Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the nightclub for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Glad you could come and join us. We’ve saved you a table. Bring your own beverage. Be sure to tip the waitstaff.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
Today’s Cubs’ 7-3 win over the Nationals was an emotional one with Jon Lester and Kyle Schwarber making their first return to Wrigley on the other side. (Also Starlin Castro, but he’s been back before.) It was also a terrific win with home runs by Jason Heyward, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez. Additionally, Tommy Nance made his major league debut and lots of people have been sharing something Nance wrote back in 2017 as he was recovering from an injury.
It took him four more years, but that dream came true tonight. Congratulations, Tommy.
If you want to talk about tonight’s game with the Nationals, feel free to do so here.
Last Thursday I asked you who you thought would win the NL Central and 63% of you said the arch-rival Cardinals would walk away with the division pennant. The Cubs finished in second with 20%, indicating that 1 out of 5 of you still believe.
Weirdly, the Pirates got two votes and the Reds got none. I’ll chalk up the two Pirates votes to trolls or Pirates fans who wandered over here, but the Reds are a decent team and that may be all it takes to win the Central.
Here’s the point where I talk about jazz and old movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the baseball stuff at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Today’s jazz tune comes from guitarist Wes Montgomery, who was certainly one of the giants of jazz guitar.
Montgomery had a unique way of playing the guitar, which you can tell by listening to him. He played with the side of his thumb, a technique he picked up because he was trying to play quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors when he was young and just starting out.
Here’s Montgomery playing “Here’s That Rainy Day” [VIDEO] on TV in 1965. Notice near the end he misplays a note. He just smiles and finishes the song. Mike Trout strikes out and Wes Montgomery can blow a note.
When you watch a lot of old movies, you’re going to find material that is “problematic,” to use the term that gets tossed around a lot. Perhaps the most famous of these is Gone With the Wind, which is a glorious epic movie that has been rightly judged as being racist in recent years for its portrayal of the antebellum South as a place of virtue and honor and not a place of brutal slavery and violence. It’s still a classic movie. I’d argue that 1947’s Black Narcissus is another problematic movie whose beauty and performances allow it to rise above some pretty dicey ideological context.
Black Narcissus is an English film about a group of Anglican nuns, led by an inexperienced Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr, whom I recently learned pronounced her name like “car” and not like “cur.”) who try to establish a hospital and a school high in the Indian Himalayas. There they meet up with the young “general,” (Sabu) who commands this region and wants to bring the benefits of Western Civilization to his people. They’re also met by the hunky Englishman Mr. Dean (David Farrar), who long ago “went native” and serves as the general’s agent. Mr. Dean warns the nuns that they’ll be gone in a few months.
Over time, the culture of the Indian Himalayas changes the nuns far more than they change the locals. The nuns lose track of their mission. They become distracted by their desires, both sexual and otherwise. Mr. Dean is a clear distraction, as Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) becomes obsessed with him and a fantasy that Mr. Dean loves her. Sister Ruth is also consumed with jealous thoughts about Sister Clodagh’s much closer relationship with Mr. Dean.
Let’s start about what is good about this movie. First of all, director Michael Powell and cinematographer Jack Cardiff (who won an Academy Award for this) made an absolutely gorgeous movie. Getting color right in film still wasn’t easy in 1947, but Cardiff got brilliant pinks and blues and other colors to shine brightly on the screen. The entire movie was shot in England, but Powell did an incredible job making it look like India, or at least what we imagine India looks like. Even the matte painted backgrounds look more “mystical” than “fake.”
The performances are also very, very good. Kerr does well as a nun who is constantly torn between her perceived duty to God and her own earthly desires. But Byron steals the show at the end as the maniacal Sister Ruth. The film is worth watching just for her performance.
The film was released just a few weeks before the end of British rule in India, and it was widely seen at the time as an allegory for British rule there. And that’s where the film gets problematic for me. I’m not as troubled by Jean Simmons in brownface as much as I am by the idea that the problem with the British rule of India is what it does to the British and not what it did to the Indians.
In the Golden Age of Imperialism from 1860 (or so) to 1940 (or so), there were two types of arguments that opposed the taking of colonies and ruling people in the name of a king (or president!) many thousand miles away. One argument was the one that we think of today—that it was wrong to conquer people, rule them and take their resources. But the more common argument against it wasn’t humanitarian but rather that contact with these “inferior” peoples naturally corrupts the conquerers. (There was a similar argument made against slavery in the early days of the American Republic.) In Black Narcissus, the white nuns wish to bring civilization and Christianity to the natives of this high mountain outpost. The nuns are never portrayed as perfect people, but as people who are working hard to overcome their flaws through a faith in Christ and England.
But in this wild land on the edge of the world (literally, you should see the glorious shots of the cliffs in this film), the nuns’ control over their “base” nature breaks down. Instead of taming the sexual nature of this foreign culture, the culture instead controls them. The nuns failure to establish an outpost is analogous to the British failures in India. The nuns (and the British) had to leave India because of what it did to them, not because of what they did to the Indians.
With that in mind, however, I strongly recommend Black Narcissus. It’s a beautifully-shot and acted classic. Just be aware of the historical context of the themes of the film.
They just made a TV miniseries out of it just last year. I haven’t seen it. All I could think of when I saw the ads was “Why would anyone want to remake Black Narcissus?” What would be the point? Getting people who won’t watch something 70 years old to watch it, I suppose. But since I’m not one of those people, I can’t think of a good reason to spend three hours watching something I’ve already seen.
Here’s the trailer for Black Narcissus. [VIDEO] The transfer on this video isn’t great, but I hope you can see a little bit of how beautiful this movie is to look at.
Welcome back to the baseball-only fans.
We all know that the Cleveland American League Baseball Team is going to change its name next year, so I’m going to ask you what should the new name be. This isn’t a place to discuss whether or not they should be changing their name—that argument is over and they’re changing it. Instead, I’m asking you to look forward and asking what we’re going to call them next year.
The “Spiders” is the name that gets the most attention, but I don’t like it for a couple of reasons. One, spiders are icky. OK, I admit that’s a personal preference. But the better reason is that the name “Spiders” is associated with what should be the worst scandal in baseball history. The owner of the Spiders also bought the team we now call the Cardinals. He traded all the best players on Cleveland for all the worst players on St. Louis to make one “super-team.” The remains of the Cleveland Spiders are still the worst team in history. Midway through the year, they stopped playing home games because no one in Cleveland would watch this abomination. This is not something that should be celebrated.
Other names that have been suggested are the “Rocks” or “Rockers,” because of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the “Buckeyes” after an old Negro League team; “Naps,” which was the name of the team before their current name and honoring Nap Lajoie; and “Guardians,” which I’m told refers to a bridge across the Cuyahoga River.
Then there’s “Cleveland Baseball Team,” which you can make up your own mind about why anyone would think that’s a good idea. Maybe you think it’s a good idea and can explain it to us.
Maybe we can get a movement going for the Cleveland Black Narcissus. Nah.
So if you were making the choice, what are we calling Cleveland next season?
The Cleveland American League team should be called . . .
This poll is closed
Rocks (or Rockers)
Cleveland Baseball Team
Something else (leave in comments)
I’ll see you tomorrow night with an abbreviated BCB AD.