Caffeine overload: Shots heard around the world


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A few weeks ago Matt Kulesza, a twentysomething from Melbourne, was about to cull some of his Facebook "friends" when he asked himself the following question: "Could I have a coffee with this person?" Inspired by the thought, he decided instead to meet up with the 1,086 people he was connected to through the site and his blog, 1000+ Coffees ("an exercise in remembering to socialise with and get to know people outside the 'Book") was born.

Running at a rate of about four to five meet-ups a week, Kulesza's intention was to have the project wrapped up in three years. But the publicity his idea has generated has meant he is coming into contact with more and more people who want to be his "friend", and Kulesza now admits things could take longer. "I've had to curb my adding of new friends," he tells me, "but life goes on and, to be honest, this could be going for 10 years."

Though still in the early stages (Kulesza is currently meeting Facebook friends in the United States), has the project taught him anything useful? "So far I've learnt that I really don't know anything about most of these people. So stepping beyond how they choose to promote themselves online and having that image broken has been interesting." Like.

Knockout brunch

If you are a fan of brunch, enjoy it while you can. Because if the backlash from across the Atlantic is to be believed, that "meal" is about to become toast.

The situation began when Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of the Strokes, was asked by GQ magazine why he had moved out of New York City. "I don't know how many, like, white people having brunch I can deal with," he replied. And with young urbanites now lingering longer over their eggs Benedict and the trend spreading from Sunday to Saturday, discontent is percolating widely.

Shawn Micallef, the Canadian author of The Trouble With Brunch, says that the meal is "a visible sign of the changes that sometimes feel out of our control". Writing in The New York Times, David Shaftel adds: Brunch has become the most visible symptom of a demographic shift … As rents have gone up, our area has become unaffordable to much of the middle class and to young families. This leaves an increasing number of well-off young professionals who are unencumbered by children – exactly the kind of people who can fritter away Saturday, Sunday or both."

Britons, we must act now. The campaign to Bring Back Elevenses starts here.

One tacky production

It was a question key to Newton's Principia Mathematica: is an object's speed through fluid affected by the fluid's viscosity? And while scientists have now proved Newton wrong (he believed it would be harder to, say, swim through syrup than water), one brave bunch of actors are about to find out live on stage.

Opening next month at the Yard Theatre in east London, Stink Foot is an adaptation of Sophocles's Philoctetes in which the cast will be covered in and standing in treacle. The play's writer/director Jeff James took time out from rehearsals to discuss his cast's sticky progress.

"The play is about how we have to make moral compromises to survive and how sometimes that means life gets messy. One character starts off morally pure, by the end he is a war criminal and is covered in treacle. There is a received idea of how a Greek tragedy should be, but this production is serious, moving and also, I hope, funny."

All of which sounds strangely wonderful, but where does all that treacle come from and who has to clear it up? "Tate & Lyle have been extremely generous and given us 250kg of molasses," said James. "And as for the cleaning, that will most likely be me and the long-suffering stage manager."

War of words

This week, the lexicographers behind the beautiful new Collins English Dictionary will announce their "Word of the Year". Let's hope they fare better than last year: from a list that included "fracker", "Bitcoin" and "twerking", they chose "geek", only to be trumped a few weeks later when rivals at Oxford Dictionaries nailed it with "selfie".

New words that have made it in to the new Collins edition include "adorkable", "meme", "photobomb" and "vape", though naturally no one is leaking which of these, if any, is a Word of the Year contender.

I have to say I'm a little worried for them. Was there really no space in the new edition for "emoji", "loom bands", left, and (shudders) "selfie stick"?

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

Now the Waterstones One has been freed,

To the tourist from Texas take heed,

If you're trapped in a store,

For two hours or more,

Make sure it's got something to read.