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 (√† 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