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