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PostClassic Newspaper Headline Typos (Randy Black, USA, 02/25/13 5:51 pm)
In his response to David Fleischer's comments about mistakes in newspaper and electronic headlines, John Eipper (25 February) discussed the ambiguity of the verb "to depose," as well as the general state of the movie industry.
I am reminded of some of the memorable typos that I've collected over the decades. My favorites from my Dallas Times Herald days in the 1970s are many, and include the following.
As a young adult a few years out of college, I worked at the Herald first as a sport writer, next as a staff photographer and eventually a feature writer. The typos herein were possibly purposeful, made apparently as a result of labor union vs. management issues back in those linotype days, when organized labor controlled the hot type operations.
In a front page Sunday edition, the writer reported on a $300,000 gift to a local university by the family of a deceased woman, a well-loved philanthropist. In the article, the mayor of Dallas stated, "This generous gift is a great tribute to a great lady."
However, the typesetting dropped the "d" in "lady."
It ran in about 350,000 copies of that Sunday edition. A few weeks later, I got up the nerve to ask the co-publisher if any lawyers for the offended family had contacted him. With a wry grin, he replied, "Son, I knew that woman for decades and you can't be sued for publishing the truth."
Other memorable typos that come to mind include several in a weekly sports column by sports editor Blackie Sherrod. Blackie had written his column about the strategy of legendary Cowboy coach Tom Landry.
Sherrod had gone on and on about Landry's preference for big running backs such as Calvin Hill (African-American), who came in at 6'4" and 227 lbs.
It was "big back this and big back that" in the column. Hill was contrasted with the relatively diminutive, yet successful fullback Walt Garrison (white), who stood probably 5'11" and in the 190 lbs range. (Garrison also had success in the off season as a professional bull riding and calf roper rodeo cowboy over the years.)
Each of Sherrod's 12 references to Landry's "big back" strategy came out as "big black."
For instance, Sherrod wrote, "Walt Garrison makes up for his lack of 'big black' stature with his hard hitting tenacity..." And "Garrison does not have the 'big black speed' of Calvin Hill but..."
One other typo during that era was in an advertisement for the wool suits of a major men's clothing manufacturer. "Our spring collection of Hart Schaffner and Marx suits will have you looking sharp around the clock," read the ad copy.
The typesetter dropped the "l" in clock!
At least the ad ran on the inside pages where few noticed it.
JE comments: These are some classic gaffes. My thanks to Randy Black for ending my very long day with a chuckle.
A Headline in the Palo Alto *Peninsula Times Tribune*
(Edward Jajko, USA
02/26/13 7:04 AM)
It wasn't a mistake in a newspaper headline, but I'm sure that Bill Ratliff, who served as occasional music critic for the paper, will remember the front page headline in three or four-inch heavy type about a local animal problem, in the now defunct Palo Alto, California, Peninsula Times Tribune: RACCOONS IN RAIDS OF TERROR!
Of course, the all-time classic was "Dewey Defeats Truman" in 1948.
JE comments: One man's raccoon terrorist is another man's raccoon freedom fighter. Speaking as somebody who's been victimized by raccoon attacks on my garbage cans, I sympathize.
Dewey Defeats Truman: this is probably the most famous photograph of Give 'em Hell Harry. For those who need a refresher, click here.
There appear to be three or four versions of this photo, taken from slightly different angles. When I was young, I misinterpreted the pic: I thought that Truman believed he had actually lost, and was happy about it.
- More Classic Typos (Francisco Ramirez, USA 03/01/13 8:26 AM)
Reading Randy Black's post on misspelled words (25 February) reminded me of some incidents in my own life.
I have a chapter in a book that in its preface says that we are going to estimate some casual models. Than you, University of Chicago Press.
I have a colleague (now education advisor to Governor Jerry Brown) who once proposed to teach a new course on Education and The Pubic Domain. I assured him that I would defend his right to do so, committed as I am to academic freedom. He thanked me for catching this error before it went viral.
Causal and public are words to remember.
Phrases inverted can also get you into trouble. Consider Nothing Alien is Human.
In the late 1970s when I was teaching at San Francisco State, I agreed to be part of a panel without giving much thought to its content and composition. I thought I was asked to talk about my research on women's rights. As the date of the panel came closer, I realized this was part of a conference that was less research oriented and more about sharing personal experiences. The conference was in part sponsored by a San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Alliance group. I sought in vain to come up with a personal experience that would align me with the conference sponsor. On the day of this event traveling slowly on Highway 280, I decided to talk about growing up white in Manila. That would be different and genuine. I also thought I would end my remarks with the phrase above.
My experience in that panel was very interesting. The organizer, a political scientist and a colleague, was a "thalidomide baby." As I entered the conference auditorium filled with different segments of the gay and lesbian community, I very much felt like "the other." The organizer asked me if I minded going first. I thought to myself, sure you might as well fail early. The other members of the panel included a gay psychiatrist who would talk about dealing with straight patients who were filled with anti-gay rage, an ordinary lesbian and a not-so-ordinary one who would refer to herself as a dyke, a term that I and other good liberals do not use. There was also a sissy power spokesperson. So, I got up and did my twenty-minute presentation that went well enough until I got to my dramatic exit moment and uttered the punchline: Nothing Human is Alien!
Fortunately, I was able to correct the gaffe in the q and a. At that time I was, oddly enough, the only authentic alien in the panel, albeit a legal one.
In a future e-mail, again inspired by Randy Black's post on his immigration woes, I will share some of my more vivid memories.
JE comments: It really hurts to mess up a punchline. Randy Black, and now Francisco Ramirez, have pointed out some screamers that omitted or added the letter "L." I wonder if there's a reason for this--perhaps because the lower-case "l" is so minimalist (one vertical line)?
Hey, folks, it's Friday, so dress causally!
(Paul Preston, UK
03/01/13 10:21 AM)
In response to Francisco Ramírez (1 March), I have to share this one that came in a PhD draft I was correcting.
It was about the tens of thousands of innocent civilians who were murdered in Seville during the Spanish Civil War. The operation was carried out under the orders of General Queipo de Llano, who used a flimsy religious justification for his actions.
The concluding sentence of this section of the thesis was:
"In shorts, General Queipo de Llano was the enforcer of God's will on Earth."
JE comments: Gives a whole new meaning to the expression "going commando"--although in the case of Queipo de Llano, he clearly did not.
By the by, does "commando" have the same connotation in the UK? (Note to non-Anglophone WAISers: in US slang, "going commando" means to eschew underpants.)
Yet Another Typo
(Istvan Simon, USA
03/02/13 8:34 AM)
Paul Preston's contribution to typos (1 March) is priceless and made me recall this one, which perhaps is a bit more than a typo. It was published in an opinion piece in the Pioneer, my university's newspaper:
"The argument is a fellatio," opined the author, whose name I no longer recall.
I guess the spell checker did not catch it.
JE comments: Another pearl. Probably the spell checker did catch that one, and offered "fellatio" in its menu of "corrections."
- Another Typo (John Heelan, UK 03/02/13 8:15 AM)
My favourite is an apology one newspaper made that went something like "We apologise to Sgt. John Doe for the misprint indicating that he was 'battle-scared,' when we actually we intended to say that he was 'bottle-scarred.'"
JE comments: Or was it the other way around? This anecdote reminds me of the "tired and disoriented" euphemism John Heelan pointed out several years ago. The reference was to an MP's public drunkenness:
The comments to John's post reveal my meeker days at the WAIS helm. The truth can now be told: That night in 2007, Aldona and I had unknowingly booked a "date hotel" in Santiago de Chile. The place was quiet and clean at 1 PM when we checked in; the all-night coming and going of prostitutes and clients didn't start until about 10. Everyone was disoriented; nobody but us seemed to be tired. The next day we found a different place to stay.
A Hotel in Belgrade, 1968
(Angel Vinas, Belgium
03/02/13 3:22 PM)
John´s anecdote regarding his stay at a date hotel in Santiago de Chile (see John Heelan, 2 March) is similar to mine in Belgrade in 1968. I attended an Quaker-inspired conference in Ljubljana. I was a bit nervous about going, because I had just joined the foreign service but hadn´t asked permission to go to Yugoslavia, at that time off limits to Spanish civil servants except on official business.
At the conference I met a delegate from the ANC. I was fascinated by what he told me about the fight against apartheid, and we traveled together to Belgrade, talking through the night and drinking slivowitz. When I arrived in Belgrade in the morning I was pretty drunk and took the first hotel I found. It turned out to be a brothel. I still wonder why they let me check in. I suppose they thought I was one of those decadent Westerners. I spent a month and a half traveling throughout the Eastern European countries, without a mishap, except that my suitcase was stolen on the train to Bulgaria.
While many of my friends in Spain had joined the Communist party by then, I never did. After my years in Berlin, the tour was more than enlightening. By the way, I said nothing in Madrid and no one was the wiser. Oh, the old days.
JE comments: In the pre-computer days, a world traveler could get away with bending the system in ways that are now unthinkable. In Poland in 1985, a border official had written in my passport that I was required to exchange 15 US dollars each day at the official rate. This was a fortune for my college-backpacker budget, so I wrote in a comma and a zero (1,50 USD) to lower my financial obligation by a factor of ten. No one was ever the wiser, and during my week in Poland I blissfully took advantage of the street exchange rate, which was about five times better.
Returning to Angel Viñas's 1968 encounter with an ANC delegate, I'd love to know more about the early days of the anti-Apartheid struggle. It's been 45 years, but I wonder if Angel remembers another anecdote or two.
- Another Typo (John Heelan, UK 03/02/13 8:15 AM)
- Yet Another Typo (Istvan Simon, USA 03/02/13 8:34 AM)
- More Classic Typos (Francisco Ramirez, USA 03/01/13 8:26 AM)