Sting performs at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Sting at the Chelsea

My recap of Sting’s New Year’s Eve performance at The Chelsea inside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is up now at Vegas Seven.

In a nutshell, this was the New Year’s Eve show we needed, and New Year’s Eve is what the Cosmopolitan does best. I can’t imagine another hotel topping the talent lineup the property has hosted since its opening: Jay-Z and Coldplay, Steve Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Killers, Bruno Mars, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Enjoy the recap, setlist, and great pics by Erik Kabik.

The December 29, 2016 issue of Vegas Seven magazine
The Dec. 29 issue of Vegas Seven magazine.

I’ve spent the last two New Year’s Eve’s in… not Las Vegas. That’s really no way to spend the holiday. As much as I love my home state (NY) I’d argue Las Vegas is a better New Year’s experience. There’s something for every taste, and you can dial it up to a 10, or keep it around a 4, if that’s the way you like it.

For the New Year’s Eve issue of Vegas Seven magazine, I picked out seven ways to ring in 2017 off the Las Vegas Strip. There’s plenty to choose from — dinner specials, concerts, all-you-can-drink experiences, and even fireworks just outside of the city.

Online, you can get a look inside LAX Nightclub at Luxor as it readies for New Year’s Eve. The club had a lot of success this year with its “Throwback Thursday” headliners, and stuck to that theme when looking for its Dec. 31st headliners.

I also spent a few minutes chatting with Ron Ischer, Entertainment Operations Maintenance Manager at the Fremont Street Experience. It falls on Ischer’s shoulders to keep the 12.5 million lights of the Fremont canopy shining bright 365 days a year. But, as you can read, New Year’s Eve presents its own set of challenges.

The new issue of Vegas Seven is online and on newsstands now.

Fremont Street New Year's Eve Preview in Vegas Seven Magazine
“The Brightest Bulb on Fremont Street”

This week’s issue of Vegas Seven magazine features my interview with John Dolmayan, owner of just-opened Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas and drummer for System of a Down.

We chatted over the phone before I met him in person at his store, and he showed me around the “showroom” and warehouse, where there are boxes of comics waiting to be graded and massive collectibles and statues that aren’t yet on display. Dolmayan also let me into the high-end salon, where you can browse some of the most expensive and rarest comics ever printed. You can only get into the salon with an escort, and those books are locked up in safes when the store is closed.

Dolmayan and I talked about his education in the comic book industry, how he started making money at small baseball card conventions while building his collection, and how he took a pay cut to join System of a Down.

You can read the article here.

Torpedo Comics owner John Dolmayan talks about his education in the comic book industry with Vegas Seven magazine
John Dolmayan recently opened Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas (photo courtesy: Vegas Seven)

Vegas Seven magazine list of the best toy stores in Las Vegas
Vegas Seven’s list of Las Vegas toy stores worthy of your money.

The current issue of Vegas Seven magazine features a story I wrote about the best places to spend your toy dollars in Las Vegas. It was a tough assignment, my editor asked me to visit local toy stores and… that’s all I heard. There may have been other words.

In the end, I put together a list of seven stores worthy of your toy dollars this holiday shopping season. The list includes a few “must have” items for your collection, if the stores are willing to part with them.

Knights in Las Vegas

My second Vegas Seven story — which will be featured in the coming week’s issue — is a recap of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team name and logo announcement. Some technical issues plagued the video presentation, but that didn’t phase the thousands of fans who turned out to greet the city’s first professional sports franchise.

As someone who has covered news in Las Vegas for so long, and written a fair share of “stadium proposal” and “relocation speculation” articles, I’m blown away by how quickly the Vegas Golden Knights and their home at T-Mobile Arena came together.

Here’s a real treat for Now Playing Podcast listeners. Thanks to the good folks at La-La Land Records, you’re getting a review of the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 30th anniversary soundtrack. It’s the first official release the soundtrack has ever received, which surprised me completely. I knew I had a lot of the tracks (“Twist and Shout,” “Oh Yeah”) on mixtapes and mp3’s, but never realized there was never a complete album from the film.

Now Playing Podcast hosts Arnie, Marjorie, and Justin got to preview the soundtrack, which you can hear in a special Now Playing episode. The show also features an interview with the producers who spent years putting the album together, and a performance by the group Blue Room. Listen to the show, and find out when you can win yourself a copy of the soundtrack.

Now Playing Podcast talks to the producers of the Ferris Bueller's Day Off soundtrack.
The insert track listing for the 30th anniversary “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” soundtrack.

Only on rare occasions will the hosts of Now Playing Podcast reach back into the black-and-white era to review a Hollywood classic. It happened once with The Thing From Another World, and fans of the podcast’s 2013 Die Hard retrospective will remember the review of Frank Sinatra’s The Detective.

This month, Now Playing is treating supporters to a trilogy of classic sci-fi films, 1958’s The Fly and its two sequels, Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly. The series serves as a precursor to a review of 1986’s David Cronenberg remake, a film that’s likely more familiar to modern audiences and Now Playing’s core listening audience.

Like 1982’s The Thing (a remake of The Thing From Another World), Cronenberg’s film is considered by many to be a vast improvement on its original, most notably in the special effects department. Those films – and the remake of The Blob 30 years after the first – were a reflection of 1980s culture and societal fears as the 1950s versions were a reflection of the Red Scare and the Atomic Age.

In a Q&A at the Venganza Media Gazette, I spoke to Now Playing Podcast hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob about remaking 50s sci-fi in the 80s. Read the discussion, and join us for The Fly retrospective, which kicks off Now Playing’s 2016 Fall Donation Drive.

Now Playing Podcast The Fly Retrospective
The Now Playing Podcast 2016 Fall Donation Drive begins with “The Fly” retrospective.

Online learning creates a level playing field for all students

One thing I came to appreciate during my time at Ashford University was the level playing field provided to every student. No one is at a disadvantage within the online classroom.

This week the University’s Forward Thinking blog published an article I wrote about the resources that make online learning more accessible to students. These are especially helpful for adult learners, many of whom are parents attending class in the hours between putting the kids to bed and settling down for whatever sleep they can get before a new workday.

For me, that was usually about two hours per night, and about 4-5 hours on Saturdays. I tried to keep Sundays clear of school, save for an hour or so of reading. The schedule won’t be the same for everyone, and whatever time you put in can be shortened considerably if you’re maximizing the resources mentioned in that article.

Getting back to the point about a level playing field, the article references the American Psychological Association (APA) writing format as the standard for all Ashford University students. Every university is different, so this is something you’ll want to research if you’re thinking about going back to school.

Here are some links to get you started:

APA Essay Checklist for Students: From the University Writing Center, this explains the in-text citations and formatting guidelines of APA style. You’ll also find links to sample APA-formatted pages, and a PDF you can use as a go-to reference.

APA vs. MLA: The latter is another common academic writing style, and this Forward Thinking article explains the differences (and similarities) between the two. The official American Psychological Association website will link you to more writing style basics, explain the origin of APA style, and answer any remaining questions you might have.

Learning APA may take a bit of time, but so does anything worth doing. At the end of the day you’ll have mastered a new writing style while also finishing school, so you’re not only on a level playing field with fellow students, but you could be at a higher level professionally.