Monday, July 6, 2015

Commemm* (for Commemorate, etc.)

On June 21, 1965, Nelson Rockefeller officially broke ground for the Empire State Plaza in upstate New York. Though not everyone thinks that's something to cheer about. How do you recognize an important event that you're not really willing to "celebrate"? Do you mark it, note it, observe it, remember it? Today we are here to commemorate it, with your classic "too many M's" type typo. It's been fifty years since the machinery of demolition and displacement was unleashed in downtown Albany, in a long-ago place that truly is celebrated (along with the largely Italian families and businesses thriving there) in the locally made 2014 documentary The Neighborhood That Disappeared. I chose this photograph of some of what replaced that neighborhood as it highlights the creepy/campy, cheesy/spacey quality of the ESP, which state workers, residents, and visitors alike nonetheless feel a certain grudging fondness for. It's kind of like "Rocky" meets Ed Wood. As the band They Might Be Giants once put it, after a gig at the Plaza's performing arts center:

The Egg, exciting and old,
The Egg, you'll do what you're told,
The Egg, the Egg, no corners for you...
From the outside I am thinking,
I'm a number, not a man,
From the outside I am thinking...
What were they thinking?

Good question. And here's another one: How many examples of Commemm* (for commemorate, etc.) can you locate in your own library's catalog today? There were 15 found in OhioLINK, and 711 in WorldCat.

(Empire Plaza, 15 August 2007, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Natinal* (for National, etc.)

Well done, United States Women’s National Soccer Team!  On Tuesday they defeated top-ranked Germany for a place in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.  Tune in Sunday night to see if they can bring home the silverware after a sure-to-be-exciting match against the ladies from Japan.

As for the typo natinal*, it's a real spoilsport in our library catalogs.  There are 45 English-language entries for it in OhioLINK, and 954 in WorldCat.

(Flag of the United States, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Old tiem (for Old time, etc.)

They may be octogenarians, but don’t call these actors old timers.  Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench are as prolific as ever, and former Man from U.N.C.L.E David McCallum still stars in a weekly television program.  And they’re in good company with these other active thespians who have reached the age of eighty: Ed Asner, Michael Caine, Dick van Dyke, Clint Eastwood, James Earl Jones, William Shatner, and Betty White (who’s actually 93).  This list is by no means comprehensive, so feel free to add your favorites in the comments below. 

Old tiem is a lowest-probability typo.  Right now there are no entries in OhioLINK or WorldCat for the phrase, but you will find some misspellings for "time."

(Dame Judi Dench, by Caroline Bonarde Ucci, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Positv* (for Positiv*)

Are you a Brony? Are you positive? Do you like music, memes, animation, fanfic, and things outside your "target demographic"? Do you like ponies who are punny? Can you say the words "cutie marks" without gagging? The cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (animator and writer Lauren Faust also worked on the critically acclaimed Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) has been gathering admirers for almost five years now and is currently humming along at quite a clip. (Or should I say clop? One might even say—and it seems that one is almost required to, in fact—prancing, trotting, cantering, or galloping at one.) Originally posited for little girls, this program about equine princesses and their many pals has a serious fan base of males between the ages of 18 and 35. Surprisingly enough, however, most insist they watch it "un-ironically" and non-pervertedly (albeit, one might note, with an occasional dash of hipster dust and vague oppression). This wide-eyed love for these wide-eyed ponies (female Bronies are sometimes known as "Pegasisters") is representative of the soi-disant "New Sincerity." Generating waves of online positivity and digital creativity, MLP-based iconography has been compared to Japanese anime and other forms of pop-cultural derivation. Summon the spirit of Twilight Sparkle, Ponyville's own librarian, and rein in today's runaway typo, spotted six times in OhioLINK and 572 times in WorldCat.

(Twilight Sparkle READ poster.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stehp* (for Steph*)

Stephentown, New York, in nearby Rensselaer County, was once called "Jericho Hallow" (back when it was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony); however, it was renamed in 1788 for New York's Lieutenant Governor Stephen Van Rensselaer. Wikipedia describes him as a "statesman, soldier, and land-owner, heir to one of the largest estates in the region ... which made him the tenth richest American of all time, based on the ratio of his fortune to contemporary GDP." The man might have been unusual with regard to his personal wealth and influence, but as Stephens go, he was not unique. Unlike, that is, the town that currently bears his name—along with a road sign proclaiming it "the only Stephentown on Earth." Which brings up an intriguing question for a cataloger: Just how many geographic names are there that only occur a single time? Albany, New York, may be the oldest incorporated city in the country, but there are over a dozen similarly named entities to be found worldwide. Most famous places are flattered (or perhaps not) by imitators: Paris, Texas; London, Ontario; Madrid, Nebraska; Naples, Florida. New York State has a ton of these toponymical also-rans as well: Alexandria, Amsterdam, Athens; Babylon, Belfast, Bethlehem; Cairo, Canton, Copenhagen; and on through the alphabet to Rome, Syracuse, and Troy. By the way, for a wonderfully enlightening and entertaining look at how various place names (among other words) came to be in the United States, check out Bill Bryson's 2001 book Made in America. Stehp* up and go to town on today's typo, which occurred five times in OhioLINK, and 283 times in WorldCat.

(Entering Stephentown, New York, 20 October 2009, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, June 22, 2015

Scoharie (for Schoharie)

Shawn Purcell describes his debut novel West Kill Creek* as a "contemplative work of post-apocalyptic fiction set in upstate New York." The blurb continues: "A particularly lethal virus has rapidly wiped out most of civilization. A hardy band of survivors does what it takes to stay alive, but the novel also reverberates with the echoes of local history and deep time, the beauty and terror of nature, the power and glory of books, current environmental and political issues, and actual events and places—such as Hurricane Irene, and the Gilboa Fossil Forest—and you couldn't have all that without some conflict and romance." West Kill Creek is a heady hybrid of sci-fi dystopia and Thoreauvian transcendentalism, chockabloack with literate takes on New York State—especially the storied and harried Schoharie County. "The driftwood along this stretch reminded Dar that Schoharie County was named after a corruption of the local Native American word for that, which went something like To-wos-scho-hor. It was said that this 'flood-wood' was tangled and piled up so high at one confluence in the Schoharie Creek, like a 'mausoleum of the forest sugar-tree, gnarled oak, and lofty pine,' that the natives who used the span as a bridge couldn't even see the water down through it..." Scoharie (see Schoharie) was seen twice in OhioLINK, and 27 times in WorldCat.

*Ordering details and sample first chapter at:

Full disclosure: Shawn is a long-time friend, colleague, and word nerd. I reviewed the manuscript for him, and found it to be rife with non-errors.

(Cover of West Kill Creek, courtesy of the author.)

Carol Reid

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Legisat* (for Legislator, Legislature, etc.)

Food for thought ….  There’s no shortage of legislators aiming to make us average citizens safer in our classrooms and churches, what with their tireless work to pass open and concealed carry laws.  But surely their jobs are more dangerous than ours.  Should we really allow them to be so selfless on our behalf?  Or should we mount an all-out campaign to guarantee every senator and representative the right to carry a gun onto the floor of the legislature, whether at the state or national level?

The typo Legisat* is far less common than gun bills these days.  There are 13 English-language entries in OhioLINK and 183 in WorldCat.

(Walther PPK handgun, James Bond's weapon of choice, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak