Charles Phoenix in Pomona

The slide show entertainer will be at the NHRA Museum in Pomona at 8 p.m. Saturday with his “Retro Holiday Slide Show.” I think it’s the first time the L.A. resident (and Ontario native) has done this holiday-themed show in the Inland Valley.

He’ll be showing ’50s and ’60s Kodachrome slides of classic and kitschy New Year’s, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas life and style.

“Marvel at the most politically incorrect New Year’s Rose Parade floats, the Lamb Cake Contest on Easter Sunday, then explode with patriotic pride on July Fourth,” says Phoenix in a press release. “Homemade trick-or-treat costumes will have you howling on Halloween before we trace the tragic life of a Thanksgiving turkey. Attend a kinky Christmas bondage party and see who gets the most outrageous toys on Christmas morning.”

Tickets are $25 from Phoenix’s website. The museum is at 1101 W. McKinley Ave., at Fairplex.

Holiday sweaters and plaid shirts are encouraged.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

RC Sizzler may sizzle again

48346-sizzler 003.jpg

The Sizzler at 9588 Base Line Road in Rancho Cucamonga looks forlorn these days. A sign on the door reads “We are temporarily closed. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Yes, this Sizzler has fizzled. (Fizzler?) RC will have to trek to Malibu for chicken.

“Do you know why Sizzler in Rancho closed?” reader Sharon B. asks. “We used to go there at least once a week for the salad bar. I know about 6 months or so ago they lost their liquor license, then a few months back, we walk up to the entrance door only to find a handwritten notebook paper note stating ‘Temporarily closed, sorry for the inconvenience.’ Well that was about 3 months ago. They are still closed. Any idea as to why they shut down?”

Not really, although obviously the location was ailing. My visit to the property left me thinking it really needs a makeover: faded paint, ’80s look, cracked asphalt, weedy lot behind chain link in the back. Not very inviting.

I contacted Sizzler for an explanation and all they’d say is: “Please let your readers know the closure is temporary. The location is targeted to reopen in the future.”

Normally a Sizzler wouldn’t merit a mention here but this one opened circa 1982 (thanks to the Ontario Library for looking that up for me) and was one of the few sitdown restaurants in the community in the 1980s. So it has a place in the hearts of longtime residents.

Anyone want to share a memory of this Sizzler?

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Online commenting on

We quietly unveiled a change Thursday afternoon in how people can comment about stories on You now have to have a Facebook account. This means most people will be using their real name, rather than spewing racist and scurrilous comments under a pseudonym. Read the FAQ about the change here.

Besides cleaning up what one wag dubbed “the devil’s chalkboard,” this will be good for our online traffic, as the previous commenting system was under the control of an outside vendor and none of the visits counted as page views for us. But clearly not everyone is going to be happy, and not just scurrilous racists. Not everyone is part of Facebook or, even if they are, wants to have to use Facebook to comment.

Meg at M-M-M-My Pomona has already made a strong argument against the system for reasons of open access.

You can send an e-mail to online (at) to praise or pan the change. Or you can comment here. I’ll leave this post up top of my blog through Monday for visibility.

What do you think of the change?

* Gary Scott’s media blog has also rounded up opinion on the change.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Guasti Homestyle Cafe

47582-homestylecafe 001.jpg
47583-homestylecafe 002.jpg
47584-homestylecafe 007.jpg

Guasti Homestyle Cafe, 13526 Central Ave. (at H), Chino

Some of you may remember when the Homestyle Cafe was in Guasti, the old winery village near Ontario Airport, and was beloved by truckers and families alike who liked the big portions and homey atmosphere. After its demise, the similar Guasti Cafe opened on the site under different owners before having to move in 2007 due to pending redevelopment.

Now using both names, the cafe is 7 miles southwest in Chino, in a former pizza parlor with a sprawling layout, stone lions out front and a small chapel in back. The masonry building dates to 1923.

I don’t know how many customers made the move, but on a recent visit, I recognized several employees from the previous location, including the longtime cashier and a couple of the servers. The manager is Tommy Hornbake, formerly of Ontario’s Iron Skillet.

The menu is pretty similar to the old place, emphasizing breakfast staples but also adding soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch; weekday hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and until 3 p.m. on weekends.

I’ve never been there for lunch but I’ve made it in for breakfast a couple of times. The pancake combo ($9) provides two pancakes, two sausages or bacon strips and two eggs. The eggs and sausage were fine; the pancakes are a foot in diameter and nearly an inch high in the center. I’m not a “big food” fan, but if you are, this is the meal for you.

They’ll give you a pizza box in which to take home your uneaten pancake portion. That’s my kitchen counter and takehome pancake-and-a-half at left. Plop the pancake on a plate, put a paper towel on top and zap it for 45 seconds or so. I got five meals (!) out of this one order: one in the restaurant and four at home. Not bad for the money, although I didn’t feel like eating a pancake again for a couple of weeks.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Westwood’s vintage theaters

48189-westwood 003.jpg

After Westwood’s National closed in 2008 and the Festival in 2009, without my ever having been there, I decided to catch movies at the Bruin and Village theaters, Westwood’s two other vintage single-screen theaters, just in case. (There’s also the Crest, where I saw “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2006.) The Bruin and Village are now owned by the Regency chain, which vows to keep them going.

Early this year I saw “Invictus” (the Clint Eastwood rugby movie) at the Bruin (948 Broxton Ave.), and on Sunday I saw the latest Harry Potter movie at the Village (1036 Broxton), which is directly across the street. It’s rare that my tastes, the mainstream fare at these theaters and my schedule all align.

The Bruin is nice enough, especially the wraparound marquee, but the Village is beautiful, and much larger than it seems from the exterior. I sat in the balcony. It was a pleasant spot from which to try to remember what happened in the last Potter movie and who all these Weasley family members were.

Cinema Treasures has pages on the history of the 1,300-seat Village, which opened in 1931 as a Fox theater (the same year as Pomona’s), and the 700-seat Bruin, which opened in 1937.

Westwood also has the Regent, which from the exterior looks like a bland ’60s theater (it opened in 1966) and hence less interesting, but I’ll probably end up going there sometime too.

For you public transit buffs, I took Metrolink ($17 from Claremont) and availed myself of its free-transfer policy to ride the Purple Line subway to Wilshire/Western and then to ride the Metro Rapid 720 to Wilshire/Westwood, and then to repeat those steps on my way back to Union Station. The free transfers saved me the cost of a $6 transit day pass and public transit saved me from a $5 or $6 parking fee. Plus I could read the newspaper and part of a novel.

48190-westwood 001.jpg
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Reading log: November 2010


Books acquired: “Pudd’nhead Wilson,” “A Tramp Abroad” and “The Gilded Age,” Mark Twain; “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead,” Dave Barry.

Books read: “Life on the Mississippi,” Mark Twain; “Marvel Comics in the 1960s: An Issue-By-Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon,” Pierre Comtois; “Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,” A. Conan Doyle; “Memos From Purgatory,” Harlan Ellison.

Mmm-mmm, what a month of books all with an M in their title! That’s just how it worked out — mostly. They ranged from good to great. Or is that medium to marvelous?

One of Twain’s greatest, “Life on the Mississippi” is a paean to the vanished age of riverboats and their pilots, told through a (largely hilarious) memoir about his days as a cub pilot and then through a riverboat journey he took 21 years later, after the Civil War and the use of tugboats and railroads to ship goods had made such travel quaint. “Life” is padded at times, but it’s descriptive, informative, fond and, it goes without saying, very funny. I read this book in high school and liked it better this time.

Incidentally, the version I read this time, from Penguin, adds perhaps 10 percent to the page count by restoring bits of the original text cut from Twain’s manuscript; the additions are okay, but you might be better off with, say, the Modern Library edition without the extra verbiage.

“Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,” the fourth of the nine books, evinces a slight slackening of invention on Doyle’s part, with fewer memorable stories than in “Adventures.” But it’s still a must-read for Holmesians, and “The Final Problem,” which inflates Holmes and his arch-nemesis to mythic status, is jaw-dropping. Marvel and DC comics, Ian Fleming and Sax Rohmer owe Doyle their livelihoods, not to mention royalties.

Speaking of which, there’s “Marvel Comics in the 1960s,” chronicling one of my personal passions (although the promised sequel about the 1970s, the era I discovered Marvel, will be even more welcome).

There are layout and repetition issues, and writer Comtois, a fretful sort, is constantly lamenting the passing of an era even before it passes. Some of his judgments seem wrong-headed too (the pedestrian Heck, Colletta, Tartaglione and “Sgt. Fury” have no bigger fan than him). But in these capsule reviews, Comtois again and again demonstrates that he gets what made Marvel great. On the all-important Kirby or Lee question, he sides with Lee, persuasively.

I closed out the month by reading “Memos From Purgatory.” This memoir about going undercover with a teen gang and the criminal justice system in which he’s trapped for 24 hours is vivid and harrowing, as Ellison almost goes out of his mind with fright (being cuffed to a man who killed a girl with a hammer didn’t help).

Everything about Manhattan’s notorious Tombs jail seems aimed at dehumanizing prisoners; Ellison observes, for instance, that only after a shower is he fingerprinted, forcing him to carry an inky reminder of his presumed guilt on his fingertips. A real departure for the fantasy writer, this is an amazing book, one that deserves to be better known.

As for how I came to own each book, “Marvel Comics” was bought this summer at Comics Factory in Pasadena, “Memoirs” was bought new in childhood (when I first read it), “Life” was bought earlier this decade at Brand Books in Glendale and “Memos” was bought at Bookfellows in Glendale perhaps five years ago (although I’ve owned the later Ace books edition since the 1980s, unread until now).

These constitute books 46 to 49 for me this year. With 50 easily within reach, my plan is to read three during December, to end the year at 52, and then perhaps get a head start on 2011.

Now, have you read any of the above? Probably not. Well, what are you reading?

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email