Music: Golden Shoulders

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 9 years since I first saw the band Golden Shoulders play The Dusty Bookshelf in Manhattan, Kansas. I was instantly hooked and have seen Adam Kline and his crew every time they’ve come through town.

They’ll be coming through this way real soon – next week in fact! Playing Monday, April 15 at the Dusty Bookshelf in Manhattan and Tuesday, April 16 at the Dusty Bookshelf in Lawrence. There are a few other dates on this tour, so check ’em out if you can.

P.S. This song dates from the 2002 album Let My Burden Be. Do you recognize the female singer accompanying Adam? Yep, that’s none other than Joanna Newsom.


Book Review – Dealbreaker


This post restarts my series of book reviews from a Hopeful Romantic perspective. Some of the books are kinda new, some of the books are a bit older – either way, the books offer something (at least partially) for those looking to improve their approach to love and relationships.

Now, most books about relationships fall into three categories.

  1. From a clinical psychologist with a Phd that has done countless studies and therapy sessions. These aren’t much fun to read as they are laden with examples of people that should have known better.
  2. There has been a wave of guys writing a sort of “tell all” book geared towards women to enlighten them on the wayward ways of men. (I’ll get to reviewing those books in time.)
  3. The humorous memoir written by a chronically single woman. It’s great to be entertained and all, but I’m not sure why so many women keep buying these types of books from someone who ultimately hasn’t been successful in finding a lifelong romantic relationship yet.

The book I’m reviewing today, Dealbreaker, seems like it would fall into that last category. Besides having a chronically single woman as a writer, Marisa Pinson, she is joined by a male writer Dave Horwitz. They both perform together at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles and have started writing television episodes together, too. Their authors’ bio on the last page mentions that they started writing Dealbreaker (first as a blog, then into a book) so “they could vent their frustrations about their ill-fated dating lives”.  Alright, so this book will break the mold a little bit and will not just be written by a single lady writing about her relationship woes in a comic fashion, but will be written by a guy, too.


First, this book is hilarious. It is especially hilarious to those with a varied dating past, as we can likely relate to almost every single Dealbreaker. But here is the thing – while they list and explain these funny dealbreakers (something that makes you not want to date someone), they are all true. Here’s one from a page I just randomly opened:

You Won’t Stop Talking About Your Ex
Wait, I think you’ve told me this story before. It ends with your ex saving a baby from a burning building. No? Oh, it’s the one about how he took you to a private island owned by his billionaire father? Or maybe it’s about how the only reason you two broke up was because he had to go on a humanitarian mission in Africa! You know what, if you like him so much, why don’t you go live with him in his sweaty, mosquito-infested tent? Oh, I get it. That’s how this story ends.

If I hadn’t already made enough incorrect assumptions about this book, I also thought that Dealbreaker would line up with the content from Chapter 5 Differences. But Marisa and Dave span dealbreakers across the gamut of a doomed relationship, listing each dealbreaker when they are most likely to be discovered. Here’s the chapter list (since the book itself doesn’t have one):

  1. The First Impression
  2. The First Date
  3. The Morning After
  4. Three Months Later
  5. Three Months Later (Again)
  6. The Breakup and Beyond

From a Hopeful Romantic perspective, some of the dealbreakers are visible external traits – what they look like, what they wear, and types of things that they like. (You drive a Hummer. Your funny tattoo.) They also list internal traits that you (should) figure out after a few dates/conversations. (You’re a Scientologist. You Don’t Believe In Evolution.) And then the other dealbreakers seem to be caused by a lack of relationship skills or common sense. (You live with your parents. You flirt with other people.)

All in all, for those looking to learn something while they are entertained, this book not only lists some common issues to watch out for, it also reads as a list of things to not do yourself. In relation to The Hopeful Romantic, you will see some of the same themes and topics mentioned in Chapter 2 – Knowing What You Want, Chapter 5 – Differences, Chapter 6 – Growing In Love, and Chapter 7 – Dead End Relationship. Please, stay tuned. In the meantime, buy Dealbreaker and get a jump start on getting out of your next doomed relationship.

Music: The Hopeful Romantic Mixtape


A few years ago for Valentine’s Day, I compiled a Hopeful Romantic Mixtape – songs from my favorite artists that correspond with each chapter. Well, with the advent of this new website and the streaming availability of Spotify, I thought it was worthwhile to repost. Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist, as well as a chapter and track listing:

Chapter 1 – Being Happy
Heartless Bastards – Be So Happy

Chapter 2 – Knowing What You Want
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Oregon Girl

Chapter 3 – First Contact
Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves – Am I Wasting My Time

Chapter 4 – First Date, First Kiss
Flight of the Concords – A Kiss Is Not A Contract

Chapter 5 – Differences
Wilco – Pick Up The Change

Chapter 6 – Growing In Love, Then Falling In Love
Ben Kweller – Falling

Chapter 7 – Dead End Relationships
Feist – Inside And Out

Chapter 8 – The Art of the Breakup
Loretta Lynn – Mrs. Leroy Brown

Chapter 9 – Recovery
Limbeck – Honk + Wave

Chapter 10 – Is This Person the One?
Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position

Chapter 11 – Appreciation + Compromise
Golden Shoulders – Patience Darling, Patience

Chapter 12 – Being Happy Together
Jens Lekman – Someone to Share My Life With

That last song was Melissa and I’s first dance at our wedding!

I’ll try to update this playlist every Valentine’s Day. So look for a new one next February!

Photo via Flickr user le vent le cri

Movie Review: High Fidelity


We meet Laura and Rob as they are at the end of their seemingly dead end relationship. Laura recognizes the stagnation and decides to end things. Good for her. The Hopeful Romantic doesn’t wait around hoping things will magically get better someday. When the other person refuses to change/grow, it’s time to get out.

Rob, though, can’t seem to get over Laura. He falls into the Recovery stage, and in trying to figure out what went wrong with Laura, other than being an asshole, he realizes he never figured out why his other previous relationships didn’t work out. So he reaches out to all of his old girlfriends to find out.

And he made some classic mistakes:

·         He broke up with someone because she wouldn’t get physical with him right away, missing an opportunity with her because of it.

·         He went after someone (Charlie) way about his status/looks. “You’ve got to learn to fight your weight” rings true. Don’t shoot too high.

·         After that breakup, he got into a relationship with Sarah, who also just went through a breakup, just so they wouldn’t be alone. This is to be avoided. Follow Rainer Maria Rilke’s advice instead – “We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.”

Once he figured out what an asshole he had been, when Laura needed him back in her life after her dad died, Rob was ready to step up and commit.

In true Hopeful Romantic fashion, she then helps open Rob’s eyes to see how happy he should be as owner of a record store. She encourages him to start DJing again. He even starts his own record label.

And the biggest sign of growth is when he realizes he shouldn’t be making a mix tape for a girl that isn’t Laura.

Rob finally grows up and becomes a Hopeful Romantic.

[images from Music Snobbery with copyright likely belonging to Touchstone Pictures. Used under fair use.] 

Why Have Your Previous Relationships Failed?


I'm currently writing Chapter 7 Dead End Relationships. Part of making the next or current relationship work is knowing why the last relationship failed. Oftentimes there is a major difference in opinion or expectation that made itself known long after the relationship got serious. Maybe the other person said or did something that was unforgivable. Or maybe the other person lacked certain relationship skills.

Of course, be honest with yourself – it may have been something you did as well. 

Bottom line, learn from your mistakes so you don't waste your time repeating them. (And hash out as many issues as you can before getting too serious.)

Good luck, and stay hopeful!