Mental Floss

Contest: Rube Goldberg Devices

Andréa Fernandes

In conjunction with our two "Feel Art Again" posts on Rube Goldberg (Jan. 10 and today), we're offering mental_floss's first drawing contest!

What To Do:

Invent and draw a Rube Goldberg-esque device, with an explanation.

What does that mean? Draw as complex a device as you can think of for a very simple task. The more complex the device or the funnier the device/task/situation, the better. For ideas, refer to the collection of Goldberg's cartoons on the official Rube Goldberg site.

The Goldberg cartoon above shows the "Simplified Pencil Sharpener":
Open window (A) and fly kite (B). String (C) lifts small door (D) allowing moths (E) to escape and eat red flannel shirt (F). As weight of shirt becomes less, shoe (G) steps on switch (H) which heats electric iron (I) and burns hole in pants (J). Smoke (K) enters hole in tree (L), smoking out opossum (M) which jumps into basket (N), pulling rope (O) and lifting cage (P), allowing woodpecker (Q) to chew wood from pencil (R), exposing lead. Emergency knife (S) is always handy in case opossum or the woodpecker gets sick and can't work.

You can draw the device on your computer or by hand. If you draw it by hand, please scan or photograph it so that you can"¦

E-mail your drawing to by Thursday, January 22, 2009.

The Prize:

One winner will receive a copy of Secret Lives of Great Artists: What Your Teachers Never Told You About Master Painters and Sculptors by Elizabeth Lunday.

With outrageous anecdotes about everyone from Leonardo (accused sodomist) to Caravaggio (convicted murderer) to Edward Hopper (alleged wife beater), Secret Lives of Great Artists is an art history lesson you'll never forget! Elizabeth Lunday is a journalist specializing in architecture and art. She writes the "Masterpieces" column for mental_ floss magazine and lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

The winner will be announced on Saturday, January 24, 2009, at 12:30 p.m.