Monday, May 16, 2016

Joe Name Myth

Many authors have written acclaimed novels under pen names. J.K. Rowling has Robert Galbraith; Stephen King had Richard Bachman. My former boss, Joseph R. Provey, had Joesph R. Provey. OK, OK — his nom de plume was more pseudo name than pseudonym.

Today’s error — it’s a doozy — is from a book I worked on years ago. I’m not to blame. I swear. The publisher, who shall remain nameless, was at fault.

The final proofs sent to the publisher listed four people on the title page: Joseph R. Provey and three contributing writers. All four names were spelled correctly. Let me reiterate: All four names were spelled correctly. The publisher decided it wanted only one author listed on the title page. Instead of deleting the three names below Provey’s, however, the publisher deleted all four and reinserted Provey — sort of. The misspelling rivaled in its outlandishness the full-length fur coats once worn on the sidelines by another Joe, former New York Jets quarterback Namath. 

First printing: Oh, no!

When the advanced copies arrived at our Connecticut office, it took me about six milliseconds to realize this was not your average Joe, but it was already too late; the error couldn’t be fixed until the second printing. I deemed it “an author I can’t refuse.”

Somewhere out there, 14,999 other copies of 1001 Ideas for Kitchen Organization exist written by a mysterious Joesph R. Provey.

Second printing: Much better!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Beautiful People

Left photo by Reuters; right photo by Tony Gentile / Reuters
Idris, meet Jessica. Jessica, meet Idris. In surname terms, Elba, meet Alba. Alba, meet Elba.


I’m frustrated by the seventh word on the second-to-last line above, which is hindering the synopsis for the 2013 biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It’s a true albatross.

We can turn this error around, though. It is, after all, reverse “able.”

Idris is not Alba-nian. He’s British, actually … and he’s Elba, actually.

Both Elba and Alba were named one of People’s 100 most beautiful people in 2007. They are each beautiful in their own way. Their surnames are each spelled in their own way.

Alba, you’re exiled. I sentence thee to the same Italian island in the Mediterranean where Napolean spent his first period of exile. That’s right, I sentence Alba to Elba.

I’d like to thank another beautiful person, my brother, for catching today’s low-flying Alba toss. I’d also like to take a moment to wish him a very happy birthday. He turns the big four-oh today. That’s forty, not fourty. May the Ninth be with you, Bro!

Monday, April 4, 2016

No Means No

Sometimes it's better not to know. This isn't one of those times.

Years ago, in the comments portion of an online article, I came across this whimsical poem:

Eye half a spell checker
It came with my PC
It plainly Marx for my revue
Miss steaks I can knot sea
I've run this poem threw it
I'm sure yore pleased too no
It's letter-perfect inn it's weigh
Four my checker tolled me sew

Spell checkers, like Little League right fielders or my spam filter, can't catch everything. Homophones are their kryptonite.


We need more than you, no. We need the verb relating to awareness or understanding. So, in the spirit of Ronald Isley and his siblings, I'll throw my hands up and shout:

I want you to know right now.