Can you change “100″ to “CAT” by moving just two of these toothpicks?
The above puzzle is probably familiar to many lovers of logic games, but new to the multitude who have not yet made the connection between mathematical problems, visual conundrums, and, of all things, fun.
One man who spent a lifetime reaching out to both the initiates and the multitude was Martin Gardner, philosopher, mathematician, magician, and for 25 years the author of the “Mathematical Games” column in the Scientific American. He was also a founding member of the LCSNA and the creator of the irreplaceable Annotated Alice books.
When Martin died last year the foundation Gathering for Gardner vowed to “celebrate Martin’s life and work, and continue his pursuit of a playful and fun approach to Mathematics, Science, Art, Magic, Puzzles and all of his other interests and writings.” One of these celebrations is fast upon us – the second annual Celebration of Mind events to be held worldwide on or around what would have been Martin’s 97th birthday – October 21, 2011.
Last year, people gathered to share magic tricks, puzzles, recreational mathematics problems and stories about Martin at 66 locations from Tokyo to Tehran to Buenos Aires to Boulder, Colorado. This year, 30 hosts have signed up already and the organizers expect many more – if you can’t make the gathering at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, how about attending one of the 15 already listed in North America? Events held by LCSNA members will undoubtedly have an Alice flavor – if you are hosting one, be sure to get in touch and we will advertise it on the blog.
I wonder how many events this year will feature readings from A Bouquet for the Gardener, the beautiful collection of tributes and reminiscences published by the LCSNA in July? (Available at Amazon.com.)
For a map of planned events, and for guidelines for hosting your own event, go to the Gathering for Gardner website. There you can also find photos and descriptions of previous events along with downloadable visual treats and puzzles to whet your appetite. You can also follow event updates on Twitter account @G4G_CoM.
And finally, if you haven’t figured out the toothpick teaser above, I’m not going to tell you. What are Sunday afternoons for?
There’s a new hidden object game proving popular in all the usual online fora. It’s called… The Hunting of the Snark. The story is a little adapted – obviously – and the party encounter two monsters who may or may not be Snarks. It’s a little confusing but the illustrations and sound effects are pleasantly weird and the whole thing takes about fifteen minutes to play.
The team that made it is called Long Leaf’s Friends and the main designer is a Polish illustrator called Navatika. From her resume: “My name is Navatika. Navatika is a paint-brush containing ninety hair. It contains ninety different points of view and ways of depicting the world, which can be distinguished and appreciated by experienced eye.”
Callooh! Callay!! We are delighted to announce that the LCSNA has just published a frabjous new book paying tribute to the late, great Martin Gardner–columnist, philosopher, polymath, magician, religious thinker, and author of more than 70 books, including the groundbreaking Annotated Alice.
The LCSNA’s beautiful 234-page hardcover is a delightful portmanteau accomplishment, combining entertaining and heartfelt reminiscences from those who knew Gardner with a traditional festschrift (academic essays written in his honor). The book is introduced by Gardner’s son Jim, and includes contributions from such noted authors as Douglas Hofstadter, Morton N. Cohen, Scott Kim, David Singmaster, Michael Patrick Hearn, Raymond Smullyan, and Robin Wilson, to name but a few. Our book also contains Gardner’s own final, post-”Definitive Edition” addenda to his towering Annotated Alice classic, as well as an authoritative bibliography of Gardner’s Carroll-related writings.
A Bouquet for the Gardener is a must-read for anyone who loves Lewis Carroll, puzzles, logic, math, and great thinking on a wide range of topics. Current members of the LCSNA will be mailed one free copy as a bonus of membership. We are thrilled to be able to make this important book available to the public as well via Amazon (US link; UK link). Members can also buy additional copies on Amazon.
Our thanks to all who contributed to this effort, both on the pages and behind the scenes. It is impossible to overstate the debt we all owe to Martin Gardner. We invite you to join us in saying thank you and in celebrating his remarkable life by reading A Bouquet for the Gardener.
On June 14, Electronic Arts will release American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns, the sequel to the 2000 computer game American McGee’s Alice. The new game will run on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as PC. Judging from one of the trailers, the graphics are luscious and the scenarios violent. A dark-haired adult Alice at a psychotic tea party rams a knife through the giant eye of a cycloptic monster. Blood splatters on her face – and, scene!
Here’s a newer more revealing trailer:
There’s a nice article interviewing American McGee at news.com.au here. American McGee is his real name; he is the legendary game designer famous for Doom and Quake.
“I can remember the copy of the book that I had,” he said of the classic he read many times as a child, and many more as an adult.
“The size and the feel of it. I know it made an impression on me as a child.
“I think Humpty Dumpty (from Through the Looking Glass) had a pretty significant impact on me. It was a pretty dark piece of the story — this character shattering and breaking.”
I’m not sure if Lewis Carroll’s books have ever been converted into video poker machines before. (Has anyone ever seen one?) But now, there’s an online video slot version called “Alice’s Wonderland” released last week at Virgin Casino. You have to be registered on that site to play (which, correct me if I’m wrong, citizens of the U.S. have to have an offshore bank account to gamble online…)
According to Betastic(“your guide to online gaming”):
No surprises in predicting that this five reel, twenty line video slot is centred around Lewis Carroll’s magical Alice In Wonderland. There are three bonuses which can all be won in the same spin: Mad Hatter’s Tea party (progressive jackpot); Rabbit Hole; Free Spins bonus with additional wild symbols.
The jackpot is starting at £10,000, with other prizes including web-cams and Alice in Wonderland DVDs. But like most looking-glass gambling experiences, I’m sure your money will get further from you the more you walk towards it.
Miniville, makers of “tiny apps for tiny hands,” have re-released their Alice in Wonderland interactive storybook application for iPhone/iPod/iPad. This completely revamped version features new artwork, new audio, and new ways for children to interact with the abbreviated and adapted story.
You can download a free version that includes some advertising, or an ad-free premium version for $0.99. Even better, John Jumper, the app’s developer, has kindly offered five free copies of the premium edition to Lewis Carroll Society members. We will send the promotional code to the first five people who email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who are just curious to see another example of this one possible future of children’s books, John Jumper has created a demo video on YouTube.
Check out this beautiful custom chess set, featured on the website English Russia. It seems to be a work in progress but, from the description, we gather that the grand scheme is for an ornately carved table concealing a glass chessboard and ivory pieces. Turning a handle shaped like a flamingo’s head will activate a mechanism that lifts the board out of the table and ready for play.
The work of an unnamed Ukrainian master ivory carver, each piece is a highly-detailed rendering of a Tenniel illustration – white players from Through the Looking-Glass and black players from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. See the website for pictures of the man at work and a longer description of the project. Let’s hope that pictures of the finished work make it online too.
A new tin and things to keep within from Prospero Art. This “first edition” tin is sold as a package with either a 150-piece jigsaw featuring the lid design, or two packs of Alice in Wonderland playing cards, or both. The tin is a limited edition (3,000 made) and measures 5 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/8 inches. More images, ordering information and a 2.25-minute video introduction to the tin can be found at ProsperoArt.com!
In April this year, Mongoose Press released the “first ever” anthology of contemporary chess fiction. Subscribers to our Yahoo news group will already know that one of the stories was written by LCSNA-member and novelist Katherine Neville. Neville’s story featuring Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson sits alongside other stories diverse in genre and inspiration. Other contributors include Steven Carter, author of the New York Times best-seller Emperor of Ocean Park, and Paul Eggers, former United States Chess Federation master.
A lengthy review of the book, written by Sean Gonsalves, is now available on ChessCafe.com. In Howard’s Gambit, Gonsalves provides some interesting back story to the book and its editor Howard Goldowsky. He also reviews some of the contributions. For serious chess aficionados, let down in the past by implausible fictional chess, Gonsalves offers the following reassurance:
… for all you expert chess players out there, the icing on the cake with MOT is the realistic description of actual chess moves in each of the twelve stories, unlike the impossible positions found in lots of pulp chess fiction.
To wit, from Patrick Somerville’s short story, The Game I Once Enjoyed:
“There was a fork on his next turn – king and bishop – but I had to get my queen out of the way of the long diagonal he’d opened up in his last turn, another little something I had missed. He’d be up a piece, whichever way I went to save my queen. So be it, I thought. Been here before. I reached forward to move, but stopped.” More…
Masters of Technique: Mongoose Chess Anthology of Chess Fiction (Hardcover) can be purchased from the Mongoose Press ($24.95) or from Amazon ($17.96). Proceeds from the book will go to support chess schools and clubs.
Several LCSNA members have noticed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland featured in magazine advertisements for something called 100 Classic Books. Gary Brockman describes one ad thus: “Against a background of bookshelves packed with mostly leather-bound volumes, a pair of manicured hands holds open an electronic reader. On the left ‘page’ are the last lines of ‘All in a Golden Afternoon’ (there not being room for an entire stanza) and on the right page the beginning of Chapter 1 of AAIW (there not being room for the entire first sentence). The ad copy reads in part: ‘Own an instant library of 100 of the greatest books ever written, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to The Hound of the Baskervilles.’”
The list price is $19.99 for Nintendo DS (a latter-day Gameboy), and is exactly what it says it is: 100 classic books that you can read on your Nintendo DS. How comfortable these little hand-held gaming devices are for reading full novels is open for debate. But how excellent would it be to find that the teenager zoned out on his gameboy at a restaurant is not rescuing princesses (‘princi‘?) but instead reading Don Quixote? I’ve seen young people huddled around tiny iPod screens to watch full length movies, so the idea of having a hundred classic books in miniature at your disposal for long trips might not be entirely claustrophobic to the right demographic.
The postage stamp-sized game card includes a variety of books for all different ages, including seven separate works by Charles Dickens. There are novels that people can enjoy on the beach, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; adventure and mystery novels that can be devoured during summer travels, such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle or Bram Stoker’s Dracula; and books that kids can read at home, such as The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling or Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.