Comics and crosswords, both a little mad

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?

Larry in Wonderland

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

NYT Mad Hatter Crosswords

The collection is published by St. Martin’s Griffin and is available from Amazon for $7.99.

 

 

 

Next Sims Social update make take Facebook users to Wonderland

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?

Sims Social

Sims Social

Another sneak peak screen shot, and some excited speculation can be found on Games Blog.

Lewis Carroll makes 12-yard pass

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:
Lewis Carroll 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!

10/6 Happy Hatter Day To You

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).

Jervis Tetch

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.

 

Arkham City Mad Hatter

New Villain Mad Hatter in Arkham City

Celebration of Mind II – Sign up!

Can you change “100″ to “CAT” by moving just two of these toothpicks?
Cat Puzzle

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.

Martin Gardner

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?

 

Hunt the Snark and other hidden objects in a new free game

Long Leaf's Friends "The Hunting of the Snark"

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"

Long Leaf's Friends "The Hunting of the Snark"

 

New LCSNA Martin Gardner Tribute Book Just Released!

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.

Madness Returns next week! The long awaited sequel to American McGee’s Alice

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.”

Your money seems to get further away the more you walk towards it

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.

Free Alice in Wonderland app from Miniville

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 farflungknight@gmail.com.

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.