October 22, 2014

WRR: Midvale Mining Company| Breakfast Comfort Food

If you’re going to get breakfast in Midvale, you might as well go to the Midvale Mining Company. There is an abominable dearth of breakfast eaters in this world, with the masses switching to nutritious yogurt “drinks” and fortified granola like bars in lieu of the traditional breakfast.

You know what I’m talking about–you ran out of the house this morning with one of them in your hand (if you ate anything at all), and you let the hash-browns, pancakes, oat mill, cereal, waffles, fruit, bacon, sausage, orange juice, and a myriad of other God-given gifts on the table, cupboards and fridge. Because seriously–what is a morning if it doesn’t include at least a pound of bacon grease?

But seriously, folks, let’s get back to basics. Let’s get back to breakfast (can you tell that I ran out the door without anything this morning? My belly’s giving me no end of grief, right now).

Midvale Mining Company might be just the place to start. No mines, but lots of great breakfast food, including a plate of crispy hash-browns and easy over eggs that I enjoyed for breakfast one day a week or so ago.  So worth it. And I so wish it had been this morning. [grumbling stomach]

_____________

Food: 7/10
Service: 8/10
Atmosphere:7/10

Check out my other restaurant reviews here. If you have a restaurant suggestion for me, please contact me by sending an email to SLCWeekendReviews@gmail.com.
Midvale Mining on Urbanspoon

WRR: Last Samurai Downtown | Sushi and Sashimi

I’ll be straight up with you–I struggle with raw fish. I’m all about fish, and in fact I’m a big fan. Got a good piece of salmon with teriyaki glaze? I’m all over it. Fried cod with chips? I’d down that.

But raw? Sorry.  I struggle.

With that in mind, I headed over to the Last Samurai downtown off of 600 S for a mid-day lunch meeting. The restaurant is clean, pristine even, and attractively decorated in a faux japanese style that should be enjoyed more than by the one other person we saw when we came in the door.

Seated quickly, our waitress was quick to serve our drinks, speedy to refill them, and prompt with our orders. I cannot make one complaint about the service.

Heck, even the food was good (if you like raw fish). Add enough soy sauce and wasabi, and raw fish is the last thing you notice…primarily because your nose is running.

Check it out. Make at least one trip over to the Last Samurai to see how much you like raw fish. And if your stomach won’t do it, they have steak, too, as my lunch partner ordered. Who doesn’t like steak?

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Last Samurai’s site and menu can be found here.

Food: 6/10 (I can’t complain, but I can’t really rave, either)
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 9/10 because it’s supposed to be a hole in the wall, so…
Check out my other restaurant reviews here. If you have a restaurant suggestion for me, please contact me by sending an email to SLCWeekendReviews@gmail.com.

Last Samurai Downtown on Urbanspoon

WRR: Spedelli’s | Pizza, Wings, and More

It’s Friday. You’re wearing your Levi’s because office policy let’s you do that kind of thing on this pre-weekend weekend. There’s a few things hovering in your In-Box, but mostly, the week is over and you’re looking forward to some much-needed R&R away from the office.

That sounds like a good enough excuse for me to hit Spedelli’s, one of Foothill Blvd.’s hidden treasures.

In fact, it’s so hidden, I’m not sure how it stays in business. Maybe an evening crowd (because, as you can tell, I’m there over lunch, not the evening)?

Formerly known as Davanza’s, Spedelli’s features a Dan Burton favorite: pizza, and good pizza at that. Like a lot of non-chain restaurants serving pizza, Spedelli’s selections carry atypical names like “Harry’s Choice” (pulled pork, pineapple, yellow onion, jalapeno and BBQ sauce), “Fat kids gotta eat” (meatballs, cheddar and mozzarella cheese), and “Hot Carlson” (pepperoni, spinach, red and yellow onions, black olives, garlic, tomatoes, banana peppers, mushrooms, green peppers).

I ordered the Merill Man-za, which, while slightly simpler than the previously mentioned pizzas, is a delicious and dripping with grease sausage, pepperoni, meatball, and bacon (which, let’s be honest, is really just meat candy).

How many ways to can I tell you I loved it? Let me repeat PEPPERONI AND  BACON. I will be a patron to this place till the day I die (or they close, or my office moves…). Dripping with stretchy, yummy cheese, sizzling with grease from the slightly concave pepperoni, the glistening sausage, miniature meatballs, and crumbled bacon, the crust crispy and fresh…

It’s enough to make me salivate just thinking about it.

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Spedelli’s menu and website.

Food: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10 it’s hidden, there’s pool, and get your beer on, too…
Check out my other restaurant reviews here. If you have a restaurant suggestion for me, please contact me by sending an email to SLCWeekendReviews@gmail.com.

Spedelli's on Urbanspoon

Book Review: “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines

It’s a rare day that I’m willing to give a full five out of five stars to a book. It’s rarer still that I’ll give the five stars, and then put it back on my bed-stand for continual reference in my future reading.

It’s just that kind of a book, and every bibliophile should read it.

In “How to Read Literature like a Professor,” Thomas Foster has given us a delightful little romp through literature, producing a guide to the themes, symbolism, ironies, allusions, and plots that recur through-out almost all the fiction we read. Whether it’s Charles Dickens or Charles Schulz or even Tom Clancy, Foster’s collection of essays are each a fun and enjoyable guide to what you’ve been reading, and what you will read, when you pick up a work of fiction.

For example: in chapter 10, “It’s more than just rain or snow,” we read that “weather is never just weather. It’s never just rain.” Rather, Foster says, instead of providing just a setting, a backdrop to the story, weather in fiction is rooted in our fears and hopes. In addition to appearing as a feature character in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic biblical tale of the great flood, it makes notable and significant sightings in mythologies from all over the world, often, if not always, appearing and appealing to our fear of drowning. “Rain,” Foster says, “prompts ancestral memories of the most profound sort. So water in great volume speaks to us at a very basic level of being.

So rain–and floods–signifies drowning? Kind of, but it doesn’t stop there. Citing D.H. Lawrence’s “The Virgin and the Gypsy” (1930), which I’ve not read yet, Foster sees it as a “big eraser that destroys but also allows a brand-new start.”

Kind of like baptism? Yeah. If you’re part of that Christian tradition, this is what baptism is: death of the old, imperfect, and flawed man, and rebirth of a new man. And such is the role that this element–rain and floods–plays in literature. Well, most of the time. Fog can represent a lack of clarity, sunshine hope and clarity. In short, weather is rarely just setting.

That’s rain and weather. Each chapter is a written with a quick and light wit that allows a reader, whatever his level of experience with literature, to follow along, see the theme, enjoy the examples, and find a taste for the point. Other chapter titles include the following:

• “When in Doubt, It’s from Shakespeare…”

• “…Or the Bible”

• “It’s All Political”

• “Marked for Greatness”

• “Nice to Eat with You: Acts of Communion” and, of course,

• “Nice to Eat You: Acts of Vampire.” (Stephanie Meyer ought to pick that one up to understand why people who love literature hate Twilight….or maybe she’s trying to be ironic? Yeah, I doubt it, too).

Weighing in at just under three hundred pages, “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” doesn’t need deep commitment, deep concentration, or deep literature reading. My brain-candy of choice usually falls in the science-fiction or fantasy categories, and yet, I’ve started to find the themes and allusions and ironies that I saw in classics like “Howard’s End” and “Bleak House” appearing there, too. Whatever you read, it applies the symbolism that Foster walks through. As a result, my experience, whatever I’m reading, has been more enjoyable since I started it. It’s that moment of sudden realization when the whole theme of Steven EriksonBook of the Fallen” subplot (and there are a lot of them) is an allusion, or imitation, to Spartacus (I think). Or that the journey (all journeys are quests) across the water is a journey of transformation, where the fallen man chooses to start a new life, emerging from the water, as it were, reborn.

It’s fun. A lot of fun. Even just reading the book itself is fun. To boot, at the end Foster provides a list of all the books he refers to throughout his essays to allow you, the reader, to pick them up and read further. And what could be more fun about reading than delving into great fiction?

Pick it up, start reading, and enhance your general reading experience. If you’re going to read fiction, and you should, you might as well get the most out of it.

View all my reviews

How are you watching the State of the State?

If you’re like me, and streaming video is your medium of choice, then you’ll want to know where you can watch Governor Gary Herbert’s State of the State tonight.

You’re in luck. The website theutahadvantage.com is streaming the State of the State at 6:30 PM. Catch it here.

APROPOS: I’m pretty sure the site is a Herbert for Governor affiliate.

 

Newt Gingrich and the Art of Not Answering Questions

Mr. Dough Boy was not in full form last night. Not, unless that is, you realized just how doughy and soft  his brand of conservative is. Rather, he spent the night looking sour and dour.

And who is Mr. Dough Boy? None other than the only Speaker of the US House of Representatives to ever resign in disgrace, Newt Gingrich.

Let’s stop for a minute, though. We’ll come back to the debate in a minute. Why are we calling him “Doughboy?” I mean, other than that he brought in $25,000 a month while “consulting” Freddie Mac (others might call that lobbying on behalf of…) and because he looks like a Doughboy?

Perhaps we should be calling him the comeback kid, instead. There was a time when he was almost done, when his candidacy was written off, when he went on a cruise to Greece with wife #3 and 13 of his 15 fundraising chairs resign in disgust. Yeah. Less than a year ago, that was.

And yet he has come back, outlasted  Michelle Bachmann (who beat back Tim Pawlenty‘s campaign), Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and all of the naysayers and talking heads that wrote off his campaign for the Presidency. He still isn’t saying anything that would make sense to anyone thinks about it longer than it takes to say “fundamentally,” “let me be clear,” or “we need dramatic change.”  (As Ann Coulter has noted, what he says makes sense for about three secondsif you are actually paying attention to the sense of the words coming out of his mouth).

Which brings me back to the debate last night. Not only did Newt never really get his game off the ground, but without the audience cheering on snooty one liners, he never really got his populism groove on.

I lost track of how many times Newt opted to avoid responding to the question, and I don’t just mean that he redirected. I mean he completely avoided. For example: sugar subsidies (because, why not? Who ever thinks about sugar subsidies except for beet farmers and the anti-subsidy lobby?):

ADAM SMITH (one of three moderators and political editor at “The Tampa Bay Times): Speaker Gingrich, in Iowa you were a big supporter of ethanol subsidies. Here in Florida, sugar is a very important industry, and it`s subsidized, as well, with import restrictions, quotas. There`s a conservative movement to do away with these programs. In the case of sugar, critics say it — it adds billions of dollars to — to consumers` grocery bills every year. What would you do about that?

GINGRICH: Well, I pretty enthusiastically early in my career kept trying to figure out how to get away from the sugar subsidy. And I found out one of — one of the fascinating things about America, which was that cane sugar hides behind beet sugar. And there are just too many beet sugar districts in the United States. It`s an amazing side story about how interest groups operate.

In an ideal world, you would have an open market. And that`s — I think that would be a better future and, frankly, one where cane sugar would still make a lot of money. But it`s very hard to imagine how you`re going to get there. I spent a lot of time trying to reform agriculture when I was speaker. And I would say it was one of the two or three hardest things to try to do because the — the capacity of the agricultural groups to defend themselves is pretty amazing.

Look through that. I’ll  buy you a Big Mac if you can find what Newt would, as the question asked, do about sugar subsidies.

In fact, he did not answer. He said it was too hard to change. Remember, this is the guy who wants to affect dramatic change in Washington.

When he’s not answering questions, he’s distorting history. This from a guy who has a Ph.D. in history and loves to tell opponents that they are getting their history wrong (compared to him, at least).

Exhibit 1 of distorting history came in the first five minutes.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: And about your problems, your departure from the speakership in the `90s, what`s the case you make to the American people and voters in Republican primary contests about how you`ve changed, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, the case I make is that, when I was speaker, we had four consecutive balanced budgets, the only time in your lifetime, Brian, that we`ve had four consecutive balanced budgets. Most people think that`s good.

Not only did Gingrich  not answer the question about how he’s changed since he left Congress in disgrace for ethics violations, he also lied about his record.

  • FACT: the first two years of Newt Gingrich’s Speakership–1996 and 1997–ran deficits by deficits. Two years of his Speakership–1998 and 1999–saw balanced budgets. The last two years of the balanced budget that he’s referring to–2000 and 2001– happened AFTER he left Congress. But, you know, why let the facts get in the way of a good debate?

But let’s get back to the misdirection and the unwillingness to answer the questions. Accused by Mitt Romney of leaving Congress, and the Speaker’s gavel, in disgrace, his response was his typical non-response:  “LIAR!”

GINGRICH: Well, look, I`m not going to spend the evening trying to chase Governor Romney`s misinformation. We`ll have a site at Newt.org by tomorrow morning. We`ll list everything — he just said at least four things that are false. I don`t want to waste the time on them. I think the American public deserve a discussion about how to beat Barack Obama, the American public deserves a discussion of what we would do about the economy. And I just think this is the worst kind of trivial politics.

This from the guy who’s been attacking Mitt Romney for being a successful businessman.

"Mwah-ah, ha, ha! I have fooled them all!"

I’m not sure who’s keeping track, but I couldn’t count four things in what Mitt Romney said that were false. In fact, Newt did resign in disgrace after an ethics investigation convinced his leadership team that he had become a liability to the work of Congress. From Wikipedia (because I’m not THAT energetic about original source research, and if you are, be my guest):

Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against Gingrich during his term as Speaker, all but one of which were eventually dropped.[66] After an extensive investigation and negotiation by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, Gingrich was reprimanded and fined $300,000 by an overwhelming 395-28 House vote, with both Republicans and Democrats speaking in favor of those sanctions. It was the first time in the history of the House that a Speaker was disciplined for an ethics violation.[67][68]

The last three charges were dropped because although it was found that he had violated a House rule in the past, there was no evidence that Gingrich was still violating it at the time of the investigation.[66] The one charge not dropped was a charge of claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes. In addition, the House Ethics Committee concluded that inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented “intentional or … reckless” disregard of House rules.[69]

Ouch. As if that weren’t bad enough, who needs enemies when you are making enemies of your friends as fast as Gingrich did in the aftermath of his ethics scandals?

In the summer of 1997 several House Republicans attempted to replace him as Speaker, claiming Gingrich’s public image was a liability. The attempted “coup” began July 9 with a meeting of Republican conference chairman John Boehner of Ohio and Republican leadership chairman Bill Paxon of New York. According to their plan, House Majority Leader Dick ArmeyHouse Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Boehner and Paxon were to present Gingrich with an ultimatum: resign, or be voted out. However, Armey balked at the proposal to make Paxon the new Speaker, and told his chief of staff to warn Gingrich about the attempted coup.[72]

On July 11, Gingrich met with senior Republican leadership to assess the situation. He explained that under no circumstance would he step down. If he was voted out, there would be a new election for Speaker, which would allow for the possibility that Democrats—along with dissenting Republicans—would vote in Dick Gephardt as Speaker. On July 16, Paxon offered to resign his post, feeling that he had not handled the situation correctly, as the only member of the leadership who had been appointed to his position—by Gingrich—instead of elected.[73]

If “under no circumstances would he step down”  does not say “selfish” as much as using your daughters from your first wife to convince everyone your second wife is lying about your third wife, then I don’t know what does.

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/DKinnamon/status/161944198319312896"]

Click the link. You know you want to. Who ever says they are vastly superior to others? Out-loud?

Beyond that, the debate was pretty wonkish, and I fell asleep during the last five minutes. Literally.

APROPOS: State of the Union is tonight. Will you be watching?

[Daily Caller] [Mass Live][Debate Transcript] [Outside the Beltway] [The Hill]

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Hide your children, hide your wife…it’s the 2012 Legislative Session!

In case you missed it, the Utah Legislature went into session yesterday, and Utah held its collective breath. It’s anyone’s guess what will come out on the other end. I’ll tell you one thing I want, though: less of it. In this case, I think less is more.

Michelle Mumford summed up my feelings well:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/MichelleMumford/status/161649088226533376"]

That’s a goal we can all live with, right? We’d be ok with a break from new laws, new spending, and new regulation. Have we even figured out what to do with all the stuff from last year?

[cricket, cricket]

Anyways…onward and, well, upward, all the way to the state capital where it all goes down.

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Ignore the session at your own peril.

The State Capitol at night, during a snow fall on January 23, 2012. Photo by Jeremy Nicoll.

If  you are intent on following what’s going on in the legislature, and I think its not a bad idea, there are a lot of ways to do it. This is the era of the internet, after all, and it’s easier than ever to get information fast, even when you can’t go hobnob at the State Capitol itself (especially if, like me, you’ve gotta keep your day job). Whether you follow the tweets and the stories from your favorite local reporter and/or legislator, read the paper, check into the Utah Senate and House web sites to research bills, or actually show up at the Capitol, here’s a short guide to some of the tools out there (with due credit, of course, to the reporting team over at the Salt Lake Tribune which suggested most of these sources):

  • TOP ISSUES: Check out this issue by issue break down of what’s likely to come up this year in the legislature. Topping the list? Funding education. Also of note is Howard Stephenson’s bill to create a tax credit to allow low income children to attend private schools.
  • WHO’S IN CHARGE: under the telling “herbert-elected-gov-governor” URL  in part, the Salt Lake Tribune has also put a simple list of who’s who in the legislative leadership process, including their education and profession.
  • WHO’S NEW? With all the resignations as past lawmakers take aim at higher office, whether it’s Congress or the Governor’s mansion, there have been more than a couple mid-term appointments. Check out who is new…though I do find it ironic that the picture is of Craig Frank, who is not.
  • PAY & PERKS: even if the legislature is a part time job, it still comes with a meager income. Check out what the reimbursements are for working in the legislature.
  • LOBBYISTS: Don’t forget the parasites–er, I mean, lobbyists. There are over 400 of them representing more than 300 clients. All joking aside, I do recognize that they play an important roll in our system….I think.
  • CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR: Due to how insanely busy the session is, it’s actually probably a little late to do that, but if you really want to talk to someone, go for it using the following lists.
  • Follow my favorite reporters on Twitter: Two of my favorite reporters are Robert Gehrke and Billy Hesterman. Both are savvy and smart reporters.

Last, and not least, check out the infographic below for a fun little summary of how the legislature breaks down along political lines, among other details.

[Salt Lake Tribune]