John Otteni

T3: John’s Top 10 Favorite Posts

Continuing our site’s 10th-anniversary extravaganza, I bring you my Top Ten favorite John Posts. It wasn’t easy going through ten years of reviews, which is why I stopped looking after I found ten I at least liked. Whether or not any of the following posts were actually good is debatable. All I know is they are posts I liked at the time and am not too embarrassed by today. Without further ado…

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Worst Wednesday: John

I try not to look back at too much I’ve written on this site, but because it’s our tenth anniversary I agreed it would be fun to reflect on our less than spectacular moments. If anything writing this post was a learning experience. What was it that Batman’s dad said? Something about how we fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up? Yeah, that’s the stuff. Here are all the times I fell.

P.S. I’m not going to provide links to my posts like Colin did because I’m lazy and tired.

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C.A.T. Revisited: Traffic

Traffic – Traffic (1968)

Often we look back to our adolescent years and cringe at the music we once deemed “cool”. As we age so do our tastes in music. What’s weird for me is all my favorite bands in high school were obscure ‘60s groups. The Small Faces, The Move, Ten Years After. Those were the house bands on my iPod. Though if I had to pick one band that most defined my tastes as a moody, long-haired eighteen-year-old it would have to be Traffic. What drove me to listen to all of Traffic’s discography non-stop from 2006-2008? Why did it mean so much to me? I have no idea, but I can try to figure it out.

First off, I discovered one of my favorite bands in high school by way of one of my favorite bands in junior high, Cream. After Cream dissolved in 1969, insane drummer Ginger Baker and Eric “God” Clapton formed the supergroup Blind Faith. This is where I discovered the lead singer of Blind Faith, a gangly, English, 21-year-old with the voice of a Motown soul singer. I am of course referring to Steve “Higher Love” Winwood.

I enjoyed the Blind Faith record but what really caught my ear was Winwood. His ability as a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter separated him from your average British Invader. His talents were more jazz inspired and few could match his ability to belt out the blues. I was trying to think of who Winwood reminded me of and I think I’ve made up my mind. Steve Winwood is like the white Ray Charles… If Ray Charles wrote songs about gypsies and eagles.

So I put on my time helmet, traveled back to 1967 and fell in love with Winwood and his most notable group, Traffic. Their debut record Mr. Fantasy is a dizzying mishmash of psychedelia, blues, and middle eastern folk. It’s out there and doesn’t always work but when it does it’s fantastic. It was an important album in my life and helped prepare me for today’s album in question.

The self-titled Traffic was released in 1968 and featured a far less psychedelic yet far more accessible batch of songs. Much like the first Traffic album the track listing is evenly divided between guitarist/lead vocalist Dave Mason’s songs and drummer Jim Capaldi and other lead vocalist Steve Winwood’s songs. While Capaldi and Winwood trend more jazz, Mason is a tried-and-true pop songwriter. His most notable contribution being “Feelin’ Alright?” which would go on to be the signature song of Joe Cocker.

If Steve Winwood is underrated then Dave Mason is under-underrated. An accomplished songwriter, Mason’s greatness has always been overshadowed by his proximity to the greatness of others. Such greatness includes; playing 12 string acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower”, singing backup vocals on “Crosstown Traffic”, playing the Shenai on the Stone’s “Street Fighting Man” and Mellotron on “Factory Girl”. He was almost in Derek & the Dominos, played in the mid-90s version of Fleetwood Mac and even sang a duet with Michael Jackson in 1980. But how many people know his name? Not enough.

Jim Capaldi is another gem in the rough. Playing a variety of percussion instruments in addition to singing and drumming duties, Capaldi was the driving force of the band alongside Winwood. The only other member to play in every version of the ever-shuffling band, Capaldi was probably the best collaborator Winwood ever had.

Chris Wood rounds out the quartet on sax and flute and helped to distinguish the band’s unique jazz and folk sound. Much like Jon Lord made Deep Purple unique for playing the organ in a hard rock band, or Rob Lind playing sax in garage band the Sonics, Chris Wood provided this psychedelic blues outfit another dimension absent from the music of their contemporaries.

But the songs are what make it for me. “Pearly Queen” is like a long-lost Cream song, “Don’t Be Sad” is a soulful sing-a-long that wouldn’t feel out of place in Levon Helm and the Band’s catalog. “Who Knows What Tomorrow Bring” is hella cool. “Feelin’ Alright?” is iconic. The back half of the album brings the folk and the funk. I was amazed how easy it was to fall back into this record.

Why did this band, this album speak to me? I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I like it. It doesn’t seem to trend with most of my musical tastes. It’s an outlier, an enigma. Maybe it’s just good. Whatever the reason it was my first “Classic Album Tuesday” and I’m proud of it.

Favorite Tracks: “Don’t Be Sad,” “No Time to Live,” “Pearly Queen”

The Big Ten

February 2008. The U.S. stock market indices plunge more than 3% after a report shows signs of economic recession. Amy Winehouse takes home Record of the Year for her hit song “Rehab” at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards. Fool’s Gold starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson is the #1 movie at the Box Office, and a fresh-faced junior Senator from Illinois captures the hearts and minds of a nation. This was the world Mildly Pleased was born into.

February 2018. The Dow Jones share index closes down at its biggest drop since 2008. Bruno Mars takes home Record of the Year for his hit song “24K Magic” at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Fifty Shades Freed is the top movie at the Box Office. Also, the president is a racist grandpa and some guy launched his car into space. Needless to say, a lot has changed, but one thing has remained the same. MildlyPleased.com and today is our 10th Anniversary.

Yes, for ten years now we have delivered some of the most mildly pleasing movie, music, and video game reviews. We’ve recorded podcasts and made controversial videos about Brendan Fraser being fat. Take it from our good friend Adolfuis on YouTube “You Guys are scum.” Well, we’re always trying to better ourselves Adolfuis, and I like to think after ten years we’re a little closer.

To commemorate this milestone we’ve put together a week of themed posts. Here’s the breakdown:

Tuesday – Classic Album Tuesdays – Revisited: We revisit our first ever selections for “Classic Album Tuesday”.

Wednesday – Worst Wednesday: We reflect on our less than stellar musings.

Thursday – Top Ten Favorite Reviews: We discuss our favorite pieces of pop culture we’ve reviewed on the site.

Friday: We announce our first inductee into the “Mildly Pleased Hall of Fame”

We hope you enjoy our celebration and would like to thank every writer, reader and spam bot who has ever crossed paths with this blog. Now let’s see how much longer we can keep this dream alive.

Thanks, everybody!

C.A.T.: White Light/White Heat

The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (1968)

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of White Light/White Heat. Like to the day. It was released EXACTLY fifty years ago TODAY. Just want that to sink in. Now onto this week’s “Classic Album Tuesday”.

I got into The Velvet Underground when I was in college and have vivid memories of how the Velvet’s consumed my life for the better half of a year. It started during a “Class 3 Killstorm” which is an extreme way of saying it was during winter when it was snowy. Cooped up inside, I paged through my Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums magazine and decided it was time to go underground.

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John’s Top Ten Movies of 2017

It’s weird that 2017 was down year at the box office. Weird because I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed so many mainstream blockbusters. Even second-tier stock like the third Thor film was great–no offense Thor. My favorite genre, horror, is thriving thanks to high concepts and modest budgets. Indie and foreign movies are as insightful as always and animation is in a good place too, minus that movie where Patrick Stewart plays a piece of shit.

Yet theaters are struggling. The landscape is changing. Whether or not this is good or bad is yet to be known. Will multiplexes vanish over the next decade? Will streaming reign supreme? Hey, as long as the movies are good I’m happy. Here are ten movies from this year (plus a few others) I thought were good.

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Shape of You

The Shape of Water

Earlier this year, Universal Pictures unveiled their plans for a “Dark Universe”. This entailed a series of reboots of classic Universal Monster films like The Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Like The Marvel Universe, all of these characters would interact with each other in various ways in a shared continuity.

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