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The Advice Goddess: November 2017
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 21:42

Pay pal?

Q: An older male friend keeps paying for me -- buying me meals and clothes. Am I making a mistake in accepting? I’ve repeatedly made clear that I have no romantic interest in him. I’m a struggling artist, and he’s highly successful. We’re basically BFFs, talking and laughing every day. He occasionally jokes that I should be “giving up the sugar to the sugar daddy,” but I roll my eyes and say, “Hush!” I think he’s teasing me, but could he be playing the long game? 
— Worried
A: Welcome to the “never say never” school of hope. My Chinese crested, Aida, is also enrolled — hoping with all her tiny purse-doggy might that rare metal-eating termites will make the kitchen table leg collapse, causing her to be caught in a brief but intense hailstorm of bacon. 

There are some asymmetries between men and women in the effort required to get some action out of the opposite sex. Some men will engineer elaborate plots to try to wear a woman’s “nuh-uh, never gonna happen” into a “maybe just this once.”

A woman, on the other hand, doesn’t have to plot. Assuming she’s reasonably attractive, she can probably just make extended eye contact with a man while eating a banana.This difference reflects what evolutionary psychologist David Buss explains as men’s and women’s conflicting evolutionary goals.

It’s in a man’s evolutionary interest to, as they say, shoot and scoot (possibly passing on his genes without putting out any further time, energy or resources). However, because women can end up all “baby on board,” they evolved to look for emotional commitment and the ability and willingness to “provide.” (A woman’s psychological bottom line: “Can this wild man be turned into a minivan purchaser with a dad bod?”) 

Buss notes that these sex differences in evolved mating psychology show up in the different ways men and women try to deceive each other. Scammy men tend to exaggerate their “resources” (probably a sizable chunk of the Ferrari rental business) in hopes of suckering the ladies into the sack. Scammy women, on the other hand, tend to feign “willingness to have sex in order to secure nonsexual resources” — as in, “Sorry, Bob. I had my knees welded shut recently. I guess I forgot to mention that. But thanks for the $300 dinner!” In your situation, however, nobody’s deceiving anybody.

You’ve repeatedly made clear that there will be no sexcapades. He’s got an amusing dining companion and a dear friend. When we care about people, we do nice things for them — offer them a bite of our sandwich or our disposable income.

Sure, he’s probably still clinging to wisps of hope. But in time, he should accept that if the day comes when you suddenly grab him in your arms, it’ll be because he’s got a small piece of chicken caught in his windpipe and he’ll die unless you give him the Heimlich maneuver.

Check, mate!

I’m a 28-year-old guy, and I read your column on how men and women are clueless about who’s supposed to pay and when. I’ve had dates be insulted when I wouldn’t take their money and others insulted when I did. Is there an optimal strategy for the first few dates? — Lost

Meet the flexible feminist. She can do an hour and a half straight on why we need to “smash the patriarchy,” but when the check comes, she reaches in her purse and pulls out a tube of lip gloss.

As I pointed out in that column you mention, sociologist Janet Lever and her colleagues find one striking commonality between men and women: intense confusion about who should pay and when. For example, nearly 60 percent of women said they “always” offer to help pay, even on the first date.

Meanwhile, 39 percent of women wish men would reject their offer to pay — but 40 percent say it bothers them when men don’t accept their money. Argh, huh? Because female emotions evolved to push women to feel bad when they’re with a man who shows no signs of being a “provider,” I think it’s wise for a guy to pick up the tab on the first few dates.

The researchers concur, explaining that “men who fail to pay risk being viewed as lacking economic resources or as being uninterested, unchivalrous, or — worse yet — cheap.”That said, your investment should be more symbolic than substantial, and you keep it that way by following my three-point advice for the first few dates:

Make them cheap, short and local. This means, for example, getting to know a woman over happy-hour drinks — as opposed to the kind poured by a sommelier (flanked by his two assistants) who comes to your table right after the team of loan officers helps you finalize your paperwork. 

Who will stop the wane?

I’m happily married. My wife is beautiful. She used to put a lot of effort into her appearance, but she now wears sweats and T-shirts everywhere and she never wears makeup or does her hair. I felt really bad about this on our recent date night, when she just put her hair in a ponytail and wore a slouchy army jacket. I want her to keep making an effort to put herself together for me. How can I offer her constructive criticism without making her mad? — Bummed

You come up behind a ragged, disheveled person standing on the corner and put a dollar in the Starbucks cup they’re holding — and then you realize your error: “Oops! Hi, honey!"

I suspect the term “constructive criticism” was coined by someone who went through life without ever encountering another human being. As I explain in “Good Manners for Nice People...,” here in the real world, “criticizing people doesn’t make them change; it makes them want to clobber you.”

That’s because our ancient fight-or-flight system is a little one-note — juicing us to respond to a verbal attack as if it were an attack by some dude running at us with a bloody spear. So, though it isn’t unreasonable to want your wife to make an effort on date night, you should focus on what you do want to see rather than what you don’t.

For example: “Honey, you’re so beautiful, and when it’s date night, it would make me so happy if you did your hair and wore a dress. And I’ll wear whatever you want.” And to get her to make more of an effort day to day: “I love you so much, and I want to be sure we keep the romance alive.”

Make clear that you aren’t expecting her to do the dishes in an evening dress and a tiara. You’d just be thrilled if, from time to time, the thigh-highs could be fishnets instead of, well, hip waders.

(c.) 2017, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ( Weekly radio show:

Asheville Jazz Orchestra clicks on all cylinders
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 20:56

Guest vocalist Jesse Junior delights with soulful crooning

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BLACK MOUNTAIN — The 20-piece Asheville Jazz Orchestra made musical sparks fly — and provided a few laughs — during a free-wheeling concert on Oct. 21 at the iconic White Horse nightclub.

The show was not only a joy to hear and see, the AJO added some unusually playful touches, including a nod to Halloween, with big-band-style renditions of theme songs from two mid-1960s television shows, including “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family.” 

During their rendition of the “Addams Family Theme Song,” the musicians played their instrumental parts (as in the original song) — and then, in studied seriousness (as their instruments dangled around their necks, in many cases),  suddenly raised their arms above their heads and snapped their fingers, in perfect rhythm, all to the audience’s sheer delight.The effect was truly zany — and effective — for the usually strait-laced AJO.

And, as a more esoteric seasonal/Halloween salute, the band performed a riveting instrumental version of 1942’s “That Old Black Magic,” first recorded and released by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra.

In the absence of the AJO’s regular vocalist, Wendy Jones (who was at another engagement), Asheville’s Jesse Earl Junior filled in and appeared to delight the crowd with his soulful crooning. 

Junior is a Milwaukee native, New York City “expatriate” and — now — a self-described “Asheville Jazzvillian”

About 75 people attended the two-hour concert, which featured two sets.

Most of the concert, as per AJO tradition, was performed without a singer, but Junior joined the band for two songs in each of the two sets, which is standard practice for the band.

In addition, during the last song of the regular show, 1939’s “Cherokee,” Junior returned to the stage  to sing a couple verses. (“Cherokee” was originally performed by Charles Barnet and His Orchestra.)

The crowd gave the AJO a standing ovation and then pleaded for an encore, so the band played the instrumental “Sweet Georgia Brown,” elicting yet another standing ovation and calls — in vain — for another encore.)

In the first set, Junior sang “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “All Or Nothing at All” — and, in  the final stanza, “Straighten Up and Fly Right” and “Right Place, Wrong Time.”

His deep, baritone voice, combined with soulful and skilled phrasing of the lyrics, were electrifying. Junior truly crooned his numbers as though he meant every word. He came across as charismactic — and seemed to connect well with both the crowd and the band.

Among the instrumental highlights, besides those mentioned earlier, was “Sing, Sing, Sing,” written and first recorded by Louis Prima with the New Orleans Gang in 1936 (but most famously recorded a year later by Bennie Goodman). The dynamic performances by Joel Helfand on clarinet and Rick Dilling on drums were especially notable.

Other standouts among the instrumental cover songs were “Begin the Beguine,” a Cole Porter classic that went to No. 1 with a 1938 instrumental recording by Artie Shaw; and 1940s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” which was Frank Sinatra’s first hit with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

The AJO also performed several original compositions by muaix director-trombonist David Wilken, who sported a black beret at the concert. Especially memorable was his rollicking “Truck Stop Coffee.” (Wilken is program coordinator for MusicWorks Asheville, an El Sistema after-school music program that teaches elementary school children life skills through classical music.)

Toward the end of the first set, Jesse Earl Junior was introduced to the crowd as a vocalist “making his Asheville Jazz Orchestra debut,” as Junior took the stage to sing two songs.

In turn, Junior smiled and said, “I’m so happy to finally being able to sing with the Asheville Jazz Orchestra....”

He then noted, wistfully, that he remembered the AJO’s early days — in 2009 and 2010, when the AJO used to play every Monday night at The Rocket Club in West Asheville. (The Rocket Club closed later in 2010. Wilken founded the AJO in 2005.)

Junior said he used to attend many of their shows and dreamed of, some day, singing with the AJO. “Well,” he added, “The Rocket Club is gone and here we are,” as he rocketed into a moving rendition of “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

As the crowd applauded enthusiastically afterward, Junior said, “Yeah, I’m glad to get to sing with them (the AJO). When you’ve got a band like this, they carry you (a vocalist) along.”

In a nod to the AJO’s regular singer, Junior told the audience, “I know you’re used to seeing the lovely and talented Wendy Jones here, but she graciously allowed me to be here.”

After Junior’s cover of “All Or Nothing At All,” the crowd again applauded enthusistically, Wilken noted that “we will be bringing him out next set for a couple more songs.”

The AJO will perform again at the White Horse at 8 p.m. Nov. 24. Tickets are $15.

Other upcoming White Horse shows include the Justin Ray Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1, The Black Feathers band at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and Chuck Brodsky at 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

What’s more, White Horse will celebrate its 9th anniversary with a concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 4, according to co-owner Bob Hinkle. The gala will feature Marcel Anton, The Belfast Boys, Richard Shulman and other musicians. Anton is billed as “a vocalist, composer, guitarist, percussionist, actor, teacher, mystic and poet of Native American and New Orleans Creole descent.”



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