Favorite flicks of ’09

Here’s my third annual list of my favorite movies of the year. (You can read my 2008 list here and my 2007 list here.)

In 2009 I saw 26 new movies, oddly enough the same number as in 2008 (but down from 41 in ’07). Obviously there were loads of good movies I didn’t see, so if your favorites aren’t here, maybe I just didn’t see them.

Note: A couple of these are technically 2008 movies because they came out Dec. 25 or Dec. 28 in limited release, but like most people, I saw them in 2009.

My top 10, in roughly descending order:

Gran Torino, Up, Milk, The Class, Julie and Julia, (500) Days of Summer, Me and Orson Welles, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Food Inc., Black Dynamite.

The next 10 would be:

Summer Hours, Watchmen, The Hurt Locker, An Education, Up in the Air, Monsters vs. Aliens, I Love You Man, Gomorrah, Last Chance Harvey, The Soloist.

What did you see and like (or dislike) in 2009?

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Candy Cane Lane, Upland

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Candy Cane Lane is the nickname given to a stretch of Second Avenue south of Foothill Boulevard where most of the homes are decorated for the holidays. Its local fame has been supplanted by the more outrageous Thoroughbred Street decorations in Rancho Cucamonga.

More than 30 oversized and identical candy canes are displayed this year in front yards on Second. They start at F Street, a block north of Arrow Highway, and continue to Mesa Court, a block south of Foothill.

A reader named Alicia writes with a question about the Upland tradition — which is in her neighborhood:

“I purchased one of the 1950s homes on “candy cane lane” on 2nd ave just south of Foothill in 2007. The previous owners lived in the home for 30 years, and could not tell me the history on it. I have been trying to find more information on the history of the Candycanes. If anyone can tell me, I’d appreciate it. I heard from a neighbor that there used to be a lollipop lane and something else? Any info would be great.”

Can anyone fill her, and us, in? I’d also suggest she poll more neighbors.

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Chino Chamber: Save Marie Callender’s

Restaurants fail all the time, sometimes for the good of community tastebuds, some for the worse, but the Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce is alarmed enough by the number of closings in Chino and Chino Hills to appeal to the public.

“Because of the influx of new restaurants in the south Chino and Chino Hills area, many of the longer established restaurants all around Chino Valley are struggling to keep the
doors open,” writes the chamber’s Jean Christy.

In Chino Hills, Que Pasa and Bad Bob’s BBQ both closed recently. Chino lost Black Angus and On the Border, both at the Spectrum, and Dickey’s BBQ. (The latter especially bothered Christy because it participated in the chamber’s annual Taste of the Chino Valley.)

“If that is not bad enough,” Christy writes, “an icon in the Chino Valley for 15 to 20 years — Marie Callender’s in Chino Town Square — MAY be closing effective Jan. 3.” She says Callender’s participates in Taste of the Chino Valley and the Dairy Festival and also contributes to other community events.

The chamber has contacted the Callender’s local manager (613-0434) and the corporate office (800-776-7437, ext. 5302) to voice its concern and encourages the public to do the same.

“A groundswell of support for keeping this long-time major participant in local Chino Valley life would at least let their corporate offices know that we value them,” Christy says. She adds: “Phone calls of support are one thing, but a more important demonstration of support is to DINE there.”

And before Jan. 3, obviously. The restaurant is at 5455-A Philadelphia St. at Central Avenue, just north of the 60 Freeway.

* UPDATE: Apparently it’s saved. See the comments.

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Ontario’s Nativity scenes, a list


“No Room at the Inn,” circa 1967, courtesy of the Model Colony History Room, Ontario City Library. Below is the same scene in 2009.

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The Nativity scenes in Ontario have been a 50-year tradition on the Euclid Avenue median. (See my Christmas Day column for more.) What you may not know is that all 12 scenes did not debut the same year; they were built as money could be raised from 1959 to 1968.

When did each scene debut? Here’s a list pieced together from Daily Report stories in the Ontario City Library files.

1959: Shepherds’ Adoration (Scene No. 4)

1959: The Nativity (Scene No. 5)

1960: Arrival of the Wise Men (Scene No. 7)

1960: No Room at the Inn (Scene No. 2)

1961: The Annunciation (Scene No. 1)

1961: Shepherds’ Vision (Scene No. 3)

1962: The Presentation (Scene No. 6)

1962: Flight Into Egypt (Scene No. 8)

1963: The Holy Family (Scene No. 9)

1965: Jesus in the Temple (Scene No. 10)

1968: Come Unto Me (Scene No. 11)

1968: The Light of the World (Scene No. 12)

Any thoughts or memories regarding the scenes? Post away below.

And Merry Christmas!

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A real toy train


I was stepping off a Metrolink train in Claremont a little after 7 p.m. Saturday when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a gaily lighted train with music and costumed characters performing for families on the other side of the other set of tracks.

This would be the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express that hits our local cities this time of year. I’d heard about it but never saw it before. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. The train also stopped in Montclair, Upland and Baldwin Park that night.

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Restaurant of the Week: Bob’s Big Boy

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Bob’s Big Boy, 3521 Hamner Ave. (at Chaparral Center), Norco

Bob’s opened earlier this year in Norco — motto: “Horse Town, U.S.A.” — with the proviso that the Bob statue out front sport a cowboy hat. And as you can see, it does. The only other quasi-Inland Valley Bob’s is in Diamond Bar; there’s another one in West Covina. Nice to see them coming back.

The Norco interior is the standard, overly tasteful Coco’s-style coffee shop design, no branding irons or saddles in sight. The rows of seating are interrupted by a large salad bar. The booths are comfortable, the service friendly. The menu has sandwiches, diner classics like meatloaf and chicken parmigiana, and breakfasts.

Taking a tip from reader Jim L from a discussion here some time ago about chili mac, I went for the chili spaghetti ($9.49), which is chili straight (no beans) atop spaghetti. The Bob’s version comes with melted cheddar-ish cheese and, if you like, chopped onions. (I believe chili with spaghetti, onions and cheese is what’s sometimes known as “3-way chili.”)

It’s a filling dish, and tasty, but by the end I’d decided the melted cheese was too much. If I were to get it again I’d ask them to leave off the cheese and onions and to bring grated parmesan. Yep, 3-way is 2 ways 2 much.

Since the Bob statue isn’t holding a plate of chilighetti, I’ll have to go back sometime for a burger, fries and shake.

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