Al Pacino on a Squash Court

Well, more precisely, Al Pacino in the role of Aldo Gucci, chairman of the Italian luxury fashion house in a scene from the recent film “House of Gucci”. Or, even more precisely, Al Pacino etc. being arrested by US Department of the Treasury agents on a New York squash court on suspicion of tax evasion.

Still, what’s not to like if you, like me, are more than happy to see squash culturally referenced in TV programmes, films, plays and, oh I don’t know, operas? You never know.

Truth be told, the entire sequence showing Pacino in squash kit takes up less than ten seconds of screen time, most of which shows the Feds marching up to the court then marching away with their Gucci of interest in custody. On the other hand, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had from the rest of the ‘House of Gucci’ not least the jaw-dropping over-acting and the, er, uneven English-language script delivered with comedy Italian accents by the principal cast members, Pacino, Lady Gaga, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek and Adam Driver included.

Which begs the question, why don’t we get to see Lady Gaga on a squash court? In terms of Twitter followers alone, that really might have been something that could help raise the profile of the game. Just a suggestion.

Sources

Thanks to The English Times and the BBC.

Squash (2008) – Openvideo Project

Who says squash and art don’t go together?

Here’s a short video by German film maker and visual artist Matthias Fritsch combining on-court movement with music and narrative. Fritsch’s work involves creating moving images and running workshops for video artists amongst others.

His art reflects everyday activities including, in this example, squash as well as global issues such as environmental protection. His recent research has focussed on ‘circles of matter’ and biological processes which could almost describe the dance movement of players chasing a soft rubber ball around a squash court.

Credits

‘Squash’ is a 2008 project by Matthias Fritsch filmed on location at Bard College in Berlin. Music is by C.Thomas and the players are Jacob Nabel and Brent Lewis. The accompanying German-language narrative to the video is uncredited.

Sources                                    

Thanks to YouTube and TechnoViking.

Music From The Masses (‘Squash’) – Open Music Art Project

It’s not often I stumble across squash art projects although it’s always gratifying to see the game being used to inspire off-court artistic creativity. I’ve written previously about American artist Carlin Wing’s ‘Hitting Walls’ series of squash-themed art installations. Now here’s another ambitious multi-media project in the form of German artist Matthias Fritsch’s ‘Music From The Masses’.

Between 2008 and 2014, Fritsch created a series of 16mm film clips each of which was the length of a typical music video. The clips were made available online and could be downloaded by musicians, composers and sound designers anywhere in the world who wanted to create ‘soundlayers’ for them. Over the course of the project, 10 clips were produced, the first being “Squash”, a collage of on- and off-court video sequences.

The soundlayers for ‘Squash’ reflect different genres of music including electronic, jazz, pop and singer-songwriter. The ‘techno’ contribution below is from Taiwanese artist HANHAN and is called ‘Body Attack’, a feeling I’ve certainly experienced on a squash court.

Over the entire course of the ‘Music From The Masses’ project over 300 soundlayers were created by participants who were then able to use the resulting High Definition videos for their own commercial and non-commercial purposes. ‘Music From The Masses’ was intended for distribution on video portals such as YouTube as well as for exhibitions in museums and galleries. The work takes the form of an ‘open edition’ project and it’s possible to add new compositions and variations indefinitely. This generic model of recycling and generating new videos is intended to resemble ‘YouTube-Reality’ where material is added continuously and is in constant flux.

If you’re interested in how Matthias Fritsch conceived and executed ‘Music From The Masses’, take a look at his 2011 lecture below.

And, if you’re interested in creating your own soundlayer for ‘Squash’, why not visit the project’s ‘Open Call’ web page? You never know where ‘Squash’ will take you.

More ‘Squash’ Soundlayer Videos

Squash Art– A mashup of four pieces of music by Benjamin Fetscher and Dana Hocker (Leiphaum, Germany).

Kingsize – An electronic soundtrack by HIBISCUS (Murcia, Spain).

Der Gegner – An Independent – Jazz – Pop soundtrack by Müller und Die Platemeiercombo (Braunschweig, Germany).

Wegweiser – A singer-songwriter / Liedermacher soundtrack by Fabry (Germany).

Genre Fusion – A soundtrack by Daniela Schmidt (Los Angeles, USA).

I Need Your Voice! – A soundtrack by Martin Horu25et (Germany).

Sources

Thanks to YouTube, Vimeo and TechnoViking.

Squash – Competitive Dad (Comedy Sketch)

Running from 1994 to 1997, with specials in 2000 and 2014, The Fast Show was a BBC comedy sketch show relying on stereotypical characters, recurring running gags and catchphrases.

Played by Simon Day, Competitive Dad has to be the best at everything, tormenting his long-suffering children, Peter and Toby, with constant challenges they can never live up to. Sport is Competitive Dad’s biggest interest; from cricket to tennis, fishing and, yes, squash.

Watch, in horror, as he beats Toby 9-0 (it was hand-out scoring in those days, remember) without serving a single returnable ball before boasting about his victory to his wife on the telephone.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that Competitive Dad’s serves at 2-0 and 4-0 didn’t land between the cut and out-of-court lines so Toby should have become hand-in. However, I’m not sure that the result would have been any different.

Sources

Thanks to Wikipedia and YouTube.

2-Dot (2013) – One Minute Video

A squash ball fights back…


Stumbling across stuff on the internet can help you unearth a wealth of interesting information. Not only that, it can send you off on a voyage of discovery leading to other interesting (and not-so interesting) information tenuously linked to your original stuff-stumbling experience depending on how far you want to go.

Take this one minute squash-themed video from 2013 by Aroneus Shorts. It’s one of a series of entertaining short videos, some of which feature “Wally”. After watching the videos, I am none the wiser as to whether Wally is: a) a person or b) a dog. Neither am I any the wiser as to the identity of any of the performers appearing in the videos or their directors, producers, video photographers or music directors. And does Aroneus Shorts even still exist?

Despite the mystery, let’s just hold onto the image of a squash ball with attitude clinging to the backhand side wall and a public information sign depicting a pair of shorts. That should be enough to be getting on with.

Sources

Thanks to YouTube, Aroneus Shorts and, of course, Wally.

Squash Tournament Poster of the Year 2019

OK, I’ll admit that I don’t spend much time scouring squash club notice boards, internet websites or street signs looking for posters advertising squash tournaments. But wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, my squash radar is switched on, sweeping the environment for tell-tale signs of squash life. A bit like a squash archaeologist wandering through cultural landscapes, if you will.

Not only that, friends and family members are well aware that sniffing out traces of squash culture is a feature of my behaviour and actually provides me with what is, to them, a form of pleasure as inexplicable as it is baffling. So much so that some amongst them have been known to indulge me by drawing my attention to squash stories and artefacts I may not have encountered much in the manner as one might throw a bone to a hungry dog.

Final of the 2019 CIB Egyptian Open between Ali Farag and Karim Abdel Gawad

In the case of a Belgian friend with absolutely no interest in squash or, for that matter, dogs a recent event occurred which demonstrates the power of acquired squash autosuggestion. Walking through the arrivals hall at Cairo’s International Airport, she noticed a colourful poster in the style of an ancient Egyptian tomb painting. Further examination showed it to be for a squash tournament, the latter stages of which were to be staged outdoors at a site overlooking the Pyramids at Giza.

Equipped, as always, with a smart-phone and the patience to wait until she had a clear field of view, she took a photograph of the poster, a copy of which arrived on my own phone shortly afterwards. I present it here in the hope that I will not be breaking Egyptian copyright law which I understand does not prevent artists from drawing images of the monuments or historic sites, as long as said images are not exact copies.

Poster in the Arrivals Hall of Cairo International Airport

So, as long as no tombs are unearthed which depict an anonymous Pharoah holding a squash racquet being offered squash balls by a servant girl, I think I’m safe.

Sources

Thanks to PSA Squash TV for covering the 2019 CIB Egyptian Squash Open and an anonymous friend for photographing the poster.

Retreat (2017) – Short Film

A man on retreat calls home.

Retreat (2017)

Created by STIR and FRY (Thomas and Samuel Thorogood

Thomas Thorogood – Co-Producer, Co-Director, Camera Operator, Composer, Models, Additional Voices

Samuel Thorogood – Co-Director, Co-Producer, Writer, Editor, Performer

Source

Thanks to Stir and Fry and Vimeo.

Broken Strings (2018) – Short Film

What does it take before somebody’s resilience breaks? Sam Halford is tested when his coach pushes him and his classmate, Matt, to their limits. But when does pushing somebody beyond their limits become too much to handle?

Broken Strings (2018)

A Dunley Productions film.

Directed by Alfie Drakeley and Connor Dunham

Written by Alfie Drakeley

Cast: Jake Vermuelen (Sam Wilson) Josh Beardmore (Coach) and Alfie Drakeley (Matt Wilson).

Business Squash (Comedy Sketch)

Well “better late than never” I always say, or at least I occasionally say when I’ve fallen down on whatever job I’ve set myself; in this case spotting squash-themed comedy sketches.

This latest offering comes from Irish comedy trio Foil Arms and Hog who, for reasons unknown (to me, anyway) choose to omit a comma from their stage name, assuming that stage names still exist nowadays.

The group comprises Sean Finnegan, Sean Flanagan and Conor McKenna and performs on TV, radio, the stage and online. Formed in 2008 while all three were students at University College Dublin, the group’s name evolved from the nicknames each of the members had for each other; Foil (Sean Finegan) so-called because was the ‘comedy foil’, Arms (Conor McKenna) because he was ‘All arms and legs’ and Hog (Sean Flanagan) because he ostensibly hogged the limelight. All very well, but I’m still concerned about that comma.

And the “better late than never?” Ah, yes, well the sketch does date from 2013 but, in my defence, I’ve had a lot on recently.

P.S. Do check out the Foil Arms and Hog website for tour dates, merchandise and downloads.

Squash (2012) – Short Film / Cortomejadre

In Spanish. Click on video “Subtitles / Closed Captions” button for English subtitles.

It seems that, in modern times, destiny has reserved the same meeting place for us: the dole queue. A squash-themed story of competition, unemployment and dairy produce.

Parece que, con los tiempos que corren, el destino nos tiene guardado a todos un mismo lugar de encuentro: la cola del paro.

Distributed by the Instituto Del Cine, Spain 2012
  • Written and Directed by Jon Plazaola and Javier Cirujeda
  • Lead Producer: Guillermo Tio
  • Original Idea: Jon Plazaola
  • Associate Producer: Helher Escribano
  • Executive Producers: Guillermo Tio, Jon Plazaola and Javier Cirujeda
  • Director of Photography: Marco Caneda
  • Artistic Director: Carlos Perez De Irube
  • Music: The Dead Rocks “Easy Job”