Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Trinity College, Dublin and the Book of Kells

On my two previous visits to Ireland, I was delighted to visit the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin. But when I stopped in on Sunday July 10, I found an improbably long queue of visitors waiting to see the most famous illuminated manuscript ever rescued from a bog. A student explained helpfully that it was cruise ship day! Clearly, this was not the day for a return visit to the Book of Kells.

Back in Dublin after a few days of travel in the countryside, I returned to Trinity College for another try. All the cruise ships were happily back at sea. The line was far more reasonable now and I got to see the stunning Book of Kells again.
The Old Library
The Long Room

Spiral staircase

Sorry, but there are some things I just can't resist:
"The Princess Bride"

The Long Room's 200,000 books
Cicero, the great orator
John Locke

Brian Boru Harp
As one proceeds down the hall, the busts of prominent men become more more obscure.

1937 Reading Room

Book of Kells official merchandise van




Note:  To anyone lucky enough to be in Dublin when it isn't cruise ship day I strongly recommend paying a visit to the Old Library of Trinity College and seeing the Book of Kells. Note that there are only four pages on display at any given time and a crowded room is hardly the ideal personal viewing space. Fortunately, the museum experience can be supplemented with an excellent digitalized edition here.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Deconstructing Gilligan

By chance the annual conference of the International Society for Humor Studies was held at Trinity College, Dublin about the same time I was in town. Bob Mankoff mentions the Society in the introduction to his memoir How About Never—Is Never Good for You? I can now verify that the Society is real, but I fear they were too busy deconstructing "Gilligan's Island" to seek out any new insights from the likes of me.

International Society for Humor Studies 2016 annual conference held in Trinity College, Dublin

The home page of the International Society for Humor Studies could use an update, August 28, 2016

Note:  The 2017 Conference of the International Society for Humor Studies will be held July 10-14 at the University of Quebec at Montreal. Las Vegas bookies have posted million-to-one odds against my being the keynote speaker.

So far as I know, Attempted Bloggery has yet to be cited in any academic journal of any type. I'm waiting, scholars.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Without Compensation or Attribution: The Afterlife of Caption Contest Captions

A copy of the Office Cartoons from The New Yorker 2017 Calendar caught my eye last week in a bookstore. The cover cartoon by David Borchart struck me because it was not originally published as one of the magazine's many office-themed gag cartoons. Rather, it is a former Caption Contest cartoon now bearing the winning caption, but without being acknowledged as such. That caption—"We're tabling the motion."—is the clever work of Patti Smart of Chicago who composed it for Contest #450 dated November 10, 2014. Although I didn't purchase a copy of the calendar, I don't see that she is credited anywhere, at least not on the outside.

Office Cartoons from The New Yorker 2017 Calendar

Instead the calendar credits the cover cartoon to artist David Borchart and to no one else:
Published Attribution of Cover Cartoon Authorship

Should Patti Smart be credited too? Of note, the Caption Contest Rules allow the entrant to retain the copyright to the submission, while granting the New Yorker the broad right to use that entry in all media "without compensation or attribution." To confuse matters, this right is specifically elucidated as one which allows the New Yorker to "...display the Submission and the entrant's name and city and state..." It is not clear to me from this possibly contradictory legalese whether or not the entrant should expect to be credited every time the successful caption is subsequently republished.

Excerpt from the Caption Contest Rules

As a matter of good sense, it seems to me then that when former Caption Contest cartoons are published in a general New Yorker cartoon collection, it might be awkward or distracting to include the names of the successful entrants with each caption. Therefore I do not believe Ms. Smart's name belongs on the cover of this calendar with the cartoon, although I would certainly not forbid its use altogether. Yet where a specific credit is given to the artist, such as on the back cover of this calendar, it seems appropriate to credit the Caption Contest entrant as well and to acknowledge the process by which the finished gag was created. The caption contestants are not to be treated the same as gag writers who work in anonymity as a condition of their trade; instead they are uncompensated problem-solvers, three of whom compete for the public recognition that their caption more than any other has resolved a specific cartoon conundrum. The resulting cartoon comes about by a very unique process and the caption author deserves much credit when there is an outstanding result.

I should note that the Condé Nast store routinely offers prints of Caption Contest cartoons but does not credit the Contest winners:

On a further note, the Contest rules allow the New Yorker to use any submission in any manner, not just the winning entry. I am not aware of any instances yet where caption entries aside from the winning caption were published except in the context of a discussion of the Caption Contest itself.

Here are images from the first two months of the 2017 calendar with cartoons by Zachary Kanin and Tom Toro. For the record, they are not Caption Contest cartoons.
January cartoon by Zachary Kanin

February cartoon by Tom Toro

Note:  For the record...

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #533

Here is my latest entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #533 for August 22, 2016. The drawing is by Joe Dator.

"I call this Fred's of Paris because Subway is already taken."

August 29, 2016 Update: The Finalists

August 30, 2016 Update: The Rankings
Here are this week's top 52 captions as ranked by the online voting, now sorted by number rather than alphabetically. This week the three finalists have been chosen by the editors from the top four captions by rank. (Last week they went as high as 79 to get the three finalists.) You have to feel bad for whoever submitted the overlooked second-ranked caption. Note also that bus-boy has been edited to busboy. View all the rankings here. 

My caption ranked 805 out of 5005, placing it in the top 17%. It seems unlikely that a caption would be chosen by the editors that was not crowdsourced in the top 2%.

Here are the bottom 52, if you dare:

September 5, 2016 Update: I forgot to vote again. I like the second caption best.

September 12, 2016 Update: Winning Caption

Note:  Last week, cartoonist Danny Shanahan reminded us that no man is an island. I decided to prove John Donne wrong and not submit a caption. Break out of your self-imposed solitude and check out the results of Contest #532.

Cartoonist Joe Dator has been spotted about town as well as on this blog. In other words, he isn't always underground.

Why can't we bungle in the jungle with Joe? Songs You're Sick Of, Joe Dator's indispensable classic rock podcast, has yet to feature any Jethro Tull, my number one band from back in the day.