Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oldies But Goodies

The purpose of 'Oldies But Goodies' is to share either an old favorite album of mine or perhaps a group that got a bad rap as being a one hit wonder when in actuality they were much better than you might remember.

Tonight's selection is the 2001 album musicforthemorningafter by Pete Yorn.

I first heard about Pete Yorn when he was on the Rolling Stone '10 Artists to Watch in 2001' list. This was during the glory days of Napster and even though he had yet to put out a proper album I was able to find several of his songs and download them. Pete's tunes quickly found their way onto my playlist and I picked up this album the day it came out, March 27, 2001.

Later that week I traveled with Big Al out to Los Angeles for the Premiere of the Johnny Depp film, Blow. During the road trip we listened to this album approximately 57 times. Before we left good old Orem, UT, I had seen on Pete Yorn's website that he would be appearing at a record store in Long Beach the day after the movie and since my obsession was borderline stalker at that point of course we made the drive down the PCH to Long Beach to see Pete. We arrived about one hour early, had a quick bite to eat at a nearby cafe and then headed over to a cool little record store that could have been the filming location for High Fidelity called 'Fingerprints.'

Needing to kill some time we browsed the cd selections and noticed that Pete was just wandering and browsing the store as well. I inconspicuously made my way over to Pete's vicinity, we locked eyes and soon HE struck up a conversation with me. I was wearing a Duke T-shirt (they were playing in the final four against Maryland that day) and he mocked my Duke allegiance since he was a Maryland fan. I expressed my love for the album and we discussed his selections - I still remember he purchased If You're Feeling Sinister by Belle and Sebastian and he headed up to the make shift stage and performed a killer acoustic set. Good times.

Flash forward one month and Mr. Yorn just so happened to be playing a dive bar in SLC on my birthday. Big Al, myself and a few other friends arrived a little early to his show and Pete and some band members were playing Golden Tee. I stood there lurking and once again Pete struck up a conversation with me. He did the whole, 'do I know you?' routine and then before I could answer he said, "You're the f!&*ing guy from the f***ing Fingerprints..." Best birthday present I had ever received up to that point in my life. What can I say, I have led a pretty sad life.

Luckily for me musicforthemorningafter has aged well. It had actually been quite awhile since I had listened to the album. While cleaning up our Christmas tree on New Year's Day I was thumbing through my records (I was given an autographed copy of this album on vinyl by my good friend Vanwarmer back in the day) and stumbled across music. As I listened with P I couldn't believe how well the album still holds up - not a wasted track on it. Then last week while chatting with AB or Herms or whatever he calls himself these days, he said, "whatever happened to Pete Yorn?" and I had to break this album out once again. If you haven't heard this album - enjoy it. If you have but don't own it - buy it. I think I have purchased at least 5 copies to give to friends as gifts. Hopefully you'll do the same.

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Music Monday Night

When The Skog Blog first came online Monday Night was the night for new music. Those good old days have returned. The tunes that will be discussed on New Music Monday Night are albums that are either a brand new release or at least a group or album that is new to KG. Thems the rules. There have been many great releases so far this year and I could spend all night sharing them but I should probably save some of them for the upcoming weeks. So tonight let's discuss three albums.

FYI - Instead of posting Youtube clips as I have done in the past, I have used a different service. You can click on the links to give the song clips a listen or right click them and 'save as' if you happen to enjoy them.

First up - Grrrr - Bishop Allen.

I know what you are thinking, I really do. 'Seriously, enough with the Bishop Allen crap.' Sorry folks, I will continue to promote this band until I have converted every family member and friend that I have. I had the pleasure of seeing them live once again this past Thursday and it was a much better decision than sitting home and watching Duke get knocked out of the NCAA tourney by 25 points. I defy you to listen to these songs and not have either the urge to dance or at least smile. I told Wheels after listening to this album non stop for several days this was the kind of album that you want to blast while driving the coast of California in a convertible and singing at the top of your lungs. Get it now so you can memorize the songs before Summer - that is if it ever stops snowing this year.

Speaking of Duke, here is an album that unlike the Blue Devils' hoops team, won't let you down. The Duke Spirit. They are a band based out of the UK and to be honest I'm not sure what this album is called. In some places it is called Neptune but apparently you can buy it at Target and it is a self titled album. Find it, buy it, or download it. The lead singer of The Duke Spirit is a modern day Grace Slick and this album sounds like the soundtrack to the best Guy Ritchie flick that has yet to be filmed.

On March 31 (tomorrow) the most anticipated album of 2009 so far will be released. Skog Blog Favorites, Gomez, return with their sixth studio album, A New Tide. I was able to obtain an advanced copy of the album and trust me it does not disappoint.

One thing to keep in mind with a Gomez album - it is not going to blow you away upon first listen. You need to give it several listens and each time you will uncover a different reason to give it another spin. That's not to say that it's dull or unremarkable. It's layered, complex and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The New and Improved Skog Blog

Here at the Skog Home we are finally settling into a semi groove with the Little Rockstar and our new life as parents of three. Because of this I have decided to attempt to bring the Skog Blog back to its former glory and perhaps even improve it. We shall see. Realistically it won't be much different than it was in the past other than adding a few new gimmicks that will be explained as we go along. Please refer to the handy 'Skog Blog Schedule' to your left.

As King of the Skog Blog, I have decreed that Sunday Nights will forever more be known as 'The Skog Family Week in Review.' The Mission Statement of the Skog Blog states that this blog will discuss My Girls, My Music and My Yerba Mate. I figure that if I keep to the schedule it will allow those that might only have an interest in one or two of the Skog Blog missions to read on those days that are applicable to their interests. Of course, everyone is more than welcome to visit us everyday and join in the discussions when prompted.

I realized during the drama involving the Little Rockstar that there are many family members and friends that we do not get to see or interact with often enough and hopefully these little reviews of our week will allow them to see the girls as they grow. I figure worst case scenario I have the opportunity to post adorable pics of the girls. Just don't come here on Sunday nights expecting to discuss Obama's latest stimulus package - when I say 'Skog Family Week in Review' that's exactly what I mean and when the girls are under the age of 4 it entails some PRETTY exciting stuff. You have been warned.

Introducing the Little Rockstar - Lil' J

According to our very scientific, experimental weighing procedure that involves Elise getting on the scale without Josie, getting a weight and then me handing her the baby, Lil' J has broken the 6 lb barrier. Wheels and I were chatting today and it still seems bizarre that she wasn't even due until next week. Lil' J continues to eat well and is blowing through enough diapers that I wanted to change her nickname to 'Squirt' but that was quickly shot down by P who is fond of the Little Rockstar name.

Sorry about the pics - you either get the Grumpy Old Man 'Don't Flash that Friggin Light In My Face' or the 'Why Did You Turn Off the Flash and Make Me Blurry." Either way she's still adorable.

Not as adorable is KG ruining a pic of her but I wanted one to show her tiny size so we had to choose the largest object in the house which is my gut.

A Couple More of Toots and P With Lil' J

And yes, Toots IS a Dapper Dan Man. Thanks for asking.

Toots Moves In With P

This week we moved a bed for Toots into P's Room and although both girls seemed very excited, Toots quickly learned that unlike her crib, she can bail out of this bed and so we are still weening her from the crib.

Toots vs. The Jumpy Slide

One of the greatest purchases I ever made was what P refers to as the Jumpy Slide. A few years ago, Wheels was having a horrible day and P needed a place to burn off some of her two year old energy so I picked up an inflatable jump n slide from Toys R Us and it has been a welcome addition to the Skog Home ever since. We have attempted to have Toots play on it many times but she has been either disinterested or too scared until this week. Toots embraced her inner Wheels Family and conquered her fears of the jumpy slide. I love the fact that when both Toots and P first slid down the jumpy slide it was head first. None of this weak, wimpy, butt slide like their old man. Head first, zeal for life, just like their mother. I couldn't be prouder.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Music Industry Has High Hopes For New Super Group

(Associated Press - March 14, 2009)

Northern UT >> The music industry is on fire today as both Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine are reporting that the infamous Skog Sisters have officially united and formed a yet to be named Super Group. Rumors had been circulating for the past two weeks that P (lead vocals) and Toots (horns and percussion) had found themselves a new guitar player who had recently burst onto the music scene. This news has been confirmed by Band Manager, KG. "The reports are true. Lil' J is out of rehab and she is ready to join the band. I hope you are ready to have your minds blown by the greatest music the world has ever heard," said KG in a prepared statement.

Legendary music critic Lester Bangs said, "Not since Nirvana changed the music industry in the early 90's have we seen something like the Skog Sisters." Not all critics have been as complimentary. When asked his opinion, American Idol judge Simon Cowell declared, "I don't see what the big deal is. They are nothing more than an ABBA cover band at this point. It's purely karaoke."

"I'm very pleased with the kind words from Mr. Bangs," said KG. "That is much kinder than what he has said about me in the past. In fact, my only fear is that the girls experience too much success too soon and Lil' J ends up right back in rehab."

The band is scheduled to enter the studio this week, choose a name and begin recording their debut album.

PR Kit For the Skog Sisters

Ever the fighter, Lil' J struggles to overcome her addiction to milk by syringe and manufactured oxygen.

The Skog Sisters meet their new guitar player, Lil' J.

P poses before hitting the stage.

Toots (The Heartbreaker) tells the boys she's too young.

P prepares for a stage dive.

Toots leaving the stage after the show.

P relaxes with Lil' J after their debut performance.

Taken one second before Toots punches a paparazzi while all hopped up on fruit snacks and french fries.

P living the Rock Star Lifestyle.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lil' J's Surprise Party

Some of you may or may not know that Wheels has been very good with child for the past 9 months. I say 'very good' rather than 'great' with child because she had not quite reached that last month of uber-discomfort that only comes with having a tiny human using your insides as a kickboxing training center. Since many of the Skog Blog readers might not have even known we were expecting, let's start at the very beginning...

It all started on a hot, lazy July night... actually let's not start RIGHT at the beginning, let's start a little after that... It was a Hot August Night and unfortunately for Wheels and I we weren't at the famous Neil Diamond concert of the same name. We were staring at a pregnancy test that explained why Wheels had been acting so odd during that time frame. Quick disclaimer: I don't mean to take having a child lightly, I have far too many best friends and family members who would give and have given everything to have a child but at the time Wheels and I were shocked. We aren't exactly an incredibly fertile couple (you know the lucky types - who share a glass of water and the wife gets pregnant) and let's just say that the odds of us getting pregnant were about 1 million to 2. Toots was only 9 months and Wheels was still dilligently breastfeeding her and it really, really surprised us. Really. As the pregnancy went along the Little Rockstar (as she will be known on the Skog Blog - those who want more info like her actual name can email me) kept us on our toes. We could never get a nice shot of her lady parts in the ultrasounds so we were unsure of her gender for several months. And why "Little Rockstar?" Well it goes with her real name and she has been high most of her life so I think it fits nicely.

The whole pregnancy was a little strange though. I have commented to friends and Wheels and I have discussed how the Little Rockstar just didn't seem real. Like she wasn't getting the attention that the other girls did during their pregnancies. The other girls had names picked out the day after their ultrasounds and received more belly rubs (granted it was Wheels' belly) than an old dog. Not the Rockstar. She was kind of an after thought as we dealt with Toots and P and the stresses of everyday life.

Flash forward to this past Friday. I receive a phone call from Wheels, figuring it was a report about her echocardiogram and ultrasound that she had scheduled. Instead I hear Wheels say, "are you ready to have this baby?" At that moment the Little Rockstar became very real. Apparently the amniotic fluid was low and the doctor had decided it was better for the Rockstar to come early than live in a deteriorating placenta. I rushed to the hospital, found out everything was ok, rushed home to get the essentials and make sure the girls were okay with Grammie Sue and rushed back to the hospital.

The whole process was supposed to take a long time. The doctors estimated it would take at least a day to get the Little Rockstar here. However, if you recall my girls aren't like other girls. A few doses of cervix thinning fluid and a few hours of pitocin and I heard the nurse say, "I think you're ready." Doctor showed up, Wheels pushed 3 times and the world welcomed Lil J, the Little Rockstar. Because of her premature birth (about 5-1/2 weeks early) the nurses allowed Wheels to hold her for a few minutes and then carted her off to the Newborn ICU. At no point was she or has she been in danger but it still is very sad to stand there helplessly and watch your 4 lb 15 oz bundle of joy require breathing assistance and have more tubes and wires sticking out of it then the average US television set. An even weirder feeling is having a child, being discharged from the hospital and driving away with a 20 lb breast pump instead of an adorable baby girl.

As of today the Little Rockstar continues to progress. She is on the lowest level of oxygen and has started drinking milk through a tube. She is not on any additional antibiotics which is a good sign that they no longer fear pneumonia or infection. It still might be a week or two until she is able to come home but we feel very lucky to have her.

So what have I learned over this week? First, a wise friend told me - "Isn't it funny how you thought you had no connection to the Little Rockstar and so she did this to allow you to focus on her and have some bonding time?" (not a direct quote but you get the gist) Also, Wheels and I are extremely grateful to our friends and family. Many of our friends, neighbors, and co-workers have had much more difficult experiences with newborns. Some of their babies have been born so prematurely and so miraculously tiny that the Rockstar would be Shaq and their kid would be Spud Webb. However, at no point has anybody said to us after hearing our story, "Big deal man, boo friggin hoo, this is what happened to me..." No. Our awesome family and friends have done nothing but support us and say, "this is my story, we got through it and so will you..." and Wheels and I are very appreciative. Anyway, I will post updates and milestones here on the Skog Blog as they develop. Again, thanks to everyone. Special thanks to Grammie Sue for being on Girl watch for the past week. Couldn't do it without Sue.