"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

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

6.9 Temblor Rattles Tokyo

Above, a view from Tokyo Tower looking towards Shinjuku.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that a 6.9 earthquake rattled Tokyo today:

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan's southern coast Tuesday, shaking a broad swath of the country and swaying buildings in downtown Tokyo.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported, and Japan's meteorological agency said there was no danger of a tsunami.

The temblor hit at 12:25 p.m. local time (0325 GMT), with the epicenter near the Ogasawara Islands, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of the main Japanese island, the agency said. It struck at a depth of 300 miles (480 kilometers).

Japan's meteorological agency reported a magnitude of 6.9, however, the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was 6.6. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Whew! Glad it happened now instead of next week when I'm in Tokyo! I already experienced an earthquake in Tokyo during my October 2005 vacation there.

To read the full article, go here.

Spotlight On Actress Kyoko Okazaki

Kyoko Okazaki is a rising young actress who appeared in the play, Utsutsu in Los Angeles this month.

She played the character Otose, who was a tomboy and dressed in male clothing to hide from yakuza's boss, Gonzo.

Kyoko was born and raised in Okayama, Japan and has appeared in several movies this past year, including Mr. Sophistication, The Scenesters, Luster and The Runaways.

She attended the Theater of Arts, College For The Contemporary Actor in Los Angeles.

I first met Kyoko at the press and kick-off party for Utsutsu earlier this month and found her to have a bubbly personality.

She has a natural style to her acting and I found her performance in Utsutsu to be compelling.

Above, Kyoko Okazaki with Armand and "Utsutsu" co-star Masamichi Kanobe.

She graciously put me on her personal list for a performance of Utsutsu.

Here is the link to her IMDb page.

Kyoko Okazaki is one to keep an eye out for!

Japantopia Posts Monster Japan Travel Guide Slideshow Video

Left, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japantopia.net has picked up the slideshow video on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The site bills itself as "The Website For People Who Love Japan." Subject matter includes life in Japan, travel, weird Japan, video, pictures and movies.

To view the website, go here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Japan: Five More Days!

Five more days and I'm off to Japan!

Things are moving further along at a brisk pace with the Japanese media on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Interviews are being set up with Japan Today and The Daily Yomiuri, amongst others, while I am in Tokyo.

I am also meeting with book dealers and distributors as well. I am pleased that the Guide is generating this much interest.

My main problem is squeezing in more time to do some wandering around in Tokyo. The interviews will be taking place at my hotel.

I'll have to start packing up The Monolith* tomorrow and Wednesday as I have to work the graveyard shift Thursday night/Friday morning and sleep most of Friday. I leave Saturday morning.

*I have one of those big, black suitcases that are towed with a pull handle. It looks like the monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

UPDATE (11/30/10): Will be meeting with former Toho-Los Angeles Gen. Manager Masaharu Ina for lunch while I'm in Tokyo. He's currently with Toho Cinemas.

Passings: Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner

Two passings are worth noting:

Leslie Nielsen died Sunday at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from complications of pneumonia. He was 84. He is best known for his comedic roles in Airplane! and The Naked Gun series. He also appeared in the science-fiction classic, Forbidden Planet.

Nielsen seemed to have fallen into comedic acting by his deadpan role in Airplane! He originated the police lieutenant Frank Drebin character in the Police Squad television series. I will always remember Nielsen in a dentist office scene on Police Squad. It was hilarious. He went on to play Drebin in the Naked Gun movies.

Director Irvin Kershner died November 27. Kershner was best known for directing the best of the Star Wars sequels, The Empire Strikes Back. He was 87.

The filmmaker passed away at his Los Angeles home after a long bout with an unspecified illness.

Kershner also directed Sean Connery's comeback as James Bond in Never Say Never Again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"In The Arena" Book By Richard Nixon

For the long plane rides to and from Japan, I like to have along a book or two to read.

I was going through my bookshelves to see what books to bring along and I pulled out former President Richard Nixon's 1990 book, "In The Arena."

It's been a while since I read the book and when I opened it, I found something that I had completely forgotten about: it had a bookplate from the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace with President Nixon's autograph. (See the photograph above.)

Nixon died from a massive stroke in April 1994.

Well, since the book has his signature and is still in good shape, that eliminated it from consideration to bring to Japan. A cursory check found that a signed copy of "In The Arena" fetches anywhere between $200-$500.

Looks like I'll have to find another book to bring.

By the way, I highly recommend Nixon's book. It is inspiring as it tells how he overcame adversity and career ruin. My grade: A+.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Ladies In A Car: Webisode 6

If you are just sitting around either bored with nothing to do or still digesting all that Thanksgiving Day food you consumed, here's something to divert your attention.

Webisode Six of Two Ladies In A Car is up and running. The story?

Season 1, Webisode 6: The Ladies DON’T want to talk about work on their way to Hollywood to buy Lady M some new shoes . . .

The title?

"Holly Would Shoes"

To view it, go here.

5 Years Ago: The George Reeves Tour

Above, George Reeves's urn. Click on image to see larger.

Five years ago today, a group of Adventures of Superman/George Reeves fans toured around Los Angeles to visit some of the sites connected with Reeves. I was the official unofficial tour guide.

Many prominent fans such as Jim Nolt, Lou Koza, Carl Glass and others were in town for Noel Neill's 85th birthday party held the day before in Studio City. Since it was such a rare occasion to have everyone in one place, a tour was planned for the next day.

Fans gathered the morning of November 27, 2005 at the lobby and restaurant of the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn. Following breakfast, a caravan of carloads of fans left the hotel towards Pasadena.

The first stop was at George Reeves's boyhood home (above). At first, we had a little difficulty as the address given in a book did not match the house. The actual house was a few doors away. Luckily, there was a photo of the house in the book.

We spent about a half hour at the house taking pictures of the home and group photos. From there, we headed to the Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum to pay our respects at the final resting place of George Reeves. There are two mausoleums at the cemetery, and Reeves is in the Pasadena Mausoleum.

Above, Armand with the urn of George Reeves.

From there, we then headed for Beverly Hills to see the final home of George Reeves in Benedict Canyon. This was the last stop of the tour. The house looks pretty much as it did on the fateful morning of June 16, 1959 when Reeves was found dead in his bedroom with a gunshot wound in his head.

Above, Reeves's house in Benedict Canyon.

Carl Glass has an excellent write-up of the tour with lots of photos at his website, Glasshouse Presents. To view it, go here.

Five years sure went by fast!

Nixon Relations

Above, former President Nixon meets "Robocop."

The old saying, "It's a small world" is quite often true in many respects.

A fellow member of my high school's alumni says she is related in some way to former President Richard Nixon's brother Donald. She doesn't specifically how they're related, as her father died at a relatively young age (59), and she was unable to discuss family history with him before he died.

We got into a discussion on the Nixons and I did some digging and found a way to contact President Nixon's surviving brother Edward. She says she'll contact him to see if he can fill in the blanks for her. During our discussion via email, I did send a couple of photos of President Nixon at the Century Plaza Hotel in September 1972. I was in the crowd (marked by an arrow, see photo below).

It will be interesting to see what she turns up. I find this topic to be fascinating.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Korean Conflict Boosts Dollar Against The Yen

The skirmish between North and South Korea had one effect that I am pleased with. The U.S. dollar rose in value against the Japanese yen to a level not seen since October 5.

Bloomberg.com reported:

The dollar advanced to 83.93 yen from 83.60 yen, after earlier touching 83.96 yen, the strongest since Oct. 5.

Although this is a little better, it is still not at the exchange rate I received the last time I went to Japan. In April 2007, the last time I went to Japan, the exchange rate was at 116 yen/dollar.

Senate Democrats Screwed Up On Obamacare Bill

In their haste to pass Obamacare last year, senate Democrats made a major blunder according to Greta Van Sustern:

Van Sustern posted at Fox News:

The new national health care bill was written by the Senate. The Senate neglected to include something very common: severability clause (this is legislation 101.) What this means is that if one of the federal judges says the insurance mandate clause is unconstitutional, the entire health care bill gets tossed out. The severability clause was in the House bill but left out of the Senate (which is what was passed.) Why was it left out? We now have an answer. According to New York Times...the omission was an oversight.... (Pretty stupid...ugh)

See what happens when you vote for a bill without reading it first?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Noel Neill!

Above, Noel Neill and George Reeves while being filmed for "The Girl Who Hired Superman" episode.

Tomorrow, besides being Thanksgiving Day, is Noel Neill's (the ORIGINAL Lois Lane) 90th birthday.

Thankfully, Noel is still with us to enjoy her birthday. She's had a mixed year. Earlier this year, she took a fall and banged herself up. Then, this past June, she took part in the unveiling of the new statue of herself as Lois Lane in Metropolis, Illinois not far from the Super Museum. Unfortunately, she took a bad fall that fractured her hip several weeks later.

After weeks of recuperating and therapy, she is back at home and is finishing her mending in the company of her fibreglass cow (that she bought earlier this year) that stands in her dining room.

Left, George Reeves and Noel Neill perform a musical number at the Colorado State Fair in 1957.

The sad part of her injuries, besides the pain she had to go through, is that she has to put an end to her personal appearances. The blessing is that she was still in demand.

Above, Jack Larson and Noel at her 85th birthday party in Studio City.

It is remarkable that despite everything, she has made it to 90 and she's still sharp as a tack!

Left, Noel and Armand at the TV Land Convention in 2005.

I, for one, am grateful that I've been able to meet her and get to know her a little.

Happy Birthday, Noel!

Japan: Spending Spree In Preparation

Above, first stop in Tokyo after Narita Airport: Tokyo Station.

One of the things I do before heading off on a vacation trip to Japan is to check on the 10-day weather forecast to the places (in this case, Tokyo and Niigata) I'm going to.

Tokyo's temperatures range from the 40s to 60s (farenheit) and Niigata's temperatures range from the 40s to 50s. There's some rain forecasts for both.

In preparation, I went on a little shopping spree today at the local Macy's department store and picked up some cotton flannel shirts and some long-sleeve dress shirts (I didn't seem to have any long-sleeve dress shirts in the closet). Also, I picked up a couple of pairs of Levis (the ones I have are about to be permanently retired due to wear). Naturally, since I may be confronted by situations requiring me to remove my shoes (a Japanese custom), I also picked up some socks.

Although it may rain at times while I am in Japan, I am not going to pack my umbrella. If I need one, I can always buy one there (they're relatively cheap at 600 yen each).

In regard to the tensions between the two Koreas, a friend sent me this after reading my blog about possibly having a "ringside seat":

If you want to borrow my flak jacket I have a brand new one; US Army issue lol (its ceramic plates can shred a .50 cal round). I have a kevlar helmet too, but it was repainted black by the dept.

If I take him up on his offer, if the need arises, this will save me the time and money to buy them in Japan. Then again, they may take up too much room in my suitcase. I plan to pack light, so I have room to bring back some souvenirs.

Nine days to go. Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Junk

With all this talk about TSA airport screeners groping airline customers and the outcry of "Don't touch my junk!" becoming the battle cry, I wonder since when were a person's "private parts" referred to as junk?

There's many funny pictures and cartoons of "Don't touch my junk!" floating around the Internet. (Just Google the phrase and you'll see.) I came up with one that I haven't seen yet:

This, of course, is a Chinese junk ship. Maybe junk captains and crew members will start sporting "Don't Touch My Junk!" t-shirts and caps.

A Ringside Seat In Japan?

My upcoming trip to Japan a week from Saturday seems to be coming at an interesting time.

According to Yahoo! News:

INCHEON, South Korea – North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire Tuesday along their disputed frontier, raising tensions between the rivals to their highest level in more than a decade. The communist nation warned of more military strikes if the South encroaches on the maritime border by "even 0.001 millimeter."

The skirmish began when North Korea warned the South to halt military drills near their sea border, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters — but away from the North Korean shore — the North retaliated by shelling the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.

Seoul responded by unleashing its own barrage from K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers and scrambling fighter jets. Two South Korean marines were killed in the shelling that also injured 15 troops and three civilians.

Part of my trip to Japan includes an excursion of several days to Niigata (see map), which is on the Sea of Japan side of Honshu. The two Koreas and China are just across the Sea of Japan.

According to The Wall Street Journal:

TOKYO—North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island put the Japanese government on high alert, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordering his cabinet members to step up information-gathering and prepare for emergencies.

If things escalate between North and South Korea, I may end up with a ringside seat for the event.

The trip to Niigata may prove to be very interesting!

Armand Vaquer | FiledBy

Armand Vaquer | FiledBy

Boris Karloff's Birthday

Today is Boris Karloff's birthday. He was born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887.

Above, Boris Karloff in his signature role as Frankenstein's Monster from the 1931 classic.

Karloff died in February 1969.


In a Rancho exclusive, G-artist Todd Tennant weighs in on the current groping policy of the TSA (click on image to see larger):

This picture is not to be copied or otherwise posted without the expressed permission of the artist.


If the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) were subject to truth in advertising, these would be their ads (click on image to see full size):

Monday, November 22, 2010

Haruo Nakajima To Appear At Monsterpalooza

Left, Haruo Nakajima (right) taking a break during the filming of "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" with Kenpachiro Satsuma

The original Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima will appear at next year's Monsterpalooza in Burbank, California.

Nakajima was "the man in the rubber suit" from the first Godzilla movie in 1954 to 1972's Godzilla vs. Gigan. He will turn 82 on January 1.

Monsterpalooza will be held at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center April 8-10. I've attended the first two Monsterpaloozas and they were very enjoyable.

Monsterpalooza has many celebrities from the world of science-fiction and horror in attendance and exhibits featuring everyone's favorite monsters.

Above, Armand with Haruo and Sonoe Nakajima in 2008.

Nakajima's daughter Sonoe told me a few nights ago that they will be attending Monsterpalooza next year.

For more information on Monsterpalooza, go here.

47 Years Later, Still A Vivid Memory

One can tell they're getting on in years when a historical anniversary comes around, especially when the number of years is mentioned.

47 years ago, shocking news came from Dallas, Texas when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade to a luncheon speaking engagement at the Dallas Trade Mart. The date was November 22, 1963.

I was three months shy of turning ten years old, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. I had just finished lunch in the Woodcrest Elementary School cafeteria in Los Angeles and took my dishes to the dishwasher's window when the kid working it said Kennedy was shot and killed in Texas and the school flag was at half-staff.

I immediately went outside and took a look. Sure enough, the flag was at half-staff. We went back to our classrooms following lunch recess and our teacher, Mrs. Ostrom, tearfully told the class what happened.

Within minutes, the fire bell began ringing and everyone vacated the room to go out to the playground. Only this time, it wasn't a fire or a drill. The principal used it to get the school gathered in one place. There, he announced the assassination and led the school in patriotic songs.

Following this, school was dismissed and everyone sent home. I lived across the street from school and my mom had the television set on for coverage on the assassination. For the next four days, regular programming of all stations were jettisoned for continuous assassination and funeral coverage.

I also remember the moment that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby on Sunday, November 23. We had the television set on NBC and we saw Ruby shoot Oswald as it happened. My dad just about flew off the couch when that occurred.

Above, aerial view of Dealey Plaza.

Back in 1984, I was in Dallas for the Republican National Convention. I was a California alternate delegate for President Ronald Reagan. While there, I paid a visit to Dealey Plaza, the site of the JFK assassination. I spent an hour or so taking pictures of the site from all angles. I even stood on the pedestal where Abraham Zapruder shot his famous and historic 8mm film of the assassination. As I stood on that pedestal, my mind wandered back 21 years to when I first heard the news of the assassination.

In looking at the former Texas School Book Depository Building (where Oswald had his sniper's perch) from the point on Elm Street where the fatal bullet stuck the president, all doubts were cast aside in my mind that Oswald was the killer and that he did it alone. To me, that was an easy shot, especially since the rifle had a scope. The distance from the street to the 6th floor window wasn't all that far. One of these anniversaries, I'll post my photos on this blog.

In many respects, it is hard to believe that 47 years has passed as everything is still a vivid memory. This generation will have the same feeling when 47 years pass since September 11, 2001.

Time marches on, whether one likes it or not.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me...

"See me, feel me, touch me..." is a line from a song by The Who from the classic rock-opera "Tommy." However, it could also be the new theme song for the TSA over their new policy of groping passengers at airports. (The way things are going these days, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they piped the song over loudspeakers in airport security checkpoints.)

It appears that I will probably face this personal invasion at the end of next week when I head off to Japan.

The Associated Press has posted this editorial, which reads in part:

After nine years of funneling travelers into ever longer lines with orders to have shoes off, sippy cups empty and laptops out for inspection, the most surprising thing about increasingly heated frustration with the federal Transportation Security Administration may be that it took so long to boil over.

The agency, a marvel of nearly instant government when it was launched in the fearful months following the 9/11 terror attacks, started out with a strong measure of public goodwill. Americans wanted the assurance of safety when they boarded planes and entrusted the government with the responsibility.

But in episode after episode since then, the TSA has demonstrated a knack for ignoring the basics of customer relations, while struggling with what experts say is an all but impossible task. It must stand as the last line against unknown terror, yet somehow do so without treating everyone from frequent business travelers to the family heading home to visit grandma as a potential terrorist.

The TSA "is not a flier-centered system. It's a terrorist-centered system and the travelers get caught in it," said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University who has tracked the agency's effectiveness since it's creation.

That built-in conflict is at the heart of a growing backlash against the TSA for ordering travelers to step before a full-body scanner that sees through their clothing, undergo a potentially invasive pat-down or not fly at all.

"After 9/11 people were scared and when people are scared they'll do anything for someone who will make them less scared," said Bruce Schneier, a Minneapolis security technology expert who has long been critical of the TSA. "But ... this is particularly invasive. It's strip-searching. It's body groping. As abhorrent goes, this pegs it."

A traveler in San Diego, John Tyner, has become an Internet hero after resisting both the scan and the pat-down, telling a TSA screener: "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." That has helped ignite a campaign urging people to refuse such searches on Nov. 24, which immediately precedes Thanksgiving and is one of the year's busiest travel days.

To read the full AP editorial, go here.

The TSA and the Obama administration were surprised to learn that rather than being compliant "sheeple," the traveling public decided that these new security measures go too far and are rebelling.

I agree with the end of the editorial that at some point the traveling public feel that there is a line that can't be crossed, and these new security procedures crossed that line.

Utsutsu (English Version)

Above, the poster for "Utsutsu." Click on the image to see it full-size.

"1850s Japan - nearly the end of Edo period. The villagers at Akenobe were suffering from the tyranny of the heartless Governor, who controlled the people by power and fear. The Governor had been overtaxing the villagers and taking the daughters to work for the Yakuza's brothels when they could not pay..."

The above is an excerpt from the Utsutsu (Genesis: The Blind Swordsman) official program.

I attended tonight's performance of Utsutsu and enjoyed it, despite being hobbled by two sprained/strained feet (long story). But I made it!

The play was presented tonight in English. The play will be performed tomorrow night in English and in Japanese on November 26, 27 and 28 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater at 4800 Hollywood Blvd. (near Vermont Ave.) in Los Angeles.

The sets were sparse, but versatile and the acting was very good with lots of swordplay action. Yuu Asakura appeared as a prostitute in the play and her death scene was impressive. She was able to "die" with her eyes open and was able to keep them open for over a minute without blinking. (She told me afterward that she struggled a couple of times.)

It was a bit long, but, fortunately, there is a 15-minute intermission.

Attending a Japanese play was a new experience for me, but it was well worth attending. If you are in Los Angeles tomorrow night or the aforementioned dates when the play is presented in Japanese, by all means go see it.

For ticket information, go to http://www.itsmyseat.com/Utsutsu.html

Saturday, November 20, 2010

CSULB Recognizes Monster Japan Travel Guide

Above, a scan of the print edition of "The Beach Review" on "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan appears in the current issue of The Beach Review, a publication of California State University, Long Beach (California) in the "Fresh Ink" page.

"Fresh Ink" consists of recent publications authored by Cal State Long Beach alumni. The Beach Review is published by the university "for the alumni, friends and families" by the Public Affairs and University Publications department.

To see the online version of "Fresh Ink," go here.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two Ladies In A Car, Webisode 5: "Birthday Crackers"

The latest webisode of Two Ladies In A Car is now up for your viewing entertainment:

"Birthday Crackers": Season 1, Webisode 5: It’s Lady M’s Birthday and during her dinner celebration the Ladies find themselves in an awkward situation. A “conversation” takes place afterward in the VW portal . . .

To view it, go here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's Visit

I had a pleasant visit with Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda author Peter H. Brothers today at his home in Agoura Hills, California.

Above, Pete with his "baby."

As I had to go to nearby Thousand Oaks to pick up a new battery for my notebook computer (I have to return it tomorrow, it appears to be defective), and since Pete's home was nearby, I stopped in to pick up a copy of his book along with fliers and business cards. Since I am meeting with Japanese book dealers and distributors during my trip to Japan next month, we thought it may be worthwhile to show them Pete's book and generate some interest.

Above, Armand and his "baby."

I also gave Pete a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan along with some business cards I just had made in preparation for the Japan trip. He wanted to pay for the book, but since I received a review copy of his book, compliments of his publisher, I told him it was my pleasure to return the favor.

Over coffee, we discussed our respective book-selling experiences and some plans to do some joint activities over the next year. (Stay tuned!)

It dawned on me as I was writing this that the photo of Pete (above) was taken one year and three days ago on November 14, 2009! Where did the year go?

Sarah Palin Moving Towards Presidential Run In 2012

ABC News is reporting that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is considering a presidential run in 2012.

According to ABC:

Sarah Palin says she is seriously considering a run for the White House, and she believes she could beat President Obama in 2012, the former Alaska governor told ABC News' Barbara Walters.

"I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and ... trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing," Palin said in an interview scheduled to air in full Dec. 9 on ABC as part of Walters' "10 Most Fascinating People" of 2010.

Asked Walters: "If you ran for president, could you beat Barack Obama?"

"I believe so," Palin said.

This brings me back to 1975 when former California Governor Ronald Reagan was making noises about challenging President Gerald Ford for the 1976 GOP nomination. At first, Reagan was coy. But he eventually threw his hat into the ring and came within arm's length to beat Ford at the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. I was a California Reagan delegate at that convention and at the 1980 GOP Convention in Detroit, Michigan and the 1984 GOP Convention in Dallas, Texas.

Above, President Reagan signs invitations for the 1980 California Delgation at a White House reception in June, 1982. I am in the background at left just above someone's white shoulder.

Palin's statement goes much further than Reagan's position and it is much earlier.

Ford, of course, was defeated by Jimmy Carter. Here we have somewhat a similar parallel. Carter became unpopular due to his policies and his handling of the Iranian hostage situation. Obama's election in 2008 has been described as being "Jimmy Carter's second term." While their policies have some similarities, Obama is a pure ideologue (he believes in his policies), whereas Carter was a bungling buffoon. Reagan beat Carter in 1980 in a landslide.

While I am not saying that Sarah Palin is the "second coming of Ronald Reagan," but she also has a way of speaking over the heads of the media like Reagan did to connect with voters. She uses Twitter and Facebook extensively.

At the end of the 2008 campaign, I wrote "To Governor Palin" on this blog. In it, I made some suggestions:

1. Continue to be an excellent governor of Alaska. Build up your record of accomplishment and reform.

2. Travel. When possible, keep connected to the Republicans around the country. Visit foreign countries and meet with foreign leaders. Build up your foreign policy credentials.

3. Follow the Reagan Model: Start a political action commmittee similar to Reagan's Citizens For The Republic to express your views and as a platform for supporting mid-term candidates. Start a weekly radio commentary program. Raise funds.

On number one, we all know that Palin resigned as governor due to harassing lawsuits (she had to pay her own legal expenses out-of-pocket). While I feel that resigning was a mistake, I do understand why. Initially, she may have hurt herself politically, but seems to have bounced back.

On number three, she formed Sarah PAC to raise funds for her political travels and to support candidates during the mid-term elections. Most of candidates she supported won their races and she has accumulated a number of political I.O.U.s. She is a commentator at Fox News and her show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska" (above, right) was a record-setting ratings draw for the network carrying it.

On number two, Palin still needs to travel abroad to meet world leaders and educate herself on foreign policy. She has plenty of time to accomplish this. Reagan, during his pre-presidential years, traveled abroad frequently, sometimes as a personal envoy for President Nixon. Palin needs to build up her foreign policy credentials. I am pleased to see she has started doing so. Palin delivered world-affairs speech fourteen months ago in Hong Kong.*

At present, I am inclined to support Palin. Her views are a close match with Ronald Reagan's and she has a deft way of turning a phrase almost as well. Reagan's son Michael decribed Palin as a "reincarnation" of his father in 2008.

If Palin avoids any gaffes in the next several months, she has a good shot at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. We'll wait and see what transpires.

To read the full ABC News article, go here.

*Source: New York Times.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Japan Trip Business: Falling Into Place

Things are starting to fall into place for business in Japan related to The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan during my trip to Japan two weeks from now.

At present, I have some tentative meetings scheduled with Japanese print/Internet news outlets along with book dealers in Tokyo. One has offered to put me in touch with Japanese book distributors.

As my stay in Tokyo is limited, before taking a break to see Niigata, I am "front-loading" as many meetings as possible in Tokyo during business hours. Social activities will have to be conducted during the evening hours.

The English-language publications market is very limited in Japan, especially on niche topics such as this. I don't expect to become a millionaire from travel guide sales in Japan, but I do see potential profit there as my printing costs are in a reasonable range. The key is to keep the overhead costs down as much as possible which, thus far, I have been able to do.

Besides the business standpoint, this will be an educational experience for me as well. This will be a opportunity to learn the "ins and outs" of the Japanese publishing industry.

This should be interesting!

Kibytera Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Review

The Kibytera blog has picked up the Japan Visitor review feed on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Kibytera is a blog site focusing on anime, documentaries, movies, television shows, music and other cultural items originating from Japan.

A number of other sites have picked up the feed from Japan Visitor and I receive notices on them. I am posting the most interesting sites.

To view the site, go here.

Right, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Get Or Not To Get A JR Rail Pass?

Above, a Shinkansen train at Tokyo Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Before deciding on whether or not to buy the JR (Japan Rail) Rail Pass or the JR East (or West) Rail Pass, a traveler has to determine how much use would it get and if it would save the traveler money.

If a traveler plans to take many trips on JR trains (including commuter trains and Shinkansens), they should check the fare prices on their planned trips (remember to include round-trip fares) and total them up. If the total cost of the fares exceed the cost of the Rail Passes, then it would be worth getting a Rail Pass.

In order to buy a Rail Pass, a traveler has to go to an authorized dealer and buy the voucher in their home country. Rail Passes cannot be purchased in Japan.

Upon arrival in Japan, take the voucher to any JR office to exchange it for the Rail Pass. You can choose the date the Rail Pass goes into effect. The most commonly purchased Rail Passes are the 7-day and 14-day Rail Passes.

I am planning an excursion to Niigata next month. The average price for a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Niigata is ¥5,460. The JR Rail Pass is around $340.00 (give or take, since it is tied to the foreign exchange rate). 5,460.00 JPY = 66.1727 USD at today's exchange rate. The total round-trip would be about $132.35, which is considerably cheaper than buying a Rail Pass. So I will not be purchasing a Rail Pass for this trip.

In 2007, I took many train trips in Japan (with Tokyo to Fukuoka and back being the main trip) including Shinkanens and local commuter trains in Kyushu. Having the JR Rail Pass during that trip made those train trips bargains.

Remember, before buying a JR Rail Pass of any kind and duration, be sure to check the fare costs first and total them up and compare to the current Rail Pass prices.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan has detailed information on the JR Rail Pass.

News On Japan Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Review

Right, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

News On Japan.com picked up the feed of Japan Visitor's review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

It was good that the feed was picked up now as the 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (that took place in Yokohama on November 13 and 14) drew attention to Japan. This was also covered by News On Japan.com.

Presumably, this would increase traffic to the website.

To see the site, go here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cityfeeds Tokyo.com Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Review

Above, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Another one! Cityfeeds Tokyo.com has picked up the Japan Visitor review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

It is amazing to see how one site can feed into several others. Viva technology!

To view the site, go here.

Plane Tickets: LAX To Narita

Above, a Korean Air Boeing 777 at Narita International Airport.

People often are surprised when I tell them that it doesn't cost $1,200 and up to fly round-trip to Japan. This is particularly true when one travels during the off-travel-season. Travelers will pay higher prices during the peak travel season.

One fellow, a co-worker, was shocked to learn of the actual price when I told him last week.

I bought my plane tickets (LAX to Narita) through an online airline discount ticket agency called GatewayLAX. I used to use Travelocity.com or Priceline.com. But I've found that GatewayLAX generally beats their prices. Remember, not all discount ticket agencies are created equal!

Those of you who plan to go on G-TOUR II, you may want to keep GatewayLAX in mind for your plane tickets since the tour cost does not include airfare or your flights. You may get better prices by buying your flight tickets earlier rather than later.

This trip's airfare ticket price came to $565.00. But one has to add tax and fuel charges to the ticket price and it jumped to over $800. That's still better than $1,200 and up!

I will be flying for the third time on Korean Air (this will be in their Boeing 777s) (see photo at top). Their service and food are good (although I have to give Singapore Air and United Airlines higher marks for their food). During the last two Japan trips, Korean Air had Astroboy cartoons (the ones from about 7-8 years ago) as part of their in-flight entertainment along with Korean and Japanese dramas.

GatewayLAX is located in downtown Los Angeles and their website is at http://www.gatewaylax.com/

Liquida Picks Up Japan Visitor's Review of Monster Japan Travel Guide

Right, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Liquida.com has also picked up the Japan Visitor review feed on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

To view the website, go here.

Topix Picks Up Japan Visitor's Monster Japan Travel Guide Review

Topix.com picked up the feed on Japan Visitor's review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Although I wonder how they got "Fana" out of "Fan's." Curious typo.

To see the website, go here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is This Code For Japanese Love Hotel Rooms For People Not Totally Into It?

On my upcoming trip to Japan, I am staying an extra day in Niigata as the hotel in Tokyo originally said they have no rooms available on one day.

Then, just a short while ago, I received an email from them which said in part:

About 10th of December We still have a room avalable at New Building semi Dabble room.
but the price is 8500yen. Please book it if you like it.

Thank you very much and we are looking forward to seeing you soon.

Front Desk

Nice to know that Engrish is alive and well in Japan!

Japan Visitor Blog Reviews "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan"

A Japan travel blog, Japan Visitor, has posted a review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

To read the review, go here.

Left, Yuu Asakura. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

"Too Bad Our Boobies Aren't Big"

The latest webisode of Two Ladies In A Car is now posted for your viewing pleasure:

Season 1, Webisode 4: The ladies travel to Mount Lee in search of THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN.

The title of the webisode is "Too Bad Our Boobies Aren't Big." You might be wondering, "What does boobie size have to do with the Hollywood Sign?" Watch the webisode and find out!

To view the latest webisode and catch up on the first three, go here.

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