BCH

CIPC #188: The rifleman S4 E7, The knight errant

Television may be a relatively recent phenomenon, but the ‘relatively’ in that sentence is becoming more pertinent with every passing year. Already, there are more than seven decades of television series, most of which have long since been forgotten. One of those series which I’m guessing not one person in a thousand still knows is The rifleman,1 which aired on ABC between 1958 and 1963. Its main star, Chuck Connors, was originally a professional base- and basketball player who turned actor in the early fifties. In the seventh episode of the fourth season, two of his character’s old friends turn up. They are quarrelling because they suspect each other of cheating during their chess games and they want their old buddy to be the arbiter for a duel. The latter convinces them to duel on the chessboard instead.

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CIPC #187: Thoroughbreds

Let’s continue this strange trend of recent movies appearing on this blog. Today’s victim is Thoroughbreds, a 2017 film starring Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. It is about two teenage girls, from rich families but deprived of both redeeming characters and natural speech inflections, who are plotting to kill the step-father of one of them. Before their plotting has gotten very far, they can be seen in the garden at a stone chessboard:

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CIPC #186: Abenteuer 1900 – Leben im Gutshaus E12, Warten auf Nachwuchs

Today, we feature our first German television series. Abenteuer 1900 – Leben im Gutshaus, German for “adventure 1900 – live on a manor”, was shown in 2004 on ARD. It is about a bunch of people trying to live like people in 1900. I do not know whether they succeeded or not, but I can assure you all that there are enough quaint dresses and gnädige Frau‘s to give it a convincing impression. In the twelfth episode, there is the following genuine-looking scene:

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CIPC #185: Nero Vol.123, Wonderboy

Flemish people of a certain age might remember Nero from the newspapers, in which he featured for decades.1 Regular readers of this blog might know him from a previous post. Other people are just referred to that link for context. Last time, Nero’s grandfather was the centre of the plot, this time, the spotlights are on his son, Adhemar. Anyone familiar with the series knows that he is a perpetually six-years old wunderkind who is a professor at Oxford and a Nobel prize winner.

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CIPC #184: Think like a dog

Is chess in terrible kids movies with talking pets a trend? First there was the horrendous Alvin and the chipmunks: The Squeakquel from 2009 and now there is the only marginally better Think like a dog from this very year. It is the story of a boy genius who wants to prevent his parents’ divorce by making them think more like a dog. Its most remarkable feature is that it manages to be both contrived beyond believe and, at the same time, as bland as McDonald’s fries.

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CIPC #183: Energizer ad

A chess player’s biggest dream, a chess player’s worst fear: the battery. A well-crafted battery, pointing confidently to the opponent’s king, is a source of great joy. It makes you want to prolong the game just to bask in its glorious presence. It makes you want to spend the rest of the day trying and computing several sacrifices. On the other hand, a battery pointed in your direction by some perfidious opponent is enough to make you break out in cold sweat and rue the day you ever picked up our noble game.1 Of course, any move with such an impact is bound to be advertised and indeed, here is (part of) a still shot from an advertisement for a battery:

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CIPC #182: Broken sword: The shadow of the Templars

One upon a time, there were point-and-click adventure games. Sure, the genre still exists, but in the late eighties and the early nineties, when home computers became somewhat common, point-and-click adventure games were one of the most popular genres, probably because they don’t need advanced graphics or intricate control schemes. Many of the most acclaimed titles in the genre unsurprisingly stem from this time: the King’s Quest series, The secret of Monkey Island, The day of the tentacle, and so on. With its 1996 release, Broken sword: the shadow of the Templars came after the heyday of the point-and-clicker and perhaps it can be seen as the last big commercial success in its category.1

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CIPC #181: Yoko Ono, Don’t count the waves

Over the last two blog posts about movies, there was a distinct rising theme in quality. Now, I will make it a crab canon by introducing the inverted theme in the posts about music videos. To help me in that design, there is Yoko Ono. Well-known for being married to one of the most famous musicians of the 20th century and producing a large amount of music-adjacent things herself. One of those things was Don’t count the waves, which was part of a double album titled Fly. It also appeared in the John Lennon/Yoko Ono film Imagine, which explains why there is a music video of sorts available so long before MTV.

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CIPC #180: Timotheus Wang

Today we are delving deep in the archives of Belgian comics to bring to light one of the most obscure subjects yet for this blog: Timothey O. Wang. This character, a middle-aged Tibetan man with a fast car and superhuman powers, was a creation of Luc Warnent — who is now mainly known for his detective series Soda — and appeared for the first time in Robbedoes in 1981 under the names of Timotheus Octavius Wang. His first (untitled) adventure appeared in issues 2-4 of the 44th volume of the magazine. Near the end of the last instalment, the following scene appears:1

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CIPC #179: Sleuth

Ah! how marvellous it is to watch a decent movie again! Granted, whatever movie one watches after the disaster called Alvin and the chipmunks: The squeakquel would appear as a glistening beacon of new hope for cinema but I think that, even without this, Sleuth would have seemed a pretty good film. It is not perfect — in fact, I think it is a bit too clever for its own good and it is more a play than a movie — but it has an interesting plot and is well acted. So well acted that both lead actors, Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, got an Oscar nomination for best actor in a leading role.1 In a major supporting role, but inexplicably not nominated, is a rather fancy-looking chess board:

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