Welcome back to BCB After Dark: The swingingest spot on the internet for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Bring your own beverage. Someday I’ll settle on a slogan. Or I won’t.
As always, BCB After Dark is for everyone. We like those of you still awake in the middle of the night Chicago time to start the party and welcome the rest as the day goes on. But the rest of you are encouraged to join the party when you wake up the next day.
Last time I asked what you watched when baseball wasn’t on and it did not surprise me that (American) football was number one on the list. But I was surprised that it didn’t run away with the vote, getting just 26% of those vote. Hockey was number two and God bless all you Blackhawks fans. I was a Minnesota North Stars fan when I was younger so you know it’s true when I say that. Some of my favorite sports memories were watching the Blackhawks and the North Stars go at it at the old Met Center in Bloomington, MN. Those two teams hated each other. (No, I do not and never have rooted for the Dallas Stars.) Soccer was third and basketball was fourth in the vote. Every category got at least one vote. So I like to see the diversity in interests here.
If you’re interested in hearing some jazz or old movies, keep reading. If not, skip down to the question at the bottom and the comments below.
I’m been pleasantly surprised by how well received the jazz selections I’ve been sharing have been. It seems like most of you either want these or are willing to skip over them without complaining.
I’m trying to pick jazz cuts that have a “late-night” vibe so you probably won’t see the entire breadth of jazz. I’m probably not going to put any rollicking Dixieland music and Latin jazz may be limited, although a lot of bossa nova would be appropriate and I’m sure I’ll get to some of that soon.
Today’s cut is “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” from 1955 by the Modern Jazz Quartet. I think the song is appropriate as I imagine at least some of you will be reading this softly with the morning sunrise. The song itself dates back to 1928 and was written by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II. It’s one of those “Great American Songbook” tunes I warned you about last time. Sorry about that.
In any case, I find the interplay between Milt Jackson on the vibraphone and John Lewis on the piano with the Percy Heath (bass) and Connie Kay (drums) to be quite lovely. There are many other jazz versions of this song out there and I encourage you to seek them out for comparison.
I promised I’d say something about film last time, so I’ll just mention that I watched “The Postman Always Rings Twice” over the weekend, which I’m ashamed to say I’d never seen before. The 1946 version with John Garfield and Lana Turner, not the 1981 version with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. (Although I’ve still never seen that version.) The original version is one of the classics of film noir and I did spend much of last year in quarantine watching a lot of that genre. It’s also based on a novel by James M. Cain, who wrote the work that Double Indemnity was based on, which is probably my favorite film noir piece.
Both Postman and Indemnity have the same basic plot that is common to so much film noir: A femme fatale convinces a poor sap to help her murder her husband. They never get away with it in the end. I think Hollywood wanted to leave you with the message of “crime does not pay,” but in reality, the message is usually “dames is trouble.” Sure, the “sap” is rarely a choir boy before these films start, but it’s only when the woman enters the picture that they ever begin to consider homicide as a career choice. There’s certainly a sexist morality to most of these pictures that troubled almost no one at the time. You just have to accept and acknowledge that and appreciate the films for their qualities apart from that.
In any case, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a good picture, but I don’t think it quite reaches the heights of Double Indemnity. For one, Lana Turner just seems too wholesome to be completely believable as someone with murder on her mind. Her husband (played kind of flatly by Cecil Kellaway) gives her plenty of reasons for divorce, but not much for murder. John Garfield, who was a pretty big-name actor at the time who has mostly been forgotten by the general public today, gives the “sap” a kind of everyman character which leaves you with the impression that he doesn’t deserve his fate when really, he does.
As an aside, Garfield got blacklisted in the early 1950s and died of a heart ailment shortly thereafter, which helps to explain his relative anonymity today.
Still, it’s a good picture and I’d recommend it. A young Hume Cronyn steals every scene he’s in as a sleazy defense attorney. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you engaged. And I may be unfairly comparing Turner and Garfield to Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray’s performances in Double Indemnity. Turner and Garfield are both good, just not great.
Here’s the trailer for the picture to give you an idea of what it’s like if you haven’t seen it.
Once again, last time I checked this was still a baseball site. Last week I asked who you thought was going to be the Cubs’ second baseman in 2021. I didn’t include Eric Sogard among the choices because Eric Sogard hadn’t signed with the team yet.
But today we’re going to ask you if you think Sogard is going to make the Opening Day roster. He’s in competition with Nico Hoerner, David Bote and Ildemaro Vargas for an infield spot on the roster. Bote is probably on the roster no matter what because of his versatility. Hoerner, Vargas and Sogard may be fighting for two spots along with outfielder Cameron Maybin. Hoerner still has options, but he’s also tearing up the Cactus League. Sogard is a left-handed hitter, which gives him an edge over Hoerner, but not the switch-hitting Vargas. But Hoerner is probably the best defensive player of them all.
Also, there’s no minor league baseball until May, so that may play a role even if David Ross has said it won’t. There will also be a five-man taxi squad that will travel with the team for road trips. I’m still not sure how that’s going to work. I’m not sure MLB is sure how it’s going to work yet.
Gordon Wittenmyer has a good summary of the position battle here.
So when the Cubs break camp in April, is Eric Sogard on the roster?
Does Eric Sogard make the Opening Day 26-man roster?
This poll is closed
See you again on Monday night/Tuesday morning.