If you’re a movie buff, or a fan of actors named after salty breakfast meats, then chances are you’ve heard of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s based on the premise that actor Kevin Bacon has been in Hollywood for so long, and been in so many films and TV shows, that he can be connected to anyone in the entertainment industry through no more than six degrees of separation. To play, one person names a seemingly random figure – ie; Julia Child – and the other has to figure out how to connect Kevin Bacon to that figure (Kevin Bacon starred in 1994’s River Wild alongside Merryl Streep, who later played Ms. Child in 2009’s Julie and Julia).
Throughout my time at Hopkins, I’ve developed a version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” I call “Six Degrees of Hopkins”. It’s pretty much exactly like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” but at least one of the people involved has to go to Hopkins, and Kevin Bacon need not be included (but you get extra points if he is). This game has uncovered so many delightfully random connections between people in my school life to those outside it, and has made me realize that those two worlds aren’t that separate after all. So, with your permission, let’s play a few rounds.
Theo to Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh: three steps.
This is an easy one. 1) My friend Theo is from Lexington Kentucky, 2) home to the famed Kentucky Derby Horse Race. 3) American Pharaoh – who is, to be clear, a horse – won the Kentucky Derby in 2014. For a little extra fun, let’s connect American Pharaoh to disgraced former president Richard Nixon. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, American Pharaoh won the Belmont and Preakness Stakes, making him the first Triple Crown winner since Secretariat in 1973. The president that year – none other but Tricky Dick.
Ronny D to the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame: three steps.
Before coming to Hopkins, our esteemed President Ron Daniels was a provost and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. 2) As you may know, UPenn was founded by the one and only Benjamin Franklin in 1751. 3) What you may not know, however, is that Franklin was an avid chess player -the first known by name in the American colonies – and was elected to the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1999. Check mate.
Jack to Barry Bonds: four steps.
My personal favorite – 1) My friend and housemate Jack is family friends with the majority owners of the Tampa Bay Rays (a professional baseball team). 2) Evan Longoria is a former third baseman for, and long time face of the franchise of, the Rays, 3) who now plays for the San Francisco Giants. 4) Barry Bonds is a former outfielder for the Giants and the all time leader in home-runs, and like Bonds, I just hit that one out of the park.
Myself to James Bond: five steps.
Get ready for this one, because its about to be Double 0-awesome. 1) I lived in Jennings Hall in AMR 2 my freshman year. 2) Jennings Hall is named after Herbert Spencer Jennings, noted zoologist, geneticist, and Hopkins professor. 3) In 1925, Jennings won the inaugural Leidy Prize for Natural Sciences, 4) an award also won by an ornithologist named Bond, James Bond, in 1975. 5) James Bond has the same name as James Bond.
Ms. Gladys to Tommy Wiseau: four steps
There’s nobody better suited to cap off the list than the beloved Ms. Gladys, who, 1) before retiring a little over a year ago, was the gatekeeper and patron saint of the Fresh Food Cafe (FFC), famed for greeted each tap of a J-card with her trademark “Thank you Baby”. 2) The FFC is managed by Bon Appetite Management, and on-site restaurant company out of Palo-Alto, California. 3) Palo Alto is also the home of actor/filmmaker James Franco, who wrote and starred in the 2017 film The Disaster Artist, which detailed the creation of 4) Tommy Wiseaus’ The Door, widely considered the worst movie of all time.
And that’s a wrap.