Driving Off Into The Sunset

As most of my faithful readers know, my beautiful wife Natalie is from Boise, Idaho. All of her immediate family reside in that beautiful city which means that we often make the 5 hour trip to the Northwest. It is generally a chance to listen to good music at loud volumes, share work stories, and eat junk food. Sometimes the driving part of the trip is just not very fun. Here are some things I've learned from our trip this past weekend and from previous trips:

1. Play let's make a deal. It is a good idea to try to make a deal about how much each party will be driving before beginning the journey. This allows one to mentally prepare himself for the task at hand. I assumed that my wife, although pregnant, would take the brunt of the driving duties as I had been sick the whole week and still felt rotten when the journey began. We made it to Tremonton where we stopped for some food. Walking back to the car she stopped on the passenger side of the car and gave me the "your turn" look. She told me that her eyes were "wigging out." The remaining four hours of the trip would be piloted by yours truly.

2. Due to Boise's geographical location in relation to Salt Lake, a trip begun in the summer during the early evening hours will result in three to four hours of driving directly into the blazing setting sun. Dark sunglasses, visor extenders, and patience are a must. (I don't have visor extenders, so I use my hand.) By the time we reached Boise, my eyes had long since "wigged out."

3. It is important to find out when we NEED to be there. Sometimes Natalie is so anxious to see her family that we take unnecessary traveling risks. This January, we had planned to go to the McCall winter carnival with her family for the weekend. We packed our things and left work early on Thursday evening despite ominous forecasts. We ended up driving through one of the biggest storms of this past winter. It was huge. Basically a whiteout from North Ogden all the way until we reached Boise. It was by far the scariest, iciest, and worst driving experience of my life. Anytime I drove over 35 mph, the car would lose traction and start fishtailing. We passed semi after semi that had slid off the road. Eight hours later, with my mind, eyes, nerves, and patience shot, we arrived safely at Natalie's parent's house. I slept in, had breakfast, and wandered around the empty house only to find that Natalie's parents had to work that day. They wouldn't be off until later in the afternoon. I had just risked our very lives driving through the night on ice through a 4oo mile blizzard, so we could wait all day for her parents to get off work so we could leave for the carnival. Not a happy camper. I vowed then and there not to return for the McCall winter carnival. Out of spite? No, out of logic.

End note: I deeply love Natalie and her family. I love the time we spend in Boise, This post is merely a look at the interesting adventures we have while making the long journey to and from the gem state.


New Old Loves

I enjoy discovering new bands. I read somewhere recently that since the digital revolution, it has become easier to find bands to like and harder to find bands to love. I found this assessment to be spot on. There are a lot of really good, talented bands out there, but a great band is still a rare find to be treasured. While searching for the next band to fall in love with, I have found that you don't always need to look to the future. Sometimes there exist bands that you knew about but never gave them a proper listening to. With that in mind, I give you three bands/artists to discover if you haven't yet.

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Okay, so maybe this one is a bit obvious. I might as well have listed the Beatles, right. Yes, they were certainly not obscure and continue to by massively inflential, but it is for good reason. I had heard their hits on the radio and on multiple movies, but until recently I haven't delved very deep into their catalog. John Fogerty possesses one of the best voices in rock and roll history. There is rawness and passion coupled with vulerability and soul. Steeped in American roots music, they put together some of the greatest songs of their generation. Some of my favorite tracks include: Lodi, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Hey Tonight, Long as I Can See the Light, The Midnight Special, Cotton Fields, Fortunate Son.

2. Van Morrison - This guy, like John Fogerty, possesses a supremely expressive and soulful voice. He also knows how to write a great song, one that creates a mood and can take you to a specific time and place. We've all heard the great Brown Eyed Girl, but if that one song marks the limits of your Morrison catalog, you've got to dig deeper. I first heard Into The Mystic on the 80's classic film, Dream A Little Dream, and ever since it has been one of my favorite songs of all time. Most of my Morrison favorites come from the earlier portions of his career. Some other Van Morrison gems include: Wild Night, And It Stoned Me, Gloria, Jackie Wilson Said.

3. Generation X - I listened to the music of the punk revival constantly in my middle school and high school days. Bands like Strung Out, Bad Religion, Lagwagon, AFI, Face To Face, The Vandals, NOFX, 30 Foot Fall, No Use For A Name, etc. filled my brainwaves through those years. It wasn't until college that I really started to listen to original "old school punk." The Misfits were my mainstay in this category but there was also The Clash and The Ramones. The Descendents were and remain one of my favorites and I consider them to be a band that bridges the gap between the old school and the revival. Unfortunately one of the last old school bands I started listening to is Generation X. This of course was Billy Idol's band before he went solo and sprang onto MTV. Like The Clash, Generation X did not limit their sound to what people around them thought punk should be. This resulted in some really great rock and roll where the song quality is just as important as the attitude. Need proof? Try these tracks on for size: English Dream, Ready Steady Go, King Rocker, Your Generation, Wild Youth, One Hundred Punks, Kiss Me Deadly, and the original Dancing With Myself.

What are your favorite old bands/artists?


Glossy Flyers

Every once in a while I get to design these pocket-size full color glossy flyers. Here's the latest I've been working on, front and back.



A week ago last Sunday, a number of us friends were sitting on Brad and Maeve's grass after having attended Miles' baby blessing. We were eating delicious food and telling funny stories from the past. The topic of City Cup came up, and James and I began to tell everyone about the 1 on 1 soccer tournaments we used to hold in our parent's backyard. These memories and stories created the desire in me to resurrect this beloved past time. With James leaving this week, we knew we would have to act quickly and we set the date for the coming weekend. Natalie and I spent the evenings last week in our yard preparing to host the first City Cup tournament in over 10 years. It was actually a lot of fun, and Natalie was such a trooper (bending over to tend to flowers and weeds when you are seven months pregnant is not the most comfortable proposition.)

Saturday arrived and despite the somewhat scary forecasts, the weather turned out perfect. It was beautiful and sunny but not too hot. I was amazed at the turnout as friends and family traveled long distances to attend and participate. I think 80 percent of those who played asked me when the next City Cup will happen, and Blake said he would drive down from Logan on a weekly basis to participate. It was extremely fun, but I think we will have to limit it somewhat so that it doesn't become too commonplace. Perhaps we can do another one in August. Thankfully, Lacey took a lot of pictures and Heber figured out the polaroid, so the event was well documented. I would like to write more but time constrains, I will leave you with some classic photos and moments from Saturday's festivities.

10. I thought the competition was at the perfect level. It was spirited but never heated.

9. I loved when Jer, Austin, Jessica, and Tyler decided to get in on the action. They created some of the most memorable moments of the day.

8. The crowd involvement and encouragement was so much fun. It was really exciting to score a goal because you would get such a great reaction from the crowd.

7. The food was delicious and plentiful.

6. In the first round of the tournament, we played Austin, Jeremy Wilkins, and Heber. I was standing right in front of Jeremy when he tried a flying jump kick that ended up just skimming the top of his thigh. Classic.

5. The effort was fantastic. I remember watching Jeff sliding from a full sprint across the grass to try to save a loose ball from going out of bounds.

4. Jeremiah's long range pass in the semi's that turned out to be an amazing goal.

3. My nephew McKay racing down the field, running onto Tony's pass, hitting a shot that bounced off the post and out, and holding his head in his hands like it was a World Cup game.

2. A loose ball flies out of play and knocks two half full cups of ice water right into Natalie's face. The look on her face was priceless.

1. The story of the day: Brent Bedke overcomes hardships, sickness, disappointment, and defeat to become tournament MVP and City Cup champion. In the early 2 on 2 warm up rounds, Brent exerted himself a little too much a little too soon after having devoured a large hamburger. The result: some tense moments of "is he going to throw up," followed by a couple of good dry heaves, and four or five crowd pleasing spews. It was so funny, but as his teammate at the time I didn't know what to do but to pat him on the back and ask if he was alright. On to the tournament. Brent's team (team 4 I believe) loses in the first round. Because we were short one team in the semi's, all of the opening round losers played rock paper scissors for the last coveted semifinal spot. Andy pulled through for Brent's team, and Chad filled in the vacant spot when Connor had to leave. Chad's presence on the team made all the difference as he held up possession, dictated the pace of the game, provided crucial goals, and kept his team organized on defense. Their semifinal match vs. Scott, Reitz, and Jer Post was epic, an end to end battle that went to sudden death overtime. One minute and thirty seconds into overtime Brent's team took a shot that was easily blocked by both Scott and Jer. The ball ended up exactly between the two who each thought the other would clear the ball from danger. It was Brent who stepped up and toe poked the ball between the two and into the net in what Jer described as "a sucker punch." Brent the barfer and his team were in the finals facing James, Blake, and me, the "cheaters." (People thought the teams were rigged. They weren't. Get over it. We didn't even win.) The final was a tense, closely contested match. I scored halfway through the first half on a beautiful through ball from Blake, but the yellows answered back quickly and the teams entered halftime deadlocked at 1-1. The game was won on a cheeky shot by Chad from a restart on the sideline as the ball curled into the empty net. The reds pushed for the tying goal, but were continually denied by the compact and organized yellow defense. The victory was professional, well deserved, and somewhat fitting. In previous City Cups, it seemed to always be James vs. Chad in the final, with Chad emerging the victor. 10 years later, not too much has changed.


Firsts and Lasts

As the fateful day draws ever closer, I can't help but feel some anxiousness and apprehension about the coming addition to our family. I'm starting to have thoughts like "why haven't we traveled more? I've never been to D.C., Boston, New York, Mexico, Canada, The Carribeean, or Europe."

It's not that I'm not excited to be a Dad and all that goes with it, it's just that from the moment she's born I know that my life is not my life anymore. I actually see it as a positive, part of what was so special about my mission was that I was completely outwardly focused for those two years. The transition to focusing on my own life was the hardest thing about returning. Marriage has made me more outwardly focused, but Natalie and I are both very independent. Having a new completely dependent human in the home will change everything for both of us. The time has already flown by, and I'm sure the baby will be here before we know it. Here are some quick lists of things to get done before the baby arrives. Your suggestions will be most appreciated.

Things I must get done before the baby comes:
1. Help Natalie put the nursery together.
2. Do some art for the nursery.
3. Be supportive when we have to buy everything brand new even when friends and family offer their very nice, slightly used non-clothes baby stuff.
4. Organize and host City Cup 2008 soccer tournament and BBQ (This Saturday at 2:00, check)

Things I hope to get done before the baby comes:
1. Set up a painting studio in the basement.
2. Find some people to play rock and roll music with.
3. Write some more songs (Natalie has requested a lullaby).
4. Learn how to take care of a baby.
5. Buy a piano and learn how to play it.

Things I will regret having not done before the baby comes:
1. That's where you guys come in.
2. Whether you've been there or not, let us know what we should do with our last couple months.