Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the jumpin’ joint for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cub fans abroad. We hope we can help you get the start of your week off right tonight. We’re waiving the cover charge. There are still a few good tables available. The show will start shortly. 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.
The Cubs took on the Padres tonight in San Diego and shut them out 6-0. Kyle Hendricks came within one out of a shutout. The offense scored six runs, which is the most they’ve scored since they beat the Braves 6-3 on April 27. It was a good game.
Last week, I asked you who you thought was the best team in baseball right now and with 46 percent of the vote, you resoundingly said “The Dodgers.” And that was before the Dodgers swept the Cubs over the weekend. In second place was the Yankees with 17 percent and the Mets were in third with 11 percent of the vote.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you wish. You won’t hurt my feelings.
For our jazz selection tonight, we have pianist McCoy Tyner and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson playing a duet of “African Village.” This is from the Blue Note at 75 concert in 2014. Unfortunately, we’ve lost both of these great talents since then. Hutcherson passed away in 2016 and Tyner joined him in the Great Jazz Club Beyond in 2020.
It’s kind of a poorly-held secret that the movie section of BCB After Dark is mostly a “What’s Josh been watching this week?” column. There are times when I seek out films to specifically to write about, like I did last month when I re-watched What’s Up, Doc?, but mostly I just write about whatever I happened to watch over the previous week.
Normally this works out nicely as I find at least one film that interested me enough to write about. But while I watched a few movies this week, none of them really spoke to me enough to want to do a full essay on them. Nor were any of them bad enough that I could entertainingly make fun of them.
So I thought I’d try writing a few words on a few movies that I watched this week and maybe that will spark some conversation.
The first film that I watched this week is the 1974 paranoid political thriller The Parallax View, starring Warren Beatty and directed by Alan J. Pakula. It’s the second of three otherwise-unrelated films in the seventies by Pakula that form his “paranoia trilogy.” The first was 1971’s Klute and the final one was 1976’s All The President’s Men.
The Parallax View is considered a classic in the sub-category of “conspiracy thrillers” that were quite popular in the mid-seventies. However, while it wasn’t bad, it didn’t do a lot for me. It’s certainly gorgeous to look at, but I had trouble getting caught up with the story. Beatty plays a reporter who starts looking into the events surrounding the assassination of a presidential candidate a few years earlier and how many of the witnesses to the murder start mysteriously dying. Beatty method-acts this thing to the core and his character gets sucked into this conspiracy to the point where he loses track of whether he’s investigating the conspiracy or he’s become part of the conspiracy. But his character, Joseph Fraidy, is also the audience’s only entry point to the story and his disorientation gets dragged on to us as well.
I also don’t think I was really in the mood for a conspiracy thriller. Conspiracy theories can make for great movies (see The Manchurian Candidate), but they just don’t seem all that funny in this day and age of QAnon. Obviously The Parallax View was made in the aftermath of the political assassinations of the 1960s and by the 1970s, a lot of people were making a whole heck of a lot of money writing that they were all part of a gigantic conspiracy. Although none of them could really agree on what that conspiracy actually was or who was behind it.
Seriously, we are all in trouble if Hollywood ever makes a QAnon movie. People may tell themselves that it’s all just a movie and not real, but these conspiracy theory movies do really feed a conspiracy mindset.
Still, I don’t want to debate conspiracies with anyone (because if anyone knows anything about conspiracists, if you don’t agree with them you’re either a dupe or part of the conspiracy, so you can’t win), and I do like some conspiracy thrillers. I may have to rewatch The Parallax View because I might just be missing something, but I’d recommend The Conversation, Three Days of the Condor or even All the President’s Men before The Parallax View. It’s not a bad film, I just think there are better ones out there.
I caught the end of 1933’s Footlight Parade, on Turner Classic Movies, which is a film I’ve seen several times and love. I probably could have written about it this week and I may write about it some time in the future. The reason I probably haven’t already is the musical number “Shanghai Lil.” As they were doing “Shanghai Lil,” the first thing I could think of was “Is TCM showing Ruby Keeler in yellowface for Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month?” No, of course they weren’t. It was actually part of their tribute to choreographer Busby Berkeley. It was just a bad coincidence.
But despite how the “Shanghai Lil” number is based on a racist stereotype and features a white actress made up to look Chinese, it’s hard to deny that it’s a great song-and-dance routine. Watching James Cagney and Ruby Keeler sing and dance their way through a Chinese opium den is really a lot of fun. The song is also catchy as hell. I feel bad for loving it.
I suppose all one can do in a case like this is to acknowledge the times it was created in and that the scene is racially offensive. You can also say that probably no one involved in the making of the scene thought they were being offensive. They just never questioned the assumptions of their times. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, even if we praise it for other reasons.
Also, I was watching an episode of The Flight Attendant over the weekend and a character was watching Footlight Parade on television. I have no idea what that means, but it was certainly weird for me.
Finally, I watched 1930’s Morocco, directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper. Dietrich is a cabaret singer and Cooper is a member of the French Foreign Legion who meet in Morocco. Adolphe Menjou plays a rich businessman who also falls in love with Dietrich’s Amy Jolly to provide the love triangle.
Morocco was the first American film that von Sternberg and Dietrich made. Paramount had the US rights to von Sternberg and Dietrich in The Blue Angel and they were so excited by that movie that they signed both of them to leave Germany and come over to the US and make movies for them instead. They did that even before The Blue Angel was released and became a hit.
Paramount saw Dietrich as their chance to have their own version of M-G-M’s Greta Garbo—a mysterious and sexy blonde European woman. If that was the goal, then obviously it was “mission accomplished” for Paramount as Dietrich became as big as star as Garbo.
Certainly Morocco shows off the star-power of Dietrich. The most famous number from the film is her dressing up in a top hat and a tuxedo with tails, singing “When Love Dies” and ending it by kissing a woman in the audience. This scene was incredibly scandalous when it came out for the way that Dietrich dressed up as a man and kissed a woman on screen. However, in a world where RuPaul’s Drag Race is a part of the cultural conversation, I wasn’t shocked in the least. It is one of the things that led to the Hays Code in a few years though.
The Dietrich musical numbers are clearly the highlight of the movie. They are very good. The rest of the film is a fairly uninteresting love triangle with a backdrop of European imperialism in Africa. I’d say that the film “otherises” the local Arab population, but for the most part, it just ignores them. They are just there to provide an interesting backdrop. (And it does look good for a film from 1930.) Also, the Arab women looked more like peasants in traditional Mexican garb than anything North African to me. Since the film was shot in Los Angeles, that’s probably what they were. The costumes were probably just accessorized garb left over from a Western.
So that’s a lot of what I’ve been watching this week. Please share your thoughts any movie you’ve been watching over the past week. Or on any of the films I wrote about. Try to avoid the spoilers.
Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movies.
While the Cubs got a great outing from Kyle Hendricks tonight and Wade Miley is starting game two of the Padres series, starting pitching has been a problem. Hendricks got his ERA down to 4.38 with 8 2⁄3 scoreless innings tonight, but before this evening, Drew Smyly was the only Cubs starter with an ERA under 5.00. That’s not a good thing, especially since offense is way down in baseball from last year to this year.
Yet there is a pitcher down in Triple-A who is off to an incredible start: right-hander Caleb Kilian. You should know that Kilian was one of two minor leaguers the Cubs got from the Giants for Kris Bryant. You probably also know that he’s been very good since he came over from San Francisco.
Kilian has made five starts for the Iowa Cubs this year and is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA over 24 2⁄3 innings. The Cubs have tweaked his arsenal since he came over from the Giants and he’s getting a lot more ground balls and giving up fewer home runs this year, despite moving up to Triple-A. His strikeout numbers are also up a little as well. The only downside to Kilian so far is that his walks are way up. He’s walked ten batters so far this year. That’s not a terrible number, but it’s a huge increase from the 13 batters he walked in 100 1⁄3 innings in all of 2021.
So tonight’s question is: When should the Cubs call up Caleb Kilian? The Cubs pitching staff needs help now and it’s hard to argue that he’s not one of the five best starters in the organization at the moment. Should he get the call now?
On the other hand, Kilian is not on the 40-man roster, so calling him up would mean placing someone on waivers (or the 60-day IL). The Cubs are going to do that eventually, but do they have to do that now? Also, 24 innings is not exactly a huge sample size. Sure, Kilian has been good and looked good in Triple-A, but is he ready to make the jump to the major leagues?
Then again, the Cubs may be down at the moment but they definitely aren’t out. They still could contend for one of those expanded Wild Card spots, but they have to start winning now. Tonight was certainly a step in the right direction, but the Cubs need to win at least two out of every three games for a while to get back in it. That’s not going to happen if the starting pitchers give up five runs in two out of every three games.
So should the Cubs call him up now to fix the starting pitching? Should they give him a month or two to make sure that his early-season success is not a fluke? Or maybe they should wait until near the end of the year when he can get his feet wet in games that don’t matter much? Or maybe you think the Cubs should wait until next season so the team doesn’t have to put him on the 40-man roster and start his service time clock.
We’re assuming Kilian stays healthy in this scenario. Obviously if he gets hurt in his next start, that’s going to push back the timeline.
When should the Cubs call up Caleb Kilian?
When should the Cubs call up Caleb Kilian?
This month (May)
June or July
August or September
Thank you again so much for stopping by. If you don’t have a ride home, let us arrange one for you. Unless you’re already home, then just stay where you are. Be sure to tip the waitstaff. And stop by again tomorrow night for another edition of BCB After Dark.