Favorite films of 2015

I’m not an avid moviegoer, but I like movies. Last year I saw 23 new releases, from superhero punch-’em-ups to art films. In an annual tradition (here’s my 2014 list), I rank them. One note: Four of the movies were released at the very end of 2014 and were on the lists that year of professional critics; like most people, I saw them in 2015, and they’re on my list.

In roughly descending order, my Top 10 goes like this: Spotlight, Selma, Brooklyn, Room, Mr. Holmes, The Theory of Everything, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Imitation Game, Amy, Grandma. (Does having a one-word title give a film a leg up in my eyes, or do most films have one-word titles? Discuss.)

Numbers 11 to 20: Sicario, The Martian, Hitchcock/Truffaut, All Things Must Pass: The Story of Tower Records, Ant-Man, Love and Mercy, Heart of a Dog, Spectre, Ex-Machina, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.

Bottom of the heap: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, While We’re Young, Goodbye to Language.

If you didn’t see it listed, that means I didn’t see it.

What were your most and least favorites?

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Restaurant of the Week: JoJo’s Pizza Kitchen


JoJo’s Pizza Kitchen, 2923 Chino Ave. (at Peyton), Chino Hills; open daily

JoJo’s has been in Chino Hills since the 1990s, practically the dawn of time by that city’s standards, operating from the Crossroads Marketplace shopping center in the north part of town. I’d had takeout pizza from there once with friends who lived nearby but visited for the first time recently for lunch with a fan of the place.

The menu has pizza, pasta, salads, calzones, sandwiches and entrees, some of which are unusual or unique: Italian mac and cheese, risotto bowls, shrimp diavolo.

I had a mini, 8-inch pizza with anchovies and mushrooms ($9.65) and my friend got angel hair pasta with marinara sauce ($9) plus a side salad ($3). Hearty pizza, generous with the anchovies; the pasta was proclaimed worthy, and some was taken home. Asked what else is good here, she recommended the stuffed artichoke, focaccia salad, caprese salad and cannoli.

JoJo’s is said to not be as quality conscious as when the original owners had it. People on Yelp are of two minds, with some saying it’s overpriced or the service is poor and others praising the food and service. Our service was acceptable, although a cup of coffee took 10 minutes to procure, and was delivered not on a saucer but on a plate. That was a little weird.

There are also locations in Brea and Mira Loma. But those are farther away.




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Books read, 2015


2015 saw me complete 53 books, down from 68 in 2014; in fact, this is my lowest total since 52 in 2010. Were my books last year longer overall, or did my interest slacken? Possibly both. But there can’t have been more than a couple of days that I didn’t pick up a book at all. My Wednesday column takes a broader look at my year.

Below, in chronological order, are the books I read.

  1. “Black Moon,” Kenneth Calhoun
  2. “Clans of the Alphane Moon,” Philip K. Dick
  3. “The Moon is Down,” John Steinbeck
  4. “The First Men in the Moon,” H.G. Wells
  5. The Glass Teat,” Harlan Ellison
  6. “Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant,” U.S. Grant
  7. “Vulcan’s Hammer,” Philip K. Dick
  8. “The Cosmic Puppets,” Philip K. Dick
  9. “Dr. Futurity,” Philip K. Dick
  10. “The Man Who Japed,” Philip K. Dick
  11. “Early Ontario,” Ontario Library Staff
  12. “More Baths Less Talking,” Nick Hornby
  13. “The Incredible Double,” Owen Hill
  14. “The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil,” George Saunders
  15. “The Dark Side of the Earth,” Alfred Bester
  16. “No Room for Man,” Gordon Dickson
  17. “Pulling a Train,” Harlan Ellison
  18. “Getting in the Wind,” Harlan Ellison
  19. “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” Claudia Rankine
  20. “Citizen,” Claudia Rankine
  21. “Three Early Stories,” J.D. Salinger
  22. “A Small Place,” Jamaica Kincaid
  23. “The Genocides,” Thomas Disch
  24. “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” Ray Bradbury
  25. “R is for Rocket,” Ray Bradbury
  26. “S is for Space,” Ray Bradbury
  27. “The Vintage Bradbury,” Ray Bradbury
  28. “My Ideal Bookshelf,” Thessaly La Force and Jane Mount
  29. “Martian Time-Slip,” Philip K. Dick
  30. “The Zap Gun” Philip K. Dick
  31. “Our Friends From Frolix 8,” Philip K. Dick
  32. “The Stars My Destination,” Alfred Bester
  33. “The Best of Fritz Leiber,” Fritz Leiber
  34. “The Other Glass Teat,” Harlan Ellison
  35. “The Point Man,” Steve Englehart
  36. “Again, Dangerous Visions, Vol. 1,” Harlan Ellison, ed.
  37. “Again, Dangerous Visions, Vol. 2,” Harlan Ellison, ed.
  38. “Still Room for Hope,” Alisa Kaplan
  39. “A Journey to the Center of the Earth,” Jules Verne
  40. “Why LA? Pourquoi Paris?” Diane Ratican
  41. “Deus Irae,” Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny
  42. “Valis,” Philip K. Dick
  43. “After 1903 — What?,” Robert Benchley
  44. “The Best of Philip K. Dick,” Philip K. Dick
  45. “The Big Orange,” Jack Smith
  46. “Wonder,” R.J. Palacio
  47. “A Pail of Air,” Fritz Leiber
  48. “The Halloween Tree,” Ray Bradbury
  49. “Tangled Vines,” Frances Dinkelspiel
  50. “Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Vol. 1,” H.P. Lovecraft and others
  51. “I Sing the Body Electric!” Ray Bradbury
  52. “Old Cucamonga,” Paula Emick
  53. “The Preserving Machine,” Philip K. Dick

How was your year in reading? I didn’t come close to getting to all the books I’d have liked, but I read what I wanted to read, including many books by favorite authors. And the Steinbeck (No. 3) was especially good.

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Reading Log: December 2015


Books acquired: none

Books read: “Old Cucamonga,” Paula Emick; “The Preserving Machine,” Philip K. Dick

This post is about as close as I’ve come to my idea of someday not reading anything for a month and posting a photo of a blank floor. Two books is a light month, but it’s something, though, isn’t it?

“Old Cucamonga” is the subject of my Jan. 3 column, so there’s little more to say here. As it’s all photos and captions, one or two per page, this was a good nightstand book, something that could be read easily and put down just as easily, with no plot threads to lose. I have a lot of these Images of America books at the office, most of which I haven’t read, but I should.

The Philip K. Dick book, “The Preserving Machine,” is a collection of stories, his first. There was some overlap with “The Best of Philip K. Dick,” which I read earlier in 2015, and I wanted to end the year by reading the other stories and finishing this off. Overall, this was pretty good, with several excellent stories, including the one on which “Total Recall” was based. I ended up rereading or skimming the ones I’d already read because the details had slipped away.

I did read more in December, but purposely didn’t finish anything. Three books are in progress for a theme month in January based on time.

“Old Cucamonga” was purchased at an event in November, while Dick’s came from Ralph’s Comic Corner in Ventura maybe three years ago. I also have a British paperback of “Preserving Machine,” with one less story, from Pomona’s Magic Door Books; I read that and then shifted to the U.S. edition at the end.

For the year, I read 53, my lowest total in a while. I may have lost a step this year, but then again, my impression is that I read some longer books. I’ll write my traditional column on my year’s reading this week.

In the meantime, how was your December?

Next month: time, in book rather than magazine form.


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Column: Old Pomona: MGM lion, Cheetah and Bing, oh my!

Friday’s column collects some items that have moldering in my computer for a while, as I start off with some documented star sightings of the 1930s. Concerning my headline, I have to say, those three names certainly provided a close proximity to the “Oz” line. The KPCC and Chino Hills items at column’s end are obviously recent.

Also: Happy New Year!

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Column: Weird news stories of 2015 could have numbered 909

My annual countdown of the strangest local news stories of the year appears in my Wednesday column.

How do I come up with them? I clip and save stories from the Bulletin, and occasionally other papers, throughout the year in a folder labeled “Weird stories of [year],” then sift through them in late December. There were 29 stories in all, some of them from my columns — although none of the 10 selections ended up being anything I’d written about. My choices and the rankings are somewhat random, but if the stories got a lot of attention, they move up in the countdown.

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