On Twitter, A Downsizing Trend That's Not So Bad It all started when Scott Simon and an actor friend noticed they'd been shorthanding the names of classic musical acts. The Beatles had become 'The Beats,' and so on. Things went merrily downhill from there.

On Twitter, A Downsizing Trend That's Not So Bad

On Twitter, A Downsizing Trend That's Not So Bad

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Join the Downsizing

Post your shrunken pop-culture memes in the comments, and follow us on Twitter at @nprscottsimon and @reduced.

OK, OK. It's not exactly like splitting the atom. Or inventing penicillin. But a friend and I may have inadvertently invented a game.

I was sending messages over Twitter with Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. The group performs highly condensed and comedic treatments of the Bard, the Bible and other classics all over the world.

Austin noticed that we'd begun to "reduce" the name of famous rock groups. The Beatles became the Beats. They Might Be Giants became They Are Midgets.

Then there was Tom Petty and the Just Friends.

As the tweets flew, the game grew. Peter and Paul. The Kingston Duo and Two Dog Night, not to mention the San Francisco Gay Man Soloist.

And my favorite: Huey Lewis and the Soundbite.

We ventured beyond bands to Broadway shows: West Side Anecdote was easy. Rhode Island was less obvious. (Hint: Sing those syllables to the tune of "You're doing fine, Oklahoma.")

From there, it was on to movie titles: Raging Bull became Raging Calf. Emergency Med-Tech Zhivago was Austin's favorite among my coinages.

Others started chiming in, some riffing on this year's Oscar contenders: The Reader got reduced to The Browser. What's less impressive than a Frost/Nixon face-off? Springer/Agnew.

"It's interesting how people have taken the idea of 'reduction' " and run with it, Austin says. "It's not just reducing the number; it's sort of getting to the essence of the story and making something important less important — Dude, Where's My Bike."

One really brilliant offering, from a guy called Gary in Philadelphia: Pride of the Expos.

You don't have to be a baseball fan to see the genius in that.