Saturday, February 28, 2009

Asobi Seksu

ASOBI SEKSU ***
Hush
Sun-gazing shoe-gazers

Floating in a perpetual dream-pop haze is a drag. Sure, the overcast feedback forecasts are charged with lightning flashes of guitar beauty, but the oppressive wall of sound aesthetic encroaches gradually like the chill of a dense fog. So it's no surprise that on their third album, New York City shoe-gazers
Asobi Seksu would push for some sun in their musical winter. The clouds part on opener "Layers," a chiming, relatively minimal lilt. Here vocalist Yuki Chikudate's stacked, reverberating vocals sparkle like the glint of light off a fresh morning dew. Other songs like "Sunshower" and "Glacially" are downright happy-go-lucky pop, more Lush's Lovelife than Spooky. But while they still bring the mope on pleasant droners like "Blind Little Rain," it's mostly clear skies ahead. (Polyvinyl; www.polyvinylrecords.com)

Alternative Press

Friday, February 27, 2009

T Shirt Art

What are you wearing right now? It it a work of art?

If it’s a T-shirt, Andrew Mroczek thinks it just might be.

The curator of “Beyond the Fluff & Fold: Contemporary Artists and the T-Shirt,” a new show at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Mroczek says in putting together the show, he “became interested in artists that were working in media that was going beyond the traditional idea of preservation and conservation.”

Work like performance art, that is ephemeral by nature. This led him to the concept of the T-shirt, an artistic medium that is unique in its relative impermanence, not to mention its utilitarian component.

So how do you tell the difference between a regular old, wash-worn T-shirt, and a piece of art? Intention, says Mroczek. “I think having something as utilitarian as a T-shirt become a canvas, or having that intention as its foundation will propel it to a new platform,” he says. “We have to trust that our artists are communicating relevant and valid ideas. Each artist in the show does not consider themselves a T-shirt artist, per se. What I tried to do was find a group of artists that has really substantial artistic work in other media.”

To that end he’s brought together seven artists whose varied work with T-shirts encompasses a broad scope of expression, (most of which are on sale in limited edition printings.) Ben Colebrook’s The Weekly Dead series, for example, incorporates the ever growing fatality statistics from the Iraq War, while J Morrison’s T-shirts are more playful riffs on ideas of gender, masculinity and consumerism.

“The work in the exhibit, for me,” says Mroczek, “is a little bit of all the things that art should be: playful, personal and political.”

And unlike in most museums or galleries where there is a separation between work and canvas - “in an oil painting the work rests on the canvas” - this exhibit blurs those lines.

“For the T-shirt, the function and form and shape and the wrinkle and fading and the staining all tend to become a part of the piece itself. And the fact that there is little longevity for it comparatively, adds another interesting component.”

And if that’s not enough to get your attention yet, consider it this way: when was the last time you went to a gallery and walked out wearing one of the works on display? Just try going to the gym with a sculpture on your back.

‘Beyond the Fluff and Fold: Contemporary Artists and the T-Shirt’
The Art Institute of Boston Gallery at University Hall
Through Saturday
1815 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Porter Square
Free, 617-585-6656
www.lesley.edu/aib/events/events.html

Boston Metro



Monday, February 23, 2009

Advanced Cigarette Smoking

Advanced Cigarette Smoking


The Dark Roast: When you've accidentally soaked one in a puddle of spilled beer and you roast it over the stove like a fine coffee to dry out the paper before smoking.

Raiders of the Lost Duke: Rifling through the ancient burial grounds of cigarettes past (ashtrays) for half-smoked cigarettes.

The Frankenstein: Emptying out the un-smoked tobacco from a couple old cigarettes and putting them in a new rolling paper.

The MacGyver: Fixing a broken cigarette with Scotch tape.

The Anne Frank: Hiding in a closet at a party because way too many deadbeats have been hitting you up for smokes all night.

The Mellencamp: When you can't find a lighter and you have to stick your face dangerously close to the lit stove top coils to light a cigarette. Works better with no shirt on.

The Sistine Chapel: When neither smoker has a lighter yet one cigarette is already lit and the two the must come together to create the spark of life.

The Old Standby: Smoke for thirty or so years, get cancer, die.

The right and wrong signs

There are plenty of obvious signs you’re about to be laid off — for example, your key to the building stops working all of a sudden, or you find a group of armed guards surrounding your computer. But there are others that might be a little more subtle. Donald Asher, author of the book “Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why” (Ten Speed Press, $15), deciphered a few of the most important ones.


How can someone tell they might be next in line for layoffs?

You can actually test whether you’re about to get laid off or not. In every company, there are “on demand” perks that employees usually ignore. For example, training. It’s always there, available to you if you ask for it: supervisory skills, sales skills for non-sales managers, even how to answer the phone. Ask for some special training and see if you get it. If you get turned down for a routine training request, you should start to worry.

When a round of layoffs comes, is it better to lay low, or to try getting yourself noticed?

I’ll bet that nine out of 10 career experts would say it’s better to get noticed, but I’m not so sure. The lion hunts the gazelle that draws attention to itself. Do your job, keep your head down, don’t make trouble, and stay in the middle of the herd. Troublemakers are fired first, then incompetent people, and then the rest of the cuts are about excess staff or excess costs. Trying to make a big play could get you labeled a troublemaker, and that’s the problem. Most of all, keep your boss happy. Unless your whole department is cut, your boss has a huge say in who stays and who goes. It’s all about boss management.

How do you get your boss to reconsider your worth to the company?

Don’t whine! That’s rule No. 1! Next, do whatever they ask. If they ask you how to double sales while cutting the travel budget in half, you come up with a plan, no matter how Draconian. Don’t call in sick — that’s the kiss of death. Don’t be late on an assignment. Embrace your inner tightwad, show some brilliance in doing more with less, and you might just be the last one out the door.

Boston Metro

Things That Might Wake You Up Everyday in a Quaint Watertown, MA Neighborhood


Things That Might Wake You Up Everyday in a Quaint Watertown, MA Neighborhood

lawn mowers

leaf blowers

an oboe or a tuba or whatever it is that kid upstairs is constantly playing

skill saws

snowblowers

Weltshmerz

alarm clock

Friday, February 20, 2009

Midatlantic: Making Waves in Rocky Waters

The Midatlantic were formerly called the Bleedin Bleedins.
Midatlantic were formerly called the Bleedin Bleedins.

LOCAL ROCK. Boston’s Midatlantic have long been known for the concision of their brooding, tightly wound danceable rock songs, but this past few years they’ve also managed to pack as many game-changing events a band can go through into a condensed time frame.

A name change, (they were originally called the Bleedin Bleedins), lineup additions and subtractions, and the release of a new album, which Metro named as one of the best local releases of ’08, have kept the ground shifting under them.

“We were certainly attached to the Bleedin Bleedins,” guitarist Barry Kelly says, “but it was a name we picked when we started and were just never 100 percent comfortable with it. We wanted something that better reflected our music, and Midatlantic was the unanimous choice.”

The name is apt, as the chiming, anthemic post-punk and new wave songs on their latest “The Longest Silence,” situate them in waters somewhere directly between stateside indie and classic Brit rock.

Meanwhile, however, the band’s longtime drummer and producer Dave Franz was planning a move toward another ocean.

“He is moving to L.A. to pursue a life in music for TV and film,” says Kelly. “We are going to miss him. He is like a brother. But he will still be involved with the project, we hope, in some capacity. The good news is that we plan to continue on performing, writing, and doing what we do, with a new member, someone close to the band who is ready to step in.”

Midatlantic
Friday, 9 p.m.
Middle East Upstairs
480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Central
$10, 617-864-EAST

www.mideastclub.com

The Fatal Flaw: More than they ‘Pretend’


Fatal Flaw adapting well after coastal relocation and new songwriting approach

PROFILE. Getting people excited about a new band is easy. But maintaining that enthusiasm is another story altogether. That’s something that Joel Reader and his Boston-based power pop outfit the Fatal Flaw have in mind as they begin writing songs for the follow-up to their well received debut “We Are What We Pretend to Be.”

“I don’t want to fall into the trap where it takes years to produce a follow-up and by then nobody remembers why they were excited about the band in the first place,” Reader says. The band, whose clever, pop punk anthems earned them a nod for Best New Act at the Boston Music Awards a few months back, were happy with the recognition, but it’s not necessarily the type of thing that can make or break a career.

“I don’t know if you can count on that sort of thing to translate directly or immediately into a bigger fan base,” says Reader. “It’s all part of a gradual process, and of course it helps, but I think people still have to discover new groups at their own pace. And that’s OK. I think folks should be skeptical of every new act that crops up. I know I am! The world certainly doesn’t need any more bands, so we all have to prove our worth and justify our existence one show, one listener at a time. That’s as it should be.”

The next step in that process is working on new material, in a more collaborative process. “This next batch of songs will be interesting,” he says, “because in a way we’re only now forming the band’s true identity. I brought almost all previous material out with me from California, but this new stuff is the sound of four guys writing together in a practice space for the first time.”

It should also be interesting to see how a full year of playing as a band here after a long time in San Francisco rubs off on Reader’s approach. So far he seems pleased with the environs.

“I continue to be surprised by the sheer amount of musical ability on display in the Boston music scene,” he says. “I just think there are more bands here with talented players doing interesting things than I remember being back in California. Something in the water, I guess.

“Playing live here has a lot of similarities to back home, though. Boston and San Francisco are both major U.S. cities with long-standing independent music venues and a tradition of great music, which means audiences in both places are spoiled, and I mean that in the kindest way possible. In either city, on any given night, you can go out and see a stellar performance from either a local band or a national touring act, so that means audiences in both places aren’t easily impressed. Lots of people standing with their arms folded, watching the stage with stoic expressions.”

That sort of reception just presents another minor speed bump in the one-listener-at-a-time process.

“If you can simply keep people away from the bar and get them to nod their heads a little, you have to feel good about your performance.”

The Fatal Flaw
Saturday, 9 p.m.
Middle East Upstairs
480 Mass. Ave., Cambridge
MBTA: Red Line to Central
$10, 617-864-EAST
www.mideastclub.com

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barcode: Valentine's Day

Pretty much every restaurant in town is doing a Valentine's Day menu, but it's the cocktails that can make the difference between a special evening and just another night out. We asked a few bartenders to tell us about their unique Valentine's concoctions, as well as their favorite romantic bars.

BOB O'GUIN

Manager, Privus Lounge

V-Day drink: Cyberlady (Hennessy, Cointreau, fresh strawberries, orange and lemon juice, $9). "This sleek and sexy cocktail was mixed to mirror our new full-size video wall at Privus, where hot music videos and the Fashion Channel play during after hours. The oaky Hennessy mixes well with the fresh fruity tastes of strawberries and the juices of the zesty orange and lemon.

Romantic Bar: "Carla's on Brighton Ave. in Allston is this quaint Italian place that looks like it should be smack-dab in the North End. It would be a great spot for a cozy Valentine's night."

JESSICA SHEPARD

Bartender, Vox Populi

V-Day drink: The Broken Heart (Belvedere vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, and Chambord. $11). "A decadent, rich concoction is the perfect Valentine's indulgence for either the happy couple on a date or swinging singles on the prowl. The silky texture and the hint of Chambord gives it just the right taste for a romantic night on the town."

Romantic Bar: "I think Saint for Valentine's Day is cool, with the three different room themes you can decide to be devilish or angelic depending on your mood or where the night takes you!"

SSEG LUGIRA

Bar manager, Tangierino/Koullshi Lounge

V-Day drink: Slanted Veil (Vox Raspberry, Jacob Cassis Blackcurrant Liqueur, Luxardo Amaretto, fresh sour, $12). "The blackcurrant liqueur complements the cocktail's texture while the berry flavor mixed with the almond Amaretto provides an edgy mix for an edgy night."

Romantic Bar: "On Valentine's Day, I'd love to be hauled up in a private room like the Moet bedroom at District."

DOUGLAS WARNER

Bartender, Kings

V-Day drink: Big Ball for Two (Cruzan Citrus, Cruzan Pineapple, Cruzan Coconut, apricot brandy, Amaretto, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, sour, Myers Dark Rum, $27) "The first thing to mention about the Big Ball is its impressive appearance. It is a big, red drink served in a huge punch bowl that really makes it stand out in a crowd and makes it a unique and fun drink to order. The Big Ball is served with anywhere from two to eight straws, so it is designed to be shared. This helps to facilitate the togetherness and unity that most couples are looking to embrace on Valentine's day."

Romantic Bar: "I would have to say the most romantic bar in Boston is Sonsie on Newbury Street. I have taken my girlfriend there on a number of occasions."

Brenden Wesley: Getting down to the beat of ‘Lonely Hearts’

Brenden Wesley looks like he needs a hug. Maybe that's why he founded the Lonely Hearts Klub.
Brenden Wesley looks like he needs a hug. Maybe that's why he founded the Lonely Hearts Klub.

Lonely Hearts Klub now accepting members.

PROFILE. Valentine’s Day is this weekend, which means one of two things: You’ve either got some sappy romantic plans, or you’re gonna go all out on the town to forget about your love life. As Boston-based DJ and producer Brenden Wesley puts it, “Basically, Valentine’s Day is for the lovers. Sunday is for the Lonely Hearts.”

With that in mind he has assembled a lineup of top DJ talent for a party called Lonely Hearts Klub at Good Life on Sunday, including Chris Devlin of Spank Rock, DJ Knife of Fresh Produce and John Barera of FTW. Wesley, who has held residencies at many of Boston’s hot spots (as well as performed all over the country) and just released a record titled “New Wave Hookers” on Boston label Headtunes, says he specializes in “finding those long-lost gems that time forgot.”

Wesley has a bit of difficulty choosing his go-to jam, but says the dub version of “Feels Good (Carrots & Beets)” by Electra is a sure thing.

“Classic Electro-Boogie from 1982,” he comments on the track, before reconsidering, “or maybe ‘Heat You Up (Melt You Down)’ by Shirley Lites from 1983.”


‘Lonely Hearts Klub’
Sunday, 9 p.m.
Good Life Bar
28 Kingston St., Boston
Free, 617-451-2622

www.goodlifebar.com

Monday, February 9, 2009

You've Got to Have Faith

Losing your job is obviously a painful enough experience, but sometimes getting back out there and looking for a new one can be even worse. Somehow the fact that everyone else is losing their job too doesn't make you feel any better. In fact the crowded job hunting market is probably making a difficult time even worse. There's no sure fire way to get your resume to the top of the pile, but with an economy that moves in mysterious ways, the best thing you can do is keep the faith, and be patient.

"Many people are searching for a job these days," says Michael Erwin, Senior Career Adviser at CareerBuilder.com. "They need to remember that it is going to take more time than in the past and that there are industries who are hiring. Just be patient, you will find something."

Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the best-selling career series "What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009" echoes that advice. "It helps 'to keep the faith' if one remembers that at least 143 million people do still have jobs, and among them vacancies inevitably arise due to retirement, or sickness, or promotion, or moving, or what have you. The current chairman of the Fed studied this over a ten year period and discovered on average 1,250,000 vacancies developed in this way each month. So, there are jobs."

But once you've determined there is in fact a job to be had, dealing with the stress of rejection, or even worse, no response at all, can be another challenge altogether.

"In this environment, it is good to follow-up but not be too pushy," says Erwin. "If you are sending out resumes and getting no responses, you may want to look at your resume and see if there is anything you can do to improve it. You may also want to contact a recruiter or staffing agency to see if they can help you make a few connections."

Tailor you resume to the specific job as well, he adds. "When you find a job that is a good fit for you, make sure you are using similar language so an automated tracking system picks up your resume as a potential good match. Another great way to stand out from the group is to use actual quantifiable results in your resume. Don't just explain what you did, but how you did it and how it impacted the company bottom line."

One alternative is to skip the resume-based approach altogether, says Bolles. Making connections is the key. "'No response' usually means you're trying to approach employers by sending a piece of paper (a resume, whether electronic or by snail mail). This approach has a terrible track record. Instead, develop a network of everyone you know. Let them help you find the name of the person who has the power to hire you at a place that interests or fascinates you. Let them then find a mutual acquaintance to introduce you to that person at that place."

And keep in mind, that although it may seem counterintuitive, there can actually be advantages for the job seeker in a bad economy like this. "Employers are using the down economy to strengthen their workforce," says Erwin. "There are a lot of people currently looking for jobs and employers are replacing their low performers with more "A" players. Because of this, it is important that job seekers highlight quantifiable results in their resumes."

And when all else fails, just keep looking. "Every employer is a unique individual," says Bolles. "and each behaves differently from others. There are therefore some employers who are more understanding during this period, and some who aren't. Keep going until you find the ones who are."

Boston Metro

Friday, February 6, 2009

Barcode: Ole

We love an icy Corona on a hot summer day as much as the next guy, but when it comes to ordering at a Mexican restaurant like Ole, beer doesn't make the cut. Instead, we prefer to expand our horizons by digging deep into the tequilas.

It's pretty easy to find one to suit almost any palate. The Ole list, with 40 plus options to choose from, covers the entire spectrum of tequilas and includes more subtleties of flavor and character than you probably ever knew existed.

"People think tequila is tequila," said bartender Cedric Adams, walking us through a crash tasting course. People are so wrong.

Tequila Blanco: Clear, simple spirits, Blancos like the Tres Generaciones Plata ($9) can have a peppery, sometimes fruity character. The Corzo Silver ($9) has notes of citrus and a clean vanilla wash on the palate. These are the tequilas you'll want to mix your margaritas with. Anything further up the quality ladder and you're just wasting it.

Tequila Reposado: Aged up to a year in wood barrels, Reposados are given more time to "rest" before bottling. The Herradura ($10) shows this in its darker color, and its slightly sweet flavor from the oak. Corralejo ($10) has much more citrus in its smooth start, but finishes with a big floral punch. "This lures you in," says Adams. "Then it hits you. Boom! You're drinking tequila!" The Cazadores ($10) is another alluring alternative. We tried a light squeeze of lime and it exploded with smoke.

Tequila Anejo: Anejos are aged at least one year, resulting in an amber hue and a wider variety of complexities. Reserva de la Familia from Jose Cuervo ($15) has a cascade of spices with little burn on the aftertaste. El Tesoro Paradiso ($15) was like an entirely different spirit altogether, with its sweet, thick, almost syrupy texture.

Tequilas Especiales: Triple distillation and a highly selective agave harvesting process make Especiales the cream of the crop. El Tesoro 70th Anniversario ($18), with its rounded, peaty flavors has a Scotch-like character. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Gran Patron Platinum ($35) was so clean and pure that it was tasteless as a vodka. Don Julio 1942 ($20) inspired Adams to wax poetic. "The dream is in this glass," he said. With plenty of heat up front, citrus, and hints of pine, we agreed. A big sip gave us the shivers. This is a cold weather sipping tequila. Easier to drink, and perhaps better suited to a warm, summer day is the Herradura Suprema Anejo ($40). With an undulating finish, it keeps going and going, and lingers on the tongue. When was the last time a Corona did that?

Ole Mexican Grill, 11 Springfield St., Cambridge. 617-492-4495. www.olegrill.com


Boston Globe

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Von Bondies

The Von Bondies ***
Love, Hate And Then There's You

The good kind of Detroit meltdown

There's a reason why The Von
Bondies' "C'mon C'mon" is not only the greatest theme song in TV history (sorry "Friends" dudes), but also one of the best indie-rock singles, like, ever. The formula: start with a filthy, repetitive guitar riff, add Jason Stollsteimer's bruised snarl juxtaposed by cooing, co-ed vox, set on fire, roll down hill. You can't blame the band for trying to branch out though. New wave pop like "21st Birthday" and the spacious "Modern Saints" manage that somewhat. But like a football running back (not so fast there Detroit Lions), it's when they put their heads down and sprint straight ahead that they score. Thankfully, the hugely ripping, wounded sing-song of "Pale Bride" and "Blame Game" fit that "C'mon C'mon" model to a T. (Major Domo Records; www.majordomorecords.com)

Alternative Press

Ben Lee

Ben Lee **

Rebirth Of Venus

More like Rebirth Of Penis, am I right?

It's all been downhill since the 1995 release of Meet the Real You from
Lee's precocious punk band Noise Addict. Not his career, more so life in general. But that outlook should explain why Lee's cutesy folk and piano pop leave us cold this time out. Sure, he's exhibited a knack for crafting meticulous, clever pop from 1995's lo-fi "Pop Queen," to 1998's yearning "Cigarettes Will Kill You," 2005's goofily charming "Catch My Disease" and last year's aching "Love Me Like The World Is Ending," but unfortunately this time the plodding, plinky Bob Dylan and Randy Newmanisms of "What's So Bad (About Feeling Good)" and "Sing" are well below par. Mercifully the beautiful vocal on "Bad Poetry" and the romantic, breezy "Boy With A Barbie" provide brief respite in a hasty-seeming effort. (New West Records; www.newwestrecords.com)

Alternative Press

Monday, February 2, 2009

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Lonely Road

Virgin

If you spend any time listening to modern rock radio, then you're no doubt familiar with "Face Down," the earnest anti-domestic-violence single from Florida's Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. But if you're like us, you never bothered to find out who the band behind it was; it could have been any of a thousand like-sounding acts. With its pop-punk harmonies, screaming breakdown, and soaring chorus, the song seemed more like a faceless commercial product of the millennial youth zeitgeist than the actual effort of real human beings. Which isn't to say generic can't necessarily be enjoyable. It is here. The band's legion of fans (some 50 million streamed the last album on MySpace) won't be disappointed by the 11 charged-up, emo-pop tracks on its second full-length, almost any of which would work just fine as the soundtrack to teenage movie stars making out in the rain in slow motion. When the band flirts with metal (albeit a highly polished version) as on "Pull Me Back" and "You Better Pray," it provokes more successfully than most of the ballads do.

Boston Globe

A Different 'Way of Being' Jon Edwards

Jon Edwards' latest photo exhibit profiles islanders trading financial comfort for spiritual fulfillment

Getting close up to a subject is easy for an artist. But immersing yourself in a different culture requires a little extra work. That’s just what Maine photographer Jon Edwards did over the course of five years for an exhibit titled “A Way of Being” which recently opened at the Panopticon Gallery. Edwards spent time working with and befriending an isolated community of islanders in coastal Maine. “When photographing, I am drawn to activities that these islanders routinely engage in that are probably unusual to many of us, or are becoming a lost art,” he explains.


What are some of the most significant differences and perhaps surprising similarities, you found between they way people live in isolated island situations and the mainland? The main difference between Maine islanders and many of their mainland counterparts, is the choice islanders have made to remove themselves from the consumerism and/or quest for “the next technology” so prevalent in mainstream American society. Not that these islanders are caught in a time warp, they have just opted to slow down their lives and spend more time focusing on and satisfying the daily basics like food, heat, shelter, etc. ... They are very aware that there is a trade-off between financial comfort and spiritual fulfillment. ... They are more at the mercy of the weather, ice and cold mean more danger on the sea and the need for more wood, and like all who make a living from the ocean, are at the mercy of its inherent dangers. For them, it is all the price of independence, which is what they get from living closer to the land than many of us.

I understand you take sort of a traditional approach to photography. Is there any relationship there with what drew you to these subjects in the first place? One of the things that I share with the people I photograph is an appreciation for the “tried and true.” The old things that still work, made of high quality and lasting materials, still do the job the best way, are low tech and easy to fix yourself. Not surprisingly, I stick to low-tech camera equipment. I use a medium format camera from the 1970’s, all manual, with a handheld light-meter. A simple camera that can be easily disassembled in the field when it gets wet or filled with dust.

You immersed yourself in some of the day to day work of the subjects. Did that sort of proximity give you insight into what needed to be shot to tell these stories? I feel my best work comes from the relationship that I establish with those that I am photographing. Luckily, I love the people I photograph, and am truly interested in learning how they survive. I admire the trade-offs they have made to live the lives that they are living. At the same time, it is clear that these are not easy lives. If people make themselves available for me to photograph, I like to give them something back... This means I harvest seaweed, haul lobster traps to and from the wharf, burn slash, cut lawns, cut, split and pile firewood, pick apples, weed gardens, etc., all with a camera close at hand in case the stars line up and I “see” that perfect photo.

'A Way of Being'
Through March 3
Panopticon Gallery
502c Comm. Ave., Boston
617-267-8929
www.panopt.com

“Eggs” is one of the photos on display at the Panopticon.

“Eggs” is one of the photos on display at the Panopticon.
Foto: Copyright Jon Edwards Courtesy of Panopticon Gallery

Tough Times Create Relationship Anxiety

With an increasingly grim financial outlook brought on by the economic downturn this year, many Americans may be in danger of losing more than just their savings. Never mind the house, the marriage could be on the line too.

In even the healthiest of relationships, monetary considerations can be one of the single biggest areas of conflict. With the economy in the tank, the potential for fighting can be further compounded.

That appears to have been a growing concern this past year for many of us, according to a recent Relationship Anxiety Survey sponsored by eHarmony, the popular online dating site. According to the national survey, 57% of Americans (and 61% of men) reported feeling added stress in their love lives as a result of their economic situation.

"A large body of research has shown that financial stress can put a lot of pressure on a marriage," says eHarmony Senior Research Scientist Dr. Gian Gonzaga in the survey report. "Partners spend less time together because they have to work more. There are often more fights over bills and household budgets."

Financial stress doesn't have to lead to relationship doom. But in order to prevent it, it's important to maintain the proper perspective on what really matters, says relationship

Above all it's important that you try to keep a positive outlook. "Studies show that the difference between those relationships that succeed and those that fail is the ability to have a high ratio of positive to negative interactions," Kerner told Metro. In other words, don't take out the market's failings on your significant other. (Unless they happen to work for AIG).

"The ability to remain positive fuels every aspect of our relationship, and especially in troubling times it's easy to see our partners as part of the problem rather than part of the solution," says Kerner.

Alternatively, you mightconsider another, more direct, hands on approach, he says, making the kind of down payments right now that you can see returns on in the future,. "Build up a bank account of small touch-deposits during the day. You may be surprised at your desire to make a larger withdrawal at night."

It sounds simplistic, but the answer to surviving together through economic hardship may simply be more sex. "It's free, it's fun, and in stressful times it's too easy to get caught in a rut that quickly becomes a vicious cycle," says Kerner.

"Having sex won't make your problems go away, but it will help you feel more rejuvenated and connected for the road ahead."
counselor, sex therapist and Today Show contributor Ian Kerner, Ph.D.

New York Metro

Make the Switch

Laid Off? Maybe it's time to work in a new field

So you've been laid off. It's not necessarily the end of the world. In fact it may just be the right kick in the pants you've been needing all along to get started in a new field. "Frequently, when you're forced to change careers," says Susan Heathfield, Guide to Human Resources for About.com, "it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened."

Easy for her to say, of course. She still has a job. But it's an experience she lived through as well when she left the world of education after sixteen years. Her career change process hit its first road bump when she discovered she didn't know anyone outside of education. "It was this whole network expansion thing I had to do to meet people in other industries."

OK, that's step two. But where do you begin?

"The most important thing you need to do is sit down and examine what it is in the world that you enjoy doing," says Heathfield. "What aspects of your previous career did you find rewarding? And when you identify the things that are most important to you to have in your life and in your career, then you need to start looking at potential careers that have those same characteristics."

It can be a chore, but it's an important one, she says. "I sometimes think people don't look inside themselves enough to figure out what they want to do."

Focusing those expectations realistically is important as well. Let's say you're a freelance journalist who wants to be a rock star or pro football player?

"I think most people don't do that, frankly," Heathfield jokes. "Most people are relatively realistic. Except for people that start online businesses!"

What they need to do is take their existing skill set and figure out how it translates to other fields. A seemingly daunting task, but one with plenty of reward. "If they've done the self assessment, if they've realistically looked at the kinds of careers that their previous career, experience, talent and knowledge would segue well into," then things will fall into place. That means don't be like the guy who wrote to her looking for advice on a job in human resources where he didn't have to deal with people.

"You can format your resume in ways that support almost any kind of employment as long as its somehow related to what you've done in the past. You can even look at former jobs you had and pull out parts that you never thought were useful and apply them to a new field."

Specificity is key too. Target your objective directly to the employer. "Take the job description and job posting, and draw the dots between your experience and your talent directly to what they're looking for." It's a lot of work to be sure, but work is, after all, exactly what you're looking for.

New York Metro