Cocktail Chatter

Steve Jobs the Jerk, Female Craft Brewers, and the Brilliance of Occupy Wall Street   

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Waiting in line.
Waiting lines can be crazy long at trendy restaurants

Photograph by Michael Blann/Thinkstock.

Foodie Death Sentence: There’s no way I’m waiting two hours to eat at a trendy restaurant,” by Jessica Grose. No matter how transcendent a meal promises to be, Grose thinks waiting in line is a huge waste of time. But for Grose, who lives in trendy-restaurant Mecca (Brooklyn), abiding by this principle when eating out is tough. But she may have figured out a solution: To hedge her bets when it comes to dining out at a trendy spot, Grose now snags a reservation at a nearby, less hip restaurant in case she can’t get a table.

Gawker Is Big Immature Baby: Why can’t Gawker do nastiness the right way?” by Katie Roiphe. When a Gawker contributor sent Roiphe a request to write a blurb for her book, Roiphe realized that the same person once wrote a piece for the web site titled, “Katie Roiphe Is Big Immature Baby.” But the post didn’t bother Roiphe much: She argues that the website’s Achilles heel is its inability to spew individually crafted vitriol. “The rage, the dissociated nastiness, floats through the ether and attaches itself fleetingly to a subject,” she writes. “But really, taking it personally is like being annoyed at the wind for messing up your hair.”

Cain Is Able: Why the Herman Cain boomlet may actually last,” by John Dickerson. Herman Cain’s outsider persona helped him secure his spot as the current front-runner of the GOP presidential race.  But though he may be wacky—with his strange campaign ads and questionable tax plans—the popularity of the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO may be more than just a passing fad, Dickerson writes.  Cain has already exhibited endurance and longevity that previous flavor-of-the-week candidates (ahem, Michele Bachmann) have lacked.

Oh Snap!: Paranormal Light-Painting Activity,” by Heather Murphy. In this Browbeat post, Murphy chronicles the pursuit of “light-painters”– artists who use long camera exposure times to create hauntingly luminescent images. The results of the experimentation are astonishing. In one image, a man stands in the middle of a forest, surrounded by a smoky neon haze. In others, UFO-like rainbow balls illuminate a landscape in front of Mt. Hood, and a radiant spider appears to crawl through the sand.

Occupy the No-Spin Zone: One of the best things about Occupy Wall Street is the way it confuses and ignores the shrill pundit class,” by Dahlia Lithwick. The world of 24-hour cable news is upset that the Occupy Wall Street protesters don’t have a “unified message.” That’s a good thing, Lithwick writes. In a political era in which complex issues are distilled into four-second sound bytes, a multifaceted message-based movement like OWS is a positive development for the country.

The Hops Ceiling: Women in craft brewing are challenging the stereotype of the brawny brewmaster,” by Mark Garrison. Throughout the 20th century, beer-making was largely the province of men. Women often felt unwelcome in the industry thanks to lingering sexist stereotypes and dangerous work environments. But craft beer’s recent rise in popularity has also heralded a new era of women’s involvement in beer-making. Garrison introduces some of these female brew pioneers.

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Stars: The crazily accelerated career arcs of Hollywood actors,” by Tom Shone. In a Hollywood long, long ago, actors didn’t reach their prime—and start winning Oscars—until they hit 40. A lot has changed since those golden years, Shone writes. Now Tinseltown is full of stars who peak at 30. As Ryan Gosling told Shone in an interview earlier this year: “If I’m still acting at 46 I’ll be surprised.”

Jobs the Jerk: Walter Isaacson’s new biography of the Apple CEO is full of juicy tales about Jobs’ ego, but it doesn’t explain what made him tick,” by Farhad Manjoo. Walter Isaacson’s new book paints deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs as abusive and neglectful. Jobs was unkind to people he didn’t like and often treated the people he loved even worse. But Isaacson’s portrayal fails to uncover the spark behind Jobs’ genius, Manjoo writes. At the end of the book, readers are still left wondering what drove Jobs to achieve his enormous success.

Can You Be Scared Enough To Pee Your Pants? Some people urinate when they’re frightened. Other people can’t urinate when they’re nervous. What’s going on?” by Brian Palmer. The inability to “hold it in” when you’re frightened is a very real phenomenon, Palmer writes. Under stressful conditions, the inhibitory signals from the frontal lobe section of the brain can “be overridden by the limbic system, a combination of brain areas that controls the famous ‘fight or flight’ response,” causing people to relieve themselves involuntarily. That’s also the reason why many people urinate more frequently before important exams or competitive athletic events.

The Waiting Game: I’ve loved baseball my whole life. Now, I can’t watch a game without DVR,” by Josh Levin. The author is a devoted baseball fan, but he became a different kind of devotee with the introduction of DVR television recording. Since the in-between-the-pitches time during games is hardly scintillating viewing, Levin says that the ability to fast-forward through those interludes has made watching America’s favorite pastime far more efficient—and enjoyable.