Cocktail party conversation from Oxford
Compiled by Jonathan Kroberger
Our publicity department spends all week long talking about our books and occasionally they find it hard to stop talking about them when out and about. Here on the blog we’re going to be featuring some of the facts they can be heard recounting outside of the office from some of our current books.
From Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater by Eddie Shapiro:
Marilyn Monroe sat in the front row of every performance of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for a month while Carol Channing was playing the lead, to prepare for the film version. Carol Channing said that the conductor of the show had never seen “anything that beautiful” and couldn’t keep his eyes of Marilyn, often to the detriment of the orchestra.
–Lauren Hill, Publicity Assistant
From America Walks into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops by Christine Sismondo:
The Anti-Saloon League, an organization funded by John D. Rockefeller in the 1890s, published 250 million pages of anti-alcohol propaganda per month. In those pages, they used the following names to describe saloons and bars:
- The storm center of crime
- The devil’s headquarters on earth
- The school-master of a broken Decalogue
- The defiler of youth
- The enemy of the home
- The foe of peace
- The deceiver of nations
- The beast of sensuality
- The past master of intrigue
- The vagabond of poverty
- The social vulture
- The rendezvous of demagogues
- The enlisting office of sin
- The serpent of Eden
- A ponderous second edition of hell
–Nick Milanes, Publicity Assistant
From The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of Microbes by Nicholas P. Money:
The creature with the largest eyes on earth is a mollusk…the biggest mollusk, the colossal squid of the Antarctic. The paired orbs of this cephalopod are one foot in diameter and hold a lens as big as an orange. The creature with the smallest eyes (single cells) are the eyes in the single-celled organism warnowiid dinoflagellates.
–Purdy, Director of Publicity
From Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes by Joyce F. Benenson with Henry Markovits:
In a 1997 study, researchers brought groups of young boys and groups of young girls into separate rooms, provided them with toys and balls, and allowed them to play as they liked (so long as no injury was involved). The male groups quickly organized into competing teams and created games with complex systems of rules; they spent as much time arguing over the rules as playing their games, and seemed to enjoy these arguments. The girls played with the various toys, but did not organize themselves in any way, and were happy to leave when the experiment concluded.
–Owen Keiter, Associate Publicist
From Becoming Catholic: Finding Rome in the American Religious Landscape by David Yamane:
On 19 April 2014, the day before Easter, many people will experience the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)—the process by which individuals become Catholic in a late-modern society. Since 1988, well over two million individuals in the United States have entered the Catholic church through the RCIA process.
–Tara Kennedy, Senior Publicity Manager
From Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious by Linda Mercadante:
I’ll usually avoid talk of religion while socializing but this topic might be safe. There’s a fast growing group of people in the United States known as “nones” or SBNR – spiritual but not religious. In the 2000s, 46 million people identified themselves as having no religious affiliation, an increase from 29 million people in the 90s. In the words of Robert Wuthnow, these are people who are “seekers of spiritual experience rather than dwellers in a firm religious location.”
–Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Senior Publicist
From Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know by P.W. Singer and Allen Friedman:
I’m not afraid of talking about email at a party! Singer and Friedman insists that there’s much we can do as individual internet users to protect our security. Gmail has two step verification, there are password managers, and it’s important not to reuse passwords across different accounts. I was surprised to learn certain stories like the US Air Force base commander in the 2000’s who ordered his assistant to assign him a one digit password and that the most common password are “12345” and “password.”
–Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Senior Publicist
From Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State by Mark Schrad:
Stalin was infamous for coercing his inner circle to drink heavily so that he could pry into their true feelings once inebriated. Dinners would go on until long past midnight, and so many officials we’re getting pushed into a nearby pond that some guards quietly drained it to avoid drowning.
–Jonathan Kroberger, Publicist
Jonathan Kroberger is a Publicist at Oxford University Press.