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Advice Goddess: September 2014
Thursday, 04 September 2014 16:04

MP3’s a crowd?

Q: I’ve been dating a girl for two months, and I go back and forth from thinking the relationship has legs to wanting to end it. I just had a birthday, and she got me a new iPod Touch with my name engraved on the back. I told her it was too extravagant, but she insisted I keep it. For some reason, I now want to break up with her even more, but I feel guilty about ending it after she got me this pricey gift. 

A: Desperation is always so sexy — like Abraham Lincoln in a lime-green mankini. There is a natural order to things. The tennis ball does not chase the dog. (Imagine how freaked your dog would be if it did.) It also tends to go over poorly when women overtly pursue men.Males evolved to be the chasers of our species (and most other species) — to do the wooing and gift giving.Females evolved to be the choosier sex, to give men the squint-eye and wait for them to prove they are “providers.”When a woman turns the tables and does the wooing, like by giving a man an expensive present right out of the gate, the man tends to suspect there’s something wrong with her. If he wasn’t already ambivalent, he’ll likely get ambivalent. (Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Give a man you just started dating an iPod and you’ll be fishing for a new boyfriend.)What you need to figure out is whether your “lemme outta here” feelings are about her or the fact that she got you what may seem like an iShackle. (“Hey, honey…here’s the present you’d get if we had a serious relationship — so now give me the serious relationship.”)Give this a week or two and consider whether her gift was desperation-driven or whether she maybe just got into shopping mode and, oops, went a little wild at the mall. If you decide that your initial reaction — wanting out — is where you really stand, don’t be delayed by the price of the gift. The right time to break up is as soon as you know it’s over.

If you stay with her, you might gently confide that what works best for you in a relationship is taking things slowly.

We long for what’s slightly out of reach, not what’s hanging all over us raining small appliances: “I know you like music, so I’m giving you an iPod.” Your impulse: “And I know you like shoes, so I’m giving you the boot.”

A vicious recycle

 I’m a 30-year-old single guy. Two friends from college got divorced six months ago after being married to each other for less than a year (no kids or anything). The truth is, I had a crush on the woman before they even met, and I’m fairly sure the feeling was mutual. I’d like to ask her out, but I’m certain this will bring condemnation from all our mutual “bros,” though I was never close with her husband. Does that trump the rule that you shouldn’t date a guy friend’s ex? Or is she off-limits forever?

— Wary

It’s natural to want to express your sympathy to a guy whose marriage just broke up: “Hey, man, so sorry to hear you two didn’t make it. By the way, did she happen to mention me?” 

Asking out a buddy’s ex can seem like the dating version of poking your head over the booth divider at the diner and asking, “You gonna eat that?” It’s especially unseemly to forage in the remains of a guy’s relationship if he isn’t exactly skipping away from it. But assuming the Jaws of Life aren’t required to pry the guy out of the fetal position, a divorce is a breakup, not a “bent but still usable,” meaning post-divorce, it’s time for the ex-husband to release his ex-wife back into the wild. 

People typically advise choosing the friend over the girl (sometimes because they think they’ll sound like bad people for advising otherwise), but you should consider what matters more to you -- possibly having a crack at her or maintaining your social cred.

If you do go out with her, do it discreetly at first: Go places where people won’t know you, and avoid the temptation to Facebook or live-blog your entire evening.

If, after a few dates, you’re hitting it off, it’s a good idea to give the guy a heads-up via email. He might still be mad. But at least you’d just be a jerk, not a sneaky jerk. If it turns out you and she have something lasting, in time, people should begin to think of your relationship as something “meant to be” -- while perhaps hiding the silver and the women when you come around. 

(c.) 2014, 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:


Rockell Scott sizzles at jazz cabaret
Thursday, 04 September 2014 15:49
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BLACK MOUNTAIN — Asheville jazz singer extraordinaire Rockell Scott turned The Beatles’ 1965 hit “Yesterday” inside out, taking it beyond rock, beyond jazz into the gospel realm, as she dazzled the crowd during a more-than-two-hour concert Aug. 22 at the White Horse nightclub in the heart of downtown.

Combining poignancy with playfulness, Scott abruptly started her rendition of “Yesterday” midway through the lyrics, wailing, “But did he have to go?... I don’t know... Did I say something wrong? ...Now I long for yesterday....” Afterward, the crowd cheered and gave her sustained applause.

Other highlights of Scott’s show — with one-two punches of vocal pyrotechnics immediately following her deconstruction and reconstruction of “Yesterday” — were rollicking, joyous, perhaps even profound, renditions of two fast-paced jazz classics — “Bye, Bye Blackbird” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” As usual, she was at her very best improvising as a scat singer at warp speed, in a style that the late, great Sarah Vaughan made famous. (Scat singing is the use of short syllables to imitate the sound of instruments.)

Scott’s vocal range seems to have no limits — and her obvious and almost ethereal joy while singing makes one wonder if — indeed — heaven is missing an angel.

A final highlight was a moving rendition — halfway through the show — of “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” featuring Scott, 42, singing side-by-side with her daughter, Leeanne, 13. The younger Scott showed great promise with her vocals and stage presence — and the saucy playfulness between the veteran jazz-singer and her unpolished-but-talented daughter was priceless.

Performing solo just before the aforementioned mother-daughter act was Lily Merrill, 11, who sang Louis Armstrong’s classic, “What a Wonderful World” — and she did it her way, albeit looking to Scott, who was playing the piano right next to her and occasionally giving her cues on when to sing. Lily’s performance drew enthused applause from the crowd. She is a cheerleader at her school and the daughter of Doug and Christina Merrill of Fairview.

The show, part of the White Horse’s Cabaret Jazz Series with what was billed as a tribute to women in jazz, drew about 75 people. Scott said she would perform some songs by such female jazz greats as Shirley Horn to Dianne Reeves, among others, as a salute. However, it was not made clear — at least to this critic — which songs, if any, were sung to honor them.

In addition to singing, Scott played piano during the first two-thirds of the show, as part of a quartet that included Andy Page, guitar; Shannon Hoover, bass; and Phillip Bronson, drums.

The show’s singular flaw was the very idea of having Scott sitting behind a piano, with her back at least one-third turned from the audience, during the first set. Admittedly, she is a quite-talented pianist and, to some degree, the instrument appears to serve as a security blanket to her.

However, unquestionably, Scott should be front and center ... and standing and swaying (as she was later in the show), clad in her elegant black dress with black high heels, exuding attitude and allure from a mysterious, romantic era long ago — and electrifying the crowd with her rich vocals, charisma and delightful — and jazz-inspired — body movements, without the distraction of piano-playing and without her back to the crowd. A few bucks needs to be paid for someone else to play the piano, so that the jewel in the crown — Scott — can sparkle as a singer without distraction.

The first set began with “Eagle and Me,” followed by “Look of Love,” “Yesterday,” “Bye, Bye Blackbird,” “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “Something’s Up” and concluded with the instrumental “Togethering,” featuring mind-bending guitar wizardry by Page.

Following the performances with the youngsters of “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and “What a Wonderful World,” the second set began with Scott on her feet and front and center, singing a dramatic rendition of “Mood Indigo,” with a lengthy — and stellar — solo bass introduction by Hoover. Only Hoover’s bass accompanied Scott throughout the dramatic song. Other second-set highlights included renditions — with Scott simply singing, accompanied by the trio — of “In a Mellow Tone” and “This Is the End of a Beautiful Friendship,” among others.

Scott, who grew up in Brevard, began to play piano and sing gospel songs at age 4, with her mother, Joan M. Bell. She went on to sing at Bethel “A” Baptist Church in Brevard. After high school (in February 1992), Scott entered the United States Air Force as a vocalist for the Air Force Band of Mid-America, stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. During her tour of duty, she performed for thousands of individuals, from the Eastern Seaboard to the Pacific Ocean.

Scott was also the featured singer at the 1st Annual Champagne and Diamonds Event: A Night with Ella Fitzgerald, accompanied by pianist Pavel Wsolok. Scott has been featured at West Asheville’s Isis Restaurant and Jazz Hall, with Dr. WilliamBares and trio; and with jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut. This past January, Scott was the vocal headliner at the “All That Jazz” Festival at Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn, performing with Dr. William Bares and the Outlaws.


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