About David Allen

A journalist since 1987, David Allen has been writing a column for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin since 1997 and blogging since 2007. He's a native of Illinois and lives in Claremont. Otherwise his commute to Ontario would take days. E-mail David here. Read recent columns here

Reading Log: August 2014

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Books acquired: none.

Books read: “The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister,” Chris Nichols; “L.A. in the ’30s,” David Gebhard and Harriette von Breton; “On Reading,” Andre Kertesz; “The Bronze Rule,” Mary Sisney; “Shakespeare Wrote for Money,” Nick Hornby; “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “Through the Looking-Glass,” Lewis Carroll; “Gullible’s Travels, Etc.,” Ring Lardner; “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories,” Ernest Hemingway; “The Chandler Apartments,” Owen Hill; “Urban Tumbleweed,” Harryette Mullen.

Remember when I read 22 very short books in one month (March 2013)? I’d been wanting to repeat the experiment during another staycation but that kept getting delayed, as enticing column topics or commitments kept presenting themselves. Finally, I took off a week in mid-August.

What with one thing or another, such as modest travel that week, and moviegoing, I was unable to knock off a book a day, and in fact became mired in some books for day after day. But I read 11, counting a combo volume of the two “Alice” books as two, and that’s double my usual total. Felt good to get some relatively easy books out of the way too.

In the order presented above, I read two books on vintage L.A. architecture, a book of L.A. poems composed in rambles around town, a mystery involving a Berkeley bookhunter-sleuth, a memoir by a retired Cal Poly Pomona English prof, photos taken over 50 years of people reading in public, more of Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns (the model for these blog posts), the “Alice” books, humorous stories from the 1910s and 1920s, and some random stories by Hemingway.

I won’t discuss all these books but will say I liked them all to one degree or another, and that my favorites were Hornby, Hill, Mullen, the first Carroll (some think “Looking-Glass” is better, but it struck me as markedly inferior, if still of interest) and Lardner. The latter consists of five stories about a lower middle-class couple in NYC with pretensions of social-climbing; the narrator is the husband, whose colloquialisms, misstatements and dry wit are hilarious. Highly recommended.

As for when I acquired these books, the Lardner is the oldest, likely going back 20 or 25 years. And it’s possibly my favorite of the month. The others are all five years old or less, and usually from the last year. I’ll also point out that Mullen’s was only published last year and Sisney’s this year. Shockingly modern. Also, that two of my books were by women named Harriet, only with complex spellings. I guess that was a minor theme this month.

What were you reading in August, and have you happened to read any of mine before? The “Alice” books and “Kilimanjaro” have surely been read by some of you.

Next month: I’ve read a month of “I” titles; here’s a month of “eye” titles.

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Column: Air raid siren has left Claremont without warning

Sunday’s column begins with a long item about a hiding-in-plain-sight air raid siren on the Claremont McKenna College campus, left over from the Cold War days. The siren was uprooted last spring and donated to a Cold War museum in Culver City. (My blog post from 2010 on air raid sirens is here.)

Also, my column has three Pomona items and two Culture Corner items, plus a plug for this blog.

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Restaurant of the Week: Pozzetto Italian Dining

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Pozzetto Italian Dining, 114 W. Bonita Ave. (at San Dimas Ave.), San Dimas

A friend recommended Pozzetto, an Italian restaurant in downtown San Dimas. I know and like the main drag of San Dimas, but I didn’t know Pozzetto. So recently I met a different friend there for lunch.

Pozzetto is small but cute, with a couple of outdoor tables along the wooden-sidewalk promenade and a few more inside. There’s also a wine bar and a mural of Venice sprawling across much of a wall. Pozzetto has all sorts of Italian items — salads, sandwiches, a dozen pastas — with only five pizzas.

I got one of the pizzas, whose name I forgot and which I can’t find online. All are Neapolitan style, a more traditionally Italian pizza; mine had tomatoes, olive oil, mozzarella and garlic ($10). It was a good lunch-sized pizza and I ate it all.

My friend had a roast beef sandwich ($7.50), served warm on a roll. He liked it and shared a portion with me. I’m not a big roast beef fan but I would consider ordering this sandwich myself.

Service was brisk; the lone server was handling about five tables by himself, but he did the best he could.

All in all, Pozzetto was a pretty decent mid-priced Italian spot. Thanks to my first friend for the recommendation and my second friend for joining me.

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Post-Labor Day post

Hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend, whether you labored or not. I didn’t leave the confines of the Inland Valley; in fact, I think I stuck exclusively to Claremont and La Verne after scratching the idea of a Metrolink day.

Mostly I read, sought air conditioning and watched movies, catching “Boyhood” and “A Most Wanted Man” at the theater and watching 1921′s “The Phantom Carriage” and 2010′s “The Trip” at home. Also, I booked a flight and made reservations for a vacation in November, and cleaned my bathroom.

How was your weekend?

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Restaurant of the Week: Guppy House

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Guppy House, 13065 Peyton Drive (at Rock Springs), Chino Hills

Guppy House is a cute name for a restaurant, reminding me of Cap’n Crunch’s ship, the SS Guppy. Guppy House is an Asian fusion eatery with outlets in Hacienda Heights, Cerritos, Anaheim and Irvine, plus Chino Hills. They were founded by David Li, a Cal Poly Pomona alumnus. He’s Taiwanese and his parents owned a French-Italian restaurant in Taiwan, so he knows a little about cross-cultural cuisine.

Chino Hills’ Guppy House is in a sprawling shopping center just paces from two other Asian eateries, Boiling Point and Green Banana Leaf, and not far from 85 Degrees. Guppy House’s menu melds Filipino, Korean and Taiwanese food and has such items as hot pots, kimchi, noodle and rice dishes, and boba drinks.

A friend and I met there for lunch recently. We had a signature item, popcorn chicken, with strawberry and mango salad ($10). The chicken, reminiscent of popcorn shrimp at Red Lobster, didn’t live up to the hype; the salad was colorful and well-made. We also had a dish named superb meatballs ($10), two enormous meatballs in a hot pot with cabbage and noodles, which was flavorful.

For dessert we shared the brick toast, another signature item, with coconut and pineapple ($6). Thick toast drizzled with chocolate, it was a knife and fork dessert and surprisingly delicious and filling.

The restaurant has a glassed-in patio with comfortable chairs, probably good on a warm evening but not so good on a hot day as there’s no shade. The interior is modern and stylish with lots of glass and natural light, plants, fake parrots and a high ceiling. A mezzanine has a TV and living room-like comfy chairs and coffee tables; it seems to be more for drinks or parties.

Guppy House has unusually late hours: It’s open 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday and until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Like the name, the hours are adorable too.

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