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BCB After Dark: An old (AL) West shootout

The hip spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks who is your pick to win the AL West.

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Seven Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the baseball, jazz and movie club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’re waiving the two-drink minimum tonight because I don’t think we’ll need to encourage you. Please drink responsibly, however, We’re cutting off anyone who gets rowdy.

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.

Normally this is where I tell you that you are free to discuss today’s Cubs game in this space, but honestly, no one wants that right now. I can’t stop you if you do, but be aware we’re all a little on edge at the moment.

Yesterday I asked you who you thought would win the American League Central and 85% of you think at least one team in Chicago is going to be playing in the postseason in 2021. Another 13% said that Cleveland will take the division.

I also asked you who you thought the Cubs should call up as the next backup catcher and 77% of you picked Tony Wolters. Cubs manager David Ross said he wanted the best bat with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo banged up as well, so Taylor Gushue got to make his major league debut instead. There were also some reports that Wolters was a little banged up in Tuesday night’s I-Cubs game.

Here’s where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question. You won’t hurt my feelings.

When people say they don’t like jazz, I often think it’s because they’ve heard some Sun Ra. Sun Ra was one of the true weirdos of jazz. Born Herman Poole Blount in Alabama in 1914, he moved to Chicago after the war and eventually changed his name to Sun Ra in 1952. The name came from Egyptian mythology. In addition to ancient myths and religions, Sun Ra was heavily influenced by the radical Black cultural movements that were floating around Chicago in the 1950s like the Black Muslims and the Black Hebrews. He often predicted that the aliens would soon land to liberate the people of earth.

Sun Ra claimed that he was an extraterrestrial from the planet Saturn. Whether or not that was just part of the act or whether he truly came to believe that he was an alien, we never found out. But Sun Ra was always on the avant-garde side of jazz, mixing jazz with other genres before it was cool and intentionally playing atonally. He was one of the leading voices of Afrofuturism from the sixties to the eighties and put on stage shows that would eventually influence acts like Parliament/Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone and others. One of his final tours was as an opening act for Sonic Youth. He was also a civil rights activist, a writer and an all-around unforgettable character.

This video, from 1989, is one of his last public performances before he was partially incapacitated by a stroke in 1990. It’s from a syndicated TV music show that saxophonist David Sandborn hosted in the late-80s and early-90s. Sun Ra continued to play and conduct his “Arkestra” after the stroke as well as he could until his death in 1993.

What I like about this clip [VIDEO] is you get a version of the stage show as well as one avant-garde tune, followed by much more standard R&B-influenced toe-tapper. He could have been commercial if he had wanted to be. He was more concerned with playing music that would draw the attention of other extraterrestrials.

On Wednesday night/Thursday mornings, I don’t have the time to do a full movie essay like I do on Monday nights. But I do like to throw out a question for discussion.

Since the last two weeks I’ve written about a French film, I thought I’d throw out the issue of subtitles. I studied both French and German in school and I used to be able to read both languages fairly well and speak them OK. But following the dialog of a movie? Even when I was in practice, that was difficult. Now since my French and German have gone about 20 years without any serious use, there’s no way I can follow along without subtitles.

But not every foreign film is subtitled. Many, especially animated films, are dubbed into English. My 13-year-old daughter is a huge fan of Japanese anime, so I asked her one of the biggest questions in that subculture: “Dub or Sub?” She told me “I don’t like to answer questions” so I still don’t know what she thinks. She’s thirteen.

Then, of course, there are those spaghetti westerns by Sergio Leone and others from the sixties where every actor just spoke in their own language and everyone was eventually dubbed into one language. So that’s why if you’re watching The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef’s lips all match the words they are saying and no one else’s does. That’s got to be confusing for an actor to work in such a Tower of Babel, but those three seemed to manage it.

So what is your opinion of subtitles? I have to say that I really don’t like them very much. They distract my eye away from the rest of the scene. But, I’m not going to limit myself to only watching movies in English and seeing dubbed dialog bothers me even more. The words never match the lips and it always makes me think that there’s something wrong with the soundtrack. So subtitles are a necessary evil for me.

Of course, there are movies like the Jamaican film The Harder They Come, that are in English but in a difficult-to-understand accent. I’ve had this problem recently with the TV show Derry Girls as well. (Which is hilarious and highly-recommended.) Sometimes I give up there and watch with the subtitles on.

In animated films, that’s not a problem, since the lip movements are always vague anyway. So in the anime debate, I’m firmly in the “dub” camp, even though I mostly stopped watching anime with any regularity almost 20 years ago.

So do you avoid movies that have subtitles? Do you avoid movies that are dubbed? Or do you just ignore movies that aren’t in English in the first place?

Today we’re going to finish out our polling of the American League division races. I normally like to ask questions about the Cubs because they usually get a better response rate than general baseball questions, but I’ve got to say that tonight I’m glad to not be asking a Cubs question.

So the American League West looks like a two-team race between the Athletics and the Astros, but the Mariners are hanging on the edges of the race and you have to wonder what the Angels could do if and when they get back a healthy Mike Trout. Seems unlikely that they could close the gap, but I’m not close-minded to the possibility.

I am counting out the Rangers. They’re not going to win.

So who do you think will win the American League West?


Who will win the AL West in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Houston Astros
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    Los Angeles Angels
    (1 vote)
  • 46%
    Oakland Athletics
    (13 votes)
  • 10%
    Seattle Mariners
    (3 votes)
28 votes total Vote Now

See you again next week. Thanks for stopping by under these difficult circumstances.