Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ephemera blog.

It should be obvious by now that I’m fond of ephemera, at least the kind that I don’t quite understand, or which takes me a moment to puzzle out. Last week, I bought a couple of apple pies at McDonald’s for Lilly and myself. On the end of the boxes were labels:

3:53 PM 10/11/04

For a moment, I thought I was being warned to use the pies by that exact moment in time, only about three hours after I bought them. After that, they degenerate into teeming e. coli boli. But no. The McDonald’s staff is being told not to sell the pies after then, I suspect.

I spend a lot of time at my keyboard, so I’ve seen all kinds of typos. I had to wonder about this one:

“We would like to remind you that the Judith Leiber Editor's Breakfast is vastly approaching. The event will be held on Thursday, October 21…”

Got that by e-mail late last week. Vastly instead of fastly? Of course, that would be fast approaching in standard idiomatic English, so maybe they’re pushing the envelope in using vastly, and I have to say that it does evoke a feeling of horsemen on the horizon: The vastly approaching Golden Horde. Still, the sense of enormity attached to vast just doesn’t apply to an editor’s breakfast, unless every editor in the country is attending, and packing heat.

Related note: Too bad the form vasty is archaic. I’ve always liked it, after picking it up from the prologue of Henry V: “Can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France? Or may we cram within this wooden O the very casques that did affright the air at Agincourt?” An Elizabethan would surely be impressed by the size of France, but not so much a North American who grew up in Texas (286,581 sq. mi. vs. 210,700 sq. mi. for France).


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