BJ Shea

 BJ Shea

BJ'S BLOG 04/16/14 "Free Drinks"

Welcome to the Group Therapy club, ladies and gents. Grab yourself a drink, and put it on my tab.

(Please note: we only serve water, and it's free. Remember to tip your server.)

Lauren is a Rock-A-Holic who doesn't let her relationship status keep her from flirting with guys at the bar, and letting them buy drinks for her. She recently spent 45 minutes drinking with a strange man (on his dime) before mentioning that she was in a committed situation. The would-be suitor wasn't too happy about this; he bailed out immediately, and told Lauren that she'd been leading him on. He also said that he wouldn't accept that kind of behavior from a girlfriend.

Naturally, Lauren isn't sure if she's doing anything wrong.

I can appreciate the fact that Lauren reached out, told her story, and is now looking for opinions from her fellow Rock-A-Holics…but I'm not sure if she's going to appreciate my feelings on the matter.

Personally, I think there's an implied social understanding when a woman allows a man to buy her a drink in a bar; it creates the hope of a possibility for something beyond acquaintance. If you're in a relationship, I think it's best to put your cards on the table at the beginning of the game. You could almost reduce that down to simple common courtesy.

I'm not saying there's a reasonable expectation of something physical happening because a man buys a drink for a woman, but can we agree that most people don't engage each other in bars for purely platonic reasons? It's not a Sunday Social.

Is Lauren doing anything wrong by accepting drinks from guys in bars, and talking to them for an extended amount of time before telling the truth? Oh, and she hasn't told her boyfriend about the guy who felt she was leading him on…but she wonders if she should.

Let's hear it from you!
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BJ'S BLOG 04/15/14 "A Girlfriend's Confession"

Howdy, Rock-A-Holics! You wanna hang out? We could try some Group Therapy together, if you're into that…

Kevin and his girlfriend are both in their early 30s, and they've been together for a couple of years now…but she recently confessed something that has left Kevin in a state of shock. The girlfriend admitted that she was in a 5-year relationship when they met, and she dumped the guy when she and Kevin "started hanging out."

(My first question in this story: What does "hanging out" mean, exactly? Friendly get-togethers? Pants or no pants? It's so hard to decode the terminology these days.)

Kevin's world has been a little bit rocked by this revelation. He's bothered that she kept a secret from him, and he's worried that she might do the same thing to him.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of all relationships end up one of two ways: you're either together forever, or you don't earn your tenure. Even when the outcome falls into a grey area, it still comes to one of those two conclusions.

Is it worth the concern that Kevin's going through? Objectively, this girlfriend really only broke up a previous relationship in favor of Kevin. It's never good to lie, or keep secrets, in a relationship…but could she be the rare leopard that changes her spots? Furthermore, does she earn any points for being honest about it, even if it took her a little while to get there?

Have any of you been through this? Can you offer Kevin some advice?

BONUS HONESTY POINTS: Are you, or your partner, a reformed cheater?

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BJ'S BLOG 04/14/14 "Vinyl, 8-Track, and Stereo"

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:

Music of the 1960's and 1970's was saved on an odd piece of recording equipment, the 8-track tape. Formally called Stereo 8, it was cutting-edge technology. April 11 was National 8-Track Day, but you can still celebrate by paying tribute to the Beatles and the White Album, their first record on 8-track (and I think it's fair to say, if you have that 8-track it might be worth a pretty Penny Lane.) Jackson Browne gave a nod to the technology of the time in "Stay," as you might recall. But alas, the great 8-tracks, as well as cassettes, are no more.

Something else that has all but disappeared from our landscape, smothered by mp3, is the good old-fashioned record store selling vinyl—touch me, feel me, play me. There is nothing like holding an album; feeling the groove, so to speak. Of course, there are still some record stores, fun dusty places where an audiophile can go on a treasure hunt and maybe find that lost piece of vinyl from childhood. When I moved from a very large place to a very small place I was forced to sell off over 300 mint-condition albums to the stores that bought and sold used records. I discovered there is still a big market out there for collectors of vinyl and also saw that vinyl is making a comeback and for good reason. There is no sound like it, and it's another cause to celebrate. The seventh annual Record Store Day is April 19.

Last week I talked about the Internet saving radio by giving it more life. Your local station is now anywhere you are, live and screaming in your car. If you missed that one, including my review of Twenty Feet from Stardom, check it out here:

There's more on the magic that once was, a few words on the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, and other random thoughts at Rambling Harbor. Stop in and give a listen.
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People : Dan SandersJackson BrownePenny Lane


BJ'S BLOG 04/11/14 " Internet Saved the Radio World"

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:

Like most kids, I grew up in the custody of my parents. I call it custody because wherever they went I was mostly obliged to follow. After several attempts to escape at ages 1 and 2, I accepted the fact that I would be held hostage until at least the age of 18. Please don't misunderstand. My parents were extremely good and caring people, and I was never abused in any way, but we traveled a lot. I have often joked I was not sure if we were government or mafia. Now I'm not sure there is much of a difference, but my dad was government.

Traveling can be a great learning experience and I am so grateful for all the places I got to see, but here is the issue. You settle down in one place with one school, some friends, and most of all your favorite radio station. Then whack, wham, it's time to travel on. You find a new school and make new friends, but half way around the world, where is your favorite AM station playing all the hits of today?

In those days it was all AM and stayed that way until that wonderful underground purveyor of songs longer than three minutes, FM, came along. FM radio killed AM radio, at least for me, and in 1979, "Video Killed the Radio Star." Like all the other tracks on that Buggles LP, the theme was promotion of technology while worrying about its effects. I have a love-hate relationship with technology and still worry about technology and its effects on us.

In some cases, technology can be a good thing, and this is one of them. Now if you find you have become a gypsy, there are no worries about losing your favorite radio station, and I do mean radio. Say you left New York headed for L.A. In the middle of the New Mexico desert you can still hear your favorite station live on the radio from the Big Apple. Internet radio and podcasting have been around for a while, but now it's going to be in your car wherever you go. Radio is no longer local. It is truly worldwide. The Internet is the future of broadcasting.

More about this and other musical high notes, including thoughts on a great movie, 20 Feet from Stardom, in the podcast. Come ashore and give a listen.
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Locations : New MexicoNew York


BJ'S BLOG 04/10/1 "Dating Your Ex's Sibling"

Group Therapy is all about Rock-A-Holics helping Rock-A-Holics! Let's see if we can give some quality advice to one of the faithful!

Chris is 21 years old, and he's looking for some help with his current relationship. He dated his ex-girlfriend for about three months, but broke it off with her because he didn't feel like the relationship was going anywhere. Chris also describes her as "crazy", but we'll reserve judgment on that particular score.

Chris didn't leave the previous relationship empty-handed, though. A mutual attraction between Chris and his ex-girlfriend's sister has now turned into a full-on relationship for the two of them. This pairing is only a few weeks old, and it's been moving along very well…but the new girlfriend is worried about hurting her sister by going behind her back.

So, here's the big question from Chris: Should he and the new girlfriend make their relationship known to the world at large (most specifically, the sister ex-girlfriend) immediately, or wait until things have developed to the point of "serious relationship business" before revealing the truth?

I don't necessarily think that Chris is a bad guy; although I'm sure he'll run into some folks who might choose to judge him harshly for this particular life choice. Without knowing more about the women at the heart of this matter, I'm not sure I can give a definitive answer…but I actually don't know if this is something he needs to worry about. Sure, you want to handle people's feelings with care whenever you can, but this might not end up being a huge deal.

Of course, I could just be way behind on my "bro-codes" and "sis-codes" right now. If someone has the latest version of the Man-Woman manual, please let me know. I've never actually owned a copy.

We're turning it over to you, friends. What advice do you have for Chris?

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BJ'S BLOG 04/03/14 "One Night in Jail"

Today's session of Group Therapy has put me in the mood for a song. Come on, Rock-A-Holics, you all know this one:

"Bad boys, bad boys, what'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do when they come for you?"

We might have to change the famous COPS theme to call out the bad girls, depending on the evidence we hear from Marissa, who reached out and is looking for some advice. Marissa once spent a night in jail, and she's not sure if she should tell the man she's involved with.

Marissa's situation wasn't exactly a small matter: she spent the night in jail for a DUI. She's 27 years old, and has been dating her new guy for a month…so how important is disclosure of the penalty she paid for a serious lapse in judgment?

I feel like most women are very detail-oriented when it comes to a partner's past, but men tend to divide issues into very black and white columns. Marissa insists that she doesn't drink and drive anymore, but a DUI can definitely carry a special stigma. Don't get me wrong; I believe in letting actions speak louder than words, but if this was my girlfriend, the possibility would almost certainly be on my mind every time she goes out drinking.

Personally, I think Marissa should leave the past in the past, and focus on being wiser in the future. Let's hear your judgment on this case!

BONUS HONESTY POINTS: Have you ever confessed a criminal past to a partner, and how did they take the news?

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BJ'S BLOG 04/02/14 "Is Dancing Cheating?"

Everybody pick a partner and head out to the dancefloor! It's time to shake your stuff to the sweet sounds of Group Therapy!

(I'll be over here by the punchbowl. You don't want to see me shaking my stuff. Seriously, folks…)

Today's topic comes from a Rock-A-Holic named Michelle, who is having a disagreement with her man. Michelle likes to dance, and she thinks like she should be able to dance with another man – even in a close, sexy way – without it being considered cheating. Obviously, Michelle's husband isn't falling in step with her point of view.

No two relationships are exactly like. It takes two to tango (pretty good, right?) when you're a couple in a committed situation, and that means both parties have to reach a mutual agreement about the parameters of the relationship. Some folks are comfortable with a bit more freedom, and extension of trust, while others like to keep things under lock and key when it comes to interacting with others outside of the partnership.

I think it takes a lot of personal strength to loosen the reins a bit, and let your girlfriend or wife explore something like dancing with another man. On the other hand, there's something to be said for the willingness to say, "Hey, I'm not okay with this."

It's a balancing act, like so many aspects of a relationship. Once the conditions are stated, it's up to both parties to understand and comply with those mutually-agreed-upon terms. That's what a partnership is all about.

Sexy dancing with another man is something that most men would probably have a problem with, even if we're not willing to admit it. Personally, I think that "H.R. Rules" might be an excellent way to keep a relationship functioning within (relatively) normal parameters: if you wouldn't behave a certain way with someone in a work environment, then don't behave that way with them in the outside world, either.

What say you, good people?
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BJ'S BLOG 03/31/14 "Harvard Square, Not Just a University"

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders: 

I took a short trip down memory lane last week, wandering through the Village in New York, visiting the Café Wha and Bob Dylan, among others. Now I want to share some memories of a place called Harvard Square, which actually is not a square at all but a large triangular area near the center of Cambridge at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street, and John F. Kennedy Street. It is the historic center of Cambridge and adjacent to Harvard Yard, the heart of Harvard University.

I got a large part of my education in Harvard Square, or the Square, as it’s often called, not at the University but in places like Jonathan Swift’s and Jack’s and the better known Club 47, now Passim. The folk revival movement of the 1960’s forever changed American music, and that change manifested itself solidly in Club 47. One Tuesday night performer was listed as the anonymous “Girl with Guitar.” That performer turned out to be Joan Baez, who at 17, soon after Club 47 opened, gave her first performance.
The Harvard Square of the 60’s and 70’s saw hundreds of performers making the pilgrimage to Club 47 to be part of the Cambridge folk music world: Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Clay Jackson and Ethan Signer of the Charles River Valley Boys, and Taj Mahal. Some were students, or drop-outs, of Harvard, Boston University, and Radcliffe, such as Tom Rush, Joan Baez, and Bonnie Raitt, respectively, and others came because they knew someone here. Joan Baez brought a good, young singer to Club 47, but it was booked, so Bob Dylan played for free between sets, never playing an official gig.

When I first strolled the streets of Harvard Square, it was a lot funkier than today’s upscale version, not unlike the Village, where Cafe Wha still stands on McDougall street but the falafel is now out of reach for a poor musician. My Square was in the early 70’s: the Vietnam War was over, and it felt like a time of peace. There was a gentler flow of energy then, and on hot summer nights, musicians played on every street corner. Maybe the Taurus in me resists change, but I liked the funky version better.

There are more musical memories and other stuff on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Stop by, grab a driftwood seat, and give a listen.
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BJ'S BLOG 03/28/14 "Why People Get Divorced"

A law firm in England recently surveyed 1000 divorced couples, and they used their responses to compile a list of reasons why people get divorced. I’m a happily married man, but I can certainly see how these reasons made the cut.
One detail that may surprise you: Most people spend as long as 2 years contemplating divorce before making a firm decision. I suppose there’s a tiny bit of comfort in that statistic, if only because it means less people are making snap judgments about relationships that are supposed to be permanent.
The list of reasons for divorce probably won’t surprise you, though…
Unhappiness (this one’s a bit general for my tastes, but your mileage may vary)
Too much arguing
Falling out of love
Not communicating
One big cause of divorce is a simple but painful truth: sometimes, people just change. They grow apart, and they can even leave behind the person they were before, to varying degrees.
It’s a rare thing to love someone the same way you did when you first met, especially if you came together as a couple many years (or even decades) ago. My wife and I love each other, but we’ve been through the growing pains along the way! They don’t just magically disappear as time goes on.
I think it’s fair to say that most people are a “work in progress” for most of their natural lives; if you’re lucky, you can eventually turn into something resembling a “finished work”, maybe with enough time to enjoy it before you become a “fondly remembered work.” You do your best to grow together…and if you’re lucky, you can maintain some happy middle ground.
Only 77% of people said divorce significantly affected their kids! So, we’re expected to believe that 33% of children who have been through a divorce are just A-OK? Somehow, I don’t feel like those numbers quite add up for me.
My kids are pretty much adults at this point, but they still mean the world to my wife and I. Even if we didn’t have a happy marriage, I’ll admit that I could see us sticking it out to avoid hurting the children. My son might not be so ruffled by that kind of thing, but my daughter would go ballistic. I certainly don’t want that…and no, I don’t mean that I just want to keep her off my back about it. That would just be a real bonus for me personally.
Divorce is not fun. The best you can do is try to live a happy life with a strong relationship, and everybody does their best to watch for the potholes and pitfalls along the way. There will always be bumpy roads, but they’re a hell of a lot easier if you’re not driving them alone. 
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BJ'S BLOG 03/27/14 "Weird Hobbies"

With a major comic book convention taking over Seattle for a few days, this is the right time for some Group Therapy on the subject of weird hobbies.
Rock-A-Holic Jenny has been dating a guy she likes; he’s athletic, and hits the gym on a regular basis. Things have been going really well…but Jenny’s a little bit freaked out after learning that her guy likes to go to Renaissance Faires with his friends. They dress up in costumes and really embrace the experience. Oh, and he would love for his girlfriend to join him at an upcoming Faire.
In case you’ve never listened to our Geek Nation podcast, let me fill you in: I’m a geek, and I’m sure Jenny would find me to be EXTREMELY weird by her standards. Our beloved Vicky Barcelona – a geek in her own right -- had a choice word for Jenny, and it rhymes with “witch,” “hitch,” and “ditch.” Obviously, we take this kind of thing personally.
Vicky and I can’t help but defend the guy…BUT we’re here to help everyone, so let’s see if we can get Jenny some impartial advice from her fellow Rock-A-Holics.
Do you think Jenny’s being too judgmental? Do you have to love your mate’s hobbies in order to love your mate? Have you ever been in this kind of situation with a “weird” hobby?
BONUS HONESTY POINTS: Are you a Renaissance Faire enthusiast who had to reveal their hobby to a new mate?
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