Reading Log: December 2014

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Books acquired: none.

Books read: “The Crack in Space,” Philip K. Dick; “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” and “Great Tales and Poems,” Edgar Allan Poe; “The Essential Ellison,” Harlan Ellison; “Dave Barry’s History of the Millennium (So Far),” Dave Barry; “The Martian Chronicles,” Ray Bradbury.

Ringing out the old year, December saw me reading, or finishing off, six books. The stack looks more impressive than it is, as I’ll explain.

To run through these in brief, the two best of the month were “The Crack in Space” and “The Martian Chronicles.” The former, from 1966, takes place in 2080 and involves an overpopulated Earth, an interdimensional rift that promises an off-world place to ship the overflow, and a man who may become the first black president. It’s not one of Dick’s best, but it’s still pretty great. The latter, from 1950, in my opinion is Bradbury’s greatest, a lyrical allegory about western expansion. This is at least my third time through it. Possibly my favorite book.

The Dave Barry book collects some of his hilarious year-in-review pieces. Of the two Poes, “Mystery and Imagination” has all his best stories but, alas, many of his curiosities that have little interest for modern readers. The other one, “Great Tales,” hits most of the highlights of both stories and poems. The Harlan Ellison anthology is for admirers only (I’m one), weighing in at 1,250 pages and more than 3 pounds (says Amazon). You might convert the unconverted with 250 pages of prime Ellison, but only a fan would pick up an overstuffed collection like this. Also, where is his “City on the Edge of Forever” teleplay? I know, in a separate book, but most would consider it essential Ellison.

I’d read a lot of Poe the past year, and a lot of Ellison in recent years, so there was a lot of overlap with books already read, and much of the remaining material had been read over the course of 2014. I made a push to finish them before 2015.

The Bradbury and Dick books date to my childhood, while the others were acquired relatively recently. “Mystery” was bought at North Hollywood’s Iliad Bookshop, “Great Tales” came from Rancho Cucamonga’s fall Big Read, Barry from Amazon and Ellison from Montclair’s Borders (sigh).

In 2014, I read 68 books, not a bad total. (And, crucially, I acquired less than a dozen.) This was the sixth year in a row in which I read 50 or more books, after years of sluggish reading. I expect to write a column soon on my year in reading and to post a list of all the titles and authors. Until then, leave a comment on your December, your experience with any of the above books and your whole year if you like.

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Column: 15 favorite restaurants of 2014, plus 25 standbys

Friday’s column begins with a summary of the best restaurants I tried in 2014, as well as listing my local favorites, from the new to the traditional. Clip and save! Or print out and save, or something. After that: items from Upland and Montclair, and a movie quote about Corona. You’re encouraged to list your own local restaurant favorites or discoveries in the comments section!

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Column: Completing a mission at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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How I write my “items” columns generally is that I write items as I get information, then compile columns based on what’s pressing, what fits or what goes together well. This means that sometimes items get pushed off from one column to the next, or the next, or sometimes semi-permanently (or until they’re out of date, now and then). To end 2014, Wednesday’s column compiles three items written anywhere from last week to a couple of months ago. The first is the most recent, one last word about my Washington, D.C., trip. Above, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, with the Washington Monument in the background.

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Favorite music of 2014

Does anyone still buy CDs? Some of us do. You can find my Top 10 CDs of the year — my Top 15, actually, as I added five runnerups — at our IE Music Now blog, along with the picks of my newsroom colleagues Liset Marquez and Wes Woods, both of whom are hipper than me (even though they still buy CDs too).

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Restaurant of the Week: Genoveva’s

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Genoveva’s Mexican Food, 273 E. 9th St. (at Third), Upland

Replacing La Palmita, a long-lived but tired restaurant across from the Grove Theatre in downtown Upland, Genoveva’s opened in April. The owner, Hilario Rodriguez, has years of restaurant experience and is known downtown from his days managing Molly’s Souper.

A friend and I ate there after the Christmas parade. The restaurant was nearly full, including the large patio, on that sunny afternoon. The interior is much as I remembered it from the La Palmita days — tile floors, arches over the entrance to the tiled patio — but maybe cleaner and brighter.

I had a breakfast dish, chilaquiles ($9), which are scrambled eggs with lightly fried tortilla strips and green salsa (or red, your choice), rice and beans on the side. The sides were nothing special, but the entree was pretty good. It was also pretty big, and I took half home.

My friend got a bowl of albondigas soup ($7), which he said was excellent; he’s also had the menudo, of which he said: “It’s a clean menudo as opposed to a greasy menudo.” So noted.

I returned a few days later to try a lunch entree, ordering a carnitas burrito ($8). You could get a burrito of equal or better quality at dozens of other places around the valley, but it was tasty, and also large, and I took home one-third. My two meals turned into four.

Genoveva’s is said to use family recipes from the state of Puebla, although the menu is made up of fairly standard items other than a pollo en mole. Genoveva’s isn’t as good as Elvira’s nearby in Upland, but it’s not bad, and it’s a nice addition to downtown.

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Column: Chino’s top cop is a rarity: a woman

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Karen Comstock is the new police chief in Chino. She’s not only Chino’s first female police chief, but the first in any Inland Valley city. She’s the subject of my Friday column.

Above, she’s seen in the police station’s museum, filled with memorabilia of the 1926-established department’s history. Below, she admires a handmade banner created by her alma mater, Don Lugo High, which was on display outside her office.

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