A Scaredy-Cat’s Investigation Into Why People Enjoy Fear

When you go to a haunted house, you’re grappling with a conflict, Dr. Zald said: The experience could either be fun or terrifying, and how you weigh that balance could depend in part on dopamine levels. “Having a greater amount of dopamine pushes someone to pursue the goal of excitement,” he said, “whereas someone who basically has less dopamine is more likely to hold back and say, ‘No, this isn’t worth it to me.’”

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Socially, we get cues about how to respond to fear from those around us, said Margee Kerr, a sociologist and author of the book “Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear.” Early on, that’s taking notes from our parents about how to deal with distress. Later, experiencing stressful situations with others can cultivate social bonds.

Part of that has to do with emotional contagion, or a communal response to shared experiences, Dr. Kerr said. If your friend is captivated by the horror movie you are watching together, you process that by recreating the same feeling in your own mind, and that can bring you closer together. People also tend to hold onto memories of fear more intensely, she said, so if you have positive associations with a scary situation, like going to a haunted house, you’ll likely want to do it again.

Fear-seeking can also be a way of testing oneself. Josh Randall and Kristjan Thor, creators of Blackout, a haunted house experience that consistently tops rankings of “Most Extreme Haunted Houses,” said they see many people coming to their events with a goal of self-fortification. “It’s almost like a dare to themselves,” Mr. Thor said. “People want to be able to conquer something.”

For many, being scared is a jolting escape from daily life. When immersed in a scary situation, you can suspend your disbelief and live in the moment — and that loss of control can feel really good. This is key for Blackout, Mr. Randall said: “For a finite period of time, that audience member can turn off the real world, and live in a fantasy world.”

After talking with the experts, I was starting to see why some friends love getting spooked. But why do I hate being scared so much?

It could be because I was never exposed to horror movies or haunted houses growing up, so by the time I did experience these things, I was ill-prepared. It could be that the regions in my brain involved in coding fear and anxiety are more sensitive. Most likely, it is a mix of many different factors. Regardless of the reason though, “it’s perfectly O.K. not to like scary things,” Dr. Kerr said.

For people who cannot fathom sitting out a haunted house, it’s important not to coerce your more cautious friends into doing something they do not want to, Dr. Kerr said. “That can compound the fear, and make it even worse.” So, for any friends who were thinking of inviting me to the haunted house this weekend, save your breath — I have a doctor’s note.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/science/why-do-people-liked-being-scared.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

5 Bargain Destinations for Fall Travel

Fall isn’t just about pretty leaves for travelers. Those willing to venture overseas could end up with some major savings, according to Hipmunk, the website and app that studies itineraries and other data to reveal affordable travel deals.

Hipmunk recently looked at a year’s worth of flight bookings to determine some of the best off-season bargain destinations for the fall season. It analyzed roundtrip flights departing from the United States to international cities between Oct 1. of last year through Sept. 30 of this year. The savings percentage is based on maximum monthly pricing for that destination.

Here are selections from our coverage of some of those recommendations, including the percentage of savings for that destination.

The Grand Place, the famed central square of Brussels.CreditMichael Chia for The New York TimesBrussels, Belgium

Average November Fare: $824 (-63 percent)

“There is literally nothing to do here,” the British musician Noel Gallagher once said of Brussels, that hotbed of policy directives. Clearly he didn’t have a chance to admire the graffiti, avant-garde installations or conceptual creations in the city’s new art spaces. Or shop for vintage items in the many retro and antique boutiques. Or taste the innovative dishes in the city’s neo-Belgian and Belgian-fusion restaurants.

36 Hours in Brussels

The Neighbourgood Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town. CreditSamantha Reinders for The New York TimesCape Town, South Africa

Average November Fare: $1,875 (-55 percent)

Heralded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities — few destinations can mimic the scale of its mountain-ocean convergence — Cape Town doesn’t need to be as accommodating as it is; it could, in theory, sit pretty on the merits of its natural bounties alone. And yet it remains a singularly inviting place.

36 Hours in Cape Town

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. CreditAndreas Meichsner for The New York TimesBerlin

Average November Fare: $991 (-42 percent)

There are few cities in the world that transform themselves as profoundly from season to season as Berlin. It remains a place for the strange and libertine, where the radical left still nips at the heels of neoliberalism, where snapping photos in public is often more taboo than smoking a joint, and where people seldom ask what it is you “do.”

36 Hours in Berlin

A street in the Central District of Hong Kong. CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York TimesHong Kong

Average November Fare: $752 (-42 percent)

As impressive as Hong Kong’s skyline is, the city never seems to stop building. With all this attention on infrastructure, though, Hong Kong hasn’t sacrificed its soul. It remains one of Asia’s most passionately creative cities, a playground for artists and designers, chefs and entrepreneurs.

36 Hours in Hong Kong

Koishikawa Garden in Tokyo. CreditAndrew Faulk for The New York TimesTokyo

Average November Fare: $1,050 (-21 percent)

Contemplating the physical sprawl of Tokyo is dizzying. The Japanese megalopolis has no discernible center, and clusters of skyscrapers miles apart defy the idea of a downtown core. But when time is limited, don’t be distracted by the hypnotic, multistory video screens. Instead, focus on a diverse cross-section of neighborhoods, from peaceful Nakameguro to eclectic Koenji, for a taste of this capital that will leave you hungry for more.

36 Hours in Japan

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  • [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/28/travel/5-bargain-destinations-for-fall-travel.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Thinking on Your Feet – The New York Times

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    Credit
    Illustration by Kelsey Dake

    Health experts widely agree that most of us should sit less, especially at work. Prolonged sitting has been linked with higher risks for diabetes and heart disease, among other conditions. While treadmill and standing desks have grown in popularity, they provide a clear impact on our health but perhaps not on our work itself. We know that most people type better when they sit still than when they stand up or move about. But do they also think better?

    Most studies of prolonged sitting have looked at the benefits from breaking up sitting time on blood sugar and blood pressure. For an innovative new study published recently in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers at Arizona State University in Phoenix recruited nine sedentary, overweight men and women and asked them to show up at a simulated office space at the university.

    During one visit, the volunteers sat continuously for eight hours (apart from bathroom breaks), while using a computer and talking on the phone, as if it were any workday. Twice during the day, they also completed computerized measures of many thinking skills, including working memory and decision making.

    Then, during three other faux workdays, the volunteers broke up their sitting time by variously standing, walking at a treadmill desk or pedaling a modified stationary bicycle placed beneath their desks for at least 10 minutes once an hour. The exercise was gentle — a walking pace of one mile per hour or comparable effort while pedaling — and the volunteers typed and chatted during these breaks. They also repeated the tests of thinking twice each day, immediately after standing or exercising.

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    The researchers had wondered whether standing or exercising might impair the ability to concentrate and think, much as it did with typing proficiency, says Glenn Gaesser, a professor of exercise and health promotion at Arizona State who oversaw the study.

    Instead, the exercise breaks substantially improved scores on the tests of the kinds of thinking skills that help people perform their jobs well. Immediately after standing or moving for 10 minutes or more, the volunteers performed better on all the tests of thinking, compared with when they were sitting all day — and the gains were greatest after they pedaled their under-desk bikes.

    Gaesser says that “the physical and mental arousal” that occurs when people end their seated stillness and stroll, pedal or stand up improves attention, memory and other cognitive skills. He also speculates that because the volunteers had never before cycled at work, the novelty of that activity amplified its stimulative effects and impact on thinking.

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/well/move/thinking-brain-exercise.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    In ‘After the Eclipse,’ a Daughter Mourns Her Murdered Mother

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    Crystal and Sarah Perry

    AFTER THE ECLIPSE
    A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search
    By Sarah Perry
    350 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $27.

    In the early morning of May 12, 1994, in a small inland town in Maine, Sarah Perry’s 30-year-old mother, Crystal, was stabbed to death in her home, while Sarah, who was 12 at the time and lived alone with her mother, sat frozen on her bed on the other side of a thin wall. The murder, which went unsolved for 12 years, marked Perry, infecting her with a “viscous blackness” unleashed by the killer’s act. Like the partial solar eclipse Perry and her mother witnessed two nights before the murder, this blackness blotted out the daughter’s and the mother’s former selves. “After the Eclipse” is Perry’s effort to look behind this shadow. But it also reveals much more: a town plagued by violence, addiction and generational poverty; a culture of women taught to need men who were often ill equipped to love them; and the courage and compassion required to not merely survive the worst thing imaginable but to make a kind of terrible sense of it.

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    “A violent act is an epicenter; it shakes everyone within reach and creates other stories, cracks open the earth and reveals buried secrets. I want those stories, those secrets.” So Perry explains her decision five years after the conviction of her mother’s murderer to search through the extensive police files gathered during the investigation. There she finds “ardent letters” between her mother and the college-student boyfriend who spun her in and out like a yo-yo, and rumors of the men who shared her mother’s bed and the ones who wanted to. There is the calendar from their kitchen wall documenting movies seen and hikes taken, and the underwear her mother wore that night, purchased oversize in “a funny sort of modesty.” Perry learns of an investigator’s suspicions of her — “Mother may have been an embarrassment to her. She may have wished it happened” — and the assessment of a social worker after meeting her family the morning after the murder: “They were all losers.” To this, Perry adds dozens of her own interviews, the extensive news coverage, her personal archives and those of her family and friends, along with her memories to complete this entirely different but equally pressing investigation.

    “After the Eclipse” pulls the reader swiftly along on parallel tracks of mystery and elegy. Early on, Perry dispels any question of whether her mother hastened her own death through her choices in men or her behavior, but she withholds who actually killed her mother until almost the end. The chapters alternate between Perry’s mother’s life — beginning with a childhood characterized by neglect, alcoholism and violence and her escape at 15 into a marriage to Perry’s father that brought more of the same — and Perry’s own life after her mother’s death, as she struggles to be a “normal kid” in a series of loveless homes amid an ongoing murder investigation that treats her as both suspect and potential next victim.

    It’s a rhythm that builds suspense, which in other hands might feel prurient, but Perry’s scrupulous research and painstaking rendering of her experiences make her a trustworthy guide through such emotionally charged terrain. She’s also a wonderful writer with an assured sense of when to zoom in to her body’s somatic response for a piercing immediacy and when to pull back to convey the measured perspective gained through the distance of time. Many moments of beauty and tenderness rise up through the darkness.

    In the end, Perry succeeds in restoring her mother’s humanity, and her own. Crystal Perry was a hard worker who saved enough money from her job sewing the topstitching onto leather moccasins at a local factory to purchase a car and home and provide for her child. She was a free-spirited, redheaded beauty prone to “car dancing” and hot-tempered men who couldn’t give her the love she sought. She was a creative, energetic and loving mother who raised a very talented and remarkable daughter.

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/books/review/after-the-eclipse-sarah-perry-memoir-tribute.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    The Real Reason for Republicans’ Silence on Donald Trump

    Environmental harm.

    Congress overturned a rule restricting the ability of coal companies to dump their mining debris into streams and other waterways, threatening rural communities, forests and wildlife.

    The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, rejected a staff recommendation to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to developmental problems in children, and started the process to overturn the Clean Power Plan, the Obama-era proposal to reduce planet-warming emissions from power plants.

    Hurting workers.

    Congress repealed an Obama-era rule that would have required companies seeking federal contracts of $500,000 or more to disclose and fix serious labor and safety violations. It also struck down an Obama-era rule that would have required employers to keep records of workplace injuries for five years, to make sure employers did not hide such information. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed changes that would weaken a rule intended to limit workers’ exposure to beryllium, an industrial mineral linked to lung damage and estimated to cause about 100 deaths a year.

    The Education Department has delayed implementation of an Obama-era rule to ensure that for-profit colleges seeking federal funds were preparing students for good jobs and they made sure students’ debt was not too burdensome.

    Even though Republicans often describe themselves as champions of states’ rights, Congress made it harder for states and local governments to create retirement accounts for workers whose employers do not provide 401(k) accounts and pensions.

    Making housing less affordable.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development delayed by two years a rule that would help poor people in high-cost areas by changing how the value of housing vouchers is calculated.

    Helping big corporations.

    Congress repealed a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that sought to expose and limit corruption by requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. Under the direction of a Trump appointee, the Federal Communications Commission has eased the cap on how many local TV stations one company can own — and is considering relaxing it even further — helping the conservative broadcaster Sinclair and limiting the diversity of voices on the nation’s airwaves. Congress overturned an F.C.C. rule requiring telecommunications companies to get consumers’ permission before collecting, using and selling personal information.

    Putting lives at risk.

    The House and Senate repealed a regulation that would have barred about 75,000 people suffering from conditions like schizophrenia and psychotic disorders — when such conditions prevent them from managing their own financial affairs — from buying a gun.

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    Still, Republicans in Congress have yet to achieve some of their grandest dreams, like huge tax cuts for the wealthy, and they are counting on Mr. Trump to deliver. Spoilsports like Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, may fret about the small stuff, like, as he said on the Senate floor on Tuesday, “the threats against principles, freedoms and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.” But what’s all that compared to a bonanza for special interests?

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/opinion/republicans-silence-trump.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Fats Domino, Early Rock ’n’ Roller With a Boogie-Woogie Piano, Is Dead at 89

    Rotund and standing 5 feet 5 inches — he would joke that he was as wide as he was tall — Mr. Domino had a big, infectious grin, a fondness for ornate, jewel-encrusted rings and an easygoing manner in performance; even in plaintive songs his voice had a smile in it. And he was a master of the wordless vocal, making hits out of songs full of “woo-woos” and “la-las.”

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    Fats Domino in 1956.

    Credit
    Associated Press

    Working with the songwriter, producer and arranger David Bartholomew, Mr. Domino and his band carried New Orleans parade rhythms into rock ’n’ roll and put a local stamp on nearly everything they touched, even country tunes like “Jambalaya” or big-band songs like “My Blue Heaven” and “When My Dreamboat Comes Home.”

    ‘A Good Ear for Catchin’ Notes’

    Antoine Dominique Domino Jr. was born on Feb. 26, 1928, the youngest of eight children in a family with Creole roots. He grew up in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, where he spent most of his life.

    Music filled his life from the age of 10, when his family inherited an old piano. After his brother-in-law Harrison Verrett, a traditional-jazz musician, wrote down the notes on the keys and taught him a few chords, Antoine threw himself at the instrument — so enthusiastically that his parents moved it to the garage.

    He was almost entirely self-taught, picking up ideas from boogie-woogie masters like Meade Lux Lewis, Pinetop Smith and Amos Milburn. “Back then I used to play everybody’s records; everybody’s records who made records,” he told the New Orleans music magazine Offbeat in 2004. “I used to hear ’em, listen at ’em five, six, seven, eight times and I could play it just like the record because I had a good ear for catchin’ notes and different things.”

    He attended the Louis B. Macarty School but dropped out in the fourth grade to work as an iceman’s helper. “In the houses where people had a piano in their rooms, I’d stop and play,” he told USA Today in 2007. “That’s how I practiced.”

    In his teens, he started working at a club called the Hideaway with a band led by the bassist Billy Diamond, who nicknamed him Fats. Mr. Domino soon became the band’s frontman and a local draw.

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    “Fats was breaking up the place, man,” Mr. Bartholomew told The Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2010. “He was singing and playing the piano and carrying on. Everyone was having a good time. When you saw Fats Domino, it was ‘Let’s have a party!’ ”

    He added: “My first impression was a lasting impression. He was a great singer. He was a great artist. And whatever he was doing, nobody could beat him.”

    Slide Show

    Fats Domino, Early Rock ’n’ Roller With a Boogie-Woogie Piano, Is Dead at 89

    CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

    In 1947 Mr. Domino married Rosemary Hall, and they had eight children, Antoine III, Anatole, Andre, Antonio, Antoinette, Andrea, Anola and Adonica. His wife died in 2008. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

    In 1949 Mr. Bartholomew brought Lew Chudd, the owner of Imperial Records in Los Angeles, to the Hideaway. Mr. Chudd signed Mr. Domino on the spot, with a contract, unusual for the time, that paid royalties rather than a one-time purchase of songs.

    Immediately, Mr. Domino and Mr. Bartholomew wrote “The Fat Man,” a cleaned-up version of a song about drug addiction called “Junkers Blues,” and recorded it with Mr. Bartholomew’s studio band. By 1951 it had sold a million copies.

    Mr. Domino’s trademark triplets, picked up from “It’s Midnight,” a 1949 record by the boogie-woogie pianist and singer Little Willie Littlefield, appeared on his next rhythm-and-blues hit, “Every Night About This Time.” The technique spread like wildfire, becoming a virtual requirement for rock ’n’ roll ballads.

    “Fats made it popular,” Mr. Bartholomew told Rick Coleman, the author of “Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ’n’ Roll” (2006). “Then it was on every record.”

    Fats Domino – Ain’t That A Shame – 1955 – (subtitulada) Video by BurlFish79

    In 1952, on a chance visit to Cosimo Matassa’s recording studio in New Orleans, Mr. Domino was asked to help out on a recording by a nervous teenager named Lloyd Price. Sitting in with Mr. Bartholomew’s band, he came up with the memorable piano part for “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” one of the first rhythm-and-blues records to cross over to a pop audience

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    Trading Tracks on the Charts

    Through the early 1950s Mr. Domino turned out a stream of hits, taking up what seemed like permanent residence in the upper reaches of the R&B charts. His records began reaching the pop charts as well.

    In that racially segregated era, white performers used his hits to build their careers. In 1955, “Ain’t It a Shame” became a No. 1 hit for Pat Boone as “Ain’t That a Shame,” while Domino’s arrangement of a traditional song, “Bo Weevil,” was imitated by Teresa Brewer.

    Mr. Domino’s appeal to white teenagers broadened as he embarked on national tours and appeared with mixed-race rock ’n’ roll revues like the Moondog Jubilee of Stars Under the Stars, presented by the disc jockey Alan Freed at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Appearances on national television, on Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan’s shows, put him in millions of living rooms.

    He did not flaunt his status as an innovator, or as an architect of a powerful cultural movement.

    “Fats, how did this rock ’n’ roll all get started anyway?” an interviewer for a Hearst newsreel asked him in 1957. Mr. Domino answered: “Well, what they call rock ’n’ roll now is rhythm and blues. I’ve been playing it for 15 years in New Orleans.”

    At a news conference in Las Vegas in 1969, after resuming his performing career, Elvis Presley interrupted a reporter who had called him “the king.” He pointed to Mr. Domino, who was in the room, and said, “There’s the real king of rock ’n’ roll.”

    Mr. Domino had his biggest hit in 1956 with his version of “Blueberry Hill,” a song that had been recorded by Glenn Miller’s big band in 1940. It peaked at No. 2 on the pop charts and sold a reported three million copies.

    “I liked that record ’cause I heard it by Louis Armstrong and I said, ‘That number gonna fit me,’ ” he told Offbeat. “We had to beg Lew Chudd for a while. I told him I wasn’t gonna make no more records till they put that record out. I could feel it, that it was a hit, a good record.”

    He followed with two more Top Five pop hits: “Blue Monday” and “I’m Walkin’,” which outsold the version recorded by Ricky Nelson.

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    “I was lucky enough to write songs that carry a good beat and tell a real story that people could feel was their story, too — something that old people or the kids could both enjoy,” Mr. Domino told The Los Angeles Times in 1985.

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    Mr. Domino performing in 2007 on NBC’s “Today” show.

    Credit
    Richard Drew/Associated Press

    Mr. Domino performed in 1950s movies like “Shake, Rattle and Rock,” “The Big Beat” (for which he and Mr. Bartholomew wrote the title song) and “The Girl Can’t Help It.” In 1957, he toured for three months with Chuck Berry, Clyde McPhatter, the Moonglows and others.

    Well into the early 1960s, Mr. Domino continued to reach both the pop and rhythm-and-blues charts with songs like “Whole Lotta Lovin’,” “I’m Ready,” “I’m Gonna Be a Wheel Someday,” “Be My Guest,” “Walkin’ to New Orleans” and “My Girl Josephine.”

    He toured Europe for the first time in 1962 and met the Beatles in Liverpool, before they were famous. His contract with Imperial ended in 1963, and he went on to record for ABC-Paramount, Mercury, Broadmoor, Reprise and other labels.

    His last appearance in the pop Top 100 was in 1968, with a version of “Lady Madonna,” the Beatles song that had been inspired by Mr. Domino’s piano-pounding style. In 1982, he had a country hit with “Whiskey Heaven.”

    Although he was no longer a pop sensation, Mr. Domino continued to perform worldwide and appeared for 10 months a year in Las Vegas in the mid-1960s. On tour, he would bring his own pots and pans so he could cook.

    A New Orleans Fixture

    His life on the road ended in the early 1980s, when he decided that he did not want to leave New Orleans, saying it was the only place where he liked the food.

    He went on to perform regularly at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and in 1987 Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles joined him for a Cinemax special, “Fats Domino and Friends.” He released a holiday album, “Christmas Is a Special Day,” in 1993.

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    Mr. Domino outside his home in New Orleans as it was being rebuilt in March 2007, less than two years after Hurricane Katrina struck.

    Credit
    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Reclusive and notoriously resistant to interview requests, Mr. Domino stayed home even when he received a lifetime achievement Grammy Award in 1987. (He did travel to New York when he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 as one of its first members, although he did not take part in the jam session that concluded the ceremony.) In 1999, when he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, he sent his daughter Antoinette to the White House to pick up the prize.

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    He even refused to leave New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city on Aug. 29, 2005, remaining at his flooded home — he was living in the Lower Ninth Ward then — until he was rescued by helicopter on Sept. 1.

    “I wasn’t too nervous” about waiting to be saved, he told The New York Times in 2006. “I had my little wine and a couple of beers with me; I’m all right.”

    His rescue was loosely the basis for “Saving Fats,” a tall tale in Sam Shepard’s 2010 short-story collection, “Day Out of Days.”

    President George W. Bush visited Mr. Domino’s home in 2006 in recognition of New Orleans’s cultural resilience; that same year, Mr. Domino released “Alive and Kickin,’ ” his first album in more than a decade. The title song began, “All over the country, people want to know / Whatever happened to Fats Domino,” then continued, “I’m alive and kicking and I’m where I wanna be.”

    He was often seen around New Orleans, emerging from his pink-roofed mansion driving a pink Cadillac. “I just drink my little beers, do some cookin’, anything I feel like,” he told The Daily Telegraph of London in 2007, describing his retirement.

    In 1953, in Down Beat magazine, the Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler made a bold-sounding prediction that turned out to be, in retrospect, quite timid. “Can’t you envision a collector in 1993 discovering a Fats Domino record in a Salvation Army depot and rushing home to put it on the turntable?” he wrote. “We can. It’s good blues, it’s good jazz, and it’s the kind of good that never wears out.”

    Correction: October 25, 2017
    An earlier version of this obituary referred incorrectly to Mr. Domino’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He attended the ceremony; he did not stay home that night.

    Correction: October 25, 2017

    An earlier version of this obituary misspelled the given name of one of Mr. Domino’s sons. He is Antonio, not Anonio.

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/25/obituaries/fats-domino-89-one-of-rock-n-rolls-first-stars-is-dead.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Scared of Dark Paint? Don’t Be

    For those of us more comfortable with whitewashed walls, however, it’s not so easy to make the leap to eggplant or onyx. But here are some tips from design and color experts on how to use dark colors without becoming overwhelmed — or claustrophobic.

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    Walls painted in Mink from Benjamin Moore create a dramatic entry.

    START SMALL If you’re nervous about playing with a deep, dark hue, “limit the color to the inside of cabinets, backs of bookshelves or a painted floor,” said Donald Kaufman, who owns the paint company Donald Kaufman Color with his wife, Taffy Dahl. “Dark, bold windows often bring the outside in.”

    Ms. Studholme, of Farrow & Ball, suggested starting with a contained space like a powder room, the underside of a claw-foot tub or a hallway. “When you arrive, it creates a sense of drama,” she said. “You come through and go, ‘Wow.’” An added bonus, she noted: “A dark color in the hall makes the rooms off the hall feel really big and light.”

    Ellen O’Neill, director of strategic design intelligence for Benjamin Moore, recommends starting with a focal point, like a fireplace mantel or the inside of shelves or drawers. “I recently photographed a home where the owner painted the inside of the drawers of an antique Chippendale chest a rich aubergine,” she said. “What a color surprise every time you open a drawer.” And as you become more confident, she said, “you can graduate to painting doors to a room or hallway, window trim or wainscoting.”

    TEST IT OUT When you’re ready to tackle a whole room, “start with a color family that is already dominant in the home and select two to three shades that you feel makes a statement,” Ms. O’Neill said. “I’d get quarts of each color and paint large swatches of each, one set next to a window and one set in a corner. Observe how the room’s lighting affects the colors three times a day.”

    EMBRACE THE DARKNESS “A deep, rich color goes an especially long way in a room without a lot of natural light, as dim rooms look particularly dull in lighter colors,” said Frances Merrill, the founder of Reath Design in Los Angeles, who painted her children’s room Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon gray. “It makes the small space feel finished and gives definition to the ever-rotating collection of artwork.”

    In the playroom, she used Templeton Gray from Benjamin Moore. “Every surface in this room is usually covered in a layer of Legos and half-finished science experiments,” she said. “I find that the deeper colors mask the chaos.”

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    Benjamin Moore’s color of the year for 2018 is a deep red called Caliente.

    “Conventional wisdom states that small spaces — especially those facing north — should be lightened to increase the sense of space,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute consultancy. “However, painting trim a lighter color in an area painted with darker hues can actually increase the illusion of space,” she said, because it creates a “greater impression of height or width in the space.”

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    Whatever your situation, “it’s best to work with what you’ve got, rather than try to fight the light,” said Ms. Studholme of Farrow & Ball, which offers a guide to how light affects color on its website.

    PREPARATION IS KEY “Before painting, ensure surfaces are sound, clean, dry and free from dirt, grease and any other contamination,” said Ms. Cosby of Farrow & Ball. “Always sand down surfaces to achieve a smooth base.”

    And if you change your mind later, dark colors are just as easy to paint over as light ones, assuming you prep properly. “Start by priming over the bold hue, then apply two coats of the desired color,” said Ms. O’Neill of Benjamin Moore. But “be sure to allow the primer coat to dry completely before applying the first coat of color.”

    GO HALFSIES To add “sophistication and spirit” to a client’s “stark, boxy, white rental,” Alex Kalita, a founder of Common Bond Design in Manhattan, painted the bottom half of the bedroom wall in Hague Blue from Farrow & Ball. She calls it “the chair-rail effect” and notes that it serves a few purposes: “It simulates architectural variation in otherwise uniform space; it ties in the building’s teal window frames; and it leverages the cozy, rich, complex and grown-up quality of Hague Blue, while maintaining the practical qualities of white paint, like the illusion of ceiling height.”

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    Hague Blue from Farrow & Ball.

    Another tip: “If you’re tempted to go dark and bold on the walls, but you prefer a restrained aesthetic, try keeping the furniture neutral,” Ms. Kalita said. “You can even make bulkier pieces recede by camouflaging them in the wall color. We had our client’s Wonk NYC dresser color-matched to Hague Blue, so that the piece could augment the client’s storage without competing for attention with the room’s more deliberate and sculptural design elements. Dark walls do a good job of visually absorbing things.”

    FINALLY, BE BRAVE “I encourage people to be brave with color and unleash their inner artist,” said Ms. Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute. “Experiment with color, have fun with it, allow yourself to live with it for a while. It is, after all, just one or two cans of paint. And when, and if, you tire of it, move on to another color and treat yourself to another creative exercise.”

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/realestate/how-to-use-dark-paint.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    ‘Hotumn’ Takes Hold as October Temperatures Soar

    Mr. Gottschalck said temperatures in that large section of the country have averaged between six and eight degrees above normal so far this month — a jump from September, which was also warmer than usual.

    Photo


    For Justine and William Coll, Oct. 6 was a beach day in Sea Isle City, N.J.

    Credit
    Vernon Ogrodnek/The Press of Atlantic City, via Associated Press

    The culprit? Warm southwesterly winds shifted northward by high pressure patterns in the Northeast and low pressure in the Southwest, according to Mr. Gottschalck’s analysis.

    He said that temperatures running so much higher than average for three weeks in October was unusual. “It’s a pretty strong anomaly.”

    Discerning the root cause of any particular weather pattern in real time is not possible with current technology, and Mr. Gottschalck cautioned against attributing the balmy atmosphere to a new norm connected with climate change.

    It could take several decades of research to know definitively why it’s still too hot to try that new soup recipe, he said.

    But, he added, long-term trends are clear. Over the decades, “there is definitely what we would call a secular warming trend, with above-average temperatures occurring across much of the country.”

    Last year, October was similarly hot, and across an even broader swath of the continental United States.

    i carved a pumpkin and left it outside for two days and it literally melted bc its so hot wow i love fall pic.twitter.com/esLnHxdveV


    erin gilfoy (@eringilfoy)
    Oct. 16, 2017

    For anyone who can’t stand the heat, change may be just around the corner. As soon as this weekend, Mr. Gottschalck said, temperatures in the affected regions are expected to drop closer to seasonal averages. That will mean fewer 70-degree days and more 50-degree ones.

    Plan your Halloween costume accordingly.

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/24/nyregion/warm-autumn-weather.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Should Your Spouse Be Your Best Friend?

    There is some research into this question. John Helliwell is a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics and the editor of the World Happiness Report. As he researched social connections a few years ago, he found that everyone derives benefits from online friends and real-life friends, but the only friends that boost our life satisfaction are real friends.

    “But while the effects of real friends on your well-being is important for everybody,” he said, “they are less so for married people than for singles. That’s how we got to the idea that marriage is a kind of ‘super-friendship.’”

    Dr. Helliwell and a colleague discovered that a long-running study in Britain had data that may illuminate this question. Between 1991 and 2009, the British Household Panel Survey asked 30,000 people to quantify their life satisfaction. In general, married people expressed higher satisfaction, he said, and were better able to manage the dip in well-being that most people experience in middle age, as they face work stress, caring for aging parents and other pressures.

    Photo


    Michelle and Barack Obama earlier this year.

    Credit
    Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

    But an entirely separate part of the study asked people to name their best friend. Those who listed their spouse were twice as likely to have higher life satisfaction. Slightly more men than women made that choice, he said, “which makes sense, because men tend to have fewer friends.”

    Is feeling this way about your spouse necessary for a good marriage? I asked.

    “Absolutely not,” Dr. Helliwell said. “The benefits of marriage are strong even for those who are littered with outside friends. It’s just bigger for those who consider their spouse their closest friend. It’s a bonus.”

    Others are not so sure.

    Amir Levine is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Columbia University, and the co-author of “Attached.” A student of social relations, Dr. Levine explained that everyone has what he calls a hierarchy of attachment, meaning if something bad happens to us, we have a ranking of the people we call. In our early decades, those on the highest rungs are usually our parents or other family members.

    “The problem as you grow older is, how do you let somebody close who’s basically a total stranger?” he said. “Nature came up with a trick: It’s called attraction. Sexual attraction brings down all the barriers, lets you get close to a new person in a physical way that you don’t get close to your family.”

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    Over time, of course, this physical connection wanes. While many bemoan this loss of titillation, Dr. Levine celebrates it. “It’s smart,” he said. “If you’re going to be crazy about the other person all the time, how are you going to raise kids? How are you going to be able to work?”

    Instead of complaining, we should view this new phase as an achievement: “O.K., now I have this person I’m attached to. I have the feeling of security. That’s what allows me to be an individual again and self-actualize.”

    It’s this feeling of security, Dr. Levine says, that leads us to describe our spouses as “friends.” But that language is not quite right, he says. First, couples still need what he calls “maintenance sex,” because it re-establishes physical closeness and renews attachment.

    Second, the term “friendship” is “an underwhelming representation of what’s going on,” he said. “What people basically mean is, ‘I’m in a secure relationship. Being close to my partner is very rewarding. I trust them. They’re there for me in such a profound way that it allows me to have courage to create, to explore, to imagine.’”

    Dr. Levine summarizes this feeling with the (somewhat awkward) acronym Carrp; your partner is consistent, available, responsive, reliable and predictable. But don’t we already have a word, “spouse,” that fits this description? I said. Why are we suddenly using the expression “best friend,” when that doesn’t seem to fit at all?

    “Because not every spouse provides that,” he said, “and we’re indicating we don’t take it for granted. What we should probably be saying is ‘secure spouse.’”

    There’s yet another problem with calling your husband or wife your best friend. The words mean totally different things.

    Peter Pearson and Ellyn Bader are founders of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and the authors of “Tell Me No Lies.” They’ve also been married for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson said there’s a critical difference between a best friend and a spouse. “One of the criteria for a best friend is you feel unconditionally accepted,” he said. “Do I care if my buddy Mark is messy in the kitchen, leaves his bathroom a shambles and doesn’t pay his income taxes?”

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    But with a spouse, he said, you can’t avoid these topics.

    Dr. Bader said that when couples are just getting to know each other, they often say they’re companions, and she’s fine with that. When couples have been together 30, 40 or 50 years, they use similar language, and that can be the mark of a healthy relationship.

    “It’s the in-between ones, when they use the language of friendship, my stomach turns,” Dr. Bader said. “It’s a red flag for a lot of conflict avoidance and intensity avoidance. It often means they’ve given up on the complexity of being with somebody. Instead of saying, ‘Oh, well, that’s who they are,’ it’s better if they try to work things out.”

    Dr. Bader said that she wished popular magazines would challenge the notion that you shouldn’t get married to change someone. “I think that’s what marriage is about,” she said. “It’s where some of the juices come from, and it’s also how you get the best out of the person you marry.”

    A good marriage, she said, is when people “push each other, challenge each other, encourage each other and, yes, change each other.”

    Asked if they were best friends, they laughed. “We’re good friends,” Dr. Pearson said.

    “Really good friends,” Dr. Bader said. “He’s lots of things that my best friend isn’t, but my best friend is lots of things he’s not.”

    And that may be the point: Calling the person you’re married to your best friend may be shorthand for saying that you actually like your spouse and that you have shared history, shared lives and shared dreams. But in the end, the expression doesn’t do justice to the full meaning of marriage or to the full meaning of friendship. After all, if your spouse is your best friend, then whom do you complain to your spouse about?

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/12/style/should-your-spouse-be-your-best-friend.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    My Wife Found My Sexy Phone Pics and Won’t Let It Go

    So here you are, long after the discovery of a liaison that, if not adulterous, was certainly adulter-ish. Your wife is still angry with you, still feels aggrieved and mistrustful. You’ve gone to counseling, but she hasn’t reconciled herself to a husband who, early in a marriage, was swapping sexual pics with another woman. You think she’s being unpleasantly manipulative; she may think she’s reminding you that you’re on probation, that you have further to go to earn back her trust.

    It’s often said that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. In this case, your marriage is now on its sickbed. One issue here is how much you and your wife value it. That’s hard for an outsider to assess. Anger, like love, isn’t a voluntary emotion; you can’t simply decide to dial it up or down. But surely your wife isn’t the only angry spouse in your marriage. You say you felt emotionally abused by your wife even during the affair (a serious complaint); you think your relationship isn’t healthy, “but it’s what I’ve got” — not exactly a Hallmark sentiment. Do you truly think that getting rid of those pics would fix what’s wrong here? If your counselor made a list of what was rotten in your marriage, I doubt your wife’s vengeful lock screen would make the Top 10.

    I have been divorced for many years. My ex-husband is now married to a dentist. As part of our divorce agreement, I am responsible for the children’s health insurance, including dental coverage. There were no issues until I had a brief period of unemployment. When I got a new job, it included health and dental insurance, but there was a waiting period for coverage. To cover that brief period, I bought health insurance for myself and my children but did not purchase dental insurance.

    During that time, my ex-husband took our daughter to the dentist for a checkup. The dental practice my daughter visits is her stepmother’s office. When my ex-husband sent me the bill for this visit, which came to $400, I asked if the visit could be postdated by just a day, so I could submit it for insurance. He told me that doing so was illegal and that I needed to pay, and that he didn’t appreciate the fact that I didn’t have any dental coverage.

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    I asked my daughter why she didn’t let me know about the appointment so I could let her know our dental insurance ended. She said she thought that because it was her stepmother’s office, she was fine.

    Since that time I have been receiving bills from this dental practice. I have had conversations with their accounts-payable department to let them know that my daughter is the dentist’s stepdaughter. But no understanding was reached; I have not paid, as I believe it’s wrong to have charged me when it was known that I didn’t have company insurance at the time. I am now getting bills from a collection agency for the $400.

    So my question for you is: Do I pay it just to make it go away or try again to reason with my ex-husband and his wife to please drop these fees? Name Withheld

    Communication between ex-spouses can be like pulling teeth. So it’s not surprising that you didn’t warn your husband that it would be financially inconvenient for your daughter to have dental treatment at that time. Given that you are in charge of medical insurance, you could reasonably think it odd that your child was taken for a dental visit without your knowledge. But again, not so surprising, especially if your daughter’s teeth are normally looked after at her stepmother’s office.

    While your husband is correct that it would be wrong and could be illegal to file a false claim, he and his wife might have been able to help you by agreeing to lower the costs or to spread them out. The fact that the charge was sent to a collection agency also sounds less than cordial. Still, if I understand the situation correctly, you were in breach of your divorce agreement, even if your reasons were entirely understandable. Absent any information from you to the contrary, then, he was entitled to assume that your daughter was covered. You’re asking him and his wife to cover costs that you are liable for. I’m afraid you’d better bite down and pay up.

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    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/18/magazine/my-wife-found-my-sexy-phone-pics-and-wont-let-it-go.html?partner=rss&emc=rss