"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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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More On Yasuyuki Inoue's Passing

Left, Yasuyuki Inoue in Hollywood in 2004. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When word got out in fan circles that Yasuyuki Inoue had passed away, I emailed Tom Baker at The Daily Yomiuri in Japan to see if he had any additional information.

I received this reply today:

Dear Armand:

Sorry for the slow reply to your message. I just checked the Yomiuri database and was mildly surprised to see that the paper ran nothing about Yasuyuki Inoue's death. But then I did a Japanese Google news search (results here: http://bit.ly/wZW59n) and saw that the Jiji wire service, the Sankei Sports newspaper and the Nikkei Shimbun each had an item on it -- but each of the items is only two or three sentences long.

Basically, they say that he was a Fukuoka Prefecture native who died in Kanagawa Prefecture of heart failure at the age of 89. They also mention a couple of the movies he was involved in.

His Japanese Wikipedia entry has been updated to show that he died on Feb. 19. http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BA%95%E4%B8%8A%E6%B3%B0%E5%B9%B8


I sent this reply:


Thanks! You may want to go to YouTube to check out a video featuring Inoue entitled, "Bringing Godzilla Down To Size." It is well done and Inoue demonstrates a volcanic special effect technique.



Monkee Davy Jones Dies

Another piece of my youth's pop culture is gone.

Fox News reported:

Davy Jones, the lead singer of the pop group The Monkees, died Wednesday at the age of 66, his publicist confirmed to Fox News.

"The only thing we can do is confirm that he has died of a heart attack at Indiantown, Florida this morning," his rep Helen Kensick told Fox News. "We will have more later.

The local medical examiner released a statement Wednesday confirming that they had been notified of the singer's death.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/02/29/monkees-singer-davy-jones-dies-at-66-report-says/#ixzz1nnqOpM8D

TMZ has more details:

We're told Davy suffered the heart attack at a ranch where he was visiting his horses. Davy began experiencing distress while he was sitting in his car, and that's where a ranch hand found him.

The ranch hand told Sheriff's detectives ... the singer began to complain that he was not feeling well and was having trouble breathing. Paramedics were called and Jones was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Japan Hopes The Sky Tree Draws Tourists

The Tokyo Sky Tree is scheduled to be completed today. It is hoped that the Sky Tree will be a tourist draw.

Left, the Sky Tree in December 2010. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

According to iol Travel:

Tokyo - Construction of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world's tallest self-supporting communications tower, is set to finish on Wednesday February 29, two months late because of the quake and tsunami that struck Japan last March.

Tourist bosses in the country hope the tower will be a big draw for foreign visitors, whose numbers have plummeted in the aftermath of the disaster and the nuclear crisis it sparked.

“The construction was originally scheduled to finish in December 2011 but was delayed due to a shortage of supplies after the disaster,” said a spokeswoman for the operator, adding that the finished structure is sound.

I saw the tower a little over a year ago when I was in Tokyo promoting The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. The Sky Tree was an impressive structure at the time of my visit, even though it had not yet reached its full height.

It'll be interesting to see how much of a tourist draw the Sky Tree will be since it was reported that admission to the tower's observation levels will be around $40.

To read the full article, go here.

White House Wants to Keep Gas Prices High

There are people who deny that the Obama Administration isn't upset over the high gasoline prices we are currently facing. They are by design.

The Heritage Foundation posted the following:

With the national average of gas prices hitting $3.65 a gallon, nearing $6 in some parts of the country, and poised to head even higher, America’s families are wondering when the bleeding at the pump will stop. But for Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, those steep prices aren’t even a concern. In fact, he says his goal is not to get the price of gasoline to go down.

Chu delivered those stunning remarks in testimony before Congress yesterday. When Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) asked Chu whether it’s his “overall goal to get our price” of gasoline lower, Chu said, “No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy.”

As shocking as his remarks are, they shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chu has a long record of advocating for higher gas prices. In 2008, he stated, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Last March, he reiterated his point in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, noting that his focus is to ease the pain felt by his energy policies by forcing automakers to make more fuel-efficient automobiles. “What I’m doing since I became Secretary of Energy has been quite clear. What I have been doing is developing methods to take the pain out of high gas prices.”

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is seemingly doing everything it can to make paying for energy even more painful by refusing to open access to the country’s oil and gas reserves and blocking new projects that would lead to the development of more energy in America. Case in point: the president’s decision to say “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have delivered hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from Canada to Texas refineries, while bringing thousands of jobs along with it.

Keep in mind gasoline prices in Europe are equivalent to $9.00/gallon. If you think this is good and enjoy paying high gas prices, then vote for Obama.

To read the full article (and see a video), go here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“The 10 Worst Love Scenes in Cinematic History”

Well, to take your mind off of the rotten economy and politics (by the way, Mitt Romney won both the Arizona and Michigan primaries tonight), here's a list of “The 10 Worst Love Scenes in Cinematic History.”

The list is introduced with:

Your sex life sucks. It's OK; everyone else's does, too — even in the movies. It's difficult to communicate the more delicate aspects of romance, especially on film. You'd think that low lighting, sensual music, and long, panning shots of passion would always imply a fulfilling sexual experience, but you'd be horribly wrong. More accurately, sex in film parallels sex in life — sometimes it's great, and sometimes it's comically, comically bad. Take heart, lovers. You're in luck. Whether you need a laugh or a mojo boost, these 10 love scenes should pointedly answer the question, Was it bad for you, too? You might not want to watch these if you're at work or with your kids.

Some of these were not meant to be taken seriously in the first place, so I wonder why they are on the list.

Okay, go for it! Go here.

Visit Fukuoka City!

Above, a view of Hakata Bay from the observation level of Fukuoka Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japanese monster fans who visit Japan and don't travel down to Kyushu are missing out of some great scenery along with some notable movie locations.

Fukuoka is a must-see city for any kaiju fan. It is a semi-industrial city at the southern end of the shinkansen.

Left, Fukuoka Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fukuoka City was featured in Rodan (1956), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Gamera, Guardian of the Universe (1995) and Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994).

The most notable landmarks are: Hakata Bay and Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome in Gamera, Guardian of the Universe; Fukuoka Tower in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. Fukuoka Tower and Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome are within easy walking distance from each other.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan spotlights Fukuoka City's kaiju (and other) attractions on page 45.

Above, Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is about a six-hour ride to Fukuoka City on the shinkansen from Tokyo, with a change of trains at Shin-Osaka Station. The main stop at Hakata Station is also the end-of-the-line for the Hikari and Nozomi shinkansens. The Japan Rail Pass and the JR West Rail Pass are good for the Hikari trains but not the Nozomi trains.

There are many hotels clustered around Hakata Station, along with a McDonalds and a Starbucks at the station.

If you are planning a trip to Japan, try to set aside some days to visit Fukuoka City in Kyushu. It is well worth a visit!

Bruce Surtees, R.I.P.

A great cinematographer has died.

The Guardian reported:

The American cinematographer Bruce Surtees, who has died aged 74, became known as "the prince of darkness" for his muted and often lugubrious style of lighting. However, while Surtees was well-suited to the nocturnal street scenes of Dirty Harry (1971), the Rembrandt-esque arrangements of The Beguiled (1971) and the claustrophobic interiors of Escape from Alcatraz (1979), all directed by Don Siegel, he was also at home with the wide open spaces of the western Joe Kidd (1972) and the surfing movie Big Wednesday (1978).

Surtees was a favorite cinematographer along with the late Joe Biroc.

For more on Surtees, go here.

The North Hollywood Shootout

It is amazing how time flies by.

Fifteen years ago today, two men armed with assault rifles and wearing body armor exchanged gunfire with members of the Los Angeles Police Department outside the Bank of America at 6600 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.

It would forever be dubbed "The North Hollywood shootout," and it would forever change law enforcement policies and procedures.

In a battle that lasted around 44 minutes, the robbers fired off over 1,100 rounds and injured 11 police officers and seven civilians. The two robbers, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Matasareanu, died in the shootout.

I was living in the North Hills community in the San Fernando Valley at the time. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh on KFI-AM when he mentioned the shoot-out in progress. Then, the station broke in with a live report.

North Hollywood was about 8-10 miles from me. I then turned on my police scanner and started listening to the LAPD's radio traffic.

I switched on my television and called my dad in Hawthorne and told him to turn on his scanner. The next hour or so was spellbinding.

I was working the graveyard shift in North Hollywood a couple of nights later and stopped at a Del Taco drive-thru, a block away from the Bank of America. There were several bullet holes in the stucco walls of the Del Taco.

For more on the North Hollywood Shootout, go here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"The code word is imminent!"

To borrow a line from Thunderball (the movie version): "The code word is imminent!"

The Associated Press is reporting:

(02-27) 18:41 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) –

Israeli officials say they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill.

Israeli officials said that if they eventually decide a strike is necessary, they would keep the Americans in the dark to decrease the likelihood that the U.S. would be held responsible for failing to stop Israel’s potential attack. The U.S. has been working with the Israelis for months to persuade them that an attack would be only a temporary setback to Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

What's flat and black and glows in the dark?


NATAS Travel Fair: Japan Travel On Upswing

Above, Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Reports from the Natas Travel Fair in Singapore indicate that travel to Japan is on the upswing.

According to a report from AsiaOne News:

SINGAPORE - As concerns over safety ease out, travellers seem to be more willing to travel to Japan.

The first edition of the bi-annual Natas Travel Fair over the weekend saw a strong rebound for Japan, reported The Straits Times (ST).

Travellers lured by the upcoming cherry blossom season in April seized the oppportunity to book their tours packages at the fair organised by the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas).

ST reported that volumes for Japan have grown at least 25 per cent over pre-disaster levels, said a Chan Brothers spokesperson.

The next Natas Travel Fair is scheduled for August.

To read the full story, go here.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson Original Art

As I mentioned in my blog today on Boy Commandos no. 25 from 1948, Curt Swan is my all-time favorite comic book artist.

One of my prized possessions is a piece of original art by Swan (pencils) and Murphy Anderson (inks). It is a page from a 1970s issue of Action Comics (featuring Superman) and is signed by Swan.

This is it:

Nice, eh? (No. It's not for sale.)

Top 10 Films Based on Real-Life Crimes

Crime doesn't pay. Except in Hollywood.

I was emailed a link to the list of the "Top 10 Films Based on Real-Life Crimes."

The page begins with:

Hollywood does a good job of coming up with compelling and realistic movie plots, but they just don’t compare to the cinematic depictions of real-life crimes. Some of the best crime movies are inspired by real criminal acts and events that have shaped society and changed the way we view and punish crimes. Here are the top 10 films based on real-life crimes.

It is an interesting list. One of the movies named, Catch Me If You Can (2002), I viewed only yesterday for the first time.

To view the list, go here.

Time To Visit Japan

Above, one of Japan's many bullet trains. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Manila Bulletin (Philippines) online edition posted an article, "It's Time To Visit Japan" that includes five myths about the country.

Before going into the five myths, the article states:

Japan is one of those nations that continue to be shrouded in mystery—perhaps it’s the language or the seemingly odd customs—but it’s this very myth of impenetrability that continues to keep potential visitors away. Too bad, because the country often portrayed in the global press is far from the real Japan one experiences on the ground. Five myths, in particular, get in the way of wanting to visit Japan today.

The five myths are:

Japan is expensive.
Japan is unsafe.
Japan is xenophobic.
Japan is impenetrable.
Japan is Tokyo.

The article concludes with:

Japan is often misunderstood and unfairly stereotyped, but once these biases are set aside, what opens up to the traveler is a country of unparalleled grace and authenticity. Now, more than ever, is the time to visit Japan.

I couldn't agree more. Go visit Japan and bring The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan (it'll tell you what you need to know) along with you.

To read the full article, go here.

Boy Commandos No. 25

One of the oldest comic books in my collection is Boy Commandos no. 25 from National Comics (now known as DC Comics). The cover date is January/February 1948, which means it was published in late-1947.

I managed to buy it back in the early 1990s at a comic book convention.

According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics (or, specifically, Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics) database, Boy Commandos no. 25's cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Charles Nicholas. The three stories were also pencilled by Swan and inked by Steve Brodie.

Swan went on to become "the definitive Superman artist" and my personal favorite. I was lucky to obtain this Golden Age comic at a reasonable price. Having it feature early work of Curt Swan is the icing on the cake.

SPECIAL THANKS: To Tony Isabella for the tip about Mike's Amazing World of Comics database!

A Good February

Above, Miki with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan." Photo by Armand Vaquer. February is almost over but it has been a good month. The month turned out to be as good as January as far as sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is concerned. I requested my royalty check from ComiXpress several days ago and since then, several more orders came in. Maybe I should've waited a few days. I'll just let the funds accumulate a bit more before requesting the next check.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dollar Rises Above 80 Yen, Finally

Things are looking more promising as the U.S. dollar broke the 80 yen threshold for the first time since July this past week.

Jiji Press reported:

At 5 p.m. [Friday], the dollar stood at 80.56-57 yen, a level unseen since mid-July 2011, compared with 80.11-12 yen at the same time Thursday.

While this is still a far cry from the 2007 rate of exchange I received (116 yen per dollar), at least the rate is headed in the right direction. A more favorable exchange rate will make travel to Japan more attractive to U.S. tourists.

To read the full story go here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Disapproved Comments

A few Leftist-oriented comments were submitted for approval on the topic of the current high gasoline prices and the responsibility of the Obama Administration.

Unfortunately, they were in violation of rules 1, 2 and 3 (see right column after scrolling down). I don't mind contrary opinions as long as they advance the topic and are backed up with facts. But, the posters just indulged in snide remarks, name-calling and didn't even bother to back up their assertions. Most of them were posted anonymously. Posting anonymously is fine as long as the comments are (somewhat) intelligent.

In cases such as these, they don't get approved and are flushed away.

Before posting, read the rules! I run this blog as a benign totalitarian dictatorship!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ECV 1954

A photo (above) of E Clampus Vitus history came in an email this evening.

It was taken in 1954 at a shindig in Mariposa, California (in the Mother Lode Country).

It shows some Poor Blind Candidates (PBCs) (i.e., pledges) going through initiation rites.

And, no. I was not a Clamper back then. I was born that year.

Rare Golden Age Comics Nets $3.5 Million

A lucky California man was able to make $3.5 million on auction sales of a collection of Golden Age comic books his great-uncle collected.

The Washington Post reported:

DALLAS — Billy Wright plunked down dime after dime for comic books while growing up in the late 1930s and early 1940s, caring for the collection he started around the age of 9 until his death more than half a century later. On Wednesday, most of that collection sold for a whopping $3.5 million.

Wright’s 345 comics, nearly all of which were published from 1936 through 1941, included many of the most prized issues ever, including Detective Comics No. 27, which features the debut of Batman, and Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman’s first appears.

The copy of Detective Comics No. 27, from 1939, drew the highest bid Wednesday, selling for $523,000, including a buyer’s premium, Allen said. Wright’s Action Comics No. 1, from 1938, sold for about $299,000; Batman No. 1, from 1940, sold for about $275,000; and Captain America No. 2, a 1941 issue with Adolf Hitler on the cover, sold for about $114,000.

To read the full article, go here.

Causing Coronaries: The National Enquirer Does It Again!

Above, the photo that started it all.

"Shocking!" "Revolting!" "Outrageous!" "Chilling!"

Those are just some of the adjectives in reaction to the National Enquirer's published photos of singer Whitney Houston in her casket at a funeral home.

It seems that the media (and some people in general) are overly sensitive to the publication of dead superstars.

This isn't the first time the National Enquirer published exclusive photos of dead celebrities. They've published photos of Elvis Presley (photo at top) in his casket (similar to the Houston photos), a facial shot of John Lennon at the morgue, full body shots of Selena on an autopsy table and a dead Michael Jackson in an ambulance.

Each time this happened, some people raised hell over the "poor taste" of the National Enquirer in publishing the photos. Apparently, not enough people agreed with the complainers as the tabloid made tons of money on those issues.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yasuyuki Inoue Reportedly Passed Away

It has been reported in fan circles that a key member of Eiji Tsuburaya's special effects team has passed away today.

Yasuyuki Inoue, noted art director and creator of many of Toho's monster sets and vehicles, has passed away.

For more on Yasuyuki Inoue, go here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Travel Guide Mailings Started

Since I had the house to myself today (my roommie was at school), I finally got off my duff and sent out mailers to local comic book shops and bookstores for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Having computers capable of handling flyer design and envelope addressing made the task a lot easier than in the old days of typewriters.

The ones sent out today were only the first batch. I'll be doing more during the next few days which will cover the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

After that, the mailings will expand to other cities in California and in other states. There's only so much one can do over the Internet. Direct mail is more effective, as I've learned.

The G-hat Now Has A Home

The custom-made Godzilla baseball cap by Jerry "Karlos Borloff" Moore of Monster Madhouse has a "home" now.

It was suggested by my roommate to hang it up so that it wouldn't get ruined. So, it is now displayed on my wall (above photo).

Above, here I am with the hat at Don Glut's.

Japanese Tourism Agency Chief Calls On Citizens To Be More Traveler Friendly

Above, Nakamise Street in Asakusa, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The head of the Japan Tourism Agency wants the Japanese people to show their appreciation to foreign tourists for the support shown this past year during the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11.

The Mainichi Daily News reported:

Hiroshi Mizohata, commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), called on the Japanese people on Feb. 21 to be more receptive to foreign tourists and revitalize the domestic economy along the way in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis.

During a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ), he spelled out measures to recreate Japan as a major tourism nation and said his agency and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) will launch a "Japan. Thank You." campaign in late February to express Japan's appreciation for support from around the world and to promote inbound travel at the same time.

Mizohata displayed two boards with banners -- "Japan. Thank You." and "Japan, Rising Again -- Thank you for your support" featuring an illustration of soaring carp -- at his news conference.

The Japanese people, I've found, are very hospitable to foreign tourists. They've been very courteous and helpful to me during my past visits. This has been the case with people I've met in shops, tourist information centers, theaters, trains, restaurants and on the street.

I cannot praise them enough.

To read the full article, go here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nagoya Castle To Be Demolished Again?

Above, Godzilla approaches Nagoya Castle in "Mothra vs. Godzilla" (1964). The photo was signed by Haruo Nakajima.

It was destroyed by U.S. air raids in 1945. It rebuilt and later destroyed by Godzilla in 1964. Now, it may be destroyed again by Nagoya city officials.

The City of Nagoya, Japan is considering rebuilding Nagoya Castle.

The Mainichi Daily News reports:

NAGOYA -- Local residents here showed mixed feelings during a public meeting over the weekend over a plan to rebuild Nagoya Castle from the current concrete structure into a wooden one to preserve its original state.

The Nagoya Municipal Government held the meeting at a civic hall on Feb. 19, in which some 160 local residents discussed the pros and cons of Mayor Takashi Kawamura's plans to transform Nagoya Castle into a wooden structure.

Founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the initiator of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867), Nagoya Castle was first completed in 1612. The structure, however, was destroyed by U.S. air raids in May 1945. The current castle tower was rebuilt in 1959.

Above, the real Nagoya Castle.

Nagoya Castle was featured (and demolished by Godzilla (Haruo Nakajima)) in the 1964 feature Mothra vs. Godzilla.

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan covers Nagoya Castle on page 40.

To read the full article, go here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our Gas Tanks May Tank Obama's Re-election

The cost to fill up one's gasoline tank could prove to be the issue that tanks (like that?) the re-election of Barack Obama.

From the Silicon Valley Mercury News:

Gasoline prices are rising at an almost unheard-of pace, and painfully so in California, where the cost for a fill-up now exceeds $4 a gallon in five cities and is approaching that dreaded mark in numerous others, including San Jose and Oakland.

The statewide average of $3.96 on Friday is 25 cents higher than just a month ago and 46 cents more than this time last year. The price jumped a nickel from Thursday, a huge increase, as day-to-day changes are usually measured in fractions of a penny.

Some oil analysts predict $4.50 a gallon or more by Memorial Day on the West Coast and major cities across the United States such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta. Prices in that range could be a major issue in the presidential campaign, especially if they slow the nation's economic recovery.

For motorists, it's painful now.

They can't blame George W. Bush for this. This all falls on Barack Obama's lap as he is notorious or being anti-oil. Over the past three years Obama...

...opposed opening up ANWR.

...[Obama's] EPA blocked drilling elsewhere in and around Alaska.

...ordered the Gulf moratorium.

...denied the Keystone Pipeline.

...approved billions in loans to other countries (Columbia and others) for upgrades to their refineries while refineries in the US and Europe are being shuttered.

...causing Canada to try to send their oil to China (while getting the runaround from US officials).

All in the name of a "green economy." Remember this as you fill up your gas tank!

UPDATE (2/22/12): Gasoline prices have hit $6.00/gallon in Florida today.

Remember what Barack Obama said on June 11, 2008: "I’d like higher gas prices, just not so quickly."

Looks like he's getting what he wanted.

Pierpoint Landing

(Click on above image to view larger.)

An item (above) was emailed to me today by Lou Koza, who currently runs The Adventures Continue website on the Adventures of Superman television show starring George Reeves.

It is a Long Beach Press-Telegram news article on a 1953 location shoot of "The Golden Vulture" episode. The cast and crew were at Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach for the shoot. This jogged a memory for me.

Above, my grandfather and his boat in Morro Bay, circa 1963. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Back in the 1960s, my grandfather used to take us fishing on his boat and we'd occasionally launch from Pierpoint Landing. We'd also launch from Redondo Beach or go up to Morro Bay.

My grandfather was also a fan of the Adventures of Superman in the years preceding his passing in February 1966. He watched it on KTTV-TV Channel 11 in Los Angeles.

Thanks to Lou Koza for this little stroll down Memory Lane!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gaps Getting Filled

Today was enjoyable as I went over to Canoga Park to rummage around a very nice used bookstore, Next Chapter Books.

I found a Signet paperback edition of Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, The Man With The Golden Gun. So now I have only one Fleming Bond book to get to complete my collection, Thunderball. The gaps are almost filled.

The story's plot, according to the back cover, is vastly different than the movie version that came out in 1974 with Roger Moore. I'll give it a review once I finish reading it.

I picked up two other books. One was for my roomie, 365 Ways To Cook Chicken by Cheryl Sedaker (Harper Collins) and one for myself, Nixon In Winter by Monica Crowley (Random House). Nixon In Winter covers former President Richard Nixon's final four years.

I started reading the Crowley book. It has been interesting, so far. One interesting tidbit about Nixon during my initial scan of the book: Nixon's favorite holiday was Halloween.

Elyse Knox Dies At 94

Former actress Elyse Knox Harmon passed away last Wednesday at her Los Angeles home. She was 94.

According to ETonline:

A contract player who starred in close to 40 films for such studios and 20th Century Fox, Columbia and Universal, Knox played the lead opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in 1942's The Mummy's Tomb, worked with Abbott and Costello and in several Joe Palooka movies based on the famed comic strip. She was also a pin-up girl during World War II, appearing in Yank magazine.

Left, Knox with Lon Chaney Jr. in "The Mummy's Tomb."

Knox married football star Tom Harmon in 1944, and her wedding dress was made from the silk of the parachute that saved his life after his plane was shot down over China during WWII.

To read the full obituary, go here.

Dollar May Retake 80 Yen Soon

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

Jiji Press is reporting that the U.S. dollar may rise to 80 yen soon.

In an article posted today:

Tokyo, Feb. 18 (Jiji Press)--Following a sharp rally in the last two weeks, the dollar may soon rise above the 80 yen threshold for the first time since last August.

The greenback has been weakening versus the yen since mid-2011 on the back of sovereign debt problems in Europe and the United States, with the Japanese unit sought as a safe-haven currency.

If so, this would make travel to Japan and Japanese imports more affordable to Americans.

To read the full story, go here.

Rise In

Gas At $4.00 In L.A.

We haven't reached the above prices yet in L.A., but the price of gasoline is now at $4.00/gallon.

According to the L.A. Times:

"There was quite a paroxysm in the spot market for wholesale gasoline and a confluence of refinery maintenance," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for OPIS. "It's quite noticeable because the price of crude is also over $100 a barrel. And if you live on the East or West Coast, you are dealing with a lot of $115 to $120 a barrel oil, like Alaskan crude and Brent crude."

Kloza was referring to refineries in the state that had shut down for maintenance, which usually causes a spike because supplies are so tight, but that wasn't the only factor.

That's not all, some oil industry experts are predicting that gas prices will hit $5.00/gallon!

Wonderful. And Obama decided to not approve the Keystone pipeline project.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Japan's Foreign Tourist Numbers Down For 11th Straight Month

Above, a view of Kyoto from the shinkansen. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan Times reported today that the number of foreign visitors to Japan was down for the 11th straight month since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

They reported:

The number of foreign visitors to Japan in January fell 4.1 percent from a year earlier to 685,000, declining for the 11th straight month since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, an estimate by the Japan National Tourism Organization showed Friday.

The rate of decline was the lowest and the number of foreign visitors the highest during the 11-month period, showing signs of a recovery, although the Fukushima nuclear crisis and the yen's historic appreciation continue to weigh.

Note that the tourist decline was also attributed to the high yen.

To read the full story, go here.

About That Other Use For Aspirin...

It is amusing to see the mainstream (or state-controlled) media whining about a comment Santorum backer Foster Friess made about contraception.

Here's how it went:

"Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives," Friess said on MSNBC yesterday during an interview with Andrea Mitchell, adding: "The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn't that costly."

Friess was talking about protecting one's virtue. It was another way of saying that to avoid pregnancy, keep your legs closed. It is no worse than telling a man to "keep it in your pants."

Ronald Reagan used to use the line, "Balancing the budget is like protecting your virtue. You have to learn to say 'no'."

When my roommate and I first heard the recording of this, we both laughed.

Now the media and women's groups are outraged and calling Friess a "moron" and "creepy."

Before people try to crucify him, Friess has done more philantropy work than any living liberal. He contributed millions for Indonesian tsunami relief and to Hurricane Katrina relief amongst other charities.

Naturally, the media focuses on this trivial story instead of President Obama's dismal record. The real issue is religious freedom, not contraception.

P.S. Friess has since issued an apology statement over his asprin joke.

Monster Japan Travel Guide Slideshow Video In PikTalk Video

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

Piktalk Video picked up the YouTube slideshow video on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

What is Piktalk Video? According to them:

PikTalk believes that community is the IN thing for the Gen X people.
PikTalk is for matching your compatible star sign & find who's in the other side.
PikTalk is here to Connect; make Contact, to start Communicate.

PikTalk is new. PikTalk is fresh. PikTalk is for sunshine & sun sign.
PikTalk is all about friendship, community build up & be in it.
PikTalk is for music lovers, video'holics & match makers.

PikTalk is a movement. PikTalk is for everyone.
PikTalk is by the friends, of the friends, for the friends.
PikTalk is dynamic. PikTalk is bold. PikTalk is a class of its own.

Start Pick & Talking.
Come on...join...ride on the tide...
Let's think & act...poles apart.

Be a proud PikTalker.
March ahead...

To view the site, go here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"The 10 Most Unnecessary Giant Monster Movies Of All Time"

A few days ago, io9.com posted "The 10 Most Unnecessary Giant Monster Movies Of All Time."

I generally agree with the list. Too bad they didn't include the TriStar 1998 Godzilla on their list.

They start it off with:

Not every scifi film can star a Brobdingnagian shark or lizard. Some movies must make due with giant livestock, vermin, and apes who aren't named King Kong. Here are 10 of the most superfluous creature features ever made.

There's one movie on the list I completely forgot about (for good reason): White Buffalo (1977) starring Charles Bronson. That was one terrible movie!

To see the list, go here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Howard Berman's Political Whores

Above, Armand with REPUBLICAN congressional candidate Mark Reed.

A letter arrived in today's mail from former Republican National Committee Chairman Rich Bond.

This isn't unusual as I get plenty of mailers from GOP leaders. The exception this time is that Bond is supporting Democrat Rep. Howard Berman. In his letter, Bond refers to Berman as "my friend." WTF?!

That is like Ronald Reagan referring to Nicaragua dictator Daniel Ortega as "my friend." Berman, along with Rep. Henry Waxman, set up a political machine in California spreading their brand of radical liberalism. Their tactics include putting carpetbagger candidates in districts against Republican incumbents (anybody remember Maurice "Jack" Mayesh against Assemblyman Paul Bannai?).

Berman and fellow Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman find themselves in a newly-drawn congressional district. The letter from Bond decribes Berman as "universally respected" by people of both parties and Sherman as "the poster boy for term limits."

That isn't all. The letter contains a letterhead of prominent Republicans as "Republicans for Berman." They include:

Supervisor Mike Antonovich
Supervisor Don Knabe
Former Mayor Richard Riordan
Galpin Motors Owner Bert Boeckmann
L.A. Police Commission V.P. Alan Skobin

Sorry, no matter how many big name Republicans are involved, there's no way in hell that I would ever remotely consider voting for Howard Berman. I am supporting Mark Reed for Congress.

This isn't easy as some of these Republicans are friends and those who I respect.

Reed may have little chance to win this November, but I am not about to become a political whore and check my principles at the door!

For Your Eyes Only

A trip to Pasadena today was productive. My roomie had a culinary club meeting in connection with her cooking school there. So, I had an hour or so to browse around.

Fortunately, there's a used bookstore nearby and I did some rummaging around.

Last summer, I read the Ian Fleming James Bond books I have (except a couple I already read). There's a few that I don't have: Thunderball, The Man With The Golden Gun and For Your Eyes Only.

At the used bookstore, I found a Signet paperback of For Your Eyes Only (pictured above). I snagged it for $5.00.

For Your Eyes Only is a collection of five short stories. They are:

From A View To A Kill

For Your Eyes Only

Quantum Of Solace


The Hildebrand Rarity

This book should be sufficient enough for a good night's (or two) reading.

Media Matters Thuggery Exposed In Memo

The Looney Left Report

Media Matters a supposed media watchdog group has targeted Fox News and Newsmax (amongst others) for harassment. All this is in close coordination with the Obama White House.

According to an article in Newsmax.com:

Newsmax and the Fox News Channel are among the conservative media entities targeted by an “opposition research team” formed by the left-wing media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

That eye-opening disclosure came to light in an internal Media Matters memo obtained by The Daily Caller, which lists targets including conservative websites, conservative think tanks, media outlets, and politicians.

A Media Matters memo actually went so far as to call for the hiring of private investigators to look into the private lives of Fox News employees and to harass them at their homes.

In addition to the Fox News Channel and Newsmax, the target list includes The Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, Fox News websites, Fox Business Network, and the American Enterprise Institute.

Also on the list are several News Corp. executives, including Rupert Murdoch; Fox News executives, including CEO Roger Ailes; Fox personalities Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity; conservative donors; and politicians, including John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell.

These actions against conservative media outlets may be illegal as Media Matters is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit group and partisan political activities are forbidden.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bank of Japan Weakens Yen

The Bank of Japan took action today that slightly improved the U.S. dollar's exchange rate against the yen.

From Japan Today:

TOKYO — The yen weakened against major currencies in Asian trade on Tuesday afternoon following the Bank of Japan’s surprise decision to further ease monetary policy.

The unit softened to 102.55 against the euro, compared with 102.34 late Monday in New York, while it also weakened to 77.91 against the dollar, from 77.58.

The central bank on Tuesday increased its asset purchase program by 10 trillion yen ($130 billion) to about 65 trillion yen, as it looks to put an end to the deflation that has wracked the economy for years.

Additional easing by a central bank increases the supply of money in the economy, weakening the currency.

Weakening the yen further would make Japan more attractive to would-be tourists. They would gain more purchasing power as they'd be able to buy more yen.

To read the full story, go here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sky Tree Outstrips Tokyo Tower

Above, the Sky Tree dominated Tokyo's skyline a little over a year ago. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo's newest tourist attraction, the Sky Tree Tower, is nearing completion. It will be open to visitors in about three months.

The Sky Tree is located across the Sumida River from Asakusa.

According to News On Japan:

Construction is expected to be finished at the end of this month in Japan on the world's largest self-supporting tower. It will be the second highest man-made structure in the world, surpassed only by Dubai's 829-meter-high Burj Kalifa skyscraper.

The Sky Tree soars 634 meters (almost double that of Tokyo Tower) and will have an observation deck at a height of 450 meters. To get a breathtaking view of Tokyo, a ride up to the observation deck will cost about $40 per person.

To read the full article, go here.

Tokyo's Razzle-dazzle

Above, the Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba that were prominently featured in "Godzilla x Megaguirus" (2000). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

From the start (my first visit was in November 2001), I have found Tokyo to be a fun town. I always enjoy visiting there. I use it as my "base of operations" for visits to surrounding areas.

I will take side jaunts to other regions, but I make my way back to Tokyo.

Above, Tokyo Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

News On Japan has posted an article on the "The Charm and Razzle-dazzle of Tokyo," which includes a video.

It starts off with:

For a first time visitor, Japan can be an overwhelming experience on many counts. But what knocks you out totally is the kindness and courtesy bit. Of course one has read about the Japanese culture of politeness and punctuality. But in a world that is getting as impersonal as busy, to get so many bows and smiles right from arrival at Tokyo 's Narita International Airport to your hotel, indeed comes as a surprise.

Above, Asakusa's Nakamise Street. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Tokyo. A visitor won't be bored in Tokyo.

To read the full article and view the video, go here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Done My (Voting) Duty!

Whew! I completed my voting on this year's Rondo Awards and submitted it.

It took me about 45 minutes to do. There's so many categories and great nominees. These folks deserve your attention and vote!

To vote, go here.

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