Culture Gabfest: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Vocal Fry, and the Legacy of Christopher Hitchens.

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Dec. 21 2011 12:46 PM

The Culture Gabfest, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Fry” Edition

Listen to Slate's show about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, vocal fry, and the legacy of Christopher Hitchens.


Iillustration by Robert Neubecker.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 170 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, Julia Turner, and Jacob Weisberg by clicking the arrow on the audio player below or opening this player in another tab:

Don't miss a single episode of the Culture Gabfest. Subscribe to the free Culturefest podcast in iTunes or directly with our RSS feed. You can also download this week's episode here. And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook here.

In this week's Culture Gabfest, our critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner ponder the mysteries of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and demonstrate the verbal tic known as “vocal fry.” For their final segment, they are joined by Slate’s chairman Jacob Weisberg to discuss the legacy of essayist, literary critic, and Slate contributor Christopher Hitchens, who died last week at the age of 62.


Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:

Dana’s review of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
’s Forrest Wickman on the stylish eyewear of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
’s June Thomas on Alec Guinness in the original BBC miniseries.
NPR’s Weekend Edition interview with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy star Gary Oldman.
The New Yorker
’s Anthony Lane on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the novels of John Le Carré.
For more 1970s English mystery, try The Red Riding Trilogy.
Science Now
’s article on vocal fry.
’s report on vocal fry as a female fad.
Jezebel’s coverage of the vocal fry phenomenon.
Gawker’s report on this “hot new linguistic fad.”
Language Log’s post debunking the theory that vocal fry is a “new” trend.
Linguist blogger Josef Fruehwald’s post on vocal fry.
’s June Thomas on editing Christopher Hitchens.
’s Christopher Hitchens tribute page.
Christopher Hitchens’ 2010 Slate article on North Korea.
’s Jacob Weisberg on Christopher Hitchens’ generosity to young people.
The Nation’s Katha Pollitt with a somewhat contrary take on Hitchens’ legacy.
Christopher Buckley’s remembrance of his old friend.

The Culture Gabfest weekly endorsements:

Dana’s pick: Slate’s music club and John Hurt in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape.
Julia’s pick: SNL’s Taran Killam homage to Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” video, especially the side-by-side comparison that shows how he nails her dance moves.
Jacob’s Pick: Titus Andronicus (and Shakespeare in general) at The Public Theater in New York.
Steve’s pick: Eco-friendly travel accessories firm Engage Green’s backpack line and Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell.

Outro: Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Jesse Baker. Our intern is Matt Sigl.

Follow us on the new Culturefest Twitter feed. And please Like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

Jacob Weisberg is chairman and editor-in-chief of The Slate Group and author of The Bush Tragedy. Follow him on Twitter.


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