No Sex Please We’re Plaguish


by Roxanne Tellier

Sum-sum-summertime! Toronto is in the middle of what seems like an unending heatwave. (And was that a tornado that just whizzed through my neighbourhood?)  

But, to be honest, I don’t mind the heat that much. I’m already staying inside most of the time, except to feed the critters, water the plants, and hit the ‘senior hour’ at the grocery store, because that’s where all the cool kids hang out.

Around the house, I can wear minimal clothing, and the lockdown means much fewer people just ‘dropping by,’ so my COVID hair and added avoirdupois aren’t the issues they’d be were I trying to socialize.

No, I don’t mind summer too much. Winter, now winter I truly hate, because winter hates me. Winter means dark days, depression, cold, damp, and my old bones crying out for warmth. I was born in winter, and winter will probably be the death of me.

Summer’s okay. Well, except for chocolate. Summer wants to melt my chocolate. But apart from that, I’m good.

How about you? How’s your sex life?  Let’s talk about sex, baby. Porn. Over-active hormones. The basic human need for people to interact, flirt with each other, get together, and press the flesh, nudge nudge wink wink.

Sex will always, always, always be more important to the passionate person, attempting to harness that raging and undeniable libido, than nearly anything else but raw survival. In the middle of fleeing a zombie attack, it is virtually guaranteed that at least one person will be unable to stop themselves from dropping trou and getting it on, be it with the living and/or the dead.

And that’s just as true during a once in a century, global pandemic.

Of course, that drives ‘spiritual leaders’ insane, because they know, from personal experience, that their doctrines are worth nothing in the face of passion. Sex is a stronger impulse than the need to worship. You’re a lot less likely to be tithing if you need that money to find and keep a honey….

What I’m saying is – it’s human nature to want to find a partner. And usually sex is a large part of the partnership.  And nothing anyone says is strong enough to stop a human with a high sex drive and raging hormones from inserting part A into part B. It’s going to happen, even in the middle of a pandemic. 

It happened when people worried about dying from venereal diseases like syphilis or gonorrhea. It happened when getting the crabs was a social faux pas. It happened when herpes came along, and when HIV/AIDS arrived on the scene. We still got together. We still gambled our sexual health on those people with enough chemistry to entice us to let down our guards, because no one that good looking could possibly be carrying a disease.  You know that’s how we rolled. 

Prior to this outbreak, Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Happn, Hinge – all of those apps sat unashamedly on the phone screens of people of all ages and inclinations. People loved being able to ‘swipe right’ to see who else might be out there. And they still do. Libido. Curiosity. Boredom. Swipe, swipe, swipe.

So now, they’ve got these new ads on TV for dating companies, promising to match people up, regardless of people being locked down. People around the world will always crave human connection. But these ads make me laugh, then shake my head. Human nature. People gonna hook up, no matter what or when.

I’m just not sure that watching people watching other people, and critiquing how they cook, exercise or iron their clothing, is really the right way to encourage a prospective dating client.       

In this new normal, many people can’t actually be physically together – they can’t touch, kiss, hug, have sex – but they experience virtual relationships, over their laptops, on Zoom, by phone. Some will decide to ‘Netflix and chill’ simultaneously. They’re bonding, they say. It’s just that they’re physically miles apart.

Seems to work for at least some of them. To me, I just wonder when the novelty will wear off, like it did with the Tamagotchi virtual pets. I wonder what ever happened to mine. I haven’t fed it since 1998.

Remember a couple of years back, when everyone was worried that teens would ruin their future sex lives by getting addicted to sex sites like Pornhub? The worry was that people – not just teens – would become desensitized to the idea of having sex with others, because of how easy it would be to have sex with yourself, the person who truly knows what turns your sexual crank.  

Today, there are few adults, male or female, that have not visited a porn site at some time.

I remember reading similar warnings when vibrators and other sex toys became ubiquitous. When the people enjoy that much control over their own sexuality, governments get nervous. They need people to be controllable.

And remember all those magazine articles taking the sides of those people who had high, low or zero sex drives, and how to deal with those ‘needs’? (Spoiler alert; any level is fine. But you’ll be happiest if you partner with someone who is on the same wave length.)   

This COVID thing … it’s a doozie. The virus has been found in saliva, semen, and feces. You can barely tell if you’re coming or going.

Luckily for you, most world governments have laid down some info on how to deal with these urges. They’re advocating masturbation, as a good way to keep it to yourself. Just be sure to wash your hands and sex toys with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after getting your self on.

They’re saying that you should be good to go if you’ve got a steady partner, that you live with. But they do warn that close contact, including sex, is best kept within a small circle of friends. Oh, you naughty government, with your wicked advice!  

So where does that leave our wannabe Leisure Suit Larrys?  Not in a great place. That ‘thing going on’ is gonna be a problem.

While we’re talking about partners, spare a thought for those of us who are in relationships. About a month into the lockdown, it was already getting hairy. We have all discovered that there CAN be too much togetherness. As a friend said recently, “It’s true that we’re all going to be so happy when we finally can get together with those we love and have missed. Just not those people that we’ve been locked down with… those people can go to hell… “ 

But hey! Look at the bright side. A research paper came out today that should radically kickstart a search for a vaccine and cure – the state of the penis is implicated. There may be erectile dysfunction to worry about!  Ventilator/Schmentilator. If there’s a penis somewhere that is unable to erect, we must sound the alarms!

“ Despite being a trivial matter for patients in intensive care units (ICUs), erectile dysfunction (ED) is a likely consequence of COVID-19 for survivors, and considering the high transmissibility of the infection and the higher contagion rates among elderly men, a worrying phenomenon for a large part of affected patients.

… Endothelial dysfunction, subclinical hypogonadism, psychological distress and impaired pulmonary hemodynamics all contribute to the potential onset of ED. Additionally, COVID-19 might exacerbate cardiovascular conditions; therefore, further increasing the risk of ED. Testicular function in COVID-19 patients requires careful investigation for the unclear association with testosterone deficiency and the possible consequences for reproductive health. Treatment with phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors might be beneficial for both COVID-19 and ED.” (NCBI.NIM.NIH. GOV.)

Truth be told, there’s always been some people who like to be in relationships, but would really rather not deal with another person, in person. They don’t want the hassle of dealing with someone else’s needs. Or smells. Or laundry.  For those people, this quarantine is a little slice of heaven.

Still, I know there’s hope, down the line. Someday, there will be hugs again. At some point we’ll all emerge from our caves like hibernating bears, and stagger about, clutching at each other.

And all we’ll have to do is get over our terror of other people’s COVID cooties.

Beware of Darkness


by Roxanne Tellier

It’s a long weekend, and here in my little corner of the city, it’s sunny and warm, with just a gentle breeze ruffling the ferns. My ‘regular customers’ – the little birds, Blue Jays, and squirrels – have already been by for their morning treats and have now gone off to hide from the local felines. 

The local cats that I find myself hiding from are the hardcore cultists on social media. who – despite knowing that I have nothing but disdain for their claims – are still driven to send me memes and videos about conspiracy theories and their hero, trump. It’s like trump spawned an army of gaslighters to back up his prodigious stream of nonsense. I am besieged.

I am beset with anti vaxxers, anti Bill Gates-ers, the ‘plandemic’ true believers, the Mike Flynn apologists, and the swarms of cabin fevered, badly coiffed anti-COVID-ers, all of whom have chosen trump’s murderous and genocidal BizarroWorld over science, truth, or reality.  

I am hammered nonstop by these fanatics, and it’s making me crazy. I don’t want to be the bespectacled school marm, doomed to constantly interject that, “actually – that’s not at all true.” I don’t want to be the stern, uncompromising maiden aunt ‘with no sense of ha ha’ that I’m accused of being when I don’t find mis/disinformation presented as truths, funny. And I don’t want to be the Chris Hedges of the conversation, whose every observation reeks of doom and gloom.

And I really don’t want to be the person that points out that someone that YOU may hold dear, has actually gone batshit crazy, and needs an intervention.  I don’t have your history with that person, so I don’t see them with loving eyes – I see them without the rose-coloured glasses … and your dear friend or loved one is behaving irrationally and irresponsibly.

Mostly, I don’t want to ever feel that I did anything to hurt another human’s health, by adding to the complete confusion that has come along with the concerted efforts of trump’s re-election efforts, fueled by the trolls and Russian based troll farms that are spreading these lies, meant to lure people out of lockdown and into danger.  

Anyone who thinks that they are alone in despising the changes done to their everyday lives by this pandemic needs to check their narcissism; if there are two or three people somewhere unaffected and giggling, no one has time to dig down deep enough to find them. And anyone who believes that their ‘rights’ include the possibility of infecting others is abjectly and irredeemably selfish. As the saying goes, the right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.

In crisis, our characters are revealed; we are not what we claim, but what we do. If you are portraying yourself as a people-loving, hippie type, but you use your hippie cred to disseminate a meme about how America was ‘in the middle of a pandemic in 1969’ but  “Instead of shutting everything down, and ruining people’s lives, they held Woodstock,” you are spreading the ‘fake news’ gospel. You are claiming that the current coronavirus pandemic is a product of the media spreading unnecessary fear and panic. But you’re being sneakier than trump or his gang, in that you’re wrapped in a peace flag, in an attempt to appeal to that gauzy nostalgia loved by baby boomers.

Sneakier still, the group you are teasing with the memories of heady freedom, complete with ‘sex, drugs and rock and roll’ are the group deemed most vulnerable; seniors, often with multiple comorbidities. The Woodstock meme is the pied piper of pensioners.

(In fact, Woodstock took place months after the first season of the Hong Kong flu had ended in the United States, when it was believed that the virus was gone. ) 

And even after the truth is exposed, and the premises of the memes are debunked, those people prone to spreading misinformation tend to really double down. They will not be denied. They’ll arm-wrestle you to the ground in defense of their beliefs.

In truth, we’re all confused. We’re all hating being locked in and away from our loved ones, and we’re all starved for contact, and for some real, unbiased information, something we can pin our hopes and our futures upon. We want a return to what we used to call normal, even though that normal recedes further into the distance with every passing day.

A call to arms, like the ‘plandemic’ video misinformation, or like the Woodstock meme, gives us the false hope that all we have to do is be brave in order to be able to take some acceptable societal measures, like reopening the cities.

Is it really necessary for anyone to remind those people how many of the previously ‘brave’ now lie in coffins in the ground? We have over 5700 Canadians dead to date. Based on the current numbers, we’ll have over 100,000 dead Americans by next week. Perhaps a little less ‘bravery’ is in order.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

On a lighter note, I can’t help but feel that President Obama’s wonderful speeches yesterday, delivered virus free to American graduates, were like opening a window and letting the clean, sweet May air flow into the house. 

Words of optimism, of hope, of pride in oneself and in one’s nation, without a single whine or brag – ah, it’s been a long, long time since we heard such kindness. In all of 2020 so far, at least we had that hour.

In that spirit, let’s take a little ‘prance’ down the Memory Lane of lively, happy, bubble gum pop songs with no agenda beyond making us smile. Everybody dance!

1910 Fruitgum Company … Simon Says

Bobby Sherman Easy Come Easy Go

Friend and Lover  Reach out of the Darkness

The Archies  Sugar Sugar

Tommy Roe  Dizzy 

The Ohio Express  Yummy Yummy Yummy

The Partridge Family – I think I Love You

Enjoy the rest of the long weekend!

Britney Spears Scares Pirates


by Roxanne Tellier

I originally wrote this column in April 2015.  Woke up today unable to write about the things I find so depressing in 2019, so … this retread will have to substitute for new thoughts on ‘interesting times.’

sexy-music“If music be the food of love, play on!”  Like food, music can be comforting. It can also be stimulating, annoying, or cloying. Music releases dopamine, the ‘feel good’ hormone, just like sex and actual food. Music can arouse feelings of euphoria and craving. Dopamine release is at “peak emotional arousal” during music listening, so you really ARE getting a bang for your musical buck.

Although there are exceptions – whether you consider them cursed or blessed, 5% of the population is indifferent to music, and feels nothing when they hear it.

But for the rest of us, music is much like a drug. When you’re listening to music that ‘speaks’ to you, you are completely dialled in to your brain, and that changes your brain chemistry. Music will change or augment your good or bad mood, and can cause you to slow down and relax, or jump up and dance.

brain-on-music-scienceComplex changes occur in our brains when we hear our favourite songs. We can be unconsciously manipulated through sound; studies show that listening to sad music can lead to a wide range of complex and partially positive emotions, like nostalgia.  Listening to particularly sad or happy music can change the way we perceive the world.

When you’re watching a film, you’re unconsciously processing the background/soundtrack tones and tempos which signal to our brains that what we are seeing should be experienced in the way the writer intended.

britney-scares-piratesThe sort of music we want to hear at a given moment has much to do with what we’ve heard before, the sounds that we’ve absorbed through our lives, the sounds that feel familiar, that work within the tonal range that defines what is ‘popular’ in our culture.  Which is why Britney Spears’ music has been used by the British Royal Navy to scare off Somali pirates.

Merchant naval officer Rachel Owens explained the tactics: “Her songs were chosen by the security team because they thought the pirates would hate them most. These guys can’t stand western culture or music, making Britney’s hits perfect. As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney, they move on as quickly as they can.   (metro.co.uk)

The inherent nature and power of music affects the animal kingdom as well. Cows produce more milk when listening to relaxing music, and 3% more milk listening to slow music over fast.  Birds and whales compose musical creations very like man’s, combining rhythm, length, patterns and pitches we can recognize, and both will sing complex songs to communicate with each other, and during courtship.

music-dogs-loveIf your pet has a tendency to overeat in stressful situations, or suffers from separation anxiety, quiet music playing on the radio may calm their anxieties, relax muscles, improve digestion and increase restful sleep. Dogs are particularly sensitive to music, with classical music having been shown to actually calm pups prone to epileptic seizures, and stimulate and release endorphins in the brain that aid in pain reduction.

Our brains love repetition. The first time we hear a song, our brains are processing the input, constantly predicting what will happen next, based on a pattern. And brains are a little lazy … we love repetitive choruses. In fact, for each repetition of a chorus, the chances of a song reaching the top of the charts rise by 14.5%

no-stairwayBut there’s a limit to how much repetition we can take. Although hearing a song again and again makes your brain happy, because it’s already done the work to figure out what comes next, after a while, overexposure to songs causes an actual irritation. Like when you can’t bear another chorus of “Jingle Bells,” or break into hives at the ten millionth rendition of “Stairway to Heaven.”

One thing that I always find hilarious is how easily we mishear lyrics. As we listen, we’re actually Interpreting and anticipating what will come next, a combination of hearing and hope. And once you’ve misheard a lyric, it becomes more difficult to process the actual lyrics, especially if a part of you is tickled by how witty you find the misheard version.

cheese-mondegreenThere’s an actual term for misheard lyrics – mondegreen. It was coined by writer Sylvia Wring, in a Harper’s piece in 1954. She admitted to mishearing a piece of ancient English poetry her mother had read to her in her youth. Instead of hearing, “They hae slain the Earl Amurray, / And laid him on the green,” she heard, “They hae slain the Earl Amurray, / And Lady Mondegreen.”

Makes sense, right? Even though it’s incorrect, it fulfills the two-step process of hearing – the physics of sound entering your ear, and the part where your brain takes the sound and interprets what you’ve heard. When communication breaks down between sound and meaning – you’ve got a mondegreen.

We take what we’ve heard and shape it to what works for us. Bohemian Rhapsody becomes Bohemian Rap City. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “bad moon on the rise,” becomes a ‘bathroom on the right.”  It makes more sense to imagine Jimi Hendrix kissing a guy than the sky.

brain-on-music-smileMondegreens work so well, in poetry, music and everyday life, that the misheard can become a new reality. “Spitting image” was originally “spit and image.” (Spit meaning likeness.)  It drives me batty when I see a writer refer to an all-intensive purpose, but they’ve come there from ‘for all intents and purposes. “.It’s not ‘tow the line, ‘ it’s ‘toe the line,’ from the early days of the British Royal Navy,(those guys again!) at a time when seamen fell in for inspection barefoot.

It’s a ‘dog eat dog world,’ not ‘a doggy dog world.’ We ‘champ,’ not ‘chomp’ at the bit, and we ‘nip it in the bud,’ not the ‘butt.’  Perhaps these misinterpretations are ‘blessings in the skies.’ No, wait, that would be a ‘blessing in disguise.’ You’ve got another ‘think’ (not ‘thing’) coming if you believe these expressions are really “one in the same,” (one and the same.)

For some reason, Cat Steven’s classic, ” First Cut Is The Deepest” seems to be a mondegreen buffet, no matter who has recorded the tune.

People hear the lyrics, “First cut is the deepest.” and mishear it as ….

First time as a DJ.

The First God is a DJ

First cousin of Jesus

The first God was a teapot.

The first god is a demon.

The first guy is the deepest

The thirst god is the deepest

The first dive in the deepend.

And, ” And I’m sure going to give you a try.” as  “And I’m sure going to give you a child.”

And, ” But if you want, I’ll try to love again ” as “But if you want, I’ll try another man.”

And, ” When it comes to loving me, he’s first.” as ” When it comes to love in need he’s the worst.”

People …. enunciate!

But even the grumpiest and most contrary Grammar Nazi can get a chuckle out of misheard lyrics. This video, apparently made as a birthday gift to a friend, captures every nuance and mondegreen that listeners heard in Joe Cocker’s classic rendition.

And the folks at pleated-jeans.com have a ton of terrific videos you can enjoy on Youtube, starting with this one:

and then there’s this :

 

As a prize for getting through all of that science, here’s my  gift to you. SketchShe, the models-turned-comedy act from Australia, released a new video this week. Shae-Lee Shackleford, Lana Kington, and Madison Lloyd debuted their latest ‘Mime Through Time’ sketch – but this time they decided to go topless.  Now that I’ve got your attention … here’s a lip sync medley that romps through seven decades of music. Enjoy!