Free Comic Book Day is Saturday

Every year, comic book shops across America host Free Comic Book Day, an event that is almost chilling in its simplicity: Walk into a comics shop, walk out with a comic book.

A couple dozen special comics are published just for this giveaway, from Archie, Disney/Pixar’s Cars and Nancy to Love and Rockets, Star Wars and Wolverine. You can read more at www.freecomicbookday.com.

4 Color Fantasies in Rancho Cucamonga draws hundreds of fans to its event, with a line out the door and more activity in the parking lot.

Here’s the addresses of all the local stores participating. With Claremont’s Comic Bookie out of business, it’s an even shorter list than usual:

* FUNNY BUSINESS, 896 N. Garey, Pomona, (909) 868-1974

* 4 COLOR FANTASIES, 7172 Archibald Ave., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 563-8751

* J P M COMICS & GAMES, 1000 E. Route 66 Suite G, Glendora, (626) 857-0718

* COMIC MADNESS, 12345 Mountain Ave. #J, Chino, (909) 590-5949

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A day in L.A.

On a weekday off last week, I did one of my favorite things, which is riding Metrolink into L.A. for an afternoon. I didn’t go with a plan other than lunch somewhere. But I did go with a book, H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” which at 126 pages looked like one I could read from start to finish.

I ended up having lunch at one of my favorite spots, even though I only go there perhaps once per year: Molly’s Charbroiler on Vine Street between Hollywood and Sunset boulevards. I’ll write more about that place sometime…like when I remember to bring my camera.

From there I hoofed it west on Hollywood Boulevard to soak up the day and the atmosphere. My destination was the Virgin Megastore at Highland, which will be closing. (This is a case where Ontario was way ahead of trendy Hollywood. Sorry, but Virgin Megastore closings are so 15 minutes ago.) The store hadn’t yet begun discounting anything — that was supposed to happen this week — and presumably store personnel were busy raising all the CD and DVD prices before then. I browsed but didn’t buy.

My final stop was going to be Philippe’s for pie and a cold drink before heading home — until I remembered the Disney Soda Fountain across the street from Virgin, next to the El Capitan Theater. Jonathan Gold said something nice about the milkshakes there and, unlike a recent Saturday when the place was packed with families and I kept walking, there was virtually no one inside at 3 p.m. on a Thursday. I sat at the counter and enjoyed a pricey but worth it chocolate chip shake.

From there, the subway took me back to Union Station and Metrolink whisked me home. And, yes, I finished my book. Did you know Wells came up with the phrase “time machine” and the idea of it too? It’s an amazing little book.

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Fox cake

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Photo by Sally Egan

The anniversary of Pomona’s Fox Theater was Friday, the first night of the Smogdance Film Festival and the first public event at the restored theater. The theater opened April 24, 1931, or 78 years to the day earlier.

To mark the occasion, three Fox-themed cakes were displayed and two of them were cut into during the festival’s intermission. Everyone who wanted a slice got one. (My cheap friend Pat took two.)

I’m told the cakes were made by New York Delight, a nearby deli and caterer. The cake pictured above was the one that wasn’t cut into. Not sure where it went although I watched from across the street as it was carried out by two people.

Maybe it’s in someone’s freezer and will be wheeled out on April 24, 2087, 78 years to the day of the reopening.

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‘Geek Night Out’ for ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’

A comic book store has rented the IMAX theater at the Edwards 22 Ontario Mills for a midnight screening on Thursday (or, technically, very early Friday) of the next “X-Men” movie.

Personally, by midnight I’ll be at home on my second or third dream, but if you’re interested in seeing the movie in a room full of fans before its official release at a normal-person time Friday, contact 4 Color Fantasies, which is sponsoring the event and cleverly calling it “Geek Night Out.”

Get tickets at the store, 7172 Archibald Ave. (above Base Line), Rancho Cucamonga. The $19 price includes a commemorative T-shirt — one hesitates to ask what it says — and a swag bag of goodies. Or call the store for details at (909) 563-8751.

Tell ‘em the David Allen Blog sent you. You won’t get anything special, but they’ll understand instantly that you’re a discriminating consumer.

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Restaurant of the Week: Louie’s Chicken and Fish Grill

This week’s restaurant: Louie’s Chicken and Fish Grill, 960 N. Mountain Ave. (at Foothill), Upland.

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I was driving north on Mountain Avenue one lunch hour this week, looking for Upland Kebab, which was on my list of places to try. I didn’t see it this time, which means that either I missed it (both coming and going) or it’s gone. But Louie’s, a little farther north, was my second choice and that’s where I ended up.

Louie’s opened last year next to a FedEx store on the southeast corner of Mountain and Foothill. (Anyone remember what was in the Louie’s space before? La Salsa comes to mind.) I learned about the restaurant from a Business story we ran last year. Owner Louie Camacho previously owned Yahoo Chicken and Louie’s Chicken Cafe, both in Chino.

You order at the counter. They have rotisserie chicken ($9.95 each to go), grilled seafood, fish tacos, wraps and salads. All in all, a slightly different concept.

I got catfish, blackened, with brown rice and cole slaw as my sides ($8.49). Blackened is so often done poorly that it’s gotten a bad name, but this version didn’t overdo it. The slaw was moist and pleasantly crunchy.

Louie’s also has trout, tilapia, white roughy, Atlantic salmon, mahi-mahi, halibut and jumbo shrimp, ranging from $7.49 to $13.95. Obviously this is not fine dining, especially with the minimal decor and fast-food seating, but the menu is a nice change from the norm. There’s a patio with umbrella-shaded tables that looks like a relaxing spot — although not on a day when it’s not 95, as it was when I visited.

Louie’s, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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Lockups reviewed on Yelp

A pat on the back to my colleague Will Bigham for discovering that even jails get reviewed on Yelp. Read his post on our Courts blog here, which has links to the appropriate reviews.

My favorite is the woman who says of the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga: “Don’t ever go there.” Well, that’s good advice, I guess. RC’s pokey gets one star out of five.

Which turns out to be the same grade as our newspaper got.

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‘Luke, I am your trolley’

Darth Vader and an Imperial Stormtrooper trod the Claremont Village last Saturday as part of the monthly Edge of L.A. Comic Con at the Packing House.

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The pair rode the trolley, which is soon to go the way of the Death Star (photo from the Claremont Insider blog), and briefly took the stage at Rhino Records during its Record Store Day promotion (photo courtesy of Rhino).

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No, they didn’t perform Meco’s “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band.”

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Smogdance is this weekend

The Fox Theater’s first event for the general public is the annual Smogdance Film Festival, which takes place Friday through Sunday at the newly restored Pomona theater.

Granted, it’s not exactly a singalong “Sound of Music” in the mainstream-appeal sweepstakes, but Smogdance is usually diverting, and the setting is worth the $10 admission all by itself.

You can read more about the festival in today’s column and by going to the festival website: www.smogdance.com.

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The view of Pakistan from La Verne

Interested in Pakistan, hotspot in the global war on terrorism? The University of La Verne will host a lecture on that nation on Thursday in the inaugural presentation of the — wait for it — Benazir Bhutto & Ahmed Ispahani International Lectureship.

The huh?

ULV Professor Ahmed Ispahani, a La Verne resident, was a cousin of Bhutto, the prime minister who was assassinated in 2007. He’ll be giving the lecture, entitled “Struggle for Democracy: Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan.”

The lectureship was established by a gift from ULV trustee Paul Moseley, a former student of Ispahani’s, as a way to thank his mentor and pay respects to Bhutto.

Here’s some background on Ispahani’s life from a campus press release:

“Born in Iran, Ispahani spent much of his formative years traveling to and from Pakistan because of his family’s business there. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Karachi, then later studied in England before coming to the United States to earn his master’s and Ph.D. He first joined the La Verne faculty in 1964, and has since taught generations of students and influenced countless careers.

“In 1968 Ispahani took a leave from his teaching duties to become economic adviser to the Iran Government, Central Bank of Iran. He was later asked to serve as economic advisor to the Shah of Iran, a position he held until returning to La Verne in 1976.

“A U.S. citizen, Ispahani enjoyed a close relationship with his cousin, the late Benazir Bhutto. He began advising Bhutto on economic matters in 1990, and was instrumental in arranging her visit and lecture at La Verne in 1997.”

Benazir Bhutto visited La Verne? I had no idea.

The lecture begins at 11 a.m. in La Fetra Auditorium. It’s free but seating is limited. Information: International Studies Institute, (909) 593-3511 ext. 4221.

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