Column: Austin: come for the ribs, stay for the bats

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Wednesday’s column is about my vacation last week in Austin, Texas. Here are a few photos to illustrate moments from my column. Above, the line outside Franklin Barbecue from my place in line. An equal number of people ended up behind me.

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Above, a piece of surveying equipment seems to watch two construction cranes at work, a sign of the city’s building boom, especially by the waterfront. Below, a ghost bike is part of a memorial to those killed by a motorist during the South by Southwest music festival.

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Below, a Frito pie, which is chili, cheese and onions atop a bed of Frito corn chips. Not bad, with the chips more interesting than saltines, but not something I’d order again, I don’t think.

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And, lastly, here’s a view of the Congress Bridge bats and the people watching them.

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Videos: The animatronic LBJ at the presidential library tells a corny joke (it’s like the Bulletin’s Slice of Wry in oral form) and bats pour out from under the Congress Avenue bridge.

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One drowned in earthquake

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A Santa Claus in Pomona met an ignominious end when last Friday’s earthquake sent him tumbling from a storage room shelf into the facilities at Magic Door Books. Given the outcome, can we compare the shaking to the poetic “bowlful of jelly”? Owner Dwain Kaiser sent me the photo with a mournful note: “At least Santa Claus drowned quickly.”

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Back from Austin

Vacation went well, thanks, and I hope to write about that soon (although two of my three columns this week are already committed to time-sensitive topics, so this might be tricky). In short, though, good food, some culture, a lot of walking, a lot of transit, a visit to the LBJ Presidential Library and a fascinating boat tour to watch the bats leave the Congress Avenue bridge at dusk.

What did I miss around here?

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Column: Suspense only beginning as Hitchcock titles announced

Two Hitchcock-related columns in one week? Only the top item this time, not a whole column like Wednesday. I’m programming the movies at the Ontario library in April and my Sunday column gives the titles and dates.

After that come a couple of literary items and three Pomona items (two of which have sat around for a few weeks, waiting for their moment in the spotlight). And I end by mentioning that I’ve been on vacation. But you blog readers knew that all week, right?

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Column: Half a century gone and wondering what’s ahead

I turned 50 recently, two weeks ago today in fact, and I reflect on that in Friday’s column. Well, mostly I just joke about it.

I started writing this one just after my birthday but dropped it to write about the Sunkist sign instead, then returned to it before vacation to retool it over the course of a couple of hours, which largely involved deleting some reader comments and putting more of myself in it. The result is better, I think, but there wasn’t much time to think about it. I’ll be curious to read it myself to see how it turned out — but not just now.

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On vacation

I’m in Austin, Texas, this week for sightseeing and relaxation. Also, ribs. It’ll be my first visit and I’m looking forward to it. Columns will continue to appear, as if by magic, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and I’ll post them here. Other than that, this blog is going dark for the week. Feel free to explore past entries, and I’ll check in as time permits. Regular posting will return Monday, March 31.

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Restaurant of the Week: Saigon Noodle House

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Saigon Noodle House, 1136 S. Diamond Bar Blvd. (at Grand), Diamond Bar

This is my first Diamond Bar Restaurant of the Week. I found this Vietnamese spot on Yelp, where it has strong ratings and lots of ‘em. Two friends and I ventured down for dinner on Oscar night. It’s not far from the 57.

The place was full at 7:30, with a short wait, showing its popularity. We shared an order of spring rolls. One had salmon fried rice (bottom), the other had vegetarian pho and I had beef pho (below). Sorry, the menu isn’t online and I didn’t note any of the prices, but our total was about $25, pretty cheap for dinner for three.

My friends liked the salmon fried rice, which as you can see had a hunk of salmon on it, and they thought the rice was way better than average. And we liked our pho, which is a noodle soup, if you’re unfamiliar. “It has a lot of MSG in it, which is why it’s so good,” one said.

Service was hurried but unexpectedly friendly. When I ordered the regular pho rather than large, he asked about that, and at first I thought he hadn’t heard me. But no, he was joking about why I was ordering the smaller size. Heh. It was a good choice, being just the right amount for how hungry I was, but I appreciated the playfulness.

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