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Dear Matthew Alice:

On page 138 of the San Diego Reader dated August 2, nearly everywhere there's supposed to be an h in the text, there's a blank space instead. At first I thought it was some statement that Duncan Shepherd was trying to make in one of his movie reviews. However, the hs are missing from nearly all the reviews on that particular page. What do you think happened?

-- KDS, National City

Funny you should ask. We'd already formed a blue-ribbon committee to test the feasibility of budgeting some emergency dough to fund an ad hoc investigative task force to conduct a background study and technical analysis of the problem, which was wider than you reported. We're still trying to get the preliminary paperwork straight, so while the elves wrestle with that, I dialed up some likely suspects in the Reader production office. After working my way through their eight-level phone menu ("If you have an angry complaint, press Q. If you want to give us a raise, press 1"), it dead-ended at a recorded voice that said, "Hey, it was perfect when it left our office. It's somebody else's fault."

Somewhere, floating in the ether, are all the missing letters from the August 2 issue. We zap the paper to the printers using a system that sends them, basically, as photographs of the finished pages. Somewhere in the system, 373 hs fell off page 138. I'm sure there's a bewildering techie explanation for why 373 hs fell off page 138, but I don't care what it is, and I'll bet you don't either. Anyway, you didn't get the full value for the steep sum you paid for the August 2 issue, so by rights we owe you 373 hs (lower-case only). And 136 ns intermittently missing from page 38; 112 ds, the curved portion only, from page 44; and 54 us from page 22. Anyone who feels cheated can contact the Matthew Alice claims adjustment office, and we'll send you the missing letters.

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