Today marks 17 years for me at the good ol’ Daily Bulletin. (One more year and I’ll graduate!) It’s been a good run and I hope it continues. I’m still having fun.
Sunday’s column is all-Ontario, quickly summarizing some news around town but mostly focusing on Tuesday’s City Council meeting and a Friday event for three council members’ joint re-election campaign. Surprises are guaranteed.
Friday’s items-filled column fills you in on local connections to “The Walking Dead,” “Marriage Boot Camp” and Bitcoin, as well as alerting you to three Culture Corner events. The column has numerous hyperlinks to other media. You could spend all day reading it, although I wouldn’t recommend it.
This blog began in September 2007, and for its first 16 months, there were no photos, because I didn’t know how to post them. (Training was, shall we say, at a minimum.) This made for some blah Restaurant of the Week posts in particular.
For consistency’s sake, now and then I’ve added photos to restaurant posts from that period for eateries still in business. Now I’m trying to do so in more concerted fashion, focusing on one city at a time to make the task less overwhelming.
And so, you can find photos now with all my Rancho Cucamonga restaurant posts, after I added them for 14 restaurants (click on the names to see them): Stevie Dee’s Cafe, Monaco’s Pizza, Johnny Carino’s, Islamorada, Bright Star Thai Vegan, Green Mango Thai Bistro, Costco, Yatai Sushi, Terry’s Burgers, Anthony’s Italian Kitchen, China Point, Don Marcos, Gandolfo’s and my very first RoW, El Ranchero. Ditto with neighboring Fontana and its Viola’s Deli, the only photo-less restaurant from that period. Some are simple exterior shots, while at others I bought meals, photographed them and added some text.
Besides updating these posts, I’ve also gone through the Restaurants: Rancho Cucamonga category to remove any restaurants no longer in business; those posts have been shifted to the Inland Valley Eatin’ category with the notation “closed.”
More updates for other restaurant categories will come as time permits. And if you appreciate my stubborn attention to detail, back pats are accepted.
Wednesday’s column is about the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library’s telethon from last weekend, an unusual amateur-entertainment extravaganza, televised on the local cable channel, that raises money for the library. I was recruited for the Trivia Challenge, not as a contestant but as a judge.
Above, Robert Karatsu, the library director and trivia master, examines the answers to one question, as do I. (Answers were multiple choice.)
One question, below, involved my hometown. If you don’t know the answer, it’s in my column.
Due to reader complaints (!), I had my column photo retaken recently. The previous one was shot by one photographer who took the entire staff’s portraits one day in late 2012. It was like class picture day in school, except there was no advance notice.
I trooped in as ordered. Most of the instructions had to do with squaring my shoulders and turning to the side while facing the camera. A bright light shone on me. No attempt was made to amuse me, such as by squeezing a squeaky toy or jingling a bell.
My idea for a mug, as we call them, was to make my expression all-purpose. No need to look too giddy if the column it accompanies might one day happen to be about nuclear fallout. I tried to keep my smile modest.
Months flew by, seasons passed, and suddenly one day in mid-2013 the mug showed up online and in print as my new official portrait. (The print version is round and the exact size of a dime. It looks like I’m being viewed through a porthole. The online version is from the chest up.)
That small smile turned out to be impossible to spot without a magnifying glass. Also, the open shirt, high collar and low angle combined to render a version of me that did not fit my persona, or really resemble me closely.
“Why do you look angry?” one friend asked. “You look tough,” a co-worker said. “Are you going to beat me up?” a third worried.
Through fall and winter, I made three requests for a new photo. Finally, when a higher-up suggested I pose for a photo for publicity purposes, I brought up the mug. A fresh one was shot the next day. Two colleagues, Liset Marquez and Monica Rodriguez, also had new, more flattering portraits taken.
This time I resolved to smile. Laugh, even. Jennifer Cappuccio Maher obligingly kidded around with me as she clicked the shutter in our studio. A day later, the new photo showed up online, and a few days later in print. Looks far better, although I wish I’d checked a mirror and buttoned one more button.
A few people (including Upland Councilman Gino Filippi) have told me it’s a big improvement. And a reader from Upland named Rosemary emailed me under the subject line “Your smiling face” as follows:
“Thank God you have a new picture for your column. The other one made you look like a very unsavory character. (Are you?) I enjoy your column very much, especially when you write about your Metrolink trips into L.A. You have a nice smile, what took you so long to attach it to your column?”
Gee, I dunno (digs toes into dirt). I just hope no one complains when I write about somebody who died and my photo looks like I’m yukking it up.
For its 20th anniversary concerts Saturday and Sunday, Upland-based Mountainside Master Chorale performed its 20 favorite past songs, chosen by its members. These included Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum,” the gospel standard “The Battle of Jericho” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” one of the wackiest pop songs ever.
I filmed the performance from the balcony on my phone. You can’t really see anything, but you can hear the chorale let down its hair. Watch the 45-second video here. (The lyrics, meanwhile, can be read here.) The concert was at First Christian Church in Pomona, the same arts-lovin’ congregation that hosts the Repertory Opera Company.
Books acquired: none.
Books read: “Ubik,” “Ubik: The Screenplay,” Philip K. Dick; “Waging Heavy Peace,” Neil Young; “The Swerve,” Stephen Greenblatt; “Stranger Passing,” Joel Sternfeld.
Welcome back to my monthly recap of what I read the previous month, as I navigate among the shocking number of unread books on my shelves and share the results.
As the shortest month, February would have been a good time to devote to extremely short books. Instead, as it was the month before my birthday, I opted to read books friends gave me for my last birthday.
(I’m terrible at reading books gifted to me, I’m ashamed to say, and I could profitably spend five or six months catching up on past gifts stretching back a couple of decades. Well, here’s a month, and that will have to suffice.)
Three of my books this month were gifts: “Ubik: The Screenplay,” “Waging Heavy Peace” and “The Swerve.”
Sensibly, first I read “Ubik,” the novel on which the unproduced screenplay was based. Even more shamefully, this is another of the books I’ve owned since I was a teenager and never read. Is my entire reading life about guilt? Anyway, this month provided an excuse to read it, and I’m glad I did, because it was the best book all month, one of Dick’s wackiest, full of humor and contemporary-seeming concerns about privacy in a world in which telepaths are everywhere.
You know it’s going to be great when a CEO, confronted with a vexing problem, tells his underlings, “I’ll consult my dead wife,” and it’s only page 2. He does it, too: The dead are kept in glass coffins in “moratoriums” — ha! — and awakened upon request for conversation. The plot involves a group of people who find the 1990s fading around them as 1939 re-emerges. Is reality changing, or does it only seem to be changing because they’re actually dead and don’t know it? It’s the usual mind-bending stuff. Dick’s screenplay wasn’t as good as the novel but made for a good companion piece.
Neil Young’s memoir hops around in time and place as the muse takes him. Similar to Dylan’s “Chronicles,” in that it’s not a straight autobiography but a book that focuses on random moments; dissimilar, in that it’s shaggy, off-the-cuff, overlong and kind of a mess. Young comes off as a big dork with his Lionel trains and other geeky projects and yet as far more normal than you’d expect. Refreshingly relaxed, but at 500 pages, maybe too relaxed. A sequel is promised/threatened.
I’d never heard of Lucretius or his poem “On the Nature of Things,” so everything in “The Swerve” was new to me. Yes, yes, the subtitle (“How the World Became Modern”) is awfully bold, but then, it’s a subtitle, meant to hook you to buy the book. Personally, I got the book as a gift (maybe the subtitle hooked the friend who bought it for me) and, as it’s not the sort of thing I normally read, I was dubious. But I’m glad I read it: It was fascinating.
Lastly, “Stranger Passing” was loaned to me by a friend last month. Random-seeming portraits of people around the country, doing whatever it was they were doing: shopping, sitting, buying gas, nursing a child. The individual photos didn’t make an impression on me, but collectively it’s a portrait of America. All the subjects retain a certain dignity, even the shopping cart wrangler on the cover.
(That book was so large I couldn’t fit it flat on a shelf for the obligatory spine photo, so I propped it up. The weird cover deserves to be seen again anyway.)
So that was my February in books. How was yours? As always, you’re encouraged to share your own reading below.
Next month: 31 days of colorful books, i.e., with a color in their title.
Sunday’s column is a followup on the “Formerly Padua Ave” sign in Claremont, which has been taken down since my Feb. 16 column. Sure, this could have been a paragraph-long item, but I got a bunch of new and amusing information, including past and present reactions to the sign, new information on its history (including a prankster’s rendition) and tongue-in-cheek suggestions of other “former” street names that could be revived.
Above are John Fatini’s penny bottles. Friday’s column starts with an item on two other local men who save pennies and a third who makes a game of picking up change. After that, a long list of Culture Corner items and a plug for this blog.