Sunday’s column elaborates on a blog post here last month about the smudging days, rounding up comments about that post from this blog as well as various Facebook pages where it appeared. Also: the proverbial more items from around the valley.
In Chino, where elections are routinely canceled because no one runs against the incumbents, 26 people applied to fill a City Council vacancy. Interviews took place this week. I sat in on the first batch and write about the scene in Friday’s column. Above, Tyler Ferrari addresses the council Tuesday.
Tasty Noodle House, 2947 Chino Ave. (at Peyton), Chino Hills; open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chino Hills, as has been noted here before, has the best Chinese food in the Inland Valley. I was planning to eat at Noodle House, but it looked full, and right across the shopping center driveway was a larger restaurant. So I went there instead.
Not that it occurred to me until later, but the second place had the same name plus an adjective, and given the choice between Noodle House and Tasty Noodle House, who wouldn’t upgrade to the tasty one? The sign says simply Tasty House, either due to space considerations or politeness to its neighbor, but the menu and receipt say Tasty Noodle House, which is a Southern California chain of at least seven restaurants, including Walnut, San Gabriel and Irvine.
Tasty’s interior is immediately appealing: blond wood, benches, slim hanging fixtures and large windows. Scandinavia meets Shanghai.
It was bustling, but there were empty seats, and I was given one, as well as the typically extensive menu and time to look it over. I ordered xiao long bao ($7.50) and sauteed spirals (mushrooms) with leeks ($12), plus a taro milk tea ($3).
The pan of eight XLBs, or soup dumplings, weren’t to the Din Tai Fung standard and were more dumpling than soup, but that didn’t bother me, and they were a good choice. The leeks (one must have one’s greens) were sauteed with mushrooms and carrots and were very good too; half were taken home, making the price, which seemed a bit high, more palatable. And I liked the taro tea.
By Chinese restaurant standards, the service was friendly, I liked all my items and would go back. It’s only a block from the multiplex, which was my next stop after lunch. Nothing wrong with regular old Noodle House, though. It’s tasty too.
Wednesday’s all-Claremont column leads off with news that the “Seinfeld” actor is coming to Bridges Auditorium Feb. 18 for a public talk about his career, then continues with 10 (!) more items from around town.
The La Verne Public Library doors were mentioned in Friday’s column about the new council chamber emblem. They were both done by woodworker Ruben Guajardo. I was told about the library work last November while doing interviews at City Hall and took the opportunity to walk across the parking lot to take a look.
Check out those doors! They were made, I’m told, out of a beloved oak tree that stood in front of La Verne Heights Elementary School and that had died. Even the door handles are unique.
The library was dedicated in 1985, according to a plaque. It’s a county library branch, but thanks to the doors, it’s got some personality. The rest of the interior is very 1980s. But the lobby offers a striking silhouette of the doors.
What, what, what were my favorite restaurants of the 47 I wrote about in 2016 on this blog? I make my choices in Sunday’s column, followed by cultural and other items from around the valley, one of which involves Knott’s Berry Farm and another of which involves “Star Wars.”
Following up on the exciting developments on the La Verne council chamber emblem front, I write about the new art piece in Friday’s column. It’s a cute story about the piece, which is an update of the confusing city seal, and about the publicity-shy artist behind it.
2016 was my slowest moviegoing year in forever: I saw 16 new releases in theaters, a number that includes three that were released in late 2015 (Anomalisa, Big Short, Son of Saul) and two re-releases of classic films (Chimes at Midnight, Howards End). Thus, my Top 10 would include all but one of the 2016 releases I saw.
This isn’t a reflection on the quality of films out there, I hasten to say, but rather on my priorities this past year. Many weekends I felt I couldn’t spare two or three hours for a movie because I needed time to work on my book, and then there was laundry to do, groceries to buy, papers to read. You know how it is.
Still, this annual post is a tradition, my choices might make you check out a movie and it’s always good to ask the movie lovers among you: What movies did you like, or dislike, this past year? While we await your comments, here’s my Top 11, i.e., everything I saw, ranked in descending order of interest. None were stinkers, although No. 11 wasn’t as interesting as a Justin Chang review led me to expect.
- Love and Friendship
- Manchester by the Sea
- City of Gold
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople
- Kubo and the Two Strings
- In Order of Disappearance
- La La Land
- Captain America: Civil War
- Dr. Strange
- The Shallows
I could add that Anomalisa was tonally monochromatic and disappointing, The Big Short and Son of Saul were excellent, Howards End held up and was great to see again, especially after having read the novel a few weeks earlier, and Chimes at Midnight was affecting and entertaining despite its low-budget, protracted genesis and oddly amateurish dialogue looping.
As is tradition around these parts, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite CDs of the year, as did my music-lovin’ colleague Wes Woods. He used to host our lists on his IE Music Now blog, but that’s defunct, so we’ll do it here. Wes’ list is much more au courant than mine, it must be said.
My Top 15 releases of 2016:
- Billy Bragg/Joe Henry: Shine a Light: Field Recordings From the Great American Railroad (Cooking Vinyl) (video can be seen here)
- Various artists: God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson (Alligator)
- Regina Spektor: Remember Us to Life (Sire)
- Parquet Courts: Human Performance (Rough Trade)
- Twin Peaks: Down in Heaven (Grand Jury)
- Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial (Matador)
- Drive-by Truckers: American Band (ATO)
- David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia)
- Tacocat: Lost Time (Hardly Art)
- Blind Alfred Reed: Appalachian Visionary (Dust to Digital)
- Terrace Martin: Velvet Portraits (Ropeadope)
- Paul Simon: Stranger to Stranger (Concord)
- Angel Olsen: My Woman (Jagjaguwar)
- Wussy: Forever Sounds (Shake It)
- Leonard Cohen: You Want it Darker (Columbia)
Note on the above: Blind Alfred Reed recorded in the ’20s and ’30s, but this 2016 compilation was so impressive I included it anyway.
Wes Woods’ Top 13:
- Anderson .Paak: Malibu (Steel Wool Records)
- Kaytranada: 99.9% (XL Recordings)
- A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (SME Epic)
- YG: Still Brazy (400, CTE World, Def Jam)
- Case/Lang/Veirs: Case/Lang/Veirs (ANTI-)
- Thao & the Get Down Stay Downs: A Man Alive (Ribbon Music)
- Schoolboy Q: Blank Face LP (Top Dawg, Interscope)
- Bon Iver: 22, A Million (Jagjaguwar)
- Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book (download only)
- Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels 3 (Mass Appeal, RED)
- Solange: A Seat at the Table (Saint, Columbia)
- Open Mike Eagle (with Paul White): Hella Personal Film Festival (Mellow Music Group)
- Beyonce: Lemonade (Parkwood, Columbia)
Did you buy any new releases in 2016? What did you like?
Pomona has had multiple movie theaters in its history, dating to the silent era. I round up some pertinent facts about each for Wednesday’s column. Above, a view of the State Theater in 1945.
By way of background, I researched and largely wrote this material last spring and summer, unsure if it should be a blog post or column; when the Sunkist Theater background turned up, I focused on that for my column (read it here) and decided to come back to the other theaters on another day, maybe during a vacation or for the holidays. Now, needing a column after a three-day weekend, its time has come.