Wednesday’s column is the first of two about author Maud Hart Lovelace and her Betsy-Tacy series of children’s books. Lovelace, a Minnesota native, spent her final years in Claremont. The second part is coming soon. Had you ever heard of or read the series?
Books acquired: “Orange Blossoms Everywhere: The Story of Maud and Delos Lovelace in California, 1953-1980,” Mary Thiessen.
Books read: “Alone Against Tomorrow,” “Deathbird Stories” and “Shatterday,” Harlan Ellison; “18 Best Stories,” “The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales,” Edgar Allan Poe; “Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By,” Anna Jane Grossman; “Betsy-Tacy,” “Betsy In Spite of Herself,” Maud Hart Lovelace; “Orange Blossoms Everywhere,” Mary Thiessen.
A new year! A fresh start! I had a busy reading month, and much of what I did was mop up a few books begun last year. The fresh start must begin in February. Also, I read some children’s books. And I thought my 2013 reading list had some whimsical choices.
As you’ll see from the above, I read three by Ellison, two by Poe. These were the leftovers from last year, all of them story collections on which I’d made some or much headway but hadn’t got around to finishing. It was satisfying to complete them.
Of the Ellisons, “Tomorrow” and “Deathbird” are classic collections, relatively easy to find at used bookstores, and worth tracking down. The Poe “18 Best” collection, with an introduction by Vincent Price, lives up to its title. It’s got all the major stories and two or three so-so ones. Some collections miss a good one or two or, more commonly, tack on an extra 15 or 20 very minor ones. “Usher” skips “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” which is among Poe’s best, and has a couple of head-scratchers.
But “Usher” does include Poe’s only novel, a seafaring tale with supernatural elements; Lovecraft’s novel “At the Mountains of Madness,” which I read a couple of years back, is an obvious homage. If you read enough, suddenly everything makes sense.
Poe is a writer I read as a boy, and returning to his work has been illuminating, as well as entertaining. He’s as good as you remember, at least until you get into the weedier stuff. And have you read “The Tell-Tale Heart” as an adult? I don’t know if I got as a boy how hilarious that story is. The narrator is a nutcase who wants us to believe he’s sane. It’s almost like Poe is ribbing his own style.
I also read two of the Betsy-Tacy children’s books, and a little book about their author, for a couple of columns I’m writing. Look for those soon. It was research, but enjoyable research. If you’ve read these, you’re encouraged to comment.
Lastly, “Obsolete,” a pseudo-encyclopedia of things passing us by, was okay, but a bit thin and strained. If I could, I’d take back the time I spent reading it. “Going, Going, Gone,” from 1994, is along the same lines and much better done.
Let’s see, the three Ellisons, and Poe’s “18 Best,” all date to my Illinois days; “Usher” was bought at Powell’s in Portland in 2010; “Obsolete” I got from Amazon a year or two ago; the Betsy-Tacys were checked out from the Pomona Public Library; and the book about their author was a gift from the Betsy-Tacy Society.
So that’s January. What have you been reading? Do you have any reading goals for the year? I’m going light on those myself after last year almost obstinately ignoring most of the goals I’d sketched out. Although I do have ideas of what I want to read, especially in the next three or four months, my only specific goals are to read Ellison’s first “Dangerous Visions” anthology, one Shakespeare play to be determined and — why not? — “The Three Musketeers.” How about that?
Next month: a few books given to me as birthday gifts…a year or more ago.
Evidently there was some sort of sporting contest yesterday, but once again, I missed the whole thing.
It’s an annual tradition here that we discuss what we did instead of watching football. In my case, I took part in a morning Secret Stairs hike in Hollywood that involved Bronson Canyon and the Batcave from the 1960s “Batman” show (see above), followed by lunch in Los Feliz. That was all before the big game, though, and for the game itself, I was sore enough from the hike, and tired enough from the early start, that I sat on the couch like many of fellow countrymen and -women. Except I was watching the tail end of the DVD “Stones in Exile,” a documentary about the Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” album (only my favorite ever), and then listening to a disc of Louis Armstrong’s “Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography” while reading the CD booklet.
If you stayed away from what “everyone else” was doing, share the details below.
Sunday’s column has an update on DTLA Cheese and seven items on various cultural events and general news, as well as a plug for this blog, which wasn’t aimed at you. You’re here already, aren’t you?
Incidentally, when I stopped by DTLA Cheese, I took a photo with my phone purely for Twitter purposes. It was only later in the week that I thought, “Huh, the shop could lead off an items column, and I do have a photo.” If I could do it over again, though, I would take a better picture…
For Friday’s column, I go back through my Restaurant of the Week blog posts of 2013 to single out the best spots. Hope that proves useful, especially for those who don’t read my blog — and if some of them get intrigued and visit here, well, that would be cool. Also, I present Culture Corner items about events taking place in the next few days.
Fish-O-Licious, 4200 Chino Hills Parkway (at Pipeline), Chino Hills; open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Chino Hills has Pacific Fish Grill at the Shoppes, an informal seafood spot about which I posted in 2009. One wishes there were more such places in the Inland Valley. Well, since December there’s been a second, and it’s also in Chino Hills: Fish-O-Licious. It’s a wannabe chain with one other location, in Commerce.
Some of the menu offerings are fried, others are grilled. And before you wonder if this is a gussied-up H. Salt, the motto is “Fresh Seafood Daily.” I had lunch there with a friend recently.
I had the special No. 3 ($10, bottom), a plate of sole with a slightly sweet sauce with pineapple and peppers, as well as an above-average slaw, a roll and, in a pleasant surprise, a soda. Not a bad price, and the food was very good. My friend had the three fish taco plate ($8, below), which came with fries. She liked the tacos but thought tortilla chips would be a better side than fries.
They have sole, salmon, catfish, halibut, shrimp and scallops, as well as chicken (for those who hate fish, I guess) and chowder.
My friend’s comment was that it’s good to have another healthy option but that it’s pretty similar to Pacific Fish Grill. My comment is, I like it, but why can’t it be in a different city? Chino Hills has all the fun.
Why “rue”? The word came up at the council meeting. So did a zillion other words: there were 22 speakers. Look for my report in Wednesday’s column.
Trader Joe’s came to Upland in 1994 and is leaving 20 years later, on Jan. 31, reports my colleague Liset Marquez. Scuttlebutt is that the landlords of the Mountain Green Shopping Center wanted to raise the rent more than the specialty grocer felt it should pay, although nobody’s saying that officially. Party City is moving to the center across the street, as Honey Baked Ham did a couple of years back, both lending credence to the rent theory.
Joe’s is an anchor of the center at 7th Street and Mountain Avenue, which also has a Kohl’s (which replaced Mervyns), CVS, Michaels (which replaced an Edwards four-plex), China Gate, Handel’s Ice Cream, Dennys and San Biagio’s Pizza, among other tenants. (A reasonably up to date list is here.)
Back in the 1990s, and even beyond, Joe’s was one of the few hip businesses out here. (*Readers remind me there was a Joe’s in the ’80s outside Montclair Plaza.)
The Upland store, a little undersized, was always jam-packed, and it paid to visit during off-hours when there might be room to maneuver the tight aisles and time to examine unfamiliar items at leisure. Visiting became less essential after Joe’s locations opened in Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga (*and Chino Hills), but Upland’s was still useful for people on the West End. (I once saw Greg Devereaux, then Ontario’s city manager, picking up a few things one evening.) Those other stores no doubt diluted traffic at the Upland location.
Leave your own thoughts on the store’s impact and departure below, or on your memories of the shopping center, which I believe dates to the 1980s, or perhaps earlier.
Joe’s isn’t slipping away in the night. A sign outside the store says they’ll have a farewell barbecue from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, serving hot dogs and drinks. The store closes that day at 9 p.m. A second farewell sign thanks its customers and notes: “All crew members from this store will be transferred to other Trader Joe’s.”
Three random media products I enjoyed in a one-week span — a music DVD, a CD and a movie DVD — all turned out to have low-key links to the Inland Valley. I also present three culture corner items and cop to two mistaken word choices in previous columns — oops. All this is in Sunday’s column.
Many of these items, you might be curious to know, were written for last Sunday’s column but were crowded out due to news about the Big Boy train and the media’s confusion about precisely where Glendora is located. But they kept.
Mrs. Unruh, as she’s billed, owns Mount Baldy’s Buckhorn Lodge, where she performs with a band on weekends, doing torch songs, country songs and showtunes. She’s the widow of Jesse Unruh, who before his 1987 death was one of California’s most prominent legislators. The lodge will be closing soon. I sit in on a performance for Friday’s special-length column.