Friday, May 30, 2014

Collobor* (for Collabor*)

The best collaboration in television history could well be the amazing voice cast of The Simpsons, consisting of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, and Yeardley Smith. And for corroboration of this bold assertion, see the program's still-stellar ratings after being on the air since 1989—or else just plop down on the couch with everybody else and watch the opening credits. Speaking of funny, I overheard someone say "colloborate" the other day and was reminded of similar collaborative slips of the tongue, often made timeless by the likes of Sarah Palin (with her absolutely hilarious and all too understandable "refudiate") and, indubitably, of course, George Dubya Bush. (My all-time favorite Bushism is "a peance freeance secure Iraq.") Some folks might regard those two as "misunderestimated" cartoon characters themselves, but for the real deal, let's turn to Bart and Lisa Simpson, who, in an episode titled "Treehouse of Horror X," play superheroes "Stretch Dude" and "Clobber Girl." It may be a bit of a stretch, but just as a heads-up (watch out for defenestrated Acme safes!), we were pretty well clobbered by our typo of the day, which turned up 17 times in OhioLINK and 564 times in WorldCat.

(Yeardley Smith speaking at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California, 14 July 2012, by Gage Skidmore, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Burgler* + Burglar* (for Burglar*)

Burgler is a funny typo, suggesting almost a sort of middle-class citizen (burgher) who plays a brass instrument (bugler), rather than that infamous guy in prison garb and a ball and chain, carrying a big bag of loot with dollar signs printed on it. (I don't think they even use the term "cat burglar" anymore, but generations of children must have imagined those bags as being full of felonious felines!) It also prompts the obvious, if seemingly silly, question: Do burglars "burgle"? Well, actually, they do. The dictionary defines burgle as "another term for burglarize." (This fact—that errant E—could possibly even be a contributing factor in today's typo.) The painting shown here has got quite the story behind it, which I am quoting in its entirety, if only to include the glorious word "burglarious." A picture from Puck magazine, it's titled "Helping the rascals in—a burglarious scheme that may be suddenly spoiled." The abstract helpfully explains: "Illustration shows James G. Blaine wearing a top hat with three plumes, a sack labeled 'For the Plunder' hanging from his neck, and a paper tied at his waist that states '20 Years on the Make,' attempting to break into the 'White House' through an open window; he is being supported from below by Benjamin F. Butler who is sitting on the back of Charles A. Dana, who is holding 'The Sun' newspaper dated 'June 16, 1884,' on which is written 'Turn the Rascals Out!' Puck's figure for the Independent Party has just come around the corner carrying a stick labeled 'Independent Vote.'" We apprehended six cases of this combination-locked typo in OhioLINK today, and 38 in WorldCat.

And by the way, speaking of burglars, I'm reading a wonderful children's book at the moment, Eleanor Estes' The Alley, which was published in 1964, with illustrations by the great Edward Ardizzone. I solemnly swear (on a "grade-six speller" while the "judge" bangs on a trash can with a borrowed ice mallet from Connie's kitchen), it's simply burglarious!

(Puck centerfold, vol. 16, no. 398, 1884 October 22, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 26, 2014

Exisit* (for Exist* or Exit*)

This existentially sitting kitty is aparently doing an excellent job of herding humans through an old Welsh landmark. "Despite the name ... St Dogmaels," puns the photographer, "they've employed a cat as official tour guide. After having returned some other visitors to the exit, the guide sat posing on this wall until I'd taken its picture, and then showed us round the whole abbey, pointing out places of interest, such as the medieval water supplies, ovens, and the church itself. Then it led us back to the entrance and went back—no doubt ready for the next customers!" No matter where one might find oneself these days, it's always a good idea to sit near the exit. This particular black cat looks both reasonable and calm, and most likely isn't superstitious about so many tourists crossing its path each day; however, I wouldn't push your luck. Turn off your cell phones, don't use flashbulbs, keep it to a dull roar, and try not to step on anyone's tail. There were 16 cases of Exisit* in OhioLINK today, and 684 in WorldCat.

(St Dogmaels tour guide, 15 July 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, May 23, 2014

Porngra* (for Pornogra*)

Evidence in a murder trial was rapidly mounting against the defendant, who had once written: "I want to touch places in you that you knew not existed..." Which is kind of an interesting way of putting it. Although perhaps not technically incorrect, it does appear to be rather gratuitous, managing to sound at once both overly dirty and excessively dated. So, tell me, what is the difference between an amateur pornographer and an expert erotica writer? Is it grammar? Syntax? Word order? Style? The author of the above statement is certainly no pro, but simply a woman having an extramarital affair and using email to talk about it. And while that sentence itself may be somewhat confused, the reader actually isn't. We basically understand what she's saying, but it amazes me nonetheless how much worse some people write than talk. It seems that the words themselves get all mixed up as they travel from brain to page. It's like that old joke (?) about men "thinking with their penises," and I suppose women in the throes of desire often do something quite similar. There was one instance of Porngra* in the OhioLINK database, and about a dozen or so in WorldCat. Today I'd like to touch you some typos that you knew not existed—and then make sure that they longer no do!

(Vintage erotic photograph, from the Uwe-Scheid-Collection, circa 1895, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Slef* (for Self*)

In what is probably the first apologia for "selfies" (printed in the New York Times, no less), higher-educated hipster and self-made Renaissance man James Franco writes: "We all have different reasons for posting them, but, in the end, selfies are avatars: Mini-Me's that we send out to give others a sense of who we are." Like turning the camera around to snap oneself, today's typo is almost like a mirror image of itself, and would look even more like one had it been written in the eighteenth century. A coworker once submitted to the office newsletter a scanned item from an early newspaper in which the word sucker was prominently featured. In the original typeset style, the letter s strongly resembled an f, and the employee was subsequently (and correctly) accused of having done so largely in order to see a seemingly four-letter word appear in a state agency publication. (Sounds like a stunt James Franco himself might have pulled on an old episode of Freaks and Geeks.) Our typo today turns up 11 times in OhioLINK and 200 times in WorldCat, but some of those are truncated forms of proper names. A partnered search on Slef* + Self* gets four hits in the former and 42 in the latter, which makes it a typo of low probability on the Ballard list. However, why not take this one yourself and see what "develops"? (A frank friend and Franco fan warns me that by using such an analog analogy in the age of digital selfies, I could in fact be dating myself.)

(James Franco at the Harvard Yard to receive his Hasty Pudding 2009 Man of the Year award, February 13, 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sinata* + Sinatra* (for Sinatra* or Sonata*)

Frank Sinatra did not write sonatas—or cantatas, concertos, or anything else that rocked the 17th and 18th centuries—but if you were of a musically appreciative bent during the 1940s and '50s, Ol' Blue Eyes was clearly the cat to beat. And it wasn't just his sound, but the entire look and feel of the guy, whose surname itself hinted at the sinful pleasures that could be in store for one after spinning a few of his platters. Cool as a cucumber, Sinatra shot from the hip and was hip to the shot. (His libation of choice was the Rob Roy, prompting the Washington Post to dub him the "The Bourbon Baritone.") As Ronan Farrow, Mia's definite offspring and staunchest defender, so memorably put it, "We're all 'possibly' Frank Sinatra's son," and in a sort of symbolic sense, he just might be right about that. Speaking of long odds, I found only two cases of Sinata* in OhioLINK (one for sonata and the other for Sinata Koulla-Shiro, the Secretary General of Cameroon), although a combined search on Sinata* + Sinatra* turned up a relative Ocean's 11 in WorldCat.

(Cropped screenshot of Frank Sinatra from the film Till the Clouds Roll By, 1946, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 12, 2014

Oposite* (for Opposite*)

Brick Heck, superbly played by Atticus Shaffer, is the youngest family member on ABC's critically acclaimed sitcom The Middle. In one episode, he starts winning spelling bees left and right (though he doesn't really care about the trophies or even about the winning, he just likes to spell and go on family road trips in the car) until he finally whiffs a easy one: reindeer. "Really, Brick?" says his mother, "Reindeer?" "I know," he replies miserably, "there's a trick. The first part is the opposite of what you would think. Then I overthought it and made both parts the opposite!" Anyway, there's no way he can go back there now, he decides, heading for his bedroom to research local private schools and homeschooling online. After a few days, his dad tries to get him up and out of the house. "Is everyone who saw me that day dead?" Brick demands to know, before diving back under the blanket. Our typo for the day, turning up seven times in OhioLINK and 226 times in WorldCat, is Oposite*. Or as Brick might say, in an urgent whisper, head bowed, after correcting it for spelling: Opposite...

(Atticus Shaffer at a ceremony for Patricia Heaton to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, May 22, 2012, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ginsburg* + Ginsberg* (for Ginsberg* or Ginsburg*)

I saw the movie Kill Your Darlings recently, followed by a Q & A with co-screenwriter Austin Bunn. The film tells the story of a rather salacious murder that made the front pages of the New York Times in the summer of 1944. Lucien Carr, who was a student at Columbia University, had stabbed David Kammerer, his former professor and suitor—or molester and stalker, or somehow all of the above, depending on whom you talk to—and dumped his body in the Hudson River. Carr (played by Dane DeHaan) lived in the same dorm as Allen Ginsberg during freshman year and was the one who introduced him to William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Ginsberg is portrayed, if a tad disconcertingly, by Daniel Radcliffe of "Harry Potter" fame, and despite the obvious differences, just like in the HP franchise, it's sometimes hard to figure out who the bad guy is. It's a fascinating, complex, and uncertain tale, which dovetails nicely with the nascent stirrings of the "Beat Generation" and those of its iconic literati. While the movie may or may not hew closely to whatever facts are known in the case, one minor detail struck me as kind of ironic. In an early scene, we see Louis Ginsberg, Allen's father, reciting one of his own poems: "Until we know the only thing we have..." Allen completes the line: " what we give away." His father corrects him: "Is what we hand away. Have, hand. Consonance." Allen: "Give, is. Assonance." His father gets the last and prescient word: "I wrote the goddamn poem. Go write your own." The reason this seems ironic to me is that the title of the film is based on the well-known advice to aspiring writers: "Murder your darlings" (often attributed to other, more famous people, but in fact coined by British writer Arthur Quiller-Couch). While this phrase is sometimes rendered "Kill your darlings," I think the former would have made the superior title as it contains a bit more assonance and better meter. At any rate, please murder (or kill) whatever typos you may come across in your catalogs today. We uncovered 35 cases of Ginsburg* + Ginsberg* in OhioLINK, and in 238 WorldCat. And while many of those are the genuine article, some will turn out to be false hits (two discrete individuals with their names spelled differently, albeit correctly), so do keep that in mind.

(Allen Ginsberg in Frankfurt, Germany, 1978, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid