Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Atomsph* (for Atmosph*)

I was filling in at the library on a dismal Saturday afternoon recently when I glanced out the dirt-streaked window to catch some streaks of another sort entirely. What Hi and Lois's baby Trixie would surely have greeted as friends were pouring forth from between long dark cracks in the cloud cover. "Look at that!" beamed my coworker. "Crepuscular rays!" Although it sounds a little bit like an alarming blood disease diagnosis (the word actually means "twilight"), that note is more than made up for by the array of arresting nicknames that have been accorded this phenomenon. Names like "backstays of the sun" (since they resemble the stays that support the mast of a ship); "Ropes of Maui" (from a folk tale in which ropes are attached to the sun to make the day last longer); and "Sun drawing water" (reflecting an ancient Greek belief that sunbeams drew water into the sky, which is really a rather nice description of evaporation.) Oftentimes, they're called things like "Fingers of God," "Jesus Rays," "Jacob's Ladder," or "Buddha Rays." As well as "cloud breaks," "shafts of light," "sunbursts," etc. There are a lot of stunning photos out there depicting this not-uncommon atmospheric condition, but I couldn't resist this one, which perhaps more directly evokes the idea that these heavenly-looking sunbeams are truly gifts from God. (There are "Devil Rays" also, but that only refers to the "anticrepuscular" kind.) God, or those of us crafted imperfectly in Her image, appears to have given us sixteen cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 181 in WorldCat.

(Ochsenfurt, Katholische Stadtpfarrkirche St. Andreas, Innenansicht mit durch die weihrauchgesättigte Luft einfallendem Licht*, November 2011, from Wikimedia Commons.)

*Google translates this to "Ochsenfurt, Catholic Parish Church of St. Andrew, interior with incident through the incense saturated air light"—which may be as good a way of putting it as any!

Carol Reid

Monday, November 16, 2015

Edtion* (for Edition*)

Today's typo is a fairly routine one, being for a word that is quite common to catalogers, and to all of us, really. But apparently it is one we've never blogged about here before. Friday may have started out routinely as well, for most of us, but as the whole world now knows, it ended in an unspeakable tragedy in France. And yet there is almost a fearful sense of predictability, a grim mundanity about it all—the "banality of evil," as Hannah Arendt once put it. Je ne sais quoi is a lovely French phrase for "an indefinable, elusive quality, especially a pleasing one." It literally means: "I know not what." The enormity of the Paris attacks can scarcely be put into words either, it seems, and some of our most trenchant and passionate commentators went with empathy over editorializing in their immediate wake. Stephen Colbert was both moving and amusing at once when he assured his listeners: "If it makes you feel a connection to the people of Paris, go drink a bottle of Bordeaux. Eat a croissant at Au Bon Pain. Slap on a beret and smoke a cigarette like this. Go eat some French fries, which I am now calling Freedom fries in honor of the French people. Anything that is an attempt at human connection in the world right now is positive... Did you get up this morning and not try to kill someone? Then you’re on the right side." Early and late press releases are full of the terrible news today. But there will always be time for a new edition. There were 56 cases of this typo in OhioLINK, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.

(Stephen Colbert in May 2012, holding his Peabody Award, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, November 13, 2015

Opportuniy (Opportunity)

I have made this typo myself, on occasion, so I thought I would take the opportunity to offer it to you as well. Some people use mnemonics to help them remember difficult spellings, or simply to remind them of what a word itself means, or perhaps even to inspire a certain esprit de corps ("There's no I in TEAMWORK"), but that sort of thing rarely helps with a simple slip of the finger. Today's word contains both a Y and an I, and even a Y-O-U of sorts, not to mention two O's, two P's, and two T's. So you've got a lot of options here. It's just a matter of taking it slow, making sure you've dotted your I's and crossed your T's, and then not blowing the whole thing right at the very end. There were three missed opportunities in OhioLINK today, and 23 in WorldCat.

("We're ready! For the challenge of tomorrow. Let's do the job ... together!" Poster art, 1941–1945, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Improvm* (for Improvem*)

Does doing a lot of improv improve one's acting? I think that most people who got their start on shows like SCTV (an offshoot of Toronto's Second City troupe) would very likely answer "yes" to that question, or at least something else along the same lines. Though I'm a big believer in the importance of good writing when it comes to television and movie scripts, it's also pretty clear that mastering improv techniques can help an actor or comedian seem more "natural" or spontaneous. Some recent TV shows, like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Reno, 911!, were (amazingly) essentially improvised, and had just general plot outlines to follow, while others, such as The Office or Parks and Recreation, were tightly scripted, but allowed their cast members some leeway for deviation, and often some of the show's best lines. And then there's Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where the entire premise of the program is improv. You can make some important improvements to your own catalog today by searching out and correcting this "high probability" typo, which was found 46 times in OhioLINK, and 1194 times in WorldCat. And with such a high hit count, one could probably try improvising some other typos for this word as well.

(Rick Moranis at the 62nd Academy Awards, photo by Alan Light, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, November 9, 2015

Altantic (for Atlantic)

It seems like an awful lot of changes are happening here in Albany (as well as in my online life) over the past couple of weeks now, and unfortunately, none of them are really happy ones. Three local institutions (all dating from the 1970s and '80s) are, if not quite going kaput, being considerably altered. Our longtime health-food co-op's management has determined it can no longer support the "member worker" program, essentially turning Honest Weight into a regular old retail store. Our beloved independent movie theater, the Spectrum, has been sold to a national chain. And possibly worst of all, the wonderful and award-winning alternative newsweekly Metroland was seized by the state for non-payment of back taxes. Finally, in a disorienting coup de grâce, fans have just learned that Emily Yoffe (aka "Dear Prudence") will be leaving Slate this week to take a new job at the Atlantic. Times do change, it's true, especially the older you get, but it's all still a bitter pill to swallow. In any event, life goes on; what's the alternative? The Atlantic Monthly (an alternative to the NYC-based Harper's and the New Yorker) was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 9, 1857 (according to Wikipedia's article for November 9, although that looks like it might be a typo itself since the page for the Atlantic says that the first issue was published on Nov. 1), and it's still around today. There were 16 examples of Altantic (for Atlantic) found in OhioLINK, and 423 in WorldCat.

(Photo of Atlantic magazine cover on newsstand, 30 November 2014, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Literatature* (for Literature, etc.)

Each autumn I look forward to the week-long announcements about the various Nobel Prizes. As you might know, this year’s award for literature went to Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich. The Swedish Academy honored the author of Voices from Chernobyl (Charnobylʹskai︠a︡ malitva) and other works for “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Ms. Alexievich was chosen from a field of 198 individual nominees.

Did you know the literature prize itself has an interesting story? According to the official Web site, since the bestowing of the first prize in 1901, a total of 108 Nobel prizes in literature have been awarded. (No prizes were awarded during the years 1914, 1918, 1935, or 1940-1943.) On four occasions, the prize was shared by two authors, bringing the total number of Nobel laureates in literature to 112. To date, only 14 women have achieved this high honor. The most common languages for award winners to write in are English, French, German, and Spanish.

Literatature* is just one of the many potential typing pitfalls for the word literature. It can be found 5 times in OhioLINK and 10 in WorldCat. You might not win any prizes for tidying up such errors, but at least you can take pride in knowing that your catalog is a better place.

(Svetlana Alexievich, by Elke Wetzig, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, October 30, 2015

Aleins (for Aliens)

I braved the cold and driving rain without an umbrella the other night to catch the final entry in the silent film series at Albany Public Library, called When an Alien Robot Crash-Lands in Troy, NY. (It might bear mention here that Troy is home to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which is "the oldest continuously operating technological university in both the English-speaking world and the Americas.") This time it was the debut of a 50-minute film by a local artist named Bobby Kendall, with live accompaniment by the band Lastdayshining. Maybe it was the wet slog to get there, or maybe I've just seen too many locally produced, low-budget "indies" in my day, but I had somewhat dampened hopes that weren't entirely assuaged in its first few minutes. However, I soon grew quite enamored of this strange little sci-fi saga. Our eponymous robot was a small, crudely made thing, such as a child would construct (two white boxes for the body and head, cardboard arms, big red eyes, and a black line for the mouth) and it navigated on four wheels, like an all-terrain-type vehicle operated by remote control. It starts out roaming this rusty old industrial park on the outskirts of town, dotted with discarded computer equipment and other sad relics of our day. It approaches various objects, touches them gingerly, and then moves on. It rambles through the nearby woods, where it seems to take a shine to a wilted sunflower head, and then down to the banks of the Hudson River, where it's surprised by water. The plotline, such as it is, is rather slim and whimsical, which isn't a bad thing, and it provides fitting food for thought. For example, I loved the way that, unlike the robot and its startled response to all it sees, the people it passes on the sidewalks of Troy's historic downtown district, and milling about at the farmers market, hardly give it a first glance, much less a second one. They must have thought it was just a dumb toy or an advertising gizmo; or perhaps they really didn't notice it at all, the way folks will often "look right through" those who aren't part of their own circumscribed worldview. But the best thing about this movie, in my opinion, wasn't the alien robot, or even the local color; it was the truly deft and touching way that it was filmed. It was like a cinematic love letter to the city, artfully and affectionately rendered by Kendall, and beautifully scored by Lastdayshining in a blend of "post-rock" and chamber music styles. Kendall and his band are currently in the process of recording an original score to another silent film about an awesomely cinematic city, Fritz Lang's Metropolis. A relative of mine, who also loves Troy, NY, once built himself a radio-controlled "robot" as well. He dubbed it YLLIB in a backwards homage to its creator. It occurs to me that this one could have been likewise named YORT, pronounced as one syllable or else EE-ORT (sort of like the dysphoric donkey in A.A. Milne's "100 Aker Wood"). But whatever you call your robot, or however you say its name, remember it's "I before E " in the case of aliens from outer space, along with any you might find in your own database. There were three found in OhioLINK today, plus 14 in WorldCat.

(Poster for showing of When an Alien Robot Crash-Lands in Troy, NY, at the Albany Public Library, October 28, 2015.)

Carol Reid