The weak in review: Typos, solar-powered birds and the American mind


Untied states 001

It’s spring, and a grizzled editor’s fancy turns to thoughts of the bizarre.


(If you were expecting love, try Tennyson, who looks far more grizzled than I.)Statue of Liberty stamp


On Friday, for instance, The New York Times wrote soberly about the Untied States. It was a typographical error, of course, and yet it fit so perfectly. Where else but the Untied States would the Postal Service issue a stamp of the Statue of Liberty and use an image from a Las Vegas hotel and casino?


Give me your poor, huddled gamblers yearning for three bars.


Where else but the Untied States could an Untied States senator state something as fact and then say he didn’t mean it to be factual? Or a video with Dick and Jane lyrics delivered in a nasal whine reach 100 million views? (I don’t have to name it. Do I?)

Where else but the Untied States would a company publish a breathless advertisement for Solar Powered Birds of the Jungle!

Ad for solar-powered birds of the jungle

I’d be willing to overlook the lack of hyphens in Solar Powered, solar powered, built in and high quality if it weren’t for all those exclamation points.

The life-like Jungle Birds have built in solar powered lights! (Sounds as if they’ve found a nesting spot, doesn’t it?)


Not available in stores!


Save $30.00!


They light up automatically at night!


So gaudy that they make your pink flamingos look like true works of art!


All right, so that last one wasn’t in the ad. All those exclamation points were, though. My colleague Kerry Benson insists that a person is allowed only three exclamation points in a lifetime. If that’s the case, those poor solar-powered birds died in the deck of the headline. Then they died again, and again. And you didn’t even get a chance to mail in your $29.99.


The Associated Press didn’t use any exclamation points in its story about the final round of the Masters golf tournament last week. Nonetheless, some of its phrasing left the tournament’s runner-up, Adam Scott,in an untied state. AP wrote that on the 16th hole, Scott managed “to stuff his tee shot into two feet.”


After pulling my feet onto my chair, I realized that an anatomical reference hadn’t bothered me so intensely since Maureen Dowd wrote that a political race was “neck in neck.”


The AP story didn’t include a picture, but I imagined something like this on the 16th hole:

Foot on top of golf ballA massage place in California actually recommends this golf ball method to strengthen your feet. Visitors to next year’s Masters might need extra foot strength for running, especially if the AP golf writer teams up with Dowd and suggests that some poor golfer stuff a tee shot into two necks.Looking back column that says man was reelected mayor, as were ...


Apparently this political race had more than one neck on the line. The mayor was reelected mayor, and the clerk and the treasurer were reelected mayor, as well. Apparently it was a power-sharing arrangement, one made for these Untied States.


I would have been shocked, but then I ran across this picture, whose headline told me I should be shocked about it instead.

I looked and looked, but I wasn’t sure whether to be shocked by the wispy cloud in the sky or by that microscopic fuzzy stuff on the ground.

Either way, I just couldn’t work myself into shock. All I could think about was how much that cloud looked like a golf ball sailing toward an unsuspecting foot that had stamped on Solar Powered Birds of the Jungle!, which had been resting atop the Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas and singing Friday (there; I said it.) to President Obama over an uncool cellphone.  


Then I reminded myself that spring had arrived in these Untied States. If somebody finds the laces, please let me know. I’ll be off checking on the three mayors.


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