The Mouse from the Caucus-Race babbles on a Wine Label at Trader Joe’s

We saw this Instragram photo on Twitter (thanks @1devo) and lo! it’s Sir John Tenniel’s illustration of “A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on a bottle’s label. The wine art tastefully adds a glass of red wine in hand of the Mouse, who is telling a very dry tale about a dry wine. (You can see the added color slightly better in the image at the bottom of the post.) Is this a commentary that all descriptions of the wine on wine labels are babbled nonsense? The mouse is babbling “It’s an insouciant little vintage that’s both playful and brash, brawny and confident but with a smidgen of unctuousness that allows its provocative f lavor s to blend into a voluptious tastescape – …” [I couldn’t go on transcribing…] If that’s not the wine industry self-parodying itself, then what is? The back label begins, “We won’t bore you with overwrought descriptions of Babble,” et cetera.

It also replaces Alice for some reason with the Gryphon from Chapter IX. Maybe the vintners didn’t want to offer wine to a young girl (even though the March Hare does.)

Babble Mendocino Red Wine is a designer blend available inexpensively at Trader Joe’s (one of their unique distributions I believe.) The promotional article from their Fearless Flying is far from dry:

Something to Talk about

The English poet Edward Young once quipped, “They only babble who practice not reflection.” Au contraire. They who partake of a fine, high value red wine can reflect thoughtfully, then run at the mouth enthusiastically. (Case in point.)

In honor of our thoughtful prattlers, we bring you Babble Red Wine from Mendocino County. Crafted exclusively for us by a renowned vintner, whose 40 years of wine making experience is as legendary as his infinitely quotable wit, this red blend is verbose but harmonious. 36% Petite Syrah, 26% Syrah, 17% Merlot, 10% Carignane, 10% Grenache and 1% Malbec, this full-bodied red boasts aromas of savory plum and blackberry preserves. It’s creamy on the palate with hints of blackberry cobbler and baking chocolate that roll around the tongue, along with substantial-yet-rounded tannins that lead to a long, wordy finish. As you can imagine, this is a wine that pairs well with hearty fare. We’re selling each 750 ml bottle of Babble Red Wine for $6.99 – a price so good, it will only stir more chatter.

Viticulture Veracity: Mendocino County profited heartily from the California Gold Rush. Failed prospectors planted vines on the rugged hillsides, turning the lack of nugget gold into pure liquid gold – wine.

Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica:A harmonica to produce music for the soul played by fingers dipped in water… It’s a real thing. To make a wine glass sing, simply wet your finger and gently rub it along the rim of the glass. Or just pour in some Babble.


Lewis Carroll wins March Madness Bracket!

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!


Extremely Abbreviated Wonderlands; or, Which side of the mushroom will make Alice only 38 words long?

Clare Imholtz reports, with a mini review for a mini book:

Dalmation Press has published a new Disney Alice in Wonderland for children aged 2–4, perhaps, as Dodgson wished for his Nursery Alice, “to be thumbed, to be cooed over,to be dogs’-eared, to be rumpled, to be kissed, by the illiterate, ungrammatical, dimpled Darlings that fill your Nursery with merry uproar…”

This teeny abridged version is a board book about 2.5 by 3 inches and just ten thick pages long. Five pages of text face five pages of illustration. The book reads in toto:

p. 1 Alice follows the White Rabbit into a strange world.
p. 3 She meets twins named Tweedledee and Tweedledum.
p. 5 The Mad Hatter and March Hare have a tea party.
p. 7 Alice meets the Queen of Hearts.
p. 9 Was it all just a dream?

Well, what do you expect for $1.00! This may be available at your local Target.

We know of another 6-inch-tall Alice. In August 2010, we posted “New Media Artist” Jason Huff‘s Auto-summarized version of Through the Looking Glass, from his book AutoSummarize, for sale here. For this project, he ran famous books of literature through Microsoft Word’s AutoSummarize feature. His TTLG is only 20 words long, and here’s one of his several AAIW, for comparison to the Dalmation book:

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll

Poor Alice! Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. Alice sighed wearily. Alice asked.

Alice was silent.

‘Yes!’ shouted Alice.

Alice thought to herself.

Alice asked.

Alice’s Evidence

‘I won’t!’ said Alice.

29 words! …but I’m not sure what 2-4 year olds would make of it.


Trevor Brown’s Alice Special Edition & Extremely Special One-of-a-Kind Homemade Pop-up

Trevor Brown’s Trevor Brown’s Alice originally came out during 2010’s March Hare Madness, and is being released again in a fancy $78 Special Edition. It appears to be a book with lots of pictures but no conversations (so, a 50% rating on the Alice Scale of Good Bookness.) Brown is a British artist who has gone native in Japan. According to Wikipedia, his “work explores paraphilias, such as pedophilia, BDSM, and other fetish themes,” so be fair-warned. He posted a version on his blog called “diy [do it yourself] pop-up kit,” which is the Special Edition hacked to pieces by the artist: “i kinda suspect everyone who’s buying the special edition alice book will consider it too precious to cut up – so, in the interests of science, i attacked my copy with scissors, to see if it is actually possible to construct the pop-up thingy.”


The Month of the Mad Hare

Littell's Living Age, Vol. 68, 1861

Happy first of March, month of the Mad Hare! “Happy Hare! Happy beyond the lot of many mortals to be mad only once a year!” Read more about the many madnesses of March in The Outlook, Vol. 19, published in January (Why not March? Madness!) 1907, by clicking on the image below.

The Outlook, Vol. 19, January, 5 1907

Wishing you all a little madness this March.


Scariest Alice/Palin yet by Martin Rowson

Cartoonist Marin Rowson, contributor to U.K. newspaper the Guardian, has drawn possibly the scariest Alice/Palin yet.  It appeared on Sunday, October 31 on the Guardian website under the heading “Martin Rowson on a tea-party at the US midterms.” This time we seem to have a Murdoch Mad Hatter stuffing an Obama Dormouse into the teapot while U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron peers out of his pocket – and that is definitely Glenn Beck in the high chair – but I can’t place the two-headed March Hare. Any guesses?

How many more tea-party cartoons can we expect? Check out our Political Cartoons page if you need a reminder of the ways Wonderland was co-opted into political parody in the pre-tea-party world.

Martin Rowson


New Edition of Anturiaethau Alys yng Ngwlad Hud

Evertype has announced the publication of a new edition of Selyf Roberts’ 1982 Welsh translation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Anturiaethau Alys yng Ngwlad Hud is newly typeset and contains Tenniel’s illustrations. It is available from for $15.95.

“Y ffordd acw,” ebe’r Gath gan chwifio’i phawen dde, “mae ’na Hetiwr yn byw; a’r ffordd acw,” gan chwifio’r llall, “mae ’na Sgwarnog Fawrth yn byw. Ewch i ymweld â’r naill neu’r llall: mae’r ddau yn wallgof.”

“Ond does arna’ i ddim eisiau mynd i blith pobol wallgof,” ebe Alys.

“O, fedrwch chi ddim peidio,” meddai’r Gath, “rydyn ni i gyd yn wallgof yma. Rydw i’n wallgof. Rydych chi’n wallgof.”

Or, in other words….

“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”


Alice Illustrations at the Veluws Museum Nairac (Barneveld, Netherlands)

Camille Rose Garcia: ‘De hertogin zat op een krukje in het midden, met een baby op schoot’, 2010

There’s an exhibit at the Veluws Museum Nairac in Barneveld, Netherlands, from June 12th till October 30th. It celebrates the many looks of Alice, featuring illustrations from Tenniel through Camille Rose Garcia. They also claim to have “een bijzondere Aboriginal uitgave” (special edition Aboriginal?) In addition to the art, visitors “make a journey through Wonderland, where a number of themes and life-size figures are depicted. See yourself in the strange mirrors, sliding in to the perpetual tea party celebration with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare and take a look at the animal room.” (Text google-translated from their blurb.) The museum is at Langstraat 13, 3771 BA Barneveld.


The Joker, the Hatter, & an armed Alaskan Alice

    The buzz from the DC universe is that the Batman spinoff, The Joker’s Asylum II, June 16th, 2010, “is devoted to the Mad Hatter and his Alice obsession” (thanks, Devra Kunin.) The incredible cover art is by Bill Sienkiewicz, written by Landry Walker. The DC website explains The Joker’s Asylum as “a special month-long, weekly series of one-shots starring the greatest villains in Batman’s rogues gallery.”

    On other shelves in other shops, the June 12th-18th Economist picked up the “mad” Tea Party theme on its cover, this time with Palin as Alice, Glenn Beck as the Hatter again, and I’m assuming the cigar is supposed to imply that Rush Limbaugh is the Hare. (He was the Cheshire Cat in The Nation.) I’m not sure how to interpret FoxNews as the dormouse.


    Carroll Collectibles for Home and Garden

    From Victorian Trading Co.

    Time for our irregularly regular round-up of what’s new in the world of Carroll collectibles and Alice in Wonderland-themed garden gnomes.

    First up… Alice in Wonderland-themed garden gnomes! These may not be entirely new but we haven’t mentioned them here before. Alice, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit are sold for around $60 each by the Victorian Trading Co.. However, to complete your Wonderland patio diorama you may need to turn to Old Durham Road, who also sell the Cheshire Cat and a toadstool.

    From the Victorian Trading Co.

    Other Alice items in the Victorian Trading Co. catalog, either available now or coming soon, include magnets, a blank journal, a pair of earrings and a pendant. The Tenniel-inspired pendant is quite fun – it is reversible and shows Alice before and after her drink and is accompanied by a small silver vial “for secret messages,” or prescription medications, perhaps.

    From Old Durham Road

    Back on the subject of garden furnishings, the company Old Durham Road is also selling a trio of stepping stones, each imprinted with the footprints and catchphrase of a Wonderland character. Choose from Alice, the Cheshire Cat and The March Hare (to whom they attribute the phrase “I’m Late, I’m Late.” Oops.)

    From Classico

    Next up, Classico is selling a range of magnets, postcards and mugs featuring an unusual series of Alice illustrations – unusual in that we can’t figure out who the artist was. Classico have so far not responded to our emails of inquiry. Can an LCSNA member out there shed any light?

    Finally, from Dollmasters comes “The Alice @ The Tea Party Chess Set.” Each porcelain figure, we are told, is hand-painted, costumed, be-wigged and fully poseable. The catch is that there appear to be only 16 pieces and the board is “fixed in block arrangement for better display,” oh, and it’s $6,500.

    "The Alice @ The Tea Party Chess Set" from Dollmasters