader had to serve a one-week detention after a teacher found a single Jolly Rancher candy in her possession.

Ten-year-old Leighann Adair came home in tears, terrified to tell her parents she’d been slapped with a week’s worth of detention for possessing a contraband substance:

The forbidden fruit: a piece of Jolly Rancher candy.

A teacher at Brazos Elementary School in Wallis, Texas, took the unopened piece of candy away from the third-grader two weeks ago after a friend handed it to her.

Both Leighann and her friend were ordered to serve detention during lunch and recess, and they had to write an essay about what they did and why it was wrong.

“She came home crying,” said her mother, Amber Brazda, explaining that Leighann “has never been in trouble before.” “It’s an extreme punishment for something so small,” said Leighann’s stepfather Michael Brazda.

“What are they going to do, have candy sniffing dogs next?” her mother said.

But school officials are standing by the punishment. They say they have to be strict in order to enforce their no-gum, no-candy policy. Candy and gum, they say, can cause a mess.

Gee, schools have sure changed since I was a kid. Sometimes I have to wonder about school authorities' priorities.

Oh, The Humanity!

A friend, who is a blimp and dirigible fanatic, sent me this political cartoon:

G-Fest and "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan"

Many people have asked me if I will be attending G-Fest this year to sell The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan there. I wasn't going to post anything about it here, but as I have received many queries of my plans, I thought it best to address it now as the convention is two months away.

One recent message I received is as follows:

As for the whole thing about not being welcome that just depends on who you're talking to, I'm pretty sure the only folks that wouldn't want you there are J.D. & Brett so that's just two people out of 1,000 or more. Just avoid those two and hang out with the rest of us. Think it over, you've still got time.

While that does sound great, and I do appreciate the sentiment, the problem is that one of them is the head of the convention and the other thinks he is (at least according to what was said last year to Dutch Desentis), but he can be ignored with no difficulty. Plus, several others have received messages indicating that they aren't welcome to G-Fest for one reason or another (and, no, I have not received any such message). This is causing others to re-think their attendance because, to them, the atmosphere has been poisoned. Some are opting to go to the Famous Monsters Convention in Indianapolis instead. Others have been thrown "under the bus" I have since learned.

Since the "Christmas Day Massacre," I've been concentrating on my own interests and getting more satisfaction out of that. My mom's death in January put things into sharper perspective on what's really important in life. In other words, I've got bigger fish to fry.

I haven't spoken to J. D. since December, with the exception of an exchange of condolence messages, so I don't know where he's at on all of this. I should note that J. D. lost his dad late last year (I didn't find out about it until after my mom died in January), which may have caused him some grief-related stresses. I went through this, which started shortly before "The Massacre" when my mom's final illness started. So I can cut him some slack to a degree.

Am I going to G-Fest? The answer is no. Will this mean that The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan won't be available there? The answer is also no.

The good news is that I have been in discussions with several dealers who will sell The Guide at their dealers room tables. So fans will get the opportunity to pick up a copy at G-Fest! See? There are ways of working around things!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fan Declares Monster Japan Travel Guide "Kaiju Awesome!"

Model: Yuu Asakura. Photo By Armand Vaquer.

I received the following message from kaiju fan David Nunez on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan:

Hey, Armand:

I just got the book and I read it cover to cover and its Kaiju Awesome! This is what every G fans needs if going to the land of Godzilla a.k.a. Japan.

Glad you liked it, David.

Remember, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is on sale this month with 20% off the cover price!

For ordering information, go here.

Frank Frazetta, R.I.P.

Sad news just came across my screen.

Legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has died at age 82 of a stroke at a hospital near his home.

Frazetta’s agent, Robert Pistella said the artist passed away this afternoon of a stroke. Funeral arrangements will be announced shortly.

Frank Frazetta was born February 9, 1928.

The early years of his career had him producing exquisitely drawn comics work, including the EC line of comics. Frazetta assisted Al Capp on L’il Abner and later drew the strip himself. He also worked with Harvey Kurtzman on Little Annie Fanny.

Poizner’s Lazarus-like revivification

I received this interesting, and enlightening article about the California GOP gubernatorial primary campaign. You may find it of interest if you are a California Republican voter who has not yet made a decision on whom to support.

Ideas still have consequences

Poizner’s Lazarus-like revivification

Tom McClintock’s stature and standing with California Republicans, wise use of campaign funds, and the candidate's own qualities have transformed the GOP Primary political landscape.

by William E. Saracino

Posted: May 10, 2010 3:33 AM
Originally published May 10, 2010
William E. Saracino is a member of California Political Review’s Editorial Board.

I have been a supporter of Steve Poizner’s campaign for Governor from its inception. To say that the course of the campaign has provided some anxious moments is an understatement. Seeing your candidate 48 percent behind the opposition in polls and written off for dead – as Poizner was mere weeks ago - is a thrill I wouldn’t mind missing in the future.

In the words of the classic Dinah Washington song, what a difference a day makes. The dynamics of the GOP gubernatorial primary are changing rapidly. Poizner’s deficit to Meg Whitman last week was just 10 percent and shrinking fast. Outside of the Bay Area (where he has just begun to run advertising) Poizner was within 5 percent of Meg.

Poizner’s Lazarus-like revivification can be traced to three factors: 1) the candidate himself; 2) the campaign’s refusal to be lured into an early spending binge; and 3) Congressman Tom McClintock’s stature and standing with California Republicans.

Steve Poizner has been the energizer bunny of the California GOP since he was elected Insurance Commissioner in 2006. He took his responsibility as a statewide Republican elected official seriously, traveling ceaselessly around the state to appear at GOP clubs and help other GOP candidates. I have seen him in front of large crowds and those more appropriate for a city council candidate. His upbeat demeanor never changes, nor – and this is important - does his articulate espousal of basic conservative principals.

Poizner’s has been a campaign about ideas – sound, conservative Republican ideas. This combination of his energetic toiling in the GOP vineyards and his preaching traditional Republican common sense earned him enormous goodwill among the rank and file, those most certain to vote in a primary election.

Meg Whitman’s campaign, realizing that they had more money at their disposal than the entire European Union, decided to spend truly extravagant amounts - over $50 million of her own money so far – very early in the primary season. Knowing that this would result in Whitman having impressive leads in early surveys which largely measure name-identification, they hoped to either drive Poizner out of the race or panic his campaign into spending their own limited (compared to the Whitman bottomless checkbook) resources too early to be effective.

The Poizner folks may have been born at night, but they weren’t born last night. They wisely refused the come-on, saving their advertising dollars until closer to the election when voters would be paying attention. That would be now, and the Poizner surge in the polls validates the wisdom of that decision.

That surge also validates the place Congressman Tom McClintock holds as the most trusted, believable voice in the California Republican Party and the wisdom of the Poizner campaign featuring McClintock in its advertising.

Anyone familiar with McClintock’s career knows he has earned that trust the hard way – by telling the unvarnished, sometimes very unvarnished, truth. As with his heroes Winston Churchill, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, McClintock believes that while telling voters the truth will hopefully lead to electoral success, telling the truth always trumps temporizing in the pursuit of such success.

Churchill and Reagan eventually saw their time come. Barry Goldwater saw his validation in the success of Ronald Reagan, elected twice in landslides on Goldwater’s platform. Tom McClintock is not running for Governor, but Steve Poizner’s jump in the polls, fueled by McClintock’s appearance in TV and radio ads, is powerful testimony that, if not for McClintock himself, the time for his - and Poizner’s - ideas has indeed arrived.

McClintock and his message that Steve Poizner is the real conservative and workhorse Republican in the race has been ubiquitous the last few weeks, the time frame Poizner has eliminated most of the 48 percent poll deficit to Meg. McClintock’s 30+ years of earning credibility in the Party has come up triple 7’s for Poizner - political pros unassociated with either campaign tell me they expect Poizner to actually be in the lead by the time you read this. Ideas actually matter – who knew?

Poizner and McClintock knew. They have once again raised Ronald Reagan’s banner of “bright, bold colors”, and the electorate is responding. It can lead Poizner to victory in June, and if he stays the course through the fall campaign against the ultimate retread Jerry Brown, can lead a broad Republican resurgence in November. Ideas still have consequences. Anyone happy with that situation owes a debt of thanks to Steve Poizner and Tom McClintock.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Movin' On

Last Thursday should've been a nice day. It was the 30th birthday of Ally, with whom I was involved with.

The reason I say "was" is because I found that she had been lying to me about a lot of things and her boorish behavior at the surprise birthday party that I, and her co-workers, threw for her. I can't abide liars and people who act boorishly.

One of her co-workers texted me later that day. She wrote, "She might be 30 today, but is obviously still very immature when it comes to treating you the way she did."

It is unfortunate, but I felt it best to end it now rather than to put up with a bunch of B.S. and be aggravated.

However, the next day turned out to be my lucky day! I found a ten dollar bill on the floor in a Malibu supermarket!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

It will be the first Mother's Day since my mom passed away in January (I find it hard to believe it's May already).

Kaiju historian August Ragone lost his mom when he was 17. I could imagine it being tougher to lose a parent at that age than at a later age as I did. No matter what age you are, losing a parent is never easy.

But concerning Mother's Day, August said it best:

I think about her everyday, so everyday is Mother's Day to me.

Same here. I think about my mom every day, so everyday is Mother's Day for me too.

Happy Mother's Day to all those moms out there who are still with us and to those who no longer are.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fright Site Reviews "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan"

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan received a review over at the Fright Site website.

The review states, in part:

If you know how to read and are a fan of Japanese monster movies, you might wanna check out The Monster Movie Fan's Guide to Japan, a clever new book that dresses up tourism with monster movie film locations.

It is a good review, although I have to disagree the reviewer's comments on the cover. I've received many compliments on it as did Archie Waugh, who created it.

To read the review, go here.

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