Thursday, September 30, 2010

FROM THE PLAINSMAN'S ARCHIVES: One -- No, Two of the Funniest Typographical Errors of All Time

I'm time-pressed to compose new jewels for you, so here's one from awhile ago for those of you who are more recent visitors.  I'll be back soon.  Have a splendid weekend.  Plainsman

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Since yesterday was the sixteenth anniversary of the birth of The Ticket, I thought this might be the right time to post this item that's been rattling around on my topic list for awhile.


I read "Full Disclosure" in hardcover. It's not "Gone with the Wind," but it isn't badly written and moves along nicely, tells you some things the Ticket fanatic needs to know. And then I came to this typographical error that absolutely put me on the floor.

Now, the error appears in the course of George relating a story that was very frightening and unhappy for him and his family. But once you factor this out, and think about what this typo is saying, it's hilarious. And what is even more hilarious is that the book contains exactly the same typo a few pages later in an even more hilarious context.

Congregation, please turn to page 97 in your hardcover copy of "Full Disclosure." On that page you will see the dramatic story of how an out-of-control boater almost struck George's son Blake who was in the water having fallen off his skis. The bad boater missed Blake. You can imagine the drama of the scene when it was clear Blake was going to be OK. You yourself experience this relief, until you see this passage:

"It was just horrible. Everybody was crying, and my wife was balling."

I defy you to read that sentence and not have an image flash through your mind of Mrs. Dunham engaging in some grossly inappropriate behavior while everyone else is crying with relief, and I'm not talking about a pickup game of hoops.

The same error appears a few pages later as Junior is describing how he left a girlfriend in Dallas to try his luck in Colorado. They had dated for two or three years, but, Junior reports, "the relationship was wobbling a little bit." Upon parting, Junior recalled on page 107:

"It was really tough; I remember leaving her that morning and we were both balling."

Doesn't sound all that tough, really. I love that "both," as though perhaps they were not balling, uh, together. (If they were, you wouldn't need "both.") Of course, the word the writer (who apparently was working without an editor) was searching for is "bawling." I note the unusual acknowledgement in the front of the book: "Proofreading by Jennifer Canzoneri."

Someone must have brought this to the publisher's attention, because neither error appears in the paperback version. So hang on to that hardcover first edition, P1's – like a misstruck penny or a stamp mistakenly bearing a likeness of Pauly Shore, or Billy Ripkin's notorious 1989 Fleer baseball card – it'll be worth a fortune someday.

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