BCH

CIPC #229: The great dictator

Today, we dissect the greatest of the great, because The great dictator is probably the greatest movie by the greatest silent movie actor: Charles Chaplin. But it is a very atypical one: it is one of the latest, being released in 1940 only, and it is not a silent movie at all. I think the plot is so well-known that an introduction is not necessary. Some scenes, like the dictator dancing with the globe and Chaplin’s speech at the end, have entered the canon of Western culture. One lesser known scene occurring about halfway through the movie, has two older Jewish gentlemen enjoying a nice game of chess:

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CIPC #228: Chess-nuts

Betty Boop is one of the very many things in the world that I just can’t get my head around.1 She is a very old cartoon character created by Max Fleischer all the way back in the thirties of last century, and in the cartoons’ canon she’s supposed to be a sort of femme fatale; an irresistible sex symbol. In reality she is grotesquely ugly and has a horribly distorted cranium that’s wider than it is high. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of the other main characters from the cartoons could fit comfortably in her skull. But at least she had a chess-themed cartoon: Chess-nuts from 1932.

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CIPC #227: Etsy ad

Etsy is quite famous in America but I think it is far less popular here in Europe, so perhaps a little background information is in order. So here we go: etsy is a website founded all the way back in 2005. It is a portal on which everybody can open a personal little shop, usually used for selling handmade craft items. It as an enormous business nowadays, with a revenue of hundreds of millions of dollars. And of course, enormous businesses advertise.1 Sometimes there’s chess in their advertising.

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CIPC #226: The Perry bible fellowship, Primate checkmate

Today, we go visit the digital lagerstätte and dig up one of the dinosaurs of the internet: The Perry bible fellowship. Before Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, before xkcd and Cyanide & Happiness, even before Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, there was already The Perry bible fellowship. It has won a whole bunch of awards and many of the comics have been collected in actual physical books. One relatively recent instalment features this image:

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CIPC #225: Crime doctor’s warning

Have you ever heard of the Crime doctor franchise? It is about doctor Ordway, a criminal psychologist who helps the police solve cases. Nowadays, it is almost entirely forgotten, but in the forties it was huge. For seven years, there was a radio series on CBS and Columbia Pictures made ten films. And they had some star power: Oscar winner Warner Baxter played the title role and this particular episode, Crime doctor’s warning, was directed by William Castle, who went on to produce among others The lady from Shanghai and Rosemary’s Baby.

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CIPC #224: The adventures of Sherlock Holmes S1 E6, The speckled band

If ever some dimwit decides to feed my blog posts into a machine learning engine and make it produce one of its own, it will probably write about a murder mystery. Sometimes I feel that’s all I ever write about. Today’s post is not going to change that feeling, because we’re talking about Sherlock Holmes again. This time, he is being played by Jeremy Brett. The episode under investigation, The speckled band, is a pretty close adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story of the same name. But there is one very significant alteration: doctor Grimesby Roylott is shown at a chessboard.

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CIPC #223: Taylor, Women playing chess

It is time to parade some high culture in front of your eyes again while I talk condescendingly about paintings like I can tell  undoubted Rafaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies.1 Today’s exposition, then, is from the more than capable hands of the renowned Leonard Campbell Taylor.2 The great British painter, member of the Royal Academy, has a reputation for his portrayals of interior scenes, painted in traditional style. This despite the fact that his birth in 1874 means that the impressionists were well established by the time he was an adult. One of his paintings looks like this:

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CIPC #222: Inspector Morse S8 E8, The remorseful day

In the ranks of British tv detectives, inspector Morse occupies a prominent but slightly strange position. He is not a brilliant eccentric like Poirot or Miss Marple. He is not a pleasant homebody like inspector Barnaby. He is a lonely, sarcastic curmudgeon, but he is more cultured than inspector Frost. Although he loves Wagner, so there’s still room for improvement. And that, unfortunately, is not going to happen, because inspector Morse is dead. On his deathbed, he solved one final case, and that caused these guys some grief:

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CIPC #221: The office, S5 E26

There are certain things the internet loves far more than it should. Not that they’re bad per se, but the internet just obsesses over them. Cats, for example, or Keanu Reeves, or The office. Yes, The office is everywhere. The office memes pervade the internet. The office catchphrases have seeped into common parlance. The office fan communities are big and numerous. Myself, I didn’t really get past the first episode; it just seemed to be about mean people being awful to each other. And Pam. But it turns out that there’s a chess scene in the last episode of the fifth season! Is this why people kept watching?1 Is this why people love The office?2 Let’s see!

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CIPC #220: Cyma ad

Ex oriente lux. Also, really weird pop music. In Europe, one mainly hears about k-pop, the Korean pop music which has been taking the world by storm the last couple of years. In fact, I have talked about k-pop before on this blog. But there is also j-pop and even c-pop, although I don’t think it is usually called that. Apparently, one of the stars of the nineties in the latter genre was a certain Andy Lau. He started his career as an actor but ten became a pop star too. It seems like he is a massively famous and popular person — I just hadn’t heard of him before.

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