Posts Tagged: Bad Influences
30

Terrible Summer Camp Counselors We've Known (And Been)

The conclusion of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

Summer camp: you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s hot, there are bugs, and you’re being overseen by “adults” who are just five years older than you. There are bound to be mistakes, disasters, and bad decisions being made. At the time we accept these counselors, with their quirks and rules, as givens of the camp experience—sometimes we even looked up to them as role models of young adulthood, only later realizing they had no idea what they were doing either. We asked friends to share some of their stories [...]

2

A Little History Of Blackmail

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

The word “blackmail” has deceit written all over it. Nine letters to connote all the dirtiness and manipulation that comes with the threat of disclosure. But when you think of "blackmail," do you picture, well, mail? Confidential missives that threaten to enter the wrong hands? I’m always reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Purloined Letter," where the narrative winds to follow the possible locations of an incriminating letter. In daytime soaps and murder mysteries, blackmail regularly happens through the transfer of mail. As we know, letters are by nature compromising—not only [...]

14

Bad News Brenda

The first in a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

Brenda looked great in a bikini. She looked great in everyone’s bikini. She looked like an adult in a bikini, which is to say that she looked like one of those models we call beautiful because they have the face of an adult and the body of a 15 year old.

Brenda was equally great on four-wheelers and horses, and when she got her license, just months after turning 15 (Idaho doesn’t care about your national traffic safety), she’d already mastered the stubborn clutch on one of her [...]

15

Giving Bad Advice To Kings

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

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The highbrow way that most people know about Edward II of England is from Christopher Marlowe's biographical play about him, or from Brecht's stage adaptation or Derek Jarman's film adaptation of the same; the lowbrow way is from Braveheart. Either way, the main thing you probably think you know about him is that he was gay. Leaving aside the question of how sexual desire mapped on to self-identity in the 1300s, there are certainly reasons to believe that he was attracted to men. Snide remarks crop up in many [...]

8

The Writer With The Pink Velvet Pants

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

I don’t remember all that much about my first year at university except that it was the year we converted from pounds, shillings and pence to "decimal currency." I shared ground-floor rooms, overlooking the Third Quad in college, with a bearded, bear-like chap I called (for reasons which need not detain us) Eighty Two. He was impossibly good: for all practical purposes a saint. His father ran a school for the blind. He had just spent part of his gap year (though the term wasn’t in use back then) in a 12th-century [...]

186

Drinking While Pregnant

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

I found out that I was pregnant on Christmas Day, 2011. I am due on September 4. I had my first drink (not counting a sip of champagne on New Year’s) on March 25, 2012. It was a Michelob Ultra I received after finishing the Shamrock Shuffle 8K. I figured that I earned the beer after running the race, without stopping, in under an hour, plus, a Michelob Ultra hardly counts as a drink. It was delicious and felt a little bit naughty, which was a sensation I realized I missed from [...]

4

The East is Drunk: Hammered and Sickled in China

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

When a British businessman died of alcohol poisoning in a Chongqing hotel earlier this year, it seemed completely unremarkable to anyone who had worked in China. Boozing—heavily and to great personal detriment—is such a common practice in China that an old China Hand could easily have had a run-in with counterfeit, contaminated alcohol. Or he just overdid it.

Of course, that was no run-of-the-mill British businessman and it wasn't alcohol that poisoned him. But it was probably the commonality of "baijiu culture" accidents that led his assassins to choose [...]