All posts by Riley Lumpkin

Saji-Ya restaurant review

By, Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

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Japanese restaurant Saji-Ya was quite the experience. The traditional Japanese food was amazing. We were able to get the full experience by sitting at a table with the teppanyaki. Teppanyaki-style cooking requires a chef that is both a great cook and a performer. It is a steel grill that cooks the food right in front of you, our chef was extremely entertaining. He performed many tricks and told many jokes as he was making our food. His performance definitely made our time at Saji-Ya great. Our favorite part of his cooking was watching the onion volcano. Our chef made a volcano from onions, he poured oil into it then lit it on fire. This created the volcano.

Our food was amazing. The meal started off with a cup of white rice, chicken liver, miso soup, and a salad. This was our appetizer, I (Riley) was a little hesitant about trying the chicken liver, although I’m glad I tried it because it was very good. The miso soup and salad were also very good. For our entree, we both ordered the salmon and steak combination. We both like our steak medium rare, which is what we ordered.

The overall flavor of the steak was great, the seasonings he used worked well together; although our steak was cooked a little more than we would’ve liked it to be. The salmon was also very good, with seasoning similar to the steak. It was cooked perfectly and almost melted in our mouths.

As a side to the meat, we were served a side of vegetables. They were cooked with the onion volcano. Overall, there was a nice mixture, it included: squash, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli. The flavor was nice because the taste of the vegetables was not lost in all the seasoning.

Overall, our experience was very nice and special for prom. It was not expensive, and there were options for vegetarians. We recommend sitting by the grill and going with a group of friends.


Best spring break experiences

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

Spring break this year was great; we both had amazing experiences on our vacations. Gabe went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and I went to the Big Island, Hawaii. These are our best experiences.

In Mexico I had a great time, I traveled with my family and we did lots of fun activities. My top two favorite things from spring break were the food and swimming in the ocean. The whole trip, I never had a bad meal, I also ordered something different every time we went out. One of my favorite meals was at Joe Jacks in Old Town, I had fish on top of rice and beans.


My second favorite meal was at a fancier restaurant. I had sea bass on top of rice with shrimp, mussels, and calamari. This was on Easter, so the restaurant was packed with tourists.

My second favorite experience was swimming in the ocean. It was great because we could go whenever we wanted. Every day we were there, it was warm and sunny; perfect for swimming. We found a beach with waves that were great for boogie boarding. Other than swimming, we woke up to beautiful sunrises and dolphins in the morning, and sunsets at night. 


My spring break vacation, to Hawaii, was my favorite trip I’ve been on. I have never been to a more beautiful state. My two favorite experiences were going on a helicopter tour and going to a luau.

The helicopter tour was my favorite for many reasons. First, because I have never been on one before and it is fun to try new things. Secondly, because we were able to see parts of the Island you can’t see by foot. From the helicopter we saw many waterfalls; my whole family lost count. We also saw the jungle where the wild pigs live. On the North West side, there was a sharp drop, that was from land that fell off the island because of an earthquake. The pilot was also very nice; he was a former pilot for the Airforce. Although I did many fun things, the helicopter tour was definitely the best.


My second favorite experience was the luau. Luau translates to “feast.” In the Hawaiian culture, families put on luaus to acknowledge and celebrate their past. There was hula dancing, which was very entertaining, and really good food. We went to a luau at the Fairmont Orchid, apparently, this was the best luau in the area. My favorite part about it was watching the dancers. They tell a story from their past through dancing; it is very clear what the message and story are even though they weren’t talking. Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of the dancers. I did take a picture of a little message written out in dry coral on top of lava rock.  

Spring break destinations

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

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Spring break is a very popular travel time for many Americans. Especially, students and families. Many families choose to go to resorts, mainly because of how convenient everything is. Midwesterners like to travel to warm destinations because of the cold, harsh winter, but many people travel to cold climates over their spring break.

Here are a few warm locations that are popular destinations for midwesterners. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and  Orlando, Florida according to TripAdvisor.

Texas is a popular destination as well, with Houston, which has beaches, and Austin, to explore the city.

Hawaii is another popular destination for spring breakers, as families with older children like to explore the tropical islands.

San Francisco and Los Angeles are popular destinations in California for families as well.

Outside of the country, Central America and the Caribbean are popular destinations, with all-inclusive resorts that are perfect for families. They offer many things for everyone to do, like guided tours such as: hikes, bike tours, and snorkeling. The all-inclusive resorts also offer an abundance of food and services.

Mexico is the most popular spring break destination that is out of the country. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel are the most popular cities in Mexico for spring breakers.

Not all people choose to go on tropical, warm vacations over spring break. Many people, and families, choose to go to cold climates. Skiing and snowboarding are very popular sports that many families participate in. In the western part of the United States; Oregon, Idaho, Utah, California have ski resorts perfect for all levels of skiers. Skiing is also popular in the east as well; Vermont and Maine offer many ski resorts that are popular spring break destinations.

Northern Minnesota is the perfect place to hike the frozen waterfalls, ice fish, and snowshoe.

In Montana, there is the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, which is a popular location for many families.

Spring break is overall, a great time to get out and explore. Families and students take advantage of this time to relax and enjoy both cold and warm weather.

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NBA All-Star Weekend Festival

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

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The National Basketball Association’s All-Star Weekend was held from February 16-18th. There were 6 main events: The NBA All-Star Game, the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, the JBL Three-Point Contest, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the Mountain Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Game, and finally, the All-Star Celebrity Game presented by Ruffles.

All of these events were held in Los Angeles, California. The Rising Stars Game and the Celebrity Game were held on Friday night. The Dunk Contest and the Three-Point Contest were held on Saturday night. And the biggest event of the weekend, the NBA All-Star Game, was held on Sunday night. You can find rosters for the NBA All-Star Game here: 

For the Rising Stars Game here:

And rosters for the Celebrity Game here:

The first event, the Rising Stars Game, was a blowout, with the two teams, World and the US facing off. The World Team beat the US Team 155-124. Bogdan Bogdanovic took home MVP honors with a respectable stat line. He posted 26 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and 9-16 shooting from the field.

The All-Star Celebrity Game was the next game of the night. Popular rapper Quavo took home the MVP honors in this one. The rapper posted an impressive 19 points and led Team Clippers to a 75-66 victory over Team Lakers. He was playing against the likes of Justin Bieber and Jamie Foxx.

The Dunk Contest was on Saturday night, and featured great dunkers in the league like Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, Larry Nance Jr., and Dennis Smith Jr. Donovan Mitchell stole the stole and took home the Dunk Contest Trophy. His last dunk, a 50 (the highest score possible), was a throwback to a dunk done by Vince Carter, a 360 dunk.

In the Three-Point Contest, it included great Three-Point shooters like Klay Thompson and Paul George but ultimately it was Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker who took home the Three-Point crown. He posted the most ever points in a Three-Point Contest round with a score of 28.

The last event of All-Star Weekend was the All-Star Game. This game was between Team Lebron and Team Stephen. Team Lebron, which Lebron James was the captain of, was victorious over Team Stephen, 148-145. Lebron came away with the KIA MVP and posted an impressive stat line of 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Starbucks Blonde espresso review

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

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In early January, Starbucks launched a new espresso. This is called the Blonde espresso. This new espresso is different because it is a mix of Latin American beans and East African beans, which is what creates the drink’s sweet flavor. The vice president of Global Coffee, for Starbucks, stated, “By taking a lighter approach to espresso which created a bright taste with sweet citrus notes and a smooth body.” So, after hearing the hype about the new espresso we gave it a try.

First, we tried an espresso shot; the blonde espresso shot was pretty good. We thought that it was still a little strong, although you could taste the smoothness and a little bit of citrus. It wasn’t as bitter as a regular espresso shot; it was smoother and sweeter. Neither of us is a big coffee drinker though, so we would not get the plain blonde espresso shot again.

Starbucks features a few drinks as well, probably as a recommendation, one of the drinks was the Blonde Vanilla Latte. This was the second drink we tried. It consisted of milk, vanilla syrup, and espresso.

Riley’s review: This drink is my favorite, you can still taste the coffee flavor, but it doesn’t have a burnt bitter taste. It was a little sweet because of the vanilla flavoring but I personally thought it was very good.

Gabe’s review: I am not a fan of coffee, therefore this drink was not one of my favorites. Although, I did prefer this over the plain espresso shot. It was much sweeter, and smooth. I thought you could still taste a bit of a bitter taste, but it isn’t as strong as a normal cup of coffee.

The final drink we tried was an iced caramel macchiato, and we substituted the regular espresso with the Blonde espresso. This drink consisted of milk, espresso, vanilla syrup, and a caramel drizzle over the top.

Riley’s review: The original caramel macchiato is my go-to drink in the summer; I always get it iced and it is very refreshing. Without the blonde espresso, you can’t really taste any bitterness from the espresso. After trying it with the blonde espresso I thought it was way too sweet. I couldn’t taste a coffee flavor at all; it also tasted a bit watered down.

Gabe’s review: I just recently started drinking the caramel macchiato. I think it is pretty good. It is a good drink for someone who does not like a strong coffee flavor. After I tried it with the blonde espresso I also thought that it was too sweet, although, I liked it a little bit more because it wasn’t as bitter. If I got this again I would probably ask for it without caramel, which would eliminate some of the sweetness.

Overall, we liked the Blonde espresso. If you are new to coffee, or don’t like that strong bitter taste, we recommend asking for the Blonde espresso.

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Things to do in the Twin Cities

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

Minnesota winters can be dreadful, and some people like to stay inside away from the cold. This year though, there are many events and places to visit. The Twin Cities is a great place to have fun this winter.

Starting off with Saint Paul, there are many different things to see and do. This winter you can spend your time outdoors ice skating, or indoors watching a movie.

Next, to the Cathedral, there is the Red Bull Crashed Ice Championship. This event takes place January 19-20, 2018. Saint Paul has hosted this event the past six winters. This sport is challenging, which makes it fun to watch. Skaters race through a long ice track with many obstacles. This event is free! Although you can purchase tickets to access better views, the price ranges from $20-$350. You can purchase tickets here: Tickets.

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The Crashed Ice Championship is not the only exciting thing to do outdoors, there is also the Wells Fargo WinterSkate. You can go ice skating next to the Landmark Center. This is a small rink perfect to learn how to skate, or practice skills. Skate rentals are $4 per person, or if you are a Wells Fargo cardholder your skates are free. Open skate hours are Monday-Thursday from 11am to 4:50pm, Friday-Saturday: 11am-10pm, and Sunday: 11am-8pm.

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If you aren’t a fan of the outdoors but love sports; the 2018 NCHC Frozen Faceoff is for you. The Frozen Faceoff is a championship involving the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. This tournament is taking place downtown at the Xcel Energy Center, March 16-17, 2018. Tickets are on sale now, prices are based on seating and are from $50-$379. You can purchase tickets here: Tickets.




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Saint Paul is also a fun place to learn and get away from the cold. Visiting the James J. Hill House, the Twin City Railroad Museum, the Science Museum, and the Minnesota Transportation Museum is a way to have fun indoors. If you don’t like museums, there is the Omnitheatre at the Science Museum.



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You can also have lots of fun indoors playing mini golf. Can Can Wonderland is an indoor course, created by artists. Mini golf is not the only fun thing at this location, there is also an arcade, a restaurant, and two stages. Can Can Wonderland is located in the Hamline Midway neighborhood.





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Saint Paul isn’t the only place to have fun this winter, Minneapolis and other cities also have a few winter activities. If you are brave and don’t mind the cold, you can race or watch the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival. There are many events during the festival, which include: cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice bike riding and many more! This is located in Uptown Minneapolis and taking place February 5-7, 2018.

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If you are a fan of art, this winter you can visit the Midwinter Light. This event is taking place at The Commons, January 27-31 from dusk-10pm; this is open to the public and free. Artist Jennifer Hedberg created art using ice and light.

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Melvin Carter

Melvin Carter profile by Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick.

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Thirty-eight year old Melvin Carter, was elected mayor of St. Paul on November 7, 2017. Carter is the first African-American mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota. He will be succeeding Chris Coleman, who has been mayor since 2006. Melvin Carter has been endorsed by various notable Minnesota politicians like Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Senator Al Franken. Mark Dayton, endorsed Carter, according to Twin Cities Pioneer Press by saying, “As the Director of my Children’s Cabinet, Melvin Carter has been a thoughtful, passionate, and effective leader, who has worked hard to give kids strong starts and better chances of success in school and life,” Dayton is quoted as saying. “As a resident of St. Paul, I know Melvin Carter will bring that same leadership to his work to make St. Paul a city that works for everyone,” the DFL governor said. “I look forward to calling him St. Paul’s next mayor.”

He was a member of the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013. Before he was elected mayor he accomplished many things as a city councilmember. He cofounded the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, he also helped pass the Ban the Box legislation; to eliminate employment discrimination according to Melvin

He currently serves as an Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, where he advocates for all children to have an education regardless of their background, race, gender, or income. According to Jessie Van Berkel, Melvin Carter said, “his goal is to address not just pain, but lingering injustice.”

As the new mayor, he would like to raise wages to ensure the economy is improving for everyone. He also would like to make sure community services are doing more to help families, and he wants to work on community-first policing.

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New November Netflix TV shows and movies

The streaming service, Netflix, is adding many new great and binge-worthy TV shows in the month of November like Marvel’s Punisher and Stranger. They will also be adding new movies to Netflix this month like Men in Black with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and Darkness Rising. We will be giving you brief descriptions of a few of the new fun and exciting TV shows and movies being added in November to Netflix.

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Starting on November 1st, you can enjoy Stranger: Season 1. The preview for the series states: “With the help of a gutsy female detective, a prosecutor who has lost the ability to feel empathy tackles a murder case amid political corruption.” With actors like Seung-woo Cho and Donna Bae, it should be a great series to watch!

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The other most noteworthy series being added, is the much anticipated Marvel TV show Punisher. The show information reads: “A former Marine out to punish the criminals responsible for his family’s murder finds himself ensnared in a military conspiracy.” It stars former The Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal, and should be a very thrilling and exciting Marvel Netflix series!

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Also available November 1st, is Men in Black. The 1997 movie is about a cop who is enlisted to work with a retired government agent. They work as a team to monitor space aliens living on Earth. If you like action and adventure, and comedy you’ll love this movie. It is a little under an hour and a half and rated PG-13. This movie also stars famous actors, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Tommy Lee Jones, and Rip Torn, along with many other great actors.

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If you like scary movies, and horror is your favorite genre, Darkness Rising is for you. The 2017 movie is about a woman and her friends breaking into their childhood home, which is abandoned. At the home, her mother went crazy and almost murdered as a child. Darkness Rising stars Tara Holt, Christian Ganiere, and Bryce Johnson. This terrifying movie received a 3.3 rating on IMDb and will be released on Netflix November 27th; giving you plenty of time to watch other shows and movies.




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NFL national anthem protests

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Before every game, whether it’s for high school or the pros, the national anthem plays and we stand to face the flag. Lately, many of the pro sports players haven’t been standing for the anthem. Players in the NFL have been kneeling during the anthem. “Why?” some might ask. It’s because they are protesting against police brutality and racial injustice.

The protests began on August 26, 2016, when then 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would not stand during the national anthem according to Many people have conflicting views regarding the players’ actions, the president of the United States has given his opinion, as well as the National Football League.

President Trump has tweeted out many things about the protests, some of which say the players should be fired. He believes what they are doing in disrespectful to our country. Trump told Vice President Pence to attend a 49ers game, who then left right after the anthem, after seeing players kneel, instead of stand, says Jeremy Woo from Sports Illustrated.

The NFL has stated that they are not making any plans at the moment to make players stand during the national anthem. They are “trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together” states a spokesperson from the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to all 32 teams saying “Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem.” Mid-October, players in the league are expected to go to New York to discuss plans to solve the issue and create a positive change within the NFL and the country.

Overall, it seems everyone would like a change in some form. Players would like to see a change in society. The president would like to see a change in the NFL. And the NFL would like everyone to be positive.


Hurricane Harvey

By: Riley Lumpkin and Gabe Mattick

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Hurricane Harvey made landfall near the Texas Gulf coast late on August 25. In just 56 hours, Harvey grew from a regenerated tropical depression over the Gulf of Mexico into a Category 4 hurricane. According to, wind gusts reached 132 mph in Port Aransas and 125 mph near Copano Village. With the wind, also came massive amounts of rain; an area near Highlands, Texas reported an astounding 51.88 inches of rain!

Various airports in Hurricane Harvey’s path had to cancel or delay more than 12,000 flights, and according to the, Harvey has left 30,000 people homeless. With the staggering amounts of rain, wind, and flooding that occurred, many have lost homes, and some have even lost their lives. As of September 22, 2017, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, 75 people have lost their lives due to the storm. And as they continue to clean up the areas affected by the hurricane, the death toll could rise.

Amidst the chaos, millions have donated to organizations like the Red Cross to help the victims of this terrible storm.

Many people are donating to help the people in Houston, and one significant person is J.J. Watt. His fundraiser raised more than $37 million. J.J. Watt is not the only one donating, the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army have each donated $300,000.

With the excessive damage to over 200,000 homes, there is a lot of debris. According to CBS News, there is an estimated 8 cubic yards of debris, consisting of furniture, clothes, toys, drywall and other items, inside of the damaged houses. Cleaning up the streets of Houston will take months, especially since resources will be divided to help with the damages from hurricane Irma. The debris will go into the landfills. San Antonio and Houston help each other after disasters, and so some of the debris will go there.

Everyone is volunteering and helping out, even though Federal Emergency Management will cover about 90 percent of the costs. Houston is slowly but surely recovering from the traumatic hurricane.

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