Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Romanatic (for Romantic)

On March 31, 1889 the Eiffel tower was inaugurated at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. At 300m, the tower is twice as tall as the Great Pyramid at Giza (146.5 m). It was built to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution, in particular the storming of the Bastille.

A competition was held that prompted more than 100 submissions of plans for the monument! Bridge engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was the winning designer, though at the time the judges were skeptical about the aesthetic quality of the iron latticework. I find it hard to believe now, with so many people around the world enamored of the structure and the romantic Parisian life it seems to symbolize.

Romanatic is our typo today, a low probability error that appears 10 times in Worldcat. For more about the Exposition that launched the Eiffel Tower (and another typo!), see our past entry for souvenier*.

(Photo of the tower from Wikimedia Commons.)

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daguerro* (for Daguerreo*)

The daguerreotype was the first successful form of photography, developed in the 1830s by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and Nicéphore Niépce. A copper plate is coated with silver iodide and exposed in a camera. Mercury vapour is used to develop it, and a salt mixture to make it permanent.

Originally, the exposure process took 3-15 minutes, making it too long to be used for commercial, portrait photography, but later bromine and chlorine were added to the process to shorten it to less than a minute.

The image shown here is a photograph of a daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe taken in 1848, by W.S. Hartshorn.

A common error in spelling daguerreotype is to leave out the e: daguerrotype. But if you remember that the word comes from Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre's name (which has that e at the end!) it should be easy, right? As easy as remembering Daguerre's three hyphenated given names (?!) or as easy as sitting completely still for 15 minutes while your portrait is taken.

Leanne Olson

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bucaneer* (for Buccaneer*)

The buccaneers were pirates who lurked off the coast of South America and the Caribbean in the 17th century. Surprisingly, these ruthless men actually had their own complex system of rules. Their captains were elected democratically, they shared plunder equally, and they developed complicated systems of insurance for men who became injured.

The word buccaneer actually comes from the French boucan, which is a grill used for smoking dried meat used at sea. The term buccaneer is now used to describe any unscrupulous or cutthroat person, particularly in politics and business.

Buccaneer, like many words with repeating letters, is a tricky one to spell—I always want to add an extra N, and our typo for today has left out the second C. Bucaneer* occurs 4 times in OhioLINK and over 75 in Worldcat.

(The coloured woodcut pictured here is of Sir Henry Morgan, one of the most famous buccaneers, taken from

Leanne Olson

Friday, March 26, 2010

Charater* (for Character*)

Cha-cha is short for Cha-cha-cha, and in the shot to the right, where the dancers are wearing abbreviated costumes, to say the least, I suppose it's possible that a mere cha might suffice. At any rate, it's a dance in which participants are often rated on a scale of one, two, cha cha cha. I'm not entirely sure how to rate this too-live crew, but it looks like the evening itself was a definite 10. Charater* comes in at an impressive 54 times in OhioLINK, which makes it a typo of "high probability" on the Ballard list. Check for today's typo in your own catalog and make sure the word in question contains all of its characters.

(Patrik Hont sings "Havana for a Night" along with cha-cha dancers in a Valentine's Day cabaret at the Blue Moon Bar, Stockholm, Sweden, 2003, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Augum* (for Augment*, Argument*)

Ah, gum. Who doesn't love gum? You'll get no argument here, chum. Yum, yum, um, yum. The first time I quit smoking, it was with the blessed succor of Carefree Sugarless Wintergreen Bubblegum. Nowadays, I'm anti-aspartame and more into "health food gum," especially the kind with Xylitol in it. (Hint: it's more natural than it sounds.) Getting rid of one's gum is always a bit of a challenge, usually done solo and even a little stealthily. But clearly there is an id-like joy in simply pulling it out and squishing it onto a large mass of other people's. And Seattle, it seems, is just the place to do it. (Although Bubblegum Alley in California is older and deserving of a visit if you're blowing through town). According to Wikipedia, the Chewing Gum Wall was named one of the "top 5 germiest tourist attractions in 2009, second to the Blarney Stone." While you chew on the idea of august and augmented gum, try and get rid of any samples of today's typo still sticking to your catalog. (We found 29 cases of Augum* in OhioLINK, a few of which look like correctly spelled foreign ones.)

(Detail from the Wall, Pike Place Market, Seattle, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Click pic for better view of the chewed!)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuberclo*, etc. (for Tuberculosis)

March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, a time for raising awareness and bearing witness to a dreadful and deadly disease. Ninety years ago, the world witnessed a plague of pandemic proportions when an estimated 50 million people died of the "Spanish Flu." During WWII, Americans were warned that "loose lips sink ships"; opening one's mouth to spit, cough, or sneeze was seen as equally treacherous, if not altogether traitorous, during the First World War as well. One theory blames the high rate of influenza among U.S. soldiers on the mass inoculations they were subjected to in the military. Another argues that many seemingly healthy young adults who perished from the 1918 flu were in fact infected with TB. Some people find such ideas fanciful, but consider that throughout history, tuberculosis has been variously associated with vampirism, fairies, masturbation, and the notion that it confers a burst of creativity on men, and beauty on women, just before death. Today, controversies continue to surround the H1N1 virus and vaccinations in general. A handful of typos for the word tuberculosis were found in OhioLINK today, including Tuberclo*, Turberc*, Tubrec*, and Tuberclu*. Please remember to wash your hands after stopping their spread in your own database.

(Prevent Disease: Careless Spitting, Coughing, Sneezing, Spread Influenza and Tuberculosis, Rensselaer County Tuberculosis Association, Troy, New York, 1918, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kelly + Kelley (for Kelly or Kelley)

Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip "Miss Peach," named his cartoon classroom the Kelly School after his hero Walt Kelly ("Pogo"). Lazarus, who was a member of Mensa, knew that there was more to a good education than rote learning and the "Three R's" and spent 45 years drawing that conclusion. Miss Peach's pupils (Marcia, Ira, Arthur, Francine, Freddy, and the rest) were often concerned with weightier issues than spelling, but the name of their school is a tricky one, if the 245 hits on Kelly + Kelley in OhioLINK are any measure. Although not all of those records contain the discrepancy in question, a sufficient number do, projecting this as a typo of "highest probability" on the Ballard list. Lazarus clearly enjoyed puns, naming the Kelly School principal "Mr. Grimmis" and the gym teacher "Mr. Musselman." He was accorded the National Cartoonists Society's Humor Comic Strip Award for 1973 and 1979 and the Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year in 1981. He even managed to get "Miss Peach" pulled from syndication on November 29, 1963, with a strip in which one of the characters fantasizes about saving the president's life. (The strip in question was created shortly before the JFK assassination.)

(Miss Peach record album, from the LP Cover Lover website.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 22, 2010

Leonad* (for Leonard*)

Leonard Marx was born in New York City on March 22, 1887. He was called "Chicko" (from the term "chicken chaser," i.e., ladies' man), which eventually evolved into "Chico" as the eldest Marx brother adopted the film persona of an Italian piano player. This became a bit of an inside joke. In the movie Animal Crackers, Chico's character recognizes a man impersonating an art collector and reproves him: "How did you get to be Roscoe W. Chandler?" Chandler: "How did you get to be Italian?" Chico: "Never mind—whose confession is this?" Another time, a contestant on You Bet Your Life tells the host she's from Chico, California, and Groucho, with tongue in cheek, replies that he has a brother named "Cheek-oh." Chico Marx was a talented pianist, notorious womanizer, and inveterate gambler. His famous stage name was born when the letter K got dropped; our typo for the day involves a dropped letter as well. OhioLINK yields eight cases of Leonad* for Leonard* (although two of them are for the correctly spelled Wesley Leonadis Sadler), so be sure to check-o your records carefully!

(Chico Marx playing cards with himself, taken at Rockaway Beach, New York, circa 1909, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 19, 2010

Be be (for Be)

To be or to be Bebe ... that is the question. Phyllis "Bebe" Daniels could barely count to three before she knew what she wanted to be. Daniels was born in Dallas in 1901, but her family soon moved to Los Angeles, where she appeared in a touring production of Richard III at the age of four. She made her film debut at seven and when she was ten, played Dorothy Gale in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Speaking of which, see last week's entry To to for something akin to our typo today.) We got 42 hits in OhioLINK on Be be, but as it turns out, only ten or so are actual errors. The rest represent personal and corporate names; lots of punctuating punctuation; and the occasional [sic] or two. As well as weird titles like "To be be-holed-in"; ambiguous ones such as "Be be your love"; cool PoMo ones like "Let Be Be Finale of Seem"; and ones so wordy that two be's are almost bound to meet, as in: "The Scotch wedding, or, A short and pretty way of wooing: when as complexions do agree, and all things they are fitting, why should the time prolonged be, be quick and mind your knitting..." Plus this bracing line from The Loves of Damon and Sappho: "You lovers all that would successful be; be not too bashful, but in love be free." But I digress. Take care of today's typo, if you dare, and then for a lark, take a look at this interactive map of Bebe Daniels' crowd circa 1921, as depicted on the cover of Vanity Fair. Daniels made over 203 movies in her lifetime, but still made time to be Bebe with her frequent costar Harold Lloyd, whom she never married but clearly loved and won numerous dancing competition cups with!

(Publicity photo of Bebe Daniels from Stars of the Photoplay, 1924, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Phanton* (for Phantom*)

If you've read it, then you're probably a fan of The Phantom Tollbooth, the 1961 children's classic written by Norton Juster. This book was illustrated by Juster's former roommate, Jules Feiffer, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and Village Voice running cartoonist—and occasional children's book author. The latter's daughter Kate is also a children's writer, which must make life fun in the Feiffer family. Even funner than that, though, is the fact that, after 49 years, Jules and Juster have just produced their second children's book together. It's called The Odious Ogre, as I found out the other night at a book reading sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute. (Feiffer is on the road promoting his new memoir, Backing Into Forward—a title that would have delighted Juster's dad, who enjoyed saying things like: "You used to be behind before but now you're first at last.") I mentioned to him that I was currently reading Tollbooth, which I had somehow managed to overlook as a child. Better late than never, though. Of course, the same thing can be said of The Odious Ogre, so look for it at your favorite library in the fall. And in the meantime, please look for today's typo, Phanton*, which shows up 11 times in OhioLINK and may be haunting your catalog as well.

(Jules Feiffer, 1958, from the Library of Congress, New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Perrr* (for Perr*)

His name may not be a household word, but his snappy little invention is used by people all over the world. On this day in 1845, the rubber band was patented by Stephen Perry of Messers Perry and Co., a rubber manufacturing company in London. Although none of them are pertinent to this perticular person, a search on the typo Perrr* (for Perr*) turned up four records in OhioLINK this morning. My constantly reading grandmother used to wear rubber bands on her wrist like a Gypsy so she'd always have one handy in case of a bookmarking emergency. Postal carriers in the U.K. now employ red rubber bands because they're easier to see and pick up when they fall off newspapers, magazines, and other pieces of mail. Some people do nothing with them but make a big rubber ball even bigger. Rubber bands expand when heated, contract when frozen, and eventually dry out like spandex spaghetti left stuck to the side of the pot too long. They have many functions and many fans. Happy Birthday, Rubber Band!

(A pile of rubber bands, size 19, from Office Depot, posted at Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bulter (for Butler)

Happy Birthday, M! Today is also the birthday of John Butler Yeats, 19th-century Irish painter and father of the poet William Butler Yeats. There are 35 occurrences of Bulter (presumably all typos for Butler) in OhioLINK; a search on Bulter + Butler finds 18. The elder Butler Yeats was both formative and supportive of an artistic bent in all his children. William's brother Jack had a successful career as a painter and his sisters "Lily" and "Lolly" were involved in the Arts and Crafts Movement. John Yeats personally paid for a 100-copy print run of his son's first publication, Mosada: A Dramatic Poem, in 1886. In 1923, William was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, which afforded him the money to finally pay off his debts, along with those of his father. (I'm not sure whether the Yeatses had butlers, but it does seem like they had a nice father-son relationship.) At the age of 69, John moved to New York City where he knew some painters in the "Ashcan School." He is buried in Chestertown, New York.

(Portrait of William Butler Yeats by his father, John Butler Yeats, 1900, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sucess*, etc. (for Success, etc.)

Welcome to Monday and the Ides of March. I'd like to open with a joke: Nothing succeeds like a bird without teeth. Get it? Sucks seeds? Is this thing on? Anyway, our typo of the day is Sucess* and it certainly looks like one, with an impressive 212 hits in OhioLINK. (Suceed* shows up 14 times and Succees* eight times.) From little acorns mighty oak trees grow, and tiny seeds can often produce spectacular results. Look for this one in your own catalog today: you just might be surprised at your success.

(Bixa orellana, or Lipstick Tree, seeds from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 12, 2010

Grodon (for Gordon)

Today is Girl Scout Day, which makes it a good day to see "Daisy," the nickname of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. Before we break out the Thin Mints and Trefoils, though, a little background on our girl. She was born in 1860 and grew up in Savannah, Georgia, where her home still stands and is open to public view. She was reportedly always eager to learn new things and conquer new horizons. She suffered from deafness in one ear and then, after a freak rice-throwing accident at her wedding, lost her hearing in the other one as well. This may have been a bad omen as the marriage proved unsuccessful, but Juliette did not. She went on to form a close platonic relationship with Lord Robert Baden-Powell in England and based the Girl Scouts of America on Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts and the corresponding Girl Guide movement abroad. Today's typo is Grodon and it appears 13 times in OhioLINK, making it one of "moderate probability." Although the status of over half of these is unclear (there's only one iteration of the name in the record), I'd wager that all or nearly all of them are typos for Gordon. (Of course, you'll want to check the work firsthand to be sure; in some cases, the mistake may be on the original.) The beautiful, magical Girl Scout camp of my youth, Camp Little Notch in upstate New York, is currently on the chopping block, and I'm not talking about putting another log on the fire and toasting marshmallows. Former scouts throughout New York State are trying to raise enough money to buy back the land and preserve it as a camp for girls, if not an official Girl Scout camp. Daisy Low would be proud of them.

(Juliette Gordon Low, standing with two Girl Scouts, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, March 11, 2010

To to (for To)

According to one socio-economic reading of the classic children's tale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the story is a parable about the politics of the 1890s, particularly the debate over monetary policy and bimetallism. The "Yellow Brick Road" represents the gold standard, while the silver slippers suggest the "sixteen to one silver ratio." (Their color was changed to ruby in the movie, perhaps to stand out more in the colorful world of Oz.) The Wicked Witches of the East and West would be the local banks and railroads. The Scarecrow stands for the farmers of the Populist Party; the Tin Woodman evokes the industrialized factory workers of the North; and the Cowardly Lion is either William Jennings Bryan or the investors on Wall Street. The Munchkins are akin to the common people and the Emerald City symbolizes "Washington and its green-paper money delusion." Even Dorothy's dousing of the Wicked Witch of the West alludes to the drought that was plaguing the country at that time. And lastly, you may be wondering, does all of this exegesis include "Toto too?" Yes, indeed. It's a reference to the word teetotaler: one who abstains from alcohol and most likely would have favored Prohibition. There are 262 hits in OhioLINK on To to, some of which are not typos (foreign language titles and cases where the two words are properly adjacent, such as Introduction to To Kill a Mockingbird; A Concordance to To the Lighthouse; and other grammatically correct phrases), although many of them are.

(Illustration by W.W. Denslow, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1900, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Annd (for And)

Johnny Gruelle, who was born in 1880 in Arcola, Illinois, wrote both "Raggedy Ann" and "Raggedy Andy" books, and books with both Ann and Andy, and books with neither Ann nor Andy. And then, of course, there were the dolls themselves, which many of us dragged around as children, whether we had actually read the books or not. As a matter of fact, the dolls were based on a rag doll that Gruelle had made for his daughter Marcella and then later patented and saw mass produced. The books followed three years later in 1918. When Marcella died of complications from a smallpox shot at the age of 13, a heartbroken Gruelle couldn't bear any reminders of her save for the Raggedy Ann doll he kept close at hand. Some critics consider these books to be "thin gruel" (thanks, S!), but the stories were really just connective tissue for the beautiful drawings—of which the author felt so sure that he was known to ink them directly onto paper without troubling to sketch them out in pencil first. There were 51 cases of Annd in OhioLINK this morning, which makes this a typo of "high probability."

(Raggedy Ann & Raggedy Andy meet for the first time, in the Project Gutenberg EBook of Raggedy Andy Stories by Johnny Gruelle, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Play* + Paly* (for Play* or Paly*)

Due to the current budget crisis in New York State, nearly half of our public parks and historic sites are slated to be closed or have their services curtailed. During a rally at the Capitol last week, emotions were running high. Perhaps the most moving speaker was a young soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder who credited the peacefulness and beauty of nearby Thacher Park with aiding in his recovery. My favorite protesters, though, were a small group of tiny kids from Harlem. As one of them put it: "If people close down the parks, we won't have any fun whatsoever... And lots of animals live there!" The children's signs were made out of green construction paper cut in the shape of pine trees. One little girl's bore the plaintive message: I LIKE TO PALY! A search in OhioLINK on Play* + Paly* turned up 17 records, including a wide variety of typos. (Five or so contain correctly spelled personal names.)

(Letchworth State Park in western New York, known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 8, 2010

Womn*, etc. (for Women*, Woman*)

Today is International Women's Day, a day originally meant for reflecting upon women's rights and feminist issues. IWD was introduced in 1909, following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, although in some parts of the world it has become less a political event and more an occasion simply to celebrate women and spring. There are many different kinds of women, and many different ways to misspell them (without even including such purposely reworked variants as "womyn" and "wimmin"). According to Wimmipedia, er, Wikipedia: "In Old English, the words wer and wyf (also wæpman and wifman) were used to refer to 'man' and 'woman' respectively, and man was gender-neutral. In Middle English, man displaced wer as a term for 'male human,' whilst wifman (which eventually evolved into woman) was retained for 'female human.' (Wif also evolved into the word wife.) Man carries the old sense of 'human,' however, resulting in an asymmetry criticized as sexist..." (Whatever you call us, just don't call us late for dinner—and thanks for making it, man!) The following typos for woman* and women* were made in OhioLINK several times apiece:


(1932 Soviet poster dedicated to the 8th of March holiday, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pollitical (for Political)

To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.
- Cicero
The above quotation is our answer to yesterday's cryptogram, courtesy of Marcus Tullius Cicero!

The Roman orator (statesman, philosopher, lawyer, writer, and very wise man, judging by the above quote) Cicero was killed in 43 BCE for political reasons.

His head and hands were put on display in the Roman Forum, on top of the speakers’ platform (the rostra), where he’d spent so much of his time in life.

Pollitical is a low probability typo, appearing only twice in OhioLINK and 33 times in WorldCat.

(Photo of a bust of Cicero from Wikimedia Commons.)

Leanne Olson

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Crytog* (for Cryptog*)

If a bibliographic record in your catalogue has enough typos, it might look like an example of cryptography. Once used primarily in wartime or in letters swapped in class by childhood best friends, encrypting data is now commonplace online.

Cryptography involves creating (and cracking) secret codes to hide messages. It's been called the art of hiding information—and so a cryptographer is perhaps the opposite of a librarian.

Try your hand at the simple cryptogram below. Each letter in this quotation is replaced with another. To get you started, O is replaced by H.
Check back tomorrow for the answer!

Leanne Olson

(Photo of a coding machine from the US National Cryptologic Museum taken from Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Neterl* (for Netherl*)

On March 3rd in 1931, United States President Herbert Hoover officially adopted "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the US national anthem.

National anthems became popular in the 19th century, with the first one being Britain’s God Save the Queen/King in 1825. However, some anthems have even more impressive origins: Japan boasts the oldest lyrics, from the 9th century, and the Netherlands the oldest music, from a melody written before 1572.

The Netherlands is our typing error for the day, with Neterl* as a low probability typo on the Ballard list. It can work as a typo for Netherlands or Nederlandsche.

Leanne Olson

(Photo of sheet music for The Star-Spangled Banner from Wikimedia Commons.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Autobiograh* (for Autobiograph*)

Today marks the anniversary of the world premiere of the film King Kong in New York, 1933. The city itself might be considered a star of the film, with Kong's most memorable scene being the heartbreaking end at the top of the Empire State Building. There, the giant ape held onto his love, played by Canadian actress Fay Wray, as he was attacked by fighter planes.

Wray did most of her screaming on a large model of King Kong’s hand, which inspired the title for her autobiography, On the Other Hand. Wray was more than just a pretty face with a loud scream: in addition to the autobiography, she also wrote plays for regional theatres and yearned to break out of her horror movie pigeonhole.

Autobiograh* is a moderate probability typo, appearing 18 times in OhioLINK and returning 145 hits in WorldCat.

Leanne Olson

Monday, March 1, 2010

Birhday* (for Birthday*)

Today marks the official 200th birthday of composer Frederic Chopin. Chopin’s birthday is an interesting one because no one quite knows the actual date. A registry in Poland recorded his birth on February 22, 1810, but the composer himself always claimed March 1st.

His personal life was equally uncertain, with numerous affairs possibly invented through gossip to compete with the chaotic love life of rival composer Franz Liszt.

Our music pun today comes courtesy of my pianist friend Amanda, who used to go to the grocery store with all the ingredients she needed written out on her Chopin Liszt.

Since I’m sure that’s enough “entertainment” for today, I’ll finish off by letting you know that the typo birhday has 29 hits in WorldCat, but only 2 in OhioLINK.

Leanne Olson

(Painting of Chopin by Eugène Delacroix from the Allmusic Blog)