Friday, January 29, 2010

Peurto Ric* (for Puerto Ric*)

Muna Lee was born on January 29, 1895, in Raymond, Mississippi, and died in 1965 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wikipedia disambiguates her from an Olympic gold-medallist with the same name by calling her the "first wife of Puerto Rico's first elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín"—and indeed she was, although they were freshly divorced at the time of his election. But Lee was so much more than that. In the 2004 book A Pan-American Life, editor Jonathan Cohen tells us: "Muna Lee's name no longer rings a bell with readers of American poetry. Her once-celebrated work as a lyric poet who embraced both North and South America has been forgotten for decades, and remains ignored by scholars..." William Faulkner, in a letter to Lee dated June 29, 1954, writes: "Can there be more than one Muna Lee? More than the one whose verse I have known since a long time?" The answer would seem to be a resounding yes. According to Cohen, Muna Lee was a poet, an author, a teacher, a translator, a "cultural affairs specialist" with the State Dept., and a fervent feminist, who possessed a "lifelong vision of ... what she called Pan-American character, a multicultural American ethos composed of 'aboriginal copper, carbon of Ethiopia, Latin dream, and stark Anglo-Saxon reality.'" We found six cases of Peurto Ric* in OhioLINK this morning, along with 29 in WorldCat.

(Portrait of Lee on the cover of Equal Rights, Sept. 20, 1930, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook's Muna Lee web page.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Setlement* (for Settlement*)

An unhappy Autocat reader wrote in to complain about my insensitive tone in last Thursday's blog entry (Sexaul* et al.), claiming that it went "beyond the pale." To which another reader happily broke the tension by asking what and where "the pale" was, anyway. The word pale means "a territory or district within certain bounds or under a particular jurisdiction" and originally derives from the Latin palus, meaning "stake." It has three major historical referents: the English Pale around Dublin in the 13th–16th centuries; the Pale of Calais, an English-controlled portion of France during the 14th–16th centuries; and the Pale of Settlement, a region of Imperial Russia created by Catherine the Great in which to circumscribe the Jews. Today's typo shows up 25 times in OhioLINK; slightly over half of those, however, are for titles from the 1600s. (Generally speaking, works that old have a lot of antiquated spellings, so be sure to consult the item in question before "correcting" any seeming typos—of course, you should always do that when the error occurs in a transcribed field.) I apologize for upsetting folks last week over the abortion issue, but I never meant to and hope we can all settle down now in a spirit of live and let's live (absolutely no pun intended). After all, as Jo Godwin once put it: "A truly great library [and typo blog?] contains something in it to offend everyone."

(Map of the Pale of Settlement, from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906, found on Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Distict* (for District*)

A distich is defined as "two successive lines of verse regarded as a unit; a couplet." The shortest distich in the English language is very likely Strickland Gillilan's "Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes": Adam/Had 'em. Gillilan is probably better known, though, for his longer and more sentimental poem "The Reading Mother," which closes with the lines: Richer than I you can never be/I had a Mother who read to me. (I did too, and she started doing it pretty much as soon as I was born, which happens to have been the same year Strickland Gillilan died.) There were 44 cases of Distict* in OhioLINK this morning and, while it may be tempting to temporarily quarantine them into a sort of district for infectious typos, it would probably be better to just buckle down and, like Adam, get at 'em.

("Microbe" by Nevit Dilmen, 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Resurce*, etc. (for Resource*)

We've blogged about Edgar Allan Poe here several times before, but given the breaking news last week that Edgar may not have been as lugubrious as all that (along with reports of the missing Poe Toaster), let's do it again now, shall we? (Last Tuesday marked the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth.) The Raven opens with Poe's protagonist moodily musing about his "lost love" Lenore:

Eagerly I wished the morrow;
Vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow,
Sorrow for the lost Lenore....

She also turns up in two other poems by Poe (the first being "A Paean" in 1831), so people are wont to wonder, who was Lenore? According to one theory, "Lenore" is a recurring reference to Poe's older brother, William Henry Leonard Poe. Edgar lionized Henry, writing: "There can be no tie more strong than that of brother for brother—it is not so much that they love one another as that they both love the same parent." Henry was a sailor for most of his short life and, just like "Anabel Lee," was buried by the sea. (It's also quite possible that Poe was simply partial to the name, either for poetic reasons or personal ones.) And what, pray tell, is surcease? One of Anu Garg's A.Word.A.Day words last week, it was defined there as: "stoppage, especially a temporary one; to bring or come to an end. Etymology: From Middle English sursesen/surcesen, via French from Latin supersedere (to refrain from), from super- + sedere (to sit). Ultimately from the Indo-European root sed- (to sit) that is also the source of sit, chair, saddle, assess, assiduous, sediment, soot, cathedral, and tetrahedron. The word cease is unrelated, though its spelling has influenced the word." We got 27 hits on Resurce*, 15 on Resorce*, and one on Resuorce* in OhioLINK today. So let's refrain from sitting on our resources and start assessing how they're spelled.

From our books, surcease of Resurce*
Sorrow for the lost Resorce*

—Edgar A. Typoe

(The Poe Toaster, by Maggie Schreiter, from the Quiltart Raven Challenge website.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cooop* (for Cooper*)

Ooooh. (That's what she cooed.) This startling specimen of copper vitriol is described as "dehydrated" on the Wikimedia Commons page where I discovered it, but I simply can't imagine a less apt-seeming word for something of such coolly intense and gorgeously slaking blue. I found 16 cases of Cooop* in OhioLINK this morning, nearly all of them typos for cooperation and the like (with one lone Cooper among them and not a copper in sight.). Gazing at this meditative hue for a moment or two should remove any lingering traces of vitriol, after which let's all try and cooperate and remove all traces of today's typo from our catalogs. (Note: when it occurred to me to omit the P, I found a full dozen more of these, bringing the total to 28, mostly for words like coordinate.)

(Photo of "chalcanthite, or copper vitriol, white tarnished because of dehydration," by Ra'ike, 2007, from Wikimedia Commons... Plus check out what this other guy made in his apartment.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 22, 2010

Candian, Candians (for Canadian*)

Kate McGarrigle, half of the dulcet-toned Canadian folk duo often known as "The McGarrigle Sisters," died this week after battling a rare form of cancer for several years. Anna McGarrigle wrote on the family blog: "Sadly our sweet Kate had to leave us last night. She departed in a haze of song and love surrounded by family and good friends. She is irreplaceable and we are broken-hearted. Til we meet again, dear sister." Kate and Anna (along with their sister Jane) grew up in St.-Sauveur-des-Monts, Quebec, where they learned French and English songs from their parents, and piano from the local nuns. Kate was married at one time to Loudon Wainwright III and was the mother of musicians Rufus and Martha Wainwright. She leaves behind grieving fans the world over, but her spirit and art will surely survive. I'm not sure if I was at this particular concert or not, but I did have the pleasure of hearing the McGarrigles play at Caffe Lena and many other venues back in the day. Adieu, Kate, may God bless you and keep you. Thanks for the music and the memories. (Candian was found 24 times in OhioLINK, although a few of those were personal names, and Candians once.)

(Kate McGarrigle at the Ottawa Bluesfest, July 13, 2008, courtesy of Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sexul*, Sexal*, Sexaul* (for Sexual*)

Pro-choice partisans often like to portray pro-lifers as being anti-sex, but, strictly speaking, the latter are no more apt to be prudes than the rest of us. They do, however, protest the use of abortion as a method of birth control or one for dispatching a wrong-sexed fetus. (Actually, no fetus is wrong, according to some of these folks: a disabled one, the product of rape or incest, one that endangers the life of the mother. They're all good.) AUL (Americans United for Life) is a Chicago-based pro-life organization founded in 1971. (Roe v. Wade was made law in 1973.) They say there's no such thing as being "a little bit pregnant," but I suspect that those seeking and providing abortions may disagree. You're only a little bit pregnant if you can get to a sympathetic doctor soon enough. We found two cases of Sexul* and one each of Sexal* and Sexaul* in OhioLINK today, which makes it a "low probability" typo on the Ballard list. Try and take care of this one promptly, though, before you end up with a full-blown problem on your hands.

(Drawing from a 13th-century manuscript of Pseudo-Apuleius's Herbarium, depicting a pregnant woman in repose, while another holds some pennyroyal in one hand and prepares a concotion using a mortar and pestle with the other, scanned from Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance by John M. Riddle, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reslut*, etc. (for Result*)

The four-letter word slut has a long and checkered history, beginning in the fifth century (Middle English slutte) with the meaning "mud or impure liquid." The word has been recycled many times and acquired various shades of meaning (generally, a prostitute or sexually adventurous or "loose" woman; additionally, a "maid or kitchen drudge," a female dog, a promiscuous gay man, a slob or "slattern"). Foreign words for "slut" also abound, from the French (traînée, souillon, dévergondée) to the Italian (sgualdrina, sciattona, troia), Swedish (slarva, subba, slampa, jänta), Spanish (marrana, puerca, mujerzuela), German (Schlampe), etc. There are even sluts in Kansas. (Not to mention Southern California, according to The Onion in a bit that you may or may not find funny.) We found four results for Reslut* (along with seven for Rsult* and two for Reslt*) in OhioLINK the last time we checked, so keep an eye out for them and don't be slatternly when it comes to cleaning up your catalog.

(Matthew Edwards' son dressed as Dorothy Gale and brother-in-law as a slut, Halloween 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Retirment (for Retirement)

According to WikiAnswers, that great fount of web wisdom, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. served on the Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, retiring at the age of 90, just two months shy of his 91st birthday. That makes him the oldest Supreme Court justice ever, unless John Paul Stevens, now 89, stays on the job past February 2011. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. had been influential in getting doctors to wash their hands in a busy hospital and his son was equally effective at preventing people from crying fire (when there wasn't one) in a crowded theater. Enjoying his many years on the bench, O.W.H. Jr. wouldn't cry uncle and be a willing retiree. (Currently, term limits for Supreme Court justices are considered unconstitutional.) We found ten cases of missing E's in the typo Retirment (for retirement) in the OhioLINK database. Make a decision in favor of fixing any of these you may find in your own catalog today.

(Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1924, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 18, 2010

Afirca*, Arfica (for Africa*)

We found six cases of Afirca* and one of Arfica (for Africa, African, etc.) in our database files this morning. Our typo for the day was chosen in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King—iconic civil rights leader, political activist, and folk hero to millions of African-Americans and others over the last half a century. Reverend King, whose birthday we celebrate today, embodied all the hope, change, and hope of change (along with all the tragedy) that epitomized the sixties and transformed life as we knew it. I always love seeing the children's art exhibits for Martin Luther King Day in the complex where I work and this year was no exception. (One difference, though, being the bemusing way Barack Obama's "Yes, We Can!" rallying cry would occasionally pop up among the more traditional "I Have a Dream" talk bubbles.) My favorite pieces were the MLK bobblehead doll made out of clay, and a little clothespin-figured shoebox diorama with a sign reading: "When you look at this project you will see Dr. Martin King when he made things fair for everyone." Amen, kid.

(Dr. King and Coretta Scott King, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 15, 2010

Egineer* (for Engineer*)

The Powerpuff Girls weren't so much born as engineered by their egghead father Professor Utonium. He was trying to create "the perfect little girl" when he accidentally dumped some "Chemical X" into the usual mixture of sugar, spice, and everything nice. The feistiest of the cartoon super-trio is the brunette one, Buttercup, voiced by the blonde actress E.G. Daily. Our daily typo this morning is Egineer* and nearly a dozen of 'em were found lurking in OhioLINK, making this a "moderate probability" troublemaker in your catalog and one that should be taken out at your earliest convenience.

(Buttercup looking egged on, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Martin Scorcese (for Martin Scorsese)

Mea culpa, mea culpa, I misspelled Martin Scorsese. Who sez? Well, at least two alert TotDfL readers who kindly pointed out the error. I made this sorry mistake in my blog entry on Monday, but at least I'm not the only one who sometimes gets it wrong. I found eight cases of the filmmaker's name incorrectly spelled Scorcese in OhioLINK this morning. That's not a great score, though there could be a lot more. So go and check your catalogs to make sure you got Marty's name spelled right in there. Yeah, I'm talkin' to you!

(Martin Scorsese, courtesy of Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alfed, Alferd, Alfrd (for Alfred)

Alfed appears 19 times in OhioLINK (all of them typos for Alfred) and Alferd 16 times (more than half of those refer to Alferd G. Packer, a convicted though possibly innocent 19th-century cannibal; several others include a "sic" or are unclear as to the correct spelling). I found four results for Alfrd as well. There are lots of interesting "Alfreds" out there: the aforementioned Packer, whose actual name Alfred was misspelled by a tattoo artist and stuck; Alfred Hitchcock; Alfred Kinsey; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Alfred E. Neuman; etc. But the one that intrigues me the most at the moment is Alfred Jarry, father of the so-called Theatre of the Absurd. I just saw a local performance of his notorious 1896 play Ubu Roi—or, as it was alternatively titled in this case, Ubu Rex. King Ubu, according to Wikipedia, is "one of the most monstrous and astonishing characters in French literature." And, especially in this adaptation by Oakley Hall III in which Ubu and Mother Ubu are played by gigantic puppets, the most seemingly well fed as well. (Ubu's campaign platform, such as it was, was to tax everyone twice, take all their food, and then kill them.) Alfred Jarry was a 19th-century "merry prankster" and had quite a few idiosyncrasies of his own. He pronounced each and every syllable in a word and eschewed intonation. He referred to himself using the royal we. He named the wind "that which blows" and his bicycle "that which rolls." He adored alcohol and particularly absinthe ("the green goddess") and once merged his love of the drink and the love of his bike by painting his face green and riding through the center of town. Fey and fastidious to the very end, his final request was for a toothpick. (Fascinating factoid: the name Alfred means "counsel of elves.")

(Photograph of Alfred Jarry in Alfortville, Paris, France.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vegitarian*, Vegatarian* (for Vegetarian*)

Much to the consternation of the local vegetarian/vegan community, the Honest Weight Food Co-op has recently started carrying organic, free-range, grass-fed, and otherwise exemplary cuts of meat. (A carnivorous friend of mine with a cynical sense of humor suggests that maybe the co-op's meat department should be renamed "Murder.") And as if that's not enough, now we're also stocking lard—lard, which has long been considered the absolute worst substance any health-conscious consumer could possibly ingest. When they say not to eat anything "white" (flour, sugar, milk, etc.), lard is probably at the top of the list. The assumption is that it simply goes one of two ways upon reaching the stomach: either straight to your heart or directly to your butt ("lardass"). Those of us who can now make wonderfully flaky pie crusts and deep-fried whatevers are currently and quietly rejoicing, though I personally feel an obligation to try and calm the nerves of those who aren't. So here goes. A Google search on lard + "the new health food" gets about 33,000 hits. Outfits as redoubtable as the New York Times are touting its usefulness in cooking, along with its newfound nutritional value (it's a rich source of vitamin D). The latter is the sticking point for most people, but it seems that the saturated and monounsaturated fats (like lard, coconut oil, and olive oil) are arguably better for you than the polyunsaturated ones we've pledged our troth to for so many years. I won't lard it on too thickly here; you can go and research this for yourself. I recommend the Weston Price Foundation for more information on healthy fats, along with this informative article by co-op member Miriam Axel-Lute. The typo Vegitarian* shows up three times today in OhioLINK, Vegatarian* twice.

(Bread spread with lard, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 11, 2010

Terrr* (for Terr*)

In a 2008 documentary about RKO Pictures' horror honcho Val Lewton, Martin Scorsese discusses what set this writer-producer apart from your average shockmeister. While frustrated in his low-budget, B-movie niche, Lewton made nine films that "moved and spoke in a different way." They "satisfied the demand for horror, but they delivered much more," says Scorsese, adding that "horror is what causes physical revulsion; terror is what causes fear." In the movie Cat People, no one fears Irena's feline leanings more than the catlike character herself, played by Simone Simon. Val Lewton had that certain something extra that could turn an ordinary walk in the park into something eerie and dark—and turn ordinary entertainment into art. Today's typo has an extra R in it, drawing out the syllable the way Lewton drew out the suspense (which all started with Irena drawing pictures of a panther at the zoo). There were 22 instances of Terrr* in OhioLINK this morning and, while only a couple were actually typos for terror* (this one covers a lot of territory), you never know what might be lurking right around the corner.

(Simone Simon in the 1942 Lewton classic Cat People, from Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 8, 2010

Minature*, etc. (for Miniature*)

What is your favorite miniature motion picture? Which is not to say a low-budget indie, or one that comes in at under two hours, or something you can watch, kind of, on your iPod, but rather a movie about little people. (Apart from congenitally small humans, this term is also applied to "wee folk" of the U.K. and Scandinavia: faeries, elves, trolls, and the like; downtrodden, uplifting citizens in a Capra-esque world; and Fisher-Price toys.) Is it the wonderful Wizard of Oz? Or perhaps Tod Browning's long-banned and misunderstood Freaks? Could it be The Terror of Tiny Town ("the world's only musical Western with an all-midget cast")? What about the 1957 sci-fi classic The Incredible Shrinking Man, or the Irish-inspired Disney product Darby O'Gill and the Little People? Maybe it's the 1989 blockbuster Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, or (a personal favorite) the soapy Lily Tomlin satire The Incredible Shrinking Woman. If you look hard enough, you can find some serious stuff on dwarfism too, such as 1982's acclaimed documentary Little People. The most frequent typo for the word miniature* is Minature*, which turns up a mighty 75 times in OhioLINK. We also get five hits on Miniture* and two on Minaiture*. This is an example of a typo group largely driven by misspelling, not simply miskeying. The word sounds like it's spelled "mina"; its meaning suggests "mini" (see also minuscule); and "minai" indicates an awareness of the correct spelling, but an inadvertent reversal of letters, perhaps because ai is a more common English grapheme than ia is.

(Portrait of George Pearson, director of The Little People, 1926, from the British Film Institute's screenonline website.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Youself (for Yourself)

Today's typo is Youself and I daresay it's one that you may have made yourself. It finds itself 34 times in OhioLINK, which makes it a "high probability" typo on the Ballard list. Youssef Wahbi (Wahby)—or, according to NACO and with all the diacritics intact, Yūsuf Wahbī—was a famous Egyptian stage actor and matinee idol in the 1930s and '40s. In fact, he continued to make movies (starring in, writing, and directing) right up until the late 1970s. I've never seen any of his fifty-odd films, but I love the names of some of them: The Spoiled Children, or Sons of Aristocrats (1932), The Hour of Fate (1938), A Suitor from Istanbul (1941), A Sleepless Man (1949), The Marital Dwelling (1954), The Small Angel (1958), The People Downstairs (1961), A Husband's Confession (1965), How We Stole the Atomic Bomb (1968), Searching for a Scandal (1973), Alexandria...Why? (1978). Upon delivering a Devil of a performance in 1945's The Ambassador of Hell, Wahbi wanted to try his hand at playing Muhammad too, an idea that was foreseeably forbidden by his culture and religion. As a young man, Wahbi renounced his family's wealth in order to pursue an acting career in Rome. He was beloved throughout Europe and the Middle East, where he protested the old colonial and sexist traditions and promoted the theatrical arts. Please take it upon yourselves to correct all occurrences of Youself in your library catalogs.

(Portrait of Youssef Wahbi from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tommorrow*, Tomarrow*, etc. (for Tomorrow*)

Our typos for today are for the word tomorrow and they appear to comprise two different kinds of errors. The more common one arises out of confusion over the consonants preceding a change in syllable: Are there two M's there or one? Is that one R or two? The second type apparently stems from familiarity with the word marrow, as opposed to the somewhat antiquated morrow. There are 58 instances of Tommorrow* in the OhioLINK database, 22 of Tommorow*, and eight of Tomorow* (two of which are proper names). Moreover, we found nine cases of Tomarrow*. Some people like to simplify their spelling by cutting straight to the marrow ("Melvil Dui" was one of those, though his elisions were made with purposeful zeal), whereas other people tend to pad their words with superfluous letters. At any rate, catalogers need to be both consistent and correct, so why put off till tomorrow any edits you can get started on right now?

(Mmmm, as Homer Simpson might say, bone marrow fat ... or Knochenmarksfett, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gazeteer*, Gazzette* (for Gazette*)

The son of Sicilian immigrants, actor Ben Gazzara grew up on the Lower East Side of New York, a neighborhood no self-respecting homeboy should ever need a gazetteer to locate. He was the original Brick in the Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and went on to make quite a few films in Hollywood. True to his roots, he often played "tough guys" in the movies and claimed his early interest in acting shielded him from a teenage life of crime. Gazzara had a steely gaze that could also melt ice—or anything cold and hard on the streets of the city. This was a man who conducted a tender love affair with the self-doubting Audrey Hepburn on the one hand and plotted a daring escape from Czechoslovakia with The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'s Robert Vaughan on the other. Ben Gazzara is undeniably cool and leaves the admiring viewer both shaken and stirred. Although an OhioLINK search on Gazete* returned too many foreign words to be of much help, we got 79 hits on the typo Gazeteer* and 13 on Gazzette*.

(Portrait of Ben Gazzara by Carl Van Vechten, 1955, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 4, 2010

Foudat*, etc. (for Foundation*)

I guess I'm a little late with my New Year's Eve salute, but let's raise our virtual glasses to the Typo of the Day, anyway. The somewhat inebriated-sounding Foudat* bubbles to the top of the OhioLINK database 13 times, along with an assortment of related misspellings and truncations: Foundaton* (which gets the biggest response with 27 hits), Foundai*, Founa*, Foundt*, Foundatin*, and Foutai*. In order to lay a solid foundation for the upcoming new year, one should always try and toast it with a quality libation. Although some folks are predicting we'll see darker days ahead, we may as well drink up in any case. As Napoleon once observed (and with thanks to "In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat you need it." Cheers, everyone!

Foudres de chêne, or oak casks, filled with champagne by Louis Roederer, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 1, 2010

Firts or Frist (for first)

Today is the last day of the week and the first day of the year. First is a word you just have to be careful not to type too quickly, or you are likely to invert some letters. Firts occurs a number of times in OhioLINK and over 300 times in WorldCat. Frist can also be a misspelling, but could also be a proper name, so watch out before fixing it.

First thing this year, make a resolution to fix as many typos as possible in your catalog!

Liz Bodian
Chicago Public Library

Image of George Washington, the first president of the United States, from Wikimedia Commons.