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.

You couldn’t be bothered to read The Da Vinci Code, but that doesn’t excuse you from chatting about the movie this weekend. Start by quoting the withering reviews. Mourn that the Cannes Film Festival should house such dreck. And note the wildly diverse coalition of anti-Da Vinci forces: everything from Opus Dei to the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (one of the film’s villains might have belonged to both). Mandatory closing line: “But it’ll open big.”

You’ll be the hit of the party if you know anything about the Tony Awards; no one else does. Suggested talking point: It’s the year of the Irish! Irish playwrights, Irish actors, Americans affecting Irish accents—everything from The Lieutenant of Inishmore to Shining City. If that draws blank stares, talk about the 11 noms for The Color Purple.

The New York Times unveiled its list of the best fiction of the last 25 years. In first place was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, followed in succession by nearly every novel written by Philip Roth, John Updike, and Don DeLillo. If you’re cruising highly literate parties, you might run into one or more of the distinguished judges.

On the other side of the cultural spectrum, Britney Spears had queasy, Michael Jackson-esque moments with her infant child, and TV executives and entertainment journalists gathered for their ritual of annual self-debasement at the “upfronts.” Apparently, NBC’s Jeff Zucker bored everyone to tears.

Finally, if your party should skew geriatric, talk up Mike Wallace’s 60 Minutes retirement special. Highlight: He was once hit on by Shirley MacLaine.