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A creative blog by Jim Kalin on The Whole 9

Novelist Jim Kalin lives in Los Angeles, writes a monthly column for Amateur Wrestling News, and has traded in his speargun for a banjo. His wife and son sing harmony.


I once knew a kid with syndactyly, the condition of having fused digits. We called it webbed hands. He was not an exceptional swimmer, and I often wondered why his parents didn’t have his fingers surgically separated. This was in Ohio, and during the winter, when the rest of us wore gloves, this youngster was stuck with yarn mittens his grandmother knitted. Maybe it took a wife who wanted him to wear a wedding band to finally push him into getting the webbing removed. I don’t know. I lost track of him.

I was speaking to a patron recently where I tend bar, and she was complaining about carpal tunnel syndrome. She’s twenty-four years old, and believes that her condition was caused from being at her computer keyboard, browsing the web.

My favorite two characters with syndactyly would have to be Arty the Aqua Boy from Katherine Dunn’s classic novel ‘Geek Love,’ and the monster from the 1950’s horror classic ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon.’ Both just wanted someone to love, although Arty is a much more difficult character to like.

I’ve never had webbing between my fingers, or my toes for that matter. I’ve also never suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, which is amazing, since I’ve tended bar for nearly twenty-five years, and I can’t think of many occupations that strain the wrists more. I spend far too much time at the computer. I have a monthly column in ‘Amateur Wrestling News’ called On the Mat with YouTube where I choose a wrestling match that’s posted on the sight and then interview the two wrestlers involved. It’s an extremely popular feature, and when I attend college and International matches on the west coast, people recognize me from the photo that heads my column.

I use the web for research, like anyone who writes, although most of my time is spent watching YouTube. Of course I see lots of wrestling footage, but I sometimes need a break, so I watch things that have nothing to do with the world’s oldest and greatest sport. Other than ‘Chris Taylor Suplay,’(this defines bravery!) here are my favorite three postings on YouTube;

1. Chicken Police – You won’t believe this one, and might stop eating chicken.

2. Nora the piano playing cat – She really plays, and I’d give ten dogs to have a cat like this.

3. Ricky Skaggs and Earl Scruggs playing ‘Ruby’ –Ricky is only seven in this amazing footage. And you know what? Nobody needs an electric guitar or drums to rock hard!

What is your favorite YouTube posting?

  1. i knew a girl with webbed toes and she prided herself on being an exceptional swimmer.

  2. I think OM NOM NOM kitty is probably the cutest laugh inducing thing I’ve ever seen.

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