Friday, January 29, 2016

Checkhov*, Checkov*, Chekov* (for Chekhov*)

"So many books, so little time," goes the plaintive refrain of the literacy advocates (and all of the rest of us biblio-baby-boomers). Some deal with the problem by having an unquenchable thirst for the written word (see Nancy Pearl and Book Lust). Others approach it with a rather more self-help-minded, not to say grim, methodology that promises you'll be able to check off 100 books a year from your reading list. And if one of those happens to be something by Anton Chekhov, you've got plenty of wonderful plays and short stories to choose from. But let's start by getting his name right, shall we? Checkov* shows up seven times in OhioLINK, and 98 times in WorldCat. It's arguably the cutest of all likely misspellings of this name, but it's certainly not the only one. Checkhov*, for example, appears ten times in OhioLINK, and 138 times in WorldCat. And Chekov* yields the greatest number of hits of all: 140 in OhioLINK and 1,214 in WorldCat. Note that there are proper names spelled precisely that way in the authority file, though, and even Anton's name itself is sometimes spelled without the second h (listed as a variant form in NACO). So use caution when correcting. Today, by the way, is Chekhov's birthday! Born in 1860 in Taganrog, Russia, he had a hardscrabble childhood, complete with abused mother and "despotic" father—who, it's widely believed, later served as his literary model for hypocrisy. Perhaps the great writer would have been pleased with our humble attention to detail here: he was also the author of the principle known as Chekhov's gun." "Remove everything that has no relevance to the story," he once wrote. "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."

(The Soviet Union 1960 CPA 2391 stamp, Anton Chekhov and Moscow Residence, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Carolson (for Carlson)

I can't seem to type the word Carlson without making it Carolson instead. Given how often we write our own names, it's probably unusual to make a typo while doing so. (Though I do recall a time when I kept fishily, if unofficially, signing my emails Carp;fan mail from some flounder?) On the other hand, it's sometimes easy to introduce oneself into another person's name uninvited. Don't ask me to explain, but it seems that there are actually two mathematical theorems, known respectively as Carlson's theorem and Carleson's theorem. "Not to be confused," advises Wikipedia. (Easy for them to say!) There were just two cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, along with 13 in WorldCat. A few were surnames correctly spelled, but considering there were no entries at all for "Carolson" in NACO, most any you might find will likely be ones you will want to correct.

(Lennart Carleson, Swedish mathematician and Abel Prize Laureate of 2006, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol-san Reid

Monday, January 25, 2016

Famly, Famlies (for Family, Families)

The other morning I was showing my roommate a photo of myself cradling a newborn goat at the Vermont farm where my sister once worked. "What do you call a baby goat?" we asked each other, but there wasn't time to ponder this as I hurried out the door. At work I picked up a newspaper from a few days earlier and started doing the crossword puzzle. I finished it later at home that night. "Baby goat," read one of the final clues, as if right on cue. The answer, of course, was KID. Just as I was jotting down this PGC (pretty good coincidence), I overheard a TV commentator say (with regard to Paris Hilton's bad-boy brother): "They treat this kid with kid gloves." I was so pleased by that I could have practically eaten a tin can. I've seen crossword puzzle clues for many other farmyard family members (FOAL, CALF, RAM, EWE, DOE, STAG, etc.), but hadn't seen this one in quite a while, if ever. So here's lookin' at you, KID, along with 15 (18) cases of Famly or Famlies in OhioLINK, and 405 (1,316) in WorldCat. Bear in mind that both fam'ly and fam'lies are relatively common variants on these words, so not all hits will be actual typos.

(Two kids playfully enjoying each other's company, Tarlac, Philippines, 2 April 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stror* (for Store, Story, etc.)

This isn't exactly a typo, but apparently an amusing mondegreen by someone commenting on an article about the health benefits of walking: "The company next store [sic] pays to have a van shuttle its employees that 150 yards..." Or at least that's what I thought it was at first. A more level-headed coworker, though, has since convinced me that there could be any number of explanations. The writer could have accidentally typed SOOR, for example (the S and the D are right next to each other on the keyboard) and AutoCorrect could have changed it to store. Or maybe the company next door was a store. It could have just been one of those mental glitches that occur at times when you're not really paying attention. He found it "far-fetched," he said, to think that this person would think "next-door neighbor" was really "next-store neighbor" and I think he's probably right. I often find myself substituting one homonym for another, or writing something like that instead of what, etc. There is even this weird phenomenon whereby a normally competent writer will temporarily find herself at a loss to remember how to spell the simplest of words. So let's not call the van (to the funny farm) just yet. Because who knows what's in store? Wordnesia could be living right next door. In any event, it's all fodder for the typo blog! We found 16 examples of Stror* in OhioLINK today, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat. Some of these turned out to be correctly spelled personal names and foreign words, so be certain to verify any of that kind you might come across before fixing them. You can also try searching separately for typos like Strory (5/75), Strories (4/109), Strore (0/16), and Strores (0/4).

(Going out of business sign in NYC, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Coutn* (for Count*, etc.)

Today is the birthday of Ottis Dewey Whitman, born in Tampa, Florida, in 1923. "Slim" Whitman, who opened for Elvis Presley and was once known as "America's favorite folk singer," was actually more popular abroad than he was here. He could yodel and had a sort of patented sound (a "smooth, high, three-octave-range falsetto") and a style dubbed "countrypolitan" in Nashville. He had a huge breakout hit with Indian Love Call (from the 1924 operetta Rose-Marie) in 1952 and his accompanying song "Rose Marie" rose to #2 on the Billboard country music chart. It also held the world's record for 36 years for the longest time (11 weeks) at the top of the UK Singles Chart. Some of you younger viewers may know "Indian Love Call" as the tune that killed alien invaders in the 1996 Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks! Both Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney (who credits a picture of Whitman holding his guitar with figuring out how to play left-handed, though Whitman was really right-handed) claimed him as a major influence. He's got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. And as if all of that somehow weren't quite enough, he's even got a daffodil named after him! There were 38 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 567 in WorldCat.

(Publicity photo of singer, songwriter, and musician Slim Whitman, 20 November 1968, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, January 18, 2016

Actur* (for Actua*)

Due to the Coincidental Law of Crossword Puzzles, I recently encountered two or three clues for the answer ARCUATED, a word that means "having arches; curved or bent like a bow." I saw a rather stunning example of this last weekend when a perfectly formed double rainbow descended upon a rain-drenched Albany, amid a gorgeous greenish-yellow-lit backdrop. While I didn't notice a pot of gold, a wizard, or any Munchkins loitering nearby, there is in fact a "Yellow Brick Road" just south of the city, near the Normanskill Creek, and it seems as if it might have even been named for the famous L. Frank Baum site itself. Although as one AOA blog reader commented: "Yellow brick roads are actually very common in the Hudson Valley. Most of them just happen to be underneath asphalt now. Some remaining examples of other yellow brick roads are DeGraff Street in Schenectady and the alley in Troy just off Washington Park. Yellow bricks were manufactured in many local places like Mechanicville and Ravena." He adds: "The creator of the Wizard of Oz was manufactured around here, too! L. Frank Baum grew up in Chittenango, New York, and appeared on stage a few times in Troy during his failed career as an actor. So the Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz was more likely inspired by the yellow brick roads in the Hudson Valley ... not the other way around." I know a photographer who happened to have only black and white film in his camera when he took a shot at this beautiful rainbow last week. Considering the ephemeral and quasi-translucent nature of such things, I wonder if it will even show up when he develops the roll. The whole thing reminds me of the time a young companion was watching an old movie with me and suddenly asked: "Was the air black and white back then?!" Well, no, but I'll put it in black and white to you right now: There were 39 cases of this typo seen in OhioLINK today, and 1,011 in WorldCat.

(Photo of rainbow, arcuated over the Empire State Plaza, taken by a different friend.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Charct* (for Character, Characterization, Characteristic, etc.)

By chance, my sister and I happened to be up during the wee hours of January 11 when the news broke
that David Bowie had died the day before. (Don’t ask—it wasn’t anything fun or exciting.) Since then there’s been an outpouring of tributes to his music, his extraordinary career, and the man himself. Words such as “chameleon,” “reinvent,” “icon,” and “legendary” appear often in characterizations. In some ways, these tributes make it even harder to believe he’s really gone. Then there’s the fact that we’ve been listening to Blackstar (his “parting gift,” according to long-time friend and producer Tony Visconti), which was released just this past Friday.

If you, like us, are mourning the passing of Mr. Bowie, put on your favorite album and enjoy reading all those accolades. And then if you feel like it, take on the false Charct* in your catalog. For reference, there are 50 entries in OhioLINK and 1,498 in WorldCat.

(David Bowie’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, by iluvrhinestones, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, January 1, 2016

Calss* (for Class* or Calls*)

The British Board of Film Classification (known before 1985 as the British Board of Film Censors) was founded on January 1, 1913. Much like the Motion Picture Production Code in Hollywood (established in 1930 and "strictly enforced" as of 1934), the BBFC was deemed necessary by the industry in order to avoid actual censorship by the government. One movie thereby made verboten in England was the seasonally (if apparently not socially) appropriate Red Hot Mamma starring Betty Boop. Wikipedia describes the plot perfectly, so I shall simply quote their summary here: "It's a snowy winter's night, and a shivering Betty is trying to sleep. Shutting all the windows isn't enough, so she lights a roaring fire in the fireplace and falls asleep on the hearthplace rug. The heat of the flames soon turns two roosting chickens into roasted chickens, and causes Betty to dream that her fireplace has become the gate to Hell itself. Betty explores the underworld, and sings 'Hell's Bells' for Satan and his minions. When Satan tries to put the moves on Betty, she fixes him with a (literally) icy stare, freezing him and all of Hell. When she falls through a hole and onto an icy surface below, Betty wakes up to find the fire out with the windows open and her bed frozen, and she goes to bed, this time under a pile of warm quilts." The cold-hearted censors banned this charming cartoon for depicting the underworld in a facetious and "blasphemous" manner. Six different actresses played Betty during the 1930s; the last of these, Bonnie Poe, was the voice of "Red Hot Mamma." Originally conceived as an "anthropomorphic French poodle" in Dizzy Dishes), Betty Boop is often thought to have been based on Clara Bow, though she was actually a caricature of the singer Helen Kane. Her signature look was once described in a 1934 court case as one combining "the childish with the sophisticated—a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body of which perhaps the leading characteristic is the most self-confident little bust imaginable." I made a self-confident little bust myself today when I picked up eighteen cases of Calss* (for class*) in OhioLINK, and (Boop-oop-a-doop!) a whopping 1,077 in WorldCat. Which classifies our little typo here as one of "high probability" on the Ballard list.

(Betty Boop patent figure, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid