Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cover Song Saturday Night

Welcome friends to another Cover Song Saturday Night. I was trying to find some songs that would tie back to our inaugural Guilty Pleasures Friday Night but I wasn't extremely successful. I hope you enjoy these tunes anyway.

First up we have Jason Lytle doing a nice version of "I Need You" by America. Jason is the lead singer of the now defunct band, Grandaddy.

Next up for the Bread lovers out there I have another of my favorite bands, My Morning Jacket, doing "I Wanna Make It With You..."

Now we have Stevie Wonder doing a funkier version of the "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters.

It is with great sadness that I report to Dave that I was unable to find any good Spice Girl covers by reputable bands. This cover of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" by the always classy Travis will have to do.

And lastly for the requisite Beatles cover I have little Annyong performing "Hey Jude." If I could ever find this cool little kid I would adopt him.

Friday, August 29, 2008

If Lovin "X" is Wrong Then I Don't Wanna Be Right, Part 2

First off I would like to thank everyone for their participation last week. I don't know about all of you but I felt validated knowing that it's ok to love Air Supply. I'm glad that everyone felt comfortable sharing their hidden shames. It was good therapy for all. And frankly I also liked everyones' guilty pleasure, well except for the Chicken In a Biscuit. I could do without those.

Even though I fear that Friday Night Guilty Pleasures is soon going to turn into "KG defends his sexuality Friday Night" tonight I want to discuss a topic of which I'm not really that ashamed. However, as a male it is something that I should not be willing to admit even with a gun pointed at my head. So what I would like to proclaim tonight is, "If lovin' Moulin Rouge is wrong then I don't wanna be right."

I remember the first time I saw the trailer for Moulin Rouge. It was the summer of 2001 and I was sitting in the theater with my friend Jimmy waiting to see the powerhouse flick Blow. I'm not sure why the powers that be would attach the trailer for Moulin Rouge to a movie like Blow but the 99% male audience didn't seem to appreciate it. There were cat calls and as the trailer ended Jimmy looked at me and gave a thumbs down while making a fart type noise. I honestly don't remember if at the time I said anything back to him but in my mind I was enthralled and ready to see the movie as soon as it opened.

I didn't actually get out to see the movie right as it opened. It was a few weeks later. My friends and I headed out to see some other movie that I had already seen (that movie escapes my memory) and as we got to the theater I decided, "screw it, I'm going to see Moulin Rouge." My friends thought I was joking. I wasn't. One friend Matt Aston actually said, "you know what? I want to see it too..." and joined me. You might not believe this but Matt and I were the only males in the audience without some kind of lady friend but I wasn't ashamed. I was excited.

The movie begins with a curtain opening and you can see a small conductor leading the orchestra as they perform the well know 20th Century Fox movie opening. A short overture begins and then the singing starts. John Leguizamo begins with a stirring rendition of "Nature Boy" and I was glued to the screen. Shortly thereafter Ewan McGregor is introduced and at that point I actually did question my own sexuality for a brief moment. I kid. Anyway, I sat mesmerized by the music, the colors, the quick editing. I had always been a fan of musicals but this was unlike anything I had ever seen. By the time the credits rolled and the film ended I sat in my chair, blown away, with tears in my eyes. This was a new kind of musical for a new generation of film fanatics.

The next morning (Saturday) I got up early at headed to Fred Meyer, knowing that it would be one of the only stores open that had some sort of a music section. I quickly found the soundtrack and listened to it on repeat the entire weekend. A few nights later it was a friend of ours' birthday and she wanted to see a movie. I petitioned the group to see Moulin Rouge. The girl said that she heard that the movie was about a French hooker and that it was really skanky (Thanks Christina Aguilera, Pink,Lil'Kim, and Mya!) most likely because of the video for "Lady Marmalade" that was in heavy rotation on MTV. So once again as we arrived at the cinema I excused myself from the group and met up with Matt Aston and his girlfriend and we sat through another screening of the film. This time as "Nature Boy" began I got the chills and the waterworks started as soon as Ewan McGregor said, "the woman I love... is dead."

I ended up seeing Moulin Rouge four times in the theater. I honestly could and would have seen it more if I had a girlfriend at the time. I started feeling a little pathetic wanting to head alone to the movies to see a musical. Luckily for me I met Elise and we bonded over our love of the movie right before it came out on DVD. I purchased 5 copies of the film. I gave one to each of my sisters for Christmas and one to Elise for her birthday. So why did I love the film so much? I'm gonna have to say the music. Baz Luhrmann was a genius to take popular songs and rework them into the musical format. Ewan McGregor gave an unbelievable performance. The passion in his voice when he sings a few of the numbers still gives me chills to this day. So once again let me say, "If Man Lovin Ewan McGregor is wrong..." ooops, I mean, "If Lovin Moulin Rouge is Wrong Then I Don't Wanna Be Right."


Before we get to our Friday Night guilty pleasures I wanted to do some quick housekeeping. I would like to welcome another commenting team to the Skog Blog. Robb and Melissa Enger - friends from our old neighborhood before we moved North. I found out that Robb was into music and Yerba mate and it was love at first sight. Melissa, his sweet wife, makes a mean hmong egg roll. She found out that our sister in law was hmong so she made us a tasty dinner and I ate roughly 38 of them in one sitting. It was my "sensible" dinner for the day as I was doing Slim Fast at the time. Anyway, welcome Engers and checkout their blog link called, strangely enough, "Robb and Melissa's Blog."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dog Face

Speaking of Ingrates... We have a new commenter Dog Face. He probably needs to learn to comment on applicable blogs. I don't appreciate Gomez or Air Supply slander taking the attention off of Neil. Shame on you Dog Face.

Ingrates in Ohio

I usually don't blog during the work day. In fact I could be fired any minute but I just read something so sickening that I had to make a fast (and most likely rushed) statement. As I opened up my Internet Explorer (Homepage is my eyes were immediately drawn to the following headline:

Neil Diamond’s hoarse voice angers fans

Here is the article in its entirety courtesy of

Neil Diamond’s hoarse voice angers fans
Fans are demanding a refund after attending an Ohio concert
The Associated Press
updated 8:43 p.m. MT, Tues., Aug. 26, 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Disappointed Neil Diamond fans are demanding a refund after attending a concert at Ohio State University in which the 67-year-old singer’s voice sounded raspy.

Some fans left the Monday concert early and others said Diamond completed the concert without mentioning anything to the audience about his voice.

A statement from Diamond on Tuesday says a doctor has diagnosed acute laryngitis.

Value City Arena officials are offering a refund to those who put in a request before Sept. 5. Tickets for the concert ranged from $20 to $120.

Diamond, the singer of such hits as “Sweet Caroline” and “Song Sung Blue,” has posted a message on his Web site asking for fans’ forgiveness. Another message says Wednesday’s concert in Green Bay, Wis., will be rescheduled for Sept. 12, and Friday’s concert in St. Louis, Mo., will instead take place Sept. 10.

You ingrateful citizens of Ohio. Seriously. Big Neil isn't even coming to Utah on this tour. I'd go see Neil even if he had his vocal chords removed and they had to wheel him out on stage holding a cardboard guitar just to be in his presence. Shame on you Ohio. Shame on you. I hope the Buckeyes' football team sucks balls this year. You deserve it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Night - The Band You Should Be Listening To RIGHT NOW!

Well it's Monday night. What better time to gather around the old family and check out the latest gimmick brought to you by the Skog Blog. That's right - rather than Family Night it shall be known as the night where KG tries to convince you as to which bands or albums you should be listening. I don't ask for much, ok maybe I do with the "Please share you deepest shame" so let me change it to I don't ask you to do much. However, each Monday night I will give you some homework -either a band or album that I love so very much and all I expect is for you to give them a listen at least once throughout the week.

The band that I am going to force feed you all for the last time tonight (No it's not Ben Folds - surprise!) is Gomez. I love Gomez. They may very well be my favorite band currently on this planet. Gomez formed in England (where let's be honest 95% of the best music ever has originated) in 1996. They were just friends in a band without a name. At one of their first gigs they left a sign on the club door that read, "Gomez, the gig is in here." Gomez was the surname of their friend but most of the club patrons assumed it was the band name and the name stuck.

I first discovered Gomez in 1999. I purchased the soundtrack to the film, "American Beauty" in order to obtain the Elliott Smith version of "Because" (see the previous Cover Song Saturday Night) and heard their song "We Haven't Turned Around." The song was not instantly catchy. In fact a lot of their music doesn't immediately grab you. However if you show a little patience the music grows on you and soon you won't be able to remove it from your head. Once I finally started "getting" the song from American Beauty I marched out to Media Play and purchased the album that contained "We Haven't Turned Around" which was titled "Liquid Skin." Turns out this was their second album and it had just recently been released. Slowly but surely, Liquid Skin worked its way into heavy rotation in my personal playlist. I decided to give their debut album "Bring It On" a try and quickly fell in love with that album as well.

Shortly after Wheels and I were married Gomez released the near masterpiece, "In Our Gun." We were poor newlyweds but after enough begging I convinced Elise that the new album was a NEED and not just a want. I loved the third album nearly as much as the first two. It was also around this time that I saw Gomez live for this first time. Elise and I headed down to the now defunct Club DV8 early enough to secure a booth right in front of the stage. Perfect view, 5 feet from the stage. The opener, a pre-fame Jason Mraz, set a perfect tone for the night - fun, loud, and great music. By the time Gomez cramped itself on the tiny DV8 stage my excitement was at a fever pitch. It was at this point that Gomez launched into the classic "Get Miles" and a large fellow crowded the stage and placed himself directly in front of our booth and blocked my once perfect view. I couldn't have this. This was f***** (freaking of course) GOMEZ! Without thinking twice I realized that the red plastic cup that once housed my $7.00 watered down Coke was flying through the air at a rapid pace and bounced off the back of the head of said large fellow. He glanced back to see what had transpired and I gave him a dirty look and motioned for him to move like an umpire throwing an angry batter out of the game. To my surprise or perhaps not, the Goliath moved and the evening proceeded without incident. The strange thing about this story is not that the Gentle Giant didn't beat me down it was the fact that I wasn't afraid of him doing so. My love for Gomez was such that I feared no man. Come on people. Those that know me would describe me as something that starts with "P" and kinda sort of sounds like "Pushy." If a band can make a wussbag like me want to fight a much larger foe then they must be doing something right.

One other comment about Gomez live. I am not a fan of jam bands. I don't get excited about long guitar or drum solos. However, I have now seen Gomez live 7 times and every song at a Gomez concert sounds like the finale at a regular show. It sounds just as good as their album yet they tweak it just enough to make it special and then end with a bang. It's intense, it's fantastic, it's magical. The band also has 3 singers that alternate between lead vocals and harmonies. It makes every song just a little different.

Still not convinced? Well let's listen to a few clips. Some of you might think "If Gomez is so great why haven't I ever heard of them?" Well most likely you have. Their music has been used on Grey's Anatomy, House, and many movie trailers. Here are a few of my favorites:

Here's the first song I ever heard. Again, it's not going to immediately knock you on your behind. However, give it a few listens. I love the vocals by gravelly voiced singer Ben Ottewell.

Second up - the favorite Gomez of the only real convert I've ever had. My boy Flank Steak. This one's for you pal.

Now I'll share a few that are a little more accessible? I'm not sure if that is the right word to be using here so I'll go with, uh, catchy.

And finally as seen on Grey's Anatomy - Here's one for the ladies...

Alright. Give them a chance. It's all I ask. I've already done enough and my conscience is clean because as the good book says, "If it so be that ye should labor all your days and bring save it be one soul unto Gomez, how great shall be your joy." I got you Flank Steak. I will always love you for that. However, how great shall be my joy if many of you are converted unto Gomez. As for me and my house we shall choose Gomez. Except for Wheels she can't really stand them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cover Song Saturday Night

So welcome to another Cover Song Saturday Night. I have some more Ben Folds favorites to share tonight and some Beatles songs sung by others just for Spammon. Lest you think it is going to turn into Ben Folds Cover Song Saturday Night, these are the last of my good covers by Mr. Folds. As a reminder, in order to enjoy this clips to the fullest you should pause the music player on this page. As tough as it might be to shut off Air Supply just do it.

First up is Ben Folds doing an excellent cover of "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. I'm not sure why I chose this song it just felt right. Oh so very right.

Next up is Ben doing an innovative cover from a Myspace Live Request Concert. The song is "Such Great Heights" my favorite song by the Postal Service.

Finally we have the last Ben Folds cover doing a mean rendition of "In Between Days" by the Cure. I used to hate the Cure and as AB pointed out in my U2 bash last week, I started liking the Cure shortly after I heard this.

Spammon said that Beatles songs sound much better when sung by others. Here is one song where I definitely agree with him. Elliott Smith doing "Because."

And finally. What happens when you combine one of the funnest live bands ever, Guster, with the always delightful Ben Kweller? A fine little live version of "I Saw Her Standing There" by the Beatles.

Friday, August 22, 2008

If Loving "X" is Wrong Then I Don't Wanna Be Right...

During my entire life Friday night has always been a night of guilty pleasures. As a child my first guilty experiences involved eating an Uncle Alligator Kids' Meal from Rax Roast Beef and watching the Dukes of Hazzard while my parents were out on their weekly date. Once Boss Hogg and Rosco had been fooled again by Bo and Luke it was time for my sisters' guilty pleasure. This involved locking me in my bedroom by tying a string from my door knob to the door knob across the hall. With my virgin eyes and ears locked safely away, my sisters would then partake in the raunchy soapfest of Dallas and Dynasty.

As I got older and my virgin eyes and ears began to hit puberty I was drawn to a program on the USA Network called, "UP! All Night." It ran from 7 pm until the wee hours of the morning and was hosted by the skanktastic Rhonda Shear. Up! All Night was a weekly showcase for "B" movies and bad horror flicks. Since USA was a basic cable station these movies were edited down and didn't really have anything too intense or dirty but you still would probably not like to catch your children watching titles such as, "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-a-rama." However, I defy you to find any kid who was between the ages of 10-17 during the 80's and 90's who didn't watch this show with some regularity. Even my sweet wife Wheels knew who Rhonda Shear was without any explanation and she was 7 when the show debuted in 1986.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well tonight I wanted to introduce another gimmick to the Skog Blog cannon. Friday Night Guilty Pleasures. Upon re-reading the blog post where I introduced the commenters on this here blog I realized that I had done a bad thing. I had broken promises and told secrets that were shared with me in confidence. It was not right that I told the blogosphere that Aaron Bell has a love that dare not speak its name with Amy Lee of Evanescense. Really he was trying to work through some issues and I was a bad friend. So to steal a phrase from Dr. Vanwarmer, "If Loving (whatever it is that you secretly love) is wrong then I don't want to be right..." That is my question tonight and every Friday night. Let's all share the things that we love but of which we are secretly ashamed. Let's help each other know that some of these things aren't so bad. Feel free to share with confidence the lame bands that we have on our mp3 players. The tv shows that we TIVO with shame. The shame ends tonight my blogger friends and readers.

So to start off I want to proclaim to you, the readers, that I love Air Supply. I'm not necessarily a hardcore fan but I'll be damned if I don't know every word to their greatest hits. I love that cd. LOVE IT. Perhaps it is because I have 3 older sisters who rocked the Good Air on vinyl. It might have been when my Grandpa's choir performed "You're Every Women In the World To Me" when I was but a young buck. Maybe it's the symmetry of their names (Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock - you can't make this stuff up!) that intrigues me. I'm pretty sure, however, that it's their silky smooth falsettos and breath taking harmonies that make me swoon. So there it is people. Soft rock lives in the G House and thy name is Air Supply.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why Kidz Bop Is A Tool of the Devil

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the youth of the world that Kidz Bop is real music...

Any of us with children spend an inordinate amount of time with the TV set to Nick or the Disney Channel. Video babysitters are the norm for us as parents. Well nothing makes me cringe or as angry as when I see a commercial for Kidz Bop. Seriously. Who buys this crap? Why do we need to hear a group of monotone 8 year old boy tenors sing Green Day or Modest Mouse? Is hearing a bunch of prepubescent girls sing "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand really neccessary?

As parents we need to stop this madness. If our kids want to listen to the latest hits then buy them the real deal. I don't want to hear a six year old sing "I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)" unless it is my child who learned it by listening to the Rolling Stones.

Recently I taught my sweet, young niece Madeline Rose how to upload music to and update her iPod. I thought I had made myself clear as to the rules of what kind of tunes should be put on her music player. I let Taylor Swift slide. I was cool with Camp Rock or the Jonas Bros. Hell even Miley Cyrus was placed into her iTunes library with great care. I bid her good day and left her with her iPod knowledge. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Come to find out that later that night the first album she uploaded on to her iPod on her own was Kidz Bop 58 (or whatever volume they are on - greedy SOBs). I marched down to her house and showed her I meant business.***

Let this be a lesson to you kids. Don't listen to Kidz Bop or Uncle Kirk we'll seriously beat you down...

*** portions of this post were fabricated for dramatic effect (affect). No children were hurt in the creation of this blog post. The Skog Blog and its contributors don't actually practice child beatings or wish any harm to children.

Who Is Vanwarmer?

I have been receiving many emails from all of my avid readers asking who are these random commenters? Well here is a quick breakdown and introduction of those who have posted on the Skog Blog:

Kim - my sister, my neighbor, my personal Shaman and wise woman. You can read more about her on the Recovering Type A link.

Jen - my sister, also my neighbor (we G's are starting a compound - for applications to our cult please send me a private email...) Although she hasn't commented much about the tunes she was one of the first people to introduce me to cool music. I remember looking through her cassettes as a kid and thinking, "What are these Femmes and why are they so Violent?" Read about her on Us On A Good Day.

Brohammas - life long friend, college roommate, fellow Yerba mate drinker and pusher of kava. Check him out at Pages From My Notebook.

Corbie - first middle school crush, resident free thinker, and blog junkie. Don't be fooled by her love of Sawyer Brown she actually has fairly good taste in music. Her only flaw is her Fantasy Football overconfidence. For daily laughs read her at Random Musings.

Aaron - brother in law, big brother, resident Billy Ocean ball buster. Claims to love music from the 80's but is a closet fan of Evanescense so take his music opinions with a grain of salt.

FlankSteak - little brother who has been brainwashed by me. Hence the hatred for all things U2 and similar tastes in everything else. Not a fan of blogs but I will continue to brainwash him until I break him.

Spammon - Corbie's mom's assistant's husband... how's that for an intro? Also happens to be the cousin of the Lelepali brothers, Hagoth, and the late, great Christian. Any Lelepali relative is a friend of mine.

Joshua - Concert buddy, lover of all good music and all around class act.

Utah Fun - brother in law, big brother and resident hunter. Don't let his picture frighten you, his gun really isn't that big.

And finally, Vanwarmer. Who is Dr. Vanwarmer? The man bursts onto the Skog Blog with a dissertation on classic rock. This is a man who has a Phd in not only education but in music and pop culture. I take quite a bit of pride in my music snobbery but compared to Dr. Vanwarmer I am a cast member of "The Hills." A fake snob. The man is an encyclopedia and he will be turning up around her more often hopefully to enlighten and teach us from the School of Rock.

And for those of you who are wondering, No, Vanwarmer is not an alter ego of mine. The man is real. Too real...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cover Song Saturday Night

So all of my favorite blogs have a few gimmicks. Everything from Fortune Cookie Friday to Phone Pic Day to awarding random points to those who comment on their blogs. Well I’ve been pondering some gimmicks and I have a few that should be unveiled here in the next week.

The first of these gimmicks is Cover Song Saturday Night. For those of you without lives or I suppose, those of us with children, Cover Song Saturday Night will give you something to anticipate each week. I will be posting bands or singers that I love doing cover versions of other songs that I enjoy. Some Saturdays you might get 5 songs other weeks you might only get one. I’m sure you are all as thrilled as I am but it’s my blog so I’ll do as I please.

I’ve been receiving some feedback (i.e. complaints) from my older readers. I’m talking the old seabasses in their late 30’s and those pushing 40. They claim that I have been neglecting the 80’s. I’m not sure why they want me to focus on the 1980’s music when I’ve already shown that my taste in the 80’s included Billy Ocean but anyway I’ve taken their criticism to heart. Because of this the first Cover Song Saturday Night belongs to Mr. Ben Folds and Rufus Wainwright doing a lovely version of “Careless Whisper” by Wham. Elise and I saw them perform this the last time we saw Ben Folds in Las Vegas. One of my all-time concert highlights.
Please remember to pause the music player on the right side of this blog in order to fully enjoy the videos.

Just for kicks I wanted to add a few other videos as well. Avid readers of The Skog Blog will enjoy further proof as to why STP = The Doors. Here is Scott Weiland performing “Break On Through to the Other Side” with the surviving members of the Doors on a VH1 Storytellers special.

Also here is U2 doing my favorite Rolling Stones song, “Paint It Black.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who Will Be "Classic Rock" For Our Kids???

As previously stated in my U2 sucks balls rant of a few nights ago, I own over 1000 CDs. I am proud of this collection and I have a bookcase that takes up a good sized wall in which to display my tunes. When Priscilla was first learning to crawl the bookcase was located in our TV room where most of my free time was spent. The newly mobile Priscilla loved to make her way over to the shelves and start chucking CDs as fast as her little hands could pull them off the shelf. One Saturday morning while babysitting her I decided enough was enough so I pulled down a shelf in the closet and pushed the bookcase into said closet where it would remain until we moved. In our new home I was smart enough to put the bookcase in the spare bedroom rather than have my CDs face the wrath of Priscilla and now Mollie’s tiny but speedy and destructive hands.

I look forward to the day, however, when the girls are old enough to want to experience some of the music that I have loved throughout my life. I often ponder which bands are going to stand the test of time? Which band from my generation will be my girls’ Beatles, etc? I have debated this topic with friends in the past. I will post my choices below.

In my opinion the great or most influential “Classic Rock” bands/singers from my parents’ days are:

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and The Grateful Dead.

So here are my closest comparisons with a brief description as to why:

The Beatles = Radiohead.

Tough decision here. My heart wanted R.E.M. as they are my favorite band of all time (other than Gomez but no one cares about Gomez) but Radiohead is more Beatlesesque I would say. Started simple, grew more and more experimental until most people felt they needed to be under the influence to understand their music. Someday my girls might say Coldplay or some other band but for now it's Thom Yorke and the boys.

The Rolling Stones = U2.

This one was easy for me. Egomaniacal lead singer. Iconic guitar player. Will most likely break the record for most “farewell” tours. Don't Mick and Bono make a beautiful couple?

The Doors = Stone Temple Pilots. Again, another easy one in my opinion. Both bands were more liked by fans than music critics. Both bands had extremely talented musicians that were nowhere near as popular as their front men. And Scott Weiland wants to be Jim Morrison so badly that I’m surprised he’s not dead yet. Also, the Doors are probably my favorite of the “Classic” bands and STP is my favorite band of the 90’s. Even more so than more acclaimed bands like Pearl Jam, etc.

Led Zeppelin = Pearl Jam. Nothing much to say here, just makes sense. Both solid bands.

Simon and Garfunkel = Elliott Smith. I’m cheating I suppose since Elliott Smith is one man but he harmonizes with himself as well and Paul and Art ever did.

Bob Dylan = Beck?

This one is tough. I want to say Beck and I’m not the first to compare the two. They are frequently compared but it’s not a perfect match. I’d say both men dabbled in many different genres of music and both had anthems for their generations however Bob Dylan’s lyrics are quite a bit more profound than those of Beck. Help me out here people.

The Grateful Dead = Dave Matthews Band. Both bands have some great songs and lean towards the jam band genre however both are probably loved a little too much by their fans who consider them to be a lot better than they actually are.

So thoughts? Feedback? Let me know your choices.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why I Owe My Life to Neil Diamond

In the climactic scene of the classic film Back to the Future, Marty McFly looks at his family picture and realizes that if his parents George and Lorraine don't dance, kiss, and fall in love at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance then his family would never be. I'm here to tell you today that without Neil Diamond, my family would never be.

I owe my entire life to Neil Diamond. Here is just a short list of gifts that Neil has given unto me:

He gave me a love of music. Some of the earliest memories of my life are singing "Sweet Caroline" in my front room, at my Grandpa's house, and in my Dad's Buick. My parents, Big J and Crazy Sue, were avid Neil Diamond fans. I remember listening to Neil records. Replacing those worn out records with 8-tracks. Trading in the busted up 8-tracks for cassettes and finally upgrading to compact discs.

He gave me a comedy bit. One of my favorite running gags when I get angry is the "I will rent my sleeve" threat. A normal person would suspect that I learned about the renting of sleeves in seminary or by studying the Old Testament. Nope. I discovered this by watching Neil Diamond in his tour de force performance in The Jazz Singer. In the film Neil plays Jess Robin, fledgling Rock Star and son of Rabbi Cantor Rabinovitch (Sir Laurence Olivier). Against his father's wishes Jess leaves his Jewish roots behind and heads to California in hopes of breaking into showbiz. During the film's most poignant scene, as Neil tries to say goodbye to the good Rabbi, he is strongly rebuked, his father rents his sleeve and proclaims, "I have no son." I must have watched that movie recorded from TV on an old VHS tape approximately 3,687 times (or maybe 10 my memory is a bit fuzzy) as a child. Fast forward about 10 years. I am now 17 and I have been waiting for the perfect moment to really take this bit to the next level. For a time I was able to drive the Gyllenskog Family's 1979 Ford Mustang. It was a great car. Loved it. However, shortly thereafter Kim and Aaron get married and some crazy car swapping begins. The Mustang goes to the Skousens. Kim and Aaron take the Skousens' Toyota Tercel and I'm left begging my mom for her car on the weekends. So one Saturday I'm informed that the Bells have decided to purchase a Subaru which means the Skousens are taking back their Tercel and the Mustang has just been returned to its rightful owner, me. The next day as I am sitting in Sacrament Meeting I find out that Kim and Aaron got cold feet and Kim somehow convinced the dealership to take back the Subaru. The Mustang is gone again and my dreams are shattered. I sit there. The rage builds. There is only one thing left to do. It makes perfect sense. I get Kim's attention, I mouth to her, "I have no sister" and I rent the sleeve of my white shirt. Right there in Sacrament Meeting. I ripped it right off. High comedy at its finest.

And last but not least, Neil gave me my family. On November 1st, 2001, Elise and I embarked out on our first real date. We arrived at the E-Center early. We knew there would be no opening band and we didn't want to miss a second. We were nervous. We were excited. Due to our seat location on the side of the arena we had to angle our bodies slightly to see the stage. Our knees touched. Our hands would brush each other at just the right moment. And then Neil came out. Did he rock the house? You bet your ass he did. Was it magic? Of course it was. As Neil led the crowd on the 23rd encore of "Sweet Caroline" Elise and I looked into each others' eyes. My mind raced. I saw myself as a child. I could see MY children in Elise's eyes. It was at that very moment that I KNEW we would be spending the rest of our lives together.

So here's to you Neil Diamond. Thanks for everything.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Girls

For those of you who don't know my girls - here they are:

Elise - my wife, my babe. Also known as "Wheels." We have been married for 6 years. 6 LONG years. I kid, I kid. She claims to not have any "current pics" so here is one of my favorites...

Priscilla - my Sweet Pea. Also known as "Silly Girl" or "Poops."

I realize the above pic probably isn't the best when I say her nickname is "Poops." However it's for alliteration not because of some kind of fecal fascination. That's frosting, come on!

And finally, Mollie Sue, also known as "Toots" for reasons that should be self explanatory.

Why U2 Is NOT the Greatest Band Of My Generation

So my purpose of this blog is not to offend people. I'll try my best to keep it clean. What I have chosen for my first music post however might turn some people off. This is an explosive topic but something that I feel very strongly about. I'm sorry, I might lose some friends but I'm not going to sugar coat my feelings - U2 sucks balls.

Alright U2 is a talented band. I'll give them that. They don't actually suck balls. But I don't like them and I never have. I own over 1000 CDs, I'm talking actual CDs. I have roughly 250 gig of downloaded music that I may or may not have purchased. Let's say they were "found" online. (Screw you for judging me) My vinyl collection is at least 100 albums strong. So, with all of this music at my disposal guess how many U2 albums are found in my collection? None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Granted my vinyl collection is courtesy of my late Grandpa Stratford Loosle (may he rest in peace) so it is mostly show tunes, Neil Diamond and MoTab. What does that have to do with U2 sucking? Nothing. I just wanted to show how hip I was by stating that I have a vinyl collection. I suppose I shouldn't have detailed said collection if I wanted to remain hip, oh well.

Back to the subject at hand. Let's go back to 4th grade. My music taste in 4th grade was less hip than my Grandpa's old records. We got a new stereo for Christmas (that deserves its own post at some point) that included a revolutionary new thing called a "compact disc." Under the Christmas tree I received from my sister Kim a "compact disc" (I'm not sure why she was tipped off about the stereo system but I digress). The CD was the soundtrack to Top Gun. Soon after the following gems made their way into my collection - Billy Ocean - Love Zone and La Bamba.

Yes that Billy Ocean. As you can see from the picture above, Love Zone included such hits as "When the Goin Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going)" and "There'll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)." Anyway, go ahead and laugh. But if you don't get a hop in your step when you hear "When the Goin Gets Tough" or if "Carribean Queen" doesn't but a smile on your face then you are no friend of mine.

I'm rambling now. Focus KG, focus. So we're still in 4th grade for those of you who are still reading. The Joshua Tree bursts on to the scene. Some girls in my grade and a few boys with older brothers (I'm looking at your Matthew Hilbig and Dalyn Montgomery) start talking about this U2 band. My only exposure to them is when I'm watching MTV hoping to see the Fat Boys rapping "Wipe Out" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" or "With or Without You" come on instead and I want to punch myself in the face. I still can't listen to "With or Without You" to this day. Sweet mercy I hate that song. Sure I used to dance with attractive ladies during that damn song at stomps and stake dances but I didn't have to like it. It took all of my concentration to focus on the gentle touch of said attractive gal to displace the anger raging inside of me because of that blasted song. From that point with every subsequent album I hated U2 more and more. Sure they had some good songs. Some I dare say are even great. However, when they get played roughly 10000 times on 10 different stations on any given week (you do the math I'm tired) I don't feel the need to purchase any of their albums to hear the songs.

So if U2 is not the greatest band of my generation, who is? I would say R.E.M. is better. I'll go out on a limb and say Nirvana or Pearl Jam were more influential for my generation. Perhaps I just have more of a soft spot for gay guys who wear eye makeup (I love you Michael Stipe!) rather than egotistical blowhards with a penchant for sunglasses (take a bow Mr. Bono if that is your real name.)

I promise I'm almost done here. I debated this very topic with one of my friends the other night. Although he agreed that R.E.M. is probably the better band, I realized that the main reason I don't like U2 is that I've never given them an actual chance. I brought up this subject with my friend because of the recent re-releases of U2's first albums Boy and War. I'm going to uh, "find" them online (back off Mr. FBI man, what's with all the questions?) and give them a proper spin. Perhaps I will find out that my taste is actually that which indeed sucks balls. I will return and report.

Fine... I'll Do It.

So it's the year 2008. I feel like I'm a pretty internet savvy fellow but I've never made the plunge into the blogosphere. Well after getting urged by my sisters and my chops busted by a few friends, here I am. So why "The Skog Blog" you ask? Well, the aforementioned chop buster above sent me multiple emails reminding me that Skog rhymed with Blog. When discussing this with my sister Jenny she informed me that skogblog was taken. However I quickly realized that "theskogblog" was available and fate intervened and here we are...

As stated in the "About Me" portion of this here blog, I plan to use this space to wax nostalgic about my girls, my love of good tunes, and my addiction to Yerba Mate. Perhaps someday there might even be a harrowing tale of my rehab stay when I decide to get off the buena yerba. Today is not that day.