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.

Lee Siegel’s screeds against “blogofascism” (written, appropriately enough, on his New Republic blog) hit a few raw nerves in the blogosphere this week. Find the blogger(s) at your Fourth of July BBQ and ask them whether they think of themselves as “hard fascism with a Microsoft face.”

Find your host’s copy of the OED and helpfully point out the places where some of the newly approved words—including mash-up, heroin chic, and rug muncher—will go.

Bibliophiles at your gathering may turn up their noses at Harper Lee’s decision to break her 40-year silence (we won’t count that 1983 review of an Alabama history book) with a schmaltzy essay in O: The Oprah Magazine. You know better, having accepted the power of the O and moved on.

Ever since you started listening to the BBC’s downloadable readings of Romantic poetry—the best of Blake, Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, and the rest of the gang—you have realized that beauty is, indeed, truth, and vice versa. To that end, root around your hosts’ medicine cabinet for anything that may help you in your quest for perfection, especially if your hosts happen to have been kicked out of the Tour de France.

Everyone at your gathering has been to the National Portrait Gallery—the British National Portrait Gallery, that is. Turns out there’s another one right here in our nation’s capital, and it reopens Saturday after a years-long renovation. There’s never been a better time to stroll by paintings of Increase Mather and John Winthrop the Younger. Happy Fourth of July!

Forbidden topics: Star Jones Reynolds, Radar magazine, Elvis.