BCH

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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CIPC #127: Justin Timberlake feat. Jay Z, Suit & Tie

Justin Timberlake started his career all the way back in the early nineties as a member of the boy band NSYNC . In the two thousands, he went solo and several of his singles, like Cry me a river and SexyBack,1 apparently unhindered by a severe lack of diaphragmatic support, polyphonic content, or a decent orchestration, became worldwide hits and cemented his name in the annals of modern popular music. His image is that of a suave, sophisticated, sharp-dressed, sexy socialite. In the song under scrutiny here, the main focus is on the penultimate adjective, but to remind the public that the one before that applies as well, the accompanying music video, which was directed by none other than David Fincher, shows Justin playing chess with a lady who, since this is a pop song after all, appears half naked.

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CIPC #126: The prisoner, Arrival

The prisoner is a delightful cocktail of sixties futurism and mystery fiction with a liberal dash of the Kafkaesque. It is about a former secret agent who one day wakes up in a quaint English seaside village which he soon finds out to be a prison for people with too much too important information in their heads. The series basically deals with him attempting either to escape or to find out what the hell is going on. In the very first episode, he gets a helicopter tour of the premises by someone who goes by number two1 who seems to run the place. During this tour, a former admiral is pointed out to him as being good at chess. Near the end of the episode, we see him playing against our protagonist.

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CIPC #125: The invisible ghost

Before Ben Kingsley, before Michael Ironside, before Lee Van Cleef even, the guy you went to if you wanted a memorable villain for your Hollywood movie was Bela Lugosi. Born in Hungary as Béla Blaskó, he is nowadays mainly remembered as the original Dracula, but he played in dozens of other movies, usually as the bad guy and more than once together with that other icon of thirties horror, Boris Karloff. In fact, I briefly talked about him before in this post about The black cat. In today’s subject, The invisible ghost, Lugosi plays a mister Kessler who has lost his wife in an accident and is now haunted by her ghost. Except that his wife is not really dead and that she is haunting him pretty much by accident. Where the ‘invisible’ in the title comes from remains unexplained.

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CIPC #124: The blob

We will stay in the wonderful, whimsical world of the creature feature for just a while longer, but in contrast to last week’s Creature from the haunted sea, which was more or less forgotten as soon as it was released, The blob, which features a young Steve McQueen in the main role, has grown into a bit of a cult classic over the years. And it must ba said that it is a far better movie than would be suggested by the incredibly cheesy premise:1 an alien, gelatinous blob crashes on Earth and starts consuming everything in its path. In movies likes this, usually the police gets involved at some point, but they, are of course, sceptical and have to be convinced of the existence of the eponymous monster. But there are shenanigans going on in the police department! The lieutenant opens a drawer from one of his men’s desks and finds a chess board:

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CIPC #123: Creature from the haunted sea

Long before Michael Bay and Steven Seagal were the schlockmeisters par excellence of the film world, way, way back in the swinging sixties, the b-movie scene was dominated by the incomparable Roger Corman. From the fifties to the seventies he directed a staggering amount of low-budget movies, reaching in 1957 alone an astonishing 9 movies. And with titles like Attack of the giant leeches, X: The man with the X-ray eyes, or The saga of the Viking women and their voyage to the waters of the great sea serpent you just know they’re going to be great! Of course, in such a tremendous amount of film, there is bound to be some chess scene somewhere and, indeed, shortly after the beginning of Creature from the haunted sea, one of his lesser known creature features, we can see a female spy in a shady bar playing chess against herself:

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CIPC #122: meetup.com commercial

Apparently, there are people out there. As if that thought wasn’t scary enough, those people sometimes want to meet each other. This is precisely what the founders of meetup.com realised when they launched their site all the way back in 2002. Of course, the people that are already out socialising are not a very interesting audience for meetup.com, so when they decided to do some advertising they naturally wanted to focus on shut-ins and weirdos. In order to reach this audience, they used the two quintessential symbols of the committed sociophobe: chess and cats. In fact, the ad is basically a guy1 trying to play chess against his cat:2

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CIPC #121: Zorro S1 E1, Welcome to Monterey

Here we are again. Like a murderer returning to the scene of the crime, I always seem to circle back to Zorro.1 This time, we follow our hero as he travels to Monterey with his servant Bernardo to find out whether an important but unspecified business run by a mister Verduga is worth putting money in. Pretty much immediately on arrival, he is robbed but, as he did not bring the 17.000 pesos expected of him, the robbers leave empty-handed. It turns out that many people before him suffered the same fate and in order to investigate these robberies, he prolongs his stay in the local tavern.2 This is very good, because people play chess there! In fact, we see the first game even before the robbers.

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CIPC #120: The lodger: A story of the London fog

One might easily forget it, but the great Alfred Hitchcock started his career all the way back in the twenties, more than thirty years before Psycho, making silent movies because talkies weren’t a thing yet. One of these, the one that put him firmly on the map, in fact, was The lodger: A story of the London fog. Its plot is heavily inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders in Whitechapel, London at the end of the nineteenth century: a serial killer goes around London, butchering a young, blond woman every Tuesday. After these facts have been established, we are introduced to Daisy Bunting, a young woman who works as a model for a local fashion show. Despite her blond hair, she is not too worried about the serial killer and cheerfully reaches home. Her parents take in a new lodger and then, as the title cards put it, “one evening, a few days later, the lodger made himself agreeable.” Apparently, this means he plays a game of chess with Daisy.1
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