"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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Saturday, February 28, 2015

2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R Photos

Above, my new toy at home in Tarzana. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I finally had the chance to take some photos of my new toy, a 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R that I bought this week at La Mesa RV in San Diego. This is a Class C motorhome.

Since RV enthusiasts like to look at other people's, um, rigs, here's a bunch of photos:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Superman Celebration In Classic Images Magazine

Above, the cover of the March 2015 edition of Classic Images magazine that contains a photo article on last summer's Superman Celebration that was held in Tarzana (plaque dedication), Studio City (luncheon) and tour of the Pasadena Playhouse.

Fittingly, two of George Reeves's movie posters are displayed on the cover.

For their website, go here.

Leonard Nimoy Now On His Eternal Mission

Above, a bust of Leonard Nimoy as Spock at the 2013 Son of Monsterpalooza. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Actor Leonard Nimoy passed away today at age 83 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was best-known as the Vulcan first officer "Mr. Spock" on the 1960s television series (and movies) Star Trek.

He passed away at home. I had read a few days ago that he had been hospitalized.

While he was known as Spock, Nimoy also appeared in television's Mission Impossible and the syndicated show In Search Of as host and many movies since the 1950s (including one with Jack "Jimmy Olsen" Larson in 1952's Kid Monk Baroni).

Back around 1976, I had the opportunity to see Nimoy perform on stage in a rather campy production (as the title character) of Sherlock Holmes at the now-gone Shubert Theater in Century City. It was a joy seeing the man at work.

Nimoy appeared as "Spock-prime" in the two recent J. J. Abrams Star Trek movies. No doubt, the next Star Trek movie will honor Nimoy in some fashion.

While the title "television icon" is often given to some celebrities who may be undeserving, it certainly fits Leonard Nimoy.


Top Three Places In Japan By Rocket News 24 Reporters

Rocket News 24 has an article in which they asked three of their reporters to choose the top three places in Japan that they'd like to visit again someday.

It begins with:
Figuring out where to go during your stay in Japan can seem like an insurmountable task. For first-time visitors to the country, there are so many famous places to visit that the task of deciding becomes overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’ve been living in Japan for a while, you’re probably tired of all the crowded, touristy places and would like to go somewhere off-the-beaten path. 
To help out our readers who are struggling with this internal dilemma, we’ve asked three reporters from our Japanese-language RocketNews24 team to share with us the top three places in Japan they’d definitely like to visit again someday. These three have had ample opportunities to travel to various places around the country and experience the local scenes in the name of eclectic journalism, so you can think of them as seasoned experts on the matter. Let’s see what little-known travel recommendations they have waiting for us!

To see their picks, go here


As NRA has been reporting since the night the news broke, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) is moving to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding gun owners with a drastic reinterpretation of a nearly 30-year-old law regulating so-called “armor piercing” ammunition. So draconian is BATFE’s new “Framework” that it would prohibit the manufacturing, importation, and sale of M855 ball ammunition, one of the most popular cartridges for the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15. Not coincidentally, the AR-15 is among the firearms the Obama Administration has unsuccessfully sought to outlaw. If they can’t ban the pie, so the thinking apparently goes, they might at least get the apples.

In an effort to thwart BATFE's attempted action, NRA has worked with U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to draft a letter to BATFE expressing the lawmakers' opposition to the proposed Framework.

According to the letter, “The idea that Congress intended [the ‘armor piercing’ ammunition law] to ban one of the preeminent rifle cartridges in use by Americans for legitimate purposes is preposterous.” It goes on to state that the law “should be construed in accordance with the American tradition of lawful firearms ownership, as protected by the Second Amendment.” This includes due consideration of “the many legitimate uses Americans make of their firearms including target practice, hunting, organized and casual competition, training and skills development, and instructional activities.“ The letter concludes with several pointed questions for the B. Todd Jones, BATFE’s director, including why the agency bypassed the Administrative Procedures Act in proposing such a radical change to its prior interpretation and enforcement of the law.

NRA will also be submitting its own detailed comments to BATFE in opposition to the ban and is continuing to work with Members of Congress on legislation that will put a stop to this abuse.

In the meantime, gun owners and other affected members of the public must act now to help ensure BATFE does not get away with this attempt to deprive Americans of ammunition for their favorite rifle and to squeeze ammunition markets between converging bans on both lead and non-lead ammunition. BATFE is accepting comments on their proposed ban and will consider all comments received on or before March 16, 2015.

Please be sure to submit your respectful comments in opposition to the ban. For more detailed information on the proposed ban and how you can submit your comments to BATFE, please click this link.

Finally, please contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to sign Rep. Goodlatte's letter and to oppose BATFE's proposed "armor piercing" ammunition Framework.  To contact them by phone, call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or CLICK HERE TO WRITE YOUR LAWMAKERS.


To read more, see this article from the Washington Examiner, which begins with:
It’s starting. 
As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

In Japan, You Can Now Sleep With Godzilla

Above, the Godzilla statue in Hibiya. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A Japanese hotel in Tokyo now has a special Godzilla room where guests can spend the night with the Big G.

According to the Malaysian Insider:
If you've ever wanted to sleep with a giant lizard – and let's face it, you only live once – one Japanese hotel has just the thing with its soon-to-be opened Godzilla Room. 
Hotel Gracery in Tokyo's buzzing entertainment district of Shinjuku offers the chance to catch some shuteye under the watchful gaze of a man-size atomic mutant as he stomps on a miniature Japanese capital in the corner of your room.

To see the Godzilla Room, go here.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/travel/article/a-night-with-godzilla-in-japan-anything-is-possible#sthash.990DJ8fA.dpuf

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tourism's Economic Benefits To Japan

Above, a department store in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Sometimes you have to laugh at how some headlines are written.

Today's article in Nippon.com contains one such headline: "Rise in Foreign Tourists Brings Economic Benefits to Japan." Who cannot look at that headline without saying, "Duh!"?

Still, it is an interesting article with plenty of stats.

They begin the article with:

Over 13 million foreign tourists visited Japan in 2014, setting a new record. During their stay, these visitors spent a total of more than ¥2 trillion. The recent rise in the number of foreigners visiting Japan has been bolstered by the weak yen and the expansion of duty-free items available to them.

To read more, go here.

Got My New Toy!

Today, my trek down to San Diego to pick up my "new toy" went off without any problems, as I expected it to be.

It began with the ride to Los Angeles International Airport to catch my flight down to San Diego. I got to American Airlines's terminal and check-in went smoothly (well, I did use their check-in machine) and got my boarding pass. On the boarding pass, I was directed to go to gate 44B. So I headed there.

After going through TSA's screening station, I bee-lined it to Gate 44B. Upon reaching it, it consisted of a long passageway with a sign that said that Gates 44 A through J will need to take a shuttle to another gate in another terminal. I got down to the end of the passageway and there, waiting, was the shuttle bus. I got in and we headed down a road adjacent to the runway.

At one point, we had to stop for a couple of minutes so a big Boeing 777 could cross the road we were on to get onto the runway.

Finally, we got to our terminal and gates which serviced small commuter jets. The plane assigned to the trip to San Diego was a small 50-seater jet.

Soon, we took off and headed for San Diego along the coast at 11,000 feet. It was a clear day and on the port side of the plane, the San Gabriel Mountains were covered in snow from the recent storm we had. On to starboard side, we had a clear view of Santa Catalina Island. As I had an aisle seat, I was unable take any photos of the island. The flight had no beverage service due to the short duration of the flight.

Upon arrival at San Diego's Lindbergh Field, the courtesy car from La Mesa RV took me to the dealership. On the way to the dealer, we drove through San Diego's Hotel Circle and passed by the Town and Country Hotel, the site of many GOP state conventions I attended in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the dealership, a big welcome monitor screen with the names of their newest customers displayed. Mine was at the top.

Before getting down to complete the paperwork (and hand over the check) and walk-through, I contacted my insurance company to get insurance coverage for the motorhome. After this was done, the walk-through began. I was going to video the walk-through, but it went so fast (and much of it was already familiar to me), I didn't bother.

After the walk-through, the sales paperwork was completed and signed. During the signing, I was given a $75 certificate to spend at the La Mesa RV accessory store. And spend it I did!

After my spending spree, I headed to my new 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 322R and headed for home.

Above, my Aunt Rose and I with the Minnie Winnie.

Along the way home (which was about half-way to Los Angeles), I stopped in Mission Viejo to visit my Aunt Rose and a couple of cousins. I showed them the motor home and a couple of their neighbors came over to admire it.

Above, my aunt, cousins and I. No, I wasn't scowling. I was just caught mid-sentence.

After visiting with my aunt and cousins, I headed back to Los Angeles. The distance from La Mesa RV to home was 148 miles, much of it in rush-hour traffic. I was in no hurry, so I just relaxed and enjoyed my new toy.

It was an enjoyable day!

Today's The Day!

Above, the Van Nuys Flyaway bus at LAX. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Today's the day that I pick up my new toy.

My taxi will be here in a half hour to take me over to the Van Nuys Flyaway for the bus ride to Los Angeles International Airport to take a one-hour flight (actually, more like 45 minutes) to San Diego. There, the dealer will pick me up from the airport to take me to the dealership.

At the dealership, all the paperwork will be signed and the cashier's check handed over. After this, they will give me a detailed walk-through of the motorhome to show me all the features and how to operate them.

Fortuately, I had a Gulf Stream motorhome 25 years ago, so I know the basics on motorhome operations.

As I did when I bought the Gulf Stream, I will video the walk-through so I have it for future reference.

Above, the new toy.

Once I am done with the walk-through, I will be doing some shopping for items for use in the new motorhome. I have some camping equipment items, but there are some I still need to get.

After all this, I will be driving back to L.A. En route, I will make a stop in Mission Viejo (which is on the way to L.A., just off Interstate 5) to visit my aunt and cousins. I haven't been there in a while, so this will be a good opportunity to pay a visit.

It will be interesting to see the changes along the coastal route of Interstate 5. I haven't been there for several years.

Should be a fun day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Going Up Like Gangbusters At Amazon

Above, Yuu Asakura with the print edition of The Monster
 Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is going like gangbusters over at Amazon's Kindle Store. It began going up yesterday, but it has gone even higher today.

It moved up in three categories:
Best Sellers in Japanese Travel

Best Sellers in Two-Hour Travel Short Reads

Best Sellers in General Japan Travel Guides

To get the ebook edition, go here.

To get the print edition, go here.

Latest Blog Post Pick-ups

The fine folks at The Japan Daily have picked up three of yesterday's blog posts for sharing with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

L.A. To Tokyo Airfares Drop

Above, the beach at Atami. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Last week, I reported that airfares for flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo spiked up at $959 on the low end and $1,311 on the high end, according to the Travel section of the Los Angeles Times. These prices are before any taxes or fees are added in.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that airfares from Los Angeles to Tokyo have dropped. On the low end, they reported the lowest price at $709 and on the high end, the price was at $1,061. These, again, are before any taxes or fees are added in.

The next airfare report will be in March.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Luxury "Hotel War" In Kyoto

Above, a view of Kyoto from Kiyomizu-dera. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Travel + Leisure named Kyoto, Japan the "World's Best City" last year.

Foreign visitors are flocking to Kyoto and this is sparking a "hotel war" among luxury hotel chains.

According to The Japan Times:
Kyoto’s recent record-setting tourism boom has sparked a mini-”hotel war,” with some of the world’s best-known luxury inn chains opening branches in the ancient capital, as its international popularity as a travel destination spreads even further. 
Not too many years ago, Kyoto had a dearth of international first-class hotels. Visitors found a choice of domestic chains, some of which were run-down, with dark lobbies and moldy carpets in the lobby, and dirty, small rooms with hard beds. Or they could opt for a traditional evening in an ancient Japanese-style inn that cost far more and offered a cultural experience, but often lacked modern amenities that today’s international travelers demand.
A year ago, the Ritz Carlton opened. The Hyatt Regency opened in 2006. Next spring, the Four Seasons Kyoto is to open.

This bodes well for foreign tourists who want to see the ancient city, but want to stay in luxurious accommodations.

To read more, go here.

"The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan" Ebook At No. 47 At Amazon

Above, Miki Hayashi with the print edition of The Monster
 Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

February is ending on a very high note for me.

First, I purchased a 2015 Winnebago motorhome (being able to pay cash without needing to finance it opened a lot of doors in getting a great deal). Next, the Amazon Kindle ebook edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan is now in the top 50 of the top 100 in the Best Sellers in Japanese Travel category.

It is currently at number 47.

To get the ebook edition, go here.

To get the print edition, go here.

E. Clem Wilson Building Has No Advertiser, But Ugly Blue Boxes Remain

Above, the E. Clem Wilson Building while Samsung leased the sign space.

The 1929 art deco building that sits at the northeast corner of Wilshire Blvd. and La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles is now without an advertising sign at its top, but ugly blue boxes remain.

According to Curbed Los Angeles:
The boxy blue hat that sits atop the 12-story E. Clem Wilson Building at La Brea and Wilshire has been wiped clean of its big white "Samsung", noticeably altering the skyline along Wilshire without improving it too much. The building's long-time manager tells the Beverly Press that Samsung just didn't renew their lease, so while the blue box remains, the white letters have disappeared, leaving only a faint outline of the company's name. "Samsung doesn't lease an office space. They just did the advertising on the building," he says.
Why is this blog post about an old Los Angeles office building posted? Well, the E. Clem Wilson Building is a major landmark to fans of the Adventures of Superman television show.

The building was used as the Daily Planet Building during the show's first season filmed in 1951. Those are the "film noir" episodes that featured thrilling cops & robbers, murders, mystery and suspense stories. This was the season in which Phyllis Coates was Lois Lane to George Reeves's Clark Kent/Superman.

Above, the building as the Daily Planet Building.

The building ceased being used as the Daily Planet Building when huge signs advertising Mutual of Omaha were erected at the top. The producers then began using the Los Angeles City Hall as the Daily Planet Building in 1953.

The Mutual of Omaha signs remained on the building for decades, but were finally replaced by Asahi Beer signs. The Asahi signs were on the building for several years until Samsung leased the advertising space.

To read more, go here.

Japan Unveils Free Wi-Fi Logo

To remove any possibility of mass confusion by foreign tourists on where to find free Wi-Fi service in Japan, the Japan Travel Agency has unveiled a new logo.

According to NHK World:
A council of the Japan Tourism Agency has unveiled a logo intended to help foreign visitors find free public wireless LAN environments. 
More than 13 million foreign travelers visited Japan last year. 
Many visitors have complained of difficulties finding free Wi-Fi spots for their smartphones and other devices.

To read more, go here

Saturday, February 21, 2015

New Toy

I pick it up Tuesday.

Chinese Tourists Flocking To Japan

Above, an Air China jet at Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The United Kingdom's The Independent has an interesting article about how Chinese tourists are flocking to Japan.

There are several reasons for this. First, the air in Japan is much cleaner than in China. Second, they come for the sushi. And, third, they come for the shopping since the yen has declined against the Chinese yuan. The Chinese are currently noted as the "biggest spenders" of all foreign tourists who are coming into Japan.

While the Chinese tourists are welcome to Japan with open arms, there's one characteristic that is annoying the Japanese: their manners.

According to the article:
Japan is a nation famous for its culture of exacting politeness and adherence to a multitude of rules encompassing life etiquette and buffet behaviour. And Chinese tourists, well, seldom appear to let such rules constrain them. 
A common complaint is that the Chinese are too loud and that they are not considerate of the people around them.

This bad reputation abroad isn’t escaping notice at home. China’s president, Xi Jinping, last year told his compatriots to improve their manners when travelling.
To read more, go here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tokyo Trains: 11 Easy Steps

Above, the hustle and bustle of Tokyo Station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo has one of the most extensive train and subway systems in the world. To a newbie, navigating around the city aboard Tokyo's transit system may be intimidating. In actuality, it really isn't. It is really an easy system to master. Once you do, it is a cinch to travel around Tokyo.

To help visitors make use of the train system in Tokyo, Tsunaga Japan has posted "11 Steps On How To Get To Your Destination In Tokyo."

They begin with:
Trains runs like veins through Tokyo. I am rather literally. Walk around the city, and you will find subway entrances, train tracks, trains itself all over the place. You can’t say you’ve experienced an aspect of Tokyo without experiencing a train ride. Here are 11 easy steps on how to get to your destination by train in Tokyo.
To read the 11 easy steps on getting to your destination by Tokyo train, go here

Tsunagu Japan: 13 Things That Would Probably Surprise You In Japan

Above, public places like this Shibuya intersection are typically clean, despite
the fact that it is sometimes hard to find a trash can. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Tsunagu Japan has another one of those lists of Japan for potential visitors to ponder over.

The latest is "13 Things That Would Probably Surprise You In Japan." Some of the 13 things have been covered in other lists by other people. But there are some that I noticed that haven't been covered.

Before going through the 13 things, they wrote:
As I have mostly spent my childhood overseas, I can say that I was nearly a foreigner when I came to Japan 8 years ago. I lived overseas for 4 years before my arrival. Here are 13 things that surprised me (but are fairly common) at  Japan. 
To see what may surprise you about Japan, go here

Thursday, February 19, 2015

June Fairchild, R.I.P.

Above, June Fairchild during her days as a Gazzarri dancer.

The Los Angeles Times reported, sadly, that actress June Fairchild has passed away.

They reported:
June Fairchild was a Manhattan Beach prom queen, a go-go dancer, an actress who appeared in more than a dozen films and, for a time, an addict and alcoholic who slept in a cardboard box on skid row in Los Angeles. 
Fairchild, 68, died Tuesday at a Los Angeles convalescent home. The cause was liver cancer, her friend Dawna Sodders said.
Four years ago, I wrote a blog about June Fairchild that had attracted the attention of nearly 4,000 readers. Several fans posted comments to that blog post, including one from her niece. It was pleasing to hear that her life was taking a turn for the better at the time.

Fairchild first came to my attention in the 1971 movie, Pretty Maids All In A Row. She later appeared in the Clint Eastwood movie, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke.

Although her movie career was limited, she did garner a fan following, including me.

R.I.P., June!

To read more, go here.  To contribute to June Fairchild's memorial fund, go here.

Latest Blog Post Pick-ups

The fine folks at The Japan Daily have picked up three blog posts from yesterday for sharing with their readers.

They are:

To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

U.S. Marine Veterans Returning To Iwo Jima To Mark 70th Anniversary

Above, the famous flag-raising photograph by Joe Rosenthal on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on Februrary 23, 1945.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle of Iwo Jima, U.S. Marine veterans will make a journey to the island next month.

According to the Washington Times:
A return trip to the scene of one of World War II’s most famous and costly battles will not be easy for former Marines in their 80s and 90s. 
But a group of about 45 American veterans of the battle of Iwo Jima, some needing financial help, plan to make the long journey March 21 for a 70th anniversary ceremony in the shadow of Mount Suribachi and the 1945 iconic flag-raising.

There will be no Japanese counterparts. The dwindling cadre of the initial 1,083 survivors, who first had fought in China and were older than the primarily teenage American force, have grown too frail to travel. But hundreds of bereaved Japanese family members will join Americans who also lost loved ones in the February-to-March 1945 struggle.
To read more, go here.

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