Circuit City’s last day in Pomona

The store on South Garey * is scheduled to close tonight. I was there Saturday, snapping up more DVD bargains. The price then was 60 percent off, which was set to rise to 70 percent on Sunday and 80 percent today.

Pickings were becoming slim on Saturday — which is part of the fun in these things — but I got the first season of “Saturday Night Live” for $20 (regularly $50) and the ninth season of “Seinfeld” for $16 (regularly $40). I also picked up a few $10 movies for $4, including the last copy of “Million Dollar Baby,” and “I’m Not There” for $8.80 rather than $21.

If you have a fan of “24” on your shopping list, there were multiple seasons still available Saturday, more than of any other TV series. Jack Bauer apparently isn’t as hot as he used to be.

The store’s address is 2735 S. Towne — strangely, since the main entrance is off Garey.

I was reminded, however, that chasing discounts can be fruitless. I already wrote about excitedly buying seasons 4 to 6 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for 40 percent off, or $20.99 rather than $34.99. Since then most copies were sold, so it’s not like I acted too rashly. But I saw all the seasons at Rhino Records on Saturday for $20 each, new.

Just when I’d stopped kicking myself — besides saving 99 cents each, I’d rather have given my dough to a local store anyway — I saw Sunday’s circular for Best Buy, which is pricing every season at $17.50.

Oh well. Even $20.99 is pretty cheap, isn’t it?

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Pomona’s cozy Council Chambers


Chino Hills’ new Council Chambers seats more than 100 and has overflow seating for another 50 or so, plus plenty of standing room. A sign gives the maximum capacity as 214.

City spokeswoman Denise Cattern told me the room is available for rent, and I know who ought to rent it out: Pomona. Its cramped chambers are half the size of Chino Hills’ — even though Pomona has twice the population.

Even a moderately attended meeting like Dec. 15’s filled the room in Pomona, forcing some to watch on TV from the lobby.

Someday I’d like to know why Pomona’s ’60s leaders, visionaries in many ways, approved such a puny room. Even Montclair has a larger meeting space, I think. It’s hard to believe Pomona’s space was adequate even in 1968, not to mention looking ahead to future growth.

Not only is the room small, but the rows of seats are closer to each other than in a movie theater. It’s all but impossible for anyone to squeeze into a row without everyone else standing up or moving into the aisle for them to pass. People must have been shorter in the ’60s.

(Remodeling wouldn’t seem to be an option. With a round building, you can’t really add on.)

However, the exterior is kinda cool, even if the reflecting pool around the building’s perimeter was replaced years ago with plants. I like the Pomona Civic Center complex quite a bit — the architect was Welton Becket — with its City Hall, Council Chambers, Library, Courthouse, Police and Fire stations and Health Center.

But the council-meeting seating, it must be said, is perhaps the Inland Valley’s least comfortable.

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Restaurant of the Week: Connal’s


This week’s restaurant: Connal’s, 1226 W. 7th St. (at Mountain), Upland.

Connal’s, which opened Dec. 11, took over the building that housed Mi Taco, a beloved Mexican drive-thru, from 1966 until early 2007. Readers reacted with shock and horror when I broke the news of its passing. I had no idea. When a reader passed along the recipe for the signature dish, the Matador Salad, clipped and saved from an old Daily Report food page, nearly 200 people wrote me requesting a copy.

Connal’s is an interesting story itself, which I will share in Sunday’s column. In brief, it was founded in 1958 in Pasadena and the Upland location is the first expansion in its 50-year existence.

The menu is enormous for a drive-thru burger joint, highlighted by burgers, grinders (or subs, if you prefer), salads, Mexican dishes, hot sandwiches, dinner plates, hot dogs and ice cream. They have flavored sodas, floats, freezes and shakes, including specialty flavors such as pineapple-banana and chocolate-peanut butter. I count 204 items in all.

I went in for lunch during Monday’s downpour. The counterwoman was exceptionally polite; this wasn’t the robotic service one tends to get. I had a tuna melt ($4.39), onion rings ($2.99) and small drink ($1.29).

It was a decent tuna melt, wrapped in paper and cut in half. The onion rings came on a plate, piled high. I ate probably a dozen, which to me is more than enough onion rings for any normal person, and then counted how many I was throwing out: 14.

Last year, I tried the Connal’s in Pasadena and had a burger and fries. The serving of fries was similarly generous, and again, at least half went in the trash. Tip: One serving of fries or onion rings would serve two people, or even three or four.

The Upland interior is white tile, with red accents; it’s vaguely In-N-Outish, except the twin archways separating the counter from the small seating area — six booths, five tables — remain, charmingly, from the Mi Taco days. There’s some nostalgia kitsch on the walls. The exterior is now painted white, and cleaned up, but Connal’s still looks a lot like Mi Taco. Which itself looked like a Taco Bell, even though it wasn’t.

Nice to have a bit of Pasadena out in Upland.

You can view the menu on the Connal’s website.

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Granada’s marquee, revised

“Read David Allen” this week became “Laugh With David Allen.” (Let’s see what Charles Bentley can do with that phrase.) Better “Laugh With” than “Laugh At,” I have to say.


When I took this photo Thursday morning, I heard an amplified voice say, “Good job, David Allen.” I turned but saw nothing. Was it my imagination?

Later in the day, an Ontario police acquaintance phoned to ask if I’d thought it was the voice of God. It was him, speaking through his car’s loudspeaker as he drove by. Except he really said, “Get a job, David Allen.”

He then asked me if I was doing a comedy show at the Granada or something. Nope, they’re just giving me a free plug. Again.

Let me return the favor by noting the venue’s “Rock for Tots” concert tonight from 6 to 11 p.m., featuring eight local bands. Admission is $5 plus an unwrapped toy. The toys will be given to the police and fire departments for their toy drive, venue operator Dave Perez says.

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Friday column preview

You think Pomona’s got political intrigue? Well, it does, of course. But Ontario is giving Pomona a run for its money. It’s just that Ontario’s electeds are quieter.

Tuesday’s council meeting seemed like a low-key affair, without dissension. I suspect the high school students in the audience for class credit were bored. What was really going on, however, was fascinating. And juvenile.

Read Friday’s column for the full story, or at least as much of it as yours truly could dope out.

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Of Melville, McMurtry and redevelopment

Jim Strodtbeck, Ontario’s redevelopment director, is retiring, it was announced at Tuesday’s council meeting. Which makes this as good a time as any to share a Strodtbeck story.

I know he’s a reader; once or twice I’ve bumped into him on his lunch hour, eating solo and reading a book, as I ate solo and read a New Yorker.

A few weeks ago, he approached me before a council meeting, opened his briefcase and handed me Larry McMurtry’s new memoir, “Books,” about his life as a bookstore owner and bookhunter. Strodtbeck said he hadn’t known who to give the book to once he’d finished but then thought of me. “I’ve marked a particular section for you,” he said slyly.

The back flap was used to mark a page in which McMurtry talked about finding a rare copy of “Moby-Dick.” (You may recall that I read the book earlier this year.)

As McMurtry tells it, the British edition of “Moby-Dick” had always been published in three volumes, and a certain editor, one Charles Reade, had been tasked with reducing the novel by two-thirds to fit into one book. The copy McMurtry viewed was Reade’s working copy, the book he had marked up with passages for deletion.

Such deletions began on the first page.

“Charles Reade was not a man to be intimidated by a mere American classic,” McMurtry wrote.

“He began his editorial work by drawing a bold line through ‘Call me Ishmael.’ ”

Now that’s editing.

Thanks for the laugh, Jim, and enjoy retirement.

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‘Judi’s Journal’

I was reading on our RC Now blog that the “Stud Muffins” authors appeared Tuesday morning on KTLA’s morning news show. Good for them! Co-author Judi Guizado of Rancho Cucamonga is a longtime friend of this blog, as well as of my column. The book is a collection of muffin recipes paired with beefcake photos, hence the clever title.

I immediately went to her blog, Judi’s Journal, hoping she’d written about the KTLA gig, but no such luck; the last entry is from a month ago. But it’s about a KLOS radio appearance, which can’t be that different.

Judi’s a very funny writer and it’s way past time I found an excuse to link to her blog. Especially since she was kind enough, in her blog roll, to put a link to my blog near a link to Dave Barry’s blog. I feel funnier just by the association. (Hers might be the world’s only blog that links to both Dave Barry and Martha Stewart.)

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I beg your pardon?

In line Sunday at the Claremont Laemmle 5 to see “Slumdog Millionaire,” I heard the older guy in front of me request a ticket to the new Kristin Scott Thomas flick, as follows:

Man: “One for ‘I’ve Loved You So Long.'”

Male employee in booth: “What?”

Man, louder: “‘I’ve Loved You So Long’!”

Add your possible comebacks below. I’ll start: “Thanks. Now, what movie would you like to see?”

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No need to curb your enthusiasm

Circuit City in Pomona continues its everything-must-go sale. On Sunday, the store was looking a little bare of TVs, cameras and such. I suspect the store will close within days.

DVDs were 40 percent off and that section was seeing plenty of action. If you’re a fan of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” at least one set from each season was available, at $20.99 rather than $34.99. They were stocked in depth on seasons 4 and 6. (I bought 4 to 6, the only ones I needed, and also seasons 2 and 3 of “Arrested Development.”)

There’s also plenty of copies of “Seinfeld” season 9 at $23.99 rather than $39.99. But on that one, I’m holding off until the sale gets to 50 percent. It’s the only set I need, but it wasn’t a good year.

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