Many thanks to Bill Brohaugh at Everything You Know About English Is Wrong for introducing me to the insanely wonderful Japes for Owre Times, which will gladden the heart of anyone who learned and loved The Canterbury Tales. Every day, Japes for Owre Times translates one newspaper comic strip into Middle English. Why? Quoth the bloggist: "Because we can." And because, frankly, you haven't read "Beetle Bailey" until you've read it thus:
My favorite part of the blog isn't even the translations, which are superb, forsooth; it's the seething tone of the writer, Angry Kem, who calls herself a "bad-tempered English 'prof.'"
Now we fast-forward to the present century, where the blogger known as Mxrk conducts an occasional shadow caption contest as an alternative to The New Yorker's back-page cartoon caption contest (whose winners, writes Mxrk, are chosen according to the "not funny" method). Here's the cartoon that's currently being voted on (contest #163) in the magazine:
I've written previously about the New Yorker contest (here), which I've entered unsuccessfully; call me a Bitter, but I concur with cartoonist Roz Chast, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker for many years. During a City Arts & Lectures event in San Francisco last year, she was asked by an audience member what she thought of the contest. As Leah Garchik reported in her San Francisco Chronicle column: "I really do not like it," she said. "I feel it demeans cartoonists and cartooning. I feel this is not something they would do to John Updike, like, 'Hey, John! How about writing a story and then you can leave off the last paragraph and writers can submit how they think it should end? And then we'll have a contest!' ... Why is it that just because we are cartoonists, we are subjected to this?"