All work and no play makes each of us pretty dull, so let’s have a little fun today.
First on our list is this little gem from Indianapolis, Indiana. It seems that a coffee shop in that city is haunted, but not by any old run of the mill spirit. No, this ghost is a chessplayer:
It’s not quite as cool as you might think at first. The shop’s owner used to keep a chessboard out on a table for his patrons’ use; while alone in the shop (and when his back was turned, apparently), the owner would discover that the pieces had been moved all over the chessboard. Unfortunately the ghost wasn’t making actual game moves but was just randomly scattering the pieces around. So this story gets just a 3.5/5 on the “Coolness Meter”, but is interesting nonetheless.
On the other hand, this next bit rates a solid five for five.
I’m a huge fan of cartoons and animation in general. When we’re talking about animation studios of the early twentieth century, there were three major names to be reckoned with: Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and Max Fleischer. That last name might be unfamiliar to you without further elaboration. Fleischer Studios was responsible for bring us the cartoon adventures of three of the iconic characters of pre-1945 animation: Popeye the Sailor, Superman, and Betty Boop. I could go on at length about all three (for my money the Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons represent some of the finest animation ever), but I won’t ramble.
I’ll just say this: if it’s sick to have a crush on a cartoon character, then I’m an ill man. Who doesn’t love Betty Boop? It’s been three-quarters of a century later and Betty’s animated (mis)adventures are still a joy to watch. The sheer imagination displayed in these film shorts is astounding — from anthropomorphic objects to talking animals, the animators throw everything but the kitchen sink at the viewer (actually I think we do see a singing kitchen sink a time or two). The supporting cast (Koko, Bingo, and Grampy among them) are fun to watch, but Betty’s the main attraction and is always a heart-stealer.
I’ve been collecting Betty’s cartoons for a while now, but I discovered one yesterday that had somehow slipped past me, What makes it more surprising is that the cartoon is about chess. In a great example of pre-war cartoon anthropomorphism, a set of chess pieces comes alive and chaos is the result. Here, in Chess Nuts, the Black Queen (Betty) fights off the unwanted advances of the Black King, aided by the White King (Bingo) and Koko. Enjoy!