Lots of little things

Psst. Just a couple of things that don’t fit anywhere else.

First off, are you in Pennsylvania? ME TOO!

Well, not right now…but I will be super soon because I’m going to the Harrisburg Book Festival to do an event with Samantha Irby and Kate Baer on Sunday (October 22nd) because I love them both. It’s free and open to the public so come visit. There’s a signing afterward if you buy a book from the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and there’s a signed book bundle available if you’re interested. Come say hi.

Secondly, I’m not sure how it happened but somehow my little one-year art project substack that I started a few weeks ago is one of the top art substacks and it’s really helping me stay on track with being creative, so thank you! I’ve been randomly picking subscribers to send little one-minute sketches or signed art books but when I email people from my personal email (jenny @ thebloggess.com) I don’t always get a response so maybe check your spam every so often because I’m going to continue to pick random people for giveaways every month.

Third…I don’t remember what the third thing was. Fuck.

Fourth…it’s Halloween month and I need horror movie recommendations.

Fifth, yesterday I ate something tart and rich and it made my cheeks cramp something awful and Victor said that was not something that happens to normal people, so I’m taking an informal poll. Do your cheeks (near the back of your jaw) spasm painfully when you eat lemon pie? Am I just weird?

134 thoughts on “Lots of little things

Read comments below or add one.

  1. The Changeling starring Trish Van de Veer and George C Scott. Love it. Grieving man moves into a giant spooky house and gets haunted by a child ghost.

    Also Wait Until Dark starring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. She’s blind and he’s taunting her in her apartment because her husband accidentally brought home a doll full of heroin.

    My cheeks totally cramp up if it’s too tart. I instantly knew what you were talking about.

  2. I’m planning to be there!!! I’m so excited to meet you and Samantha , I am FURIOUSLY HAPPY!!!!

  3. That is one excellent lemon pie! Lemon anything should pucker your jaws. I love its bite.

  4. No to the jaw thing, but my teeth tingle whenever I eat cupcakes with store-made sugary frosting. So I’m weird too!!

  5. Wait…are there people who don’t have that reaction to tart foods? I thought that was everyone. My husband doesn’t like super tart things and our shorthand when we are in public for him not to try Susie’s lemon bars is for me to tap my cheek.

  6. Yes, my nutritionist says i am a supertaster and she sees a lot of the jaw clench reaction. Cannot eat Nerds or sour patch.

  7. Hi Jenny! Long time lurker, first time commenting. I felt I had nothing to contribute previously. I really do get cheek cramps from sour tastes. The worst ever was a passion fruit pie my sister bought. She laughed so hard at my facial expression that she literally snorted coffee out her nose. Served her right in my opinion. Love you, thanks for everything.

  8. I’m pushing 70 now and the jaw thing used to happen 20-30 years ago, then stopped as mysteriously as it started. Maybe some extra-strength lemon pulp and I think there’s a gland duct back there. Acid going the wrong way?

  9. I get the tingly jaw. It also tingles when I blow up balloons. I think it’s a TMJ thing.

  10. Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!! I am 1.5 hours from Harrisburg and I’m coming to see you and I’m bringing my skunk pelt my husband bought me after I read Furiously Happy, that I put plastic dolls eyes in because it kept looking at me like something from Pet Sematary and I felt it just needed eyes again. Anyway, you’ll get to meet Smelly Winters. I am beyond excited!!!!

  11. Yes!! That happens to me randomly! Sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other! And it doesn’t go away immediately…sometimes massaging the area helps, but it almost always means I’m all done eating, whether I want to be or not!

  12. I don’t eat lemon things, but I eat oranges which is also citrus. I can’t say I’ve ever had a cheek/jaw spasm/cramp when eating oranges.

  13. Yes, the cheek cramp thing is real.
    Also, it’s not movie horror, and you may already know because you’re Good Personal Friends with Neil Gaiman, but Spotify has 5 Hours of Poe stories read by Basil Rathbone and Vincent Price.

  14. My eye scrunches and my jaw/cheek cramps when I have anything too tart. My husband just laughs at me. Sigh. But it is a thing. But does it happen to normal people? Well, that’s a different issue.

  15. I started Cabinet of Curiosities by Guillermo Del Toro on Netflix and it’s really good.

  16. It Comes At Night- tensions arise when strangers arrive at a family’s door and they need to decide to let them in or not.
    If you haven’t seen Us then you need to.

  17. I just assumed everyone had the jaw/cheek cramping thing. Tell Victor he’s the weird one for not having it

  18. My guess is that your parotid salivary glands are responding to the tart stimulation from the lemon. They are located on either side of your mouth in the folds of your cheeks up high near your ears so it could feel like the hinge of your jaw is being tweaked….

  19. That cramping jaw thing happens to me! Citrusy foods will do it, but weirdly butter will too sometimes, especially if it’s coupled with sweet (like fairy bread or a finger bun).

    I also used to wear a plate for a false tooth (I used to ride horses and took a dive into a jump whilst smiling – don’t recommend!!), and every time I went near high tension electricity wires id get a buzzing sensation on my face, almost like being electrocuted.

    Not sure if they are linked tho….

  20. Victor sounds like a hottie, good looking nurse’s aide. Time for a sponge bath sister! Whee!

  21. If you can bear to go to the movies, A Haunting in Venice is a spooky Agatha Christie story filmed in the creepiest house they could find in Venice. Staying at home, the original B/w The Haunting is great. A fun monster movie is Tremors. Hope this helps!

    (I just watched A Haunting in Venice. So good! ~ Jenny)

  22. Someone I knew taught me to call pineapple juice + cranberry juice “smile juice” because it hits you in the jaw muscles and you have to smile to relieve them! So yes weird, but not because of that.

  23. Yes, the jaw thing is absolutely a normal thing. It’s one of those things some people have and some don’t, like wiggling your ears, or curling your tongue. It’s because of the largest salivary gland that’s located at the back of your jaw.

  24. Lemon yogurt used to make my jaw cramp up. Not a fan of flavored yogurt because the sweet with the sour does it to me.

  25. Oh that shooting pain that goes right through your brain? Yeah that’s familiar.
    Horror recs, have you seen Us? Pretty great.

  26. I don’t even have to eat something sour, my jaw cramps when I *think* about eating it. Like right now. Not even lying. Sour gummy worms? The worst!

    I don’t watch horror, so apologies for not being able to contribute to the list. 🙁

  27. I love sour things and the jaw thing happens to me a lot.

    The Nun 2 was fantastic. Exorcist 2 was good too. Talk to Me by A24 is a great film and super creepy. That’s all the Halloween movies I can think of right now.

  28. Can anyone recommend fun things to do with a 5yr old and a 1yr old in/around Harrisburg?? I’m in NJ 3hrs away but I just suddenly got the strangest urge to plan a weekend trip… no idea why… sorry husband and kids, I think I’ll need to use the bathroom in this book store on Sunday at 3pm, better go on ahead without me…

  29. I think the jaw thing is just your salivary glands swinging into sudden action. I get that too.

  30. Netflix’s ‘Midnight Mass’ and ‘Fall of the House of Usher’ (starts tomorrow).

  31. We just watched Totally Killer and it’s fun. I like a horror comedy. And yes on the lemon cheek cramp thing.

  32. You are NOT weird! The same thing happens to me! We just watched Totally Killer. It was super cute!

  33. I get the weird crampy sharp feeling at the back of my jaw, but I’ve got sjögrens, so my salivary glands are fucked up. Maybe your salivary glands are fucked up too? 🤷‍♂️

  34. Cheeks, yes. Lemon pie is a demon that socks out cheek juice then stabs you. It us the best!

  35. I’m in Harrisburg! My husband just told me I have a wedding that afternoon. I’m gonna have to call off work to come see you. Or you can come see me and I’ll buy you some awesome breakfast at my favorite Silk City Diner @ Highspire Diner.

  36. I don’t have to eat sour or tart things. My cheeks have muscle spasms from chewing gum, eating chewy food, talking too much and smiling too much. 😬

  37. Definitely on the jaw cramps. In fact, I had a minor one just now from THINKING about eating a lemon.

  38. If you feel like watching some 80’s and early 90’s horror I recommend Mirror, Mirror and Witchboard. Not super scary but fun to watch.

  39. The Dark and The Wicked is excellent. Very spooky but underrated! Love to you Jenny!

  40. Horror movie–1408. Terrifying, mind-bending and just plain awesome. John Cusack is amazing in it!

  41. I don’t think I’ve ever had the cheek thing happen to me. And I don’t watch horror movies unless they’re utterly ridiculous, so: What We Do In The Shadows, Studio 666.

  42. I just watched No One will Save You (great sound effects, fun wordless movie) and the wild WTF-is-happening movie Barbarian. Both on Hulu and terrific fun to watch!

  43. I get that when I eat sour things. Just not lemon pie. Because I don’t like lemon pie.
    As for horror movies, I just recently watched The Boogeyman. So good!

  44. I had a friend recently say that she loved Trolls 2. She said it wasn’t about trolls and it wasn’t a sequel, but it was one of the best worst horror movies she’d ever seen.

  45. A fun, highly campy horror film is Studio 666. The Foo Fighters made it, and it’s one of my favorite movies. Can’t recommend it enough.

  46. Oh my gosh, YES to the cramps jaw thingy. Right where the upper and lower jaw come together.

  47. YES on the jaw thing.

    The Others
    28 Days Later
    The Ruins
    Get Out
    The Invisible Man
    Skeleton Key

    Anything by Mike Flanagan on Netflix
    Penny Dreadful
    The Terror

  48. Hmmm, no cheek cramps (at either end) here.
    I’m not much for horror movies, but I have a few:
    –REPO! The Genetic Opera
    I have to watch this every Halloween

    –Pan’s Labyrinth
    Technically more fantasy, I guess, but there is one sequence that involves a needle and thread that I absolutely cannot watch.

    –Bloody Mallory
    Utterly ridiculous movie about a demon hunter and her possee. It’s dubbed from the French and involves exploding nuns and machine gun boots and a drag queen and I love it.

    Recently watched this on a long flight. It was fun. Plus, Nick Cage as Dracula. What’s not to like?

  49. Yes with the weird jaw lemon thing. My husband and I are looking forward to watching Mike Flanagan’s take on The Fall of the House of Usher next week. We were very favorably impressed by Midnight Mass and my husband’s a Halloween junkie so we’ve got part of the weekend set aside for that.

  50. I’m in PA near Harrisburg!! And yes, the jaw cramping is a thing! I get it and my family does too for tart or sour things!

  51. The jaw thing, I can’t even chew vitamin c tablets without it hurting. I ate some sour gummy worms and was reduced to tears by how much my cheeks were hurting.

  52. I’m not surprised that your substack is one of the most popular, because you are awesome! And yes. The jaw thing is real! 😘

  53. OH– Black Sheep.
    Genetic experiments on sheep gone horribly wrong.
    It’s beautifully baaaaad.
    (You can watch it on Freevee if you don’t mind commercials.)

  54. A friend calls that flavor pains. Many high value people get them. For the scoffers out there. I get them but it’s usually just because I’m hungry.

  55. A friend calls those flavor pains. I get them when I’m hungry with the first bite of whatever I’m eating, savory or sweet.

  56. I tend to like horror comedies so in that category, I would recommend Renfield and Totally Killer.

  57. Just found out about Harrisburg yesterday & I’m so excited! I’ll be there with my BFF and (maybe) my mom. Not that she’s maybe my mom, but maybe she’s coming along, lol. Can’t wait!!

  58. I’m a horror lite person but the Japanese movie Hausu is just… so odd and crazy. I’m a pianist and every time I wake up to my cat walking on the piano keys at night, I am angry I ever watched that movie. What I do like watching, I really can’t recommend because it’s old dvd collections that I bought for a few bucks in the early 00’s – the most frightening part of those movies is either the acting, the script, the direction or any combination!

  59. You should see if you are allergic to lemon. I love lemon anything and I have never experienced anything like that.

    For horror movie recommendations, these ate some of my recent picks:

    The new Haunted Mansion on Disney+ is great for a family-friendly spooky movie. I think it’s better than the original.

    For a hiding under the blankets horror movie, my most recent favorite is The Nun 2. I loved it.

  60. Tell Victor you are NOT weird, at least not about the tart reflex. Yes I get it too but with the added bonus of my over excited salivary gland squirting juices across the room. Yes, I realize how that sounds, but it’s a real thing.

  61. Lucky Pennsylvania for having you! ♡
    Sometimes certain citrus juices and white wines make me do that weird face pinch thingy with the cheek cramp!

  62. I have had the face spasm, but not usually by the back of the jaw. Also! My weirdo thing is that instead of an ice cream headache, sometimes I will get a stabby pain in my midback when eating ice cream or French Fries

  63. The cheek thing happened to me last year for the first time ever and I was in restaurant talking my first bite of something lovely. I couldn’t even eat my dinner because every time I opened my mouth, it “watered” except my sprinkler was blocked. It was due to a stone blocking my salivary gland (like a gallstone or a kidney stone). The doctor told me to suck on lemon candy and I said “yeah right suck on this!” no way was I going to make this happen intentionally. My cheek and neck swelled up for a day and then it must’ve passed. I dread the day that it happens again!!!

  64. Yes, when I eat extra tart things. Just remember you’re always right, Jenny, no matter what your hubs says 😂.

  65. Happy spooky season Jenny! Also so happy for you regarding substack! I’m seriously pondering joining myself. Would love to see what you and everyone is creating!

    As for what I’d recommend in the spooky department, I’d go with the following:


    The No Sleep podcast (SO good and SO scary that I listen to it during the day)
    Dark House

    Classic movies (for a reason) Halloween Horror:

    The Thing (1982)
    The Mummy (1932)
    The Fog
    The Shining
    Black Christmas (technically it’s probably a Christmas movie, but it’s so scary to me it counts as a Halloween movie).

    Funny/Campy horror:
    Willy’s Wonderland
    Totally Killer (2023)
    RiffTrax: “Manos”- The Hands of Fate
    RiffTrax: Blood Theatre
    RiffTrax: Hillbillies in a Haunted House
    The Burbs
    RiffTrax: Birdemic
    Evil Dead (tv series and movies)
    The Craft
    The Lost Boys

    Happy Halloween!! 🎃🍁🍂

  66. Psychomania is a decent one. It’s from 1971. Not gory, kinda cheesy, but a decent movie.

  67. as for the cheek thing, does Victor not remember that commercial from the 80s with the kid and the Welch’s Grape Juice?

    It’s a thing. Trust me.

  68. “…not something that happens to normal people…”
    Normal people are sooooo boring.

  69. Definitely get the cheek/jaw cramp thing. Sometimes it’s sooo intense and painful!

  70. I have permanent nerve/muscle issues from Bell’s Palsey on my left side of my face and neck now. I’ve had that cramp thing go clear down my neck and up to even involving my nose and cheek before. It is not fun. In fact, it’s dang awful! I had it happen before the palsey, but never this bad.

  71. Fresh. It’s on Hulu. It’s the most original movie I’ve seen in years. Do not read anything about it. Thirty min in or so it will blow your mind.

  72. Call me “not normal,” I guess. The cheek thing happens to me on tart stuff, too.

  73. I know the cheek/jaw cramp thing you’re talking about. It’s been a long time, tho, and I can’t remember what triggered it. Maybe Halloween Smarties actually. It’s like the whole lower half of my face just froze and spasmed and then . . . nothing. Like it never happened. I definitely don’t have a problem with lemon or key lime pie because those are my favorite pies.

  74. No, but I have a friend who used to say she got the “caramel vapors” when she ate Milk Duds.

  75. Yes on the jaw thing. Someone told me once it was my saliva gland working overtime because I ate something sour. No idea where I heard that tho.

  76. YES! My jaw actually cramped like that at you explaining it! Or even if I think about eating a lemon. Weird.

  77. MOVIES:

    * “Insidious” movies (watch them in order for the best experience)
    1. Insidious (2010)
    2. Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
    3. Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)
    4. Insidious: The Last Key (2018)
    5. Insidious: The Red Door (2023)

    * “The Conjuring” movies (again, best if watched in order)
    1. The Conjuring (2013)
    2. Annabelle (2014)
    3. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
    4. Annabelle: Creation (2017)
    5. The Nun (2018)
    6. The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
    7. Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
    8. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)
    9. The Nun 2 (2023)

    *The Haunting of Hill House

  78. I get the jaw thing, it’s worse with tart things, but often just happens with the first bite of food. But for me it’s a side effect of my medication for pulmonary hypertension. Maybe yours is a side effect too? But yes, it’s common. Tell Victor he’s obviously not normal people. 😏😉

  79. Totally normal after eating acidic food for those salivary glands to go into emergency super-squirt mode which includes a stinging sensation, like the fire department on a 4-alarm fire with their hoses opened up all the way. Victor needs to explore more exciting food options so he can experience this painful pleasure for himself.

  80. I definitely get tart-rich spasms. If I have candy or a drink that is tart, it doesn’t happen, but if I have something tart that I need to chew, it’s like ‘whoa’!

  81. I wouldn’t exactly call it a painful spasm, but my cheeks sometimes do weird things when I eat something that’s very sour.

  82. Even thinking about tart things makes my mouth do this thing. So you’re not alone.

  83. Not horror but still scary, I loved the new Haunted Mansion on Disney. Great special effects, fantastic acting and a very real take on greif.

  84. The Mist for sure and maybe The Shape of Water though it’s not totally scary all the time.

    book wise I’s recommend Never Whistle at Night

  85. For me, “Don’t Look Now” is the best. Elegant, sensual, and scary as heck, set in Venice, with Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, it scared me silly the first time I saw it. It was shown on the Syracuse University campus, and when we came out into the darkness, the full moon was hovering behind a very gothic-style 19th-century building. I think all four of us gasped.

  86. I definitely get the weird sour cramp thing — my husband calls it ‘going yarry’. I have no idea if that’s a really word though …

  87. I am loving the limited series on apple+, The Changeling, based on Victor Lavalle’s novel. A very twisted fairytale indeed, brought to life by an amazing cast!

  88. Maybe it is just a strangling thing? I get that cheek thing sometimes – usually from lemon pie! Have fun in Pennsylvania!

  89. Do you like campy vampire horror made by someone who obviously loved The Lost Boys? Is there a hole in your life that would be filled by a Christmas vampire film where the main character writes Vampire Romance fiction and then traps a bat in her garage? If so then watch Red Snow. I was entertained.

  90. Yes!!! About the sour jaw cring/cramp/squirjlzhll thing!
    I could never explain it, and I thought I was the only one!!

  91. No, but I don’t usually eat lemon pie either. At least not made with real lemons. I will totally eat my weight in those Hostess fried pies you get at the grocery store. Those things are delicious, even if they are full of chemicals.

  92. I get the jaw thing sometimes, too, but it seems to be with specific things maybe? It doesn’t happen all the time, so perhaps it’s with a certain level of acidity.

  93. yes, it is the saliva glands under the corners of your lower jaw that will react like this.

  94. Bad Samaritan with David Tennant and Robert Sheehan.

    And the painful jaw hinge is absolutely a thing with sour foods. Victor can stand in his wrongness and be wrong.

  95. SO EXCITED you’re coming to Harrisburg!!!! Love you, Jenny!

    Also, a Halloween recommendation…. if you’re ever near Philadelphia in July, come to Blobfest in Phoenixville. They have the Colonial Theatre (where much of the Blob was filmed) and they put on an awesome weekend
    festival centered around campy 50’s 60’s horror movies, including re-enactment of the theatre run-out scene in the Blob.

  96. Years ago my aunt took me to a very famous restaurant. The dessert special was Gooseberry fool. I had never tried gooseberries before. They were very, very tart. Totally get your cheek / jaw thing.

  97. I am in Pennsylvania. In fact I work in Harrisburg! But, I will be in Florida on a business trip when you are here and I’m really sad about it.
    The jaw thing happens to me, too.

  98. Scary movies, let’s see. I always rewatch The Thing (1980’s) and 30 Days of Night, well, actually those are my Christmas movies because they’re snowy and atmospheric and I’m a freak. But also just good scary ones.
    Suck is a 2009 Canadian vampire touring band movie. I cannot recommend it enough. (Alice Cooper cameo! Malcolm Mcdowell cameo! Iggy Pop cameo!)
    Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. It’s just good.
    The 1960’s The Haunting of Hill House (it has Riff from Westside Story in it as a feckless young man!)
    Strigoi is a strong atmospheric trip.
    Ginger Snaps, always. And Ginger Snaps 2. Possibly not Ginger Snaps 3.
    Gonna second Willy’s Wonderland.
    I have never seen this but there’s a movie from 1990 called I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle. So. Now you know that.

  99. What I am watching this holiday season:
    The Craft
    Hocus Pocus
    The Conjuring
    Hereditary (New to me this year and it is creepy)
    The Ring
    Evil Dead
    Hell Raiser

  100. Don’t have that reaction to lemon, which I love.
    Not a horror movie fan, but Night of the Hunter is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen because it is so real. It’s an older movie with Robert Mitchum. Great film!

  101. Ah, the joys of Kraft Dinner…my favourite food. As a child raised in abject poverty…Kraft dinner was what we lived on. That and bread with the margarine that came stark white with a bright orange spot that you squeezed till the bag turned this sickly yellow. No meat, no fruit. Only candy was scavenging construction sites for pop bottles to return for treats. I am in my very late 70s and healthy as a horse..(knock on wood..actually horses are very delicate..should choose another comparison) so I would say Kraft dinner is the perfect health food 🙂

  102. If the thing with the cheek cramps keeps happening: it’s not abnormal, it’s a reaction of your salivary gland. But if you develop an overactive salivary gland, like if it starts happening all the time, you may need to see a doctor. There’s something in there that can get blocked or stopped up or something? But it’s happened to my Mom before and was very painting, so she has to get it cleaned out or something to prevent it locking up. It wasn’t anything that’s a big deal, just uncomfortable and I think preventable.

    I’m not giving good specific information here, but my point is that if it keeps happening more and more, you may want to check with your doctor 😊

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