Word Chain

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 1, 2007

Filed under: Nerd Culture 23 comments

I was in seventh grade (1984) when I came up with this silly game that I’d play in my head during moments of boredom. (School.) The idea is to take pop culture names – movies, famous people, famous places, song titles, etc – that are two or more words long, and then find ones where the end word of one matches the starting word of another. Consider:

Loverboy George Michael Jackson Browne

So the list contains five two-word names:

  1. Loverboy (Slight cheating here, using a compound word.)
  2. Boy George
  3. George Michael
  4. Michael Jackson
  5. Jackson Browne

The goal is obviously to make a chain with as many names as possible. Above is the longest one I can remember from my teenage years. I’m sure I had longer ones. (In fact, I suspect the above is only a fragment of a longer one, but I can’t for the life of me think of what it might have been linked to. I’m not sure “Browne” is right, either.) You could put “The Big Easy” on the front, but the word “The” is an annoying dead-end in this game. Browne is also a dead end. We could try:

The Big Easy Loverboy George Michael Jackson Five Easy Pieces

…which brings us up to eight names, but I can’t think of anything that starts with “pieces”. At any rate, my ultimate goal at the time was to make a loop, which I never accomplished. Still, I was about 13, and hadn’t absorbed much pop culture yet. I notice the game seems much easier now.

Let’s try a new one. I’ll start with Paris Hilton:

Haunted Honneymoon in Paris Hilton Hotel California Girls of Summer of Sam Rami

  1. Haunted Honneymoon
  2. Honneymoon in Paris
  3. Paris Hilton
  4. Hilton Hotel
  5. Hotel California
  6. California Girls
  7. Girls of Summer
  8. Summer of Sam
  9. Sam Rami

Nine items in that one, although to be fair I don’t think “Girls of Summer” works. To my knowledge, It’s not a famous person, movie, TV show, famous place, or song: It’s just a phrase.

Try again:

Haunted Honneymoon in Paris Hilton Hotel California Girls Just Wanna Have Fun With Dick and Jane Eyre

Dang. “Eyre” is a dead end for sure. How about:

Haunted Honneymoon in Paris Hilton Hotel California Girls Just Wanna Have Fun With Dick and Jane White is Sick and Twisted Sister

Someone needs to make a movie called “Sister Haunted”, and then I will at last meet my goal of making a loop. The game gets a lot easier if you’re willing to use IMDB and just accept the names of obscure indie movies nobody has ever heard of, but that seems to defeat the purpose of the game in my mind. It seems a lot more interesting if everything in the list is more or less easy to recognize.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out I’m not the first person to try this, although I have no idea how I’d go about searching for it.

What would you call it? I mean besides a waste of time?

Anyway, it’s been years since I even thought about this. I have no idea why it came to my mind now. Still, now I suppose I’ll have to try and come up with one that loops.


From The Archives:

23 thoughts on “Word Chain

  1. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    I just got done watching the Jane Eyre movie on Master Piece Theater
    I thought it was pretty good

  2. eloj says:

    An order-1 word-based markov chain.

  3. I’ve always been fond of Olivia Newton-John Cougar Mellancamper Van Beethoven.

  4. Eric Meyer says:

    During my brief stint in the community theater crowd, we played this game with titles—music, movies, plays, books, etc. The goal was to go as long as possible without breaking the chain, and we could literally do it for hours. When we played it “horse” style, with a person taking a letter when they couldn’t continue the chain, it could go all night long. Makes for a great party game!

  5. Vegedus says:

    Good luck making that loop. But, won’t the game stop being fun if you do?

  6. It’s called “shiritori“. It pops up in anime occasionally.

    In one of the early episodes of Excel Saga, Excel and some man are stuck in a cell and are very hungry, and they play it using names of food.

  7. Scott says:

    Jane Eyre Affair to Remember the Titans of the Deep Impact.

  8. DavidS says:

    People who liked this game might like this puzzle http://web.mit.edu/puzzle/www/00/set4/2/Puzzle.html from the 2000 MIT Mystery Hunt. As is standard for Mystery Hunt puzzles, there are no directions, but in this case it won’t spoil the puzzle to give some. The goal is to take the words in the bulleted list and link them together by a chain of films matching the descriptions. For example, if the list contained RUNNING and WONKA, you could link them through RUNNING FREE WILLY WONKA. Remember that references to “now” mean January 2000.

    Solution here: http://web.mit.edu/puzzle/www/00/set4/2/Solution.html

  9. Russ says:

    My roommate at the Naval Academy and I used to play the “last letter-first letter” version of this while we were standing at Parade Rest waiting for the Upper Class to come inspect our rooms. We went through animals the first week (inspections were twice a week, ~2 hours of standby time) so we started using famous people.

  10. Shamus says:


    That is a great chain. I notice the title of the thing “The Eyre Affair”. In my orginal (1984) rules I avoided “The”, although thinking about it more I think allowing dropping “The” as you have done makes the game a lot more interesting. I think I’ll work on my loop with this rule change.

  11. Wonderduck says:

    If it matters, Aerosmith does have a song entitled “Girls Of Summer.” Not a hit, but probably good enough to fulfill your requirements.

  12. Vendrin says:

    Girls of Summer is a song actually.

  13. Hagan says:

    Pieces of Eight is a Styx album, could go there.
    Pieces of You is a Jewel album
    Pieces of Me is an Ashlee Simpson album
    Pieces of a Dream is a Anastacia album.

    There you go, continue the Pieces chain :P

  14. Eric J says:

    If you’re starting with “The” you can always start with “The The” for a cheap extra item.

  15. Carl the Bold says:

    Played this game in college and got as far as BoyGeorgeMichaelJacksonBrowne, but we were only using one jenre at a time.

    Also wondered which bands should tour together:

    The Monkees and Bananarama
    The Cars appearing with Mike and the Mechanics
    Prince and Queen

    That kind of thing.

  16. Karaden says:

    Big Easy Loverboy George Michael Jackson Five Easy Pieces of a Dream Big

    Not sure if Dream Big quite works, as its more of a saying then anything else “you got to dream big” but if it does, there you go, a loop.

  17. Mik says:

    Big Easy Loverboy George Michael Jackson Five Easy Pieces of a Dream of the Blue Turtles…

    Kind of dead-ended that one. Anyone got any turtle- musical links?

  18. John says:

    How about: Loverboy George Michael Jackson Five Easy Pieces of a Dream Lover

    There’s your loop

  19. ngthagg says:

    Cheapest Loop Ever: Duran Duran

  20. Scott says:

    Well, actually it could be Duran Duran Duran Duran Duran Duran Duran Duran… ad infinitum.

  21. Phlux says:

    Doesn’t Jeopardy do a category like this once in a while? it’s usually only a two-piece chain, though. Come to think of it I’m pretty sure Wheel of Fortune uses this gag also.

  22. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    Actually, ngthagg, I think Eric J’s submission may be the cheapest loop ever:
    The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The The…
    Hehe. That was fun.

  23. AndrewNZachsDad says:

    And, Scott, the point of creating a loop like this is so that you can create a “Song That Never Ends” experience for everyone! :)

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