"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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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

About Clamper Plaque Spelling Errors

Photos by Armand Vaquer

Over on Facebook at one of the E Clampus Vitus pages, it was noted by one of the brothers that the new monument (pictured above) at the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar (dedicated yesterday) has a spelling error:
A brother responded:
It would not be a bona fide Clamper plaque -- especially a Platrix plaque -- if it didn't have at least one spelling error in it. 
A few years ago they plaqued the site of the studio (now the site of the Frank del Omo Elementary School) where the first Godzilla movie had additional footage added so it would appeal to American audiences. They misspelled "Tokyo," instead spelling it "Toyoko."

Yes, it is a Clamper tradition (not always strictly adhered to) to have a spelling error in a plaque's text. Remember, E Clampus Vitus is a fraternal organization based on humor.

Godzilla's Seaside City Home

Above, the Godzilla slide with a dusting of snow. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Hardcore Godzilla fans are very much familiar with the (roughly) 30-foot Godzilla slide at the Kurihama Flower World park in Yokosuka.

I visited the Godzilla slide in February 2014 on a cold day that included occasional snow flurries. As the park's trams weren't operating that day, I had to hike up to it. Fortunately for me, I was in good enough condition with hiking experience to make the hike without having a heart attack in the process. I may go there again later this year when there's better weather conditions and the tram is operating.

Stripes Japan has posted an article on the Godzilla slide with some history on the current slide and one that was originally erected at Tatara Beach.

They begin with:
YOKOSUKA, Japan — The "Godzilla" series started in 1954. In the middle of the first film, a warning is broadcast as the nation braces for attack by the giant monster: "Godzilla has been detected undersea 15 miles northeast of Kannonzaki cape, moving toward the northwest." 
Spotted first off the cape in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Godzilla lands on Tokyo's Shibaura waterfront, sweeps away high-voltage barbed-wire fences, stomps off unscathed by a barrage of bombardments and soon turns the bustling Shimbashi and Ginza districts into a sea of fire. 
In other words, the monster never set foot on the grounds of Yokosuka or destroyed the port city. Even so, Yokosukans strongly feel Godzilla still has a deep connection with their city.
If one is a "serious" Godzilla fan, a pilgrimage to the Godzilla slide in Yokosuka is a must.

To read more, go here.

Monday, May 30, 2016

How To Take On Tokyo

Above, a view of Tokyo from the Tokyo Skytree. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning to visit Tokyo, some helpful tips will make your visit a trouble-free one.

Australia's Herald Sun has some tips posted:
More than 37 million people call Tokyo home, making the Japanese capital the most populous metro area on the planet. Famous for its food, shopping, temples, hot springs, tech goodies and all-round quirky culture, the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics is an assault on the senses. Here are tips on how to take on Tokyo.
To read more, go here.

Clampers Invade Sylmar On Memorial Day

Above, the Clamper monument. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Memorial Day was spent dedicating a monument at the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar, California with Platrix Chapter No. 2 of E Clampus Vitus and many other people.

The dedication was part of a program put on by the San Fernando Valley Historical Society, who oversees the upkeep of the cemetery.

The event was attended by about 30 Clampers, elected officials, other dignitaries and citizens.

It was an enjoyable event (although the bagpiper's performance of "Amazing Grace" left much to be desired). Poor guy.

Following the event, the Clampers migrated to the clubhouse of El Cariso Golf Course for refreshments.

Here are some photos of the event:

Above, the main entrance to the cemetery. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, one of the few remaining headstones. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, yours truly in full Clamper regalia. Photo by Dave Nicholson.

Above, Dave Nicholson and Armand.

Above, Platrix Noble Grand Humbug Denny “Too Tall” Thompson.

Above, the monument is unveiled. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Platrix Historian Glenn Thornhill tells of the history of E Clampus Vitus. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, some of the attendees. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Pioneer Memorial Cemetery. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, Glenn Thornhill and Armand at the El Cariso Golf Course bar.

Above, a toast to Clampers who have gone to the Golden Hills. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Above, the event patch. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Remembering Those Who Have Fallen

Memorial Day 2016

Above, the marble wall that bears the names of all those killed on the Arizona
 in the shrine section of the USS Arizona Memorial. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

"To the Memory of the Gallant Men Here Entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on 7 December 1941, on the U.S.S. Arizona"
— inscription in marble with the names of Arizona's honored dead

Japan Travel: Broke & Working On The Road

Above, Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto. One solution is to put your camera work for you. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ever find yourself traveling solo in Japan (or anywhere else, for that matter) and found yourself getting to the end of your funds? This has never happened to me since I usually bring more cash than I need.

Japan Today has posted an article on what solo travelers can do to get some extra cash while traveling.

It begins with:
TOKYO —It’s easy to come up short when you’re traveling solo nonstop and you’ve only got yourself to rely on — or even when you decide to splurge a few too many times on a short but really great holiday. But it’s never fun and never easy to go in for a banana at that street market only to recoil your hand out of an empty pocket. 
So whatever the situation, I hope you don’t notice the funds are getting light before they are absolutely gone, but even in that case, there’s a couple of things you can keep up your sleeve for a sticky situation in Japan or the rest of the world.
To read more, go here

Sunday, May 29, 2016

TSA Mess: Airlines Stand To Lose $4.3 Billion

Above, many will take to the road to avoid flying this summer. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The mess at the nation's airports will be getting worse before it gets better.

The screening lines are getting jamb-packed with anxious travelers, thanks to the folks at the TSA. It is recommended that travelers get to the airport at least two hours before their scheduled departure times for domestic flights, three hours before international flights.

Some people are rethinking their summer vacation travel plans. Since this is the National Park Service's centennial, many will opt to visit a national park...by driving.

According to Travel + Leisure:
Air travel is shaping up to look like a nightmare this summer, especially at many big airports and hub cities. And as a result, some travelers are rethinking their plans. Many Americans now say they’ll avoid planes and airports altogether. The reduced spending will mean a loss of $4.3 billion for the June-August peak summer season, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
When we recently flew to Hawaii, we had no difficulties in getting through the security checks. We arrived at LAX two hours before our departure time. The extra time was spent having breakfast in the terminal. In Hawaii, there were hardly anyone at some of the airports we used.

To read more, go here

Re-Elect Greg Smith To The Kansas Senate

Above, Kansas State Senator Greg Smith.

This morning, I am pleased to enthusiastically endorse Kansas State Senator Greg Smith for re-election.

I sent the following message to Smith's campaign:
I am pleased to support State Senator Greg Smith for re-election to the Kansas State Senate.

He has been a tireless worker for the cause of public safety, a cause he painfully knows too well. Instead of withdrawing, he and his family rolled up their sleeves and got right to work. He has traveled around this country to get the Kelsey Smith Act enacted in several states and nationally. Much more work needs to be done. You can count on Greg Smith to continue the fight for public safety.

Kansas needs Greg Smith in the State Senate.

Armand Vaquer, Author of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan and Member of California Reagan Delegations of 1976, 1980 and 1984.
To see a video on Greg Smith, go here.

For the GregSmith4Kansas website, go here.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Obama's Repulsive Hiroshima Speech

Above, the USS Arizona Memorial. Obama seems to have forgotten all about Pearl Harbor. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Just when one thinks that President Obama couldn't possibly stoop to a new low, he surprises everyone by stooping even lower.

At best, Obama's Hiroshima speech met mixed reviews. Ben Shapiro will have none of it. He has penned a scathing review at the Daily Wire.

He began it with:
The White House assured us last week that President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima would not be an apology photo-op. 
They lied. 
On Friday, President Obama said America’s use of the A-bomb to end the threat of Japanese fascism sprang from American desire for conquest, suggested that America had ushered in an age of “atomic warfare,” and said that we could achieve a “world without nuclear weapons” if only we clapped for Tinkerbell. This came shortly after his visit to Vietnam, where his White House announced that America would start selling weapons to the communist dictatorship. 
Yes, our president is a total disgrace.

To read more, go here.

Tokyo Saw Record 10 Million Foreign Tourists In 2015

Above, the new Godzilla mural at Toho Studios. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The focus on Japan's inbound foreign tourist numbers has been on the country as a whole. But, the city of Tokyo has also reached a big milestone in the numbers of foreign tourists.

NHK reported:
The number of international visitors to Tokyo exceeded 10 million last year for the first time. 
The Tokyo Metropolitan government conducted a survey of hotels and other accommodation facilities. 
It shows 11 million 890 thousand people came to Tokyo from abroad on business or for sightseeing last year.
To read more, go here

Friday, May 27, 2016

"Independence Day: Resurgence"

The billboards and bus shelter posters have begun hitting the streets in Los Angeles for Independence Day: Resurgence.

The movie will be hitting theaters on June 24.

Say what you want about Roland Emmerich's and Dean Devlin's Godzilla (1998), but I have always enjoyed their Independence Day flick.

The new movie is a sequel to the 1996 movie.

According to Wikipedia:
Twenty years after the events of the first film, the international community recovers and the United Nations creates the Earth Space Defense (ESD), a united global defense program that serves as Earth's early warning system and the main defense force using technology salvaged from remains of the alien forces, with some military forces assembled on the Moon, Mars and Rhea.[citation needed] However, the aliens were able to send a distress signal to their other battalions before their final defeat while others went into hiding elsewhere around the world. The aliens in deep space received the signal and sent a larger and more powerful battle fleet, threatening the human race once more, this time, with a gravitational machine.
What's with these movies with "resurgence" in the titles? First, we have Godzilla Resurgence (Shin Godzilla) coming out in Japan, and now this?

Trump Clinches GOP Nomination, Get Your Campaign Goods!

The news is out! Donald Trump has clinched the GOP nomination for president of the United States.

I can enthusiastically support Donald Trump for president. I have followed his Twitter Tweets for over three years. I am very comfortable with him as the nominee. He is one man who can get this country back on track after the disastrous eight years of Obama.

Now that he has clinched the nomination, I have ordered Trump campaign goods through the Spalding Group. The Spalding Group has been the official supplier of GOP campaign goods for the past eight presidential campaigns. They are constantly adding new items.

They have buttons, bumper stickers, signs, apparel, hats and accessories.

To go to the Trump Store 2016, go here.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hiroshima's Popularity Continues To Rise

Above, Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the most popular tourist stops is the Peace Memorial Park and Museum in Hiroshima, Japan. 

President Obama's visit to that city is currently putting it into the spotlight.

I visited Hiroshima in 2004 as part of the first G-TOUR that was sponsored by G-FAN magazine.

WPTZ-TV (Burlington, VT) posted:
(CNN) —More than seven decades after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, effectively ending World War II, President Barack Obama is set to become the first U.S. president in history to visit the site of the attack on Friday. 
The president's visit shines an even brighter spotlight on what's already one of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan. 
According to figures released in April, nearly 1.5 million people visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in 2015 -- the year that marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing. 
The number of international visitors has risen by 44.6 percent to 338,891 -- a record high.
If one is interested in history, particularly World War II history, a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum would be worthwhile.

To read more, go here

A Visit To Camping World In Valencia

Above, The Beast at Camping World today. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I purchased The Beast last year, the main consideration was that it was big enough to enjoy, but small enough so that I could park it in my apartment building's parking lot and still have room for my car.

That was accomplished. The Beast, which is a 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 22R, is 23 feet long. But, getting that size of a RV probably sacrificed some things. The only noticeable thing it sacrificed was counter space. There isn't any.

That problem was partially solved when I bought a cutting board for the top of the range. But, while cooking, I have to take the board off and I have no place to set the coffee maker and other things, except on the dinette table.

I found myself bored today at home. However, a sale catalog from Camping World arrived in the mail the other day and saw some items on sale that I wanted to get. So I jumped into The Beast and headed off to the nearest store in Valencia.

Above, the folding table set I bought. Photo by Camping World.

One, was a small folding outdoor table. I lucked out and saw that Camping World had them on sale for under $16.00. The one I bought came paired up with a smaller outdoor table. So, I got two outdoor tables for under $16.00. Not bad.

Above, the cutting board/sink cover. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The other thing I was after was a cover/cutting board for the sink, which is located next to the range. Camping World had those, too. So, after seeing how it looks on the sink, I bought one.

Along with those two items, I also bought some other odds and ends (such as holding tank chemicals).

The little trek to Valencia was successful. I got what I needed and I also got myself out of the house for a couple of hours.

"Plan Nine" Cemetery To Be Plaqued Monday

Above, Bela Lugosi in Plan Nine From Outer Space.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend, which means that people will either be heading out to points unknown or staying around town and barbecuing.

For me, I have no plans for the weekend. So I am essentially just going to hang around home.

But, on Monday (which is Memorial Day), Platrix Chapter No. 2, E Clampus Vitus will be erecting a plaque at the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar, California. A number of notable pioneers in Los Angeles history are buried there. I'll be attending.

It is said that some 600 people are buried at the cemetery, but there's only a few headstones there. The cemetery was abandoned for a number of years and the tombstones fell victim to neglect and vandalism. In recent years, the cemetery has been under care by historical groups.

The cemetery is noted for a particular movie production: Ed Wood's Plan Nine From Outer Space (1959). The movie was shot around 1956-57, but not released until 1959.

According to IMBD trivia on the movie:
The cemetery used for filming is the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Sylmar, CA. It still stands, although many of the grave stones were stolen or vandalized. 
Bela Lugosi appears in footage shot just before his death, but with no script in mind. Edward D. Wood Jr. wrote the script to accommodate all the footage shot in a cemetery and outside Tor Johnson's house in the new production. Lugosi was doubled by Tom Mason, Wood's wife's chiropractor, who was significantly taller than Lugosi, and played the part with a cape covering his face.
The cemetery was near Tor Johnson's home.

The plaque dedication will take place at 11:00 at the cemetery at 14451 Bledsoe, Sylmar.

If you miss this, you're stupid, stupid, stupid!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DVD Acquisitions Today

Today was spent running around shopping with my former roommate, Jessica.

The places we shopped at included Dickies, Target, Big Lots and Bed, Bath & Beyond. By the end of the day, I was pretty worn out. It almost felt like we went Christmas shopping.

I made a couple of DVD acquisitions today.

First, was the sixth season of Big Bang Theory. I've seen all episodes through season five.

Second, I picked up the DVD set of the first (1966) season of Batman. I haven't seen these in ages. I watched the first two episodes this evening (featuring Frank Gorshin as The Riddler).

Right away, I noticed a familiar face from the Adventures of Superman. Richard Reeves, who played crooked wrestler "Bad Luck Brannigan" in "No Holds Barred" in 1951 (he appeared in several other episodes as different crooked characters), had a cameo in the first Batman episode as a nightclub doorman.

It looks like I'll have plenty to watch for a while with these DVD sets.

Dollar Firmer Above ¥110 In Tokyo

The dollar is performing better in Tokyo trading.

Jiji Press reported:
Tokyo, May 25 (Jiji Press)--The dollar gained ground to rise above 110 yen in Tokyo trading on Wednesday, chiefly aided by higher stock prices in Japan and abroad. 
At 5 p.m., the dollar stood at 110.03-03 yen, up from 109.53-53 yen at the same time Tuesday.
To read more, go here

Definitive Guide To Japan's Theme Parks

Above, a show at Tokyo DisneySea. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Generally, whenever I've visited Japan, including a visit to an amusement park had not even registered on my radar.

Last year, since I brought [Censored] and her son [Censored] with me to Japan, I included a day at Tokyo DisneySea on the itinerary. [Censored] is a big fan of amusement parks (particularly Disney parks) and wanted to see it.

We went to Tokyo DisneySea on a Saturday and had no luck in being able to get on any rides as it seemed that half the population of Tokyo was there. But, we had fun anyway when we wandered around and saw some shows. It would be much better to go during a workday.

Inside Japan Tours has an article on the best theme parks in Japan that you may want to consider if visiting one is one of your priorities.

They begin with:
Theme parks aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying that they’re a hit with the kids – and Japan has an excellent haul of weird and wonderful ones. Though many of Japan’s theme parks closed down after the country’s economic bubble burst, the biggest and best weathered the recession to remain in operation today.

You might not want to plan a whole trip around theme parks (like we’ve done here) but including one or two amusement parks in your itinerary is a sure-fire way to delight your kids and an excellent tactic for breaking up the sightseeing. Below is our whistle-stop (and certainly far from exhaustive!) tour of our favourite theme and amusement parks in Japan, so you can decide which is best-suited to your family.
To read more, go here.

Travel Agent Tips On Saving Money On Air Travel

Above, the moon over Waikoloa, Hawaii. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning a summer trip somewhere and want to save money on airfares, Japan Today has posted some tips that you may want to check out.

They posted several money-saving tips, but here are three of them:
NEW YORK —Travel experts have tips for booking summer travel: 
— Sign up for fare alerts from the airlines and fare-tracking websites. Some of those sales end quickly, so you may have to act fast. 
— Use flexible-date searches available on many airline websites including those of United, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue. 
— Look at one-way fares. Most airlines now sell those at half the price of a round trip. Because of the quirks of pricing and scheduling, you might save money or get a more convenient itinerary by flying one airline out and another one on the return leg.
To see more, go here

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bath Storage Problem Solved!

Above, the bathroom linen cabinet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Beast has a small, three-tiered linen cabinet that sits in a corner and is triangular. This poses no problem for towels and other things, but as far as toiletries and grooming products, it is hard to keep things in place when the vehicle is in motion. Thus far, the only way to hold things in place is to set bigger items on top of smaller items.

Today, I decided to give the local Bed, Bath & Beyond store a visit. If anyone had something triangular that would work to keep things in place, they would.

So, I headed over to Woodland Hills, where the store is located, and took a look around. At first, I could not find any container that is triangular in shape (roughly 12 x 12 x 15") that would work. So I was going to get a rectangular plastic organizer that would fit inside.

Above, the rack before taking the packaging off. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After getting it off the shelf, I decided to take another look and went to an aisle that I had apparently missed. Lo and behold, there was a triangular metal rack with two suction knobs that is made for showers. That would work if it fit inside. But, I needed to measure it. I went over to customer service and asked if they had a measuring tape handy. They did and I found that the rack would fit inside the cabinet.

I gave them the plastic organizer and then went to the check stand with the rack.

Above, the rack inside the cabinet. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I got home, I was going to take the suction knobs off, but decided to leave them on to use for bracing the rack inside the cabinet. It fit in nicely.

I then placed it in the cabinet (I also did a little re-arranging) in the center tier. Problem solved!

Japan Planning Tohoku Tourism Campaign

Above, the statue of Date Masamune at the site of Sendai Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the most picturesque areas of Japan is the Tohoku region. Matsushima is often compared to Carmel, California in scenic beauty.

Unfortunately, since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the region hasn't fully recovered as a tourist draw to this date, despite that the rest of Japan is seeing record tourism numbers.

However, the Japanese government is planning to fix that problem.

The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) reported:
TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan will start a campaign to attract more foreign visitors to the Tohoku region, transport and tourism minister Keiichi Ishii told a press conference Tuesday. 
The action will be taken as the number of visitors to Tohoku has not returned to levels before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the region.

To read more, go here


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