Friday, March 29, 2013

Percy Bysshe Shelly (for Percy Bysshe Shelley)

In honor of her birthday on Monday, I blogged about the writer Flannery O'Connor, who was a devout Catholic. To balance it out, here's another "March 25" story about another famous author, this one an infamous atheist...

On March 25, 1811, Percy Bysshe Shelley was expelled from the University of Oxford for publishing a pamphlet entitled The Necessity of Atheism. Shelley, who had been practically friendless while at Eton and was rumored to have attended but a single lecture at Oxford (choosing instead to spend up to sixteen hours a day reading), seemed destined to become a poet of great renown and enduring influence, if only posthumously. One can also see the roots of his political worldview in his personal upbringing. At public school, he had been the victim of sustained bullying attempts (dubbed "Shelley-baits" by his peers) for his refusal to participate in "fagging" (which isn't exactly what it sounds like, but may in fact be related to the homophobic slur we know today), and surely ("Don't call me Shirley!") just for being the sensitive bookworm that he was. Shelley was a Romantic in every sense of the word. After getting kicked out of Oxford (aka "rusticated") in his first year for writing that godless screed (and then refusing to be readmitted contingent on recanting, causing his father to disinherit him), he ran off with and married a young friend, mostly because she was miserable at home. But by this time, Shelley was already well-known and admired (by some) for a number of things: his nonviolent anti-war activism (Thoreau was inspired by him in the writing of Civil Disobedience); his fervent vegetarianism and belief in the rights of animals; and his support of the poor and defense of the world's exploited, disenfranchised, and misunderstood. (Perhaps the most misunderstood of all 19th-century creations, Frankenstein, was invented by Shelley's second wife, Mary.) We found 30 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 324 in WorldCat. You could widen your search a bit by omitting the "Bysshe" (which is a little iffy in and of itself), but that might increase the number of false positives you get.

P.S. (those initials, you'll note, can also stand for Percy Shelley) needed to "drop out" from time to time, and so do I. I have been falling further and further behind on this blog, and am going to try and play catch-up now by cutting back to once or twice a week for the remainder of the year. (Actually, I'll be predating these, and posting nearly every day, but they will all be new entries.) By 2014, I hope to have rounded up a few robust volunteers—at which point we'll come roaring back, better and and more diverse than ever!

(Portrait of Shelley by Alfred Clint, 1819, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 25, 2013

O'Conner* + O'Connor* (for O'Connor* or O'Conner*)

Flannery O'Connor was born on March 25, 1925. She is one of several women writers of the so-called Southern Gothic school and, along with Carson McCullers (with whom I happen to share a birthday), lived in the state of Georgia for most of her life. (O'Conner was actually born in Savannah, where I myself went to live for a year after college.) Flannery O'Connor once wrote that "anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic." O'Connor is known for both her grotesque realism and her unique religiosity. She was a passionate and practicing Catholic who considered her Creator to be not only her co-pilot, but her co-author as well. In the recently published (full disclosure and to avoid any confusion: I'm writing this in November, and predating it) A Prayer Journal, she claims: "If I ever do get to be a fine writer, it will not be because I am a fine writer but because God has given me credit for a few of the things he kindly wrote for me." They seem to have made a great team. O'Connor was the first fiction writer born in the twentieth century whose works were collected and published by the Library of America; and The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor won the National Book Award for fiction in 1972. I haven't read her novels (Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away), but I did just read a short story she wrote called "Revelation." It was published just after her death and deals with both God and race relations in the Deep South during the fractured 1960s. Mary Flannery O'Connor finally met her Maker on August 3, 1964, after a long battle with lupus; she was only 39 years old. In spite of her ongoing efforts toward patience and humility, however, I'm sure she was much like all writers, and would greatly appreciate us getting her name right. O'Conner* + O'Connor* turns up 70 times in OhioLINK, and 453 times in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Flannery O'Connor, 1947, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 22, 2013

Individau* (for Individua*)

Stephen Pearl Andrews was born on March 22, 1812, in Templeton, Massachusetts. A preacher's kid, Andrews was also the youngest of eight children. Venturing to law school at age nineteen, he was acutely aware of slavery's injustice and actively took up the cause of abolition, once being forced to flee the country over it. He tried unsuccessfully to raise funds for this work in England and, while there, took an interest in a new form of shorthand. He went on to become a linguist and taught himself "no fewer than 38" languages. He even created a "scientific" language of his own called Alwato. Andrews is credited with being one of the first people to use the word "scientology" (defining it as a "neologism" in his 1871 book about Alwato) and was an early leader in the Spiritualism movement. He was fascinated with the idea of utopias, a popular notion at the time, and eventually came up with a social theory he dubbed pantarchy, later adopting the philosophy of universology. He was an early adopter of Marx and the first American to publish The Communist Manifesto. But he is perhaps best known as a proponent of "individualist anarchism": he wrote several books on the subject, such as The Sovereignty of the Individual in 1853. No matter what you might think of his individual ideas, this guy was one interesting individual. We found five cases of Individau* (for individua*) in OhioLINK today, and 80 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Stephen Pearl Andrews before 1886, source unknown, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Incud* (for Includ*)

What is a "cud"? I know that cattle chew them, but I'm not quite sure what, where, when, why, or how... So how now, brown cow? I don't wanna ask a sow. Tell me, tell me, what's a cud? Cuz if you don't, your name is mud! Okay, well, that was fun, but I don't expect I'll get many bovine replies to my lyrical query, so let's check the dictionary, shall we? Cud is defined as "food regurgitated from the first stomach to the mouth of a ruminant and chewed again." Yuck. Or put another way, it sounds like cows are the original practitioners of Fletcherism. And here's another random thought to ruminate on: What, if anything, is the connection between cud and cuddle? Answer: there is none, except that while women typically want to "cuddle" after making love, men often prefer to pick up chewing where they left off. (Just cudding!) There were 62 cases of Incud* found in OhioLINK this morning, and 1365 in WorldCat. Chew on today's typo for a little while and see how many you can include in your own list of corrections.

(Cow portrait, 29 May 2005, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 18, 2013

Russel + Russell (for Russell or Russel)

I recently saw Russell Shorto—author of The Island at the Center of the World and the forthcoming Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City—give a talk at the New York State Museum in Albany, a place that was once known as "New Netherland." Island recounts the story of 17th-century Manhattan under Dutch rule (then called "New Amsterdam") and Russell Shorto did his research at the New York State Library, where he is Senior Research Scholar in Residence for 2013. Another Russel (let's call him "Mr. Wright") also arrived at the museum last month in the form of a new exhibition. "Russel Wright: The Nature of Design" depicts the life and work of a man whose famous estate in Garrison, New York, I was able to visit several years ago. Manitoga, as Wright named this fascinating confluence of evolution and intelligent design, consists of 75 acres of forested land and was once the site of a rock quarry, which he later transformed into a swimming pond. (He even had big boulders brought in occasionally to dot the landscape where they seemingly had been forgotten or misplaced.) In 1950, Russel and his wife, Mary, published the bestselling book Guide to Easier Living. After Mary's untimely death two years later, when their adopted daughter, Annie, was just two years old, Wright built a house and studio at Manitoga and moved there permanently. Mary had been a sculptor and together with her husband had formed the company Wright Accessories. Russel Wright Studios continues to produce household items marrying beauty and simplicity, often echoing the patterns of nature. Russel Wright merged the inner and the outer in a sort of architectural alchemy; Wikipedia describes Manitoga as "an eco-sensitive Modernist home and studio called Dragon Rock surrounded by extensive woodland gardens." Two things I remember vividly about taking the tour: 1) the house is built right into a rock ledge and has a tree growing up through the living room floor serving wonderfully as a table; and 2) the bathtub is set alongside a large picture window that looks out onto a tumbling waterfall. (Talk about your island at the center of the world!) One of our honored guests today spells his name with two L's, the other one with one. There were 518 hits in OhioLINK on Russel + Russell, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. While some of these may prove to be false positives (two separate people), others are certainly not. So rustle up any you can find in your own catalogs and be sure to check the originals when in doubt.

(Dragon Rock, self-designed home of Russel Wright at Manitoga and national historic landmark, Garrison, New York, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gertude (for Gertrude)

Knock knock. Who's there? Panther. Panther who? Panther no panth, I'm going thwimming! This was one of my nieces' and nephews' favorite knock-knock jokes when they were little, and we still reprise it from time to time while on summer vacation. Young boys are generally taught never to "hit a girl" and for a long time girls were taught never to "beat" a boy. But some of them apparently didn't get the memo. (I guess you could say those girls had 'tude.) A recent book display at the New York State Library entitled "Women Make History" tells us that Gertrude Ederle "was not just the first woman to swim the English Channel ... her time of 14 hours and 39 minutes was faster than the five men who swam it before her." Unfortunately for the exhibit, although happily for us, the text contains a typo in the champion's name: Gertude, rather than Gertrude. This one turns up 18 times in OhioLINK and 278 times in WorldCat, and it has also been blogged about here before. Gertrude Ederle was born in New York City on October 23, 1905, to German immigrant parents; clearly of hearty stock and a headstrong bent, she lived to the ripe old age of ninety-eight. Though women's fashions had become much less restrictive by the early twentieth century, "Trudy" was forced to battle the constraints of low expectations, as well as some lingering biases concerning female attire. When she joined the U.S. women's swim team at the VIIIth Olympiad in Paris in 1924, it was only the second time that American women had been permitted, according to the New York Times, to "take part in any [Olympic] activity in which they could not wear long skirts." But pants or no pants, boy, could that girl go swimming!

(Gertrude Ederle, American competitive swimmer, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Flyng* (for Flying*)

The Pocket Squirrel! It sounds like a brand-new gizmo from Ronco, not available in stores, but it's really another name for a certain type of flying squirrel: a diminutive, gentle, and faithful pet, according to those who house and feed them. (Along with carefully carrying them around in their pockets for at least three hours a day to ensure maximum "bonding.") Flying squirrels come in 44 varieties and a wide range of sizes. There are at least eight kinds of "giant flying squirrels" in existence, from India to China, Japan to Bhutan. Some bear monikers as faintly distressing as the "hairy-footed flying squirrel" and the "complex-toothed flying squirrel." Bullwinkle's begoggled pal Rocky was a flying squirrel. I have a friend whose father used to find these adorable rodents outside and employ them as surprising little Jack-in-the-pockets among his joking buddies. It's probably a bit safer nowadays to get one online, but the romantic notion of domesticating a "wild" animal is surely universal. These little guys don't actually fly, I should add, but rather glide, right into many people's hearts... Hey, is that a Glaucomys volans in your pocket? Or have you just not met the right squirrel yet? (Today's tiny typo pops up three or four times in OhioLINK, and 106 times in WorldCat.)

(Boy with Squirrel, by Henry Pelham, 1765, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 11, 2013

Riggoletto, Rigaletto, Rigolletto (for Rigoletto)

The premiere of Verdi's Rigoletto took place in Venice on March 11, 1851. Which leads me directly into my little story for the day. An upcoming local performance of Rigoletto had prompted a silly joke on the part of a skeptical colleague who convinced me that I should "write an opera about Bigfoot called Bigofooto." I immediately saw the wisdom in it. Bigfoot is such a cultural meme right now, it actually seemed kind of surprising that no one else had thought of it yet. What with his oversized, tenor-like physique and his booming and highly versatile voice (they scream, whistle, yell, and chatter), this could be the role of a lifetime for one of those big fat opera singers! At first, I thought I might make the musical centerpiece a version of "La Donna è Mobile" (the woman is fickle), retooled in such a way as to express the sad and frustrating faithlessness of most modern-day scientists. I mean, come on, they’re right there for that little hobbit woman and the coelacanth and the giant squid and all the rest, but when it comes to Bigfoot, where are they? Yukking it up with the rest of the scofftics! In any case, rather than doing a strict parody of the Italian classic, I decided to take an assortment of well-known arias and other similar songs, and rewrite the lyrics to them in a satirical mode. So far, I've done this with "La Donna è Mobile," "Summertime" by George Gershwin ("Summertime, and the squatchin' is easy, I smell sumpin', and it's rotten, oh my!"), and "Funiculi Funiculà" by Luigi Denza:

Some think that Bigfoot claims are hyperbolic,
We disagree! We know it's he!
Responses range from vexed to vitriolic,
They state with glee, "That's just a tree!"
But I, I find their criticism stinging
And simply wrong, so come along,
And see the one who suddenly is springing
With strides so long! He's really strong!
Walking, stalking, knocking from afar,
Rocking, shocking, slowing down your car,
Funiculi, funiculà, funiculi, funiculà!
Oy, it's not a bear, funiculi, funiculà!

Today's typos, like Bigfoot, are rather elusive and shy, appearing in OhioLINK just once or not at all, and between five and 13 times apiece in WorldCat.

(Sherrill Milnes and Maddalena Bonifaccio, as Gilda, in "Rigoletto" at the Colón Theatre, Buenos Aires, January 1, 1973, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thrid (for Third)

My friend is one of those early-to-bed early-to-rise types, and while I don't know about wealthy or wise, the practice seems to be making him pretty healthy. He rides his bike around town for an hour or so at the break of dawn and claims he's never felt better. The other morning he remarked to me that the Jewish day begins in the evening, "upon the third star appearing in the sky," and added that he likes to think the secular day begins in the morning, "when the third bird sings." Which is rather a lovely conceit, don't you think?

The third bird starts the day,
Before the sun has shone a ray,
And other birds all puff their breasts,
And little ones stir in their nests,
From north and south and east and west,
Awaking from their avian rest,
So happy that it soon is spring,
And morning now is on the wing.

The third bird begins the day,
A final tweet before the fray,
While folks get coffee, washed, and dressed,
And curse at times, although they're blessed
To live among these tiny guests,
Whose love of life their song attests,
For every day's a charming thing
Whene'er the third bird starts to sing.

Today's typo has been blogged before, but it's worth bringing up again as it currently garners 45 hits in OhioLINK, and 808 in WorldCat.

(Blue Grosbeak, Guiraca caerulea, Indigo Bunting, Passerina_cyanea, offset reproduction of watercolor by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, reproduced in Birds of America (1917) by Thomas Gilbert Pearson, and later still in Birds of New York, New York State Museum, Memoir 12.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Basbal*, Basebal, Baseballl*, Basebl*, Bsebal* (for Baseball*)

Today is the birthday of the great Ring Lardner, but alas, it looks like I've already blogged fondly about him here. Lardner was a "sports writer" of considerable fame during the 1920s, but he was a wonderful, if underrated, fiction writer and "humorist" to boot. Perhaps his most famous baseball story is You Know Me Al. It seems that March 6 is a popular birthdate for baseball players, according to Wikipedia. The following players were all born on this day, along with Ring Lardner himself, who was clearly one of their biggest fans: Lefty Grove (1900), Ted Abernathy (1933), Cookie Rojas (1939), Willie Stargell (1940), Marcus Thames (1977), Clint Barmes (1979), Érik Bédard (1979), Jake Arrieta (1986), and Francisco Cervelli (1986). The following died on this date as well: Frank Barrett (1998), Danny Gardella (2005), and Kirby Puckett (2006). It strikes me as interesting that these fellows were all either pitched into, or departed from, this mortal mound midway between spring training and the official start of baseball season. I probably shouldn't run with that thought too far, though; I suppose there are baseball players, like suckers, being born every minute. And I know I'm throwing you a bit of a curve ball with all of today's numerous typos, each of which only comes up once in OhioLINK, and between four and 116 times apiece in WorldCat. Still, you may catch a bit of luck with these in your own catalogs. They're worth taking a swing at.

(1933 Goudey baseball card of Robert "Lefty" Grove of the Philadelphia Athletics, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yorkshier* (for Yorkshire*)

While waiting at the bus stop the other morning, I struck up a conversation with a guy walking a tiny Yorkshire terrier, bouncing around in the grass on the end of a retractable leash, when an older man with an angry face strode by, muttering, "Could you pull your damn dog back?" Noticing my quizzical stare, he added peevishly, "We're not all fanciers!" More than just rude, it seemed rather odd to me. Firstly, we're talking about one of the cutest damn dogs in the whole wide world here. Secondly, the poor thing had barely stepped onto the sidewalk at all; it was busy concluding its toilet at a nearby tree. And thirdly, so what if it had? It was small enough to practically fit in the palm of your hand, it hadn't so much as barked yet, and it would surely have melted the heart of almost anyone else. But perhaps the most anomalous thing of all was the way Mad Man, without a trace of irony or effeminacy, had employed the word fancier. While he made it crystal clear he wasn't one, it still made him sound a bit twee. (The truly twee and utterly blameless Yorkie was adorably oblivious to it all.) Though it's a "low probability" typo on the Ballard list, let's not ignore this little one today. There were two cases of Yorkshier* (for Yorkshire*) in OhioLINK, and 16 of them in WorldCat.

(A Yorkshire terrier named Apple, in Provo, Utah, May 11, 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vatcan* (for Vatican*)

Lately I've been watching TV with the closed captioning turned on. With certain things, like scripted programs or classic films on TCM, it's really quite accurate and useful for following along. But I think the real reason I'm drawn to it is its accidentally absurd, almost surrealistic quality. I could fill notebooks with endless examples of this and will often jot them down for my own befuddled amusement. Last night I was catching a few minutes of Conan O'Brien and during a bit about the resignation of the pope, sidekick Andy Richter observed: "We have a real crowd of Vatican watchers here..." The closed captioning wonderfully rendered this as "cat van watchers" and suddenly that was all I could think about. Like an overstuffed clown car—a rockin' tricked-out van full of kitties! Who cares about the future of the Catholic Church when there are giant cat carriers cruising our highways! Of course, it's just another case of apparent voice recognition software gone ludicrously haywire. But happily it brought me to today's adorable cat picture, featuring this tiny too-cute Turkish Van cat. According to Wikipedia, these fascinating felines are larger than usual, pretty much all-white, and "frequently odd-eyed." The Armenians are said to have "revered" the Vana katou. And unlike anything your average cat might do, Van cats are "known for swimming in Lake Van." This little guy almost looks like he's driving too. Maybe he blinks one sleepy eye (blue) for STOP and the other one (green) for GO. In any case, he couldn't be any more precious were he wearing the cat's pajamas. There were no hits on Vatcan* (for Vatican*) in OhioLINK today, but we did find 17 in WorldCat.

(Van cat, male kitten, photo by Bertil Videt, Istanbul, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid