Anyhoo. I was consulting The Google a moment ago to see if I could find out some more info about some of the gay actors mentioned in the book I have been reading "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson". (I posted briefly about reading this book in this entry on Friday.) Specifically I was interested in Tom Hatcher, a young man who was a moderately successful client of Henry Willson, but who then broke the mold of Willson's other closetted gay clients by romancing and then living with another man, Broadway and Hollywood writer/director/producer Arthur Laurents. In fact they celebrated 50 years together, before Hatcher died at the age of 77. There isn't a lot of material on Hatcher to be found easily on Google, but in the process I did find a link to a biography by Arthur Laurents, Original Story: A Memoir of Broadway and Hollywood on Amazon.
Here's where it gets very strange though, take a look at this snippet from the Amazon page:
So I'm reading it, and then I thought WTF? No, I must be seeing things! when I spotted the 'key phrases' for this book:
Oh. My. God.
So I clicked the 'more' link underneath the keywords and discovered that the two first keyword entries in this case are SIPs - Statistically Improbable Phrases. Amazon explains them thusly:
"Amazon.com Statistically Improbable Phrases
Amazon.com's Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", are the most distinctive phrases in the text of books in the Search Inside!™ program. To identify SIPs, our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside! program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to all Search Inside! books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.
SIPs are not necessarily improbable within a particular book, but they are improbable relative to all books in Search Inside!. For example, most SIPs for a book on taxes are tax related. But because we display SIPs in order of their improbability score, the first SIPs will be on tax topics that this book mentions more often than other tax books. For works of fiction, SIPs tend to be distinctive word combinations that often hint at important plot elements.
Click on a SIP to view a list of books in which the phrase occurs. You can also view a list of references to the phrase in each book. Learn more about the phrase by clicking on the A9.com search link.
Have some ideas for improving this feature? Please send your feedback to email@example.com"
Wow, those phrases are distinctive alright.