Sunday, August 29, 2010

Agoura Hills Patch penetrates 'Mushroom Clouds'

Author Peter H. Brothers, July 2010.

The Agoura Hills Patch recently ran an article on Peter H. Brothers' Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda. The article quotes Brothers at length, and toward the end you might recognize the name of a certain blogger.

To read the article for yourself, just click here.

G-FAN #92

Monsterland Ohio's Mark Matzke has published an excellent review of G-FAN #92. To read the review for yourself, just click here.

For more information on G-FAN magazine itself, follow this link.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

G-FEST XVIII: Return to the Crowne Plaza!

J.D. "Da Chief" Lees, me, and Robert Scott Field check out the newly-renovated Crowne Plaza this past July, examining it for a possible return.

On the subject of conventions that still exist, J.D. Lees (a.k.a. The Chief) has announced that G-FEST XVIII will take place at the Crowne Plaza in Rosemont, IL (G-FEST's stomping grounds from 2004-09), from July 15 to 17.

Be there when G-FEST, North America's longest-running kaiju convention, finally hits maturity! (Hm. Now that G-FEST will turn 18, maybe it'll finally want to move out of Rosemont...)

J.D. and Scott give two big thumbs up (or a thumb and a peace sign, anyway) to the Crowne Plaza!

Make your plans to attend now! For more information, please visit G-FAN.com.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 25: A year old


What a year it's been!

On August 25, 2009, I created this very blog. I had no real expectations for it, and I wasn't sure what direction it would ultimately take. While many blogs come and go, I'm very proud that this one has made it this far.

On the blog's first day of existence, I posted a notice about Akira Takarada's appearing in a stage adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard. Less than a year later, I would assist Mr. Takarada throughout his entire stay at G-FEST. (I picked him up from the airport and dropped him off at the airport security line. I was the first and last person who saw him in Chicago.) For this reason, I decided to use the above photo of Mr. Takarada from G-FEST's Sunday morning interview to illustrate this blog post. It certainly feels like it's come full circle!

Now we officially start the second year of Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker. I hope it's just as fun as the first!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kikaider is back, and Anime Jungle has him!

Dave Chapple, August Ragone, me, and Ed Holland, about to order our meals at a Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo.

Anime Jungle in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo hosted the one and only Daisuke Ban, the popular star of the 1970s-era superhero shows Kikaider and Inazuman, to participate in autograph signings and the Nisei Week Japanese Festival's Grand Parade. Mr. Ban also participated in a dinner Saturday night for which Anime Jungle was selling advance tickets (limited to 30 people).

August Ragone and I eagerly await the dinner with Daisuke Ban.

Before the dinner got under way, I spent all my time with August Ragone, Ed Holland of Monster Attack Team, and fellow Coachella Valley resident Dave Chapple. We shopped in Anime Jungle, went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch, and just hung out and shot the breeze about a slew of topics. There was never a dull moment!

Daisuke Ban and Joanne Ninomiya examine a copy of G-FAN #91, as August Ragone tells them about the magazine and G-FEST.

At 6:30 pm, the dinner with Daisuke Ban began. After making some introductory comments, Mr. Ban sat at each table with Joanne Ninomiya of Generation Kikaida for about 10 or 15 minutes to spend time with each attendee. Mr. Ban graciously answered questions, signed autographs, and posed for pictures.

Mr. Ban seemed impressed with the copy of G-FAN I gave him (August told him all about G-FAN and G-FEST). Mr. Ban noticed the interview with Yukiko Takayama, Terror of Mechagodzilla's screenwriter, and asked if I knew Tomoko Ai. I mentioned that totorom interviewed her in a previous issue, to which Mr. Ban replied that the two are friends. So remember that Katsura Mafune knows Kikaider!

"Say, Kikaider, need a sidekick?"

All in all, it was a great event, with fans coming all the way from Japan for the occasion! Anime Jungle might be hosting more such events, so be on the lookout for them in the future. Kudos to Anime Jungle for bringing this event to the West Coast!

Meeting the legendary Daisuke Ban for the first time.

Return to the Glutermansion

Tim Smyth, Perry Martin, Don Glut, William Winckler, Ted Newsom, and Bill Warren discuss many movie-related subjects at the Glutermansion.

In June 2005, just before I left for North Dakota for four years, I visited the home of author and filmmaker Donald F. Glut with my friends David McRobie and Peter H. Brothers. Since I was leaving California for the foreseeable future, I arranged for us to visit Don's house (which I nicknamed the Glutermansion) as sort of a last hurrah for me. The visit was a fun experience for us, but it would be one that wouldn't happen again for five years.

Bill and Ted have an "excellent" discussion on who really killed Ted Healy!

Several days ago, I contacted Don about possibly visiting him again at his home. I mentioned that I'd love to meet other fans in the area that he knew, and I welcomed as many of them to participate as he could get. Don then started pounding the pavement and arranged a veritable "who's who" of monster fandom to converge on the Glutermansion!

Don Glut proudly displays his Mangled Skyscraper Award, which he won at G-FEST XIV in 2007, with much of his prized memorabilia collection.

As it turned out, Don was under the impression that I still lived in North Dakota and explained to his friends that I was coming in from out of state for this occasion! The group got a big laugh when I revealed that I drove about two hours to get to L.A.!

For several hours, we sat around a table and simply discussed various movies, swapped stories about celebrities, gave our opinions on some "infamous" names in fandom, and had a blast. I was surprised to learn that these sort of get-togethers don't happen so often. Everyone agreed that these meetings should occur a lot more frequently.

Don Glut and yours truly, right outside the Italian restaurant in which we ate dinner.

Shortly after 7:00 pm, a slightly smaller group went out for Italian food. There we discussed more movies, debated Godzilla movies vs. Ray Harryhausen movies, and even did a few voice impressions! We actually stayed seated well past closing time, but we were so caught up in our conversation that we didn't even notice!

Ted and I pose with Famous Monsters of Filmland #250. Phil Kim would be proud!

After we left the restaurant, most of our group left, although Don, Sid Terror, Tim Smyth, and I stuck around to continue the conversation even longer! It lasted until almost 12:30 am, much later than I would have ever guessed. But, when you're having fun, it's easy to lose track of time.

I'd like to thank everyone who came out to Don's house. You certainly made my day! It was tremendous fun, and I suspect these shindigs will be happening a lot more often from now on.

Hanging out is what it's all about! Ted, me, William Winckler, Sid Terror, Don, and Tim Smyth smile for the camera.

. . . and I haven't been the same since!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A salute to Yoshifumi Tajima (1919-2009)

The great Toho character actor Yoshifumi Tajima in perhaps his best role, that of Kumayama in Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964).

One of the most familiar faces in the Godzilla series passed away on September 10, 2009, of esophageal cancer. He was 90 years old.

Tajima was born on August 4, 1919. He became an actor in the early 1950s, working for Shochiku and Nikkatsu, and then became a contracted Toho player in the late 1950s. Some of his Toho credits include: The Secret of the Telegian (1960), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Atragon (1963), Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964), War of the Gargantuas (1966), King Kong Escapes (1967), and Godzilla (1984). Tajima also had a recurring role on the groundbreaking Ultra Q TV series for Tsuburaya Productions.

Although he passed nearly a year ago, it almost completely flew under the radar in the West. So I offer this very humble salute to a giant of the giant monster genre.

Rest in peace, Mr. Tajima.

Akira Takarada signs autographs at G-FEST


On the Monday following G-FEST, while most people were leaving Chicago and saying their goodbyes to fellow attendees, I stayed in town an extra night (leaving early Tuesday morning) to help Mr. Takarada enjoy his final day in Chicago (his flight left late that night).

Monday turned out to be an extremely enjoyable day. I spent it with Mr. Takarada, Robert Scott Field, and J.D. Lees and his family. The hectic pace of G-FEST was behind us, and we could relax and enjoy ourselves without having to worry about resolving parking issues or whatever other problems arose throughout the weekend.

Early in the afternoon on Monday, I asked Mr. Takarada to sign some items for other people (friends and family members) and even a few for myself. Robert Scott Field recorded it for me, and the one and only Damon Foster uploaded it to YouTube for me. (I certainly would've had no idea how to do it myself!)

In any case, here is that video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ryuhei Kitamura's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'


Ryuhei Kitamura (the director of Versus and Godzilla: Final Wars) has directed a new music video of ELEWs cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Nirvana's early '90s mega-hit).
According to ELEWRockjazz.com:
A modern day pop artist and musical revolutionary, piano iconoclast ELEW is making a substantial impression on the music world with a thunderous new style of playing: an inspired melding of ragtime, rock and pop that he calls Rockjazz.
It's certainly not your father's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"!

h/t Kung Fu Cinema.