Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the cozy little hideaway for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Please come and join us for a spell. Let us check your hat and coat. Don’t lose that ticket. There’s still a table near the fire if you want to get warm. Come in and relax. Bring your own beverage.
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.
Last week, I asked you who was your favorite Cub of the 1960s. Which I admitted was like picking your favorite child. But with 33 percent of the vote, you picked Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, as your favorite Cubs player of the sixties. In second place with 29 percent was Sweet Swinging Billy Williams. Ron Santo was in third place with 13 percent.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Depending on when and where you read this, it’s Mardi Gras today. And while several places in the United States celebrate Mardi Gras, no one does it better than New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. So I thought I’d had to bring you the most famous composition by Henry Roeland Byrd, aka Professor Longhair, “Mardi Gras in New Orleans.” (Also called “Go to the Mardi Gras” in some versions.)
I said I wanted to write about a Sidney Poitier film ever since the film titan died last month. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched several Poitier films, but the one I decided to write about was his very first film, 1950’s No Way Out, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. And I will write about it. Not tonight, but for the Wednesday night/Thursday morning edition. I had intended to write about it tonight, but taking care of family matters delayed me finishing it early and then the news from the labor talks made me fear that whatever I wrote would get overshadowed by either good news or bad news on that front.
So I promise to write about this remarkable and explosive film that marked Poitier’s film debut (and Ossie Davis’s debut as well in an uncredited role) later in the week.
But to give us all something to talk about, I did finally get around to watching director Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun (2021) over the weekend. The film is Anderson’s love letter to the glory days of The New Yorker and a general idea of journalism and writing that is free from the demands of the marketplace. Like most Anderson films, especially his recent works, there’s a real sense of wistfulness about times and institutions long gone. It’s also full of all the Wes Anderson quirks that you’re familiar with if you’ve seen any of his films and especially if you’ve seen The Grand Budapest Hotel.
I get that a lot of people find all those Anderson quirks really annoying. The French Dispatch has Anderson’s eccentric touches such as actors who recite their lines without emotion, brightly-colored and unreal looking sets, shifting between different frame ratios and even animated scenes in this one. If you like that stuff, you’ll like The French Dispatch. If you didn’t like Anderson’s previous films, then this one is not going to make you change your mind.
I think Anderson has made four great films: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The animated Fantastic Mr. Fox is close behind those four. I enjoyed the other Anderson films, but I don’t think they stand up in quality to those five. I’d lump The French Dispatch in with those other films. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was Anderson at his best. It might be Anderson at his most eccentric, and that might be to its detriment. Some of The French Dispatch works and some of it doesn’t.
The French Dispatch is an attempt to do a comedic version of The New Yorker (or at least the glory days of The New Yorker from the 1920s to the 1970s) as a movie. The framing of the movie is that it’s the final issue of the magazine. There are three main stories and one short piece in which one of the writers narrates a story while it is acted out on the screen. Of the four stories, the final one, narrated and acted out by Jeffrey Wright about a kidnapped child probably works the best. “It was supposed to be an article about a famous chef,” deadpans editor Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray) “It was, in part,” replies writer Roebuck Wright (Wright).
But I will never forget the one piece of advice that Howitzer gives to his writers in the film: “Try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose.” Any writer who has ever doubted their ability (which is every good writer) can relate to that line.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.
As I write this, the players and owners are still talking, having blown past their midnight deadline. Unless they mean midnight California time or midnight Hawaii time. So that makes anything I ask at risk of being out of date by the time that most of you read it in the morning.
So I’m just going to ask you a question about the minor leagues. It’s something I know of and something that won’t be out of date by this morning.
My question is how much do you follow the minors? Do you go to the games? Do you watch them on milb.tv or on Marquee? Or do you just follow the recaps on how the prospects are doing, either here or elsewhere?
And I don’t necessarily mean the Cubs minor leagues or even the affiliated minors. If you keep an eye on your local team, that counts.
For those of you who don’t follow the minors, I’m just going to restate my claim that there is not a better choice for affordable family fun than minor league baseball. Even if you’re not interested in the players, you should give the experience a chance.
How big a fan are you of the minors?
This poll is closed
I try to get to several games a year
I might catch one in person in a season
I’ll watch the games on the internet or TV
I just check the recaps and stats on prospects
I watch whenever I can—in person or video
I don’t follow the minor leagues at all
Thank you again so much for stopping by. Be sure to get home safely. Tip the waitstaff. We can validate parking. And be sure to stop by again tomorrow night for another edition of BCB After Dark.