Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mexcan* (for Mexican*)

Cultural diversity can go a long way toward illuminating the differences in Christmas celebrations around the world, but honestly, nothing can really explain the wonderfully egregious 1959 holiday fare from south of the border simply called Santa Claus. There are other bad Christmas movies (I suppose we all have our favorites), but take it from me (or from most of the many commenters on IMDb), none of them even comes close to this utterly bizarre little gem by Cuban director René Cardona, who also brought the world Night of the Bloody Apes ten years later. He's like the Mexican Ed Wood and then some. Not everyone hates this film, however. As one viewer put it on Amazon: "Rene Cardona's brilliantly flawed surreal masterpiece is like a Ken Russell Christmas fable." The twisted plot, such as it is, involves a little girl named Lupita, who's determined to be good, despite the festive efforts of a fey (not to say gay) version of the Devil known as "Pitch." Santa is a de rigueur white guy, but he's pretty scary as well. Check out this "Santa Claus" if you get a chance. You really gotta see it to believe it. There were two cases of Mexcan* (for Mexican*) in OhioLINK today, and 32 in WorldCat.

(Marquee poster for Santa Claus, courtesy of Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 29, 2014

Estmat* (for Estimat*)

It's funny the way practically anything can be made to sound dirty with little more than a wink and wipe. (Years ago, I recall some feminist wag sarcastically saying that "a phallic symbol is anything longer than it is wide.") The other night I was at a big-box store buying more Christmas tree lights when I noticed a handwritten sign on a whiteboard near the entrance: "Do you need some help around the house?" it read. "Free estimates for roofing, siding, [etc.]." Someone had erased the first four letters of the word estimates, however, leaving it to offer "Free mates" instead. Even the words roofing and siding were beginning to look a bit salacious and possibly even criminal ("roofing" unfortunately evoking the notion of sex under the influence of roofies). "Mates" do not have to be sexual, though, as any good Anglophile will tell you. They can be found both here and abroad, on rooftops or not, dirty or clean. While the British nanny Mary Poppins helped out around the house, her mate (Bert the chimney sweep, played in the Disney flick by Dick Van Dyke) did his part up above. There were four cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 184 in WorldCat.

(Screenshot from the trailer for the film Mary Poppins, 1963, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Treee* (for Tree, Trees, etc.)

You might be surprised to know that Billy Idol, that dressed-in-black-leather punk rocker, actually released a completely serious Christmas album in 2006.  For Happy Holidays, Idol recorded a mix of traditional and popular tunes, including perhaps the only version of “Frosty the Snowman” I actually like, as well as totally fun versions of “O Christmas Tree” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (also not normally at the top of my favorites list).

If I’ve tempted you, the bad news is that the CD is now somewhat rare and sells at a hefty price on Amazon and ebay.  But you can check out an illegal “Frosty” and other tracks on YouTube.  (It could be called free advertising.)  You might even want to look up his new album and autobiography, both released this past October.  But then make certain you take care of that Treee* typo in your catalog.  There are 5 entries for it in OhioLINK and 198 in WorldCat.

(Billy Idol, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holdia* (for Holiday, Holidays)

You know the holiday season is approaching when the stollen appears on the shelves of grocery stores and specialty food shops.  This delicious, buttery sweet bread stuffed with raisins, candied citrons, currants, or other fruits—and sometimes marzipan—originated in Germany in the 1400s.  And if stollen is somewhat popular here, it’s a knockout in its native land.  For Dresden particularly, it’s a point of pride.  Each year, a giant version features in the Stollen Festival held during the Dresdner Striezelmarkt (Christmas market), where it is paraded through the historical old town, then sliced up and sold to an appreciative populace.

While I personally love stollen, a close acquaintance of mine (who shall remain nameless for fear of hate mail) maintains that its one and only purpose is to serve as a door stop.  Regardless of your opinion on the issue, I hope we can agree that Holdia* is an unwelcome presence during this season or any other.  There are 13 instances of it in OhioLINK and 132 in WorldCat.

(Stollen, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, December 19, 2014

Unumbe* (for Unnumbe*)

As catalogers, we are all familiar with the various forms and styles of pagination, including the occasional unnumbered pages. But we don't always remember to count or include all the letters in the word unnumbered, resulting in a typo similar to Mispell for misspell. One often becomes numb to this sort of omission, although it's hardly a fatal error. The image to the right depicts some examples of fan, otherwise known in China as "Deadly Numbness." (At least, that is, according to the poster of the image; I can find virtually no reference to this term anywhere else.) In the case of Lambfan, the caption continues, "the patient makes bleating sounds like a sheep and foams at the mouth. This can be treated with realgar, or xionghuang, alum, cicada shell, and ginger juice, washed down with cold water." Which is good to know. In any case, don't be a numbskull: our typo for the day can be easily made whole simply by adding an extra N. This spelling disorder numbered twice in OhioLINK, and 232 times in WorldCat.

(Early 20th-century Chinese lithograph depicting "fan" diseases, from Huitu Zhenjiu Yixue, or Illustrated Acupuncture Made Easy), by Li Shouxian, 1798. This illustration shows the manifestations of Deadly Numbness, Masha fan, Pearlfan, Mole Cricketfan, and Lambfan, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sequitor* (for Sequitur*)

A good non sequitur is like a good joke: both of them build up your expectations, then unexpectedly upend them. My back-up TV viewer had my back the other night when he hit the record button after watching the first few minutes of a 1936 gangster film called Bullets or Ballots. A character was trying to think of the name of "that publisher who was murdered, the one named... uh, the name..." (It was a front-page story in the newspaper since the victim had been the leader of the city's vice squad.) "A–B–C–D," the man mutters. "E–F–G–H–I–J–K... Bryant!" This is a riff on a mnemonic device that I often use myself, whereby if I can't remember a person's name, I just start flipping through my mental Rolodex, silently saying the alphabet to myself. Most of the time when I come to the letter the person's name (either first or last) begins with, it suddenly jumps out at me. It's kind of amazing how well this works. (Although my friend says he knows of no one else who does this, it turns out my sister does it, and I'm sure other people must do as well.) Another nice example of the non sequitur was to be had the other day at work when I overheard one of our students complaining that "all of the streets in downtown Albany sound alike! Eagle, Dove, [here one might have added Swan, Lark, Quail, Partidge, or Robin]... Hamilton," he concluded dourly. Like bullets or ballots, one can go either way with the foreign phrase non sequitur. But the right way for you to go is with a U. We found one example of this typo (or misspelled Latinism) in OhioLINK, along with 19 in WorldCat.

(1936 theatrical poster for Bullets or Ballots, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cotten* + Cotton* (for Cotton* or Cotten*)

The cottony sticks that we currently call Q-tips were originally known as "Baby Gays." (I kid you not.) In 1923, "upon observing his wife applying wads of cotton to toothpicks, Leo Gerstenzang conceived the idea of manufacturing a ready-to-use cotton swab." He went on to found the Leo Gerstenzang Infant Novelty Co., a firm that marketed baby care products. Three years later, the name was changed to Q-tips, the "Q" standing for "quality." (We're assuming the "Gays" part was an attempt to suggest that your little ones would be very happy indeed to have their ears and other parts cleaned out in this manner. And that were a name like that to be floated today, some group like "Mothers Against Turning Our Children Gay" would probably throw a major tantrum.) Though "Baby Gays" sounds a wee bit ungrammatical, not to mention hopelessly dated these days, it's very likely akin to to the word nosegay, meaning a bunch of flowers that pleases the nose. We dug 53 of these out of OhioLINK today, and 444 out of WorldCat.

(Miss Q-Tip Mardi Gras, New Orleans street costumer in the French Quarter, 8 March 2011, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 8, 2014

Restoraton (for Restoration*)

On December 8, 1660, the first British actress took the stage in a production of Shakespeare's Othello. Previously, female roles were played by boys or men. The idea of a woman participating in such an ignoble pursuit as acting was unacceptable. England's relationship with theatre was troubled enough to begin with: theatre was banned under the Puritans, and made legal again with the Restoration of King Charles.

So when Thomas Killigrew made the decision to have an actress join his company’s performance, it was a big deal. He commissioned an opening monologue from poet Thomas Jordan to set the scene. An actor played a backstage spy who had discovered this news, and was now letting the audience in on the "secret":
I come unknown to any of the rest
To tell you news; I saw the Lady drest;
The Woman plays to day: mistake me not
No Man in Gown, or Page in Petty-Coat.
- Thomas Jordan
Unfortunately, though the actress taking the stage was an important development in British theatre, her name wasn't actually recorded. Speculation centres around Anne Marshall or Margaret Hughes (pictured here) as the ground-breaking lady.

Restoraton* occurs 52 times in Worldcat, making it a low probability typo. I was surprised at the infrequency of this one – it took me three tries to type “Restoration” properly.

Leanne Olson
(Portrait of Margaret Hughes by Peter Lely is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Atempt* (for Attempt*)

"Attempted Murder" reads the caption beneath a shot of two crows sitting on a fence. This joke, or visual pun, is not an original, but was conveyed to me by a friend who had seen it on Facebook. I chose this particular pic myself, though. Doesn't it look like these two are just waiting for their fellow co-conspirators to show up? (Their crow conspirators, if you will?) Crows are considered to be very intelligent birds, clever and conniving even, and possibly in possession of a wicked sense of humor—which might be why a group of them is often called a murder. Among all the creatures in the animal kingdom, many of whom kill on a regular basis, crows were perhaps the only ones thought capable of malice aforethought. On the other hand, it could be that these allegedly headed-for-jail birds have simply gotten a bad rap. There were 18 cases of the murder of attempted in OhioLINK today, and 692 in WorldCat.

(A pair of Ceylon House Crows (Corvus splendens protegatus) in Kochchikade, Sri Lanka, 3 May 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Forcast* (for Forecast*)

Monday's blog entry prompted me to learn a bit more about my wannabe namesake of sorts, Carol Reed, who presented the nightly weather forecast on WCBS-TV in New York City from 1952 to 1964. Prior to that, according to a 1996 article in the New York Times, the weather report had been duly submitted to television audiences by "military veterans, tweedy professors of meteorology, and former personnel of the United States Weather Bureau [who] barely cracked a smile as they stood in front of wispy maps and droned on about fronts and pressure systems." Once Carol Reed hit the airwaves, though, sexy "weather girls" began to be in high demand. ("Attractive, chipper, and blessed with eternal smiles," these women "scrawled weather maps on Plexiglas, donned hats to match the forecast or rose yawning from bed in skimpy lingerie...") Wikipedia has clearly bowed to the political winds of change by listing her occupation as "weather person"; however, she was always known as "Carol Reed, the weather girl." Despite having not been "trained in meteorology," her sunny disposition more than made up for that lack. Never one to rain on her viewers' parade, she would invariably sign off by saying, "Good night and have a happy!" Sadly, Ms. Reed died of cancer at the age of 44 in Mamaroneck, New York. Given that there were 74 cases of Forcast* (for forecast*) in OhioLINK today, and a blizzard-worthy 1268 in WorldCat, we predict you'll uncover a scattering of these in your own catalogs as well.

(Publicity photo of weather person Carol Reed, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weathr* (for Weather*)

Partly due to the cool terminology and partly because they're just so amazing, there was a time when I dreamily considered working with clouds for a living and being a "weather girl" when I grew up. (I'm not sure whether I knew this or not, but apparently the first famous weather girl was also called "Carol Reed"!) Those mysterious Latin words, which almost resembled clouds themselves floating in chalk dust across the blackboard, sounded like names from an old mythology book (Romulus and Remus, Cumulus and Nimbus), and the clouds themselves were constantly shape-shifting and assuming the appearance of various Aesop-type animals. While these days, I never seem to know what's going on with the weather and will often get caught in it unprepared, I imagined back then that it would be nice to be able to tell folks what to expect outside when they got up in the morning. Whether it's rain or shine in your own neck of the woods right now, take a peek inside your catalog for our low-probability typo of the day, which turns up three times in OhioLINK, and 42 times in WorldCat.

(Halo in cirrocumulus near the city of Łódź, Poland, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid