Slate's handy guide to small talk.

Slate's handy guide to small talk.

Slate's handy guide to small talk.

Arts, entertainment, and more.
Sept. 8 2006 3:31 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.

Make sure you've invited your buddies at The New Yorker to your soiree. You'll have to do some serious schmoozing in the next month, since all the good events at October's New Yorker Festival sold out within minutes of going on sale Thursday. If you dally, the only event you'll be able to attend is The New Yorker Dance Party—although the image of David Remnick shaking it to minimal techno is an alluring one.

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PR types will be clucking over the unceremonious dumping of Jessica Simpson's publicist Rob Shuter, who made the mistake of feeding a trumped-up story of romance between Simpson and teen heartthrob singer John Mayer to the celeb weeklies. Simpson was left looking like a fool when Mayer denied the affair. Live by US Weekly, die by US Weekly?

A more highbrow sort of firing took place over at the New Republic. Curmudgeonly blogger and critic Lee Siegel got called out for hyperbolically commenting on his own blog, "Lee Siegel on Culture," which TNR Editor Frank Foer then yanked from the site—some say deservedly, some say, what's the big deal? And could this all be part of some elaborate scheme of Siegel's to get his name mentioned as much as possible in as many news outlets as possible? Mea culpa!

But perhaps the most mourned firing of all was at the Village Voice, where longtime music critic Bob Christgau was let go this week. He wasn't perfect, but he'll be missed.

Former President Clinton emerged this week and threw a fit about ABC's 9/11 miniseries. No one seems sure why this merits such a brouhaha—since when did miniseries actually, you know, tell the truth?—but there it is.

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It's OK, you can admit it: You bought a copy of A Million Little Pieces, and you didn't hate it, but you'll be damned if you don't get your refund.

James Frey may want to actually write something under his own name again, but it's unlikely that J.T. LeRoy will be getting assignments anytime soon. Especially after the fall issue of the Paris Review hits newsstands (bet you never thought you'd actually be waiting for an issue of the Paris Review, did you), since it features an "unapologetic" interview with LeRoy creator Laura Albert, in which she claims to be "misunderstood."

Continuing on the fake people tip, word on the street (or at least, in the LA Times) is that LonelyGirl15, the girl who's been posting strangely compelling videos on YouTube since May, is actually part of an elaborate marketing campaign for an upcoming horror film. Perhaps you should start inviting imaginary friends to your gatherings, since they seem to be a lot more interesting than real people.

Stop talking about: the Suri Cruise photos, Paris Hilton's DUI, Katie Couric.