One of my favorite parts of the LA Times is the tiny little column on Page 2 called “FOR THE RECORD.” This is where sharp-eyed readers turn in their corrections to information (or misinformation) on previously printed articles.
I’ve decided that rather than get irked because SOMEONE isn’t checking the facts before they send a story to print, I’ll just consider the source and get a good cackle over the goofs. Since it is obvious that we can’t believe much that is offered as “fact” these days – and perhaps never have been, although I did think at one time newspapers employed fact-checkers – cackling is about all we can do.
I’m going to award a few prizes this week for the following goofs.
PRIZE FOR FORGETFULNESS
On August 7, the obituary of long-time NBC News report John Palmer noted that he left NBC in 1990 to anchor the news program “Instant Recall” and there interviewed Anwar Sadat. The August 14 rebuttal reminded readers that Sadat was assassinated in 1981.
PRIZE FOR MOST SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
An August 11 article said this weekend the 405 Freeway in Westminster would be shut down completely in the southbound lanes but only partially in the northbound lanes.
Oops! An August 15 a retraction corrected that ALL northbound lanes and ALL southbound lanes would be shut down. Makes you wonder how many people did NOT read the retraction and got detoured off onto a side street of an unfamiliar city? That’s actually not a cackling matter, but nevertheless it makes you wonder how, when all the TV stations were announcing a full-blown closure of both lanes that our most prestigious newspaper made that kind of goof.
PRIZE FOR BIGGEST FABLE
On August 11 the business section reported that Google co-founder Sergey Brin stole the show last year at the company’s annual developers conference by sky-diving onto the roof while wear Google Goggles.
On August 15 they changed their tune: He wore the device at the conference but did NOT skydive onto the roof.
Now that’s some mistake! One wonders whether it was the writer or his source that devised that fable.
PRIZE FOR CREATING THE FUNNIEST CONFUSION
On August 11 the Times featured a wonderful story on Gustavo Dudamel’s presentation of Verdi’s Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl. Regarding Verdi’s Dies Irae, “With a score marking of quadruple fortissimo – ffff – [my note: let these represent the musical symbol for loud] that is, roughly “as loud as you can plus one” it is some of the most ferocious music in the whole of the classical music canon.” Now the fun begins
August 14 “FOR THE RECORD” indicates this: “We also got a bit carried away with our Italian suffixes when illustrating a dynamic marking of quadruple fortissimo. Verdi’s original marking, quadruple forte, was ffff, not ffffffff,
August 15 rebuttal of “FOR THE RECORD” tries to clarify what was printed: An August 14 FOR THE RECORD item correcting an Aug 11 Arts and Books section…did not properly explain the Italian names and notations for dynamic markings. Verdi’s original marking is quadruple forte and is notated as ffff. Quadruple fortissimo, which was incorrectly mentioned in the article, would be notated as ffffffff.
So as not to leave well enough alone, the August 18 (and perhaps the last entry) states that in fact, the first article of August 11 said that the score contained a double fortissimo, but it did not. Verdi’s original marking was a quadruple forte.
SO THERE! (Really?) Cackle, cackle.
I understand the need for corrections to make sure old Verdi is understood, but it also makes me think of this unanswerable question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?