Things I Have Put in My Mouth Lately: Malört and Irn-Bru

This past weekend was one for the ages as far as swallowing strange liquids is concerned. Top three for me, at least.

For the uninitiated (i.e. most folks outside the Chicago area, where it was formerly produced and is primarily distributed), Jeppson’s Malört is a type of bäsk, or Swedish wormwood schnapps. You may recognize wormwood as “that stuff in absinthe that’s supposed to make you trip balls,” if you’re a teenager or an ill-informed, pearl-clutching moral guardian. Neither absinthe nor Malört contain anywhere near enough thujone to make you hallucinate and/or die. The one time I tried absinthe, all I got was a mild buzz followed by a faux-consumptive cough that lasted for a week afterward. I guess you could say the experience was historically accurate in that sense.

Anyway, the worst you can say about wormwood in distilled alcohol is that it’s super gross. Not long after I first came to Chicagoland in the summer of 2005, I saw the famed Malört face for the first time. I don’t have a funny story to tell about the circumstances because my long-term memory is a sieve that strains out virtually everything that isn’t personal humiliation or obscure trivia, but suffice it to say that I was not the one making the face. My friends who were native to the area filled me in and, like the true champions they are, never tried to subject me to that particular rite of passage.

As the years passed, I started to consider it something of a point of pride to have dodged the Malört hazing for so long. Every time I missed a round of shots for the out-of-towners, I gloated a bit. I confided in others that, despite all my years in Chicago, the stuff had never crossed my lips. More than once, I was told I was tempting fate.

Continue reading

Advertisements

I Watched Fuller House So You Don’t Have To: Episode 4

After a week of freaking out about an event and attending said event, another week of horrible depression, and a laptop implosion, I’m back! This was the most low-key episode of the season, which means it was both the most bearable and the hardest to eviscerate. I have done my worst.

Episode 4: The Not-So-Great Escape

Another morning in the kitchen. Baby Tommy keeps looking up at the ceiling, tricking Stephanie into following his gaze only to see that there’s nothing there. Steph, you’re my favorite. Please don’t let a baby mindfuck you. It’s only been a few months since he gained sufficient muscle control to look up in the first place. (This gag will keep coming up throughout the episode for little good reason. I have a feeling the writers needed some padding.)

Kimmy is still calling Stephanie “sister-wife.” “It’s your destiny to spend your life with me,” she tells her, with a smooch on the cheek. The scene that launched a thousand fanfics.

We get a glimpse into DJ and Kimmy’s different parenting styles. DJ packs turkey wraps for lunch. Kimmy packs $20 bills. She tells DJ (and us, by proxy) that she feels guilty for all the upheaval she’s put Ramona through lately. DJ rightly points out that bribery isn’t the best way to deal with your kids. Except if you’re bribing them with milkshakes and chocolate cake, that is.

Continue reading

I Watched Fuller House So You Don’t Have To: Episode 3

A late-night post for a late-night episode! Kind of.

Episode 3: Funner House

Stephanie and Kimmy are all dressed up for girls’ night out! The audience hoots lasciviously, finally free to sexualize the child stars we grew up with. Did Kimmy just say “on fleek”? Kimmy just said “on fleek.” Of course, the only possible way they can follow that up is to commemorate temporarily not being at odds by posting a selfie to Instagram. Steph has to unblock Kimmy, though. Bet she’s jealous of all those fly-ass accessories that look like food. DJ comes downstairs and “kills” fleek with a “You look fleek!” to the ladies, which is like throwing a drowned horse in a woodchipper.

DJ tries to get out of the girl’s night, which was planned for her, with the old “I have laundry” excuse and assurances that she still has fun because sometimes her baby son sticks his tongue out at her. You know she’s that friend you have on Facebook who has never posted anything that isn’t about her children. The others aren’t letting her off the hook that easily, though. (Kimmy dubs the three of them the She-Wolf Pack, complete with hand-ears and howls. Bitch, you’re not Shakira.) Nothing to wear? They bought DJ a dress. No babysitter? Joey flew in from Vegas, and probably bought a seat for Mr. Woodchuck. You have to go upstairs to change? Screw you, change in the Uber. “What if Uber sees my boobers?” “Well, then you won’t have to tip.” Gross, Joey. Stephanie tries to reassure DJ with a memory of car-changing into a hideous bridesmaid dress after a wild night out. Oh no, it was Kimmy’s wedding! Do those two hate each other or not? Does anyone care?

Stephanie calls the kids out to say hi to Joey, but look, they’re absorbed in their gadgets! KIDS THESE DAYS GET OFF MY LAWN RABBLE RABBLE. The ladies leave and the kids run off. Joey drives the point home with a brick, lamenting about “kids today with the video games and the electronic devices” to Tommy. Of course, he immediately gets a text and wanders off. Hypocrilarious.

Continue reading

I Watched Fuller House So You Don’t Have To: Episode 2

Okay, so it took me a few days to get this one up. My brain has already begun the liquefaction process. Let me pace my decline. Have mercy on me. oh no it’s beginning

Episode 2: Moving Day

The episode opens with Max tiptoeing down into the basement and jumping on Stephanie’s bed to wake her for Sunday brunch. She is remarkably calm about telling him to come back at dinnertime. I probably would have used a few more profanities in the same situation. He is persistent, though, excitedly telling her that the pancakes are made with duck eggs “for more nutrition and a deeper flavor profile.” Clearly, the extra protein has left him swole as fuck, because he’s somehow capable of physically dragging his aunt out of bed.

Upstairs in the kitchen, DJ presents Jackson with a seat at the head of the table and a pre-breakfast milkshake. Jackson, possessing basic observational skills, informs her that she’s acting weird and takes the opportunity to ask for hot fudge on his pancakes. Kid, you’re going places. Max finally gets Stephanie upstairs, where she fondly recalls her life as a night person, only for DJ to cover Max’s ears and scold her when she gets to the part about people hooking up. That seems like a slight overreaction, Deej. It’s not like she said “people doing blow and screwing like rabbits in the bathroom stall.” At seven years old, I doubt it would have occurred to me to think that “hooking up” meant anything more than “people making friends and maybe doing smooches.” In fact, six-year-old me thought a virgin was someone who didn’t have their ears pierced, which led to a rather awkward moment with my mother after we got back from the ceremonial trip to Claire’s. So, you know, take anything I say on the subject with a grain of salt.

Continue reading

I Watched Fuller House So You Don’t Have To: Episode 1

My mother once told me that she enjoyed watching Full House to see Michelle “grow up” alongside me, as I’m a year younger than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, almost to the day. Of course, now they’re fabulously wealthy and successful in their chosen industry, and I crank out words for whoever will pay me while subsisting largely on 7-11 pizza. Take that, Mom!

I vaguely remember watching some of the later seasons as a kid, but I didn’t really get into the show until I was 16-17, when I started catching it obsessively in syndication. Even then, I recognized it was hokey and sentimental beyond belief, but I was a lonely and alienated teenager and to be quite honest, I didn’t care. It was soothing, a nepenthe for someone with a weird home life. One of my best friends got pregnant and had her first child when she was 18 and I was 17, and it was fun for a time to imagine being the Joey to her Danny, helping out and watching her daughter grow up. (Then I moved to Chicago instead and became the wacky absentee aunt to her kids, who are now 11 and 9 because time is a ceaseless horror.)

While I’m still reminiscing and in a somewhat charitable mood, I will say a few nice things about Full House:

  1. The actors were, by and large, charming and watchable even with the material they were given.
  2. The show did its part to champion unconventional family structures and challenge accepted gender roles in parenting, even if only accidentally. (1:10 in this video, from an interview with John Stamos and Dave Coulier back in 1987, is… not a good look.)
  3. San Francisco is one of my favorite places, even if techbros have ensured I will literally never be able to afford to live there now.
  4. Cute dog.
  5. …I’m thinking.

Anyway, the ouroboros of pop culture continues to devour itself. As you can’t avoid knowing, Fuller House debuted on Netflix a week ago and has already been renewed for a second season. I mainlined the entire first season over the weekend and am now rewatching it in finer detail, because I love you too much to make you do it. More importantly, I did it because I hate myself. Most importantly, I did it to mock and overanalyze it for the sake of internet validation.

I’ll be recapping one episode per post, and I’m going to try to make a post per day until it’s done. I’ve also been strenuously avoiding thinkpieces elsewhere online, in order to provide you with relatively unadulterated ~hot takes~.

Have mercy. On my mortal soul.

Continue reading

Things I have put in my mouth lately: Butterfly, the Mariah Carey drink

This past week and a half has been a rough cross-section of adulthood for me. The sewage system in my apartment complex decided to back up spontaneously, with the nearest point of exit being the bathroom in my garden apartment. This required me to evacuate first to a motel where I could swear I heard violins in the shower, then out to the suburbs to stay with endlessly patient friends and spend all week panicking about landing more writing jobs and not being broke.

It was in this frame of mind, unknowingly longing for a bit of childhood regression, that I stumbled into Walgreens to buy wine they didn’t have (because Naperville), and found this treasure in the refrigerated beverage case.

it is not

Is it just a sweet, sweet fantasy?

Yes, Mariah Carey has launched her own beverage, described as “interactive” and “melodic.” The latter adjective in particular concerned me, but apparently it means you can scan the bottle with your smartphone to get access to bonus content. I didn’t bother, because the anachronism whiplash was already hurting my neck.

You see, despite its trappings of modernity, I can only describe this drink as tasting like 1998, the year I listened to its namesake album on cassette until it started to wear out. How can a drink taste like a year, you ask? As it turns out, 1998 was also a banner year for marketing perfumes and cosmetics to preteen girls, and as I turned 11 that year, I was deeply familiar with that aisle of Rite Aid. Those of you who remember, say, the Bottled Emotion perfumes Bonne Bell made will find yourselves thrown back into your awkward stage at warp speed.

To come at this with more food-appropriate vocabulary, Butterfly tastes strongly of grape and melon, but in an offputting, artificial way. Those of you who have ever eaten those lychee jelly cups that pose a delicious choking hazard may also notice a resemblance.

The commentary from the friends I roped into tasting it with me (or, in one case, didn’t) backed me up:
“It tastes like perfume! It’s so sweet.”
“It tastes like a Victoria’s Secret in 1998, yeah.” (We may have been in slightly different demographics.)
The sole man in our group, in response to being asked “Doesn’t it smell like 13-year-old girl?”: “I don’t make a habit of smelling 13-year-old girls, but sure?”

Verdict?
As an olfactory sensation, it brings back intense memories of a time when things were more carefree and potential seemed limitless.
As something to actually consume? Honey, I can’t describe how good it feels inside, because… it really doesn’t. I felt vaguely sick and found myself wondering if I would wake up in a cocoon the next morning. (I did not.)

And yes, I have been listening to the Butterfly album for the first time in probably 15 years while writing this post. Thank you, Spotify.