We’ve already exhausted the ‘March Hare Mad-Hatter-ness’ pun on this blog a few years ago, but Lewis Carroll is making basketball news during the college playoffs! His contributions to bracketology were discussed at length at the Wall Street Journal in two articles:
In addition to writing “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll was a mathematician who was offended by blind draws in tennis tournaments. So Carroll devised a method to ensure that the most skilled players would survive to the latest rounds.
So in the spirit of adventure, The Wall Street Journal put Carroll’s radical format to the ultimate test: this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. If we assigned the 64-team field randomly, then played out the tournament based on the NCAA selection committee’s overall ranking for each team, what would happen? Would the teams that got unlucky draws or suffered early upsets still make it through to the late rounds? And would there be enough surprises to keep people entertained? [continue reading]
-Rachel Bachman, from “Introducing the Lewis Carroll Method,” The Count, Wall Street Journal, 22 March 2012.
The excellent illustration for the WSJ article by Scott Brundage
Then Bachman expanded the idea into a printed WSJ article:
When The Wall Street Journal undertook a search to figure out who invented the concept of the tournament bracket, nobody had any idea where the search might lead. It’s fair to say nobody imagined it would bring us to the same neighborhood inhabited by Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter.
After our March 17 story, in which we speculated that an 1878 pairings list from Wimbledon was among the first brackets used in sports, we received a number of letters offering fresh leads. The most intriguing one came from a longtime reader, Joel Chinkes, who lives in Luna County, N.M.
Chinkes had in his possession a version of an 1883 monograph written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a 19th-century English mathematician better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll. Carroll, as you may recall, is the author of Alice in Wonderland. Chinkes thought we should have a look at the monograph.
The monograph, “Lawn Tennis Tournaments, The True Method of Assigning Prizes with a Proof of the Fallacy of the Present Method,” is just about what it seems to be: a proposal for a better way to conduct a sports tournament. Let’s get one thing straight: Carroll didn’t invent the bracket. In writing this nine-page plan, his only goal was to make it better. [continue reading…]
-Rachel Bachman, from “A Bracket Through the Looking Glass,” Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2012.
In quasi-unrelated sports news, did you know the team name for Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana, is the Lincoln Alices? Apparently they’ve been called that for so long that no one remembers why. (If anyone actually does know why, please tell us in the comments.) Anyway, congratulations on being the 2012 Sectional Champions!
Alice in Wonderland: Giant Poster Coloring Book (2012)
What color do you think Alice’s dress should be?
This coloring book contains two copies of each of twelve Tenniel illustrations – one in the original black and white to color as you please, and one pre-colored to frame and enjoy. The 12 by 15 inch posters are detachable and the book also contains the full text of the story.
The book was first published in 2010, but appears to have been re-released with a different cover on March 1 this year. Reviews of the original book on Barnes and Noble are very positive. The newer version is selling for around $9 on Amazon.
Detail from the original 2010 edition
Screen Shot of Level 6 from The Hunting of the Snark kids game from Hairy Games
This free kids’ game was added last week at the so-called bestonlinekidsgames.com. We were hoping for an action-packed hunting game on open oceans and strange islands or a shoot-em-up video game in the style of Deer Hunter. (Actually, when you think about it, The Hunting of the Snark has many scenarios that would translate excellently into a video game. Anyone care to join the Beaver hunting the Jubjub in an increasingly narrow valley?) However, this game from Hairy Games seems to be mostly a fork poking at pictures of Snark characters and getting its prongs bent. “The Hunting of the Snark is combination of mazes, jigsaw and hidden objects puzzles games. This game is crated [sic] of famous story of mysterious creature, Snark who lived in a lonely island and the quest of some brave explorers to find it, by Lewis Caroll [sic sic sic].” The game was designed by Long Leaf’s Friends, and the pretty cool art is by B. Rybacki.
Tidying up some loose ends from 2011, I found a couple of books that still deserve a mention. Comics and crosswords – what more do you need on a Saturday?
Pearls Before Swine collection by Stephan Pastis
Larry in Wonderland: A Pearls before Swine Collection gathers together almost a year’s worth of Stephan Pastis’s bizarre parliament of animals. In these strips, which ran between August 2009 and May 2010, Pastis really had fun with a Wonderland theme, introducing such characters as the Mad Ducker, Cheshire Snuffles, Tweedledum Pig, and Tweedledee Idiot Pig.
The book is currently only $6.49 on Amazon.
Mad Hatter Crosswords reproduces 75 puzzles from the New York Times. An admirably dedicated reviewer has identified them as the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday crosswords published between January 2009 and April 2010. The Mad Hatter connection doesn’t seem to go beyond the cover illustration, through it is true that crosswords go very well with tea.
NYT Mad Hatter Crosswords
The collection is published by St. Martin’s Griffin and is available from Amazon for $7.99.
It is a little challenging to blog about a computer game you have never played, but here goes… There was once a game called The Sims. The point of the game was to create virtual characters and then control their lives. It became the best-selling PC franchise in PC history. Then, last year, the makers launched Sims Social, a version of the game that can be played on Facebook. Now, to get to the point, screen shots from the latest release hint strongly (very strongly) that it will be Wonderland-inspired. Hooray!
Perhaps it would be more helpful just to show you a picture?
Another sneak peak screen shot, and some excited speculation can be found on Games Blog.
If you receive Google News Alerts for “Lewis Carroll,” as we do, you may begin to wonder
why our favorite author “dropped back to pass, but never had a chance as Jerod Maddox came flying in on the back side and sacked him to end the half.” Lewis Carroll
is the name of the quarterback for the Geneva County Bulldogs, a varsity football team in Hartville, Alabama.
A couple weeks ago, Geneva County left Kinston gimbling in the wabe, with a 9-8 win:
kicked through a 27-yard field goal with 4:30 left to lift the Bulldogs to victory.
Keep playing, Lewis, we’d love to finally see a Lewis Carroll in college football or the NFL one day!
October 6th – It’s Hatter Day, here in the US anyway. In the UK, much like Mother’s Day and Independence Day, they celebrate on a different day (the 10th of June).
First appearance of Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter in Batman (1948)
In Hatter news, the mad one is to join the roster of villains out to kill Batman in the video game Arkham City. Josh Harmon discusses the addition on the gamer site Gameranx where there is also a trailer for the updated game.
Hatter entered Batman’s universe sixty-three years ago this month in 1948. Originally, he was a batty ever-so-slightly megalomaniacal baddie, real name Jervis Tetch. Over the years he’s gained a touch of 21st century evil, as the screenshot from Arkham City below suggests. The updated game will be released on October 18.
New Villain Mad Hatter in Arkham City
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?
Long Leaf's Friends "The Hunting of the Snark"
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.”
Long Leaf's Friends "The Hunting of the Snark"
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.