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Misquote of the Month

I seem to have slipped for several months while busy on deadlines. Mea culpa. Here's a fresh one for September, however.


September 2006

"She [the prairie] ran the gamete from soft lullaby winds to tornados."
                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (I don't even know where to begin commenting on this one. "Fertile winds"?)

June 2006

"The lawyers were attempting to sew confusion in the jury."
                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (Do you use a backstitch for that, or pleats?)

April-May 2006

"Tavell was the first person to break out of Mr. Olive, a maximum security prison."
                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (Another reason to spell out "Mount" in dialogue -- but what I really
                        want to know is if Mr. Olive has a monocle and top hat, like Mr. Peanut.
                        And if so, are his spats pimento colored?)

February-March 2006

"To her right spread a large room filled with furniture covered in vinyl that looked remarkably like leather sitting on thick blue carpet."
                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (misplaced furniture phrasing make the most fabulous interior decor!)

January 2006

"His crotch was begining to fill his lap."
                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (more bodily functions -- except this one makes me say "ewww!" every time I see it)



The Best Sentence of the Year 2005:

For my sins of not updating the misquote page for months and months, I give you a special
quotation gift: not a misquote, but the best sentence I read in 2005.


"I woke up with kittens all over my face."

                (from Ellen Kushner’s upcoming The Privilege of the Sword, August 2006, Bantam Books)
                        (A delight to copyedit, and an even more delightful friend and multitalented artist—
                        go read her other books now. Go! Get them! What’s keeping you here reading this?


… and now back to your regularly scheduled misquotes, typos, and other howlers …



December 2005

"… I'm going to need a … detector. Preferably something
I can secrete on my person and use covertly."

                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (bodily functions appear to be a running [pun intended] theme in typos)



February 2005

"These Grays were not good at covering their facial ticks."

"... and made a weird facial tick as he did so."

                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (ewwww! parasites! ewwwww!)



January 2005

"I jammed the plague to my ear."

                (from a book that was scanned for reprint)
                        (I wonder if the Centers for Disease Control knows about the ear-plague going around...)



December 2004

"…make him the sacrificial oat…"

                (from an unedited ms.)
                        (Suitable sacrifice for those vegetarian gods?)

September 1999


    --from the Boston Globe

    (and boy, does his neck hurt ...)

December 1998

"Republicans said to be considering a run for president include Texas Governor George Bush Jr., 
son of the former President and Elizabeth Dole, head of the American Red Cross and wife of 
the last Republican contender, Bob Dole."
    --From a Reuters article on Bill Bradley, found by Bruce Epstein, Zeus Productions

    (another reason to use the serial comma - 
    I wonder if George Bush, Sr. knows he has a 
    bastard son by Elizabeth Dole?)


June-July 1998

"The floor-to-ceiling widows of his new office
looked out into a beautifully manicured garden . . ."
    -- those are BIG widows; I wonder how he affords to feed them? . . .
    nice that he has a garden for them to look at, though.

May 1998

"The dismantling of a sacred mandala is supposed to represent
the impertinence of life."
    -- Yeah, life can be real impertinent sometimes.
    Reporter on a local Fox TV network news station,
    regarding the Dali Lama's visit to Boston, and his work in helping
    dismantle a sacred manadala made in his honor. (And the word he just couldn't seem to remember is: impermanence.)

March 1997

"... maybe I'm in a coma, and all this time
I've really been in a bed in the intensive card ware ..."
-- From an unedited book that will remain nameless.
More proof that spellcheckers won't catch the silliest errors.

December 1996

"... reports have suggested you may have grown a beard or died your hair."
-- He was obviously dying to dye something!

November 1996

"[His] large dark eyes dropped to the ground and he shook his head."
-- Darn, he thought, I hate it when they do that.
(I love those self-animated body parts!)

September 1996

"Fear gripped his gut like an ice-water enema."
--from an anonymous unedited manuscript

August 1996

"She was known inside of the beltline as a top political strategist."
Does the author mean "Beltway"? I hope so. Otherwise, we certainly know how this woman got to the top, politically!

July 1996

Marquee Sign at a New Hampshire Movie Theater:

"Pinocchio Striptease"


June 1996:

Who Is He Riding?

"[He] walked down the steps . . . to where his brother awaited him, already saddled and mounted."
From an unedited ms. Need I say more? Lesson Number One: make the objects refer more clearly to their verbs or adjectives. No, this isn't from a pornographic manuscript--but it could be in this form!

May 1996:

Headline on the cover of MS. Magazine (vol. 6, no. 6, June 1996)

"Honest Talk About Feminisim & Real Life"
--Oops! Do they mean "Feminism"? Just proves that the largest, most important headline is always where the typos show up.
(With thanks to Leigh Grossman for catching this month's silly quote)

April 1996:

"[She] had been sitting in her office on the phone."
--From an unedited ms. (Ouch! I wonder if a rotary phone would hurt more than a push-button?)

February 1996:

"The worst part was the way they seemed to be swallowed up by the dessert."
--(Got to watch out for the cannibalistic cakes and pies. Ouch.)

January 1996:

Special Silly Quote from the New York Times (c/o a posting from a friend on GEnie). From the back of the TV section:


(third paragraph)
"The three games will not all be played on New Year's Day let's do parens here and use the em dashes later in the piece, where they're abolutely the right choice.(when the Orange and Sugar bowls have often been scheduled directly against each other) but on consecutive days..."

 (two paragraphs down)
"If one or both of the top teams come from the Big 10 or Pac-10 conferences, whose champions automatically meet in the Rose Bowl (Northwestern vs. Southern California not sure what this means. last year? example?, the alliance's grand plan falters."

 (middle of the piece)
"'When we lost college football in 1990, we still had the N.F.L.,' Mr.i know they don't use honorifics in sports, but since the tv has a more general audience, i think we have to insert them to be consistent with other pieces. Nantz said. 'But since we lost the N.F.L., the last two falls have been awkward.'"

--I guess we now know that the NY Times uses electronic (computer-aided) copyediting, and someone doesn't know how to strip out the comments!


December 1995:

"We'd . . . hung around in bars where they served sweetened drinks that tended to be populated by sorority girls."
--(I want to know if the little umbrellas help the girls float!)

November 1995:

That's Where I Always Keep Policemen . . . Or, What Happens to Obscure Pronouns

"The National Guard officer looked much younger than the policeman under his helmet."


--from an anonymous novel in unedited form

October 1995:

Why Spell Checkers Don't Work

"[It is against company policy for employees to be] . . . a member of, or supporting by word, action, or association, any organization that advocates the overflow of the United States Government . . ."


--from an employee manual of a large R&D corporation (emphasis added)

September 1995:

A Very Misplaced Phrase

``[The woman] rolled over on the bed and clutched the covers upon which she had made love to her bosom.''
--from an unedited romance manuscript, whose title should remain anonymous

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