Taylor Swift Fan-Fiction Fridays 1-5

I have been writing more Taylor Swift fan-fiction, for the best Facebook group that there has ever been.

29/8/2014

It was Friday and one of the best kinds of nights there can be – a night of a Taylor Swift gig, and she was playing all of her best songs like Love Story and You Belong With Me and the one from the Paul Potts movie.

All her biggest fans from ‘The Metaphor and Cat’ Facebook group were in the front row and she gave them all high fives!

Suddenly she started playing the brilliant song Red from the album Red which is about colours and also emotions! Everyone was dancing so well but oh no suddenly the music stopped!

A strange metal voice echoed across the arena.

“HUMAN TAYLOR SWIFT FANS. DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE IS RED. YOUR BLOOD. WHEN WE HAVE EXTERMINATED YOU.”

Oh no! It was the Daleks! Taylor Swift was scared but she did not cry because she is so brave. What would she do now?

But suddenly there was a strange noise like a wheezing groaning noise like if it was Doctor Who’s TARDIS because that is in fact what it was! It landed on the stage and the door opened and Taylor Swift made a surprised face (but she was still pretty and also brave despite being surprised).

TO BE CONTINUED

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5/9/2014

“Right,” said No Slacking, of the No Slacking Talent Agency, “Today I have a very important job for you boys!”

“Did you hear that Barry?” said Paul

“What?” Barry looked confused.

“He’s got a very important job!”

“Yes, I know, he’s our boss!”

“No you idiot, he’s got an important job for us!”

“Yes, for us he’s our boss.”

“Oh do be quiet and listen.” said No Slacking who was getting cross at this point.

The brothers listened intently.

“Today we’re being visited by a singer who I am trying to sign up to my Talent Agency for to earn a lot of money!”

“Oh that’s good you’ll be able to buy a new suit.” said Barry. No Slacking’s suit was a bit old, but No Slacking clearly didn’t want to hear this as he was going all red in the face now.

“Less talking, more doing. You need to look after the singer and make sure there are no SHENANIGANS – and remember: NO SLACKING! Look, here she is now!”
Paul and Barry turned around and were so surprised that their moustaches nearly jumped off their faces…

TO BE CONTINUED

12/9/2014

All the engines of Sodor were very excited as their favourite singer was coming to play a concert on the island. James The Red engine was especially excited as he had been chosen for her to ride on because of her song Red – yes that’s right Taylor Swift was coming to Sodor!

The night before the big day the Fat Controller (who we’re probably not even allowed to call that now because of the nanny state I expect) was checking some important business things when he heard some singing and also crying. It was coming from Percy the Small Engine’s shed.

“For why are you crying Percy?” said the Fat Controller.

“She wears short skirts, I’m a train. She’s cheer captain, I’m a train,” sang Percy sadly. For Percy was in love with Taylor Swift but could she ever love a train with a strange grey talking face for some reason?

“Percy you are a strange engine.” laughed the Fat Controller who to be honest didn’t care very much about the emotional welfare of his trains because of capitalism and so on.

But in a hotel room, the beautiful singer Taylor Swift shifted in her sleep in her bed in the hotel room… was she just missing Olivia Benson? Or was it… something more?

TO BE CONTINUED

19/9/2014

Alex Salmonds sat on the Scottish step, crying. He looked at his new iPhone 6 Plus again, but the result had not changed. The dream was over.

Then suddenly he felt a gentle but strong hand on his shoulder. And a beautiful voice whispered in his Scottish ear.

“Shake it off.”

And Alex Salmonds knew it was going to be okay.

TO BE CONTINUED

26/9/2014

Taylor Swift sighed and pressed print on the Buzzfeed article which the printer immediately printed into the shredder oh dear it was in all in bits now. When would another website that was a bit like Buzzfeed but with more handsome writers aggregate some of her content hopefully not using the word “bae”?

She stopped dreaming about the handsome writer who probably had brown hair and wore glasses I expect because the Delorean from Back To The Future had crashed into her kitchen! She had only just had that kitchen repaired from when one time stupid Harry Styles had set fire to a pan!

“Sorry about your kitchen Taylor Swift.” said Doctor Emmet Brown who was driving the Delorean as he is known for, “But there’s an emergency!”

“What could be so important you needed to destroy my kitchen which the internet says has crisp white cabinets that will never go out of style and a light-as-air space is accented by copper wall hangings and a stand-out hood vent?” said Taylor Swift who was pretty angry but was keeping her cool because she is always in elegant control.

“It’s your kids, Taylor Swift! Something’s got to be done about your kids!”

TO BE CONTINUED

Don’t even talk to me about irony.

30 Things To Do Before You’re 30

Because Jesus Christ I’m not bungee jumping any time in the next 12 hours.

1. Shake Jeremy Beadle by the ‘wrong’ hand.

2. Live in Streatham, twice.

3. Get kicked out of Jongleurs, Portsmouth for having a piss in the corner.

4. Appear in BBC Olive Magazine as Daniel Wilkins, Engineer.

189420_508176500090_2762_n

5. Livetweet a solo marathon of all the Police Academy Films.

6. Wake up walking across Tower Bridge at 5am and immediately call your mum to assure her that you don’t need to borrow money.

7. Drink 6 pints of lager then attempt to interview Stewart Lee before what neither of you knew was going to turn out to be a Fathers4Justice benefit gig.

8. Burn a jacket potato in the microwave.

9. Quote Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan in an email to a girl you’re in (unrequited) love with.

10. Wake up with your postcode written on your hand.

11. Play a hexadecimal in a musical rip-off of Tron.

12. Walk out of a screening of The King’s Speech because you’re so drunk you’re about to start ‘getting republican’.

13. Within 24 hours overhear different people describing you as looking a bit like Paul Merton and a bit like Leonardo DiCaprio.

14. Cry on the phone to HMRC.

15. Go to an 80s party as Winston Smith. No-one gets it.

16. Watch every episode of Stargate SG-1.

17. And Stargate: Atlantis.

18. Unwittingly talk about Saint Etienne in front of a man from Saint Etienne in a way that’s personally mortifying but doesn’t provide a satisfying anecdote.

19. Use the Science Museum’s PA system to pretend to be an alien overlord.

20. Send Alex Hern a DVD of The Beaver.

21. Pass out into the Wandsworth Road and smash one of your teeth out.

22. Fail an audition to be on Pointless.

23. Drunkenly slur Andrew Collins’ own name at him after a radio recording.

24. Be in a naked calendar. With your colleagues.

25. Have a hungover snooze on the company sofa and wake up to the chairman of the board looking at you suspiciously.

26. Leave a party because you think it’s funny that your friends’ creepy next door neighbour wants to ‘draw’ you then bolt once he starts asking you if you like his collection of porcelain elves.

27. Look forward to lottery night because you can earn 30p a go for texting drunk people the numbers.

28. Fail to have finished reading any work of classic literature, though you got to the bit in Ulysses where the man has a shit AND listen to the Classic Serial so you’re totally well-read.

29. Come to terms with people calling you ‘Harry Potter’ because at this point it’s flattering.

30. Fall down an escalator, followed by the speaker system you were supposed to be looking after.

 

Where does Eric Pickles buy his pickles?

This supermarket was destroyed by Cleggmania, yesterday.
This supermarket was destroyed by Cleggmania, yesterday.

The big political question that no-one is willing to talk about is where members of parliament do their shopping. I mean, obviously when they’re in parliament they probably go to that little Tesco Express by Westminster tube station to buy, e.g. a lasagne and a miniature bottle of wine, but what about when they’re at home?

For obvious reasons most MPs don’t publicise the locations of their houses, but the majority of them do have a publicly available address for their constituency office. Almost all of these these are available on the parliament website; about 50 don’t publish one at all so I’ve used either the address of place they most often do their “surgery” events for constituents, or that of their party’s local office, to stand in.

Gathering this data itself was an interesting demonstration of: 1) how difficult some MPs make it for their constituents to get in touch to talk about their concerns (sometimes there’s more information about how to get a tour of the Houses of Parliament), and 2) how bloody awful (and often quite broken) most MPs’ websites are. Anyway, with that in hand we can figure out what their local supermarket situation is.

Average distance between constituency offices and supermarkets

The constituency offices of Conservative Party MPs tend to be the furthest away from supermarkets; on average they have to go almost twice as far as Labour MPs to do their shopping. This is probably illustrative of the fact that Labour tend to do better in urban areas & the Conservatives in rural ones, or maybe it’s because of Global Warming???

We can also see what the closest supermarket chain tends to be for each party’s offices.

conservative labour ld

Interestingly, despite The Co-operative group’s links with the Labour Party (32 of Labour’s MPs are also joint members of the Co-operative political party), Labour constituency offices tend to be closer to Tesco branches, while Co-op branches tend to be the closest supermarkets to Tory & Lib Dem offices.

Lib Dem offices favour Marks & Spencers more than those of other parties, Iceland is a lot more popular with Labour, and no-one much shops at Budgens.

Obviously there are some variables we can’t account for: Chris Kelly, MP for Dudley South, has an office that’s close to a Tesco Express, but maybe he really like Marks and Spencers’ Percy Pigs pig-shaped confectionery items, so makes the 10 km round trip every day to get himself a bag from the Merry Hill store. His terrible website doesn’t mention whether he likes Percy Pigs. Perhaps the government should have a website detailing which MPs like which sweets, to allow the public to get more of an idea about where their representatives do their shopping.

Below you can see the average distance of an MP’s office from each brand’s stores in kilometres, grouped by party. (Based on the closest 40 stores to each office.)

overall

Nick Clegg’s closest store is a Tesco Express at an Esso petrol station, but I reckon he does his mum’s shopping at Londis.

Eric Pickles is closest to an M&S, so that’s probably where he gets his pickles, except on special occasions when he goes to the only slightly further away Iceland to get a mint Viennetta.

I assume I’ll probably have to go on the run now I’ve released all this sensitive government data, but this is bigger than me. People had to know.

(Supermarket data was provided by Chris Zetter, creator of the excellent SuperLocate iOS app. Other supermarkets are available. Here’s a Google Doc of the constituency office data. No accuracy is guaranteed.)

Executive Class

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment is a special sort of scientific test used mainly by people in HR who don’t know anything about science. It’s a bit like horoscopes but with more boxes to tick: you fill in a questionnaire and it tells you about your unique personality that means you think about things, or perhaps have feelings.

For example, one Myers-Briggs Type is ESFP: Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving. (The opposite would be INTJ: Introverted, Intuition, Thinking, Judgement). According to various cheap-looking websites, an ESFP is a performer, someone who loves to be in the centre of attention, who is practical, and lives in the moment. Famous ESFPs supposedly include Bill Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, that dead crocodile hunter, and the Waterloo & City Line.

You might think that Waterloo & City Line couldn’t even have a Myers-Briggs Type, being a tunnel in London with some trains in it, but you’d be wrong. Whilst the normal way to establish a Myers-Briggs Type is get someone to fill in a questionnaire, it’s apparently possible to use a sample of text to analyse the personality of the author. And while the Waterloo & City Line didn’t have much to say for most of its 115 year history, for the last couple of years, it, and all the other London Underground lines, have been tweeting. So I used samples of each line’s tweets to discover what kinds of personalities they have.

Bakerloo Line ESTJ
Central Line ESTJ
Circle Line ESTP
District Line ESTJ
Hammersmith & City Line ESTP
Jubilee Line ESTJ
Metropolitan Line ESTP
Northern Line ESTJ
Piccadilly Line ESTP
Victoria Line ESTJ
Waterloo & City Line ESFP

The poor old Waterloo & City Line is the odd line out, every other line is either ESTJ  (The Doer) or ESTP (The Guardian).

Maybe there is something to all this Myers-Briggs stuff, because I took a look at how often the different lines talk to (or at least, mention) each other on Twitter:

Diagram showing how often tube lines tweet at each other
Lines tweeting on the horizontal, lines being tweeted at on the vertical. Samples of around ~3200 tweets per line.

The Waterloo & City Line is by far the least popular. The other lines just aren’t interested in it. But why is it so different?

The line opened in 1898, built by the London and South Western Railway because commuters discovered that after going to all the effort of getting to London, it was a bit of a pain in the arse to get to where they actually worked in the City. It’s the only London Underground line that’s completely underground (taking trains on and off the line used to be done using a hydraulic lift, nowadays they use a crane), but for a long time it wasn’t really a London Underground line at all. It doesn’t even appear on Harry Beck’s 1933 tube map, despite pre-dating it by over 30 years.

The original Harry Beck tube map

That it opened as an independent railway line isn’t unusual among the older London Underground Lines, but what is unusual is that it was still operated by Network SouthEast as a National Rail line until 1994, when it was decided to correct the anomaly before rail privatisation took place (for arcane contractual reasons London Underground bought it for a pound).

1987 tube map
The 1987 tube map does include the W&C, but it’s marked as a National Rail service.

Once integrated into the tube network proper the line was given the exciting colour of turquoise, all the good colours having already been used up. At least it’s better than what the Jubilee Line has been known to claim is “silver”. Chinny reckon.

So maybe that long isolation from the “proper” underground lines has taken its toll, marked the Waterloo & City out as different. The sad thing is, it seems like it’s trying to be chatty and approachable; while it is the line that tweets the least, if we look at how much each line tweets given the number of stations on it, or the total line length, the Waterloo & City has them all beat hands down. It’s also the least egotistical line, mentioning itself less than any of the others.

Tweets per day
Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 13-26-38

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 13-26-18

If we look at the words it uses the most, we can see while it’s pretty work-focussed, it is a fan of Easter and the Paralympics.

Word Cloud

Perhaps it’s the case that we can’t learn absolutely everything about a thing by analysing its Twitter account. Perhaps. So I took my 2nd ever trip on the Waterloo & City Line, making the journey in the order the name suggests. That I’ve only used it twice in 10 years might not be not that uncommon, as trips on it account for less than 1% of Underground journeys.

But for what it is, it’s hard to fault: at around 9 minutes (including getting to the platforms) it’s still the fastest way of making the journey between Waterloo & Bank,  if you don’t fancy cycling really fast or taking a helicopter.

The simple route maps could almost be a very dry joke.

Waterloo & City Line Map

The line’s name was even more descriptive when it was opened, as until 1940 the terminus in the City was actually called City.

For some reason every single advert displayed in the carriage was for a special brand of Beats by Dre headphones aimed at executives. Not even one for that hair clinic.

Executive Beats By Dre

Because I’ve opted out of the system of “having a job/any money/not sometimes idly wondering what the best sort of cardboard box to sleep in might be” I took my trip on a weekday afternoon and got a carriage to myself, which is good because people might have thought I was a bit of a weirdo for attempting to enjoy the ambience/taking photos of Beats by Dr Dre adverts.Empty train

At the other end I walked up what as far as I can tell is the tunnel that gave the line the nickname “The Drain”. I have never heard anyone actually call the Waterloo & City Line “The Drain” but it says they do in about 4 different books so it must be true. Anyway, I guess this tunnel is a bit like a drain, if drains had lights and steps? I’m not going to call the Waterloo & City Line “The Drain”.

The Drain

To be honest, I didn’t learn anything interesting about the Waterloo & City Line from this journey. And those tweets are probably just written by someone in an office. None of this amounts to anything more than a desperate attempt to find meaning in the void. Which is a bit like a Myers-Brigg Type Indicator test, if you think about it. If you think about it a bit more it isn’t that much like it, but there you go.

If you want to travel on the Waterloo & City Line, in exciting news from September 16th it will run until midnight every day except Sunday, on which it will still be closed for the blessing of the trains.

If you want to build your own Waterloo & City Line, there’s a book in Guildhall Library which is mostly really boring minutes from engineering committee meetings but does have some exciting fold-out diagrams.

Diagrams

The 10 Numbers You’re Most Likely To Read In A Buzzfeed Headline

I tracked the RSS feed for Buzzfeed’s homepage for about a month, collecting data on around 3000 articles. About 40% of the Buzzfeed headlines in my sample contain a number, although that does include years. All the numerology is “genuinely” from the internet.

10. The number 22.

The most popular topic for Buzzfeed articles with 22 in the title is “LOL”, a new kind of emotion that is the only way for people on the internet to have a feeling. Other hot topics for 22 include: the royal baby, fast food, mermaids, and printables. Think about a tree: please do not print this internet home page unless you need it for an important meeting or a big poo.

According to internet numerology websites, the number 22 is associated with people who “radiate enormous potential, accompanied by a high level of inner tension resulting from an overwhelming desire to achieve something extraordinary”.

The famous star Taylor Swift had a number 9 hit in the UK charts with a song called 22. Here are the first 22 pictures I got when I Google Image Searched “taylor swift lol”.

22 Taylor Swift LOLs

As of today Taylor Swift has only released 3 fragrances officially, but based on my understanding of human biology it is possible that she has released 19 others unofficially.

9. The number 20.

The hottest topics for number 20? A three-way tie for: “world”, “win” & “philosophy”.

Numerologically speaking, the number 20 is associated with sensitive souls who strive to serve others as best they can, who are likely to have hasty, ill-advised marriages and become public relations agents, artists or interior decorators. I did not make this up.

The first Google Image Search result for “world win philosophy” is this picture of Fabio, famous star of romance novel covers and ex-England football manager. He looks quite cross, and has been married to his wife for over 40 years, but it is not really for me to say whether he made a hasty decision.

Fabio

8. The number 18.

Popular Buzzfeed topics for 18 are “gay best friend”, “best summer” and “terrible sports fans”. Numerology suggests that the number 18 is “sexually powerful”. People associated with it can make good friends, but “despise those who are not as vigorous”. According to Google Image Search, the “best summer” associated with 18 involves this:

best summer 18

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to more fully explore these concepts.

7. The number 17.

And just ahead is 18’s close friend, 17! For Buzzfeed, 17 means animals, life hacks & Saved By The Bell. Numerologists link the number 17 with immortality, which makes sense when you remember that Saved By The Bell’s famous star was the time-commanding immortal Zack Morris. Time out!

time-out

I spent slightly more than a pound on the autobiography of Dustin Diamond, best known to the public as wacky comedy sidekick Screech from children’s sitcom Saved By The Bell. It is not worth slightly more than a pound, although it does contain a letter of apology to all the women he claims he’s slept with. Diamond presents himself as unpleasant, bitter man, the book is poorly written and apparently untouched by an editor. If you are looking to read the memoir of a star of children’s television, I would instead recommend the delightful Blue Box Boy by BBC TV’s Doctor Who’s Adric, who even divides his life up into episodes just like a BBC TV’s Doctor Who story.

Time in!

6. The number 8.

Apparently my life path number is 8! This means that I “have great talent for management in all areas of life, especially in business and financial matters”, although I’m not sure how that connects with my net worth consisting of three or four bin bags worth of stuff best kept in bin bags and a Lego Space Shuttle.

If I were to follow the path of Buzzfeed, I would live a life that followed the tenets of irony, the KKK, Kanye West, Steve Carrell, and ironic photos.

According to Google, this is the most ironic photo of famous star Kanye West:

kayne west irony

I’m not sure that this is that ironic as, according to Yahoo Answers, Kanye West is a very intelligent man who probably has a lot of deep thoughts:

What is Kanye West's IQ

Maybe it’s some sort of special irony, like people who still talk about an Alanis Morissette song from 1995 have discovered. Two Buzzfeed articles in my sample referred to famous star Alanis Morissette, but only one spells her name correctly.

5. The number 12.

(In the following segment, I refer to lasagne as lasagna because of Americans.)

You know when the number 12 was big? The ’90s, according to Buzzfeed!

Famous 1990s television series Friends referenced the number 12 in the episode “The One With The Dozen Lasagnas”. According to the Friends Wikia:

After cooking a dozen lasagnas for Aunt Sylvia, Monica is stuck with them as they were supposed to be vegetarian.

I assume a dozen lasagnas is actually 12 and not 13 because bakers don’t make lasagnes, unless they do. I don’t really deal with bakers a lot in my day-to-day life and I’m not invested enough in this premise to bother phoning a baker. Anyway, a lot of hi-jinx are going on as you know is bound to happen when this crazy gang of Friends is around but also everyone eats a lot of lasagnas!

But wait! The editors of the Friends Wikia have noticed something:

Despite the fact that the lasagnas contained meat (which is why Monica is stuck with them in the first place), Phoebe is seen eating from one near the end of the episode, but she is vegetarian. However, it might be that she scraped the meat off her part, but this is not mentioned or implied at any time.

My explanation for this terrible error is that Phoebe in this episode is not actually Phoebe but is her identical twin sister Ursula pretending to be Phoebe. Ursula was a character from Mad About You also played by the famous star who played Phoebe but they made them twins because apparently Mad About You was once something anyone in the world cared about? Even fanfiction.net only has one Mad About You story, and it’s in Spanish (translated plot summary: “based on the last chapterMabel tells us something very interesting”).

Here are some pictures from the best episode of Friends that someone from the internet has put the corresponding words over the top of:

A GHOST

4. The number 11.

11 is a Master Number, “combining the most powerful male energy” with “the equally potent female energy”, for example in Boris Johnson, art, and James Gandolfini, the most popular topics Buzzfeed has 11 things to say about for some reason.

According to Google this image from the Daily Mail is what represents the combination of the 3:

candle in the wind

A candle in the wind.

2. The number 15.

Jessica O wondered what the meaning of the number 15 could be, and wrote to about.com. About.com’s heaing expert Phylameana Lila Desy told her:

My approach when there are more than one meanings is to choose the meaning that makes the most sense to me personally and not be too concerned about which way may be right or wrong.

Phylameana Lila Desy is a fraud, you can’t just make up what a number means, numbers are science! For instance, Buzzfeed tells us the number 15 is most strongly associated with movies, fashion, bacon fat, and ‘addicted to Nutella’, so it’s clearly a number that indicates you might be a dietary knife-edge away from ruining some ambitions.

Alarmingly this is not the most disturbing thing you get when you look for pictures associated with the phrase “addicted to Nutella”:

nutella-addicted_23

1. The number 10.

A classic number, first popularised by 10th Doctor Who, famous star David Tennant, the number 10 now forms the basis for much of modern mathematics. “LOL” once again tops Buzzfeed’s list of topics, closely followed by “advertising” and “grammar and spelling mistakes”.

Numerology says

through this vibration you have the insight to recognize and understand the needs of humanity, and the ability to bring peace and harmony to all

so in a shocking twist it turns out that by posting loads of “hilarious” Jpegs like

top 10 pffts

this Buzzfeed are actually slowly drawing the psychic energies of humanity towards the perfect oneness that will unite our beings and allow us to experience the true totality of love. If you didn’t “LOL” at the above picture your brain receptors are just not advanced enough to join the next level of human experience :( but maybe you’ll enjoy this word cloud of Buzzfeed topics by popularity:

buzzfeed_word_cloud

Excerpt

I’m thinking of writing a book about religion and that.

Jimmy Croker thought about his position in life and laughed. He was the king. Not the king of the world, but the king of the world that mattered to Jimmy Croker. The world that mattered to Jimmy Croker was the estate. The bad estate he had grown up in, and now was the king of.

Jimmy Croker was not just any king. He was the king of loans, he thought, as he lit a cigar and looked out the window of his high-up flat. He looked at his golden watch that he wore as a symbol of status that always told the time, and time was “they are a bit late o’clock” but the watch said 8.03pm because it just had a normal watch’s face. Maybe in the year 2125 there would be a new kind of watch with words instead of numbers but it was actually 2013 just like it said on his watch. His train of thought about his watch was interrupted by his boys aka his henchmen hurling a woman through the door which was luckily open because he hated his henchman to damage well-crafted items such as his door.

Jimmy Croker was not an evil man, thought Jimmy Croker. Jimmy Croker provided a service of which this woman gladly partook.

“What is your name?” he asked before slurping wine from his special goblet.

“Mary.”

“Well blessed be!” Jimmy Croker laughed at his clever religious joke, “Mary, it seems I was generous enough to give you two hundred of the Queen’s coins.”

“For the kids. For a television for the kids. Digital switchover…” she muttered, pathetically to Jimmy Croker’s crooked ear.

“But of course it wasn’t a gift, was it? You promised you’d give it back, in segments.” She nodded. “But you didn’t.” She shook her head.

“Two hundred queen coins is nothing to Jimmy Croker,” said Jimmy Croker, “But in my game, mercy is not a round of cards I can be seen to play.”

“But please Jimmy… my kids…” she whimpered.

“No, it seems my game tonight,” he opened a drawer and removed his sword, “is find the lady…”

But before he could bring the two other ladies out of his secret closet the door of his office burst open and a blinding light shone through. A mysterious figure strode into the room. He picked up Jimmy Croker’s goblet and looked upon the engravement there upon on it.

“JC. Irony, man!” he chuckled, “Moneylenders, you never change. But you like wine?” Jimmy Croker nodded, mainly out of pure fear. “Yes, wine.” The figure snapped his fingers, and the last thing Jimmy Croker saw was his eyeballs exploding and 40 litres of wine pouring out through the holes which is non-coincidentally the exact amount of water in a human body.

Cheapskate Zeitgeist: Wait For Me by Elisabeth Naughton

#1 on the Amazon Kindle Top 100 Free book chart, as of 21 Jan 2013.

 

We’ve all got a man drawer haven’t we, men? Ha ha, yeah. And have you ever noticed Rawl plugs? Ha ha, yeah.

Wait For Me by Elisabeth Naughton is a romantic suspense, which appears to be a novel about a kind of mystery that stops people fucking, until it doesn’t any more and they fuck.

What Kate’s husband Jake keeps in his man drawer is evidence that his wife isn’t actually his wife but the wife of his former boss who stopped funding for his research into a cancer drug that would have cured his real but dead wife’s cancer and also coincidentally has the side-effect of erasing memories so he gave it to Kate after kidnapping her just as she was about to get onto a flight that crashed so everyone assumes she’s dead and he’s convinced her that she’s his wife now. That’s what he keeps in his man drawer. What’s the deal with fuses?

But then Jake dies in a plane crash and Kate discovers that she’s really married to a playboy billionaire celebrity pharmaceutical entrepreneur which is apparently a thing that exists. He bangs a lot of models because of grief. There is then tension but it is sexy tension which causes “heavy tingling sensations” to shoot “straight to his groin” and various things to flow through her veins to “her sex” (sic).

After some stuff happens they nearly have sex but then her parents come home and they don’t and then more stuff happens and then they nearly have sex again but then her parents come home again and they don’t and then even more stuff happens and they finally do it. Also if you are worried that there might be some sexual health issues in this book don’t be because:

“I’ve been through every test under the sun and I can say for certain, that’s one part of my body that’s completely healthy.”

The sentences in this book are not that terrible if you ignore the actual content but all the characters talk like this a lot:

“Jackass is spelled with two s’s, not one. I would have thought they’d teach you that in donkey school. Good day, Mr. Mathews.”

I don’t know any 9 year old girls but presumably this is a hauntingly accurate rendering of how they talk?

“Lots of girls my age are already getting their periods. […] It’s right around the corner. You’re going to have to deal with it, Dad. And while I’m thinking of it, I need a bra. We should probably go shopping for one sometime soon. Maybe today. […] I was thinking of getting one of those red lacy ones like the girls wear in your Maxim magazines.”

Meanwhile back in the plot it turns out pharmaceutical playboy guy’s secretary is Kate’s fake husband’s real dead wife’s sister and she tries to kill everyone! But she fails to kill anyone! Except possibly she killed the fake husband who didn’t die in a plane crash after all? I started to lose track.

The story doesn’t end here as we need a few more hilarious jokes like:

“He couldn’t even remember what this damn charity event was for. The homeless? Public schools? Models in need of plastic surgery? He didn’t care.”

Yeah, take that, stupid charities! So Kate runs away because she is all confused but it is okay because she sees a family being nice to each other and remembers the value of family (I’m not joking, this is an accurate summary of the penultimate chapter) so runs back to live happily ever after with a husband that she can’t remember anything about, but who is rich and sexy so that is okay then.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading books that you don’t have to pay for.

My favourite line was:

“I swear, words cause more trouble than they’re worth sometimes.”

 

I give this book 5 out of 5 Allen keys.

Grunt My Bluff

Can you pick the real Home Improvement plots from the fakes?

Small World Syndrome

A picture of Kevin Bacon's face
A picture of Kevin Bacon’s face.

The six degrees of separation theory states that everyone in the world is only six social connections away from anyone else (as in, Doug is connected to Fred because they both know Emily). It turns out this theory isn’t strictly speaking true, not least because of isolated tribe, children raised by wolves and so on, but there is something appealing about the idea that we’re more strongly connected to the rest of the world than might be immediately obvious.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon applies this theory to the Hollywood movie industry, suggesting that because Kevin Bacon has been in lots of films and worked with lots of other actors, it is possible to link Kevin Bacon with any other actor in less than six steps (a single step being appearing in a film with Bacon, 2 steps being appearing in a film with someone who has appeared in another film with Bacon, and so on). Also his name sort-of rhymes with the word separation, so it’s a pun.

Again, this isn’t strictly speaking true: The Oracle Of Bacon website, which uses the Internet Movie Database to track links to Kevin Bacon, counts 32 people who are a whole 8 steps away. These people are said to have a Bacon Number of 8. If anyone with a Bacon Number would like to act in a film with me, let me know.

The concept of a Bacon Number is predated by the Erdős Number, a measure of “collaborative distance” between a person and the dead mathematician Paul Erdős, based on writing mathematical papers together. If anyone with an Erdős number would like to work on a mathematical paper with me, let me know. I’m not very good at maths but I could colour in some graphs or something.

Best of all is the Erdős-Bacon number, which simultaneously tracks the Bacon and Erdős numbers of a person who has both acted in films and written mathematical papers. Natalie Portman has an Erdős-Bacon number of 6. If Natalie Portman is reading this and would like to act in a film with me or work on a mathematical paper with me, or just hold hands for a bit, let me know.

Anyway, I’m getting off the point.

Something is missing from our cinemas. The beloved national treasures that were “those fucking Orange ads” have vanished from our screens, after spending the best part of 10 years failing to convince a single person not to dick about with their phone during the middle of the film. Instead we are now treated to an ad for Orange’s parent company Everything Everywhere, featuring none other than Kevin Bacon, who informs us that he, Kevin Bacon, is the centre of the universe.

This is obviously a riff on the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connectedness concept. Bacon explains that he is connected to everything and demonstrates by pointing at a dog called Rover. Amazingly, Kevin Bacon is even connected to Rover, and he explains how:

“I was in Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks did Philadelphia, Philadelphia tastes great on a cracker, “It’s a cracker!” was Frank Carson’s catchphrase, Catchphrase was on ITV, same as Coronation Street, and we all know where Ken Barlow drinks: The Rovers.”

Needless to say, this explanation is rather unsatisfactory.

Let’s take it apart:

“I was in Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks did Philadelphia,”

We’ve now connected Kevin Bacon to the film Philadelphia. Fine.

“Philadelphia tastes great on a cracker,”

Here there’s an unstated connection here, between the film Philadelphia and the cheese Philadelphia. But they are both named after the state Philadelphia (although the Philadelphia cheese brand was actually started in New York) so this is just about acceptable.

“‘It’s a cracker!’ was Frank Carson’s catchphrase,”

The ‘connection’ here is purely wordplay. Carson is not referring to a cracker biscuit, so there’s some etymological reaching required at the very least.

“Catchphrase was on ITV,”

The problem here is that the quiz show Catchphrase had a stupid name, as it was not about Catchphrases. It did include catchphrases, “Say what you see”, “It’s good but it’s not the one”, “Mr Chips is having a wank”, etc, but the actual puzzles were just about phrases, like “a bull in a china shop”. I don’t think that’s a catchphrase, unless it belonged to music hall act I’m not aware of. So all we’ve got is that both Frank Carson and the show Catchphrase have catchphrases. (Catchphrase did do celebrity specials, but Frank Carson never appeared on one. Frank Carson is now dead.)

“same as Coronation Street,”

I mean, fine. They’re not made by the same production company, but okay.

“and we all know where Ken Barlow drinks: The Rovers.”

Even if the dog was called The Rovers, having the same name as a thing is not the same thing as being connected to that thing. You can’t change your name to Kevin Bacon and expect to share his fat Everything Everywhere cheques, can you?

(If you get a dog, why not call it The Rovers?)

The dog probably isn’t called Rover in real life. He’s almost certainly a special acting dog with a different name like Charlie. So why not just say he’s called The Rovers because his owner really liked Coronation Street?

However, all of this is irrelevant as Kevin Bacon has a much stronger connection to Rover: they’ve both appeared in an Everything Everywhere ad. Rover (or whatever the dog is actually called) has a Bacon number of 1. I would assume that he doesn’t have an Erdős-Bacon number, but you never know.

Posited relationship between Kevin Bacon and Rover the dog
Posited relationship between Kevin Bacon and Rover the dog
Actual relationship between Kevin Bacon and Rover the dog
Actual relationship between Kevin Bacon and Rover the dog

The reason the ad invokes Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is that it shows that Kevin Bacon is very well-connected in Hollywood; this is a metaphor for how connected you will be if you purchase an Everything Everywhere phone contract. But by the ad’s own terms, you may actually find your connection highly variable, to the point where sometimes it barely exists. This is disappointingly unrigorous and Everything Everywhere (and Saatchi & Saatchi, who made the ad) should be ashamed of themselves.

Also, Kevin Bacon doesn’t have the magical ability to create little planets and stars that orbit around him and then throw one of them at a dog. He can’t do that. It’s a lie. (It also seems unlikely that he’s heard of Catchphrase, but I suppose the wanking thing is on Youtube.)

As it goes, Kevin Bacon isn’t even the centre of the Hollywood universe. Dennis Hopper is. Kevin Bacon is the 444th most connected actor in the Hollywood universe. That’s lower than Derek Jacobi (346). And Natalie Portman (420).

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that Everything Everywhere should throw the Kevin Bacon thing in the bin and make a new advert where the metaphor for the strength of their connections is me holding Natalie Portman’s hand, forever.