Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Personally, I’m feeling thankful for all of the Rock-a-Holics who put their faith in Group Therapy, each and every day.
Speaking of which, we have a new situation to discuss: Rock-a-Holic Kim is distressed, because her pregnant sister has decided to name her daughter “Stormy.”
The as-yet-unborn baby girl was conceived during a storm; the sister wants to pay tribute to that, while also giving her daughter a unique name. Meanwhile, Kim feels like naming a little girl Stormy is a sign that her sister should just go ahead and buy a stripper pole.
Let’s throw this out to all the blog readers: Does it really matter? Does the name define the person?
We’d also love to hear from anyone with a strange name! Has your name been a difficult thing to live with? Tell us your life story (please don’t tell us your life story).
I guess I’m also thankful that B.J. is a relatively normal name. At least it doesn’t stand for “Buffalo Jeremiah” or “Banana Jammer”…
Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
Netflix, which I have had for a few months, is full of movies both theatrical and TV, dealing with the supernatural, the paranormal, demons, ghouls, and other forms of terrifying, blood-sucking, stomach-churning, eye-popping things-that-go-bump-in-the-night. There are also movies that instill fear regardless of the time of day, such as Jaws, featuring sunny days and the beach, but condemning the viewer to fear going into the water. Now, a TV movie has brought the water to us in Sharknado, portraying L.A. swamped by the ocean as sharks swim down Hollywood Boulevard (and incidentally. show no interest in the Brown Derby restaurant where all the Hollywood sharks used to dine).
Possession, shown in movies such as these, is just one kind of possession; house possession is another kind. The S.P.I.R.I.T.S of New England is an organization that investigates places believed to be haunted, and a friend of mine involved in the organization and her team were privileged to be allowed to spend two nights in one of those places, the USS Constitution. What she saw and heard confirmed that our life force lives on.
Another type of possession is portrayed in classics such as The Exorcist, featuring the girl with the spinning head, and The Shining, with Jack Nicholson’s famous line “Heeere’s Johnny,” which he added to the script.
I love this stuff, but I don’t go for a lot of violence. I do not need to see a body split in half before my mostly covered eyes. Scare my mind with the possibility of reality, though, and you’ve got me. I believe a series like Sleepy Hollow is more a possibility, if you can get past the headless part, which seems a bit farfetched to me. The point is, I do believe in spirits, and that some people may be actually possessed. (Perhaps Ted Cruz has been overtaken by Dr. Seuss?)
Back to why I called this piece “Possession Obsession”: So many movies and TV shows revolve around the occult and spirits, witchcraft, and on and on. Is it because all of us, myself included, are searching for something we can’t explain, something that goes way beyond what we see as reality, something that no one can explain, but seeing it makes it real? I think we are obsessed with the desire to find that other place. If we can’t go to the source of the mystery, we will let the magic of the movies and TV bring the mystery to us, and after watching a good movie or show, think, wow, that really could happen.
Well, not really…but Rock-a-Holic Heather might be looking for someone new to watch movies with. Heather is a self-confessed “movie snob”, who judges people based on the movies they enjoy, including her current boyfriend.
After 2 months of seeing this guy, Heather is considering breaking things off, because their taste in movies just doesn’t match up. Recently, Heather wanted to see 12 YEARS A SLAVE, but her boyfriend wanted to see THE DELIVERY MAN, because he loves Vince Vaughn. Heather has a big problem with this, even though her friends feel that she’s being too shallow.
In the age of dating websites and internet compatibility tests, I guess I’m a little surprised that a couple can’t figure these things out before they get too far into the relationship. That’s not to say that opposites can’t work out; my wife and I have almost nothing in common, but we’ve managed to keep it going for a while now.
Personally, I think that a relationship works best when both parties are reaching beyond their own comfort zones, and meeting in the middle. Isn’t that what any partnership is all about? Are a partner’s preferences in movies, TV, and music so important that the future can live or die because of them?
When Rock-A-Holics need help, they turn to their own kind. That’s how we do it in Group Therapy!
Here’s the story:
Leanne fell head-over-heels for a guy who seemed like Mister Right. He moved in with her after just two months together, and it didn’t take long for him to start acting like Mister Wrong. He stole Leanne’s credit card number, and racked up SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS in charges!
The relationship came to a screeching halt, of course. He has since paid back $1500 of the total amount, and life has been slowly moving forward for both of them…until now.
After 8 months apart, the man who stole Leanne’s heart (and money) has returned, and he wants her back. In a development that will shock no one, he had a serious drug problem, and that led him to rip off his girlfriend. He’s in recovery now, and Leanne is conflicted; her friends are telling her to run away fast, but she believes there may be some hope for Mister Right after all.
I’m pretty sure I don’t even have to say this, but my reaction is simple: She needs to head for the hills, and avoid this guy at all cost (literally!) The listening audience seems to agree with me, but I’d love to hear from the blog readers, too…especially if you’ve taken a questionable partner back, or know someone who has. Did it work out, or did it turn into a horror story all over again?
Ever feel like you just don’t have the answers? You can always turn to your fellow Rock-A-Holics for some free-and-easy Group Therapy. That’s what John did, so let’s see if we can help him out…
John’s son is a good kid. He’s turning 16 soon, and he wants a small tattoo for his birthday. Obviously, he wants to MARK the occasion! Okay, okay – that’s a bad joke, and I’m not too proud to admit it. I guess I NEEDLED to INK about it a little longer.
(I am so very sorry. Let’s move on.)
John and his wife actually support the idea of their son getting the tattoo he wants: A purple ribbon to show support for his younger sister, who suffers from seizures. The plan was set in motion, but once the tattoo artist was found, John’s wife started to get cold feet. John’s son is a minor; even though we’ve all seen tattoos on the under-18 crowd, the act of inking an underage customer is a misdemeanor in Washington state.
Obviously, we would never give advice that goes against the letter of the law, so the question now becomes this: “If you lived in a state where minors can get tattoos, would you allow them to do so?”
Ultimately, I think it depends on the kid…and the tattoo.
Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
In May of 1963 I turned 17, and that summer was spent at the beach. In the fall I would play my last high school sports and could barely wait for my 18th birthday. A lot of things happened in my life when I was 17. Besides playing sports, I was discovering girls, applying to colleges, and waiting for the draft board to send me “Greetings” -- that letter all guys knew would come as we became old enough to kill, but not to vote. We had a big black cloud hanging over us, and that cloud was the conflict in Vietnam.
In 1963 at 17, I was too young to know what war was. In school, we read about the great wars: The Civil War between the States, WWI, WWII, Korea, and now this place called Vietnam. It seemed apparent that, unless we had a good reason not to go, we were going to be sent to a strange country, following the commands of old men, to fight and maybe die. There were powers-that-be I did not fully understand, and those powers were determined to take away my youth. It should have been a time of hope for the future, but instead, it was filled with fear I may never see that future.
At the same time, in a world far away called Washington, D.C., I was told there was a Camelot. The prince was President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the princess, Jacqueline Kennedy. I watched as Camelot played out, and wondered what it had to offer me. I had Vietnam to deal with.
President Kennedy was escalating this so-called conflict in Vietnam, as Buddhist monks burned themselves in protest. If Camelot was so grand, why were people committing suicide in protest against this fairy-tale world? Indeed, I could see there was a conflict, but this conflict seemed to be in my country, as well as in some faraway place called Vietnam.
My senior year in high school was easy enough. I had a light class load that included one of my favorite subjects: history. I truly loved learning about things that happened in the past, especially in my country, the United States. I learned about the colonists and the Revolutionary War. I could see Paul Revere riding through the night streets of old Boston, proclaiming the arrival of the British. History always sparked my imagination.
One day in history class, another teacher came in and whispered to my teacher. I watched as the color drained from their faces, and we were told that school would be closing early. In fact, it was not just the school, but the world that had stopped. My world, my life stopped, frozen in time. Now, fifty years later, November 22, 2013, I know I witnessed history; a cold, dark, lonely history, when hope and Camelot crashed into a thousand pieces of broken dreams. Someone killed Camelot. The prince was dead. And now, a half-century later, I remember watching the cameras roll. Newscasters cried on camera, and what was then so current is now studied in history class: the assassination of President John Kennedy. And I am still in conflict.
I don’t talk about sports very often in the blog, but I feel like the story of Richie Incognito is practically turning into a Group Therapy topic!
In case you haven’t heard, Incognito was suspended from the Miami Dolphins after allegedly harassing teammate Jonathan Martin in racist voicemail and text messages. Incognito has appealed the decision, and though he acknowledges the accusation, he has taken to defending his words as being totally in line with the crude conversations that he and his teammates have all the time.
There are some other implications in the air, one being that Incognito and Martin have no problem with each other, and the problem has been created by lawyers and managers for big press, and bigger payout. Regardless of the truth of the problem, Richie Incognito is…well, he’s just not too smart.
I realize I have no right to tell someone that they’re talking too much, but…Richie, you may want to dial it down a little. Just for now, of course; you can go back to being a babbling meathead in a little while, but all eyes are definitely on you at the moment. You’re being judged by your words, so this might be the time for fewer words.
(Especially the ones that make you sound like a racist and a bully.)
Today’s Group Therapy session is going to the dogs.
We heard from a Rock-A-Holic named Mark, who is trying to find a polite way of addressing a problem with some friends. Mark and his wife really enjoy hanging out with another couple – game nights, weekend trips, etc. – but they are extremely reluctant about accepting the repeated invitations to have dinner at this couple’s house…and why?
Once, during a random post-dinner visit to the couple’s house, Mark and his wife watched as they called their two Labradors to the table, set their plates down on the floor, and then proceeded to let the dogs finish their uneaten food, and lick the plates clean. Mark and his wife were both fairly disgusted with this, and they’re running out of excuses for avoiding dinner at the couple’s home.
This was definitely a situation that required the voice of the people. We turned it over to the Rock-A-Holics, who almost unanimously agreed that this is NOT a problem for anyone but Mark and his wife! The explanations ranged from the high-heat cleaning power of dishwashers, to the highly-sanitary cleanliness of a dog’s mouth.
I’m far less comfortable with dogs licking people’s faces, personally, but everybody has their hang-ups. What do YOU say, America? Is dinner plate dog-licking a situation for you?
This particular topic came via an urgent text message, sent by a man in trouble in the wee hours of the morning:
Having just returned from his bachelor party weekend in Las Vegas, Dylan is in hot water, and he’s reaching out for Group Therapy. This already sounds bad, but maybe we should find out what Dylan is so worried about…
Dylan came home from Las Vegas with a hickey, and his fiancee isn’t very happy about that. Of course, Dylan swears that this is all a misunderstanding; yes, the hickey came from a stripper, but Dylan says his friends paid the stripper to do it, as a practical joke. The fiance knew that the bachelor party would involve strip clubs, so that’s not the issue. Dylan swears the hickey wasn’t a sensual experience; it was all a big prank!
Here’s where the story takes a sharp turn: The bride-to-be is not just angry…she’s threatening to call off the wedding!
I have a big problem with this. The most important day of their lives together, and she’s holding it over Dylan’s head because of a stripper hickey? Is that the breaking point for a relationship that’s barely underway? Or is it a sign that Dylan’s fiancee may have some serious issues to work out on her own?
Maybe I’m thinking about this the wrong way. After all, I hate the idea of receiving a hickey – seriously, I have no interest in getting marked up like that. It does nothing for me. I suppose it’s possible that, if a woman enjoys receiving (or giving) hickeys, this might be a bigger deal for her.
It doesn’t change the fact that she’s holding her own wedding hostage over a tacky-looking neck bite. The way I see it, her reaction is an even bigger sign of trouble for this relationship. If she doesn’t call it off, maybe Dylan will…
As Thanksgiving approaches, everyone stops and reflects about what they are thankful for; a job, good health, family, or being in a happy relationship.
Ashley and her husband made it through a difficult time together, and that’s definitely an accomplishment. Following the advice of Ashley’s therapist, they have started spending more time together, including each other in various activities. Ashley’s husband has started going to yoga class with her! Isn’t that great?
Apparently, it’s not so great for Ashley.
She’s embarrassed to take her husband to yoga. She wouldn’t go into detail about exactly why she’s struggling with the situation, but she claims that people in class will stare at her husband, and she is mortified by…well, whatever it is he’s doing. (We suspect it may be a gas issue, but we can’t say for sure. Maybe he’s ogling the other women, hypnotized by all the yoga pants?)
I use the word “balance” fairly often when we’re talking about relationships, but it’s really one of the most important things for a couple to find for themselves. When two spouses can include each other in some of their traditionally-solo activities – and it works – that can definitely be a good thing. When the spouse’s presence starts to take away from the activity, things can get awkward.
That’s where the balance comes in: Maybe it’s time to be honest about the yoga situation, and focus on finding an activity that works for husband and wife equally. Letting the problem continue will only stir up bad feelings, and that could lead right back to the rough patch they found their way out of.
Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:
Last Wednesday, November 6th, it occurred to me that Guy Fawkes Day, November 5th, had just passed (how did I miss it?). Also on November 6th, the CMA awards show was telecast. For those few wondering what CMA stands for (he says, with tongue in cheek), it’s Country Music Association. I hardly ever watch any awards shows these days, and I did not watch the CMAs, although there was a time when it was almost demanded by my profession, and it was my desire to watch every awards show going, from the best kitchen spoon players to the empty paper towel tube marching band.
At one time in my dusty radio career, I played country music. I did this in a town that thought country music consisted of a bunch of fiddle-playing hayseeds. Say “country” to a blueblood Bostonian back then, and you would think I had held garlic to a vampire. During my career, I played country and rock in all its forms, as well as MOR, or middle of the road music, way back in the day. The MOR format was an attempt to please everyone, and during the 1960s and the 1970s, the beautiful music radio stations were "MOR radio.” Its contemporary analogues are the smooth jazz and soft rock, or “adult contemporary” stations.
I worked at one country radio station where, in the middle of the night, the program director called me and asked if I had seen the format. I said yes I had, and I threw it out. He said he could tell, and it sounded good. All I had done was a bit of cross blending of musical genres.
But I digress. I believe I was going to tell you why I didn’t watch the CMA awards: I was in a small audience listening to a true genius, singer-songwriter legend Arlo Guthrie. For the few who do not know who he is (no tongue in cheek), have you ever heard “Alice’s Restaurant,” which most radio stations play on Thanksgiving? Or have you heard “Coming into Los Angeles” or “Massachusetts”? If not, you probably at least know about his father, Woody Guthrie.
I listen as this man known primarily as a folksinger said he was not a folksinger. He said there had to be something called folk music, because it became folk-rock, but what is rock, what is country? Why genres? I enjoyed beyond words hearing Arlo speak on many subjects, and I especially loved that he reaffirmed my belief that labels should not be used to condone or condemn any type of music: There is great country, good country, and gosh-awful country, as well as folk, rock, and blues, and on and on. Great music can be found in every format. You just have to look for it.
I also believe that all these genres can blend one into the other, but commercial radio stations have to pick their demographic, draw the line in the sand based on what they think you like, and DJs are supposed to stick to the resulting playlist.
Arlo Guthrie said there is great music everywhere if you look for it and give it a chance. Keep your mind open and look around, and maybe at 3 am some morning another DJ will decide to blend music from all across the scale, and it will be fun for DJ and listener alike as you wonder what the DJ is going to play next.
There’s more on this and other matters at Rambling Harbor. Give a listen.
Living in the information age is a blessing in many ways, but it can just as easily prove to be a curse. The internet has given every man, woman, and child the power of Instant Judgment on a wide variety of topics…and that great power doesn’t come with anything resembling a sense of great responsibility.
The first man on earth wasn’t a critic, but it’s a safe bet that the second one was. The second men told the third and fourth men what he thought of the first man’s fig leaf, and so it went, down the ages. Now, in the first part of the 21st century, the descendant of that first critic plopped down in a movie seat to watch BAD GRANDPA, and later blogged his disappointed review.
Clearly, we didn’t see the same movie.
Critics are especially tough on comedies, but I think it comes down to a pretentious need to show off some self-important intellectual superiority. A laugh is a laugh, and while I realize that people don’t always laugh at the same things, I’m sick to death of these so-called “authorities” on pop culture, looking down their noses at everything.
If you sit down in a theater to see the latest offering from Johnny Knoxville – who has shown some decent acting chops, in addition to the Jackass-style material that made him famous – and you demand something different than what’s being advertised, YOU are the one with the problem, not the movie. Who’s the jackass now?