Bacon’s Universe

An actor’s “Bacon number” is the number of successive co-stars through whom he can be linked to actor Kevin Bacon (hence the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”). For example, Elvis Presley has a Bacon number of 2: He appeared in Change of Heart (1969) with Edward Asner, who appeared in JFK with Bacon.

Surprisingly, most actors have a Bacon number of only 2 or 3. So far, of all the actors listed in the Internet Movie Database, only one can’t be linked at all: Fred Ott, who appeared by himself in two features released in the late 1800s.

Mathematically, Bacon isn’t even the most linkable actor — that honor belongs to Rod Steiger. The average Bacon number is 2.955; the average Steiger number is 2.679.


“I remember Tallulah [Bankhead] telling of going into a public ladies’ room and discovering there was no toilet tissue. She looked underneath the booth and said to the lady in the next stall, ‘I beg your pardon, do you happen to have any toilet tissue in there?’ The lady said no. So Tallulah said, ‘Well, then, dahling, do you have two fives for a ten?'” — Ethel Merman


Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome is the tendency of child characters on soap operas to age unnaturally quickly, so they can be included in more adult storylines.

This can lead to complications that even Einstein would admire. On The Young and the Restless, the character Colleen Carlton was born in 1991; 10 years later she was 14. Even more impressive, her uncle, Billy Abbott, born in 1993, reached his 16th birthday in six years. He had overtaken her, aging six years faster in the same amount of time.

I guess boys grow faster than girls.

Paging Farrokh Bulsara

Music stars and their un-sexy real names:

  • David Bowie – David Robert Hayward Stenton Jones
  • Eric Clapton – Eric Patrick Clapp
  • Alice Cooper – Vincent Damon Furnier
  • Dido – Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong
  • Bob Dylan – Robert Alan Zimmerman
  • Jewel – Jewel Kilcher
  • Mama Cass – Ellen Naomi Cohen
  • Marilyn Manson – Brian Warner
  • Meat Loaf – Marvin Lee Aday
  • George Michael – Yorgos Panayiotou
  • Nelly – Carnell Haynes, Jr.
  • Lou Reed – Louis Firbank
  • Busta Rhymes – Trevor Tahiem Smith
  • Cliff Richard – Harry Webb
  • Sade – Helen Folasade Adu
  • Seal – Henry Olusegun Olumide Samuel
  • Gene Simmons – Chaim Witz
  • Cat Stevens – Steve Georgiou
  • Sly Stone – Sylvester Stewart
  • Ice T – Tracy Marrow
  • Randy Travis – Randy Bruce Traywick
  • Shania Twain – Eileen Regina Edwards
  • Frankie Valli – Frank Castelluccio
  • Eddie Vedder – Edward Louis Severson

Paul Revere’s real name was Paul Revere.

Satan, Schmatan

You can stop worrying about backward messages hidden in popular songs — they’re totally passe now. Examples:

  • “Congratulations. You’ve just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the funny farm, Chalfont.” (Pink Floyd, “Empty Spaces”)
  • “Anyone who is stupid enough to play this record backwards deserves what he is about to hear.” (Bloodrock, “Gotta Find a Way”)
  • “Obey your parents. Do your homework. Winners don’t do drugs.” (Information Society, “Are Friends Electric?”)
  • “Time is important. You are wasting it by backmasking this song. You want me to say something about the devil or something? Okay — lalalalalalalala Satan.” (K&H, “Dusty Road”)
  • “Wow, you must have an awful lot of free time on your hands.” (“Weird Al” Yankovic, “I Remember Larry”)
  • “Devil shall wake up and eat Chef Boyardee Beefaroni.” (The Bloodhound Gang, “Lift Your Head Up High”)
  • “I buried my parakeet in the backyard. Oh no, you’re playing the record backwards. Watch out, you might ruin your needle.” (The B-52s, “Detour Through Your Mind”)

Maybe that’s for the best; those congressional witch hunts were getting kind of scary. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.”