Weekend cocktail chatter.

Weekend cocktail chatter.

Weekend cocktail chatter.

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June 23 2006 3:00 PM

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Slate's handy guide to small talk.

Slate offers a quick and easy guide to help you fake your way through overly cultured cocktail parties this weekend.

The news that Ronald Lauder paid $135 million for a portrait by Gustav Klimt has set the art world atwitter, and collectors everywhere are salivating at the thought that they could be sitting on gold mines. Gently disabuse your hosts of that notion, then lowball them on the Rothko they have hanging in the foyer.


If you need to bring something to a potluck this weekend: Take one James Frey memoir, one Ethan Hawke novel, and a dash of Irvine Welsh. Simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Gradually mix in Kurt Cobain's published works and bring to a boil. Add a teaspoon of pure heroin just before serving. Voilà: Pete Doherty's journals. Not safe for pregnant women and the elderly.

Discuss the eternal sexiness of 71-year-old Leonard Cohen in light of the aptly named documentary Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.

New drinking game: the Sam Sifton simile! Each time you spot another cringe-worthy cliché in New York Times culture editor Sifton's Q&A with readers this week, hit the bottle. We'll get you started: Stephen Holden's review of Rufus Wainwright's recent concert at Carnegie Hall was "as glittery as a freshly minted coin," and Sifton went to work that day "like a kid with a ticket for the fair." The Times' letters system "has bugs like the Everglades." Drink twice for a metaphor: Covering celebrities "is a slippery slope. But it's still fun to ski."

Much to the delight of schadenfreudistic literary types everywhere, John Updike's new novel, The Terrorist, has gotten mind-bogglingly terrible reviews. Much to the delight of his publisher, readers don't seem to mind.

Forbidden topics: Anderson Cooper, The Devil Wears Prada, penny text messages.