John Otteni

Freaky Fridays: Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort (1981)

Powers Boothe has died and I’m sad I haven’t heard much about it. I get it, so many actors and musicians die so frequently. It’s impossible to properly honor them all. Therefore, I thought I’d try my best by talking about my favorite Powers Boothe performance in the grossly underrated 1981 survival thriller Southern Comfort.

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“Your Eyes Could Steal a Sailor from the Sea”

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

(Contains Spoilers)
Out of all the Marvel movies, Guardians of the Galaxy may be the most un-Marvel. Don’t get me wrong, Kevin Feige and his buddies at Marvel have built a good foundation for storytelling. Marvel films are action packed, have great characters, big laughs, and bigger spectacle. They’ve taken classic storylines and timeless characters and made them shine on the big screen. What’s unique about the Guardians of the Galaxy characters is that before these movies they were nothing.

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Rokk Talk Ep. 08: Golden Years

Who’s to say what makes a good year for music? After all, every year is just compiled of 365 days that will see a completely random assortment of independent artists making music that may or may not be good. Well, unless you’re talking about a year like 1967 or 1977, in which lots of scenes and genres, born of the turbulent eras they were made in, produced some of the most lasting music of the rock era. Now which year is better? Well, Colin and John didn’t really debate that. However, that did try to cram in as many shout-outs to great albums while trying not to leave any truly notable ones out (spoiler: they did leave some notable ones out). Continue reading

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Eat Your Heart Out

The Shins – Heartworms

“Do the Shins write catchy songs?” Don’t take this statement as “Do the Shins write good songs?” They do for the most part. I’m asking if any random blue collar slob walked into a karaoke bar and tried to sing any Shins song other than “New Slang“ could they nail even fifty percent of the right notes? I’ve probably heard “Phantom Limb” and “So Says I” hundreds of times but no way could I ever belt those tunes in a sing-a-long. This is a factor that has for years held me be back from loving The Shins. Their songs (or at least singles) are too complicated.

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Freaky Fridays: The Fan

The Fan (1996)

For those who may not have noticed (or cared) baseball season has reared its ugly 178-year-old face once again and will now haunt us for the next five or six months. I’m in a weird place with baseball these days. My love of football has far eclipsed my love for America’s pastime. If we still had a basketball team in Seattle, there’s no doubt in my mind, I’d be more invested in that as well.

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Freaky Fridays: Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th (2009)

If I have learned anything from the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th it’s that the slasher movie is dead. What was once a thriving genre in the 1980s has in the past few decades been reduced to a parody of itself. “Was it all worth it? The need for this derivative, explicitly violent, overly sexualized bastard stepson of cinema?” Let’s find out.

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C.A.T.: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)

Last night I listened to The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady while drinking warm Pepsi and playing Tecmo Super Bowl. It turned what was a relatively quiet evening into an offbeat jazz odyssey. Also, the 1991 Seahawks beat the Jets 28-6. All thanks to the power of jazz. So we’re rolling a smoke and hitching a ride back to 1963 for this week’s Classic Album Tuesday.

I find writing about jazz, particularly for someone not well versed in the genre, challenging. There are no words and the intentions aren’t always clear, but that’s kind of the beauty. It’s how YOU interpret the music. I try to close my eyes and remember what I can. The first thing I recall is the music, swaying in, like a drunk elephant, followed by a bizarre low buzz, like a fart machine. Is it a tuba? An alto, something? I can’t believe it only took me two paragraphs to type “fart machine” describing one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

At first, the whole album has a chaotic feel. Like a circus that keeps piling on attractions and stunts before the previous performance has ended. From what I’ve read, Mingus utilized a great deal of overdubbing, piling on more and more instruments and unique sounds throughout the recording process. Himself a talented double bass player, Mingus is accompanied by the equivalent of a small chamber orchestra in a ten-piece backing band. Even instruments I wouldn’t associate with this bluesy kind of jazz are included like classical guitar and flute.

I could name the names of all the talented musicians on this record, or at least copy and paste their names–I don’t know any of them, but I’m told they’re amazing–but why do that when Mingus himself can do that right here. If you don’t feel like clicking on that, it’s a link to the album’s liner notes, written by Mingus. He’s very technical in breaking down the album, which is broken into four tracks and six modes like a ballet. I was surprised considering the album has an improvised vibe. Apparently, Mingus planned much of this in workshops and had a specific vision. The greats always do.

I find it interesting to note that the rest of the liner notes for this album were written by Mingus’ personal psychologist, Dr. Edmund Pollock. Though I don’t know the nature of their relationship the liner notes are not weird or science-y. Pollock is complimentary towards a musician often called, “The Angry Man of Jazz.” One of my favorite comments is when he says Mingus is in “great pain and anguish because he loves.” What a beautiful way to describe music as a vehicle for personal expression.

The album isn’t all downbeat rhythms and melodies. There are moments of elation when Mingus switches to playing piano as cherubic flutes play overhead. It’s the kind of album that can’t be listened to in pieces. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is a symphony, with all its highs and lows. There’s too much to take in on a first listen. It’s the kind of album you can listen to one hundred times and always hear something new. I look forward to hearing it again when the 1991 Seahawks go to the Super Bowl. Go jazz!