"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, July 25, 2017

Japan's Shotengai

Above, the entrance to Nakano Broadway. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Hardcore Godzilla (and other kaiju) fans have known about buying collectibles in different places in Japan.

One of which is Nakano Broadway in the Nakano section of Tokyo. It is a Japanese form of shopping mall, but it has a specific name.

According to CNN Travel:
(CNN) — Tired of buying all your vacation gifts for the folks back home at the same old touristed-out temples and corporate malls when you're in Tokyo? 
Then try some of the most unusual, storied and just plain odd shopping streets -- called shotengai.

To see Nakano Broadway and other shotengai, go here

Ex-CIA Director Calls For Coup If Trump Fires Mueller

The Looney Left Report

It is probably a good thing that we have the Second Amendment as the Looney Left is calling for a coup should President Donald Trump fires special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is "investigating" the phony Russian collusion charges.

Zero Hedge reported:
In the most vocal opposition to president Donald Trump yet, former CIA Director John Brennan said that if the White House tries to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, government officials should refuse to follow the president orders, as they would be - in his view - “inconsistent” with the duties of the executive branch. 
"I think it's the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out. I would just hope that this is not going to be a partisan issue. That Republicans, Democrats are going to see that the future of this government is at stake and something needs to be done for the good of the future," Brennan told CNN's Wolf Blitzer at the Aspen Security Forum, effectively calling for a coup against the president should Trump give the order to fire Mueller.

This is being discussed as I type this blog by Rush Limbaugh. It is about time these Deep State wackos are brought on sedition charges.

I must remind you of something. Former CIA Director John Brennan voted for the Communist Party candidate in the 1976 presidential election.

To read more, go here.

DOT Fines 3 Airlines For Violating Passengers' Rights

Three airlines were smacked down with fines for violating passengers' rights, according to an article in Travel + Leisure.

They wrote:
On Friday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Frontier Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines for violating various consumer protection rules, Reuters reported. 
According to the DOT, the largest fine was given to Frontier Airlines, which was fined $400,000 for violating oversales and disability rules, while American Airlines was fined $250,000 for failing to make timely refunds to passengers. Delta Air Lines was also fined $200,000 for filing inaccurate baggage reports.

To read more, go here

Admission Prices To Kyoto's Top 10 Attractions

Above, Kinkaku-ji "Golden Pavilion". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are a number of temples, shrines and other cultural places to visit in Kyoto and it would help visitors to know ahead of time how much it costs to enter each.

Thankfully, to help in travel budget planning, City-Cost.com has the top ten attractions in Kyoto listed with information on admission prices and the cost to get to each.

They start with:
There are myriad lists out there in the ether documenting the most popular temples, shrines and other attractions in Kyoto.  Whatever the order or rank however, it's likely that any list of 10 Kyoto attractions will feature the usual suspects with perhaps one or two curve balls thrown in.  This is the case with the list that we referenced in order to put together this post about how much it costs visitors to enter these top spots.  We went with that produced by Japan online travel booking site "Jalan" (じゃらん) - it's local, widely read, and the list is based on user rating.  Anyway, we could have used another list or just given it our best guess.  The point here is about how much Kyoto's marquee attractions cost to get in.  We also look at how much they cost to get from the major travel hub of JR Kyoto Station.  While we understand that travellers will not be going back and forth between this station and each site, the aim to give some background as to the potential travel expenses.  We look at Kyoto travel passes at the bottom of the post. 

To read more, go here

Monday, July 24, 2017

Classic "Soviet Fashion Show" Commercial

Back during the Cold War, particularly during the 1980s, the Soviets were occasionally mocked.

A classic hamburger commercial by Wendy's back in the 1980s was one that poked a lot of fun at the Soviets. It depicts a Soviet fashion show emphasizing the point that there's no choices in the Soviet Union, but at Wendy's, people have choices in hamburgers.

Do you remember it?

I wonder if many people in Western countries actually thought Russian women all looked like what's depicted? Allegedly, the ad was banned, but I don't believe it was as I saw it many times.

Obviously, Asya (from St. Petersburg, Russia) who painted my portrait doesn't fit the stereotype:

Joshua Tree National Park To Be Designated International Dark Sky Park

Above, Cottonwood Spring at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Here is something amateur astronomers and night sky photographers should take notice of.

Joshua Tree National Park is about to receive the designation as an International Dark Sky Park next month.

According to The Desert Sun:
Joshua Tree National Park will join Galloway Forest Park in Scotland, Warrumbungle National Park in Australia, Yeongyang Firefly Eco Park in South Korea and dozens of other parks across the U.S. and the world next month when it is officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park. 
To receive the distinction, a park must possess, “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment,” according to the International Dark-Sky Association. 
Other International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. include Glacier National Park in Montana, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Capitol Reef National Park in Utah and dozens of other national and state parks and monuments. 
A dedication ceremony will be held Aug. 12 at Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree at 5 p.m. 

To read more, go here.

Red Skelton Autograph

Above, Red Skelton and Lucille Ball.

It is surprising that I haven't posted a blog on one of my favorite comedians of the 20th Centrury: Red Skelton.

A Facebook friend posted the following video of Red Skelton with Johnny Carson in 1983 that I shared. It has garnered a number of comments and likes. Skelton kills it.

I had the honor of meeting Skelton in 1972 at the Century Plaza Hotel where a big Re-Elect The President dinner was being held. I also got his autograph. Thank goodness that I had some business cards with me. I still have it (one of my prized possessions) and here it is:

The Perfect Night In Tokyo

Above, the article includes a link to romantic waterfront hideouts in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Just because Japan is the "Land of the Rising Sun" doesn't mean that once the sun does set, there's nothing further to do. Especially in Tokyo.

Time Out Tokyo has a feature article on nightlife in Japan's capital city.

They begin it with:
The best bars, waterfront spots and romantic restaurants, plus superb musical hideouts, seductive cats and other curious characters – read on for everything you need to plan an unforgettable night out in Tokyo, be it on your own, in the company of friends, or with that special someone. And if you need more restaurant or bar suggestions, check out our picks of Tokyo's 100 best restaurants or see our complete best bars in Tokyo page.

To read more, go here

Sunday, July 23, 2017

National Parks To Get $50 Million For Maintenance and Infrastructure

Above, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Lower Yellowstone Falls. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The national parks will be getting more than $50 million for maintenance and infrastructure funds.

Fox21 News reported:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK — More than $50 million will be distributed to high priority maintenance and infrastructure projects at 42 parks in 29 states, including Colorado. 
While visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner announced Saturday Rocky Mountain National Park will receive $200,000 in federal funds matched by $200,000 from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy to reduce deferred maintenance on the Alluvial Fan Trail. 
It’s all thanks to Congress, who provided $20 million for the projects as part of the Centennial Challenge program, which will be matched by $33 million from more than 50 park partners to improve trails, restore buildings and increase visitor access to parks.

One such project the funding will go towards is improvements of the overlooks of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

To read more, go here

Lap Up The Madness and Magic of Tokyo

Above, Shibuya Crossing (or Shibuya Scramble). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is interesting to read of the different perspectives of people from other nations who've visited Japan.

In an article in The Scottish Sun, a couple from Scotland visited Tokyo and have written about their experiences and impressions.

They begin with:
THINK of any movie, cartoon or wacky story you’ve ever seen about Tokyo.
Then times the bonkers factor by ten, and you’re still not close to how mad the Japanese capital is.
Every day in the larger-than- life city is an experience and around every corner is something wilder than the last. 
We spent a magical week in the futuristic hub, and we barely scratched the surface.
Getting there is easier than you think — we travelled with the superb Turkish Airlines who took us in comfort and style. 
We landed in Narita late at night and took the express train into the city, before transferring to the subway. 
Travelling around Tokyo is a piece of cake. It is really well geared up for tourists so all the travel maps and vending machines are in English. 
Tokyo doesn’t have a centre. It is such a vast city that it’s portioned up into areas, each famous for different things.

To read more, go here.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Monster Japan Travel Guide Reached Facebook 500 Likes!

The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan Facebook page has hit, and passed, the "magic" number of 500 likes today. I didn't know about this until I saw the above graphic posted on the page by Facebook.

I am planning to get seriously cracking on getting the updated edition started following my August trip to see the total solar eclipse. Too many life things had interfered with my earlier plans.

Thanks to all!

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Even More Special Guests Added to Elvis Week Line Up
The list of Elvis Week guests keeps growing! Elvis' TCB Band guitarist James Burton; gospel artist Joanne Cash; Elvis' "It Happened at the World's Fair" co-star Gary Lockwood; songwriter David Porter, Imperials member Armond Morales; and Bill Black's daughter, Nancy Black Shockley, will all share their memories of Elvis during Elvis Week. Learn more about them and buy your Elvis Week tickets now at ElvisWeek.com.

Please note: if you are planning on attending Elvis Week, we strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance. Some events have sold out, and some will sell out soon!
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Reasons To Visit Osaka

Above, a restaurant's sign in the foodie area of  Osaka's Dotonbori. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

CNN may be full of fake news these days, but perhaps that hasn't affected their travel bureaus.

CNN Travel has an article of 10 reasons to visit Osaka, Japan from food to shopping (two good reasons, eh?). And they begin it with:
(CNN) — Ask most people where they want to go in Japan, and they'll likely reply without a moment's hesitation -- "Tokyo, duh." 
Romantic Kyoto may come a close second, or tropical Okinawa, but the Japan bucket list rarely includes rough-and-tumble Osaka. It's Japan's third-most-populated city, yet one that is often overlooked by overseas tourists. 
Bayside Osaka -- gutted by World War II bombing and rebuilt rapidly, haphazardly -- certainly lacks the picturesque architecture and alluring natural scenery of other Japanese cities. And its enduring role as one of Japan's economic command centers hardly seems like a reason to stir from your couch. So why visit Osaka at all?

To read more, go here

T + L: The Best Comic Book Stores In The U.S.

Above, Mile High Comics at the 2014 Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

It is Comic-Con time in San Diego, California. But you don't have to go there to get your fix on comic books and other fan-related goodies.

Travel + Leisure has an article on "The Best Comic Book Stores In The U.S.".

They begin with:
It's that time of year again, when comic fans, costumed characters, and film buffs descend on San Diego, California. 
That's right. It's Comic-Con.And in honor of the biggest comics convention of the year, we're highlighting the best comic book stores all across the U.S. From Florida's Emerald City to Washington's Arcane Comics, these are the best places to find all the DC and Marvel your heart desires.

To read more, go here

Friday, July 21, 2017

They Won't Be Friends With Trump Supporters

Ben Shapiro has an interesting article in The Daily Wire.

It is, "Poll: Almost Half Of Leftists Say They Won't Be Friends With Trump Supporters".


He wrote:
People tend to hang out with people they like. That often means people with whom they share values and community and life experiences. But now, it appears that our political polarization has grown so wide that Americans who voted differently in 2016 don’t want to hang out with each other. 
That, at least, is the story from the Pew Research Center, which found that 47% of “liberal Democrats” stated that if a friend voted Trump, it would strain the friendship. For all Democrats, 35% stated the same. For Republicans, that number was just 13% when applied to Hillary Clinton.

Luckily for me, this happened to me with two people:

That was it.

Both are welcome back to the fold once they regain their senses and get over it.

To read more, go here.

Best Shops In Asakusa

Above, Shin-Nakamise Shopping Street. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For visitors to Tokyo, Asakusa's many neighborhoods are meccas for shoppers. There's everything from traditional to modern goods.

Time Out Tokyo has posted an article on the best shops in Asakusa.

They begin with:
There's a lot more to Asakusa than just Sensoji. From traditional Japanese crafts to kitchenware, there's plenty left to explore in this historic neighbourhood. Take a stroll along the Sumida River for stylish finds in Kuramae or hit up the popular shopping streets of Kappabashi-dori and Nakamise-dori for a real treat. 
And, there's toy shops at Nakamise-dori and Shin-Nakamise where Godzilla toys can be found.

Above, I bought this Bandai 1968 Godzilla at Nakamise-dori in 2015. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Miyagi Tourism Video Decried As "Sexually Suggestive"

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

A travel promotional video for Miyagi Prefecture has some female councillors up in arms.

According to the South China Morning Post:
Seven female members of the Miyagi prefectural assembly on Friday asked the governor of the northeastern Japan prefecture to remove a tourism promotion video it is using on the internet, claiming it portrays women as sex objects. 
The video, featuring a well-known model and actress in a kimono, showcases attractions and tourist spots in the prefecture but also contains some sexually suggestive scenes, including one in which the camera zooms in on her parting lips.

I saw the video (it is posted below) and I didn't see anything offensive about it. It spotlights Sendai (the statue of Date Masamune is featured) and Matsushima.

To read more, go here.

Here's the video (you be the judge):

National Park Deaths and Injuries

Above, Tenaya Creek at Yosemite. People have been getting swept down swollen rivers and creeks. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

People have been getting injured and killed in our national parks. I've noticed quite a number of them over the past several weeks and months.

I've noticed drownings (Yosemite and Sequoia), falling into volcanic hot springs and getting dissolved (Yellowstone), falls (Crater Lake and Zion) and heat stroke/dehydration (Carlsbad Caverns).

RV Life has an article on just this subject.

They start with:
According to National Park Service statistics reported by CNN, a total of 1,025 people died in national parks from 2007 to 2013. In the big scheme, that’s not too many deaths compared to other ways to die in America. For instance, in 2015 there were 15,696 homicides and 40,000 fatal car crashes. Regardless of how many people die in U.S. national parks the fact is that many deaths were totally preventable. 
Most vacationers don’t die from grizzly bear maulings or other wild animal attacks. The causes aren’t quite as sensational. The most popular ways to die in national parks usually involves being unprepared and disrespectful of the power of nature.

To read more, go here

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Annual National Park Senior Pass

Above, the Gibbons River in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There's a feature that last year's legislation mandating the $80 price hike for the lifetime national park Senior Pass that I hadn't been aware of.

It is a new annual Senior Pass that will sell for $20 a year. But there's more to it.

According to CNBC:
The legislation mandating the price hike includes a new payment plan to help seniors get a lifetime pass. For the first time, the National Park Service will issue an annual senior pass for $20 and once four annual senior passes have been purchased, the individual will automatically qualify for a senior lifetime pass with no additional fee.

That's a great idea! Seniors won't have to pay $80 for the lifetime Senior Pass in one pop. All they have to do is purchase four annual Senior Passes to qualify for the lifetime pass. The price hike goes into effect August 28.

To read more, go here.

Three Shops To Buy Japanese Kitchen Knives In Kappabashi

Above, the giant chef marks the entrance to Kappabashi "Kitchen Town". Photo by Armand Vaquer.

In 2014, I made a stop in Kappabashi to pick up a chef's knife for my then-roommate Jessica. It was during that trip I was stuck on a train overnight during a snowstorm.

After I checked into my hotel, I went via taxi to Kappabashi, known as "Kitchen Town", Tokyo to get the knife. Since then, I have bought chef's knives for my daughter and myself at Kama Asa Shoten (or Kamaasa Knife Co.) while in Tokyo. I've also mail-ordered cutlery from them.

Above, Kama Asa Shoten's knife shop in Kappabashi. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Goin' Japanesque has an article on three shops where visitors can buy quality Japanese knives. One of them is where I bought ours, Kama Asa Shoten.

They begin with:
Kappabashi Dogu Street (Map), located in Asakusa, is the number one shopping arcade in Japan for kitchen implements. Frequented by many professional chefs, there are about 170 shops lined up across 800 meters of street. Today, we’d like to tell you about some shops where you can pick up high-quality Japanese kitchen knives. Be sure to use this information if you’re picking up gifts for people back home. Just going to have a look at these incredible knives makes for a great experience.
Above, Jessica's knife from Kama Asa Shoten. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

To read more, go here

Cousin Eddie's Brother?

Hirohito "Powerless" To Stop The War

Above, Emperor Hirohito and President Nixon meet in Alaska.

It is interesting when documents that deal with historical events and personalities turn up. Such is the case involving Emperor Hirohito (now known as Emperor Showa) and World War II.

The Asahi Shimbun has an article on Hirohito.

It begins with:
LONDON--A newly released letter written by the British ambassador to Japan after the Jan. 7, 1989, death of Emperor Hirohito absolved him of responsibility for taking Japan to war, saying "he was ultimately powerless to stop" the nation's drift to militarism. 
The bitter memories held by many British veterans about their treatment at the hands of the Imperial Japanese military led to strong calls about the responsibility held by Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa.

It was Hirohito who broadcast the message to the the Japanese people telling them that Japan will surrender to the Allies. It was the first time that the Japanese ever heard him speak.

To read more, go here

The Cost To Get To Tokyo From Narita Airport

Above, inside a Narita Express car. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Now that Haneda Airport in Tokyo has expanded international flights, people now have that as an option instead of arriving and departing from Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture.

Narita is Japan's biggest air travel hub, but its disadvantage is that it is about an hour away from Tokyo.

In each of my eight visits to Japan, all my flights were into and out of Narita. Only once did that present a major problem as one of the biggest snowstorms to hit the Tokyo area (and beyond) at the same time as my 2014 arrival at Narita.

Above, the Keisei Skyliner at Narita Airport Terminal One. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I got out of the airport okay, but midway between the airport and Tokyo, the snowstorm forced all train service to come to a stop. I had to sit inside the Keisei Line train for hours. I didn't get to my hotel in Tokyo until almost 24 hours after arriving in Japan.

But that was a fluke occurrence.

There are different means of getting to Tokyo from Narita Airport and City-Cost.com has an article on them and how much they cost. My favorite is the Narita Express.

They begin with:
We should probably kick off by cautioning travellers to avoid the same mistake that we've just committed here - specifying only the name "Narita" in searches.  Narita is in fact the name of the city next to which sits the airport.  Narita has its own train station which it is not practical to walk to from the airport.  No, in your searches be sure to enter, "Narita Airport" (you can probably skip the "international" bit).

Narita Airport is serviced by two train operators - JR and Keisei.  Both of these services can be accessed from the B1 floor of terminals 1 and 2 (not terminal 3).

To read more, go here

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Drat! (Sort Of)

Above, The Beast at Reseda Automotive last year. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the past two years, I have taken The Beast to Reseda Automotive for its oil changes and pre-trip checks. I've liked their service since they did work on RVs.

I called them up this morning to set an appointment to bring it in for an oil change (I use synthetic oil for it) and a pre-trip check before I hit the road for Idaho to see the eclipse. Lo and behold, they are under a new name and management. In other words, a who new regime has replaced Reseda Automotive.

Well, I do have a regulat mechanic for the Mustang. I stopped by his shop and he says he can do the oil change and trip-check on the motorhome. So I'll bring it there.

It seems that almost every time I find a vendor I like, they go out of business (just like El Paso Barbecue Restaurant). Yeesh!

Japan's Foreign Tourists and Spending Reached New Records

Above, Asakusa's Nakamise Street. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan, during the first six months of 2017, has set new records in foreign tourism and their spending.

The Japan Times reported:
The number of foreign visitors and spending by the tourists in the first six months of 2017 both hit record highs, government data estimates showed Wednesday.
The Japan Tourism Agency said the number of foreign visitors in the January-June period grew 17.4 percent from the same six-month period a year earlier, reaching a record 13.76 million due mainly to an increase of South Korean tourists.

To read more, go here

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