ULV is everywhere

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On that terribly rainy Sunday in late March, I had just eaten at the original Bob’s Big Boy in Toluca Lake and was looking for the freeway when, just behind a 24-hour dry cleaner a block from Bob’s, what did I see but a University of La Verne satellite campus. Wha…?

“What you spied on your trek to the original Bob’s Big Boy was University of La Verne’s San Fernando Valley Regional Campus in Burbank,” reports ULV spokesman Charles Bentley, a familiar name in this blog’s comments section, in answer to my query.

Bentley continues: “The university has served the ‘Valley’ for more than 30 years, providing accelerated degree programs for working adults. Today individuals can take classes at the regional campus, at the College of the Canyon’s Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, and at 10 corporate locations we are partnered with in that area.”

Presumably no classes are offered at Bob’s Big Boy. That’s just where you go for a malt after class. And if you spill any on your sleeve, you can stop at the 24-hour dry cleaner.

But back to Bentley, who continues: “La Verne, currently celebrating its 120th year, is proud to state that we are ‘Eleven campuses, four colleges, one university, one vision.’ ” Stirring. Here’s the full list of the campuses (campi?):

* Main campus – La Verne (1950 Third Street)
* College of Law campus – Ontario (320 E. D Street)
* Inland Empire Regional Campus – Ontario (3237 Guasti Road)
* High Desert Regional Campus – Victorville
* San Fernando Valley Regional Campus – Burbank
* Orange County Regional Campus – Irvine
* Kern County Regional Campus – Bakersfield
* Ventura County Regional Campus – Oxnard
* Central Coast Regional Campus – San Luis Obispo
* Vandenberg Air Force Base Military Center
* Point Mugu Naval Air Station Military Center

ULV at one point had a campus in Athens, Greece. No joke. For all its obvious benefits to transfer students, the Grecian campus wasn’t near a Bob’s Big Boy. I can’t speak to the dry cleaning situation.

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‘Welcome to Upland’

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This is the city limits marker that stood for decades on Foothill Boulevard at the intersection with Grove Avenue, greeting motorists entering Upland from Rancho Cucamonga. It was removed in late 2010 to make way for one of the new-style green pillars.

The marker was clearly out of date, but it had a kind of goofy charm. The crinkled “umbrella” seems to mimic the roof of the gazebo/roundabout downtown, while the bell inside it is probably a nod to the El Camino Real bells.

Funny, I’ve mentioned this monument to a few Uplanders who say they can’t remember it. Maybe this image will jog their memories. Never having studied the marker myself, I had remembered it as a kind of wishing well, but that’s obviously not the case either. Thanks to the Upland Development Services Department for providing the image to me for posterity.

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Restaurant of the Week: The Boiling Point

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The Boiling Point, 13089 Peyton Drive (at Beverly Glen), Chino Hills

Chino Hills has a variety of superior Chinese and Japanese restaurants that are more authentic than the norm for this area. One of the latest is The Boiling Point, open since July 2011 in the Crossroads Marketplace complex, which has locations in seven other Asian neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada.

It specializes in soup and boba tea. On a recent Saturday at luncthime, there was a signup sheet and a line out the door. Once seated, my friends and I were the only non-Asians in the place, usually a good sign.

The servers were rushed, but their English was very good. I ordered the seafood and tofu soup (pictured below) and my friends had the beef soup and the Taiwanese spicy soup. Each was $10 and included a bowl of rice or noodles and a tea. The soup arrived in a serving bowl atop a butane flame.

Candidly, we weren’t wowed, but I think it was more a case of cultural differences than the food itself. It wasn’t soup as we would expect it but rather various ingredients in boiling water, which the staff would cheerfully offer to refill from a pot much as a waitress might refill a cup of coffee.

One friend said the flavors were simply hot rather than complex while the other felt silly blowing on hot soup that was sitting atop a flame. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to eat out of the bowl or transfer the soup, or maybe just the ingredients, to the rice bowl. White people out of their depth is always a charming sight.

So, let me recommend Boiling Point for the adventurous and for those to whom this sort of thing is second nature. I’m honestly curious to hear others’ reactions.

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Reading log: March 2012

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Books acquired: “Anguished English,” Richard Lederer; “The Hunger Games,” Suzanne Collins; “Tower of Glass” and “The Man in the Maze,” Robert Silverberg; “Tarzan” Nos. 9, 10, 11, 13, 14 and “Warlord of Mars” No. 4, Edgar Rice Burroughs; “Night,” Elie Wiesel; “The Sugar Frosted Nutsack,” Mark Leyner; “Bugf#ck: The Useless Wit and Wisdom of Harlan Ellison,” Arnie Fenner, ed.

Books read: “If on a winter’s night a traveler,” Italo Calvino; “Summer Morning, Summer Night” and “Switch on the Night,” Ray Bradbury; “Like the Night (revisited),” C.P. Lee; “Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed,” Harlan Ellison; “Last Night at the Lobster,” Stewart O’Nan; “Night,” Elie Wiesel.

The days may be longer, but in March, night descended upon my reading life. Every title this month has the word “night” in it. I had enough such unread books to fill a month, and then I bought one more. Let me shed some light on the titles.

“If on a winter’s night a traveler”: A very clever meta-fictional novel about the act of and joy of reading. In some ways it’s the ultimate novel, made up as it is of multiple first chapters, and yet I can’t say I raced through it, and the conceit dragged a bit toward the end. But the ending was brilliant. I read much of this in Europe but finished it at the start of March.

“Summer Morning, Summer Night”: Most of the stories here can be found in other Bradbury collections, and the unpublished vignettes are awfully slight. That said, having more of Bradbury’s Illinois tales grouped together is welcome, and nobody writes about summers like him. Not up to the level of “Dandelion Wine,” though.

“Switch on the Night”: A picture book about overcoming the fear of nighttime via a clever, typically Bradburian premise (don’t switch off the lights, switch on the dark), with illustrations by the masterful Leo and Diane Dillon. I don’t know if it works as a children’s book or not, but as an RB fan I’m glad to have finally read it. Also, even savoring the illustrations, this took me eight minutes to read. I need more books like this.

“Like the Night (revisited)”: Fannish, but for devotees of Dylan’s confrontational 1966 tour, a useful account by one who was there, and who tracked down others who were too.

“Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed”: While less convinced of Ellison’s status as one of history’s great essayists than the editor, I’m an admirer. This is kind of a grab-bag, with the best pieces being the most surprising: a magazine profile of Steve McQueen, a first-person account of the March on Montgomery and an enthusiastic endorsement of a video dating service. Obscure (I found this copy last year for $40), but indispensable for his fans.

“Last Night at the Lobster”: An absurdly mundane premise — the last day of operation at a suburban, and snowbound, Red Lobster — becomes something low-key and heroic in this slim novel about a touchingly conscientious manager, the employees who show up, or don’t, for their last shift, and the retirees, bad parents and office group that show up for service. Carefully observed, sympathetic and occasionally hilarious.

“Night”: Spare, haunting and more terrifying than anything at the multiplex, this Holocaust memoir deserves every bit of its reputation.

As for how these books came into my possession, “Winter’s night” was a gift from a friend (Hi Mary!) about, um, seven years ago; the Bradburys were purchased on Amazon and at Bookfellows in Glendale, respectively, in the last year; “Like the Night” is a few years old and I’ve forgotten its origin; “Sleepless” came from Book Alley in Pasadena; “Lobster” was bought at Subterranean Books in St. Louis last year; and “Night” was bought at the Claremont Forum bookshop on March 27 on a whim and read almost immediately. Who knew I could do that?

As we end the first quarter of 2012, I’ve read 25 books, which would put me on track to read 100 if I thought there was any way to keep up this pace, which I don’t. Not without a lot more children’s picture books. (Recall that some of my 11 books in January were begun last fall.) But I’m doing all right. Coming up in April: books with numbers in their titles.

Now let’s turn matters over to you. What have you been reading, and what did you think?

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A courthouse memento

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There’s a long wooden bench for customer seating at Toyotech, an auto repair business in Montclair. Where did it come from? From the old courthouse that used to stand at Sixth Street and Mountain Avenue in Ontario, now the site of a shopping center.

Toyotech owner Rick Kaplan used to be a deputy in the sheriff’s substation at the courthouse, which closed in the late 1980s. He claimed a bench prior to the courthouse’s mid-1990s demolition. The hard wooden benches were used as seating in courtrooms.

“Everyone thinks it’s a pew from a church,” Kaplan said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth!”

The full-length cushion is a recent addition, a gift from a customer — and much appreciated.

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