office of surrealist investigations

Manipulating Chance


May 2013

Corpse fifty-four

Recently, I read that if you are doodling in meetings or lectures you are more engaged. I’m curious if that applies to getting others around you to take part in your doodling?
corpse 53 b

Finally the contest I’ve been waiting for!

The reverse caption contest. Go to it! link is here

Send your submissions my way and I’ll post them.

Hope to get a few artists I know to do a few I’ll post as well.


MAY 9, 2013


POSTED BY Our Caption Contest has demonstrated that when courageous captioneers are given an unusual drawing, they will come up with a suitable caption. And a feature that we ran in the Cartoon Issue demonstrated that when we give cartoonists a commonplace phrase, they can come up with an apposite drawing.



Recently, I wondered if it would be possible to reverse-engineer a Cartoon Caption Contest. Below is a list of captions that all describe a cartoon that has been published in The New Yorker. Put on your reverse-engineering hats and tell me what the image is (the Cartoon Bank is a good place to start looking). What do you get for correctly identifying the cartoon? Ah, come on, after all I’ve done for you? O.K., how about a signed electronic copy of the cartoon with either the original caption or with one of the captions that you like below. In either case, just e-mail your guess to


“Have you ever read ‘The Accidental Tourist’?”
“Do you suppose the Johnsons will mind if we drop by this afternoon?”
“Did you ever hear back with an estimate from the plumber?”
“No, we don’t need to worry, Congress reached a compromise on the fiscal cliff.”
“I have the strangest feeling I left the tub running.”
“All right, have it your way—you heard a waterfall.”
“Do we still have the October issue of Better Oars and Paddles?”
“I know the Fox News was telling us that Obama was sending us down the river, but I really don’t see the harm in a little more debt.”
“Does this mean you’ll concede that I was right about global warming?”
“Are you sure you bought the real infinity couch, dear?”
“So, what’s for lunch?”
“Did you turn off the water before we left?”
“And you said retirement would be boring.”
“What’s all this fuss about the precipitous decline of print?”
“Does global warming affect creeks?”
“ I think I hear something. Did you leave the toilet running again?”
“I think there is someone at our door.”
“Are those new glasses?”
“Your life jacket is under the sofa cushion.”
“If you don’t pass the plumbing-certification test, what will you do then?”
“I prefer to think of it as a much needed test of our relationship.”
“We need to talk about where this marriage is going.”
“Evelyn finally says something more interesting than the news.”
“Why must you always go with the flow?”
“Barry, I told you we should have Scotchguarded.”
“It’s so cute how you mix up your words. It’s ‘liquidate our assets,’ not ‘liquefy our asses.’ ”
“Can you check my horoscope? I’m an Aquarius.”
“Honey, do you ever get a sinking feeling in your gut … out of nowhere?”
“Honey, I’ve been meaning to tell you something … I’m pregnant.”
“I don’t know what all of this ‘fiscal cliff’ stuff is about, it’s been a pretty smooth ride so far!”
“We’re single in the afterlife, right?”
“And now for the good news … your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device.”
“Did you notice how high the water bill was?”
“I keep having to go to the bathroom.”
“Harold, did you fix that leaky faucet?”
“Maybe we could couch-surf on our next vacation.”
“My horoscope says something life-changing is going to happen soon. Wonder what it could be?”
“I told you not to spend that much on the 3-D TV.”
“Honestly, John, sometimes you’re so focussed on reading the newspaper that you don’t even notice that I’m talking to you.”
“Sounds like you left the sink running again.”
“How does roasted chicken and a garden salad sound for dinner tonight?”
“Did you remember to shake the handle?”
“Come again? A totter-fall? A huge overhaul? Our daughter called?”
“I told you we should have moved before the last storm.”

Send your guess to

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