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The Advice Goddess: February 2016
Saturday, 06 February 2016 18:03
Special to the Daily Planet


Shove hurts

Q: I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a relationship coach, who instructed me to cut off all sex and even all contact with the guy I was dating until he agreed to marry me. I knew he loved me and wanted to marry me; I just wanted him to do it faster. Sadly, my ultimatum to him blew up in my face; he is done with me. My roommate, who thought the coach’s advice was terrible, just moved in with her guy, despite his being kind of a commitmentphobe. Her approach was to just be loving and patient with him and give it some time (about a year). She said she realized that she had the option to bail if the waiting became too much. I’m confused. Men supposedly don’t get hints. Why doesn’t saying what you want work to get the guy? 
— Direct And Dumped

Is your dating coach 8 years old? Because “I refuse to speak to you till you propose!” is a (slightly) more adult version of “I’m holding my breath till you buy me that Barbie!” 


Welcome to Ultimatum Frisbee! A highly risky game. We tend to freak when our freedom is threatened — including our freedom of choice. In fact, social psychologist George A. Youngs finds that when a potential loss of freedom looms, it unleashes a “motivational state,” compelling us to try to preserve that freedom and fight off any attempts to yank other freedoms. 


In other words, the more you go all petty despot on somebody — overtly trying to force them into doing your bidding — the more likely they are to rebel, and maybe even do the exact opposite of what you want.


“Overtly” is the key word here. Your roommate also wanted to wrangle a commitment from her boo. But note the difference in tactics: making it attractive for him to stick around, as opposed to leaving a note on his pillow, “Put a ring on it!” — along with the severed, bleeding head of My Little Pony.


This isn’t to say you should keep your mouth shut about what you want. But consider the difference in controllingness in making a statement versus giving an ultimatum. A statement tells him what you have to do: “I feel bad that you don’t seem to want to marry me, and I can’t continue in this much longer.” An ultimatum, on the other hand, tells him what he has to do: “Marry me or nothing, bucko!” 


Also, consider that with “marry me or nothing,” you’re very distinctly putting “nothing” on the table. And maybe at a certain point, this is a trade-off you’re willing to make. 


But, again, stating it in those terms is probably a bad idea. Keep in mind that typically, a man commits to a woman because he loves her and is better with her than he is alone — much as he might admire her for her attempt to re-enact the Iran hostage crisis on a very small scale.


Atone deaf

I’m a 28-year-old girl, and I‘ve been with my boyfriend for several months. He never really apologizes. He’ll say “I’m sorry you feel that way” and never “I’m sorry that I did that.”  When I confronted him, he said, “Well, I’m not sorry for my actions. I just don’t want to hurt you, so I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” Am I parsing this too much? Is there a difference between these two apologies?
 — Wondering



“I’m sorry you feel that way” is the Dollar Tree version of an apology. Sure, it has the words “I’m sorry” and the package seems kind of familiar, but it ultimately goes down like expired SpaghettiOs from Czechoslovakia.

This kind of apology doesn’t make you want to forgive somebody; it makes you want to chase them with an ax. Basically, instead of taking responsibility for what they did or said, they’re using apology words to blame you for feeling bad about it. Which is like saying, “I’m so sorry your window was too lame to open itself when my golf ball was heading toward it.” 

And sure, “Sorry you’re offended” is sometimes appropriate, but when it’s always somebody’s apology, it suggests they have no connection to the possibility that they’ve done something wrong. 

This is a trait common to narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths, reflecting a lack of empathy. (Their saying “I’m sorry you’re hurt” is just a sneaky way out, not an expression of care and concern.)

Consider whether the “I’m perfect; you’re oversensitive” model will work for you long term. If not, tell him what you need and see whether he can or will give it to you. If you don’t see a change, the best way to teach him may be by example: “I’m sorry, but the number you have called has been disconnected.”



My girlfriend has been feeling neglected and keeps worrying that I’m mad at her. I love her, but I have big business problems now, and I don’t want to burden her with them. Also, since we have a good thing, doesn’t it make sense to focus on the stuff that’s a mess? 
— Startup Guy


Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to outsource your relationship to some guy in the Philippines: “Please stay on the line. Your feelings are very important to us…”

Men and women tend to deal with crisis in different ways. Women manage their emotions by expressing them; men just hope theirs will go away. Evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby explain that men evolved to be the defenders of the species, and in battle, it would have put them at a disadvantage to show their feelings — especially those reflecting vulnerability, like “Yikes, I’m totally out of my league!”

Being predisposed to bury your feelings in the backyard doesn’t mean you should -- assuming you don’t want your next startup to be a new relationship. This isn’t to say you need to blather on about everything, Oprah’s-couch style. You just need to share the bad as well as the good, even just by texting, “tough day, babe.” You might even put reminders on your phone to send brief sweet messages a few times daily. Maybe that seems dumb and unromantic. What’s dumber and more unromantic is adding breakup problems to your business problems because you didn’t put in 46 seconds a day telling a woman that she matters. Sure, misery reportedly “loves company,” but let’s not be hasty in filling the flower vases and putting out the good towels.

(c.) 2016, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail 

Big bands, dancers swing, sway to music in high style
Saturday, 06 February 2016 17:16
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Despite chilly weather, the 25th annual Big Band & Swing Dance Weekend proved to be a red-hot, “don’t-miss” event for those who treasure the big-band era of music and dance during the Jan. 16-17 event in the Grand Ballroom at the swanky Omni Grove Park Inn in North Asheville.

There was plenty of brass from the big bands — and sassy, sultry vocals from their vocalists.

On each of the two nights, about 250 or more people slipped into their dancing shoes to swing and sway — and many sported semi-formal or formal attire, including bedazzling women in lavish gowns often accented with sequins, and more than a few dapper men in tailored suits with pocket squares and bow ties.

The first night (Saturday) boasted Asheville’s own Russ Wilson and His Famous Orchestra. 

The highlight night (Sunday) featured The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, directed by Terry Myers, which was hugely popular in the big-band era (late 1930s into the 1950s) and launched Frank Sinatra’s career on a big-time basis.

As expected, the Dorsey group played the band’s classics, including “In The Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “Sentimental Journey,” among others. While not very danceable, an especially memorable performance was rendered of “Sing Sing Sing,” which featured the percussionist. 

On both nights, dancing styles were mostly foxtrot and East Coast swing, spiced up with a few cha-chas and waltzes.

Asheville-area dancers spotted by the Daily Planet at the soiree were Bobby Wood and his partner on Saturday night, and Adrienne Vandooren and her partner, as well as Mitch Trager and Barbara Newman on Sunday night. Many of the event’s attendees were from out-of-the-area.

Event activities for package-holders included dance instruction, an exclusive afternoon tea dance, and two nights of dancing to the aforementioned bands. 

Other weekend offerings included guided history tours, a cooking demonstration, chair massages and live themed music throughout the resort. 

On the first night, Wilson’s 15-piece band was introduced by the emcee — with tongue planted firmly in cheek — as being “all the way from North Carolina....” The crowd laughed, good-naturedly, as did Henderson County native Wilson.

Among memorable songs played by Wilson’s band in the first set were Glenn Miller’s “Leapfrog,” as well as a number of tunes that featured singer Wendy Jones, such as “And the Angels Sing” and “A Tisket, a Tasket.” In every instance, Wilson referred to her as “the lovely Wendy Jones,” and she, in turn, smiled warmly each time.

In the second set, the dance floor filled when Wilson’s band opened with “In the Mood,” which is often billed as the most popular-ever big-band song.

Wilson also introduced Nathan Hefner, who sang a few Frank Sinatra songs, including “Come Fly With Me” and “The Lady Is a Tramp,” while Jones performed the Rosemary Clooney classic, “You Make Me Feel So Young.” 

In the third set, Wilson’s band (with Jones adding occasion vocals) performed — arguably — the highlight song of the night: a rousing rendition of “Sway,” most famously performed by Dean Martin in 1954. Wilson emphastically — and with much showmanship — banged a drumstick on a cowbell for an intoxicating effect. 

Hefner later performed his last Sinatra song of the night — “I Get a Kick Out of You” — and it was his best effort.

The regular show concluded with “Moonlight Serenade,” which filled the dance floor. 

After that, Wilson and his band left the stage, but returned after much applause by the crowd to perform one encore — Harry James’ “Two O’Clock Jump.”

On the final night, the 15-piece Tommy Dorsey Orchestra began with Dorsey’s theme song, “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.”

Then the band launched into “Opus No. 1,” “Swannee River,” “Once in a While,’ “A Song for You” and the song that was Sinatra’s biggest hit when he performed with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, “I’ll Never Smile Again.”

Other memorable performances by the TDO included “Pennies From Heaven,” a medley of waltzes, Jimmy Dorsey’s “Green Eyes” and Count Basie’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?” featuring the TDO’s vocalist, Brian Anthony 

At that point, the band leader said the next song was by Cole Porter, “who may or may not have stayed at the Grove Park Inn,” as the band launched into Porter’s magnum opus, “Night and Day.”

Another highlight was “Hawaiin War Chant,” which featured a long drum solo. 

The TDO also did a mesmerizing rendition of “America, the Beautiful,” featuring a moving clarinet solo, in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, which the band leader said, “honors freedom.”

Later, Anthony sang Sinatra’s version of “Chicago,” followed by “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and Anthony’s rendition of Sinatra’s much-beloved classic, “Fly Me to the Moon.”



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