Friday Fun of a statistical & architectural nature

Good morning, let’s get this week’s fun off to a suitably theatrical start – an opening that would be appropriate for, say, the awards ceremony for the best shows on Broadway? In case you haven’t seen it already, here’s Neil Patrick Harris demonstrating why he’s hosted the Tony’s more times than anyone else except Angela Lansbury. (Fact. She did it 5 times, 2013 was his fourth.)

How better to follow that American extravaganza than with an extravaganza of American data? This might not sound fun, but trust me, it’s fascinating (and not just to a research geek). The data in question relates to dialect used across the US – so ticks several of my boxes: stats, pronunciation and pretty maps – and comes to us thanks to the University of North Carolina (and The Hairpin).

Researchers asked 122 questions, from how to pronounce “aunt” to “do you say ‘expecially’ or ‘especially’?”. To British readers, this will uncover a whole host of fascinating “but why would you say THAT??” moments. Regardless of your country of origin, you ought to find the maps fun to play with – scroll down the list of questions and see how the pronunciation/dialect is spread across the USA (you can also see map breakdowns for each option). I may have discovered this while in a lecture on Saturday and my deskmate and I may have spent some time playing with it gleefully. Here’s a brilliant example:

USA Dialect Survey

Why would you refer to a beverage as a ‘coke’ if it had nothing to do with coke??

Next, it’s Friday, so surely there must be some transport fun somewhere? Fear not, my TfL geek friends have kept me amused over the last couple of days. First up, here’s a great slideshow that not only includes disused stations then and now, but also other unseen parts of the underground world of London, such as the Mail Train and my nearest disused bit of London Transport – the Kingsway Tram Tunnel.

Kingsway Tram Tunnel

Also, if you’re a Londoner, there’s some TfL fun you can join in with. In honour of the tube’s 150th birthday [how I’m longing for this year to last forever!] five Lego tube maps have been created and are on display at different stations across the network. The genius is not just that they’re made out of Lego, but that they’re different versions of the map!!

legotube 2020A glimpse of the map unveiled at King’s Cross yesterday. (Credit.)

The five versions & their locations are:

  • 1927 Stingemore map – South Kensington
  • 1933 Beck original – Piccadilly Circus
  • 1968 map – Green Park
  • Current map – Stratford
  • Futuristic map (what the network will look like in 2020) – King’s Cross St Pancras

Yes, my mind is now working out how I can hit up all five in the next week! Fear not if you can’t hope to spot them all – they’ll eventually end up at the LT museum.

There you go. Not just something fun to read while stuck in the office on a dull Friday afternoon – something fun to do over the weekend! Enjoy!

Give my regards to Broadway…

There’s something amiss on the Great White Way at the moment.
This home of all things Musical Theatre should have been a highlight of my trip to the Big Apple, was in fact quite a disappointment.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I ♥ musicals – just a little bit.

In my research and planning for the trip, I checked out what was open at the moment – discovering a whole host of British imports, West End duplicates and not much else.

There’s nothing wrong with British imports of course, I’m sure America’s loving Billy Elliott (in fact, I know it is), it’s top of my list of ‘musicals to see’, but I want to watch it with genuine (or at least accurate) geordie accents. There’s also no point going to see some big show (like Phantom or Mamma Mia) when I could see it – cheaper – at home.

What could I have seen? Shrek the Musical.

Yes, you read that correctly. In those three words you have all that is wrong with musicals on Broadway. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Not wanting to go off on a bit of NYC bashing, but the other thing that disappointed me was the Broadway stores. Again, having done some research (can you tell it’s what I do for a living??) I’d found some recommendations for stores of all things musical – in the style of the fabulous Dress Circle back in London.

I’m sorry to break it to New Yorkers (and its Broadway loving tourists) but you’re deprived. Theatre Circle came with the best reviews, but paled in comparison with its London equivalent. Too much New York tourist tat, very few scripts, scores or CDs and not a lot of fabulous show merchandise. Shame. The other store on my list – Broadway New York – was a bit better and shopping was accompanied by comedy banter between the rather camp out of work actors behind the counter. But I still left empty handed and nostalgic for my little corner of theatrical gorgeousness in Covent Garden…