In High Sprits!

(We’ve fallen a little behind in keeping up with the adventures unfolding here day-by-day, but until we’ve caught back up, just pretend you already know about the fascinating and wonderful events that took place on the previous days.)

Up early once again, Jeff and I departed Philly at 5am Wednesday morning so that we could make a signing at BWI at 8am. On the shuttle bus from the parking garage, we ran into an old college friend who’d already bought our book. He’d gotten the Kindle version, and this gave us the opportunity to look into the rumor of a special typo that appeared in the electronic version only. See for yourself:

I had to confirm for myself with one of the books we would momentarily be signing and sending into the friendly skies with someone, but sure enough, that was NOT in the print version. I wondered how that had happened, and if anyone can explain, please enlighten me. Anyway, we sold a handful of books and headed on to DC proper. We parked at my buddy Tony’s in Silver Spring and rode a bus to the metro.

We’re typo hunting again, though these days we seem to only make it out when someone prompts us to do so in order to observe us at work. For the fourth time this month, we typo hunted with an observer, this time from the Washington Post, who then wrote a wonderful article.  We met up at Dupont Circle, and from there we took the area spoke by spoke, starting southbound so that Jeff could point out his mansion-like former office building.  Before we made it there, Jeff spotted one.

A woman inside noticed us standing there and pointing at the sign, and after we began pulling out cameras for a major photo shoot outside her door, she decided to see why her storefront had become such a popular backdrop.  Jeff pointed out the error, and she politely declined our offer to fix it.  Thus, we got to introduce our journalistic shadow to the “I’ll fix it later” line, though at least this woman seemed sincere.  In fact, she pointed back to some other signs within the store.  I thought maybe she was going to offer another typo, but she then asked if we did lamination.  Ah, she thought we were sign people, that we’d pointed out this typo as a way of getting our foot in the door; in this economy, people are using whatever angle they can find.  We (I hope) cleared up the confusion and moved on.

After a distracted bit of typo hunting while answering questions on the go, we finally headed north from the circle and found a few more items.  I confess that for our New York and New Hampshire typo hunts I was utterly useless as a typo hunter, being a bit rustier than Jeff.  I redeemed myself somewhat in Philly, but this time I really dove in.  We went into a store, and I noticed a slight inconsistency.

Unfortunately, my zeal at my suddenly returned powers overcame me in the moment, and as Jeff was trying to convince the man behind the counter to let us fix it, I had to go and point out another find, this one a classic.

Whoops.  Sometimes you have to pick your battles.  It’s one thing to ask someone to fix a mistake, but now we were finding them everywhere, and he probably felt a little overwhelmed.  ”We’ll look into it.”  Another standard “go away” line.  Well, we’d shown our typo-hunting neophyte how easy they were to find, but now it would be nice if we could get a correction.

We did so just a little up the road.  We inspected the chalkboard as we approached, and it checked out, but when we came around to the other side, something wasn’t quite right.

Jeff led the way inside, where a man greeted us, and Jeff explained what he’d found.  Right away, the man took responsibility for the mistake, adding that he’s been fasting recently.  Yes, working at a restaurant when you can’t eat until the sun sets for a month might, I agree, make it difficult to concentrate from time to time.  We assured him that everyone else was still making mistakes right along with him, explained our mission, and brought him to the sign.  He didn’t just want us to fix it.  Recognizing Jeff’s talent as he transformed the tail of an a into the curve of a newborn p, the man requested Jeff’s artistic assistance in adding a little extra something to the sign, maybe an illustration.  This is what he got.

Oh yeah.  I found myself wishing that Jeff had been offering little illustrations with every typo correction all along.

Second Story Books had carts of discount books outside, and I was drawn to them like a magnet.  As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one, and after finding a couple good reads on the 50 cent cart, the reporter offered to buy us a book or two.  I’d spotted a copy of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and since I’d been meaning to read another book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I accepted the offer.  We went inside, and while she paid, the reporter mentioned our mission.  The employees first sought clarification on where we were searching for them–not within the books, scanning endless texts, right?

Right.  In signs and such.

Oh, okay.

They seemed to think it was odd, but not completely without merit, which we took as an invitation.  I ducked into the history section and found one our travel writer would appreciate.

And we’d just been talking about double-letter confusion.  Ta-da!  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a simple fix of this one, and an employee indicated that it wouldn’t be too difficult to simply replace.  When, upon departing, the reporter asked him if he was really going to get it fixed, the employee seemed almost hurt as he replied, “Of course!”  Bookstore people, I explained, were usually pretty good about getting typos fixed (and yes, I recognize I’m deeply biased).  The sky opened briefly, pouring just long and hard enough to help Jeff and I show off our drowned rat impersonation.  We parted ways with the reporter and headed back home.

Thursday morning we did an interview with ABC News Now, and then a few more call-in things as we roamed about town and tried to catch up on other work.  Like, you know, the blog that had gone six days without a post somehow.  Then we had our book signing at Borders on 18th & L.  It was packed.  The seating area was filled, with an arc of those standing to define the event space.  This, by the way, is the store that hired me almost 8 years ago to the day, and being there to do a book signing made it all the more spectacular.

(Second photo courtesy of MalnurturedSnay)

Jeff and I put on the show we’ve continued to perfect.  As usual we called up volunteers, did a little reading from the book, helped those in the audience become more aware of where they fall on the spectrum of linguistic philosophy, and then we had ourselves a raffle for a copy of the new, baby blue, 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.  (We don’t do that last one at every reading, but there are always some prizes, so if we’re coming to a bookstore near you, I just want you to be aware that prizes are involved.)   Then we signed until my Sharpie went dry (okay, I’ve used the same one for a few years now) and headed across the street for celebratory drinks.  Yet another wonderful event, probably the best one yet, actually.  I want to send a special thanks out to everyone who came, and an extra special thanks to those of you who told me it was the best book signing you’d ever been to.  That’s what inflated my head so big that I couldn’t get through the door, and since I was trapped inside, I figured I might as well sit down and finally write a blog entry.

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3 Responses to In High Sprits!

  1. says:

    Putanesca > Puttanesca
    the tale of an a > the tail of an a
    Book store people > Bookstore people
    to help Jeff and I show off > to help Jeff and me show off

    Good for the gander, Muphry’s Law, etc.


  2. Malnurtured Snay says:

    It was a great event – I should’ve taken the night off so I could’ve come, I wound up on the register for most of it. Alas! It was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and certainly one of the largest crowds (more people have shown up for Sarah Silverman, Chelsea Handler, and what’s-her-face, but those were just signings).

  3. physical therapist says:

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

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