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.

Your involvement with horse racing begins and ends with mint juleps. Still, that won’t stop you from reminding everyone that there’s no point in watching Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, since both Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro (bum leg) and Preakness winner Bernardini (too tired) are out. Watch the chariot scenes in Ben-Hur instead. 

New York Times reporter David Carr’s drug-addiction memoir has sold for a reported $300,000 advance. Fun parlor game: Match the author with his/her addiction.

Quote Seth Mnookin’s takedown of Dan Brown in Vanity Fair, in which he writes that The Da Vinci Code author ripped off several lesser-known books and implies that his wife actually pulls the strings (and possibly sends e-mails from creative pseudonyms).

You might pre-emptively tell fellow partygoers that you will not discuss the new season of Entourage under any circumstances.

In literary news, cackle at Jason Epstein’s review of Bill Buford’s Heat in the New York Review of Books, in which Epstein describes Mario Batali, the subject of Buford’s book, as the “ovate proprietor on display at the bar, a life-size Humpty Dumpty in orange pigtail, knee-length pantaloons, and kitchen clogs.”

Start a new trend—dinner in New York, drinks in Washington—now that JetBlue has announced a $39 New York to D.C. shuttle. Yes, you can still take Amtrak; bring a flashlight.

Another day, another media blog. Huffington Post’s Eat the Press would be just another iteration of the Gawker-meets-Romenesko template if not for one very addictive feature: the People Ranker, which provides an instant graphical representation of the number of times people have been mentioned in blogs each week. If you’re hosting, provide your guests with a button indicating their rankings as they walk through the door. They’ll thank you later.