Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Entries in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest for January/February 2014

The first three times I entered the Moment magazine Cartoon Caption Contest, I was selected by the New Yorker's cartoon editor Bob Mankoff as a finalist. Unless it's beginner's luck, this must mean I do rather well when he is judging the contest. In contrast, in the New Yorker's own Cartoon Caption Contest, my most promising entries are routinely tossed aside into oblivion by the ghost of Truman Capote. So it goes.

Despite my having achieved the desired status of finalist, my Moment entries were never yet selected as winner by the readership. I had hoped to change that sorry track record with my fourth contest entry.

It is rare that I hit upon something while working on a cartoon caption that feels so right I can just put my pen down and relax. In part, this is because I don't use a pen and in part because I don't relax. Anyway, I stumbled upon what I felt was a rather nice double entendre while working out a caption for the Mankoff cartoon in the Moment Cartoon Caption Contest for January/February 2014. Ordinarily I have enough difficulty coming up with single entendres. In this case, I admit I thought I'd nailed it.
"This is going to blow you away."

Just in case I'd guessed wrong, I submitted the other captions I came up with as well. I admit some of these are a bit clunky, but I didn't see the need to keep tweaking them.

"I think 'cozy' is the word you're looking for."
"Now let's say an obnoxious neighbor decides to plant a smelly ginkgo tree...."
"The seller is willing to throw in a hundred rounds of ammo."
"It once belonged to Michael Dukakis, but he only took it out during campaigns."
"I'm afraid the contract is also ironclad."
"Be the only family in town never to fear a home invasion."
"What's even sweeter, most of your neighbors are pacifists."
"Frankly, no, I wouldn't invest a lot of time in the garden."
"You can probably forgo the plowing service."

I think it is well-known that Bob Mankoff plays a mean game of table tennis and of basketball as well. What isn't generally known is that he throws a wicked curve ball. Here's the one he threw to me.

Moment Cartoon Caption Contest Finalists for January/February 2014

Now the good news is that I've been selected as a finalist four times running, no mean feat, I suppose. The bad news is that my surefire vote-getter of a caption was passed over for a slightly ungainly caption that makes reference to a Presidential election of 26 years ago. In short, almost no one under 35 will have the slightest idea of what my caption is all about. Bob Mankoff, who turns 70 this year, can chuckle all he wants at my dredging up ancient history, but it's the under-35's who know how to do the online voting.

So, for those of you who don't remember, the 1988 Presidential election was a contest between Republican George H. W. Bush who was Ronald Reagan's Vice President, and Democrat Michael Dukakis, the Governor of Massachusetts. Democrats are afraid of being seen as soft on defense, so Mr. Dukakis demonstrated his military prowess by going for a ride in a tank. He cut a somewhat ridiculous figure, and the public was reminded of it constantly with a barrage of Republican attack ads.

1988 George H. W. Bush Campaign Ad

April 16, 2014 Update:  Philippe Theophanidis points out to me on Twitter the following New Yorker cartoon by Christopher Weyant published in the issue of April 14, 2014. Perhaps cartoon editor Bob Mankoff was too distracted by the promotion of his new memoir to notice the marked similarity between this cartoon and one of the Moment caption finalists. The New Yorker issue hit the newsstands on April 7 even while the voting on the finalists for this cartoon caption contest was still underway.
Christopher Weyant, "Good defenses make good neighbors."
The New Yorker,
April 14, 2014, page 80
Christopher Weyant, "Good defenses make good neighbors."
The New Yorker,
 April 14, 2014, page 80

May 20, 2014 Update:  I never expected my first caption contest win on this one, but somehow here it is. There'll be no living with me now.
Moment Cartoon Caption Contest Winning Caption for January/February 2014

Note:  The Moment Cartoon Caption Contest is created and judged by cartoonist and New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff. His memoir will be published on March 25. In the meantime, you can read more about him here and, if you care to, here.

Bob Mankoff's New Yorker blog is here. Why not give it a go?

You can follow this link for Bob Mankoff's New Yorker cartoons in the Cartoon Bank.

Keep up with the latest cartoon news about Bob Mankoff on Ink Spill here.

Check out the March/April 2014 Moment Cartoon Caption Contest here. You might even enter the current contest yourself--it's a tricky one, no? By all means vote for one of the January/February caption finalists, particularly if you're over 35. April 10 is the deadline.

The voting is over now, but you can see the entries in the November/December Moment Cartoon Caption Contest here. See who won first prize for the divining rod gag. You already know who it wasn't.

If you really want to see failure on a grand scale, all my unsuccessful entries in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest have been archived for posterity here. Soon it will be a year that I've been doing this. The ghost of Truman Capote grins.

Danny Shanahan's website is here. His October Caption Contest hasn't really concluded yet. I reported the results of his first contest from April here. If a monthly caption contest runs twice a year, is it still considered monthly?


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