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February 25, 2011

A new Clef Notes contest invites you to find my best typos and other flubs

After discovering yet another haste-makes-stupidity problem in something I wrote, I figured it was time to turn this problem into a game.

I now invite you to be the first to spot the next howler in my blog entries and stories for the paper (in print or online). Feel free to dig back into the past and yank out oldie-but-moldy errors and rev up the humiliation all the more. Just post them in the comments section.

I'll keep updating and periodically award prizes of inestimable value (probably a CD you won't want) to the person who spots the most appalling or most unintentionally funny mistake, maybe also to the person who uncovers the highest number of examples.

I might even give a prize to the person who comes up with the most creative excuse for how I might have made the pathetic blunder.

This week alone,

I reviewed the wonderful flutist Marina Piccinini and called her Maria -- note that I was just fine with spelling that ever so slightly trickier last name. (In case you hadn't noticed it before, I've left a long trail of incorrect first names over the years; don't ask me why. Some folks never forgave me for rechristening Zemlinsky "Anton" -- at least it started with an 'A,' like his real first name.)

Within hours of having to fix "Marina," I stumbled again. I was writing about a Bartok opera that the Baltimore Symphony performed a few years ago in concert form. I know it's "Bluebeard's Caste." I was thinking "Bluebeard's Castle" when I typed it. Too bad it came out "Bluebird's Castle" -- in print, as well as online (the latter has since been fixed). Of course, I wouldn't expect editors to catch something like that (they think I know what I'm talking about, bless their hearts).

That Bartok example doesn't even have the potential justification of being a Freudian slip -- at least I don't think so. Hmmm, maybe I need an analyst, not crash courses in typing (I'm still a two-finger moron) and proof-reading.

Anyway, have at it. Pile on the embarrassment with every dumb mistake of mine you can find (in the case of already corrected stuff online, just mention the glaring error you remember reading first). In addition to misspelling, don't forget glitches in dates, times, venues, basic math -- you name it, I've botched it.

I'm sure that, like me and Dame Edna, many of you are blessed with the ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others, so please chortle and guffaw away and do it publicly right here for all to see. And I'll try harder to give you a little less ammunition in the future.


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:28 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


Hi Tim:

How come you don't like "Bluebird's Castle?" It's a charming little opera, especially at the end when the entire cast appears onstage dressed as pigeons.

By the way, I found this typo in your August 2008 review of "South Pacific::"

"The lead soprano zounded like a cat being pelted with a handful of tacks."

The word "zounded" should be spelled "sounded." Good review though.

Um, you said "Bluebeard's Caste" right there.

Thanks. I needed that. But at least I got it right two out of three times. TIM

This is just a plot to get us to read your stuff more closely.

Oh, how cynical. I wish I had thought of that. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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