The Animal Planet channel has a new show called — “Pit Bulls and Pierogies” — and when I first heard that title, en passant several times throughout my workday, I thought to myself, “What a great name for a show!  Pit Bulls and pierogies — killer dogs and pasta stuffed with potatoes.  I wonder if the Pit Bulls somehow have a paw in the food assembly.”


Of course, when I pulled my full attention online to look up information on the dogs and potato-stuffed pasta television show, I was sad to learn the name of the series was not “Pit Bulls and Pierogies” — but, rather, the more mundane, but threatening — “Pit Bulls and Parolees.”

I didn’t watch the show.  I’m not interested in Pit Bulls or Parolees — and I’m still quite certain the Pierogies would have been the more memorable experience.

It seems “Pit Bulls and Parolees” is the second show on the Animal Planet channel that tries to resuscitate the bad reputation of the “Pit Bull as Killer Dog” meme.  “Pit Boss” is the other show about the glorification of the Pit Bull and, frankly, after watching a bit of “Pit Boss,” I’m not so certain the breed is capable of being rehabilitated, because the Pit Bulls on that show always seem one sharp move, and one flinch away, from ripping out your throat through your toes.

What I found most interesting in my mishearing of the Pit Bull and Pierogies mess was how I so keenly translated “Parolees” into “Pierogies” — obviously a wanton (not wonton!) effort on the part of my subconscious mind to poke me into eating something because I was hungry — and a quick DVR reality check remedied my error; but what about the less innocent, but more important, mangling of thoughts and ideas the ear brings to mind?

Take the example of the new book — “The Anthology of Rap” — published by the prestigious Yale University Press, and written by two English professors, that is rife with incorrect lyrics:

Ghostface Killah, here in “Daytona 500,” is referring to a prominent New York radio personality named Vaughan Harper when he says “voice be mellow like Vaughan Harper radio barber.” He is not saying “voice be metal like Von Harper,” as the editors have it. There is no such thing as a “Von Harper” with a metal voice. Vaughan Harper, with a mellow voice, was a host on New York’s WBLS, 107.5 FM, at one time a popular hip-hop and R&B station.

If you’re writing a book about lyrics, your number one job must be to make certain every single lyric you place on the page is 100% authenticated and accurate.  Be sure to read the entire Slate.com article to get the whole cloth consumption of the historical errors and mishearings in the rap lyrics for the book.

How do we mishear something?  Are our internal prejudices at work and sculpting the comprehension filter we prefer and not the one we need?  Or is a tired mind always ripe for a deconstructed tangling and a weaving of fantasy from reality?

What things have you misheard that entirely changed the intention and the meaning of the original spoken phrase?

11 Comments

  1. “There’s a bathroom on the right” for “There’s a bad moon on the rise” is John Fogarty’s gift to the world. He even sings it wrong in concert sometimes. Once you hear it wrong, you can never hear it right.

    1. Hey Benjamin!

      Now that’s a relief to know I’m not crazy on my own — I have at least one other person who hears as I do. Ha!

      I don’t even think I’ve *eaten* a Pirogue — so I have no idea how I came to even know the word and use it as a replacement holder for “paroles.”

  2. David – pit bulls are much like Pierogies – don’t knock them ’til you try them. Please don’t base your opinion about pit bulls on watching a few minutes of a reality show, and hence, perpetuate the ignorant prejudice that surrounds the breed. Pit bills are not “killers” as you say, in fact, there are more reported injuries from cocker spaniels in this country than from pit bulls. The dogs aren’t the problem – the owners are. Pit bulls are powerful dogs and thus, often times, get greatly taken advantage of by blood thirsty morons. Until you’ve actually spent time with a pit bull, please don’t write about issues you obviously know nothing about.

    1. Hi Jourdan —

      I don’t need to spend time with a gun to know it can kill me.

      Historically, according to the CDC, pit pulls are the #1 biting dog by almost a factor of two:

      http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf

      More recently, on October 25, 2010, a pit bull killed a baby:

      http://m.jacksonville.com/news/crime/2010-10-25/story/pit-bull-kills-baby-arlington

      Here’s a good rebuttal to the — “Cocker Spaniel Canard” — that the pit bull community use as a Straw Man argument to try to confuse people away from the reality that pit bulls are not actually a dangerous breed:

      http://blog.dogsbite.org/2008/08/comment-pro-pit-mantra-cocker-spaniels.html

  3. Hi David,

    FYI – I randomly happened upon your article while checking out the high ratings for the Pit Bull and Parolees show.

    As to your comment about spending time with a gun, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Do you spend time in a car? By your line of reasoning, you can pre-judge anything to be dangerous, even without spending time with it. Yet, significantly more people are killed every year by cars than from guns. Do you avoid riding in cars as vehemently as you avoid guns?

    As for your online references – the first website shows dog bite results for one year between 1997 – 1998. And it states that only 1/4 are from Pit Bulls (and another 1/4 from Rottweilers, and another ½ from 23 other breeds). Your reference to this 13 year old report does little convincing. And I am really not interested in an angry Cocker Spaniel owner’s blog.

    I agree that because of their sheer size and power, a Pit Bull, in the wrong hands, can be extremely dangerous. However, there is a distinction between breeds that do the most damage when they bite and breeds most LIKELY to bite. I think you and a lot of other people who are ignorant on the subject get that confused.

    An online reference that actually does prove a point:

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_dog_breed_has_most_reported_bites.

    And:

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_dog_breed_has_most_reported_bites_in_US

    According to the first site, the Dachshund is the breed most likely to bite, followed by the Chihuahua, followed by the Jack Russell Terrier. The second site states “the statistics that are available do not show pit bulls as most likely to bite. In fact, when tests were conducted by the American Temperament Testing Society (ATTS), Pit Bulls received a passing score better than some breeds who are considered nice dogs, such as Beagles and Golden Retrievers.”

    I am not going to waste time arguing with you about the statistics. What I will say is that your prejudice and failure to see the big picture is the kind of thing that perpetuates the abuse and ignorance surrounding pit bulls. I have never owned a Pit Bull, but I have been around plenty and if they aren’t forced into fighting by being starved and beaten, they are sweet, loyal, and loving animals. Ask anyone who actually owns a Pit Bull and treats it well. In fact, my friends who own Pit Bulls call them Kiss Bulls.

    The bottom line is this – don’t believe the hype. You are only discriminating against Pit Bulls because they are the breed the media likes to demonize. Not because you personally know anything about the breed. Instead of the dogs themselves, you should be aiming your disdain at the idiots who mistreat and exploit them.

    A car is a big, powerful machine. And a drunk person or a person with road rage behind the wheel of that machine can be extremely dangerous. If that person kills or injures someone, are we to ban cars?

    1. If you think equating a car to a pit bull is the same as equating a gun to a pit bull, then you are clearly an internet troll wasting our time and trying to cloud a transparent issue.

      For you to so quickly dismiss a CDC study as being too old while you then quote evidence from “answers.com” as empirical evidence of your argument quickly shows you don’t have the depth of rigorous scholarly research to back up your claim that pit bulls are a harmless breed.

      SFGate.com reported on a 20 year CDC study on pit bulls and other dangerous dogs:

      Attacks by pit bulls accounted for about a third of the 238 fatal dog attacks in the United States during a 20-year study, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      Pit bulls were blamed for killing 76 people, or 32 percent, during a study of dog attacks from 1979-1998, the study showed. Rottweilers were the second most deadly animal, reportedly killing 44 people, or 18.5 percent, during the same period.

      About 4.7 million people are bitten every year by dogs, resulting in about 12 fatalities a year, according to the federal statistics. About 500,000 to 800,000 dog bites require medical treatment annually.

      A simple Google search on “Police Shoot Pit Bull” returns 2.43 million results and 50% of the current Top 10 results reflect an attack date of January 2011 and we’re only 26 days into the New Year.

      A similar Google search on “Police Shoot Cocker Spaniel” returns only 231,000 results and of the Top Ten returns as of today, only one of them is dated 2011 and it was about a police investigation into the shooting of a springer spaniel and not the police shooting the dog.

      Since you don’t want to argue facts and statistics, there’s no compelling reason to continue this discourse, and so we’re done.

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