Saturday, November 22, 2003

J-Walked Links, Baker and Footnotes

Allow me for a moment to rave about fellow blogger John Walkenbach and his continually amusing and amazing blog J-Walk. I can't count1 the number of links I've hijacked from him since the inception of this humble little space. But a few of the recent gems he's turned me on to include The Book of Ratings, The Dullest Blog In The World and The Telephone EXchange Name Project (complete with Bell Telephone's 1955 Guidelines for Telephone Exchanges)2

The other morning I was lurking around some of the more backwater pages of J-Walk (I, of course mean that in the nicest possible way) and found that John is also a very big fan of one of my favorite authors, Nicholson Baker. Baker's The Mezzanine is a small treasure, with the entire storyline set in a single lunch hour of our protagonist. The plot is pretty slim (he heads out for lunch, breaks a shoelace while tying, buys a box of popcorn, a hot dog, milk and cookie and stops at a local drugstore to buy a pair of replacement shoelaces). How can someone write a whole book about that?! Yet The Mezzanine manages to shoehorn in enough humor, amusing observation and footnotes3 to make it a great read.

1Okay, I probably could count them, but that seems a little too anal-retentive even for me

2I currently have a SYcamore1 phone exchange, which has an appropriately '1950's ring* to it. I recall that at a house my buddy and I rented for a while, we usually gave out the phone number as GAG-DOG1, which while fairly memorable, created at least one slightly embarrasing situation. It seems that one of our friends was trying to call our number, but was having trouble getting through. She called the operator for assistance and when asked for the number she was trying to reach, said friend realized she never bothered to learn the number itself. Sheepishly she admitted she was trying to call GAG-DOG1, much to the amusement of the operator.

3Did I mention the footnotes? This may be the record-holder for the most footnotes in a single work of fiction. And not just those cryptic little ibids and the like, but gloriously detailed footnotic ramblings often sprawling on to the following page, ranging from his musings on the decline of the drinking straw once they changed from paper to plastic to the argument against hot-air blowers in bathrooms vs. the traditional paper towel.

*Pun probably intended

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