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The season opener for Arizona Opera, Hercules vs. Vampires, demonstrates just how fine the line between highbrow and lowbrow can be. The mythological Greek hero Hercules ventures into the underworld to fetch a cure for a princess who, thanks to an evil king, has lost her memory. Sure... OK.

There’s nothing about this story that wouldn’t have been taken seriously by generations of grand opera composers. Indeed, it’s arguably a more straightforward narrative than that of many operas.

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Last night's highly anticipated U2 concert at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale ushered in the official start of fall in the Valley. The roof, gleefully, was open, framing a few stars and washing the packed crowd with blessed late-September breezes. Bono and the band delighted, playing hits spanning their 41-year career – from “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to “Beautiful Day,” along with every song from the beloved Joshua Tree album.

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As I took a bite of Chef Jeff Smedstad’s "pay de queso" (Mexican cheesecake), my mind took me back to my childhood’s kitchen. I pictured my mom baking pays for the holidays and a younger me eager to eat.

“This is the real deal,” I told Smedstad. The chef and owner of the reknowned Elote Cafe in Sedona says he was influenced by a trip to Veracruz where he learned about the craft of homemade Mexican cheesecake – sort of a lighter, less sweet, less dense version of our beloved New York cheesecake. He put a spin on the traditional Mexican dessert with goat cheese from Fossil Creek Goat Farm in Strawberry, Arizona, near Payson. The result is absolutely exquisite.

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