Saturday, June 30, 2012

THE REBEL AND THE KING: A New Nick Adams Biography Is Coming This August!

The front and back covers to The Rebel and the King, the brand-new book that documents the friendship between music legend Elvis Presley and Oscar-nominated actor Nick Adams.

Nick Adams' daughter Allyson is set to launch her new book, detailing her father's friendship with one of the world's biggest stars, Elvis Presley. According to the book's official Web site:
Elvis Presley had just exploded on the American scene and was filming his first movie, Love Me Tender, when he introduced himself to Nick Adams on the backlot of 20th Century Fox. Nick was a struggling actor, part of the Rebel Without A Cause gang and showed Elvis the town, introducing him to Natalie Wood. Nick was infamous for writing about his famous friends and now the POSTHUMOUS PUBLICATION of Nick Adams raw, unedited manuscript, The Rebel & The King, details his close friendship and whirlwind eight days in Memphis with Elvis, during the famous singer’s Tupelo Homecoming the summer of 56.
Your humble blogmeister poses with Allyson Adams in November 2009 in Los Angeles, CA.

I interviewed Allyson a few years ago at the time she was working on this project. I was interested to read what she had uncovered about her father. Now, this coming August, everyone will be able to find out for him/herself!

Allyson has also just started to new blog, which can be found here. News about the book will surely be posted in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled!

You can pre-order the book here.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Akira Takarada hangs with totorom and yours truly at a shabu shabu restaurant in Roppongi, May 2012.

At G-FEST XIX, July 13-15, legendary actor Akira Takarada will be bringing some vintage Godzilla and Ultraman items for sale. These items will be on sale at the autograph tables during signing. The listings are below. If you see something you like, make note, and be sure to bring the dough!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


The news of Emi Ito's passing has been hitting the news in Japan. The Nagoya-area Chunichi Sports newspaper and my local Gifu Shimbun have run stories. They are below.

First, Chunichi Sports' report comes in two parts:

Next is the blurb that appears in today's Gifu Shimbun:

EMI ITO (1941-2012)

The Peanuts, Yumi and Emi Ito, performing in March 1971. Source: here

Emi Ito, one half of the popular singing duo The Peanuts, died on June 15, 2012, at the age of 71.

Emi Ito, seen with husband Kenji Sawada, in 1975. Source: here

The Peanuts, who began performing in 1959, are best known to kaiju fans for playing the Shobijin in Mothra (1961), Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964), and Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964). Although The Peanuts retired in 1975, they are remembered fondly by their fans in the East and West.

Rest in Peace, Emi-san.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kenji Sahara and Hiroshi Koizumi: The Movie(s)!

Hangin' out with legendary SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano at the dinner hosted by the Grissom Gang.

Now that I've written the report, you can watch the videos! They're self-explanatory, so I'll spare you any explanations. Please watch and enjoy!

GODZILLA RAVAGES KURIHAMA! The King of the Monsters rules the Flower World!

Godzilla is ready for his closeup, but are you ready for Godzilla? 

Godzilla fans are familiar with the two Godzilla statues in Tokyo. The first one was erected in Hibiya Chanter Square in conjunction with the release of Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995), which was billed as Godzilla's last film. In more recent years, Toho Studios built a bigger Godzilla statue (the size of the filming suit) that stands outside the studio gates. These statues have been photographed and written about endlessly by Godzilla fans, leaving the impression that that's all there is to see.

This guy might disagree!

Of all the Godzilla structures in Japan, this is by far the biggest and perhaps even the coolest. It's about as close as anyone will ever get to seeing the real thing!

And it's not just cool to look at; you can slide down Godzilla's tail! Yup, it's actually a playground slide, not a statue. Be warned, though, it was built with children in mind (I can't believe I actually had to type that!), so the slide itself is narrow. Although I didn't use it myself (recent typhoons left it a little too muddy for me), I had a hard time seeing myself actually sliding down the thing.

The Big Guy holds court in Kurihama Flower World, located in Yokosuka, Kanagawa. You can find it in the Adventure Land section of the park, among other various playground-style activities.

The Flower World is quite a distance from Tokyo (about an hour and a half train ride), which would likely explain why so few monster movie fans who travel to Japan visit it or even know of its existence. 

Of course, whether this attraction might be of interest is completely up to the individual. But I must say that I'm glad I made the effort to see it. It was quite impressive, and it sure beats shopping for Bandai figures!

If you're interested in the backstory behind the massive slide, this link has the details.

Finally, I shot some video at the slide, and here it is. Call it the first installment of Pigeon Kicker TV. Or don't. That part is also up to you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA: Celebrating a Toho Classic in Style!

Screen legend Kenji Sahara signs autographs at the Grissom Gang's movie pub in Tokyo. 

The kaiju eiga classic Mothra vs. Godzilla (a.k.a. Godzilla vs. the Thing, 1964) is one of the most popular Godzilla films among Western G-fans. But leave it to the Japanese fans to honor the film in a big way! Over the weekend, the Grissom Gang hosted a two-day event that celebrated one of the best monster movies from Toho's golden age. 

Kenji Sahara (Rodan, The Mysterians, The H-Man) was the focal point of Saturday's activities. After a film print of  Mothra vs. Godzilla played to the small, exclusive audience in attendance (not much more than 20 people -- it's a small theater and can't hold any more than that!), Mr. Sahara took the stage for his talk show. The Toho legend brought some slides with him, detailing his early life up until the present. One such photo was from his college days, during which Mr. Sahara was into bodybuilding. In this photo, Sahara-san was shirtless and was -- to my surprise -- totally ripped! I had no idea he was in such great shape. Mr. Sahara brought his copy of the None But the Brave shooting script and passed it around the audience. Also, a golfing trophy that famed director Akira Kurosawa won but gave to Mr. Sahara after Sahara-san was unavailable to be cast in Sanjuro was also passed around the audience. I felt particularly honored to hold such wonderful pieces of film history!

Kenji Sahara meets me but not for the first time. I was happy to catch up with Sahara-san, whom I hadn't seen since G-FEST in 2009.

After signing autographs, it was off to dinner. Mr. Sahara joined us and sat down next to me. He happily answered every question posed to him. I was also able to speak with his son, who was able to speak quite a bit of English.

Good times with Sahara-san.

Sunday saw another screening of Mothra vs. Godzilla but with a twist. Hiroshi Koizumi showed up early to watch the film! And, as luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to him during the film. Once again, I truly felt honored.

A powerful trio: Masaaki Tezuka, Hiroshi Koizumi, and Teruyoshi Nakano answer questions from the audience.

Following the movie, Koizumi-san was joined by Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. director Masaaki Tezuka and longtime SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano. This talk show was long and informative, with Nakano-san providing the lengthiest and most detailed answers. In one interesting tidbit, he mentioned that he intentionally ended all his Godzilla movies with the Big G's back facing the camera, to symbolize the drift from the original intent of the character that director Ishiro Honda felt was taking place. Later in the evening, Mr. Nakano mentioned that he was slated to have an acting role in Conflagration (a.k.a. Tokyo Bay Burns, 1975) but was so busy he didn't have time to act!

My friend totorom poses with Hiroshi Koizumi.

After the interview was completed, it was autograph time all over again. Not much to say here, so let's check out the highlights:

Yours truly with Hiroshi Koizumi.

 Meeting Teruyoshi Nakano again. I first met (and interviewed) him eight years ago!

Meeting Tezuka-san for the second time. He had great stories to tell, especially about one of my favorite films, Fukkatsu no hi (a.k.a. Virus, 1980).

 Between two legends: Certainly one of many highlights of the weekend.

What else can I say? It was a spectacular event! Big thanks to the Grissom Gang and tororom for all their help. I should mention that I made several new friends (Yasushi, Akiko, and Jiro) whom I hope to meet again very soon. Everyone was open, warm, and friendly. If only everyone in Godzilla fandom were as nice!

CRYSTAL SKY: Tachikawa's Super Sentai Hang-out!

A brand-new bar in Tokyo that will attract even teetotalers like me! Whether you drink or don't drink, the Crystal Sky bar offers much to tokusatsu fans of all backgrounds.

Over the weekend, I had the good fortune to visit the new Crystal Sky bar in Tachikawa, Tokyo. Actor Masaru Shishido opened the bar in April, and given his association with Japan's long-running Super Sentai series, decided that a tokusatsu theme was the way to go. Mr. Shishido, who played the Red Ranger in Toei's Ohranger (1995-96), goes the extra mile and gives his patrons much more than what you'll find at similar theme restaurants in Japan.

Signage pointing the way to the Crystal Sky bar. If you find yourself in Tachikawa, be on the lookout for it!

My friend totorom and I entered the bar, not knowing much about what to expect. I've eaten at Kamen Rider: The Diner in Ikebukuro, which was an experience you can read about here. While that diner provided its guests with some great memorabilia, it lacked a personal touch. That is not at all the case with Crystal Sky.

Mr. Shishido happily mixes and mingles with the fans and patrons. When totorom and I walked in, he sat down with us, answered our questions, and even signed autographs! Truth be told, we weren't even expecting to meet him at all! The wait staff was especially friendly and knowledgeable about tokusatsu. One of the bartenders informed me that I was the first non-Japanese customer in the bar's short history. With this blog post, I hope many more will follow!

A record of my surprise meeting with Mr. Shishido, who was happy to pose for pictures.

One drawback is that photos are not allowed to be taken inside the bar. That was a big disappointment, as many cool items were on display, from Godzilla and Ultraman figures to autographs from several fellow tokusatsu stars. In fact, Hiroshi Miyauchi (Kamen Rider V3, The War in Space) signed a huge portion of the wall itself! I was dying to photograph it, but alas... Afterward, I sang a bit of superhero karaoke in front of the entire bar (namely Ultra Seven), which helped lift my spirits.

Mr. Shishido told us that the bar is open seven days a week because, appropriately enough, a hero never rests. Also, he plans to host personal appearances of tokusatsu stars at his establishment, which certainly had me intrigued. Suffice it to say, this will not be my final visit to the bar!

I give Crystal Sky my highest recommendation. Its friendly atmosphere and gracious host are well worth the trip to Tachikawa, even if Super Sentai isn't your bag. For more information on Crystal Sky, this article has the scoop.