I feel like I don’t have to tell you I was 14, just on the cusp of 15, when I started listening to Lou Reed.
I feel like I don’t need to tell you that I’d worked my way through the waves of punk, post-punk, and New Wave that were available to a suburban kid in those days before the internet opened up the world.
I feel like I don’t have to tell you that the rough, raw power of The Velvet Underground cut through all that synth-pop and atonal noise, cut straight to my bloodstream, cut into something in me that healed clean and and fast and left a mark for the rest of my life.
I feel like I don’t have to tell you that because, against all reason, it feels universal, inevitable, certain. It feels perfect. Is there a better age for a kid to hear Lou Reed’s early work?
Maybe for another kid, but not for me. At 14-almost-15, I was just starting to think what an adult world might look like, what an adult me might feel like, just starting to cope with the coming-of-age clichés, and The Velvet Underground meshed them perfectly: sex, drugs, cynicism, pain, and the high-minded hope of art.
I can’t count the number of nights I spent dancing alone in a darkened room, tethered to the stereo by the headphone cord, listening to the soft scrape of the needle saying shhh, shhh, shhh as the record ended and the hard POW of sound when I flipped the record and started over.
I can’t count how many times in that first year I rehearsed my own adulthood in their lyrics, or sang their songs under my breath, or cribbed lyrics from them to bolster my own weak poetry – because you can’t write poetry until you know what you’re writing about.
I can’t tell you how many times I, thinking myself so clever and avant-garde, stuck The Gift in the middle of a mix tape, or how many more times I feelingly uttered “Awwwwww!” along with the record after “She needed him, and he wasn’t there.”
I can’t tell you how that phrase resonates more strongly as an adult, or how now, stripped of all irony, it speaks to me today.
I can’t tell you how, even as I was listening to “Satellite of Love” and dancing alone this afternoon, I kept thinking of Laurie Anderson, whose work touched and shaped me even earlier, wondering how it feels to see your private grief echoed all over the world by people who never met your lost love, much less loved him.
I can’t tell you whether I’m crying for Lou Reed, or for Laurie Anderson, or for the rest of us, or just for 14-year-old Elsa dancing in the dark with headphones on.
I can’t tell.
Many horror films tacitly celebrate and reiterate conventional values, both by punishing violation of the social order and by restoring that order at the end, maybe with a hint of future danger as a playful stinger.
But not these films. In these films, the end is the stinger, loaded with poison. There is no order; there is no safety; there is no peace or play or pleasure. There is only terror, repeated and rampant.
In honor of Halloween (and cross-posted to The VideoReport), I give you…
… the five movie endings that scare the bejeebers out of me.
NB: This list is ALL SPOILERS. There are SPOILERS HERE. This is NOTHING BUT SPOILERS.
SPOILERS, Y’ALL. Continue reading
For (minor and probably temporary) medical reasons, I gave up coffee cold-turkey ten days ago. Once I got over the withdrawal migraines, I noticed that I’m sleeping like a rock, and that our kitchen trash never reeks like old coffee grounds, but there’s also a downside: I can’t seem to conjure up my usual…
… the thing, where you remember the words. THE THING.
One day, you will no longer be free to hang up on the robot ladies. One day, the robot ladies will keep the line open, listening for sounds of dissent, for the faint scrabbling of rudimentary weaponry being assembled, for any sign of the remaining humans’ resistance to their reign. One day, the robot ladies will learn to laugh at our puny rebellion. One day, you will fondly remember when the robot ladies served us. Please press the pound key.
Summer, always fleeting in Maine, is over and autumn is here.
This summer brought me a day on a beerhall deck drinking lemonade with fellow MeFites (while they drank beer and I tried and failed — four times — to order a beer, too), a leisurely lunch at the neighborhood noodle bar with my visiting brother, a few happy evenings at Mom’s with my visiting sister-and-fam, a spontaneous garden party at with some friends (vinho verde and nectarines, y’all: believe), a plate of fried chicken livers and a handful of horehound sticks (the later shared with a niece), and a happy humid evening drinking rum-spiked blood orange soda and watching The Shining with a living room full of friends.
But hardly a week has gone by without me casting a longing glance forward to fall: to drier days and cold nights, to wool socks and sweaters, to stews and cocoa and days of baking.
Just a few of the things I’ll do this autumn and winter:
- re-read the Little House books. I haven’t read them since childhood, and it’s time to revisit them with an adult’s perspective. I suppose I could re-read them anytime, but if Pa is going to get stuck in that snowbank again and eat all the oyster crackers (and something tells me he will), I want to read it while the wind is whipping outside the window.
- make mushroom bourguignon. As a Christmas gift last winter, I made Mom an entire French dinner to keep in the freezer. It was my first time making boeuf bourguignon, complete with pearl onions and quartered mushrooms, and I spent the entire hot, fat-spattered afternoon cursing and muttering grimly “This had better be good.” And it was, so good that I had to force myself to pack it away for Mom instead of eating half of it myself. Even without the boeuf and the salt pork, I have pretty high hopes for mushrooms stewed in red wine, broth, and herbs, topped with caramelized pearl onions as a vegetarian dinner for a cold night.
- make the best [____]ing pumpkin pie yet again. The best [____]ing pumpkin pie has a similar backstory, but with more cursing, and I’ll tell it all someday.
- cool evenings snuggled down under blankets with The Fella, ideally watching scary movies so I have an excuse to bury my face in his shoulder.
- wearing all those boots! Boots that I left littering the apartment all spring and summer long, as if wistfully imagining a sudden July snowfall. Well, it ain’t July, but that snowfall is coming.
- spend more time at the library. Partly because a story I’m writing starts there, partly because it’s always good to spend a chunk of time out of the house, partly because my reading habits narrowed down recently and I need to widen them again, but mostly because HEY HEY YOU GUYS THIS BUILDING IS FULL OF FREE BOOKS TO READ. Sometimes the idea catches up with me and bowls me over.
- start attending the monthly women’s sci-fi book club hosted by a marvelous bookstore in my neighborhood. (It used to conflict with my trivia night, but the trivia team is on hiatus this season.)
- listen to ALL THE JANELLE MONAE. And I really, really want to thank you for dancing to the end.
- speaking of which, it’s time for an Afrofuturism film festival. Who’s in? I’m going to start with Sun Ra’s Space in the Place, move on to (household favorite John Sayles’) Brother from Another Planet, and after that, I’m open to suggestions.
- one of these days, I’ll have the pajama party I’ve been daydreaming about: toss all the futon pads and cushions and throw pillows onto the floor, set out piles of blankets, and invite friends over for naptime snacks like homemade goldfish crackers, cocoa, ants on a log, and (spiked) bug juice. Dinner can be tomato soup with grilled cheese soldiers. It’s obviously a cold-weather party, and every year I think maybe this is the year.
Oh, goody! Unsolicited advice about my back problem! Of course I didn’t know exercise, gentle movements, and ibuprofen would help; I mostly loll about bonelessly like an oyster, hitting my spine with a hammer and swilling gin through a straw for the pain.
“SIDEWALKS ARE THREE PEOPLE WIDE. DO NOT WALK THREE ABREAST!” – to the obvious tourist group dawdling their way down a busy downtown sidewalk in front of me. I also didn’t bother with a curt “excuse me” and a bustling break through their passage-clogging cluster; just as I was about to, I spotted a young woman sporting a mohawk walking toward us and thought “I bet he’ll step sharply out of her way.” And indeed he did.
“SHE DOES NOT EXIST TO BE ATTRACTIVE TO YOU!” – to the man from that same tourist group, who waited until Mohawk Woman was just past him, still well within earshot, then dropped a dry “Very attractive” to his female companions. For the first sixty seconds after not-screaming, I was proud of my restraint; for the next 24 hours and counting, I wish I had let ‘er rip, and maybe jammed a “FUCKING!” in there somewhere.
“I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP!” – to the dude who approached the crosswalk where I waited, gestured at the thinning traffic, stepped out into the street against the light, then looked over his shoulder to see if I was following.
“SO MANY ELECTRODES!” – to the nurse smoking outside the hospital, as we both glanced up from a distasteful survey of the littered street.
thing I did yell on the phone today, for no explicable reason:
“DUUUUUUUUDE!” – in greeting to my sister, who started laughing so hard that I started laughing, too, delaying our conversation by a good two minutes.
It’s that time again, everyone! Time for another round-up of “Can I eat this?” questions from Ask Metafilter. As always, excerpts retain original spelling and punctuation; any editing is noted in brackets.
soups, stews, and savory simmers
I have four packets of Tasty Bites with an expiration date of July 30 (or in the case of the Trader Joe’s version, the even-more-vaguely-worded “End of July”)
I opened a store bought can of tomatoes and poured it into a pot of chili. Now that the chili’s simmering, the empty can smells like fish and I noticed a dent at the bottom near the seam.
I ran out of tomato paste and used an old can of tomato sauce. Just added a tablespoon or so and poured the rest out in the sink. It’s then that I noticed that the expiration on the tomato sauce was two years ago.
I made a pilaf with young hen-of-the-woods/maitake mushrooms on Monday night. It was delicious. This morning I nuked some leftovers for breakfast (it’s been refrigerated for the past 36 hrs), and the mushroom pieces are now shockingly bitter. What happened?
Asking for my sister: “Accidentally left the fridge door a crack open last night. Inside was a pound of ground lamb. When discovered this morning, a thermometer registered the meat at 50 degrees. Is the meat ruined, or still within temperature limits?”
Dish of fully cooked kosher chicken parts in barbecue sauce left on kitchen counter uncovered overnight (approx 12-14 hours). The apartment isn’t air conditioned, but it stays reasonably cool, so I don’t think internal apartment temp got up to the 80-some degrees the outside sdid last night.
The belly’s been sitting in the fridge for the past week. It smells fine. It feels firm. I am prepared to hot smoke it tomorrow, and now I’m panicking because of a bunch of smoker/BBQ posts I’ve read that say I’m dooming myself and my family to botulism. Am I?
Is it ok to mail a jar of “bacon jam? that I made? [...] the recipe says to refrigerate, but is it ok to spend a few days in transit to Hawaii? It’s cooked bacon with a healthy dose of vinegar in the recipe – would it go bad before it got there?
Have I ruined my 7 lb turkey by leaving it uncovered at room temperature for 12 hours?
Organic ground beef, purchased at Trader Joe’s on Friday and opened Friday evening. [...] It’s turned brown in the meantime, not surprisingly. More concerning, the meat has an odd smell to it. Not a routine bad-meat smell, but smells sort of like vinegar.
Help needed on my first tenderloin. My apples touched my pork! Now what?
Can I Eat This Filter – Christmas Breakfast Emergency Edition: Last night I made a breakfast casserole that was supposed to cook overnight in the crock pot. I set it on low but forgot to plug it in. There’s a dozen eggs in it. If I cook it this morning, will it poison us all?
I have been soaking cod outside the fridge (my first mistake?) for a little over 4 days now. Are we going to get sick if I cook it?
The jar was opened 7 days ago and has been in the fridge since. The ingredients are octopus, canola oil, vinegar, spices and salt. It says “No preservatives. Keep refridgerated” and the expiry date is in July 2013. Does the vinegar mean it’s pickled and good for an extended period? Would I just know by tasting one?
The brined, rinsed smelts sat out for about ninety minutes – maybe as long as two hours – in a room that was about seventy degrees. I finished step two, but now I am afraid to eat them. I thought due to the brining it might be OK. Can I eat it?
I’m trying to find technical information on why refreezing seafood is bad. [...] Bonus points if anyone can also point me to something that explains the problem with long term freezer storage of shellfish, again, specifically what nutrients break down and how.
My husband ate a small jar of opened caviar that has been in the fridge an undetermined amount of time (longer than several months).
Do I have to throw out fish stew left overnight by mistake?
I bought some fresh yellow sweet corn about a week ago, shucked it and stored it in a plastic bag in my fridge. Tonight I boiled it for supper and when it came out of the pot, several kernels on each ear had turned brown. Some are light brown, some are a bit darker and some are nearly black. The corn looked and smelled fine when I put in the pot. Why did this happen? Is it safe to eat?
A friend of mine recently brought back a bag of crushed red pepper from her home city in China. I had the idea of trying to plant some of the seeds in my plot at a local community garden and seeing if they’d grow. My concern is whether this would be safe and legal to do.
Last night, around 9:00 pm, I sliced up some yellow and red onions, threw them in a crockpot with a stick of butter, set them on low (timer set to 8 hours) and went to bed. (this a faux-carmelizing technique I’ve done before). Bad dreams about the onions and leaving a crockpot going overnight. [...] They were not refrigerated overnight. They sat in a warm crockpot with butter all night. They smell delicious. Is it safe to serve them to guests tonight?
The contender: a pouch Farmhouse Culture Smoked Jalepeno Sauerkraut, left out overnight on its side. Package says “keep bag upright” and “perishable, please keep refrigerated,” but it’s still cool to the touch.
Do I have to wash the inside of my romaine lettuce?
A naive shopper sent to the Chinese market to buy dried tofu ended up with something labeled as dried tofu but it is not really dry and it is long and skinny. It smells a bit funny even in the packaging.
grains, pasta, legumes
I found a few boxes of steel cut oats in the pantry that I’d completely forgotten about. They expired in February 2013. Are they safe to eat or should I toss them?
How would you handle finding a worm in your pasta, especially given that I can’t be sure if it came from the sauce or noodles? Also, any idea on what type of worm this might be so I can research it more and figure out if it’s invasive or not? I threw the worm, the jar of sauce, and box of noodles away so far.
I have a bag of “black rice” and after six weeks or so the black color has flaked off the outside of the rice grains.
I have a recipe for cold beans soaked in oil and vinegar that I make all the time. Could I can these beans, so that I don’t have to prepare them every day?
I use this product in my smoothies that I eat quite often. How concerned should I be about aflatoxin?
Is eating peanut shells on a regular basis a bad idea?
Does old peanut butter make these delicious cookies … OF DOOM?
cheese and dairy
I bought some goat, gruyere, fontina, blue, and fancy cheddar cheeses from a gourmet cheese shop last night and left it in my car overnight (it only gets down to about 70 degrees — if that — at night where I live). Can I still eat it?
My SO and I were having some italian-themed chicken wings, and had some fresh-grated parmesan cheese on the side in a copper bowl. After our meal, we were cleaning up and transferring the leftovers to the fridge for storage, and the cheese on the bottom of the bowl had turned a light blue.
We’re hitting -25C here for the next few days, so I thought I’d indulge in an experiment — putting 2.5L of cheap kit Shiraz into a food-safe container with a loose-fitting lid outside and fishing the ice out at the end of every day. What should I expect? When should I stop?
I bought three bottles of Veuve Clicquot. They are thank you gifts after a big project. One bottle went into the fridge to be shared out in person. The other two I left in a room to be sent home with two different individuals. The room was then sealed off for 8 off the hottest days of the year with no open windows or a/c. Oops. Have I ruined them?
Is this green film at the bottom of my Keurig water tank going to kill me?
I would like to serve my guests bread prepared with fermented wild yeast (wild wheat yeast+spring water, fermented). Are there any safety concerns I should be aware of? My guests include older people, people taking medicines, children and nursing mothers.
I have a large bathroom/shower room. It is a Japanese bathroom where the whole room gets wet and has a drain in the middle. I am looking for edible plants that like that type of wet/humid/warm environment. The room has a large northerly facing window but does not get any direct light. Maybe some kind of tropical fruit?
Another one of metafilter’s favorite topics. Fridge left open since 7am (CDT) this morning. Just discovered 20 minutes ago, so approximately 5 hours ago. It was only left open a crack because one of the drawers was part way open. Is everything a totally loss? Some things are still cool to the touch.
Unfortunately, we just took a trip to the grocery store last night, so our frig is full. Most with yogurt, fruits, veggies, milk, and condiments. My partner and I accidentally left our compact frig open an inch or so, and I’m wondering about whether the food within is still okay to eat?
My power has been out for almost 48 hours. I’m assuming all processed foods in the fridge have to be thrown out, but I hesitate with a couple items because they feel somewhat cold through the plastic, look fine, and haven’t been opened.
Either my fridge is dying or I’ve forgotten how to shut the door properly. Twice in the last two or three days I’ve opened the fridge to a whiffy smell and a noticeable lack of cold.
can I juice this?
Is anyone here in the hive aware of there being an affordable home testing kit for pesticides/toxicity? Something that will allow me to see what I may be consuming. My other question is if I am juicing this quantity am I putting my self at greater risk of poisoning?
can I spit this?
I accidentally left an unopened plastic bottle of mouthwash in my car for 3 weeks in high temperatures. Is it still safe to use?
can I spoon this?
Can I use found wood to make spoons for cooking? How can I know whether it is food safe or not?
can I stone this?
Did I just ruin my pizza stone? I washed it in water and was then told that was a big no-no…so how bad is it and is there a way to recover from it?
can I sink this?
Is bathroom sink water any different than kitchen sink water? I have a sink in my room now, so I’ve been drinking out of that faucet.. but before, I’ve always felt a little skittish (maybe based on cultural norms).
can I can opener this
The can of soup hissed at me so I tossed it. Can the can opener be saved?
and finally, can I brew this spew?
My dog ate nearly a pound of coffee beans. The vet gave him some drugs to get him to vomit them up. (He’ll be fine.) The beans came up largely whole/intact, and they… bagged them up for us. If we were to rinse the beans, grind, and brew them, what’s the worst that happens?
inspired by Mallory Ortberg’s How To Spot a Witch
Can you see her third nipple through her clothing? No? How about her first and second nipples? Yes? She’s a witch.
Can you not see her nipples through her clothing despite trying (and trying and trying) to? No? She’s a witch.
Does she wish, whether purposefully or wistfully, for equal pay for equal work? She’s a witch.
Does she have a greenish cast to her skin? Warts? A bumpy complexion? Any blemishes or flaws that betray a less-than-perfect obsession with skin care, to the exclusion of all other concerns? WITCH.
Has she ever participated in a Take Back The Night march? Obvs a witch. “Take Back the Night”? Come on.
Does she own a “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt? She’s ensorcelled you with a mis-perception spell; it actually reads “This is what a femi-witch looks like.”
Is she a proponent or practitioner of intersectional feminism? InterSECTional. WAKE UP, SHE’S TOTES A WITCH.