Friday, August 31, 2012

Ninteen* (for Nineteen*)

Returning to Albany by car on the lovely Taconic Parkway the other day, we were momentarily startled by a gigantic gleaming female visage gazing down at us on the right. (There wasn't even time to form the initialisms OMG, WTF, etc., but that was certainly what was going through our own puny heads.) It turns out this ghostly apparition is actually a nineteen-foot cement sculpture called "Gaia" or "Mother Earth," created by the "self-taught sculptor" Roy Kanwit as part of a "whimsical sculpture garden," according to a 2001 article in the New York Times. "The inside of the head is hollow and has a wooden ladder leading to an opening on top with panoramic views of the countryside," writes the Times. "Think of the Statue of Liberty without the crown." The statue was completed in 1996 after two years' work. Kanwit estimates that about 2,500 people each year pull off the highway in order to inspect the sculpture up close and to visit the rest of the gallery. In keeping with the outsized nature of the colossal head upon the hill, we retrieved an impressive 140 hits in OhioLINK on today's typo, while WorldCat had "too many records found for your search." So let's not be ninnies and miss this opportunity to look for Ninteen* in our own catalogs as well.

(Gaia Head in Spencertown, New York, by permission of the photographer.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tomatoe, Tomatos (for Tomato, Tomatoes)

What's black and white and red all over? Well, you may have read in the newspaper that the bespattered citizens of Buñol, Spain, with a smattering of tourists tossed into the mix, painted the town red yesterday in unfettered celebration of an annual food fight/festival known as La Tomatina. Like my own garden writ large, the people there apparently have more tomatoes than they know what to do with, but if you want to know the way to make an excellent (and edible) red sauce, here's how. The Spanish festival, which somehow honors both the Virgin Mary and St. Louis Bertrand, began in 1945 and became an official holiday in 1952. Approximately 150,000 tomatoes are sacrificed on this day, whose slippery theme is set in motion when one participant attempts to capture a cooked ham set atop a greasy pole. Although not nearly enough to satisfy the hurling hedonists of Buñol, there were four Tomatos found in OhioLINK this morning, and 99 in WorldCat; the Dan Quayle-like spelling of the singular, Tomatoe, was found six and 77 times in turn. While the Spanish town and its inhabitants may be red all over on the last Wednesday of every August, the matter of how to spell words like tomato and tomatoes is not an entirely black and white one. The rules on words that end in o are somewhat complicated and inconsistent. The OED supposedly includes tomatos as a legitimate variant, but most modern dictionaries don't. Be especially careful to check the spelling on the works themselves here, as any examples you find may be somewhat more likely than usual to reflect the way it was written on the original.

(Girls enjoying La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain, August 25, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Austis* (for Autism, Autistic)

Today is the birthday of Temple Grandin, which I notice makes her astrological sign Virgo. Virgos are known for being very precise and detail-oriented, which are often elements found in the extreme in people with autism or Asperger syndrome. A high-functioning autistic, Grandin is a doctor of animal science and a professor at Colorado State University. She is also a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She designed the therapeutic and stress-relieving "hug machine" in 1965 after observing how confinement in a squeeze chute would calm cattle that were headed to slaughter, and recalling how similar "deep pressure stimulation" had had a similar effect on her own hypersensitivity. I first became aware of her work in the short documentary film, "Stairway to Heaven," the first in the excellent Errol Morris series First Person. Though she has had a remarkable life and career, its pinnacle was probably reached in 2010 when she became the subject of the award-winning HBO film Temple Grandin, and was also named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. We found 23 cases of Austis* in OhioLINK, and 220 in WorldCat.

(Temple Grandin at the 2010 TED conference, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Farmi* + Frami* (for Frami*or Farmi*)

Most Americans hold our Founding Fathers in high esteem, but your opinion of them may go higher still when you learn that such freedom-loving notables as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were fond of smoking marijuana. At least, that is, according to a gentleman called "Dr. Burke" of the so-called American Historical Reference Society, who informs us that no fewer than seven early U.S. presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Taylor, and Pierce) were avid cannabis fans. The latter three were reported to have indulged with their troops (Pierce wrote in a letter home that it was just "about the only good thing" he could say about the war) and Burke further asserts that pot was twice as popular among American soldiers in Mexico as it was in Vietnam. He also claims that Washington and Jefferson liked to exchange "smoking blends" as gifts; that Washington preferred smoking "leaves of hemp" over drinking alcohol; that Madison had once said the practice afforded him insight into our nation's nascent democracy; and that Monroe had begun smoking while ambassador to France and maintained the habit until he was 73. Dr. Burke points out that Jefferson, who brought Chinese hemp seeds to America, was responsible for perhaps the most resounding phrase in the Declaration of Independence: "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Since many of these "framers" were also farmers, they were able (both practically and legally) to grow their own supply of weed. We found a moderate supply of today's combination typo in OhioLINK (17 hits to be exact, with a half dozen or so false positives) and 198 in WorldCat. There were also 13 examples of Farmer* + Framer* in OhioLINK (several of them being non-typos) and 87 in WorldCat.

(Miniature portrait of Thomas Jefferson at age 33 by John Trumbull, 1788, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 27, 2012

Serach* (for Search*)

In a television ad for (formerly Ask Jeeves and now the fifth largest search engine on the web), a perplexed, if not flat-out flummoxed, woman wonders: "Is it wrong to use salt when you're cooking?" Well, not if you ask me, no. Of course not. But sometimes, I guess, yes. Obviously, it depends upon what you're cooking (there are optimal times at which to add it, according to recipe) and whether or not you have a medical condition that precludes it. But generally speaking, salt isn't bad for you. And it's definitely good for cooking. returns results that don't seem all that different from what Google would get you, but the company is currently at pains to explain why it's better. And the recent TV commercials seem to be part of that ongoing effort. As for the salt question, I wouldn't necessarily trust what either search engine has to tell you. Just like with eggs, milk, meat, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, etc., the findings of various "studies" seem to fluctuate daily. I mean, don't get me wrong. Go right ahead and ask. But just don't automatically believe everything that shakes out. A quick search in OhioLINK turns up 14 records containing this typo of the day, along with 304 found in WorldCat.

(Table salt and peppercorns, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paticl* (for Particle, etc.)

Earlier this summer, the news was full of reports that scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider facility in Switzerland had (perhaps) finally discovered the Higgs boson. This elusive particle is also dubbed the “God Particle” because the field it generates is thought to give things in the universe their mass.

It surely was no coincidence that soon thereafter, the Urban Dictionary word of the day was “Oh My God Particle.” Not nearly so weighty in import, it’s defined as “the gene in a person’s DNA that causes him or her to constantly text ‘OMG!’”

Paticl* is a typo of low probability. You can discover two instances of it in OhioLINK.

(Simulated Higgs boson signature, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Acobat* (for Acrobat, etc.)

According to the Web site of Tino Wallenda (grandson of the famous Karl), the family Wallenda has been a “traveling circus troupe consisting of acrobats, jugglers, clowns, aerialists and animal trainers” since at least 1780.  In the 20th century, the Wallendas became a household name with their feats of derring-do executed without the protection of a net.  The apex was their seven-person, three-level chair pyramid, which the family performed on the high wire from 1948 until tragedy struck in 1962.  After a long hiatus, the pyramid was resurrected in 1998, and in 2001, the Wallendas surpassed themselves with an eight-person and then a ten-person pyramid, securing a Guinness World Record.  The nickname “Flying Wallendas” is said to have come from a newspaper report of an accident during which “the Wallendas fell so gracefully that it seemed as if they were flying."

There is nothing graceful about the typo Acobat*.  There are two instances of it in OhioLINK, both in reference to the more pedestrian software of that name.

(Nik Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope, June 15, 2012, by Dave Pape, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak   

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bilogy (for Biology)

Uh oh, it sounds like somebody needs a basic biology lesson.  This past Sunday, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri told KTVI-TV in St. Louis that in cases of “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Because his understanding from doctors is that resulting pregnancies are “really rare,” Mr. Akin believes abortion laws need not contain an exception for rape victims.  Really?!?!? 

These comments garnered the aspiring senator loads of attention, although not the type he might have wished for.  The backpedaling has been rapid, but your chances of encountering the low-probability typo bilogy might be higher than his odds for getting elected right now.  There are four instances of this error in the OhioLINK database.

(Symbiosis between clownfish and sea anemone, one of the marvels of biology, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Veriodicals (for Periodicals)

Veridically speaking, veriodicals is a typo of low probability for that most common of subject subdivisions, periodicals. There is only one instance of it in OhioLINK, and you can be glad the errors are all you need to find; even limited to English language, a keyword search on “periodicals” in that database (and our local catalog) maxes out at 32,000 hits.

(Periodicals vendor outside London’s Paddington Station, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mocrofirm (for Microfilm, Microform)

Today’s blog entry should make you smile.  In much the same way that digitization has rendered microfilm largely obsolete, the typo Mocrofirm has apparently become extinct in library catalogs.  There are currently no entries for what was once a moderate-probability error in either the OhioLINK or WorldCat databases.  However, even though we're not so lucky with other variants that also appear on the Ballard list (some of which have been featured in past entries), we’ll leave those for another day.

(Washington, D.C. Developing microfilm. Library of Congress, image from the Prints and Photographs Division)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, August 17, 2012

Compac (for Compact)

Today is the 20th birthday of the music CD, in a way – on August 17, 1982, the first compact disc was released to the public. It was a classical album of Chopin piano waltzes, manufactured by Polygram Records. The first pop album produced on CD was ABBA’s The Visitors. I didn’t get my first CDs until I was a preteen in the early 1990s: albums by Pink Floyd and the Eagles (courtesy of my classic rock-loving father, who indoctrinated me early). They were so exciting, all shiny and reflecting rainbows, with no pesky tape to get tangled up in ribbons. Now, the world is moving steadily toward digital music, but I can’t give up my CDs. There’s something really special about talking to knowledgeable staff in a music store (they've introduced me to some wonderful jazz artists), opening gorgeous liner art for the first time, and pestering my favourite musicians to sign my CD while I ask them all sorts of foolish questions (I once told Canadian folksinger Sarah Harmer that her hair was “super pretty” – not one of my finest moments). So here’s to the 20th year of CD sales, and hoping there are another 20 to follow. Compac (without the T) is a low probability typo. When searching for it in your catalogue, watch out for legitimate uses of the word, such as the publisher Compac Reader Group, and various organizations and government groups acronymed as COMPAC.

(CD image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Leanne Olson

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Austala* (for Australa*, Australia*)

Austala* is a moderate probability typo, likely when the cataloguer was attempting to spell Australasia, but forgot the R. Misspelling Australia this way is more difficult – you’d have to lose the I as well. Perhaps if you got hit in the head by a boxing kangaroo, the disorientation might be enough? One of my favourite Looney Tunes episodes starred poor Sylvester the Cat versus the “giant boxing mouse” – actually a kangaroo, imported from Australia. A ‘roo is significantly larger and more vicious than a mouse, and a worthy adversary. I’ve been following the story of an escaped zoo kangaroo in Europe this week, who was wandering through Germany. If you’re adding to your list of life skills, I’ve read up on some tips for defending yourself against a kangaroo attack (from Slate and elsewhere): turn your body sideways, to give a smaller profile and defend your precious internal organs from its claws. Keep your face away to protect it as well. Put a barrier in between you, even a large tree branch if you can find one. Walk away slowly – don’t run, as it will out-hop you, and kick as it goes. Yikes! I think I’ll stick with my usual method of avoiding a kangaroo attack: don’t go near a kangaroo.

(Kangaroo photo by Ester Inbar, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Leanne Olson

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tradegy (for Tragedy)

Say “tragedy” ten times fast and it’s easy to get confused: the G and D begin to sound the same. Once you get used to it, though, the spelling makes sense. Repeating a good tongue twister is an important warmup for an actor performing a Shakespearean tragedy. My personal favourite sneaks up on you: try saying the woman’s name "Peggy Babcock" five times in a row. It took me months to work up to that one, though it doesn’t look as obviously difficult as “The sixth Sheik’s sheep’s dead” – considered one of the most difficult tongue twisters in the English language. Either can help you master the Bard's rapidfire dialogue. I’ve got tragedy on the brain, since this is the anniversary of the death of an historical figure who inspired Shakespeare’s Macbeth: the King of Scotland was killed on August 15th, 1057. He was apparently a very different figure than the play's corrupted, cowardly, and power-hungry general controlled by his wife. Though Macbeth did become king after the death of Duncan I, he killed Duncan (then a young king, known as “Duncan the Diseased” – not that beloved by his people, perhaps) in battle, not in his sleep. Of course, Shakespeare changed many stories for artistic reasons, but that doesn’t give us cataloguers free rein to change spellings willy-nilly. Beware tradegy, a moderate probability typo for tragedy, lest your catalogue be a database constructed by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but fruitless user searches finding nothing.

(Painting of the witches from Macbeth by Johann Heinrich Füssli courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Leanne Olson

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Critcs (for Critics)

August 14th, 1915 was the birthdate of Max S. Klein. Klein invented Paint by Number in collaboration with Dan Robbins, a painter who created the initial sets in the 1950s. Paint by Number craft sets consisted of brushes, premixed paints, and a canvas or board that depicted a pre-drawn image split into hundreds of tiny sections numbered with a different color. Fans of the fad selected the correctly-numbered colour and filled in the section, revealing the painting one piece at a time. It involved great attention to detail: if you painted one section the wrong colour, it would mess up the painting – just as a small error in typing the word critics only creates the confusing non-word, critcs. In letters to the periodical American Artist, critics bemoaned the mindless conformity involved and saw Paint by Number as a symbol of the downfall of American culture. Perhaps it was, but as a child in the 80s with zero artistic talent, I simply appreciated that they would let me paint a horse that looked like a horse, instead of an alien creature that resembled a half-dog, half-rat (which is how my original paintings turned out). Fans (or critics) can search the extensive catalogue at the online Paint by Number Museum to see the wide variety of kits made over the years, including a scene from the Grand Canyon, a portrait of President Kennedy, a 9/11 memorial and of course, plenty of horses.

(Image of Paint by Number horse from

Leanne Olson

Monday, August 13, 2012

Relaxtion (for Relaxation)

Now that the Olympics are over, there will be less excitement, but perhaps more sleep in my life – no more waking at 4am to catch my favourite events live, and staying up past 11pm to finish the primetime coverage. The more tired I am, the more typos I’m likely to create – it’s easy for my sluggish fingers to miss a letter in relaxation, creating today’s typo, relaxtion. But how to get my circadian rhythm back on track? Ease off the caffeine slowly and close the blinds to ignore sunrise…maybe down some relaxing chamomile tea before bed, or count sheep jumping over a fence. I’ve often wondered why sheep, in particular. The phrase "counting sheep" was used as far back as the mid-19th century, and has remained in popular culture through depiction in cartoons and that Serta mattress commercial, but I know nothing of its origin. It works, though: the fluffy white body of a sheep reminds me of the comfy pillow where my head rests, or the calming sight of white clouds on a lazy summer day as I relax in my hammock. Sleep soon follows.

(Photo of sheep by Eric Jones, from Wikimedia Commons)

Leanne Olson

Friday, August 10, 2012

Admend* (for Amend*)

When the Supreme Court upheld Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, some liberal fans of the First Amendment may have felt that their raison d'etre had now been amended past the point of no return. Admendment is definitely a typo, but leading with an ad like that, it actually seems to reflect the Court's thinking on "corporate speech" more effectively than the conventional spelling would. Perhaps the word free should withdraw from the race as well. Political speech these days seems to be anything but free; in fact, it often looks like only the very rich can afford it. When mean-seeming right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh rule the radio waves, while well-meaning left-leaners like Air America flounder and fail, it's easy enough to assume that all liberals might be in favor of "equal time" regulations or the erstwhile Fairness Doctrine, as well as a Supreme Court that doesn't regard corporations as "people" who are endowed with "rights." However, such an assumption would not be entirely correct. For proof of this, we need to look no further than the fact that free-speech guru Nat Hentoff has argued that the Court's decision on Citizens United was the right one. Also, in the Jan. 31, 2011, edition of The Nation there appeared a piece entitled: "Debating 'Citizens United'" by Floyd Abrams and Burt Neuborne. Abrams, in contrast to Neuborne and the editorial staff of The Nation itself, claims that "the opinion was based on the First Amendment" and that this point "seemed only to add to [the dissenters'] sense of insult. Some dealt with that uncomfortable reality by simply ignoring what the opinion said..." Neuborne counters: "At the rate the Court is going, soon we will be able to be adopted by a corporation. Maybe even marry one. Until then, I'm afraid we'll just have to settle for being f****d by them." This is not an easy case to crack, but intelligent liberals (and conservatives) can clearly disagree. There were 17 cases of Admend* found in OhioLINK today, and 316 in WorldCat.

(Activists of the Ukrainian women's movement FEMEN shout "Hillary, help us!" and "Strong women - strong country" during their topless protest at the Hayatt Hotel in Kiev, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was staying during a visit, July 2, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Enteries (for Entries)

What do you say when someone knocks on your door? (Someone, that is, whom you want to see, not a bill collector or Jehovah's Witness or what have you.) Most English speakers respond: "Come in" or "Come on in" or maybe "Enter." En français it would be "Entrez." (Although French eateries are also known for other kinds of entrées.) Certain folks like to spice up their replies with a cheery "Welcome!" or a cautious "Who's there?" Others might chide: "Don't stand out there in the hallway." Or, depending on who it is, urgently hiss: "Get in here!" Literary types may even jokingly issue the dire-sounding advisory: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" (the inscription on the Gates of Hell from Dante's Inferno). The thesaurus isn't much help in this regard, although you could try telling your visitor to "make an entrance" and then see what happens. The mathematician Paul Erdős liked to tell a story about calling on a schizophrenic colleague who timidly opened his door a crack and said: "Please come another time and to another person." Today's blog entry managed to enter into OhioLINK four times, and WorldCat forty-four more.

(A door knocker in Orléans, France, 2004, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Vaudv* (for Vaudev*)

Acrobatic contortionists Harry and Friede DeMarlo were a "twisted couple," says Jennifer Lemak, senior historian at the New York State Museum, where she gave a lecture about the pretzel-shaped pair on October 13, 2010. Dr. Lemak used photos, costumes, scrapbooks, and other artifacts to describe the death-defying life of this creative vaudeville duo who toured the world from 1910 to 1928. By 1912 the DeMarlos had become famous for a bucolic bout of "bending" that featured husband and wife dressed in skintight, sparkly green satin and papier-mâché, and was set amid a woodland scene including "worms and bugs lit by tiny light bulbs." Over the next five years they would enact "Frog's Paradise" to great acclaim, and even gave command performances for the King of Siam, the Queen of Holland, and the Czar of Russia. Separately, Harry dazzled audiences as the "Devil on a Trapeze," while Friede awed the crowd with her ethereal "Symphony in a Box." Friede also once bit off a bit more than she could chew in the first-ever aerial trapeze act that involved hanging by one's teeth. Although badly injured, she almost literally bounced back after a month-long hospital stay, whereupon she continued to hone her stunt and strengthen her jaw. The two spent many years traveling with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, and later played smaller venues in cities such as Rochester and Buffalo. The DeMarlos retired to a farm in Walton, New York, in 1941 and spent the next several decades coming down to earth and training dogs for various circus acts. In 1987 a museum curator stumbled upon a lot of their costumes and props at a circus auction, and the remaining papers (which were on their way to the trash) were then donated to the State Museum. We discovered 13 instances of Vaudv* (for vaudev*) in OhioLINK today, and 217 in WorldCat.

(Friede DeMarlo, in "Frog's Paradise," holding the head that Harry made her, courtesy of the New York State Museum.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Magaret* or {Magaret* + Margaret*} (for Margaret*)

Spoiler alert: Don't read the hotlinks if you don't want to know how it ends...

"Little is known," says Wikipedia, about the author Gregory Casparian, but what is known is frankly astonishing. A Turkish officer who fought in the Armenian army, emigrated to the United States in 1877 with a "price on his head," and eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York, where he became an artist, painter, photoengraver, husband, and father—Casparian also wrote, illustrated, and self-published what has been called the "first lesbian science fiction novel" in 1906. (Which is not a typo.) Set in the year 1960, more than half a century after the time it was written, An Anglo-American Alliance: A Serio-Comic Romance and Forecast of the Future is the author's only published work, and as such deals with two rather outré topics, according to an article by Jess Nevins on the blog io9. Firstly, it's got such scientific gains as prenatal sex determination and suspended animation; the discovery of "vegetation and moving objects" on Mars and Venus; an astronomical "ice lens" leading to a race of furry, telepathic, electric-wheel-riding aliens; and a "germicide" to cure laziness, something, the author adds, that would be beneficial to "the negroes of the Southern States." (Which, as one reader of the blog comments, it probably would be, seeing as how then maybe white people would have to start doing their own chores.) And secondly ... it's got lesbians. Our two heroines, the blonde and British Aurora Cunningham and the dark-haired American, Margaret MacDonald, meet while attending the Diana Young Ladies' Seminary in Cornwall, situated on the Hudson River. Their homosexual romance takes off from there. In a remarkably sensitive and accurate portrait of the real deal, it even anticipates certain modern advances only dreamt of by a few Victorian women with "passionate friendships" or "Boston marriages." Some may say the story is marred by Margaret's surprising turn at the end; others, however, will see it as liberating. We found 80 examples of today's typo in OhioLINK (17 when also combined with the correct spelling) and "too many records found for your search" (or 712 for the two words together) in WorldCat.

(Aurora and Margaret, An Anglo-American Alliance, from Wikimedia Commons. Click here to peruse a digital copy.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 6, 2012

Romam* (for Roman*)

Fifty Shades of Grey, which I blogged about on Friday, is basically a classic romance novel, despite its kinky content, and this got me thinking a bit about the genre in general. Up to this point, I had read exactly two manifestations of the type, variously called, as I recall, "Harlequin romances," "gothic romances," or simply "romance novels." Despite their seeming similarity, it seems that some of these are steamier than others (Fifty Shades), while others are more esteemed (like the books of Mary Stewart, for example). The pair of pulpy paperbacks that found their way into my hands, if not quite my heart, were consumed one day while I was locked (not literally) in a closet (literally) somewhere in the Deep South. I had discovered them tucked inside the drawer of a little table at which I labored lazily to sell mediocre magazines to resistant targets over the telephone. "Romance" may or may not be a euphemism for sex in these books, but it's always an over-the-top fantasy. Nevertheless, they (at least the ones that don't manage to rise above the limits of the form) are so formulaic, so reductionistic, so silly, and so sexist, it's pretty hard to take them seriously. Given all of that then, it's nothing short of a minor miracle that filmmaker Julie Moggan was able to make such a truly touching, funny, and affectionate film on this very subject. Recently shown on PBS's documentary series P.O.V., Guilty Pleasures features an aging British pensioner who finds his joy in writing romance novels; a young Japanese housewife who takes up ballroom dancing just so she can see what it's like to be swept off your feet by the perfect partner; a gorgeous but goofy Harlequin male cover model; and other unreconstructed fans. We got 65 hits on Romam* in OhioLINK and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. (A look in the latter for Romamc* got 40, and Romamt* 22.)

(Fayaway, the heroine of Typee by Herman Melville, "Spreading it out like a sail," from the book Typee: A Real Romance of the South Sea by A. Burnham Shute, 1892, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 3, 2012

Christain* (for Christian*)

Okay, I'll admit it. I just read Fifty Shades of Grey. (Please don't spank me.) It's just that I became curious after all that love followed by all that hate (kind of like the plotline of the book itself) currently flooding the airwaves and blogosphere. (E.L. James's runaway bestseller/fanfic ripoff has reportedly outsold the Harry Potter franchise in Britain during the short time it's been out on both bookstands and nightstands, and has inspired the normally straight-laced Newsweek to come up with the icky moniker "mommy porn.") It isn't just snarky hipster bloggers, though, who seem offended that a middle-aged, married mother of two should have dared to take the world of kinky sex by the horns. (Or is that horny sex by the kinks?) Naysayers also include the likes of Dr. Drew Pinsky, earnest TV therapist, and writer Erica Jong, famous for her own sexual coming-out story, Fear of Flying, which came out almost forty years ago. (They both see Fifty Shades as being "bad for women" and regard it as less of a harmless fantasy than a male-female "paradigm" for abuse.) On the other hand, the irrepressible Dr. Ruth Westheimer has said that if Christian Grey "were available and I would be much, much younger and not married, I would also go for a night with him." Not, she hastens to add, "because of the sadistic elements—that’s not for me. But because he has a plane; he has a helicopter; he knows how to deal with women and he knows how to make love." Christian also has red satin bedsheets (to help hide possible blood stains?) and is further stained by some maltreatment in his own childhood (which implied equation is bound to make healthy-minded BDSM aficionados a little angry as well). I was warned (in some cases by those who, by their own admission, wouldn't be caught dead actually reading the damn thing, but were eager to join the online chorus of Worst. Book. Ever) that it contains a great many typographical errors and that the writing was execrable. I only noticed a handful of typos (pretty much par for the course these days, in any case) and personally found the work to be exactly like most porn and/or romance novels: rather too repetitious with the vocabulary (both erotic and not); a bit too corny; and in need of a better editor. On the other hand, it was surprisingly funny in parts, and Anastasia Steele (the would-be "submissive") was a lot more articulate, sarcastic, and downright contrary than one might have expected. (See The Story of O, etc.) Today's typo crops up (sorry!) 116 times in OhioLINK, and gets "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. Be a good girl (or boy) now and get cracking on this one right away.

(I couldn't find any pictures of the book or author that weren't potentially subject to copyright, so here is another depiction of "fifty shades of grey." Use your imagination, or Google, to see more. Photo captioned Playa de Janubio, LZ-703 in Yaiza, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grafitti, Graffitti (for Graffiti)

A friend, having read my blog post from yesterday, sent me the following story about the one occasion he recalls being tempted to participate in graffiti, which he generally detests:
There it was, scrawled above the urinal in the bookstore men's room: seven digits, followed by the directive, "Call me."

In the idle moment at hand, I reflected that the advertiser might have risen above the level of the mundane by having signed his work, "—Ishmael."
A fishing expedition called up 27 cases of grafitti and 14 of graffitti in OhioLINK, along with 660 and 391 apiece in WorldCat.

(Barry Moser illustration of Herman Melville's text. Click to enlarge.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Corport* (for Corporat*)

A buddy of mine came upon a bricks-and-mortar spelling debate the other day on a stroll through the streets of Great Barrington, Mass. A disaffected graffiti artist had scribbled the words "Public ignorance is corporte bliss" on the side of a building, to which a second person replied: "Your misspelling of corporate weighs towards public ignorance." Another pedantic pedestrian then crossed out one of the s's in the word misspelling and wrote, "Also mispelled." Whereupon a fourth one put it back in, pointing out: "No, actually they were rite." I'm not sure where all these people got all that chalk, but I suppose that's a story for another time. (I suspect the first person found some there and left it on the windowsill, until the owner of the building wised up and threw it out.) This editorial exchange eventually wound down when an exasperated passerby stated that they had dropped out of school and simply didn't care, and quickly devolved into what I assume was the final postscript, which somehow seems to capture the relative absurdity of it all: "Brooklyn sucks." The little arrows pointing every which way also afford a nice if slightly ironic touch, making it look like an outdoor office staff meeting complete with mind-numbing flow chart. In any case, public ignorance is corporate bliss, and the handwriting is certainly on the wall. Causing it to be, at least momentarily, a bit more compelling than a lot of misspelled comments tossed off on yet another political blog. Today's typo was seen 74 times in OhioLINK and 1,115 times in WorldCat.

(Photo by Anon. Click to enlarge.)

Carol Reid