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Jump to: [ Great Thoughts | ContraDefinitions | Indexing Negative Information I | Indexing Negative Information II | Indexes that Make You Smile | Indexes that Make You Smile Even More | America's Funniest Index | Favorite Entries I | Favorite Entries II| Favorite Entries III ]

Great Thoughts

The Great Thoughts, compiled by George Seldes, has the following entry on page 70:

Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson)
British mathematician

Through the Looking Glass (1871)
Chapter 4, "The Walrus and the Carpenter"

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

You'll find it indexed as:

Dialectic, 70
Credit for this index is given to Maria Coughlin, for whom I worked at the time. We were given the task of indexing each quotation under one concept.


From The Computer Contradictionary by Stan Kelly-Bootle:
endless loop. See 'loop, endless'
loop, endless. See 'endless loop'

Indexing Negative Information I

How to write an index entry for something that did not happen or that does not exist, but which deserves mention, is one of the challenges indexers often face.

During World War II Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and Minister of Arms and War Production, inspected one of the Nazi labor camps, Matthausen, and he had opportunity to inspect Auschwitz. But he didn't (a friend advised him to stay away). This is documented in a book I indexed, Henry T. King, Jr.'s The Two Worlds of Albert Speer: Reflections of a Nuremberg Prosecutor. Following is the entry for Auschwitz:

Auschwitz extermination camp, 4, 103, 160n14; gas chambers, 157; Speer's blindness towards, 101-2

Indexing Negative Information II

The following entry is from an early index written by Christine Shuttleworth, for Henry Porter's Lies, damned lies, a book by a UK journalist on how much you can believe of what you read in the papers, with funny stories of how journalists have twisted, mangled, and invented facts to make good stories. One anecdote relates how during a heatwave a staff photographer was instructed to demonstrate that it was so hot you could fry an egg on the bonnet of a car, but was unable to do so and resorted to buying a plastic fried egg, placing it on the bonnet of a car, and photographing it:
Eggs, fried, bogus

Indexes that Make You Smile

Some Potential Legitimate, Valid, and Funnier Index Entries for Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (All the index entries in the published book refer to how large a person Limbaugh is, with entries like "Zeppelins, Limbaugh's size compared to" and "Italian restaurants, Limbaugh's obsession with," but don't actually reflect what's in the book.):
airplanes: seats required by Limbaugh, 17
American conservatism: weighty time line, 26-29

blacks: politicians who have showered with, 167

celebrity lava lamps, 132

Dole, Bob: guide to moviegoing, 70
Dornan, Bob: cost to taxpayers, 166n

jokes: fair vs unfair, 214-216

Kirkpatrick, Jeane: denial of love for author, 4

moviegoing: Bob Dole's guide to, 70

Operation Chickenhawk, 56

politicians. see also specific politicians by name
--who have showered with blacks, 167

Shalala, Donna: value of baseball advice from, 108

--Contrasting, 141
--Optimistic Positive Governing, 140-141

Indexes that Make You Smile Even More

Another humorous writer is Joe Queenan. Queenan's indexes, which he writes himself, are legitimate *and* funny. Check out the following index excerpt, for example, from Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon: Joe Queenan's America:
King, Stephen
--fascination with auricular trauma, 36
Kings, Gipsy
--as ethnic ABBA, 146
Villa, Pancho
--failure to prevent rise of Taco Bell, 123
Vinton, Bobby
--blueness of velvet of, 172
--redness of roses of, 172
--and Saul of Tarsus, 173

America's Funniest Index

Peter Carlson recently cited the following entries from "the strange mind of Benjamin Healy of the Atlantic Monthly. Healy is a humorist, biographer and acerbic social critic -- all within the context of his job as America's best (and probably only) ironic magazine indexer" ("Index, America's Funniest, Back of Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, March 1, 2005, p. C04):
Dion, Celine, as benchmark of Broadway decline, 210
Einstein, Albert, slacker mom of, 118
Leno, Jay, as no Johnny Carson, 16
O'Reilly, Bill, as Al Bundy soulmate, 168; surliness of, 168; as showman, 168; "barroom contempt" harbored by, 168; obsequious iconoclasm of, 168.
Putin, Vladimir, as night owl, 82; as oenophile, 82; sobriety of, 82; as boxer, 84; as judo champ, 84; as snow leopard, 84; reptilian characteristics of, 86; gait of, 86; as Teddy Roosevelt, 86; as circumciser, 87; piety of, 82, 89-91; as bourgeois ski bunny, 92
Rice, Condoleezza, as weak link, 106
Sartre, Jean-Paul, as not much to look at, 139
Stalin, Joseph, yellow eyes of, 88; as seminarian, 84; as darner of socks, 92

Favorite Entries I

Following is one of my all-time most-favored entries, which I thoroughly enjoyed writing. You'll find it in Michael J. Strada and Harold R. Troper's Friend or Foe? Russians in American Film and Foreign Policy, 1933-1991:
Reagan, Ronald, 131, 147-48; as Brass Brancroft, 217n20; foreign policy, 149-53, 174-75, 204n4; misinformation, 217n17; as president, 147, 178; as Ronbo, 153; as Web Sloane, 79, photo 8; Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), 151-52, 177, 204n4; summits with Gorbachev, 175-78

Favorite Entries II

Douglas R. Hofstadter's own index to his book Le ton beau de Marot: In praise of the music of language includes the following entries:
index: challenges of, 598; as revelatory of book's nature, 598; typo in, 631; as work of art, 598
typo in index, 633
The index extends over pages 599 to 632. There is no page 633. As Christine Shuttleworth says, "Hofstadter is a law unto himself." (Her article on this wonderful index, "Marot, Hofstadter, index," appeared in the April 1998 of The Indexer, and is available from the Society of Indexers.)

Favorite Entries III

J.G. Ballard's short story "The Index" ends with the following entries:
Zielinski, Bronislaw, suggests autobiography to HRH, 742; commissioned to prepare index, 748; warns of suppression threats, 752; disappears, 761
The story was written in 1977 and published in The Paris Review, vol 118, (Northern) Spring, 1991. It is copyright © the Estate of the Late J.G. Ballard, 1977, 1991. Definitely recommended reading, you can read the entire story here.

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