"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
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Monday, April 30, 2012

Obama's Marxist Slogan

There should be no surprise here.

The Washington Times is reporting:

The Obama campaign apparently didn't look backwards into history when selecting its new campaign slogan, "Forward" — a word with a long and rich association with European Marxism. 
Many Communist and radical publications and entities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries had the name "Forward!" or its foreign cognates. Wikipedia has an entire section called "Forward (generic name of socialist publications)." 
"The name Forward carries a special meaning in socialist political terminology. It has been frequently used as a name for socialist, communist and other left-wing newspapers and publications," the online encyclopedia explains.
"Backward" is a more appropriate slogan for Obama.

To read the full article, go here.

Freedom Tower Surpasses Empire State Building Today

Today, the Freedom Tower ( left) under construction in New York's World Trade Center will be taller than the Empire State Building (above right).

The New York Post reports:

The owners of 1 World Trade Center — which will surpass the height of the Empire State Building today — are waging an all-out business war against its Midtown cousin, The Post has learned.

WTC operators want to steal business from the Empire State Building by promoting their observation decks and winning back broadcasters that beam their signals off of the Midtown skyscraper’s massive antenna.
The Empire State Building stands at 1,454 feet with 102 stories.  The Freedom Tower will stand at 1,776 feet with 104 stories when completed.  The Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world until 1972.  It was completed in 1931.  It was visited by King Kong in 1933 (below).

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/scrappy_scraper_an_empire_buster_Zt6wge8P65Gx0IaOMdb3hP#ixzz1tYM3qfED

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dark Shadows News Blog

The Dark Shadows News blog has a great collection of stills and videos of the soon-to-be-released Johnny Depp/Tim Burton Dark Shadows movie.  It is set to be released on May 11.

One interesting video is a featurette on vampires which includes Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Jonathan Frid and others.

To see all these goodies, go here.

BizWire Express Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide News

Above, Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand  Vaquer.
BizWire Express picked up the news release on the 20% pre-vacation season discount on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

What is BizWire Express?  According to their "about us" page:
The aim of BizWire Express is to provide you with the latest information covering all aspects of your life. To achieve this we have tied up with a number of content partners from around the world, bringing you news in real time. 
With our list of content partners growing, BizWire Express is on track to becoming one of the leading news Web sites on the Internet.
To view it, go here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On Traveling Solo

Japan Today has an interesting article posted.  The topic: traveling solo.

AboveArmand in Matsushima, Japan in 2006.
The article applies to anywhere a person goes to alone.  My trips to Japan have been solo, but since I do have friends in Japan to meet up with, I've never had a problem.

The article starts with:

Are you filled with wanderlust, but sticking close to home because you lack a like-minded companion? Solo travel is an extraordinary, accessible opportunity that can involve big or small adventures, easy or difficult as you choose.

You can do what you want, when you want, how you want, where you want. You pick your own pace, budget, itinerary and can always change your mind on a whim, never having to negotiate. The experience can be liberating and thrilling, igniting a rewarding sense of accomplishment, and the detachment from your “real” life is often therapeutic.

Everything stated in the second paragraph is true.  Also, the article points out:

When entering a new place on your own, you may notice more than you do when you travel with others. I strike up conversations more easily when I’m soloWhen entering a new place on your own, you may notice more than you do when you travel with others. I strike up conversations more easily when I’m solo, something I’ve done in dozens of countries across six continents. But not all destinations are right for solo travelers. Here are some tips. something I’ve done in dozens of countries across six continents. 
This has also been my experience.   I've met quite a number of people in Japan on solo visits and have maintained contact with them since.  In Japan, I usually get approached by older Japanese men or young Japanese women wanting to try out their English skills.

So, grab yourself a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and go!

To read the full article, go here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Obama Attempting To Intimidate Romney Donors

President Obama and his minions are attempting to intimidate donors to Mitt Romney's campaign.

The Wall Street Journal posted:

Try this thought experiment: You decide to donate money to Mitt Romney. You want change in the Oval Office, so you engage in your democratic right to send a check.

Several days later, President Barack Obama, the most powerful man on the planet, singles you out by name. His campaign brands you a Romney donor, shames you for "betting against America," and accuses you of having a "less-than-reputable" record. The message from the man who controls the Justice Department (which can indict you), the SEC (which can fine you), and the IRS (which can audit you), is clear: You made a mistake donating that money.  
This past week, one of his campaign websites posted an item entitled "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." In the post, the Obama campaign named and shamed eight private citizens who had donated to his opponent. Describing the givers as all having "less-than-reputable records," the post went on to make the extraordinary accusations that "quite a few" have also been "on the wrong side of the law" and profiting at "the expense of so many Americans."  
These are wealthy individuals, to be sure, but private citizens nonetheless. Not one holds elected office. Not one is a criminal. Not one has the barest fraction of the position or the power of the U.S. leader who is publicly assaulting them.
Remember when Richard Nixon was crucified over his "enemies list" and "abuse of power"?  This is one thousand times worse than anything Nixon allegedly did.  The mainstream media looks the other way when it comes to Obama.

The article ends on a perfect note:

The Obama campaign has justified any action on the grounds that it has a right to "hold the eventual Republican nominee accountable," but this is a dodge. Politics is rough, but a president has obligations that transcend those of a candidate. He swore an oath to protect and defend a Constitution that gives every American the right to partake in democracy, free of fear of government intimidation or disfavored treatment. If Mr. Obama isn't going to act like a president, he bolsters the argument that he doesn't deserve to be one.
Amen.  What we have here is a tyrant who recognizes no rules.

To read the full article, go here.


One of the most useful tools in maintaining contact with friends and business associates is through Twitter.  Also, Twitter is a great source in getting the news instantly.

I've been in Twitter for about five years.  I've used it to agree or disagree with national leaders and political pundits.  You can connect and follow political leaders and your favorite celebrities.

Once signed in, you can set up and customize your profile page.  You can also connect your Twitter page to your website.  I have it connected to this blog.

If you aren't in Twitter, I recommend that you sign up! Go to https://twitter.com/.

My Twitter handle is @ArmandV.  Simple, eh?

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Pre-vacation Season Sale Is On!

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

Tarzana, CA, April 20, 2012-- Armand Vaquer, author of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan," announced a pre-vacation season discount of 20% off the guide's cover price, making the cost of the book $12.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling.

This special offer is offered directly from Vaquer, not from ComiXpress, the publisher.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" is the world's only Japan travel guide tailored to fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy films.

"Vacation season is just around the corner. Those who are fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies can use the guide to plan their visit to Japan," stated Vaquer. "Also, tour operators can use the
guide to plan special tour packages of monster locations of the

Orders postmarked April 25 through June 4 are entitled to the discount.

For ordering, send to:

Armand Vaquer
18618 Collins Street, #105
Tarzana, CA 91356

The Beach Boys Release First New Single In 20 Years

I was reading Japan Today tonight and found this item about some fellow Hawthorne High School alumni:

AboveThe Beach Boys monument in HawthorneCalifornia.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Reunited 1960s pop band The Beach Boys have released a teaser track of their first new single in two decades - a dreamy, five part-harmony throwback to their southern California surf sound called “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” 
The song will be the first single off an album of new material on which the band has been working ahead of their 50th anniversary tour, which kicked off on Tuesday. 
Above, another view of the monument.
“It’s like an accolade to the radio and what it’s meant to so many people,” vocalist and songwriter Mike Love said in a promotional trailer released on YouTube. 
“It’s our new single from our new album ... if you like harmony it’s going to knock your socks off,” added Al Jardine. 
Original Beach Boys Jardine, Love and frontman Brian Wilson have teamed up with Bruce Johnston and David Marks for album and concert tour. Wilson’s brothers Carl and Dennis, who were part of the original 1960s California line-up died in 1983 and 1998 respectively.

The article states that the yet-untitled album will be released June 5.

I had the pleasure to see The Beach Boys in concert on New Year's Eve in 1980 at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

To read the full article, go here.

Attracting More Tourists To Japan

Above, the Wako Department Store in Ginza, Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Daily Yomiuri has posted an editorial on beefing up tourism to Japan:

Brainstorm to attract more tourists to Japan

In the editorial they wrote:

We hope the government and the private sector will make concerted efforts to convey to the world the appeal of Japan as a tourist destination. 
For the first time in five years, the government has developed a new master plan to boost the nation's tourism. The new Tourism Nation Promotion Basic Plan contains various policy targets to be achieved over five years from fiscal 2012. 
The number of foreign visitors to Japan--both tourists and businesspeople--reached a record 8.61 million in 2010, but the number plummeted to 6.22 million in 2011 due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. 
The numbers are alarming--the 2010 figure only ranked 30th in the world. In Asia, Japan lags far behind China, which recorded 55.66 million tourists in 2010, the third-largest number in the world. Japan also trails such countries as Singapore and South Korea.
The comparison of numbers between tourists to China and Japan are indeed "alarming."  After all, Japan is a first-world constitutional monarchy, whereas, China is still a communist dictatorship.  It is also hard to fathom why Japan also lags behind Singapore and South Korea in foreign tourism.

The editorial goes on with suggestions:

Tell the world Japan is safe to visit. 
First of all, the government and the public sector need to actively convey information to the world to dispel the false idea that travel to Japan is dangerous.

Prepare unique tourism plans.
 Of course, tourist destinations also need to rack their brains to find ways to make themselves more appealing. Measures to boost local tourism led by prefectural and municipal governments often end up creating duplicate facilities or hosting events similar to those already available elsewhere in the nation.
Even before this editorial appeared, it has been evident that the Japanese government is getting serious about  boosting tourism to the country (getting the foreign exchange rates more favorable to foreign tourists would be a big help).  Perhaps the silver lining of the Great East Japan Earthquake is that it woke up the government to (finally)  take action.

To read the full editorial, go here.

Little Tokyo's Onizuka Space Shuttle Memorial Refurbished

Above, before the restoration, the model of space shuttle Challenger stands in  Onizuka
 Square with  L.A. City Hall  in the background.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Next to Weller Court in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, is Onizuka Square which honors astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka, one of the astronauts killed aboard the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986.

Weller Court houses the Little Tokyo store of Kinokuniya Bookstores, where The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is sold.

In the middle of Onizuka Square, stands a 27-foot replica of the Challenger, which is the main part of the monument honoring the late astronaut.  The monument was commissioned in 1990.

Over the years, the monument has weathered from being exposed to the sun, rain and other elements.

Last year, the monument was restored by the artist who created it, Isao Hirai.  He spent four months cleaning and repainting it at his studio in Hawthorne, California.  Following this, the monument was returned to its Little Tokyo pedestal in July.

The bronze plaques at the monument's base have also been refurbished.  If you happen to be in the downtown area of Los Angeles, you should pay a visit to Onizuka Square in Little Tokyo.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NBC Miami Reporter Fired Over Edited 911

Abovefired NBC Miami reporter Jeff Burnside.

A veteran NBC reporter has been fired over the misleadingly edited version of George Zimmerman's 911 call.

According to the Huffington Post:

A veteran NBC Miami reporter has been fired in the ongoing probe over an edited "Today" show clip of George Zimmerman's 911 call, placed moments before Zimmerman shot unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.

Jeff Burnside was dismissed from network-owned NBC Miami (WTVJ) over a similarly edited clip on Friday, as first reported by South Florida news blog SFLTV.

According to the Miami Herald, two unidentified employees were also disciplined.
To read the full story, go here.

EPA At War With Energy Producers: "Crucify Them"

The Obama Administration has another scandal to face.

This time it's the Environmental Protection Agency's policy of intimidating energy producers.

CNS News.com posted:

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has launched an investigation into the Obama-EPA's apparent "crucify them" and “incite fear” strategies targeted at American energy producers. This investigation will look into EPA's actions towards domestic energy production specifically in light of the agency's recent efforts relating to hydraulic fracturing. 
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) will also investigate any connection of these tactics to a video of a top EPA official saying the EPA’s “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies - just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience. 
The EPA’s agenda, Inhofe said, is to “incite fear” in the public with unsubstantiated claims and “intimidate” oil and gas companies with threats of unjustified fines and penalties – then, quietly backtrack once the public’s perception has been jaded against oil and natural gas.
This is an example of tyranny through government agency.  It is good this crap is now coming out before the November election.  It will only make it easier for people to vote Obama out of office.

To read the full article, go here.  

And more from The Blaze.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Remembering The L.A. Riots 20 Years Ago

It is hard to believe that this week marks the 20th anniversary of the L.A. Riots that were sparked by the Rodney King verdicts.

The day the riots broke out, I was working in the Miracle Mile area of Wilshire Blvd. for Allianz Insurance Company (a sleazy company if there ever was one).  The day the riots erupted, I was at a business lunch on third street with my supervisor, Pete Fetzer.

After lunch, we headed back to the office and found it locked up.  We also noticed a lot of traffic on Wilshire Blvd., more so than usual.  One of the office managers came to the door and said rioting has broken out and they sent everyone home.  She let us in to get our belongings.  Once we did, we bee-lined it to our cars and headed home.

With Pete following me in his car (he lived in Torrance and I lived in Gardena) we headed south on La Cienega Blvd.  The traffic was extremely heavy.  We got to Rodeo Road and were stopped at a signal.  To our left, a dry cleaners and a 7-11 convenience store were in flames. To our right a Fedco was being looted by rioters and its tire service center on fire.  Looters were carrying merchandise and running between our cars.

Figuring that it wasn't a good sign, I grabbed my baseball bat from under my car seat and had it at the ready.

Eventually, I got home.  After viewing the television coverage of the riots, my wife and I decided to head out to the Colorado River the next morning in our motorhome (our companies were to be closed for the remainder of the week).  We were planning to go to a membership campground promo (free camping for listening to the sales pitch) that Friday, but decided to head out earlier.

The next morning, as we headed out of L.A. we saw many plumes of smoke all around.  I made sure that I had my .38 cal. revolver handy as we drove.

It seemed like the Watts Riots of August 1965 all over again (I was 11 at the time and remember it).

At least we had a relaxing weekend in Bullhead City as parts of L.A. burned.

Monster Japan Travel Guide News Picked Up By PulverMedia

Above, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
PulverMedia.com has picked up the news release on the 20% pre-vacation season discount sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

PulverMedia is:

Welcome to PulverMedia.com, a brand new approach to online media providing you with the freshest, most important, precise and impartial news. Get the hottest headlines, read full news, stay educated and be aware! Whether you're keen on politics, celebrity news, economics or any other subject – PulverMedia.com is here to deliver you the freshest stories, interviews and world sensation in any particular field. We aggregate each and every source for honest and precise news, run them through a contextual analysis and provide you with plain articles highlighting the most important and trustworthy facts and opinions.
To view their site, go here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jonathan Frid.com Coming Back?

Earlier today, I went to peruse Jonathan Frid's website.  He had quite a number of interesting things to view.  He had pages on his career, his current activities, many photographs, and a forum where fans could ask him questions.  Frid was a bit of a stickler for proper grammar and he would end up correcting people on the forum.

Unfortunately, when his site came up today, there was only a message: "site temporarily unavailable."  I hope it is indeed brought back and all content is archived.

I did notice the other day that Frid's interactions with people tapered off and then ceased around October.  

ECPlaza Network Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide News

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

ECPlaza Network has picked up the news release on the 20% pre-vacation season discount special of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

ECPlaza is:
Since started as a B2B business site in 1996, ECPlaza has grown to No.1 Trade Leader providing online and off line service to over 400,000 members. Based on export marketing, we are operating not only B2B website, EDI service, trade consulting and so on, but also offline trade-related services for SMEs. 
With worldwide network and high brand recognition, we are extending our business field to the global market by providing great value such as more business opportunities, cost saving and convenience. 
To view ECPlaza, go here.

Tokyo Hotel Mega Picks Up News On Monster Japan Travel Guide

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

Tokyo Hotel Mega picked up the news release on the 20% pre-vacation season discount for The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

As the name implies, Tokyo Hotel Mega is a source for accommodations in all price ranges.  According to their "about" page:

The foremost thing that tackles our mind when we need to go outside is the nature of accommodation that is available. Tokyo is a place where you have a variety of accommodation facilities, to meet the requirements of the tourists keeping in consideration their budget. One can find here various types of accommodation facilities starting from low cost economic hotels to high class luxurious seven star hotels, thus satisfying the needs of people from various economic backgrounds. Also Tokyo hotels are evenly situated in each and every part, thus giving easy access to tourists. 
This site will offer you all the necessary information about Tokyo Hotel that is the rate of different hotels at different places, the availability status of the rooms on a particular season, the type of rooms available depending upon budget. We also help you to know the various accommodation facilities, ambiance and other special service that different Tokyo Hotels offers. Our site also lets know about the various discount rates going on in various hotels at that specific season.
To view the site, go here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jonathan Frid Autographed Photo

Back around 1984, I attended one of the first Dark Shadows Festivals (which would place it a little over 13 years after Dark Shadows ended its run on ABC-TV).  It was at a small hotel (I believe it was a Holiday Inn) on Century Blvd. near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).  This was before the DS Festival grew  in size to need a larger hotel (it was held in the late-1980s at the Marriott Hotel just down the street in the LAX area).

As I recall, Jonathan Frid (Barnabas Collins), David Selby (Quentin Collins) and John Karlen (Willie Loomis) were the guests.

I obtained this autographed photo of Jonathan Frid at this convention:

How Japan's Rail Industry Bounced Back From The Tsunami

Abovea Tohoku shinkansen.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

An interesting article was posted by the U.K.'s Telegraph on "How Japan's Rail Industry Bounced Back From The Tsunami."

It starts with:

It took more than six years for train punctuality to recover after the October 2000 Hatfield crash which killed four people and injured another 102 when a London to Leeds express hurtled off the track at 115mph. 
To the frustration of passengers, trains crawled along the network as the Government imposed speed restrictions amid fears that a phenomenon known as gauge corner cracking could cause another derailment. 
By comparison, the Japanese rail network – including its fleet of 200mph bullet trains were working normally within 50 days of the earthquake and tsunami which devastated the country and killed, according to the latest official figures, 18,926 people.
An interesting contrast!

To read the full article go here.

Bluemeanieme.com Picks Up Monster Japan Travel Guide News Release

Above, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Bluemeanieme.com picked up the press release on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

Bluemeanieme.com covers a wide range of topics such as electronics, games, music, books and others.

To view the site go here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monster Japan Travel Guide Press Release Picked Up By Jagsreport.com

Above Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Jagsreport.com has picked up the news release on the pre-vacation season sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

According to their "about" page:

Jags Report was founded in 2010. Our mission is to cover a wide variety of business, technology, world, political and sports news. 

To see their site, go here

Japan To Use Tourism To Revive Economy

Above, the Shin-Saikai Bridge in Kyushu near Sasebo City.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The rebuilding of Japan following the devastation of World War II made Japan a powerhouse economically during the post-war years.

The rebuilding of Japan after last year's earthquake and tsunami is looked upon as an opportunity to make Japan a powerhouse in the tourism industry.

The Independent (United Kingdom) has an interesting article on this subject:

Even by the most generous measure, travel and tourism today provides no more than 7 per cent of the country's GDP. Ken Okuda, Japan's vice-minister for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, says that the government wants to double the number of visitors to the country to 18 million within four years
"Japan continues to be a safe and secure destination, just like it was before the earthquake," he says. "But there is greater room for growth. This [tourism] represents a star of hope." 
Japan is looking to diversify an economy that is best known as an industrial powerhouse, but for decades has been badly drained by an ageing population and declining birth rate. Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the advertising group WWP, is typically blunt: "Japan is the third largest economy in the world, but that economic engine hasn't really functioned for 20-odd years." 
The industrial strength was the result of reconstruction in the aftermath of the Second World War; now the earthquake will be used to rebuild the country as a tourism hub.
It is pretty ambitious for Japan to try to boost tourism more than 7 per cent of its GDP.  It will be interesting to see these plans come to fruition.

One thing that would be a big help: getting the foreign exchange rates between the yen and other currencies in a more equitable position.

To read the full article, go here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Truck Coffin

California is known for many things.  Hollywood.  Surfing.  Wine.  Pop-culture.  Sports.  Dysfunctional government.  And, last but not least, a vibrant car culture.

Yesterday, as I was off on an errand to the local supermarket, I saw an interesting truck while stopped at a stop light in the Tarzana community of the San Fernando Valley.  So I took a cell phone picture of it.

Here it is:

Nothing like going in style!

Japan's Tourism Numbers Rebound 92.4% In March

Abovethe Ginza shopping district in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The Japan tourism numbers for March are in and they are very encouraging.

 The Japan Times reported:

Tourism in March came close to returning to predisaster levels, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Friday. 
Visitors to Japan came to an estimated 678,500 in the reporting month, down only 4.4 percent from March 2010, the JNTO said.
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, this is a 92.4 percent rebound.  Japan's tourism industry was hit hard in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and radiation problems in Fukushima.

To read the full article, go here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Pre-Vacation Season Sale

AboveMiki with "The Monster Movie Fan's
 Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Tarzana, CA, April 20, 2012-- Armand Vaquer, author of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan," announced a pre-vacation season discount of 20% off the guide's cover price, making the cost of the book $12.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling.

This special offer is offered directly from Vaquer, not from ComiXpress, the publisher.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" is the world's only Japan travel guide tailored to fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy films.

"Vacation season is just around the corner. Those who are fans of Japanese science-fiction and fantasy movies can use the guide to plan their visit to Japan," stated Vaquer. "Also, tour operators can use the guide to plan special tour packages of monster locations of the movies."

Orders postmarked April 25 through June 4 are entitled to the discount.

For ordering, send to:
Armand Vaquer
18618 Collins Street, #105
Tarzana, CA 91356

An Appearance Not To Be

As mentioned previously, I received a mailer from the Dark Shadows Festival with a notice on the upcoming DS Festival set for this coming summer.  The mailer arrived Wednesday, which was before the death of Jonathan Frid was announced (he passed away one week ago today on Friday, April 13) that night.

In the mailer was this flier announcing a luncheon set for Sunday, July 29 (click on image to view larger):

Jonathan Frid was to be one of the stars to appear at the "Luncheon With Dark Shadows Stars."

Alas, it is not to ever be.

My reaction was kind of like a purchaser of a ticket to a concert where the performer passed away before he/she could perform (purchasers of tickets to an Elvis Presley concert just before he died immediately comes to mind).

For an interesting article on Jonathan Frid go here to read "The Greatest Vampire Of Them All: Jonathan Frid (1924-2012)."

Lara Parker Website Started

AboveLara Parker at a Dark Shadows Festival in BurbankCalifornia.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Lara Parker, most famously known as the evil-but-sympathetic witch Angelique on Dark Shadows, has started her own blog where she'll be posting articles on her career and to field questions from fans.

She has a beautiful tribute article on Jonathan Frid that you'll want to read and a separate blog post of photographs of her with Jonathan.

To visit her blog, go here.

Japan's Astonishing Recovery

AboveNagasaki, Kyushu, Japan.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The United Kingdom's Travel Weekly website has posted a special report on Japan's "astonishing recovery" from last year's earthquake and tsunami.

The article states:

Japan has recovered astonishingly from a disaster of Biblical proportions just over a year ago that combined a category-nine earthquake, a tsunami and a meltdown in not one but three nuclear reactors. 
Perhaps only the southeast Asian tsunami of 2005 surpassed it in scale in modern times. Yet Tokyo appears unchanged, and was unfazed by regular small tremors through the past week. The rail system and rest of the infrastructure of Japan has long been back to normal. 
To the north of Tokyo, the region of Tohoku which bore the brunt of the quake and tsunami on its Pacific coast appears surprisingly at ease.
Reporter Ian Taylor is in Japan for the World Travel and Tourism Council summit meetings that are now being held in Sendai and Tokyo.  He saw no evidence of the disaster while riding the shinkansen in the Tohoku region:

The view from the 'bullet train' on the two-hour journey between Tokyo and Sendai, a city of one million at the heart of Tohoku, offers little or no sight of reconstruction, let alone destruction - although this cannot be the case on the coast where the tsunami swept inland for eight kilometres, smashing and washing away homes, workplaces and up to 20,000 lives.
 To read the full article, go here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jonathan Frid: A Look Back On A Happier Occasion

Two years ago, I posted the following in celebration of Jonathan Frid's 85th birthday. Now that he's no longer with us, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit that earlier post celebrating a happy occasion.

Above, Jonathan Frid in 1984. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A pop-culture icon will be celebrating his birthday this coming week.

Next Wednesday, December 2, actor Jonathan Frid will become 85-years-young. Frid is best remembered as the 175-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins in the 1966 - 1971 gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.

Baby-boomers around at that time would race home from school in the afternoon to catch the latest installment of the show. Dark Shadows originally was conceived to be a gothic soap opera embodied by paperback book illustrations of a damsel looking fearful with a looming spooky mansion in the background.

At first, the show garnered enemic ratings. So producer Dan Curtis added some supernatural elements (ghosts, a woman phoenix, etc.). It helped the ratings a little but the show was still in danger of being cancelled.

Figuring that he had nothing to lose, Curtis decided to introduce the Barnabas Collins character. Canadian-born Jonathan Frid was chosen to play the vampire for about thirteen weeks. But he became so popular with viewers that it was decided to keep him on. In a way, the vampire became a national hero. A flashback story was presented when governess Victoria Winters (Alexandra Moltke) was taken back into time via a seance. This story showed how Barnabas became a vampire.

Above, Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins.

As the show progressed, Barnabas became the star of the show and Frid attained star billing along with veteran actress Joan Bennett (who played matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard). Other supernatural characters such as witches, warlocks, werewolves were introduced during the show's run.

IMDb decribes Jonathan Frid's career (I cannot vouch for the accuracy) as follows:

Jonathan Frid's career in drama began when he first "offered his soul" to the theater as a young boy at a preparatory school in Ontario, Canada. Following his graduation from McMaster University, he attended London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and later earned a Master's Degree in Directing from the Yale School of Drama. Mr. Frid was a leading actor in English and Canadian repertory and went on to work in many of the most celebrated regional theaters in the United States, including the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and the American Shakespeare Festival under the direction of John Houseman, performing with Katharine Hepburn in "Much Ado About Nothing". He has appeared in major roles on-and-off Broadway, in such productions as "Roar Like A Dove", "Murder in the Cathedral" and "Wait Until Dark". But, it was Mr. Frid's portrayal of a complex, conflicted vampire on ABC-TV's daytime drama series "Dark Shadows" (1966) (co-starring with Joan Bennett) and in the subsequent motion picture "House of Dark Shadows" (1970) that earned him a place as an icon of American popular culture. His other film credits include co-starring roles in "The Devil's Daughter" (1973) (TV) (with Shelley Winters) and "Seizure" (1974) (Oliver Stone's directorial debut). In 1986, Mr. Frid joined the Broadway production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" (co-starring with Jean Stapleton). He won critical acclaim for his villainous turn as the homicidal nephew and spent ten months with the play's national tour. That same year, Mr. Frid founded his own production company, "Clunes Associates", to create and tour a series of one-man readers' theater shows across North America. Mr. Frid continues to perform his one-man shows, now under the banner of "Charity Associates", to raise money for a variety of charities. Combining the arts of his voice and his zest for entertaining", as one critic put it. In June of 2000, Mr. Frid returned to the traditional professional stage in the play "Mass Appeal" at the Stirling Festival Theatre in Stirling, Ontario.

Now retired from acting, Frid spends much of his time working on his website in which he posts his musings on his career, current events and personalities and answers queries from fans. He has also returned to making appearances at annual Dark Shadows Festivals after a hiatus of several years.

Above, Dark Shadows cast members have a reunion at
 the 1989 Dark Shadows Festival. Photo by Armand Vaquer

He is still sharp as a tack, but grouses over the inconveniences of aging. I had the pleasure of meeting Frid at one of the earliest Dark Shadows Festivals in 1984. The photo of Frid at top of this article was one I took at that festival.

Frid is tentatively planning on attending the 2010 Dark Shadows Festival in California next summer. He has started an online store at his website and plans to have items available for sale at the festival.

A big "Happy Birthday" to Jonathan Frid!

Jonathan Frid Dies At 87

Sad news has been reported over at Dark Shadows News:

It is with tremendous sadness that we report that Dark Shadows legend Jonathan Frid has died. Jonathan passed away peacefully on April 13 at the age of 87. 
Frid was the original Barnabas Collins on the ABC-TV soap Dark Shadows.  He has a cameo appearance in the upcoming Johnny Depp/Tim Burton feature film Dark Shadows.  He posted at his website that he was hoping to attend the movie's premiere.  It would have been interesting to read of his reaction to the film.

I had the pleasure of meeting Frid at a convention in Los Angeles in 1984.  This news is almost like a punch to the gut.  Frid was as much a favorite to me as George Reeves.  Fortunately, Frid was blessed with a long and active life.  I have an autographed photo of Frid as Barnabas displayed on my bedroom wall.

Strangely, I received a mailer yesterday from the Dark Shadows Festival organizers.  Inside, it advertised that Frid was to be part of a luncheon with Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott on July 29 at the Doubletree Tarrytown Hotel.

Above, Jonathan Frid at a Dark Shadows Festival, circa 1984.   Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Read Kathryn Leigh Scott's Tribute to Jonathan Frid.

"...and our little life is rounded with a sleep." - Jonathan Frid quoting William Shakespeare.

UPDATE:  More details on the passing of Jonathan Frid.  Go here.

Gundam Front Entertainment Center Now Open

Gundam fans now have a place to go to in Tokyo.

From Kyodo News:

Many fans flocked to a facility to experience the world of the Japanese robot animation series ''Mobile Suit Gundam'' as it opened Thursday in a waterfront area in Tokyo's Koto Ward. 
An 18-meter-tall Gundam statue stands in front of the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza commercial complex housing the Gundam Front Tokyo run by Bandai Co. and other organizations. 
The new entertainment spot features ''real-scale'' attractions, including Dome-G for dynamic images of famous scenes in the past series and computer graphic images of new works projected inside the dome of 16 meters in diameter. 
At the Experience Field area, visitors can view such models as the 1/1 Core Fighter Ver.GFT of the first series and the 1/1-size bust of Strike Freedom Gundam Ver.GFT in the Seed Destiny series as well as the 1/3000th scale space fortress A Baoa Qu. 
They can also take photos with their favorites among many characters from the series at Character Photo Spot of the Experience Field. 
People who visited the facility on the first day expressed enthusiasm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moon and Venus

Last month (March 26, to be exact), I took the above shot of the moon and the planet Venus in the western sky.

I previously posted two shots from my cell phone.

R.I.P. Dick Clark

The entertainment world just got a bit more poorer.

It was just reported by ABC News that "America's Oldest Teenager" Dick Clark died of a massive heart attack at age 82:

Dick Clark, the music industry maverick, longtime TV host and powerhouse producer who changed the way we listened to pop music with American Bandstand, and whose trademark Rockin' Eve became a fixture of New Year's celebrations, died today at the age of 82, ABC News has learned. 
Clark, who suffered a serious stroke in 2004 but returned to the airwaves, reportedly died from a heart attack. 
It was reported on KFI-AM 640 that Clark died at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Santa Monica.

For more, go here.

Kelsey Smith Act On Hawaii Governor's Desk

AboveKelsey Smith.

Great news!

Greg Smith, father of Kelsey Smith, reported over at Facebook today:

  • We received word from Hawaii State Senator Espero that the Kelsey Smith Act has been sent to the governor's desk for approval.

What is the Kelsey Smith Act?  According to the Kelsey Smith Foundation:
The Kelsey Smith Act provides law enforcement with a way to quickly ascertain the location of a wireless telecommunications device if a person has been determined, by law enforcement, to be at risk of death or serious physical harm due to being kidnapped and/or missing. 
As of January 26, 2012 the Kelsey Smith Act has been passed by the following states (in order of passage): Nebraska, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and North Dakota.

It has been proposed in: Missouri, Hawaii, and Massachusetts

It has also been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives and the province of Alberta, Canada.
 If we can only get the California legislature off their duffs and have the Kelsey Smith Act passed in California...

This coming June 2 will mark the fifth anniversary of Kelsey Smith's kidnapping and murder.

Tokyo's Sky Tree Built With Anti-Earthquake Technology

Abovethe Sky Tree under construction in December 2010.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When it was announced that the new Sky Tree tower would be built in Tokyo, some people I know expressed apprehension about going up in it fearing that an earthquake may hit while they were inside.

An article by BusinessWeek.com should put to rest those fears as new anti-earthquake technology was used in  the tower's construction.

They wrote:

A Tokyo developer took visitors up the world's tallest freestanding broadcast structure on Tuesday, a 634-meter (2,080-foot) tower with special technology meant to withstand earthquakes that often strike Japan. 
The Tokyo Skytree is the world's second-tallest structure behind the 828-meter (2,717-foot) Burj Khalifa in Dubai, according to owner Tobu Tower Skytree Co. 
The tower was constructed with extremely strong steel tubes surrounding a central concrete column that are structurally separate from each other in the tower's mid-section. In the event of an earthquake, the concrete core and steel frame are designed to offset each other to reduce the building's overall motion. 
The Skytree has been built to stand firm even if a magnitude 7 quake were to strike beneath the building, said Sho Toyoshima, a spokesman for Tobu Tower. He said the tower sustained no structural damage from the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck off Japan's northeastern coast last March, even as it was being built.
The March 11, 2011 earthquake did cause the tip of Tokyo Tower to bend a bit.

If Toho Studios should resume production of Godzilla epics, it would be interesting to see if the Sky Tree could withstand a kaiju onslaught.  (Probably not.)

The Sky Tree is set to officially open on May 22.

To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Visit To Kinokuniya Bookstores In Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

Above, a view of Kinokuniya's Little Tokyo bookstore from the courtyard of Weller Court.  Photo by Amber Vaquer.
Recently, my daughter Amber visited Little Tokyo near downtown Los Angeles and paid a visit to Kinokuniya Bookstores located in Weller Court.

She sent along the photos at top and below.

Above, "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" in Kinokuniya's Japan travel section.  Photo by Amber Vaquer.
Kinokuniya Bookstores' Little Tokyo store is located at 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka #205,  Los Angeles, CA 90012 (in Weller Court).  Phone (213) 687-4480.

Monday, April 16, 2012

U.S. Burger Chains With Unusual Items In Japan

Abovean Asakusa, Tokyo toy shop with some familiar golden arches next door.

Okay, chow-hounds!  Japan Today has an interesting article on American burger chains who are also in Japan.

The article starts with:

Famous American hamburger chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s have had varying degrees of success in Japan over the years. Many foreign food chain restaurants have flopped (Nathan’s, Arby’s) because they have not been able to adapt their menus to suit Japanese consumers. 
The hamburger chains generally have had better success than most. While their menus are predominantly the same as in the U.S., they are also selling original items for Japan.
What are the "original items"?  Take a gander at the article and find out!  Go here.

Travel Summit In Sendai, Japan

Above, Sendai Station.  The station was featured in two kaiju movies.

Travel industry professionals have gathered in Sendai, Japan for a travel industry summit. 

According to BreakingTravelNews.com:

The joint World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Sendai Recovery & Asia Outlook Forum has opened in Sendai, Japan, with almost 500 industry professionals and government leaders from around the world present.  
As part of the WTTC Global Summit taking place in Tokyo and Sendai, April 16th-17th, the overall theme of this year’s Global Summit is, ‘Leading a Dynamic Industry Through Turbulent Times’. 
Sendai was hit hard by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  I visited Sendai in 2006.

Sendai was demolished by the giant flower pod in Gamera 2: Advent of Legion and some damage was caused by Rodan in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II.  Sendai is spotlighted in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

To read the full article, go here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Monsterpalooza Kudos and Photos

Herein, are a few more photos from this year's Monsterpalooza.  But, before I get to them, a word about the souvenir program (as posted earlier today at the Classic Horror Film Board):

It must be mentioned that this year's official souvenir program has to be the best program book for a monster convention/show I've ever seen!  It is more of a magazine, rather than a program book, and is 34 pages thick (not counting the covers).  The staff really did an outstanding job and kudos to the following are in order:
  • Editor: Jessie Lilley
  • Design: Joe Sena
  • Cover Werewolf: Tim Martin
  • Cover Photo: Steve Jennings
  • Printed By: Choice Lithographics
  • Published By: CFQ Publishing
Now, the pictures:

Above, The Monster and his mate.

Above, Sasquatch managed to make the show.

Above, a collection of creepies.

Above, Jerry Weiler and yours truly.

Above, the mill from "Frankenstein."

Above, Rick Baker.

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