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CIPC #137: Coca cola advertisement

The greatest rivalries of history and literature – the Montagues and the Capulets, the Hatfields and the McCoys, Barça and Real- pale in comparison to the rivalry between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola. Since a long, long time ago, I spotlighted an old advertisement for Pepsi cola, I’d better do the same for a Coca Cola advertisement, lest I provoke fearful retribution from whichever company considers this as an unacceptable advantage for the other one. So here is a picture of some Coca Cola advertisement which appeared in Ebony, volume twenty-three number eleven from September 1968:1

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CIPC #136: Gode Geass S1 E1, The day a new demon was born

Lelouch. Lamperouge. That’s seriously the name of the protagonist in this anime. No, really, you can look it up: he is actually called ‘the fishy red lamp’. Or ‘the ladle red lamp’, if the ‘louche’ is a noun instead of an adjective, but that somehow manages to make less sense. But I guess sense is far too high an expectation for an anime based on the premise that, in 2010, the empire of Britannia(!) invaded Japan(!) from their homeland in America(!!) using giant mechs(!!) and that one angsty high school student gets supernatural powers(!!!) called ‘geass’ from some girl who prefers to die instead of using it herself, because that’s perfectly logical. Also, judging from the title of the episode, getting this power apparently means that you turn into a demon, but that’s not so strange for an anime. The shady lamp1 uses his newfound power to lead a guerilla campaign against his native land of Britannia and for the freedom of Japan. Sometimes he plays chess.

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CIPC #135: The Sims 2

Do I really have to write an introduction for The Sims? I probably do, don’t I? Fine. Here it goes: The Sims is a video game that was released in 2000, to critical and popular acclaim. In fact, it single-handedly put the real life simulations on the map of video game genres. The point of the game is nominally to give a population of virtual people a happy and fulfilling life by letting them develop hobbies and relationships, giving them nice houses, and getting them interesting jobs. In practice, people mostly use it to come up with new and creative ways to torture their virtual subjects. With the great success it enjoyed, a sequel was inevitable, and it is this sequel we’ll be talking about. It turns out that you can make your sims – that’s the name of the little characters whose life you are managing – play chess in it!1

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CIPC #134: Mari Govori, Pososi ty

If you were alive in the spring and summer of 2017 – and I suspect this is not an uncommon occurrence in my readership – you almost certainly heard the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, and Justin Bieber at some point, if not on the radio then in a shop or a fast food restaurant or something in that style. It was unavoidable. With such success, parodies were inevitable arrived. Most of them are spectacularly uninteresting. Some of them even manage to be somehow worse than the original, which is a considerable accomplishment. But there is also at least one interesting one: a parody in Russian sung by a certain Mari Govori which, as far as I can ascertain, was only released on YouTube. Why is it interesting? Well, it features a chess board! Also, it is a vicious and well-deserved criticism of Putin’s Russia.1 And the title means ‘suck it’.

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CIPC #133: Das schwarze Schaf

Who is the greatest detective from British fiction? Is it Sherlock Holmes? Perhaps Hercule Poirot or Mrs. Marple? Is it brother Cadfael? Do the famous five count? No, no, and thrice no! The greatest detective from British fiction is father Brown. The small, frumpy, brainchild of the great Chesterton figure in over three dozen well-written short stories with highly creative plots. The stories rightfully enjoy great popularity, but there are far fewer adaptations than for, say, Holmes. The reason is probably that Chesterton’s writing is a large part of the appeal of the father Brown stories, and this is hard to capture on film. Still, there were a few television series and a couple of movies. One of them, the German Das schwarze Schaf1 from 1960, is our subject of today. The story is a mishmash of bits and pieces from different stories, and the plot has suffered from that. Amongst others, there is a bishop now, who is rather annoyed by the good father’s antics. And who plays chess.

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CIPC #132: The prisoner, Checkmate

I have written about The prisoner before; if you don’t know what it is, you should probably read the first few sentences of that post. But there is more to talk about. In fact, one of the episodes is called Checkmate, which is a pretty good indication that there might be chess involved – and indeed: it starts with a human chess game. If you don’t know what that is, you should probably read the wikipedia article I conveniently linked you to, or read the next sentence, which will give you the short version. In human chess, the pieces are played by humans dressed up to be recognisable as the piece they represent and they follow the commands of their respective team captains who are doing the actual chess playing. (See? I promised, didn’t I?) Our hero, number 6, is called up to play the white queen’s pawn.

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CIPC #131: Die Csárdásfürstin

Emmerich Kálmán is perhaps not the most well-known name in Western history, but in the small world of the operetta, it is often mentioned together with Johann Strauß jr., Franz Lehár, and Franz von Suppé in a list of the greats of the genre. Die Csárdásfürstin – Fürstin being German for princess and Csárdás being a traditional Hungarian folk dance that got popular in the ballrooms of Budapest and Vienna around 1900 – is probably his most well-known work. It is a story as old as time itself about a young nobleman being in love with an equally young maiden who sings and dances for her money in the Budapest Orpheum. Of course, things can never be straightforward in an operetta, so our noble protagonist is pressured in getting engaged to another woman. To announce their engagement, his parents organise a giant party. When the patriarch is organising this party, we are treated to the following scene:1

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CIPC #130: Breaking bad S3 E6, Sunset

About a decade ago, Breaking bad was the hottest thing on television. It was a television series about a chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer who decides to make some crystal meth and thereby money to not leave his family in financial troubles after his death. It won a total of about about fifty bazillion awards, has universal critical acclaim, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest television series ever. In order to gain such high appraisal, an eye for detail is indispensable, so maybe, just maybe, this show, if any, can get a chess scene right. There was a long wait, but in the sixth episode of the third season we finally get a chance to find out. Almost twenty minutes in the episode, main character Walter White is cooking meth with his new sous-chef Gale Boetticher. To make it clear that these two are Very Smart People, they are shown playing chess during a break.

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CIPC #129: Roxette, It must have been love

I have always thought it rather strange that there is so much Swedish pop music. In classical music, the Swedish presence is basically nil, but half of all pop music is Swedish. There was ABBA, of course. There was Ace of Base, there was Avicii, and there still is Karl Sandberg, who has written about half of all pop music for the last decade or two.1 And there is Roxette. Started in the late eighties, they broke through in the very beginning of the nineties with hits like The look, Dangerous, Joyride, and today’s subject It must have been love. At that point, video had already killed the radio star, so an accompanying music video was shot as a matter of course. Most of the video is singer Marie Fredriksson repeatedly coming to the conclusion that it, whatever it was, must have been love. Then, during a lull in the singing, when the audience’s attention inevitably starts waning, they viciously pull it back by showing a chessboard.

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CIPC #128: Keds advertisement

Keds is a brand of sneakers. As in, footwear. But you wouldn’t be able to tell from their advertisement. Case in point: the image below, which was featured in a 2016 campaign of them. My first guess would have been that this is advertisement of some chess club. My second guess would have been that this is promotional material of the woman in question who, according to the text in the top left corner, is a singer/songwriter. My third guess would have been that this is a campaign to raise awareness of the colour blue. Hell, I probably would have guessed it’s an ad for Ikea before I would think of the sneakers. Once we accept that, despite all appearances, this is really an attempt to sell shoes, the real mystery begins.

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