"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.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greg Smith To Run For Kansas Senate

Kansas State Representative Greg Smith (R-Overland Park) issued the following news release:

State Representative Greg Smith (R) announced Wednesday, August 30, 2010 that he will run for the senate seat in Senate District 8 which is currently held by Sen. Tim Owens.

Rep. Greg Smith is well known as the father of murder victim, Kelsey Smith, a strong advocate of crime victims’ rights and the rule of law. He has worked tirelessly in the Kansas House to sponsor and promote legislation that protects youth and young adults from violent predators and led the effort to successfully bring the state of Kansas in compliance with the Adam Walsh Act. He also sponsored and successfully guided to passage legislation that protects crime victims’ rights by allowing District Attorneys to convene grand juries to investigate serious felonies.

Additionally, he supported efforts to lower the tax burden on Kansans, reduce the size and scope of state government, pushed for fiscal accountability and transparency, as well as worked to allow the private sector to create jobs for Kansans. Rep. Smith had both a perfect attendance record and voting record in the 2011 Session of the Legislature.

Smith, who is also a high school social studies teacher, labored to keep Johnson County money in Johnson County schools. He believes that Kansas public schools should benefit our children and not benefit special interest groups.

When asked why he was moving from the House to the Senate, Representative Smith said that he has been disappointed by the lack of will by the Senate to support pragmatic solutions to the many problems that Kansas faces. “The status quo will not bring about needed changes to make Kansas a leader in job creation and quality public education. The Kansas House exhibited strong leadership this past session. It’s time for the Senate to lead as well and I feel I can help best facilitate that by moving to the Senate,” said Smith.

Greg would be a great asset in the Kansas Senate. He is one man who can shake things up and accomplished.

For more information on Greg Smith, go here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Restoring Japan Tourism "A Tall Order"

A recent article by the Japan Times (online edition) on the troubled Japanese tourism industry repeats the points I've made here.

For example:

Foreign tourist numbers have been plunging since the March 11 quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture, and not only for visitors to the disaster zone.

The soaring yen is another factor discouraging visitation, but experts nonetheless hope to woo more foreign tourists, hoping they can stimulate an economy with a population that is rapidly aging and on the decline.

The article posed many questions and provided answers. Here is one:

How big an impact did the Great East Japan Earthquake have on foreign tourism?

Compared with a year earlier, foreign tourism since the catastrophe had plunged 50 percent from the previous year to 1,786,000 as of July 31, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

Between March 12 and 31, visitor numbers sank by 72.7 percent.

The rate of decline has since eased, with July's numbers off 36.1 percent from a year ago.

The Tohoku region saw the most severe plunge in tourism, but other regions also suffered from canceled international flights as demand sank after the disasters, agency officials said.

The primary reason for the drop in foreign tourism to Japan has been placed on the ongoing problems of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Until the problem is resolved, tourism to Japan won't bounce back anytime soon.

As the title of the article states "Restoring foreign tourism tall order." Indeed.

To read the full article, go here.

How I Spent My Day Off

Today's a nice and hot Tuesday in the San Fernando Valley.

Unfortunately, the air conditioner compressor went on the blink Sunday night and I am twittling my thumbs (well, not exactly) waiting for the repairman to show up.

Luckily, I have an big old Kenmore tabletop fan that has the wind power of one of the engines of the Goodyear blimp. So the apartment is nice and cool (so far).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Now Listed In Travelwriters.com

Today, I have joined Travelwriters.com.

What is Travelwriters.com?

A professional network of travel writers, editors and members of the public relations community. Travelwriters.com is based on a simple principle: to connect top-tier writers with editors, PR agencies, tourism professionals, CVBs and tour operators, nurturing the important link that so heavily influences
the travel media.

To view my profile page, go here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We News It Picks Up "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists"

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

We News It.com has picked up the article "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists."

We News It is described:

We News IT is a community powered news website where users can register and submit news stories. News stories undergo a short review process before they are published.

Everyone is welcome to join so they can submit or leave comments.

Anyone can take part.

Only requirement: Articles in English language.


To view the site, go here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vasquez Rocks

Today, I had some insurance claims work to do in Acton, California.

On the way back to the San Fernando Valley after finishing, I stopped by the nearby Vasquez Rocks. These rock formations are familiar to television and movie fans. They've appeared in Star Trek, Bonanza, The Outer Limits, The Flintstones (movie) and countless others.

According to Wikipedia:

These rock formations were formed by action of the San Andreas Fault. In 1873 and 1874 Tiburcio Vásquez, one of California's most notorious bandits, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature.

I've passed by Vasquez Rocks countless times, but this is the first time I actually paid the rocks a visit. They can easily be seen from California State Route 14 (to the north of the freeway).

Vasquez Rocks is worth a stop!

Superboy and Superpup: Interview With Chuck Harter

Above, Johnny Rockwell as Superboy.

The Superman Homepage has posted an interview article with Superman historian Chuck Harter by Susan Schnitzer on the television pilots Superpup and Superboy (with Johnny Rockwell).

According to the article on the pilots:

The pilots of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERPUP (1958) and THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY (1961) are both important parts of the "Superman" legacy. George Reeves' the Adventures of Superman (TAOS) series (1951 - 57) served as a classic role model for many "baby boomer" fans. Chuck Harter's definitive look at the 2 rare spin-offs from the classic TV series is Superboy and Superpup: The Lost Videos was published in 1993 by Cult Movies.


Chuck is currently writing, and seeking a literary agent for, the final quarter of his next book Tragic Hero: The Shooting of George (Superman) Reeves which he firmly believes is the solved mystery of George Reeves untimely death. Another book in progress is the story of the silent movie comedian Harry Langon. It will be called Little Elf: A Celebration of Harry Langdon and will be written by Chuck Harter and co-authored by Michael J. Hayde and is to be published by Bear Manor Media in 2012. Chuck did a recent narrator job for Superman impersonator Scott Cranford's documentary entitled Heroic Ambition. http://www.heroicambition.com/

To read the interview, go here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing

Noted legendary comic book writer and critic Tony Isabella (left) has started his own Blogspot blog. He's calling it Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing.

Currently, he is taking a look back at Marvel's Godzilla comics of the 1970s.

To see Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing, go here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anime Cloud Picks Up "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists"

The article "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists" posted by the Anime News Network has been picked up by Anime Cloud. Anime Cloud is a website for news and information in the world of anime and Japanese pop-culture. To view the site, go here.

Checking Voice Mail Pays Off (Sometimes)

Sometimes it's worth it to immediately listen to one's voice mail messages.

I received a voice mail message this morning and it turned out to be potential business for the insurance claims adjusting company I work for, Crittenen Claim Services. I immediately responded and passed the information to the boss.

She negotiated getting some business out of them. I was originally going to handle the initial assignment (getting statements from four drivers involved in an accident). The only fly in the ointment was that the company (based in Dallas, Texas) requires digital recordings.

Thinking I should have this minor "problem" licked, I went to the local Radio Shack for digital telephonic recording equipment (I currently have analog telephonic recording equipment). $80 later, I found the equipment was not compatible with my phone set-up. I returned the stuff to Radio Shack. Oh, well.

Fortunately, the boss has digital recording equipment and is able to handle the work.

At least I got some business for the boss and received a new claim assignment today. Saturday morning, I head out to Acton to handle it.

Criterion's Godzilla: New Developments

The kaiju world is abuzz at the prospect that Gojira (i.e., Godzilla) (1954) will receive a DVD/Blu-ray restoration treatment from Criterion.

Classic Media released a subtitled Japanese version along with the Americanized Godzilla, King of the Monsters! DVD set a few years ago that received a lot of kudos from fans. Having both movies released and restored by Criterion would be the icing on the cake.

Now, there's word that a fine-grain 35mm print of Godzilla, King of the Monsters! has been found. August Ragone has details on this at his blog.

The last version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was the closest thing to a restored print released (by Classic Media) to date, but it was pieced together from several sources and some items were edited in out of original order.

Having a fine-grain print available (provided it is still in good shape) on DVD would be tremendous! (August Ragone explains why.)

Above, the "Godzilla King of the Monsters! plaque at Frank del Olmo Elementary School in Los Angeles.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! was the edited version by Terry Morse that featured Raymond Burr and was filmed at Visual Drama Studios in Los Angeles in 1956. A commemorative plaque has been placed at the location (now an elementary school).

It'll be interesting to see what transpires!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Next: "Goldfinger"

"Baja?! I don't have anything in Baja!" So said Willard Whyte (a Howard Hughes billionaire) in Diamonds Are Forever. However, neither he nor Ernst Blofeld appear in the book version. They just were in the movie.

There's no diamond laser satellite, moon rover or Burt Saxbe in the book. But in the Ian Fleming book appear Mr. Wint, Mr. Kidd, Tiffany Case, Shady Tree and mobsters who are involved in a diamond-smuggling pipeline from Africa to the United States. At least Las Vegas is in the book (as it is in the movie).

James Bond's assignment is to infiltrate this pipeline. The novel is a straight-out thriller involving mobsters and the Spangler brothers who are running the smuggling operation.

To me, the book started out slowly but the action picks up midway through.

The next two books in order of publication are "From Russia With Love" and "Doctor No." As I've already read them, I am going to read the next book after them: "Goldfinger."

Monday, August 22, 2011

10 Awesomely Bad Films With Cult Followings

This little item came across my desk.

10 Awesomely Bad Films With Cult Followings by an online college group is an interesting list.

They describe their compilation as follows:

Bad movies come in all shapes and sizes: boring, too long, filled with plot holes or terrible actors. But there's a strange phenomenon that can occur when these bad-film qualities and others are combined in the right proportions. The movie becomes a cult classic, so ridiculous or poorly made that people can't help but be entertained by it. Here are 10 enjoyably bad movies that have gained cult followings for their strangeness, low budgets, or campy qualities.

I've some of these movies and I concur that they belong on the list. How many do you have?

To view the site, go here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Monster Japan Travel Guide Featured in Facts and Details

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

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is prominently mentioned in Facts and Details's page on Godzilla. My interview with The Daily Yomiuri is extensively quoted.

Also included is a photo of the premiere of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack (2001) that I took.

It is interesting that Godzilla is referred to as "her."

Facts and Details is run by Jeff Hays, who describes himself:

I am a teacher and writer currently living in Saga, Japan. I was born in the Mojave Desert in California and brought up mostly in Reston Virginia, in the Washington D.C. suburbs. I graduated from Wesleyan University in 1979 and later took courses to be a high school teacher. Over the years I wrote about rock music and had some pieces published in the Washington Post, the NME, The Face and other publications, wrote a guide about sports in the Washington D.C. area, worked construction, did a stint as bike messenger in D.C. but mostly I have worked overseas as an English teacher—at an elementary school in Istanbul, language institutes and a university in South Korea, as a freelancer in Barcelona and for the last 10 years or so running my own little informal school in Japan. Being an English teacher is not a very high status job but it does allow one to travel around and has given me ample free time to pursue the website project that you see here.

There is a misquote. It was posted: "One place he didn’t visit, Vaquer told The Daily Yomiuri, was New York City, dismissing the monster in the 1998 U.S. film as GINO ("Godzilla In Name Only")." During The Daily Yomiuri interview, it was discussed that New York City wasn't included in the travel guide since it was only for locations in Japan. Fans are aware that the real (Japanese) Godzilla did pay a visit to New York City in Destroy All Monsters.

To view the site, go here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Los Angeles Comic Book and Science-Fiction Convention

Above, Armand with David Hedison at Monsterpalooza.

This is a little short notice, but if you're in the Los Angeles area tomorrow, the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science-Fiction Convention will be featuring some great special guests.

They include David Hedison (The Fly, Live and Let Die, The Lost World, Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea), Judy Strangis (Dyna Girl), Reb Brown (Yor, Captain America) and William Smith (Any Which Way You Can, Conan The Barbarian).

Above, David Hedison poses with G-FAN #88 that contained the interview I did with him. Photo courtesy of David Hedison.

I met David Hedison a year ago at Monsterpalooza and interviewed him for G-FAN. I found him to be interesting and friendly.

The convention will be held at the Shrine Auditorium Expo Center at 700 West 32nd St. in Los Angeles, CA.

For more information, go here.

Japan Sets Up Tourism Consulting Board

Left, Miki and "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan." Photo by Armand Vaquer. The Mainichi Daily News has posted a new article on new initiatives to attract foreign visitors to Japan. In it, they wrote:
The Japan Tourism Agency on Friday launched a new consultative body to study how to attract more foreign tourists, who have been reluctant to visit Japan in the wake of the March 11 disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis, it said. The Japan Business Federation, Japan's biggest business lobby known as Keidanren, and the National Governors' Association have joined the new body, and the tourism agency will seek cooperation from travel agents and corporations from other business sectors as well. A subcommittee will study ways to attract business training sessions by foreign firms, while another panel will develop new discount tour programs for foreign tourists, according to the agency.
While much of the downturn in foreign visitors to Japan can be blamed on the quake, tsunami and radiation fears, they also have to look into the foreign exchange issues involving the yen. Right now, the U.S. dollar only buys around 76 yen. Four years ago, one dollar bought 116 yen. A big difference. Today's exchange rate makes Japan more expensive as the dollar lost its purchasing power. To read the full article, go here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Japan Tourism Recovery Slowing

Above, Akihabara "Electric City" in Tokyo.

The Mainichi Daily News has posted an article on the slowing of tourism to Japan following the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11.

The article states:

The number of foreign tourists to Japan totaled 561,700 in July, down 36.1 percent from a year earlier, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) announced Aug. 18.

The number of foreign tourists between March 12 and 31 nose-dived 73 percent from a year earlier as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ensuing Fukushima nuclear crisis. Figures improved significantly in June, when tourist numbers were 36.0 percent below those of the same month the previous year. But the 36.1 percent figure for July indicates that Japan's recovery of foreign tourists is slowing.

JNTO said the yen's sharp appreciation against the U.S. dollar and other key currencies had worked against Japan.

Currently, the dollar's rate of exchange with the Japanese yen is in the ¥76 range per dollar. Back in 2007, I received ¥116 per dollar.

Although Japan's tourism numbers are down from last year and the dollar's slide in value against the yen has hurt the tourism industry, this isn't hurting sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. Perhaps fans of Japanese monster movies don't scare too easily since orders are coming in.

To read the full article go here.

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

"Monsterpalooza" Magazine Launches In September

Monsterpalooza magazine launches in September!

Yes, you read that right. A new horror-related magazine is launching in September. It is a tie-in with the Monsterpalooza convention held annually in Burbank.

The Players:

ART DIRECTOR Theresa Ratajczak

The Contributors for issue #1:

ILLUSTRATORS: JEFF PRESTON (cover illustration, “The Pumpkin Master”, 2011)
George Chastain, Mark Redfield (interior illustrations).
WRITERS: (alphabetically)
Jeff Baham, Matthew J. Bowerman, Frank Dietz, Scott Essman, Pierre Fournier, Daniel Griffith, Michael Heisler, Matt Lake, Joe Moe, Caroline Munro, Joe Nazzaro, Mark Redfield, Gary Don Rhodes, Eric Supensky, Anthony Taylor

Monsterpalooza magazine is to be a quarterly publication with 96 full-color pages.

For more information on Monsterpalooza magazine, including ordering, go here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maureen O'Hara Celebrates 91st Birthday

Above, Maureen O'Hara getting some punishment administered by John Wayne in "McLintock!"

Hollywood screen legend Maureen O'Hara celebrated her 91st birthday yesterday.

The starlet was born Maureen FitzSimons on the August 17, 1920 in Ranelagh Dublin. Taking advice from her acting peers she later changed her name to a more marketable Maureen O’Hara.

With over 60 films under her belt, O’Hara was most famously known for her work alongside John Wayne. One of the pair’s most well known films- “The Quiet Man” was shot in Cong in County Mayo in 1952.

(Source: Irish Central.com)

One of my favorite all-time pairings of O'Hara and Wayne was McLintock! in 1963.

Happy (belated) Birthday to a great lady!

"Couch Potato" Days Over?

Since Jessica moved in with me, I am eating much better and healthier. She is a great cook and many of her recipes were of her own making. She's made some great chicken dishes and baked salmon.

Yesterday, we found ourselves in 90+ degree temperatures in the San Fernando Valley. So, we decided to make use of my apartment building's swimming pool and spent two hours swimming and cooling off. I haven't used the pool for years. It is great to have a swimming companion, especially one who looks hot in a bikini!

Today has already been planned. When I am off work in the morning (I am working graveyard as I write this), we're going to hit the pool again for a while.

Nothing like getting a good workout! I've been too much of a "couch potato" for the past few years.

Unusual For Sale Sign...

I received this yesterday:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Matsushima Bay's Tourist Numbers Drop

Above, Godaido Temple with Matsushima Bay businesses in the background. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Matsushima Bay is one of my favorite places in Japan. I was concerned about it following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Fortunately, the bay itself was spared severe damage. Unfortunately, even though it was spared severe damage, the tourist numbers have plummeted.

The Japan Times has an article on the state of tourism to Matsushima:

MATSUSHIMA, Miyagi Pref. — Matsuo Basho, arguably Japan's most famous haiku poet, is said to have been at a loss for words when he first saw the hundreds of pine-clad islets scattered around Matsushima Bay during a 17th-century journey to the Tohoku region.

When the monster March 11 tsunami wiped out towns all along the Sanriku coast, killing or leaving thousands of people missing in Miyagi Prefecture, Matsushima's famed cluster of about 260 islets served as a natural buffer, weakening the impact of the waves and largely sparing the coastal town from utter devastation, despite its proximity to the 9.0-magnitude quake's epicenter.

But while the beauty of Matsushima — revered as one of Japan's three most scenic spots — was preserved, a plunge in tourists is hindering the community's efforts to come back from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

To see the full article, go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Posted At Asia Tour Travel

Asia Tour Travel has posted three articles related to The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

They include:

The August 14th post about the Asia Travel Information Blog.

The December 16, 2010 book review.

The November 12, 2009 Anime News Network press release.

To view the site, go here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Asia Travel Information Blog Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Slideshow Video

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

The Asia Travel Information Blog has picked up The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan Youtube slideshow video.

On the blog's "About Me" page:
Hi, my internet friends

My name is “korn”
Live in Thailand
I like travel and want to travel around the world in my dream. I want to see and know worldwide peoples life, worldwide nature, worldwide place and more.

Thank you.

To view the site, go here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Truthia Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide Article

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

Truthia has picked up the press release "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan vs. The Japanese Media."

According to their website:

Truthia is a search engine aimed at Christians. Its goal is to deliver high quality and safe search results.

To view the site go here.

Elvis: 34 Years Ago

August 16 will mark 34 years since Elvis Presley died.

This weekend, the "Elvis Only" radio show will have a special feature:

On the night that Elvis died, the three TV networks (back then there were only three) preempted regular late night programming and broadcast retrospectives on his life and career. This was a first. Listen to Elvis Only this weekend and hear what David Brinkley, a young Geraldo Rivera, and others had to say.

In Los Angeles, "Elvis Only" will be on KRTH-FM at midnight tomorrow night. Check your local listings.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Individual Mandate of Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional By Appeals Court

The stake was further hammered into the heart of Obamacare.

The Washington Post reports:

A federal appeals court has struck down the requirement in President Obama's health care overhaul package that virtually all Americans must carry health insurance or face penalties.

A divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down the so-called individual mandate, siding with 26 states that had sued to block the law.

This decision is just one judicial level below the U.S. Supreme Court. This will, no doubt, be appealed to the Supreme Court.

This is excellent news!

FeedFury Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide

FeedFury.com picked up the press release "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan vs. The Japanese Media." What is FeedFury? According to their FAQ page:
FeedFury is a search-powered RSS/Atom/XML news aggregator and reader. We retrieve content from various web feeds and display and link to it. We think "search-powered" listings are the most relevant. When are you most honest? When you're searching Google, that's when! All of our data is live, as it happens.
To see the site, go here.

Michelle Branch - "Loud Music"

This song is addicting!

Life is good!

As I mentioned a few days ago, August is off to a good start. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is selling, despite the worsening economy and the lingering problems of the Japanese travel industry in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

I received news from my Nebraska farm tenant on this year's corn crop:

Crops look okay, not a bumper yield, but price will offset yield loss. Can't seem to get a rain, haven't had any since first of July.

Thank goodness we've a good on-site well for plenty of irrigation water!

Also, two claim assignments have come in since the first of the month. That's good sign! The latest one is to do a scene investigation on a sheriff vehicle vs. a big rig collision. We're still down in claim file count for the year (so far), but any work that comes in is welcome.

A quick note on last night's GOP presidential debate. I think Romney did well and didn't do anything that would endanger his "front-runner" status. Pawlenty came off like a petulant high school kid. I was most impressed by Bachmann.

On the home front, my "roomie" made a great middle-eastern dish that was delicious last night for dinner. It is great to have more regular home-cooked meals and a fully-stocked refrigerator and a woman in the house again.

Life is good!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pumpkins and Prose

Above, Jessica Lynne Gardner.

Good friend and horror writer Jessica Lynne Gardner has started her own blog: Pumpkins and Prose.

The blog is described as:

A Blog by Jessica Lynne Gardner: It's terrifying and, at times, adorable.

I've added Pumpkins and Prose to my blog list for easy access. I encourage you to stop in!

To pay a visit, go here.

Diamonds Are Forever

I finished reading Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, "Moonraker" last week.

It is a much better story than the movie of the same name with Roger Moore. There were no space shuttles, no Holly Goodhead, no South American locales or space stations.

The story was a simple story of the Moonraker rocket that Hugo Drax mounted an armed nuclear warhead to bomb England.

As I am reading Fleming's novels in publishing order, I am now reading the next novel, "Diamonds Are Forever." I have already finished about two chapters and there are, so far, a Tiffany Case and Peter Franks in the novel.

In "Diamonds," James Bond is investigating a diamond smuggling ring.

I'll let you know how I like "Diamonds Are Forever."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Positive Signs For Japan's Recovery

Above, Tokyo's Sumida River with the Kachidoki Bridge in the background. The bridge is featured in "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."

Breaking Travel News.com posted an article, "Blossom Japan: Positive signs for Japan’s recovery."

In it, they report:

As we move into the second half of 2011, it is clear that Japan is shouting out to the world that the vast majority of the country is safe to travel to.

Inbound to Japan, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) reports that the International arrivals to Japan have picked up slightly in June 2011, welcoming 433,100 foreign arrivals. This represents a decline of -36% over June 2010 but one which is better than the -50% decline in May and the -62% decline in April 2011.

The article also notes that there are "various comeback initiatives for the Japanese tourism industry."

To read the full article, go here.

Yen Still Rising Against The Dollar

It appears that the intervention by Japan did nothing to stop the continuing rise of the yen against the U.S. dollar.

The Daily Yomiuri posted this on Twitter this morning:

Yen still climbing in Tokyo today. Dollar being quoted at 76.75-80 yen a few minutes ago at 4:09 p.m.

This does have a silver lining.

If members of G-TOUR 2 didn't spend all of their money on the tour, they will be able to buy back more dollars when they exchange their yen before heading home.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Business Standard: "To Japan or not?"

Above, sushi's not that expensive in Japan.

Business Standard.com has an interesting article on Japan travel: "To Japan or not?"

It starts out with:

Tourists are still weighing the risks of travelling to the country hit by the earthquake and a nuclear-radiation crisis.

The earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, and the nuclear crisis that followed, have had an impact on nearly every corner of the economy, perhaps none more directly than the tourist industry. The number of foreign visitors has plunged 50 per cent since the triple disasters, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation. But four months on, travellers are trickling back. Most are business travellers, adventure seekers and bargain hunters, a type of visitor not often associated with Japan where a sushi dinner can wipe out a week’s savings.

It is true (as regular readers here know) that the March 11 disaster and aftermath hit the Japanese tourism industry hard. A good portion of the problem was in the hysterical reporting by the western media. But anyone who has any sense and could read a geographic map of Japan would know that the disaster was confined to a small region of Honshu (Japan's main island).

I don't know where the author of the article got his information on the cost of sushi dinners in Japan. The cost of sushi dinners are no more expensive in Japan than they are on Ventura Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley (where it seems that every other block has a sushi restaurant).

Back in 2006, I treated a friend from Toho Co., Ltd. to a sushi lunch in the Hibiya section of Tokyo. We both "pigged out" at a revolving sushi restaurant. The total tab for the both of us was under $30.00 US.

Anyway, the article goes on:

The view of Japan as a high-priced playground is what kept Erin Conroy and Jenny McMeans, friends from New York City, from visiting. But this spring, they found round-trip tickets to Tokyo for just $600, about half what they normally cost, and booked a room in a hostel for 2,600 yen (about $33 at 79 yen to the dollar) a night. Suddenly, Japan was affordable, even with the yen near record highs against the dollar. “We felt like, in many ways, Tokyo was on our too-good-to-be-true list,” says Conroy.

And what about the danger of radiation? Conroy and McMeans says they perused travel advisories and were convinced that they would not be exposed to high levels of radiation.

Travellers seem to be gauging the safety of visiting Japan in different ways. Some rely on blogs posts written by foreigners living in Japan or frequent travellers to the country. Many, like Conroy and McMeans, turn to government advisories.

The main issue of Japan travel for Americans is not really the fears associated with the earthquake and tsunami (although there's quite a bit of that), but rather the poor exchange rate between the yen and the dollar.

I find it interesting that people rely on blogs (such as this one) for advice from veteran Japan travelers.

To read the full article, go here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August Off To A Good Start

August is starting out well as sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan are coming in.

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

All the promotional work I've done is paying off over the long haul. The article "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists" (which includes a link to ComiXpress's page for the guide) has gone viral. A large part of the credit is the posting by the Anime News Network. ANN's reach in the worldwide web is enormous.

It is a satisfying feeling to actually get things accomplished instead of being mired in petty B.S. that infests many fandoms. I am enjoying just doing my own thing.

The days are starting to get shorter and before we know it summer will be over. I am looking into travel shows that will be taking place for more sales.

Further things are in the works that will be coming this fall.

Lucille Ball's Centennial Birthday

Yesterday was Lucille Ball's centennial birthday. Had she lived, Lucy would've been 100-years-old.

To celebrate Lucy's birthday, I watched the only episode of I Love Lucy I own: "Lucy Meets Superman."

The 1956 episode features George Reeves as himself (as Superman) making a birthday party appearance for Little Ricky and rescuing Lucy from an outdoor ledge.

Left, George Reeves and Lucille Ball.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For Relaxing Times...

Above, Olivia Wilde, Joseph Kosinski, and Jeff Bridges.

Ah, finally a nice relaxing Saturday to enjoy! I was called in to work the last two Saturdays. So far, no calls.

After starting and finishing two commissioned writing chores (that I hadn't been able to get to), the afternoon was spent kicking back watching 2010's Tron: Legacy over shrimp cocktails. It is with Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner.

I found Tron: Legacy very entertaining. I don't recall ever seeing the original from the 1980s, although some things were oddly familiar to me.

Tron: Legacy features great SPFX and music. I recommend it.

Oldie But Goodie Updated

An oldie but goodie updated:

Over 5000 years ago, Moses said to Israel, 'Pick up your shovels, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the Promised Land.

When Welfare was introduced, Roosevelt said, 'Lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a Camel, this is the Promised Land.
Today, the government has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price of Camels, and mortgaged the Promised Land to China !

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

Downgrade of U.S. Credit Rating

The news just keeps on getting worse and worse.

Here's the latest from Newsmax.com:

The downgrade of the U.S.’s AAA credit rating by Standard & Poor’s darkens President Barack Obama’s re-election chances while also damaging members of Congress from both parties as they prepare for the 2012 campaign, political analysts said.

With Obama’s job-approval rating at 48 percent and an all- time high of 82 percent of Americans giving Congress negative marks in a New York Times/CBS News Poll taken this week, the downgrade will hurt the president and lawmakers by fueling economic uncertainty, possibly raising interest rates and wounding national pride, analysts said.

If Obama can make a huge mess in two and a half years, just think of the mess if he's given another four-year term!

Read more on Newsmax.com: Downgrade May Cloud Obama Re-election Bid

Friday, August 5, 2011

Harajuku, Tokyo

Above, Harajuku Station.

One of the most interesting places to visit in Tokyo, Japan is Harajuku.

I visited this section of Tokyo twice (2001 and 2007). Harajuku is Tokyo's best shopping destination for alternative, punk and Goth fashion. If you are traveling to Tokyo with teenage daughters, Harajuku would be THE place to take them

According to Japaneselifestyle.com:

Harajuku is famous for its fashion, but it is also famous for Tokyo's most popular shine, Meiji Jingu shrine, one of the most significant parks in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park and its sporting venue, Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Harajuku is located in central Tokyo within the special ward of Shibuya.

Above, Spider-Man scales the side of a Harajuku office building.

One of Harajuku's landmarks is Harajuku Station. It was opened on October 30, 1906 and is next to Yoyogi Park. It is a stop on the JR Yamanote Line.

Harajuku is famous for its Harajuku Girls and Harajuku fashion and is a popular shopping. Gwen Stefani's "Harajuku Girls" spotlighted the area.

The Daily Yomiuri $ ¥ Charts

Regular readers know that I've been following the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen.

The Daily Yomiuri has posted tracking charts on the dollar-yen exchange on their website. They are quite interesting to see.

To see the charts, go here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Japan's Yen Intervention

The Japanese government intervened on the rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen.

Bloomberg.com reported:

The yen dropped by the most since October 2008 against the dollar after Japan sold its currency to stem gains that threaten the nation’s economic recovery.

The yen fell more than 4 percent against the dollar, the biggest drop since a 6.1 percent decline on Oct. 28, 2008, and surpassing the 3.93 percent drop at the previous intervention on March 18 this year. The Bank of Japan followed its Swiss counterpart in easing monetary policy, with Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda saying Japan’s action was unilateral following joint yen sales by Group of Seven nations in March. The franc fell for a second day. The euro declined against the dollar before the European Central Bank’s interest-rate decision today.

The yen weakened 4 percent to 80.17 per dollar as of 11:19 a.m. in London, after breaching 80 for the first time since July 12. On March 17, the currency strengthened to a postwar record of 76.25 per dollar.

This is good news for those traveling to Japan and for Japanese exporters. The yen needs to depreciate further to make Japanese goods more competitive price-wise and to entice more U.S. tourists to Japan.

To read the full article go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Video Picked Up by World Travel

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

Pro 168.org's World Travel page has picked up the YouTube slideshow video on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The webpage's masthead states:

Travel Guides for destinations worldwide. Our Travel Guides are the most comprehensive travel guides on the web

To see the site, go here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

U.S. Debt Now 100% of GDP

U.S. debt just got bigger after President Obama signed the bill raising the debt limit.

According to Yahoo! News:

US debt shot up $238 billion to reach 100 percent of gross domestic project after the government's debt ceiling was lifted, Treasury figures showed Wednesday.

Treasury borrowing jumped Tuesday, the data showed, immediately after President Barack Obama signed into law an increase in the debt ceiling as the country's spending commitments reached a breaking point and it threatened to default on its debt.

The new borrowing took total public debt to $14.58 trillion, over end-2010 GDP of $14.53 trillion, and putting it in a league with highly indebted countries like Italy and Belgium.

Public debt subject to the official debt limit -- a slightly tighter definition -- was $14.53 trillion as of the end of Tuesday, rising from the previous official cap of $14.29 trillion a day earlier.

Treasury had used extraordinary measures to hold under the $14.29 trillion cap since reaching it on May 16, while politicians battled over it and over addressing the country's bloating deficit.

This is the result of the great "compromise" between congress and the White House to raise the debt ceiling. The compromise didn't solve anything on the national debt or the country's AAA rating.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Peter Parker Dies

CBS-New York is reporting that Marvel Comics is killing off Peter Parker:

New Yorkers take their fictional heroes seriously, so it may come as a shock to some that Peter Parker, the Queens native whose destiny was forever altered by a radioactive/genetically altered spider, has been killed off in the “Ultimates” imprint of Marvel Comics. The Ultimate series is different from Marvel’s standard line, in which Peter Parker is still happily toiling away as everybody’s favorite hard-luck hero.

No, in the Ultimates series, Peter Parker gets killed at the hands of his nemesis the Green Goblin.

A new Spider-Man will take his place.

To read the full story, go here.

CurrentNewsToday Picks Up "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists" Article

Above, Miki Hayashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

CurrentNewsToday.Info picked up the press release "Japan Safe For Monster Fan Tourists."

The website covers all kinds of subjects including business, current news, sports, economy, health news and more.

To see the website go here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Bad Deal!

The debt ceiling deal is a bad deal. Here's why:

--The "dollar-for-dollar" spending cuts are not real.
Obama gets $900 billion in debt ceiling increase NOW in
exchange for $1 trillion in spending cuts OVER TEN YEARS.
As we know, future "cuts" in government spending are not
cuts at all.

--The real causes of runaway government spending are not
addressed. Entitlements are left untouched. Baseline
budgeting (which guarantees ever-rising government
spending) is intact.

--The risk of a downgrade in our credit rating has not
been addressed because runaway spending has not been

--The Obama Stimulus levels of spending are now permanently
entrenched in future government spending models.

--The debt only rises in a never-ending upward trajectory.
The $900 billion raise in the debt ceiling will not even
last one year. An additional $1.2 trillion in additional
debt will be "triggered" to carry the nation through
the election.

--There are allegedly NO tax increases but that is smoke
and mirrors because the CBO is projecting that the Bush
tax cuts will not be extended. If the Bush cuts are NOT
extended, that amounts to a huge tax increase. If the Bush
tax cuts ARE extended, the CBO projections fall apart and
other tax increases will be mandated by the trigger mechanism
in this bill.

--Finally... the LEFT is coming away from this debate with
one of their key goals accomplished: demonizing the Tea
Party. According to Politico on Friday, the Tea Party has
moved from "hostage takers" to "full-blown terrorists" who
are "craven to inflict massive harm on innocent victims to
achieve their political goals."

Call your congress member and U.S. senator and tell them to vote "no" on this monstrosity!

It's Hot!

Well, we're now in August and with it is hot weather.

There was a brief rain yesterday in L.A. and when it cleared up, it became hot (in the upper 90s) and humid.

So far, this summer has been hotter than last summer. I had the lowest electric bill for a summer last year since I've lived in the San Fernando Valley.

The fun now begins.

It's Hot!

Search This Blog