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The Advice Goddess: March 2017
Monday, 06 March 2017 12:26

Stare trek proves vexing

Special to the Daily Planet

Q: The 40-year-old guy I’m dating swivels his head to check out ladies everywhere. He even comments on those he finds attractive. I’ve mentioned that it bugs me. He contends that it’s my insecurities that are really the issue here. I can see how lower self-esteem might lend itself to an offended reaction, as opposed to just a shrug or an eye roll, but is this really on me?

— Blamed 

A: Yes, of course your insecurities are the real issue here. Because what woman wouldn’t feel great when her boyfriend’s all “Whoa, boobs are out tonight!”?

That said, it is normal that he’s driven to look. Men evolved to have their eyeballs all up in every hot woman’s business because the features considered beautiful in a woman correlate with health and fertility. 

Ancestral men who passed on their genes (and mating psychology) — the men whose male descendants are walking the planet today — are those who went for the fertile young hotties, not the 70-year-old ladies with a lot of personality. 

Not surprisingly, brain imaging studies by evolutionary psychologist Steven Platek and his colleagues find that when men see pictures of curvalicious women — those with an hourglass bod, a fertility indicator — there’s “activation” in (most notably) the nucleus accumbens. This is part of the brain’s reward circuitry and, as they put it, “the seat of addictive behavior.” Regarding their findings, Platek told me, “We think that this is why men quite literally find it challenging to look away from a highly attractive female body.” 

No, not “impossible” to look away. “Challenging.” Like it may sometimes be for you to keep from stabbing your boyfriend in the thigh with a fork when he rubbernecks at a passing pair of Wonderbreasts. However, feeling disturbed by his girl-gawking isn’t a sign you’re emotionally defective. Consider that emotions aren’t there just to jazz up your day. Psychiatrist and evolutionary psychologist Randolph Nesse explains that emotions have a job to do -- to motivate us to “respond adaptively” to threats and opportunities. For example, that rotten feeling you get in response to your boyfriend’s ogling is basically an alarm going off alerting you that a man’s commitment isn’t there or is waning. Wanting to feel better pushes you to remedy the situation.

If your insecurity is tripping you up, it’s in how you seem to be second-guessing the emotions yelling at you, “Do something! HELLO?! Are you in a coma?” The thing is, you don’t have to feel assertive to be assertive. You just have to (gulp!) stand up for yourself as an assertive person would. 

Again, the problem isn’t that your boyfriend’s looking; it’s that he’s looking (and commenting) while you’re standing right there, feelings and all. 

Be honest with him: This doesn’t just “bug” you; it hurts your feelings. It makes you feel disrespected. And it needs to stop. Now. Because you want to feel loved, respected and happy — either with him or with some guy you meet at his funeral, after his tragic but inevitable death from drowning in a pool of his own drool.


Splendor in the gracias

For two years, I’ve been in the best relationship of my life, after years of really bad ones. I’m thinking that maybe the key to a happy relationship is having two people who think they aren’t good enough for each other. Not that we feel that in a pathetic way. We each just feel really grateful and lucky to be with the other person, and it makes a difference in how we treat each other. Thoughts? 
 — Happy At Last


Sometimes the thing we tell ourselves is love is really “the thing I got into because I was scared I’d die alone — surrounded by empty single-serving zinfandel bottles — and get discovered 10 years later, mummified, on my couch.” 

What seems key this time around — in how happy you two are — is the gratitude you feel. Gratitude for your partner comes out of noticing the sweet, thoughtful things they do — like taking out the trash without needing to be “asked” at gunpoint. 

However, what you’re grateful for isn’t so much the garbage relocation as what it shows -- what social psychologist Kaska Kubacka describes as your partner’s “responsiveness to (your) needs.” This, in turn, tells you that your happiness is important to them, which tells you that they value you and the relationship. Awww. 

Seeing that you’re loved and cared for like this motivates you to do sweet, loving things for your partner. Which motivates them…which motivates you… (Think of it as love on the Ping-Pong model.) This helps create and maintain the kind of relationship where, when your partner blurts out “I love you so much!” your inclination is to respond in kind -- instead of turning around to see who the hell they’re talking to.

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


When swing was king ....
Monday, 06 March 2017 11:49

‘In the Mood’ show lovingly recaptures spirit of ’40s

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The All-American “In the Mood: A 1940s Big Band, Swing Dance Musical Revue” was clicking on all cylinders on Feb. 7 in the U.S. Cellular Center’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville.

Before a mainly older crowd of only 400 to 500 people, the 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra and the hyperkinetic In the Mood Singers and Dancers, nevertheless, gave it their all. The two-set, two-hour show was split by an intermission.

Fittingly, the high-energy celebration of the swing music (and dance) that guided the nation’s spirit —in the 1940s — toward hope, promise and prosperity ended with a bang, triggering a standing ovation.

Celebrating America’s Greatest Generation, “In the Mood” featured the music of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Harry James and Erskine Hawkins.

The singers-dancers included three men and three women — and they performed solo or in various group configurations.

However, it was the women, as a sassy, sexy vocal and visual trio, who truly fired up the show with their sizzling renditions of songs by the Andrews Sisters. 

The men — as a trio — performed a few well-received numbers by the Mills Brothers, but proved to be no match — based on the audience’s response — to the women performing as the Andrews Sisters.

The troupe also featured a dynamic East Coast Swing dance couple who were both high-stepping and high-flying.

Besides the stellar performances by the singers-dancers and orchestra, the show sparkled with authenticity in its musical arrangements, costumes and choreography.

Among the most memorable of the more than 50 songs performed were “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “In the Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “Sentimental Journey,” “Stardust” and “Dreams.”

The show bills itself as portraying the 1940s as “a time when America was in tune with sentimental ballads and up-tempo swing rhythms, where the waltz and the foxtrot competed with the wild, acrobatic jitterbug, jive and boogie-woogie hepcats on the ballroom dance floor.

Now in its 18th season of performances throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, “In the Mood” was performed at an Inaugural Ball for then-President Bill Clinton and selected by the World USO as an official entertainment for the 50th Commemoration of World War II.

“In the Mood” creator-producer-artistic director Bud Forrest, who also was the accompanist for the official U.S. Air Force Chorus, the Singing Sergeants, said of the show:
“Many of the arrangements were written by Vic Schoen, the conductor for the Andrews Sisters and musical director for Universal and Paramount Pictures. The songs are timeless and this production is as authentic as it gets.”



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