Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Night - The Band That You Should Be Listening To Right Now

In the Summer of 2003 I was visiting my boy Flanksteak and he said, "You gotta checkout this band that was on Jimmy Kimmel." The band was Kings of Leon. A few weeks later they released an EP and it was love at first listen. In August of 2003, Flanksteak, Vanwarmer and myself had the pleasure of seeing the Kings of Leon play at Lollapalooza. They walked on stage looking as if they had stepped out of a Dodge Van Time Machine from sometime in the mid 1970's and blew us all away with their mix of southern rock, classic rock and alternative goodness. The band consists of 3 sons of a preacher, the Followill brothers Nathan, Caleb, and Jared, and their cousin Matthew.

Since 2003 they have released one EP and four albums. Their most recent Only By the Night came out this past Tuesday and once again like the previous albums it does not disappoint.

Below are a few of their tunes, one from each album, starting from oldest to most recent. Be prepared to have your socks rocked off. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Housekeeping

It's been nearly a week since I put something new up on my blog and I can't believe it. I think I have finally recovered from my life changing Ben Folds Five extravaganza and I will get back on my regular schedule starting tomorrow.

In the mean time let's start the week off right with some musical humor. I think everyone is a bit stressed out so here are a few things that will hopefully at least give you a chuckle. I will just leave it with the current masters of musical comedy: Flight of the Conchords.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tales From the South - The Show!

I'm going to give up on the running diary and just get to the goods here. At this point it is late Thursday afternoon and we have showered, changed our clothes and freshened up and we are ready to head up to Chapel Hill. For those of you not that interested in college sports, Chapel Hill, NC is the home of the UNC Tarheels the dreaded rivals of Duke. I thought about wearing some of my newly purchased Duke paraphernalia but cooler heads prevail. I decide to go with a home made Ben Folds Five t-shirt that I made 5 years ago. I realize it is a big concert no no to wear the shirt of the band you are going to see. However, I feel like if it is your favorite band of all time, reunited, and the shirt is home made and obscure then go for it. Speaking of obscure, Vanwarmer had decided to make himself a t-shirt as well - a picture of the real Reinhold Messner, just his face, no words, nothing else. More on that later.

We arrive in Chapel Hill without incident and Vanwarmer drops me off in front of the venue and goes to find parking. I find myself pacing in front of the venue, looking at all of the people. Are they really fans? From whence have they came? The only observation I come up with is this - Ben Folds Five fans are not very attractive.

Vanwarmer returns and we decide to go find some highly caffeinated (but legal) beverages to make sure that we are not fatigued for the show. We begin to cut across the street but Vanwarmer pauses and says, "Let's head up this street instead." I'm not sure if it was fate or the Universe or if something whispered sweet nothings to Vanwarmer but we headed north instead of east. We walk for a few minutes and then I stop dead in my tracks. Walking right past us in the opposite direction is none other than Darren Jessee the drummer of Ben Folds Five. I've always had a soft spot for Darren because once at the X96 BASH he went out of his way to sign an autograph for Flanksteak and Big Al so I knew he'd be a cool guy. However, he was walking with a lady friend and I didn't want to bother them. We proceeded to follow them back to the side of the venue and then Darren kissed his lady and bid her adieu. "Darren!" Vanwarmer half shouted at Darren. He turned and we approached him. He was his usual cool self, engaged in a short conversation with us where I basically just gushed about my man love for him and his bands. We then got some photos and wished him luck with the show.

It is difficult to see but please note that Darren placed his hand on my back ever so gently.

You can see in this pic Vanwarmer's home made Messner t-shirt. As Darren shook our hands and walked away he said, "That's a great shirt..." to Vanwarmer which made his efforts to create said shirt even better. Always good when the band gets the joke.

So we get to our seats and soon after Darren comes out. His band Hotel Lights is opening the show, which is really just him and one other guy. Darren plays his heart out. Hotel Lights is very singer/songwriter quiet stuff. For some reason either the crowd doesn't realize that this is Darren Fn Jessee of the band that they have come to see or they are just rude, but they talked and talked over his set as if he were some random opening act. I was VERY angry about that. It didn't damper my mood, luckily. During his last song I decide to try and take a short video clip on my phone. Immediately a security guard rushes up the stairs to my seat and takes my phone away. Awesome. I have now lost communication with Wheels. Again, not going to put a damper on my night.

About 20 min later the moment finally arrives. Ben Folds, Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge walk out to a standing ovation. At least the crowd is into it now. Without many words or fanfare the boys take their instruments and break into the familiar intro to "Narcolepsy." Ben plays softly on the piano and then Robert on his bass and Darren jump in with a loud crescendo. At this point I am honestly choking back tears. I never thought I would be able to see these 3 play together as a cohesive unit. I have seen Ben Folds Five 7 times (before this show) and seen Ben solo and with other band members at least 7 more. However, there is nothing quite like seeing them play together. Each band member has a different personality that brings something to the table. Their harmonies are unbelievable and their talent is without peer (granted I'm biased) but anyone who sees Ben Folds Five in person is immediately won over.

The boys proceeded to play the entire Reinhold Messner album. One of the highlights of the night was when Ben's dad, Dean Folds, wandered out with a notecard and read word for word a rambling answering machine message that he had left over ten years on Ben's machine. It was hilarious but also a little touching (you can see that I was an emotional roller coaster at this point).

After a short break they returned to play some additional hits and favorites. I can't complain about the setlist. Of course I would have wanted them to keep playing. 3 days later if they had continued playing I'd still be there. Truly an amazing experience. The greatest musical experience and frankly a top 5 non musical experience, of my life. I'd like to get into more detail but I realize that most of the readers of the Skog Blog have no real connection with Ben Folds Five and perhaps wouldn't understand. However, if anyone wants to wax poetic about the love of a band send me an email and I'll bore you with all of the details.

Here is the setlist:

Set list
The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner"Narcolepsy" "Don't Change Your Plans" "Mess" "Magic" "Hospital Song" "Army" "Your Redneck Past" "Your Most Valuable Possession" "Regrets" "Jane" "Lullabye"
[Break for three minutes]
"Jackson Cannery" "Eddie Walker" "Selfless, Cold & Composed" "Battle of Who Could Care Less" "Where's Summer B.?""Julianne""Song for the Dumped"

As stated above, the venue was CRRRRAZY about cameras so I obviously didn't get any pics of my own. Here are some taken by Emily Shur of the Independent Weekly paper based in Durham, NC.

I want to publicly thank Corbie for her generosity. Without her I wouldn't have been able to go and although she tries to play it cool about it, her kindness needs not be hidden behind the scenes on this one. And of course, special thanks to Wheels for allowing me to leave for the time of my life while she stayed home with two ornery kids. Love you Wheels... And once again I would like to say to everyone here as Ben sings at the end of Lullabye, "Good night, good night sweet baby... the world has more for you... than it seems, good night, good night... Let the moonlight take the lid off your dreams."

(I'll told you I'd get cheesy if I kept going... Ok I'm done now.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tales From the South - The Journey

Sorry for the delay on the report of the greatest musical event in the history of time. Since arriving home on Friday morn I have been making amends with Wheels and assisting my padres with their move to the promised land. Without further ado...

For those of you who thought the Yellowstone blog was long and pointless - stop reading now. When KG and Vanwarmer decided to head to the South I figured a running diary was the best way to record the events. Here is what transpired:

September 17, 2008

9:00 – Got a cold Dew. Packed and on my way. KRCL is playing some hits. Life is good.

9:13 – Son of a… Just realized I left the ticket that I had sold on eBay at home.

9:32 – Ok, back on the road. Once again life is good.

10:01 – Economy lot parking – not a problem. 11B right next to the shuttle pickup.

10:03 – Riding the shuttle. Apparently our driver tonight is John Locke and he doesn’t realize that the large letters painted white in ALL CAPS on the road mean that you should bring the shuttle to a halt, look both ways and then carry on. No brakes, no worries.

10:08 – Step off Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and head into the terminal.

10:14 – check in went without a hitch heading to security.

10:17 – the strange looking TSA fellow stamps my boarding pass and says, “you have been chosen to receive additional screening, please pick up a red bin.”

“What does that mean?” I inquire politely.

“It means they are going to search your bags and you must go through the Puffer Machine,” states the agent (quite racistly)

10:20 - I proceed through security as normal and the woman says, “Hey, you didn’t go through the Puffer Machine.”

“What the F*** is a puffer machine?” I retort (ok no I didn’t)
”I have no idea what the puffer machine is…” I say as innocently as possible.

“Right there, it’s going to blow some air at you so don’t be startled.”

10:22 - I step into the Puffer Machine. A woman’s robotic voice (you know the voice) says, “please remain still” and other standard directions as if I were getting on a rollercoaster. Sure enough my face and back are greeted with a few puffs of air. I’m not sure exactly who would be startled by this. It was not exactly a blast it was more like an old man cutting a stale fart in your direction from a few feet away.

10:23 – Apparently I passed the Puffer Test. Then the same lady as before (not the robotic voice the other lady) herds me into some sort of plexi-glass corridor. There I am told to wait.

10:24 – A non-threatening ethnic fellow then puts on some latex gloves and tells me to follow him.

10:25 – My mind races, what now? I follow the man out of the corridor and over where a few ladies are rifling through my backpack.

10:27 – They are now using pliers and something that looks like a gauze pad to swab out my shoes and then the gauze is placed into a machine.

10:30 – Done. Good grief. No pat down and apparently I passed. Seriously, I feel much safer now. Special thanks to the SLC International Airport staff. I know nothing is getting by that top notch squad.

10:36 – Vanwarmer has arrived and he took the following classy pic of KG typing up this very diary. Imagine that.

Non diary sidenote - I would like to apologize up front for the pastie white legs. These legs will be making several appearances in this blog so please be prepared. Also FYI - do not wear black socks, black shoes, and khaki shorts when your legs are pastie because it increases the pastie factor tenfold. In my defense, it was Wednesday night and therefore it was okay for me to be wearing my business socks. Ok, back to the diary...

10:40 - Good news. Big Buddah from Fox 13 Morning News is on our flight.

10:52 - Vanwamer returns with a bagel, a Vanilla Bean Frappucino and a bag of cashews. He asks me to guess the tab. My head says $14, my gut says $12, I go with my gut and lose. Total tab = $14.43.

11:40 - We finally board the plane. I am given a few dirty looks by the ticket takers because of my security clearance issues.

11:42 - Good news Big Buddah is sitting in the row behind us and not between Vanwarmer and myself.

September 18, 2008

12:01 - The sassy red headed flight attendant in the Delta safety video tells us how to be safe, blah blah blah. I'm more interested in the trivia game on the headset in front of me.

12:15 - We're in the air and I've won the first round of trivia. Take that Big Buddah and Vanwarmer.

12:20 - 7:00 - I'm awake... I'm not awake... I'm awake... I'm not awake. Although I must have slept more than I thought I did because I barely remember anything about the flight.

7:01 - We arrive in JFK. My first trip to NYC. I am incredibly excited.

7:05 - Vanwarmer figures out that our gate has changed. We scramble over to the other concourse and await our trip to Durham.

7:13 - Vanwarmer needs food. We wander into some kind of time warp 1980's food court/arcade and instead of food his eyes are drawn towards the Ms. Pacman/Galaga game.

"Which do you want to play?" Vanwarmer asks me?

"I don't know, how about Galaga." I reply.

"It's your funeral." Vanwarmer humbly states.

7:18 - Vanwarmer is still rocking. He proceeds to pass 14 phases before he dies for the first time.

7:19 - I passed phase one and died. I suck at Galaga.

7:28 - Final score - Vanwarmer 168,000 - KG - 15,000. Screw Galaga.

7:30 (eastern time mind you) - Vanwarmer needs more food so we head out to find something tasty to eat.

7:32 - decisions, decisions...

7:35 - Vanwarmer decides to stick with a croissanwich (sp??) - probably for the best when your body clock is at 5:35 am.

7:41 - Just in case you needed more proof of the iPod world domination. The iPod vending machine.

7:41 (and 30 seconds) - I still hate iPods but I love that girl's shoes.

8:02 - Our tickets are torn, we head down the ramp, open up a door and what the hell? There is a bus waiting for us. I think my magic COCOnut tree travel agent could have warned us that we'd be making a 7 hour bus trip from NYC to NC.

8:04 - Phew the bus takes us to a plane. I was so worried.

8:05 - We walk up and board the plane on some little steps. Either we are getting on Air Force One or we have suddenly been transported to Osorno, Chile.

8:20 - In the air and once again I'm out...

10:05 - We are in NC. I can't believe it. We wait for our Avis Car rental shuttle. It seems that Avis must not be too popular in NC because we've seen every other possible shuttle but Avis. Meanwhile people smoke and smoke and smoke. Tobacco Road isn't just a clever name for North Carolina.

10:22 - We arrive at Avis and our spirits are high. Only 1 group of people in front of Vanwarmer and the radio station is playing hit after hit.

10:36 - Still waiting...

10:41 - Still waiting... fatigue setting in...

10:42 - The familiar strains of Eddie Money blast through the speakers and we are treated to "Two Tickets to Paradise." The irony is not lost on us. Our spirits soar.

10:47 - We have a car. A sweet ride... something to be proud of. Yep this is how we roll. We spare no expense when it comes to this trip...

Photo doesn't do it justice. That baby is a lime green Ford Focus. Oh yeah.

11:03 - Check in to the Fairfield Inn. We opt to skip showers and maximize our time.

11:22 - The trusty Garmin leads us to the basketball mecca. We arrive at Duke University.

I am in awe. Check out the architecture. Screw Yellowstone, our next family trip will be to Duke.

11:29 - We found the student center named "The Bryan Center." Flanksteak (also a big Duke fan) sheds a tear as I phone him to inform him of the center's name.

11:34 - We enter the bookstore. I could spend maybe $3 million bucks in this store.

11:50 - I run screaming from the store lest I spend the $3 million dollars that I currently do not possess. I kid. I purchase a few items and we continue our campus tour.

11:58 - As we wander campus we decide to find the Cameron Indoor Stadium. We find Zion and realize that we must be close.

12:01 - You would think Coach K could afford a better car but it appears that he too is rockin a Ford Focus...

12:03 - A few hundred yards past Zion we come across the temple of Zion. I am so excited at this point that I have to untuck my shirt. Keep in mind this isn't a church but it might as well have been... Cameron Indoor Stadium

12:06 - We decide to check the doors and see if per chance it is open. Indeed it is.

12:07 - The gym doors are wide open. I am in shock. It just so happens that girls' practice is just about to begin and there are some guys working on the jumbotron. We spend the next 20 minutes having our own special photo shoot.

I can't even comment on those photos. I don't want to make any snarky comments, not even about my pastie whites. I just want the reverence of the photos to speak for themselves.

1:05 - Leaving Duke, looking for some tasty southern BBQ. Still in awe over my Duke trip. Seriously have my trip just been this I would have boarded a flight home and been happy. Luckily for me there was much better things in store. And they deserve their own blog post.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tales From the South

Stay Tuned Folks For a Mind Blowing Running Diary of Vanwarmer and myself and our journey into the depths of NC for the greatest concert in the HISTORY OF TIME!
(How was that for a teaser?)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tales From the Wilderness

Editors Note: This entry might be the most boring thing ever written. I decided after re-reading this that the only thing worse than a slide show of someone's vacation is a blog posting with photos and snarky comments. Proceed with caution...

This might end up being the longest post in the history of The Skog Blog. So feel free to stop reading at any point this seems monotonous or boring. I would like to present to you - Skog Survivor - Tales From the Wilderness.

Friday Sept 12, 2008

The Skogs, Bells, half of the Skousens and Crazy Sue embark north to the wild lands of Island Park. For some odd reason we decide to drive the 1997 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan (heretofore referred to as "El Duque") thinking that it will allow us to travel in class and luxury. Well 40 miles into our travels near disaster strikes. BING! The check engine light turns on. Do we stop? Do we keep on trucking? Well we decide to tempt fate and keep on trucking. As I drove and having never been to Island Park before I found myself pondering, "would it be more Island or Park?" Sadly, it was neither. It was the wilderness my friends... the Great Outdoors, yea even the Great Unknown. Just take a looksie at our accommodations.

Seriously, one blanket? Only two lamps? One fire place? Do they want us to freeze? And look closely at the grill outside on the covered deck... yep, propane. Propane? I don't grill on anything but charcoal or natural gas. What are we savages?

So how are we supposed to calm the nerves of our children when dealing with such discomfort and rough surroundings? Well the kids made it approximately 47 seconds before heading straight into the Hot Tub.

Here is Pimp Daddy Max enjoying time with his lovely ladies...

With calm nerves and full stomachs the house went to bed in preparation for the first day out with Mother Nature.

Saturday Sept 13, 2008

Bright and early the next morn (and brighter and earlier for some more than others - (Thanks Little Toots!) we headed into the Great Outdoors - Yellowstone. In order to keep a semblance of brevity I will spare you the history of Yellowstone and just provide a few pics with details. As we enter the West entrance we proceed along the highway at a nice cruising speed of 45 mph (which the stern but fair Ranger had explained to us was the top speed in the park as we drove through the gate). Life is good. I'm not sure if it is the Universe, Mother Nature or stronger forces at work but our check engine light turns off. All of the sudden as we come around the bend there is a traffic jam. Brakes are pumped, tires are squealed and our journey is nearly over before it began. "What's the deal?" I soon find out that everyone had stopped to see an (gasp!) Elk!!! An Elk? Well for crap's sakes let's bail out now. I actually stayed in the car because little Toots had needed some sleep (see previous statement above) and had passed out. Here is Sweet Pea enjoying a glimpse of the stunning, traffic stopping Elk.

Next stop was the Midway Geyser Basin which includes some stinky pools, the Grand Prismatic Spring and the Excelsior Glacier. Toots loved it. Covered up her diaper wiff I imagine.

Sweet Pea also loved it.

And Wheels, like some kind of 1980's music video vixen, enjoyed the steam.

The caravan continued onward towards Old Faithful. I knew I was in for something special when I saw this vehicle pull in next to El Duque.
The picture doesn't quite do it justice. This car was amazing. The interior was immaculate, completely restored. It was all I could do to refrain from handing the owner a check for $20,000. They were Canadians though so it would have cost me $21,407 and that might have been just a bit too much.

We soon found out that Old Faithful had just erupted and we had about 1 hour and 15 minutes (give or take 10 min) to wait. So like any good Mormon kids we waited and waited patiently for the money shot. Well even the 10 "take" of the give and take minutes passed and it was apparent that Old Faithful was getting old and was not nearly as faithful. Then out of nowhere a crow (or perhaps a Raven or some sort of black, ominous bird) landed directly in front of the geyser. Soon after another landed. Don't believe me - here's proof:

And then ladies and gents of the Skog Blog I give you Mother Nature's Money Shot...

At that point the natives were getting a little restless. There may or may not have been some screaming by children and adults in El Duque. Sadly we arrived at what ended up being the highlight of the trip but we were in no frame of mind to enjoy it to it's fullest.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls (or maybe the Upper Falls we never figured it out)

Long day. I think Little Toots looks exactly like we all felt. Ready for some much needed sleepy time. Unfortunately Toots had more devious plans for us (again.)

Sunday September 14, 2008

At this point on the trip I was a little tired and punchy. Much like any reader of this blog who has lasted to this point of the travelogue. I'll be more brief.

AB's sweaty back (good grief man it's only 10:30 AM), Priscilla and part of Millie's face at Gibbon Falls

Aerial view of the Artists Paint Pots - if you start on the dirt path on the left side of the picture that white blog next to the wood fence is myself, P, Millie, and Toots. It was a shame there were steps and the stroller couldn't make it up. I was sorely disappointed to miss the hike. Wheels took one for the team and carried on without us. Nicely done Wheels.

On our way to Tower Falls we stopped for a quick shot of the Canyon of the Crescent Moon. Ok I have no idea what it was called but kudos to those of you who got the Last Crusade reference.

And finally we arrived at the Tower Falls (apparently I have a real Waterfall fetish - they call to me...) I would have loved to take a classy family photo that perhaps could be used on a Christmas card or something but instead some old people had either died or decided to retire on the lookout point so after several minutes of waiting I got the following fantastic photos:

Sweet Pea trying to see the falls through a crack in the fence and some old person's butt

And Wheels and poor Toots squished between other old people

That was it for Yellowstone and we headed back to our extremely roughin' it living arrangements. I just so happened to be on dinner duty for Sunday night. I grilled up some of the meanest garlic burgers that Island Park has ever seen. Mikey decided to take my garlic burgers a step further however. If you are queasy do not look at the next picture. If they ever show what was actually in the Ark that melted the faces of the Nazis or what was in the briefcase that Jules and Vincent Vega needed to return so desperately to Marcellus, I would have to imagine this was it:

Even the camera was intimidated and wouldn't take a clear shot of it. It was a bratwurst sandwiched in between 2 garlic burgers with cheese loaded with pepper bacon and all of the usual burger fixins.

Nothing was done to alter any of those pictures. The black and yellow stains on Mikey's face are the real deal.

One might think after eating a burger that would show up on the menu at Chilis called, "The Cardiac Arrest" a person would want to rest. Well not Big Mikey. As soon as he finished the burger he slapped on his Mr. Incredibles outfit and went out to patrol the streets of Island Park with Mr. Freeze. We salute you Mikey. You are a good true American hero.

Monday September 15, 2008

Checkout 11:00 AM. You would think we would have had enough but NO, not the Skogs. We are Survivors! AB sweet talked us all into enjoying a nice, leisurely float down a fork of the Snake River. So we embarked on this journey. However, we quickly realized that in order for our raft to float there needs to be more than 6 inches of water. Our poor raft was dragging on the bottom of the river for most of the journey. 3 hours, 5 miles, and 14 sunburns later we made it.

Because I'm a believer in you have to give and receive some chop busting I will post this picture of myself. Even though it might be the worst possible picture KG has ever taken after roughing it for 3 days. I tried to go the whole time without showering and shaving. Wheels didn't enjoy the no showering part but let's pretend that I didn't just to make the following picture easier to see. And let's pretend I was sticking out my gut for comedic effect (affect) because I was. Or just focus on Toots. That little life jacket on her might be the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

I paddled for 3 hours straight but at least I had a solid crew.

However once we pushed into hour 3, the movie star Millie was passed out, the Skipper Henry was his cantankerous self but Gilligan Toots continued to enjoy life in her own oblivious world.

Lest you think I hated this trip, I didn't. I like to kid. And I'd like to thank the Bells for putting this all together and dragging my butt out for some much needed fresh air and laughs. Good times and good memories.