BCH

CIPC #209: Monsters S2 E2, Portrait of the Artist

If I had been a little smarter, I would have done this episode in the Halloween season, but I’m not so I haven’t. So yeah, it’s going to be Monsters today. It is a horror anthology show that aired on TV in the USA at the end of the eighties. There is little more to say about the show in general since, it being an anthology show, the actors, actresses, and directors tend to differ from one episode to the next. So let’s just focus on this particular one. The plot is about the father of a missing young lady who is told that a rather disturbing portrait of her daughter has turned up in an art gallery. Together with his friend and informer, he meets some kind of janitor. He looks and talks like a bumbling yokel — but he has a chessboard!1

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CIPC #208: The tonight show 26-09-2019, Grape chess

I am not familiar with American talk shows, but one of the trappings of the genre seems to be painfully unfunny sketches. Today, we will turn our attention to one particular example. I am not entirely sure, but it seems like it aired first on September 26th of 2019. In it, Jimmy Fallon, who is the host, takes on Jack White, of White Stripes fame in a game of chess. The surroundings are rather fancy-looking and our two protagonists are sharply-dressed, evoking the popular image from a hundred or so years ago of chess as a pastime for the high class. But when the chessboard appears on screen, it turns out that they are playing with white and red grapes instead of chess pieces. This is the alleged source of comedy.

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CIPC #207: Norwich union ad

Norwich! The great city of Norwich! Its cathedral, its mustard, its football team, its famous sons Lord Nelson and Alan Partridge,1 its union. Yes, its union. The Norwich Union, founded all the way back in the eighteenth century, was a very important player in the British insurance market with some international branches as well. It got involved in some scandal, as is normal for insurance companies, and changed its name in 2009. At some point before that, the following advertisement appeared somewhere

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CIPC #206: Chess in ‘Popular science’

Nothing is quite as unsettling to a scientist than his subject becoming self aware. Imagine the biologist that suddenly finds his fruit flies peering at him; the physicist who finds a very strange quark observing its observer; the mathematician whose pathological counterexample takes umbrage at that epithet. Or the chess blogger who finds his victims critiquing themselves. Just that happened to me when I was looking through old issues of Popular science. I suspect most of you might be familiar at least with its name, but for those few who aren’t: Popular science is a magazine dealing with — surprise, surprise! — popular science that has been published for well over a century. Look at this image from the December 1968 magazine:

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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, RenĂ© 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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