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The Humor Code: A Book Review April 9, 2014

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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Copious Readers, welcome to the second installment in our new series Things That Don’t Have Much To Do With Being Single. Marketing managers at Simon and Schuster kindly provided us with a review copy of The Humor Code–A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny and asked that we write about it on Onely. At first glance, we thought, “Hey, this has nothing to do with singles’ rights!” But we really, really wanted a free book. So we said sure, we’d review it. Plus, we rationalized, single people like to laugh, right?

McGraw, Peter and Joel Warner. The Humor Code–A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Simon and Schuster. New York. 2014.

Two guys. 19 experiments. Five continents. 91,000 miles. And a book that will forever change the way you think about humor.

That’s the publisher’s summary. Here’s mine:

An intrepid sweater-vest-wearing university professor (Pete) looking for the grand unified theory of humor and a jaded journalist looking for a fluff story (Joel) quickly find themselves, if not over their heads, at least frighteningly up to their nostrils in a flood of humor, as they try to observe what makes people in different cultures laugh and why. A lot of the laughter they encounter is fun, some is dirty, some is mean, some is unintelligible, some is even dangerous.  They make some assessments based on science, such as when they look at various gender bias studies (verdict: no, Adam Corrolla, men are not funnier than women). The authors also form theories based on interpersonal interaction, such as when they compare penis sizes with Japanese actors-slash-game show participants.

The Humor Code has not one, but two, storylines. First, there’s the travelogue, intertwined with expository prose analyzing the results of their adventures. Second, there’s Pete’s struggle to become a standup comic–or at least to develop a standup routine that, based on what he’s learned about humor, cannot fail to entertain.  He appears on stage several times, each instance in a sweater vest. I won’t give away the end result, except to say that he gets better with practice.

The Humor Code is, appropriately and necessarily, funny. But the whole time I was reading I kept thinking, A book about what makes me laugh is making me laugh. A book about what makes me laugh is making me laugh. It was a very fractal feeling–not unpleasant, but rather like little meta fingers massaging my brain.

Our heroes go in search of Tanzanians who remember the contagious laughter outbreak, omuneepo. They examine headlines in the satirical newspaper The Onion published right after 9/11 to learn how laughter offsets tragedy (for example, “September 11 Hijackers Surprised to Find Themselves in Hell”). They meet with some of the Danish cartoonists who drew the famous and infamous cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that caused so much uproar around the world.

Speaking of which, here’s one for your next cocktail party: many of the cartoons didn’t even feature the prophet Muhammad; the vast majority of people protesting or defending them hadn’t even seen the drawings; and–this tidbit should be brought out after the canapes when people are well into their martinis and mojitos–the one cartoonist who did draw an actual prophet Muhammad with an actually offensive bomb in his turban was later in his home with a five-year-old daughter of a friend, when presumably a non-fan of his cartoon beat down the door with an ax and chased the cartoonist into his panic room–leaving the ax man alone with the little girl. She may or may not have drawn cartoons of Muhammad at some point in her Crayon career, but fortunately, the ax man hadn’t seen any and left her alone.

This book is full of cocktail party fodder, but it dives deeper than that too. Essentially, when it comes to humor, we humans are more united than divided.

–Christina

 

 

Disney Attempts to Become Less Singlist: FROZEN, a Review April 1, 2014

Posted by Onely in film review, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
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4 comments

FROZEN is mostly just another stupid Disney Princess movie, with one tiny difference. As the film progresses it becomes apparent that our main heroine (a princess) can only be saved from her horrid fate (slowly turning to ice) by an act of True Love. We’re led to believe that this will come in the form of True Love’s Kiss by the bumbling but good-hearted sledgedriver named–something, forget. I’ll call him Burt.

However, in the climactic penultimate action scene, the True Love occurs when–SPOILER ALERT, FOR ALL OUR COPIOUS READERS WHO ARE ALSO DISNEY PRINCESS FANS–the princess selflessly saves her sister’s life. They hug and say “I love you!” Moreover, our princess heroine never even marries Burt. There are no couples riding–or sledging–off into the sunset. Instead, everybody in the kingdom gets together and ice skates. The last “couple” we see up close are the two sisters, skating together.

I grudgingly say “Good for Disney.” Grudgingly, because I loathe Disney, not only for their singlism and marriage mania, but for their sexism and racism. Just some random examples: All the princesses look the same–skinny, with ginormous eyes and tiny or nonexistent ears. They vary only according to hair color or style and–if we’re lucky–skin color. I barely need mention that their fates revolve around men. And in Aladdin, all the Arabs except for Aladdan have accents–meaning that all the bad guys sound like they are actually from the region where the story takes place, whereas Aladdin sounds like he grew up tipping cows in Indiana.

So I look at FROZEN as one small step in a journey of about ten million miles that Disney needs to walk in order to undo all the damage they’ve done to little minds over the years.

Just saying.

–Christina

Nothing To Do With Being Single: The Spectre and the Sickness March 27, 2014

Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Your Responses Requested!.
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1 comment so far

Copious Readers, welcome to our very first post that has nothing to do with being single! We have written over 400 posts so far and each and every one has directly pertained to some aspect of being single, either socially or legally (or both). Not today! 

41cmjVXhQCL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I wrote an all-true essay about ghosthunting and Lyme Disease called The Spectre and the Sickness, and I put it up on Kindle Direct Publishing. For only a dollar, you can find out how paranormal investigations and Lyme disease are very much alike. Please check it out. Any feedback is welcome.

Anyone can write something and put it on Kindle Direct Publishing, and I highly recommend you do. Trust me, it’s worth all the trouble of wordsmithing–if only because the Kindle program for making your own cover art is so damn fun.

So do it–write about social or legal discrimination against single people! Write about silly things non-single (or unenlightened singles) have said to you about your single status! Write about being single with a chronic illness (our current favorite topic here at Onely)!

Oops, I guess I have turned this post into one about marital status after all. Quick, undo undo: Write about kittens! Write about hot air balloons! Write about the crisis in Ukraine! Write about intestinal polyps! (A topic we, too, will address soon in an upcoming post–and don’t worry, by then we will be back to writing about singleness again.)

–Christina

Seeking Sick Singles March 17, 2014

Posted by Onely in Your Responses Requested!.
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14 comments

3095657774_821b99ba56_oOnely is seeking singles who have chronic illness.

We are doing this for two reasons: One, a friend of ours is considering a possible documentary about singles with chronic illness. Two, just because we at Onely are interested in how single people live with chronic illness, and we hope to talk to a range of people meeting these criteria. If you would like to be considered for the (still hypothetical) documentary, or would like to tell your story outside of the documentary, please contact us at onely@onely.org. (Or leave a comment below.)

We are also seeking another term than “sick singles” (too pathetic and, what’s more, a little pornish-sounding) or “singles with chronic illness” (too unwieldy). Terms that distill into catchy acronyms would be great.

–Christina

Photo credit: Zoom_Artbrush

Singles (and Seduction?) on Sailboats February 25, 2014

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
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3 comments

Copious Readers,

It’s been a long time since our last post. Sorry if anyone missed us. (We hope someone missed us.) But never fear, even though we weren’t posting, we constantly had our eyes peeled for examples of marital status discrimination against singles. There are examples all over the news (thank you, Google feed), but we prefer to write about incidents we personally experienced. And our favorite kind of personal vignette is when the marital status discrimination is reversed–when married people experience a little bit of what singles live with every day. Mean but true. 

water-14687_640You may or may not know my stance on singles’ groups. I personally find them kind of icky (I explained why here) but some people like them, so whatever. My friend Kisha is part of a beautifully-alliterated group, Singles on Sailboats (that also happens to have the unfortunate acronym SOS). But here’s the thing–Kisha is in a relationship. She’s not single.

So what’s she doing in a singles sailing club? Does this mean that Kisha is stepping out on her  current man Dean and scanning the sailboats for a smarter, richer, tauter, funnier version of Dean?

Well, no.

First, because Dean owns the boat. You can be single as George Clooney, but you can’t be in SOS unless you have a boat (which is a dumb example, because of course George Clooney has a boat). Second, SOS allows couples like Kisha and Dean to join. Because they are not married.

Did you get that? Unmarried couples ok, married couples not ok. Perhaps SOS thinks that until a couple signs that piece of paper–until they become legally coupled as opposed to merely socially coupled–SOS should not deprive them of the chance that, while attending a SOS function, one of the unmarried pair might find, well, a smarter, richer, tauter, funnier version of Dean.

I would go to SOS myself and try to seduce some socially-but-not-legally coupled men, just to test this theory, except I don’t have a boat. Or any seduction experience or equipment.

I heard about the marital discrimination information straight from Kisha. “We’re trying to get them to allow married couples,” she said, and more power to her. Maybe if they add married couples they can become People on Sailboats, which sounds kind of stupid but at least they’d lose that unlucky SOS acronym.

(Full disclosure: The SOS website, technically you can be married in the club, but you must have joined as a single person. Which pretty much amounts to the same thing I’ve been yapping about above.)

All that said, here are the people that SOS does welcome unconditionally:

single members with all levels of sailing experience, from novice sailors to seasoned skippers. . . all single persons twenty-one years of age or older, regardless of race, color, creed, sex or national origins

Which just shows how discriminatory singlism (or, in this case, marriedism) is ingrained in our society. The club has no qualms about making policy based on marital status, but they go out of their way to advertise their lack of racism, colorism, creedism, sexism, or national originsism.

Until they fix their marital status discrimination, they cannot legitimately say, as they do on their website, SOS is a sailing club, not a dating club.”

Copious Readers, can you think of better acronyms for this club, either reflecting their current status as a dating club, or their future status as a non-singlist, non-marriedist club for everyone?

–Christina

Photo credit: Pixabay, Public Domain

Alabama State President–Victim of Singlism January 16, 2014

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, Heteronormativity, Take action.
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2 comments

Even the unmarried president of Alabama State, Gwendolyn Boyd, accepts discrimination 4708817904_8ff853a14d_oagainst single people, aka ‘singlism’. That shows how insidious singlism is in our society. Even a woman with a  master’s in mechanical engineering from Yale buys into the myth that couples are better than singles.  I must presume she is a highly intelligent, driven, open-minded woman. But then why, Copious Readers, would she end up accepting these terms from the university:

Her contract stipulated that she could not share her prime university housing with anyone except a husband.

And she didn’t fight back.

Check out this Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss to get the whole story, and to read about all Boyd’s *other* accomplishments that make her complacency in this matter even more startling. (more…)

Sillybacy: The Funnier Side of The No-Sex Oath January 10, 2014

Posted by Onely in blog reviews, Everyday Happenings, We like. . ..
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1 comment so far

4754863837_97f5417ffe_oAs our Copious Readers at Onely know, some single people have lots of sex, some have (ahem) rather middling amounts, and some have no sex at all. What? None?

For unmarried or uncoupled people who want sex but aren’t having any, this seems like quite the problem. But many people actually choose or swear to be celibate–maybe for a pre-determined period, maybe permanently, or maybe for an indeterminate amount of time after (ahem) a particularly bad first date, involving an argument about ice cream in a public parking lot and also (don’t ask) beansprouts.

But despite all these different kinds of celibacy, when most people hear “celibacy”, our knee-jerk reaction is,

Difficult. Extreme. Embarrassing to discuss, especially with the perpetrator.

So I am pleased to flag for you this tongue-in-cheek list on the blog of a Catholic priest friend of mine, which explains why being celibate isn’t so celibad* after all. (more…)

I Spent Christmas Alone December 26, 2013

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Great Onely Activities, I want to..., Some Like It Single.
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4 comments

4156759926_26aa1c1c16_oActually, that title is not true. It was Thanksgiving that I spent alone, and which I wanted to post about several weeks ago. But I never got around  to writing the piece until just now, so I tweaked the title just to make this post more timely.

I didn’t have to spend Thanksgiving alone. I could have joined some friends or my family. But I wanted to be alone during the entire Thanksgiving weekend, and be thankful for my aloneness. But would it work? Could it be done?

Answer: Kinda.

My plan: On Thursday morning, I would drive twenty minutes to Bull Run Park, where I would spend three nights camping in a Rustic Cabin, writing my Adequate American Novel and snacking (not necessarily in that order).

There would be no WiFi.  I had long believed that if I could simply get away from the Internet, I would finish my book in a weekend, easy.

The nice woman on the phone at the park swore my computer would not pick up one single quiver of WiFi. “No Internet,” she said, “But there is heat, a microwave, mini fridge, futon, table, chairs, queen bed, and bunk beds.” This all seemed a bit luxurious for a writing retreat in the deep woods. But perhaps I’d get lucky and the heat would fail, and I would have to continue typing in fingerless gloves with a scarf around my neck, hunched over my keyboard, as boundless creativity flowed from my stiff white fingertips, the way I’d always imagined–correctly or incorrectly–Henry David Thoreau did when he went to Walden Pond.

Now it’s true that Thoreau did not have a down comforter, plus a down-filled bomber jacket, plus a calf-length down coat (not meant to wear over the bomber jacket, but I wore it over the bomber jacket).* Nor a frozen Trader Joe’s spinach pie (Thanksgiving dinner) and a bag of organic pears and nutmix. But nonetheless the words he used to explain his famous explanation for his retreat kept playing over and over in my head. I remembered them from the movie Dead Poets Society.  Or thought I did. (I did not and will not Google them to make sure I get them right.) This is what I kept hearing as I shuffled around my little cabin, from computer to refrigerator and back again: (more…)

Single and Sick: Nika Beamon Takes It On December 12, 2013

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought, Marital Status Discrimination.
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1 comment so far

Copious Readers,

We at Onely are trying to write more about the issues of being single and sick (health insurance inequalities being one of the main bullsh!t factors creating a more difficult situation for singles with chronic illnesses).

So we were thrilled to see that Bella dePaulo, longtime singles advocate and social scientist, posted a guest article by Nika Beamon about dating and living with a chronic immune disorder.

Read it here.

We also tweeted it, so we request you retweet so that we can get the dialog going!

–CC

 

Seeking Happily Ever After, Ever After! December 8, 2013

Posted by Onely in film review, Great Onely Activities, Honorary Onely Awards, Reviews, Some Like It Single.
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2 comments

Copious Readers, several months ago Onely was excited to view and review the independent pro-single-women film Seeking Happily Ever After.  Now it’s more widely available on DISTRIFY, where anyone in an English-speaking country (for now) can rent it from their own computer. (Distribution in non-English-speaking countries has not been implemented yet due to the cost of subtitling.)
Producer Michelle Cove provides some statistics that drive home the need–or rather, the market–for pro-singles films such as Seeking Happily Ever After:

• The number of single women has more than doubled over the past three decades. –2011 General Lifestyle Survey Overview from the Office for National Statistics
• In England, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, approximately one in five women in their late 40s remaining childless. –Yale Global Online, 2012
• In Australia, almost 1/3 women aged 30 to 34 do not have a partner.–Census statistics
• 62% of U.S. residents 18 and older have never been married. –U.S. Census, 2011
• In Scandinavia, the majority of mothers in all social classes are unmarried.—Sociologist and leading researcher on men and masculinity
• In Spain, 92% of women do not censure the fact that they have had a child without a partner.—NSI (National Statistics Institute)

Buoyed by the success of Happily Ever After, we at Onely hope that one day someone will make a film about single men. Granted, women are more immersed in the White Dress Marriage Myth and hence the greater need for a film such as SHEA. But a positive film about unmarried men would be interesting too. Any takers?
–Christina

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