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?