Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hilary Clinton (for Hillary Clinton)

I started writing this blog entry when I still felt sure that Hillary would win. I had something pretty hilarious planned. But sadly it looks like our prayers have not been answered. I had a friend one time who used to say that God was a Republican. Maybe he was right. In any case, it looks as if the country is a lot more "right" than most of us were willing to believe. Believe it or not, there were five hits on this typo in OhioLINK (if you put the name in quotes, 24 if you don't) and 421 (or 706) in WorldCat. Perhaps someday, with a little more prodding, God will decide to be one of us as well.

(Screen shot of Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live, November 5, 2016.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sotland* (for Scotland*)

Today is the birthday of Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, aka Lulu Kennedy-Cairns and better known simply as "Lulu." Lulu was a rock and roll pop singer (her '60s singing style has been called "blue-eyed soul") born in 1948 in Glasgow, Scotland. I ❤️ the fact that her first band was typographically and tongue-in-cheekily called "Lulu & the Luvvers." Lulu started singing as a young child and recorded a cover of the Isley Brothers' "Shout" at the age of fifteen. I'm not quite sure what it has to do with anything (although I'm quite sure it did), but Wikipedia pointedly points out: "Her father was a heavy drinker." Lulu might not have exactly looked up to the old sot, but she did find an inspiring father figure and road to success with the 1967 film To Sir with Love, starring Sidney Poitier. We found this typo three times in OhioLINK, and 489 times in WorldCat.

(Lulu happy with her new car, but sad she failed her driver's test. Photo found on the web.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Aplog* (for Apolog*)

Hey, sorry! Typo of the Day for Librarians, as you've probably noticed, has been on hiatus lately. I apologize. Or as Donald Trump, by way of Alec Baldwin, might put it, "apple-ogize." In any event, I'm back now and will be posting here again—perhaps intermittently, as I work to right my recently upset applecart. Fall is a fine time for both apple-picking and apple-polishing, though, so if you've been missing all those shiny Grade-A typo suggestions the past few weeks, why not try your hand at this one? Aplog* (for apolog*) was found five times in OhioLINK, and 463 times in WorldCat.

(Don't Upset the Apple Cart, Framingham, Massachusetts, 5 October 2013, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Goddd* (for Godden, Goddess*, etc.)

In a recent posting about the book Tomboy's Doll by Charlotte Steiner, I mentioned a critical review in Kirkus, which itself mentioned the 1954 classic by kidlit goddess Rumer Godden: "How much wiser is Impunity Jane?" testily asks the reviewer. True enough, to be sure, but a little misleading, perhaps, since Tommy and William (in William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow) are people, and Jane (and Amanda) are dolls. But just like in the 1972 Zolotow book, the human friend of Impunity Jane is a boy, not a girl. Set in Victorian England, it's the story of a lonely dollhouse doll that winds up in the pocket of a young lad named Gideon, who is endowed with the ability to "hear doll wishes" and decides to take her on some exciting adventures with his pals. He is predictably teased for being a "sissy," but Jane manages to win over the little gang of haters, and eventually her pocket protector sadly but dutifully returns her to her original owner. There is nothing distasteful, wrong, or politically incorrect about dolls per se, as I hope we have demonstrated here, and they should be loved more and by more people, not less or fewer. But for Godden's sake, let's at least try and spell everybody's name right. There were two instances of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 54 in WorldCat.

(Illustration from Impunity Jane, by Rumer Godden, taken from the web.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stien* + Stein* (for Stein* or Stien*)

The other day, I came across an old children's book I'd randomly picked up during a recent eBay buy. It's called Tomboy's Doll. I couldn't find much out about it on the web, other than a snarky review from Kirkus and one fulminating comment ("Sexism at its finest!") on Amazon. I found it rather charming, though, for my part, and really pretty "liberating" for its day. Upon reading it through a second time, I saw that the copy I held in my hands had once belonged to the "Grouse Creek School" and—yes, I thought, free associating, what a bunch of grousing, PC pedants some readers can be! First of all, I think one should always keep in mind when a book was written and by whom. Never be blinkered by an ahistorical agenda. And secondly, try and remember that books like these are the stories of individuals, not object lessons for the masses, though they often do contain a bit of a "moral." Charlotte Steiner was born in Vienna in 1900 and emigrated to the United States in 1938 while fleeing the Nazis with her family. She was a 69-year-old woman when Tomboy's Doll was published. This was three years before Charlotte Zolotow wrote the much-praised feminist favorite William's Doll, in which a young boy is eventually allowed to play with a doll (because, his parents reason, it may help him become a better father when he grows up). In Steiner's book, the protagonist is a little girl named Mary Louise, but everyone (including her mother) calls her "Tommy"—obviously her preferred name and an apparent variant on the word tomboy. (The working title had been Tommy Tomboy's Doll, which seems to underscore even more clearly the importance of self-identification.) The Amazon reviewer complains that Tommy's "mother forces her to play with a doll" and "in the end, everyone is happy because she was forced into a gender normative role." But that's really putting it too strongly, I think. Tommy's mother does give her a doll, but Tommy is "confused" because she doesn't "know how" to play with it (suggesting it's the first one she's ever had). She and her best friend Billy experiment by using it as a shuttlecock in badminton; tying it to the cherry tree to scare crows away; giving it a ride on the back of the farmer's dog Max; teaching it to "swim" in Billy's wading pond; and making it the "victim" in a game of cops and robbers. Tommy's mom (who presumably is also the person who bobbed her daughter's hair and bought her all the "boy" toys and teeshirts and blue jeans and so forth that you see her in on every page) does little more than mildly point out, "That's not how you play with a doll" and clean the thing up a bit. Eventually, Tommy manages to bond with "Amanda" after the two of them get lost in the woods (which she probably does by modeling her mother's own equanimity and empathy toward her) and starts "playing" with the doll more properly. Nowhere is it implied, however, that she's about to give up any of the other toys or games or personal style she's come to favor. Perhaps nowadays, we'd have to have the parents calling Tommy "he" or even treating her like a "gender non-conforming" doll herself, swapping out old parts for new ones that presumably fit better. Like the disgruntled Amazon reviewer, I'm being a little sarcastic there, but back in 1969 (the year of the Stonewall riots, and three years before the debut of Ms. magazine), this book surely would have been in the feminist forefront, celebrating the idea that a girl can be just like Tommy (the dedication reads, "To Nora, my tomboy friend") and just as unconditionally loved. It would also seem to be saying that "tomboys" (and perhaps even regular boys) can learn how to love and nurture other sentient beings (or their stand-ins) while still climbing trees, playing with trucks, and throwing balls. We used to call that being "well-rounded." (Tommy appears to be a pretty good artist too. Is that a drawing of Amelia Earhart hanging on her wall??) There were 29 cases of Stien* + Stein* (for Stein* or Stien*) in OhioLINK today, and 250 in WorldCat.

(Illustration from Tomboy's Doll, by Charlotte Steiner, 1969.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fedl* + Feld* (for Feld* or Fedl*)

I was browsing online for something like the wonderful typewriter-key earrings I once bought at a local museum (then promptly gave away to my niece) and was pleased to find a number of websites with similar ones for sale. I was immediately drawn to one pair, each earring featuring the number 9 with the open parenthesis sign—and even more beguiled after reading the tagline accompanying them: "For those 'Get Smart' fans who dreamed of being Agent 99, here's your chance. A great set of cream keys on sterling silver 925 wires..." Challenge accepted! (And loving it!) When I was a kid, my girlfriends and I would occasionally act out the characters in the TV spy show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the spoofy sitcom Get Smart. I was "Agent 99," the beautiful, level-headed partner of the addlepated 86 (played by Don Adams), whom 99 liked to call "Max" in this incredibly sexy purr. I think we somehow felt that the Barbara Feldon role was the least important one (its being the only female one), but she might have "gotten smart" a whole lot faster than her more masculine colleagues in espionage. Agent 99, whose real name was never revealed on the show, holds the interesting distinction of having been the "first woman on an American hit sitcom to keep her job after marriage and motherhood." Let's keep Ms. Feldon's surname (and many others) intact as well. Would you believe... there were three cases of Fedl* + Feld* (for Feld* or Fedl*) found in OhioLINK today, and 30 more in WorldCat? Help defeat KAOS in our catalogs by acting to CONTROL this typo today!

(Poster with Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, taken from the web.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Forword* (for Forward* or Foreword*)

After getting such good results with our typo last time, we're going to go forward today with a related one. Let's just say that the hits are quite numerous and our subject quite luminous (that is, "shedding light; bright or shining, especially in the dark"). Inez Milholland, born August 6, 1886, was the "most brilliant, beautiful, iconic feminist you never heard of," according to a recent segment on NPR about a new documentary called Forward Into Light. The title is taken from a protest sign she carried in her first suffrage parade on May 7, 1911: Forward out of error — Leave behind the night — Forward through the darkness — Forward into light! These stirring words were to become the official slogan for the National Woman's Party. New York University Law School (which she attended at a time when most other colleges were barring female students) has honored her with the "Inez Milholland Professorship of Civil Liberties." Carl Sandburg and Edna St. Vincent Millay both wrote poems in her memory. Inez Milholland (whose last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?") is often thought of as a Joan of Arc-like martyr to the feminist cause; she keeled over from sheer exhaustion and pernicious anemia while exhorting her listeners from a speaker's dais on October 22, 1916, and died a month later in the hospital. The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was finally passed in 1920 and it's sad that this passionate champion of our rights didn't last long enough to see that day. But Inez Milholland's shining spirit and political legacy will live on forever. There were 598 cases of Forword* (for forward* or foreword*) found in OhioLINK, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

(Inez Boissevain, wearing a white cape, seated on a white horse at the suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., 1913, from Wikimedia Commons.")

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Foreward* (for Foreword* or Forward*)

With a typo like Foreward* today, I was tempted to write something about Ward Cleaver, America's favorite dad on the late great Eisenhower-era sitcom Leave It to Beaver. Ward is the strong, silent, somewhat suave, and slightly sardonic sort (suburbane, in a word, if I may coin a new one, which I guess I just did!) He's played by the late actor Hugh Beaumont, whose surname means "Beautiful Mountain" in French. "Ward has few interests at home," according to Wikipedia, "other than monitoring his sons and spending evenings after dinner sitting next to his wife on the couch in the living room reading Mayfield's daily newspaper, the 'Mayfield Press' ... Ward plays golf at a local country club, and attends church." Alas, as I now recall, I've already blogged about Mr. Cleaver here, so I decided to skip it this time and move on to something different. And this story that I found (from around the same time in history) really could not be more different. So with that little foreword dispensed with, let's begin in the lushly forested, but sadly struggling, country of Papua New Guinea. The Fore People, a traditionally peace-loving aboriginal society, also had the seemingly unsavory habit of ingesting their dead. They're certainly not the only people on earth to have ever engaged in this practice, and their reasons for it, in fact, may have even made a bit of sense. In any case, it was a commonly engaged in ritual there well into the twentieth century. The government banned "mortuary" or "funerary" cannibalism in the 1950s, after a neurological disorder known as kuru—transmitted through contact with or the consumption of infected human flesh—had reached epidemic proportions. Fortunately, though superstitions linger, over fifty years later, forward-thinking reformers have led to a happier, healthier Fore people. We got 2,179 hits on Foreward* in OhioLINK, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

("The uncivilized races of men in all countries of the world; being a comprehensive account of their manners and customs, and of their physical, social, mental, moral and religious characteristics," by Rev. J. G. Wood, with new designs by Angas, Danby, Wolf, Zwecker, 1871, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Baskt* (for Basket*)

Today's typo blog entry may be a little bit more of a "group effort" than usual. I was curious about Hillary Clinton's colorful phrase "a basket of deplorables" to refer to the percentage of Donald Trump supporters who would probably be considered—by most standards, if not their own—to be racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic. So I started to search the web for an answer and straightaway came upon this marvelous thread of conceivable origins, suppositions, usages, analogies, ad hoc humor, and other excellent examples of wordplay. One online commenter tells us: "Hillary just called ~30 million Americans 'deplorables' to keep up with Trump calling ~11 million illegals 'deportables.'" Another reader suggests that "it's a riff on 'binders full of women.'" One says: "Many have asked what the collective noun is for Trump supporters, a la 'a murder of crows.' This would seem to be a good suggestion." And yet another one remarks: "'Basket of X' as a general collective sounds like econometrics talk to me (like the 'basket' of goods used to calculate the CPI). My guess is that it's a new coinage influenced by that and 'parade of horribles.'" (According to the language columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Ben Zimmer, "parade of horribles" can be traced back to mid-19th-century New England, "when austere parades of 'ancients and honorables' held on Independence Day were spoofed, burlesque-style, as 'antiques and horribles.'") Like the number of plausible presidential candidates we're currently faced with, plus the number of weeks that there are in a year (no matter how long it's felt like), we found a couple of these in OhioLINK this morning, and a basket of 52 deplorables in WorldCat.

(CNN screen shot, taken from the web.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Porblem* (for Problem*)

For some of us, it can be a bit of a problem. They say you shouldn't give advice unless you've been asked for it; some would advise you not to take too freely the advice of others; and most would concur that it's unwise to act as one's own counsel in a court of law. But when you tire of "trying cases in the media"—which is to say, reading yet another grim or gruesome story in the news—you can always turn to the frequently helpful and often delightfully written "advice column," a genre made famous in the 1933 novel Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West. Born Nathan Weinstein, West set the stage, as it were (the film version, Lonelyhearts, starring Montgomery Clift, recently aired on TCM), for a slew of "agony aunts" to come. Though some are still published in the paper, most advice columns today can be easily found online. The mere salutations in a letter to Cheryl Strayed ("Dear Sugar...") would probably start melting your problems away before you could even put down your pen. Some of my other favorites include "Miss Manners"; "Dear Prudence"; "Savage Love"; and, though she hasn't made it onto Wikipedia quite yet, "Dear Carolyn" (along, of course, with any grammar ones I can get my hands on). Long gone, but eagerly consulted as well, were Cynthia Heimel's "Problem Lady" and "Since You Asked" by Cary Tennis. My advice to you is to take all their advice, even if somebody else had to ask for it first. And don't thank me. It's no problem. Today's typo turned up five times in OhioLINK, and 266 times in WorldCat.

(Cover of first UK edition of Miss Lonelyhearts, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Campagin* (for Campaign*)

No matter how you feel about Hillary Clinton, you have to admit her campaign ad "Just One Wrong Move" is absolute genius. In it, a male narrator gravely intones: "In times of crisis, America depends on steady leadership, clear thinking, and calm judgment. Because all it takes is one wrong move. Just one." This is hilariously interspersed with video clips of Donald Trump totally losing his you-know-what on camera. Regardless of whatever happens in November, Hill will always have the comforting memory of this colorful ad, in which she gets to use the words crap, shit, and fuck (rendered "crap," "shó_t," and "fuó_k" in closed captioning—with the latter two bleeped, which somehow makes it all the more alarming), while painting her panting opposition with his own blustery brush. There were ten occurrences of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 144 in WorldCat.

(Caricatures of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Foreset* (for Forest*)

Albany's long-running and award-winning alternative newsweekly, Metroland, sadly bit the dust last fall and ever since we've been forced to settle for an ersatz substitute. The other day I grabbed a copy of this new and unimproved rag and decided to check out the crossword puzzle. And let me just say this: I've seen some pretty weird things, and even an outright error or two, in crossword puzzles before, but this one really takes the ____! Because, while there might not be any official standards in this regard, clearly there are some unwritten rules. (Basically, if the answer is an abbreviation, a foreign word, a slang term, or a quote, that fact needs to be somehow signaled by the wording of the clue. Other than that, though, pretty much all is fair in love and ___. And therein lies the fun!) But Rule #1 has got to be this: The clue and the answer can not contain the same word. Nor (one would have to assume, and by extension) any other "form" of the word. Yet here we have a puzzle that appears to violate that sacrosanct rule (see 9c)—really a sacred trust with the reader—not just once, or even twice, but four separate times! So let's review them, shall we? "High acidity" (HYPERACIDITY); "Creating of forests" (AFFORESTATION); "Lands filled with pine trees" (PINERA); and, last but not least, "Child's name for a cow" (MOOCOW). (I was about fixing to have one myself, at that point, as childish as it sounds.) The creator of this puzzle was well-acquainted with the dictionary, but impervious, it seems, to the charms of a thesaurus. Crossword puzzles use up a lot of paper, so how about planting a "fir tree" next Arbor Day, in a "wooded area" (a "grove" or a "thicket," let's say) with soil of "low alkalinity." And with "what a baby might call Borden's Elsie" standing by. This crossword puzzle was not all pointless and annoying redundancy (Boo, for example, was cleverly clued "You stink!"), but I had to boo it anyway. Three strikes and you're out. Or maybe that's an F—for too many forests. There were two cases of Foreset* (for forest*) in OhioLINK today, and 304 in WorldCat.

(A Cow in the Meadow, by Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, 1919, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Poision* (for Poison*)

Drew Barrymore starred in a 1992 film called Poison Ivy. This photo isn't from that movie, but I do like her shiny green dress here, a bit like the foliage of the dreaded Toxicodendron radicans itself. According to local author Anita Sanchez, in her 2016 book In Praise of Poison Ivy: The Secret Virtues, Astonishing History, and Dangerous Lore of the World's Most Hated Plant, there was once a time when poison ivy was highly prized and its seeds "almost literally worth their weight in gold"; it would take but about an ounce of the plant's active ingredient (urushiol) to sicken thirty million people; and, while many animals eat and touch poison ivy, only humans (about 85% of us) get the itch. Birds apparently spread it, and appear to be doing so right now in downtown Albany. Which is why a friend who lives there is currently reading this book: partly out of appalled curiosity, and partly to learn how to identify the accursed thing. For most folks, poison ivy is like a distant childhood memory (remember those festive pink spots of calamine lotion?),which just goes to show how much more in touch with nature kids are than adults. Or were, anyway. Now there's probably an app for that. And if there isn't one, maybe there should be. We could call it "Poison Ivy Mon Go!" We caught ten cases of Poision* (for poison*) in OhioLINK today, plus 206 in WorldCat.

(Drew Barrymore, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Afternon* or Afternooo* (for Afternoon*)

Just saw a great 2013 doc called The Dog about the making of Dog Day Afternoon. Based on a true story, the original film (starring Al Pacino and John Cazale) tells the tale of a bank robbery attempt and hostage-taking in Brooklyn, New York, on August 22, 1972. The following night, I returned to the Madison Theater in order to watch Dog Day Afternoon, not for the first time, but for the first time on the big screen. The differences between the two films were striking, as were the similarities. The original was simply a great movie with amazing performances, but according to the documentary, only "about 30%" of it was true. The Dog is really more the story of John Wojtowicz himself, and one that is far more steeped in the early days of post-Stonewell activism and euphoria than one might otherwise think. It's also interesting to ponder the many ways in which both bank robbery and gay marriage—if you will pardon the awkward linkage there—have changed over the past four decades. Both films are highly recommended, with points for overall excellence, gender politics, and 1970s-style nostalgia. Afternon* (for afternoon*) got three hits in OhioLINK, and 58 in WorldCat. Oddly enough, there were almost the same number for Afternooo*: three in OhioLINK and 59 in WorldCat. Check them out in your own catalogs this afternoon during these lazy, hazy (and really sort of crazy) "dog days of summer."

(Actor John Cazale, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Robis* + Robins* (for Robins* or Robis*)

Although it's now considered a classic of film noir, Fritz Lang's 1945 film Scarlet Street was both panned and banned upon its initial release. The critics gave it a decidedly mixed review, while the New York State Censor Board blocked its distribution by way of a statute set up to regulate "obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, [or] sacrilegious" films—i.e., ones that would tend to "corrupt morals or incite to crime." (The cities of Milwaukee and Atlanta quickly followed suit, which in the latter case actually led to one, and the ban was ultimately lifted.) Cast against type, Edward G. Robinson plays a good guy in this one, perhaps an overly good one. Chris Cross is a store cashier during the week and a "Sunday painter" whenever he can find time, despite his shrewish wife's utter disdain for his hobby. And it is primarily because he is so good—and so lonely—that he manages to fall in (love) with a bad woman, and her even badder boyfriend. It's a wild ride through the artsy environs of Greenwich Village, and the notorious vicissitudes of fleeting fame. More importantly, though, the film is an unsettling and moving meditation on good and evil, right and wrong, success and failure, guilt and innocence. Today's typo was found 76 times in OhioLINK and 937 times in WorldCat. You can expand your search a bit by trying Robis* + Robin* (which bumps the count up to 102 in OhioLINK, and 1073 in WorldCat), but watch out for those false positives if you do.

(Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street, 1945, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dinnn* (for Dinner, etc.)

I just found out (on the prom episode of The Real O'Neals) that August 9th was National Rice Pudding Day. Darn! I can't believe I missed that. I love rice pudding. Although it happens that some people definitely don't. As Winnie-the-Pooh's HUNNY-hustling progenitor, A.A. Milne, famously once put it: "What is the matter with Mary Jane? She's perfectly well, and she hasn't a pain. And it's lovely rice pudding for dinner again!— What is the matter with Mary Jane?" Rice pudding can be concocted quite easily in a crockpot with a few basic ingredients. Last night I was perusing a wonderful old letter from my German great-great-grandmother to her daughter, Karolina, who had gone to live in the United States. She's telling Lina about her niece, "Little Lina," and writes: "She is truly a wonder child, at fourteen months of age. She is already able to ask for everything clearly ... Bread, sugar, water, cake, she really knows everything." Those were trying times in Germany, it seems, but it sounds like our precious Kleinkind knew what was gut. Perhaps it was lovely rice pudding for dinner again! Today's typo was found five times in OhioLINK, and 52 times in WorldCat.

(Dessert made with rice, milk, and sugar, flavored with lemon peel and cinnamon, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Genereal* (for General*)

The 1926 silent gem The General was a personal favorite of its co-director and star, Buster Keaton. Despite the fact that it received a lukewarm response from both critics and viewers—and went wildly over budget, sadly forcing Keaton to forefeit artistic control and independence in the film industry—Orson Welles once described it as "the greatest comedy ever made, the greatest Civil War film ever made, and perhaps the greatest film ever made." The General, in which Keaton's character fights valiantly, if a bit absurdly, for the Confederate Army (mostly atop and around moving trains), is based on a true story that occurred in 1862. I got a chance to see this movie in its newly restored format at the newly restored Madison Theater. Perhaps the greatest film ever made, and certainly the best one being shown in Albany, New York, last Sunday afternoon—for 35 cents no less—played to a grateful audience of five. We discovered five cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 331 in WorldCat.

(Buster Keaton & Marion Mack in The General, 1926, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reagen* + Reagan* (for Reagan* or Reagen*)

"Gentlemen, please, no fighting in the War Room!" (Slight paraphrase of the iconic line from the 1964 film classic Doctor Strangelove.) Two decades later, on August 11, 1984, Ronald Reagan was about to give one of his weekly addresses on National Public Radio. The subject was the right of religious high school students to meet as a club on school property after hours. He decided to open with a joke: "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes." Of course he was just kidding around with the sound checkers, and his words were not actually broadcast, but merely leaked by the press. Still, the Soviets were a tad miffed. It all blew over eventually, though, and the nuclear arms race resumed its usual pace. While searching for hits on this bilateral typo, I came across a record for a Dutch poster entitled Stop de bommen Reagen. Nuff said there, despite the misspelling of the Gipper's last name. Not to "Russia" or anything, but Reagen* + Reagan* (for Reagan* or Reagen*) turned up three times in OhioLINK, and 48 times in WorldCat. Is this thing on?

(Ronald Reagan and General Electric Theater, 1954-62, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Janns* + Janss* (for Janss* or Janns*)

Today marks the happy day on which two amazing children's authors were born: P.L. Travers in Queensland, Australia (1899); and Tove Marika Jansson in Helsinki, Finland (1914). Both women were wellsprings of creativity. They were uncannily in touch with the interior landscape of youth, and humanity itself, and gave birth to some of the oddest, funniest, most endearing and enduring characters in all of children's literature—Mary Poppins and the Finn Family Moomintroll. I've blogged here and there about each of these artists previously, so perhaps I'll simply leave you today with this beaming, blooming photo of Tove, along with a bit of wit and wisdom from Mary P. (who was also inclined to wear flowers on her head). Once asked who she would want to be if she weren't Mary Poppins, the nanny replied, with trademark exasperation: Mary Poppins. (I could swear I read that someplace years ago, but I can't remember where. If any of you know this quote, I'd be grateful for the citation.) On the other hand, as Jansson once put it in Tales from Moominvalley (1962): "You can't ever be really free if you admire somebody too much." So three cheers for our self-assured ladies of the hour! There were eight cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 189 in WorldCat.

(Finnish author Tove Jansson, unknown date, probably 1960s or '70s, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Handicaped, Handcap* (for Handicapped or Handicap*)

"Grandma, what's a rubber?" asked the small boy, gazing intently at a rerun of Friends. Without missing a beat or batting an eye, the former grade-school teacher answered him. "It's like one of those things that you put on your finger to help you turn the page," she said. (Like a tiny hat for your finger—or cap for your hand—she might have added.) Her young questioner was the sort who loved words and reading, and he appeared satisfied with that ready and pedantic-sounding reply. (Any possible confusion over it, in any case, wouldn't likely become a handicap for at least another decade or so.) The word handicapped used to be quite commonplace, and was even an established LCSH heading until 2003, when it was replaced by "People with disabilities." According to Random House Dictionary: "Although 'handicapped' is widely used in both law and everyday speech to refer to people having physical or mental disabilities, those described by the word tend to prefer the expressions 'disabled' or 'people with disabilities.' ... The often-repeated recommendation to put the person before the disability would favor 'persons with disabilities' over 'disabled persons.'" It lists this meaning of the word last (after its more general or sports-related ones), calling it "sometimes offensive." The word handicap comes from "hand i' cap, or hand in cap, referring to a drawing before a horse race." It's defined as "a race or other contest in which certain disadvantages or advantages of weight, distance, time, etc., are placed upon competitors to equalize their chances of winning." In a way, I find that to be the more salubrious term for "people with disabilities" (doesn't disabled basically mean "unable" or "not able"?), but that's probably fighting a losing battle. (Children's author Louis Slobodkin once signed up for a stint on an Argentine freighter, later describing himself as an "ample-bodied seaman.") Today's typos were found four times (once) in OhioLINK, and 296 (69) times in WorldCat.

(Scenes in the life of a handicapped boy, sitting in a wheelchair on the beach, from Iconographic Collections and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Marijun*, Marijau* (for Marijuan*)

The Marihuana Tax Act was passed on August 2, 1937. The resolution had been vigorously opposed by the drug companies, though, who feared that the tax would prove too onerous. It had become obvious that people were smoking the stuff as well, which may also have interfered with pharmaceutical sales. Another theory is that the pulp paper and nylon lobbies (basically Andrew Mellon, William Randolph Hearst, and the DuPont family) wished to quash the relatively small, but growing, hemp industry. With more and more states today legalizing pot, capitalism is once again rearing its profit-driven head in an effort to get high—high prices for a plant, that is. Marijuana can go by a lot of different names and spellings—but it's all about who's controlling it, it seems. Control your own subject headings and other places where these typos may be hiding. They were found once or twice in OhioLINK, and 60 (27) times in WorldCat.

(Cannabis plant growing in a house in Himachal Pradesh, India, 30 March, 2013, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Phildel* (for Philadel*)

Thomas Eakins was a fin-de-siècle artist from the "realist" school who also hailed from the American birthplace of "liberty": Philadelphia. Eakins enjoyed working with nudes. He would often employ his pupils at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as models, and paint their likenesses from photos. This agreeable practice was brought to an ignominious halt in 1886, however, when Eakins was summarily fired from his teaching post for permitting undraped males to pose in the studious presence of females. His furiously witty and utterly unrepentent response (which I could never do justice to in paraphrase, so I'll quote in its entirety) reads as follows: "My figures at least are not a bunch of clothes with a head and hands sticking out but more nearly resemble the strong living bodies that most pictures show. And in the latter end of a life so spent in study, you at least can imagine that painting is with me a very serious study. That I have but little patience with the false modesty which is the greatest enemy to all figure painting. I see no impropriety in looking at the most beautiful of Nature's works, the naked figure. If there is impropriety, then just where does such impropriety begin? Is it wrong to look at a picture of a naked figure or at a statue? English ladies of the last generation thought so and avoided the statue galleries, but do so no longer. Or is it a question of sex? Should men make only the statues of men to be looked at by men, while the statues of women should be made by women to be looked at by women only? Should the he-painters draw the horses and bulls, and the she-painters like Rosa Bonheur the mares and cows? Must the poor old male body in the dissecting room be mutilated before Miss Prudery can dabble in his guts? ... Such indignities anger me. Can not anyone see into what contemptible inconsistencies such follies all lead? And how dangerous they are? My conscience is clear, and my suffering is past..." Let us clear our own collective conscience and put this typo into the past as well. Phildel* (for Philadel*) was uncovered 24 times in OhioLINK, and 689 times in WorldCat.

(The Swimming Hole, by Thomas Eakins, ca. 1884, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Unbrel* (for Umbrel*)

Just caught wind of a fishy little typo in the following news story: "Panama City beach bams [sic] umbrellas." I figured they must have meant "bans," but at first I read that as bums. Either way, I guess, it's like one of those crazy fun/hard to say tongue twisters. (Although I bet Frankie and Annette could do it, while hanging ten at the same time.) At least the headline writer didn't get off on the wrong foot—or put on the wrong hat—with Pamana, but today's typo is yet another case of mistaking an N for an M, or vice versa. While it looks as though the beach umbrella ordinance has been overturned, I can't help thinking that if those bums down in Florida could take "umbrage" at a bit of shady sand and local color, I can only imagine what they would make of Christo's recent art installation, The Floating Piers, over in Italy. Echoing "The Gates" in NYC's Central Park, it's kind of like a giant "umbrella" that almost takes the place of the beach itself. Not only is it not "30 feet from the shore," it actually extends far out into the ocean, linking the town of Sulzano with Monte Isola and the island of San Paolo. Don't get burned by our typo of the day, which was found four times in OhioLINK, and 182 times in WorldCat.

(Beach umbrella, Toronto, Canada, 2 August 2011, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jesse + Jessie (for Jessie or Jesse)

Jessie Matthews was a wildly popular singer, dancer, and cinema star in the U.K. during the 1920s and '30s. Wide-eyed, high-steppin', and determined to get ahead in the theatre, she was apparently more "predator" than ingénue. John Gielgud called her an "enchanting creature," but said that "no man was safe in her presence." Indeed, she managed to snare more than her fair share of bisexual males along the way, in addition to those who were perhaps a bit more easily led. She didn't discriminate against married men and once had her "pornographic" letters to one of them read aloud in divorce court, causing the judge to pronounce her "odious." Another smitten suitor actually committed suicide over her. On the plus side, she was an understudy to Gertrude Lawrence and the first singer to perform Cole Porter's "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love." She was cast in almost two dozen films and was often heard and seen on the radio and television, most notably as Wallis Simpson's "Aunt Bessie" Merriman in the 1978 series Edward & Mrs. Simpson. I was lucky enough to catch her on the big screen at my local theater the other night, in the 1936 British musical It's Love Again. Which, it would seem, was pretty much the irrepressible, irresponsible, stage-struck starlet's motto, as she kicked and winked her way through life, men, and the movies. I ran into a former coworker there who told me that Matthews had once put in an appearance at the movie house in England where his father had then worked. She must have made quite an impression. In any event, he seemed pleased to be encountering her again more than half a century later. I double-checked the spelling of this diva's name (she was also dubbed the "Dancing Divinity") as I'm quite sure she would want us to get it right. Today's combination typo (which will undoubtedly return some false hits, so watch your step) was found 141 times in OhioLINK, and 1,338 times in WorldCat.

(Jessie Matthews, Alhambra Theatre, London, 1917, from the web.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rebub* (for Repub*)

With the Republican National Convention off to a rollicking start; with scores of creative protesters and parodies galore; with comedians like Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, and Seth Meyers—all mining this event for its comedy gold—and with heartfelt apologies to Rudyard Kipling...

If ?!?

If you can keep your hair when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when voters doubt you,
But bust their asses for their doubting too;
If you can bait and not get sick of baiting,
Or being spied upon, hire more spies,
Or being hated, just keep right on hating,
And don’t eat ethnic food, nor talk too nice:

If you can dream—of making money faster;
If you can think—but see it as a game;
If you can flirt with Triumph and Disaster
And always find somebody else to flame;
If you can bear to hear hard words you've spoken
Repeated all verbatim-like—the fools!
Or watch the towers you've erected, broken,
But be relieved you've still got massive tools:

If you can make one heap of all your "billions"
And risk it on one turn at being Boss,
And lose (of course), and start again with millions
And never shut your face about your loss;
If you can force your delegates and donors
To serve you after Hope is all but gone,
And have your back despite your many boners,
With wiliness that cries to them: "Hang on!"

If you can talk with louts and leave 'em laughing,
Or walk with Kings—not knowing who they are,
If neither Bros nor uggo girls can shaft you,
If other pols can never meet your bar;
If you can fill the mortifying minute
With sixty seconds at the podium,
You could be POTUS, and the way you'll spin it
Should make us all feel hugely—hugely—glum.

There were 23 cases of Rebub* (for Repub*) in OhioLINK today, and 795 in WorldCat.

(Donald Trump stencil with bubble, 14 July 2016, Vector by Vector Open Stock, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Documentr* (for Documentar*)

Documentary Now! is one of the best shows on television at the moment, and if you're a fan of Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, or Seth Meyers, you really should check it out. Airing on IFC (home to Armisen's hilarious hipster hit, with Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia) and also available on Netflix, it's a series of 20-minute mini-mockumentaries that parody actual documentaries. In addition to the brilliant "Sandy Passage" (based on the Maysles brothers' 1975 film Grey Gardens) and "The Eye Doesn't Lie" (Errol Morris's 1988 debut documentary The Thin Blue Line), you also have the mock-rock-doc "Gentle and Soft: The Story of the Blue Jean Committee" (which isn't about a real band from the '70s, but more like a type) and "A Town, a Gangster, a Festival" (about a purported place in Iceland where the residents zealously celebrate Al Capone once a year). And speaking of going where it's cold, I also loved "Kunuk Uncovered," which the A.V. Club calls "a fake documentary about the making of a fake documentary that's spoofing Nanook of the North—a 1922 silent documentary that's, well, sort of fake." Don't get faked out by our typo of the day, which was documented 26 times in OhioLINK, and 808 times in WorldCat.

(Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in 2012, at the 71st Annual Peabody Awards Luncheon, held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, in New York, 21 May 2012, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Femenist*, Femenism* (for Feminist* and Feminism*)

In yet another online "ado" (a very popular crossword puzzle word for what ought to be obvious reasons), it seems that certain people were recently put out by a clue in the New York Times that read: "A decidedly non-feminist women's group." The answer was HAREM. Critics called the whole thing "hateful" and "tone-deaf" and complained that it managed to be "demeaning to both sex workers and women in sex slavery." Which is kind of odd seeing as how most harem members were generally neither "sex workers" nor "sex slaves" in the usual sense. (I wonder what the reaction would have been had the answer involved certain Mormons or other religious adherents of polygyny.) In any case, I suppose it's possible that the word harem itself is some sort of "trigger" for those who have been unduly traumatized by the patriarchy, but other than that, I don't quite see how a harem is not a decidedly non-feminist women's group. But would that be because most concubines didn't actively chosen their roles, or because they did? Another star-crossed crossword couplet for which many readers were demanding their pound of flesh was the clue "Shylock" and its answer: JEW. While I tend to sympathize with this objection since it seems to me just like using any other racial or ethnic slur (which normally wouldn't serve as the sort of necessary "equivalence" a crossword puzzle is aiming for), I might also point out that the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy contains this reference to The Merchant of Venice in a usage note: "'I am a Jew,' says Shylock. 'Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?'" Other cruciverbalist concerns had to do with calling undocumented aliens ILLEGALS, along with why crossword puzzles often invoke racially coded street slang like HOMIE and HOOD. (Answer: because such words are short and have a lot of vowels, I think. Not because the puzzle makers are secret racists.) Right after chatting about this with a visiting uncle, I happened to pick up an old (July-August 2005) copy of Mental Floss and came across an item entitled "The Secret Lives of Concubines: 3 Reasons Why Harem Life Wasn't That Cool." They were: 1) "The girls didn't dress like strippers" (in fact, they wore "loose, baggy clothing ... more reminiscent of burka than bordello"); 2) "The girls were bored (and sexually frustrated)" since the only men they ever saw were the sultan himself and the eunuch guards; and 3) "It wasn't that exciting for the fellas, either" (it seems that "all the details of harem life—from choosing the girls to breaking up catfights—were overseen by [the sultan's] dear old mum"). Our two typos for today make up a decidedly non-feminist group, appearing seven (and nine) times in OhioLINK, and 113 (128) times in WorldCat.

(Two Ladies and a Child Reposing in the Harem, Antoin Sevruguin, Brooklyn Museum, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Molestor* (for Molester*)

The Mark, released in 1961, is a strangely shocking yet singularly sympathetic film about pedophilia. It was directed by Guy Green (A Patch of Blue), and tells the story of a would-be child molester who, by way of group therapy in prison and a warm relationship with his psychiatrist (Rod Steiger), overcomes his abnormal and potentially criminal urges and finds some measure of happiness with a very understanding coworker (Maria Schell). Although the story is set in England (and the book it was based on in the United States), the movie was actually shot in Ireland, due to its controversial subject matter. (I'm not sure why Ireland wasn't equally, or even more, put off by it, but apparently it wasn't.) Unlike Lolita (in Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film adaptation), the "child" here is not a teenager, but rather a ten-year-old little girl. The Mark pulls no punches, but Jim Fuller (played by Stuart Whitman) does manage to pull himself back from the brink after buying ice cream cones for a couple of trusting moppets and then somehow getting one of them into his car. He drives for several miles, suddenly pulls over, gets out and vomits, and then turns around and takes the kid back home. But by that time it's too late and he ends up serving a three-year jail sentence. The film depicts how this type of crime can haunt one in a multitude of ways and for many years. Some would argue that Whitman himself suffered professionally due to his association with The Mark, despite having received an Oscar nomination for his performance. We found two hits on today's typo in OhioLINK, and 32 in WorldCat.

(Poster for The Mark, 1961, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ameican* (for American*)

Hope you had a nice Independence Day, my fellow librarians who are also Americans. You know who you are. Or do you? I have a good friend with a pet peeve. He hates the way people from the United States are called "Americans." He regards it as a slight to Central and South America. As he rightly points out, we're not even the only country in North America, sharing the continent with Mexico, Canada, and Greenland. It strikes me as somewhat similar to terming everyone from the former USSR "Russians"; a much better word would be "Soviets." The problem with applying this analogy to Americans, however, is that there's no ready substitute to denote people who live in the United States. We could try saying "U.S. Americans" to mean the people, but then you've got all those adjectival forms: "the American way"; "the American flag"; "American as apple pie"; etc. And somehow, I just can't imagine something like "United Statesian" or "United Stateser" ever quite catching on. ("USer" might be a little too on the nose.) So once again, American "exceptionalism" (linguistically speaking, anyway) may rule the day. Today's typo was discovered 23 times in OhioLINK, and 504 times in WorldCat.

(Rosa "Miss All American Beauty," Maria Callas rose, 1965, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Botherhood (for Brotherhood)

Do you ever find brotherhood to be too much of a bother? How about sisterhood? Or even cis-terhood (which may or may not be a coinage just yet.) All of humanity can be a pain in the vanity sometimes, whenever "identity politics" threaten to eclipse what we all have in common. When the struggle against oppression is mistaken for moral superiority; when we spend more time trying to elevate hurt feelings and absurd neologisms than we do identifying actual social and political problems; or when it fails to become obvious that all violent crimes are motivated by "hate," not just those where the victim is a "minority" and the victimizer is one of the "lucky ones." Besides, there are too many shifting and overlapping categories involved here and Lady Justice, after all, is famously (supposed to be) "blind." Back in the eighties, when AIDS activism was the central cause and organizing principle among me and my friends, we would blithely call heteros "breeders" (and "heteros" too, for that matter), even if we were of that particular persuasion ourselves. We were all about proudly preserving those sexy/dicey political and cultural divides, while at the same time actively decrying them in the streets. It seems there was a certain frisson in the suggestion that straights had something to be intrinsically ashamed of, while gays (and really, anyone who cared to call themself "queer") did not. It was an intoxicating role reversal and it all made sense at the time. A few years earlier, women had been doing the same thing with "male chauvinist pigs" and a few years before that, blacks with clueless "honkies." But it seems like it might be time now to take a step back and look at progress and unity for what they really are. Time to remove a few chips from our shoulders, say that all lives matter (and mean it), and start working to implement the human and civil rights that have already been fought for and won in this country—for gays, blacks, women, and yes, even for those bothersome straight white brothers among us. Our typo for the day came up once in OhioLINK, and 37 times in WorldCat.

(Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, marching in a procession on May Day, 5/1/1914, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Altas* + Atlas* (for Atlas* or Altas*)

Skaneateles. A word I wouldn't blame anybody for not knowing how to spell. Or pronounce. Or define. So let's start with the last one first. Skaneateles is a town in central New York; the name means "long lake" in Iroquois. The spelling is what it is, and you can either devise a way to memorize it or you can't. The fascinating part, though, is the pronunciation. It's essentially "Skinny Atlas." However, and as fun as that is to say, there are some who insist on saying otherwise. "Skin-IT-alies," swears one of these, evoking a nationwide chain of low-cal Little Italies. A friend of mine once thought that it was SCAN-a-teals; despite having been scandalised for years by his parents' talk of honeymooning in "Skinny Atlas," he didn't recognize the name as the same when he later saw it on a sign. It's okay to be different, to be little, and even to be skinny, but don't let today's burly typo kick sand in your face. Altas* + Atlas* (for Atlas* or Altas*) was found 14 times in OhioLINK, and 571 times in WorldCat.

(America's Best Comics #30, page 36, April 1949, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Suess* +Seuss* (for Seuss* or Suess*)

In the latest book by the late Dr. Seuss, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, we're introduced to a rather folksy expression with which I was totally unfamiliar. In "The Strange Shirt Spot," the speaker is trying to get a stain out, but the dirt just keeps coming back someplace else. "The towel was all right," he says. "It was perfectly white. My troubles were over ... But oh-oh! Not quite! For the spot that had moved from my shirt to the towel was now on the tub! I was sore as an owl!" A friend who had read and recommended the story, though, had to wonder: "Are owls known for their soreness?" It turned out to be a question for which the worldwide web wasn't a whole lot of help. I was ultimately unable to determine the origins of the phrase, but I did, at least, confirm that it is one. I suppose it's sort of like "mad as a wet hen"; maybe it got its start due to perching owls occasionally losing their balance and falling into the water. If that's even a thing. (Because I can sort of see how that could make an owl sore, both literally and figuratively.) Or perhaps it's the way that, when some people get angry, they will stare at you unblinkingly. Like an owl. Anyway, if any of our owlish readers knows any more about this peevish puzzle, this might be a good spot to get it off your chest. And getting back to our typo for the day, here's a word to the wise.While I'm sure you won't get sued over it, remember that the good doctor spells his name EU, not UE. We spotted 11 of these in OhioLINK, and 161 in WorldCat.

(Spotted Owl, 15 November 2012, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adapat* (for Adapt*)

One summer when my sister L. was a kid, she made a "fort" in the barn, where she discovered an old scrap of newspaper containing the mysterious word "ADEQUATE." She instantly realized that that was the perfect name for a fort. She pronounced it "Add-uh-KWAT," though, possibly because "Add-uh-KWIT" sounds a bit too much like your mom telling you to quit fooling around out there and come in the house for dinner. (It kind of reminds me of Templeton the barn rat searching for labels at the dump so that Charlotte could spell out her friend Wilbur's prodigiously porcine virtues in her web.) Adaquat* has proven inadequate for our purposes here, however, since adäquaten is the German spelling of adequate, and a perfectly adequate spelling it is. So instead of that, and in honor of L.'s architectural and linguistic adaptations all those many years ago, our typo for today is Adapat*, which agreeably turns up 60 times in OhioLINK, and on "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

(Barn bank, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Caolina (for Carolina)

George Stinney was executed by electric chair on this (awfully dark) day in 1944. A native of Alcolu, South Carolina, Stinney was only 14 years old when he was convicted and put to death for the murder of two young white girls. (He and his sister Aime were thought to have been the last people to have seen the girls, riding their bikes and searching for "maypops"). George looks like a sad and scared kid in these mugshots, but an all-white jury saw murderous intent in those big brown eyes and took all of ten minutes to arrive at a verdict. The trial itself lasted two and a half hours and admitted no blacks among the 1,000+ spectators. The only evidence brought against him was his (almost certainly coerced) confession. There is no transcript of the trial and no written record of the "confession." His lawyer neglected to call witnesses, declined to cross-exam any, and didn't reserve the right to appeal. That, perhaps, is the only cold comfort to be found in this shameful sham in which black lives definitely didn't matter. Because George Stinney so clearly received what is called "ineffective assistance of counsel" (it's hard to imagine a better example), a judge in 2014 vacated his conviction, believing the confession had probably been forced; in any case, he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to due process. He's with the Lord now, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, but it would have been nice if he'd been allowed to grow up first. And there seems to have been no justice, no peace for those two little Carolina girls either. RIP, George, Betty, and Mary. Today's typo was discovered seven times in OhioLINK, and 123 times in WorldCat.

(George Stinney's mugshot, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thousnad*, Thousnd* (for Thousand*)

On a recent trip to California, I saw an exhibit at the Bowers Museum called "Mummies of the World." In other words, not just the highly processed Egyptian mummies we're used to seeing or hearing about, but rather a whole array of them from various parts of the globe and various periods in time. Some of them were intentionally preserved and some accidentally. On a seemingly unrelated note, I was discussing with a couple of friends whether or not you can safely leave your butter sitting out, along with the relative merits of what's known as a "French butter dish" or "butter bell," etc., when suddenly the two topics were weirdly brought together with the news that a 22-pound "chunk of butter"—estimated to be more than two thousand years old—had been found in a peat bog in Ireland. "Didn't I tell you that it's OK to leave butter out?" says one. "Here's the proof." "I guess bogs are like refrigerators," says the other. "Better," I replied, "Better bog butter..." And then this little ditty began to form in my head:

Betty Peat began to putter,
All around some old bog butter,
It was big and in a bag, and really rather hard to lug,
But even after such a lag, was unmolested by a bug.

Enjoy your naturally softened butter and stay away from hydrogenated fats (which could probably give that bog butter a run for its money, longevity-wise). There were three (and two) cases of today's typos in OhioLINK, and 41 (20) in WorldCat.

(Bog butter in wooden vessel, 15th-16th century, found near Portadown, County Armagh, housed in the Ulster Museum, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Madsion* (for Madison*)

I just saw a great Tallulah Bankhead flick from 1931 called The Cheat. It was the third remake of the Cecil B. DeMille silent from 1915, and the second feature in a film series entitled "Murder, Morals and Music," which is currently taking place at the Madison Theater (one of the oldest movie houses in Albany, and its only surviving independent one) over the next few months. What really makes these movie nights fun, besides the chance to see such old fare on such a big screen, is the short preliminary video (à la Robert Osbourne on TCM) of our host and his "guest programmer" filling us in the film we're about to see—and gleefully dishing the dirt on its stars. "Tallulah never wore underwear!" we're told. She would strip naked at parties. She slept with both women and men. She openly used cocaine and she reportedly smoked 150 [!] cigarettes a day. She was like a cross between Mae West and Madonna. (Our hosts compared her to Lady Gaga, but I think she looks much more like Madge.) Even during the "pre-Code" era, Bankhead's "wild" roles on celluloid could scarcely compete with her actual life. The smoking thing may have been a bit of an exaggeration (merely lighting up that many times a day would be a chore), but I guess they really weren't kidding about the underwear. As soon as the film began to roll, here comes Tallulah in the sheerest little shimmy imaginable and nary a bra strap or panty line in sight. It seems that there were a few complaints, though, causing Alfred Hitchcock to famously quip during the making of Lifeboat: "I don't know if this is a matter for the costume department, makeup, or hairdressing." I really wanted to make today's typo Underware, but apparently that is a valid typography term (though a few of the seven hits we got in OhioLINK were for the type that Tallulah eschewed). You can give that one a try as well, but today's official typo is Madsion* (for Madison*), found three times in OhioLINK, and 151 times in WorldCat.

(Tallulah and Augustus John with her famous portrait, 1929, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kernal* (for Kernel*)

Recently, I overheard a woman refer to that well-known feeling of dread or apprehension as "having this pit in my stomach." The correct expression, of course, is "having a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach," but it occurs to me that her "original" phrasing also evokes the classic childhood fear of what might happen should you accidentally swallow a seed, a pit, or a kernel. You could start growing an entire tree in there! (I was telling a friend the other day about how my grandmother once threw a peach pit into the backyard and it actually grew into a tree.) Apples have seeds and peaches have pits, but it seems like only corn have kernels. And in case you're afraid of germinating some giant Jack and the Beanstalk-like cobs in your tummy, remember what happens when you eat some unpopped [I just wrote that "unpooped"!] popcorn, otherwise known by some people I know as "duds" or "old maids": they basically pass right through your system essentially unchanged. Corn and computers appear to be the two primary areas that use the term kernel; in either case, though, Kernal would be a typo. And a pretty common one at that. Avoid any pitfalls, along with that pit in the pit of your stomach, and tackle this typo poste-haste. There were 47 cases of it found in OhioLINK today, and 1,049 in WorldCat.

(Popcorn 'Pink' or Zea mays, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rennaisa* (for Renaissa*)

Dorothy West, born June 2, 1907, was a novelist, columnist, short story writer, and publisher during the Harlem Renaissance. She was brought up in Boston, the daughter of a former slave turned businessman. She was an only child, but had a large extended family, given that her mother was one of 22 [!] children. Dorothy wrote her first story at the age of 7, and had another one published at 14 in the Boston Post. When she was 19, she entered a writing contest sponsored by the Urban League, and tied for first place with Zora Neale Hurston, who was 16 years her senior and would later become a good friend. Dorothy attended Girls Latin School in Boston, Boston University, and the Columbia School of Journalism. She moved to Harlem with her cousin, the poet Helene Johnson, where she met other rising luminaries, such as Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, and Langston Hughes. "The Kid," as Dorothy was dubbed by Hughes, accompanied him to Russia in 1932 in order to make a movie about race relations in America. Though the film was never completed, the pair stayed in Russia for a year. During the 1940s, West wrote many short stories for the New York Daily News and had the distinction of being the first black writer to ever appear in those pages. She published the ground-breaking journal Challenge in 1934, along with its successor, New Challenge, and provided a ready conduit for many of her "colored" compatriots. While West only wrote two novels (The Living Is Easy in 1948 and The Wedding in 1995), her overall contribution to the world of letters was such that she was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1996, just two years before her death. Acknowledging the hurdles she had faced as both a woman and a black person, when asked at the age of 91 what she would wish her legacy to be, she simply replied: "That I hung in there. That I didn't say I can't." Thanks for the inspiring words and example, Dorothy! There were 11 occurrences of Renaissance for (renaissance) in OhioLINK today, and 219 in WorldCat.

(Dorothy West, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Copywright* (for Copyright* or Copywrite*)

The first U.S. federal copyright act was passed today in 1790 and it's been kind of a hard word to get right ever since. I once had an unfortunate moment of "wordnesia" (during a spelling bee, no less) and inexplicably spelled the word playwright "playwrite," so I can understand how some people might be inclined to misspell copyright as "copywright." Or even "copywrite." Especially since those who write "copy" are called copywriters. Lots of copy has been written about copyright (both pro and con), but there may not be any dissent at all when it comes to the "best copyright statement ever," as helpfully supplied by a NYLINE member recently. It's from the Riverhead Books division of Penguin Random House and starts off typically enough ("Penguin supports copyright..."), but soon veers off into "a clear and charming argument for the importance of supporting intellectual property." The copyright statement, which was suggested by cartoonist Ryan North, author of a "choose your own adventure" series based on the stories of Shakespeare, continues for a while and then interjects: "Also, way to go on reading all this small print! Lots of readers just skip over it (they think it's "boring"), but it's nice to see that you, for one, are getting your money's worth out of this book by reading every single word it contains. In thanks, here are some special words just for you that won't appear anywhere else in this book: callipygian, saudade, and mamihlapinatapei. Look at those words! Those are some quality words, and everyone else who picked up this book is missing out." I know that callipygian means, to put it bluntly, having a big beautiful butt, but I had to look up the other two, an endeavor I highly endorse. And speaking of big butts, I was just discussing with a friend whether the more "proper" expression is "butt naked" or "buck naked." It's an interesting debate that may or may not involve a level of racial bigotry. Some words are intrinsically "offensive," I suppose you could say, while others are simply misunderstood (niggardly, picnic, etc.). Just ask your favorite copywriter. Today's typo came up seven times in OhioLINK, and 291 times in WorldCat. (In one case, though, what at first looked like a typo actually turned out to be a pun of sorts: The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination.)

(Three happy copywriters in 1950s Chicago, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid