Friday, December 30, 2011

Breif (for Brief)

On this last typo-day of the year, allow me to be brief. I’ll merely convey my best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2012 to all.

(Oh, you knew it couldn’t be that simple! Breif is supposed to be a typo of moderate probability, but a search in the OhioLINK database retrieves 73 hits. Many are already marked “[sic],” which means you could reasonably expect the same in your own catalog. Additionally, the Oxford English Dictionary lists “breif” as a variant form, so its usage in older works may be correct.)

(Grape-Shot: 1915 English Magazine Illustration of a Lady Riding a Champagne Cork, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Batle* (for Battle, etc.)

Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
Jericho Jericho
Joshua fit the
battle of Jericho
And the walls come tumbling down

This popular African-American spiritual is thought to date from the first half of the nineteenth century. On the surface, it portrays the fight of Joshua and the Israelites against Canaan, although its alternate meaning is a promised escape from slavery. The song has been recorded by artists as varied as Mahalia Jackson, the Swingle Singers, Elvis Presley, and actor/musician Hugh Laurie.

Batle* is from the low-probability section of the Ballard list. However, an OhioLINK search limited to English will still pull up more than 400 results. Excluding the legitimate surname Batley will bring it down to a more manageable 15 entries in the quest to isolate true instances of today’s typo.

(The Taking of Jericho, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Radiaton* (for Radiation, etc.)

The 19-mile exclusion zone around the site of the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine is now home to a thriving wildlife population. In the 25 years since a disastrous meltdown required the government-ordered evacuation of more than 100,000 residents, nature has reclaimed much of the area. But scientists still disagree about how much damage the high levels of radiation have inflicted on local populations of birds, fish, wolves, and other animals.

What is clear is that the region will remain unsafe for human habitation for years to come. And yet some have chosen to return to their villages, willing to take the chance that old age will kill them before radiation-induced cancers or other illnesses can.

Fortunately, radiaton* is not dangerous in an online catalog, merely annoying. It should require little effort to eradicate this low-probability typo. Currently, there are nine entries for it in OhioLINK.

(International symbol for radiation, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Smakes (for Snakes)

When American comedian and singer-songwriter Jim Stafford penned his whimsical 1974 hit “(I Don’t Like) Spiders & Snakes,” did he deliberately choose to name two of the fears that commonly afflict us humans? Google “top phobias,” and nearly all the resulting lists feature arachnophobia (fear of spiders), while a fair number also mention ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). In fact, LiveScience calls the fear of snakes one of the most prevalent and suggests it could be evolutionarily imprinted. As for Stafford’s song, it was successful enough to earn a place on Billboard’s Hot 100 Country Songs, a list of the top country songs to appear on its chart during the first 50 years.

Smakes, a lowest-probability typo, is not nearly so ubiquitous as its associated phobia. There is only one entry for it in the OhioLINK database.

(Caravaggio’s Medusa, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pressent, Pressents (for Present, Presents)

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

Without doubt, the most humorous Christmas present I received this year was “Lizzie’s Leftovers,” a small tin adorned with this jump-rope rhyme and a portrait of the infamous Ms. Borden herself. Inside was a tasty selection of foil-wrapped chocolate body parts!

I remember well the 1975 made-for-television movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden, in which actress Elizabeth Montgomery played the title role. But until I searched for Lizzie’s portrait on Wikipedia, I had no idea America’s favorite witch might actually have been related to the alleged axe murderess–they were thought to be sixth cousins, once removed.

Pressent appears five times in English-language OhioLINK entries, while a search for Pressents yields one.

(Lizzie Borden, circa 1889, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, December 23, 2011

Vladm* + Vladi* (for Vladi* or possibly Vladm*)

One of my very favorite Christopher Hitchens essays concerns one of my all-time favorite novels, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. In an essay, which appeared in the December 2005 Atlantic, Hitchens begins by saying: "In Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, in which young female students meet in secret with Xeroxed copies of Nabokov's masterpiece on their often chaste and recently chadored laps, it is at first a surprise to discover how unscandalized the women are. Without exception, it turns out, they concur with Vera Nabokov in finding that the chief elements of the story are 'its beauty and pathos'..." Vladimir Nabokov loved language and butterflies. Regarding the former, please turn to Lolita if you've not yet had the exquisite pleasure. As to the latter, Nabokov was also a lepidopterist who identified and named the Karner Blue Butterfly, a species first spotted in Albany's "Pine Bush," a beautiful and dwindling ecosystem comprising pine barrens, lupines, and little blue butterflies. There were 29 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK and 404 in WorldCat.

(Butterfly drawn by Vladimir Nabokov for his wife Vera, "Christmas 1969," from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cristmas* (for Christmas*)

The only difference between today's typo and the word for which it stands is the letter H. Which for me this week stands for Hitchens, who famously stood four-square against Christmas. Christopher Hitchens passed away a fortnight ago, but his spirit remains as strong as ever among his many devout followers. He argued fervently against the promotion of religion, the existence of God, and the hypocrisy of many Christians during his final years (his book God Is Not Great came out in 2007) and somehow it seems fitting that his first posthumously published essay should concern the "forced merriment" of Christmas. It seems like it should be one of the happiest days of the year, but then there's always a Hitch. If it's not the compulsory cheer, it's the unrealistic expectations, the crass materialism, the shameless lying to children, the pious bias against non-believers, the holiday-themed Muzak, the drunken mall Santas, the phony flying reindeer, the rock-hard fruitcake, noxious eggnog, hideous sweaters, preening "Christmas letters," etc., etc. Cristmas* was found eight times in OhioLINK and 43 times in WorldCat.

("Where Santa Claus Lives," 1900, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Natoin* (for Nation*)

I first became aware of Christopher Hitchens when he began writing for The Nation in the early 1980s. His column appeared side by side with that of his then friend and political comrade Alexander Cockburn. They were the very first things (helpfully arranged on facing pages) that I turned to every week and I'm sure that was true for many Nation readers. Victor Navasky recalls how one day, shortly after hiring him, "around five p.m. a dimpled five-o'clock shadowed face peered through my half-open door, surrounded by a haze of smoke. 'Drink?' asked the deep, richly accented baritone voice that accompanied all of the above. If it is possible in one word to convey an upper-class sensibility attached to a heart ostentatiously identified with the toiling masses, Christopher Hitchens succeeded." Hitchens succeeded at more things than most of us have ever attempted and, though he wasn't able to outwit cancer, his "elegance, wit, and brilliance," as his grieving editor put it, will live on in the hearts of all who knew and admired him. There were eight instances of Natoin* in OhioLINK today and 36 in WorldCat.

(Current and past editors of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Victor Navasky, courtesy of the New York Times.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dirv* + Driv* (for, usually, Driv*)

Virtually all eight cases of today's typo found in OhioLINK (and 167 in WorldCat) occurred as part of the phrase "CD-ROM drive," a common enough usage nowadays, although to pre-Internet generations, the word drive had a distinctly different connotation. Someday soon we may find ourselves explaining to befuddled young people that in olden days cars didn't just go: people had to drive them. Christopher Hitchens was reportedly a rather bad driver; this, however, may have simply been a principled refusal to get behind the wheel after a typical night out, given his legendary appetite for alcohol. On the other hand, it seems that he also nursed the rather nice fantasy of tooling around in a bookmobile, driving the library to the patrons, the teeming masses yearning to read free. In his introduction to The Best American Essays 2010, Hitchens writes: "When I was very young I lived in a remote village on the edge of an English moorland. Every week, a mobile library would stop near my house, and I would step up through the back door of a large van to find its carpeted interior lined with bookshelves.... If I live to see retirement, I would quite like to be a driver of such a vehicle, bringing books to eager young readers like a Librarian in the Rye." Christopher Hitchens has now gone on to that Great Bookmobile in the Sky, and we're left down here below to thank and praise him for all the wonderful reading material he's brought us over the years.

(Bookmobile of the Zagreb City Libraries, Croatia, 12 October 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fotun* (for Fortun*)

Phil Ochs, whom I blogged about here once before, was born on Dec. 19, 1940, and died on April 9, 1976, at the age of 35. I just watched the 2010 documentary film entitled Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune, which features a few cameo appearances by fellow cultural avatar Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens states that, while it's easy to love Bob Dylan, it takes a special sort of person to appreciate Phil Ochs. I come from a family of "folkies" (folk music aficionados) and was introduced to the music of Phil Ochs when I was a teenager. Like Hitchens, Ochs was an alcoholic and I was well aware that he had died by suicide, however the film made me much more cognizant of his inherited manic-depression along with his deep professional and political disenchantment. Listening to some of his songs as I write this, I am made both melancholy and nostalgic, especially by the words to the unbearably poignant "When I'm Gone." Phil Ochs, much like Christopher Hitchens, was blessed with a truly beautiful voice; both men had the misfortune of losing their voices, to some extent, shortly before their untimely deaths. Long live Phil Ochs and Christopher Hitchens, without whom the Sixties simply would not have been the same. Fotun* was found four times in OhioLINK, and 72 times in WorldCat, although fortunately not all of these are typos. Many of them are, though, so be sure to check your own catalog when you get a chance.

(Poster created for a concert at the Salle Claude Champagne Music School ,Vincent d'Indy, now belonging to the Faculty of Music at the University of Montreal, 1 May 1975, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kippling*, Kilping*, Kiplng* (for Kipling*)

Rudyard Kipling wrote:

We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven't had any tea for a week...
The bottom is out of the Universe.

I've quoted this charming verse before, but please indulge me once again. Christopher Hitchens, who passed away late last night in a hospital in Houston, wrote about Rudyard Kipling for The Atlantic Monthly; he also once wrote about drinking tea. There wasn't very much that Hitchens didn't write about (see his 2011 book of essays, Arguably, for so many marvelous examples) and with his sudden, if not entirely unexpected, demise, it feels like the bottom's dropped out of the universe. I wanted to eulogize Hitchens today in this all too modest space, but it just felt too enormous, too difficult, too wrong somehow. In the midst of a furious flurry of blog postings in the wake of his death, Alexandra Petri warns against the tendency to wax lugubrious or try and get too personal. I have to confess that I too, like all the others, am feeling sort of stupidly sentimental at the moment and possessed of a precious little "how I once met Christopher Hitchens" story, but rest assured I shall restrain myself. Instead, I'll approach the subject obliquely, a little at a time. Sneak up on it, as it were. So today it's about Rudyard Kipling; in my heart, though, it's all about Hitchens. (The typo Kippling* turned up once in OhioLINK and 55 times in WorldCat—14 if combined with the correct spelling. We also found a handful of both Kilping* and Kiplng*.)

(Portrait of Rudyard Kipling from Current History of the War, vol. I, December 1914–March 1915, New York Times Company, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Paly*+ Play* (for Play* or Paly*)

Did the March 19, 1971, episode of TV's The Odd Couple ("What Does a Naked Librarian Say to You?") go beyond the pale in its allusions to public nudity and the stereotyping of our profession? Well, probably, yeah, but on viewing it over forty years later, it still speaks to me with its lighthearted references to both censorship and librarianship. Written by Peggy Elliott and Ed Scharlach, the story concerns Felix's new girlfriend, Madelyn (played by Marj Dusay), who tells him she's a librarian as a means of throwing him off the track to her real occupation, which at the moment is being the lead actress in a nude off-Broadway play. (Murray the cop remembers arresting her during a recent raid on the theater.) The title of the episode is a play on the 1970 film by Allen Funt called What Do You Say to a Naked Lady? Today's combination typo found 23 results in OhioLINK (half a dozen of which were false hits on proper names and words like palynological) and 431 in WorldCat. What do you say you check this one out in your own library's catalog?

(Photo of Marj Dusay, found on the Web.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Railraod* (for Railroad*)

Today is the birthday of Erastus Corning. Which Erastus Corning, you say? The former mayor of Albany, New York? Well, it seems that there were two of those. The original Erastus Corning was born on Dec. 14, 1794. He was elected to office as Albany's mayor and served from 1834 to 1837. A century later, his great-grandson, Erastus Corning 2nd, also became mayor of this fair (?) city, holding onto the job for more than 40 years. (Growing up around here, the words Mayor, Corning, and Democratic Machine were virtually synonymous. His minions—that is to say, the voters—looked upon him as a benevolent despot. I wouldn't exactly say we were railroaded, but I was in college by the time I realized it was actually possible for anyone other than Corning to be mayor.) Unfortunately, I couldn't come up with a good Corning-related typo for the day, but Erastus the elder might just as well have been known as "Mr. Railroad." He was president of the Utica-Schenectady Railroad and a major shareholder and developer of railroads throughout New York State and beyond. Railraod* turned up 13 times in OhioLINK and 289 times in WorldCat. Take a good look today at your own political "machine" in order to rid it of any corruption you might find there.

(Portrait of Erastus Corning, between 1855 and 1865, by either Mathew Brady or Levin C. Handy, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Aslyum* (for Asylum*)

Um, as lies go, most asylums are probably not all they're cracked up to be. The Opal (1851–1860) was the newsletter of the State Lunatic Asylum in Utica, New York, and was a fascinating attempt to shed light on this often maddening subject from the point of view of the patients themselves, who did much of the writing and editing. "Devoted to Usefulness," the newsletter published poems, essays, news articles, correspondence, and editorials; covered local and national events of interest; and addressed topics of a political, religious, literary, and social nature, sometimes in a humorous or satirical way. It also discussed current attitudes and theories concerning mental illness. The Opal's historic and ongoing legacy can be found in the mission of The Opal Project, which is dedicated to "ending psychiatric oppression" in all its forms. Some mental patients are indeed paranoid, but they may not have been the only ones. In 1875, Commissioner Norris of the Kings County Lunatic Asylum stated, with regard to reports of abuse: "This sort of thing is very common among lunatics; they are always imagining themselves in great danger of being killed by their keepers." Well, perhaps so. And perhaps their keepers were always imagining, in some cases anyway, that the inmates weren't running the asylum. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure I witnessed three cases of Aslyum* in OhioLINK this morning, and 40 more in WorldCat.

(Cover of The Opal, vol. 1, no. 1, from the New York State Archives collection.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 12, 2011

Forster* + Foster* (for Foster* or Forster*)

A segment on ABC's 20/20 recently had me wondering what some folks think foster care is actually for—in addition to whom mind-bending, mood-altering prescription drugs are supposed to be for. It seems that many children in foster care are being given "powerful psychotropic drugs" for no apparent reason other than the fact that it's cheaper than therapy. But being distressed over the loss of one's parents or one's home does not constitute mental or emotional illness per se. Traumatic though such things are, they shouldn't really require more than a modicum of medication, along with some counseling and, dare I say love, in order to help most kids deal. According to research conducted by 20/20, these kids are up to 13 times more likely than other children to be prescribed such drugs; "hundreds" of them are on five or more of them at once. One tiny interviewee said the drugs made her "sleepy in the day," while others displayed symptoms that were much more disturbing. Most expressed insight and outrage far beyond their years and spoke feelingly about how happy and "free" they became once they were finally taken off their meds. We found 84 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK and 974 in WorldCat. You'll probably find some in your own catalog as well. Not all of these cases will need correction, of course, but please deal appropriately with those that do.

(Krishna with his foster mother, Yasoda, painted as a Keralite mother and child, 1901, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pwer* (for Power*)

I've blogged about the Powerpuff Girls and the power of squirrels, but never both together in the same posting. The other night I caught an episode of PPG called "Stray Bullet" in which Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup discover a baby squirrel who's been mauled by a mean old owl and then take it home to nurse it back to health. He/she (they can't decide whether to name the patient Lady Josephine, Miss Fluffy, or Bruce) soon recovers and, in fact, develops superpowers of its own, thanks to Bubbles slipping it a bit of Chemical X. The squirrel is then deemed an honorary Powerpuff Girl and given the "B-name" Bullet. But here's the cool thing: it's a red squirrel, despite the fact that the story takes place in "Townsville, U.S.A." (In some cultures, redheads are thought to have supernatural powers, yet the beleaguered red squirrels in Europe seem to be losing the battle.) Later the Powerpuff Girls watch a TV documentary about the "clever and endearing forest squirrel." (The squirrel is gray.) "A highly intelligent creature, known for its charm and resourcefulness, the common North American tree squirrel is a natural acrobat..." The girls object: "That's nothing! Bullet can jump miles further than that! Of course she can! Bullet can fly, silly! Bullet's the best super-squirrel in the whole wide world! No, Bullet's the best any kind of squirrel in the whole wide world! No, Bullet's the best any kind of animal in the whole wide world..." Bring your own superpowers to bear on our typo of the day, which was was found nine times in OhioLINK (all legitimate) and 272 times in WorldCat (a mixed bag).

("Cycling Squirrels? Someone has adapted the warning sign for the West Yorkshire Cycleway, except that red squirrels no longer occur in this area." February 17, 1991, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dewlling* (for Dwelling*)

Fairies drink dew. But you knew that, right? And they dwell under toadstools and in various other spots throughout the garden. The herb Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla) collects the morning dew, which when dropped into the eyes is said to enable one to see fairies. Many people believe in fairies, especially those who dwell in the United Kingdom, and this was particularly true in 1917, when two teenage cousins from Cottingley, England, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, managed to convince quite a few folks that they had not only seen, but photographed, fairies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously defended the photographs as genuine and spent years promoting them to the public. The truth is, they were genuine photos, but they were fake fairies. In the early 1980s, the elderly cousins confessed their longstanding deception (the "fairies" were paper dolls hung from branches), although they disagreed about the nature of the fifth picture and jointly maintained that, in any case, they still saw them. I wouldn't dwell on this too much (or maybe I would), but in the meantime, we found three of these typos hiding in plain sight in OhioLINK, and 40 in WorldCat.

(Frances Griffiths with fairies, taken in 1917, first published in 1920 in The Strand Magazine, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Multp* (for Multiple, etc.)

Our typo of the day is almost always a multiple one. But it's not always easy to tell how many cases we will find, or what the cause for the trouble might have been. In the recent book Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan, we learn that the famous albeit anonymous "Sybil" (Shirley Mason) never had 16 separate personalities at all. Rather, she was part of a folie à trois, comprising her therapist, the author who made her story a bestseller, and herself. Essentially, though, she was a victim of rogue psychiatry and professional aggrandizement. Nathan is the journalist who publicized false sex-abuse cases like McMartin in the Village Voice. She also coauthored, with Michael Snedeker, Satan's Silence in 1995, about the extended hysteria (encompassing everything from "ritual abuse" in daycare centers to "repressed memories" in therapists' offices) that swept the nation during the 1980s. There were four instances of Multp* in OhioLINK and 183 in WorldCat. Take a look at what's inside your catalog today and see what typos you can expose.

(Cover of Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Disese*, Diseas (for Disease, etc.)

'Tis the season for diseases. At least, those of the sore throat, drippy nose, stuffed head, hacking cough kind. I've caught a cold. And, though it's nice to have an excuse to lie on the couch all day and read the new library book, while being brought comfort snacks and cups of herbal tea now and again, it's really no fun being sick. However, the home-remedy "cure for the common cold" self-tinkering is always instructive. This time I'm trying oranges and lemons, garlic and honey, elderberry syrup, and some beautiful purple homeopathic lozenges. I'm feeling under the weather today. It's been raining all afternoon. Time to get back to my book now, though. I'm afraid I'll be feeling much better in the morning. If you feel up to it, get back to work checking for our two typos today. Disese* was found 21 times in OhioLINK and 242 times in WorldCat, while Diseas turned up seven times and 262 times respectively. (I noted some, however, with a "sic" in tow and others that may have been older spelling variants).

(Color lithograph advertising poster: "Dr. D. Jayne's Tonic Vermifuge. A Sure Remedy for Worms. The Best Tonic for Young and Old. The Cure for C[ough]s, Colds, Asthma, or any Lung or Throat Disease, is Dr. D. Jayne's Expectorant." Captioned: "The Child Moses." From Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 5, 2011

Alic + Alice (for Alice)

Today is the birthday of Calvin Trillin, who Wikipedia describes as an "American journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist, and novelist." Trillin was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1935. He attended Yale University and eventually landed jobs in New York City at Time magazine and The New Yorker, where be became a staff writer in 1963. Trillin pens a long-running politically inspired weekly poem for The Nation called "Deadline Poet." Although he has covered some "hard news" over the course of his career, he has a penchant for two topics in particular: food and his late wife, Alice. The book Alice, Let's Eat, published in 1973, pretty much sums up his worldview. Calvin Trillin married the writer and educator Alice Stewart in 1965 and together they had two daughters, whom they brought up in Greenwich Village, where Trillin still resides. Alice Trillin died on September 11, 2001 and her doting husband wrote about her one last time in The New Yorker, March 27, 2006, in an essay entitled "Alice, Off the Page." There were seven cases of Alic + Alice in OhioLINK today and 65 in WorldCat.

(American writer and humorist Calvin Trillin at a discussion at Dartmouth College, February 2, 2oll, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, December 2, 2011

Prsent* (for Present*)

At my family's Thanksgiving celebration over the weekend, my sister handed me a gift bag, an "early Christmas present," she said, "that just can't wait." It was a coffee cup with a picture of Santa Claus on it and the words "Marry Christmas." A typo mug for the typo blog! (As Pee-wee Herman, undoubtedly a big fan of the present-giving holiday, might say: "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?") When I got home later that night and turned on the TV, I immediately heard someone say, "I'm not the marryin' kind..." Well, me neither, I guess, but I'm certainly glad someone was. This present is priceless. And now I can present it to all of you. Prsent* (for present*) turns up 88 times in OhioLINK and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. Here's hoping that those numbers presently go down like a misspelled mug of Christmas grog.

(Mug shot.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Continum* (for Continuum*)

Continuum is one of a relatively small group of words that contain two U's in a row. Many of these have Latin roots; some are Hawaiian. There is, of course, the familiar vacuum, along with the more obscure, and fun to use, ahuula (feather cloak or cape made of minute red or yellow bird feathers, trimmed with black or green feathers, worn in Hawaiia by high chiefs and kings); squush (which the Scrabble dictionary claims is a synonym for squash, and the derivative squushy); and suum (a term imitative of the sound of the wind, used by Shakespeare). Extra credit goes to muumuu (a loose-fitting dress of Hawaiian origin, much favored by Mama Cass) and zuuzuu (candy or confectioneries sold to prisoners from vending machines) for having TWO sets of double U's in each word. There were 14 cases of Continum* in OhioLINK and 470 in WorldCat. Hey, youse guys, do you think you could check your own catalogs for the Case of the Missing U today? (Notice that I'm being a suaviloquus—a term meaning "he who speaks rhetorically"—when I ask that.)

("Continuum" sculpture, 2005, by Michael Snape at Docklands, Victoria-Melbourne, Australia, March 31, 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Opprtun* (for Opportun*)

Recent college graduates face a nine percent unemployment rate and many of them end up living at home with their parents because they're financially unable to support themselves. Not only is there a shortage of jobs requiring the four-year degrees they've worked so hard to obtain, but the burden of trying to pay off their monstrous students loans eats up all the money they do have. It's a very sad situation, for many reasons, but one still finds occasional cause to smile at the thought of equal educational opportunities. I laughed outright when I came across the following typo the other day: "Equal Educational Opportuniact." Yup, I thought, all things being equal, given the current cost-benefit ratio of higher education these days, one could be forgiven for supposing that only a maniac would care to avail themselves of the opportunity. Today's typo, Opprtun*, comes up three times in OhioLINK and 92 times in WorldCat.

(Wesleyan College graduates in 1913, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Biolol* (for Biolog*)

Biology classes, particularly the junior high school kind, can sometimes cause students to LOL, especially when the subject at hand is the human body. Just like with women's stockings, there's "nude" and then there's "transparent." And then, of course, there's "gray," as in Gray's Anatomy, the go-to book for what all's inside us. Genuine intimacy, which frequently leads to good sex, can often allow people to "see right through" their partners. And sex is primarily a function of the brain and the genitals, plus (some would passionately argue) the important inclusion of the heart. But, truthfully, every part of us plays a part. Laughter has also been shown to be closely related to orgasm. I'm not trying to be funny, though, when I say there were four cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 151 in WorldCat.

(Drawing of the female anatomy in Qvinnans Kropp, the Swedish edition of a German book by Dr. G Panzer, 1897, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 28, 2011

Staight (for Straight)

It looks like straights are in curious straits these days. Linguistically speaking, that is. In fact, it's a queer kettle of fish they currently find themselves swimming in. A non-gay guy wrote to Dan Savage recently to ask whether his transsexual friends were being unreasonable by calling him "transphobic" because he had confessed to not finding MTF transsexuals as attractive as "cis females." (Otherwise, his "LGBTQA" credentials appeared to be impeccable.) Was he, he worried, a "hypocrite"? He's not transphobic, replied Dan's expert, Kate Bornstein, a transsexual woman herself. But neither should he be calling himself "straight." Rather, she says, he's a "queer heterosexual." And that's where she loses me. Bornstein is suggesting that the word "straight" no longer serve as a value-free analogue to "gay."The way she sees it, "queer" no longer simply describes one's sexual orientation, or even one's gender identity; it now speaks to personality, politics, and point of view. And, by extension, she seems to be saying, "straight" equates to narrow-minded and prejudiced. (Okay, I'll admit that the word itself has a rather uptight quality, especially when you compare it to "gay." But perhaps we should have thought of that 75 years ago when these slang terms for heterosexual and homosexual were first coined.) So whither "queer"? Is there anywhere else for it to go at this point? It's one thing to "reclaim" a word that's long been used as a cudgel by bigots; it's another to start applying it willy-nilly to anything that strikes one's PC fancy. Will white people who oppose racism become known as "queer Caucasians"? Will ecumenical Jesus followers be referred to as "queer Christians"? Will males who support feminism be called "queer..." (wait, no, that won't work). I fear this far-flung fetching of "queer" to modify anything and everything positive with regard to sexual equality and freedom is a big mistake. (And I find myself cringing over my ancient proselytizing on behalf of made-up words like "herstory," "womyn," and "wimmin" as well.) The guy who wrote Dan that letter is not a "queer heterosexual." He's a plain old heterosexual (otherwise known as straight) who happens to support queers (also known as gays, bis, and trannies). As well we certainly all should. So straighten up and fly right (this includes you queer lefties too!) and search your catalogs for today's typo, which was found six times in OhioLINK and 68 times in WorldCat. My favorite? Rainbow Times: Your Insider for the VSU LGBT Community, by the Valdosta Staight University Gay-Straigh Alliance. Straigh, by the way, gets one hit in OhioLink and 46 in WorldCat. (Note that some of these are personal names, correctly spelled.)

(The Straight Swift, who also goes by another name, the Parnara Guttata, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 25, 2011

Entrepri* (for Enterprise)

Let’s hear it for free enterprise! Black Friday shoppers everywhere must be relieved to know that this year they can get the earliest possible start on those holiday bargains. Several retailers, including Macy’s, Target, and Best Buy, will all open their doors at 12:00 AM. Finally, the 24-hour stores will have some real competition!

By the time you read this, it will be far too late to get the best deals. But there’s still plenty of time to find and correct the moderate-probability typo Entrepri* in your catalog. Doing so will take a little diligence, as limiting an OhioLINK search to English still pulls up 181 entries. Many of these are actually instances of the French “entreprise.”

(Black Friday at Walmart by Dustin, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Morther (for Mother)

In 1991, naturalist and writer Joe Hutto got the rare opportunity to be a mother to 16 wild turkeys after a neighbor left a bowl of eggs on his front porch. Once the eggs hatched, he would spend the next year and a half guiding the youngsters to adulthood. However, as Hutto tells it, he learned more from his constant and sole companions than he taught them, coming to appreciate their individuality, curiosity, intelligence, and complex vocalizations, many of which he in time grew to understand. But most of all, he took from the relationship a profound sense of the turkeys' ability to live entirely in the moment, and the joy that experience brings.

My Life as a Turkey, the film version of Hutto’s story, was aired recently as an episode of the PBS series Nature. It was in turn based on the author’s book Illumination in the Flatwoods.

The lowest-probability typo Morther is much more rare than wild turkeys. At present, there are no entries for it in the OhioLINK database, and a WorldCat search yields only 29 hits. So don’t feel the need to spend your holiday hunting for it in your own catalog.

(Wild male (tom) turkey from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Relationsip* (for Relationship, Relationships)

Perhaps you, like I, missed the news this past spring about a bizarre symbiotic relationship between armadillos and humans. Researchers confirmed that about one third of the leprosy cases diagnosed in the United States each year are the result of humans coming in contact with infected armadillos–often because they ate them. If that’s the bizarre part, here’s the symbiosis: leprosy was unknown in the New World prior to the arrival of Europeans, but armadillos are indigenous to the Americas only. So humans transmitted it to armadillos in the first place!

Relationsip* is a low-probability typo on the Ballard list. There are five English-language entries for it in the OhioLINK catalog.

(Nine-banded armadillo by Tom Friedel, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sciecn* (for Science, etc.)

On June 18, 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke these words in the British House of Commons:

I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

A colleague referenced Churchill’s concern about perverted science when he forwarded me a chilling article from London’s Independent newspaper. “'Super Soldiers': The Quest for the Ultimate Human Killing Machine” describes the attempts of scientists “to produce a soldier who kills without care or remorse, shows no fear, can fight battle after battle without fatigue and generally behave more like a machine than a man.” If they succeed, I wonder if anyone will call this our finest hour.

The typo Sciecn* occurs four times in the OhioLINK database. Three entries are for English-language works, while the last can be found in the title proper of a French work.

(Sir Winston Churchill, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heaa* (for Hear, Heart, etc.)

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? While I can’t answer that age-old question, I can definitely attest to the fact that a toppling tree will make a really loud noise if there are people nearby. Our neighborhood was built in what used to be woods, and one recent windy night, we were quite startled by a large crash next door. Fortunately, there was no loss of life or limb—well, except for the tree itself!

Heaa* is a low-probability typo with only three entries in OhioLINK, so hopefully you won’t find many in your own catalog. And even if you do, at least you won’t need a chain saw to get rid of them.

(Fallen Oak 4 by erinmont, from stock.xchng)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, November 18, 2011

Citze* (for Citize*)

You might want to sit down for this one. Especially if you've just had a baby/episiotomy or are suffering from hemorrhoids, prostate problems, anal or vaginal fissures, genital herpes, inflammatory bowel disease, or bladder infections. Pretty much anything that ails you "down there." Sitz baths, which some people call "sits" baths and which comes from the German word Sitzbad—a bath (Bad) in which one sits (sitzen)—are ones in which the bather sits in water that just covers the buttocks and hips. They work by increasing circulation to the affected area and keeping it clean. You can buy "sitz baths" that attach to the commode, or you can simply run a little water in the tub. Some people like to add mineral salts, baking soda, or vinegar to the water. You can also alternate between hot and cold immersions every few minutes. It doesn't necessarily make you a good citizen to take them, but it does show a certain can-do spirit to try healing thyself at home before running off to see the doctor. See if you can find any samples of this typo that might be sitting in your catalog today. This one occurred 38 times in OhioLINK and 323 times in WorldCat.

(Nineteenth-century bathtub in Ludington, Michigan, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scandel, Scandels (for Scandal, Scandles)

In the wake of the disturbing allegations of sex abuse at Penn State University, Dr. Drew Pinsky referred to childhood sexual abuse as the "gift that keeps on giving" and added that this was "irony, folks." He apparently had been criticized earlier for this statement and now added that what he had meant was that abuse has lifelong effects and is often passed down through generations. My first reaction was that it wasn't irony so much as sarcasm, but after I considered for a bit, I concluded that Dr. Drew was right. These words are defined as near synonyms, both involving "incongruity" between literal meaning and intent, with irony edging out sarcasm in the "wit" and "subtlety" departments. According to "The distinctive quality of SARCASM is present in the spoken word and manifested chiefly by vocal inflection, whereas IRONY and SATIRE, arising originally as literary and rhetorical forms, are exhibited in the organization or structuring of either language or literary material." If Dr. Drew had said, "Molestation makes a great Christmas gift" or "It's just what I've always wanted!" that would have been sarcasm. He would have been saying the exact opposite of what he meant. But in fact what he said, albeit idiomatically, was precisely what he intended. It's just incongruous to speak of gifts and abuse in the same breath. That's what makes it ironic. Ironically, I couldn't find any typos for irony or sarcasm, etc., in OhioLINK. But Scandel and Scandels were in relative abundance, found 15 times and two times apiece. Not the worst thing in the world, all things considered, but certainly worth looking into.

(Irony picture from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parmaceu* (for Pharmaceu*)

If your idea of la dolce vita is a ham and cheese sandwich in a bucolic and historic section of Italy, the city of Parma is for you. According to Wikipedia, Parma is "famous for its ham (Prosciutto di Parma), its cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano), its architecture, and the fine countryside around it." Parma is an exceptionally old city, "already a built-up area in the Bronze Age." Although it "did not see widespread destruction" during the Second World War, portions of the Biblioteca Palatina were wiped out by Allied bombing. There are still many beautiful old churches, palaces, and other sights to be seen there, including the Museum House of Arturo Toscanini and the Ospedale Vecchio ("Old Hospital"). The latter was originally built in 1250 and later renovated during the Renaissance; currently it's home to the State Archives and Communal Library. Instead of a trip to your local pharmacy, a visit to Parma may be just the cure for what ails you. Parmaceu* (for pharmaceu*) pops up nine times in OhioLINK and 71 times in WorldCat.

(Townhall of Parma, Italy, March 28, 2002, by Herbert Ortner, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Squirel* (for Squirrel*)

For over a century now, the Eurasian red squirrel has been gradually displaced by the Eastern gray squirrel (which is the more common squirrel this side of the pond) and is currently facing possible extinction in the U.K. Desperate and depressed over this invasive species, English squires and their ilk have begun organizing shooting parties. Red squirrels are apparently less of a nuisance than gray ones and seem to be a bit more attractive or arresting, like most redheads do. (If the one shown here isn't cute enough for you, check out this baby picture.) We have a lot of squirrels in our own backyard and, so far, we rather enjoy their antics. My companion refers to them, when they really get going, as the "Curious Squirrel Circus," a sort of rodent Cirque de Soleil. But gray squirrels, in general, are pretty naughty. They climb bird feeders, dig up flower bulbs, and worse. Just like me, though, they love nuts and forget where they put things. (They even have a name like mine: Sciurus carolinensis). Don't forget to check your catalog for today's typo, which was found five times in OhioLINK and 79 times in WorldCat.

(Red squirrel in Bialowieza National Park, Poland, May 23, 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 14, 2011

Buget* (for Budget*)

"Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I'll go eat worms..." goes the dispirited children's ditty, and while bugs are not worms, exactly, most people hold exactly the same morose viewpoint when it comes to eating them as well. However, if you happen to be on a tight budget, bugs just might fill the bill. Many insects, in fact, are not only edible, but highly nutritious, and commonly consumed throughout the world. While I couldn't find any appetizing pictures on Wikimedia Commons of chocolate-covered ants or anything to feature here, I did come across this adorable picture of a couple of dapper-looking grasshoppers who could be heading out to lunch. (Actually, they're copulating, but it seems they might have already had a bit of grass to get them in the mood.) Mexican grasshoppers are often eaten roasted with chiles and lime and are called chapulines. Not to bug you about this, but try and budget some time to check for today's typo, which was found 15 times in OhioLINK and 428 times in WorldCat.

(Differential Grasshoppers, copulating, by Eric R. Eaton, Oct. 10, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 11, 2011

Separt* (for Separat*, Depart*)

A young person of whom I'm very fond informed me recently that she'd just read the John Knowles novel, published in 1959 and beloved of high school English teachers ever since, A Separate Peace. (The title comes from a line in Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.) Somehow having missed this perennial assignment during my own tender years, I found myself finally settling down to read it on Veterans Day. This poignant memoir is set in 1944 at a tony New Hampshire prep school known as "Devon" and is loosely based on the author's experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy (one of the characters bears a resemblance to fellow alumnus Gore Vidal). It's an idyllic coming of age before going to war, and the personal/political tragedy that punctuated and defined it. Protagonist Gene Forrester movingly tells the story of his close and complex relationship with his roommate Phineas and how they were ultimately separated amid classmates' departures into a world dominated by defense departments. There were 26 cases of today's typo (usually but not always for separate, etc.) in OhioLINK (half a dozen or so being transcribed instances of antiquated spelling) and 681 in WorldCat.

(A Separate Peace, 1960 MacMillan edition, courtesy of Whitmore Rare Books.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Invisb* (for Invisible, Invisibility)

Some typos don't show up very often, or hardly ever appear at all, because the words they're meant to represent simply don't occur with much frequency themselves. Such near invisible typos include the pairs Wale* + Wail* (only three in OhioLINK, all false hits in one way or another) and Wales + Wale (which also got three hits, two of them legit). In the 1933 James Whale classic The Invisible Man, Una O'Connor gives a whale of a performance. She plays the the Irish innkeeper's wife and I'm not sure which is more disconcerting, listening to her shrill banshee-like wailing after "seeing" the Invisible Man, or watching Claude Rains disrobe into total nothingness in her sitting room. There were 13 cases of Invisb* in OhioLINK and 113 in WorldCat. Take a look in your own catalog today and, by fixing any you see there, render this typo invisible. For now. Just remember to keep an "I" (or three, or five) on (or in) it.

(The Invisible Man movie poster, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Movel* + Novel* (for Novel* or Movel*)

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is the brainchild of author Chris Baty and it's been taking place every November for the past ten years or so. The goal is to churn out 50,000 words by the end of the month, which, in case you're wondering, comes out to about 1600 words a day. In 1999, Baty and some friends launched the project in San Francisco with 21 participants; by the following year, the ranks of the writerly wannabes had swelled to 140. In 1992, there were 5,000 people signed up and last year over 200,000. If you haven't gotten started on your novel yet, it's definitely time to get a move on. No Plot, No Problem! is how Baty puts it in the title of his self-help book; the main thing is just to keep it moving. It's all about the word count, at least for now. (Apparently, December has been dubbed "National Editing Month" to allow and encourage post-NaNo revising and proofreading.) Just channel your inner grade-schooler trying to make your composition long enough: "It was a very very very very very cold and rainy day in November when I finally sat down to write my novel...." NaNoWriMo has been criticized for seeming to suggest that anybody can be a successful writer and for trivializing the art of authorship, but while some of the points made in that regard do resonate a bit, I really don't think there's anything wrong with encouraging people to try writing this way. We can't all be Irma Rombauer, but we can all practice and experience the joy of cooking. Likewise, you might not have a novel when you're done here; you may just have 50,000 words of something. But novel schmovel, I say have fun with it. Writing is no different than any other hobby or means of self-expression. It's inherently pleasurable and mind-expanding and sometimes one simply has to "do it" to find that out. We found three cases of today's typo in OhioLINK and 34 in WorldCat.

(Chris Baty, from the Web.)


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Turth (for Truth)

In the 1957 British comedy The Truth About Women, directed by Muriel Box and co-written with her producer husband Sydney, the simple truth is that there is no single truth when it comes to women. Laurence Harvey plays Sir Humphrey Tavistock, a long in the tooth man of the world (a baronet in the diplomatic corps) who's seemingly seen it all: from a financially independent suffragette who wants to live together without benefit of marriage (Diane Cilento) to an oppressed but highly ranked harem girl (Jocelyn Lane); a modern-minded Paris matron looking to take a lover (Eva Gabor); an American heiress with an avaricious mother (Lisa Gastoni); a talented if timorous British painter (Julie Harris); and an utterly selfless Swedish nurse (Mai Zetterling). Tavistock's maritally maladroit son-in-law prompts him to recount, via flashbacks and philosophy, his many and varied romances throughout the years. It's not a great movie, truthfully, but it is a nice premise, neatly done, and offers an interesting look at 20th-century sex roles and attitudes, especially if you enjoy British films from the 1950s—which, in truth, I do. Turth was unearthed five times in OhioLINK and 69 times in WorldCat. You can try truncating this typo as well, but as with love, be prepared for some false hits.

(Actress Diane Cilento, photographed 5 January, 1954, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 7, 2011

Adnrew (for Andrew)

Andrew Aitken Rooney was born on January 14, 1919, and grew up only a few blocks from the house where my mother, aunts, and uncles did. He even looked rather startlingly like my late uncle, with whom he shared many of the same Depression-era thriftiness (aka collecting/hoarding) tendencies and curmudgeonly attitudes. Not to mention a keen wit and intellectual curiosity, true patriotism and willingness to serve his country, and an unwavering atheism. In a lot of ways he feels much like a member of the family. Rooney was a lifelong writer and reporter, starting on the literary magazine at Albany Academy; moving on to the student newspaper at Colgate University, the military newspaper Stars & Stripes, and various other print and television gigs (working for both Arthur Godfrey and Harry Reasoner); and ending up on 60 Minutes in 1978. I saw him give the keynote address at the NYLA conference in 2001 on the topic "Libraries: Investment in the Future." (His speech was a lot grouchier and funnier than that stuffy title makes it sound.) Andy Rooney died last Friday at the age of 92, just a month after he had reluctantly retired. The 60 Minutes clock, which has been comforting and afflicting us every Sunday night from 7 till 8 since 1968, will go right on ticking without him, but it really won't be the same. Rest in peace, Albany's own Andy Rooney, and thanks for all the memories. Today's typo appeared four times in OhioLINK and 37 times in WorldCat.

(Andy Rooney, photographed by Stephenson Brown, June 3, 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 4, 2011

Productin* (for Production*)

The Story of Temple Drake was considered so daring in its day that it's been credited with ushering in the Motion Picture Production Code (also known as the Hays Code), or at least affording it the clout needed to effectively censor the movies. It's based on the William Faulkner novel Sanctuary and stars the evanescent and eponymous Miriam Hopkins, along with a great cast overall, including the sexily thuggish Jack La Rue. Hopkins plays a "hedonistic" young woman, granddaughter of the town judge and a bit of a tease (found written on a restroom wall: Temple Drake is just a fake. She wants to eat and have her cake). She's a good-hearted good-time girl, though, who simply prefers partying to being some man's property. In what is perhaps the first cinematic deployment of "It's isn't you, it's me," Temple rejects a marriage proposal by adding: "It's just me ... it's something inside me ... it's like there's two me's..." Of course, there's much much more to this "1933 scorcher," which, according to TCM guest host Michael Phillips, "gets more evildoing done into seventy minutes than most films can come up with at twice that length." A search on Productin* (for production*) produced 27 hits in OhioLINK and 855 in WorldCat.

(Glass slide advertisement for The Story Of Temple Drake, courtesy of Jeff Bridges on Flickr.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thomson* + Thompson* (for Thompson* or Thomson*)

I learned the word flâneur while reading a eulogy for Martin Slobodkin (no apparent relation to Louis), the dearly departed "Boston bon vivant." The author referred to Mr. Slobodkin as having been more than merely "a man in a flaneursuit." According to Wikipedia, a flâneur is a detached pedestrian observer of a metropolis, or as Charles Baudelaire expressed it, a "gentleman stroller of city streets." There is no exact equivalent for the term in English. The concept of the flâneur is important in the work of Walter Benjamin, plays a role in academic discussions of modernity, and is also used in architecture and urban planning. "The Flâneur is typically well aware of his slow, leisurely behaviour and had been known to exemplify this state of being by walking turtles on leashes down the streets of Paris." The idea of someone taking a turtle for a walk put me in mind of Eloise at the Plaza, "the only hotel in New York," she points out, "that will allow you have a turtle." While scarcely evoking the words "slow" or "leisurely," Eloise in Paris could have been dubbed the "Frantic Flâneur," or maybe the "Flighty Flâneur." As a further point of interest, Eloise was reportedly modeled on Liza Minnelli, the goddaughter of author Kay Thompson. It occurs to me that Liza at the Plaza might have made a marginally better title for the book, but perhaps those involved felt it wiser not to be too explicit about who the heroine's "rawther" neglectful mother actually was. There were 1194 hits on Thomson* + Thompson* in OhioLINK (although some of these, of course, are bound to be cases of two people/two spellings). Walk, don't run, to your nearest library catalog to check for this typo today.

(Illustration picturing Eloise walking her turtle Skipperdee.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Villian* (for Villain*)

Batman, the wonderfully campy TV show that ran from 1966 to 1968, centered around the trials and tribulations of Batman and Robin, aka "millionaire Bruce Wayne" (played by Adam West) and "his youthful ward Dick Grayson" (Burt Ward, another happy homonym). It was filled with variegated villains—does anyone remember Roddy McDowall as "The Bookworm"? Villainesses were never in short supply either and famously included Catwoman (played by Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar), along with Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (Carolyn Jones); Ma Parker (Shelley Winters); Zelda the Great and Olga, Queen of the Cossacks (Anne Baxter); Lola Lasagne (Ethel Merman); Lady Peasoup (Glynis Johns); Dr. Cassandra Spellcraft (Ida Lupino); The Black Widow (Tallulah Bankhead); Minerva (Zsa Zsa Gabor); "women's rights advocate" Nora Clavicle (Barbara Rush); and Lorelei Circe, also known as "The Siren" and portrayed by Joan Collins. ("Well, look who's here," she sneers, ball-bustingly, in The Wail of the Siren: "Batgirl and Batboy!") It's hard to beat the female baddies of Gotham City for sheer panache, although Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) was not just the daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon, but also a "sexy librarian," giving new meaning to the old adage "Knowledge is power." OhioLINK uncovers 111 cases of Villian* (some are personal names, but most seem to be typos for villain*) and WorldCat a whopping 1,253. Wham! Bam! Pow! Defeat those typos now!

(Screen capture of the title card for Batman, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Smyp* (for Symp*)

Deborah Kerr and John Kerr homonymically co-star in the 1956 movie Tea and Sympathy, based on a stage play by Robert Anderson. (Homonyms are, strictly speaking, "one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings"; technically, the two Kerrs are homographs.) Deborah Kerr (like the automobile) and John Kerr (like the mongrel dog) play Laura Reynolds, the wife of a macho-seeming house master, and Tom Lee, the insecure prep school student she takes under her wing. Laura and Tom do not always look or sound like the other people around them—Tom in particular is taunted by his classmates for being a "sister boy." His perceived lack of sexual and athletic prowess is seen as symptomatic of a strange otherness. In one pivotal scene (though these words are not actually used), Tom is clearly shown to be a bit "light in the loafers," as they used to say. Laura is drawn to the boy, who reminds her of her first husband, an equally sensitive soul who died trying to prove his masculinity. She proffers the tormented Tom "tea and sympathy," which at times seems to spill over into something more. Some critics have deemed this film a cop-out for suggesting that Tom is truly heterosexual, but in a sense it's rather timely given the current focus on bullying and the fact that young people, especially males, are often targeted for "acting gay," whether they really are or not. Nevertheless, the censors fought this film every step of the way. Have some sympathy for today's typo, which was found five times in OhioLINK and 70 times in WorldCat. All five of the former, it should be noted, are for forms of the word symphony, a carefully composed piece of beautiful music, something which Laura and Tom manage to make together by the film's end.

(First edition cover of Tea and Sympathy, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid