Desert Companion

Extra credit: More questions - more answers!

I think this old comic book of mine is worth a million dollars! Where can I get it appraised?
Before you go rummaging through your attic for X-Men #1, take a deep breath and consider getting your four-color treasures signed and graded to ensure their value. (Grading involves evaluating the condition of and sealing the book in a protective cover.) This comic book geek must recommend Desert Wind Comics, which has been helping customers preserve and have their assets signed by comics creators for more than a decade. Forget stocks, bonds-all worthless. More people than ever are now investing in legitimate artworks. And nothing screams "art" louder than Wolverine's first appearance (The Incredible Hulk #181) signed by artist Herb Trimpe. desertwindcomics.com, 592-4792
- Jarret Keene

Where can I park downtown without feeding those damn parking meters or shelling out for paid parking?
Ever since they started placing the stink-eye sentinels at the mouth of the El Cortez garage entrance at irregular intervals, I've had to tweak my cheapskate parking habits. Main Street Station is usually a sure bet - plus you get a bonus buffet of voyeurism on the stroll beneath the Fremont Street Experience canopy. After hours, the metered spaces fill up quickly, but the stretch of Carson Ave. east of 7th Street is usually fair game.

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- Andrew Kiraly

Okay, Mr. Restaurant Critic. Tell us once and for all: What's your favorite restaurant?
I am asked this question every day, sometimes nonstop. As soon as I disclose I'm a food writer, it's on, and I feel bad about rolling my eyes every time, but I can't help it. No correct answer lives longer than the time it takes to speak it, because there are simply too many great places to eat in Las Vegas. That's why I do this! This second, I have to go with Sage at Aria.

But in two days, I'm going to dinner at Beijing Noodle No. 9 in Caesars, so that might take the prize.
- Brock Radke

Am I a wuss for taking my cell phone on a hike?
Wuss? No. Jerk? Maybe. You shouldn't use your phone for chatting with grandma along the trail, but used properly, a cell phone can be your best piece of safety equipment. Metro's Search and Rescue team receives calls from lost and injured hikers daily. Without enough signal to call, often you can still text. Even when you don't have a signal, your phone can be used as a flashlight, signal mirror, and more. Just be sure to turn it off when you're not using it. Searching for signal will drain your battery fast. And is your #roughingit Tweet really that important?
- Alan Gegax, Las Vegas Hiking & Outdoors Meetup Group

I love hummingbirds! I have some occasionally in my yard, but how can I attract more?
Plant long-blooming plants they love. Two of their favorites, Red Yucca and Autumn Sage, are easy to grow here with long blooming seasons. Red Yucca is a quite common and tough desert plant with flowers that bear hundreds of blossoms that open in slow sequence from spring to late summer. In front of a low window, the flowers rise up without blocking the view and draw hummers right to the window to feast. Autumn Sage's dozens to hundreds of blossoms attract hummers from spring through late fall, and can bloom for 9 or even 10 months.
- Norm Schilling, Schilling Horticulture Group

I only have time for outdoorsy stuff on the weekends, but I want to avoid the crowds. Suggestions?
If a destination is scenic and convenient, you can bet it's going to be crowded. To lose the crowds but keep the scenery, you have to lose a little convenience. Luckily, Las Vegas is surrounded by multiple designated Wilderness Areas where visitation is limited, including Muddy Mountains, Arrow Canyon, La Madre Mountain, and many others. It might take you an extra half-hour to get out there, but the payoffs are great, and you can find some things you'll never find in Las Vegas: peace and quiet.
- Alan Gegax

What's one piece of Vegas-specific driving advice I probably haven't heard before?
Las Vegas drivers punch the accelerator when a yellow caution light is activated. Longtime Las Vegas residents understand it is foolish to take off when their light turns green, knowing without a doubt one or two vehicles will run the red light and barrel through the intersection. My advice: Pause.
- Adrienne Packer, traffic columnist for the Review-Journal

Is it true that Sonny Liston is buried in Las Vegas?
Charles "Sonny" Liston's final resting place is the former Paradise Memorial Gardens (now Davis Memorial Park) at 6200 S. Eastern Ave., beneath a McCarran International Airport flight path. The troubled Liston (1932-1970), it seems, cannot find peace even in death. The plaque marking his grave bears the simple epitaph, "A Man." Although Liston's body was discovered by wife Geraldine on Jan. 5, 1971, a police investigation estimated his demise to have occurred on Dec. 30, 1970, based on evidence found at the scene. Following an inconclusive autopsy, the actual cause of Liston's death remains the subject of controversy and speculation.
- David McKee

I want a crash course in Las Vegas history. What are the top books I should read?
For general history, Geoff Schumacher's "Sun, Sin, and Suburbia: An Essential History of Modern Las Vegas" is a fine read. A more scholarly account? Eugene Moehring's "Resort City in the Sunbelt" is unmatched. John L. Smith, "Sharks in the Desert," combines biography with casino histories, so you'll understand the mob, corporations and everything in between. "The Peoples of Las Vegas: One City, Many Faces," edited by Jerry L. Simich and Thomas C. Wright, is a collection of essays on ethnic groups, and does a lot to explain what a rich pastiche Las Vegas really is. The website www.1st100.com is a way to read online what wound up in "The First 100," the Review-Journal's three-part series for the millennium on 100 shapers of Las Vegas, edited by A.D. Hopkins and the late K.J. Evans.
- Michael Green

Remember old-school arcades? I miss arcades. Not Chuck E. Cheese, But arcades.
Sometimes the thought of immersing one's family into a Chuck E. Cheese for an afternoon is too daunting. Thank God, then, for smaller, family-owned Gemini Arcade Palace (4180 S. Sandhill Road #B-4, gemini-arcade-palace.com, 586-3686), which specializes in games like Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, DrumMania V6 Blazing, and DJ Max Technika 2. Learning to develop kids' coordination while entertaining them seems to be the goal here, and there's even air hockey, a pool table and free foosball for a blink- and bleep-free change of pace.
-Jarret Keene

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