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.

Topic A likely will be the new film V for Vendetta, from the geniuses behind The Matrix. Conversation starter:Is it a subversive polemic or a daffy celebration of terrorism? (Highbrows might also want to brush up on the history of Guy Fawkes.) After a few minutes, you might move the conversation to producer Larry Wachowski’s alleged gender switcheroo. Here’s your primer on that.

Also of note in film, “Brokeback Mountain” author Annie Proulx dissed best picture winner “Trash—excuse me—Crash.”

TheNew Yorker’s legendary fact-checking department seems to have not checked its National Magazine Award application.

Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown testified at his plagiarism trial in London and sounded like Sebastian Junger: “I keep an antique hourglass on my desk and every hour break briefly to do push-ups, sit-ups, and some quick stretches.”

Michael Jackson has officially ankled Neverland for Bahrain.

On television, breast-cancer-stricken Dana Fairbanks died on the L Word, and Showtime concluded the episode with a post-show therapy session. Suggested joke: If HBO took that approach with the ever-gloomier Sopranos, every episode would be followed by a two-hour shiva.

Finally, after a decade of basic-cable hegemony, Law & Order’s ratings have begun to slide. Distance yourself by talking up Crossing Jordan.