Giving a monkey a shower (Klub Kakofanney Lockdown Letter)

Giving a monkey a shower

I was checking out an article on a news site this week. I really shouldn't read the Readers' Comments below news articles, yet I do, even though I know they'll make me grind my teeth. This time I was nearly down to the gums after one covid-denialist and misogynist posted: "The feminisation of society is partly responsible for the pathetic snivelling reaction to covid".

Surfing the crimson wave

Seven years ago, 2014, it was my pleasure to see one of the furthest travelled of indie bands to ever come to Oxford when the palindromically-named Tacocat played the Wheatsheaf stage. This surf band had come from Tacoma, a district of Seattle, up in the north west corner of USA. One of the songs they played that night was called "Crimson Wave". Love the crazy costumes and crab dancing in this video.

Did you spot that the song contains the lyric: "there are communists in the summer house"? What about take my mind off Aunt Flo, sew a scarlet letter on my bathing suit, listen to the Cramps on my stereo, all the girls are surfing the crimson wave? Have you worked out yet what the song is about? Yes, these are all euphemisms for (close your eyes now if you are male and squeamish, because I don't want to hear any pathetic snivelling reactions), they are all euphemisms for menstruation.

Scarlet Letter Days

Do you know the real reason why "wearing the scarlet letter" was used as a derogatory term for women? It originated in a novel about religious hypocrisy and piousness set in Boston, New England, in the 19th century, and is nothing at all to do with menstruation. If you really want to know the backstory, a fun way to find out is to watch one of the best high school movies of them all, "The Easy A", in which Emma Stone plays the lead character, Olive. The film is about the transformation of Olive (which is an anagram for....?) and the musical underscore is fabulous. Great music makes movies work. Here is the "Bad Reputation" scene from the movie.

That version of Joan Jett's Bad Reputation is played by a US band called The Dollyrots, (can't think what that could be a euphemism for). The two core members of that band, Kelly and Luis, were watching the election results together on TV in November 2000 when, at four in the morning, it was announced that George W Bush had won. At that point they decided that since the world was going to hell in a handcart, there was little point going to med school, and they might as well move to LA where it was warmer, and pursue their music dream while they still had the chance. In LA they were spotted by Joan Jett's Blackheart label. Twenty years later and they are still living the dream.

Just make it stop, stop, stop

The Dollyrots are good friends with the pop punk band and pioneering mental health advocates, Bowling For Soup. One of the BFS songs, "1985", is a great song in its own right, but when they played it live they always brought showmanship to the stage when they would stop the song half way through, have an ad-lib conversation about the venue or engage with someone in the audience, and then, with exquisite timing, would seamlessly restart the song. They may look like they are clowning on stage, but their concentration levels were superb. Work hard, but make it look easy. Here they are, playing that song to a huge festival in Australia.

The song is about a middle-aged woman who is having a mental health crisis as life rushes past leaving dreams unfulfilled. Once you know that, it changes the whole context of the lyrics. The UK version of that EP release also contained tracks called "Major Denial", and "Bipolar".

Time is what you make of it

Bowling For Soup performed the title sequence for Phineas and Ferb. Never heard of it? It was a superbly surreal series of twenty minute cartoons released between 2007 and 2015, featuring two step-brothers who try to do something different for every day of the school summer holidays, along with their long-suffering older sister, Candace. There was also a sub-plot that involves the evil Professor Doofenschmirtz and his arch-nemesis Perry The Platypus. Here is Soup's title sequence along with some fun snippets and music pieces from across the series, (and yes, that is Chaka Khan making a cameo appearance in cartoon form).

The final episode was an absolutely epic forty minute feature, "Last day of summer", which has a sci-fi plot that Star Trek would be proud of, yet is ultimately a story about relationships, character transformations, and two unlikely heroes who quite literally save the day.

Strawberry sprinkles on a hot cross bun

Phineas and Ferb featured original music and plenty of rock guitars, written by a musical director who is himself an electric guitarist and started his career playing gigs in bars. The song "Busted" is pure pop, "S, I, M, P, Squirrels In My Pants" is hilarious rap, but my personal favourite is the more complex song, "I'm me", from 2009. Play it loud.

Be honest now, you'd have been dead chuffed if your band had come up with a song like that. The vocalist for that song and the actress behind the Vanessa character was Olivia Olson, the teenage daughter of one of the script writers. Ten years later, 2019, she went onto X-Factor in the UK, but was the first person ejected from the show, with the judges favouring Martin Bashir who rolled out the tragic backstory.

The not-so-crimson Covid wave

Did you see the headlines this week? 75% of all adults are fully vaccinated. Good news, right? Unfortunately, and I do not know why, Oxford is still a covid hotspot according to the published statistics, and a mere 47% of adults in this city are fully vaccinated. Maybe it is a logistics issue, maybe it is vaccine hesitancy, maybe it is a statistical anomaly. Whatever it is, it isn't good. Across England, 89% of all adults have had at least one vaccination, compared to just 63% here in Oxford, which means around one in three Oxfordians have not been protected at all. East Oxford and Headington seem to be especially problematic. So there are still very good reasons for keeping up with the face masks and so on for some time yet, even if you've had both shots.

If you are one of the unprotected 37%...

If you haven't been vaccinated yet because you have a medical condition and are worried about vaccine complications, please talk to your doctor about your concerns. Please don't try to second guess what they will say. If you are shying away from being jabbed because you are needle-phobic, please talk to your local surgery, or let the vaccine centre know. The NHS is really experienced in helping people overcome their anxieties and phobias, and they will help you. If you struggle to make appointments due to social anxieties, you can book your appointment online, no problem.

If you have decided not to be vaccinated because you've bought into the conspiracy theories, or have convinced yourself that your immune system is somehow covid-proof, or are simply in major denial about the dangers, please understand that not only are you putting yourself at risk, you are also increasing the risks for everyone else too. Please don't become a senseless covid casualty. We've had too many of those already and no-one wants that. Please do not inflict the consequences of your beliefs on others. No-one wants that either.

TRIVIA BONUS: In Easy A, the town's foreign movie theatre is showing "Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe," which is German for "The Scarlet Letter". Emma Stone's character, Olive, mentions that her name is an anagram for "I love...". Olive's full name is revealed to be Olive Penderghast, which is an anagram for "I love pretend shag". The Penderghast family includes Olive, her mother Rosemary, and her father Dill, all things you might find on a pizza. Her two brothers, Chip and Kale, are also edible foodstuffs.

13th August 2021
The Lockdown Letters
Klub Kakofanney