|Above, Little Tokyo's 2013 New Year's Day celebration. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
2013 sure did come and go fast! It is incredible that we're already in December. It seems like only yesterday that I celebrated the new year at Little Tokyo's Oshogatsu (New Year's) celebration. I plan on doing the same this coming New Year's day. Whenever I do, it always seems to bring good luck during the year.
My "roomie," Jes is still with me and we are getting along very well. It makes life much better having someone around who also enjoys movies and the same varieties of food. Plus, she's a great cook!
Another plus, I didn't have to attend any family funerals in 2013 (knock on wood). That is always a good thing. I hope this trend continues in 2014.
|Above, Haruo Nakajima and actress Lea Thompson at Mad Monster Party. |
This is probably my favorite photograph of the year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The first quarter of 2013 was very productive as I worked as Haruo Nakajima's "wrangler" at the Mad Monster Party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Mad Monster Party is an excellent convention away from the wilds of Los Angeles in NASCAR country. Besides helping out Mr. Nakajima, I also sold quite a number of copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan
at an adjoining table.
The event went very well despite the efforts of some jealous malcontents who tried to sabotage the convention by spreading untrue rumors that Mr. Nakajima canceled his appearance and accused the convention organizers and I of "browbeating" him to change his mind, which was a lie. The main perpetrator was exposed
for his actions. It is weird how some people make it a purpose in life to poke their noses into other people's business. Get a life, kiddies!
A few weeks later, I attended a special screening of The Black Cat
, starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The event was put on by the organizers of the Mad Monster Party and included some memorabilia from the movie in the lobby. It was a great treat to see this classic Universal thriller on the big screen that was the first pairing of the two horror greats. It was a very enjoyable event.
The year's second quarter is notable for Monsterpalooza 2013 at the Burbank Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. I attended the show and it was (as usual) chock-full of exhibits and celebrities. My highlight was meeting Martin Landau, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton's Ed Wood
|Above, Armand with actor Martin Landau at Monsterpalooza.|
The second quarter ended on a high note (at least for me) for two things: first, reconnecting with an old (well, not that
old as she's my age) college friend in May. We've been chatting online regularly since. Second, I gave a slideshow presentation that was well-attended at Distant Lands Travel Bookstore and Outfitters in Pasadena. The slideshow was on monster movie locations and landmarks in Japan. I also sold several travel guides at the presentation and Distant Lands now carries The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan
|Above, at Distant Lands Travel Bookstore.|
The second half of the year, and the third quarter, began with a nice Fourth of July bar-b-que at Les Geriminsky's home in Hawthorne. He had a nice turnout and we had a great time firing off (not-too-kosher) fireworks.
Later in July, my second cousin Chrissie got married and I went down to Wildomar (near Lake Elsinore) with daughter Amber to celebrate.
Unfortunately, the George Zimmerman verdict in July brought out the worst in some people, including those who were friends. Without going into it further here, just read what I posted in July on the topic by going here
. It only proves that intolerance of other people's opinions or political positions originate primarily from those of the liberal and leftist persuasion. The recent flap involving the A & E cable network and Duck Dynasty
is another example of leftist intolerance. The guy involved has strong religious beliefs, although he did state them in a rather coarse manner.
The rest of the summer was relatively quiet except for work. I did manage to meet several celebrities while on the job, including singers Shakira and Christina Aguilera. I did mention to Aguilera that we shared some pages in Tokyo's Metropolis
magazine a few years ago.
I was going to join Haruo Nakajima at a horror convention in Indianapolis in July, but the Nakajimas were dissatisfied about the arrangements and what they felt was a lack of communication by the organizers and decided to pull out. I had just made my room reservations the day before.
I connected with Spanish producer/director Jonathan Bellés during this period. He is producing a documentary that is set for release next year called Godzilla and Hiroshima: The Dawn of Kaiju Eiga
. I have been advising and assisting him in securing interview appointments in Japan. I will be joining Bellés in Japan next year to show him around and introducing him to some prominent figures in kaiju movies. I will also be gathering more material for an updated edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan
while there. I expect a full schedule there.
During the fourth quarter of the year, I attended the Son of Monsterpalooza Convention in Burbank. There, I met Akira Takarada. (Son of Monsterpalooza is a slightly smaller-scale version of Monsterpalooza, but held at the same venue.) Our meeting drew some chuckles with the small crowd that was gathered at Takarada's table. While he signed my poster, I was signing for him a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan
that I brought along as a gift. "Dueling Sharpies"?
|Above, Akira Takarada and Armand at Son of Monsterpalooza.|
I helped Bellés in arranging for an interview with Haruo Nakajima while Nakajima was in Germany for a horror convention. An almost "last minute hitch" came close to derailing the interview as fees were requested and Bellés (stunned, as he already paid for his airfare and hotel room) asked for my assistance. It all boiled down to, "Who's getting the fees and for what?" As it turned out, they were not unreasonable as a portion was for the supplied translator. I advised Bellés accordingly and offered to chip in for the cost (he managed to negotiate a better price as the documentary he's working on is a doctoral project). The interview went off nicely.
Work involving insurance claims had been slow for the better part of the year, but it has recently picked up. I just hope this trend continues. Thank the stars that I have "more than one oar in the water."
Last month, I participated (again) in a panel on Japanese monsters and robots (specifically, Godzilla
and Pacific Rim
) at this year's Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. We had a fully packed room and, despite not having the audio/visual equipment we requested, it went quite well. Following the panel session, I sold some copies of the travel guide. Attendees seemed revved up to see Godzilla
next July. Kudos to our moderator Jessica Tseang in putting it all together.
|Above, the "Pacific Rim" and "Godzilla" panel at Comikaze Expo,|
There are many things to look forward to in 2014. The year will begin with the 21st anniversary of my 39th birthday for starters. Then a return to Japan. Upon returning from Japan, work will begin on the updated edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan
. Then, we have the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla
to look forward to in the summer. Beyond that, it is anyone's guess on how the year will turn out (as is normally the case).
Best wishes for an enjoyable and safe holiday season!