"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.)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learn How To Enjoy A Japanese Ryokan

Above, our room at the Atami Shinkadoya ryokan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

If you are planning a vacation to Japan during the autumn season or in the remaining days of summer and would like to experience a Japanese ryokan (inn) with hot springs, RocketNews 24 has just the thing to educate you before going.

They have posted an article on how to enjoy a ryokan that also includes a nine-minute video.

It begins with:
Wanting to visit Japan? Now there’s  an easy-to-follow English video guide on enjoying Japanese-style inns known as ryokan!

Staying at a ryokan can be a unique experience and a very enjoyable one at that, but it also might be a bit different from what you’re used to. To make sure visitors know what to expect when staying at a ryokan, the folks at Wakura Onsen Toursim Association and  Wakura Onsen Tourism Cooperative have produced a helpful and informative English video titled “Learn How To Enjoy A Japanese Ryokan with Hot Springs in 9 minutes“.
We tried one out during our trip to Japan last October. It was in Atami, just an hour's ride on the shinkansen from Tokyo.

To see more, go here

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Picked Up The Painting!

Above, Asya removing the protective plastic sheeting
from the painting in The Beast. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Riddle me this, my fine-feathered finks! (Mixing The Riddler and The Penguin.)

What to get when you mix (speaking of mixing) Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh, some more French impressionist artists and Asya?

The answer: a painting of yours truly in the styles of the aforementioned French and Dutch impressionists by Asya!

I picked up the finished painting today. And it is, indeed, done in 19th Century impressionist style. Asya told me several days ago that she was leaning that way. I told her that she has free-rein and to go with how she feels.

The results are rather interesting. Don't get me wrong, I do like it! It is definitely me in the painting. It is eye-catching!

As we sat in a Japanese restaurant today over Sapporo beer (they were out of Asahi) in the Pico-Robertson district of Los Angeles, different things would catch my eyes. First, it was the brush strokes in the foliage (pine tree). Second, the sky. Third, the coloring (especially the blues). Fourth, the capturing of the gold foil of Kinkaku-ji. And so on.

The finished painting, once hung, will definitely brighten the room (I have a bunch of re-arranging to do). It has to sit for about five more days to fully dry. Once that's done, a suitable frame will have to be found.

She was worried that I would be disappointed that it wasn't done in a more traditional or formal manner (Norman Rockwell, Rembrandt, etc.). I told her that I liked it just fine. I wanted to see how a painter would interpret me and that's what I got!

I am looking to host a little unveiling party for friends and associates. I have been in contact with The Odyssey Restaurant in Chatsworth and they sent me an email with an attachment of different party plans. I am limiting it to 25 to 40 people. I'll be pouring over it over the next few days. It will probably be held on a Sunday in the next three or four weeks. If you have my email or are a Facebook friend, let me know if you wish to be invited to the "art event of the year".

While she was working on the painting in her apartment complex's recreation room (that she uses as a studio), she told me that different residents would come in and scrutinize it. She said all comments were positive. Some even thought she was painting a (get this!) movie star. Uh-huh!

Sorry for the "tease" picture. But I am saving the full painting for the unveiling party. I want to see the guests' reactions. It should be fun!

UPDATE (8/1/16):  Last night, I was out on a dinner date with Dawn and she was "going crazy" with curiosity about the painting. I told her about the impressionistic style and said I would give her a "peek". (I took some photos of the painting when I met with Asya to pick it up.) She could barely contain herself. I showed one of the photos to Dawn and she was very impressed and liked it. She complimented Asya for the good job she did. 

A Dark Shadows Rarity

Above, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) and Tricia Nixon greet guests at the north portico of the White House circa 1969.

State of Travel and Tourism Industry In Japan

Above, Osaka Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This year, Japan is seeing its best year ever in tourism and travel.

eTurboNews reported:
The Japan Association of Travel Agents released its bi-monlhly report on the state of the travel and tourism industry in Japan. 
Foreign Visitors & Japanese Departure   
The foreign visitors to Japan in May grew by 15.3% on year‐on‐year basis, up to 1,894,000. In June, the increase was 23.9%, up to 1,986,000. During the first half of the fiscal year a total of 11,714,000 or 28.2% more foreigners visited Japan compared to the same period last year. The first half of the fiscal year set a record, surpassing the 10‐million mark for the first time and becoming the highest ever half‐year total in the history of Japanese inbound travel. (The previous record was set in the first half of FY 2015 when 9.14 million foreigner traveled to Japan.)

To read more, go here

Whatever You Do, Document Everything

As a retired claims adjuster, I've pretty much seen it all.

I have seen many instances of insurance fraud and have obtained convictions against the perpetrators. The main reason why I have obtained those convictions (and have received cash bonuses for them from grateful employers) was because I thoroughly documented my files. While many plaintiffs are stupid, it is also surprising to see almost as many stupid and dishonest attorneys who try to game the legal system.

I could easily spot false statements because I was armed with the "ammunition" to shoot them all down in my claims files. They ran the gamut from phony police reports to court filings.

I have also seen false accusations made in court filing documents. The most stupid thing someone can do is to make false statements or accusations when the "other side" has the documented proof that those statements are false. I have recently read one by a person who filed a Petition filled with fabrications. (I enjoy reading court cases such as these that are posted online or published by lawyer associations. We used to get them regularly at the insurance companies I worked at.) Many of the fabrications were so ridiculous that they were laughable. One has to wonder, "Why do they even bother?" The motivation by the petitioner was likely vindictive retaliation over a complaint.

The respondent, luckily for him, had the proof that those false statements made by the petitioner to successfully refute them in court.

It really doesn't pay to take legal action unless "one has all his ducks in a row" and are true. It could also lead to perjury charges in many instances. That is why I am so opposed to frivolous lawsuits. They are one of the reasons why the courts are over-burdened with an enormous backlog of pending cases. Many of them are just bogus. It is a waste of time and resources to have to shoot them down.

As such, it has always been my policy to press for prosecution for fraud.

I have never lost a Small Claims lawsuit, personally or professionally, because I documented everything. I even beat the Southern California Edison Company for property damages caused by a power surge from their equipment. The jaws of the representatives for Edison practically hit the floor when the judge ruled in my favor as they were in such shock.

So, keep all this in mind. It just may save you a mess of trouble.

Friday, July 29, 2016

It's Drying

Above, artist Asya Lipovetskaya.

After taking The Beast to the coin-operated car wash today and settled back over a cup of coffee, I received the following from artist Asya Lipovetskaya:
Hi Armand, how is it going? I checked the painting in the morning and didn't want to add anything, so now it s just  drying up a bit.

I'll check it later today and hopefully it'll be ready to be unveiled tomorrow ^^
I haven't seen it yet, but she said yesterday that I'll like how my face came out.

I am considering throwing a little party (maybe at The Odyssey Restaurant) for an unveiling for friends and associates. Also, I may have Asya invite some art gallery people (or some biggity-wigs in the L.A. art scene) to attend so she can possibly do some networking. 

Godzilla and Politics

Thanks to Bob McArthur for sending it!

"Star Trek Beyond"

Above, the U.S.S. Enterprise. Photo by Paramount Pictures.

Tonight, I got out of the house to see Star Trek Beyond.

Compared to the last entry in the franchise, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond was a major shift in gears. Whereas Star Trek: Into Darkness has seen some criticism for being a bit "to dark" (I liked it), Star Trek Beyond was much lighter in tone (with a little touch of camp). It was almost like the original television series that focused on the interplay between the main characters.

The movie was set three years after the last movie. In the beginning, Captain Kirk had grown weary over the mundane routine of their five-year mission. That soon ended when a plea for assistance was received by Starfleet at a remote outpost in space (and what an "outpost" it was).

The passings of Leonard Nimoy (referred to as Ambassador Spock) and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) (due to a freak automobile accident) were noted and both were memorialized in this movie and during the end credits.

Overall, Star Trek Beyond wasn't Shakespeare, but it was a fun diversion. It was a satisfying movie for this casual Star Trek fan.

My grade: B+.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Possible Attorney Lined Up

It appears that I may have an attorney lined up to deal with the matters of the engagement/wedding ring set, the cost of [Censored] boob-job surgery and the child support legal fee loan.

We will likely be meeting later next week, as the attorney will be returning from vacation then, to discuss how best to deal with those matters.

Luckily for me, they are in nearby Encino, so I won't have to go very far.

While we're on the subject, I read an interesting post a little while ago, "Signs You're With A Narcissistic Woman". To read it, go here.

To Da Dump, To Da Dump...

Above, the state park's sign at Las Virgenes Road. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

This morning was set aside to empty The Beast's holding tanks. They were both full from the recent trip up the Owens Valley to Mammoth Lakes and Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park.

One thing I was not looking forward to was the drive to Camping World in Valencia to use the dump station there. Although free to us Good Sam members, I was reluctant to drive in the morning rush hour.

But, I did find a viable alternative. That was Malibu Creek State Park near Calabasas on Las Virgenes Road.

Above, looking towards the campground from the dump station. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Malibu Creek State Park has a nice campground (I last camped there around 26 years ago) and they also have a dump station. One doesn't have to camp there to use the dump station. All one has to do is pay the ranger a $12 fee to use it. Which I did.

Above, emptying The Beast's holding tanks. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One could ask, "Why not go to Camping World and use their dump station for free instead?" Well, besides the drive in morning rush hour, it is about 25-30 miles away. The Beast gets around 10 miles per gallon of gasoline. Malibu Creek State Park is about 13 miles away and it is against the flow of traffic. I got there in about 25 minutes. So, I saved on gasoline. I think I was better of by going to the state park instead.

The drive time I saved is allowing me to talk to attorney offices, which is the second item of today's agenda.

So, if anyone wants to save gas, drive time and miles, the convenience of going to Malibu Creek State Park is a good alternative for San Fernando Valley RV owners to empty your holding tanks.

By the way, the maximum length for RVs at the campground is 30'.

"Shin Godzilla" Toy Order, Etc.

Well, I finally broke down and ordered a Bandai Shin Godzilla figure through Amazon.com. It will be arriving here around August 4. I have tapered off on buying Godzilla figures as, to put it bluntly, I don't have much room.

From what I've seen so far, the buzz on Shin Godzilla (Toho Co., Ltd.) has been pretty positive from those who have seen it in advance screenings. It hits Japanese theaters today. That seems to be a far cry from the mixed reactions to Toho's last Godzilla movie, Godzilla Final Wars (2004). I happen to be in the "liking it" camp.

To make things even more exciting for fans, Shin Godzilla will be released theatrically in the U.S. and other North, Central and South American countries by Funimation Films as Godzilla Resurgence.

The announcement was made last week at Comic Con in San Diego.

According to Movieweb.com:
Last night in a surprise announcement to fans at San Diego Comic Con 2016, Funimation Films announced its acquisition of the live action film Godzilla: Resurgence (a.k.a. Shin Godzilla) from Toho Company, Ltd. The agreement includes theatrical, home entertainment, video on demand and broadcast rights for the upcoming Japanese live-action feature film and covers all of the Americas (North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean). Funimation is currently planning to release Godzilla: Resurgence in theaters in late 2016.
This will be the first theatrically-released Toho-produced Godzilla movie in the U.S. since Godzilla 2000 in August 2000.

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

We stopped by Toho Studios last October during the filming of Shin Godzilla. While we stepped foot inside the studio, we didn't get an invite to view the filming (not that we expected one). "Sigh."

To read more, go here

News From JAPANiCAN: Mount Fuji

Japan Hotel, Ryokan, and Tour Booking Made Easy
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Mt. Fuji Tours
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1-Day Mt. Fuji & Hakone Tour
JPY 14,000
1-Day Tokaido Fuji Tour (Round-trip from Tokyo via Shinkansen)
JPY 19,800

http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/BUS1G10321MKA/?utm_source=160726&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=160726MMtour3img http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/F850/?utm_source=160726&utm_medium=mailmagazine&utm_campaign=160726MMtour4img
See Mt. Fuji aboard the Kaba Amphibian Bus! Fuji Safari Park & Fruit-picking Tour
JPY 11,000
1-Day Mt. Fuji, Forest, and Cave Tour
JPY 18,000

Popular Ryokan and Hotel Mt. Fuji Area!
Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
Shuhoukaku Kogetsu
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Thank you for reading JAPANiCAN.com News!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Notice To Godzilla Fans In Japan

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

A few minutes ago, I posted the following at several Godzilla and kaiju-related groups at Facebook:
If there's anyone in Japan or is about to go to Japan in the immediate future and sees "Shin Godzilla", I need a list of locations featured in the movie to incorporate them in the next edition of "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan". I will note contributors in the acknowledgments page. Thanks!
In case anyone in Japan who reads this, but doesn't have a Facebook account, the offer is extended to you here.

My email address is listed at my "About Me" bio above right. No spammers, please!

Thank you!

Shock Poll: Trump +7!

Above, Donald Trump at Clemson University. Photo by Donald J. Trump For President, Inc.

The latest polling numbers are out and Trump is up by seven points in the latest L.A. Times/USC general election poll.

RealClearPolitics reported:
LA Times/USC Trump 47, Clinton 40 Trump +7

Other polls listed also show Trump doing quite well. Much of it can be attributed to the post-convention "bounce" Trump received as well as the chaos at the Democrat National Convention.

There's nothing "democratic" about that party since it was rigged and the recent WikiLeaks of DNC emails proved it.

To see more, go here

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Respond To Those Class-Action Lawsuit Notices!

Sometimes when you're least expecting it, you may end up with an unexpected monetary windfall.

Such was the case yesterday when I retrieved my mail. There were several envelopes, each looking like "junk mail". One of them wasn't!

I opened the one envelope and, lo and behold, was a check for over $750! It was settlement money for a class-action lawsuit against a former employer for money owed for overtime, bonuses and meal breaks. I had completely forgotten about it.

When you get a notice from a law office in regards to any class-action lawsuit, by all means RESPOND! You may (or may not) be entitled to part of any settlement that may occur. But you'll never know unless you respond.

I've received settlement money from other class-action lawsuits over the years. Some pretty substantial, some not so. But, as I always say, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained!"

Keep in mind, you'll likely still have to pay income taxes on your settlement money.

Five Ways To Keep Your Passport Safe

The most important thing to have with you while traveling in foreign countries is your U.S. Passport.

If it is lost or stolen, and you hadn't taken any precautions beforehand, you're stuck like a bug on a windshield.

However, Condé Nast Traveler has five things you can do just in case your passport turns up missing later.

They begin with:
It's precious cargo, but there are easy ways to avoid losing or damaging your passport. And those pickpockets won't stand a chance. 
What passports lack in size, they more than make up for in stature. With them, we board planes, trains, and ships, and cross borders (mostly) freely—after all, a U.S. passport alone allows visa-free entry to 174 countries. Here's how to make sure your passport stays protected when you travel.
To read more, go here

Monday, July 25, 2016

Portrait Progress Report

A progress report was received via text a little while ago from artist Asya Lipovetskaya.

She wrote:
The painting I believe goes very well and may be ready even on Wednesday.

Im doing it with attention and love:) finishing your figure and will start the background soon:)
I was kidding her about what it should look like.

Either this:

Or this:

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