"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.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Great Month!

Above, yours truly at this month's Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.

This month certainly flew by. But it was an excellent one as far as The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is concerned. It was a great start for 2012!

Sales for the travel guide were way up. This month's sales were the best since the initial months following its debut in 2010.

Sales were up in three categories:

1. ComiXpress.com.

2. Mail-order directly from me.

3. The Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention.

To all of you who purchased The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan this month, a heartfelt "thank-you!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

New "Dark Shadows" Complete Series DVD Set

Back during my junior high (called "middle school" these days) and high school years, there was a Gothic soap opera (or "spook opera") that played on ABC-TV at 4:00 PM.

The show was Dark Shadows and it starred Joan Bennett as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the matriarch of the Collins Family of Collinsport, Maine and Jonathan Frid, as 175-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins.

It was a real treat to unwind after school to a show that featured vampires, witches, warlocks, a Frankenstein-type monster, ghosts, werewolves and all kinds of creatures of the occult.

The show ended in April 1971, but it never died. It was syndicated over the years and VHS and DVD sets were issued of the series. In 1991, it was revived as a prime-time show with a new cast. There have also been audio plays based on the series produced. Currently, it is now in production as a feature film starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins. This isn't the first feature film based on the series. House of Dark Shadows was released by MGM in 1970 and Night of Dark Shadows a year later.

Now, Dark Shadows fans can shell out $599.98 (SRP) to buy the over 1,200 episodes of the original series in a big, new DVD set. It comes in a fancy coffin package (photo at top).

For more information on the new Dark Shadows DVD, set go here.

10 Best Travel Writing Books of All Time

Above, Mount Fuji through the haze.

This item came across my desk this morning. It is a post on “10 Best Travel Writing Books of All Time.”

It starts with:

The transforming power of a journey is a literary theme dating back to when the first humans gathered around the fire to share their stories. Non-fictional travel writing goes back a ways too, but may include some creative license on the part of the author in an effort to tell a good story. Mark Twain's A Tramp Abroad is one such example. Below are ten books about the transformative power of travel, some well-known, some not so well-known, and a few by authors you may not have associated with the travel writing genre.

I found it to be an interesting post. To view it and the ten best, go here.

Joyce Compton - "Scared To Death"

While perusing the Classic Horror Film Board forum this morning, I came across a thread on the movie Scared To Death starring Bela Lugosi and George Zucco.

This jogged a memory of the 1980s when I met actress Joyce Compton (January 27, 1907 – October 13, 1997), who was in the movie's cast. I posted this on the thread:

Back in the 1980s, I was a member of the Laurel & Hardy group "Sons of the Desert." The L.A. group, "Way Out West" tent, held a banquet at the Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City. In attendance were such luminaries as Hal Roach, Sr., Hank Worden and others.

I found myself fortunate to be seated next to Joyce Compton, who was a co-star of Scared To Death. When we were seated, I looked at her name tag and said, "Joyce Compton! I remember you in Scared To Death!" She was so thrilled (or "tickled to death") that I remembered her in the movie.

We had a nice chat about Bela. Good times!

Scared To Death was a melodrama produced in 1947 and was the only color movie with Lugosi in a leading role.

According to Wikipedia:

Scared to Death (1947) is a horror film directed by Christy Cabanne and starring Bela Lugosi. It was filmed in Cinecolor, is one of only three color pictures Lugosi made, and the only one he starred in. The film is notable for its narration by a dead woman — she describes the events leading up to her death.

The dead woman gives her narration from a coroner's slab.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mark Reed For Congress 2012

Above, Armand with Mark Reed.

2012 will prove to be interesting in the new 30th Congressional District.

First, we have Rep. Brad Sherman facing off against Rep. Howard Berman for the Democratic nomination for congress. Berman is better known in the West L.A. area. But he and Brad Sherman find themselves in the newly-formed 30th C.D. So now they are fighting like two roosters.

Frankly, it is a choice between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. These are two hardcore left-wing liberal statists. Berman has been a career politician (allied with Rep. Henry Waxman, they formed the Waxman-Berman political machine back in the 1970s while in the California state legislature) who has been in Congress since 1983. Essentially, Berman is a political dinosaur.

Sherman is no better, policy-wise. But at least he is of the San Fernando Valley. They both supported Obamacare and the failed 2009 stimulus package that has put this country on the verge of bankruptcy.

It is questionable whether a Republican can win in the new district, but of the two GOP contenders, Mark Reed and Susan Shelley, Reed appears to be able to wage more of a campaign. He has big-name endorsements, more organizing and has already begun raising campaign funds. Since he ran in 2010, Reed has some built-in name recognition.

I am sure Shelley, a writer, is a good person, but it is my considered opinion that Reed would wage a stronger campaign in 2012 against Berman or Sherman. Accordingly, I am supporting Mark Reed again this year for Congress.

I've met Mark and he would be an excellent representative for the 30th district in Congress.

We need someone in this district to hit the ground running. Reed can do that.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twitter Causes Global Uproar

The news that Twitter plans to allow censorship has caused the "fit hitting the shan" globally:

According to the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Twitter, a tool of choice for dissidents and activists around the world, found itself the target of global outrage Friday after unveiling plans to allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws.

It was a stunning role reversal for a youthful company that prides itself in promoting unfettered expression, 140 characters at a time. Twitter insisted its commitment to free speech remains firm, and sought to explain the nuances of its policy, while critics - in a barrage of tweets - proposed a Twitter boycott and demanded that the censorship initiative be scrapped.

If allowed to go through this will only benefit dictators in their efforts to stifle dissent. So much for Twitter's commitment to free speech.

To read the full story, go here.

Monsterpalooza Program Ad

Monsterpalooza is just around the corner. It will be held again this year at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, across the street from Bob Hope Airport from April 13 to 15.

Single day admission is $20 (Sat. day of show entry is $25) and $50 for the weekend for adults. Children are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

The program book is being edited by Jessie Lilley. She got a hold of me yesterday about placing an ad in the program book.

I will have this (above) business card-sized ad for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan in the book. Jessie re-worked it from the one below that was made by Archie Waugh (originally for Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine), so that it would fit on the page horizontally:

For more information on Monsterpalooza, go here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Monster Japan Travel Guide Review In Gadget Samurai

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

It's been a trifle over a year since it was posted, but only now I managed to stumble upon the Gadget Samurai website's posting of Japan Today's review of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The Gadget Samurai covers "news, gadget, otaku, kawaii from Japan."

To view the site, go here.

Criterion's "Godzilla" Blu-ray: The Extras

This is the third and final part of my review of the new Criterion Blu-ray edition of the 1954 Godzilla and its Americanized counterpart, the 1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

I started off watching the Special Effects feature with SPFX Director Koichi Kawakita. What I found fascinating with it were the unused effects shots, recently located, as well as a detailed discussion on the matte work and, especially, the composite imaging (more extensive than I thought) used in the movie.

Following that, I watched an interview with Japanese-film critic Tadao Sato. The most interesting parts were the discussion of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952 (including photographs).

Above, the Lucky Dragon No. 5, a big inspiration for Godzilla.* Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I then watched "The Unluckliest Dragon," the documentary of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 (Daigo Fukuryu Maru), the fishing trawler that was showered with nuclear fallout from the "Castle Bravo" hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll. It was interesting that the bomb was three times more powerful than predicted by U.S. authorities. The documentary also touched on the Fukushima nuclear meltdown following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Before viewing the interviews with Akira Takarada and Haruo Nakajima, I watched the original Japanese trailer.

On Akira Takarada, it was interesting to hear of his experience in making the movie (Godzilla was his third movie). He stated that in 1954, Japan had a population of 88 million. About 11% of the 88 million went to see Godzilla during its initial release, he said. He also calls Godzilla his "classmate."

For me, the most interesting tidbit from Haruo Nakajima was that he'd go to theaters and turn his back to the screen to observe the audience reaction to what's being shown.

These were all the time I had for. There's other goodies to feast your eyes and ears upon: Interviews with special effects technicians Yoshio Irie and Eizo Kaimai and an interview with Godzilla score composer Akira Ifukube. If the ones I did manage to view are an indication, then the remaining extras should be just as good.

There's one extra I wished was included: "The Spirit of Godzilla" documentary that appeared in the Toho deluxe edition of Godzilla Final Wars. A subtitled version of Spirit would have been the icing on the cake!

Kaiju historian David Kalat provided his insights in the commentary tracks for both versions of Godzilla.

My grade for the extras I was able to view: A.

*Information on the Lucky Dragon No. 5 (Daigo Fukuryu Maru) and how to visit it can be found in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ryokan Experience

Above, Shibuya, Tokyo's Hotel Fukudaya.

News On Japan's Travel section has an article on experiencing ryokans (Japanese inns).

The article begins with:

Ryokans are Japanese-styled inns from centuries ago and are more than just a place to stay. They offer the visitor a chance to experience traditional Japanese lifestyle; from tatami (rice mats) covered floors and futon beds to Japanese styled baths and local cuisine presented in an authentic manner. They are a window into life in Japan in the old days. Ryokans originated sometime in the 17th century, and their primary purpose was to serve those travelling along Japanese highways such as the famed Tokaido road between Tokyo and Kyoto. They are typically stationed in a quiet, idyllic setting, often next to natural hot springs.

I've stayed at three ryokans (Tokyo, Sendai and Kumamoto). They tend to be cheaper (price-wise) than hotels and are family-owned and operated. They also offer excellent food.

To read the full article go here.

Criterion's "Godzilla" Blu-ray: The Movie

Criterion's newly-released Blu-ray edition of Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla King of the Monsters! (1956) is definitely a must-have item. No other previously-released DVD or Blu-ray of these movies can even compare to this one.

I can categorically say that these movies never looked so good!

If you are expecting no scratches or other flaws in either movie, you will likely be disappointed. There are some scratches evident in both films. However, the images of both movies on this disc have never been as sharp or vibrant, or as clean (Criterion cleaned up both versions). My roomie (no kaiju fan by any stretch of the imagination) was very impressed. She was most impressed by the water images.

If I were to gripe about the Japanese version, it would be over the white subtitles. Criterion should have used yellow or some other colored font for easier reading. But that's just a pet peeve of mine.

The "long-lost" TransWorld Releasing Corp. logo card has been restored to Godzilla, King of the Monsters! at the start of the movie, following the Toho logo card (inserted in at Toho Co. Ltd.'s insistance). Also, the ending credits and Jewell Enterprises card have also been restored to the movie.

Both movies had their monaural soundtracks digitally restored. They've never sounded better!

My grade: A+.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan

Above, Ronald and Nancy Reagan at Los Angeles International Airport in 1980. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

National Review Online has an interesting article on Newt Gingrich. It was written by Reagan Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams.

The article starts off with this:

In the increasingly rough Republican campaign, no candidate has wrapped himself in the mantle of Ronald Reagan more often than Newt Gingrich. “I worked with President Reagan to change things in Washington,” “we helped defeat the Soviet empire,” and “I helped lead the effort to defeat Communism in the Congress” are typical claims by the former speaker of the House.

The claims are misleading at best. As a new member of Congress in the Reagan years — and I was an assistant secretary of state — Mr. Gingrich voted with the president regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at Reagan, his top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was voluble and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all of this he was dead wrong.

Many conservatives look at Gingrich as a loose cannon. The article above is a good example on why this is so. It is a real eye-opener, to put it mildly.

To read the full article go here.

UPDATE (1/26/12): Newsmax is reporting that Michael Reagan and Rush Limbaugh are blasting Mitt Romney and his supporters over "false claims."

Ronald Reagan’s eldest son Mike Reagan has issued a statement lambasting Mitt Romney and his supporters for claims that Romney’s Republican presidential rival Newt Gingrich was a strong critic of President Reagan.

Reagan says such claims are false.

Even Rush Limbaugh, shocked by the Romney claims, chimed on his Thursday radio broadcast to say "This is obviously a coordinated attack to take Newt out here in Florida."

Rush slammed the Romney-backed smear campaign against Newt.

“That kind of stuff is why people hate Romney so much," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh added that Newt has always been a conservative from his early days in national talk radio in the 1980s.

“He was perhaps the premier defender of Ronald Reagan,” Limbaugh said.

Read more on Newsmax.com: Mike Reagan, Rush Limbaugh Blast Romney

Criterion's "Godzilla": The Packaging

The new Criterion Godzilla (1954) Blu-ray has landed ashore at La Casa Vaquer. I haven't watched it yet, but I will most likely do so before the day is out.

Since this is one very special edition (how many horror or science-fiction movies have been given the Criterion treatment?), I think that I would do it better justice by dividing my thoughts on it in three parts in separate posts.

Here's how I am going to approach it:

Part One: The Packaging (see below)

Part Two: The Movies (the disc contains both the Japanese version and the Americanized Godzilla, King of the Monsters! from 1956)

Part Three: The Extras

Here we go.


I generally don't like paper (or card-boarded) DVD or Blu-ray packaging due to wear & tear from many uses, but I do like how Criterion packed this. It is a folded heavy paper package with a plastic holder glued inside for the disc.

The artwork on the front cover is a nice rendering of Godzilla's back surrounded by flames and images of destruction. Godzilla's form seems rather generic, but still unmistakenly Godzilla. It looks like it was done in watercolor.

The packaging containing the disc is a pull-out, also of heavy paper. Opening it will unveil a booklet and a pop-up of a Kiryu-Goji (2002-2003) Godzilla. Why Criterion used this version of Godzilla instead of the 1954 Godzilla is unknown. Perhaps that's the image Toho allowed Criterion to use. Still, the pop-up is a nice touch.

The image of Godzilla on the inner sleeve outer covers is of Godzilla amidst swirling bubbles that represent the detonated oxygen destroyer.

The booklet includes the list of chapters, cast & crew credits, an excellent essay ("Poetry After The A-Bomb") by J. Hoberman (senior film critic of The Village Voice) and details about the transfers, acknowledgements, special thanks and the disc's production credits.

So far, I am impressed by the work Criterion put into this Blu-ray.

Next: The Movies

Ambitious Japan: 9 Million Tourists In 2012

Above, the Fuji TV building in Odaiba, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan has big hopes to draw more foreign tourists to the country this year.

The Mainichi Daily News reports:

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's tourism minister Takeshi Maeda said Tuesday that the government aims to attract over 9 million foreign visitors to Japan in 2012, exceeding the past record of 8,611,000 in 2010.

I was one little piece of the 2010 record as I made my last Japan visit in December 2010 to promote The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Japan's ambitious goal for 2012 is a tall order as there are still fears (most of it unfounded) over radiation problems in Fukushima in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kansai Airport Reports Big Drop In Foreign Visitors In 2011

Above, the Kinkaku-ji "Golden Pavilion" in Kyoto. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Kansai International Airport reported a steep drop in foreign visitors in 2011 according to The Mainichi Daily News.

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- The number of foreign visitors to Japan through the Kansai International Airport in 2011 posted the steepest-ever fall of 22 percent to 2,734,196, due to the higher yen and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged a wide area of northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear crisis, Kansai International Airport Co. said in a preliminary report Monday.

The overall number of air passengers passing through the 24-hour airport on a man-made island in Osaka Bay during the year, including domestic travelers, fell 6 percent to 13,520,663, following a revised 7 percent increase in 2010, according to the airport operator.

To read the full article, go here. In

Ernie Borgnine Is 95 Today

Above, Ernest Borgnine during his days on the PT-73 on "McHale's Navy."

A favorite actor is 95 years old today.

From IMDB:

Ernest Borgnine, was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917, in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Charles who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy and Anna who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy.

One of my favorite shows from the 1960s is McHale's Navy. Thanks to the wonders of the This Network, I am able to watch McHale's Navy all over again.

Borgnine was also the jailer "Fatso" in From Here To Eternity who beat Frank Sinatra to death.

A big happy birthday to Ernest Borgnine!

10 Sleep Hacks for the Avid Traveler

Above, commuters snoozing on a Tokyo subway train.

Whether you're traveling to Japan or anywhere else, getting enough sleep is always a concern.

This little item came across my desk this morning. These are tips on getting some shut-eye while traveling: "10 Sleep Hacks for the Avid Traveler."

It starts with:

On a train, in the rain. When on planes, energy wanes. Whether you're a business traveler, a posh international jetsetter, or a college kid with dreadlocks and a ratty old backpack, travel can be both stressful and fun. No matter your modus operandi for seeing the world, one of the key elements to successful travel is the inclusion of sound and restful sleep. Before you complain about not having the time for a decent doze, consider these 10 sleep hacks, both digital and analog, especially tailored to the avid traveler. In the words of William Wordsworth, "rest and be thankful."

To view the site, go here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Female Werewolf Movie: A Film & Video Project

Above, Donald F. Glut. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Writer/producer/director Donald F. Glut plans to make a "female werewolf movie" (as yet untitled).

He has set up a Kickstarter.com website to raise the necessary funds to make the movie. His goal on Kickstarter is to raise $175,000 in 60 days.

Says Glut:

My passion for movie-making began at age 9 when, in my Chicago backyard, I made my first of 41 amateur films. Decades later I realized my dream, producing/writing/directing (so far) 6 independent professional feature-length, campy/sexy horror and fantasy movies – DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS, SCARLET COUNTESS, THE MUMMY’S KISS, COUNTESS DRACULA’S ORGY OF BLOOD, THE MUMMY’S KISS: 2ND DYNASTY and, the most recent. BLOOD SCARAB.

Next up -- but requiring financing – is a sexy yet scary female werewolf movie (sorry, the title is still secret; I don’t want anyone snagging it) about the last werewolf in Transylvania who flees to the USA and starts a brothel (or den) of lusty female werewolves, a beautiful “lost girl” who becomes a member of her “pack,” a charismatic Native American psychic investigating the gruesome “full moon murders” and … oops!, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

The movie will shoot in Hollywood and nearby Southern California areas.

Financial backers will receive credits or benefits (depending on amount pledged).

Kickstarter.com is "the world's largest funding platform for creative projects."

To see Glut's Kickstarter.com page with all the details, go here.

USA Today Article On Criterion's "Godzilla" Blu-ray

USA Today is carrying an article on the upcoming Criterion Blu-ray edition of the original 1954 Godzilla and the 1956 Americanized Godzilla, King of The Monsters!

The article also includes interview comments by kaiju historians David Kalat and August Ragone.

The article starts with:

From terms like "Bridezilla" to films like Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, the thought of Japan's most famous monster usually evokes a chuckle, not a roar.

But the roots of the Tokyo-stomping beast are dark and terrible. Long before its 27 sequels and endless spinoffs, the original 1954 film, called Gojira in Japan, was a fearful atomic fable from expert filmmakers, a metaphor for the bombing of Hiroshima that ended World War II just nine years earlier.

On Tuesday, the highbrow Criterion Collection, which usually traffics in the world of Hitchcock, Truffaut and Japan's Akira Kurosawa, will add digitally restored editions of Toho Studios' Gojira and the watered-down American version from 1956, Godzilla: King of the Monsters with Raymond Burr, to its prestigious DVD and Blu-ray catalog.

The article is by David Colton, the head honcho of the Classic Horror Film Board.

To read the full USA Today online article, go here.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vixxa Violet

The other night, when I met Jerry "Karlos Borloff" Moore and Don Glut for dinner, I asked Jerry who the girl was on the Monster Madhouse promo video (above) he made for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. He said she's model Vixxa Violet.

Above, Vixxa Violet without the ghoulish make-up.

This came as a bit of a surprise as I knew of Vixxa, as she is a follower of this blog as well as a friend on a social networking website or two.

Vixxa is an actress/model/dancer from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Her Linkedin profile says:

Independent entertainer; modeling, acting, dancing, self-stylist, prop-building & make-up; concept design; self-help guru.

I sent her a note on the above and thanked her for "spicing up" The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan promo video.

Vixxa's website is http://www.vixxaviolet.com.

Small world!

Skip "The Iron Lady"

Above, Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

It is disappointing that Hollywood's depiction of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is another "hit piece" on conservatives we've come to expect.

Big Hollywood has a review of the new movie, The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep as Lady Thatcher.

In it, Charles C. Johnson writes:

Hollywood has learned something effective about conservative women: If you play them convincingly enough to left-wing stereotypes, people will believe that the caricature is the real deal. We saw this with Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin where so many young people actually seem to believe Palin said she could see Russia from her house.

Expect to see a similar nasty portrayal by Julianne Moore in HBO’s “Game Change.” Moore confesses that it was hard to find a good side to Palin, and the miniseries is candid that her ambition outstrips her capacity. Hollywood knows well that you only get one opportunity to introduce these figures of national or international import, and they intend to make it bad impression on their behalf.

So it is with Lady Thatcher in “The Iron Lady,” whose creators have ridiculously compared Meryl Streep’s Thatcher to a modern-day King Lear in their disgusting attempt to dance on Thatcherism’s memory.

It looks like The Iron Lady is one to skip. That's too bad. I am a fan of Lady Thatcher and Meryl Streep is one of our greatest actresses.

To read the full review, go here.

"Little Elf: A Celebration of Harry Langdon" To Be Published In August

Above, Chuck Harter (left) and Michael J. Hayde.

Authors Chuck Harter and Michael J. Hayde announced today that publication of "Little Elf: A Celebration of Harry Langdon" by Bear Manor Media will take place in August 2012.

Rep. Giffords To Resign

Some sad news was emailed to me by the Washington Post:

Rep Gabrielle Giffords (R-Ariz) announced that she will resign from her congressional seat this week to focus on her recovery. Giffords made the announcement in a video posted on her Web site Sunday.

Giffords suffered a traumatic brain injury when a gunman shot her in the head at a constituent event in Arizona one year ago.

Although a Democrat, Giffords was/is no left wing ideologue. I wish her well in her efforts to recover from her injuries.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dinner With Karlos Borloff, Part 2

Following our delicious Italian dinner, we migrated to The House of Glut for more conversation and to see Don Glut's collection of dinosaur goods & fossils and movie memorabilia.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let the photos herein do the talking.

Starting off in the kitchen where tea was served, Don poses with a poster (left) of Christine Nguyen in Don's movie, The Mummy's Kiss: Second Dynasty.

Below, Jerry Moore and his fiancee, Marta in the kitchen of "The House of Glut."

Above, here I am sporting my new Godzilla baseball cap, custom-made by Jerry. He also gave one to Don. Jerry brought along some "Monster Madhouse" DVDs, which he gave to Don and I. Don gave us DVDs of his movie, "Scarlet Countess." I brought some copies of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" for Jerry and Don.

Above, Jerry filming Don in the den for future use on "Monster Madhouse."

Left, Don with some concept art for an aborted Ultraman project.

Below, Jerry shows Don some of his Karlos Borloff pictures.

Left, Jerry and Don.

Below, Jerry and Armand.

Dinner With Karlos Borloff, Part One

Jerry Moore, a.k.a. Karlos Borloff of Monster Madhouse, is in L.A. for business and pleasure. We agreed earlier this week to meet up to discuss some Japan business.

Last night, we met up at an Italian restaurant in Burbank with dinosaur expert and writer/director/producer Donald F. Glut for dinner and conversation.

Upon arrival at the restaurant, I found Jerry and his fiancee Marta on the sidewalk in front. After greetings, we went inside and found Don waiting for us.

After more greetings, we were seated and began to order appetizers and entrees.

Here's some photos from the restaurant:

Above, Jerry and Marta.

Above, Don Glut.

Above, the obligatory group shot. From left, Don, Armand, Jerry and Marta.

Following dinner, we then migrated to The House of Glut. Photos of that will be in Part 2.

Friday, January 20, 2012

School District Idiocy: Cougar Mascot Vetoed

Talk about politically correct stupidity! The latest is from the Canyon High School District in Utah.

Left, the mascot of Hawthorne (California) High School.

From the Huffington Post:

Students across the Canyons school district voted to select the "Cougars" as the new mascot for Corner Canyon High School -- slated to open in fall 2013. But the Board of Education decided that victorious mascot -- selected by 23 percent of voting students -- is too offensive toward women, KSTU-TV reports. The term "cougar" is often informally used to reference an older woman seeking a sexual or romantic relationship with a significantly younger man.

A cougar is a name for a mountain lion (puma is another). Other schools have "Cougars" as their mascot. In fact, the high school I attended, Hawthorne High School (the high school of the Beach Boys), has "Cougars" as their mascot. There's even an alumni website called "Cougartown."

Now, suddenly school administrators are injecting PC into mascot selection. It has been my opinion, based on personal experience, that many school administrations are run by idiots. This just re-confirms my opinion.

To read the full article, go here.

Tokyo Tough Enough For Major Earthquake?

Above, the business district near Tokyo Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan is confident that Tokyo can withstand a major earthquake, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The article states:

If and when the next major earthquake hits Tokyo, Japan’s post March 11-Reconstruction Minister Tatsuo Hirano is convinced the capital, and other urban hubs around the country, are in good shape to withstand the force.

“Please rest assured, and don’t flee Tokyo,” said Mr. Hirano, who is also the country’s minister of state for disaster management, speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo on Thursday.

The reason for his apparent confidence? The strength of Tokyo’s buildings and transportation systems like elevated roadways and tracks.

Hopefully, this statement isn't akin to the boast that the Titanic was "unsinkable."

To read the full article, go here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DC Comics' Ugly New Logo

Above, the new DC Comics logo.

DC Comics/DC Entertainment has registered a new logo.

Well, I got my first look at it and can only say one thing: "Damn, that's ugly!"

Looking at it, I have to wonder what moron at DC decided that a new logo was needed and why they chose this design. There was nothing wrong with the present one (below).

The current regime at the comic book giant recently revamped and restarted their line of super-hero characters with ugly new costumes, etc. I guess the new logo is probably fitting since they made their cash cows look like hell (especially Superman).

What were they thinking?

The Top Ten Travel Scams To Watch Out For

Above, while traveling be mindful of your surroundings and people near you. One may have sticky fingers.

A website was brought to my attention which involves travel scams. It is a list of "The Top Ten Travel Scams To Watch Out For."

The site begins with:

Traveling is generally an exciting and enjoyable experience, but it doesn’t take much to ruin a good trip. Every day, unsuspecting tourists fall victim to sneaky travel scams. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or quaint of a location, there are always scammers waiting to prey on naive, money-toting vacationers. Most scams can be prevented by using your common sense, while others are trickier and harder to spot. Before you travel domestically or internationally, it’s a good idea to do your homework and brush up on these 10 common travel scams.

The list has things to be mindful of and to think about.

To view the list, go here.

Godzilla "Concept" Art: Nothing To See Here, Folks!

These images purported to be "rejected concept designs" for the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla are making the rounds over the Internet.

Sites such as Shock Till You Drop, Dread Central and others have posted articles proclaiming that these are "the real deal" and, also, citing G-Fan as the source.

From Dread Central:

The images popped up in the latest issue of G-Fan. It should be noted these concepts were rejected, but at least they offer insight into which direction they're looking to go. Thankfully it's the right one!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon one's point-of-view), the images are fan-art drawings. They are not rejected concept drawings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sen. Toomey Denounces Obama Keystone Rejection

Source: Office of U.S. Senator Pat Toomey

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) denounced President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline permit today.

"President Obama has been trying to campaign against a do-nothing Congress, but he is the one who is impeding job creation and economic growth in this country," Sen. Toomey said. "The Keystone pipeline has the potential to create tens of thousands of American jobs, increase our access to oil from our friend in Canada, and diminish our dependence on less secure sources of energy. The pipeline has broad bipartisan support in Congress, and it does not require any taxpayer dollars to build it. I'm extremely disappointed that President Obama has chosen to sacrifice American jobs and our energy security to appease environmental special interests."

Japan Tourism: CNN Gets It Right

Above, dusk in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Finally, a news organization got it right.

CNN.com reported on the state of Japan tourism:

Hong Kong (CNN) – More than 10 months after the Fukushima meltdown and Japan is still dealing with the fallout - this time the key industry of tourism is reeling from the catastrophe.

According to government figures released Tuesday, the number of foreign nationals entering Japan dropped 24.4% from a record of 9.45 million in 2010 to 7.14 million in 2011.

New entries of foreign nationals - a figure that excludes working or studying expatriates that may have returned after home leave - made a similarly dismal showing. The Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry said new entrants fell from 7.92 million in 2010 to 5.45 million in 2010, slumping 31.2%.

The government says a combination of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the high level of the Japanese yen were the key factors in the decline.

There's been many articles on the state of Japanese tourism, but their only focus has been on the earthquake, tsunami and radiation problems. They fail to take into account the poor rate of exchange between the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen.

More Americans would seriously consider a vacation in Japan if the dollar could buy more yen.

A kudos to CNN for getting it right!

To see the full article, go here.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ebook: Something I'm Considering

Sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan this month have been the best since the initial months when it became "live." Sales are up at ComiXpress and direct mail order. Sales at the L.A. Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention went well (left).

This has gotten me thinking that perhaps it's time I also offer it as an "ebook," which seems to be a growing trend these days.

What's an ebook? Here's what Wikipedia says:

An electronic book (variously, e-book, ebook, digital book) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices. Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the e-book as "an electronic version of a printed book," but e-books can and do exist without any printed equivalent. E-books are usually read on dedicated e-book readers. Personal computers and some mobile phones can also be used to read e-books.

Having the travel guide as an ebook would be convenient to travelers who may not want to carry around a paper copy while traveling, but could access it through an iPad or any other capable electronic device.

One problem is that the Japanese cellular phone system is different from the American system which makes American cell phones useless in Japan (unless things have changed since I last looked into it). This can be overcome if one uses a compatible WiFi device or rent a device in Japan that can access the Internet.

It is something for me to think about and to check around to see who best can provide this service.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

"Gamera The Brave" Blu-ray Due Out May 22

Above, Gamera and Zedus locked in battle in Nagoya.

Media Blasters' Blu-ray edition of Gamera The Brave (2006) is set to hit shelves on May 22.

Above, "Gamera The Brave" Japanese poster.

Gamera The Brave is an entertaining movie targeted to the younger set, but it is "adult" enough so that it won't make adult viewers cringe.

For Media Blasters' website, go here.


Mark Levin's new book "Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America" is now out. It is sure to tick off the liberal establishment.

David Limbaugh (brother of Rush) wrote a review of "Ameritopia" for Human Events.com. Here's an excerpt:

Levin takes us through the seminal thoughts of some of the most noted political philosophers and writers who laid out the utopian vision -- from Plato to Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx -- and then unpacks the contrasting vision of John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu and others whose ideas greatly influenced America's founders.

Liberal utopianism is a fantasy of arrogant philosophers and philosopher kings who believe their vision is superior to those of other lowly mortals. Levin calls them the "masterminds" -- the latest and most prominent being President Barack Obama and his cadre of utopian elitists. They believe they are proponents of enlightenment thinking and rationalism who could construct the ideal society if deniers and other obstructionists would just get out of their way.

In reality, however, they couldn't be more irrational, as they reject human nature, history and all empirical evidence that contradicts their vision. Indeed, writes Levin, "utopianism is regressive, irrational, and pre-Enlightenment."

Levin's "Liberty and Tyranny" was a blockbuster best-seller and "Ameritopia" is sure to top that.

To read more of David Limbaugh's review, go here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Karlos Borloff On The Loose In L.A.

Above, Karlos Borloff (Jerry Moore) gets a chest exam from Haruo "Mr. Godzilla" Nakajima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Karlos Borloff, in the guise of mild-mannered Jerry Moore, the host of horror and rock 'n roll show Monster Madhouse, is in Los Angeles this week.

I just got off the phone with Jerry and he has some big plans for Monster Madhouse, as well as some other projects that he is in L.A. for.

We will be meeting up later this week to talk "some serious bizz-ness" about Japan and monster movies.

Jerry and the Monster Madhouse gang made a promo video on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, for which I am eternally grateful!

Here it is:

2 Years...

Left, a glamour portrait of my mom from the early 1950s.

Yesterday marked the second anniversary of my mom's passing.

Since she was the one who got me interested in horror and science-fiction movies as well as comic books (she would read all the ones I brought home), it was only fitting that I spent yesterday at the L.A. Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. She would have approved (and probably would've liked to have attended).

The last convention I took her to was a Dark Shadows Festival in Burbank a few years ago. She also attended the awards banquet at G-FEST 2000 in Hollywood.

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