A book talk in Ontario

Your humble scribe spoke July 16 in Ontario at the Chaffey Community Museum of Art downtown, jointly sponsored by the museum and Ontario Heritage. I didn’t know what to expect, especially after the Facebook invite said “0 going, 0 interested,” and settled in to my 90-minute book signing with some reading material close at hand.

But a steady stream of customers walked up, and I met some nice people, or renewed acquaintances with others. I sold 25 books, signed a 26th that someone brought in and didn’t have a break.

The talk followed, with 30 in the audience. I talked a little, read a column from each of my two books and took questions about my career (peaking), my early interest in writing (adorable) and the future of newspapers (dim). People responded to my reading with laughter, which was much-appreciated, and seemed to be paying attention and to be having a good time. I sure did.

Thanks to CCMA, Heritage and those who gave up an afternoon to listen to a newspaper guy for making this among my best-attended, and most enjoyable, book signings and talks. Photo above is by Petrina Delman of Heritage; that’s a John Svenson piece behind me, making me look good.

Below is a photo of the audience as CCMA’s Nancy DeDiemar speaks, to give you a sense of the room.

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Daily Bulletin on Vacation

One newspaper, two venues: Above, I’m in Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, the famed photo of the Million Dollar Quartet above and behind me; below, I’m in Chester, Illinois, birthplace of Popeye creator E.C. Segar, with one of the dozen character statues that dot the town, two murals visible in the background. If you can’t identify this figure as J. Wellington Wimpy, please eat your spinach.

I’m a big fan of Segar’s work and we happened to be passing through Chester, so this was a natural. The Popeye Museum next door had already closed, darn the luck.

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Back from vacation

I’m back at my desk — sob! — and reorienting myself. At least I remembered all my computer log-ins, a good sign. Over the weekend I caught up on all my newspapers, another part of the reorientation process. First off I’ll write a Restaurant of the Week for Thursday, to ease back in, and then after lunch will start on Wednesday’s column. My vacation, or at least the portion in Memphis, will probably end up as a column soon. But, in short, it went well.

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Author, author

Photo: Lisa McPheron

In Chino Hills last Wednesday, 21 people gave up an evening to listen to a newspaper guy blab, a pretty good showing in the scheme of things. I talked about my career, read selections from “Pomona A to Z” and “Getting Started,” and fielded questions on all manner of subjects, from social media and libel to restaurants, politics and music. It was fun.

My friend Lisa McPheron of the Chino Hills Arts Committee, the host, introduced me and gave me a swag bag from the city. It’s almost unheard of that an actual friend as opposed to a complete stranger introduces me, so that was neat. And unprecedented was what happened at the sales table afterward, where my Pomona book outsold my new one, by a single copy. I’m happy it’s still selling.

As you can see below, from a photo I shot as I was being introduced, they were a little optimistic when they set out chairs, bless their hearts.

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Column: Baking news: Claremont club crafts cake for columnist

A speaking engagement on my birthday was accepted with misgivings, but the University Club treated me right: with a treat, namely, a cake. That kicks off Friday’s column. Under an equal-time statute, an item is given to the Claremont Pie Festival. Then there’s a Culture Corner and a Valley Vignette about an Upland figure.

Above, club member Anne Sonner, who baked the cake, poses with me after Al McCombs of the Chino Champion, another club member, found the cake’s headline free of typographical errors, if perhaps not free of hyperbole. Below, details of the award remain maddeningly vague.

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City of gracious book talks

Photo by Allison Evans

Last Wednesday evening I spoke at the Carnegie Building in Upland for what turned out to be one of my most successful events ever. There were 36 in the audience, according to one friend who counted. After speaking and reading for maybe 20 minutes, I took questions. And questions, and questions. Interesting, amusing, thoughtful questions, for a little more than an hour.

Usually, say at a service club talk, there’s only 20 or 30 minutes for questions, so to have a relatively open-ended discussion was rare. But even at that, no audience has ever had this many questions. There might have been a couple more if the librarian hadn’t wanted to wrap up. Because people seemed so interested, my answers tended to be full and reflective as I talked about books, writing, my journey to Ontario, council meetings and more.

One friend said afterward, “I’ve never seen an audience so engaged.” Thanks to everyone who turned out — including three Upland council members — for being there and being, sincerely, such a great audience. It was lucrative too: I sold 16 books.

Photo by Ann Lara

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Column: After 20 years of questions, finally, some answers

Friday marks 20 years for yours truly at the Daily Bulletin (huzzah!), and my column is about the milestone. Rather than reflect on two decades, I did something I’ve considered doing for a slow day for years: I compiled a FAQ about me and my job. Hope you find it of interest, and thanks for reading me for whatever portion of my 20 years you’ve followed by work. Even if it’s just since, say, Wednesday, it’s appreciated.

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