Just SIP the book
May 23, 2009 10:35 AM   Subscribe

According to Amazon, this is the "essence" of Ulysses: matrimonial gift, quaker librarian, charming soubrette, editor cried, retrospective arrangement, pike hoses, pensive bosom, seaside girls, absentminded beggar. At least, according to their SIP algorithm. Too obscure? How about: barn cellar, famous pig, grey spider, old sheep, egg sac. Pretty easy, right? Now consider: shock shop, seclusion room, least black boy, bull goose loony, big black boys, wicker bag, ward policy, tub room, drug room, red capsules, dorm door, two black boys. Catching on? Now try the quiz.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Though the way the SIP thing works is a bit of a black box in its details, I think it's really handicapped by insistence on exact repetition. There are many more analytically interesting situations in literary texts where interesting phrases are at least somewhat varied and modified than there are strings of 2+ uncommon words repeated verbatim.

That is to say: seriously? "pig suit, pig mask" and that's it? Not even "you never did the Kenosha Kid"?
posted by RogerB at 12:04 PM on May 23, 2009

medical attaché, annular fusion, entertainment cartridge, improbably deformed, howling fantods, feral hamsters, dawn drills, tough nun, professional conversationalist, new bong, ceiling bulged, metro boston, tennis academy, red leather coat, soupe aux pois, red beanie, addicted man, magnetic video, littler kids, little rotter, technical interview, police lock, oral narcotics, sober time, veiled girl

Oooh! Oooh! I got this one! This feels Infinitely Recursive somehow.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:35 PM on May 23, 2009

That was fun (and difficult). I identified seven: Infinite Jest, 1984, Carrie, Clockwork Orange, Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and To the Lighthouse. The rest I could not even guess at, despite having read some of them.

I've often marveled, while browsing Amazon, at the weird phrases the SIP brings up.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:11 PM on May 23, 2009

That is to say: seriously? "pig suit, pig mask" and that's it? Not even "you never did the Kenosha Kid"?

The Statistically Improbable Phrase Finder software couldn't finish that book either.
posted by Super Hans at 4:39 PM on May 23, 2009

Man, I only got a couple.

It seems unfair, though, to list multiple editions of the same book, and anthologies of multiple novels (at least with the Kerouac one--the PKD one is a lot better known of a collection IIRC).

Reminds me a lot of the meme of quizzing people on movies based on the tags in their IMDB entries.
posted by Tesseractive at 7:32 PM on May 23, 2009

I guess it's a marker of how distinctive Gertrude Stein's prose is that I got The Making of the Americans right despite never having read it.
posted by Creosote at 7:49 PM on May 23, 2009

The title of the book is The Making of Americans – I don't think the quiz writer has read it either. But yes, Stein was a real SIPping machine.
posted by RogerB at 8:05 PM on May 23, 2009

Uh...I apologize for maybe having given away a few answers with my previous comment.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:35 PM on May 23, 2009

I only got 5, although I'd read 12 of the books. I don't think having anthologies in there is fair, though! I thought of Dick's Electric Sheep, but ruled it out because of other phrases in there I'd never heard of before.
posted by harriet vane at 10:40 PM on May 23, 2009

Q: ceiling fan, brown horse, saddle shoes, hearing aid, bow and arrows, jack of diamonds, tape recorder, red wren, drapes.

Oh, wait. None of those are statistically improbable. But probably a lot more fun ...

"You, Never? Did the Kenosha Kid..." God, I am re-reading that book right now and loving it.

OK, I tried the quizzes. Medium. It is interesting how some of them ("hands on the conch" or "golden ticket" or "muted post horn") are easily identifiable with only one clue, whilst others ("enchanted hunters") seem impossible, even if you've read the book.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2009

« Older Folk Music from 1947   |   Hijabistas Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments