Poor Brittany(s).

Well, Washington, you must be verrrry pleased with yourselves. In the words of a headline my friend Adrianne likes to quote, You’re snow king! And you can’t handle it. Although God knows why not. I know this is an unusual event, meteorologically speaking, but it’s certainly not unprecedented. As long as I’ve been reading newspapers, you can count on the eastern seaboard to be buried at least once every two years or so, and you’d think you’d have it figured out by now.

As a Midwesterner, I think it’s amusing that every storm on the east coast is covered like an attack by al-Qaeda. You read the NYT roundup, and they mention how “60 million people” were affected by the storm — or, as the NYT likes to call on its college education from time to time, that many people had “Whittier’s snowbound American landscape recreated” for their edification. (The web story contains a link to the poem. Thanks, English majors!) The unspoken subordinate clause, “…30 million of them journalists.”

I’m just grousing here. Detroit got less snow over the weekend than Columbus, Ohio, which is where we were on Saturday. We’ll catch up, we always do, but by the winter solstice, I’m yearning for the blanket of white to reflect what little light there is.

If I’m talking weather on a Monday, it’s a bad Monday. In the great traditions of Short Attention Span Theater, let’s make this an all-bloggage day.

Staying offline most of the weekend was the best thing I’ve done in a while. I should do more of it. You sign back on after a day away, and discover Brittany Murphy died, and your first thought is “drugs,” your second “anorexia,” and your third, “It’s sort of embarrassing that I even know who Brittany Murphy is,” although I always thought her work as Luanne Platter was her best.

In three minutes, Michigan’s attorney general is going to outline a lawsuit he plans to file, designed to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Kind of funny, when you think about it. Sue the bastards!

You are commanded to listen to the podcast/webstream of “This American Life” from this past weekend, which was about the drinking culture on the campus of Penn State University, only of course it wasn’t just about Penn State, but college in general. You are especially commanded to do so if you have a kid in college, or headed that way. It was, how you say, grim. Listening to the students speak of the rituals of college drinking — the tailgating, the pregame, the brand names, the “fracket” — I was reminded of rituals at another well-known American center of binge drinking, the Indian reservation. The students aren’t yet consuming hair spray cocktails, but that’s the next logical step after Red Bull and Vladimir vodka, in my opinion.

I kept asking myself if I was in any position to talk. I drank in college. Almost everyone did. I sometimes overindulged. Almost everyone did. I did it often enough that in sober moments I reflected on how fortunate I was to live on a small, walking-centered campus, rather than one that required a car. I asked myself if I would stand on the steps of a fraternity house, dressed in a tiny cocktail dress and towering stilettos, shivering in my fracket (defined as a cheap, crummy jacket you wear to frat parties, because you know it’s going to get vomit on it by night’s end, and you don’t mind losing it), hoping my tits or legs or pout or whatever will stir the doorman enough to grant me entrance to the party, because that’s where you go to get hammered, and that’s what a girl has to wear to get in — if I would have done this at the age of 19, and I think the answer is no. I didn’t know anyone at Ohio University who had to go to the E.R. from drinking, a common event in State College, Pa. Barfing? Sure. Hospital admissions with a BAC of .25, the average among hospital visits? No. And O.U. was a party school right down to its bones.

Sad, sad listening. And I don’t know what’s to be done.

But I do know what’s to be done today, and that’s work-work-work. So I’m outta here.

Posted at 10:25 am in Current events, Popculch |

62 responses to “Poor Brittany(s).”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Moe, does a carp have standing?


    The drinking age has to go back to 18 so we can have a rational conversation about how to manage young adult drinking. But this 21 thing is riddle-icu-lous. I would assume anyone who says that “abstinence based education” is a fraud will agree that pretending that youth will wait until they’ve turned 21 to ingest alcohol is self-delusion of the most monumental sort.

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  2. KLG said on December 21, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I drank in college, too. Sometimes a bit too much, like on my 19th birthday when I think I emptied a keg at the Sig Ep House all by myself. But all of my drinking was in public and legal, except for the public intoxication part, I suppose. But back then in my large state university, walking-friendly, small college town you would have to be naked and directing traffic in the middle of the street to get arrested for public drunkenness. And even then a cop was liable to ask if anyone knew the jackass without his clothes and was willing to take him home. Which is why the drinking age should be 18 or out of high school. Oh, there were plenty of drunks back in the day. I knew one who often complained about having too much blood in his alcohol stream and finished his first year with a GPA of 0.33. Haven’t seen him since, but he probably owns a Toyota dealership now. But no one ever went to the hospital with alcohol poisoning or died from chugging a pint of bourbon, as did an 18-year-old at the highly selective university I worked at previously. If you are buying it by the drink in public that just can’t happen…

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  3. moe99 said on December 21, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Jeff tmmo, glad to see the meds are working!

    Whether carp have standing, all I can say is that you can tune piano, but you can’t tunafish…..

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  4. Colleen said on December 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I went to college on a “dry” campus, that was party school supreme. I saw a couple people go tot he hospital during my 4 years. I never drank….I just didn’t and still really don’t. I think we’re just so nuts in this country about booze….there’s no idea about responsible use, it’s either teetotaler or boozer.

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  5. Dexter said on December 21, 2009 at 11:09 am

    (Sorry, this would not post early this morning on the last thread)
    MichaelG…you should have seen the TWA 707 that took us from Travis AFB to Anchorage, Yokota AFB near Tokyo , and on to Ton Son Nhut, Saigon. It had this carpet that was worn completely through with huge bare spots and threads going everywhere. It was dirty and decrepit, and it stunk so bad the steward,who was a very old man , walked down the aisles every couple hours sprinkling Aqua Velva afer-shave on the rotten carpet, and when I asked him why, he simply said, “…makes the airplane smell better.” There were also two female flight attendants and both of them could have given Irene Ryan a challenge had they shown up for casting call for Granny Clampett.
    I just watched “Christmas in Connecticut” for the first time. Robert Osborne said it is now a Christmas classic, but I had never heard of it. I watched it mostly because I love the Barbara Stanwyck movies from the 1940s. I happen to think she was a great actor, and thanks to TCM I have seen most of her films. When I was a kid I never even knew she had made any movies; I don’t think she was too big on the first old movies they showed on TV. I grew up knowing Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Bob Hope-Bing Crosby road movies, Jimmy Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, and even older films starring Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, but I don’t ever recall seeing a Stanwyck film shown on TV matinees or late night movies in the pre-cable tv era.

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  6. Jolene said on December 21, 2009 at 11:24 am

    We East Coast types may be a little dramatic about the weather, but, hey, would you rather hear more about what’s happening in Congress? When you’re a bureaucrat, you take your excitement where you can.

    And, to be fair, this was a LOT of snow on a weekend when a LOT of people wanted to be moving around. Some links to details at the bottom of the previous thread.

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  7. John said on December 21, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Bar­bara Stan­wyck-“The Big Valley”, also starring a very young Lee Majors (pre-$6M Man days).

    Barbara was a knock-out even as a seasoned actress.

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  8. MichaelG said on December 21, 2009 at 11:34 am

    For once I’m in full agreement with MMJeff. A drinking age of 21 years is just stupid. Abstinence and prohibition don’t work. Never have, never will. I remember guys coming back from a year of combat in Vietnam who couldn’t legally buy a drink. Colleen is also right. A combination of stupid laws and misbegotten righteous religiosity have given rise to the situation she describes.

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  9. LAMary said on December 21, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Cheesecake update: it didn’t happen this weekend. Three things got in the way. I still felt pretty crappy. I still went to my boss’s Christmas party. While I was at the Christmas party, my sons ate the graham crackers and half the cream cheese.
    Brittany Murphy will always be Luann Platter to me as well. I’m betting on drugs, myself. Looking really skinny is not uncommon for people with serious drug problems and I suspect she’s had a serious drug problem for a while. As in heroin.

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  10. A. Riley said on December 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Re East Coasters not knowing how to deal with winter: Years ago I was visiting Boston in early December and turned on the local newscast. The weatherman was completely freaking out–Armageddon was upon us and we were all going to freeze to death tonight. Holy crap, I thought, how cold is it going to get? Twenty degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty. This Chicagoan says that’s actually pretty average, so you deal. Amateurs.

    TV weather forecasters — I swear. My darling Tom Skilling of WGN-TV likes to try to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. One summer he was predicting thunderstorms overnight and said in his best voice-o’-doom that tornadoes that come out of the dark are terrifying. Thanks, Tom! I’ll sleep beautifully tonight now!!

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  11. Sue said on December 21, 2009 at 11:43 am

    The problem with the “they’re going to drink anyway” argument is the social circles involved. You have to assume that any drinkers will be drinking or supplying to whatever the underage group turns out to be. Therefore, a 21-year-old will usually supply to people not much younger than 19, and often in a setting with more people his/her age than younger (a college campus or apartment). An 18 or 19 year old will probably be supplying to his younger siblings and high school friends, in a setting where there are a lot more younger kids around (high school activities and home-minus-parents).
    Lowering the drinking age to 18 puts 14-year-old children in jeopardy. That’s the bottom line.

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  12. Bruce Fields said on December 21, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I didn’t drink at all until my last day of college. I’d turned in my big final project, classes were done, it was a lovely day, my neighbor offered me a beer, and I thought: oh, I give up, I should try this once.

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  13. Lex said on December 21, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I agree in principle with Sue, coming of age as I did when “age” was 18 (for beer & wine, anyway, here in NC). What disturbs me is not so much that college kids are drinking illegally, although that’s disturbing; it’s that high-school kids (and younger) appear to have no more trouble getting booze now than I did in the 1970s.

    No law matters if it’s not enforced. That’s the first step. But ultimately, we’re going to have to get over our schizophrenic attitudes about alcohol just as we must get over them about sex. The mixed messages kids get aren’t working in either case.

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  14. Deborah said on December 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Greetings from Abiquiu, this internet thingy works. Good news, now I’m going out hiking instead of being stuck on this computer.

    As for drinking, in Abiquiu it doesn’t take much to give me a buzz, because of the altitude. Kids here must get the same result from a lot less of the basic ingredient.

    I agree with Sue about lowering the age, it will just keep getting lower and lower. I think the 21 year age limit stops some of it. Maybe it saves a few lives.

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  15. paddyo' said on December 21, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I lived in DC for six years in the 1980s, and the mere hint of oncoming snow (like, say, 1-2 inches) in the forecast was enough to empty the grocery shelves of bread, water and toilet paper, so it’s not surprising to me that the entire federal government there (minus “essential/emergency staff”) gets a snow day today . . . that’s day TWO AFTER the storm.

    I L’d-OL reading the NYT’s top-of-the-Arts page story this a.m. about how snow helped keep the opening weekend numbers down for James Cameron’s son-of-Titanic megagoogle-blockbuster, “Avatar.” What made me laugh was the quote from the studio bigwig who said that despite the down numbers ($73 million domestic but $159 million abroad), “We believe, especially given that women worldwide responded so strongly, that this is just the start.” Hey, what film distribution suit wouldn’t pass up the golden opportunity to buzz-quote about how this ain’t just for 12- to 24-year-old boys, right? I’d like to read what THAT’s based on (nothing in the NYT piece to question the quote, BTW).

    As for college drunking, the pour will be with us always. We all drank in my early-’70s days (daze?) at a state school in Nevada, but I don’t recall we did so with the expressed purpose of getting smashed. And being in a casino town (Reno), the access to alcohol was easy and cheap. The favorite of my crowd (the campus newspaper gang) was Jim Kelly’s Nugget, a hole-in-the-wall storefront casino where “well” drinks at the bar were 75 cents.

    The fratboys did have their “Spodie-Odie” (spelling?) bathtub punch bacchanals, and the unauthorized campus drinking club, the Sundowners, staged initiations in which “pledges” staggered around on and off campus, each with a live chicken under his arm. They had to panhandle drinks “for my chicken.”

    That spectacle finally became officially unfunny after a Sundowner initiate died of alcohol poisoning.

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  16. Holly said on December 21, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Anyone who wants alcohol is going to fined someone to sneak it to them. At my job, we have some people who are not to have booze. It is either for a medical reason or they have a problem. These people can always find someone who will get them a drink. When we have party’s for the residents, I have to play cop. I don’t feel it should be up to me to stop them from drinking. It would be easier on me if they just stopped serving alcohol.

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  17. brian stouder said on December 21, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Two items:

    First – grant me a Monday/holiday-week mulligan in advance, but where is the other Brittany that the plural headline implies?

    Second, somebody mentioned how well Barbara Stanwyck was put together, regardless of her age in her various movies and tv shows. In yesterday’s thread, I’d mentioned that the young folks and I watched The Wizard of Oz – and Chloe (the 5 year old) was very taken with the whole thing (that’s my girl!); and Pam googled up some entertaining Oz trivia, including this nugget: Billie Burke, who played the altogether enchanting Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, was born in the year….1885!! She was 54 when they made the movie, and her beauty is timeless.

    PS- Mary, I didn’t do the cheesecake yet either, but I’ma gonna!

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  18. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 21, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    MichaelG, the bottle stands by you; a glass of wine with you, sir — to the King!

    (Yes, i’m watching “Master & Commander”)

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  19. MichaelG said on December 21, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    “They’ll drink at 18” is not an argument, it’s a fact. I don’t know how we made the leap from drinking legally at 18 to 18 year olds passing alcohol on to 14 year olds. I’m not buying it. Also at some point parents are going to have raise their own kids and be responsible for how they behave instead of passing it off to the g’ment. It might save a life. All kinds of things might save a life. Doesn’t make them good ideas.

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  20. moe99 said on December 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    A high school friend of mine started a newsletter back in the early 90’s after her 14 year old became an alcoholic. And CA was a 21 state at the time, so you really can’t say that the age limit had anything to do with it.

    Basically, parents need to stay involved with their kids when they hit adolescence, despite the crap they’re going to get for it, and model decent drinking behavior themselves. Regardless of the drinking age.

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  21. coozledad said on December 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Brian: Billie Burke had the same aristocratic American accent as Edna St. Vincent Millay, or she was affecting one for the film. You don’t hear that manner of speech anymore. Same goes for what Hollywood thinks is a general southern accent-if they did a little more homework they’d know that those genteel-isms are virtually dead, except in the very limited batshit social circles where they’re coached.
    Are there any colleges that have refused to allow that “Greek System” retardation to set root? I have to admit I found the spectacle of tobacco farmer’s alcohol bloated offspring standing outside the frathouse in their underwear on a fifteen degree morning a small measure of social justice, but the warbling of “Together Forever” from the sorority houses at 3AM served no purpose, instructive or otherwise.

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  22. KLG said on December 21, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    “Kids” of drinking age who provide alcohol to minors have not been “raised right” as they say around here. Period. That this sometimes happens is not an excuse for a drinking age of 21. If you are old enough to sign a contract, get drafted and then get your ass shot off in a war, you are old enough to drink legally. Until recently in my benighted home state, you were eligible to be executed for a crime committed 5 years before you were eligible to buy a beer. That’s just nuts. Not to generalize too much, but many parents my age are simply having a hard time with the knowledge that their children (18-22) are now doing what they did way back in the 1970s and 1980s. All you can do is provide a good example, teach them well, and wish them well…

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  23. ROgirl said on December 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Hollywood used to have that indeterminate “mid-Atlantic” accent that sounded upper class and slightly British, kind of like Franklin Roosevelt. George Plimpton may have been the last person in existence to really speak like that.

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  24. MichaelG said on December 21, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    My glass is rose, Jeff, but not rosé. Maybe a nice zin.

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  25. LAMary said on December 21, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Coming from a long line of alcoholics, I don’t drink. I did in college and for a few years after, and I was way too good at it. I haven’t seen any signs of my kids drinking and drugs scare me more. I don’t think drugs are more dangerous inherently, but they are illegal so there’s a lot of peripheral stuff that goes on with drug acquisition and usage. In general, I tell my kids that nothing you can drink snort or smoke will make your life better for very long, and can certainly make your life worse for a very long.

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  26. brian stouder said on December 21, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    and speaking of being “unplugged” (and/or plugging back in), I noticed that the proprietress started a new Facebook page, devoted to Fort Wayne’s formerly plucky afternoon newspaper. Last week, I was ready to unplug my Facebook account; some spam video suddenly appeared on there, as if I had ‘posted’ it, which caused me much vexation.

    Anyway – do you know what happens when you click “deactivate” on Facebook? Immediately, large photos of your Friended friends appear, with text that says something like “Billy (or whoever) will really miss you! Are you SURE you want to do this?” etc etc; made me laugh out loud – so I let the thing continue to exist….for now.

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  27. Dexter said on December 21, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I spent my college-age years in the US Army. I ran into a different situation there: a lot of my buddies smoked weed, and exhibited total disdain for “juicers”, clearly considering themselves far superior.
    I don’t remember the time sequence, but it seems this “us versus them” thing faded away or else I just moved away from the anti-alcohol dopers, anyway…later on , as we discussed here last month, cheap wines like Ripple, Annie Green Springs, and Boone’s Farm were perfect chasers to cool a harsh throat.
    College drinking is here to stay. Talk to our university-bound students about the evils of drinking? Good luck. I do know just a little (I am NOT being facetious) about the repercussions of over-indulging. The rule is that if one has a drinking problem or just the playful, partying nature which includes alcohol drinking, and it seems to extend out and cause trouble in their lives, they will have to drink themselves into trouble or a realization that they have a problem and must stop. If they recognize it and say “so what?” they will end up dead or in jail or in a nuthouse or in an apartment with booze in a glass and talking to their cat. Oh…next week marks 17 years since my meltdown and beginning of recovery.
    I’ll just pour a little Sprite into my champagne glass for the wedding toast in a couple weeks as my daughter takes her wedding vows. I still would not take a drink for a million bucks.

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  28. LAMary said on December 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Jolene, some of the west coast types get far more dramatic about the weather. If it rains here, we get bulletins on the local news…STORM WATCH ’09! Really. Not just if there’s a deluge. Any rain at all.

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  29. Jolene said on December 21, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I just heard a guy on TV saying that Saturday’s snow cost the Salvation Army a million dollars in donations. Now there’s a big weather effect.

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  30. nancy said on December 21, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    It drives me crazy when writers reference Madonna’s faux-English accent, when it isn’t English at all. Rather, it’s that Hollywood grande-lady diction they used to teach the starlets from Hoboken or wherever. Billie Burke is a perfect example of it being used in situ.

    You can’t discount the ambient drinking culture when you talk about college overindulgence. Sue has referenced the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s ongoing project on the Wisconsin booze culture, a significant contributor to the problem there. I’ve heard many people who came here from Europe — auto industry transplants, mostly — express their bafflement with how much kids here pursue blackout drunkenness, when alcohol is routinely served to children in France and Germany with no apparent ill effects. (Bingeing in England is another story.)

    Follow that link to the hairspray cocktail story, really a white paper of sorts on hairspray abuse among Navajo Indians. It is hair-curling. I remember reading about this a few years back, when several southwestern newspapers undertook multipart series on Indian drinking. Every strategy to discourage it was a failure. After much lobbying, one town stopped Sunday liquor sales, which led to a run on Final Net in the drugstores.

    The TAL piece that started all this was depressing too, pointing out that the only college that’s made a dent in the problem is the U. of Nebraska, and the way they’ve done it is by essentially giving the police the longest leash imaginable to bust, roust, harass and otherwise make underage and over-limit drinking more trouble than it’s worth. Having just come from my weekly round of cop-shop calls, that’s one strategy I just can’t get behind.

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  31. Joe Kobiela said on December 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    There was a great little movie staring Chevy Chase called under the rainbow it had to do with spies and such but some how had the little people from the Wizard Oz wrapped up in it.
    As far as drinking goes been there done that got the t-shirt. Told my girls before they went to college. When you see those kids having so much fun on Sat night.Wake them up on Sunday morning and see how much fun it is then. Jen could tell you stories about the woman’s bathrooms at I.U.
    Any way I heard they actually were talking about raising the drinking age in Kentucky to 23, trying to keep it out of the High Schools I guess.
    Pilot Joe

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  32. Connie said on December 21, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Totally unrelated: the college in my Dutch home town has no interest in taking advantage of the fact that the writer of “Milk”, is in town working on his next project. Great story: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-12-20/milk-screenwriter-battles-gay-bashing-college/full/

    And in another very odd note, one of my local friends, moved here not too long ago from Fort Wayne, went to a party in Fort Wayne this weekend, ran into her friend Alec, a commentor here, and somehow they figured out they both knew me. One of those too wierd small world things.

    My kid is home, I’ve got the rest of the week off, tree is sort of up, but barely decorated. I am still working on getting all the china back into the varied furnishings in the newly carpeted dining room. Then maybe cookies. And Flint for two days, then Holland for one. (Flint is looking for a Library Director, but no thank you.)

    PS, I was legal at 18 for my college years, the Boones Farm strawberry was a high school thing.

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  33. Rana said on December 21, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    There was certainly drinking and alcohol at my college, and there were certainly a few occasions when I ended up wobbly-drunk. But this sort of vomit-in-the-bushes binging was not the sort of thing that was common – and we were a school that would produce a free-to-all-comers “sunny day keg” when there was a break in the weather.

    What I think kept us in check was that we were expected to be responsible in our drinking – and for each other – regardless of whether or not we were legal. The Honor Code was a real thing in our lives, and doing something like vomiting on your roommate’s bed while drunk was grounds for an “Honor Case” to be filed against you and you could be expelled. We were treated like we were adults who were capable of regulating ourselves, and for the most part, we did.

    The other thing that put a huge crimp on that getting-wasted-every-night culture described in that program for us was our workload. A driven lot we were, and the professors cheerfully loaded us up with as much work we could handle… and then a bit more. So the kind of people who would indulge in such ways tended to flunk out their first semester, and the campus culture was such that such nitwits were viewed with scorn.

    We had other ways of rebelling and causing trouble, but for the vast majority of us, blitzing ourselves unconscious with bad cheap beer wasn’t normal or desirable.

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  34. ROgirl said on December 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    All this drinking. What happened to pot smoking?

    I did my share of drinking in college, not in copious quantities, but pot was also part of the social life of the campus. Then again, I wasn’t part of the frat/sorority scene.

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  35. Dexter said on December 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Sometime in the 1950s the tone that actors and news broadcasters and telecasters spoke in changed. I believe the tone of the everyday American’s speech changed, also. I guess I am specifically targeting the “vanilla midwestern accent” that news departments at TV networks always shoot for.
    Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes very evident. My dad was in the US Navy during WWII and he made a recording which I listened to 50 years later, and his voice inflections were much different later on in life. I can’t really describe it, but since I am an old movies junkie I surely can spot it.
    Maybe the best example I can offer is a recording of John Cameron Swayze .
    Douglas Edwards spoke with the same sort of timbre of voice, but he spoke much slower. Compare this voice in the link with today’s Brian Williams of NBC. Totally different.
    My dad was born in Indiana in 1915 and he sounded a lot like President Harry S Truman as related to speaking patterns.

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  36. alex said on December 21, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I remember reading a Gore Vidal essay about old Hollywood in which I seem to recall him saying that the diction coaches of the silver screen era specialized in teaching the “Dutchess County” dialect.

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  37. coozledad said on December 21, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    RO Girl: There were people who pursued pot smoking as a competitive sport at the school I attended. It wasn’t enough to zone out, there was a game called “bong 98” involving a standard deck of cards and black lung. There are only two instances I can remember enjoying pot. Once, when I had some cooked into brownies (all of the euphoria, none of the paranoia),and once when I smoked some with my wife. The remainder of my drug experiences were like that old Jack Nicholson movie “Psych-Out” with more terrifying special effects and doubly wooden acting.

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  38. moe99 said on December 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    My college alma mater did not and does not have the Greek system. I think sororities and fraternities are unnecessary for small liberal arts colleges. That being said, when I went to college was the time when the Greek system was in decline. None of the 5 of us kids ever joined up, much to the chagrin of my parents (Tri Delt and Beta Theta Pi) Miami University in Oxford OH is the birthplace of a number of fraternities, iirc.

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  39. Deborah said on December 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Back from hikes in the pinon scented air in New Mexico. I think alcohol consumption of teens is related to how they were raised, and teens willing to be the supplier for younger teens is also related to how they are/were raised. But teens who really want it will find a way to get it. As a teen I never had alcohol, in college I indulged rarely, maybe twice in my whole college career, and then in moderation, once I overindulged and the thought of it kept me from repeating. When I became a full fledged adult I didn’t really like the taste until I started traveling internationally to France and Italy and sure enough came to enjoy wine. Now I can’t imagine a good meal without it, and splitting a bottle with my husband is the rule, because keeping a good bottle of wine in the fridge for the next night is gross. Over the years it just happened bit by bit, I can’t imagine how it comes so naturally so quickly to teens and college agers.

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  40. Jullie Robinson said on December 21, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I do have a kid in college but he’s smart enough to never drive home afterwards. His crowd just crashes on the floor.

    Agreed on the drinking age–I was over drinking by the time I hit 21. Tried it, had some fun, but it wasn’t very important to me. I know it becomes way too important for too many, which is why we never drank when we felt like we needed a drink.

    But who cares? I’m in Florida, it’s warm, and I just finished some ambrosial canteloupe. There’s much I despise about the place but the fresh produce is marvelous.

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  41. alex said on December 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Parents end up getting arrested and publicly shamed for providing alcohol these days, but when I was a kid it was considered the responsible thing to do, provided they chaperoned the party and didn’t let anyone leave. Frankly, I’d be more concerned about letting kids visit a household where the parents keep firearms.

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  42. Dexter said on December 21, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    JulieRobinson: You trigger an old memory. When I was a kid studying 5th grade US geography, I vowed someday to pick an orange from a Florida tree and eat it.
    I somehow avoided Florida until I was a family man in my thirties, but I remember my first Florida orange, in Naples, in my wife’s aunt’s back yard, picked from a tree in a small grove. I started pinch-peeling it and I got a stream of high-pressure juice right in the old eyeball. After rinsing out my glazzie I finished peeling the orange and I looked like a baby without a bib…juice all down my shirt…fresh Florida oranges ain’t the same as Kroger-bought oranges.
    I also want to thank whoever it was that introduced nnc-ers to roasted Brussel sprouts. For decades I have been boiling them, unaware that they are so doggone much better when roasted with a little olive oil and black pepper until they are almost black all over. I had them twice in the past week and I will probably never boil another sprout. I had pan-fried beef liver and onions with them Saturday night. My wife was at a wedding shower in the capital city…she hates liver and sprouts.

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  43. brian stouder said on December 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Word, Alex.

    Julie – Florida in December; bravo!

    We did Florida in February 2004, which was marvelous. Florida strikes me as the classic “Nice place to visit; wouldn’t wanna live there” kind of place. Leaving aside hurricanes, any place that doesn’t get really damned cold for a few months a year tends to have really really big bugs. (and I really, really don’t like great big bugs)

    Edit: Dexter, gotta agree with your wife about the liver; but brussel sprouts are marvelous little fellers, as is asparagus. And indeed – as a kiddo I never liked spinach – but I love that stuff in its fresh form, on salads and so on

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  44. Jolene said on December 21, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Brian, my father used to say that the ND weather kept the riffraff out. And, as a farmer, he also appreciated its bug-killing effects.

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  45. Dexter said on December 21, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    whoa! check out the big brain, er, bug on Brian!

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  46. brian stouder said on December 21, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Dexter – superb photo! I’m sure she’s the bees knees to another buggy; I just don’t go for ’em.

    At the zoo, when they do the touchy-feeley thing, I’ll do that. Last summer the young folks and I touched a millipede (or whatever); a nondescript darkly colored bug shaped like an AmTrak train with (seemingly) hundreds of legs; also a good natured tarantula (must have been Charlotte’s shirt-sleeve cousin from the Amazon).

    But I wouldn’t want to find one of these creatures on the hallway wall at 2 in the morning

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  47. Bruce Fields said on December 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    “I’ve heard many peo­ple who came here from Europe — auto indus­try trans­plants, mostly — express their baf­fle­ment with how much kids here pur­sue black­out drunk­en­ness, when alco­hol is rou­tinely served to chil­dren in France and Ger­many with no appar­ent ill effects.”

    I’d encourage comparing that to actual statistics about levels of alcoholism and binge drinking. (Not that I’m any expert. But some googling suggests that France and Germany do have their problems….)

    (Personally I’m sympathetic to the idea of a lower drinking age, but can also believe it would have downsides.)

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  48. Jen said on December 21, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Yeah, I heard enough horror stories about overindulging in alcohol from my dad that I never had any desire to do it myself. That, and seeing so many people puking in and around the bathrooms at IU on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after drinking. My favorite story was a friend of mine who lived on the honors floor of our dorm freshman year. He found his RA passed out naked on the bathroom floor one Saturday night. Luckily, somebody was nice enough to cover him up with a blanket eventually.

    I drank, and still do drink, but I hate puking, feeling nauseated, having a headache, etc., so I am almost obsessively careful about not drinking too much. The only time I really got more than a little tipsy was playing Sink the Biz at Nick’s in Bloomington once, but I knew it might happen so I had my sister come pick me up and take me back to my apartment.

    I think years of good common sense teaching from my parents helped my sister and me navigate the alcohol culture of IU intelligently.

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  49. nancy said on December 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Agreed, Bruce, there’s no Eden where alcohol is concerned. And as I mentioned, elsewhere in Europe they have the same problems we do. But I have to wonder whether this weird binary, zero-tolerance thing we do with kids — not a drop before 21, 21 shots on your birthday — isn’t the foundation of much of this insanity.

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  50. jcburns said on December 21, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Yeah, I think one shot per year of your existence would be a better way to ramp up. (Let me see, what am I up to now…whoah!!)

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  51. beb said on December 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I have to agree with Jeff back the first comment. Making kids wait until they’re 21 only encourage them to drink to excess to make up for lost time. I think dropping the age limit to 16 is a good idea because then a kid’s first drunk will be done while they’re living at home and when they will have to deal with their parents.

    I also don’t think that over 21 people are supplying that much booze to minors. Sure some happens but I suspect a lot of it is minors stealing booze from their parents.

    That said I am bothered that there seems to be a culture of extreme drinking that has nothing to do with when people start drinking.

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  52. Rana said on December 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    I drank, and still do drink, but I hate puk­ing, feel­ing nau­se­ated, hav­ing a headache, etc., so I am almost obses­sively care­ful about not drink­ing too much.

    Yes. I think a lot of what kept me away from the alcohol (a good thing, given some possible tendencies toward alcoholism on my mother’s side of the family) is that I never got that much pleasure from drinking alcohol, let alone being drunk.

    Most of it isn’t that tasty, and I’m that unlucky soul who gets the hangover while I’m imbibing, instead of the next day. If I want to get drunk it needs to be strong and it needs to be sweet – which is a combination that’s easiest enough to avoid in most casual drinking situations. But mostly I don’t want to get drunk. It makes me moody and depressed more often than not.

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  53. Dave said on December 22, 2009 at 12:01 am

    Washington did get a lot of snow, my son and daughter-in-law live in Alexandria and the DIL, who has lived in the DC area her entire life, said she didn’t remember ever getting more snow than they did this weekend.

    I spent some time on North Court Street in Athens and environs, no real horror stories to tell, which is good. Today, I still like a couple of beers occasionally but that’s it. The last time I had a hangover was when my youngest sister wed and that was sheer misery for much too long. That’s been 25 years ago and I’ve not done THAT since.

    Since my MIL lives in FLA, we go there regularly and plan to go again the last two weeks of January, FLA is best appreciated then.

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  54. jcburns said on December 22, 2009 at 6:14 am

    I think there’s something about the brick-paved streets of Athens (those which are left) that promote post-imbibing convivial communal stumbling about. We have one brick-paved street about six blocks from here, and when I wander down it toward Piedmont Park I have Athens uptown flashbacks.

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  55. Dorothy said on December 22, 2009 at 9:13 am

    According to imdb.com, Billie Burke was born in Washington D.C. but traveled to Europe with her parents – her dad was a professional clown. They settled in London, and when she was 18 she moved back to the states, New York specifically. I don’t think she was affecting any accent – since she grew up in London I’m sure that’s where she acquired her manner of speech.

    I was amazed to read that she was 54 when she did the part of Glinda the Good Witch. And one of the young ladies I know from theater here in Ohio told me she is related to Billie Burke. I’ll have to ask her next time I see her exactly how she’s related. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000992/bio

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  56. Julie Robinson said on December 22, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Not just big bugs in FL, but lots and lots of little bugs too, and a tendency to leave their rotting little carcasses all over the place.

    I spent spring and summer of 2008 here and would NEVER want to repeat that. Sheer misery of heat and humidity*. But today I am going swimming outdoors and having fresh sweet corn and strawberries for lunch. Real, field-ripened strawberries. I’m salivating.

    *Most of the government down here functions like a third world country. It’s not hard to understand the debacle of the election that put W. in the White House.

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  57. Jessica said on December 22, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I’ve lived in DC a long time, and we don’t get 20 inches plus very often. People actually did better this time than the previous big snow in Feb 2003 – which came close to 30 inches and took days to dig out of. And they did better than they often do in the smallish snows that generate so much hysteria.

    But come on! No matter where you live and how used to it you are, 20 inches in 30 hours is a lot of snow.

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  58. brian stouder said on December 22, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Yes, Jessica – no two ways about it, that is indeed a lot of snow, which will become a lot of slush, and then a lot of water (big fun in a river town, what with sandbagging and all the rest) – so the process continues for you DCers.

    I still haven’t figured out the plural ‘Brittany’ in the headline; but then again, it’s a good day when I find both my car keys and cell phone in the morning

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  59. Deborah said on December 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Happy first day of winter, or was that yesterday? Overcast here in Abiquiu, snow is expected. I hope it is just a light dusting, I have to drive to Santa Fe tomorrow.

    I grew up in Miami, FL and boy do I remember the bugs. Huge. And the flying palmetto bugs were the worst, you never knew which way they were going and inevitably they’d end up landing on your hair. Gross. I have a project in Miami now and will be traveling there in Feb, looking forward to that, might make a long weekend out of it if I can manage. I also had to go in August which was no fun at all.

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  60. LAMary said on December 22, 2009 at 11:05 am


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  61. Dave said on December 22, 2009 at 11:10 am

    DIL missed the 2003 DC storm, she was in Spain as an exchange student, that’s where she and my son met, in Sevilla, Spain, as exchange students.

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  62. brian stouder said on December 22, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I just spoke to a fellow in Wilmington, Delaware, and he told me they have the 20+ inches of snow –

    and the forecast for Christmas is 40+ degrees plus rain rain rain.

    This could become biblical

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