Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Educaa* (for Educate, Education, etc.)

Have you heard about the fifth grader in Stuarts Draft, Virginia who’s taking on the Augusta County school board over its ban on lip balm? Chapstick’s been deemed a public health threat because elementary students and pre-kindergarteners occupy the same buildings, and the kiddies might share.  As reported in USA Today, school officials don’t view it as a big deal because “kids can get their doctors to permit nurses to apply Chapstick in the office, or parents can come in to administer it themselves.” But really, wouldn’t this be a good opportunity for teachers to, say, educate their students about the dangers instead?

Educaa*, unlike Chapstick, poses a low risk. There are 3 entries in OhioLINK and 90 English-language results in WorldCat.

(Chapstick, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Monday, September 29, 2014

Technologye* (for Technology, Technologies, etc.)

This month has been dubbed “Techtember” in our household. First came the decision to buy a large-ish high definition Smart TV. (Huzzah, we can now read subtitles again!) Next dawned the realization that, in order to fully take advantage of its capabilities, we should replace our old stereo with a home theater system. I’m no technophobe, but the set-up has been challenging to say the least. I’m now on familiar terms with a whole range of connections and plugs like HDMI, RCA, ARC, composite, and component, and I’ve learned again the value of perseverance.

While Techtember looks like a typo in its own right, today’s word for the day is actually “Technologye*”. Technology and its derivatives comprise a section of the Ballard list that’s nearly as big as the tangle of cables behind my television cabinet. There are 2 instances of it in the OhioLink database and 214 in WorldCat. Some are misspellings, and others are cases where the cataloger neglected to enter a space before the word that follows.

(Component video jack, from Wikimedia Commons)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, September 26, 2014

Commercail* (for Commercial*)

"I felt something in the air. It came from right over there. It appeared to have wings, it was just levitating. Kind of floating. Whoosh. So fast! It had glowing eyes. I saw a flash of white. Beautiful. It was real. Out of this world. It's out there. BMW, the ultimate driving machine..." Um, I swore I wouldn't bring it up here again, at least not for a while, but I simply can't resist. Is it just me or has Bigfoot become such a thoroughgoing cultural meme that he's currently being invoked in the name of both down-home beef jerky and high-end luxury cars? Is Bigfoot, like George Jefferson, movin' on up? Or have I finally reached the point where I now see the whole world through cryptid-colored glasses? A world where almost anything can equal a Sasquatch (maybe accompanied by a UFO or Mothman)? Where a myth is as good as a mile? Perhaps I could use a skeptical stint in rehab, a bit of deprogramming, possibly a Yeti intervention... Or did the pricey German automobile company really just release a haunting new advertising campaign based on Bigfoot and friends?! (It seems that it's been airing since earlier last spring, but I only just caught sight of it myself the other day.) I decided to try and look it up online to see if anyone else "saw what I saw," but sadly there was little evidence of that. So just enjoy this mysterious TV commercial and keep your eyes peeled for whatever it is that's "out there." In here, in the meantime, we spotted two examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 62 in WorldCat.

(1962 BMW in Slovenia, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sameul* (for Samuel*)

In the 2013 documentary Shepard & Dark, we learn that playwright Sam Shepard often revisits the darker side of father-son relationships in his work. Plays can be confessional and were I to be writing one myself right now, it would probably have to be about spelling. I have something to get off my chest. The night before watching this movie on Netflix, I took part in another local spelling bee. I knew virtually every word that was asked, too—every word, that is, except for the relatively simple one I so stupidly got wrong. Mind you, this was a word I have used in half a dozen blog entries (I checked!) and even blogged about itself back in 2006 (though the entry is no longer accessible in the archives). It was also blogged about again in 2009 by Leanne Olson. How was it possible, then, that instead of giving the correct answer (the first one, in fact, that had come to mind), I miserably and abruptly blurted out, "P-L-A-Y-W-R-I-T-E" for playwright? I mean, okay, granted, we've got playwriting, along with copyright and copywriter, to mix things up a bit. But still. It seems that this phoneme-non, if you will, is either a psychological disorder (akin to plunging self-esteem or paralyzing fear of success) or it's just a big old cosmic joke. And that, anyway, I'm not the only if, and, or butt of it. There was the Indian boy who flubbed Darjeeling; the girl from a German-speaking family who spelt Weltschmerz with a V; the Canadian fille who whiffed confiserie; the Asian kid who got disoriented by Oriental; Brick Heck, who "overthought" reindeer; Charlie Brown, who choked on a beagle; and all the permanently chagrined spelling bee contestants who ever misspelled the word misspell. The point, apparently, is for you to blow it in the most ironic or humiliating way possible. (The other night at the library, we all sat staring at a giant fake Scrabble board, trying to locate the single misspelled word. For the first time during this portion of the bee, nobody seemed to see it, although it was right in the middle of the board. That word? LIBARY.) Sam Shepard keeps on playwriting until he gets it right, and I guess I'll have to keep on spelling till I quit missing the easy layups. Or as a friend of mine so aptly put it: "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory." Since we've blogged about Shepard before, we'll be going with Sameul* today instead. We got 35 hits in OhioLINK, and 416 in WorldCat.

(Sam Shepard at age 21, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Monday, September 22, 2014

Raph + Ralph (for Ralph)

I love Ralph Nader and have seen him speak in this town on at least four or five occasions. And almost every time I do, I come away with a wonderfully folksy expression or two I'd never heard before. Last week I attended a fundraiser for Howie Hawkins, who's running for governor of New York State on the Green Party ticket. Ralph Nader was there and, while technically not the main event, he clearly had the crowd riveted. At one point he was saying how some people don't like to get involved in politics: they're shy or embarrassed, they don't want to get "shut down at town meetings," they don't care to defend their positions, etc. They're blistered by moonbeams, he added. Smiling, I jotted it down, but was confused as to its meaning. A friend later suggested that, while it sounded like a reference to California's Jerry Brown ("Governor Moonbeam"), it must in fact mean "very thin-skinned." So much so you risk getting burned by the moon, not just the sun. (You might wear your sunglasses at night and think you're cool, but if you don't "turn on to politics," as Ralph says, "politics will turn on you.") Nader Nader is hardly "blistered by moonbeams." He's taken criticism from all sides, and even weathered his own base accusing him of single-handedly handing the 2000 election to George W. Bush. He's an idealistic but laid-back Pisces, who just turned eighty, but still acts like he's twenty. Which may be easier for him than it would be for most of us: he's been doing pretty much the same thing his entire life, with none of the usual detours for messy personal relationships, hard-to-handle offspring, or misbegotten jobs. He simply crusades for peace and justice with astonishing focus and determination. That's his vocation. "Mr. Nader, you're a secular saint," said my friend, as we waited on line to get our books signed. Oh, and he writes a lot of books too—over thirty and counting. His latest one is called Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. I was surprised to also learn that he typed (on a typewriter) and then published a 773-page "novel" in 2009, entitled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! It's been compared to both Looking Backward: 2008-1887, by Edward Bellamy, and Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Way to go, Ralph! There were ten cases of today's typo found in OhioLINK, and 181 in WorldCat.

(Picture I took of Ralph Nader at another Hawkins fundraiser four years ago.)

Carol Reid

Friday, September 19, 2014

Abandonded (for Abandoned)

I love abandoned places. There’s something beautiful and nostalgic in their loneliness. In grad school I had a photographer friend who would sneak into sites after farms had burned down or hospitals had closed. I accompanied him from time to time. We were respectful but also had good, creepy fun, and the adventures inspired a few settings in horror stories I’ve written.

One image that stuck with me was a rocking chair in the middle of a burned barn, with the wooden chair completely untouched. We dared each other to sit on it and rock, but none of us had the courage. There was a vague sense that someone else (something else?) might be sitting there already.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled across Ontario Abandoned Places, which collects photographs of the lost spots all around my province. Now I can browse late at night with the lights off and work on my stories without having to do the dirty work of hopping fences and crawling under fallen beams. I guess this means I’m getting older (wasn’t the dirty work the fun part?) but I prefer to say I’m becoming more efficient in my literary inspirations.

Leanne Olson

(Photo of abandoned house in Tillamook, Oregon by user Adumbvoget, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Synonymn* (for Synonym*)

I have an odd love of synonyms that seem like they should be opposites, but aren’t. Flammable and inflammable are the classic pair: it’s easy to assume the in- in inflammable means not, as it does in involuntary, invisible, or inarticulate – the opposite of flammable. But the prefix in-, in this case, actually comes from the Latin in as in “in” rather than in as in “not” (think indoctrinate, involve).

Are you with me yet? I thought about adding a few more quotation marks up there but quickly gave up. As it is, I’m going to be seeing ins in my dreams tonight.

In addition (now I can’t stop), while I was double-checking my facts on flammable versus inflammable, I quite enjoyed the sidebar advertisements generated by my internet sleuthing. Thanks to ads, I now know far more about how to make handheld fireballs than I ever cared to (the most important thing I learned? Don’t try it at home).

Synonymn* is a high probability typo (it’s easy to slip on that extra n while typing), occurring 75 times in Worldcat.

Leanne Olson

(Inflammable/flammable image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)