Monday, January 27, 2014

Forzen (for Frozen)

One time on The Big Bang Theory, Leonard went to the North Pole and brought Penny back a snowflake suspended in "a one percent solution of polyvinyl acetal resin." Penny goes: "Oh, my God. That’s the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to me that I didn’t understand!" A coworker and fellow fan points out that the only geek gesture arguably more romantic on the show was when Howard gave Bernadette a star necklace, then took it back so he could take it to the International Space Station, then returned it to her so she could say her star had actually been in space. (It could be that great distances and cold temperatures don't imply ardent coupling as much as they do the preservation of long-term relationships—if not exactly "eternal love.") This morning I had to take the bus to work and it was six degrees below zero. After I got on board, I was wiping my glasses off when I noticed a frozen tear stuck to one of the lenses, like one of those candy "dots" from our childhood. I popped it off and into a baggie I had in my purse, pressing it up against the windowpane, for some reason desperate not to let it melt. Which, of course, it did anyway, with relative dispatch. The moral of the story? Don't cry over chilled, um, eye water? Saline solution? Lachrymose liquid? (I know, I know. I really shouldn't milk a joke like that.) All I know is I felt a bit weepy when I got to work with only a tiny wet splotch in a plastic bag. As Lemony Snicket, who knows all about unfortunate events, once said: "The sea is nothing but a library of all the tears in history." Utterly ephemeral, constantly renewable, running both hot and cold, a mark of both sorrow and joy. For zen's sake, let me put it to you this way: Frozen tears, like certain typos, are not very long for this world. Forzen (for frozen) was found three times in OhioLINK, and 57 times in WorldCat.

("The tree is crying for the ruined snowpeople," Toronto, Canada, 7 February 2008, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 20, 2014

Truner* (for Turner*)

Music in the Sixties was hip, boss, cool, fab, and groovy, to say the least, but the culture vultures out in Hollywood seem to have struggled uneasily with the times. Movies about that decade's rebellious youth tend to come off as particularly peculiar, menacing, one might even say fey. (Hey, did I use that word correctly? It's kind of hard to say. I always have to look it up and I can pretty much guarantee you it doesn't quite mean what a lot of you probably think it does.) In any case, The Big Cube, released in 1969, has got to be one of the trippiest hippie movies of all time: it's almost like the film is both about and on drugs. Though it definitely isn't a celebration of them. Sample dialogue after a fey/gay cross-dresser (played by Mexican actress Regina Torné) makes the scene: "Who's that girl? / She's known as the Queen Bee / That's one of her drones she's dragging along / But who is she? / She's the last stop on the line. Once you get down to her, there's no place else to go / Oh yes, but she's a drag doll. Poison, the end, suicide!") Lana Turner plays a stage actress who plans to quit the theater after a successful Broadway swan song. By contrast, this far-out freak-out flick was apparently Turner's "ugly ducking ditty," if you will, much like the aforeblogged Trog was Crawford's. Truner* turned up three times in OhioLINK today, and 85 times in WorldCat.

(The Big Cube poster containing the words: "Johnny was a medical student who did it all with his chemistry set. And the things he did weren't very nice... weren't very nice ... weren't very nice... weren't very nice." Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 13, 2014

Appilcat* (for applicat*)

To "upset the apple cart" means to cause a disturbance or create a difficulty. The first known use of this phrase was by Jeremy Belknap in The History of New Hampshire, 1788: "Adams had almost overset the apple-cart, Belknap wrote, "by intruding an amendment [to the Constitution] of his own fabrication on the morning of the day of ratification." So why apples, you might ask? Well, I expect it's because apple carts were such a common sight in 18th-century New England, but I also think apples are rather apt here. A cart heaped with hay, say, might be as hard to clean up as a needle is to find; a cart bearing bananas could end up a funny and painful pedestrian hazard; a cartload of oranges would roll quickly into the ditch. But only an overturned apple cart would produce a truly chaotic scene worthy of the metaphor. In the adorably pro-Cubist tune "Paul Cezanne," we're told that "his melons look like footballs and his apples look like dice." I first heard this song in a video by the Special Guests (who had met as students at Columbia during the early eighties, and later changed their name to 5 Chinese Brothers) on the very wonderful PBS series The 90's, which very few people seem to remember. I just discovered another and much more recent video of Tom Meltzer, down in North Carolina this time, reprising his rollicking hit about "the original Father of Cubism." I'm not sure if this group of art-loving musicians is even still performing together anymore, much less taking applications, but frankly I can't picture a more fun gig. Appilcat* (for applicat*) turned up three times in OhioLINK, and 71 times in WorldCat. You might get a few more hits by truncating it just a bit, but don't upset the apple cart by taking it too far. (And speaking of taking things too far, I just realized I've already blogged this typo, back in 2012. Unlike Cezanne, my "oeuver" may not be "in the Louver," but recalling all its constituents can be, if not a political football, at least a somewhat dicey proposition at times!)

(Still Life with Apples and Oranges, by Paul Cezanne, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ajustm* (for Adjustm*)

"What's the use, Ralph?" moans George Haverstick (Jim Hutton) in the 1962 film Period of Adjustment. "You heard her. We're opposite types." George is newly married and things aren't getting off to a very good start. "Son, any two people are opposite types," replies his buddy Ralph Baitz, breezily played by Tony Franciosa. "Especially a woman." (A wee bit ungrammatical, I suppose, but so true!) At any rate, it doesn't take very long to adjust to this wonderful period piece, an offbeat marriage of comedy and tragedy based on a play by none other than Tennessee Williams. Williams wrote the deceptively ditzy domestic farce after a newspaper columnist complained that he dwelt upon the darker side of humanity too much. George is tall, light, and handsome, but also macho and jobless, plus he's got a slight tremor in his hands, all of which adds up to a bad case of post-wedding jitters, if you catch my drift. Jane Fonda plays Isabel, the blushing bride with a bit of buyer's remorse—high-pitched, hysterical, and sexpot-hot. I was also impressed with Lois Nettleton (not as well known as, but very reminiscent of, Joanne Woodward, and married to Jean Shepherd in real life) as Ralph's wife, Dorothea. There were six examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 174 in WorldCat.

(Theatrical poster for the film Period of Adjustment, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid