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

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weinergate: Was that "Little Anthony"?

Funny how karma works in strange ways.

Liberal Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner, one of the most obnoxious libs in Congress, finds himself embroiled in a scandal over a lewd photo originating from his Twitter account.

The Washington Post reported:

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has become the latest member of Congress to run into Twitter trouble after a lewd photo was sent from his account on the microblogging site Friday night.

The photo, which was taken from the waist down and shows a man in bulging gray underwear, was first reported early Saturday by BigGovernment.com, the Web site of conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart.

The photo is available and can be easily found via Google.

Was that "Little Anthony"?

Weiner contends that his Twitter account was hacked but refuses to answer reporters' questions:

Weiner’s office said Monday that the congressman had retained an attorney following the incident. Neither Weiner nor his spokesman have directly responded to several questions about the matter, including whether the photo of an underwear-clad groin was of Weiner or whether Weiner has asked law enforcement officials to investigate.

Also, he got into a testy argument with reporters, calling one a "jackass."

For more, go here.

Michelle Malkin weighs in on Weinergate: http://michellemalkin.com/2011/05/31/weighing-in-on-weiner/

Monster Japan Travel Guide Sales Increased

The new press release service I started using last week seems to be doing the job.

To try it out, I wrote a press release on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Since then, I have received several orders for the travel guide over at ComiXpress.com. So far, so good!

By the way, the 20% discount sale (through me directly) ends today. So if you want to save $3.00, make sure your order is postmarked with today's date.

Coffee and Computers Don't Mix

Last week, I managed to get my old computer running again.

Yesterday, I got up to go into another room and my sleeve caught on one of my chairs and a little coffee from the coffee cup I had in my hand slopped over and landed on my laptop's keyboard. Oh, crap!

About a third of the keys wouldn't work. I immediately unplugged it and removed the battery. I also put it upside down so that any coffee would drain out, rather than go further into the machine. I let it sit for 2 hours.

Today, I plugged it back in and tried out the keyboard. Only two keys wouldn't work: the 'n' and comma keys. I cleaned both keys' contacts to get any dried coffee residue with alcohol. I waited for them to dry for a while and then fired it up.

Well, I got the 'n' key working but the comma key still isn't. I'll have to try and clean it out again later and see if it'll start working again.

How am I getting by typing this without a working comma key? No, I'm not using my other computer. What I did was copy a comma from an old document and pasted it onto a new document file titled "Comma." When I need a comma, I just paste it into position. So that's how I am able to work around it.

It has been said that things "happen for a reason." That's probably why I got my old computer working again last week. At least I am still able to use the laptop and found a way to temporarily solve the comma problem.

I understand that if I had sugar in my coffee, my computer problems would've been worse.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Death of Jim Morrison: Approaching 40 Years

The music world was still reeling from the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin when it was announced that The Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison was found dead in the bathtub of a Paris flat on July 3, 1971. 

Last night, I finished reading "No One Here Gets Out Alive" by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, the "celebrated biography of Jim Morrison." 

 Left, the Rolling Stone magazine (issue no. 88) on the death of Jim Morrison. I still have the copy of this issue I bought at the time. 

Allegedly fed up with the music business and desiring to write, Morrison went to Paris, France to join his "common law wife" Pamela Courson. They stayed at a flat belonging to Elizabeth "ZoZo" Lariviere, a young french cover girl. During his time in Paris, starting in March 1971, 

Morrison would take long walks through Paris neighborhoods, going to restaurants and bars, attended the Rock 'N' Roll Circus and just drank. 

 The official story (according to Courson) was that she and Morrison were alone at the flat sometime after midnight on July 3, when Morrison regurgitated a small quantity of blood. He had been feeling ill for several days. Morrison claimed he was alright and said he would take a bath. 

Courson fell asleep while Morrison was in the tub. (According to The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, Courson told him that Morrison's last words were, "Pam, are you still there?") 

At about 5:00 in the morning, Courson woke up and found that Morrison had not returned to bed. She then went into the bathroom and found Morrison in the tub with his arms on the sides and his head back with a smile on his face. She thought he was playing a joke. But when she couldn't get him to respond, she called the fire department. He was pronounced dead.

  Above, Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson. 

 The BBC's announcement at the time was:
Jim Morrison, the lead singer of American rock group The Doors has died in Paris aged 27. He was found in a bathtub at his apartment at 17 Rue Beautraillis by his girlfriend, Pamela Courson. A doctor's report stated the cause of death was heart failure aggravated by heavy drinking. The rest of the band - keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore - are currently in the United States. Morrison, also known as the Lizard King, was born in Florida in 1943, his father Stephen was in the US Navy and rose to the rank of admiral. He formed The Doors with Ray Manzarek in 1965 in Los Angeles.
After the news of the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin a few months before, Morrison would joke, "You're drinking with number three." He was right. 

The death of Jim Morrison was controversial from the start as there was no autopsy and that the roadie/manager, Bill Siddons, who Manzarek sent to Paris failed to see Morrison's body and to "make sure." Siddons said Morrison was in "a sealed coffin" and that he "was afraid" to demand to see it. Manzarek raged, "How do you even know he was in the coffin? How do you know it wasn't one hundred fifty pounds of f*cking sand?!" 

Since then, there have been rumors that Morrison faked his death; overdosed at the Rock 'N' Roll Circus; was murdered by the CIA; and so on. Unfortunately, due to Siddons' failure to follow Manzarek's instructions and the fact that Pamela Courson died of a heroin overdose in April 1974 (thereby taking the secrets to the grave with her), the actual truth of Morrison's death will never be 100% positively known. 

In a little over a month from now, the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison's death will be noted in the media, no doubt. The Doors' music is as popular as ever, perhaps even more so. It is generally conceded that they were the greatest band to come out of Los Angeles. 

On the death of Jim Morrison, Manzarek said it best: "Whatever happened to him, he went out grinning."

Will Japan's Tourism Industry Get The Hint?

Above, Haruo Nakajima. Could he and his alter ego be the ones who revives Japan's tourism industry?

It is amazing how things can go viral over the Internet.

A few days ago, I posted a blog "Can Godzilla Save The Japanese Tourism Industry?" at Monster Island News, Godzilla 2012 and Armand's Rancho Del Cielo blogs. I posed the question in this way:

Getting up this evening from much-needed sleep (I have to work the graveyard shift in Burbank again tonight), I found an email about a Twitter Tweet from Tom Baker of The Daily Yomiuri:

Can Godzilla help save Japan's tourism industry? Monster expert @ArmandV comments on an editorial from @DailyYomiuri.

I think Godzilla would be a great help in saving Japan's tourism industry. He's as internationally recognizable as Mickey Mouse. Of course, the tourism industry would need the cooperation from Godzilla's owner, Toho Co., Ltd., but ads featuring the King of the Monsters promoting Japan tourism could do the trick. Also, taking on Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla suit actor, as a goodwill ambassador in a advertising campaign for Japan tourism would be a plus. Given his age (he's 82), his participation would have to be limited a bit. But seeing the crowds gather around him on Hollywood Blvd. (see photo below from his daughter Sonoe) convinced me that he could be useful. And, I think he'd have a ball!

Above, Haruo Nakajima drew a crowd on Hollywood Blvd. last month. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

As I said before, the Japanese tourism industry needs to think "outside of the box" to get travelers over to Japan. It's worth a try!

Checking Google, I found that a number of websites have picked up on the posts. They range from other bloggers to travel websites. Maybe the Japanese travel professionals and tourism bureaus (especially the Japan National Tourism Organization) will get the hint?

Wouldn't be cool to see Godzilla and Haruo Nakajima featured in promotions for Japan travel? They would certainly catch a lot of attention!

Both Godzilla and Haruo Nakajima are valuable resources that could and should be tapped. We'll see what develops.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free." - President Ronald Reagan, Omaha Beach, June 6, 1984.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Although most use the holiday for going to the beach, camping or backyard bar-b-ques, it is a day set aside to remember and thank those who served our nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy those freedoms our Founding Fathers envisioned.

To my knowledge, nobody in my family (at least since World War I) died in combat.

My maternal grandfather, Merle Charleston served in the United States Navy as a Seabee (the name comes from Construction Battalion or C.B.) during World War II. His trade was as an electrician.

He spent most of World War II at Dutch Harbor in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. They received some bombing attacks from the Japanese during his tenure.

He passed away on Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1966 and is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery at Point Loma in San Diego.

My dad, Armand Vaquer, was a Military Police officer in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Originally, he as in the the National Guard in Los Angeles. But when the war broke out, his division was called up for service in South Korea. At first, he was sent to Sendai, Japan and had some duty time at nearby Matsushima Bay (that accounts for my fondness for Sendai and Matsushima Bay, which I visited in 2006).

He passed away December 15, 1999 and is buried at Riverside National Cemetry in Riverside, California.

A salute to them and all the other great Americans who served in our armed forces.

Monster Japan Travel Guide In Travel Social Help

The press release on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is starting to meander its way around the Internet.

Travel Social Help.com had picked it up a couple of hours ago and has posted it on the site.

After about a year and a half since the guide went live, I thought I knew most of the travel-oriented websites. I guess I have to dispel that notion as more of them keep popping up.

To view the site, go here.

Left, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."

Kaiju Fans Amongst Bankers?

Could there be kaiju fans amongst bankers?

Currently, I am trying out a press release service and the first one is on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. This is to see what kind of reach they have and see who picks up the releases they distribute.

It is interesting that American Banking & Market News has posted the release on their website.

As the name implies, it is a news site for the banking industry in the U.S. and around the world. There must be Japanese science-fiction and fantasy fans amongst the banking industry who would fancy a trip to Japan to check out the locations and landmarks where Godzilla and others stomped through.

To view the website, go here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old Pictures

While perusing some old files in my old computer, I came across some oldies.


Below, is an article from the Los Angeles Daily News from July 16, 2000 on G-FEST 2000. The article appeared in the newspaper while the convention was in progress. I showed it to Mr. Nakajima at the awards luncheon at the Hollywood Roosevelt. (Click on image to see larger.)

After arriving at LAX from Japan for G-FEST 2000, Megumi Odaka is interviewed in the Tom Bradley Terminal by a Japanese radio station:

Below, Sadamasa Arikawa pushes his luggage to the bus at LAX after arriving in 2000:

Below, the night before G-FEST 2000 opened, the guests were gathered in a suite at the Hollywood Roosevelt to go over the weekend's activities:

Below, yours truly with special effects director Koichi Kawakita at the Hollywood Roosevelt in 2000:


Following the American Film Market screening of Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., we gathered at the Santa Monica Hooters for an after-movie snack:

It's Official: Media Blasters To Release "Destroy All Monsters" and "Godzilla vs. Megalon"

Above, the U.S. poster of "Godzilla vs. Megalon."

After weeks of speculation and rumors, it is now official: Media Blasters has Godzilla vs. Megalon and, also, Destroy All Monsters.

According to their Facebook page:

Talking about Godzilla we can make it official now, we have DAM and Godzilla vs. Megalon. DAM is scheduled for October and will be both Blu-Ray and DVD releases. Do not know all the details about the extras yet. We will post with it later as they become available. Now for the funny part, we were not looking at Godzilla vs. Megalon till everyone said we have it so we asked they said ok so we picked it up.

There is no word as yet on the release date of Godzilla vs. Megalon, but it will likely be in 2012.

The last sentence from Media Blasters' announcement is interesting:

Now for the funny part, we were not looking at Godzilla vs. Megalon till everyone said we have it so we asked they said ok so we picked it up.

As mentioned previously, Robert Dunham's daughter Emiko Jade Frost said she was approached by someone working on the extra features for the DVD some months ago. Then, the word about it was announced by August Ragone. I posted the news here as Ragone has been a reliable source for news in the world of kaiju. Then Media Blasters said they don't have Megalon. After this, all hell broke loose and Ragone found himself on the receiving end of attacks by irate fanboys.

Perhaps the hullabaloo surrounding the Ragone announcement was a good thing in the end as Media Blasters acquired Megalon and it'll finally receive an official release.

As far as Destroy All Monsters is concerned, I have the ADV VHS and DVD releases. Unfortunately, both have Toho's international dub instead of the original A.I.P. dub. It is hoped that Media Blasters can release Destroy All Monsters with the A.I.P. dub or, at least, the Japanese language, but subtitled version. The international dub is atrocious.

Nevertheless, this is good news! (Now if we can only get Return of Godzilla (Godzilla 1985) and Godzilla vs. Biollante released on DVD.)

Lech Walesa and The King

Lech Walesa, the former president of Poland and leader of the Solidarity movement in the 1980s, snubbed President Obama.

The New York Post reported:

WASHINGTON -- President Obama wraps up his European tour in Poland today, but he won't find any solidarity with the nation's one-time leader.

Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and Solidarity movement founder, snubbed Obama on the last day of his four-nation trip, refusing to meet with his fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"I expect this meeting would only amount to a photo opportunity," Walesa, the heroic figure who helped lead his country to freedom from the Soviet bloc, told Agence France-Presse.

"It's difficult to tell journalists what you'd like to say to the president of a superpower. This time, I won't tell him, I won't meet him, it doesn't suit me," Walesa told a Polish news station.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/takes_lech_ing_SKCuP5yWPdv4PvxNSKMZlI#ixzz1NfFJ8KCY

More Walesa News...

Lech Walesa joins Elvis Presley and 12 others as proposed honorary citizens of Budapest, Hungary.

According to Politics.Hu:

Budapest will have fourteen new honorary citizens including Elvis Presley and former Polish President Lech Walesa if proposals by governing party Fidesz are accepted on Wednesday.

To read more, go here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jamie Sheets, 16, Missing Since May 18

This was passed on by Greg Smith, Kansas House Representative and father of Kelsey Smith:

To see a .pdf of the above flyer, go here.

Denise Nickerson From "Dark Shadows"

Left, Amy Jennings (Denise Nickerson) and Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) on "Dark Shadows."

Back in the late 1960s, Denise Nickerson appeared on the daytime spook-opera Dark Shadows as Amy Jennings, whose older twin brothers (played by the late Don Briscoe) Tom and Chris Jennings suffered supernatural fates.

Tom was made a vampire and Chris (as a decendant of Quentin Collins) was a werewolf.

Besides Dark Shadows, Nickerson also appeared in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the acclaimed made-for-television movie, The Neon Ceiling.

The U.K. Daily Telegraph has an article on Nickerson and the other actors who appeared in Willy Wonka.

In the article, it has been revealed that Nickerson's role in Willy Wonka caused some dental problems for her:

She played the spoilt gum chewing brat Violet Beauregard in the 1971 classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, .

But the role in the popular children's film came at a price for actress Denise Nickerson, who has revealed it nearly cost her her teeth.

Forty years on since she ballooned like a blueberry before our eyes, Nickerson says that she received a whopping 13 cavities in her teeth as a result from all the gum she was forced to chew.

The article includes photos of Nickerson, then and now. To read the article, go here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Palin Readies Multi-State Bus Tour

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is readying a multi-state bus tour, fueling speculation that she is going to be a Presidential candidate in 2012.

According to the Washington Post:

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), who has been largely out of the public eye through much of the spring, will reemerge Sunday as she begins a national bus tour that will put her back in the spotlight and no doubt renew speculation about a possible presidential bid.

The tour, the first of what will be a series of such journeys over a period of weeks, will start on Sunday in Washington at the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally and work its way north along the East Coast. She will visit other parts of the country later, stopping at symbolically important sites in the nation’s history.

Palin has been the target of relentless attacks by the Left and the mainstream media. One can always tell what GOP candidate they fear the most by the the amount of attacks leveled.

To view the article, go here.

Can Godzilla Save Japan's Tourism Industry?

Above, Haruo Nakajima (right) during his Godzilla days. The Japanese tourism industry should use Godzilla and Nakajima to promote tourism.

Last night, at 10:26, I was kicking back watching some DVDs when I received a call from one of my supervisors.

I was asked if I could work patrol in Burbank (the shift starts at 11:00) as the guy who's supposed to work called off two hours before his shift was to start. Needless to say, the company was a little annoyed with him.

Although I was about an hour or so from going to bed, plus I could use the money, I agreed to come in. (By the end of the shift, I was dead tired and slept all day today.)

After getting ready for work, I headed out to my apartment complex's parking lot and saw the building manager talking with two tenants. I found out that a tenant in building 3 decided to commit suicide in his apartment several days ago. His body was undiscovered until last evening due to the stench. He was only 40. The police investigators were at the apartment as we were talking.

Getting up this evening from much-needed sleep (I have to work Burbank again tonight), I found an email about a Twitter Tweet from Tom Baker of The Daily Yomiuri:

Can Godzilla help save Japan's tourism industry? Monster expert @ArmandV comments on an editorial from @DailyYomiuri.

I think Godzilla would be a great help in saving Japan's tourism industry. He's as internationally recognizable as Mickey Mouse. Of course, the tourism industry would need the cooperation from Godzilla's owner, Toho Co., Ltd., but ads featuring the King of the Monsters promoting Japan tourism could do the trick. Also, taking on Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla suit actor, as a goodwill ambassador in a advertising campaign for Japan tourism would be a plus. Given his age (he's 82), his participation would have to be limited a bit. But seeing the crowds gather around him on Hollywood Blvd. (see photo below from his daughter Sonoe) convinced me that he could be useful. And, I think he'd have a ball!

Above, Haruo Nakajima drew a crowd on Hollywood Blvd. last month. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

As I said before, the Japanese tourism industry needs to think "outside of the box" to get travelers over to Japan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

If It Isn't One Thing...

Well, I got my old Hewlett-Packard computer running again. It seems that the problem was in the power cord. I had a feeling that was the problem, but was too lazy to crawl under my desk to go through all the wires underneath to isolate the problem connection. Until today.

At least I saved the expense in going to a computer repairer to take care of it. Now I can use my printer again!

I found out today that my credit card company (J.P. Morgan/Chase) took my monthly payment out of my checking account twice instead of once like they were supposed to. This caused two checks to bounce with two overdraft charges of $34 each. I had to go to my bank (J.P. Morgan/Chase again) today to find the problem.

I raised holy hell with the credit card company. I only demanded that the two $34 overdraft charges be reimbursed. I should hear back from them within 2 days. They know that if they refuse, I'm taking them to Small Claims Court.

Thankfully, I received some orders for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan for some eatin' money and to cover the two bounced checks.

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

While my credit card and checking account problem is an annoyance, others have problems that make that almost trivial.

My good friend, Archie Waugh, found himself out of a job. He was working at a restaurant in Palmetto, Florida that opened up thirteen months ago, but just failed. Unfortunately, starting up a restaurant business is a risky enterprise even in normal times (I've seen so many fail). But it is even riskier in this depression.

Archie is a graphic designer who designed (based on an idea of mine) the cover (above) of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan as well as the ad I placed in two issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland (below). He'd be a great asset to any company in need of a graphic designer. If you have a position that he might be interested in*, email me at AMVaquer@aol.com and I'll pass it on to him.

Also, I am sure Archie is open to any free-lance work. So if you have an ad or something that you'd need a graphic-designer for, feel free to contact me on that and I'll gladly pass it on to him!

*In the Palmetto, Florida vicinity.

Coaxing Japan Tourists

Above, the waterfront in Nagasaki.

Anyone following the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan knows that the Japanese tourism industry took a hard hit. Tourism dropped around 62% following the disaster from the same period a year ago. Travel related businesses are feeling the pinch throughout Japan.

The Japanese tourism industry is fighting back. I saw an interesting article in The Japan Times Online website.

This part of the article caught my attention in particular:

On an economic level, bringing tourists back into Japan is crucial for the survival of not only these specialist tour organizers, but also the whole domestic travel industry, from airlines to tour guides. The Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) and JNTO are injecting ¥500 million into projects aimed at coaxing travelers back to Japan in the short term. The JNTO measures include making sure that up-to-date information on the situation in the north is available through their website, supporting travel agents and tour organizers, and promoting and marketing Japan through traditional and social media.

While these efforts are good, one has to also mention that in order to coax back American tourists to Japan, something has to be done about the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen. That has been a sticking point for a lot of would-be U.S. travelers to Japan.

Currently, the dollar/yen exchange rate is hovering around 82 yen per dollar exchanged.

To read the full Japan Times article, go here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Evil" Deed of the Day

"Evil" deed of the day: I was coming home from the drug store this evening. I came to a red light and there, to my right, was a man and woman in handcuffs with the LAPD. Just then, Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" came on the radio. I rolled down my window and raised the volume.

New House Oversight Report Exposes Obama Administration’s Anti-Energy Agenda

Your car is almost on empty. So you go to the local gasoline station to fill up your 15-gallon gas tank. The cost at the pump is $4.15/gallon for 87 octane unleaded regular.

Your car needed 14 gallons. The cost: $58.10.

You should send a letter to the White House and thank President Obama for the high gasoline price you had to pay. After all, he planned it that way.

House Speaker John Boehner's website as a posting on a new House Oversight Report on the Obama Administration's policies of intentionally causing high fuel prices.

The report has these key findings:

Key Obama Administration figures have expressed a belief that Americans should pay more for energy – a pattern of actions shows the Administration is, in fact, pursuing an agenda that will raise the price Americans pay for energy.

U.S. domestic energy resources are currently the largest on earth—greater than Saudi Arabia, China and Canada combined.

Recent Administration action has already led to significant cost and regulatory barriers that have limited domestic production of oil.

EPA has collaborated with environmental groups to target independent energy producers for environmental concerns not related to their operations.

Some green energy sources the Administration is promoting at the expense of expanded domestic oil, gas, and coal supplies create unintended environmental, security and economic consequences.

To see Speaker Boehner's website, with links to the report, go here.

How's that hope and change working out for you?

5 Years Since "Gamera The Brave"

Above, the Tokyo premiere of "Gamera The Brave." I am in the center waiting to get into the theater. This is a screen capture from the Region 2 DVD.

Following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, my concern and concentration was on Matsushima Bay and Sendai, which were hit hard by the quake and tsunami.

Despite my focus on Sendai and Matsushima, it dawned on me recently that it was five years ago last month that I visited both Sendai and Matsushima Bay in Tohoku. The visit was a highlight of that trip.

Above, at the premiere of "Gamera The Brave," I am at the souvenir table in this screen capture from the Region 2 DVD.

The other highlight of that April 2006 trip to Japan was attending the premiere of Gamera The Brave at the Piccadilly Theaters in the Yurakucho Mullion Building in Tokyo. The Japanese Region 2 DVD has a separate disc containing extras, including the Tokyo premiere. I am in a couple of shots in the premiere footage.

Gamera The Brave was an enjoyable little movie and greatly underrated. It brought Gamera back to his "friend of the children" roots and it was tailored to younger audiences. But it was scripted in such a way that it wouldn't make adult viewers cringe in their seats. It also had good special effects (on a par with Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)). The kid actors did a good job.

The premiere was packed to capacity. Unfortunately, the movie failed to wow them at the box office during its run. Had it been even a modest hit, Kadokawa Pictures would have been able to make sequels. The movie deserved better.

Tokyo Shock released the DVD in the U.S. It is probably now out-of-print. But if one should find a copy, I recommend watching the Japanese language version with English subtitles. The dubbed version is atrocious. At least the viewer is given a choice.

Sure has been a fast five years!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tim Pawlenty Launches Presidential Campaign

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (nicknamed "T-Paw") has officially announced today that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.

The two-term governor made his announcement this morning and then appeared today on the Rush Limbaugh Show.

Pawlenty called for an end to subsidies on ethanol. In Iowa, Pawlenty said:

I'm here today to tell Iowans the truth, too.

America is facing a crushing debt crisis the likes of which we've never seen before. We need to cut spending, and we need to cut it big time. The hard truth is that there are no longer any sacred programs.

The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.

Although I own a corn farm in Nebraska, subsidies on corn-based ethanol should end. Let the free market determine the price.

About Tim Pawlenty (Source: Pawlenty's Facebook page):

During his two terms as Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty has used innovative and conservative leadership to balance the state’s budget, cut spending, reform health care and improve schools without raising taxes. Under his leadership, Minnesota has nation-leading health care, the highest school test scores, and a leading economy.

Tim’s leadership style is rooted in his family. One of five children, Tim grew up near the stockyards of South St. Paul, where his father was a truck driver and his mother passed away when he was young. Tim worked while attending the University of Minnesota, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. He went on to earn his law degree and become a criminal prosecutor.

He was elected to the local city council in 1989 and to the state House of Representatives three years later. In the state House, Tim quickly rose to become the Republican majority leader, and led efforts to enact the largest tax cuts in Minnesota history. After being elected governor in 2002, Tim kept his campaign promise and balanced the budget every year without raising taxes. In fact, Tim cut taxes by nearly $800 million, moving Minnesota out of the top 10 highest taxed states – a goal of every Minnesota governor for over 30 years.

While keeping a lid on taxes, Tim has championed innovative education and health care reforms that are national models. A firm believer in the power of competition, Tim’s health care reforms made price and quality more transparent for patients, moving the health care system towards paying for and achieving better health care outcomes. And to make sure Minnesota school children are prepared for the modern economy, Tim’s education reforms hold teachers accountable, rewarding the best with a groundbreaking performance-pay system.

Tim and his wife, Mary, also led efforts to support Minnesotans serving in the military. In addition to traveling several times to the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq to visit with commanders and troops, he led efforts to create one of the nation’s most comprehensive programs to support veterans, military members and their families.

Tim has been married for over 20 years to his wife, Mary, a former district judge. The Pawlentys have two teenage daughters, Anna and Mara, and attend Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He enjoys playing hockey and running, including the Twin Cities Marathon

For information on Pawlenty's campaign, go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Sale Ends One Week From Tomorrow

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

Vacation season is just around the corner, and so is the end of the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan ends one week from tomorrow (May 31).

From now to May 31, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is available at a 20% discount off the cover price. Grand total (including shipping & handling) is $14.00 USD.

Orders postmarked on or before May 31 will get the discount. This discount only applies to orders sent directly to me, not ComiXpress.com.

On the fence about visiting Japan due to the March 11 earthquake? You needn't worry as monster locations were not affected. Help support Japan, visit there!

For ordering information, go here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima) Takes Hollywood! Take Two

Above, Haruo Nakajima and his daughter Sonoe pose at the Godzilla star on Hollywood Blvd. Mr. Nakajima played a major role in the popularity of the Godzilla character which led to the Walk of Fame honor. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

The original Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima, conquered Hollywood while he was in Southern California as a special guest at this year's Monsterpalooza in Burbank.

Above, ever the performer, Haruo Nakajima poses with the Godzilla star for the tourists. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

While he was here, and during some free time, he was taken to Hollywood Blvd. and posed with the Godzilla star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Sonoe sent several of their personal photos of their visit and these are some of them.

Above, back home in Japan, Mr. Nakajima poses with his Certificate of Welcome from the Mayor of Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima) Takes Hollywood!

Above, Haruo Nakajima gives his famous "Godzilla attack" pose at Godzilla's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

After getting home from work tonight, I found an email from Sonoe Nakajima in Japan with photographs of her and her dad's visit to Hollywood. The photos accompanying this blog post are just part of what she sent of their personal collection.

Above, Haruo and Sonoe Nakajima pose at the Hollywood Sign. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

Back in early April, the original Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima and his daughter Sonoe, attended Monsterpalooza at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Mr. Nakajima was a special guest of Monsterpalooza.

Mr. Nakajima was a big hit at the show, and that's an understatement!

While in Los Angeles, the Nakajimas were taken around Los Angeles by August Ragone, David Chapple and others. Their stops included the Hollywood Sign up Beachwood Canyon and Godzilla's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd.

Above, Haruo Nakajima drew a crowd on Hollywood Blvd. Photo courtesy of Sonoe Nakajima.

The Nakajima's visit to the Godzilla star on Hollywood Blvd. was originally going to be a nice, quiet visit. However, once word got around to the tourists on the boulevard that Godzilla himself was in their midst, they gathered around to have their pictures taken with him (photo above).

One can tell from these photographs that the Nakajimas had a great time while visiting Hollywood!

The Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) ought to hire Mr. Nakajima. He'd make a great "goodwill ambassador!"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The World Goes On...

Above, before the hordes arrived.

The world didn't end, I guess. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here, would we?

I spent the day (ten hours) at a carnival in Toluca Lake working. The time went somewhat slow, but at least I got paid for it and forgot about the end-of-the-world thing.

Unfortunately, I left my wallet at home, so I had no cash on me to buy food. Luckily, I packed a thermos full of coffee and two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That had to tide me over.

As soon as I got home and changed clothes, I dashed over to Crazy Tokyo Sushi and pigged out! I was starved.

The End of the World...

Above, the end has already reached the Ginza district in Tokyo.

The end of the world is happening today. If that's the case, well, it was fun while it lasted.

Before the end reaches the Los Angeles area, I will be spending my final hours today near Toluca Lake at a carnival. If the end is coming, I might as well go out having a little fun!

Above, Shibuya in Tokyo was a fun place to hang out, but the end has reached it already.

One good thing about the end of the world, at least I don't have to worry about paying next month's rent!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Netanyahu Rebukes Obama

President Obama's speech the other day, on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit, calling for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders caused a major political firestorm.

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Obama's call for a return to pre-1967 borders at the White House with Obama present.

Accordng to Reuters:

In an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel's closest ally, Netanyahu insisted Israel would never pull back to its 1967 borders -- which would mean big concessions of occupied land -- that Obama had said should be the basis for negotiations on creating a Palestinian state.

"Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality," an unsmiling Netanyahu said as Obama listened intently beside him in the Oval Office after they met for talks.

Obama's radical position on the Israeli-Palestinian issues will likely cause him major political problems in his re-election campaign. American Jews could decide to vote for the pro-Israel Republican presidential candidate over Obama in 2012 and withhold campaign contributions from Obama and the Democratic Party.

According to Newsmax.com:

One of the nation’s most influential Democrats, former New York Mayor Ed Koch, tells Newsmax.TV that Israel is facing its “most dangerous and critical period,” and warned he may cross party lines in 2012 and vote against Pres. Obama. Koch said, “This is the most dangerous and critical period that Israel has ever faced and regrettably it does not have the support of the president of the United States.”

Former Massachusetts Governor and GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that Obama "threw Israel under the bus" with his speech. To see the other Republican candidates' reactions, go here.

Frankly, it is my opinion that any Jew who contributes to or votes for President Obama would be, in effect, a traitor to Israel.

Japan Seeks Help In Reviving Tourism

Above, Harajuku Station in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The campaign to reassure the world that Japan is a safe place to visit hit Las Vegas yesterday at the Global Travel and Tourism Summit.

According to Japan Today:

LAS VEGAS — Japan asked other countries to help revive its tourism industry during a global travel summit Thursday in Las Vegas, saying the disaster-hit nation is safe and free of health concerns.

‘‘I’d like to say, Japan is safe,’’ Atsutoshi Nishida, chairman of Toshiba Corp, who led the delegation to the Global Travel and Tourism Summit, told a session before the three-day event wrapped up.

‘‘Each region of the country is working now to bring the crowds back to the tourist points’’ and would-be visitors do not have to worry about the effects on their health, Nishida said to some 1,000 travel industry leaders and government representatives.

Nishida also said he is concerned that the world has wrong information about accidents at the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and asked other countries to help prevent unfounded rumors on the crisis from scaring away would-be visitors.

This comes on the heels of news that the number of foreign visitors to Japan in April fell 62.5% (from the same period a year ago), "the sharpest drop ever" for a single month.

To read the full article, go here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monster Japan Travel Guide Slideshow Picked Up By Hotel

Hotel.megawordpress.com has picked up the YouTube slideshow video feed on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

In looking over the Hotel website, it appears they have a big reach on the Internet with hotel information at resorts throughout the world.

To see their posting, go here.

Left, Miki Hayashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Monster Japan Travel Guide In Exotic Holiday Destination.com

Right, Miki. Photo by Armand Vaquer. Exotic Holiday Destination.com has posted several links to The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. The site bills itself "your travel information guide." Their emphasis appears to be such vacation locations as Aruba, Asia, Australia, Backpacker, Bali Hotel, Beach Vacation and Budget Holiday. To view the Exotic Holiday Destination.com website, go here.

The Daily Yomiuri: Revitalize Japan Tourism

Above, Niigata, Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Daily Yomiuri has an editorial today, "Revitalize tourism industry by promoting 'safe Japan' to world."

It noted that foreign tourism to Japan is way down and that the Japanese spent their 10-day Golden Week holiday closer to home. This is the after-effects of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.

The main points of the editorial are as follows:

To recover Japan's image and attract foreign tourists back to the country, the government and the private sector need to join hands to revitalize tourism.

To begin with, it is important for the country to give accurate information to the world about the current status of the crisis and steps toward stabilizing the situation. After doing this, the government must show the world that the nation's sightseeing spots are safe.

The effects of information circulated by word of mouth cannot be ignored when travelers decide on destinations. Therefore, it is also necessary for Japan to ask overseas media and travel bloggers to publicize attractive Japanese sightseeing spots. [Note: I've been doing my part in this. - Armand.]

To dispel the rumor that "Everywhere in Japan is scary due to radiation," it may help if we Japanese ourselves show the world that we enjoy sightseeing at home.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways will offer major discounts in their airfares for the first time in the Bon season in August, a busy season. Travel companies are advertising plans for long-stay type tours targeting customers of companies that have decided or will decide to set longer-than-usual summer holiday periods to cope with an expected power shortage. We hope companies in the tourism industry will rack their brains to come up with plans and set prices attractive to many tourists.

The charms of the Tohoku region will grow in the coming months. Let us help the region's restoration efforts by revitalizing tourism.

Besides the above, the Japanese tourism industry needs to market tourism to various fan groups of Japanese culture and pop-culture (i.e., monster fans, anime fans, etc.). This ties in with the comment, "We hope companies in the tourism industry will rack their brains to come up with plans and set prices attractive to many tourists." As I've posted previously, the Japanese travel industry needs to think "outside of the box."

To read the full editorial, go here.

Was Arnold Blackmailed By The Democrats?

Above, Patty Baena (child's face an artist's conception).

The revelation that former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a love child with the family maid ten years ago hit the media by storm. The former governor disclosed the affair and love child after firing the maid, 50-year old Patty Baena. Schwarzenegger revealed the affair when Baena threatened to disclose it after being dismissed last January.

I was listening to talk-radio station KFI-AM yesterday and the discussion got very interesting. A couple of major questions were raised: Did the Democrats know about Schwarzenegger's love child years ago? Did they use it to blackmail him into liberal policies?

When Schwarzenegger first ran for governor, he ran as a conservative Republican. For the first two years or so of his governorship, Schwarzenegger did govern as a fairly conservative governor. Then, after his ballot initiatives failed and he won re-election, he seemed to have done a complete 180 and governed as a liberal Democrat.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's last-minute reduction of the prison sentence of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez's son in the slaying of a college student caused a major uproar.

Was Schwarzenegger blackmailed into the commutation of Esteban Nuñez manslaughter sentence? Was he blackmailed into supporting liberal policies?

Schwarzenegger has a lot of questions that need to be answered. Had this revelation occurred while he was governor, he would have been badly compromised. He would never have been elected governor had this affair been revealed years ago.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sen. John Briggs At YR Party

It is amazing what one finds when going through old photo albums.

This shot was taken at a Los Angeles County Young Republicans, party in Rolling Hills Estates in 1977. I was first vice-president of the LACYRs at the time.

Here, I am with California State Senator John Briggs. Briggs, the following year, pushed The Briggs Initiative (Proposition 6):

According to Wikipedia:

California Proposition 6 was an initiative on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978, and was more commonly known as The Briggs Initiative. Sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County, the failed initiative would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California's public schools.

While Briggs is probably best known for Proposition 6, his primary legislative interest was in insurance reform.

Briggs retired from politics in 1981.

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