Minty!

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I’ve wanted to try the Thin Mint milkshake at Lazy Dog Cafe, a seasonal offering, but didn’t get to it last year. Last week, with the shake back on the menu, I went to the Rancho Cucamonga location (11560 E. Fourth St.) and ordered one with my lunch.

They’re $5, with $1 going to the Girl Scouts. It was as tasty as it looks, with a single Thin Mint cookie on top. The only slight disappointment is that the few crunchy bits at the bottom, which I’d assumed to be crushed cookies, were pieces of ice. Whaaaa? Whatever, I still recommend it. The shake is available through March 25.

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Column: News about Cucamonga and Chino, pie and Puccini

How’s that for range? Something for everyone! Here’s Wednesday’s column, made up of short items, some of which have been holding for a month. I’m glad to finally get these, and the ones from Sunday, out of my computer and into the paper.

As noted within, I’m off this week and won’t have columns Friday or Sunday. My column will return next Wednesday. I do have a blog post for Thursday, though, so check back then.

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Reading Log: February 2015

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Books acquired: “Funny Girl,” Nick Hornby.

Books read: “The Glass Teat,” Harlan Ellison; “Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant,” U.S. Grant.

February was a light month in some ways, only two books, but they totaled 900 pages. Also, February was light on days, with only 28. It all makes sense when you think about it.

My two books both date to my Illinois days but were never read until now.

Ellison’s “The Glass Teat” is a collection, the first of two, of columns he wrote from 1968 to 1971 for an underground weekly, the Los Angeles Free Press. He nominally critiqued TV, a medium for which he wrote. But they range far afield to talk about the tenor of the times. The results are very dated, dispatches from a moment in which society seemed on the brink and in which the Establishment seemed to be winning, but they’re of sociological interest for that reason. Also, he writes a lot about the Smothers Brothers.

Why I never read “The Glass Teat” or its sequel is just one of those things. I’ll get to the second book, “The Other Glass Teat,” in a few weeks.

I won’t say much about Grant’s “Personal Memoirs,” as I’ll have a column in the near future about them. Suffice it to say I was supposed to read the book for a college class but didn’t, and yet kept it all these years because I felt like I really should read it sometime. Now I have.

Have any of you read it? He’s a good writer, a sort of proto-Hemingway as far as direct, unadorned prose, although you have to be interested in the Civil War to slog through his descriptions of four years of battles and troop movements. I liked it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.

What did you read in February, if 28 days gave you time to finish anything?

Next month: lots of short books.

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Column: Beloved Montclair tree dies, faces the ax

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A big old tree in Montclair has been around for an estimated 150 years, and possibly longer. But it won’t be there much longer: It’s died, despite efforts to save it, and will soon be cut down. Friday’s column tells the tale.

Above, a current view of the tree (at 4594 San Bernardino Street, west of Monte Vista Avenue) contrasts with a photo from a few years ago; below, Dave Schroeder of the Chino Basin Water Conservation District takes a close look at the massive trunk.

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Restaurant of the Week: Cafe Moderno

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Cafe Moderno, 9197 Central Ave. (at Moreno), Montclair

The former Theo’s Cafe in the Montclair East center east of Montclair Plaza was, if memory serves, a Greek-owned coffee shop in fairly traditional mold but with a few specialties. It closed after a long run in 2014 and was overhauled to become Cafe Moderno.

It’s gone pretty much all Greek, with gyros, spanakopita, dolmades, souvlaki and baklava, plus a few Lebanese items such as hummus, falafel and baba ghanoush. (They also have a few spaghettis and a hamburger.)

A friend and I met there for lunch. The menu has wraps, salads, sandwiches and entrees, plus beer and espresso. You order at the counter. Our food arrived within minutes.

I got chicken souvlaki ($10), skewered cuts of seasoned chicken with bell peppers and onions. This came with two sides; I chose rice pilaf and grilled vegetables. The result was tasty and filling, not to mention relatively healthy.

My friend got a Caesar salad ($5), which he liked as is; you can add items like chicken or salmon for another $3 to $4.

The interior is, dare I say it, modern, and possibly moderno. It’s nothing fancy, but the booths are comfortable and the hanging lights chic. A steady crowd came and went at lunchtime. “I like the environment,” my friend said. “It’s nice and clean. The food came out quick. I’d come back.”

Me too. In fact, two days later I was back for lunch. (I needed a photo of the exterior because on my first visit it was pouring rain. And since I was going to be there anyway…) I got the gyro wrap ($6.65) with chicken orzo soup ($2). As a gyro fan, I liked this version; the tzatziki sauce was especially minty. The restaurant was nearly full this time.

There aren’t enough Greek restaurants in the area. It’s good to have one — and freeway-close, too.

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‘Pomona A to Z’ on Vacation

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Did you catch our “Daily Bulletin on Vacation” feature on Sunday? Diana Cheever of Upland brought our newspaper with her on vacation to the Virgin Islands. She took the photo, with the paper being held by a couple from Massachusetts. More importantly for our purposes, over on the right, Michele Cheever of Upland is holding my book, “Pomona A to Z.” (She’s with Mike Cheever of Lake Forest.) This is a first! Thank you, Michele, for buying my book and taking it on vacation with you. Hope you liked it!

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Madge Bellamy, star

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In writing about 1920s and ’30s actress Madge Bellamy, who died in 1990 in Upland, I noted in October that she might be the only Ontario resident with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and said I’d have to visit her star sometime.

The other day, I did. I was on my way to Amoeba Music. I got off the subway at Hollywood and Vine, then walked west. Her star is at 6715 Hollywood Blvd., about five blocks west of Vine, between Wilcox and Hudson. It’s like any other star, but I’m glad I paid homage.

Below, Madge Bellamy in “White Zombie.”

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