Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rebub* (for Repub*)

With the Republican National Convention off to a rollicking start; with scores of creative protesters and parodies galore; with comedians like Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, and Seth Meyers—all mining this event for its comedy gold—and with heartfelt apologies to Rudyard Kipling...

If ?!?

If you can keep your hair when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when voters doubt you,
But bust their asses for their doubting too;
If you can bait and not get sick of baiting,
Or being spied upon, hire more spies,
Or being hated, just keep right on hating,
And don’t eat ethnic food, nor talk too nice:

If you can dream—of making money faster;
If you can think—but see it as a game;
If you can flirt with Triumph and Disaster
And always find somebody else to flame;
If you can bear to hear hard words you've spoken
Repeated all verbatim-like—the fools!
Or watch the towers you've erected, broken,
But be relieved you've still got massive tools:

If you can make one heap of all your "billions"
And risk it on one turn at being Boss,
And lose (of course), and start again with millions
And never shut your face about your loss;
If you can force your delegates and donors
To serve you after Hope is all but gone,
And have your back despite your many boners,
With wiliness that cries to them: "Hang on!"

If you can talk with louts and leave 'em laughing,
Or walk with Kings—not knowing who they are,
If neither Bros nor uggo girls can shaft you,
If other pols can never meet your bar;
If you can fill the mortifying minute
With sixty seconds at the podium,
You could be POTUS, and the way you'll spin it
Should make us all feel hugely—hugely—glum.

There were 23 cases of Rebub* (for Repub*) in OhioLINK today, and 795 in WorldCat.

(Donald Trump stencil with bubble, 14 July 2016, Vector by Vector Open Stock, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Altas* + Atlas* (for Atlas* or Altas*)

Skaneateles. A word I wouldn't blame anybody for not knowing how to spell. Or pronounce. Or define. So let's start with the last one first. Skaneateles is a town in central New York; the name means "long lake" in Iroquois. The spelling is what it is, and you can either devise a way to memorize it or you can't. The fascinating part, though, is the pronunciation. It's essentially "Skinny Atlas." However, and as fun as that is to say, there are some who insist on saying otherwise. "Skin-IT-alies," swears one of these, evoking a nationwide chain of low-cal Little Italies. A friend of mine once thought that it was SCAN-a-teals; despite having been scandalised for years by his parents' talk of honeymooning in "Skinny Atlas," he didn't recognize the name as the same when he later saw it on a sign. It's okay to be different, to be little, and even to be skinny, but don't let today's burly typo kick sand in your face. Altas* + Atlas* (for Atlas* or Altas*) was found 14 times in OhioLINK, and 571 times in WorldCat.

(America's Best Comics #30, page 36, April 1949, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Suess* +Seuss* (for Seuss* or Suess*)

In the latest book by the late Dr. Seuss, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, we're introduced to a rather folksy expression with which I was totally unfamiliar. In "The Strange Shirt Spot," the speaker is trying to get a stain out, but the dirt just keeps coming back someplace else. "The towel was all right," he says. "It was perfectly white. My troubles were over ... But oh-oh! Not quite! For the spot that had moved from my shirt to the towel was now on the tub! I was sore as an owl!" A friend who had read and recommended the story, though, had to wonder: "Are owls known for their soreness?" It turned out to be a question for which the worldwide web wasn't a whole lot of help. I was ultimately unable to determine the origins of the phrase, but I did, at least, confirm that it is one. I suppose it's sort of like "mad as a wet hen"; maybe it got its start due to perching owls occasionally losing their balance and falling into the water. If that's even a thing. (Because I can sort of see how that could make an owl sore, both literally and figuratively.) Or perhaps it's the way that, when some people get angry, they will stare at you unblinkingly. Like an owl. Anyway, if any of our owlish readers knows any more about this peevish puzzle, this might be a good spot to get it off your chest. And getting back to our typo for the day, here's a word to the wise.While I'm sure you won't get sued over it, remember that the good doctor spells his name EU, not UE. We spotted 11 of these in OhioLINK, and 161 in WorldCat.

(Spotted Owl, 15 November 2012, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adapat* (for Adapt*)

One summer when my sister L. was a kid, she made a "fort" in the barn, where she discovered an old scrap of newspaper containing the mysterious word "ADEQUATE." She instantly realized that that was the perfect name for a fort. She pronounced it "Add-uh-KWAT," though, possibly because "Add-uh-KWIT" sounds a bit too much like your mom telling you to quit fooling around out there and come in the house for dinner. (It kind of reminds me of Templeton the barn rat searching for labels at the dump so that Charlotte could spell out her friend Wilbur's prodigiously porcine virtues in her web.) Adaquat* has proven inadequate for our purposes here, however, since adäquaten is the German spelling of adequate, and a perfectly adequate spelling it is. So instead of that, and in honor of L.'s architectural and linguistic adaptations all those many years ago, our typo for today is Adapat*, which agreeably turns up 60 times in OhioLINK, and on "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

(Barn bank, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Caolina (for Carolina)

George Stinney was executed by electric chair on this (awfully dark) day in 1944. A native of Alcolu, South Carolina, Stinney was only 14 years old when he was convicted and put to death for the murder of two young white girls. (He and his sister Aime were thought to have been the last people to have seen the girls, riding their bikes and searching for "maypops"). George looks like a sad and scared kid in these mugshots, but an all-white jury saw murderous intent in those big brown eyes and took all of ten minutes to arrive at a verdict. The trial itself lasted two and a half hours and admitted no blacks among the 1,000+ spectators. The only evidence brought against him was his (almost certainly coerced) confession. There is no transcript of the trial and no written record of the "confession." His lawyer neglected to call witnesses, declined to cross-exam any, and didn't reserve the right to appeal. That, perhaps, is the only cold comfort to be found in this shameful sham in which black lives definitely didn't matter. Because George Stinney so clearly received what is called "ineffective assistance of counsel" (it's hard to imagine a better example), a judge in 2014 vacated his conviction, believing the confession had probably been forced; in any case, he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to due process. He's with the Lord now, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, but it would have been nice if he'd been allowed to grow up first. And there seems to have been no justice, no peace for those two little Carolina girls either. RIP, George, Betty, and Mary. Today's typo was discovered seven times in OhioLINK, and 123 times in WorldCat.

(George Stinney's mugshot, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Thousnad*, Thousnd* (for Thousand*)

On a recent trip to California, I saw an exhibit at the Bowers Museum called "Mummies of the World." In other words, not just the highly processed Egyptian mummies we're used to seeing or hearing about, but rather a whole array of them from various parts of the globe and various periods in time. Some of them were intentionally preserved and some accidentally. On a seemingly unrelated note, I was discussing with a couple of friends whether or not you can safely leave your butter sitting out, along with the relative merits of what's known as a "French butter dish" or "butter bell," etc., when suddenly the two topics were weirdly brought together with the news that a 22-pound "chunk of butter"—estimated to be more than two thousand years old—had been found in a peat bog in Ireland. "Didn't I tell you that it's OK to leave butter out?" says one. "Here's the proof." "I guess bogs are like refrigerators," says the other. "Better," I replied, "Better bog butter..." And then this little ditty began to form in my head:

Betty Peat began to putter,
All around some old bog butter,
It was big and in a bag, and really rather hard to lug,
But even after such a lag, was unmolested by a bug.

Enjoy your naturally softened butter and stay away from hydrogenated fats (which could probably give that bog butter a run for its money, longevity-wise). There were three (and two) cases of today's typos in OhioLINK, and 41 (20) in WorldCat.

(Bog butter in wooden vessel, 15th-16th century, found near Portadown, County Armagh, housed in the Ulster Museum, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Madsion* (for Madison*)

I just saw a great Tallulah Bankhead flick from 1931 called The Cheat. It was the third remake of the Cecil B. DeMille silent from 1915, and the second feature in a film series entitled "Murder, Morals and Music," which is currently taking place at the Madison Theater (one of the oldest movie houses in Albany, and its only surviving independent one) over the next few months. What really makes these movie nights fun, besides the chance to see such old fare on such a big screen, is the short preliminary video (√† la Robert Osbourne on TCM) of our host and his "guest programmer" filling us in the film we're about to see—and gleefully dishing the dirt on its stars. "Tallulah never wore underwear!" we're told. She would strip naked at parties. She slept with both women and men. She openly used cocaine and she reportedly smoked 150 [!] cigarettes a day. She was like a cross between Mae West and Madonna. (Our hosts compared her to Lady Gaga, but I think she looks much more like Madge.) Even during the "pre-Code" era, Bankhead's "wild" roles on celluloid could scarcely compete with her actual life. The smoking thing may have been a bit of an exaggeration (merely lighting up that many times a day would be a chore), but I guess they really weren't kidding about the underwear. As soon as the film began to roll, here comes Tallulah in the sheerest little shimmy imaginable and nary a bra strap or panty line in sight. It seems that there were a few complaints, though, causing Alfred Hitchcock to famously quip during the making of Lifeboat: "I don't know if this is a matter for the costume department, makeup, or hairdressing." I really wanted to make today's typo Underware, but apparently that is a valid typography term (though a few of the seven hits we got in OhioLINK were for the type that Tallulah eschewed). You can give that one a try as well, but today's official typo is Madsion* (for Madison*), found three times in OhioLINK, and 151 times in WorldCat.

(Tallulah and Augustus John with her famous portrait, 1929, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid