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Six Degrees of Wikipedia: Kevin Bacon

November 6, 2008

This week, I thought it would be fun to play “Six Degrees of Wikipedia” with the canonical Six Degrees man, Kevin Bacon. My house rules, such as they are, are pretty simple: The start point, in this case Kevin, is zero. Any link in the body of the article is fair game. Each paragraph is a brief and highly selective paraphrase of only what appears on each particular Wikipedia page. The point is not to aim for any particular end, but simply to see how wildly diverse a list this process can generate.

With that, let’s see where this takes us!

0: Kevin Bacon
Kevin Bacon was 13 years old when he knew he wanted to be an actor. At age 17, he left his home in Philadelphia and set out for New York to become the youngest student to act at Circle in the Square Theater School. Becoming a Hollywood star wasn’t easy for him, in part because Los Angeles scared him. Once he did embark upon his career, however, he found himself facing another problem: typecasting. He had a bit of trouble getting away from the characters he’d played in Diner and Footloose. This lead to what Kevin considered to be a career slump while he tried to land good roles that didn’t box him in. In 1991, he changed tack and decided he’d have more success as a character actor in better movies than he’d had as the star of average movies. This was also the year his mother, who had been an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL teacher, died.

1: Elementary School
Elementary school is where the most basic part of compulsory education is taught. In the USA, it is also called grade school and internationally, it is often called primary school. This is where the “three Rs”—reading, writing, and ’rithmetic—are introduced. Children typically begin elementary school around the age of four or five and attend for approximately six or seven years before moving on to a higher level of schooling. In India, children begin elementary school after kindergarten (around the age of five) and continue through age 12 before moving on to middle school. In the USA, kindergarten is considered to be part of elementary school and the end of it can range from fourth grade to eighth grade. In England, children attend from age four to age 11. It was there where elementary schools began as a way to provide WORKING CLASS children with a fundamental education.

2: Working Class
“Working class” is a term used to describe a particular socio-economic group. Typical definitions cite the educational level achieved (often just a high school diploma), the type of occupation engaged in (often manual labor), and the wages earned (often hourly and not very high). Karl Marx saw the working class as those who created the wealth that the rest of society enjoyed, but who did not control the means of production. It is also often sub-divided into those who are blue-collar workers and those who are white-collar workers. The culture of the working class differs from that of the middle class in its attitudes toward external vs. internal standards, obedience to authority vs. self-direction, and conformity vs. non-conformity. In the American media, the working class are portrayed in various television programs, including ALL IN THE FAMILY.

3: All in the Family
All in the Family was a sitcom that ran from 1971 to 1979 on the CBS network. It was groundbreaking in its depiction of previously off-limits subjects such as racism and women’s lib. Despite its eventual great success, the network was anxious about the controversy they knew the show would generate and went so far as to put a disclaimer at the start of the first episode. The producers wanted to use humor as a way of showing the ridiculousness of our foibles and prejudices. Many at the time did not see the social value of the program and protested the frequent use of slurs and the fact that Archie Bunker, despite being a terrible bigot, was portrayed sympathetically. However, Archie was not mean-spirited or spiteful, merely woefully ignorant and under-educated. This also explains his strong tendency toward MALAPROPISM.

4: Malapropism
Malapropism derives from a French phrase meaning “ill-suited.” It happens when a similar-sounding but entirely inappropriate word is used instead of the correct one, often with amusing results. To qualify as a malapropism, as distinct from an eggcorn or a spoonerism, the error must be a real word that means something entirely different from the intended word and which sounds rather similar to the intended word. These are also called Dogberryisms, after the Shakespearian character from Much Ado About Nothing who was rather given to malapropisms. Some examples of malapropisms include “It’s not the heat, it’s the humility” (instead of humidity) from Yogi Berra, “We heard the ocean is infatuated with sharks” (instead of infested) from Stan Laurel, and “I’m so smart it’s almost scary. I guess I’m a child progeny” (instead of prodigy) from Calvin of CALVIN AND HOBBES.

5: Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes was a syndicated comic strip that ran from 1985 to 1995. It featured a young boy (Calvin, named for theologian John Calvin) and his stuffed tiger (Hobbes, named for philosopher Thomas Hobbes), who appeared to Calvin as a living and somewhat anthropomorphic tiger. The author, Bill Watterson, uses Calvin’s antics as a way to comment upon and lampoon such things as art and academia as well as American culture. Calvin loves to build morbidly creative snowmen in the winter and enjoys unleashing his imagination with a simple cardboard box. The box has at times been such things as a time machine, a duplicator, a transmogrifier, and a lemonade stand. Calvin once referred to the Big Bang as the “Horrendous Space Kablooie,” a term which has become humorously popular in the scientific community. In fact, a professor at PRINCETON UNIVERSITY likes to refer to this in his astronomy lectures.

6: Princeton University
Princeton University is one of the eight Ivy League schools. It was originally founded in 1746 in Elizabeth, New Jersey as the College of New Jersey, but was moved to its current location in 1756 and given its current name in 1896. Although currently non-sectarian, Princeton was initially created as a Presbyterian theological seminary. It differs from most other research schools in that it offers no medical, law, or business programs despite being one of the wealthiest universities in the world. Four US Presidents have been affiliated with Princeton: James Madison and Woodrow Wilson were graduates, John F. Kennedy spent a semester there before transferring to Harvard, and Grover Cleveland was a trustee. Wilson also went on to be president of Princeton, and they later named their School of Public and International Affairs after him.

And there you have it: Princeton University is six Wikipedia degrees away from Kevin Bacon. Hope you enjoyed the ride!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Amy Raz permalink
    November 7, 2008 9:16 am

    Anything with both Calvin and Hobbes and Malapropisms works for me!

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