Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tempertu* (for Temperatu*)

I returned from a trip to the West Coast a few days ago, with a modest case of jet lag, and perhaps a little temp lag too. Fresh from the hot dry desert breezes and sun-kissed cerulean skies of southern California, I was rudely dumped back into a cold, gray, and rainy Albany. The plane had been hintingly chilly as well. First rule of Flight Club: Pack light. And then don't leave all your warm clothing in the suitcase you had to check because you foolishly packed too many clothes to begin with. (I brought shoes I didn't wear, and bought shoes I haven't worn. I lost my favorite cardigan, got a rash from borrowed sunscreen, and forgot to bring flip-flops.) Vacations are a bit volatile, much like the temperature. We had our ups and downs (temper, temper), but for most of the trip, it was smooth sailing and warm feelings all around. There were 18 occurrences of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 541 in WorldCat.

Photograph taken of "Unconditional Surrender" by Seward Johnson, USS Midway Museum, San Diego, California.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Filght* (for Flight*)

Once upon a time, there was a little girl, too young, no doubt, to even have known what beer was (but one who literally knew her own mind), who began begging her mom for a Red Bull: "Please, mommy, please, please, please, can I get one?" "Certainly not," her mother replied. "But why do you want one so bad?" "Because," her daughter said, "it gives you wings!" Ba-dum-bum. I just got home from a seven-hour plane ride, and boy, are my arms tired. Frankly, I was happy to leave the flying to them. But people have been donning wings and attempting to take flight since the dawn of human evolution, and dinosaurs since well before that. We all earn our wings for a job well done, and today's typo-fixing time will probably fly by, with only three of these in OhioLINK, and 34 in WorldCat.

(Widmerpool Church Winged Bull corbel in porch, 20 June 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Catcus* (for Cactus*)

In college I was a philosophical freshman, so right off the bat, I decided to take a class in Logic. (No, according to some people, it didn't really help that much.) One of the first things they teach you is that, in certain cases, all A's are B's, but not all B's are A's. They usually supply a trite example or two involving people and men, or pets and cats, etc. But I think if it were me, I might go with a rather lovelier and less obvious syllogism, such as: "All sedums are succulents, but not all succulents are sedums." Succulents, almost like Californians themselves in a way, seem to extract whatever moisture they require from the air itself. We dropped by the Succulent Cafe in Oceanside, California, the other day while on vacation. It was one of the most charming outdoor eateries I've ever seen, and it was here we learned just how strikingly beautiful and prolific these sometimes prickly and aridity-adoring plants can be. I've got various sedums growing in my rock garden back at home, but out here you see many other types of succulents as well. There are numerous overlapping categories. A recent crossword puzzle prompted: "Some succulents." (The answer was ALOEVERAS.) Or as Wikipedia puts it: "Not to be confused with cactus; nearly all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti." Virtually no Catcus is a cactus, however: today's typo turned up only once in OhioLINK, and eighteen times in WorldCat.

(Photograph of the Succulent Cafe in Oceanside, California.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Inpact* (for Impact*)

I just found my first typo in a crossword puzzle! The Sunday paper's "premier" puzzle, no less. I'm pretty sure I did, anyway, and the effect on me has been galvanizing. (My affect is one of pure beaming. Unlike the puzzle, it's not at all "flat.") Although the answer, my friends, is not the part that blew. The mistake was in the clue, namely 53 Down, which read: "—— impact on (effects)." The answer, as I initially surmised, and as it later turned out, was HASAN (has an impact on). But since the phrase is a verb, the parenthetical must be one as well. So if affect (v.) means to change or influence something and effect (v.) means to bring about, accomplish, or cause a thing to happen, then it should follow that the former word is the one that was intended. Amirite? Am I as effective a puzzle-proofer as I think I am? Am I simply trying to effect change? Or am I, simply, both trying and affected? I thought about making our typo today Affect* + Effect* (for effect* or affect*), but it seems that there are over 11,000 of these in OhioLINK, many if not most of them false positives. (Take a look, in any case, for examples of how to use these words correctly, even within a single phrase.) And if you're feeling as confident about all this as I am, you might want to try taking Oxford Dictionary's online quiz and see just how effective and affected you can be! There were 18 instances of Inpact* (for impact*) in OhioLINK, and 522 in WorldCat.

(Details from crossword puzzle in the Albany Times Union, April 17, 2016.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Porvinc* (for Provinc*)

Calvin Trillin came under fire last week for a little poem he had published in the New Yorker. Trillin has been writing spoofy doggerel "since before God was a child," according to one online comment, but it seemed as if many of his critics had never heard of him before. And some of them were quick to accuse him of cultural appropriation and flat-out xenophobia. Trillin's liberal bona fides would appear to be in perfect order, though. He has been covering issues of racism and progressive causes since the early 1960s, and been writing for the utterly left-wing Nation on a regular basis for nearly just as long. Trillin is also a heralded food and travel writer and is generally considered a humorist. The offending poem was titled "Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?" It's a send-up of anxious hipster foodies (who have always managed to exist in one form or another, it seems) with a somewhat retro finish, in which the aging narrator bemoans the seemingly endless proliferation of Chinese cuisine. The politically correct Twitterverse was apparently triggered by Trillin's use of such tacitly tactless terms as tension, fears, stress, and threat. (In his defense, the author notes that some years back he had penned a similar morsel, "What Happened to Brie and Chablis?" "It was not," he pointed out, "a put-down of the French.") Jezebel strikes just the right note in its parody composition, which pokes gentle fun at both Trillin and his detractors. Some shied away from harsher, more ad hominem critiques, settling for just calling it a "bad poem" or "bad satire," citing "technical flaws," "gracelessness," "stumbling meter," and "silly rhymes." (Matter of opinion. Don't see them. Working within constraints of the form. Um, no. But of course!) A careful reader further demurred: "I have a bit of a bone to pick with the article. It isn't okay for the meter and rhyme of doggerel to be slack or inconsistent. The point of doggerel is that it uses very tight meter and precise rhyme to take on trivial or ridiculous subjects..." It's a tasty tempest in a millennial teapot, but I'm starting to get a little hungry again. Anybody interested in Chinese? We uncovered five cases of Porvinc* (for provinc*) in OhioLINK today, and 176 in WorldCat.

(Dim sum, 5 May 2013, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chesnut* + Chestnut* (for Chestnut* or Chesnut*)

A reader commented on a recent blog entry for the typo Oiho with some disappointment that the reference made to his home state had merely been to a clock known as the "Ohio Clock," which, as he pointed out, is not even in Ohio. He then listed a bunch of much cooler things that are, one of which is the Ohio buckeye tree. He added, meaningly: "Many people don't know what a buckeye is or looks like." At first, I didn't think I knew either, until I found out it's the same thing as what we generally call a "horse chestnut" tree in New York. The kids in my neighborhood would peel the spiny outer hulls off the smooth round seeds (or leave them on), then set about throwing them, rolling them, or smashing them against the rocks. We girls would occasionally try to make "necklaces" out of them, but once pierced, they would rapidly lose their plump, their sheen, and their charm. (I still feel rather let down about that, myself, Gentle Reader.) We all understood, though, that, unlike the "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" at Christmastime, the horse chestnut was poisonous, which perhaps only heightened its allure. The buckeye would seem to be an ephemeral thing, meant to be handled, admired, and kicked to the curb. I'm wondering about their names now too. Do the words "horse" and "buckeye" refer to the way these chestnuts appear, when first opened to the air, like the big dark eyes of those bucolic creatures? Buckeyes are lovely in other ways as well. They're tall and stately, have large shiny green leaves, and produce a really striking flower. The chestnut has also lent its name to what is probably the most appealing shade of brown. Take a good look around the next time you're in the great state of Ohio, and enjoy everything Buckeye! Speaking of Ohio, we found 43 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 711 in WorldCat.

("Pod seed. Capsule. Chestnut. Buckeye." 5 October, 2011, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ambrose Pierce (for Ambrose Bierce)

Aubrey Beardsley is the seemingly "gay one" who drew flamboyant pen and ink caricatures of erotic and "decadent" figures, and also the one I've been inclined in the past to confuse or conflate with Ambrose Bierce. (Note, for the record, that neither of these "AB" blood brothers' surnames starts with the letter P, which will nonetheless be the source of all of our typo troubles today.) Bierce, who was born in 1842 in a log cabin in Ohio, and Beardsley—thirty years later in Brighton, England—were also, despite some obvious dissimilarities (the former was a journalist and writer, the latter a graphic artist), akin in certain ways. Ambrose Bierce brought a sardonic viewpoint to his work: he wrote the satirical lexicon The Devil's Dictionary in 1906; his nickname was "Bitter Bierce"; and his motto was "Nothing matters." Beardsley had a similar outlook and, although his career was unfortunately short (he died at age 25), he was considered the Oscar Wilde of the Art Nouveau world. We found three cases of "Ambrose Pierce" in OhioLINK, and 21 in WorldCat. You can also search these terms without the quotation (or other truncation) marks for additional hits, but watch out for legitimate cases of two separate people. Minus quotes, there were 41 in OhioLINK and 196 in WorldCat.

(Pencil drawing of Ambrose Bierce by F. Soule Campbell, from the first volume of The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, 1909, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Youg (for Young)

A coworker was talking recently about feeling nervous or anxious and said, "I get myself into such a tither..." Normally, I try not to be an obnoxious ass, but frankly this woman is so funny and charitable, I figured I would take my chances this time. "You know," I said, "there's actually no such word as 'tither.' There's dither, and tizzy, and even lather. But there's no 'tither'..." She nicely burst out laughing in reply. (We then agreed that young folks these days have probably never heard of any of these words.) Speaking of obnoxious asses, that's just how Dagwood Bumstead often regarded his boss, Mr. Dithers, a pint-sized and petty tyrant whose full name was "Julius Caesar Dithers." But just like my hapless colleague and me, the two men were fundamentally friends. Some people would argue that Dagwood Bumstead (bum + homestead?) was even sillier and more indecisive than his supervisor, as is perhaps Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was dubbed "Mr. Dithers" by the press for a similar tendency to hem and haw. "Blondie" (the real star of the strip) was created by Chic Young, who debuted the cartoon on September 8, 1930. He had begun his career in 1924 with another newspaper strip about a fetching and somewhat scheming young flapper called Dumb Dora. Dora Bell (her adorable real name), according to the tagline, "wasn't as dumb as she looked." The term was widely applied to the wild young women of that era and was further popularized by George Burns and Gracie Allen's vaudeville act. Several years later, Dora morphed into the nominally less dumb, but blatantly more blonde and matronly "Blondie," who has been ruling the Bumstead roost for nigh on ninety years now. So if anyone ever calls you a "dumb Dora" (or even implies as much by correcting your creative syntax), just bear in mind that Allen is generally considered to have been the brains behind Burns, and don't work yourself into a tither. There were 17 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and an even 600 in WorldCat. Another way to approach this typo is to search on Youg* + Young*, which garnered us 23 hits in the former, and 439 in the latter. In both cases, you should see a fair number of false positives (Asian names, variant spellings, etc.), but most will be typos for forms of the English word young.

( Photo of Penny Singleton as Blondie and Arthur Lake as Dagwood Bumstead from the radio program Blondie, 6 July 1944, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid