Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure

Overview

1. WHO IS DAVE GORMAN?

• Dave Gorman is an award-winning comedian, storyteller and writer from the UK.

• He won the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Jury Prize for Best One Person Show.

• He has appeared on the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous and The Late Show With David Letterman.

• His first book Are You Dave Gorman? has sold over 100,000 copies in the UK.

• His second book, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure has ...

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Overview

1. WHO IS DAVE GORMAN?

• Dave Gorman is an award-winning comedian, storyteller and writer from the UK.

• He won the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Jury Prize for Best One Person Show.

• He has appeared on the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous and The Late Show With David Letterman.

• His first book Are You Dave Gorman? has sold over 100,000 copies in the UK.

• His second book, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure has netted 60,000 copies to date since January 1, 2004, entering the Sunday Times Bestseller List at #1.

2. WHAT THE HELL IS A GOOGLEWHACK?

• When you type two words into the Google search engine and get exactly one result. That is, only one Web page in the world happens to have the combination of words you've entered in the search box. That is a googlewhack!

• Some past examples of googlewhacks include "comparative unicyclist," "maladroit wheezer," and "blithering clops."

• There is a 1-in-3-billion chance of being a googlewhack.

• For a full explanation, visit www.googlewhack.com Be warned: googlewhacking is completely addictive!

3. WHAT IS Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure?

• Dave's creative way to procrastinate as much as possible while writing a novel for his UK publisher, Ebury.

• The mysterious e-mail from Australia that read simply "Did you know you're a googlewhack?" and Dave's subsequent obsession with googlewhacking that took him three times around the world...at the expense of the novel he was supposed to write.

• This is Bill Bryson for a new generation, a hilarious book about the people Dave meets while he travels the globe for the strangershe has googlewhacked.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Four years ago, after locating 54 people who shared his name, stand-up comic Gorman used that frivolous notion as the basis for an award-winning, one-man stage show and book (Are You Dave Gorman?). Specializing in comedic travel writing, he found an excuse for more globe-trotting when he began google-whacking, or typing two words (such as "Dork Turnspit") into Google's search engine that would return only one result. Google-whacking constantly, he began to meet other google-whackers, from Seattle to Sydney. Soon he had a new stage show, and this book, based on that show, probes his obsession with the word game while presenting the colorful cast of eccentrics he encountered-from a Beijing performance artist to the guy whose house is a shrine to Mickey Mouse. Gorman's gift for siphoning silliness from any cubbyhole has an appeal for many (this book quickly became a U.K. bestseller), but not all readers will be ROTFLMAO ("rolling on the floor laughing my ass off"), as per Internet jargon. The nomadic Gorman does manage to maintain a breathless, high-spirited pace, offering an onslaught of amusing anecdotes and digressive detours along the way. 22 b&w photos. (Sept. 15) Forecast: Gorman's Googlewhack stage show is scheduled to open off-Broadway at the same time this book is published, which should help sales in New York City. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Googlewhack asks players to enter a pair of words into the Google search engine in the hopes of eliciting a single, solitary hit. Comedian Gorman, with the help of a friend, turned this game into a full-blown adventure challenge, vowing to find and visit ten Googlewhacks in a row before his 32d birthday. Two months and 71,000 miles later, Gorman has himself a bizarre and growing vocabulary dork turnspit, verandahs plectrums, and grandmaster sticklebacks anyone? and a number of stories to tell about the people who play the game all over the world. Whether meeting physicists or performance artists in Australia or Seattle, Gorman is at his best when he focuses on the googlewhacks whose stories provide glimpses of real-life drama, controversy, and humor. Gorman has injected some cyberspace into the age-old wish to "go wherever your feet take you," and the end result is as surprising and fun as you always imagined it could be. Recommended for public libraries. Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780091897420
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005

Read an Excerpt

PART ONE

HOW I CAME TO WAKE UP IN HEATHROW AIRPORT ON NEW YEAR'S DAY WITH A TICKET TO WASHINGTON DC IN MY POCKET

One

Francophile Namesakes

Francophile noun: one who admires France and the French.

Namesakes noun: plural of namesake. A person or thing with the same name as another.

A lot of people find turning 30 a bit traumatic. It's a wake-up call. They take stock of their lives, realise how little they've achieved and decide it's time to take life a little more seriously. Perhaps the hope is that if they take life a bit more seriously, life might take them a bit more seriously in return.

In particular this seems to afflict a lot of people in what is laughingly referred to as the entertainment ‘industry'. At the age of 30 it seems that all singers want to be actors, all actors want to play Hamlet and all comedians want to write novels. This is, of course, an act of vanity and should be abhorred.

Now, as it goes, nothing could have been further from my mind as I hit 30. I'd been making a living of sorts, treading the boards in the name of comedy since I was 19 and on my thirtieth birthday life conspired to take me to the millionaire's ski resort of Aspen, Colorado where, having already performed a show of my own, I was then taken to a theatre where I watched one of my childhood heroes, Steve Martin, perform live. He did a routine about his singing testicles. There was a strange dignity to the performance and it brought the house down.

Francophile Namesakes 7 The lesson was clear; turning 30 didn't mean I had to grow up. On 2 March 2001 there was not one single part of me that wanted tobe taken seriously. As far as I was concerned, life was good, I was having fun and I could see no reason to change my course.

A year later, however, it hit me like a train. I woke up on my 31st birthday and was gripped by a sudden desire to be taken seriously. It was time to stop acting the fool and behave like a grown-up. (This may or may not be connected but among my presents was a novel called Shopgirl. Written by Steve Martin; childhood hero, testicular vocalist, comedian, movie star … and novelist.)

I'd often idly talked about writing a novel, but I'd never done anything about it. All of a sudden that just wasn't good enough! Me, not yet a novelist?! At 31?! Oh, how I'd let myself down! Oh, how I'd let the world of literature down. It was time to do something about it. It was time for David James Gorman to be taken seriously.

I sat down at my computer and looked at a blank screen. Here goes, I thought, here comes the Booker Prize, let's see what the world thinks about me when I've finished this. I stared at the blank screen, locked my fingers together, stretched my arms, palms out and cracked my knuckles because that's how I'd seen writers do it in the movies. Then I put the kettle on. I wanted a cup of tea but coffee seemed more like a writer's drink. Maybe I should start smoking? I could think about that later. Eight cups of coffee into the day and there were still no words on the screen. This whole writing-a-novel malarkey was looking a lot harder than it seemed. That night, as I stayed awake, shaking the caffeine through my system, I came up with a plan: at ten o'clock the next morning I would ring my agent, Rob.

‘Hello, Rob.'

‘Dave.'

‘I've been thinking ... I want to write a novel. What do you reckon?'

‘Don't be ridiculous, Dave. You're very busy. I've got a lot of work lined up for you, things are on a roll, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

‘Well, OK, Rob, if that's what you think. I'll give up on the whole crazy idea. It was a pipedream anyway.'

That was how I imagined the conversation would go, that was my plan. After all, I was very busy. My diary was full and so were the theatres. It wouldn't last forever but the sun was shining and surely any agent worth his salt would want to make hay. If I was told not to write a novel, that was better than just failing to write a novel, wasn't it? That way I could get drunk in a few bars and complain to strangers about how I wanted to write a novel but that circumstances just wouldn't let me. I could be a frustrated novelist! Oh yes, I could make drunk strangers in bars take me seriously, and to be honest, wouldn't that be enough? Admittedly this plan contained only a tiny fraction of the kudos of winning the Booker Prize but it involved absolutely none of the work.

I picked up the phone.

‘Hello, Rob.'

‘Dave.'

‘I've been thinking ... I want to write a novel. What do you think?'

‘Good.'

‘What?'

‘I'll make a few calls.'

‘What?'

‘Set up a meeting.'

‘But what about the theatres?'

‘They can wait.'

‘But ...'

‘I'll call you back.'

‘…'

* * * * *

‘I think you're just the right kind of person to write a novel,' said Jake.

The three of us were in Rob's office and it seemed that everyone was taking me seriously.

Jake was in publishing, an editor working for Random House, the world's largest publisher. He was young and very enthusiastic and he demanded the same kind of enthusiasm in others.

‘Fiction is hard work. It's just you, your imagination and your computer,' he said, ‘You have to take it seriously.'

‘That's exactly what I want. I want to take it seriously,' I said, before offering a completely unnecessary, ‘I'm 31.'

Crikey; Rob and Jake were both giving my literary ambitions real considered thought. This plumped up my ego and made me take the idea seriously too. I was trying to convince Jake to give me the deal, and in doing so I was starting to convince myself. Maybe, if I had to write a novel it would be easier. If I had a publishing deal, most importantly, if I had a deadline to meet, I was sure I'd be able to do it. Because everyone else was taking the idea seriously, I was being seduced by it all over again.

‘Are you really serious, Dave?'

‘I am, Jake, I really am.'

And I was. But I needed to convince Jake somehow. I had to demonstrate how serious I was. I had an idea.

‘I'll tell you how serious I am, Jake. I'm actually thinking--' pause for effect ‘--of growing a beard.'

Jake stared at me. I stared back at him but only because I didn't dare look at Rob. I knew what he was thinking: please don't screw up this meeting with your stupid beard talk. I could feel his eyes burning into the side of my face. There was an awkward silence but I continued to meet Jake's stare and refused to blink. Rob coughed but Jake and I kept on staring.

‘Really?' Jake seemed impressed but unsure.

‘Really,' I said with a solemn nod.

Jake sucked some air through his teeth, clearly weighing up my beardly potential. Rob coughed again.

‘OK, er ...' Rob seemed embarrassed, ‘the beard is ... a bold offer, Dave, but I think the meeting would be best served if we concerned ourselves with the real business in hand.'

‘Rob. This is the business in hand,' I said, Jake still fixed in my stare.

‘OK… but…'

‘Gentlemen,' Jake interrupted, breaking out of my gaze, ‘I think we have a deal.'

Jake offered his hand and I shook it. There was a pause while we all sat and contemplated what had just occurred. As far as I could work out, the world's largest publisher had just offered me a publishing deal on the condition that I grew a beard. Rob, as my agent, was the first to speak.

‘I'm glad we have that sorted out, but there are, of course, some details still to negotiate.'

‘Of course,' said Jake.

‘Of course,' I said. ‘Just so you know; you might not think it to look at me with my brown hair, but the beard will be ginger.'

There was a long pause.

‘I was thinking more in terms of contract details. For the book,' said Rob, who clearly couldn't see the important message contained within the subject of my beard.

‘Right,' I said, trying to invest the word with great understanding.

‘Right,' said Jake, with abundant common sense.

‘Right,' said Rob with finality.

‘Right,' I said because I wanted to see if we'd go round again. We didn't.

Instead there was another pause, during which I realised there was something important we hadn't yet discussed.

‘Oh, by the way ... I have an idea ... for a story, for a novel, if anyone would like to hear it?'

Rob looked at his watch. Jake looked slightly bemused. He was probably wondering what witchcraft we'd worked in order for him to agree a publishing deal solely on the status of my facial hair. I suspect it was the first literary deal of its kind.

‘Of course,' he said, remembering his job, ‘I'd love to hear it. In fact, I need to hear it.'

‘Why don't you two get a coffee and discuss it?' said Rob, who had other business to attend to. He represented a few people, and some of them, being female, couldn't rely on facial hair tactics to secure employment.

In the comfy leather armchairs of the café next door I explained my idea to Jake while we shared a pot of tea.

‘OK. It's about a man who, in his mind's eye, can see a new primary colour,' I said. ‘It torments him because it's impossible to describe it to anyone. If there was nothing red in the world but it existed in your imagination you couldn't begin to describe it to me, could you? It's the colour of tomatoes, buses, postboxes, blood and so on, but if you couldn't refer to an example of red you couldn't describe it.'

‘And how do we know that we both see the same red in the first place?' asked Jake.

‘Exactly, we don't. That's why it's impossible to describe. That's why this man is going mad. Eventually he figures if he can see it, it must exist somewhere. So he decides to search for it …'

‘Travel,' said Jake scribbling some notes down, ‘good.'

‘… so he swims the deepest oceans and penetrates the densest rain-forests in search of obscure flora and fauna hoping to discover a speck of this mysterious hue.'

‘Nice.'

‘Oh … and his name,' I said, leaning forward, thinking on my feet, ‘is Hugh! Hugh Brown! So when he eventually finds the colour in a … in a … in a … butterfly, he's really frustrated because he can't …'

‘… name it after himself?' guessed Jake.

‘Exactly!' I squealed, ‘You can't call a colour "brown" because the name's been taken and you can't call it "hugh" because that's like calling it … "colour".'

‘But he's found it?'

‘Yeah. So he isolates it as a chemical compound and then all hell breaks loose.'

I sat back in my chair, proud of myself. Jake looked at me with big eyes, clearly expecting me to tell him more about the hell that was going to break loose.

‘So … for example,' I started, ‘some people are so freaked by the sight of this new colour, they descend into madness. Hugh Brown will have that on his conscience for the rest of his life. TVs, computer monitors, all electronic media need to be completely redesigned in order to display the new colour and the world's cereal manufacturers are fighting to own the colour just so that their boxes stand out on the shelves.'

I was sure that was enough. I sat back. Jake said nothing.

‘Well?' I said, ‘Do you like it?'

‘How long will it take you to grow a beard?'

* * * * *

Later that day Rob and Jake set about the process of negotiating the contract details while I started my side of the bargain and gave up shaving. I expect they finished before me, but in any case, four weeks later, the deal was on. We met again, this time in Jake's office, I signed a contract, and we popped open a bottle of ceremonial champagne to mark the occasion.

To demonstrate just how committed people were I even got given a big cheque. I find it impossible to explain this sort of thing; it makes far more sense to pay someone after they've done some work than before and yet here I was being given an advance. I wasn't sure if this demonstrated that I was with a stupid publisher or a brilliant agent (or both) but I did know that I now had no choice; I would have to write a novel and there would no longer be any room for excuses. And because everyone else had taken the idea so seriously, I was convinced too.

‘I'll need the first couple of chapters by the end of the year,' said Jake.

‘No problem.' I said, scratching at my neck. I was brimming with confidence.
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