Swell samiches

The new “samich” spot for the cool and popular people (OK, I can go there, too) is without a doubt Bustolini’s Delicatessen, at the corner of Eighth and Broadway. Owners John and Dara McKinley did a beautiful job of re-doing the historic building, but even more impressive is the array of authentic Italian meats, cheeses, olives, salads, gourmet foods and more. (News & Review Arts Coordinator Chris Baldwin can’t stop raving about the chocolate cheesecake. Seriously, he’s told me about it, like, five times.) And—get this—the McKinleys aren’t even Italian.

Bustolini’s has been doing a brisk business since it opened last month, and the McKinleys are finally hiring some extra help. They are taking their own quirky approach to interviews, asking questions like “Who shot JFK?”

McKinley said the venture into deli ownership has been fun but challenging. “The hardest part is I’m always potentially going to slice my finger off,” he said, guiding a hunk of cheese against gleaming metal. “The slicer is your friend, but you have to respect it.”

Mark your calendars

The Butte County Fair looks like it’s going to be another winner this year. Folks are entering contests, readying animals, practicing roping techniques for the rodeo and otherwise preparing for a week of agricultural and family fun that will take place at the fairgrounds in Gridley from Aug. 22 through 26. The theme is “Preserve the Tradition.”

My editor, Tom Gascoyne, tried to take his son to the fair last weekend. At first, he was excited when he saw all the free parking spaces. Then, he realized he was living in a time warp and had jumped the gun. It was like that “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” vignette on Saturday Night Live where the dad tells his little boy they’re going to Disneyland and then drives to a vacant lot. “Oh, I’m sorry. Disneyland must have burned down,” the dad says. Tom wouldn’t do that. He’s just a bit of a goofball sometimes.

Win a vacation—if you can afford it

So my mom calls and leaves this message about how she got a message about some “dream vacation” she had won and how I need to help her collect on this fabulous prize, unless it’s a big scam, in which case I should give them what for.

Turns out it’s these characters at and their “Digital Dreamstakes.” One of those things where you go to a timeshare condo place—in this case Redwolf Resort in Carmichael—and listen to their 90-minute pitch while you’re there. You also get a Digital Camera (capitalized) for $12.95 for shipping and handling, which begs the question: Why can’t you just pick up your Digital Camera while you’re at your Dream Vacation?

But I was getting ahead of ourselves. Not only do you have to pony up a check register or credit card, but to win this Dream Vacation you must have an annual income of at least $40,000. That leaves my mom out cold. So I asked the guy at Digital Dreamstakes why they even called in the first place if they were just teasing. He said that’s the way it is, and “They don’t just give these things to just anybody.”

Sorry, Mom.