BCH

CIPC #88: A talent for murder

And once more we end up in our wheelhouse: crime fiction. This time, we’ll talk about a British made-for-tv movie from 1984. Angela Lansbury plays Ann Royce McClain, a crime fiction author who has produced dozens of detective stories but now finds herself in the middle of the plot to one, as one of her heritage hungry relatives turns up dead in her garage. But long before that, we can see her in her wheelchair playing chess with her doctor and former lover Anthony Wainwright, played by the great Laurence Olivier. Those are some of the greatest names in the world of acting – together they have over a dozen Oscar nominations – so there is clearly a talent for acting here, but is there a talent for chess? Let’s investigate!

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CIPC #87: Sandra and Woo No.574, Intelligence in pets

One of the more popular webcomics at the moment – number twenty on this plausible-looking list – is Sandra and Woo, which tells off a girl and the highly anthropomorphised pet raccoon she and her father rescued from an abusive owner. By now, Powree, who does the drawing, and Oliver Knürzer, who does the writing, have together made over a thousand strips, mostly in the typical American newspaper comic style. Of particular interest to us CIPC’ers is the five hundred seventy fourth one, in which we are treated to the rare sight of a specimen of procyon lotor – and a rather nice specimen at that – playing chess.

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CIPC #86: Kunt U mij de weg naar Hamelen vertellen, mijnheer? E40, De zoon van Zwankezwaan

Whoever heard of a fantasy television series conceived as a sequel to a Grimm fairytale with a nine word title and 45 minutes episodes which are put on hold three or four times for a song? Well, now you all have! Can you tell me the way to Hamelin, sir?,1 for that is the translation of the horribly long title, was just such a show. Airing on Dutch television from 1972-76, it pertains to answer the question of what happened to the children of Hamelin after the pied piper lured them away. No matter how alluring the concept might be, it only becomes interesting for us at the beginning of one of the last episodes, we see two of the main characters, Bertram Bierenbroodspot2 (Rob de Nijs) and Hildebrandt Brom (Ab Hofstee), playing chess.

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CIPC #85: Professor T. S2 E10, Het DNA van een moordenaar

Here we go again. How many times have I spotlighted television series about detective?! The Mentalist, Midsomer Murders, Columbo – I have the impression that I’m barely talking about anything else! Is it just that crime fiction has sort of become the default genre for tv series or is chess more likely to be featured in it? Whatever the case, it’s time to go back to our wheelhouse. This time, we’ll be talking about the Flemish crime series Professor T., which is about professor of criminology Jasper Teerlinck (Koen De Bauw) and the cases he deals with. Is it good? I’m tempted to say no and, since there’s nothing stopping me, I’ll say no. Not that it’s horrible; it’s just in all respects slightly worse than its higher budgeted competitors named above.

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CIPC #84: Chess in literature

So far, I have only talked about books in the 15th instalment of the Chess in Popular Culture series, where I discussed a bunch of covers featuring chess. But it is famously impossible, or at least inadvisable, to judge a book by its cover and indeed many books with a chess inspired cover barely mention it while on the other hand many books are published in which chess is a major theme without board or pieces on the front. This time, we’ll focus on what’s in the book. As you are, of course, all connoisseurs of everything CIPC, there is no point in mentioning Arthur Conan Doyle’s scheming minds or Charles Dickens’ chess nuts. There is also no point in spotlighting books which are about chess, because then I’d have to talk about pretty much every scene, which is exhaustive for both you and me. So here’s what I’ll focus on: books in which chess is mentioned in one or two particular places in a more or less offhand fashion. Since this still leaves me with too large a scope to be exhaustive, I’ll just restrict myself to some books close at hand.

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CIPC #83: BLΛƆKPIИK, Ddu-du Ddu-du

No, I did not just have a stroke. There is a far more sinister reason for the weird title: K-pop! Yes, K-pop – the word that strikes fear in the hearts of men! Okay, maybe that’s not quite right. Maybe I should say K-pop – the word that strikes confusion in the hearts of men. Either because they don’t know what it means, or because they do know and are utterly baffled by its existence. For the blissfully unaware among you: K-pop is basically Korean pop music1 and also utterly incomprehensible. For one thing, there’s barely even the pretence that K-pop is about music; the visuals in the accompanying video and the choreography are much more important, which is probably why boy bands and girl groups dominate the scene. Another idiosyncrasy of the genre seems to be that the title of every song must be either English or gibberish. Today’s subjects chose the latter.

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CIPC #82: Salsa cookies

Dear Lord, where do I start with this one? Okay, so half an internet century ago there was minor fad for adding English subtitles to foreign-language songs, with the important caveat that the subtitles show what the foreign words sound like in English rather than the actual translations. The most famous examples of the genre are probably Moskau by Dschinghis Khan, Benny Lava, and our subject of today: salsa cookiesThis one is based on O fortuna from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and has been uploaded and reuploaded countless times to YouTube, accompanied by a meme-based video. The interest for us comes from the fact that the Latin word egestatem (poverty) is misheard as play chess all day and comes with a picture:

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CIPC #81: Zorro S1 E36, The sergeant regrets

I hope you guys have been dutifully spreading the word about the Zorro-opening, because, today, Zorro rides again! Yes! We’re now a bit further in the series but still in the first season, episode 36 to be precise. This time, it is magistrado Varga who our eponymous hero is vying against. The dastardly bastard is trying to get his hands on a list of noblemen who are trying to form a front against the oppressors. Of course, Zorro prevents this, but before he does so, he can be seen playing chess with his faithful servant Bernardo.

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CIPC #80: Captain Kronos – Vampire hunter

Captain Kronos – Vampire hunter is not exactly the sort of title that inspires a lot of confidence, but, surprisingly, the movie is not that bad. Now, bear in mind that it is a seventies Hammer movie, so you shouldn’t be expecting The Shawshank redemption, but if you just want a fun little adventure movie with some supernatural motives sprinkled in it’s serviceable enough. When I first watched, it was not clear to me at all why it was advertised as a horror movie, let alone why it was rated R – it looks very bright, there is almost no blood, the dialogue is light and joky – but then we’re treated to the following gruesome image:

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CIPC #79: New York

When we last visited New York exactly four weeks ago, a duck-voiced serial killer was wandering the streets of the big apple, strewing mutilated women’s bodies in rivers and apartments. This time, terrorism casts its lugubrious shadow over the East coast. The movie focuses on Omar who arrived from India to study some unspecified topic at the New York State University, because if he can make it there he can make it anywhere. On his first day, he meets Sam – who will become both a good friend of his and an important plot point – and plays a games of chess with him. At this point, everything is still sunny and, as this is after all a Bollywood movie, a song inevitably breaks out.

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