Year Two

So, about this blog, post-anniversary.

Definitely it’s an adjunct to my column, which is the main event. The trick for me has been giving the appropriate weight to each, making the blog worth your time while not starving my column of material or attention.

Based on comments I get, most of you are happy enough with this blog. And that’s satisfying. I wish it were better, frankly, and were blogging my fulltime gig it would be. But I barely have time to think about it, really.

So this is what you get for the hour or two a day I can spare — something off-the-cuff, mildly entertaining, more personal and casual than my columns (is that possible?), plus responses to many of your comments.

Some stats I’ve been pondering as I look to the future: Although there are readers at any point of the day or evening, on weekdays there’s a peak around 9 or 10 a.m., and then a second peak around 4 p.m. Hmm.

And while weekends have the lightest readership, the 250-ish people reading then, compared to 300-ish to 500-ish on weekdays, is higher than I’d have expected.

In response, the boss has suggested that I post not just weekday mornings but in the afternoons as well, to give the morning people an excuse to check back for something other than fresh comments and, of course, to rack up more page views.

“It doesn’t have to be long,” he says. “Just something like ‘I had a burrito at lunch.'”

Uh, well, I’m skeptical anyone would check back for dispatches like that. But I can kinda see his point. I could do with some shorter posts.

And to be self-critical, this blog hasn’t been as immediate as it could be because I’m often holding onto stuff a few days to make sure I can fill the weekend, or in case I need it for my column. I’ve tried to avoid overlap between the blog and the column.

For Year Two, here’s what I’m thinking:

1) Weekday posts in the morning, just like you’re used to.

2) When possible, a short p.m. post, maybe a quick preview of the next column. But not about my burrito at lunch. (Unless it was awesome.)

3) Light posting on weekends — maybe nothing, maybe something — to lighten my load and give everyone a chance to catch up on the week past. And no more writing posts ahead when I’m out of town; that was only to keep my streak alive for the first year.

4) Continuing all the stuff I’m doing now: Restaurant of the Week, random items from various cities, a silly photo every week or so, nostalgia questions or items, personal stuff and reader mail on occasion.

5) It’s possible — this is just musing aloud — that some stuff will go on the blog first and then wind up, in the same or similar form, in my columns. Mr. Columnist/Blogger, tear down this wall!

So, here’s your chance to sound off.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about this blog? Is there anything I’m not doing here that you’d like to see?

Would you rather have a second post on weekdays than posts on weekends?

Any other thoughts on the intersection of the blog and the column?

Needless to say, your feedback is encouraged and anxiously awaited.

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Michael J’s, RIP

The Ontario location, 201 N. Vineyard Ave., closed recently, depriving Best Western guests of the chance to walk to pancakes or a cocktail, or both. I got the news from reader Bruce Henning, who said Michael J’s had been there for years.

A sign on the door blames a decrease in business.

I ate there once, in 1999, for breakfast with my colleague Monica Rodriguez to commiserate on her recent, and my impending, 35th birthday. The food was serviceable but uninspiring.

There was a second Michael J’s at 2315 Foothill Blvd. in La Verne. I tried the phone number and it’s been disconnected. Uh-oh.

If memory serves, there was a Michael J’s on Foothill in Rancho Cucamonga that several years ago became something else, I think a BC Cafe.

Sounds like the Michael J’s mini-empire may be toast. Anyone know any history of the place?

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Restaurant of the Week: Nayu’s


Nayu’s Peruvian Restaurant, 4380 Holt Ave. (at Ramona), Montclair

A few of us from work had lunch at Nayu’s last week after a recommendation from our colleague Elaine Lehman. It turns out to be located in the slightly seedy, if hilariously named, Larry’s Plaza, which I visited in May, to my horror.

Nayu’s currently has no sign but it’s in Suite K and is, well, the place without the sign. Inside the place is reasonably comfortable and the service was friendly. There’s an A in the window too. This was looking up.

I had the lomo saltado (sirloin, peppers, onions, tomatoes and fries, with rice, $9.99) and an Inca Cola. Two others had pollo saltado (the same but with chicken), another had lomo chow mein and a fifth had a ceviche.

We all liked our food quite a bit, and the portions were so large we each took some home. The ceviche may have had too many onions but was loaded with good-sized shrimp and had sides of sweet potato and corn.

I’d say Nayu’s is comparable to Kikiryki in Claremont, except Nayu’s has table service.

As we ate, a TV played soccer in Spanish, then switched to the studio, where a man was wearing a crown and an ermine cape, carrying a scepter and carrying on to the amusement of the other soccer commentators. Meanwhile, in the restaurant, a customer entered wearing a T-shirt with this message: “I got out of bed for this?” I hope he found his meal worth the trouble.

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Opera in Pomona?

Believe it. The Pomona-based Repertory Opera Company is performing Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” at 5 p.m. Sunday only at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 242 E. Alvarado St. in Pomona. Tickets are $25. For reservations or more information call Repertory Opera Company at (323) 969-4602 or visit its website.

To be honest, I’d never heard of the Repertory Opera Company until its artistic director e-mailed me about this performance.

“Repertory Opera Company (ROC) is an earnest Pomona-based opera company that has been performing in LA and Pasadena for four years and is now actually having a chance to perform in Pomona,” LizBeth Lucca wrote. “You can see reviews of ROC’s past productions at … We are hoping that the success of this performance will launch a new creative presence in the Inland Empire.”

On behalf of the IE, we could use a new creative presence.

Not being an opera buff, and preferring to keep my weekends as work-free as possible, I’ll probably skip the show, but I wish them luck, and if any of you go, be sure to post a comment, good or bad.

The website describes “Don Pasquale” as “a lively opera with careening plots, desperate love pursuits and quirky personalities.” It features piano accompaniment and narration “to keep the story moving briskly.”

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One year of blogging

This blog launched on Sept. 12, 2007, or one year ago today. How about that!

Becoming a blogger was unexpected in a way, given that I’m not computer- or tech-oriented. But not that unexpected, in that I volunteered to do it.

That summer I had slowly discovered, and been impressed by, our valley’s handful of local blogs, and became captivated by the form. I liked its informality, its immediacy, its possibilities for interaction with readers. Also, its unlimited space. I felt I could do something interesting with a blog as an adjunct to my column.

Whether I have or haven’t done something interesting is up to you to judge. Regardless, from my standpoint blogging has been a lot of fun, if more time-consuming than I’d expected going in. (My debut predicted that my posts might be just a few lines long. In reality, I’ve tended to go on at much greater length.)

I committed to posting daily, at least while building a readership, because as blog readers know, it’s disappointing to click one of your bookmarked blogs and have a page pop up that you’ve already seen, sometimes multiple times.

Posting daily, even when time was short or nothing obvious presented itself, forced me to get creative. And, just as crucially, lower my standards. Whatever, I did it. Every single day for an entire year, I’ve posted at least once. (No such commitment is being made for Year Two, by the way.)

In its first year, this blog has seen 390 posts (some days I’ve posted twice) and 1,789 comments (and growing). That’s an average of 4.5 comments per post, which isn’t bad. And this blog is averaging 400 page views a day. My wild, unsupported guess is that maybe a thousand people are reading the blog semi-regularly, some checking every day, maybe multiple times a day, others coming in once a week to catch up.

I’ll write more about my first year of blogging in an upcoming column — mostly to entice more people to visit, of course — and I’ll write more here soon with some thoughts on Year Two, while probably soliciting your feedback on certain points.

In the meantime, thanks for your help in making this blog work.

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Claremont’s Village Waddayacallit

What should we call the Village Expansion west of Indian Hill Boulevard? The Claremont Courier had an online poll that overwhelmingly backed the dark horse name Village West. Some ideas got only one vote.

In response, a man named Bill Rook and his coffee club friends at 42nd Street Bagel in Claremont came up with a list of Names That Did Not Get a Vote.

Among them:

* Village Idiot Square

* The Packing House Lemon Center

* Budget Breaker Restaurant Row

* How Do I Break My Lease Commons

* No Indie Art Film Plaza

And, in reference to the frozen food manufacturing plant still operating next to the boutique hotel:

* Rich Foods Entertainment Plaza.

No votes? I’d give mine to that one.

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Walter Knott in Pomona


Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame grew up in Pomona, as did his wife, Cordelia. He was in Pomona from about 1898, when he was 9, until 1913, when he and Cordelia, who had met at Pomona High, left their house at 1040 W. Fourth St. for the high desert.

This was all laid out in my Aug. 19, 2007 column. The photo with the column was a current one of the house, which still stands.

At the Pomona Public Library’s Special Collections Department, we had looked in Pomona High yearbooks in vain for a photo of young Knott. (I think the Library was missing his senior yearbook. Also, it’s possible he dropped out before graduation.)

Then, some weeks after publication, I got this note from library assistant Allan Lagumbay: “We may have found a young Walter Knott in a class picture circa 1901.”

The photo was found in the Library’s collections. In latter-day comments on the back of the photo, classmate Lotta Whipp (now there’s a name) identifies the school as Pearl Street School at Pearl and Garey and IDs many of the students, including Walter Knott.

I didn’t have a good way to share the photo in print, especially at a size where you could see it, but here it is now. (It’s still not very big but it’s the best I could do.) Based on the handwritten and incomplete IDs, it appears he’s in the bottom row, all the way on the right in the jacket.

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Pomona City Council is back

After a monthlong break, the Pomona City Council is back in action today, and you can practically smell the excitement. I think that’s what the smell is.

Should be another big night for The Issue That Would Not Die, i.e., police traffic checkpoints, with protesters and counter-protesters and, for all I know, counter-counter-protesters showing up. Even though the checkpoint discussion is actually scheduled for 5 p.m., I expect a full house, several TV cameras inside and a lot of chanting outside.

Having sat through several of these unwinnable arguments about race and immigration, suddenly the last lines of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” come to mind:

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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The books we haven’t read

Britain’s Telegraph has a charming video asking authors what famous literary work they’ve never read. I found the link through my friend Greg Stepanich’s blog. He offers thoughts on authors whose names pop up repeatedly in the video or in the reader comments — such as Melville, Faulkner, Joyce and Dickens — and addresses the challenge in reading long-winded old novels in 2008.

Is there a famous novel you’re sheepish about not reading? I could list reams of them, but you’ll find my choice as a comment at the end of Greg’s blog post. It’s a book in a series I almost, but not quite, finished 30 years ago. I keep meaning to read the whole series again from stem to stern, but a more sensible approach would be just to read the darn book. Maybe in 2009.

Feel free to comment here or on Greg’s blog, or both places, on your own secret shame.

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