The most fun thing about being an innkeeper is meeting new people from much different walks of life and hearing their stories. Invariably, we learn that somehow we or another guest know someone the other guest knows from somewhere far, far away. It reminds me of the theory that everyone on the planet is connected by only six degrees of separation. The idea is that if two strangers got together, they would find that there are no more than six links of acquaintances between them. It was popularized with the notion that all of us are six friends of friends away from knowing Kevin Bacon, the actor.
We just had an actor, Jeffrey Woodman, stay with us at Inn on Main Street. With him were his partner, Melvin Bernhardt, and Jeff’s parents, Ruth and Charlie. Talking with Jeffrey, we learned that he had worked with Kevin Bacon, finally whittling our list to one degree. In the course of chatting with this down-to-earth family, we also learned that Jeffrey has acted on Broadway and in regional theatre all over the country, and that quiet Melvin is a Tony Award-winning director. His Broadway credits include “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,” “Da,” and “Crimes of the Heart.” We probably would never know all that if we hadn’t had the it’s-a-small-world conversation.
Now for the most fun part of the name-dropping. Jeff is the voice of Watson, the supercomputer that beat out the competition on Jeopardy. One of his lines of works is recording books for those of us who like to take in literature without actually reading. His voice is in such high demand, apparently, that IBM asked Jeff to provide the voice for Watson. He was asked to read some passages, from which IBM engineers isolated snippets that could be combined into any word in the English language. His voice has played everything from a cartoon gopher to the all-time Jeopardy champ. And we couldn’t get enough of it.