Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's Opera, Fox?

Just returned from the first performance of grand opera at the Pomona Fox Theater. OK, I admit that I went because I want to be supportive of this type of use of the Fox (no I wasn't at the Marilyn Manson concert). But I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed the afternoon immensely.
I'm afraid that I'm musically challenged and don't know a contralto from a contra bassoon. As a result I wouldn't even begin to attempt a review of the performance, but I can comment on the experience. 
First off, we sat in the front part of the balcony (the mezzanine?) with the extra wide leather seats. The $30 price was general admission anywhere in the balcony and we were there early enough to get into those great seats. I've been to a lot of venues and have never had seats that comfortable, even for movies! Yes, I was able to sit on my ample back side without twinging during the entire 2.5 hours. I'm also a little hard of hearing (what?) and am pleased to say that the acoustics at the Fox were surprisingly good without a lot of extra amplification.

The music was provided entirely by piano and musical director Brian Farrell. The staging was very minimalist with just a few boxes and steps providing the scene and then a lot of hand props and costumes adding the flavor to the action.

While the singing was mostly in Italian (with a few wink-winks of English to help with key plot elements) there was also some English narration provided by Robert Arce and Rochelle Firestone which helped if you got lost. The main way to follow the action was to read the two page synopsis of the storyline BEFORE the start of the performance. 

The story follows Nemorino, Matt Dunn, who is in love with Adina, Leslie Dennis, but is too shy to approach her due to her beauty. Along comes Belcore, Raul Matas, who is a soldier who enchants Adina. Nemorino  is crushed and seeks the help of snake-oil salesman Ducamara, Arthur Freeman, who sells him some bordeaux rebranded as love potion. Of course that's when things get interesting. The comic parts, especially  with Ducamara or Belcore, were quite enjoyable and you didn't need to understand the language to enjoy it.

Of course everything comes out well in the end.

I learned that the presales for this performance were about 300 (we bought out tickets at the door). Hopefully that will be enough to encourage the Repertory Opera Company to use the Fox in the future. During intermission we saw councilman Tim Saunders and is wife Dawn, as well as DPOA director Larry Egan. They had VIP seating in the orchestra area of the auditorium which was set up with tables and plastic chairs. Upon arriving at home, we had our Pomona Heritage mail (our membership director collects it once a week so we don't see it in a timely manner) and we had received an invitation to attend as VIP guests. Considering everything we're glad we paid and got to sit in the comfortable seats. We're also glad we were able to help support opera at the FOX!

welcome to the apocalypse, have a nice day

Is it just me, or does this fire map on the LA Times website suggest that to add to the rest of our problems, Mt. Wilson is erupting?

Maybe that late-night viewing of Volcano (Tommy Lee Jones! Don Cheadle!) wasn't such a good idea after all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Grammatical Rant

It's been kind of quite here in the blogosphere lately, so I take this opportunity to vent on a subject that bugs the heck out of me.

I was reading the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin this morning and one of my MAJOR issues was there staring me in the face. Was it corruption in Pomona? No. Was it the dismantling of our history? No.

I was faced with this sentence in an article on page A3 by Canan Tasci on parking problems at Chaffey College: ". . . and that increases the amount of people trying to park on campus." Because the offending phrase was used in a direct quote I can't blame Canan Tasci, but it's usually OK for a reporter to clean up any obvious grammar problems. I'm sure that there was probably a "you know" or "like" in there that didn't make it into the quote (just speculation). The problem is that I've seen this type of thing in a LOT of stories in the newspaper (from some good writers) and heard in constantly in TV and radio news reporting. I guess copy editing is one of the victims of the changes in the news industry.

The grammar rule is that if you use a number word (few, fewer, more, less, number, amount, etc.) that a singular noun has to be an amount. You cannot have a number gasoline, but you can have an amount of gasoline so it would be "less gasoline," not fewer gasoline. When a noun is a plural, such a cows, you have a "number of cows," not an amount of cows. Amount refers to "volume" while number refers to (hold on) number. The same is true for less and fewer. Less refers to volume and is used on singular nouns (less gasoline, less cereal, less stress) and fewer refers to plural numbers (fewer cars on the road, fewer accidents on the highways, fewer pills I have to take for the stress).

One of the places where this first reared its ugly head was in grocery checkout lines. The sign above one or two of the lines began reading "10 items or less." The noun items is clearly plural, so it should have been "10 items or fewer" which just didn't sound right. Actually a better sign would have read "fewer than 11 items," but we don't want to go there. This has caused the whole, plural vs. singular noun numbers words thing completely out of whack. We now hear that there were "less people than last year," "less cars on freeway on Fridays," etc.

AT LEAST: Our own local Stater Brothers market does have a sign above the two registers at the south end of the store that state, "15 items or fewer."

This post is a repeat of one on my own personal blog. My personal blog does not carry Pomona Specific entries (that I'll continue to do here as long as Meg allows me to), but my take on issues of importance beyond Pomona. If you're so inclined, you can view by blog HERE

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

let's be careful out there

Across the Neighborhood Watch list comes this warning. I'm sure the NW blog itself will post this soon, but it's better to have read it twice than not at all.

One evening, late last week, a man came to my door about 8:30 pm wearing a shirt with the ADT Security logo. I am a subscriber to ADT for my alarm system and I have a yard sign indicating such. He claimed he was checking on the equipment and wanted to know if if was working. I had my dogs in the house with me and did not open the screen door to him. I told him my alarm was working just fine and he left. I called ADT and they confirmed that they never send out representatives unless a customer has made a service request. They have also had other reports of this activity in our area. ADT's advice was:

Ask anyone claiming to be from ADT for identification and tell them you are going to call ADT to verify their identity. This will cause any imposters to leave. Then call PPD to report the imposter. ADT does not know what these guys are up to, but it's not anything good.

Stay on your toes, folks! Somewhere nearby there's a no-goodnik eager to help him/herself to your prized possessions. (But, I hasten to add, don't be too suspicious of your fellow human beings. Most folks are honest, even those who are really down on their luck.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ooooohhhh Beeerrrr

Anyone interested in a beer tasting is welcome to join Pomona Heritage at dba256 (corner of 3rd & Main in downtown Pomona) on Wednesday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Beer meister Tibbi will be pouring and discussing four different brews for the information and edification of those who are interested in historic preservation/neighborhoods, but may not know a lot about beer (or may know about beer but want to know more).

Not only can you get a beer education, you can mingle with people who love old homes and historic landmarks. What could be a better way to spend a Wednesday summer evening? And you won't even have to worry about running into the crowds from the Marilyn Manson or Cake concerts at the Fox as we're squeezed right between the two.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Best Pizza Joint to Open Second Location

Stew and I meandered over to Mountain Ave this evening for a slice of pizza from the always wonderful San Biagio's Pizza restaurant. Come to find out, the Biagio's are opening a second location at 1118 E. 19th Street, Suite F in Upland.

A grand opening celebration is slated for Sunday, August 30th. Stop by between noon and 2 PM for two free slices and a free soda.

If you haven't yet tried San Biago's, here's your chance. Prepare for an addiction.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

queer, here, and used to it

K. and I moseyed down to the LGBT Center ribbon-cutting yesterday evening, and we had a great time. I was really proud to see both Freddie Rodriguez (the relevant councilperson) and Mayor Rothman on hand, as well as the actor Wilson Cruz, as Mark mentioned in the comments of the last post. I did not see Mark himself, although we left pretty early, as we had another engagement.

The turnout was really good -- there were at least 50 people there -- as was the spread of comestibles and the bar (subsidized but not free). I had a glass of rosé, K. had a Newcastle, and we had a chance to look around the Brick, which we'd never been to (being too old to dance, or at least too fuddy-duddy). It's a pretty cool space -- which I should have known, since all the bars in BDP (Beautiful Downtown Pomona) are kickin'. We made some new friends and generally hobnobbed with the queer and queer-friendly.

Then we were herded outside for the ribbon opening, featured in the picture below. First Councilman Rodriguez cut the ribbon, and then there were four more ribbons for other luminaries to bisect. As the fellow standing next to me (not K.) said, This LA -- bring on the simulacra.

I thought the best line of the evening went to Hizzoner, who said something about "The City of Pomona, the County of Los Angeles, the State of Shock." I take that to be a reference to the wretched state of our state (don't get me started), although K. worried that "shock" referred to a downtown LGBT center.

I picked up a flyer with the Center's mission statement (although I can't find it now... must. clean. house.), and there were also flyers with volunteer and donation opportunities. If you're interested in either, you can email
, and I'll post more info here as I have it.

In the meantime, hurrah for Leah Horowitz and all her helpers for organizing the Center, hurrah for Susan and the Brick for hosting the Center, hurrah for Rothman and Rodriguez for showing their support, and hurrah for Pomona for showing Southern California how diversity works.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

goings on about town

The Daily Bulletin is full of surprises (and not just Dave Allen's columns). A couple of days ago, I had my consciousness raised: The Brick is a gay bar. I had no idea; being a middle-aged frump who is in bed by 11 and whose best attempt to look hip is a black t-shirt with her mom jeans, I'm clueless when it comes to Pomona nightlife.

It delights me that we have the coolest gay bar in the West Inland Empire. But that's not the only way our fair city represents sexual diversity: We're getting an LGBT Center, and the grand opening is on Saturday. Hats off to the Western University student who is the driving force behind it, and to all the folks (including the Brick) who helped. Once again, Pomona shows the world what diversity looks like.

The open house is this coming Saturday from 5 to 7pm, and I'm planning on stopping by. I'd like to see what services they'll be offering, meet the organizers, and generally welcome the Center to the neighborhood. It's at 340 S. Thomas St. (next to the Brick?). Perhaps I'll see you there?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

$1 Per Car at Mission Tiki Drive In

Wanna know where I'll be tomorrow night [Sunday, August 9]? Why, I'll be at the Mission Tiki Drive In enjoying Bonnie & Clyde and a free medium popcorn with the purchase of a medium soda. All this for the insanely low price of $1 per car. Seriously. Show starts at 8:30 PM.

Can't make it this week? Plan ahead for...

August 16 Lolita
August 23 Viva Las Vegas
August 30 To Catch a Thief

I heart Mission Tiki.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

and no word from our advertisers

Just to let everyone know, I've added word verification to the comment posting in order to avoid the Chinese-language spam we've been getting. I'm tired of deleting them manually (4-5 a day), and I hope the additional step will take care of it. I can't block IP addresses or even countries of origin, so if this doesn't work and the spam increases, worse steps might have to be taken. That said, I remain committed to as much openness as possible. And I'll go to the mat for the option of anonymity.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Did I just twitter the entire City Council meeting?

I just did. (It is a little obvious when you are the only person typing in the room.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Council Meeting Monday--OUTSOURCING!

Monday will see another city council meeting with a variety of interesting subjects that the city will be taking up prior to its traditional August break.

Items of interest on the Agenda include:
  • On the consent agenda are the acceptance of funding for the Library's Big Read program, acceptance of the DPOA's contract for police patrosl for downtown, acceptance of homeland security funding for the city, and selection of Vice Mayor (it's Freddie Rodriguez's turn). as well as various contracts for alley improvements, the appropriation of CIP funds for Monroe Avenue street closure, and other items.
  • The last item on the consent agenda is a resolution by the city to put a measure on the Nov. 3 election ballot for an update to the Telephone Utility User's Tax (TUUT). This one is interesting as it will add VOIP, Wireless (cellular) phone service, and other new technologies to the tax base. I had not even considered that with my home phone being part of my cable television service that it doesn't actually fall under the traditional category of telephone service. How do they separate the bandwidth used for my High-Def TV from the bandwidth I use for phone calls? Very interesting.
  • There is a public hearing on a Pomona Congetstion Management Program.
  • Public hearing on the denial by the Planning Commission of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the 7-11 store at Towne and the 10 freeway to sell beer and wine.
  • A public hearing on an HPC decision to deny the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for a home on McKinley in Hacienda Park that wished to retain 9 vinyl windows and install four vinyl windows and to retain in addition to a lot of other "improvements" to the property.
  • Public Hearing regarding a modification, suspension, and/or revocation of CUP for Angelo's Pizza who has been in violation of their original CUP.
  • Public hearing for approval and acceptance of the Police Department's user and cost recovery service fee adjustments study, which also includes some amendments to a couple of city codes.

Also on the agenda, under New Business, are three items regarding outsourcing of city services. The services that are proposed for outsourcing are:
  • Park Maintenance and Landscaping Services, which includes maintenance of city highway medians
  • Street Sweeping Services
  • Building and Safety Services
I've had a brief chance to review some of the documentation including bids and comparisons as well as projected cost savings. To be brually honest, I'm not sure that I trust the conclusions, but on the surface, it looks like we'd get varied savings.

Here's where I have a problem with this: If I, as a homeowner, choose to outsource something, say lawn mowing and basic gardening, it's usually done when I'm in fiscally good shape, when I can afford the luxury of not having to do it myself. The same is true of plumbing, window washing, car washing, etc. I would never consider outsourcing such jobs if money were tight, if I had lost income, etc. So, I have a hard time getting my head around how this is different for a city.

OK, so city's can lay off people and cut back on things and maybe the outsource has tools and capabilities that would be costly to the city (the homeowner might not own a lawn mower), but in the long-run is it really a savings?

In discussing this with people, one of the main issues that is brought up as the reason that the city can "save" so much money is that the city has to pay so much more for labor than the "union controlled" city workers demand. This appears to be the main argument for such actions.

If this is indeed the case, what we're saying is that we are trying to hire cheaper labor (denying our citizens a living wage?) and, especially non-union labor. So is this, in essence, an attempt by the city to "bust" the unions? If, the outsource vendors were paying the same wages as city union-member workers, would the costs still be cheaper? Would we actually save anything or would we then be better off using "in-house" labor?

I'll be interested to see how the councilmembers who claim to be "friends of organized labor" and who have accepted campaign money from the unions come down on this.

If, we truly just don't have the funds to run our city, then we're all in trouble. If we, the citizens, aren't willing to pay for the costs of our infrastructure, then we've got to figure out just what we can live without. I don't believe that outsourcing will, in the long-run be beneficial. I still can't see how we can pay for a service that we were providing ourselves cheaper than sending it to a company who has the obligation to make as much money as possible to provide profit for their shareholders/owners. A city is a public benefit organization, a vendor is a for-profit company.

A side issue which has no bearing on costs, except moral cost, is that every vendor (and most of these are companies based outside the city of Pomona) because a "special interest" who will wish to ensure their future profits and attempt to influence Pomona. In the last election it was the LA County Firefighters (a group with lots of resources whereas the Pomona Police Association is only within the Pomona PD and has limited resource) that appeared to have spent the most money and had the most influence in influencing the Pomona voters. Is it really in the best interest of Pomona residents to have businesses that profit from our taxes influencing our elections. Perhaps you feel that they do, as for me I'm always concerned about such things.

You can read the agenda and all supporting documents on the City Clerk's public documents web site at:


OK, this morning didn't start out well at all. Mrs. C went out to get the newspapers and informed me that we got an LA Times but that there was no DB on the driveway. Damn! Now I'd have to read David Allen online.

But then about half an hour later we heard the tell-tale "plop" as a paper was finally delivered. So now I trundled out and picked up my Sunday fix of local news. Once inside I opened up the paper and discovered taht the Flag said "THE SUN."

I was distraught and confused. But the confusion got even worse. Riffling through the paper it appeared that the other sections were the same as I was used to. RCNow, Around the VALLEY, etc. So I went back to the front page, really concerned that I wouldn't get my David Allen fix. But turning to page 4, there was David's smiling face staring back at me. The header of the page said "Inland Valley Daily Bulletin" and all seemed right. So I went back to that front page. I looked at the stories and they appeared to be SB based. I looked at the end of the sidebar on VICTIM OF FRAUD and it was continued on Page 4. But there was no jump on page four, only David's column.

So it looks like my DB got the page 1 from the SUN and nothing else.

UPDATE: I also discovered that I didn't have a DB Sports Section. The sports section in my Sunday paper was from the Redlands Daily Facts. Fortunately, I'm only interested in sports during basketball season and we're not there at the moment.

I think I need another cup of coffee.