[14 February 2014]
Many of us who are single hate this time of year with the fire of a thousand suns. Maybe that’s a little too dramatic, but what else can you say about a holiday solely focused on happy couples trading romantic gifts during what is often the coldest, slushiest month of the year? Plenty of singles will be stuck alone indoors this V-Day, forced to sit through mushy jewelry commercials on TV or sappy ballad requests on the radio.
We know what you’re going through, and we’re here to help. Here are some pop culture suggestions: movies, books, and video games designed to get your mind off the subject.
The Great Escape
There is no romance (and no female characters) in this all-star classic based on the true story of POWs who tunnel their way out of World War II Germany, but there are plenty of heartbreaking scenes. Those moments only mean so much because the rest of the movie introduces and develops its characters so well. Remember how movies used to be described as “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry”? This is what they were talking about. If you’ve seen it recently, there are plenty of other war movies that don’t dwell on relationships, such as Black Hawk Down, Behind Enemy Lines, and Saving Private Ryan.
While some family movies are dripping with lovey-doveyness (for example, Marley & Me is more about a couple’s infertility problems than the dog), others are just plain fun. You can start with this under-rated modern Disney masterpiece. It’s full of clever wordplay and the plot is as light as air. Other family flicks that are free of love interests are The Brave Little Toaster, The Sword in the Stone, and The Wizard of Oz.
The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon
Some people believe that Pink Floyd actually planned their Dark Side of the Moon album to be a secret soundtrack for the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. They supposedly designed certain sound effects and lyrics to sync up perfectly with what the characters were doing on screen. While the theory is ridiculous (partially because of how hard it would have been to get a copy of the movie in pre-VHS days), playing the two together is an interesting experience. Do you believe it or not? There’s only one way to find out.
It may be a clever commentary on the entertainment business, a psychedelic collection of music videos, or the stupidest, most pointless movie you’ve ever seen in your life. Either way, the Monkees’ first and only movie (currently available on DVD) is hardly seen on TV, contains little to no romance, and watchable for many different reasons. By the way, it was directed and partially written by Jack Nicholson. Doesn’t that make it just a little bit more interesting?
The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (available on DVD)
Bullwinkle J. Moose is just your average cartoon moose who enjoys spending time with his best friend, Rocket J. Squirrel. Somehow these two always manage to cross paths with two nefarious spies and get involved in all sorts of sticky situations. It’s classic screwball comedy, with plenty of puns and sight gags that elevate it to an adult level. Plenty of other classic cartoon series lack any romantic references, including Top Cat, Yogi Bear, and most Looney Tunes shorts.
Any of the Rock Band or Guitar Hero games
Provided that you don’t pick a romantic ballad: these games are a fun way to spend the day alone. If you’ve already played them over and over again, there’s always various challenges and unlockables you can aim for. If you don’t have any of the newer video games systems, then keep on scrolling.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, today’s video games are a great distraction. However, if you only have a few minutes to spare, classic Atari games can cheer you up. If you don’t have an original 2600 console or one of those recent “flashback” systems, you can find most of these games free online or as apps. Frogger, Pitfall, Space Invaders, Dig-Dug, or Pac-Man are good choices (but not Ms. Pac-Man or Pac-Man, Jr. as they have romantic elements.)
R. Lee Ermey is perhaps the least romantic man in television history. As the former host of History Channel’s Mail Call (still available on DVD), he delighted in calling viewers pinhead while blasting away watermelons with various military weapons. You could also say he’s one of the happiest men in television history. In one particularly memorable episode, he gleefully created “modern art” using a machine gun and paint-filled water balloons. Later on, the series was spun off into Lock N’ Load With R. Lee Ermey, which focused on nothing but weapons and was very bad news for watermelons. Either way, it’s far funnier than any romantic comedy.
Brad Meltzer’s Decoded
This Discovery Channel series focuses on popular conspiracy theories. Is Fort Knox empty? Is the Statue of Liberty an Illuminati symbol? While some of their theories are believable, others are laughably absurd, as in the case of two separate episodes that dealt with the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. Another fun option is the History Decoded book, which features pockets full of replica wanted posters, ID cards, blueprints, and various other knickknacks.
Whatever Happened To Pudding Pops? by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont
The best way to forget about your current relationship status is often to focus on your past, or (depending on your age) pop culture’s past. This book highlights the what was and what happened to’s of everything from ‘60s breakfast cereals (Quisp, Quake, Frute Brute, etc.) to ‘80s TV shows (Knight Rider, Silver Spoons, etc.). If you like it, then you can look forward to their upcoming book on ‘90s nostalgia.
If you have any other suggestions, feel free to post them below.