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The Advice Goddess: May 2015
Monday, 11 May 2015 15:52

Eat, pray you’ll shut up, love

Special to the Daily Planet

I’ve always been a feelings stuffer, but I’ve been reading about vulnerability creating intimacy, blah, blah, blah, so I’m trying to be an open book. Though my boyfriend appreciates this, he keeps telling me there’s a line between expressiveness and my making everything an emotional issue to be hashed out. He last said this when I confessed that I had Googled his ex-girlfriend and felt threatened by how pretty she is. Should I have kept that to myself? 
— Open

If you were any more open, you’d have squatters and roosters.

It’s great that you’ve thrown yourself into the trenches of Self-Improvementville, but the way you connect with someone is by letting them see who you are, not poking them in the eye with it every 20 minutes. Vulnerability shouldn’t be a fancy word for “everything you say or do hurts my feelings.” This Carnival Of Insecurities presented as problems for your boyfriend to solve turns his life with you into a never-ending emotional chorewheel. (Remember, he’s in a relationship with you, not a psychology internship.)


This isn’t to say you’re wrong to look to your boyfriend for soothing. But before you press a problem on him, ask yourself how it would affect him, whether he can fix it, and whether it’s really his business to know. Not all feelings are made for sharing. Some need to go off in a corner and die a quiet death on their own. Still, you aren’t without help in ushering them there. (This is what therapists, best friends, and the Journaling-Industrial Complex were invented for.)


People think that keeping romance alive takes a $10,000-a-night Spanish castle package, complete with moonlight carriage rides with an aria-singing Placido Domingo jogging behind. But it’s actually the mundane daily stuff that matters -- how you and your partner respond to each other’s seemingly unimportant remarks and gestures. It turns out that telling your partner “I can’t find the salt shaker anywhere” isn’t just an expression about a lost object; it’s what marriage researcher John Gottman calls a “bid for connection.” 


In a study Gottman did with newlyweds, he found that the ones still married six years later were overwhelmingly those who consistently engaged with their partner and met those “bids” with “turn-towards.” Turning toward a partner means being responsive -- soothing, encouraging, supportive, or maybe just showing interest. This involves, for example, replying to your partner’s remark about the lost salt shaker -- even with “I hate when that happens!” rather than “Lemme finish this ‘Minecraft’ session” or saying nothing at all (effectively treating them like some old couch you stopped noticing). 


This “turning toward” thing is something you and your boyfriend can each do. Think of it as treating each other like you haven’t forgotten you love each other. It’s smart relationship policy and smart life policy -- wiser than getting in the habit of responding to a partner’s “I’m starting a machete collection” with “That’s nice, dear.”




Toad Rash

The guy I’ve been seeing for a month just told me that he doesn’t want a relationship or monogamy. I told him from the start that I was looking for something “real” and wanted to take it slowly. I did sleep with him too quickly -- on the first date. Still, I feel that men don’t really respect what you say you’re looking for. They get what they want and then leave. How do I keep this from happening in the future?
 — Ouch


Nothing like tearing off all your clothes on the first date to say “I want to take it slowly.” (Your words said no, but your thighs had a marching band and a banner: “Welcome Home, Big Guy!”) 


Many women claim to be seeking something “real” — either because they are or because they don’t want it to seem like their exercise program is “the walk of shame.” Guys are hip to this, so they nod their heads about the “real”ness-seeking and then nudge the woman to see whether she’ll tumble into bed. In other words, your problem was not that the guy didn’t “respect” what you said you wanted, but that you didn’t. (This might be a good time to notice that “blame” is just “lame” wearing a “b” as a hat.) 


To avoid another Sexodus, match your behavior to your goals. Research (and common knowledge) finds that having sex pronto is a bad idea for a woman who’s looking for something lasting with a guy. 


This isn’t to say sex on the first or second date never leads to more. It’s just a risky strategy to sleep with a man before he’s emotionally attached to you — like when your answer to the question “So… how long have you two lovebirds been together?” is “It’s actually coming up on two and a half beers!”




Malice In Wonderland 

 My boyfriend has a crazy ex-wife who can’t let go. She is the meanest, most vengeful and manipulative person, initially convincing the 15-year-old son she has with my boyfriend that I’m the reason “Dad won’t come back.” (He actually divorced her after she, in a fit of rage, made a false police report about him.) She also slashed my tires and spread a rumor that my boyfriend is a child molester. I love him dearly, and we feel we’re soul mates, but his ex-wife is making it so hard to be happy. What can I do?
 — Besieged


Where is the very small, highly targeted zombie apocalypse when you need it? 


Don’t take this woman’s behavior personally. And yes, I’m serious. Assuming what you say about her is true, she seems to be one of those born bar brawlers, ever on the lookout for a reason to break a bottle over someone’s head and start the second Hundred Years’ War. If she could, she’d not only slash your tires but take a sponge bath in the Fountain of Youth so she could live long enough to slash your great-great-grandchildren’s, too.


The problem is, because she isn’t acting from anything resembling reason, there’s no reasoning with her. As personal security expert Gavin de Becker says about the irrationally persistent in his terrific book “The Gift of Fear,” “There is no straight talk for crooked people.” So, practically speaking, short of finding a home security company that sends out zombie squads by radio call, all that you, personally, can do is decide whether you find love and soulmatery worth the trade-offs in terror and tire costs. As for what your boyfriend can do, the answer, unfortunately, is “not much more”: Install video surveillance; document everything she does; and use the legal system to the extent he can (and the extent that seems prudent). 


The following advice — to use gratitude as a buffer against ugliness — might sound like it’s from the Little Miss Sunshine Solutions Department, but there’s actually solid science behind it. Research by social psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and her colleagues finds that people are meaningfully happier when they take regular stock of the things they have to be grateful for. (A caveat: This happiness-increasing effect was found only for people who did this blessings counting once a week, maybe, the researchers surmise, because doing it more often felt like a chore.)


So consider getting gratitudinal once a week, maybe on Sunday night. You could even write five things down on slips of paper and put them in a “Gratitude Jar” so you have a visual reminder of how good you actually have it when things go bad. This may also help you avoid getting snippy with the irritatingly well-meaning who chirp, “What goes around comes around!” Right. If there is such a thing as karma, it seems to go after the truly heinous offenders first, like all the people who ever dropped a straw wrapper or let out a puff of tail wind in the elevator.

 (c.) 2015, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail ( 









Elvis salute leaves ‘em ‘all shook up’
Monday, 11 May 2015 15:16
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FLAT ROCK — Donny Edwards, who performed “An Authentic Heart & Soul Tribute to ‘The King’” (Elvis Presley), proved to be “just a hunk, a hunk of burning love” at the sold-out 250-seat Flat Rock Playhouse on April 25.

Edwards, the international, multi-award-winning professional tribute artist who performed April 23-26 at Flat Rock, worked up an Elvis-like sweat in his efforts, very obviously capturing the hearts of most audience members. Besides physically resembling and sounding like young Elvis, Edwards showed his mastery of “the King’s” moves in general, and his choreography in particular.

He also seemed to naturally emulate Elvis with his kindness, humor, charisma and ability to connect with the crowd.

Among the best-received songs of the night were “Hound Dog,” “Burning Love,” “How Great Thou Art,” “It’s Now or Never,” “Suspicious Minds,” “American Trilogy” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

Ever mixing the playful and the profound, Edwards introduced the song “Hound Dog” by quipping, “As a great philosopher once said ....” and then launching into the opening lyrics, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog....”

For the past 13 years, Edwards has performed his act in Las Vegas, where he now has his own casino show. He also has performed his Elvis tribute in venues around the world. During Elvis Week ‘13 in Memphis, Tenn., Edwards was honored as the only tribute artist permitted by Elvis Presley Enterprises to perform his show on the estate grounds at Graceland since 1977.

He also made clear his deep love and reverence for Elvis — the man and the music. Edwards said he even got married at Graceland. He noted that he was 3 years old and living in his native Texas when Elvis died in 1977 — and that he loved his music even then. He also said his grandmother considered Elvis to be “the devil” because of his suggestive rock ‘n’ roll songs and his accompanying provocative body movements.

For his Flat Rock shows, Edwards performed two sets — the first as a young Elvis for 30 minutes and the second as an older Elvis for 60 minutes, split by a 15-minute intermission.

He wore a black tweed jacket, black shirt, black trousers, and black shoes with a white tie during the first set, as a young Elvis.

In the second set, Edwards, as an older Elvis, wore a bright-blue high-collared jumpsuit, which was unbuttoned at the top to reveal part of his upper chest. His outfit was accented with silver sequins and he wore a white scarf around his neck. Throughout the show, he leaned over to bestow scarves on the numerous women who approached the stage from the floor — and the fans left in obvious delight with their trophies.

Edwards was backed by selected local musicians, including two backup singers and a six-piece band featuring a keyboardist, a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a trombonist and a trumpeter. While the instrumentalists were up to speed, the backup singers sounded weak, seeming to be clearly out of their league when matched up with Edwards.

The show started with “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” followed by “Heartbreak Hotel.” At that point, Edwards addressed the audience by joking, “Good evening, this is Justin Bieber!” The crowd laughed and then Edwards more seriously introduced himself as an Elvis tribute artist.

Edwards noted that he has visited many American states, but told the audience, “you all have the most beautiful state (he has visited) so far.” He noted that he has been busy in Western North Carolina, with the April 25 show being his fifth in the area in three days.

Other first-set songs included “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Teddy Bear,” “Too Much,” “Wear My Ring,” “Hound Dog,” “Stuck on You,” “It’s Now or Never” and “Viva Las Vegas.”

Prior to singing “Love Me Tender,” Edwards joked the song would be an ideal song for snuggling up — “if you’re with your wife or girlfriend or both... but that would be kind of awkward.” The crowd laughed.

During the performance of “Teddy Bear,” a stage-hand brought smiles to many faces in the crowd as he carried a laundry basket full of teddy bears onto the stage and handed them, one-by-one, to Edwards, who then tossed them into the eagerly outstretched arms of audience members. 

Upon finishing “Teddy Bear,” Edwards prompted more laughter from the crowd when he deadpanned, “If you caught a bear, we’ll need them after the show, so just drop them off” — as “we’ve got to pay for the pizza” for the band later.

The second set began with “That’s All Right, Mama,” followed by “Proud Mary,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “You Gave Me a Mountain,” “Polk Salad Annie,” “Love Me,” “My Way,” “Burning Love,” “In the Ghetto,” “Can’t Stop Loving You” and “What Now My Love.” 

Prior to singing “My Way,” Edwards noted that there was “a big difference between Elvis and Frank” — not only in their personalities, but also in how they sang that particular song. “Elvis was a nice guy,” he said. “He’d buy you a car... Frank would bury you in a car.”

Appearing a bit winded after giving his all with his movements and singing to “Polk Salad Annie,” Edwards joked that, “now, it’s a tossed salad.”

Other second-set songs included “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I’ll Remember You,” “How Great Thou Art,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Wonder of You,” “Hurt,” “Suspicious Minds,” “American Trilogy” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

The crowd gave Edwards a standing ovation at the end of the show. The lights went up as the concert concluded without an encore.

In the spirit of the crowd-pleasing “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” an exhausted-but-enthused Edwards made himself available for more than an hour for a meet-and-greet with fans, who formed a long line outside an auxiliary building on the playhouse premises.



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