BCH

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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CIPC #178: XTC, The mayor of Simpleton

It is remarkable how little commercial success correlates longevity. Nowadays, XTC is considered one of the quintessential British rock bands from the eighties, but back in the days their singles barely scratched the charts. Senses working overtime, perhaps their best known song, only reached place 31 in the Flemish pop chart. Their other songs, like Dear God and today’s subject The mayor of simpleton, didn’t even chart. On the other hand, have you listened to much Bros lately? Some Climie Fisher, perhaps? They both reached the Flemish end-of-the-year top 100 in 1988, the same year as The mayor of Simpleton, but they have completely vanished from the public eye.

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CIPC #177: Alvin and the chipmunks: The squeakquel

My God. What have I come to? You know, I hope you all really appreciate what I do for this blog, because you have no idea. Just two weeks ago, I sat through the entire music video of the 1992 gabberhouse hit song Poing by the Rotterdam termination source in the vain hope that the knight on the cover indicated some chess imagery in the video — and now I watched an Alvin and the chipmunks movie! The second one even, which has a title that is to puns as concrete is to fine dining. And this time there are three more excruciatingly annoying chipmunks running about! O joy!

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CIPC #176: Shera ceiling tiles ad

I have bad news for the regular CIPC readers: today we’re going to tackle a philosophical question. Yes, one of those deep mysteries that bother all of us but that, on closer inspection, vanish in a puff of ill-definedness. An enigma no less profound or more irrelevant than the age-old question of why we are here on Earth: what, exactly, is chess? What is appropriate material for this blog? Would a bughouse game be an acceptable subject? Should van Leyden’s famous painting be disqualified because it actually shows courier chess?1 Should I include scenes where xiangqi is played?

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CIPC #175: A matter of life and death

After a short detour to the land of advertising, we return to our usual playground of movies. This time, we go all the way back to nineteen forty six for on of the most critically acclaimed films I have ever covered on this blog. It stars David Niven, who later went on to win an Oscar, as a fighter pilot in the second world war who slips through a crack in Death’s administration and gets caught up in a celestial court case about whether or not he gets to live on now. He gets visited every now and then by a heavenly messenger with a strong French accent who is possibly just a figment of his imagination.1 In the few hours he stole, he has fallen madly in love with a young American girl. She has arranged for a doctor to see him and, while they wait for him, they play a game of chess:

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CIPC#174: State Farm commerical

State Farm is one of those things, like red sups and school shootings, which most of the world is only familiar with through American media. In this case, the familiarity mostly comes from State Farm’s jingle “Like a good neighbour, State Farm is there” which is often referenced,
1 subverted or not, in movies, television series, and the like. It is an insurance company, which took its start in the twenties — the nineteen twenties, to be clear — selling car insurance. At least, that’s what Wikipedia claims. I don’t really care. What I do care about, is the following screenshot coming from a 2018 commercial for the firm:

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CIPC #173: Death note 2: The last name

I have already written a blog post about a manga and one about an anime, but I have yet to talk about Japanese cinema. That’s going to change now. Today, I’m spotlighting Death note: The last name 2. It is the sequel to Death note, a critically acclaimed movie based on a manga of the same name about a guy, burdened with the name Light,1 who can kill people by writing their names in a notebook. He uses his power mainly to kill criminals who escape slip through the cracks of the justice system, but of course things don’t go very smoothly. In the beginning of the second movie, we see him being suspected  by the police and, more importantly, playing a game of chess with the leading detective.

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CIPC #172: Blazing saddles

After the horrors I had to endure last week, I think I deserve a bit of break. Something light-hearted, something fun. Something good, even. Which is why I watched Blazing saddles, a 1974 western comedy by Mel Brooks that enjoys wide and wholly justified critical acclaim.1 The plot deals with a corrupt politician trying to take over a town. When the town needs a new sheriff, he has a black man named Bart (played by Cleavon Little) appointed in the hope that the locals will either get rid of him and leave themselves unprotected or leave town themselves. One his first day on the job, the new sheriff meets and befriends the best sharpshooter in the west. It turns out that he likes to play chess.

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