(Re)birth of the cool

So Miles Davis had an album titled “Birth of the Cool” back in 1949. A great album indeed, it’s definitely one of the great Jazz efforts from history. Now it’s Jazz, so there’s no particular storyline or lyrical set per se, but the title has always stuck with me and resonated with me in its seemingly defining of the advent of “cool”. Cool is a dynamic term, always changing with economics, politics, fashion, sport, and religion. We all know the fad of the week, the flash in the pan, the trend of the moment… those movements or entities that are “cool” one moment only to fade to black the next. It’s Disco, it’s brightly colored jam shorts, it’s socialism, it’s Snow (of Informer fame), it’s trucker hats, it’s snap bracelets, and even the Atkins diet. Yeah, theres more fads of cool that I could mention but I believe those few illustrate my point. So, cool is fleeting right… well, kind of!
Cool can be a monolithic and lasting experience. Cool can be as solid as stone, cool can be unending. It’s those nostalgic things and ideas that never seem to lose their cool… no pun intended, lol. Some examples of permanent cool could be computers, capitalism, religion in general, materialism, and food. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all cool things are good things however, as materialism isn’t always associated with a lasting and fulfilling lifestyle, but they are seemingly permanent in our present culture. Cool is a thing that has duel meaning, as I’ve stumbled through above….

So, where am I going with all of this? Well, to get to the point…. as a secret Santa gift this year, Tiff got me a deck of “Uno” cards and “Barrel of Monkeys”. Yes, this secret Santa was intended to be a joke-type gift… but I semi-disagree with that notion. Ya see, the fact that one can still purchase “Barrel of Monkeys” is amazing to me. It’s an established children’s toy, a toy we’ve all played with, a toy all our parents certainly played with as kids. It’s reaffirming and encouraging to know that the children of today still have the ability to play and learn the way generations ago were able to. Great to know I can still play uno with actual cards and with actual people, even though I know I can play it on the computer or over xbox live. It’s nice, in todays hi-tech world of video games, iPods, computers, and television, that there’s still a market for low-tech toys. This is where the idea of capitalism is seen as a permanent fixture in our world… it’s “cool” will never wear off. If not economically viable, those barrels full of primates would merely solicit a laugh and a stare at the Smithsonian.

So Tiff, you may have succeeded in following the rules of getting a joke style gift for that secret Santa… it received a laugh for sure… but I feel comforted!! Thank you, you’ve restored my faith in entertainment… that all is not lost on today’s youth… or us for that matter!!

Just the other day, Emily and I went to dinner at Chandlers Restaurant at the Yankee Candle flagship store. We were invited there by her cousins as a Christmas gift to us. What a nice thought!

Well, this was no ordinary dinner…. we were to be entertained as well on this evening. It was a murder mystery dinner theater! What the heck is that you ask!? Well, up until that night I had no clue either… check this link for more info!

Basically, you sign up for a mystery dinner for a certain night, and upon arriving you are seated and offered drinks as any other meal. After drinks are served the “in costume” actors of the murder mystery appear. This is to kind of introduce themselves and their characters to the dinner guests. They interact a little bit with the guests, and generally just break the ice for the evening.

We were then offered a few different choices for soup and dinner, and then offered another round of drinks. Upon this offer, we were told that for the next 45 minutes or so we would be entertained by the “play” and dinner would be served afterwards. Our theater presentation was entitled “You Can’t Toy With Death”. It basically involved nitwit toys on the Island of Nitwit Toys. They were each vying for the honor to be the toy selected to go into Santa’s bag for Christmas. One of them is murdered, presumably because the others want a chance to be the selected toy…..

I won’t go into too much detail about the plot of the play or the premise of the story. I will say this however- it was extremely enjoyable. Although a very long evening, extending upwards of 3.5 hours, it was pretty interesting and cool to have an experience like that. There’s coffee and dessert while the show wraps up… you are given a sort of “program” for the event, which describes the setting and the characters… also leaving space for your guess as to who killed the dead person. You are asked to give reasons and clues as to why you think so, and at the end of the evening they give awards for correct answers as well as for utterly incorrect or outlandish answers. I’ll say this, for anyone who likes “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy” for its adult rated humor, you’d enjoy these shows. They are filled to the brim with educated sarcasm and whit, mature themes, and obtuse jokes. It’s cool, because there are many different levels to enjoy and be entertained by the show.

Overall, it was a really nice experience! Great to have a nice night with friends and family, and it was just so different from most things that we get to do that I’d love to do it again. If you’ve never been to Chandlers, it’s worth a visit. Heck, if you’ve never been to the Yankee Candle mother store, you gotta get there in a hurry too!!

The production was put on by The Comical Mystery Tour. The cast were all local to the area, so it had a small town charm to it. It wasn’t overly theatrical or pretentious either. Go check them out and see some media and pics for yourself.

AM Son


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