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