Friday, October 30, 2009

Similiar* (for Similar*)

This close to Hallowe'en, I wonder how many doppelgängers are lurking about. The doppelgänger is a spectral counterpart to a living person; similar in appearance, but not alive.

Legend has it that on Hallowe'en, a girl can discover her future husband by completing a small ritual: she must stand in front of a mirror with two candles and a piece of apple in her mouth. The mirror will show her the ghostly version of her future husband, looking back at her from behind her shoulders.

To take it one step further, if the girl walks around a graveyard 12 times, she will actually meet up with her future husband's doppelgänger. While predicting the future is tempting, that's a little too creepy for me.

Leanne Olson

(Mirror photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Persistan* (for Persisten*)

If you've ever sat awake at night, unable to sleep due to the persistent clapping of thunder, flashing of lightning, and rain beating down on your roof, you might curse the Norse god Thor.

Thor is the god of thunder, the weather, and crops. During a thunderstorm, Thor rides his chariot, pulled by two goats, through the heavens. Lightning flashes when he throws his hammer, and he maintains his strength for the day of Ragnarok (the end of the world), when he will kill (and be killed by) his great enemy, the Midgard Serpent.

Today is Thor's Day; Thursday gets its name from the god Thor, and shows us another kind of persistence (not persistance): Thor's influence on language has lasted long after most of the god's followers have left the Earth.

Leanne Olson

(1872 painting of Thor by Mårten Eskil Winge, taken from

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Acquistion (for Acquisition)

The Alexandrian Library in ancient Egypt had a rather rapacious acquisitions policy. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, so named for his love of books, wanted to collect all of the books in the world. He wrote to all of the known kings and princes requesting copies of every document they had in their own libraries.

In addition, every ship coming into the port at Alexandria was searched, with original books confiscated and copies returned to the ships. Underhanded acquisitions techniques abounded: once, the library borrowed the official copies of Greek tragedies from Athens, giving a deposit in return. The Ptolemies wanted these copies so badly that they decided to forfeit their money and keep the plays instead. (In all fairness, they did return high-quality copies to Athens.)

Acquiring typing errors is not nearly so prestigious as acquiring books, so watch out for this one: acquistion is a high probability typo on the Ballard List, with over 900 hits in Worldcat.

(Image of a papyrus page from the Egyptian Book of the Dead from Encyclopedia Britannica)

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Emergency planing (for Emergency planning)

“There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?”

--Elaine, flight attendant on board the ill-fated jetliner in Airplane!

Emergency planing, a typo for Emergency planning, sounds like something James Bond or Indiana Jones might have to do during the course of an escape.

Planes are frequently scenes of disaster in films, ranging from the terrifying “mundane” possibilities of crashes to the more outrageous: passengers having to deal with time travel, serial killers, hundreds of snakes, or even gremlins tearing apart the wing.

Between the gremlins and the lack of leg room, I think I’ll avoid the air and take a train next time I’m on vacation.

(Image of William Shatner and the gremlin in the Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 feet" from Wikipedia)

Leanne Olson

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sherriff (for Sheriff)

Today, October 26, is the anniversary of the 1881 gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, one of the most famous showdowns in the history of the American West.

The gunfight was between members of the Tombstone Marshall’s Office (the three Wyatt brothers and Doc Holliday) and the Clanton gang of cowboys, including Sheriff Johnny Behan, from whom we get today’s typo: Sherriff for Sheriff.

Better watch your typing fingers around these guys: they're quick on the trigger. Apparently Johnny Ringo once shot a man for refusing to drink whiskey with him—the victim preferred beer.

And be careful as well when checking “Sherriff”, as it can double as an author’s last name.

Image from the 1957 film Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall

Leanne Olson

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ducth (for Dutch)

Yesterday's post talked about Loudon Wainwright III, folk singer and son of Loudon Wainwright Jr., who was a writer and editor for Life magazine. Another interesting note about Loudon's lineage is the fact that he is a direct descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the last director-general of New Netherland (which included present-day New York State). Albany, New York—formerly known as Fort Orange—recently hosted Willem-Alexander (Prince of Orange and son of Queen Beatrix) and his Argentinian wife Princess Máxima, in celebration of the quadricentennial of Henry Hudson's voyage up the Hudson River in 1609. Museums all over the state have mounted exhibits in commemoration of this historic event. Two such local exhibitions are the one at the New York State Museum and the one at the Albany Institute of History and Art. Ducth (for Dutch) turns up five times in OhioLINK, two of them with "[sic]" in tow. (The prince and princess also have three little towheads, who were left at home in the Netherlands this trip.)

(1948 Associated Press photo from a friend who deals in old books and ephemera, picturing three generations of Dutch royalty: Princess Margriet, Princess Beatrix, Princess Juliana, and Queen Wilhelmina... Postscript: a loyal TotDfL subject is happy to see that we've got all our "Ducth" in a row here!)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wainright (for Wainwright)

I saw Loudon Wainwright III in concert last weekend for the umpteenth time. This time he was with his old pal Richard Thompson of former Fairport Convention fame: the tour was aptly dubbed "Rich and Loud." To the younger set of Wainwright watchers, Loudon is Rufus's dad. But if you're talkin' 'bout my generation, Rufus is Loudon's kid. (In fact, I remember a reduced Rufus in the 1970s, toddling around the stage with his baby sister Martha during a McGarrigles concert in Saratoga, New York.) Although Loudon, at age 63, is clean-shaven and close-cropped, back in his "Dead Skunk" days he hippied it up with the best of them. Wainright appears 58 times in OhioLINK, but not all are misspellings. Wainwright + Wainright shows up ten times. We also get five hits on Loudon Wainright and two on Rufus Wainright. Loudon's father was a columnist and editor for Life magazine, so I'm sure he'd appreciate our efforts at improving access to the work of his talented son and grandson by making sure our records have their names spelled right—or rather, wright.

(Picture of Loudon playing an outdoor concert, year unknown, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Porject* (for Project, etc.)

Although Porgy and Bess premiered in New York City in 1935 with a classically trained troupe of African-Americans, it was not deemed a legitimate opera until forty years later. George Gershwin composed the music and DuBose Heyward wrote the libretto, based on his novel Porgy and play of the same name, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy. I was interested to learn that Heyward also authored one of my all-time favorite children's books The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes (with wonderful pictures by Marjorie Flack). This 1939 classic, written for Heyward's five-year-old daughter Jenifer, beautifully and gently promotes the message that anyone can achieve his or her goals in life, no matter what their color or sex. The Easter Bunny has always been seen as both white and male, but in this book Grandfather Rabbit's specially chosen helper and hare apparent (if you'll pardon the pun) is a humble brown girl bunny. When it comes to such things, we may think we know what it's all about, but as the song from Porgy and Bess proclaims: "It Ain't Necessarily So." Eleven instances of today's typo were found in OhioLINK, which makes it a "moderate probability" typo on the Ballard list. Make it your own special project to correct any cases of Porject* still present in your catalog.

(Carl Van Vechten photo of opera singer Ruby Elzy, the original Serena in Porgy and Bess, 1935.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Treaching, Treachers (for Teaching, Teachers)

"No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks," as we kids used to chant on the last day of school. (They were probably thinking the same thing about us.) Some people think that teachers chanting in the streets is almost a form of treachery. The latter's love of molding young minds is supposed to shield them from such base concerns as salaries, benefits, and overall working conditions. New York State's Taylor Law, which was challenged by the United Federation of Teachers at its 1967 inception, prohibits public employees from going on strike. And when professors have the effrontery to peaceably assemble to redress grievances that aren't even related to teaching, that's even worse. It's like actors who talk about politics. Who needs the dirty looks? Treaching turns up three times in OhioLINK and Treachers twice.

(G20 protests in London, National Union of Teachers, March 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 19, 2009

Withdrawl* (for Withdrawal*)

Although their talents were milked for hokey humor on The Andy Griffith Show during the 1960s, the Dillards (aka "Darlings") were actually an awesome bluegrass band from the Ozark Mountains. One of my favorite Dillards songs is called "There Is a Time," from the album by the same name*:

There is a time for us to wander
When time is young and so are we,
The woods are greener over yonder,
The path is new, the world is free....

Mitch Jayne introduces the group by saying: "We're the Dillards and we're all from Salem, Missouri, which I know you've all heard of. And we're all hillbillies. I thought I'd better tell you that 'cause you probably thought we were the Budapest String Quartet." You really can't go wrong if you say it with a smile—and with a drawl. There are 22 cases of Withdrawl* for withdrawal* in OhioLINK right now.

(Unpublished photo of the Darling family in the movie "Return to Mayberry," autographed by "Ernest T Bass," Maggie Peterson, and Mitch Jayne, courtesy of the Nip It, Nip It in the Bud! fansite.)

Carol Reid

* Play the video...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Caterpiller*, Catepillar* (for Caterpillar*)

Sometime between early autumn denial and the serious hibernation de l'hiver is a period wherein, shivering slightly, we begin to contemplate the sort of winter we might be in for. An interesting way to do this is to examine one of those striped little furballs known as "Woolly Bears." These caterpillars are reputed to be harbingers of just about everything you'd want to know. According to Fumigants & Pheromones: A Newsletter for the Insect Control and Pest Management Industry, the longer the black bands, the "longer, colder, snowier, and more severe" the winter; the longer the brown bands, the milder. If the head end of the woolly bear is the darkest end, the start of the season will be the stormiest; if the tail end is darker, it'll go out with a bang. Also, the woollier the coat, the worse the weather. And lastly, if the caterpillar is headed south, it's trying to escape the coming cold. But if it's crawling north, it isn't too concerned. Unfortunately, however, on page two, the industry regrets to inform us that it's all just an old wives' tale. (You might want to check out which way the old wives are walking this year, and how woolly their coats are.) Caterpiller* emerges 27 times in OhioLINK and Catepillar* five.

(Woolly Bear from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Decript*, Decrib* (for Description, Describe)

Being 30-something now (the second edition was published in 1978), AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloging Rules) might seem downright decrepit to some of you young'uns, but never fear: the brand-new, state of the art RDA (Resource Description and Access) is here. (At least, it's scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2009.) Decript* (for description et al.) gets 31 hits in OhioLINK and Decrib* (for describe et al.) gets 25, making them both "high probability" typos on the Ballard list. (Note from RDA: quit saying "et al.") The new resource for resources does have its partial detractors (e.g., LC) and some folks have flatly decried the decree; but others find the changes it ordains to be timely. (It also reminds me that it's time to take my vitamins.) Speaking of changes, we're apparently no longer supposed to use [sic] or [i.e.] when transcribing a title. Write the misprint in the title field as it appears on the piece and then add a 246 field with the word spelled correctly.

(Photo of "Futura bibliotecária, agarrada com o AACR2" by Gustavo Henn, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Colllege* (for College*)

Way back when I was in library school, I was very lucky to have renowned reference expert Bill Katz for a couple of classes. And one thing he told us has resonated with me lo these many years. The "invisible college" was what Dr. Katz called our working colleagues—those folks, he said, to whom we can and should turn for answers. He implied that they were worth more in their way than all those rows and stacks of reference books surrounding them. It's a concept that has borne a lot of fruit for me. (And one that has apparently been around since the 1600s. A precursor to the Royal Society, the Invisible College comprised a small group of scientists in the United Kingdom.) The middle L in today's typo may appear invisible to the hasty cataloging eye, but it appears seven times in OhioLINK. Easy typo to make; easy one to miss. Just ask anyone.

(Earliest picture of the library as it existed in the Administration Building, later Draper Hall, 1915, from the State University of New York at Albany archives.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Naval + Navel (for Naval or Navel)

After entering Naval + Navel into OhioLINK, I get 11 cases of Navel for naval, one of Naval for navel, and one where I can only guess at the intended word no matter how long I gaze at it: "Plant a Nail in the Navel Stream" (also written as "Plant a Nail in the Naval Stream") from Frances the Mute, a sound recording by The Mars Volta. (Wikipedia has it as Navel.) One of the more delightful sights for naval crews (or, for that matter, cruising knaves) to drink in with their mates is a red sky at night—like a big juicy navel orange in the morning.

("Orange Boat" from the Marcus Matte website.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chritopher (for Christopher)

"There it is!" we like to imagine Columbus exclaiming, with an exploratory glint in his eye, while pointing to America from the deck of the Santa Maria. Not to sound too critical, but a lot of what we're told about Christopher Columbus isn't quite true. According to Bill Bryson's eye-opening book Made in America, Columbus was dogged in his pursuits, but relatively clueless. Bryson claims that for anyone to achieve such a precipitous fall from grace "in less than a decade required an unusual measure of incompetence and arrogance. Columbus had both." At first ignored by history, Columbus eventually began to be venerated after the Brits were given the boot. Although he's described as tall, red-haired, and fair-skinned, no one knows exactly what Columbus looked like since there were no portraits made of him during his lifetime. Nevertheless, he was the Italian "It" Boy of the 15th and 16th centuries and, while purportedly looking for something else (a better route to Asian spices, for example), Columbus discovered America. Or stumbled upon it, rather, given the fact that it had already been discovered by the Vikings (not to mention indigenous peoples) and had even been drawn on a map. Columbus never seemed to know where he had been or where he was going (although he may have had his own agendas). He never set foot in North America at all. It's true that, like most other people of his time, Columbus did not think the world was flat, but he did badly underestimate its size. He also mistook Native Americans for Indians, and genocide for traveling abroad. It wasn't exactly what anyone had expected, but it's apparently the reason we're all here today. As for just what to make of it—with apologies to Bill Clinton—that depends on what the meaning of it is. Chritopher for Christopher is found seven times in OhioLINK and 72 times in WorldCat—which is much bigger than it looks.

(Engraving of
bust of Christopher Columbus by John Sartain, 1808-1897, from the original portrait presented to William A. Bryan, Esq., of Virginia by H.M. the late Queen Sophia of Holland.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 9, 2009

Facsmile* (for Facsimile*)

Most people probably think emoticons were invented in the 1980s. And it's true that, like a digital-age Samuel F. B. Morse, Scott Fahlman sent the first emoticon embedded in a computer message on Sept. 19, 1982. But the typographical smiley (frowny. . .) faces you see here were actually introduced to the public nearly a century before that, in the satirical weekly Puck, on March 30, 1881. Furthermore, it seems that emoticons (also called "snigger points" by Ambrose Bierce; possibly discovered in a speech by Abraham Lincoln; turning up in 1940s sci-fi fiction, teletype in the 1970s, and ubiquitous "happy face" schlock; even recommended by Vladimir Nabokov!) have been making periodic appearances ever since. Facsmile* appears 16 times in OhioLINK (23 if truncated to Facsm*) and copies of today's typo will likely be found in your catalog as well. In any case, some sort of fake smile or another is sure to be showing up somewhere soon.

(Puckish emoticons from Wikimedia Commons.)

<:^) Carol Reid (^:>

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mobil + Mobile (for Mobil or Mobile)

"A gas station is a place where you sometimes fill the car, but more often drain the kids." (Anon.) Mobil + Mobile is found 13 times in OhioLINK, making it somewhat less than a high-test typo—more like a regular one—according to the Ballard list. "Car, car, C-A-R," we used to chant as children, playing in the rural road that would only see an automobile come by about once every half an hour. I have one of those fuzzy but persistent memories of reading a book in my youth that featured the ubiquitous flying red horse from the Mobil gas station. I can't recall the title anymore and would be very grateful if someone out there knows what it is.

(Like the mystery kids' book, I also can't remember where I found this lovely image of the Mobil Pegasus logo, but I think it would make a great mobile to hang over the bed.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Imform* (for Inform*)

In the 1920s, Ida Rosenthal and her dressmaker friend Enid Bissett invented the bifurcated brassiere, and in the process formed the Maidenform company. "I'm a woman, hear me roar," one can almost hear Enid (who created the original design) saying. Or maybe it was Ida going: "I'm having a dream ... of my Maidenform bra!" Bissett had the "Boyish Form" that was popular back then, but was unhappy with the bandage-like wraps that had replaced the corset. Rosenthal was a more buxom bubbie, but every inch a feminist. Both were determined to liberate their sisters from the flat-chested flapper style of the day. With the support of Ida's husband William, this plucky pair kept abreast of the times and became important figures in the 20th century. Imform* shows up 29 times in OhioLINK, which puts it firmly in the B cup, er section, of the Ballard list. (A wonderfully detailed telling of this story is found in Harold Evans's 2004 book They Made America.)

(Picture of Ida Rosenthal, flanked by lanky swimsuit models, courtesy of the blog Dr. Caligari's Cabinet.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gograph* (for Geograph*)

Gimme a G, gimme an R, gimme an A-P-H.... Mathematicians are generally not seen as the sexiest of men, and the subset of graph guys may need cheerleaders most of all. Leonhard Euler was the nearly blind Swiss genius who invented graph theory in the 18th century. He was, according to Wikipedia, a "pioneering ... preeminent ... prolific" scholar. His visual handicap caused him to be referred to as "Cyclops" by Frederick the Great of Prussia; nevertheless, he was highly respected. "Read Euler, read Euler, he's the master of us all," proclaimed Pierre-Simon Laplace (who was known himself as "the French [Isaac] Newton"). Gograph* is found 22 times in OhioLINK, which makes it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. Two of those are not actual typos, however, but instances where diacritics and the various employment of brackets and the like can mimic typos in a keyword search: [Lo]gographic and g¯ographie.

(Portrait of Euler by Emanuel Handmann, 1753, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, October 5, 2009

Virginia Wolf, Virginia Woolfe (for Virginia Woolf)

Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf?—as Edward Albee might have put it if his 1963 Tony-Award-winning play had been about typographical errors. Virginia Woolf, an Edwardian Brit with an acid wit and a bit of a snob, is still capable of inspiring dread in undergraduates required to spell her last name correctly on exams. Today's typos appear in OhioLINK 13 and four times each, but several of those refer to people other than the author of Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, the "modern" and experimental work The Waves, the feminist tract A Room of One's Own, and the transgendered Orlando. (In an interesting aside, Victoria Sackville-West, who disliked that book's obvious allusions to her daughter Vita, would thereafter refer to Virginia as the "Virgin Wolf.") Woolf was a great lover of books and libraries and much has been written both by and about her. Let's keep her as fearsomely accessible as possible by getting her name right in all of our catalogs.

... when the Day of Judgement dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their reward—their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble—the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, "Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading." ("How Should One Read a Book?" by Virginia Woolf)

(Portrait of Virginia Woolf, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fasion* (for Fashion, etc.)

The 2009 Munich Oktoberfest saw the debut of a new fashion sensation. According to Spiegel Online, “newly invented lederhosen-style swimming shorts are going on sale at this year's Munich Oktoberfest as a beer-proof alternative to the traditional leather breeches .... The invention by Austrian restaurant owner Peter Kolb has taken Austria by storm in recent months and will be going on sale in two of the 14 giant beer tents.” For those not fortunate enough to be in attendance, the shorts can also be purchased at Kolb’s business site, PK Traditional. Alas, they’re still only available to customers in Austria and Germany, at least for the time being.

In certain circles, a clean catalog is the height of fashion. If you agree, then stamp out the not-so-trendy Fasion*, which occurs 16 times in OhioLink English-language entries and is a moderate-probability error. But watch out for transcribed fields and typos that should actually be the French word “faisons” (sometimes found in uniform titles).

(Badelederhose, from PK Traditional)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Falll* (for Fall, Falling, etc.)

The autumnal equinox usually occurs on September 22 or September 23 each year. But it's not until I flip my calendar to October that I truly believe fall has arrived. Cooler weather, brightly colored leaves, and Halloween are now just around the corner!

Falll* is a typo of lowest probability on the Ballard list. There is just one English-language instance of it in the OhioLink catalog, although there are 53 such entries in WorldCat.

(Pumpkins and Pumpkins by dlbdesigns, from the Stock.XCHNG photo site)

Deb Kulczak