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The Advice Goddess: May 2017
Thursday, 04 May 2017 13:02

Rubbin Hood

Q: I grabbed my boyfriend’s phone to look something up, and I found a Google search for local massage places that offer “happy endings.” He says that he and his friends were just goofing off. Am I an idiot to believe him? 

— Disturbed


His “goofing off” is reminiscent of the “but I was just curious!” web searches that juries hear about — stuff like “Does arsenic have a flavor?” “How much antifreeze does it take to kill a 226.5-pound man?” and “Who’s got the lowest prices on shovels and tarps?” 

Sure, it’s POSSIBLE that your boyfriend is telling the truth — that he and his buddies were searching out massage parlors RIGHT NEARBY! just for a giggle.

To determine how likely it actually is, consider that people don’t behave randomly. We’re each driven by a varying combo of personality traits — habitual patterns of thinking, emotion, and behavior that are relatively consistent over time and across situations.

For example, an introvert will not suddenly become a party animal (unless we’re talking the taxidermied kind that’s stuck into the “fall leaves” centerpiece). 

Research by evolutionary psychologists David Buss and Todd Shackelford found three personality traits that are strong “predictors of susceptibility to infidelity.” 

One is narcissism — being self-absorbed, admiration-seeking, empathy-deficient, and prone to scheming userhoood. Being low on “conscientiousness” is another — reflected in being disorganized, unreliable and lazy, and lacking self-control.

Last, there’s “psychoticism,” which, despite its Bates Motel-like moniker, reflects a con artist-like exploitativeness, impulsivity, and lack of inhibition —  not necessarily exhibiting those things while going all stabby on some lady enjoying a shower.

Consider whether your boyfriend’s “just Googling for kicks!” claim is odd and uncharacteristic or whether it’s part of a pattern reflecting one or more of the lovely cocktail of traits above. Patterns of behavior predict future patterns of behavior — for example, trying to get you to believe that he only goes to strip clubs for the music and that he really was just working late with his boss, Mr. Camerino, who seems to have developed quite a thing for body glitter.



I’m a woman in my 30s. I love parties and talking to people, and thank God, because I attend networking events for work. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is an introvert, hates talking to strangers, and loathes “shindigs.” How do we balance my longing to go to parties with his desire to stay home? 
 — Party Girl


Taking an introvert to a party can be a challenge. On the other hand, if it’s a Fourth of July party, you know where to find him: hiding in the bathtub with the dogs. 

I actually have personal experience in this area. Like you, I’m an extrovert — which is to say, a party host’s worry isn’t that I won’t have anyone to talk to; it’s that I’ll tackle three people and waterboard them with sangria till they tell me their life story. 

Also like you, I have a boyfriend who’s an introvert. For him, attending a party is like being shoved into an open grave teeming with live cockroaches — though, compassionately, it also includes an open bar. 

This isn’t to say introverts are dysfunctional. They’re not. They’re differently functional. Brain imaging research by cognitive scientist Debra L. Johnson and her colleagues found that in introverts, sensory input from experience led to more blood flow in the brain (amounting to more stimulation). The path it took was longer and twistier than in extroverts and had a different destination: frontal areas we use for inward thinking like planning, remembering, and problem-solving. So, introverts live it up, too; they just do it on the inside. 

Extroverts’ brain scans revealed a more direct path for stimuli — with blood flowing straight to rear areas of the brain used for sensory processing, like listening and touching. They also have less overall blood flow — translating (in combination with a different neurochemical response) to a need for more social hoo-ha to feel “fed.”  

Sometimes, you’ll really want your boyfriend there with you at a party — for support, because you enjoy his company, or maybe just to show him off (kind of like a Louis Vuitton handbag with a penis). But understanding that “shindigs” give his brain a beating, consider whether you could sometimes take a friend. When he accompanies you, maybe set a time limit and be understanding if he and the dog retreat to the den. 

Sure, mingling makes you feel better, but pushing an introvert to do it is akin to forcing an extrovert to spend an entire week with only the cat and a fern. Before long, they’re on with the cable company. Tech support: “What seems to be the problem?” Extrovert: “I’m lonely! Talk to me! Have you ever been arrested? And do you think I should go gluten-free?”

(c.) 2017, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail


‘Smokey Joe’s Café:’ It’s ablaze
Thursday, 04 May 2017 12:35
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FLAT ROCK —  It’s all about the songs in “Smokey Joe’s Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller,” the first large-scale musical production of the 2017 mainstage season at Flat Rock Playhouse.

Indeed, the April 22 performance proved to be a fun, spirited and nostalgic trip back to simpler times — mostly the mid-1950s to the mid-’60s.

And ultimately, the show evokes the power of music to fire up youthful optimism, despite losses and setbacks. It opened April 21 and will run through May 13.

“Smokey Joe’s Café” begins — apropos —  with the simplest of sets and setups (singers performing under a streetlamp). 

Deftly directed by Amy Jones, the two-act, 100-minute revue ended wth a standing ovation from a large, enthusiastic and — predictably — mostly older audience.

The production is a revival of FRP’s 2007 production of the Broadway classic featuring the hits of the stellar songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. 

There is neither a narrative, a story line nor an underlying theme, just a revue format, featuring mostly terrific performances by a talented cast of singers, giving its all on one after another of 39 hits featured in the show.

“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a 1995 Broadway smash, was nominated for seven Tony awards and became the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history.

The nine-member cast included Dustin Brayley, Meredith Brayley-Patterson, Wendy Jones, Alfred Jackson, Patrick Clanton, Breanna Bartley, Phillip Brandon, Jared Joseph and Martina Sykes. The cast is a combination of FRP veterans and newcomers.

Besides blistering-hot individual vocal performances, the cast excelled at soaring four-part harmonies and eye-popping choreography with smooth, synchronized dance moves in the style of the ‘60s soul groups — and a large helping of humor.

An ultra-tight six-member band was led by Music Director Garrett Taylor, who played keyboards. Other band members included Bill Altman, guitar; David Gaines, keyboards; Paul Babelay, drums; Wes Parker, saxophone; and Michael Hines, bass.

Choreographing the show superbly was Christopher Kirby. Also outstanding were Ashli Arnold with costumes and Paul Feraldi with props. 

Among the memorable songs performed were “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand by Me,” “Hound Dog,” “I Who Have Nothing,” “Stay Awhile,” “Loving You,” “Fools Fall in Love,” “I’m a Woman,” “Poison Ivy,” “Love Potion #9,” “There Goes My Baby,” “Dance With Me” and “Yakety Yak.”

Often, the songs were acted out by the cast, but strictly self-contained to each song, rather than portraying characters who carry over to the next song.

The first act began with, and the second act ended with, the song “Neiborhood.” (Although, the final song of the night — performed more like an encore — was Stand by Me.”)

“Neighborhood,” first heard by more than a few people on television’s “Ally Mcbeal,” was originally sung by Vonda Shepard and was not a major hit.

However, “Neighborhood” probably most approximates a unifying structure in “Smokey Joe’s Café.” While “Neighborhood” is a relatively bland number, it likely won such a prime spot because of its theme of nostalgia, around which the show revolves.

The best song of the first act, arguably, was a blistering rendition of The Drifters’ “On Broadway.” It began dramatically, with four male singers in striking poses with their backs to the audiences, silhoutted. They eventually spin around and the harmonies and choreography are explosive.

Also interesting were rendtions of the songs “Trouble” and “Don Juan,” both of which featured empowered women. Along the same line, the women joined forces to sing a fiery “I’m a Woman.” 

Another fun number  putting the focus on a woman was“Teach Me to Shimmy,” with amazing moves — and singing.

The second act began with a blast, with “Baby That Is Rock and Roll,” followed by “Yackety Yak” and “Charlie Brown.”

However, the standout songs of the second act were — arguably — a rendition of The Drifters’ “There Goes My Baby,” which morphed — as a two-song medley — into “Love Potion No. 9,” and the final song of the show, a rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

While the production emphasized Leiber’s and Stoller’s contribution to rock ‘n’ roll, including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Baby, That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Hound Dog,” it also showcased their notable rhythm and blues works, such as “Pearl’s a Singer,” “On Broadway,” “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.”

Indeed, beyond Elvis Presley and other rockers, Leiber and Stoller’s work was recorded by artists as diverse as The Drifters, George Benson and Big Mama Thornton.



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