BCH

CIPC #205: Father Brown S2 E1, The ghost in the machine

I have sung the praises of Chesterton’s Father Brown stories before, so I will now just suffice by saying that I still stand by those praises. Unfortunately, I cannot be so kind to the television series. The first problem is that Mark Williams, who is cast as the eponymous hero of the show, looks nothing like Chesterton’s description of Father Brown — but that’s excusable. More problematic is that the writers soon decided to ignore the original material and to come up with their own storylines instead — usually a bad sign.

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CIPC #204: B.C. June 9th, 2013

Last year, we started with some high-brow Culture with a capital C. As there is a widely supported consensus that 2020 was not one of history’s best efforts, I decided to do the exact opposite this time. We will start the year with a brow so low it might be a gnome’s. We will start with B.C., an American newspaper comic started more than half a century ago by Johnny Hart of The wizard of Id fame. Under his direction, the series was rather popular with public and critics. However, after he died in 2007, the series was taken over by a certain Mastroianni, and there were no more awards. It is from his time that today’s subject hails.

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CIPC extra: The best and worst of 2020

Never before have people been so eager for a year to end. All because they cannot wait for my review of the year. I can hardly disappoint them, can I? So for the fourth time already, I will parade the best and worst posts of a full year of blog posts. A brief moment of retro- and introspection, where we can laugh at the me from the past and pray the me from the future will do better.

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CIPC #203: Asterix Vol.4, Asterix the gladiator

Sic transit gloria mundi! There is no better way to summarise the fate of the Asterix series. It started all the way back in 1959 and quickly became one of the best and most popular series of Franco-Belgian comics. Until, in 1977, René Goscinny died. The quality nosedived immediately. The series muddled along in mediocrity for decennia, dipping deeply into awfulness with Asterix and the falling sky. But we don’t have to get into sad episode. Our topic for today is the fourth volume in the series, from Asterix‘ golden years in 1964.1

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CIPC #202: The manhole

2020 has become the year of video games. People have been at home rather more than usual and, naturally, they spend it playing Fortnite, Among us, Cyberpunk since a week or two, and of course the all-time classic The manhole. The manhole? The manhole. What’s that, you ask? Well, it is an old point-and-click computer game originally released all the way back in the eighties. As far as I could ascertain with some speed-googling, it was the first game to be released on CD-ROM. On starting the program, you see a manhole cover and a fire hydrant. If you click on the latter, not much happens; but if you click on the former, you get transported to a Carrollian fantasy land.1 Click around some more and you might see this:

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CIPC #201: De strateeg ad

Our subject for today is a podcast. Well, not quite. It’s some kind of ad that, at the time of writing, appears as the official logo for the Dutch podcast De strateeg [the strategist] on their website. The podcast claims to deal with “worldwide trends and their impact on man, company, geopolitical relationships, and government”.1 Whether it does so — and whether it does so adequately — I cannot say, because I haven’t listened to a single episode. I can, however, say a thing or two about the position shows in the logo.

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CIPC #200: S. S. Van Dine, Le fou des échecs

This is the third year now that I do this blog. I have touched on movies, television series, paintings, comics, literature, sculptures – pretty much any type of cultural output. Yet, I still stumble upon something new, occasionally. Literary serials, for example. In the nineteen twenties, S. S. Van Dine’s1 detective character Philo Vance was as widely popular as he is now forgotten. His books were translated and appeared serialised in newspapers. This is how I found out about him and them: while combing Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle2 for its chess column, I suddenly encountered a story entitled Le fou des échecs by Van Dine. It is probably a translation (by A.-H. Ponte) of The bishop murder case and most certainly the subject of today’s post.

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CIPC #199: Alice in Wonderland

If you were to ask some random schmuck from the streets to give an example of chess in popular culture, provided you do this at a point in time when there doesn’t just happen to be a massively popular chess-based series going on, chances are they’re going to answer Alice in Wonderland. But they’d be wrong! There is no mention of chess in Alice in Wonderland. The famous chess board appears in its sequel Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there. However, some of the movie adaptations that appear every couple of years have fused both books together and include a chess scene. So, too, our subject for today.

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CIPC #198: De regels van Floor S3 E16, Fanatiek

De regels van Floor is a still-running Dutch television series. The title means ‘Floor’s rules’ and the concept is that, every episode, Floor comes up with one rule to help her — and, by proxy, the viewer — cope with the intricate and often baffling trappings of life in modern society. In this particular episode, that rule is “don’t be too fanatic”;1 in fact ‘fanatiek’, the name of the episode, is Dutch for ‘fanatic’. It comes from the fact that Floor’s father gets a little too engrossed in her daughter’s football games. It turns out that the same father also plays chess. Near the end of the episode, he has a tournament that is so important that even his wife comes to watch. We too, of course:

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CIPC #197: The twilight saga: Breaking dawn – part 1

Few traces of it are left, but about a decade ago, Twilight was the biggest thing in the world. Millions and millions of copies of the books were sold in pretty much any language known to man and the movies were enormous box office successes. But at the same time, there was a huge backlash against it. The characters were deemed flat, old fashioned, creepy even. The story was condemned for being ridiculous. But, as has been pointed out to me recently, there is chess in it.

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