Thinking Out Loud – Sixteen Candles, Americans Hate Jazz and More

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After some heavy stuff recently, a nice casual romp sounded like a fun idea. A few quick things that are not related to anything particularly serious. So let’s jump into it!

1. Awesome Wife is Awesome

This week in our house has been largely dominated by Advanced Placement and antibiotics! Advanced Placement courses with proficiency tests at the end have been around for a long time (I took them ages ago) and promise to dress up your college applications and possibly earn you college credit (my AP tests meant not needing to take any humanity courses at all!). Both of my boys had tests this week – Danny had American History yesterday and Chris has World History today. These are challenging, multi-hour tests that do not replace the final exam for the course (or even the Regents exam in New York). So final study and prep has loomed over the house for the past few weeks.

At the same time Danny has been fighting a cold, had one sick day and ended up in the ‘walk-in care’ doctor’s office on Tuesday with a sinus infection – meaning he took a 5 hour AP test 24-hours into anti-biotics! Yay, fun!

Then yesterday morning we really were worried about our older terrier Rosie – she is 10, has some heart issues and we really feel she is headed towards congestive heart failure. But two days ago she started ‘hacking’ and wheezing and had some rough breathing, and it was even worse yesterday morning – so we got an early vet appointment. Fortunately it turned out she had a small infection, and her trachea was irritated and inflamed, and her lungs were clear and heart sounded good! Whew – just antibiotics and a cough suppressant. Today she is already clearly starting to feel better!

After I headed to work yesterday Lisa got in her workout – after I gave the dogs breakfast Rosie normally lays down in bed with Lisa while I go for my run. But she sounded so bad that Lisa was freaking out (her words) and I abandoned my run so we could sit together. It was a long day, and after dinner Lisa was exhausted and just wanted to relax, do her nails and get ready for a work trip today and watch a bad Lifetime movie. She encouraged me to head out for a run, knowing that I am always better with a run and had missed my morning run, filling the space with loads of stress instead! It was awesome … and I really appreciated it! The picture at top is from after my shower …

It reminded me of the post on SuzLyfe about her relationship with her husband and the challenges and how sometimes the best thing to do is to push your spouse to do what is right for them even if they won’t ask for it themselves.

2. Sixteen Candles Turns 30

The fact that I not only saw this in theaters but also paid my own way and drove there along with friends tells me something – I’m old! Haha …

Sixteen Candles is a classic 80’s John Hughes film, with Molly Ringwald as the lead character whose birthday is forgotten in the frenzy surrounding her sister’s wedding. Anthony Michael Hall is perfect as ‘The Geek’, and even John Cusack has a minor role. This is one of those movies I have always loved and seen a million times, and falls in with my favorites of the era – Real Genius, Better Off Dead, Revenge of the Nerds, War Games, etc – as a great ‘must watch’ movie loaded with memorable quotes and moments.

Here is a classic scene with Gedde Watanabe as Long Duk Dong:

Have you ever seen Sixteen Candles? It is one of those that seems to come and go from Amazon Prime and Netflix (rental-only on Amazon now, DVD-only on Netflix).

3. Acclimating to Heat & Humidity

The other day Sara posted on Instagram talking about not being used to the heat, and I snarkily chided her that she wasn’t allowed to complain after the winter we just had! But the reality is that there IS an acclimation period when the temperature shifts very quickly – which is exactly what we’ve seen!

Abby posted a link to an Active.com article looking at what happens as you get used to the heat.

Some of the changes that occur during heat acclimatization include:

– Decreased heart rate, skin and body temperature for a given exercise level
– Blood plasma volume increases, keeping core temperature lower
– Rating of perceived exertion decreases
– Electrolyte concentration in sweat decreases
– Sweat rate increases, allowing more effective cooling
– Renal (kidney) electrolyte concentration decreases, preserving electrolyte levels
– Cutaneous (skin) blood flow improves
– Blood pressure stability improves
– Circulation of blood to muscles improves
– The threshold for sweating decreases and evaporative cooling begins earlier in exercise
– Less reliance on carbohydrate catabolism during exercise

How do YOU deal with it when the temperature suddenly jumps?

4. Why American’s Hate Jazz

I have shared my love for jazz here before – and in particular my love to so-called ‘avant garde’ jazz, stuff that unlike the great Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’ (which is both great art and highly accessible) will not simply sit in the background. In college one of the guys in my fraternity drew a picture of a saxophone being tortured which was hilarious. It is my type of music, not for everyone … and I am decades past worrying if anyone else likes it, or debating the merits of the art.

But the fact that jazz accounts for about 3% of total sales means that this great American art form is being practiced by people who need to be willing to trade off money for art. An article over at Dyske.com delves into why Americans (in specific) dislike jazz and improvised instrumental music, with a number of things that are likely to tick some people off … which doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Here is one:

To be able to enjoy instrumental music, you must be able to appreciate abstract art, and that requires a certain amount of effort. Just mindlessly drinking wine, for instance, would not make you a wine connoisseur. Mindlessly looking at colors (which we all do every day) would not make you a color expert either. Great art demands much more from the audience than the popular art does.

He goes on to discuss how the limited musical scope of most popular music of the last 50 years has slowly eroded the ability of an audience to frame an emotional context around non-lyric-based music. Here is one thing he says:

The same happens to instrumental music. If there are no lyrics, that is, if there is nothing for the minds to interpret, projecting of any emotional values becomes rather difficult. As soon as the lyrics speak of love, sex, racism, evil corporations, loneliness, cops, etc., all sorts of emotions swell up. Jazz to most people is like a color on a wall; unless you hung something on it, they don’t even notice it.

I have all sorts of music on my iTunes collection, from jazz to classical to pop and rock and death metal to rap and hip-hop and funk and R&B and folk and electronic and on and on. And I definitely notice that particularly current pop modern hip-hop has shrunk the musical vocabulary to a fairly extreme extent. Generally you can think of it this way – in the past you could play multiple parts of a song (rhythm, two or more harmony patrs, melody) on a piano and have it recognized. Now rhythms are very common and very often replicated from song to song, same for harmonies – and often hip-hop songs are nearly devoid of a core harmonic structure, and that leaves the melody (or key guitar riff in a song like the Stones’ Satisfaction).

The issue isn’t about something being ‘better’, but rather about the potential musical implications of an entire culture eschewing complexity and depth of musical structures. Does it matter? Who knows … all I know is I like what I like, and respect that everyone has their own tastes. So check out the article, or dismiss it as yet more alarmist elitism. 🙂

5. Random Cool Videos

By now many people have seen the ‘cat saves kid’ video, but I’ll share it because it is cool. Basically something is wrong with this dog who works around a minivan and leaps and attacks and drags a kid off his tricycle, only to have the most amazing ninja cat came to the rescue! Check it out:

Another fun one is more of a commercial for the GoPro action camera, but it is so sweet I really don’t care!

Any cool videos
6. More ‘Make You Feel Old’ Stuff

My older son’s girlfriend is a high school senior, headed to Cornell in the fall as part of the college class of 2018. My boys are high school class of 2015 and 2016, and every year there are a number of ‘stuff kids entering high school will never know’ articles.

Buzzfeed looked at “58 Extremely Disappointing Facts About The Class Of 2018”. As always, most of the references are to either outdated technology or forgotten pop culture things that mean something to their parents (or the 20-somethings running Buzzfeed … most of the stuff wouldn’t mean anything to the parents of the class of 2018 either). Anyway, here aer a couple of my favorites:

“Roll down your window” has no meaning.
34. Neither does “don’t touch that dial.”

7. The ‘Outlet Mall’ Ripoff

I think most of us who have shopped at outlet stores for more than a couple decades have seen the changes from when they were messy side-rooms off of a main location where a company could sell off ‘second quality’ or unsold merchandise at a huge discount that would otherwise end up as trash.

The changes I see is the use of ‘outlet malls’ as a secondary retail space – you go to the stores, see many full-price items, some clearance, and some things that SAY they are mark-downs but don’t seem like a great deal.

Over at BuzzFeed they look at the trend of outlets using ‘look-alikes’ – in other words, knock-offs – of their own stuff that they sell at a seemingly low price with a high MSRP that would reflect the first quality goods when originally made.

Here is a quote:

J.Crew, like many other retailers, notes in filings that it sells “a specific line of merchandise” through J.Crew Factory that’s “based on (full-price) products sold in previous seasons” — in other words, it’s kind of a knockoff of itself.

Have you noticed this trend? Do you shop outlets, and if so how do you discern a good deal?

Thinking-Out-Loud

Since I’ve been rambling, I will link up with Amanda for a ‘Thinking Out Loud’!

Bonus #1: Infographics That Promote Reading!

I love reading – though not to the extent of what Laura was tackling earlier this week – and think that things that promote reading are great. Ebookfriendly rounded up seven infographics that promote reading. Here is one:

Reading-is-the-road-to-success-infographic

Bonus #2: More Jazz for You to Hate!

Albert Ayler – Spiritual Unity (no live recording available, sadly)

Derek Bailey – a fave of mine, abandons precepts of rhythm and tonality.

Anthony Braxton – ‘structured freedom’, based on logical and mathmatical concepts.

Peter Brotzman – raw power and emotion, totally visceral stuff.

Sam Newsome – more solo stuff, love all of his recent albums.

Mary Halvorson – my favorite young guitarist, really enjoy her concepts

So what is wandering through YOUR mind today?

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12 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud – Sixteen Candles, Americans Hate Jazz and More

  1. I love the reading infographic! We read every day and Betty gets to pick out new books all the time. It’s so cute…some of her favorites we’ve read so many times that she can recite them along with me now! I wish I had more time to read and I hope that she will enjoy it as much as I do as she grows up.

    I hope everyone is feeling better in your house! That clip from Sixteen Candles cracks me up. I love John Hughes movies and that is one of my faves. I can’t believe it’s 30 years old.

    • Fortunately today everyone seems to be getting better and no one else is getting sick, which is great.

      I also love the reading stuff – I remember when our boys were little and reading aloud, it was so great sitting together reading. We have some fun pictures. My favorite story is the Harry Potter books – I read them aloud with all of the voices when they were young, and by the time the last book came out they could read themselves (and even DID read all the previous books the week before), they still wanted me to read the final book aloud. It was a great progression across a decade – something to look forward to with Betty. 🙂

  2. Interesting facts about acclimating to the summer weather! I definitely have a hard time with it, and I’m not sure I ever totally acclimate, the winter is more my thing. I deal with it by drinking a ton of water and running as early as possible. If anyone has any other tips I’d be happy to hear them!

  3. I loved Sixteen Candles, especially the Jake Ryan character!

    My oldest is getting ready to take her first AP exam..and it is World History also. Not sure if the preparation has been “looming” in our house as much as it should. I guess we’ll find out.

    I’d say the outlet mall near us is more of a “secondary” retail space more than a place to find good deals. We have bought some J.Crew shorts at the outlet store that seem pretty close to what is sold in the regular stores, at a lower price.

    Glad your dog is feeling better.

    • The characters in some of those movies are actually pretty layered and complex for ‘teen summer movies’.

      Hope your oldest does well – just got the text from my younger son that he is done … normally we’d let him leave for the day, but he has a project in video class due today that needs polishing.

      I had never realized that companies were actually outsourcing lower-cost goods to seek at outlet stores, but it makes sense when you think about it.

  4. I only have a second, so I’ll be quick, but first, thanks so much for the mention! The end of the year is tough on EVERYONE. Good luck to your family! Next, I got womped in the head with my lack of acclimation by the fact that the ac in our gym was broken at the beginning of the week and there was no option to go outside because of the rain. Yeah. I’m an ATL girl, I thrive in heat, and I just about died. And Lastly, great essay on popular vs artist art. I examined the rise of industrial art and SoHo in my graduate thesis–the reason that the artists became so successful was due to their ability to popularize something that otherwise would have just passed by unnoticed!

  5. April to June are tough running months here as we start to get used to the heat. By August, it’s common for our overnight low to be in the 80s, so it would be tough to start running then, but for people who run year round, we’ve had months to get ready for the 80s, so it’s not actually all that awful. But right now, it’s just about adjusting to feeling like you’re running with a huge, fluffly, heavy and oppressive duvet or blanket or wet dog on top of and all around you. Ah, Texas…

    • I was talking to a friend who was just in Disney and had to go through the insta-adjust, and it is a real shock to your system … but all I know is in the past in mid-winter when I have gone on trips to warm places I have adjusted just fine 🙂

  6. What a great reading infographic! We are very big into reading in our house as we know it helps with longtime learning. We read to Ashton every single day and he often picks reading over other activities and jumps in when we read his favorite books and “reads” the words with us. I truly hope he always keeps a love of reading with him as he gets older.

    Good luck to your sons on their finals and AP exams, I remember those days all too well and it’s a lot of pressure!!

    • Family reads are one of the best things ever … even now it is just great on a cool morning or evening to have all four of us on various parts of the couches in the living room or family room all reading – no TV, no music, just quiet peaceful reading and being together.

      I hope your son continues his love of reading – my boys have, and I’m sure with how you make it so special your son will too!

      As for my boys … I think they will be happy when today is done 🙂

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