Having a bar conversation is hard. You have to, like, know stuff about the news and be able to communicate that stuff in a way that doesn't make you sound like an idiot. Throw alcohol into the mix, and it's a recipe for disaster. Good thing I'm here to help. Here are ten stories from this week to assist your barroom chatter.
1. Oh man, did Republican person Todd Akin step in it this week after breaking out the now-infamous phrase "legitimate rape". Plenty of meat to get off these conversational bones, as long as you're not one of those contrarian types who just have to take the opposite side of the popular opinion. Don't be that person. Just get on the condemn train and enjoy the ride.
2. Tony Scott, director of such classics as "True Romance," "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder" and on-an-on-and-on, and brother of Ridley, committed suicide last week by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the expansive suspension bridge (and somewhat hidden gem of L.A.) that connects Long Beach to San Pedro. Word is that video of the jump exists, which begs the question: Would you watch it?
3. Oh, this high-definition video of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars is awesome. Science! Also awesome: Dave Grohl. Beer!
4. Over in New York, a 21-year-old prankster pretended to be a "celebrity" by having some fake bodyguards, assistants, and paparazzi follow him around Times Square. It's shocking how well it worked. Pretty sure L.A. residents would just ignore all the ruckus.
5. Are you going to buy the new book written by a former Navy Seal all about what really went down during the Osama bin Laden raid? Or are you just going to wait for members of the media to parse the best parts, saving yourself time and money?
6. Saturday, the streets of Echo Park will be flooded with music, wristbands, plaid, tight jeans and fixies -- even more so than usual, I mean -- for the free(!) festival Echo Park Rising. A complete schedule of the bands who will be performing is... well, the site is kind of difficult to navigate, so you're on your own there. Did I mention it's free?
7. Sports-news: San Francisco Giants slugger Melky Cabrera -- this year's All Star Game MVP -- was busted for using an illegal performance-enhancing testosterone thingy. He's been suspended for 50 games and his rep has taken a beating. But that's not where the story ends, for Melky, in his infinite wisdom, tried to cover his tracks with some Internet espionage by creating a website for a false company that would supposedly help support his claim that he accidentally took the supplements. Maybe he can get a job with an ARG company if this whole baseball thing doesn't work out.
8. Mark David Chapman, still in prison. Doesn't seem like a conversation-starter in itself, but what about trying to figure out why all assassins/serial killers/bad dudes are known by all three of their names.
9. If you're an older fella having a kid, there's a good chance you're giving that kid a whole bunch of genetic mutations. Of course, if you're an older fella having a kid, you're also a miracle of science.
10. In Spain, a well-intentioned elderly woman saw a hundred-year-old piece of religious artwork that was getting a bit too weathered for her liking, and she did what any well-intentioned elderly woman in Spain would have done: She tried her own hand in a little amateur art restoration. The results -- unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view -- leave much to be desired.