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

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo 2014

Above, the gang's all here for the Godzilla/Gamera panel.

Another successful Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo is in the record books. The convention runs through Sunday, but this was it for me this year. It was a good way to celebrate Halloween.

Our panel on the 60th anniversary of Godzilla, the 50th anniversary of Gamera and other assorted topics (such as Godzilla 2014) were discussed by the panel as well as the audience members.

The number of audience members were down from last year. We were in a much bigger room and, which is the unfortunate part, further away from the stairs, elevators and escalators. The problem was probably caused by the scheduling error in which the Comikaze organizers had to reschedule us an hour earlier as they had our moderator, Jessica Tseang scheduled on two panels at the same time. I am guessing that this was the only meeting room available.

Still, we had an enthusiastic audience and a good discussion. All agreed that the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla was much better than the abomination of 1998.

Following the panel, I managed to sell many copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan, so the trek more than paid for itself.

After this, I wandered around in the exhibit hall and there were plenty of things to see. I did a double-take when I spotted Christine Nguyen on a banner at the New York Times booth (yes, they were there selling subscriptions). I'll have to send a photo to Christine.

I did pick up a 1970s Mechagodzilla coin bank for myself.

I ran into a comic book dealer I knew in Woodland Hills (before he closed his shop in 2004), Mike Frank. We caught up on things and I gave him a copy of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

As usual, Comikaze Expo was an enjoyable event and I am looking forward to next year's.

Here's some photos:

Above, there were plenty of comic books for sale. I almost bought
several Silver Age issues of World's Finest. Photo by Armand Vaquer

Above, Mile High Comics was represented by this booth. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, there were two kaiju dealers at Comikaze Expo this year that I found. This was one. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a vacationing Godzilla waited to make a purchase at the above kaiju toy booth. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Comikaze Expo's main stage. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a cosplayer celebrates Halloween. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a display of Marvel characters. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, I couldn't resist getting this Mechagodzilla coin bank. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Envy Model Management's Constance Nunes at the Muck booth. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, a familiar face (Christine Nguyen) advertising the New York Times. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Wall St. Journal: "Godzilla Was A Very Different Beast 60 Years Ago"

Above, the Godzilla 1954 Japanese poster.

Godzilla and The Wall Street Journal. That is an interesting combination, if I ever heard one. But that's what we have as The Wall Street Journal has posted an article on the Big G, "Godzilla Was A Very Different Beast 60 Years Ago."

As we are nearing the 60th anniversary of the release of 1954's Godzilla on November 3, the Journal's article focuses on the making of the original film that includes comments by Eizo Kaimai, one of the few remaining members of the team who created Godzilla.

It begins with:
TOKYO—Godzilla has come a long way in 60 years. 
When the original film opened in Japan on Nov. 3, 1954, Godzilla was made from bamboo, cloth, paper, wire and whatever was available, says Eizo Kaimai, the 85-year-old chairman of Kaimai Productions. 
This was long before digital wizards came along to create a T-Rex or Transformer, before Star Wars, Jurassic Park or Avatar.
Above, Haruo Nakajima with actress Lea Thompson in 2013. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The article also includes quotes from the original Godzilla suit-actor, Haruo Nakajima and the actor who played Hideto Ogata, Akira Takarada.

To read more, go here.

U.S. Dollar Hits 111.24-111.25 Yen In Tokyo

After a bit of a slide for the past three weeks, the U.S. dollar has made a big surge against the Japanese yen.

At present (16:58 hours Japan time), the dollar is currently at 111.24-111.25 against the yen in Tokyo, according to the Kyodo News.

This is even more enticing for American tourists who wish to take a vacation in Japan as the dollar buys more yen in exchange.

Tokyo's Yoyogi Park Reopening

Above, Yoyogi Park as seen from Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. The
 park is the big green area at the upper right. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's good news for joggers and others who use Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun:

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo will reopen to the public Friday after nearly two months of closure due to the low possibility there are still mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Thursday. 
A large part of the park premises was closed on Sept. 4 after visitors to the park developed dengue fever and virus-carrying mosquitoes were found there. The virus, which causes the fever, can be transmitted by mosquitoes. 
The decision to reopen the park comes as the mosquito population there has fallen due to cold temperatures and no mosquitoes caught there have tested positive for the virus since Sept. 18, according to the metropolitan government.
The article states that as mosquitoes have a lifespan of  30 to 40 days, the government felt it unlikely that any carrying the dengue fever virus remain.

To read more, go here.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tomorrow Is Halloween and Tuesday Is Election Day, So...

Narita To Open New Terminal For Low-Cost Carriers In April

Above, low-cost carrier passengers arrive at airport terminal.*

In a move to increase flights to and from Narita International Airport, a new terminal to service LCCs (Low-Cost Carriers) is now under construction and will open in April.

According to Kyodo News:
CHIBA, Japan, Oct. 30, Kyodo 
Narita airport near Tokyo will open Terminal 3 as an exclusive facility for low-cost carriers on April 8, the airport's operator said Thursday. 
In a bid to encourage LCCs to increase flights to and from the airport, Narita International Airport Corp. started constructing the new terminal costing some 13 billion yen in 2013. 
"The new terminal will further expand the scope of options for users and make Narita airport more convenient," the company's President Makoto Natsume said at a press conference. 
Terminal 3, under construction on the north side of Terminal 2, will consist of a three-story building and a two-story satellite and have a total floor area of 66,000 square meters.
To read more, go here.

*The photo above is not how the new Terminal 3 will look or how passengers with LCCs will arrive.
This is a shot from the movie, Airplane! (1980). I couldn't resist this little spoof.

Asahi Shimbun Begins 10-Part Series On The Tsukiji Outer Market

Above, a fish shop at the Tsukiji Outer Market. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of places I've always wanted to see in Tokyo was the Tsukiji Fish Market. During my 2010 trip to Japan, I accomplished this and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Along with walking around the Tsukiji Fish Market, it was also fun to walk around the outer market and seeing the different shops and restaurants. And, I had the best sushi meal ever.

The Asahi Shimbun has started a series of articles on the outer market. The first one has been posted.

The editor's note with the article stated:
Editor’s note: This is the first in a 10-part series of articles on the Tsukiji Outer Market in Tokyo, which is located next to the Tsukiji fish market, one of the largest of its kind in the world and a must-see destination for foreign tourists visiting Japan. In these articles, we will spotlight human-interest stories and offer helpful tips to our readers in order for them to more thoroughly enjoy the Tsukiji Outer Market. This series appears on Tuesdays.

To read the article, go here.

One More Day Until Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo!

Above, last years' Godzilla panel will be back again Friday at Comikaze Expo.

Tomorrow's the big day that Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo opens at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The show runs through Sunday.

Our panel on Godzilla's 60th Anniversary and Gamera's 50th Anniversary will be held at 5:00 PM tomorrow. The panel will be broadcast LIVE via Kaiju Kingdom. Following the panel, I will have copies of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan available.

For more details on Comikaze Expo, go here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Condé Nast Traveler's "Best Airlines In The World"

Above, Singapore Air's A380-800. Photo by Singapore Air.

The results are in with Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards for "The Best Airlines In The World."

They begin their post with:
The results are in: Singapore, Emirates, and Virgin America airlines are our readers' favorite airlines in the world this year. If there’s one theme that stands out in the Readers' Choice Survey, it’s that flat beds and fancy video systems may be nice, but it’s in the decidedly low-tech realm of customer service that make these perennial winners (with ratings above the 81.000 minimum).

I am not at all surprised that Singapore Air came out on top. We flew on Singapore Air for G-Tour in 2004 and their food and service were unsurpassed.

To read the article, go here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Just In Time For Halloween

My CD of "The Original Music From Dark Shadows" arrived in the mailbox today. I am playing it now as I write this.

So far, the sound quality is excellent. I already have this album in cassette, bought when it first came out in 1969. It it well worn (still playable, though).

This edition has some bonuses (the radio interviews) that were not in the original album.

The tracks are:

1. Opening Themes: Dark Shadows/Collinwood
2. I'll Be With You, Always
3. Josette's Theme
4. A Darkness At Collinwood
5. Meditations
6. Night Of The Pentagram
7. When I Am Dead
8. No.1 At The Blue Whale
9. Shadows Of The Night (Quentin's Theme)
10. The Secret Room
11. Epitaph
12. Seance
13. I, Barnabas
14. Back At The Blue Whale
15. The Old House
16. Epilogue/Dark Shadows
17. Radio Interviews (1968)-Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, Roger Davis, Humbert Allen Astredo...
18. Radio Interview (1969)-David Selby

Above, Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins.

Just in time for Halloween!

Japan's SoftBank To Unveil Smartphone For Seniors

For those of us "geezers" who are age 60 and over, there's good news coming from SoftBank in regards to a new senior-friendly smartphone that's to be available next month.

According to The Japan Times:
SoftBank Corp. announced Tuesday that the company will release its new smartphone in late November and that its easy-to-use design will be particularly convenient for the elderly. 
The Simple Smaho 2, developed in cooperation with Sharp Corp., is the company’s second smartphone designed for senior users. 
In addition to a bigger 4.5-inch high-definition touch panel display and three-day battery life, the new model features a pre-installed version of the popular Line social networking app, which SoftBank claims answers senior consumers’ demand for occasional communications with relatives and friends. 
At its unveiling, a SoftBank project manager said seniors may emerge as a strong component of Japan’s smartphone market, as now only 16 percent of cellphone users in their 60s or older own one, according to the company’s recent research.
To read more, go here

Latest Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily has picked up three blog posts for sharing with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

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★Hokkaido Bus Tours Now Available for Winter
The sightseeing bus departing from Sapporo Station is a popular option for visitors looking for an easy way to see some of Sapporo and the surrounding area's most famous sights, and they are now available for booking for the winter months! (There are still some dates available in November, too!)

★Sapporo Half Day Bus Tours

There's loads to see and do in Sapporo, and these half-day tours divided into morning and afternoon are a great way to get a quick look at the city, from the bustling central market to the sprawling vista of Hitsujigaoka Hill!

Book a Sapporo Half Day Bus Tour!

★Otaru Bay Story Bus Tour

Known for its lovely townscape, the atmosphere of Otaru is only augmented by a dusting -- or blanket -- of snow. Highlights include a visit to the famous canal district, a tasty buffet lunch, and a trip up the Tenguyama Ropeway for a panoramic view of the city and bay!

Book the Otaru Bay Story Bus Tour from Sapporo!

★Asahiyama Zoo Winter Day Bus Tour

The famous Asahiyama Zoo is a winter wonderland for both its wild residents and excited visitors. There's no better season to see cold-loving animals like polar bears and penguins!

Book the Snow Monkey Tour from Sapporo!

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