"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Time Moves On, But...

It seems like it was not too long ago that summer began and it opened with my presentation at Distant Lands Travel Bookstore and Outfitters in Pasadena.

Now we're only one day away from October and it will soon be harvest time in Nebraska.

As the summer started, my poor laptop had to go into the shop due to a clumsy co-worker who knocked over a soft drink on it.  Now, autumn started with it back into the shop as an object somehow swung into the screen and broke the glass. So it was back to the repair shop again.

It'll be fixed by noon tomorrow. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

James Bond Is Back In "Solo"

Since the death of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, other writers have written novels featuring MI6's top secret agent. They were authorized, of course, by the Fleming estate.

A new James Bond novel hits London bookstores tomorrow.

According to The Mainichi:
LONDON (AP) -- William Boyd has left James Bond stirred, if not shaken. 
The British writer has taken on the fictional spy in "Solo," a new 007 novel that balances fidelity to Ian Fleming's iconic character with subtle changes. 
Bond fans will find much they recognize, along with some surprises -- one of which is that in Boyd's mind, James Bond looks like Daniel Day-Lewis. 
Boyd says Fleming once described the spy as "looking like the American singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. Daniel Day-Lewis looks like Hoagy Carmichael." 
"Solo" is set in 1969, and takes the suave British spy from London's plush Dorchester Hotel to a war-ravaged West African country and on to Washington on a perilous lone mission. 
Boyd steers Bond away from his big-screen action-hero image and back toward the complex and conflicted character of Fleming's novels.
To read the full article, go here.

Senate Republicans Not Interested In Winning

Senator Ted Cruz on The Rush Limbaugh Show following his 21 hours filibuster:
CRUZ:  I will tell you the single biggest surprise in arriving to the Senate is the defeatist attitude here.  I mean, we don't even talk about how to win a fight.  There's no discussion. We talk about, "Hey, let's get a show vote so we can go tell our constituents we're doing something."  But I promise you, Rush, if you had to sit through one Senate lunch, you'd be in therapy for a month.

Two defeatists are in the image above.

To read more, go here

The Truth About Obamacare, by Michael Connelly

Retired Constitutional attorney Michael Connelly has read the entire Obamacare law and he is startled about what he found in it.

He wrote:
Well, I have done it!  I have read the entire text of proposed House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009.  I studied it with particular emphasis from my area of expertise, constitutional law.  I was frankly concerned that parts of the proposed law that were being discussed might be unconstitutional.  What I found was far worse than what I had heard or expected. 
To begin with, much of what has been said about the law and its implications is in fact true, despite what the Democrats and the media are saying.  The law does provide for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession. 
The Bill will also eventually force private insurance companies out of business, and put everyone into a government run system.  All decisions about personal health care will ultimately be made by federal bureaucrats, and most of them will not be health care professionals.  
Hospital admissions, payments to physicians, and allocations of necessary medical devices will be strictly controlled by the government.
- See more at: http://www.independentamericanparty.org/2013/09/the-truth-about-the-health-care-bills-by-michael-connelly/#sthash.GwWTTiaA.dpuf

A Happy Recipient!

Godzilla & Hiroshima: The Dawn of the Kaiju Eiga documentary director/producer Jonathan Bellés posted at Facebook the following photo with this:
Armand Vaquer gives to Jonathan Belles a dedicated copy of his book called The Monster Movie fan's guide to Japan. THANK YOU!!!

Top 15 Tsukiji Street Snacks

Above, some of the street vendors near the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Near to the Tsukiji Fish Market are many businesses and street vendors. They include restaurants, gift stores and snack shops for the traveler to partake in.

Time Out Tokyo has an article on the "Top 15 Tsukiji Street Snacks" for visitors to "eat your way around" Tokyo's most famous fish market.

They begin with:
The lively Tsukiji Market has become one of Japan’s must-visit sites, attracting not only foreign tourists, but also visitors from within Japan, eager to get a glimpse – and perhaps taste – of the freshest seafood in the city. The crowds of visitors have brought plenty of changes to the market – beyond the piled-high stacks of tuna, jumbo crabs and other deep sea delicacies, you'll now find an increasingly large number of shops selling street snacks to hungry tourists, eager to sample the enticing seafood on offer. Here's our pick of the bunch.
To see what the top 15 street snacks are, go here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tully's Coffee Opening In Tottori Prefecture In 2014

Above, Tully's near the Hotel Asia Center of Japan in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of my favorite coffee shops in Tokyo is Tully's, which is a five-minute walk from my hotel of choice, the Hotel Asia Center of Japan.

An article in RocketNews24 caught my attention, not because it is about a new Tully's that is opening in April 2014 in Tottori Prefecture, but from one paragraph on the number of Tully's coffee shops in Japan.

They wrote:
Tully’s, which began in Seattle just like its more famous competitor, currently has 513 stores across Japan and if everything goes according to plan, the new store will open in April 2014. The floor space of the new Tully’s measures in at 20 square metres and looks set to be the perfect place for anyone to unwind.
Tottori Prefecture is the least-populated prefecture in Japan, so the opening of a Tully's there is big news.

When I was in Niigata in 2010, I did not see a Starbucks there, but there was a Tully's coffee shop near the JR Niigata Station, which served my coffee needs.

To read the full article, go here.

"Big Ass Spider" Trailer

This looks like it'll be fun to see:

Sleepy Hollow

The second episode of Sleepy Hollow aired last night and it was a lot of fun, as was the first episode that aired last week. 

Sleepy Hollow seems to be a hit with the viewers as it has attracted the most primetime viewers of the new television season.

Breitbart's Big Hollywood website is raving about it  Some sippets:
FOX has a fun and ridiculous new show called Sleepy Hollow on its Monday night schedule. 
Sleepy Hollow harkens back to the Revolutionary War and clouds it with some Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter type mythology. Turns out that the tyrannical, over-taxing British are on the side of the devil and actually trying to bring about the end of the world, and George Washington and his merry freedom lovers are trying to save not just the future United States but the entire world. 
Told you this show was fun.  
Another aspect to the show to love is Tom Mison's Ichabod Crane who is thrust into the future with that famous headless horseman. He's against tyranny, enslavement and taxes! 
Yes, last night Crane gave a great rant about revolting against taxes when he looked at the sales receipt of some donuts that his sheriff partner/friend just bought.

The show has a similar kind of humor to it as Buffy, The Vampire Slayer did (that was my favorite show of the 1990s).

To read Big Hollywood's review, go here.

The Ted Cruz Obamacare Filibuster Is On!

Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn will allow the Democrats to fund Obamacare with only 50 votes.

Fellow Conservatives:

This is an urgent update on the fight to stop funding Obamacare.

Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) -- the top two Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate -- announced yesterday that they will support "cloture" on the government funding bill, giving Harry Reid and the Democrats a procedural green light to fund Obamacare with only 50 votes.

Mitch McConnell and John CornynBreitbart News is reporting that McConnell and Cornyn are using their leadership positions to pressure other Republicans to oppose Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) in their effort to defund Obamacare.

According to a senior staffer quoted in the news report, "Nobody is fighting harder to make sure Obamacare is funded than Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn." 

This is the ultimate betrayal.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Senate Republicans to Stand With Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, Not Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn

We knew Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn weren't with us when they voted to fund Obamacare earlier this year. But then, under pressure from grassroots, they said they supported the effort to defund it. They even ran political ads in their home states to make voters think they were on their side.

But now, faced with the prospect of having to fight for the things they claim to believe, these Senate leaders have surrendered. 

Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn have surrendered to Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and the Democrats. More importantly, they have surrendered to Obamacare -- the biggest job killer in America.


http://senateconservatives.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=75124207697efe9a19ed9a724&id=4e1f5e090f&e=253002baeeWe can't let these turncoats force millions of Americans into this liberal train wreck.

Obamacare is unaffordable, unworkable, and it's unfair.

Please contact the other Republican senators -- even if they aren't from your state -- and urge them to OPPOSE cloture so the Democrats can't fund Obamacare.

You can find the list of senators at DontFundObamacare.com along with their contact information and where they currently stand on this issue.

It's very important for you to call senators today and urge them to stand with Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the fight to stop funding Obamacare.

Time is running out. Obamacare begins in just one week. We must act now.

This country belongs to us, not the politicians in Washington. Let's make sure they hear us loud and clear.

Best regards,

Matt Hoskins
Executive Director
Senate Conservatives Fund

Facts and Details: Godzilla

Above, Yuu Asakura with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
I've posted about this website before (two years ago), but it merits a revisit.

Facts and Details.com has a special page set up on Godzilla. The title of it is somewhat odd, "GODZILLA: HER STORY, HER FILMS AND HOLLYWOOD'S TACKY REMAKE." It is rather curious about the "her" part of it, especially since the contents refer to Godzilla as "he" and "him."

The page goes through the history of Godzilla and the numerous incarnations of the character. The page includes links to various websites and resources for those who want to delve deeper.

They also devote much space to the movies (early and later ones), actors, the 1998 American debacle, the tokusatsu filming techniques, Godzilla Guidebook and Museum Exhibits and much more. The guidebook they focus on is my travel guide for kaiju fans, The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and the space devoted to it is quite generous. Here, they include quotes from my 2010 interview with Tom Baker of The Daily Yomiuri.

The site was set up in 2009 by Jeffrey Hayes and updated in January 2013.

To view the site, go here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tsukiji Fish Market's Controversial Move

Above, workers in the early morning at the Tsukiji Fish Market.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The vendors of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo aren't too happy about the planned move of the fish market to a new site. In fact, many (if not most) are strongly opposed to the move.

According to the Japan Times:
Moves by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to build a new marketplace on the site of the Tsukiji market have drawn mixed reactions, with some critics saying it is an attempt to bulldoze through the controversial relocation of the famed fish market to a new site. 
Some experts and Tsukiji players who have continued to express grave concerns about the safety of the relocation site in Koto Ward said the move to build a new market at the old site ignores their concerns and turns a blind eye to the problems in Toyosu. 
The safety of the relocation site has been in question since 2001, when Tokyo Gas Co., which had a factory there, revealed that the area contains high levels of lead, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, cyanogen and benzene. 
While the metropolitan government has insisted that safety can be ensured, opponents have sharply criticized moving the market to a site so heavily polluted.
To read the full article, go here.

Tsukiji Fish Market Moving A Way of Life

Above, some of the many vendor stalls at Tsukiji Fish Market.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Nearly three years ago, I visited the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Little did I know at the time that the historic marketplace (78 years old) will be moving to a smaller location, but a better one to accommodate truck traffic.

The New York Times has an article on the Tsukiji Fish Market, "A Way of Life Moves With A Market."

It begins with:
TOKYO — Each day before dawn, the world’s largest fish market comes to life in frantic activity, a last holdout of an older, quainter Japan. 
Workers in rubber boots slosh through inch-deep water, while others dart by on motorized carts carrying plastic-foam boxes with every manner of creature that can be hauled from the sea, from dagger-shaped silver sardines and spider-like crabs to the deflated protoplasmic blobs of mysterious deep-sea predators. In one corner, auctioneers loudly hawk the huge frozen torsos of prize tuna laid in rows on the floor. Nearby, fishmongers in open-air stalls carve the tuna flesh into ruby-red bricks for sale to sushi bars and grocers.  
Soon it will be gone. The city is planning to spend $4.5 billion to relocate the market — nicknamed Tsukiji for the neighborhood that surrounds it — to a modern, climate-controlled distribution center on a manufactured island in three years.
If you fancy a visit to the historic Tsukiji Fish Market and the neighboring restaurants and shops, you'd better do so while you still can.

To read the full article, go here.

Made It To Spain

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

Last week, I reported that I mailed off a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan to Spanish producer/director Jonathan Bellés. Bellés is currently preparing his doctoral project documentary, Godzilla & Hiroshima: The Dawn of the Kaiju Eiga.

He indicated that he'd like to purchase the travel guide, but I told him I'd send him one with my compliments.

He sent me his "snail mail" address and I was unsure if I addressed the envelope correctly at the time of mailing. Apparently, I did.

"Space Battleship Yamato" To Have Limited Theatrical Engagement Starting In October

Eleven Arts has announced that Space Battleship Yamato (2010) will have a limited theatrical engagement starting in October.

The movie will begin playing in Los Angeles and will make its way around the country in selected theaters.

I saw Space Battleship Yamato in December 2010 at the Toho Cinemas Nichigeki Theaters in the Yurakucho Mullion Building in Tokyo and have a subtitled copy on DVD.

Above, "Space Battleship Yamato" poster at the Yurakucho
Mullion Building in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

About Eleven Arts:
ELEVEN ARTS, Inc. is a company dedicated to the sales and distribution of high quality films. Specializing in Japanese and Asian films, we serve as a bridge connecting films to audiences around the world. ELEVEN ARTS is expanding into the field of production, a move that will allow us to be more active in the pursuit of our goal of bringing great films to our audiences. We are based in Los Angeles.
If you haven't seen Space Battleship Yamato on the big screen, you're in for a treat!

For more, go here.

July 2000 "Godzilla Week" Photo Surfaces

Above, gathering in the Hall of Administration before the "Godzilla Week" ceremony are (left to right)
Armand Vaquer, Masaharu Ina of Toho L.A., Andrew Wong and J. D. Lees.  Photo courtesy of Andrew Wong.

Back in July 2000, the second G-Fest in Southern California was about to be held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.  A month later, Godzilla 2000, the first Japanese Godzilla movie to be released nationwide in theaters since Godzilla 1985.

To garner some publicity for both, the idea was to have the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declare the week of G-Fest "Godzilla Week." Toho Co., Ltd. was enthusiastic over this idea and even shipped over (at their expense) a Godzilla 2000 event suit for the ceremony to be held at the Hall of Administration.

Unfortunately, Jaime Geller, a publicist at Sony Entertainment, horned in and thinking she knew better than anyone about what constitutes good publicity, nixed the appearance of the event suit saying it was too small and, "It detracts from the grandeur of Godzilla." (Sony had the U.S. theatrical rights to Godzilla 2000, which included publicity.) Once fans heard the news of the cancellation of the event suit, the "fit hit the shan." Geller received many angry messages from irate fans.

The ceremony went ahead anyway without the event suit and, as a result of Sony's dumb move, no publicity was generated. But, at least Toho got a nice scroll (below) out of it and it hangs somewhere at Toho in Japan.

What prompted this post was the above photograph that, until tonight, I didn't know existed. It was sent to me by Andrew Wong.  Thanks, Andrew!

Check out Andrew's GForever website.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Action Comics #405 Artwork

While chatting with a friend who just scored a Thomas Kinkade painting, it got me to do some digging on the original Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson artwork for Action Comics #405 (October 1971) that I own. It was for the story, "Superman, Bodyguard or Assassin?"

Here's the page:

And here's the cover to the comic it's from (by Neal Adams):

I must've bought the art page about 10-12 years ago. I paid $100 for it. Checking around, it appears that comparable original art from Swan and Anderson during that period now fetches around $500. See this.

"Departures" Director Yojiro Takita

Last December, I viewed and reviewed the 2008's Departures. It has to be the best non-kaiju Japanese movies I've seen in recent years.

Bangladesh's The Daily Star has a spotlight article on Departures director Yojiro Takita. Takita has garnered a lot of attention since his winning the best foreign film Oscar of 2008 for Departures.

Like several of his contemporaries, Takita started out as an apprentice in “pinku eiga”, or pink films (adult films).

To read the article, go here.

Yabukaiou Sake Godzilla

Source: Konishi Sake Brewery.

Suppose you are a Godzilla fan and, also, have a taste for sake. How can you combine the two?

Tokyo's Metropolis magazine has just the answer for you!

According to an article in their website, there's a sake that is bottled (if that's the right word) in a Godzilla-shaped ceramic decanter. It's called Yabukaiou Sake Godzilla from Konishi Sake Brewery.

There's one catch: they're only making 3,000 bottles and they are priced at ¥10,500 (roughly $105.00).

To see the article with a link to order, go here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Wilshire Brown Derby

Above, the original Wilshire Blvd. Brown Derby Restaurant in the 1950s.
A kind soul posted the above photo of the original Wilshire Blvd. Brown Derby Restaurant over on Twitter. This jogged a memory of my last meal there.

It was on primary election night in June 1980 in which former Governor Ronald Reagan won the California Primary for the GOP nomination for president. I was an area chairman for the Reagan campaign in the Hawthorne-Gardena area of Los Angeles County. The victory party was held that night at the Ambassador Hotel across the street from the Brown Derby. This was probably the first presidential campaign victory party held at the Ambassador Hotel since Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's assassination there in June 1968.

Before heading over to the Ambassador, I stopped at the Brown Derby for dinner. Much to my delight, they had a special of two lobster tails for around $12 or $15. So, I had two lobster tails that night.

According to Wikipedia, I was lucky to eat there as the restaurant was permanently closed later that year:
Opened in 1926, the original restaurant at 3427 Wilshire Boulevard remains the most famous due to its distinctive shape. Whimsical architecture was popular at the time, and the restaurant was designed to catch the eye of passing motorists. The Brown Derby name originated from a Malverne, New York-based restaurant of the same name which had been a popular hang-out for vaudevillians in the 1920s.[2] 
The small cafe, close to popular Hollywood hot spots such as Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, became successful enough to warrant building a second branch. 
The original, derby-shaped building was moved in 1937 to 3377 Wilshire Boulevard at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alexandria Avenue, about a block from its previous location (and about a block north of the Ambassador Hotel). 
After being sold in 1975 and renovated, the building was finally replaced in 1980 by a shopping center known as the Brown Derby Plaza.
The Derby was incorporated into the new shopping center building after preservationists campaigned to save it.

Above, actor Michael Landon and Gov. Reagan at the private reception in the Ambassador Hotel in June 1980.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
After dinner, I headed off to the Ambassador Hotel for the victory party. While the main party was in the Embassy Ballroom, I was in a separate reception room for campaign officials where the Reagans, along with actor Michael Landon, made an appearance before Gov. Reagan made his public victory speech. I took several photographs of them, one of which was published on the front page of the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee's The Trunkline newspaper.

Know Japan Before Booking Your Cheap Flight

Above, Kumamoto Station in Kyushu.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Mack Johnson posted an article on different places to consider visiting in Japan before booking your (cheap) flight over at USWebPros.com.

He begins with:
Japan has a lot of places to visit and to make it affordable, there a lot of cheap flights to Japan. Take a look at these places that may help you make your trip to Japan a memorable one. 
Japan- the land of the rising sun as it is known has a great deal of destinations to view and visit. What once used to be merely an island has developed into the most technologically advanced country of the world. The name speaks for itself; anything Japanese is reliable and trustworthy. 
In such a city, it is inevitable to visit some of the high-end industrial parks and companies.
Being an island, Japan has an amazing ocean view and one of the remarkable things about Japan is the balance they have maintained with environment with development. With cheap options available, access to the country has become easier with cheap flights to Japan being offered by many travel websites.
To read the article, go here.

Something Familar About An Ad...

There was something familiar about an ad for a Halloween event at a local golf course:

Okay, now I know why:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Japan's Next U.S. Ambassador

Above, Caroline Kennedy's father shown on a jumbo screen in Shibuya crossing.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It appears that Caroline Kennedy will be confirmed the next U.S. ambassador to Japan.

According to The Japan Times:
Caroline Kennedy says she hopes to carry on the legacy of her slain father, John F. Kennedy, by serving as U.S ambassador to Japan, pledging to work for closer bilateral ties. 
The Senate panel appeared virtually certain to confirm Kennedy, meaning she would head to Tokyo ahead of the 50th anniversary Nov. 22 of her father’s assassination. She was five days short of her sixth birthday at the time. 
“This appointment has a special significance as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of my father’s presidency,” she said. “I would be humbled to carry forward his legacy in a small way and represent the powerful bonds that unite our two democratic societies.”

While no senators opposed Kennedy’s nomination, several American foreign policy experts have criticized her, saying she has little experience at a time when Japan is experiencing high tensions with a rising China, South Korea and bellicose North Korea.

I, too, have my misgivings about this appointment, given her lack of experience. But since it is a foregone conclusion that she will be confirmed, I wish her success.

To read the full article, go here.

Tokyo Subway System's Clockwork Precision

Above, the Iidabashi station in Tokyo, Japan.  Source: Wikipedia.

You've no doubt heard of the precision of the Tokyo subway system.  Japan Today has a great article on the subways.

They start it with:
TOKYO —The vast train network that criss-crosses subterranean Tokyo can be a confusing and intimidating place for the uninitiated. 
Dreary, utilitarian stations drone and chime with a stream of announcements, seemingly ignored by the mass of humanity that spills onto platforms or crams improbably into carriages. 
It may not be pretty, but in a city where millions of commuters travel by train daily, it boasts the precision of a finely-crafted Swiss watch, keeping Tokyo moving—even if it means pushing hundreds of people into a single carriage at rush hour.
While it may be daunting for newbies, once you get the hang of the Tokyo subway system (you can pick up a handy map at any station), it is an easy system to master and it will take you to virtually any point in Tokyo. You really don't need a car in Tokyo.

To read the article, go here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

JNTO's "Practical Travel Guides"

Above, the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has a page full of Practical Travel Guides that are downloadable PDF files (you need Adobe Acrobat to view them).

According to JNTO:
JNTO's "Practical Travel Guides" are designed to help the English-speaking traveler enjoy an independent trip inexpensively to a popular destination or famous tourist site without further assistance. 
Grouped by region, the Guides include such invaluable detailed information as means of transport, local area maps, briefing notes, and places to stay.
To access the Practical Travel Guides, go here.

Gas Prices 1,000 Days Above $3.00/Gallon

Above, a Tarzana, California gasoline station.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Well, we've reached a not-too-happy milestone.

According to USA Today:
By now every driver knows the drill: The price of gasoline ratchets up, there's an outcry among motorists who feel gouged at the pump and then things settle down as the higher price becomes the new normal. 
Well, AAA has come up with a sobering statistic: the average price of gasoline will surpass $3 per gallon Tuesday for the 1,000th consecutive day. That's never happened before, the motoring organization says.
Barack Obama wanted higher gasoline prices, so now he has his wish. Why do you suppose he doesn't want the Keystone pipeline?

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

Read more, go here.

Truly Disturbing Picked Up "Godzilla & Hiroshima" Story

Above, a prop from "Godzilla x Megaguirus" at the Bandai Museum.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Horror website Truly Disturbing.com has posted an article on the upcoming Godzilla documentary, Godzilla & Hiroshima: The Dawn of the Kaiju Eiga. The documentary is now in production and is being produced and directed by Jonathan Bellés as a doctoral project.

The Truly Disturbing's post is almost verbatim of Dread Central's posting on the documentary. Thankfully, they also credit this blog as a source for some of their information and quotes.

As this is a doctoral project for Jonathan Bellés, I checked around for possible sources of grant money for foreign documentaries in the United States and found some. I forwarded the information to Bellés, so maybe he might be able to shake a few money trees and get some grants to help finance his project and produce an even better end result.

Incidentally, I popped a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan to Bellés in yesterday's mail.

To read the full article at Truly Disturbing.com, go here.

Tokyo Photo 2013 To Be Held At Zojoji Temple

Above, the gateway to the Zojoji Temple in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The historic Zojoji Temple, which is just a short walk from Tokyo Tower, will be the location for this year's photographic exhibition, Tokyo Photo 2013.

According to The Japan Times:
Japan’s first international photography fair, Tokyo Photo, strengthens its hold on the photography scene in Asia with its fifth yearly installment from Sept. 27 to 30 at a new location at the Zojoji Temple in the downtown area of the city. 
The move to the storied temple for Tokyo Photo 2013, making the event a more unusual and memorable cultural experience, is hoped to appeal to a wider audience. The now-customary wide range of high-profile exhibiting galleries and agencies, this year numbering around 30, come from the long-established key cultural centers of New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin as well as relatively new photography hotspots such as Beijing and Amsterdam.
I visited the Zojoji Temple back in 2001. I found it to be a very peaceful and scenic spot in the middle of the Tokyo megalopolis.

For details on Tokyo Photo 2012, go here

JAL Tohoku Support Project

Above, some of the 200 islets of Matsushima Bay.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Some of the most scenic areas of Japan are up in the Tohoku region. I was up there in 2006 visiting Sendai and nearby Matsushima.

Unfortunately, Tohoku was the hardest hit region by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. While most of the tourism-related businesses have been long up and running, they still have not fully recovered and many businesses are barely hanging on and some have already gone out of business due to a lack of tourists.

With the above in mind, it is pleasing to see that major Japanese companies are doing what they can to help bolster tourism-related businesses in the region.

Japan Airlines is one of those businesses lending a helping hand.

According to eTurboNews:
TOKYO, Japan - Japan Airlines (JAL) has started JAL Tohoku Support Project - "VISIT TOHOKU!" since June 1, 2013 under its basic CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Policy. For purpose of supporting disaster-affected area, the airline contributes to stimulate tourism demands and support local industries in Tohoku through its activities of "Bring more tourists to Tohoku" and "Promote people's interest in Tohoku", as well as contributes to support the disaster-affected inhabitants. 
To read the full article, go here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Japan Set New Tourist Record In August

Above, Nakamise Street in Asakusa, a popular tourist attaction in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The number of foreign visitors to Japan set new records in 2010, which was before things made a big u-turn in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake in Tohoku.

That is all changed as a new record number of foreign tourists in August visited Japan.

Kyodo News reported:
The number of foreign visitors to Japan in August broke the record for the month, rising 17.1 percent from a year earlier to 907,000, on the back of the weaker yen, an estimate by the country's tourism body showed Wednesday. 
The previous August record was 803,000 set in 2010, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
To read the full article, go here

Ohio Superman License Plates

Source: Fox 8 News.

Ohio Superman fans will soon be able to purchase Superman license plates.

For $20 over the normal car registration fee, car owners will be able to have a Superman-themed license plate on their cars. The plates will be available beginning on the first week in October according to Fox 8 television station in Cleveland.

Superman creators Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster were from Cleveland.

To read the article from Fox 8, go here.

Starburst Article On "Godzilla & Hiroshima" Posted

First it was Dread Central, now it is the website for Starburst Magazine.

Starburst posted an article on the now-in-production documentary on Godzilla and other kaiju, Godzilla & Hiroshima: The Dawn of the Kaiju Eiga and attributes some information to this blog. It was also nice of them to mention The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

They wrote:
Bellés has also been quoted in the blog of writer Armand Vaquer, writer of The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide To Japan, that it will include monsters and characters besides the Godzilla franchise. Examples named are Ultraman and Gamera. Furthermore the article states Bellés wishes to “travel to Hiroshima to visit the Peace Memorial Museum mainly.”
To read the full article, go here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tokyo's Kitchen Town

Above, you're in the right place when you see this landmark.  Source: Wikipedia.

Besides Tokyo's Book Town, it appears that I'll have to check out another enclave in Tokyo next year: Kitchen Town. I'm certain my "roomie" will insist upon it (since she's a culinary student)!

I just discovered it tonight over at RocketNews24.  I stayed in Ueno in 2005 and spent a lot of time in Asakusa, but this is the first I've heard of Kitchen Town.

According to RocketNews24:
Recently, tourists in Japan have been flocking to Kappabashi-dori, also known as Kitchen Town, before returning to their home countries. They come to the small shopping area located between Ueno and Asakusa, Tokyo in search of a hot souvenir item not entirely unique to Japan. 
For the past two to three years, Kama Asa Shoten, an over 100-year-old shop “bringing together professional cooks and the right utensils,” has seen the number of foreign customers increase. The shop, located in Kappabashi-dori, specializes in crafting specialty cooking knives and it is this luxury item that has foreigners in Japan shelling out several hundred dollars for a single souvenir.
 According to Japan-Guide.com:
You will find specialized stores for dishes, pots, pans, cooking utensils, stoves, tables, chairs, signs, lanterns and more. There are also a few stores which sell plastic and wax food samples, used by many restaurants in their show windows.
To check out Tokyo's Kitchen Town, use the above links.

"Red River" Released 65 Years Ago today

Above, John Wayne and Montgomery Clift.

One of my favorite westerns was released 65 years ago today.

This was posted by the official John Wayne Facebook page:
September 17, 1948 ~ "Red River" was released to theaters 65 years ago today. Dunson is driving his cattle to Red River when his adopted son, Matthew, turns against him. All the interior scenes were shot on 4 large sound stages at MGM in Hollywood. To add to the realism the film company imported 20 tons of sand and assorted mesquite from the location sites in Arizona. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Story and Best Editing. 
 "I don't like quitters, especially when they're not good enough to finish what they start." Thomas Dunson/JOHN WAYNE

Y.R. Politics - 1976

Going through my photo albums, I found a few from 1976.

Above, as the 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Los Angeles County Young
Republicans, it fell to me to run the election meeting as the Chairman
and First Vice-Chairman were absent.  And run it I did. 
Above, yours truly, Barb Baker, Lynn Davis and Arleigh Kerr following the
 election meeting.  I was elected LACYR First Vice-Chairman at this meeting.
Above and below, Assemblyman Paul T. Bannai addresses the meeting of the
Los Angeles County Young Republicans at Spencer Douglass for Assembly
Headquarters in Redondo Beach, California, March 12, 1976.

Above, here I am with Assemblyman Robert G. Beverly at the "Salute
To Paul Bannai" dinner, May 7, 1976 at the Hyatt International Hotel.
Above, at a party by the Young Republicans of El Camino College are
(top row) Arleigh Kerr, Armand, and Gary Julian.  Bottom row,
Wendy Waldman, Glenn Bernstein, Bob Dornan and Paul Bannai.

Perfect Timing! Godzilla Documentary Producer/Director To Go To Germany

Above, Haruo Nakajima discussion panel at this year's Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Photo by Jeff Blanken.
Talk about perfect timing!

Haruo Nakajima will be a guest at the Weekend of Horrors convention in Germany November 8 -10. Since Germany is practically in Spain's backyard (or vice-versa), arrangements are being made for Godzilla & Hiroshima: The Dawn of the Kaiju Eiga documentary director/producer Jonathan Bellés to interview Haruo Nakajima at the convention.

Just hope there's a good translator available.

Japan's Hotels Taking Steps To Attract More Foreign Visitors

Above, the Shimano River in Niigata.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
To meet its long-term tourism goals of 10 million foreign visitors annually and the 2020 Olympics Summer Games, Japan's hotels are re-thinking their strategies in making their facilities more inviting to foreign tourists.

According to the Tokyo Times:
Japanese hotels have started to pay more attention to foreign tourists, from creating multilingual websites to offering larger beds. They are preparing step by step for the 2020 Olympics, when, for several weeks, Tokyo will become one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
The goal for 10 million visitors was 60% met in July, according to the article and are taking even further steps.
 “About 10 years ago, there was a sense among hotels that they did not need to depend on foreign guests, but now they have learned that foreign visitors are also reliable on weekdays when the number of Japanese guests might be low,” Osamu Urasawa, who runs O.H. Co., a company offering website design and translation services mainly to hotels, said.
To read the full article, go here.

Also, the Wall Street Journal website's "Japan Realtime" has posted their version of the article here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Central Japan Hit By Typhoon Man-yi

Above, this little rainstorm in Asakusa doesn't compare to
 the typhoon that's hitting it now.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
We have hurricanes and Japan has typhoons.

A big typhoon hit central Japan today causing widespread flooding and damage.

According to Japan Today:
TOKYO —A powerful typhoon lashed Japan with torrential rain Monday, leaving two dead as it damaged homes and flooded parts of the country’s popular tourist destination of Kyoto, where 260,000 people were ordered to evacuate to shelters. 
Typhoon Man-yi, packing wind speeds of 162 kilometers per hour Monday night, was centered off the northern coast and heading to Hokkaido, dumping more heavy rain. 
Trains in Tokyo and its vicinity were largely suspended and more than 500 flights were grounded. 
What's a typhoon, you may ask?  According to Weather.com:
From a meteorology perspective, there is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between a typhoon and a hurricane (and for that matter there is no difference among a hurricane, typhoon, tropical cyclone or severe cyclonic storm).
Right now, Japan is in its typhoon season, which runs from May through October. August and September is the peak period. The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan covers this on page 13, so travelers can plan their vacations around typhoon season.

To read the full Japan Today article on Typhoon Man-yi, go here.

5th Anniversary: Democrats Caused Wall Street Debacle

Since the media is commemorating the fifth anniversary of the start of the financial crisis, this is a re-post on why it all happened and why we still haven't recovered.

This was originally posted in October 2008. Just a stroll Down Memory Lane for those yo-yos who blame George W. Bush:

The Democrats are up to their eyeballs with responsibility for the current crisis on Wall Street over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Barack Obama was the no. 2 recipient of campaign donations from Fannie Mae (Sen. Christopher Dodd was no. 1).

Two former CEOs of Fannie Mae are now on Obama's staff as economic advisors: Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson. Those two raked in millions of dollars for themselves.

Another noted Democrat was involved (from Michael Reagan's article, link below):
Jamie Gorelick, an official in Clinton’s Justice Department — the woman who built the “wall” that prevented the FBI from targeting terrorists before 9/11 — worked for Fannie Mae and took home $26 million.
Gorelick should be familiar to us from the 9/11 Commission Report as she was the one responsible for keeping the CIA from sharing terrorist data with the FBI before 9/11 thanks to her wall.

The Wall Street Journal has a compendium of articles warning of the debacle and the involvement of Democrats: Wall Street Journal Compendium

The Obama campaign is currently trying to blame Republicans for this crisis, but that won't fly as the real facts are now coming out. In fact, McCain warned of a possible crisis (source: Michael Reagan):
Obama brazenly blames John McCain and the GOP for the current Wall Street mess when it’s clear none of it was due to Republican policies. The truth of the matter is that it was McCain and three GOP colleagues who sought to reform the government’s lending policies three long years ago after the Bush administration had failed two years earlier. On May 25, 2006, McCain spoke on behalf of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, and warned against the debacle we are now facing if it failed to pass.

He told the Senate that a report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight charged that “Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives.”

McCain warned, “If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.”

McCain predicted the entire collapse we now are suffering through. He stressed the falsification of financial records to benefit executives, including Obama advisers Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson.
Jonah Goldberg at National Review Online writes:
The current financial crisis stems in large part from the fact that people who shouldn’t have been buying a home, or who bought more home than they could afford, now can’t pay their bills. Their bad mortgages are mixed up with the good mortgages. And thanks in part to new accounting rules set up after Enron, the bad mortgages have contaminated the whole pile, reducing the value of even stable mortgages.

Of course, there are other important factors at work here, having to do with changing technology among other things. And even if the bad mortgages weren’t in the system, we’d still have the hangover from the end of the housing boom. But the financial system could have handled that with the usual corrections. The biggest dose of poison entered the financial bloodstream through Washington. And some people warned us. In 2005, Fannie Mae revealed it overstated earnings by $10.6 billion and that it didn’t really know what was going on. The Bush administration pushed for reforms, but those efforts were rebuffed by Congress, with Democrats Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd taking point, because Fannie and Freddie have spent millions in campaign contributions.

In 2005, McCain sponsored legislation to thwart what he later called “the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole.”

Obama, the Senate’s second-greatest recipient of donations from Fannie and Freddie after Dodd, did nothing.

Meanwhile, Raines, the head of a government-supported institution, made $52 million of his $90 million compensation package thanks in part to fraudulent earnings statements.
Hopefully, people will remember this when they go to the polls in November.

To see Michael Reagan's full article:
Michael Reagan: Democrats Own Wall Street Debacle

To see Jonah Goldberg's full article: Wall Street Fat Cats Aren't At Fault This Time

Since the above was posted, a YouTube video surfaced showing Barney Frank and Maxine Waters attacking "whistleblowers" who were sounding the warning over Fannie and Freddie with Waters injecting the "race card." Just do a search at YouTube for Barney Frank and Maxine Waters along with Fannie and Freddie and you'll find it.

Japan's Top 8 Fast Food Chains

Above, after loading up on some toys, shoppers can go next door for some fast food in Asakusa.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This has been a topic I've blogged about before, but Japan Today has the survey results of 5,708 Japanese men and women that asked what's their favorite fast food establishment.

Before getting into the survey results, they start the article with:
TOKYO —Do you have a favorite place to get a quick, cheap meal? Maybe you go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and enjoy a Big Mac or cruise on over to Krispy Kreme for a sweet treat. Even though Japan doesn’t have a strong culture of driving motor vehicles, people in the island nation still enjoy a wide variety of quick bites. But what is Japan’s favorite fast food?
To find out, go here

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