Monday, December 30, 2013

Abonim* (for Abomin*)

When what to our wondering eyes should appear, but my sister and I each giving the other a Yeti tree ornament this year! (This was my skeptical sister, by the way. I also have one, like me, in Suspended Disbelief.) The Christmas ornament I gave her was made of blown glass; the one she gave me was felted wool. (On the next episode of Finding Bigfoot, the team went to Nepal in search of the Yeti, and I learned that the hoary homunculus isn't really white-haired at all, that's just the snow.) You know, I can't remember the last time I made a real snowman, but I think I want my next one to be Abominable. (Taller and more muscle-bound than most, with maybe a woolen scarf or some pine boughs around the shoulders to look like long shaggy hair, and of course some enormous footprints.) I love Bigfoot accounts that include children, along with children's books about Bigfoot. I just finished Annette: A Big Hairy Mom by John S. McFarland, and have also read a few others now in what turns out to be a rather surprisingly large genre. But none so far were as touching as M.P. Robertson's Big Foot, which came out in the U.K. in 2002. Regardless of your own Bigfoot belief system, your Sasquatch eschatology, your crypto-zoological credo... I swear I wouldn't snow ya, man! There were three sightings of Abonim* in OhioLINK today, and 58 in WorldCat.

(Big Foot, by M.P. Robertson, and two little yetis, from my sister and me.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 23, 2013

Immorat* (for Immoral*, Immortal*)

Many folks believe that human souls are immortal, regardless of whether they've been good or bad—otherwise known as moral or immoral. Heaven, however, is generally thought to be a better destination spot for eternity than Hell might be. And Australia can apparently feel like a little bit of both. Marie Bjelke Petersen was born on this day in Copenhagen in 1874, but spent most of her life in Tasmania, which later became the setting for many of her novels. Her book The Captive Singer is reputedly based on Sylvia Mills, her intimate partner of thirty years. Although Petersen, a devout Catholic and political conservative, is regarded as something of a gay icon today, she was not necessarily seen as a lesbian back then; female friendships like hers were perceived as more or less benign and certainly not immoral. (In the United States, such relationships were often called Boston marriages.) In addition to being a painter and popular "romance" writer (and in accordance, I suppose, with a certain sexual stereotype), Petersen started out as a "physical culture" (i.e., gym) teacher. Her brothers had founded physical culture institutes that operated throughout the 20th century and Petersen worked in one of them for a while; she was also a massage therapist and the person who introduced "netball" (basketball) to Tasmania. In 1925 a movie was made called Jewelled Nights, based on a story Petersen had written about a girl who disguises herself as a boy. Only twenty minutes of restored footage remain, and this fragment plays daily at the Gaiety Theatre in Zeehan, near where the film was shot. There were eight examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 73 in WorldCat.

(Cover of New York edition of The Immortal Flame, 1919, from A Mortal Flame, Alison Alexander's biography of Marie Bjelke Petersen, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 16, 2013

Courst (for Courts or Course)

I was contemplating whether or not typos ever arise from a confusion or conflation of the words courts and counties and then I couldn't get the absurdly cute word courties out of my head! What would "courties" even be, I thought, if "courties" there were? Would they be like baby court jesters, or fanatical trial watchers, or the kind of people who get dated a lot, or what? When I searched for this potential error in OhioLINK, I got a single record, for a book about an 18th-century Indian lawyer, with the subject heading: Maharashtra (India) -- Courts and courties [i.e., courtiers] -- Biography. I really wanted to court this one today, but with such scant evidence at hand, I felt as though I had no choice but to dismiss the case. Instead, we'll have to take a different course, with the somewhat more commonly seen typo Courst. We counted five of these linguistic miscreants in OhioLINK, and 54 in WorldCat.

(Fourteenth-century mourning courtiers from a tomb, carved by Jaune Cascalls, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hilll* (for Hill*)

A relative of mine recently retired from a teaching post up in the Adirondacks, but before she proceeded to "head for the hills," if you will, she taught her last fourth-grade class a lesson on how roads and streets get built. When she was done, one of her pupils seemed especially entranced, and only had one question: "But how do they make the hills?" Kids say the darndest things, it's true, but adults also make their own hills sometimes, and even have some rather funny sayings about it. Amounting to slightly more than a hill of beans, I suppose, but not enough to make a mountain out of a molehill or anything, the hills were alive with our typo of the day, which turned up 11 times in OhioLINK, and 257 times in WorldCat.

(Herstedhoeje, a artificially created hill 15 km west of Copenhagen, 18 June 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ottt* (for Otto, Ottawa, Ottoman, etc.)

Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker, born in Untermhaus (now a part of the city of Gera) on December 2, 1891. Dix avidly enlisted in the Army during World War I, but the post-traumatic stress he suffered (at that time known as "shell shock") would strongly inform his work from that point on. A notable example is Der Krieg, or "The Battle," a portfolio of fifty etchings. Much of his output depicts the horrors of war and the sorrows of life, particularly the grotesque excesses of the Weimar Republic, as seen through a grim sort of Dadaist prism. Although he began receiving accolades from his countrymen during the last decade of his life, Otto Dix was deemed a "degenerate" by the Nazi regime. His paintings The Trench (which once led to the forced resignation of a museum director) and War Cripples are no longer extant, having been burned after the Entartete Kunst exhibition in Munich in 1937. More of Dix's banned works were discovered in 2011 in a hidden cache of over 1400 paintings stolen by the Nazis, including some by Chagall, Picasso, Matisse, and Renoir. We found 11 cases of Ottt* (for words like Otto, Ottowa, and Ottoman) in the OhioLINK database, and 262 in WorldCat.

(Otto Dix self-portrait, 1926, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid